10 Steps to Growing African-American Hair

Updated on March 23, 2018

One of the myths about African-American hair (relaxed or natural) is that it cannot grow or that the length cannot exceed past the nape of the neck, but it’s been proven that with the proper hair care regimen and a little patience, black hair can grow.

Trimming the Hair: Before and After
Trimming the Hair: Before and After | Source

Step 1: Trim or Dust the Ends of Your Hair

If you are unfamiliar with dusting, it is simply trimming less than a quarter-inch of your hair every four to six months to get rid of split ends and retain hair growth. Notice I mentioned “retain hair growth” and not “promote hair growth,” and there’s a reason. Some people may think that cutting the ends of their hair may be the precipitation of their African-American hair growth, but that is false. It is only a practice used to help maintain the health of black hair.

If you have split ends, which can be caused by a slew of reasons, and you don’t cut them off, it can damage your hair. Sure the split end will eventually snap off on its own, but guess what, it will take several hair strands along the way that will eventually lead to thinning hair if neglecting your ends remains constant—so dust your ends.

However, don’t go overboard. Some hair experts may suggest cutting off an inch of hair, but if you’re trying to grow long African-America hair, it wouldn’t be wise to do that as you will not see any growth.

Step 2: Wash and Condition Your Hair

This may be a no-brainer, but you would be surprised at how many people do not wash their hair, especially in the African American community.

Many people believe the myth that African Americans should not wash their hair very often because it is more prone to breakage.

Although it is true that African American hair breaks more easily, it doesn’t mean that the hair should not be washed. Everything needs to be cleaned, right?

Besides, with all the build-up from the daily moisturizing and sealing, it is imperative that the hair gets a good cleansing afterwards to continue a normal growth rate and prevent breakage.

How Often Should You Your Hair?

Every day? Once a week? The answer is simple: it’s solely up to you and your hair.

If you have naturally oily hair, you are going to want to wash it once a week. If you have dry hair, then you can wash it as often as needed or every two weeks. But no matter what, you should not wash your hair every day because it will strip the hair of its natural oils.

Then, you would really experience breakage and you don’t want that—the point is to grow, not endure setbacks every week.

Types of Shampoo

You should always carry two types of shampoos:

  • A moisturizing shampoo
  • A clarifying shampoo

The moisturizing shampoo is the one that you will use once a week or every two weeks—completely up to you.

Since the shampoo contains a few ingredients that will strip the hair of its natural oils, such as alcohol and sulfate, you want to make sure that the shampoo of your choice incorporates a moisturizer.

Now, the clarifying shampoo is only for use once every month. Clarifying shampoos contains harsh ingredients.

You need to use it in order to strip the hair of all of the products that are applied to it that can cause dirt and build up, leading to breakage. Since it is powerful, you should use it in moderation.

Step 3: Protect Your Hair at Night

Some faces may cringe while reading this, but did you know that there is a huge, massive possibility that you can damage your hair while you are sleeping? It’s true!

The ends of your hair can get caught on your pillowcase or any piece of fabric and rip off, leaving you with shorter and shorter hair each time you wake up. This is why it is important to care for your hair before bed.

Using a silk bonnet or scarf will take care of this problem. Some people may want to use a bandana or cottony fabric while they are sleeping, but that can cause breakage or damage too.

So, satin is the way to go to maintain the health of your hair.

Optional: A Glance at Wrapping Hair at Night

Step 4: Moisturize and Seal Hair

Since African American hair is known for being dry, which causes breakage, it is important to moisturize the hair on a daily basis with a moisturizing lotion.

This is to uphold the strength of the hair and prevent it from breaking off from the weather, clothing, and styling.

After moisturizing your hair with your choice of lotion, you need to seal in that moisture with an oil product.

Some people feel as though moisturizing and sealing the hair is time consuming. Therefore, they opt to purchase an oil moisturizer to complete this step.

You can do this too. There are various products on the market that contains both moisturizer and oil in the product, saving you time and and money.

How to Moisturize and Seal African American Hair

  • Part your hair in four, six, or eight sections – depending on the thickness of your hair. You can use bobby pins or hair ties to keep each section separated.
  • Untie a section of your hair and thoroughly apply a moisturizer. Afterwards, take a hair oil product and apply it on top of the moisturizer. Make sure the amount for both the moisturizer and oil is less than dime size—a little goes a long way.
  • If your hair is wet in appearance, that is an indication that you have applied too much moisturizer and oil or both. Applying too much can cause weighed down hair and who wants dead and lifeless hair? Surely not you, right? Applying the right amount will help your hair keep its volume and bounce.
  • You are all done! You can now style your hair or prep it for bed.

A Look at How to Moisturize and Seal Hair

Step 5: Deep Condition Hair Periodically

Deep conditioning the hair should be executed once per week or as often as needed. Its objective is to maintain the health of your hair and keep it strong.

After the first month of deep conditioning your hair religiously, you will notice a change. Your hair will be a lot healthier, thicker, and fuller.

