Tag Archives: hair growth

seal-ends2

Save your hair! Tips on sealing your ends

Our ends are the most fragile part of our hair. They are the very reason so many African-American women experience breakage and tend to have shorter hair. This does not have to be the case. We can do this! Aside from the need to be gentle with our hair to retain length, we must also properly seal our ends. Since the moisture from our scalp has a hard time getting past all our coils and curls, our ends dry out really fast. To seal your ends mean to “lock” in moisture to your strands using oil or butter. Here’s my technique. Of, course you can make adjustments based on your hair type.

Water
First, to seal your ends you need to start with wet hair. Our hair needs lots of moisture so that it will not dry out and become brittle. It’s a good habit to practice sealing your ends after washing or as needed to control dryness. Be sure to towel blot the excess water. If the hair is too wet the products we apply will slip off. Also be sure to re-wet the hair with a spray bottle of water as the hair begins to dry out during the sealing process.

Water-based moisturizer
After adding water, you will want to use a water-based moisturizer or conditioner that lists water as the first ingredient and contains no petroleum, lanolin or mineral oil. During this process, I also like to detangle my hair with my fingers by gently running my fingers through my hair to pull the hair apart and loosen tangles. Then, I take one small section at a time and coat it with the moisturizer from root to end.

Oil
For your oil, try olive oil, grapeseed oil or shea butter. Some recommend coconut oil to seal ends, but I find it to be too light for this process (not enough slip + absorbs too much into the hair). Apply a small amount of oil to each small section from root to end. Add a little extra oil to your fingertips and pinch and smooth down the ends. If you find unruly spit ends, trim them. Sealing will not save them.

I like to twist each section as I seals my ends because I find it easier to manage my hair in twists. For those with shorter hair, you may find twisting to be unnecessary. I find it helpful to place my hair in a protective style after sealing. This way, you give your ends some rest from styling.

Your turn:
Do you seal you ends? How often? What products do you find most useful?

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Growth Chronicles Part 2: How Hair Grows, and why Black Hair is Different

Do you have problems with hair growth? Have you ever wondered why your hair does not grow as fast or has seemed to stop growing? In our part 1 of this series, I shared my personal story with hair growth. Now, I personally want to take my hair to the next level…but can I? Will highly textured, tightly coiled hair grow free outside of braids and locs? I think that an understanding of why and how hair grows and why Black, afro-textured hair is different may ease some of the frustration. For some of you natural hair vets, this may seem elementary. Of course, I will put my spin on it, so here goes.


The Basics: What is hair?

Source

Hair growth begins inside the hair follicle found under the skin. The only “living” portion of the hair is found in the follicle. Other structures of the hair follicle include the oil producing sebaceous glands which lubricate the hair. What we think of as the hair that grows out from our head is the hair shaft. Once the hair shaft (hair) grows out from the follicle it is considered “dead” because it has no biochemical activity. The living part of the hair is bottom part of the shaft surrounding the papilla called the bulb. This bottom part is the only part fed by the capillaries (blood supply). The cells in the bulb divide every 23 to 72 hours, faster than any other cells in the body.

The hair shaft/strand is roughly divided into three zones: the cuticle, cortex and medulla. The cortex, the middle layer is the main structural component of the hair. It is primarily made up of the keratin protein and is the primary source of mechanical strength and water uptake. The cortex also contains melanin, which gives the hair color.

The phases of growth
Hair production occurs in phases, including a growth phase (anagen), and transitional/cessation phase (catagen), and a rest phase (telogen).

Anagen phase: Anagen is the active growth phase of hair follicles. The stem cells of the hair are dividing rapidly, adding length to the hair shaft. During this phase the hair grows about 1 cm every 28 days. Your hair can stay in this active phase of growth for 2–7 years. The amount of time the hair follicle stays in the anagen phase is genetically determined. At the end of the anagen phase an unknown signal causes the follicle to go into the catagen phase.

Catagen phase: The catagen phase is a short transition stage that occurs at the end of the anagen phase. It signals the end of the active growth of a hair strand. This phase lasts for about 2-3 weeks.

Telogen phase: The follicle then goes into the Telogen or resting phase for two to four months, during this time the hair still does not grow but remains attached to the follicle. Approximately 10-15 percent of all hair strands are in this phase at any one time. Therefore, all the hairs on your head are in different stages of growth.
 What makes Black hair different?
Source

A study by the British Journal of Dermatology showed that Afro-textured hair is not as dense as other textures. Specifically, the average density of Afro-textured hair was found to be approximately 190 hairs per square centimeter. This was significantly lower than that of straight hair, which, on average, produces approximately 227 hairs per square centimeter. Further, the study found that Afro-textured hair grows at an average rate of approximately 256 micrometers per day, while straight hair grows at approximately 396 micrometers per day.


Our hair texture can range anywhere from pin-straight to extremely curly. Follicles that are round in cross-section give rise to straight hair. Those out of which curly hair grows are oval. Very tightly coiled hair is due to the nearly flat, ribbon-like structure of the follicles. This hair texture is very common in people of African ancestry. Afro-textured hair is wiry, tightly coiled and often coarse. And though Afro-textured hair produces the same amount of oil as straight hair, due to the tight curls, the oil fails to spread evenly along the hair fiber.

Without lubrication, the fibers become very dry. This causes the brittle strands to flake and roughen, resulting in hair that is coarse to the touch. The brittleness of Afro-textured hair adds to the illusion that it cannot be grown long. The tight curls create stresses at each turn in the hair fiber. The hair strands become weak and fragile, making them prone to breakage. As a result, tightly coiled hair tends to stay quite short. This is why moisture and oil is so important to combating breakage.

