There is an unhealthy obsession with the length of hair within the natural hair community. The actual health of the hair is sacrificed for length amongst a lot of people with natural hair, most especially type 4 hair. Type 4 hair is kinky and very dry and ranges from type 4a (loosest kinks) - 4c (kinkiest).
One of the major reasons why length is such an important factor for a lot of people with natural hair is that they do not see their hair as “good hair” unless it is long. For decades western standard of beauty has determined how everybody sees themselves and this has affected the natural hair community negatively. This has been most detrimental to people with 4c hair. Even within that sect of the natural hair community people only praise 4c hair that is long.
So why is my hair not growing?
Hair grows about 6 inches a year. Some people may grow more than 6 inches and some less. The issue remains the same, which is the ability to retain the length that has been gained. Focusing too much on the length may result in very damaged and unhealthy hair because if your hair is healthy and taken care of properly, retention of length will not be a problem. There needs to be more emphasis on the overall health of the scalp and hair. If hair is not growing properly this may be a sign that the hair is very unhealthy and in need of attention.
Causes of stunted growth:
Stunted hair growth may be a sign of an illness or less healthy habits. Eating properly, drinking a lot of water and vitamins (to help with immunity and overall wellbeing) can impact the health and growth of hair.
Retention of length may be difficult to achieve as a result of lack of moisture in the hair and scalp. A good method to keep the hair moisturised is the LOC method. We mentioned this method prior in our Hair, Skin, Wellness: My COVID 19 Lockdown Routine and Tips. Dry hair makes it very hard for hair to grow and for length to be retained as the hair breaks off due to dryness.
Scalp issues like dermatitis/eczema or psoriasis should be considered when dealing with the length of your hair because it’s a condition that can affect the overall health of your hair. Eczema makes the scalp very dry and scaly. The natural oils of the scalp that are meant to travel from the roots of the hair, do not travel far enough causing breakage of the hair. The scales produced from eczema/dermatitis also clog up the scalp causing build up. Managing these condition will make a major difference to the health, appearance and growth of the hair.
Pregnancy can cause a lot of hair breakage due to postpartum hair loss. It can make it hard for one to retain length even though necessary steps to care for the hair are being taken. This is something that has to “runs its course”.
Certain hairstyles should not be installed for too long for example; box braids and weaves should not be kept in for too long, as the hair can knot and tangle. Anything more than 8 weeks can be very detrimental to the health of the hair. If you do choose to keep your hair for longer ensure the hair is taken down with patience. Also make sure the hair is heavily moisturised before combing out the loosened hair.
In addition, ensure the hair is not tight upon installation. Tight hairstyles can cause a lot of breakage and hair loss.
Irregular Wash Days
Stretching out wash days can lead to yeast build up in the scalp which will affect the hair’s ability to retain length and also affect the appearance of the hair & scalp. Ideally, wash days should not be stretched out more than a month though this is very subjective as hair and scalp needs are different for everyone. Note that the longer your wash days are stretched there will be more yeast build up which will clog up the scalp not allowing it to breathe. A clean scalp allows the hair to grow properly.
Overall, focus should be placed more on the overall health of the hair because healthy hair will allow growth and length retention. When there is no emphasis on the overall health of the hair in a hair care regime, it can make way for long straggly hair, uneven hair, fairy knots and split ends. Please make sure to trim hair regularly to get rid of uneven and split ends. It is better to have healthy short hair than dull hair, that is long. Healthy hair is beautiful no matter the length.