I have been asked about the whether diet, exercise, and/or vitamins help hair grow a few times and have seen it posted in some form or the other a lot lately. So, I figured I’d share my thoughts on the subject. I’m not saying I’m an expert, but these are my observations based on the things I’ve learned about hair through reading lots of hair blogs, watching lots of videos, and/or observing through my own experiences.
A good diet, adequate nutrients, hydration, and exercise are foundations for healthy hair and growth. But, many mistake lack of length retention for lack of growth. Unless there is some underlying condition, hair is always growing. If hair is growing elsewhere on your body, it’s growing. And it’s pretty easy to know your growth rate if you relaxed/relax or color/colored your hair. However much new growth you had 4-8 weeks post relaxer/color will tell you your growth rate. The problem often is that the growth is lost to breakage (i.e. the hair is not retaining length).
So, the assumption is that the hair isn’t growing when, in fact, it is. So, the focus needs to change from growth to retention. All that being said, hair is dead once the strand “erupts” from the scalp. So retention is about preserving dead cells. Eating a healthy, well-rounded diet and exercising helps build stronger hair IN the scalp. Stronger and healthier live cells inside mean stronger and healthier dead cells outside. And the latter will be better able to retain length with the right protective/retention practices for you.
And those are my thoughts in a nutshell!! Yes, a good diet, exercise, adequate nutrients play a part in growing health hair, but if that hair isn’t retained, you won’t see longer tresses. So, you have to make certain to take care of both ends, literally ;), to see results if long hair is your goal. To learn more about what I do to retain length, check out my post, How I Retain Length.
So, I was going through some of my hair pics from 2010 and came across the pics on the left. They are from late December 2010, a few short months before I joined the Curly Nikki/Kim Coles Grow Out Challenge with a goal to grow my hair to waist length. The shots are before and after a self-trim. The picture on the right is from September 2013.
As you can see from all of the pics, my perimeter is thin and the bulk of my hair is a few inches higher. As I’ve previously mentioned, I believe that this is a result of my crown being more breakage-prone and slower growing than my nape. Also, my nape is barely wavy and my crown is curly (probably a 3c), so my perimeter really looks thin when my hair is worn in natural styles. Now, I would love to have a full perimeter, but just don’t think my hair grows or falls that way. Therefore, it was fortunate for me that I learned about Chicoro’s Lead Hair Theory a couple of years ago and accepted my Fairytale Ends.
Now, the reason this is “kind of” an update to that old post is because I haven’t totally followed the Chicoro method of “goal point” trimming. She actually espouses allowing the “lead hair” to grow an inch or two past the bulk of the hair, but then cutting the hair blunt once it reaches the “goal point.” However, I decided to just get minimal trims every 6 months or so. As long as my ends are healthy, I don’t concern myself with having a perfectly blunt and full perimeter. I almost never wear my hair entirely straight anyway and my goal is to retain as much healthy length as possible, even if my hair is, well … uneven. *lol*
The reason I am sharing this is to shed some light on uneven growth patterns versus breakage and methods of cutting/trimming the hair. In February 2011, I got a “trim” that turned into a blunt perimeter haircut (didn’t go to that salon again :/). But, after that haircut, I started getting trims only and my hair grew out unevenly again.
Some might see my earlier pics and think it meant breakage and that my hair would just get shorter if I didn’t get a serious hair cut, taking off a few inches to make it blunt. But, as you can see from these pics, my crown did continue to retain length, although not at the speed of my longest area.
This proved to me that, in order to retain as much length as possible, I could continue to trim based upon the health and condition of my ends and not based upon the fullness/evenness of my perimeter, with one caveat. I try not to let the longest hair get more than a couple of inches longer than the bulk as it causes more tangling
I share this to say, if retaining max length is your goal and you don’t wear your hair straight the majority of the time, you may want to try trimming to eliminate damaged ends only and not for “bluntness.” Hair can be healthy and retain length/grow long without having a perfectly blunt/even “hemline.” That being said, if your ends are knotty, tangling, splitting into forests, or excessively dry and rugged, a trim is likely in order to prevent further damage ;). But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to trim all of your hair even to get rid of the damage. You can trim judiciously, eliminating the badly damaged ends and leaving the healthy hair behind. That’s the beauty of natural kinky, curly, coily hair! It doesn’t have to be perfectly blunt to look great!!
