10 Steps to Growing African-American Hair
Do you have short or damaged African-American hair, and you are interested in learning how to care for your hair? This article will give you the basic hair education that you need to grow long, healthy hair, despite the many misconceptions about African-American hair.
One of the most common myths about African-American hair is that it cannot grow, but it can. It has been proven that with the proper hair care regimen, education, and a little patience, black hair can grow.
Step 1: Wash and Condition
One of the first steps to growing African-American hair is maintaining its cleanliness and ensuring that it’s properly conditioned. There is a misconception in the black hair community that African-American hair does not need to be washed often, but that is a myth. How often you should wash your African-American hair is contingent on your hair needs. If you have naturally oily hair, you may need to wash it more often than others.
Washing your hair regularly is a critical part of your hair growth journey as water is your number one hair moisturizer. It will also prevent dirt and excess oils from blocking moisture from penetrating the hair shaft and cuticle. When the hair is deprived of moisture, it may become brittle, which can lead to breakage and a setback on your hair growth journey.
Shampoos for African-American Hair
There are two types of hair shampoos that you should use, which are as follows:
- Moisturizing shampoo
- Clarifying shampoo
What is a moisturizing shampoo?
A moisturizing shampoo is gentle enough to use on a daily basis, once a week, or twice a week—the choice is yours. It gives the hair a nice cleanse while simultaneously moisturizing the hair and promoting healthy, manageable hair. It doesn’t severely strip your hair of its natural oils.
What is a clarifying shampoo?
A clarifying shampoo is harsh on the hair and it will strip the hair of its natural oils, and it will feel extremely dry afterward. It’s definitely a hair product that you would want to use once a month to remove styling products and oils you use on a daily basis.
Conditioning your African-American hair is just as important as washing your hair. Some experts say that it’s best to condition your hair before you shampoo so that you can rinse it out afterward. It is believed that if you condition your hair after you wash it, it may be difficult to rinse all the conditioner out, and it will weigh your hair down.
Either way, it is important that you condition your hair to replenish the moisture that the shampoo stripped away. The benefit of hair conditioner is that it will act immediately, conditioning each hair strand and making it smoother and easier to manage.
Step 2: Leave-In Conditioner
Some women may feel as though using a leave-in conditioner is a bit of a hassle and they opt to skip this step, but experts suggest that you don’t. Adding a leave-in conditioner after washing and conditioning your hair should be a part of your regimen for growing your African-American hair because it has several benefits. The best leave-in hair conditioner adds extra moisture, protein, and nutrients that your hair needs, and it will condition your hair throughout the day.
Step 3: Dust or Trim Split Ends
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 4: Deep Conditioning
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 to 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 5: Use Less Heat
Applying heat to your hair is a popular method for achieving a straight look, but although it is known as one of the best hairstyles for women, it may lead to damage that cannot be reversed. Using less heat will prevent this from happening and causing a setback in your hair growth journey.
Step 6: Moisturize and Seal
Moisturizing and sealing your hair on a daily basis is necessary to adequately meet the hydration needs of your hair. Without this two-step process, it can lead to split ends, breakage, or thinning of the hair.
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 separate.
- Untie a section of your hair and thoroughly apply the moisturizer, which can be any moisturizer that you like. Afterward, take a hair oil and apply it on top of the moisturizer to seal in the moisture. Make sure the amount of both the moisturizer and oil is less than dime size—a little goes a long way.
If your hair is wet after you moisturized and sealed your hair, that is an indication that you have applied too much. Applying the right amount will help your hair keep its volume and bounce.
Step 7: Protection
There are tons of things that can cause damage to your African-American hair, and for that reason only, you should always take caution, especially when it pertains to your ends. They are the oldest part of your hair and needs extra attention. One false move and they're liable to snap and take a few hair strands along the way.
You should also be mindful of your hair when you're asleep as you 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 a cottony fabric while they are sleeping, but that can cause breakage or damage too.
So, satin is the way to go to maintain the healthy African-American hair.
Here Are Top Five Protective Hairstyles
- Box Braids
- Sew-In Weave
- Phony Pony
- Updo Hairstyles
The reason the aforementioned hairstyles are considered protective is due to the mere fact that it protects your hair from everything that may damage it, such as harsh materials, styling, temperature, manipulation, etc.
Step 8: 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 9: Stay Away From Relaxers
Okay, you don’t necessarily have to stay away from relaxers, but you should know that it can be damaging to your hair if you relax too often. Hair experts suggest that you should relax your hair every eight weeks, but every two months is harsh on the hair. African-American hair grows half an inch per month, sometimes less and with a little amount of hair to work with, it can lead to over-processing.
When the hair is over-processed, sometimes there is nothing you can do but to cut off your hair and start all over. In order to prevent setbacks on your hair growth journey, use relaxers less often.
Some women relax their hair once or twice per year. It may be difficult to deal with the two textures, but 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 for a longer period of time.
On another note, if you can find a professional to apply your relaxers, allow them to do it. It is almost impossible to apply a relaxer yourself without putting it on hair that is already processed.
Step 10: Use Appropriate Tools
It is important to use the appropriate tools when you are trying to grow your African-American hair. This will prevent any unnecessary damaging that will cause a setback. Some of the tools you should use to maintain healthy hair are a ceramic flat iron and wide-tooth combs.
Questions & Answers
© 2014 Angelica N Sumter