4 Myths About Black Hair Growth

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By Chinwe (pictured above) of Hair and Health

Deciphering the facts from the myths can be overwhelming, especially for those just starting their hair care journey.  Does braiding help the hair to grow faster?  Does black hair really grow slow?  Well, let’s get to the facts and bust a few myths in the arena of hair growth:

1. Kinky hair can only grow long if loc’ed

Fortunately, this myth is not as prevalent as it used to be thanks to hair inspirations like Sera.  However, it still exists, so let’s bust it.

The reality is that kinky hair can grow long with the right hair care regimen. A combination of protective styling and low manipulation can help those with this hair type to achieve length retention.  Again, just look at Sera’s progress.   If you have kinky, or type 4b/4c hair, do not feel like you have to transition to locs in order to grow your hair long.  Locs should ideally be a style one wears out of desire and not necessity.

2. Braid extensions will help your hair to grow faster

Believe it or not, this is a common myth that requires busting. What we do know is that one’s growth rate is determined largely by genetics and then diet and health. What braid extensions do allow for is length retention – not faster growth – when properly maintained. Poor maintenance of your hair while in braids can actually produce hair loss.

3. Black hair grows slow

Brace yourselves for the busting of this myth.  Does black hair grow slow?  No.  Just look around you and on photo-sharing sites.  You will not have to look too far to find black women with average or faster than average growth rates.  Now some of you may be thinking ahead and asking “What about African hair”? Several years ago, there was a study (published in a respected journal) that demonstrated slower hair growth rates in Africans versus Caucasians even suggesting less than average growth rates (4 inches/year, give or take) in Africans.  While the study is respectable, one has to consider the sample size (38 subjects), the region (only a portion of Africa was considered), and that it did not account for environmental factors.  Additionally, the study’s findings do not translate into “all” Africans having slow hair growth rates.  I have witnessed African women with average to fast hair growth rates, both online (e.g., just peruse the photo-sharing site of Sera, who is originally from Sierra Leone) and in person (e.g., my sister, who is Nigerian).  All black people – and all African people – are not the same.  Some of us have slow growth rates, while some of us average, and some of us fast.

4. Trimming makes your hair grow faster

If you missed this informative post by Jc, please do read it.  The bottom line is that trimming does not make the hair grow faster.  It does not have an effect on our growth rate.  What trimming can do is cut away the damaged ends of the hair thus allowing for one to attain longer length.  Length retention and growth rate are two different areas.

Well, that is it for the myths on hair growth.

What are some other myths you have heard?

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Chinwe

Chinwe

Hails from a great city in the Midwest and will forever be a Bears fan.

 

151 thoughts on “4 Myths About Black Hair Growth

  1. I def believe and have seen it all my life that black hair def grows very slow. Im half black so ive been around black people all my life. Most of black girls hair will not grow past their shoulder. theses are girls i have know since childhood. they never cut their hair it just doesnt grow and im not talking about a few girls. this is 75% of black girls i have known all my life. I always wondered why their hair doesnt grow like other races.

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    • It’s not that their hair didn’t grow – they were not retaining the growth. This could be down to bad hair practices etc. My hair didn’t retain any great length until I learned how to look after it properly.

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    • BUMPER1959 is correct. It has to do with RETAINING that growth. THe reason some black women have short hair is due to BREAKAGE, not hair growth. Their hair breaks because (especially in USA) due to our culture and heritage being stolen from us for over 500yrs, we no longer knew how to properly maintain our hair. All we knew is to mimic what whites conditioned us to know. This is white supremacy, stripping someone of their identity and forcing them to be something they’re not. There are MANY black women who are proving that our hair grows long by discontinuing the practices of using hair products specifically made for whites. And when they leave those practicies, their hair grows long. Im living proof of that, and so are many other women, My hair is armpit length without straightening, and it ONLY got that long by discontinuing the use of these products made for whites and not for US. I always knew my hair grew fast because when it was cut it’d grow back so quickly, the problem was KEEPING the length from breaking. It’s great that we have women spreading their knowledge to others, breaking this cycle of white supremacy damaging us.

