Growth: Genes, Luck or Design?
There’s no denying it, genes play a major role in determining the rate at which your hair grows but this can be altered and improved by lifestyle choices, blood flow on the scalp, hormonal changes and eating habits. Accordingly, science determines that your hair has a specific growth period, the “anagen phase” which can range from two to seven years. Hair doesn’t abruptly stop growing once it reaches a particular length. Individual hair follicles stop growing after a certain time period. After the growth phase, hair goes through the “catagen phase”, lasting about three weeks where blood flow to the outer part of the hair follicle stops. Next is the “talagen phase” where new hair follicles “push out” and shed hair off the scalp, and finally, there is the “telogen phase” which is the new hair growth phase. 90% of the hair we have is in the growth phase, and tweaking our habits can ensure maximum retention.
Regular exercise ensures good blood circulation, which is one way to encourage hair growth. The growth phase can also be boosted using Vitamin B, E and Biotin laden products or supplements. Good nutrition and plenty of water intake go much further than any topical hair product. Hair prospers with moisture, but scalp health matters too. It is equally vital to let your scalp breathe. Due to styling and maintenance, there’s a danger of product build-up which clogs the pores on your scalp and stifles the follicles underneath the skin surface.
For you to hold onto as much moisture as possible, it’s important to seal it in so your hair remains soft. This is where oils and butters come into play. Once your hair is moisturized with water or a water-based product, seal it in with an oil or butter.
Those Precious Edges
Edges refer to the front area of your hair from one ear to the other. They are usually the most fragile but are often subjected to the most harassment by you and your stylist in form of tight braids, ponytails and heavy-handed product application leading to sparsity or hair loss. Other factors that affect your edges include age, stress, diet, postpartum hormonal changes, medical conditions or illness and sudden weight changes. However, styling is a big culprit for thinning edges; i.e. weaves, extensions and braids that pull the hair too much or chemical relaxers and treatments that weaken the hair. You can’t miss thinning hair. Ignoring the problem only makes it worse, leading to permanent damage. In this case, you have to entirely avoid, or stick to low manipulation; no brushing, no combing, no picking and no braiding. Moisturise and oil the area regularly. Castor oil is especially highly regarded for stimulating hair follicles.
Essential Oil Remedies for Your Hair
Add these oils to your daily spritz, shampoo, conditioner, treatments, hair masks or use with carrier oils to treat various issues. Essential oils are volatile, which means they evaporate very fast. Their volatile quality makes them too strong to apply undiluted. Carrier oils, on the other hand, do not evaporate or have a strong aroma, making them the perfect pair for diluting essential oils. They reduce the concentration of the essential oil without altering its beneficial qualities. Diluting an essential oil with a carrier oil also helps you control its concentration before use.
- Dryness: Chamomile,
Cedar wood, Lavender, Rosemary.
- Too greasy: Lemon, Peppermint, Rosemary, and Cypress.
- Needs growth: Lavender, Thyme, Rosemary, Peppermint,
- Hair loss: Rosemary, Frankincense, Cypress, Lavender.
The Hairy Truth
- Forget the myth that kinky natural hair is stronger because it’s coarse. The truth is that kinky hair is even more fragile than naturally straight or curly hair because of how quickly it loses moisture.
- Protective styling does not help your hair grow faster but it does help you retain more length because you end up leaving it, hence, low manipulation.
- The tips or ends of your hair are most prone to breakage and damage because they are the oldest part of your hair.
- If you don’t get your hair ends trimmed regularly, they will break off. In order to keep your ends healthy, you need to trim.
- Scalp massages lasting 20-30 minutes per day is a great way to increase blood flow to the scalp area which can subsequently stimulate growth.
- Hair that retains moisture has more elasticity, breaks less, is softer and retains more length.