There are all sorts of myths about natural black hair. For the sake of brevity, I'll just address five here. Others I can immediately think of- natural black hair is a political statement symbolizing rebellion. Natural black hair is unprofessional. Maybe I'll address those in a later article. For now, let's discuss these. Some of them are common among our own people.
- Black hair doesn’t grow
- Black hair is tough hair
- Black hair should be shiny
- Black hair is all the same
- Black hair is hard to style
Natural black hair doesn't grow
It's easy to understand why people might think this to be true.
After all, straight hair appears to grow much faster than naturally
kinky hair. You can see the length. Imagine two ropes each three
feet long. One rope is laid out straight and extends three feet. The
other is looped and coiled. It might only extend one foot. The
straight rope will appear to be much longer. Hair growing at the same
rate will appear to be very different lengths possibly leading to the
conclusion the coiled hair isn't growing. Then there is the
ultimate length of the hair. Some people can grow very long hair while
some people's hair never seems to get beyond a certain length.
A couple of factors determine how long your hair can possibly grow. One is the lifecycle of the hair. Each hair will only grow so long before it goes into a rest phase and then into a shedding phase. The hairs on your head turn over, no matter how well you take care of them. The second factor is whether the hair breaks during this lifecycle or not. Combing the hair can be especially hard on hair causing it to snap off before it reaches its full potential. To maximize hair length, you need to address both of these factors. Taking the best possible care of your hair and scalp during the growth phase ensures the hair can reach its full length before it goes into rest. Products that stimulate circulation and provide nutrients will boost this growth rate up to the maximum your body can produce.
To maximize hair length, reducing breakage is key. While proper nutrition can ensure your hair develops to be strong, keeping the hair soft and supple can help prevent breakage. Using the proper comb, if you're going to comb, is important. You will want to avoid combs with teeth that are too narrow for your hair type and rough edges that can snag hair. You'll want to use products that help your hair retain moisture. You'll want to not comb or brush your hair while dry. All of these things will allow your hair to continue to grow during the growth phase and to stay in your head during the rest phase.
Natural black hair is tough hair
While it may seem like the more tightly coiled and thick your hair is, the more abuse it can withstand, that is not always the case. Black hair tends to be flat which is what causes it to coil. These coils are places where combs will catch and pull. The hair tangles which means pulling too hard or too quickly through it will cause it to break rather than untangle. Hair that is more round and smoother will withstand these assaults better. Because the hair is structured the way it is natural oils from the scalp take longer to work their way along the hair shaft. These oils keep the hair in good shape. Washing too often or with the wrong products depletes these oils leaving the hair vulnerable. No matter how "tough" you think your hair is, you should always treat it gently if you want to maintain its health. Using a shampoo and/or conditioner that doesn't upset the natural balance of oil on your hair and scalp is key. Depending on your hair type, you might want to oil your hair with good natural based oils.
Natural black hair should be shiny
Our society has taught us that healthy hair is "shiny and bouncy". Well, not necessarily. It's obvious to us that our tightly coiled hair probably won't be bouncy. What is not so obvious is it's probably not going to be shiny. How shiny something is is a function of whether it absorbs or reflects light. Smooth surfaces reflect light while surfaces that are not smooth absorb light. Because of the way our cuticles lay (the outer layer of the hair), black hair tends to absorb light. When hair is relaxed, these cuticles lay more flat and more light is reflected. When I was a kid, we would put all kinds of product on our hair trying to get it shiny. These products would coat the hair and give the light something to reflect off of. However many of these products were not good for our hair or scalp as they choked off moisture getting to the hair, harmed circulation in the scalp, and just generally gunked things up. Supplementing the natural oils your body produces with other natural oils is good for most of us. However, take it easy.
Natural black hair is all the same
Since you're reading this article, you probably realize by now that there are many hair types. However, what some people don't realize is just how many hair types there are. Even within the same family, people will have different hair types. You might have different curl patterns on different sections of your head. Some of us will need to add oil to our hair and scalp. Others of us might find we never need to add oil. How often to wash, what type of conditioner to use, these are individual decisions that you'll have to experiment with and come up with your own unique regimen for your own unique hair. General guidelines are available, but since everyone's hair is a little different, taking care of it is something that has to be learned through experience.
Natural black hair is hard to style
Most stylists still have no clue how to deal with natural black hair. When I first went natural, my stylist of several years (the one who put in my relaxers) could no longer style my hair. Many little girls wait for the day when they can get a relaxer so they can do their own hair. We have seen white mothers of biracial children rush those perms for kids as young as three years old so that the mother could do their hair. Or, they'd put relaxers in their girls' hair so they could do their own hair. The fact is that natural black hair doesn't have to be hard to style and is very versatile. However, education is important. People have to learn the style options they have available to them. They have to learn the limitations of what you can do with natural black hair, as well as the amazingly creative things you can do with it. Some patience will be required while going through this learning curve, but it can be done, and once it's done, the possibilities are vast.
Treasured Locks is here to help you understand your hair and its needs. We'll even sell you some products, if you like If you have any questions, let us know. You can contact us through the contact form on our website, chat to us or give us a call at 513.759.2206