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?

Chinwe

Healthy hair care tips and more!
http://www.healthyhairbody.com

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151 Comments on "4 Myths About Black Hair Growth"

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Vonnie

We can argue back and forth about whether it is true or not that Black hair grows the slowest, trimming, blah blah, but there’s enough Youtubers and forums such as this one that can attest to, with proper care, Black hair (AA or African) can grow just as fast and long as other ethnicities WITH PROPER CARE. I think shrinkage really masks our growth rate a lot, which is why when I picture-document my hair growth I always reference with hand-stretched hair. Trust, it grows just as fast.

Barbara
From L’oreal whose busine$$ is hair Asian hair holds the speed record for growth with 1.3 cm (app .52 inches) a month. On the other hand, it has lower density than any of the other ethnic groups. The way its follicle is implanted causes the hair to grow straight, perpendicular to the scalp. African hair, generally black hair, is the slowest growing of all, at less than 0.9 cm (app .36 inches) a month. On the other hand it is slightly more dense than Asian hair and grows almost parallel to the scalp, twisting around itself as it grows. As… Read more »
Mizz Tbone

Word!

Zanthe

Now let me preface this by saying that I grew up around loc’d people so much so that it was the norm for me. My dad was loc’d. However, amen on that! Why is it that people are quick to say that 4b/c is best, looks best, grows best and can only reach longer lengths in a loc’d state? I think I know why but interested to see what others say.

goyta

i think it’s because typically it’s easiest for black people to grow long hair when it is worn in locs. Now as to the aesthetics of it, i can’t answer for that. i don’t think it necessarily looks better in locs, and i think that locs is no more than a style preference. but the logic of it dictates that if one wants long hair the fastest way they can get it, the best way would be to loc it. that goes across the board for all races, actually, not just black.

Jade

Even though they won’t admit it, SOME people only like 4b/4c textured hair when it is in styles that “hide” or “deceive people” of their true texture.

anonymous

My mother was from the St Lucia and all her life had midback to waist length unprocessed thick coily hair. I on the other hand am struggling to grow my hair to shoulder length – I know that this is because I struggle to stop it breaking it is thick and kinky as well as fragile. If it wasn’t for my mother I too would have grown up believing that black hair never grew long.

ming
I don’t believe this article. Ok, excluding the Somalians, Ethiopian, Egyptian (all of Arabic decedent) why the women/girls in lets say Africa in tribes or OTHERWISE hair down to their shoulders, waist etc. Even in Haiti but when we look at the same living circumstances of females in India, Cambodia, Nicaragua etc. their hair are long. Put things in perspective, I have been to schools with girls from the 1st grade, and we went to the same high school and Colleges and up to this day, those who stay natural hair still isn’t by their shoulders much less their waist… Read more »
Mina
I am a woman with two Nigerian parents and two sets of Nigerian Grandparents and two sets of Nigerian great grandparents and their parents where Nigerian as well you get the point. My hair is long down my back.It also grows very fast. I grow about 8-10 inches a year. And just as a side note the Somalians Ethiopians and Egyptians are all Africans they’re not any less African just because they don’t fit into the image you have of Africans. A few limited experiences doesn’t mean generalisations can be applied for the whole of Africa or for the entire… Read more »
Victoria

^^ Fellow Nigerian co-signing, esp on Somailians, Ethiopians and Egyptions not being any less african.

Deav
They may not be less ‘african’ in your opinion, but dna evidence shows that many of them are mixed with arabs/asians. So lets not get caught up with semantics here. When people refer to research on African populations, they are refering to mostly unmixed black african people with dna that has never left the african continent over the past 40 -70,0000 years. If a good proportion of your ancestors came from the middle east, then that is a slightly different racial group with different genetic propensity to retain hair. Significant proportions (around 50%) of the ‘black’ populations in Egypt, Somalia… Read more »
goyta

i understand what you’re saying. and you raise a very good point. if you ask any ethiopian they’ll tell you that a good significant portion of their population was actually intermixed with the euro peoples (romans, primarily) between 400-1000 BC. i worked with many ethiopians in my last line of work, and they told me as much as that their history, relatively recently, is in fact quite mixed.

Adama

Please stop this. Ethiopians are not mixed. Everyone include Europe has interacted with foreigners, but to attribute their physical biology and apparance to foreigners is racist. Too many black people have absorbed racist European perceptions of what full-blooded Africans look like. Otherwise called the True Negro myth.

