The secret formula to hair growth is really, pretty simple. I'll share it with you:
A Healthy Lifestyle = Healthier Hair
Healthier Hair = Hair Growth\
Yes! It is really that simple. Your body is your temple. Well, if the body is a temple, your hair is it's crowning glory. Neglect the temple, the crown eventually falls flat.
***** Now, I warn you, if you aren't willing to follow the upcoming guidelines for a healthy life, this challenge isn't for you and you won't recieve the full beneifts. Your hair may still grow, but not to it's best potential.*****
Now with the CMA announcement out of the way here are my basic tips to live a healthy life:
- Water is the life source for EVERYTHING. There isn't a living thing on this Earth that does not benefit from water, so it wouldn't make sense that your hair should have to go without it. Spritzing your hair with water is NOT enough. You must DRINK water as well! The amount you should drink should be equal to half your body weight. (If you're 200lbs, drink a minimum of 100oz's a day)
- Now, by diet I do not mean salads, Atkins, or Weight Watchers. I mean eating the foods that provide your body with the vitamins and nutrients that it needs to work at it's optimal best. Lean protein, lush; dark; green veggies, fruits (with the skin), whole grains....you get the picture. If you put in what your body needs, it will put out what you want. This will not only benefit your hair but it will also translate to other areas of your body and life. Your skin will glow, you'll feel more energized.
- Believe it or not, but exercise is a great for hair growth. It increases blood flow, a bunch of feel good hormones, and it also leads to better circulation. Between the blood flowing and the hormones, you'll feel energized, healthy, and stress-free.
- Multivitamin for health NOT hair
- Even the healthiest of eaters don't get all the nutrients and vitamins their bodies need from food. This is where a daily multivitamin comes in. I want to stress that this should be first and foremost for your health! If you take care of you body's nutrient needs, it will take care of your hair's nutrient needs. Now, you can add a "hair vitamin" on top of this, if you would like; however, if you aren't supplying your body with what it needs, it will not add towards your hair's health or growth. On the totem pole of your body's priorities, your vital organs come first - hair will ALWAYS be the runner up.
You absolutely MUST moisture your hair! Notice I said your hair and not your scalp. It was long a gospel in the black hair care community that one must "grease" the scalp. As it turns out, the moisturizing of the scalp isn't nearly as necessary as the moisturizing of the hair. In fact, it can even be a bad thing! Your scalp produces it's own essential oils, and unless you walk around rubbing your scalp on porous fabrics all day (yes, hat wearers, I'm talking about you) the scalp doesn't lose any of this oil. "Greasing" the scalp could smother your hair follicles if you overdo it. You hair, however, is a completely different story. Our hair is constantly rubbing against our collars, the backs of chairs, coats, other strands of hair...it's constantly in danger of being robbed of its moisture. Keep in mind what your hair faces on a day to day and remember to seal in whatever you moisturize your hair with.
As I am a subscriber to the "Curly Girl Method", I do not use any poo or sulfate/cone containing products. (I rarely use store brought products at all) With that said, I still clarify my hair and scalp a minimum of once a month. As a co-washer and shea junkie I get quite the amount of buildup on my scalp and in my hair. Buildup is stifling! It can clog follicles weigh down hair, and kill your curls. It can also chip away at the health of your hair. Since, I live in a rural area, smog is not a concern; however, if you do live in a smog heavy area, I'd advise clarifying more than once a month (depending upon how often your hair is exposed to the elements)
Avoid brushing/combing dry hair! Again, I repeat: Avoid brushing/combing dry hair! Natural hair is extremely fragile (contrary to popular belief)! If you absolutely must detangle dry hair, do so, strand by strand and by hand. Use your fingers to GENTLY separate your strands, removing knots; tangles; and shedded strands along the way. (Note: Shedding is a natural and healthy act of growing hair. Look for strands that are equal in length to the rest of your hair - this is a sign of healthy hair and natural shedding) Also when detangling your hair, start from the end and gently work your way to the roots. DO NOT, DO NOT, DO NOT start at the root and rip your way down! Not only is it painful, it's damaging!
4. Protective Styling
I cannot stress enough how important it is to protect your hair from the elements (and for those of you who have HIF/HIH syndrome, you are a threatening element). While, I do not expect you all to hide your hair under satin scarfs, bonnets, and caps, I do challenge you to limit the exposure to the elements that your hair will face. Instead of wearing a twist out, simply twist and pin up your strands. Buns, braids, weaves....all effective styles that offer you fashion and protection. Keep your ends tucked. Wear a festive scarf on extremely frigid or arid days. Do whatever suits you...just protect your hair. *Tip: The best protective style is one that you do not have to manipulate on a daily basis.*
This brings me to the final portion of the challenge: Length Retention
Retaining one's length is not easy to do and there will be set backs. DON'T GIVE UP! It's a popular misconception that African American hair cannot be grown to a long length. It can be done. I've done it several times in my life and I will do it again. You, too, can do it! You just have to figure out how to retain your length. Here are my top tips:
- Treat your hair tenderly. Handle it like a new born baby.
- Watch your moisture/protein balance. Too much moisture and your hair will turn to limp mush. Too much protein and it will harden and become brittle.
- Sleep with a satin bonnet in addition to a satin scarf and/or pillow case.
- Massage your scalp each time you moisturize your hair. This stimulates blood flow to the scalp which stimulates hair growth.
- Know the seasonal limits of your hairstyle. Wash n' Go's should not be worn in the winter. I shudder every time I see a Nappturalista out and about on a cold day in the dead of winter with a Wash n' Go...I just imagine how much breakage she faces each time her freeze drying hair brushes against her coat.
- Remember to nourish and pamper your hair in protective styles. There's no point in keeping Chin Woo's hair in tip top shape if you neglect your natural mane underneath.
- Be kind to your hairline. I know, I know, we all want smooth edges and terrifically, twisted twists; however, all that pulling, tugging, and twisting extra tight will eventually stress and pull your hairline. Don't believe me....take a peek at Brandy's hairline over the years....I'm just saying.
Now, I challenge you to this endeavor. If you're in, drop a comment and a pic of you and your hair. In 6 months to a year, drop another comment and update me on how or if this worked for you.