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      • I call BS on this. We had gigantic Afro puffs in the 70s. All you have to do is eat decent, drink water, put your hair and WAIT. Blaming everything on slavery gives people the impression that we don’t take responsibility for ourselves. Slavery did not make anyone put 10 pounds of weave in their hair or perm it weekly. That’s on you ma.

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      • Uhhh…. Not all black hair can use “black hair” products, and some afro textured hair works really well with “white hair” products. Actually a lot of relaxed and naturals use Suave, Herbal Essence, Tresemme as three examples, since they are cheap, and they work well. All three where “designed” for white hair. Hair is hair is hair, the structure of human hair is the exact same around the world. So structurally, I can use a $.99 product, or a $20.00 product, if the ingredients are really similar, and I’m not allergic, they will have the same effect regardless who they were made for.

        Also, slavery isn’t the only reason, since Even in Africa, there was (not sure if still) a prevalent use of relaxers, and weaves. Relaxers didn’t exist until 1877, after slavery was over. Weaves came into existence in the 1900’s, again after slavery.

        I’m not disagreeing with you about the white brainwashing. THAT is most def. one of the main reasons, just there are factors, and hair products are almost all the same, if it’s moisturizing, it will work with anyone’s hair that is dry and parched. If it’s protein heavy, again anyone’s hair who is damaged. It doesn’t matter what type of hair you have, just what state your hair is in, and if your hair and scalp agree with the product.

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    • As a black girl let me ask this – how often were those black girls getting their relaxers retouched? That’s how fast their hair was growing. How many of them had hair just brushing their shoulders? That’s showing their hair can grow 6-12 inches on the top of their head but only 1-2 inches at the back of their head. Why?
      Because that bottom 2 inches are the part rubbing against cotton pillowcases and rough clothing. All those broken pieces laying in the bathroom sink are what’s making it look like their hair doesn’t grow.

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  2. My hair grew 6 inches in a year since I big chopped. Sooo that tells me my hair grows at the same rate as any other human being and I’m black…human.

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  3. I think a controlled study is more reliable than anecdotal evidence.

    A sample size of 38 is not as small as it seems; it is actually quite a reasonable and reliable sample size for biostatistical analysis. Secondly, studying the hair growth rates of Central and, especially, West Africans is reliable because blacks in America, the UK, and the Caribbean are mainly descended from those regions of Africa.

    It would not be reliable to study Ethiopians or Sudanese or Somalis because they do not represent a significant proportion of black DNA in the Western world.

    Black American hair may grow faster and/or may achieve greater lengths than African hair because of non-black admixture, since Caucasian and Asian (read: Native American) hair grows at least 50% faster than black hair. It’s why we see white and Asian little girls with hair down their backs compared to black girls.

    Black hair ‘grows’ but does NOT grow as fast as white or Asian hair. That is a fact, and the one study mentioned (there have been others done) proves it.

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    • Non-mixed, Southern African person here. Our hair grows. Fast. Most cases of ‘slow growth’ can actually be attributed to breakage vs slow growth rate…

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      • Hannah, I am also a non-mixed Southern African from South Africa with naturally black, thick and tight coiled hair. My hair use to break a lot before, even though it was not relaxed, colored or straightened. I was however not aware that my hair was breaking because it was not breaking from the roots but from the ends, it was also not thining so my head was always full of hair.I chopped all my hair and started over, I gave myself time to learn more about my hair. I changed the way I cared for my hair i started loving my hair more. Now I have very long, full and beautiful natural hair within two years people admire my hair a lot. So I just want to concur with you that our hair grows fast if we take care of it. Genes, diet and environment plays a role though!

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  4. I like this article. It’s very informative. Some people dont realize that protective styling has nothing to do with how fast your hair grows, but only with keeping and maintaining your growth by lowering manipulation lowers breakage and damage. As for the african hair growth rate, I agree, it depends on genetics, not race. I know white people that have hair that grows very slow, and some that dont. Just like blacks(like myself) have hair that grows fast, and some of us have slower growing hair. It’s all about diet and genetics in my opinion. It is true, that your environment does shape your diet.

