Email #8 - Maintaining length retention

All hair grows at the same rate. Regardless of texture and length, everyone’s hair grows about half an inch per month – meaning that you can grow your hair up to 6 inches a year. The issue is, especially with curly, kinky and coily textures, retaining that length can be challenging. This is because our strands grow in and around each other – which make them susceptible to breakage, as opposed to people with looser textures whose hair grows straight. Because our hair is highly textured, this also means that sebum (our hair’s natural oil) cannot easily fall down and coat our strands entirely (unlike how it would with looser textures) which is exactly why we have to combat dryness and give our hair the moisture it needs. 

Length retention is your hair’s ability to hold on to its growth – without the strands splitting or breaking. Everyone’s hair has the capacity to retain length – although some textures are more susceptible to it than others. However, there are a few things you can do to maintain length retention and guide your hair to achieve the growth you want. Many of the tips in today’s class are natural hair care rules which you have probably come across – we’ve thoroughly explored many of them in this course, and if they haven’t yet, we’ll be breaking them down in this week’s lessons. 

 

Protecting your growth on wash day

Mechanical damage 

There’s a lesson this week that is dedicated just to this topic – but we had to touch on it here! Mechanical damage comes down to how you handle, treat, and style your hair. Avoiding mechanical damage is about avoiding certain behaviors and bad techniques that destroy the health of your hair. 

Pay attention to how your products make you feel 

At Belle Bar, we’re all about using natural ingredients that nourish your hair and staying away from synthetic products that do damage to your hair in the long run. It’s important to pay attention to what makes your hair feel good – although natural products are kinder to your hair, your hair may not necessarily like every single one. Some people are sensitive to coconut oil, others try to stay away from essential oils like Rosemary because their scalp might find it irritating. Pay attention to the natural ingredients that make your scalp feel good and use them. Look out for ones that make your scalp feel tight, itchy, or that give it a burning sensation – these are not for you. 

 

Protecting your length during the week

Clarify your scalp

We all know that healthy hair begins at the root, so keeping your scalp nourished and clean is essential. Clogging your pores with too much product, or allowing it to get dry and flaky are not options sis! Even when you have protective styles like box braids, be sure to clean your scalp with ingredients like witch hazel to allow for it to remain healthy.  You can always run a cotton ball across the parts in your scalp with witch hazel if you experiencing a lot of clogging and buildup in-between wash days. 

Keep your hair stretched 

Some naturals believe that this is a great tip for retaining length. Because our hair is highly textured, it’s susceptible to forming knots and our strands love to tangle and intertwine with each other. This makes it hard for sebum to travel down along the hair strand to the ends. It also means that the strands pulling on each other are more susceptible to snapping (hence moisture is important!). Keeping your hair in stretched out styles such as two-strand twists, twists outs, braid outs, and others will allow sebum to travel down your strands more easily, and can lead to less tangling (and breakage). Of course, you should wear your hair in its natural state – it’s beautiful! But also make sure you have a good balance between this and stretched out protective styles. Note that stretched out does not in any way mean you need to apply heat to your hair – head back to previous classes to learn all about ways to stretch out your hair without heat.

Moisturize your hair even when it’s in a protective style

Mix your favorite leave-in conditioner with water in a spray bottle, and spray it on your scalp and down the length of the style. We recommend doing this a few times a week. It stops your hair from getting dry and can soothe itchiness. If the itchiness persists through, it might be time to take down that style!

 

Protecting your length from damage

Outside elements 

We cover this topic in detail in one of this week’s lessons but we thought we also had to mention it here. A large part of protecting your length from damage is about protecting it from outside elements such as pollution and sun exposure. This is key for healthy hair. More of that to come in upcoming lessons!

Chemical damage

This is another topic we take a deep dive into this week – chemical damage is attributed to hair coloring, perms, and relaxers. These are often the most severe forms of damage because they deeply change the physical structure of the hair. Although it’s impossible to protect your hair from chemical damage if you are applying any of these processes to your hair, there are things you can do to minimize the impending damage. More on this to come!

Pay attention to the ends of your hair

The ends of your hair are the oldest part of your hair and the furthest from your hair’s sebaceous glands. When moisturizing, be sure to give extra love and attention to the ends of your hair as they are often the weakest. You can be a bit heavier handed on your ends to seal the moisture in. This will help you retain length. 

Pay attention to your protective styles

Just because your hair is in a protective style does not mean that it’s by default being taken care of. Are you finding ways to moisturize your hair when it’s in a protective style? Are you keeping your scalp nourished and clean? Are you protecting the hair that’s underneath the wig or inside the Senegalese twists? These are all things to consider when your hair is in a protective style – because you want your hair to come out of it healthy and not damaged. 

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