The Wednesday before last, after my Katie Show outing, I had my sister take a few quick length check pics. I hadn’t taken any after my haircut in December, Wei was out of town and they are difficult to do alone. So, I took the opportunity of having another set of hands present to get a few quick shots.
If you recall, I wore my hair in a braid and curl (BnC) for the show’s taping, so my curls were stretched. As of 1/9/13, the shortest layers around my face are about armpit length, the side and crown layers are around bra-strap/mid-back length and my longest layer is waist length. So, my hair is back to where it was after my haircut in June 2012 (see here).
That was a really good BnC! Gotta go refresh my memory about what I used and do it again ;)! *lol* Anywho, I’ll be sticking with stretched, low-manipulation, protective styling and search and destroys for the next 6 months or so to see if I can gain/retain an additional 2-3 inches all around. Working my way towards that tailbone/hipbone length hair ;). Need to get my diet and exercise game right first though :(.
Last month, I straightened my hair and, though I was pleased with the length I attained, I was disappointed that my perimeter wasn’t fuller. You see, ever since I entered the Curly Nikki presents Kim Coles’ Grow Out Challenge in early 2011, my goal has been to have waist length hair with a full perimeter. I dreamed of having a “hemline” that looked like that of one of my hair crushes, Courtney Natural Hair.
Although I’ve surpassed waist length a couple of times since then (I’ve had one trim and two haircuts since January 2012) … my slower growing and more breakage prone crown, low density nape, propensity for search and destroy (S&D) missions, and a layered cut have prevented me from achieving a full thickness perimeter.
December 2012: Prior to 12/16/12 cut.
As I mused over the elusive, full hemline that kept evading my grasp, I happened to end up watching Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers one evening. It was shortly after I had my hair cut and specifically requested that more length be taken off of my longest layer and less off the shorter layers so that I could thicken up my perimeter. But, as I looked at the women in LOTR and their long, flowing, wavy hair, it struck me that their wavy locks were also not blunt or full at the ends. And, you know what? I kind of liked it!!
I then remembered that this type of perimeter is called “fairytale” ends. I think that I came across the term a couple of years ago on The Long Hair Communityforum in thread like this one here. As I started perusing the pages of the post, I began to think about how many of us equate a thick, full perimeter with healthy hair and a wispy, thinned one with damaged, unhealthy hair. But, as I looked at the pictures on the thread, many of the women appeared to have very healthy, shiny, long hair despite having wispier ends. As I read the comments, I noted that the fairytale ends were attributed to varying hair growth rates and employing S&D trimming versus overall trims/cuts to make the ends even. The thinner ends weren’t frowned upon as unhealthy, damaged, broken or “dead” (I love that one — all hair is dead! *lol*). It really was interesting to see how this type of hemline was celebrated, and even coveted, in this forum as it is viewed as more natural looking and enables easier updos due to the tapered ends. Also, similar to Chicoro’s “Lead Hair” Theory,it is espoused as a way to achieve longer lengths as one is not constantly cutting hair that grows unevenly (due to varying growth rates) even, which results in the loss of healthy hair length.
In contrast, when I attempted to find a similar thread in the Long Hair Care Forums (the black counterpart to The Long Hair Community) I didn’t have much luck. The only thing that I found was this thread: Girl, ur ENDS are JACKED UP. LMBO (I’m sorry, that subject is HEE-larious to me!) In this thread, one young lady references fairytale ends and how she thinks they look nice on longer hair. A couple of others essentially said the same. And a few commenters did state that thin ends did not necessarily mean damaged hair. However, the overall consensus was that thinner ends look wrecked, they need an “aggressive” cutting and “hanging onto thin ends” for the sake of length is pathetic. I think in the black hair community in particular (though this does seem to be a universal view), thin ends are typically seen as a sign of broken, damaged, unhealthy hair and we’ve been conditioned to think that there is no way that wispy ends can be healthy. If someone insists that their thinner ends are healthy and their hair isn’t damaged or excessively breaking, we give them the *side eye*. And, don’t get me wrong, in many instances, thin ends are a sign of damaged hair. But, I’m discovering more and more, that may not always be the case.
