Is Black Hair Harder to Grow?

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Photo Source: Essence Magazine

By Jc of The Natural Haven

The lovely Jaded remarks, ‘I find it so odd that african americans just in general have such a hard time *relaxed or natural* growing our hair.’ Well, the truth is that African hair is very different from Asian or Caucasian hair. Here are some more details:

Slow growth rate?

It has been suggested that African hair grows much slower than Caucasian hair ( Br J Dermatol, pg 294-7, 2001.). African hair was measured at between 3.7 to 4.3 inches per year while Caucasian hair was measured at 5.7 to 6.3 inches per year. This study unfortunately is too small in my view to be representative of the entire African population but it is nonetheless a valid study.

Shape of the hair?

– Asian and Caucasian hair is more round in shape compared to African hair which is more oval/elliptical (see the diagram!). Some scientists suggest that this can make the hair weak but studies in 4 different labs produced contrasting results (J Am Acad Dermatol,pg S106–S114, 2003). Two of them showed no difference while two found African hair to be weaker – so there really isn’t a conclusion as to whether the ellipse shape affects strength.

Breakage

– This one is a bit of a duh moment. The curlier the hair the more likely it is to break. African hair has more kinks and curls. Each of these turns represents a weak point which can be tested by washing, conditioning, towel drying, combing, braiding (everything basically!).

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  • http://www.gonaturalspain.com Awanda

    Hi,
    I am from Spain. I thinking is to simple. If You have lucky and have normal or Good hair or maybe some people not have lucky and not have Good hair!! But have others things, like a beauty body…Not matter about it is black, white or china!! I am natural that 3 month now… And long time before i was Natural too. And i not doing Nathing special. Only normal rutina and the long the My hair is grow up Ok…i mean normal things and i am black Waman original from Caribean. Them be natural because the natural is Good. May be Is not Good thinking so much about the same.The hair is Only one things more. I not agree with You but is a interesting what You said.

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  • cassius

    I’ve had natural hair all my life (never relaxed it) and yet my hair seems to get shorter and shorter. It has increased in volume tremendously, but I still battle to retain length. My hairdresser suggested I texlax my hair as this has shown to stimulate hair growth on her other clients. I do a deep conditioning avocado mask every two weeks, use 0 heat, and now am using a combination of castor oil, organics hair fertilizer, and Dax. Is this good? Somebody told me ganja was also good for hair length stimulation. *sidenote-my grandmother is SouthEast Asian and my mum and two sisters have hair way past their shoulders. Quelle domage, what should I do?

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    • http://blackgirllonghair.com Jodi

      Cassius you have a different hair type than your grandmother and your two sisters. What u should do is find out your exact hair type and build a regimen that works for your kind of hair, and do protective styles like wearing buns, two-strand twists sets, cornrow braid sets, french roll sets, etc… keep the ends protected at all times. If you use heat, minimum only place heat on your hair once per month. Or just avoid heat all together and experiment with how to wear stretched CURLY hair styles not using heat. Moisturize your hair everyday and embrace its natural curl pattern. Give your hairs lots of Tender Loving Care and gentle treatment, and STOP COMPARING IT TO YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS HAIR. WORK WITH THE HAIR GOD GAVE YOU EMBRACE IT, FOCUS ON KEEPING IT HEALTHY AT ALL TIMES, DO NOT BECOME OBSESSIVE ABOUT IT GAINING LENGTH JUST MAINTAIN KEEPING IT HEALTHY AND WEAR STYLES THAT KEEP YOUR HAIR HEALTHY. GIVE YOURSELF A TRIM ONLY ONCE PER YEAR, OR DUSTING THE ENDS MINIMUM EVERY 6 MONTHS; AND GUESS WHAT WHEN YOU DO A LENGTH CHECK YOU WILL BE AMAZED AT HOW LONG YOUR HAIR HAS GROWN. FOLLOW ALL OF THESE GUIDELINES I GAVE YOU AND YOU WILL HAVE MID- BACK LENGTH HAIR IN 3-5 YEARS TOPS. OH ALWAYS EAT RIGHT, DRINK PLENTY OF WATER AND EXCERCISE. BY THE WAY FIND A REGIMEN THAT WORKS FOR YOUR LIFESTYLE AND YOUR HAIR TYPE AND STICK TO IT. DON’T DEVIATE. FIND PRODUCTS THAT WORK FOR YOUR HAIR AND DO NOT BECOME A PRODUCT JUNKIE. AND GUESS WHAT YOUR HAIR WILL BE BEAUTIFUL AND YOUR HAIR WILL GROW LONG IF YOU FOLLOW MY ADVICE. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF AND GOD BLESS. BY THE WAY I HAVE LONG HAIR AND I AM A DARK SKIN BLACK WOMAN WITH CHINESE ANCESTRY AND JAMAICAN ROOTS. I KNOW WEIRD BUT TRUE. MY FAMILY GOT AROUND! OH BY THE WAY MY HAIR IS 3B/3C TYPE NATURAL VIRGIN HAIR THAT HAPPENS TO BE MID BACK LENGTH.

