The Mestiza Muse

Be Beautiful. Be Natural. Be You.

Be Beautiful. Be Natural. Be You.

In-Depth Guide to Growing Natural Hair

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Learn how to grown natural hair

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Many women aspire to grow their natural hair long and healthy but navigate a sea of products and myths about effective hair growth strategies. To clear the confusion and offer actionable advice, we’ve crafted a comprehensive guide aimed at helping you achieve that long natural hair.

My journey with natural hair began after years of relying on relaxers, which led to a damaging cycle of breakage and stagnation. Like many, I fell into the trap of believing long hair wasn’t in my cards, attributing my struggles to the inherent difficulties of managing textured hair. This common misconception, shared by numerous women, was a significant barrier to my progress.

However, embracing my natural hair marked a turning point. By understanding and catering to its unique needs, I’ve managed to escape the cycle of damage and witness tangible growth. The key to my success was not just in finding the right products but in debunking myths and adopting a holistic approach to hair care.

Natural Hair

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 Four Phases of Hair Growth

  1. Anagen Phase (Active Growth): This is the phase where hair is actively growing, lasting anywhere from 2 to 8 years, largely determined by genetics. Over time, especially as we age, this phase gradually shortens.
  2. Catagen Phase (Transitional Phase): Lasting about 2-3 weeks, during this phase, the hair follicle begins to shrink and prepare for resting.
  3. Telogen Phase (Resting Phase): In this phase, which can extend up to 100 days, the hair follicle is in a state of rest before it starts growing again.
  4. Exogen Phase (Shedding Phase): Following a period of rest, the hair sheds, and the follicle remains dormant for about five to seven months before re-entering the anagen phase. As we age, this phase tends to lengthen.

It’s crucial to understand that hair follicles are not synchronized in their phases; it’s typical for about 90% of your hair to be in the anagen phase, 1% in catagen, and 10% in telogen at any given time. Enhancing the anagen phase is vital for achieving optimal hair growth.

Key Factors Influencing Hair Length

  1. Growth Rate: The speed at which your hair grows.
  2. Genetics: Determines the duration of your anagen phase and thus your hair’s terminal length.
  3. Anagen Phase Length: Directly influences the maximum length your hair can achieve.
  4. Hair Retention: The effectiveness of preserving the ends of your hair from breakage.

Terminal Length

The terminal length is the maximum length your hair can achieve, predetermined by the length of the anagen phase according to your genetics. It’s the hypothetical length your hair could reach if it remained in perfect condition, without any cuts or breakage, and grew without interruption. Observing genuine terminal lengths is rare, as it requires growing hair under optimal conditions for an extended period.

If you’re aiming for your hair’s terminal length, patience and consistency in your hair care regimen are key. Family history can provide insight into the potential length of your anagen phase and, consequently, your terminal length. If you find your hair growth has plateaued or hasn’t reached a satisfactory length over the years, it might be time to reassess your hair care approach to better support your hair through its growth phases.

The Role of Hormones in Hair Growth

Hormones play a crucial role in regulating the hair growth cycle and influencing the structure of hair follicles. The levels of various hormones in the body fluctuate, directly impacting hair growth and health.

Key Hormones Affecting Hair Growth

  1. Estrogen: Found in both genders, estrogen levels are typically higher in women. It promotes hair retention in the anagen (growth) phase and can accelerate hair growth. Low estrogen levels, often seen during menopause, are linked to hair thinning and loss.
  2. Testosterone: While present in both men and women, men have higher testosterone levels. This hormone’s impact on hair growth varies and is closely associated with its derivative, DHT.
  3. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT): A derivative of testosterone, found in higher levels in men. High levels of DHT and androgens can lead to hair follicle shrinkage, resulting in thinner hair strands.

Factors Influencing Hair Growth

Besides hormones, hair growth is affected by age, overall health, diet, medications, and hair care practices. For instance, during pregnancy, elevated estrogen levels prolong the anagen phase, leading to faster and thicker hair growth. However, post-pregnancy, estrogen levels decline, and hair typically sheds as it returns to its pre-pregnancy state.

Health Conditions and Hair Loss

Several health conditions can precipitate hair loss, including:

  • Alopecia Areata: An autoimmune disorder causing patchy hair loss.
  • Telogen Effluvium: Stress-induced hair shedding.
  • Trichotillomania: A condition characterized by the compulsive pulling of hair.
  • Traction Alopecia: Hair loss resulting from tight hairstyles that pull on the scalp.
  • Nutrient Deficiencies: Insufficient protein, iron, and other vital nutrients can lead to hair loss.
  • Thyroid Disease: Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can cause hair loss.
  • Scalp Conditions: Issues like dandruff, psoriasis, and seborrheic dermatitis can lead to hair loss.

Understanding the complex interplay between hormones and other factors is essential for addressing hair growth and loss effectively. As we delve deeper into hair growth dynamics and potential damage, it’s important to consider these hormonal influences and underlying health conditions.

Nurturing Natural Hair Growth and Preventing Damage

Growing natural hair is like to cultivating a tree. Just as a tree requires time to grow robust and tall, with branches potentially damaged by environmental challenges, hair needs time to lengthen and strengthen, susceptible to damage from styling, coloring, and chemical treatments. To foster faster natural hair growth, focus on two key areas: minimizing damage and encouraging growth.

