For many black women the process of growing long hair can seem impossible. The main culprit, in the process, is dryness. Black hair tends toward dryness and as a result can be brittle and break easily. When the hair breakage and growth happen at the same rate it can make hair growth seem negligible. There are some products and hair style options that can make growing out Black hair easier.
Black hair must have moisture. Moisture helps to keep the hair shaft pliable and repair the cuticle. The cuticle is the outer layer of the hair. When the cuticle is damaged, the hair can look dry and unhealthy and break easily. Use a good moisturizing shampoo and conditioner. Because the ends of the hair are most prone to dryness and damage, it is important to make sure they are consistently moisturized and protected. A moisturizer, like Silk Elements Silken Child or Soft Sheen-Carson's Optimum Oil Therapy, applied to the ends of the hair nightly, will aid in moisture retention. Before bed always wrap the hair in a silk or satin scarf or purchase a satin pillowcase. The long filament of the silk and satin is non abrasive to the hair cuticle. Cotton scarves and pillowcases can absorb natural oils and abrade the hair cuticle making it dry and brittle. Heat is the nemesis of Black hair. Always utilize a thermal protectant product. Nexxus Phyto Organics Canopy Thermal protectant works quite well for a variety of hair types.
A good way to promote hair growth is to let the hair rest. A perfect way to achieve this is by using plaits. Plaiting is the process of sectioning the hair and then separating the section in three parts, called strands. Braid the strands together. You may have to secure the ends of the plaits with cloth hair bands. Rubber bands are not recommended as they can become tangled in the hair and cause breakage.
Cornrows are a traditional hairstyle worn in Africa throughout the ages. They were popular in Black communities for years but came to national prominence when Bo Derek sported them in the movie "10". In cornrows, the hair is divided into thin long sections called rows. Once your row is sectioned off, then take three strands of hair starting very close to the scalp. Overlap the three sections of hair, staying very close to the scalp. As you move along the row incorporate more hair. Be sure to stay close to the scalp. Secure with beads or cloth hair bands. Be sure the person braiding the hair does not pull your hair too tight when braiding. Braids that are too tight can cause breakage and balding in the temple area.
There are two types of twists, two strand and three strand. Section the hair and divide the hair into two or three strands and twist each strand around the other until you come to the end of the twist. Because these are normally done on natural hair, the hair interlocks and no banding is needed. However, if you have relaxed hair, use of an alcohol preconditioning gel will help the twist to set.
More information on plaiting, twists and cornrows is found in the Resource section.