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    • Cynthia

      Well, I am a 13-year old girl who is absolutely LOVING my natural hair. It is down to the bottom of my my collarbone. I don’t like protective hairstyles, (My hair is at that awkward shortISH stage) BUTTTT I do them anyway, and I recommend that you do them as well(sometimes). I don’t do them all the time, but my hair still grows at a pretty steady pace. If you want to retain length, here are several important points (In MY opinion): #1 adequate moisture. This is done by deep conditioning (“Mixed Chicks” is my favorite for my mostly 4b/c hair) the greenhouse effect, and washing somewhere around twice a month (or once a week; that’s what I do) Still use oils, but not tooooo much heavy oils, which will just weigh your hair down. Coconut oil and olive oil are the bommbbb!!! :D And the KEY to moisture and hair growth: WATER!!!!! THE MORE YOU WET YOUR HAIR THE MORE IT GROWS!!!! But water can cause shrinkage and tangling, which brings me to my next point: #2. Watch the amount of breakage. this can determine your hair growth. If 1 or more inches of your ends are snapping off, then it may look like your hair is not growing, because hair grows only 1/2″ a month. So when you detangle, go GENTLY using a wide toothed comb, and when you’re detangling after washing your hair, use a good conditioner with a LOT of slip, (E.G. Mixed Chicks [deep conditioner] or Kinky-Curly Knot today [leave in] MY FAVORITE, they’re the bestttt) and be gentle! Root to tip!! Watch how much hair is in the brush. ANYWAY, that’s all for now. Just be patient and L?VE your hair. LOVE YOUR HAIR!!!!! That’s an order!!!!!!! okay, hope this helped!! :)

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  • Lucky

    I’m just throwing mine out there. Hell yeah, growing our hair is no joke. It takes everything just to get that yearly quota. But no other race of women can claim that super fluffy, extra curly goodness. We have that gravity defying hair that spirals, curls and coils like it’s nobody’s business!

    It’s not easy but I’m trying my best to see the hair growth issue in a more positive light by focusing on hair health instead of length and seeing it as part of my natural hair journey. I’m doing all I can to have fun with my journey, but I’m not even going to lie, sometimes when I see some of those naturals with gorgeous super long hair on pinterest, my patience leaves my mind, jumps out of my body and walks out the door. :(

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  • imani

    I know for a fact my hair grows at a good rate.I don’t believe our hair grows slower.I belive the fragility of our starnds makes retention of that growth much more difficult. Over 2 years ago I gave myself some highlights, coloring random chunks from root to tip all over my head. But I also shed hair daily like crazy! I’m constantly surprised I’m not bald at the rate I shed hair! Anyway,just this year,I noticed the color wasn’t really faded ,it was just much rfurther down my hair stands.I finally realized my hair has grown almost 8inches in the last 2 yrs..yet my hair remains just at shoulder length & I colored it when it was shoulder lenght! What gives! Retention,retention,retention! I have to do all manner of things to keep the hair moisturized from root to tip& to counter the shed & breakage that happens daily. I was soooo sad when I saw id achieved 8 inches of growth but had nothing to show for it! It all ended up in my trash can over the last 2 yrs! I’m motivated by this new knowledge to learn retention. I’m not buying the bs that our hair doesn’t grow.caucasian & asian hair can’t be as diverse as ours.I love my vertility but it comes with a cost. We just have to learn how to combat the fragility. Its not saying every black person will have tailbone hair BUT I hate when I hear us say we can’t grow hair

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