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?


Empow­er­ing wom­en of col­or to break bar­ri­ers. Cherish.Thy.Melanin.

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151 Comments on "4 Myths About Black Hair Growth"

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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.

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 far as rate… Read more »
Mizz Tbone



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.


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.


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.


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.

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 and… Read more »
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 »

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

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 »

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.


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.


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?


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

@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 ‘M’… Read more »

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


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


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

Lol! Yes it was wasn’t it?


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.


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.


Ivie011 is anoth­er Nige­ri­an youtu­ber with gor­geous nat­u­ral hair.


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

And trust me, there are more.

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 »

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.

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 »

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.



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


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


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.


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


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


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* :(


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:

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 »



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.


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”

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 »

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.


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.


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.

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 »
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 »

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


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.


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


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.


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


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!

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 of… Read more »

The plu­ral of anec­dote is not data.


def­i­nite­ly agree with you on that one, Bri!


+1 Boom!



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 grows… Read more »

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.

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 may­be… Read more »

@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–


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