I think some black people(including Africans)are jealous and hold onto this ignorant logic to dismiss what they don’t have as the result of mixture. They would rather believe that their hard coarse hair and unattractive too-broad features are the True African look. They’re jealous. And so are you, Deav.

tinabobina

Wait…what? “Coarse” (I suppose you mean tightly coiled) hair and broad features are unattractive? Since when? Isn’t this supporting the racist ideology you are railing against?

Jade

Its actually the other way around. Eurasian peoples carry THEIR DNA. Eurasians are the ones admixtured.

Deav
@Jade, the out of Africa theory of the origin of the ‘M’ haplogroup, is just that a theory. It has some arguments in support of it but the out of Asia theory has far more evidence to back it up. For example, the fact that M1 has a limited geographic distribution in mainly North Africa and Horn of Africa regions is a strong argument for the out of Asia hypothesis. If ‘M’ had originated in Africa, before the out of Africa migration, it would be expected to have a much more widespread distribution within Africa. In addition the distribution of… Read more »
anastasia

@ Deav: From your antiquated ‘ruling-class’ agenda-drenched response, I bet you deny global warming as well. Sad.

Jane

I was reading her comment, pondering how she got it so wrong. The desire to hold on to her ignorance was so deep.

Adama

“The desire to hold on to her ignorance was so deep.”

@Jane
Lol! Yes it was wasn’t it?

Deav

You were pondering how I got it so wrong, but can’t manage to summon up a single fact to support YOUR ignorant opinion, just bile. Pathetic troll.

Jade

If you encounter West African women from rural regions/Nomadic cultures, like the Toubou and Woodabe, you will see a lot of them have long natural hair. This is due to the fact they tame care of their hair the traditional way. They use special butters and protective styles.

vive

Ivie011 is another Nigerian youtuber with gorgeous natural hair.

vive

Oh and if you’re looking for “unmixed” West African females as you call them, check out Sera2544(Sierra Leonean on youtube), RusticBeauty (Nigerian on youtube), FushionOfCultures(Ghanaian & Egyptian on youtube), NaturalBBdiamond (Togolese on youtube) Geraldine (Nigerian) on geraldinethegreat.blogspot.com

And trust me, there are more.

vive
African textured hair (especially extremely coily kinky hair) is more fragile and requires more attention to prevent breakage. It also requires more moisture than looser textures because the natural oils don’t penetrate the whole strand of hair(hence the dry ends many naturals complain about). Dry hair = breakage. Do these girls you speak of give their hair the kind of attention it needs to prevent it from breaking, thus retaining the length? Probably not. Point is, a black girl’s hair may grow at the same rate as her white counterpart, but she has to do MUCH more to retain the… Read more »
ttemfash

You’ve proved the writers point perfectly. These girls that you went to school with do you know their hair regimens/practices. Oh and about long haired non-mixed Africans with long hair, I know quite a lot of Nigerians with exceptionally long hair.

Differences Are Okay

@ttemfash You may very well but that simply is not the norm.

HeyHeyHey
Simply put, how would you know? Black hair is like no other….Other races TYPICALLY don’t have nearly as much shrinkage as kinky unrelaxed type 4 hair, for example. My natural hair un-stretched only shows 1/3 of my true length. Another thing: I know that relaxers have highly affected our ideals of black hair growth. Simply put: highly processed hair is less likely (though not impossible) to retain 100% length, regardless of race. I know many Caucasian women who cut off so much hair damage after bleaching their hair, for example. The natural movement JUST now (in the past 5-10 years)… Read more »
Jade

There are many women in west Africa that have very long hair. But they usually take care of their hair the traditional way. You will often find this in rural/nomadic communities. If you look at vintage photos of women with natural hair in that region, many had very long hair. point is: it’s all how you take care of it.

HeyHeyHey

+1

If you slap a relaxer on it and flat iron it every day, of course it’ll look like it can’t grow. LOL

Loo

Hi Ming. Length retention and growth rate are two different areas. What you are discussing is an issue of length retention.

hyspin

The myth that I keep hearing that I find is generated by hair product companies then, repeated by uneducated hair stylist, and then believed by general by the general public that definitely has to DIE is that all Ethnic/Black hair is COARSE (both meanings of the word).

Very not true frankly I think they should even use the word coarse because it usually misunderstood but also used to mean the texture of the hair.

I know plenty of black women, including my self that has neither thick strands or rough feeling hair.