So, now what?
Don’t be discouraged. Black hair does grow. It may just grow a little slower and take a little more TLC. If your hair has reached a plateau in growth it could possibly be in a state of rest. In which case, keep taking care of your hair and eventually growth will accelerate on its own. If your hair is not growing, then you may want to look at dermatological, medical or even emotional reasons. Take an honest look at your hair practices and regimen to see if that may be the source of the problem. Please subscribe and check in as we discuss more reasons for sluggish hair growth, stimulation, genetics and healthy hair practices.

Web References
http://www.hairlosshelp.com/hair_loss_research/hair.cfm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hair#Texture
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afro-textured_hair
http://www.thetech.org/genetics/ask.php?id=107
African hair growth parameters – Loussouarn – 2001 – British Journal of Dermatology – Wiley Online Library

Mini Dry-Twists/ Kinky Twists Using Life Organics Hair Souffle

I was recently chatting with another naturalista about her hair. She had the cutest mini dry-twists/kinky twists (no weave). I asked her did she do them herself and her response was, “Oh, nooooo…I can’t do them on my own head. I don’t have the patience.” I replied, “Oh man, I do that to my hair all the time!”  Seriously, I do. It is the best way for me to give my hair and myself a break from styling (protective styling) and I am happy to say that my hair is in hibernation for the next three weeks! I absolutely love this style! They so versatile. I can pin them back, curl them or whatever. Nonetheless, it did take me an estimated 8 hours to do (with interruption). Here are some tips on achieving this style and a mini review on the product I used.

1. I wash and conditioned my hair. For added length, I stretched the hair with the blow dryer and comb attachment. I conditioned my hair with hair milk and applied oil spray before adding heat. I left the hair poofy and frizzy on the ends. I find that doing it this way adds to the “kinky twist” look. The “kinkyness” also helps to hold the twist together.
Disclaimer: I do not recommend constantly blowing out the hair to get more length because this causes breakage. Every once in a while is okay. I have to admit, I can be a bit of a “length junkie,” not acknowledging that my addiction to length could be counterproductive to me retaining the length that I desire. (Note: This blog is about transparency and being real.)


before

2. Starting at the nape of the neck, I make a part with my rattail comb all the way across about 1/4″ high. To save time, I don’t use a comb to make the individual twist. Separating with my fingers, I make the twist between 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick.

3. Of course, I’m curled up on the couch. I have a handheld mirror, only to check the width of hair in my hand before I twist each twist to make sure that I an being relatively consistent. (Note: Not all the twist are the same width. It doesn’t look bad because the difference is not extreme. Don’t obsess over perfection or you may go crazy. lol)

after

4. To twist, I placed a finger-full of LifeOrganics Hair Souffle from root to end and then proceeded to twist. I absolutely love this stuff. It’s loaded with shea butter and essential oils and smells good enough to eat! The consistency is stiff, (and not gloppy or jell)y which holds the hair together well without build up or hardness. It glides on smooth between your hair and your fingers which helps you to twist faster.

5. And, that’s basically it. You will want to pay attention to how you part the hair in the front so that your twists will fall where you want them. The hardest part is patiently twisting until the entire head is done (and not cheating by adding twists that are too big because you didn’t feel like parting that section into four pieces instead of just two…lol) Lastly, I’m careful about how I tie my hair at night so that all the twists lie flat and I’m not looking crazy in the morning with twists going every which way.

Tell us, have you done or plan to do this style?

Growth Chronicles Part 1: My experience with hair growth

Big chop 2008 after hair loss

We are starting a new series on hair growth and hair problems. I thought I would kick things off by sharing my hair growth journey and struggles with growth. I really have not measured my hair since my 3rd big chop in 2008. The reason I BC’d in 2008 was because after I experienced a considerable amount of growth in 2006 and 2007 I decided to “reward” myself with a perm. I figured that a perm would allow me maintain my new length and give me that long flowing hair I always dreamed about. Well, my dream turned into a nightmare when ALL the hair in the back of my head fell out after getting the perm, leaving me bald.

Growth in early 2010

There are a number of other factors that could have contributed to my sudden hair loss (alopecia areata). The fact I had had a baby about 6 months earlier and disturbing news about a family member. Fast forward to today, my hair is measuring at about 9 inches on top and 6-7 inches on the sides and back. People ask me all the time, how did you get your hair to growth back?  I don’t claim to be a hair expert. Ignorantly, I did everything right. First, I stopped perming to prevent further damage and scarring. I cut off all the rest of my hair off into a cute style where I faded my hair into the thin area to give the appearance that the baldness was on purpose. I left the ends at the top with a few permed pieces for a funky, spiky look.

Length today–maybe one day I’ll
let the professionals blow it out
really straight. lol

Next, I did something, that I only recently discovered. I massaged my scalp with herbal oil daily. I didn’t even know at the time that essential hair oil massage is a remedy for hair loss. Lastly, I just let time do it’s thing. My hair grew out a lot in 2009, with the back growing much slower. Once, my hair grew out enough to hide the back, I started getting it blown out straight every two weeks. Jump to 2010…I’m pregnant!…again…lol. I will admit. I became extremely lazy with my hair. Wigs were my best friends, then microbraids (which I left in way too long and took down incorrectly). I have made just about every hair mistake imaginable.

Fast forward again, today, my goal is to practice the principles that promote healthy hair and healthy living. We will be sharing more hair mistakes and healthy hair practices and growth remedies. So subscribe and stay tuned!

Length today-in preparation
for a dry twist style

Share your hair growth experiences with us.