As I continued to think on this, I realized that, generally speaking, I had never been too concerned about even hair. Over my 12 1/2 years of being natural, I generally only wear it straight twice a year. As long as it hangs well when curly (which can be a challenge given my multiple curl patterns) and feels healthy, I’m good. And, when I do wear my hair straight, I have never gone for the pin-straight look. I always curl it in some fashion to give it volume, body and bounce as my hair is so fine and would be very flat if I wore it bone straight. Finally, I thought about how even long, wavy or curly weaves or wigs often don’t have a blunt perimeter and usually have fairytale ends to make them look more natural.
So, all this being said, I’ve started re-thinking my two year goal of achieving a full thickness perimeter! I mean, I still love a full hemline and I still want mine to be thicker than it is above (think I’m on the right path with my last cut). And, of course I want my ends to be healthy, which is why I cut off any split ends and SSKs that I feel or see regularly. But, now, I don’t know if I’m worried about my hemline being blunt anymore. I’d like to get to tailbone/hipbone length as my ultimate goal. But now, I think I’ll be happy with, and may even prefer, a healthy fairytale hemline on me versus the elusive blunt one that I’ve been seeking for the last two years. Go figure!
Please feel free to expound upon any of your answers and/or add your thoughts on this topic in the comments below!
Okay, it’s not quite a New Year’s kiss but, … you get the idea!
It’s been yet another amazing year for me in regard to this natural hair blogging thing!! Hairscapades has been consistently receiving about 100K views a month since May, celebrated its first year anniversary in June, reached 1M views in August of this year, posted its 1,000th article in October and (ETA) had its highest monthly views EVER (126,656) in December!!! I hosted my first natural hair meet-up in February, a second one in June and also co-hosted two haircut parties this year. In addition, I got the opportunity to be one of the guest bloggers featured in CurlyNikki’s new book, Better Than Good Hair, which will be released at the end of January 2013, and the name “Hairscapades” will soon be seen on the shelves of stores nationwide (no, I’m not launching a product and I can’t give details yet … but I’ll share more about this as soon as I can!). Oh … and on a personal note, I turned 40, enjoyed a budget-friendly awesome vacation in Mexico and attended my sixth NY Comic Con in a row!! Oh, and you know … this other “little” thing happened this year … I GOT ENGAGED!! LOL!
Anywho, to close out the year, I wanted to share the top 10 posts and pages published in 2012 that received the most views. If you missed the 2011 edition of “The Best of Hairscapades,” you can find it here.
Okay … and because I can, I’m adding to this list some of MY other favorite posts from the year ;)!! I’m sharing these first two because they were pivotal moments for me in my healthy hair journey. Protein was something I didn’t know anything about or understand at all about 3 years ago. In 2010, it was something that I learned a little about and avoided like the plague … eventually, to the detriment of my hair. In late 2011, I stopped fearing “protein sensitivity,” learned how to use protein properly, and began incorporating it into my regimen. And, in 2012, I was able to improve and refine my knowledge and use of protein. These two posts share my 2012 discoveries and learnings.
This next one was from my busiest day ever … May 8, 2012. I had 6874 views and this was the most popular post (probably because it was also featured on CurlyNikki.com on the same day ;)). Hope to set a new record number of views in 2013!!
And finally, these last posts are by the best Hairscapades guest blogger ever … my amazing, loving and supportive fiancé ;). I’m sure that you won’t be surprised by the first two, which are the story of our engagement. And, the last one holds a very special place in my heart. It tells a story of a summer vacation that started horribly, but ended amazing. However, far more importantly, it shares a moment in time that reinforced for me how God always knows what’s best and this includes sending me a very special, loving, patient, kind, supportive, positive life-mate who may not be perfect, but is perfect for me.
2012: You brought challenges (family illnesses, super storms, black-outs) and losses (the passing of family and friends), but you also gave joy and triumph. 2013: I know that you will bring a new set of struggles and victories. But, I’m counting on the good far outweighing the bad. So, Here We Come!!