HelowAddicted on Youtube
HelowAddicted on Youtube

I know right! I ave this word, coarse. My hair is not “coarse” and it should not be a way to define somebody’s hair texture. It’s very pejorative to me.

Ugonna Wosu

asians are considered to have the coarsest and straightest hair, as well as the strongest. Coarse isn’t a negative word.

Jane

I don’t think it is pejorative. Used in its proper manner, it just refers to strand size.

hyspin

HelowAddicted on Youtube your last sentence concisely conveys my feeling for the word.

Ohdear

So true,it goes to show they are a LOT of myths that need busting and we are the ONLY ones that can do it. Stylists only say what they have been tought so that is a whole other matter. *smh* 🙁

Jo

Coarse hair is not confined to any race. I remember working with a white women that had very thick coarse hair.

Kinky hair despite is fierce appearance is so fragile and needs a lot of TLC.My individual hairs are fine and medium size with a thick density.

Here is a an interesting article:

http://www.philipkingsley.co.uk/hair-types

Marcia
I was not educated on how to take care of my hair and therefore I assumed my hair just didn’t grow long. While I was relaxed I never made it past APL. Never. It just hovered there. It wasn’t because I was black and therefore my hair didn’t grow it was because I was not taking care of my hair. I relaxed, bleached, rarely deep conditioned, didn’t know how to detangle my fine strands and didn’t take care of my ends…oh yeah I used heat ALL the time. Blow-dryers, flatirons, roller-sets…I loved Dominican salons…anyway my point is that now that… Read more »
Eloisa

Amen!

Ohdear

Tell them again,Marcia! LOL

When are people going to STOP making excuses and start taking responsibility for what grows out of their head? Seriously we have a long way to go. WE have the internet as encouragement and PROOF that hair length can be retained with a lick of sense and patience.

Jane

It is easier to make excuses or quote unreliable or badly created studies. All I have to do to get people to believe any thing about themselves is to put together a study of 10 people and I know they will take its word as truth.

To quote Mark Twain: “Lies, damned lies, and statistics”

mlank64
Marcia, I totally agree with your statement. I’ve never achieved anything past shoulder length hair when I was relaxed. Like you I abused my hair. I rarely if ever deep conditioned, neglicted my ends, used heat everyday, bleached, colored, relaxed parts of my hair already relaxed. Now that I’m natural, I’m loving it. The fullness is back, it is growing longer, thicker, shinier. I BC’d on 8-6-2011, so I’m a little over a year. When I first BC it was very short, couldn’t even twist the front of my hair and wouldn’t pull down past the tip of my forehead.… Read more »
Barbara

There are actually a few studies that show black hair does in fact grow slower ***on average*** , I will link it later when I get a chance.

Precious

You will find that the hair itself does not grow “slower”, but must maneuver through a series of twists and turns which give the illusion of slower rate.

Barbara

Spoke too soon, okay so one of the studies was mentioned but refuted on the basis of “but my brother’s mother’s cousin” ummm that is not very scientic coming from a hair science blog.

Loo
The study I’m referring to demonstrated “slower hair growth rates in Africans versus Caucasians”. My mentioning real life examples of women with average/fast growth rates was not to refute the study. My mentioning of them was to demonstrate that the study does not mean we cannot have average/fast growth rates. Additionally, another thing we must consider is that this study had a small sample size and only focused on a particular region in Africa. The sample size could have been larger. Africa is a large continent with numerous countries. I would be interested in seeing a study that gathered groups… Read more »
HelowAddicted on Youtube
HelowAddicted on Youtube

Why making the difference between Black and Africans, are Africans not Black themselves?
I just want to understand because it’s not the first time I come across people differentiating Africans with Black

Mizz Tbone
There is a difference between a race and a skin color and nationality. There are only 3 races … The black, the yellow and the white. I am black and I have friends from the Dominican Republic who are also black. We are black due to the African blood that flows through our veins. However, i know several Dominicans who do not like to be referred to as black. They would rather be referred to as Dominicans or Hispanic … But Dominican and Hispanic is not a ” race” … It only makes it easier for someone to narrow down… Read more »
Precious
Though it is true that Africans can be classified as black, all ppl classified as “black” are not necessarily African (unless one chooses to conveniently ignore the variances in historical heritage). Shall I spell it out? Someone from Africa who can trace their parents, grandparents, great grandparents, great-great-grandparents, etc to black Africans is an African. Someone like Vanessa L. Williams, though not technically bi-racial, is someone containing genetics that deviate from the African spectrum, and therefore, though technically black, could not be accurately referred to as African. Without her relaxers, her hair is just as kinky/coily as many other blacks… Read more »
Bernadette

When I lived in Africa (Cameroon), I was called White. 🙂 My boyfriend got a good kick out of that one.

