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How to Retain Length for African American Hair

Updated on July 19, 2015

Useful tips and tricks for African American Hair

Many African American women are finding themselves unhappy with the overall length and health of their hair. This usually results in them feeling forced to wear weaves and wigs. However, many women have decided to take a stand and embark on a hair to lengthen and strengthen their hair. This is a comprehensive guide to everything you need to know on your hair journey. If you truly serious about retaining length, use this guide as your hair bible and your are sure to attain success.

  1. Be proud, and love yourself! The first thing you have to realize is that you are beautiful without any wigs or weaves, or perms for that matter. There is nothing wrong with using these things to enhance your natural beauty, as long as you know you can go without them sometimes.
  2. Be Patient. Your hair will not grow to your down your back overnight. It takes hard work and diligence. Some days you will have setbacks and get frustrated. Some women even revert back to their old habits. Your hair will never grow if you don't stick to the plan! You have stay consistent for a number of years before you can grow your hair to waist length.
  3. Don’t treat this as a program, treat as a lifestyle. As soon as you stop, your hair will stop growing and being healthy.
  4. Realize that no product grows your hair, only you can grow your hair with the help of the proper products and tools.
  5. Don’t be afraid of your natural texture, embrace it. Some women that have relaxers tend to over process their hair because they can't stand to have a little new growth. Try to go at least 3-4 months in between touchups to avoid over processing and breakage. Use braid out styles to blend the two textures if need be.
  6. Before you start this journey to stronger, longer, healthy hair, you will need to trim your ends, to have a fresh start.
  7. Don’t be afraid to trim your ends, split and damaged ends will continue break and you will never be able to retain length.
  8. Never use heat appliances more than once a month on your hair. These appliances include: flat irons, hot combs, curling irons, and blow dryers. Since African hair is naturally dry, these things make our hair extremely dry and weak hair. As a result, your hair will break and thin out. Therefore, in order to maintain length and thickness with your hair, your must limit your use of heat to once a month. When you do apply heat, make sure that the heat is low, and also make sure that you have your hair completely moisturized and detangled with a wide tooth comb before you apply heat.
  9. Whenever you wash your hair, apply coconut oil to your scalp then moisturize with a oil moisturizer and seal with coconut oil. Once you have taken these steps allow for your hair to air dry. Again never use a blow dryer to dry your hair.
  10. When you are rinsing out your hair after conditioning it, run cold water over it once and detangle with a wide tooth comb. Then proceed to rinse out the rest of the conditioner with cold water. When you rinse your hair with cold water you seal in all the moister that the conditioner has given to your hair. You also make it stronger, so that your hair won’t break off as easily as if it would if you had rinsed it with hot water. This because hot water opens up your hair follicles which make them susceptible to breakage. It is ok to rinse with hot water when shampooing (this opens the follicle so that moisture from the conditioner can be soaked in) however you need to make sure that the last rinse is cold.
  11. Never use a fine tooth comb on your hair, under any circumstances. Always use a wide tooth comb when you are detangling. If you do use fine tooth comb, it will make your hair weak, causing it to break much more than it would with a wide tooth comb.
  12. Always be gentle with your hair. Never be rough with your hair, or else you risk causing unwanted damage that could have been prevented.
  13. Always keep your hair clean, wash with shampoo at least every 2 weeks and co wash with conditioner every week. This will ensure that you are not drying your hair out with shampoo every week. When you do co wash make sure that you deep condition for at least 30 minutes. When your scalp is clean it, it allows your follicles to breath and let new growth come in.
  14. Never go to sleep without covering your hair with a silk or satin scarf at night
  15. When you wear a cotton scarf for adornment, always moisturize your before the fact so that the friction from the cotton will not break your hair.
  16. When your hair gets to shoulder length, start using protective styles, so that the friction from your clothes won’t break the ends of your hair. Protective styles include buns, updos, chunky braids, wigs, and sometimes even sew ins.
  17. When you do decide to use wigs, you must ensure 2 things. 1: Moisturize your hair underneath the wig before applying a wig cap. 2: Never wear a wig that uses tape, glue, or puts strain on your edge. This would be very counter productive to your hair growth journey.
  18. When wearing a sew in, make sure you are not putting strain on your edges, or leave out. Do not wear sew ins constantly, you must have a few months break in between sew ins. You always must ensure that your natural hair is kept clean and moisturized.
  19. Always pay special attention to your ends, they are the oldest part of your hair. If you don’t properly care for your ends, you will not be able to retain length. Always seal them with oil after moisturizing.
  20. Avoid tying your hair to tight, or wearing head bands around your edges. If you wear buns frequently, try to alternate the places where you tie it everyday. Failling to do so will result in tension alopecia. You might not see it now but it will defineatly creep up on you in the future. It is ideal to wear buns once in a while, not daily.
  21. Never relax or color your hair more than once every 3 months, wait at least 2 months if you can’t bear the pressure.
  22. Always moisturize your new growth, line of demarcation (for those that relax their hair) and for colored hair.
  23. Limited the number of times you get braids, extensions, weave and weave glue. Instead opt for wigs. However be aware not to choose wigs that use glue on the edge, they can rip your hair out, or even cause allergic reactions that will leave you with an unsightly infection and thinned edges.
  24. When you style your hair always remove rings, your hair can get caught in them and break off.
  25. Use low manipulation styles for everyday. These include any styles that don't require too much teasing, combing, and heat to your hair.
  26. Drink plenty of water, and eat healthy. Remember, you are what you eat. You can't expect beautiful hair and skin when you eat junk all day.
  27. Don’t Use thick petroleum based hair dressing pomades, instead use oils and butters.
  28. Use natural heavy protein treatments once a month (mix egg yolks and avocados) Whisk one egg yolk, one teaspoon of olive oil, and one teaspoon of honey together in a small bowl. Using a fork, mash in 1/2 of an avocado. Then, while you’re in the shower, apply the paste first to your ends and then all over your hair. Let it soak into your strands for 15 to 20 minutes, rinse it out, shampoo, and then rinse again.
  29. Take biotin vitamins, these vitamins are not a magic pill that grow your hair. They are simply taken to help the hair grow stronger so that it won’t break off as easily.
  30. Be aware of the products that you are using on your hair, don’t just buy them because they promise hair growth. The wrong products can leave you with breakage and dryness. Use new products for a minimum of one month. This way if there is a problem in your hair, you can easily determine which product you should discontinue.

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