Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Reader Question: Will My Hair Still Grow If I Wear It Pressed Instead of Natural?

In the most literal sense, your hair will grow regardless of what style you wear it in. The key to achieving your length goals lie in how well you are able to retain the hair that grows. Some of the major factors that prohibit length retention when wearing your hair straight are:
- Excess heat from pressing combs, blow dryers, and curling irons
- Breakage from detangling
- Breakage/split ends from combing/brushing while blow-drying
- Dryness from styling products that contain alcohol [setting lotions, hair spray] 
- Breakage from wrapping hair the same way daily
Hair grows at about an average of 1/2 a month. With proper care, you can retain that 1/2 monthly which means you will see significant growth in as little as 6 months. To retain that 1/2 inch a month, keep the following tips in mind:
- Try to use heat no more than twice monthly 
- If you are relaxed or transitioning, I recommend skipping the blow dryer. Instead wrap wet hair and sit under a hooded dryer, as it is less damaging to your hair. 
- If you must use more than two heat tools [for instance a pressing comb and a flat iron, or pressing comb and a curling iron] in one styling session, opt to air-dry the hair instead of blow-dry. The less heat your strands have to endure, the better off they will be.  
- If you decide to blow dry, make sure you detangle your hair with a wide tooth comb, then go through the hair once more with a blow-drying comb. This can eliminate damage from pulling and tugging on kinks and knots when blow drying. Remember the wide tooth comb gets out larger size knots, however a smaller tooth comb [passed through the hair after using a large tooth comb first] will remove smaller kinks and coils that can make blow drying a pain.  
- Always deep condition with heat after every shampoo, this will help replenish moisture, correct issues with loss of elasticity, and nourish the hair follicles. The nutrients in your deep conditioner will also help strengthen your strands so that they are able to withstand heat without damaging structure of your hair. 
- Use a heat protectant at all times, as it helps to absorb heat from styling tools which protects your strands from heat damage.  
- Clarify then moisturize. I recommend clarifying your hair at every wash because most of the styling aids geared towards "straight" hair contain silicones. Silicones aid in easing combability, and also help act as a protective coating over hair preventing reversion and heat damage. While they offer a plethora of benefits, there are also some drawbacks as well. - We now know that silicones are wonderful at coating the hair, however that protective coating can also block out moisture molecules from penetrating the protective barrier. A buildup of products containing silicone results in hair that is unable to receive moisture and other nutrients from your favorite styling products. - Some silicones are also non-soluble in water which means you are going to need a heavy duty shampoo [usually a chelating or clarifying shampoo] geared towards removing buildup.  I recommend using a clarifying shampoo to remove buildup, then following up with a moisturizing shampoo to replenish moisture and restore PH levels.  
- Implement protein treatments every 6-8 weeks. This is very important as heat styling has the ability to break down the keratin bonds that fortify your hair making it strong. Protein treatments help restore strength, reducing your chances of breakage, split ends and damage from regular wear and tear on the hair. 
- Alternate your wrapping patterns. If you have ever worn your hair "wrapped" for an extended period of time, you may have noticed a small amount of breakage or thinning on one side of your hair. I recommend alternating your wrapping methods, or utilizing the cross wrapping technique to prevent breakage and thinning.
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  1. This was so helpful, I used to feel guilty about straightening my fro thinking that I was doing it more damage than good. This post has highlighted some really helpful tips. Thanks

  2. I really need to be more proactive about moisturizing my hair. I am guilty of using excessive heat for that bone straight silky look.

    Great tips!

  3. thanks for the tips. could you recommend a blow-drying comb or one that would be suitable as a follow up to the wide tooth?

  4. 1/2 an inch a month?!!?
    Are you kidding me?
    My hair should be much longer I think.

    I'm taking care of it better now though, so at least I'm starting to see SOME of the benefits.

    I have a question- I wear hijab, and in order to put my scarf on my natural hair I keep it braided in sections.Can wearing headwraps/scarves, and keeping my kinky hair in 3 strand braids damage it?

    If so, are there any extra steps I should take to keep it healthy?

    Thank you for your advice!

  5. This was a very very helpful post MTM! Thank you :) I am currently 12wks post relaxer and decided to transition to natural hair. I like fros and I LOVE your curly twists; but my main reason for going natural is b/c I am just tired of stretching and waiting for months to get a relaxer/texlax touch up. Not to mention, my hair does not cooperate with stretching (matting, ssks, just plain ole havoc on my hair!). Anyhow, I've decided to heat train my new growth and so far so good. This weekend was my second session. I won't be flat ironing the length of my texlaxed hair though, only on salon visits (every couple months or so). I've been on my HHG for almost 1.5yrs and this is definitely the best regimen for me of all that I have tried. I believe if you follow the basic steps to haircare (m&s, weekly dc'ing, covering hair, etc) along with the tips you have identified; one can definitely use heat to their discretion with no adverse effects. In my case, loosening the hair pattern over time won't be an 'adverse effect' because I want it that way. I'll be very happy and amazed to see how long my hair can grow!! It's already longer and much much thicker than it has ever been. With that said Happy HHG to everyone out there and thanks again for the helpful articles. Happy Holidays!

  6. The photo of that model is stunning. I sent this to my sister, she needs these wonderful tips. I'm too lazy to straighten my hair anymore, natural for me!

  7. Should I be using a heat protectant when I sit under my hood dryer for 15-20 to set my twist-out (which I don't always do, sometimes I just air dry overnight)? The only other time I use heat is when I deep condition under my hood dryer?


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