Hair Tips: The secrets that are not secrets after all

How to retain moisture and length in natural hair

natural hair

natural hair

  1. Clean hair and scalp: The first step to retaining moisture and ultimately retaining length, [if that is your goal], is to work with a clean canvas. The scalp and length of the strands must be kept clean in order to give it a better chance of absorbing the well needed moisture to keep your hair soft and manageable. Weather you follow the no shampoo method, also known as the girl method or you have a tweeny weeny afro (twa), at the in between stage or have waist long hair, hair must be kept clean. You may have to spend a little time figuring out what works for your hair depending on the porosity, density, length and texture by researching and experimenting. Depending on your preference and life style you may wash your hair as often as every day, every week or once a month. It is important to find out what works for you and stick to that method. It is important to note that your hair regimen may change other time depending on the length and lifestyle.
  2. Styling choice: There have been many debates whether one should adapt protective styles or not to retain length. Once again it is a matter of choice and goal set. For me, my hair prefers to be in protective styles such as buns and twists because it is prone to drying, so I rarely have my hair loose. But for others, they are able to wear their hair loose and still retain length. One thing is certain is that too much stress must not be placed on the strands and especially the edges which are easiest to break. Choose your styles based on your preference and daily activities.
  3. Tracking length: Note that although the average growth of hair is ½ inch per month, that does not mean that you will retain that amount. It is important to remember that everybody has different growth rates and you have to find out how fast your hair grows and how much of that you retain. If you are retaining much less than your hair is growing then it may seem like your hair is not growing. If that is the case, you should investigate the reasons why and put steps in place to correct or change as needed. It is also important not to compare your hair growth with others, if you are doing all that you can to preserve your strands, length will come, so don’t obsess over it [because it is pretty over rated ;-)]
  4. Health: Physical and mental health are often over looked factors in hair growth. Hair and nails are the last places on the body to receive nutrients. So it is essential that you are eating well and exercising both your body and your mind. Stress plays a big part in retaining length, whether it is positive or negative stress. You should know your stress level and find ways to manage it effectively if it is negatively affecting your health.
  5. Handle with care: Natural hair, especially naturally curly-kinky hair, is very fragile with all the twists and bends in every strand. You could be doing all of the about but if you are rough with your hair, you will be sabotaging all the hard work that you put in over the months. It is advised that if you are having a bad day or not in the mood to do your hair, just leave it alone, gel it down or wear a scarf or hat. You may cause more harm than good by venting on your strands. Leave your hair until you are better able to handle your hair with more gentle hands.
  6. Patience Patience Patience: Hair does not grow over night, so it is imperative that you exercise just a little patience. Sometimes we get caught up with seeing growth or getting to a certain length to achieve a hair style that we have been wishing to try, that we don’t enjoy the length we have at the time. Hair grows, it breaks or we cut it, then it growth again. Enjoy the stage that you are at until you get to the next stage then enjoy that stage, so in the end you are enjoying every moment without missing a beat. You may enjoy a particular length and may choose to keep it at that length and that is also fine.
  7. To trim or not to trim, that is the question!: There have been many discussions on trimming the ends of your hair or not. The reality is that, because natural hair is natural curly, fragile and prone to dryness, then wear and tear will come, especially the longer it gets. The ends of the hair, the oldest and weakest part of our hair, will, over time develop split ends and single strand knots, although split ends and knots can occur along any part of the strand, it is most commonly seen at the ends. Contrary to popular belief, you cannot repair split ends or unravel single strand knots. The only way to get rid of them, is to get rid of them, by cut them with a well sharpened barber scissors before they travel the length of the strand. The frequency of trimming or dusting the ends is entirely up to you and the state of your hair. Note though that if you are trimming your hair faster than it is growing, you will not retain length.
  8. Water is your friend: Apart from needing water to clean your hair, water is the only product that truly moisturizes your strands. All products that are not water based are just sealant and merely seals in the water that adds moisture to the hair. If your hair is not sufficiently moisturized, the hair can feel dry and brittle and look limp. On the other hand, too much water in the strands can cause the strands to become swollen, making the hair heavy also giving it a limp feeling. In addition, the hair can have a “mushy” or wet feeling. Again, when you learn your hair, you will know the quantity or water to apply to the hair and the frequency in which it should be applied. So learn your hair and find that middle ground. Once you know that amount of water your hair needs, learn what are the best products to seal in that moisture. There are some who follow the LOC method, which stands for Liquid, Oil, Cream. This method may not work for everyone so may need to experiment a bit to see what works best for your hair.
  9. Loving what you got: The unique thing about naturally kinky, curly, coily hair, is that no too heads are exactly alike. They may look and feel similar and may even require the same products but every head of hair is different. The one thing I like to tell other is that you should never compare your hair to another person’s hair. It is a plus when you learn to love your hair just the way it is and if you want a change, you can add colour, cut it and style it to suit your preference. But fall in love, fall head over heels even with your tresses, they are yours and they were perfectly made just for you. When you can appreciate what you were given you can enjoy your hair even more.
  10. Is it just hair: There have been many a discussion on the topic, so what is the answer!, is it JUST hair? It is hair, yes that is correct but for me it is a little more than hair. For me, my hair tells many stories about my heritage and ancestors, where I came from and where I am today. It reminds me that I did not create myself and there is one most powerful, all knowing who created me and I was created imperfectly perfect in his image. It makes me feel myself and alive when I am able to wear my natural hair. I also feel fortunate to even have hair, a privilege that many to not possess, so I wear my hair for them. I am more confident with my hair, the hair that I was born with and not ashamed to wear. I wear my hair for the little girls who may feel pressured to adding chemicals to their sensitive scalps because either society or their peers tell them that they are not pretty or professional enough with their hair. So more me, it is much more than hair. So wear your hair proud because its yours.

