10 Steps to Growing African-American Hair

Updated on May 18, 2018
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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.

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

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

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

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

    Comments

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      • profile image

        David karma 

        3 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Pamela Mason 

        3 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Robin Thick 

        4 months ago

        Good tips

      • profile image

        ms d 

        6 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 

        9 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 

        12 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 

        13 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 

        14 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 

        17 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 

        18 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 

        18 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Tricia 

        20 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 

        20 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 

        21 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 

        22 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 

        22 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Brianna 

        24 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 

        2 years 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 

        2 years 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 !

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