I have a message for you, and well, here it is:
That’s right, hair is not alive, well at least not beyond your scalp. Once a hair strand reaches beyond the surface of your scalp, it is physiologically dead. Don’t believe me? Just ask yourself this one question: When you cut your hair, does it hurt? Of course it doesn’t, because the hair strand has no blood, nerves or muscles. Our hair only continues to get longer because the new protein within the hair follicle beneath the scalp continuously pushes older protein (hair) beyond the scalp until the follicle dies (lives out its anagen phase) or becomes damaged and breaks. Furthermore, since hair is dead, it cannot be nourished, only preserved.
So if hair can only be preserved, how do we get long, healthy hair? Well, there technically is no such thing as healthy hair. Hair is no more healthy than the fibers in your carpet, but just because hair is dead, that doesn’t mean it can’t be cared for.
Hair breaks and tears, that’s just what it does, but the trick to preserving your hair and growing it long is creating the optimal circumstances where your hair breaks and tears much less frequently than it grows. That means developing a hair care regimen that allows the protective layer, or the cuticle, of your hair to remain intact for as long as possible. No matter your hair type, there are two, key ways to keep the outermost layer of your hair intact and care for this amazing, dead fiber that sits atop of our head.
The Importance of Keeping Your Hair Moist
The most common roadblock to long hair that I find with women across all hair types is the failure to keep the hair moist. Even though our hair is dead, it can still remarkably absorb water, lots of it. In fact, hair can hold its own weight in water, and it’s diameter can swell by 20 percent in size with just water. However, I must note, moisture doesn’t always mean water, it can also equate to the lack of dryness and the resulting appearance of dryness. Simply put, this is why certain hair products (hair creams, oils, etc.) are so important; they can provide the “moisture” our hair needs to avoid dryness.
When our hair is dry, its dull, rough to the touch, and much less manageable, all things that increase the likelihood of breakage and damage. So, when it comes to long hair, moisture is king. Moist hair simply doesn’t break, become unmanageable and it’s rarely, if ever, rough to the touch. On the flip side, there is such a thing as over-moisturizing the hair, so the key to moisturization is finding the perfect balance for your hair type and your individual hair care needs, and as with anything else, it just requires experimenting to find out what your hair likes and doesn’t like. Once you figure out the perfect moisture balance for your hair, you’ll notice a remarkable difference in the look, feel and length of your hair.
Low-Manipulation and Protective Styles
In addition to keeping your hair moist, if you want to grow your long hair, you must style it for growth. The best way to style your hair for growth is via protective styles that require little to no manipulation over a period of days or several weeks, and in some instances, a couple of months. Protective hairstyles can range from a simple bun to a hair weave, it really just depends on your hair type and your hair care needs. Now, protective styles aren’t really necessary to grow long hair, but I find that these styles will give you the best chance of preserving your hair and minimizing breakage.
When it comes to hair growth, and growing long hair that appears “healthy,” I believe it’s more about what you don’t do to your hair than what you are doing to your hair that determines the lengths your hair will reach. To make it plain, keep your hair moist and leave it alone if you want it to grow long. It’s truly that simple lovelies. Eliminate the opportunity for your hair to become dry, break and suffer severe damage, and you’ll experience more growth than you’ve ever imagined was possible.