Hair Tip: The BIG secrets (about hair growth), or are they!

How to retain moisture and retain length with natural hair

 

  1. Clean hair and scalp: The first step to retaining moisture and ultimately retaining length, [if that is your goal], is to work with a clean canvas. The scalp and length of the strands must be kept clean in order to give it a better chance of absorbing the well needed moisture to keep your hair soft and manageable. Weather you follow the no shampoo method, also known as the girl method or you have a twa, at the in between stage or have waist long hair, hair must be kept clean. You may have to spend a little time figuring out what works for your hair depending on the porosity, density, length and texture by researching and experimenting. Depending on your preference and life style you may wash your hair as often as every day, every week or once a month. It is important to find out what works for you and stick to that method, although it may change from time to time.
  2. Styling choice: There have been many debates whether one should adapt protective styles or not to retain length. Once again it is a matter of choice and goal set. For me, my hair prefers to be in protective styles such as buns and twists because it is prone to drying out leading to knots and tangles, so I rarely have my hair loose. But for other, they are able to wear their hair loose and still retain length. One thing is certain is that too much stress must not be placed on the strands and especially the edges which or easier to break. Choose your styles based on your preference and daily activities.
  3. Tracking length: Note that although the average growth of hair is ½ inch per month, that does not mean that you will retain that amount. It is important to remember that everybody has different growth rates and you have to find out at what rate is your hair growing and how much of that growth you are retaining. If you are retaining much less than your hair is growing then it may seem like your hair is not growing. If that is the case, you should investigate the reasons why you are not retaining length and put steps in place to correct or change as needed. It is also important not to compare your hair growth with others, if you are doing all that you can to preserve your strands, length will come, so don’t obsess over it [because it is pretty over rated ;-)]
  4. Health: Physical and mental health are often over looked factors in hair growth. Hair and nails are the last parts on the body to receive nutrients. So it is essential that you are eating well and exercising both your body and your mind regularly. Stress plays a big part in retaining length, whether it is positive or negative stress. You should know your stress level and find ways to manage it effectively if it is having adverse effects on your health and state of mind. Remember to check with your doctor or health care provider if you have an existing condition and are planning to make drastic life style changes.
  5. Handle with care: Natural hair, especially naturally curly-kinky hair, is very fragile with all the twists and bends in every strand. You could be doing all of the above but if you are rough with you hair, you will be sabotaging the hard work that you put in over the months. It is advisable that if you are having a bad day or not in the mood to do your hair, just leave it alone, gel it down or wear a scarf for example. You may cause more harm than good by venting on your strands. Leave your hair until you able handle your hair with gentle hands.
  6. Patience Patience Patience: Hair does not grow over night, so it is imperative that you exercise a little patience. Sometimes we get caught up with seeing growth or getting to a certain length to achieve a hair style that we have been wishing to try, that we don’t enjoy the length we have at the time. Hair grows, it breaks or we cut it, then it growth again. Enjoy the stage that you are at until you get to the next stage then enjoy that stage, so in the end you are enjoying every moment without missing a beat. You may enjoy a particular length and may choose to keep it at that length and that is also an option.
  7. To trim or not to trim, that is the question!: There have been many discussions on trimming the ends of your hair. The reality is that, because natural hair is natural curly, fragile and prone to dryness, wear and tear will come, especially the longer it gets. The ends of the hair, the oldest and weakest part of our hair, will, over time develop split ends and single strand knots. Although these can occur along any part of the strand, it is most commonly seen at the ends. Contrary to popular belief, you cannot repair split ends or unravel single strand knots. The only way to get rid of them, is to get rid of them, by cut them with a well sharpened barber scissors before they travel the length of the strand. The frequency of trimming or dusting the ends, is entirely up to you and the state of your hair. Note though that if you are trimming your hair faster than it is growing, you will not retain length.