How to Apply a Deep Conditioner

If you are familiar with applying a relaxer, you will execute it the same way. If you are not familiar with how to apply a relaxer, then read further as I provide you with instructions on how to apply a deep conditioner.

  • Part your hair in four, six, or eight sections—solely up you—to prepare it for the application.
  • Untie a section of your hair and apply the deep conditioner treatment on your hair from root to tip. Do this to each section of your hair.
  • Once you have distributed the deep conditioning cream, let it sit in your hair for at least thirty minutes. The longer you leave the deep conditioning cream in your hair, the better the results will be. You can also sit under a dryer for better results, but this is not recommended due to the usage of heat. As you read further, you will have a better understanding of the dangers of using heat while on a healthy hair care journey.
  • After leaving the conditioner in your hair, rinse it out and apply a leave-in conditioner.

Step 6: Wear Protective Hairstyles

It is important that you choose hairstyles that will protect the ends of your hair. Since it is the oldest part of our hair, you need to take extra precaution to ensure that it doesn’t rip off.

Some hair styles can be damaging because it exposes your hair to weather, clothing, and other things that can cause damage.

Top Five Protective Hairstyles

  1. Box Braids
  2. Sew-In Weave
  3. Phony Pony
  4. Up-do Hairstyles
  5. Wigs

The reason why the hairstyles mentioned above are considered protective is because it protects your hair from all the things that can cause damage.

On another note, let’s not use this as an excuse to never wear your real hair. Some women claim they never expose their real hair because they don’t want to damage it.

Kind of absurd, isn’t it? I mean, what good does it do to care for your hair if you are not going to show it off? Wearing protective hairstyles doesn’t mean you have to do it for an eternity.

Just take six weeks out of the year to give your hair a break. Also, “protective hairstyle does not mean you have to wear a weave—it’s optional.

In fact, there are millions of women of African descent that don’t even wear weaves at all and their hair is mid-back length or waist length, and healthy too.

Step 7: Co-Wash

Although you are adding moisture to your hair on a daily basis or as often as needed, your hair can still become dry throughout the week.

Hence, it is vital to co-wash your hair to ensure that moisture is locked in.

What Is Co-Washing?

Co-washing is simply using a conditioner to wash your hair. Now that African American hair care has become more prominent, there is an array of co-washing products to purchase at your local beauty supply store.

Before, you would have had to purchase a conditioner in order to execute this step.

As a heads up, most of the co-washing products will say they're for natural hair, but you can still use it on chemically processed hair—it works wonders.

Step 8: Relax or Texturize Less Often

If you are not a part of the natural hair community, then you should be mindful of how often you relax your hair.

Some women relax or texturize their hair every four to six weeks and quite frankly, that’s a bit much.

You should apply a relaxer or texturizer no more than every three months. The longer you wait, the better it will be for your hair. Applying chemicals to your hair too often can cause breakage and/or hair thinning.

If your hair is unmanageable after two months, there is a solution. You can purchase the Dark and Lovely Six-Week Anti-Reversion Serum. It is designed to preserve your straight hair, allowing you to go without a relaxer or texturizer for a longer period of time.

Also, if you can find someone to apply your relaxers or texturizer, allow them to do it. It is almost impossible to apply a relaxer or texturizer yourself without putting it on hair that is already processed.

This can cause your hair to become over-processed, which can lead to breakage and permanent damage. A hair stylist or a personal friend would be ideal in this case.

Step 9: Use Less Heat

Applying heat is a popular method for achieving a straight look. Although it may look marvelous, you are doing nothing but damaging your hair. Heat causes damage, and once your hair has heat damage, it cannot be reversed.

The only thing left is to cut it off, causing a setback in your healthy haircare journey. Now if you have no choice but to use heat, it is suggested that you use a heat protectant spray to avoid any damages. But using no heat at all would be ideal.

This is how you can go about executing a no-heat lifestyle:

  1. Let your hair air dry after washing
  2. Wrap hair before bed for a straight look
  3. Use roller sets, bantu knots, and a pin curl technique to achieve a curly look

Step 10: Use a Leave-In Conditioner

Earlier in this article, we mentioned how the ingredients in shampoos can strip the hair of its natural oils. What we didn’t discuss is what to do after shampooing the hair.

Of course, you have a conditioner to restore the moisture into your hair, but what is done after you apply your conditioner? You rinse it out.

A leave-in conditioner will stay in your hair, keeping the moisture locked in. It also helps with softness of the hair, split ends, protein, repairs damage, and makes hair manageable.

So, after utilizing your regular shampoo, be sure to add your leave-in conditioner.

More: 10 Tips to Grow Out Long Healthy Hair

EXTRA: Use a Wide Tooth Comb

Combing or brushing the hair isn’t that great for the hair, but we have to groom ourselves, right? So, if and when you do, be sure to use a wide tooth comb.

This will help keep more strands of hair on your head and prevent split ends. If you purchase a comb that isn’t wide tooth, it can rip your hair out and in some cases, it can cause split ends.