As you know from my post yesterday, I pre-pooed with a mix of Aubrey Honeysuckle Rose conditioner and Vatika Oil from Saturday into Sunday. On Sunday night, after finishing cleaning the house (with the exception of the dishes, because Wei always says he loves washing dishes, so I didn’t want to steal his joy;)), I hit the shower and shampooed. It had been a while since I clarified and I debated between Ion Curl Defining Shampoo, a sulfated, yet moisturizing shampoo, and the unopened bottle of Lavender Garden Terressentials Mud Wash under my sink. The Ion shampoo won and I diluted it in water before applying.
After shampooing, I used Herbal Essences Hello Hydration to finger detangle under the shower stream. Now, this is where the something new comes in.
I picked up this shampoo brush at Sally’s for $0.99 about a year and a half ago. I very rarely use it, but Wei gives it a work-out! *lol* Well, I’ve been getting a lot of tight, little knots caused by shed hairs. I’ve had to resort to the scissors at least once every wash day the last month or so. That got me to thinking that finger detangling hasn’t been sufficient lately. And, I’ve read of some who finger detangle first and then use a wide-tooth comb, Denman brush, Tangle Teezer, etc. to finish the job. So, I decided to use the shampoo brush to comb through my hair as a final step before rinsing my conditioner. Yup, I used the shampoo brush!
You see, when the Tangle Teezer (TT) was the craze early last year, someone wrote that this cheap little shampoo brush was just as good, if not better. If I remember correctly, they said that this was because the teeth on the shampoo brush aren’t as sharp as the TT and it they don’t have seams.
So, anywho, after doing a thorough finger detangling, I took the shampoo brush in the palm of my right hand and the ends of my hair in the left. Then, I slowly combed through my hair, working up from the ends to the roots. If I met any resistance as combing, I stopped to remove the “obstruction” with my fingers, then resumed combing. The brush really glided very easily through my hair when it was fully saturated with conditioner and I allowed the water stream to flow over it. It also made my curls clump nicely. But, I don’t know if I’ll use the shampoo brush every wash day. Maybe every other. And, I’ll be keeping an eye on my ends as I used the TT for a hot minute after a big “trim” and noticed an inordinate amount of splits almost immediately. So, if that happens, I’ll stop using it immediately.
Back to wash day. To finish, I applied Aubrey Green Tea Rinse directly over the HE HH and rinsed with cool water. Then, I set my hair in six braids for a braid out with Wonder Curl Get Slick Smoothie and Butter Than Love Pudding, using the shampoo brush again to evenly distribute the products through my hair.
As it was about 8 pm by this time, I knew that there was no way that my hair would dry overnight. So, I decided to finally take the Salon Dryer on Wheels, which I got over 2 months ago, on a test drive!!
I realized pretty quickly that I needed to do something with those hanging braids if I wanted more than my scalp to dry! So, I secured them across and against my head with large bobby pins.
So far so good! The dryer is pretty loud though and I used the timer, which sounds like a ticking time bomb. But, it seemed to be doing a decent job of getting my hair dry. I sat under it for about an hour. My hair didn’t dry entirely, but I’m hoping that it will finish drying overnight *fingers crossed*. I’m writing this post Sunday night, so I’ll have to comb back with the final results later! Sorry for the delayed gratification!! But, I’m sure you’ve been there before ;).
This is just a random short post to share a couple of pics I posted on my Facebook page. The above pic was before I was about to pre-poo. I pulled a piece of hair and was tickled about how much longer my hair is than it looks, even with a stretched style. Shrinkage is really an amazing thing. I love it for the fullness and poppin’ curls it gives me … but not so much when I continuously encounter pain in the butt matted hair and tangles at my neck on wash day though. But, I’m getting better at dealing with that as I know that I need to SPREAD the hair first to loosen the knots and shed hairs. THEN, I can work the hair down and out without causing a knot to form and/or tighten to the point where my only option is to cut the offending snarl. I HATE when I have to do that and it was occurring more often due to wearing loose styles. So, I needed to modify my approach to finger detangling on dry and wet hair.
