Most people tend to be overly concerned with hair growth. We buy expensive brands and collections promising to grow hair faster. We ingest hair pills hoping to increase hair growth by 1/2″ per month. We even try methods, such as the inversion method, to attain long, flowing or fluffy hair. We’re all guilty, and it’s okay. No judgment, no shame.
However, while all of these efforts may actually produce faster hair growth and longer strands, your attempts at achieving your hair goals may be futile. It’s not enough to focus on hair growth, we also need to focus on length retention.
That’s right, I said length retention.
You can spend $30 on a brand name collection of health products, $25 for popular hair pills, and invert for 10 minutes a day, 5 days a week, and still will not “grow” an inch in a month. Sounds familiar? Personally, I’ve done all of these and come to find out, my hair did actually grow, but I ended up losing length. Confusing, right? While caring for your roots and strands are important, the ends are equally, if not more, important for retaining length. What’s the point of fertilizing the soil if you fail to weed and prune roses?
Trimming Split Ends
Take a good look at your ends. If its been a while since you’ve gotten your hair cut or trimmed, you’ll probably notice single strands of hair split into two towards the end. Although this may seem minor, the resulting thinner and weaker split ends lead to increased frizziness, tangles, and single-strand knots. And of course, what do we do to tame tangles and frizz? We detangle with combs and brushes. The added tension from using styling tools to detangle can cause breakage at the ends, especially if your ends are thinner and weaker from split ends or knots.
Another good way to assess whether lack of length retention is caused by damaged ends is to inspect the hair you lose during washing, detangling, or styling. If you notice short pieces of hair and not entire strands of hair, then you more than likely need a good trim. Not a dusting, but a good, even trim. Obviously, to avoid uneven cuts and lopsided afros, I recommend a visit to a vetted professional. If you’re braver than most and your ends aren’t too damaged, dusting your ends is an option as well.
Now that we’ve rid our mane of split ends, its important to take steps to avoid more. One way to prevent split ends is to avoid tangles by detangling. Admit it. Detangling can be stressful and time-consuming, especially for thick curly, coily, or kinky hair, however, it’s necessary to maintain healthy hair. While there are many types of hair with different characteristics and needs, here are the basic steps to detangling.
- Dampen or wet hair
- Section hair with clips or hair ties
- Add conditioner or any product with slip (coconut oil works wonders too!)
- Loosen sections of hair and/or detangle with fingers
- Use a wide tooth comb or brush specifically made for detangling (try this cool brush genie to find a brush for your hair type!)
- Gently detangle from end to root
- Clip or tie detangled section of hair
Keeping you detangled sections clipped or tied allows for the hair to remain detangled. This last step is very important if you are detangling prior to washing or styling. I suggest washing and styling hair one section at a time to decrease the amount of tangling. Also, thoroughly detangled hair makes for the best twistouts, braidouts, bantu knot outs, etc.!
Just as dry skin damages more easily than moisturized skin, dry hair breaks more easily than moisturized hair. Therefore, it is important to keep hair moisturized with water, water-based products, or follicle-penetrating oils and sealing with a sealant. The L.O.C. method is a very popular technique for moisturizing hair and consists of applying a (L)iquid or (L)eave-in conditioner, an (O)il, and a (C)ream. Again, there are many types of hair with different needs, so researching and experimenting with different hair products will help you find what you and your hair love!!
Keeping your hair free of split ends, properly detangling your hair, and maintaining moisture are all basic and simple steps to length retention. What are some steps that you take for hair growth and length retention?