Loo

Hi, HelowAddicted on Youtube. Yes, Africans (black Africans, that is) are black. Depending on who you talk to, they are considered a subset of the black population. On the forums, I have seen people differentiate between black and Africans (especially in the United States given the mixing that has occurred as a result of slavery), so I wrote in anticipation of it. It was not my intent to imply that Africans are not black; it was my intent to tackle the “but African hair grows slow” issue before it started.

Ugonna Wosu

she isn’t saying they are not black, she made the distinction because saying this happens to “black people” is not enough for people who feel that those who have a mixed background may have an advantage or disadvantage. I am Nigerian, and I have a hard time talking to my mom about hair cause she doesn’t believe its possible to grow it long for african, un-mixed people.

Nubiahbella

Africa is the continent the most genetically diverse. There are Plenty Africans ( I am not talking only about West Africa) are mixed with Asian, European, Arab etc… too

Adama

You completely twisted that. The genetic diversity in Africa comes FROM Africa. Not from “European, Asian or Arab” admixture. Most AFricans with all of their hair texture, facial, skin color variation are NOT mixed.

For goodness sake it’s a continent. You think all Africans had the same hair texture?
the same skin color?
the same facial features?
the same hair length?

BEFORE any foreigners came? Throughout ALL REAGIONS??? In other words you think Africa had no diversity of it’s own. It just HAD to be given to them by foreigners. What racist logic.

maralondon

Africans have out of all other races a larger gene pool. This has nothing to do with Asian or European being in the mix.

Jade

It just goes to show you the lengths people will go to prove “true” Black hair does not grow. i mean, you have people accrediting their ONE or TWO nonblack ancestors from like 8 generations back for their long hair. Everyone/eveything BUT their African ancestors/heritage. I have even heard people accusing West African women who have long hair of having “Arab or White” ancestry way back there. What gives!

HeyHeyHey
Preach!!! I’m West African, so when people see my hair, they’re all like “I thought African hair couldn’t grow.” Or they’re surprised to see that I have a mixture of 3c, 4a, and 4b; there is a stereotype that Africans all have the same hair texture, just SMH. That being said, a lot of people have this notion that their hair growth rate or hair texture, or even skin/ eye color is a result from ONE white ancestor from 5-6 generations ago. Give me a break. Your skin might be a certain shade from that ancestor, but many are unaware… Read more »
Bri

The plural of anecdote is not data.

Tyler

definitely agree with you on that one, Bri!

Nikki

+1 Boom!

camille

Ha!

Loo
Hi Bri. Here is some “data”: The study I’m referencing: – had a small sample size (roughly 38) – only focused on a particular region in Africa (central/west Africa) – did not account for environmental factors Given this “data”, more studies are required to determine whether it is really true that “African hair has slower growth rates than Caucasians”. I would like to see a study with a larger sample size and using subjects from various parts of the vast continent (e.g., southern Africa, east Africa, etc.). Assuming that it is true, this still does not translate into “black/African hair… Read more »
Bri

I realized the “plural of anecdote is not data” came off as a bit harsh. It’s just a saying. But “This data is questionable because the methods are questionable” is valid. All arguments fall apart when “This data is questionable because I’ve seen other stuff,” is used instead.

Bri
Fair enough. Questionable methodology is obviously reason to doubt the study’s conclusions. I just don’t like the “study says…but I’ve seen.” Because I’m sure you’ve also seen people whose hair grows more slowly…in all races. I think people are quick to jump to “things they’ve seen” because they don’t like the outcome of certain “studies,” which is misleading. I’m not saying to break down the methods section, it’s just misleading. I also don’t think that differing growth rates on “average” is a bad thing. People tout that hair growth is determined by genetics but we are unwilling to say that… Read more »
Precious

@Bri, some ppl (aka YOU) just have to be negative about everything. Rather than projecting that other ppl are hung up on good hair, it seems it would more accurately reflect that YOU are hung up on “good hair”. Please present for examination your own personal data on black hair growth rate. And try removing the stick from your–

Bri

I’m an epidemiologist Precious. I’ll get back to you on that study 🙂

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