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Questions & Answers


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      • profile image

        David karma 2 weeks ago

        friends how long can it take me to make my hair long

      • profile image

        Pamela Mason 4 weeks ago

        Need help maintaining my locs. 10 year old locs are drying and also breaking on the ends.

      • profile image

        Robin Thick 8 weeks ago

        Good tips

      • profile image

        ms d 3 months ago

        thanks a lot now I will see the result when I do this. Thanks a lot lady I will do this to better my hair. Thanks again

      • profile image

        Britania 6 months ago

        Well i should first say thank you for actually sharing these tips out of the kindness out of your heart. This truly help me in many ways than one. Also it help to emphasise the importance of moisture...and of course how cleansing is important for the hair. I struggle with split ends, in the process of repairing my hair. I useto cut my hair often because

        1. I'm not patient enough and i think the one thing I've done right for my hair should allow it to at least grow 5 inches ( i know unrealistic).

        2. i hated seeing the split ends which is a result #1.

        Sorry for so much ranting. But this HELP ME alot.

        Thank you so much for sharing.

      • profile image

        Yewande 9 months ago

        Very lovely article. I used to have very very damaged hair, receded hairline from breakage. I tried all kinds of products in my hair and still my hair was not growing. Until my friend recommended an hair growth product by HJorganic, and my hair has completely grown back thick and long. I also don't use heat on my hair and I only relax my hair twice a year. I totally recommend it for people trying to grow out their hair. Goodluck!

      • profile image

        Victoria 11 months ago

        Hello I was wondering can you wash your hair every 2 weeks with the box braids in are would I have to take them out to get all the hair washed ??

      • profile image

        Md Natural 11 months ago

        Sitting under a hooded dryer with a cap is not damaging to your hair. You want to avoid direct heat, diffused heat for purposes of deep conditioning or partially drying hair is not bad for your hair. If you have a hooded or bonnet dryer use that in conjunction with your deep conditioner especially if you have low porosity hair.

      • bodylevive profile image

        BODYLEVIVE 15 months ago from Alabama, USA

        Great hub, so very informative. My girl friend has has like the first picture and she always complain about her beautiful hair. It's naturally curly with no chemicals. She's been thinking of cutting it and adding a relaxer to it. Well, she won't be able to wear a long pony tail then, lol. Be Blessed until we meet again.

      • profile image

        Tawanna Coward 15 months ago

        Thank you so much for this information. I am a licenses stylish and I have my teaching degree for Cosmetology. I enjoy receiving as much information that people has to offer. Thank you so much.

      • profile image

        Alisha 16 months ago

        Love this best tips for hair growth I've seen #muchneeded

      • profile image

        Tricia 17 months ago

        Hey, Jasmine although we have these hair care products the best thing we can also do to help our hair is to have a proper diet. A diet also helps in the growth of anything in our body.

        Be easy and gentle on the hair. Hair do get stressed out also. Do not comb when wet. And when doing protective styles do not pull on your edges. Your edges probably came out because your trying to achieve a look ( specific type of look). Please try to please yourself and not any one.

        Your hair is your beauty, so take care of it!!

      • profile image

        Jasmine 17 months ago

        Hello. Im from Oakland, Ca. Im confused as far as the protective styles go. The type of hair that I have can't take any type of weave whatsoever. No matter how much i try to keep it moisturized, it thins because it comes out in big clumps. I've even tried a few styles with my hair and my edges fell out. How do I get my hair to thicken back up? Any products and styles that anyone can recommend plz? Thanks

      • profile image

        Naomi 19 months ago

        Does it work for African natural hair (not relaxed)? because Im African and I want to know before trying it out

      • profile image

        Duva 19 months ago

        My hair is relaxed, but i just had a pixie dust cut because it was shedding A LOT! i was neck lenght, most of the time, but my hair kept growing and breaking, finally My hair got very truly damaged. And i cut it, now i dont really know what to do to grow it long like shoulder lenght, fast. I'm from Haiti

      • profile image

        Emmanuel Divine Favour Anointed 20 months ago

        I'm from Port Harcourt my hair is relaxed bt I want it to become waist lenghted

      • profile image

        Brianna 21 months ago

        Hello I am from Los Angeles , I am about to Start my hair journey . I thought I had chop all my hair off but this article was a big help .just need to take care of my hair especially because it was relaxed .

      • profile image

        Tamera Carmon 22 months ago

        I haven't been to a salon in almost 11 years and my hair is down my back. I take pride in my hair though. Being natural if that is what your trying to do it is a process and you will need to be consistent. Even the tips above will help. I suggest that you should chop off all damage hair and have a fresh start. It will be a journey but you will be pleased.

      • profile image

        Tina 23 months ago

        I live in Harlem in NYC. I have very damaged short hair and I would like to know if anyone knows of a good salon that truly cares for your hair and knows how to bring back healthy hair. There are many salons who will take me on as a customer but not really care about the health of my hair and work with me on a plan to protect my hair.

      • profile image

        Kristina 2 years ago

        Thank you !