Last Updated on September 5, 2022 by Verna Meachum
There are a lot of women out there who are looking for ways to grow their natural hair. And while there are a lot of products on the market that claim to help with hair growth, there are also a lot of myths floating around about what does and doesn’t work.
So, in order to help you sort through all of the information, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to growing natural hair that will help you achieve the long, healthy hair you’ve always wanted.
When I used to use relaxers, my hair was in a constant cycle of hair breakage and the damage continued. It seemed like my hair was always taking one step forward and two steps back.
I gave up attempting to grow my hair long and concluded that it was only meant for some people to have long hair, and that growing natural hair was too much work for me.
I was wrong! My misunderstanding of textured hair, which is often the case for a lot of women, was what was holding me back.
Now that I’ve gone natural, I’ve been able to break that cycle and finally see some real growth in my hair. And while there are a lot of factors that have contributed to my success, there are a few key things that I believe have made the biggest difference.
You’ve probably heard about the term ‘Natural hair’ in the curly hair community by now. While the definition of natural hair can vary depending on who you ask, by definition, it means hair that has not been chemically straightened, texturized, or permanently altered in any way.
In terms of natural Black hair, there’s no one size fits all when it comes to texture and growth patterns, which is why it’s important to figure out what works best for your individual hair type.
But whether you’re dealing with kinky, coily, wavy, or a mixed combination, there are certain tips and tricks that can help you promote healthy growth.
If you are in the process of growing out your relaxer or transitioning from chemically processed hair to natural hair, you’ll notice thickness before gaining length.
Black hair types tend to be:
- Dry to the touch
- Susceptible to breakage, and this is why it’s important to use products and techniques that will help to moisturize and protect your strands.
- Differs from other races in the basic shape of the hair fiber and in its composition.
- Appears thick, coarse, and tough, but is the most fragile of all hair types
- Requires extra TLC, especially if it’s been compromised by chemicals or color.
- The more disulfide bonds that form in hair fiber, the more kinky and curly the hair is. FYI – Relaxers work primarily to disrupt disulfide bonds, that’s why relaxers can’t be stripped or undone.
Natural hair can look strong, but this is a very delicate texture and needs to be handled as such. This means frequent conditioning and moisturizing and as little direct heat as possible to maintain optimum health.
Hair Growth Process
Before we get into the growing natural hair tips, it’s important to understand the hair growth process.
Growing your hair to great lengths requires patience and consistency. Knowing the fundamentals of hair growth is critical for developing a solid hair care plan, and it’s crucial to understand this in order to stay positive and set realistic expectations during your hair journey.
The typical monthly hair growth rate is about a quarter to a half inch each month, which means because this growth rate is average, some of us may have more or less growth than this.
This means that if you want to achieve 18 inches of growth, it will take you approximately two years.
Some people’s hair grows faster or slower than others and of course, there are things that can affect this rate of growth, such as health, age, diet, and genetics.
But the good news is that there are also things you can do to help promote healthy hair growth.
The hair growth cycle has three specific phases:
The anagen phase, which is the active growth phase. This phase can last anywhere from 2-8 years and is determined by genetics. This phase may be short one year or as long as ten years. As we age, our anagen phase slowly begins to shorten.
The catagen phase, which is the transitional phase. This phase lasts about 2-3 weeks and is when the hair follicle begins to shrink.
The telogen phase, which is the resting phase. This phase can last up to 100 days and is when the hair follicle rests before growing again.
The hair follicle enters an additional phase, exogen, after shedding and resting for a time before beginning a new anagen phase. This phase can last anywhere between five to seven months. As we age, the exogen phase begins to lengthen.
The return to anagen phase is the best time to influence hair growth because that’s when the hair follicle is growing at its fastest rate.
It’s important to note that not all hairs are in the same stage at the same time. In fact, it’s normal to have about 90% of your hair in the anagen phase, 1% in the catagen phase, and 10% in the telogen phase.
The growing natural hair tips below are designed to help you maximize your anagen (growth) phase so that you can achieve your fullest potential.
Hair length depends on four things:
- Hair growth rate
- The length of the growth phase, or anagen.
- Hair retention (how well you keep your ends from breaking off)
Terminal length is the longest length your hair can achieve based on your genetics. This is determined by the length of your anagen growth phase.
Terminal length is the length that your hair would reach if it were in excellent condition, never cut or broken off, and was allowed to grow freely without interruption.
Unfortunately, many of us have not grown our hair for long enough, under optimal circumstances, to observe it attain and maintain genuine terminal lengths.
If you want to know how long your anagen phase is, the easiest way to find out is to look at your family history. If your mom or grandma have/had long hair, chances are you will too.
If you want to grow your hair to its terminal length, the best thing you can do is be patient and consistent with your hair care routine.
If you’ve been growing your hair for years and yet haven’t reached a reasonable length, or if you appear to be at a plateau, it’s time to reevaluate your hair regimen.
Various hormones have a significant impact on the hair cycle and hair follicle structure.
Hormones are one of the main causes of hair growth. As their level in the body fluctuate, so does hair growth.
