Have you found yourself tugging on your ends from time to time, waiting (for what seems like forever) for your hair to grow just a few more inches? You might even have caught yourself wondering if your natural hair was going on strike or if you've done something wrong in your hair care routine. After all, when you're looking forward to growing long hair, plateaus can majorly cramp your style. For the impatient beauty gurus among us (we're raising our hands!), natural hair not growing may even tempt you into taking a pair of scissors to your stubborn curls.
Don't reach for the scissors just yet. Why not learn a little bit more about the science behind hair growth and how to make it work for your goals? You may even pick up some length retention tips for natural hair to add to your daily routine. Come with us on an exciting natural hair journey -- you can grow healthy inches and keep your length consistent with a few science-backed beauty hacks.
Porosity, Density, Volume, and Texture -- Oh My!
Your natural hair make-up has a lot to do with length retention. In order to grow long hair and maintain that length, it's important to understand the science behind the glamour. What makes some hair types grow faster, and how can you tailor your natural hair routine to suit your curls?
Porosity is what defines your hair's ability to absorb and retain moisture. This applies to water and water-based hair products. It can change with excessive heat treatment and chemical processing, such as frequent coloring and bleaching. Understanding your hair's porosity will make it easier to choose the right products for your natural hair.
Take the porosity test! Determining your hair's porosity is simple and easy. Drop a few hair strands into a small bowl of water, then wait about five minutes. If your hair stays floating, your natural hair has low porosity. If it sinks all the way to the bottom, you're working with high porosity hair. As you can probably guess, hair that floats in the middle will fall in the medium porosity category.
The next step is choosing the right products for your porosity level. We've pared down the science behind the look with a quick guide on hair porosity.
Low Porosity: This hair type does not absorb moisture easily. That means you'll want to supplement with a water-based leave-in conditioner rather than creams, butters, or oils. Moisturizing deep conditioners are more effective for this hair type than protein-enriching deep conditioners when it comes to growing long hair.
Medium Porosity: The happy medium! The hair cuticle for medium porosity locks is slightly open, so it absorbs moisture faster and retains moisture longer. You'll still want to stick with moisturizing deep conditioners for this hair type, but mixing it up with a protein-enriching conditioner once or twice a month can help prevent breakage, which may stall hair growth.
High Porosity: High porosity hair can be tricky to manage. Hair that has been damaged by heat treatments and chemical processing often has high porosity. However, some natural hair is simply genetically predisposed to having more open cuticles, which means moisture leaves the hair quickly. This hair type is often prone to frizz and dryness. To properly care for your natural hair and grow it long, opt for protein-rich conditioners designed to make the hair less porous. Conditioners that seal the cuticle with butters or creams are excellent at locking in hydration.
Is your hair fine, thick, or somewhere in between? Hair density will affect how your natural hair grows. One quick way to determine density is to do a scalp test. Always do this test with dry hair, as wet hair is prone to appearing thinner than it actually is. If you can twist two strands and see your scalp, you've got medium hair. Anything less or more will land you on the fine or thick end of the spectrum.
So what does all this mean for length retention? Thick hair requires more frequent trims from a textured hair professional to keep the ends from splitting off and keep your lovely long hair growing. Thin hair can get by with fewer trims, but be sure to use lots of keratin-enriching protein moisturizers to maintain the natural strength of each strand.
Volume refers to the combination of your hair density and the diameter of your individual strands. How many hair strands you have per square inch (2cm) of your scalp determines your density. In other words, density is your hair's fluff factor. Don't worry -- you don't need to count every hair on your head to determine volume. A simple rule of thumb is that your hair's volume correlates to its density.
Don't fall for so-called "volumizing" products to achieve long hair. Instead, support your natural hair needs by providing the hydration your hair needs based on density type.
Most of us have heard the term hair texture thrown around, but what does natural hair texture have to do with length retention? To summarize, hair texture ranges from naturally straight locks (Type 1-2) to wavy (Type 2-3) and coily curls (Type 3-4). Different textures grow at different rates. For instance, you may be surprised to learn that thicker hair textures (think Types 3-4) grow pretty quickly. Your hair may just be fooling you into thinking it's not growing. When in doubt, stretch it out and measure your hair's growth each week so you can keep track accurately.
For other hair types, small home hair care hacks like brushing in the direction of growth and using a different brush altogether designed to nurture your unique strand type can ignite your hair's growth and prevent thinning throughout your style routine.
The Healthy Hair Wrap Up
The science behind growing long hair and maintaining your natural locks can tell us a lot about what our hair is going through. After all, growing luscious volume and length is hard work! Support your hair's growth with these fabulous tips and tricks for every hair type and texture.
- Eat a Hair Healthy Diet. Incorporate a diet rich in antioxidants, Vitamin C, B, and E, and healthy fats for optimal length retention, shine, and wellness. Learn more about the best foods for hair growth.
- Pamper Your Scalp. Don't forget your scalp in your skincare routine! Scalp massages, hot oil treatments, and clarifying shampoo help clear away flakes and make room for healthy new growth. Even the smallest changes like rinsing your hair and scalp with cold water can help keep your skin and locks healthy and well hydrated for new hair growth.
- Implement Seasonal Hair Care. Have you noticed your hair's growth varies with the seasons? Most hair types experience thinning in the winter. This is a great time to give your hair extra love and replace lost hydration with hair masks, leave-in conditioners, and nourishing oil treatments.
- Treat Yourself (and Your Hair). Even if you're growing your hair out, treating your hair to regular salon visits is highly important to maintain luxurious length, health, volume, and dimension. Don't neglect routine trims! Even a simple styling appointment can take your hair from ordinary to extraordinary while retaining length and supporting new growth.
- Go Heatless! Ditch your traditional hairdryer and go heatless with RevAir's revolutionary reverse air technology. RevAir isn't just the quickest and gentlest way to dry and straighten your hair -- you can also stretch your locks to extenuate the length you want while waiting for your hair to reach its peak growth spurt.
In addition to nurturing natural hair growth, it's equally important to prioritize length retention with these long hair don'ts.
- DON'T Brush Your Hair While Wet. Dragging a brush through wet hair snags and pulls on your delicate locks, causing breakage and thinning.
- DON'T Keep Your Hair in Tight Styles. Get creative with hairstyling and avoid wearing the same tight buns, ponytails, and braids. Try space buns, fishtail braids, and low ponies instead to give your hair a break! Tension alopecia can cause thinning throughout your hairline and stall new hair growth at the scalp.
- DON'T Keep Your Protective Style in Too Long. Avoid so-called hacks for extending the life of your protective style. Leaving braids, locs, or cornrows in for too long impedes hair growth.
- DON'T Chemically Treat Your Hair. When your hair isn't where you'd like it to be style-wise, it's easy to be tempted into getting a relaxer treatment, perm, or even chemical-infused gels and creams. We recommend going for a trim and style refresh whenever the urge strikes and saving your hair's integrity.
- DON'T Stress. We know waiting for your hair to grow can make anyone a little impatient, but managing your wellness is just as important for hair care as the right product routine. Stress is a common cause of hair loss and can make growing out your hair a slow, tedious process. Implement a few 10-15 minute wellness practices throughout your busy schedule like guided meditation, restorative yoga, reading, and even enjoying your favorite chocolate or coffee for some scheduled self-care time.
Enjoy your long hair journey with the beauty and science of healthy hair growth. Looking for more great tips? Reach out to us today!