Anywho, after taking this impromptu pic, I pre-pooed with my new Holy Grail mix of Aubrey Honeysuckle Rose (HSR) conditioner and Vatika oil. My hair was a tangled rat’s nest and I really had to work it in and gradually work through my hair in sections until it was detangled enough to put into my normal 6 twists. I donned my heat cap, but then I didn’t have enough time to wash my hair before I had to get ready to meet my buddies for lunch!! So, big banana clip bun to the rescue!!
Didn’t need to use gel or anything!! Just brushed it lightly, secured it into a “ponytail” with the banana clip and then wrapped and pinned in a matter of minutes. Whew!! What a life saver!!
Oh, and here is the Sci-Five (4 founding members and 1 reserve ;))! We finally got to wear the tee-shirts Anthony designed and gave us for Christmas all at the same time!! We had so much fun as Anthony and I lambasted bad Dark Knight Rises (my review is here if you missed it last week.).
The Sci-Five: Anthony, me, Megan, Fabio and Fernando
And now, I need to get back to cleaning this house (still had the suitcases out from my Playa del Carmen vacation and family reunion weekend roadtrip! *smh*)!! I’m actually excited as I thought this would be an all day job, but think I’ll be done by 2 pm at the latest (would have been earlier if I hadn’t stopped to write this post! *lol*). That means, I might actually be able to wash my hair before midnight! Yeah … ‘cuz I did absolutely nothing after lunch yesterday. So, the pre-poo is still “marinating ;).”
With Spring Break right around the corner and lots of cousins coming to visit soon, I wanted to do a hairstyle that would last my little sister several weeks and would be easy enough that she could maintain it herself.
Due to our hectic schedule, Bunny has become quite the queen of chunky twists (wash, condition, twist, and repeat), so this style was a treat for her!
Now that she’s ten, she told me she’d like to help out more with her hair care, so I’ve been trying to include her in that if at all possible. She now washes her hair by herself (as long as it’s in eight-to-ten braids), moisturizes it daily, and helps out with her twists a little. Proud big sister moment!
Products I used:
Mixed Chicks Shampoo
Mixed Chicks Deep Conditioner
Mixed Chicks Leave In Conditioner
Beija-Flor Naturals Cream Brulee
I began by washing her hair with some MC shampoo. This was my first time using any of the Mixed Chicks products and they all receive two thumbs up from us! Once her hair was washed, I DC’d, rinsed, applied a generous amount of leave in, and put her hair in twelve Ghana braids to stretch it out for mini twists.
I left her hair like this for about five days (I intended to leave them in for two or three days, but that’s just how it ended up unfolding), so her hair was super stretched out and completely tangle free! I tied up the top eight sections, which left me one row of four Ghana Braids in the back. I took down one Ghana braid at a time, added a little Beija-Flor Naturals to the entire section, combed it through with her Denman and began twisting. I parted her hair on a slight slant, which seemed to help the process go by much faster.
In my head, I saw me knocking her minis out in about three hours; however, we ended up doing them for two hours over the course of three days. By the way, I think I’ve seen my fair share of Disney movies! We watched Aladdin, Toy Story 3, the Princess & the Frog, and the Fox & the Hound.
Here is the end of day one of twisting:
Here I the end of day two of twisting:
And finally, here’s the finished masterpiece:
The first thing I did was give her a good trim (I took off the bottom inch or so) for which she was long overdue. She LOVES her mini twists! They’ve been in for about two weeks and they’re still going strong! Bunny’s goal for her hair is for it to be long enough for her to sit on! She just turned tens year olds, so I hope she will reach her goal before she’s a teen! And of course, we had to do a quick length check.
I think that she can claim waist length now.
Each day I spritz her hair with a little water and moisturize with a water-based moisturizer. We’ve used two different ones – one by Its Perfectly Natural and one by Mixed Chicks. And I think that’s it! You can check out more of our styles on our = Website: natural-hair-care-info.com Blog: natural-hair-care-info.blogspot.com Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/Natural.Hair.Care.Info Thank you so much for reading!