There are three main hormones that impact hair growth:
Estrogen – This hormone is present in both men and women, but women have a higher level of it. Estrogen can help keep your hair in the growing (anagen) phase, and may help your hair grow faster. Hair thinning and loss are associated with low estrogen levels, particularly during menopause.
Testosterone – This hormone is present in both men and women, but men have a higher level of it.
DHT – This hormone is present in both men and women, but men have a higher level of it. High levels of androgens and DHT can shrinks hair follicles, which leads to thinner hair.
A person’s hair growth is also impacted by their age, health, diet, medications they’re taking, and how they care for their hair.
An example of how hormones can regulate hair growth cycles occurs during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, estrogen levels surge, which causes the anagen (growth) phase to lengthen and hair to grow faster and thicker.
After pregnancy, estrogen levels drop and hair growth usually returns to its pre-pregnancy state. Hair enters the telogen phase after childbirth, and large shedding is common.
Health conditions that can cause hair loss include:
– Alopecia areata (autoimmune disease that causes patchy hair loss)
– Telogen effluvium (stress-related hair shedding)
– Trichotillomania (compulsive hair pulling)
– Traction alopecia (hair loss caused by tight hairstyles)
– Nutrient deficiency (not enough protein, iron, or other nutrients in the diet)
– Thyroid disease
– Alopecia totalis (loss of all scalp hair)
– Alopecia universalis (loss of all body hair and scalp hair)
– Scalp conditions (dandruff, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis)
Now that we’ve covered the basics of hair growth, let’s get into understanding hair growth and damage!
Understanding Hair Growth and Damage
The growing natural hair process is a lot like tree growing. A tree takes time to grow tall and strong, and over time, the branches may get damaged from storms or other environmental factors.
Similarly, it takes time for your hair to grow long and healthy, and over time, your hair may sustain damage from heat styling, coloring, or other chemical treatments.
To growing natural hair faster, you need to focus on two things:
1) Minimizing damage
2) Promoting growth
Hair grows from the hair follicles, which are situated within the scalp. The hair follicle is the living part of the hair, and the shaft is the visible part of the hair that protrudes from the scalp.
It is vital to take care of the scalp because it is the foundation for growing natural hair. A healthy scalp = healthy hair.
To promote a healthy scalp and growing natural hair, you should:
✔︎ Avoid tight hairstyles that can pull on the hair and damage the follicles.
✔︎ Keep the scalp clean by washing with a gentle shampoo and massaging the scalp with your fingertips or a scalp massager.
✔︎ Exfoliate the scalp with a gentle scrub to remove dead skin cells and promote hair growth.
✔︎ Apply a mask or oil treatment to the scalp to nourish the follicles and growing natural hair.
A requirement for hair growth is retention. In order to have long hair, you need to be able to retain the length.
Hair retention is strongly influenced by personal hair care practices, which necessitates constant effort to maintain.
If hair is not preserved at the ends of the hair fiber before it emerges from the scalp, no hair growth will be visible, regardless how fast or much hair grows out from the scalp.
Hair growth will appear to be static, despite the fact that new hair is continuously being produced from the scalp.
When we use relaxers, chemical treatments, or a lot of heat styling we frequently encounter hair retention issues and as a result, we don’t see growth.
Every month new growth emerges without fail, but the hair that should be there from the previous month is missing. This is due to damage and/or breakage.
That is also why it may seem like we can never grow our hair past a certain length. We have to get serious about growing our hair and retaining length if we want to see results.
There are a few things that can lead to hair breakage and prevent retention:
- Damage from heat styling, coloring, or chemical treatments
- Physical damage – excessive manipulation, tension and handling of hair, wearing tight hairstyles, roughly handling our hair when it’s wet
- Lack of moisture
- Lack of protein
- Poor scalp health
- Environmental damage, such as UV rays and extreme weather temperatures
- Nutritional deficiencies can have a detrimental influence on hair before it ever emerges from the scalp. Anemia, smoking, crash dieting, and a variety of other factors can result in poor hair growth and the overall quality of hair.
To retain length, you should:
- Limit heat styling and coloring to reduce damage.
- Use a moisture-rich shampoo and conditioner to hydrate the hair.
- Incorporate protein treatments into your routine to strengthen the hair shaft and prevent breakage.
- Use protective styles such as loose braids, buns, or twists to minimize manipulation and give your hair a break.
- Be gentle when handling your hair to prevent breakage.
Natural Hair Tips
Healthy hair starts at home
Your hair is your crown and glory and you should never sacrifice personal responsibility for basic hair care in order to rely completely on someone else. A stylist is a useful tool, but the key to getting the greatest level of hair health lies in your own hands.
You are in the best position to recognize and address simple hair problems because no one knows your hair better than you! You know exactly what your hair has been through and where you want it to go.
Start with a clean slate
Before you start growing your natural hair, it’s important to make sure that you are starting with a clean slate. This means getting rid of any chemical treatments or heat damage that may be holding your hair back from reaching its full potential. Once you’ve done this, you can then focus on growing your hair as healthy and strong as possible.
Trim your hair
Trimming your hair does not make it grow faster. Contrary to stylists advice, only trim your hair as needed. This may seem counterintuitive, but if you learn how to take good care of your ends, you won’t need to trim as often.
