Natural hair growth is one of those topics that will always come up when two or more naturals come together. Many of us dream of having long, thick hair that falls down to our backs if not down to our waists. While kinky and coily textured hair (afro-textured hair) is a little more difficult to grow long, with a little patience and an effective hair care regimen, everyone can grow out their hair long enough to reach their dream length.
We must, however, point out this little bit of fact as we begin. On average, human hair grows at a rate of about half an inch every month. Your rate of growth is dictated by your genetics and is affected by your age and general health. Some people do fall slightly below the average growth rate while others are slightly above it.
Wherever you fall, in the growth rate spectrum, it is realistic to set and work towards a goal of retaining at least 4- 5 inches of your hair each year. The keyword here being retaining slightly less hair than grows out of your scalp in the course of a year.
There are several ways of stimulating your hair to grow a little bit longer than average but many are unscientific and very difficult to prove. There is however no harm in trying if they do give you your desired result.
Below we discuss a few tips and tricks that can help you retain more length and hopefully closer to the end of your journey into growing long hair.
1.Build a Good Hair Care Regimen
It’s very important to have a good hair care regimen and that is always a great place to start because once your hair is healthy then volume and length retention will automatically follow.
Read More: Natural Hair Beginners Kit
2. Trim when necessary
This is not something most naturals who are on a natural hair growth journey want to hear. However, done regularly and when really needed, a trimming can get you closer to your goals.
Schedule a trim when you notice it get harder to get a comb through your hair, when your ends feel rougher than the rest of your hair and when your curls or coils don’t quite look like they usually do. These changes signal damaged hair and or split ends. Getting a trim sooner rather than later ensures that the damage doesn’t travel further up your hair strands and ensures reduced breakage from tangling and knotting.
Ultimately, regularly trimming boosts your hair growth goals as you end up loosing only hair you have planned to lose and no more of it.
3. Detangle Properly
Use the Right tools
There are many ways to detangle natural hair. there are equally as many detangling tools: combs made with wood, metal and plastic, small and wide-tooth combs, Denman brushes, detangling brushes and so many more.
Make sure to use the tool that is right for you and your hair type. When in doubt about a tool, begin with finger detangling. What you are looking for is a detangling process where you are in total control and don’t snag or pull on your hair. A good detangling session is where you don’t hear that crackle and snap sound at any point.
Detangle Damp Not Wet Hair
It’s good practice not to detangle your hair when it is dry. Therefore, make sure your hair is moisturized and if you can ensure it is slightly damp before you begin. Moisturized hair is definitely more pliable than dry hair and on the other spectrum, damp hair is safer to work with than wet hair. It is important to note that hair at it’s weakest state when wet.
To ensure you don’t pass the threshold between wet and damp, use a spray bottle when you are working with dry hair and only spray through two or three times per section. If your hair is soaking wet hair, wrap a towel or t-shirt around it and give it five to ten minutes to soak up the excess water before manipulating it in any way.
4. Massage Your Scalp Regularly
Massaging your scalp regularly is a well know and a simple to practice method of stimulating hair growth. Scalp massages not only feel good but improve and increase blood circulation to the hair follicle. This equals more nutrients to the hair follicle and ultimately stimulated hair growth.
Massage your scalp as often as you can, working in circular motions. Pay special attention to your problem areas if you have any, like your edges and your nape.
5. Incorporate Herbal Treatments to Your Hair Routine
Aloe vera has long been used to treat hair loss. It soothes the scalp, conditions hair and reduces dandruff. Believed to also unblock hair follicles, it promotes hair growth by ensuring a healthy scalp. Use aloe vera gel by applying it to your scalp, or as a hair mask when washing your hair. An even simpler way to incorporate it into your hair is to use products that made with aloe vera.
