Length?…but I’m African
‘…but I’m African’,
‘I’m from *insert African country* my hair can’t do that’
‘Can an African woman’s hair grow though’
‘You can’t be fully African, Pelumi’ – (I am by the way!)
‘But you’re lucky, you got that ‘nice’ hair, mines true African hair’
‘I’ve got that village hair’
…All phrases I hear too often.
The question I got today:
‘My goal is to have hair that reaches my mid-back. Is it possible for African hair to grow this long?’
After reading this and pondering on the many things I’ve heard from African women in regards to their hair….no lie my heart sunk. It hurts to know that so many African women (and men) still have the notion that our hair can’t grow or see it as less beautiful in comparison to other races.
First off, of course you can be from Africa and grow long hair. While everyone is genetically different, being African doesn’t automatically nullify you from lovely, healthy, long hair.
We really need to let go of the idea that we are at some disadvantage ‘hairwise’ because of where we come from, its sad & annoying! Continuing to see your hair as a problem will hinder you from seeing the greatness each curl and kink possesses.
Instead of questioning whether your ‘African hair’ can grow, question your haircare practises. As I say time and time again, 9.9/10 your hair is growing, you just fail to see evidence of this because you aren’t doing anything to ensure you retain your length.
This week I happened to have this similar conversation with a lady that’s thinking of going natural. She also asked why her hair isn’t growing. I then pointed out the fact that she retouches her hair why? because of new-growth meaning indeed her hair is growing. So what’s the issue? …Length retention.
7 Ways to improve length retention:
- Moisturise & Seal! Ensuring your hair is moisturised & sealed will prevent your hair from being dry & brittle, in other words more susceptible to breakage
- Protect your ends! Your ends are your hair’s elders. What do you show the elders in your life? Generally more respect right? lol same with your ends. They are the oldest part of your hair and require more attention, patience and care. When you can, try out styles that require you to tuck away your ends e.g. buns, roll & tuck styles, updo’s…
- Low manipulation! Try incorporating hairstyles that require minimal manipulation. Constantly fiddling with your also can effect the length you retain.
- Use your hands more! When you can, avoid styling tools such as hard bore bristle brushes and combs. Try finger detangling your hair instead, especially as you’re most likely to be gentler with your hands. You can feel for knots and undo them carefully as opposed to combing through and yanking the knot apart, ripping your hair and most likely causing split ends
- Get a fresh trim & get rid of the dead broken ends! Contrary to popular believe trims do NOT make your hair grow but provide help created a healthier state for your hair to thrive in. Hanging on to split ends will cause the split to travel further and further up the hair shaft damaging more hair overtime.
- Keep the use of heat minimal! Step away from the blowdryer lol. When you can just let your hair airdry – braid it after a wash a take it out once it’s dry.
- Snap it! Without being crazy length obsessed & measuring your hair everyday, keep a record of your hair growth- take pictures. Sometimes it’s hard for us to see the progress our hair has made. However being able to compare pictures will show you just how much your hair is growing.
In addition be realistic, hair grows on average 4-6 inches a YEAR so don’t expect Rapunzel long hair in the space of a month. More importantly though…so don’t forget to enjoy your hair no matter what length it’s at – Appreciate each stage
P.s. My didn’t grow overnight, this is three years worth of growth:
Great article!! I love my African...Nigerian hair. Different things can affect hair growth, stress, medication, lack of proper circulation, and also maintenance. Someone once asked me if my youngest daughter with "bottom-length" hair was mixed. Haba! Oh well..
All I know is my hair grows more with less manipulation. When I had locs, my hair was past my breast. I did cut them as I didn't like it joining up. So now I am natural for 2 years now and it is growing. I keep it plaited and wear a wig. It allows me to still look after my ends with sealing. Now it is summer, I have a cornrowed style with an attached ponytail. (Could not wear a wig in this heat!!!) However back to wigs in winter. Works for me. Like I always say, do what works for you.
i love my hair and i love being african but its just that sometimes ur hair just doesn't do what u want it to. I just started my transition journey and I am super excited, 16 weeks post now. The posts up here and alotta videos on youtube have helped. I am a bit nervous though as some people dont hesitate to tell me *oh my gosh u r gonna loose sooooooo much hair :-( somebody please tell me its not true!!!!
I always find it interesting that some black women see their natural hair as a problem. In part of Africa where people have very little contact with other races the woman there don't see their hair as a problem and the woman have long hair which they grow with plaiting with thread and braiding. I often wonder in the absence of other races will we still have a problem with our hair. I am not saying we should plait with thread but I am one black woman who gets disturbed when I see nursery school children with weave
Hello, in February i took my weave out and left my natural hair to breathe. The length of the hair amazed me as it had grown double in size from 3 months ago(before February, so somewhere in November) when i last had it treated. I let my hairdresser use the normal procedures of the hair treatement like applying hair mayonaise and living it to dissolve in the hair for a few mins using a blow dryer. So this is now in April, my hair seems to have alot of breakage i apply hair oils like carrot oil moisturizer, coconut oil, the organisics herbal thick hair vitalizer and all sorts of oils. I plait it, band it when i go to bed every night waking up each morning with a fresh look. Can i have some tips as to why its breaking/where i am going wrong and what i can do for it to grow more. My twin sister seems to be facing the same thing but she has currently twisted her hair and she applies hair oil more often.
it is funny how these women ignore slave history, as if there is no European genetic input in the black population. Genetically raw Africans cannot grow long hair; long hair is NOT advantageous in a tropical environment. Having traditionally non-African traits is a sign foreign genetic input.
Your exactly right trimming does not make it grow any faster i use to think it did..ive bn natural for 2 years now and my hair is longer than its ever been and very healthy. Before i went natural it was line it was stuck at one length
Just a correction : Trimming DOES help your hair grow. In my Human Anatomy and Physiology class we learnt that each hair strand has a life cycle where it grows to a certain length then falls off. When that cycle is disrupted [ Trimming ] it starts all over again growing from the root, if this happens the hair might not have had time to complete its cycle and fall off and more hair is added to what is already there. This in turn will add more length to the strand and that's why trimming does help hair growth.
Our hair can grow!!!!!! People need to realise this...its just that with our textures we manipulate our hair a lot more...These are fantastic points...excellent article my dear!!!!
This is soo true, I follow many african amarican natural hair youtube gurus, but my mother always told me not to take any notice and that my hair couldn't do that because I'm not as mixed, in terms of racial heritage, as the african americans. My plan is just to retain length and make her watch it grow, I'll lead by example.
nice post and nice hair. i do wish though that people were more worried about having healthy hair than long hair.
@Lindy am nt a pro on hair but hair breakage is usually associated with u being too hard on ur hair, ur hair not being properly moisturized, probably too many chemicals in the products u use. One key fact is to always check the ingredient of ur product, ensuring the ATES are as minimal or non existent as possible. The suggested tips in this post are also really good esp 3&4. hope this helps!
Hey hun! I definitely disagree, trimming your hair will prevent the split/damaged ends from getting worse which obviously then means you'll retain healthier ends that won't break off. What you do to the ends of your hair as no effect on what goes on at the root...our hair is dead fibre. Definitely check that out because it's strange that you would be taught that