Only trim your hair when it is absolutely necessary to get rid of split ends or damaged hair.
Invest in a good quality shampoo and conditioner
One of the most important things you can do for your hair is to invest in a good quality shampoo and conditioner. This is because your hair is constantly exposed to a variety of environmental aggressors, like pollution and UV rays.
By using a shampoo and conditioner that is specifically formulated for your hair type, you can help to protect your hair from damage and keep it growing strong and healthy.
Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize
This is one of the most important things you can do for your hair, no matter what type it is. Use a leave-in conditioner or an oil-based product to help seal in moisture.
Use styling methods like the LOC (liquid – oil – cream) or LCO (liquid – cream – oil) method to help keep your hair hydrated throughout the day.
Deep condition regularly
Deep conditioning is a must for growing natural hair. This is because it helps to replenish the moisture that is lost due to environmental aggressors and heat styling.
Deep conditioning also helps to strengthen the hair shaft and prevent breakage.
One of the best ways to deep condition your hair is to use a hair steamer. A hair steamer is a device that emits a continuous stream of moisture-rich steam onto your hair.
This helps to open up the cuticle and allow the deep conditioner to penetrate the hair shaft. As a result, your hair is left feeling soft, hydrated, and healthy.
Start with a healthy diet
Eating a healthy diet is one of the best things you can do for your hair. Make sure to include plenty of protein, which is essential for strong and healthy hair. Also, be sure to get enough omega-3 fatty acids, which help to nourish the scalp and promote hair growth.
Protein is critical for hair health, therefore make sure you consume enough of it through the foods you eat – steak, fish, chicken, eggs, tofu, beans, etc.
Fruits and vegetables are also high in nutrients that promote hair growth, so eat them in abundance.
The nutrients in your body have a significant impact on how fast and well your hair grows.
If you’re not getting enough of certain vitamins and minerals, it can show in the form of slower growth or even hair loss.
Hair vitamins are great way to ensure that you’re getting all the nutrients you need for healthy hair growth.
Make sure to talk with your doctor before taking hair supplements.
It is true that drinking water does not directly promote hair growth, being adequately hydrated is an essential element in your ability to retain length.
Water helps to keep your cells plump and hydrated, it also helps to carry oxygen and nutrients to your cells, which is critical for healthy hair growth.
Your hair requires water both on the inside and outside. So, make sure to drink plenty of water every day!
Get regular exercise
Exercise is not only good for your overall health, but it can also help to promote hair growth.
Exercise increases blood flow and circulation, which brings oxygen and nutrients to your cells, including your hair follicles.
In addition, exercise can help to reduce stress levels, which can impact hair growth.
Include a scalp massage in your hair care routine
Scalp massages are not only relaxing, but they also help to stimulate blood flow to the scalp, which can promote hair growth.
Use your fingers to massage your scalp in circular motions for a few minutes every day.
Protect your hair at night
When you’re sleeping, your hair is more vulnerable to breakage. To help prevent this, make sure to use a satin or silk pillowcase or sleep with your hair wrapped in a silk scarf. This will help to keep your hair smooth and protected while you sleep.
Be gentle with your hair
Remember that your natural hair is delicate, so it’s important to be gentle with it. This means avoiding harsh chemicals, heat styling, rushing through the detangling process.
When combing your hair, do not tug on it or pull out strands of hair. When you comb or brush your hair, be extremely gentle!
Avoid tight hairstyles
Tight hairstyles that can cause breakage. Instead, opt for styles that are gentle on your hair and that don’t require heat, like loose braids, twists, pineapple, bantu knots, bun, etc.
Tight hairstyles can cause breakage and lead to hair loss, so it’s best to avoid them.
Let your hair air dry whenever possible
Air drying is much gentler on your hair than blow drying. If you can, let your hair air dry whenever possible.
This has truly been a key player in growing my hair out long, healthy and strong!
Adopt a long-haul mentality
Patience is a virtue and you’re going to need lots of it when growing out your natural hair. It can be tempting to want to see results overnight, but the truth is, healthy hair growth takes time. So, be patient and stick with it, and you’ll eventually get the long, luscious locks you’ve been dreaming of.
Growing your natural hair takes time, patience, and commitment. But it’s so worth it when you finally see your strands reaching their full potential. So, keep at it and don’t give up!
Growing your natural hair can be a long and difficult process, but it is so worth it when you see your strands reaching their full potential.
How quickly does hair grow?
The average person’s hair grows about half a quarter inch to half an inch per month. However, this can vary depending on a number of factors, including age, health, and lifestyle choices.
How often should you wash your hair?
How often you wash your hair depends on a number of factors, including your hair type, your lifestyle, and the products you use.
If you have oily hair, you may need to wash it more often.
If you have dry hair, you may only need to wash it once or twice a week.
What’s the reason your hair growth stops?
There can be several reasons why your hair growth may stop, including:
-Certain medical conditions
-Nutritional deficiencies, etc.
What are some of the indicators of hair damage?
Some of the indicators of hair damage are:
-Lackluster and dull
For more information on hair damage, click here.