Hot Oil Treatments
Incorporate hot oil treatments into your hair care regimen. When doing so use light oils or blend of oils like coconut oil, olive oil, castor, jojoba, sunflower, almond and avocado oil that absorbs easily into your hair and scalp and avoid heavy butters like shea and cocoa that could potentially clog your pores.
Warm the oil by placing it in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes before applying it your hair and scalp. Steam your hair or wear a shower cap leaving the oil on for 15 to 30 minutes. Makes sure to do this prior to washing your hair to ensure you are able to shampoo any excess oils off.
You can improve hair growth by using natural essential oils to your hair care regimen. These oils are very potent so make sure to dilute them in another oil to avoid irritation. Essential oils famed for increased hair growth include tea tree, hemp seed, black seed, garlic, ginger, peppermint and lavender oils.
Believed to reduce hair shedding, tea can also be incorporated into your hair routine. Simply brew a cup of tea and allow it to cool. Use the tea to do your final rinse whenever you wash your hair. Tea rinses also help to naturally dye your hair and make it shine.
6. Nutrition & Supplements
To have healthy hair, you have to do healthy things. Align your diet with your hair growth goals by eating foods rich in protein, sulphur, magnesium and vitamins. Try to also incorporate some fish into your diet if you can, as they are rich in omegas. Omega fatty acids improve your hair from the inside and may also help to reduce hair loss.
To further assist your goals, you can also take hair growth supplements. Studies show that supplements that have Niacin and Biotin can make your hair grow faster. However, proceed with caution when using supplements as they can have adverse side effects on the rest of your health. It is, therefore, a good idea to seek a doctor’s advice before you take any supplements.
7. Unconventional Hair Growth Stimulation Remedies
A method borrowed from the Yao Women of China, using rice water on your hair is said to strengthen the hair as well as stimulate hair growth. We have written more about it in Rice water hair rinse myth or reality.
All we would say is give it a try and be patient and consistent before you write it off.
Onion & Ginger Juice or Oil
While both require quite a bit of work to make and an ability to ignore the smell, you may find that the benefits to be worthwhile. Onion juice and ginger oil all have the ability to promote hair growth as they are thought to improve circulation. A small study done on animal show improved keratin growth factor and blood flow to the cuticles with the use of onion juice.
To create your onion and or ginger juice grate or blend a small piece of onion/ginger and sieve or squeeze out the juice. Apply the juice to your scalp and hair and leave in for at least 15 minutes. Then shampoo normally.
Making ginger or onion oil requires a little bit more care but the resulting oil is more likely to last beyond one use. Finely mince or grate your onion or ginger (0r both) and add to a pan of hot oil. Cook it for a few minutes on low heat and ensure you don’t let it burn by stirring constantly. Sieve your oil and let it cool before use. Store in a cool dark place in an airtight jar and if possible use within a month to ensure it does not go rancid. To use the oil apply it onto your hair and scalp and leave on for a few minutes before shampooing your hair.
The Inversion Method or Down Ward Dog
Believers of this method believe that hanging your head upside down for a few minutes improves blood circulation to your scalp resulting in increased hair growth. While we would suggest incorporating some yoga downward down into your daily routine instead, many practitioners also suggest that you should massage your scalp while in the position.
A source of inspiration will motivate you to stay focused on your goals. Head into Pinterest or YouTube and find someone whose hair you admire and is similar to yours for better results. Whether it’s their wash routines or a hairstyle they often wear to protect their hair. Some of them have managed to grow their hair to waist length, so they obviously know a thing or two.
If you land on a blogger as your source of inspiration, they will even have some videos and tutorials you can watch and likely pick up some of their tips and tricks. Check out Sheila Ndinda, Michelle Anyango and Carol Tichie for some local inspiration.
Own Your Journey
Don’t compare your hair growth progress with someone else. Every head of natural hair is different and therefore everyone experiences different rates of hair growth. Focus on you and what your hair goals are whether it is health, length or even thickness. Learn to love your natural hair and to appreciate your own small victories.
Peace, love and lots of moisture!