Hair Tip: “Don’t wash your hair too often because it won’t grow…”

This is another very common phrase that I still to hear to this day.

Hair must be kept clean in order to retain moisture. When your hair is dirty, there are different factors that take place. Firstly, dirt and hair products will build up on both the scalp and hair. When the scalp is dirty, just as it is with your skin, it cannot breathe Neither can it absorb the nutrients or moisture it needs. You wouldn’t go three months without bathing, so why would you want to do that to your hair. Treat your hair like you would your body. Keep it clean, handle it gently and keep it well moisturized, you will surely see the difference. Hair that is dirty looks dull and dry because the strands are covered and weighed down with dirt and/or hair products and cuticles become coated which prevent moisture from entering. Keeping hair clean ensures that the strands are not burdened with products or debris and moisture will be able to penetrate the strands, giving it a shiny and healthy grow.

There are many different types of hair cleaners that can be used. Since every head of hair is different, sometimes it can be a trial and error game finding what is best for your hair. What works for one person’s hair may not necessary work for another, even though both may have similar hair textures. There are many debates about what one should use to get hair cleaned and how often it should be cleaned. Whether it is a silicone or sulphate free shampoo, be it organic or homemade or just a conditioner to clean your hair, one thing about which we can all agree is that hair must be cleaned and be kept clean in order to retain moisture effectively and to have healthy strands.

Hair can be cleaned with a shampoo or a conditioner so create a wash routine and keep your hair clean, your hair will thank you

Hair Tip: “Brushing your hair will make it grow”

The media has a very strong influence on a lot of the things that we do and believe. Who hasn’t seen a movie scene in which a lady is sitting in front of the mirror, counting stroke after stroke as she brushes her hair, seeing it supposedly grow as a result. I must admit that I too sat in front of my mirror brushing my hair and counting, in hopes that it would get longer. In my eyes it actually seemed to be getting longer and shinier, but it was simply an illusion, not reality.

Nothing is wrong with brushing your hair; however, the problem lies in the type of brush and the way in which it is used. When you brush your hair, you are creating friction with the hair cuticles. This could lead to damage and sometimes removal of the cuticles if the brush is used incorrectly.

Since the cuticle is the protective layer of the hair strands, it must be kept intact to preserve the integrity of the strand. If the cuticle layer is damaged or destroyed it will be very difficult for your hair to remain moisturized and your hair will feel dry and look dull. Use the brush as little as possible, only when necessary.

Use a soft bristle brush to reduce the friction on the strands especially on the edges which are the most vulnerable. When using a hard bristle brush, tilt the brush at an angle and use very gently. In time you will see the difference in your hair.

The palms of your hands are good substitutes for brushing where and when possible, or try tying a satin scarf around your edges for lying down those troublesome baby hairs.

If you too have been brushing and counting, think again, you could be causing more harm than good, because brushing your hair will NOT make it to grow.

Hair Tip: “Water is bad for your hair”

This is actually one of the biggest misconceptions about natural hair. Like many others, I also believed this until about a year ago.

Water your hair so that it may grow!!

Although my hair was softer and easier to manage when it got wet, I never understood why and never knew the principle behind it. Water is the ONLY product that truly moisturizes your hair and is capable of moisturizing from the inside out. Just as plants need water to grow, so do your hair and skin. That is why it is essential to drink a lot of water; to keep skin hydrated. Drinking water every day is just as important as applying it to hair. Spraying a little bit of water on your hair as needed and sealing it with a cream, butter or oil product, can help to keep your hair well moisturized. How often you spray water on your hair will totally depend on what your hair needs. When you mist some cool water on your hair, you are encouraging the water particles to penetrate the cuticle layers and hydrate the strands. Following with oil, butter or cream will help to trap that moisture in the strands and make hair softer. You will instantly feel the difference when your hair is well moisturized. Learn to listen to your hair and give it what it desires.

Your skin will also reap the benefits from just water. Well hydrated skin is brighter and more supple. Water helps to eliminated toxins from your body, thus making you healthier. Like your hair, skin should be moisturized. Use a moisturizer after a shower while your skin is still damp.

Water alone has many benefits and you should include it in your hair and body routine. Drink up!

Hair Tips: Hair Myths

Let us take a look at a few hair myths, some of which we may have heard at some point while growing up or may still hear today. If we do not know the truth then we will be unable to make the correct decisions. Like many others, I too believed a lot of these myths. Here are a few things that I have heard as a child and still occasionally hear today, all of which are completely false. The more we know about something, the more control we have over the situation. Always do your research and educate yourself about any topic you want to know or talk about.

