Written By: Khanyilanga Ndlovu
If you find yourself stuck and frustrated with the state and length of your natural hair and are looking to grow longer, healthier locks, keep reading.
Growing natural hair is a task that requires patience and a great deal of responsibility as it is delicate and demanding in nature due to its kinks which make it more structurally fragile. It needs to be cared for as though it were a baby.
You need to be as careful with what you put in the interior of your body as with what you apply on the exterior. This includes everything you eat, so if you’re maintaining an ineffective diet you’re most likely maintaining ineffective hair growth as well.
What you’re probably missing:
Water ; Water is a staple in all areas of your body’s development and most people get a satisfactory amount everyday to keep them functioning fairly well throughout the day but the water consumed goes firstly to essential organs inside your body where they are needed most and then the rest will be used by less prioritized areas like your hair and skin. This is what makes it important to consume a great quantity of water everyday so that your body spends a good amount nourishing your hair and skin. Incorporate more water in your diet everyday by eating fresh fruits and vegetables that are water rich e.g, Watermelon, Tomatoes, Celery and Cucumbers. Encourage an increased water intake by using water reminder apps to challenge yourself.
Eggs ; Eggs are an excellent and easy source of a rainbow of minerals and nutrients that are essential for hair growth, including protein, Vitamin B12, and Biotin.
Oysters/ Beef/ Lamb ; These three sources of protein also provide you with surplus amounts of Zinc that are excellent at preventing shedding and loss of hair.
Whole grains & Nuts ; The mixture of hearty whole grains and nuts will bestow you with Zinc, Iron, B Vitamins and Omega-3 fatty acids, nourishing you with a multitude of hair benefits.
Generally, a balanced diet, identifiable by a colourful plate of fresh and organic elements , should be sufficient for healthy hair growth.
Damaging Hair With Heat
Heat damage is one of the most prevailing reasons some people fail to observe their hair grow past a certain point.
Heat damage is caused by too-frequent blow dryer use with high heat, flat ironing at high temperatures and with unsuitable irons. It is recommended to expel the use of heat on your hair completely but this is unrealistic for many people because of styling demands and the ease of manipulation of hair so we should at least try to limit our use.
Heat damage to natural hair can be detected by hair failing to revert back to its natural curl pattern after wetting; excessive split ends and breakage; moisture-less, brittle and dull strands.
Improving the effects of heat damage requires persistence with moisturizing treatments in particular. Many people don’t realize the significance of moisture and hydration on their hair and as a result unknowingly neglect their hair and limit themselves from reaching their hair’s full length and health potential.
Hair should be moisturized and sealed daily, with conditioning happening at least once a week.
Some simple methods to reduce the likelihood of heat damage include:
- Using heat protectant products before applying heat to the hair to coat and guard the hair from burning. Vegetable and cooking oils like Coconut and Olive oil should be avoided before the application of heat as they may cause the strands to burn or melt.
- Lowering dryer/iron temperature and using a ‘cool’ setting if available for those who must use the dryer frequently.
- Reducing frequency of use to at most once a month by relying on protective styles.
- Air drying hair instead of blow drying.
Not Wearing Protective Styles
Wearing your hair down, with it making contact with your clothes increasing the chances of it being damaged.
One of the most common causes of breakage is friction of the hair against clothing and other surfaces, causing snagging and tearing , or sleeping without wearing an appropriate hair cover such as a satin scarf or using a satin pillowcase. Breaking is also caused by extreme manipulation of the hair. This happens when combing, brushing, de-tangling and even braiding is overdone, or occurs too frequently.
Pulling causes the hair to become weak at the shaft and may make the hair more fragile at already delicate spots ( the kinks), therefore styles such as high ponytails that apply stress to the roots should be worn minimally.
Distinguishing between shedding and breakage is important , so as to be accurate when eliminating the problem. When hair has broken off, whether the piece is long or short, no cuticle is visible whereas hair that has been shed has a white cuticle visible or a small bump that can be felt at the end in case the cuticle is not visible.
Long lasting protective styles include braids, cornrows and even simple buns. Some are pictured below:
Fear of Making Mistakes
Lastly, one of the biggest setbacks people face when trying to grow out their hair is fear.
Sometimes people fear making big changes to their routines and adjusting their ideas and viewpoints because of the ambiguity of the outcome of those changes. Fear holds us back from learning and making mistakes, and therefore learning once again. We need to experiment and discover more so we grow our confidence with our hair and find hair care methods that are personally suitable for us.
Learning from our errors and change is beneficial to us because small mistakes that are repeated can have big, negative outcomes overtime.
Another obstacle we establish for ourselves is comparison. Comparing hair growth journeys is not advisable and is a sure to backfire. It doesn’t aid to our fears. Comparing can deter one’s self confidence and increase frustration, thus encouraging the reluctance to keep putting in effort and trying new things.
Believe in yourself and in your hair.