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  6. African hair or coarse hair breaks more easily due to a lack of elasticity. Moisture is the key to retaining growth, protective hairstyles, and minimizing using heat or chemicals. Pollution and overwashing plays a role as well. Diet plays a crucial role as well, you need Omega 3s, B-vitamins, protein, water, etc…Asian hair grows fast, I do believe diet plays a role. Straight hair is also not exposed to as much heat and abuse. Curly haired people tend to abuse their hair and curly hair is dry and will break. I have multi ethnic hair and it grows so fast and thick when I leave it alone. When I am flatironing it and messing with it all the time, it breaks. So, it seems it’s not growing as fast as all the others around me.

    So, if you want your hair to grow: Eat healthy, take vitamins (Biotin, MSM, and Inositol), drink water, get a good moisturizer, don’t overdo protein conditioners which can cause hair to dry out and break, avoid too many chemicals (sulfate shampoos, relaxing too often, coloring), rubberbands that pull hair, pulling and tugging on hair, and try to use a satin pillow case or scarf. Cotton depletes moisture from the hair and hair get’s caught on it. Get some pure extra virgin coconut oil and use it on the hair. Good luck. I am growing mine to waist length. Right now it’s armpit length.

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  7. I find it very stupid and idiotic to talk about Blacks and Africans as if they were different. Sure, in African there are caucasians and arabs, but the Blacks ARE from Africa, whether you want it or not. It’s the same BS Jamaican serves us, when they say: “I’m Jamaican and we have nothing to do with Africans!” (read History books damn it!). You are delusional and this goes to show how some Afro-americans (see, the “Afro” there?) are still feeling uncomfortable to be related to Africans…so uncomfortable they need to use two different terms: Black, and African. Well, your kinks are there to constantly remind you of that now. Peace.

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    • And this here is the reason a lot of africans dont like african americans. I dont identify as african because im not. My history is here, my ancestors built this country, this is home, for as problematic as it may be. To willfully claim a heritage you know jack about is rude and ignorant, to say the least. I know people who are half african (One parent comes from the continent) who still dont use that ethnic heritage to claim that they are “african”. So who the heck is you? Probably some clueless person who just woke up to the reality of our history yesterday, and decided they identified more with the lion king and being an african princess as opposed to the reality of the situation: you are the decendant of africans AND enslaved peoples. African american is something to be proud of. We survived our holocaust, and while we may not be thriving,we are still here, and that counts for something. But calling us all africans when we our history diverged in such a huge way is not only an insult to africa, a rich CONTINENT with thousands of cultures, it is a spit in the face to those “africans” who lived, fought,loved, and died right here so that you could get on an internet message board and sound woefully undereducated. So pay them their dues and learn your history.

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      • Kendall – I could kiss you. That is exactly it. I am Jamaican heritage born in Britain. I do not and cannot deny the African blood that is in me but my heritage is Jamaican now for good or ill and I know plenty of Africans (Have lived in France and the UK) and they do not claim us as their own. Africa is a continent with a rich and diverse people not a country.

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        • But ANYWAY back to the hair. I think agree with all the above – its not an issue about slow hair growth its about lenght retention – my white friends hair does seem to grow like weeds but if their hair was subject to relaxers etc they would see the same issues. My friends with bleached blonde hair have the same issues with growth and length retention… its basically a case of (be you black or white) stay away or minimise use of the chemicals folks!

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  8. that black hair grow slow myth kills me slowly. my last relaxer was may 2012 and when i trimmed my last few inches off of relaxed ends off on feb 28 i was right about BSL and that was with constant trimming throughout my entire transition. i can only imagine how long it would’ve been if i had only cut of the bare minimum.

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  9. Honestly,what is up with all these people disagreeing and arguing over whether or not your hair grows slowly or not compared to white people.It doesnt matter where you came from,whether it be the blacks in jamaica or the blacks in georgia,because your hair,and your DNA is different.Your hair is gonna grow at the rate its gonna grow,and you really cant change that without some miracle or some bs like that.Who cares about busting a myth when you cant really change the way your hair grows,because of the fact that youre different.

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  10. I believe what makes blacks hair seem to grow so slow, or not at all are the 360’s in our hair. It’s my theory that the further apart your 360’s are, the longer your hair grows with little to no effort. One small tiny coil (nap) is about an inch long in my hair and my hair breaks at these coils even though I try to be really careful with it these days.

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