1. Water is bad for your hair
2. Brushing your hair will make it grow
3. Washing your hair too often will cause it not to grow
4. Black people’s hair cannot grow long
5. Natural hair is strong and does not break
6. Kinky hair can only be managed if it is chemically straightened or pressed (eg perms, texturized, flat ironed)
7. Trimming your hair will make it grow
8. Kinky hair can only grow long if it is in dreadlocks
9. It’s ok to go months without washing your hair if you are using braids or weave
10. Using a texturizer will make your hair grow
11. Certain products will make your hair grow
12. You have to grease or oil your scalp to make your hair grow
13. Using products on your scalp will help your hair to be softer and to grow
14. You have to pull your hair or plait (braid) it tightly to stimulate hair growth
15. Dandruff can make your hair grow

List is not exhausted

Do you know any hair myths that you would like to share?

Interested in finding out if something you were told or know is indeed a myth? Please comment below or send an email to antiguabarbudagirl@live.com just type “hair myths” in the subject.

Hair Tip: Hair growth Factors

Factors that influence hair growth

Now let’s get into what most people are interested in, HAIR GROWTH.
To understand hair growth, you must first understand what causes hair to grow and what prevents it from growing. Now that we understand a little bit more about the hair growth cycle, let us look at the factors that influence or reduce hair growth. I will divide these into the following:
1. Internal factors
2. External factors

*NOTE*: If you haven’t read the post on the “Hair cycle”, now would be a good time to read it before moving on [:-)]

Internal Factors

1. GENETICS: As much as you would like to think that your genes do not play a part in your hair growth, it does. As mentioned before, hair grows on average between ¼ and ½ of an inch per month. Depending on your DNA make up, it can grow faster or slower. Nothing is wrong with you if you hair does not seem to be growing as fast as someone else’s. The important thing to note is that everybody’s hair is different, so DO NOT COMPARE. Study and understand YOUR hair and work at making it as healthy as it can be. Healthy hair will grow. Once you master the art of caring for your hair, growth will come. Don’t worry too much about it.

2. HEALTH: What you put in your body is what you will get out! If you are packing your body with unhealthy food, both your body and hair will suffer the consequences and produce the same poor quality as the food that you put in it. Eating healthy will positively reflect on your body, skin, nails, and even the way you think. A starved body also has a starved mind. Having a well balanced meal also includes keeping your body well hydrated. It is therefore recommended that we drink at least 8 glasses of pure water per day and exercise regularly unless otherwise indicated by a physician.

3. HORMONES: There are many different types of hormones produced in our bodies. The same goes for men as well as women. The differences are in the quantity and types produced. Women of child bearing age in particular undergo a lot of hormone changes which can then influence how their hair grows. Medication, either prescribed or otherwise, and stress also play a vital role in hormone production.

External Factors

1. ENVIRONMENT: The sun and wind can be both good and bad at the same time. Although we can all enjoy the sun light, especially on a cold day, and the wind on a hot day, they can both be very damaging to our skin and hair. Just as the heat and sun can cause forest fires in heavily dense areas, it can cause burns to your skin and hair. The sunlight with its UV waves can literally burn your hair if it is not properly protected. The wind can be just as damaging by lifting the cuticles of the hair strands or by allowing strands to rub on each other creating knots and breakage. So it is essential to cover and protect your hair and skin from these and other elements. I live in Antigua & Barbuda, in the Caribbean, where it is sunny year round, but in countries where there is winter and drought, you have to protect your hair from the snow and the scorching rays. It is important that you protect your hair, particularly the ends since they are the oldest and weakest part of the hair. So by simply wearing a cap or having your hair in a bun, you can reduce the amount of damage to your hair.

2. PRODUCTS: There are no magic portions out there that will make your hair grow. Products DO NOT make your hair grow but they can influence the quality of your strands so it is important to keep your hair clean. You would not go four months without taking a shower, would you? Just as it is essential to clean your skin, so it is with your hair. When there is a lot of product build-up on your hair and scalp, it can weigh down the strands, close the cuticles and prevent moisture from entering. If your hair is not sufficiently moisturized then it will eventually become very dry, weak and brittle. The only way to see growth is to keep your strands well moisturized and healthy.

3. TOOLS & ACCESSORIES: As simple as it may seem, just brushing your hair can cause it to break. Styling tools, if used incorrectly can be traumatic to both your scalp and hair. Extra care must be taken with your hair, particularly when using styling tools and hair accessories. There is a misconception that you must pull tightly on the hair strands in order to stimulate growth. But it is quite the contrary, pulling on your hair actually makes it weaker and weak hair leads to breakage. So be gentle with your hair particularly while washing and styling it.

Remember, the health of your hair and, ultimately, hair growth is influenced from the inside (DNA, eating healthy, hormones) and outside (weather, products, hair tools).

Have fun growing your hair!