Scalp Health: The Foundation of Hair Growth

Hair originates from follicles nestled within the scalp, making the follicle the living part of hair while the shaft is the visible section emerging from the scalp. Maintaining scalp health is crucial as it lays the groundwork for hair growth. Here are strategies to ensure a healthy scalp, thereby promoting hair growth:

  • Minimize Damage: Avoid hairstyles that tug on the hair, potentially harming the follicles.
  • Cleanse Gently: Use a mild shampoo for washing and gently massage the scalp with fingertips or a scalp massager to stimulate blood flow.
  • Exfoliate: Regularly exfoliating the scalp with a soft scrub can remove dead skin cells, fostering an optimal environment for hair growth.
  • Nourish: Treat the scalp with masks or oil treatments to enrich the follicles and encourage hair growth.

The Key to Hair Growth: Mastering Retention

To achieve long, healthy hair, mastering the art of retention is essential. Regardless of how quickly your hair grows from the scalp, visible length will not increase if the ends are not preserved. This can make hair growth seem stagnant despite continuous new growth.

The Challenge of Retention

Frequent use of relaxers, chemical treatments, or excessive heat styling often leads to difficulty retaining hair length. Although new hair grows each month, the absence of hair from previous months due to damage or breakage can make it seem impossible to surpass certain lengths. To witness genuine growth, focusing on retaining length is crucial.

Common Culprits of Breakage and Solutions for Retention

  • Heat, Coloring, and Chemical Damage: Minimize the use of heat styling tools and chemical treatments to prevent weakening the hair shaft.
  • Physical Damage: Avoid excessive manipulation, tight hairstyles, and rough handling, especially when hair is wet, to reduce strain on your hair.
  • Moisture Deficiency: Regularly use moisture-rich shampoos and conditioners to keep the hair hydrated.
  • Protein Shortage: Incorporate protein treatments to bolster the hair shaft, enhancing its resilience against breakage.
  • Scalp Health: Maintaining a healthy scalp is fundamental for hair growth; poor scalp health can impede growth before it even begins.
  • Environmental Factors: Protect your hair from UV rays and extreme temperatures to prevent external damage.
  • Nutritional Deficiencies: A balanced diet is crucial for hair health. Lack of nutrients due to anemia, smoking, or crash dieting can adversely affect hair quality and growth.

Strategies for Retaining Length

  • Limit Damaging Practices: Reduce the frequency of heat styling and coloring.
  • Hydrate: Ensure your hair is well-hydrated with suitable hair care products.
  • Strengthen: Utilize protein treatments to fortify your hair.
  • Minimize Manipulation: Opt for protective styles like loose braids or twists to lessen daily wear and tear.
  • Handle With Care: Be gentle during hair maintenance to avoid unnecessary breakage.

By focusing on these retention strategies, you can prevent the common pitfalls that lead to hair breakage and ensure that your hair not only grows but retains the length over time.

Essential Tips for Nurturing Natural Hair

Embrace Personal Care for Healthy Hair

Your hair reflects your personal care and attention. While a stylist can offer valuable guidance, the key to optimal hair health lies in your hands. You’re the most acquainted with your hair’s history and goals, placing you in an ideal position to address its needs.

Begin with a Fresh Start

Before embarking on your natural hair journey, ensure you’re starting fresh by eliminating any chemical or heat damage. This foundational step allows you to focus on nurturing your hair to its healthiest state.

Trim Wisely

Contrary to popular belief, trimming doesn’t accelerate hair growth. Trim your hair only to remove split ends or damage, and only as often as necessary.

Choose Quality Hair Care Products

Investing in high-quality shampoo and conditioner tailored to your hair type protects it from environmental stressors and supports its growth.

Hydration is Key

Moisturizing is crucial for all hair types. Adopt techniques like the LOC (liquid – oil – cream) or LCO (liquid – cream – oil) methods to maintain hydration throughout the day.

Deep Condition Regularly

Deep conditioning replenishes moisture and strengthens the hair shaft, crucial for preventing breakage. Consider using a hair steamer with your deep conditioning treatments to enhance their efficacy.

Nutritious Diet for Hair Health

A balanced diet rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids nourishes the scalp and promotes hair growth. Incorporate a variety of proteins, fruits, and vegetables to supply your hair with essential nutrients.

Consider Hair Vitamins

Supplementing your diet with hair vitamins can ensure you’re receiving all necessary nutrients for healthy hair growth. Always consult a healthcare provider before starting any supplement regimen.

Stay Hydrated

Adequate hydration benefits not just your body but also your hair, aiding in length retention and overall health.

Regular Exercise

Exercise boosts circulation, enhancing the supply of oxygen and nutrients to your hair follicles and promoting healthier growth.

Scalp Massage

Incorporate scalp massages into your routine to stimulate blood flow to the scalp, encouraging hair growth.

Nighttime Protection

Protect your hair from breakage by sleeping on a satin or silk pillowcase or wrapping your hair in a silk scarf.

Handle with Care

Treat your natural hair with gentleness to avoid unnecessary damage. This includes cautious combing, brushing, and avoiding harsh styling practices.

Avoid Tight Hairstyles

Opt for loose, protective styles that minimize stress on your hair, avoiding tight hairstyles that can lead to breakage and hair loss.

Prefer Air Drying

Whenever possible, let your hair air dry to avoid the damage caused by heat styling tools.

Adopt a Long-Term Perspective

Growing natural hair is a marathon, not a sprint. Patience and persistence are essential. Stick with your hair care regimen and remember that healthy growth takes time.

HI,I'M VERNA

I’m just a girl who transformed her severely damaged hair into healthy hair. I adore the simplicity of a simple hair care routine, the richness of diverse textures, and the joy of sharing my journey from the comfort of my space.

My mission? To empower others with the tools to restore, and maintain healthy hair, and celebrate the hair they were born with!

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