“A watched pot never boils.” That is the age-old idiom which means when you wait for something to happen, it will seem take forever. That statement is true when it comes to hair growth for most of us. Then for others, the pot really never does boil — or so we think because length retention is not noticeable. When you are effortfully attempting to grow your hair to longer lengths but seem to be stuck in a rut there are a few areas of your regimen that you may want to evaluate.
Not more protective styling, but protective styling for too long of a time — Protective styling typically consists of tucking away the hair to protect it from the elements which may cause breakage such as constant brushing against shoulders, over exposure to air, etc. Braids, buns, weaves, updo, etc are all great ways of protective styling. The problem lies when those styles remain for an extended period of time. For example, braids (with synthetic hair) and weaves should not be left in more than 3 months. After 3 months you run the risk of hair dreading and knotting. Remember, hair sheds daily even when your hair is in a protective style. Waiting too long to remove these styles can result in a loss of excessive hair and breakage because of the knotting and tangling allowed to occur.
When hair is over exposed to an element of heat (i.e. blow dryer, hooded dryer, flat iron, curling iron), especially direct heat without proper precautions being taken, it is a huge risk. Hair should always be cleaned and conditioned with the right balance of protein and moisture before introducing heat, especially that of a flat iron. Otherwise, you run the risk of hair being heat damaged. Heat damage often results in split ends, bubble hair (Trichorrhexis nodosa), and a change in your curl pattern. Each of these physical changes weakens your strands, increasing your hair’s susceptibility to breakage.
Many naturals opt to coloring their hair as an alternative the (what some call boring) dark and/or uni-tone hair. What must be taken into account is when coloring hair, there is a chemical reaction occurring. This is especially true when multi-steps and mixing is involved. Our hair, by nature is weak and breaks easily. No matter what the box says or what anyone may tell you, bonds are being broken and the delicate manner in which you will need to treat your hair increases. Extra special care will be required as you ensure your moisture protein levels are always balanced. Neglect either of those properties and it will be breakage city!
There are many other reason one may not retain length. These are a few that I have been guilty of at some point or another and have been the most detrimental to length retention. When you know better, you do better. Now that you know better, will you do better?