Ladies get to ask a lot of questions each day about growing long hair. Well so many people are desperate to find the “secret.” Is it Shea butter? Onion juice? Rice water? It’s actually none of these things. It is just a good, solid regimen.
What is a Hair Care Regimen? It is simply the way in which you care for your hair. Just because you have a regimen, doesn’t mean it’s good or comprehensive enough. Many have very poor regimens that do not lead to healthy hair, which is important for growing long hair.
Before we delve into the four main components of a regimen, let’s talk about hair growth rate and terminal length. Both hair growth rate and terminal length are determined by genetics. But while the rate is easy to calculate (with some effort), terminal length is not. Just because you are not retaining length (retaining length means retaining the amount of hair that has grown) doesn’t mean you’ve reach terminal length. Often times, when we aren’t retaining length, it’s a sign that the hair is breaking, the question becomes what is causing the breaking (this will be answered in a moment).
Hair grows from the scalp, Hair can break at any point along the hair shaft, but most often towards the ends, the weakest part of the hair. Hair grows, on average, half an inch a month, give or take. This means you can grow 6 inches a year (Again, this will vary from person to person, it could be 4 inches for some, could be 8 inches for others. Because it is genetic, you can not speed growth rate. But I’ll elaborate in a moment.). You will want to aim to retain at least 80% of this growth. It’s possible to have 100% retention, but not probable nor likely.
Hair growth rate is genetic, but can be influenced by your overall health (as well as hair care, but again, we’ll discuss this). This means that to get the best growth for you, you’ll want to eat healthy (get a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients – protein, fat, carbs), drink water, exercise, and reduce stress. While these things are important, honestly, many people can grow long hair without doing these things. My advice, do them to be healthy, not to grow long hair. And a quick note about health growth vitamins, there is no guarantee that they will help with hair growth. If you want a vitamin, pick a daily vitamin that supports overall health. Not just hair growth.
The best way to determine growth rate is dye a section of hair and then measure the amount of hair that has grown out after three months. This isn’t necessary, but it’s actually the easiest, most measurable way to create a clear start point. Again, it’s not necessary, nor do you have to do it (I also don’t recommend if you don’t want to dye your hair, but I’m being as comprehensive as possible, so I’m giving all the answers in this post).
Putting Together a Good Regimen
A good regimen requires four main components, the wash day, daily maintenance, detangling, trimming and styling. Let’s go over each one, common issues that can be addressed with good technique, and potential issues that could prevent you from retaining length.
A good wash day will involve using shampoo or soap, applying it to the scalp, massaging the scalp for 3-5 minutes, rinsing completely, apply deep conditioning for 20-30 minutes, detangling, rinsing, applying a leave in conditioner, sealing with an oil or butter, and then styling.
This is a very basic wash day that addresses many common issues. First, massaging the scalp with shampoo or black soap helps to lift and remove dirt and dandruff from the scalp. Second, using a deep conditioner will add moisture back into the hair. Moisturized hair resists breakage due to dry hair. Detangling at the end of deep conditioning should give the hair enough slip so that it’s easier to detangle, which reduces breakage from manipulation, and moisturizing and sealing helps keep the hair moisturized (again, moisturized hair resists breakage due to dryness). Some tips to make the process easier: wash, condition, detangle, and style in sections.
Personally, it is best to wash in two sections, conditioner and deep condition in four sections, and detangle in 8 sections. Second, shampoo or soap isn’t necessary, but you want something to clean the scalp and hair. This can include clay washes, using Ayurvedic herbs, etc. If you want more information, please google or search on YouTube. If you have a lot of tangling during the wash process, put your hair in two strand twists to help minimize this. Fourth, it’s important to understand the proper order of the wash day. Pre-shampoo (pre-poo) treatments, like onion juice applied to the scalp, it is done before shampooing. Rinses are usually done after conditioning. Although some rinses, such as an apple cider vinegar rinse, can be done after shampooing.
People seek answers about preventing shrinkage during the wash process. Well the hair is going to shrink, you cannot prevent this. After you’ve finished washing, if you want, you can make a few twists or braids and let hair dry to stretch the hair. This is temporary (being natural will mean you deal with shrinkage, there is no permanent solution).
Another issue, people don’t condition after shampooing. Stop doing this. You need to condition after shampoo. Every single time. If you don’t know the difference between conditioner, deep conditioner, and leave in conditioner. Your hair will be dry and break if you skip the conditioning process. You will want to make sure you use a protein deep conditioner once a month. This helps prevent breakage due to weak hair. You shouldn’t do this all the time, once or maybe twice a month will do.
I recommend doing this every day, but you can do it every other day or every third day. If your hair is particularly dry, you can even do it twice a day. Just make sure your hair isn’t always wet or damp, you want hair dry (physically to the touch) in between moisturizing and sealing. If you have braids, twists, or any other similar protective style, add water, leave-in conditioner, and oil in a spray bottle and spray hair.
Protective Styles and Low Manipulation Style