By Terez Howard
Most naturals would say that one of the benefits to having natural hair is growing a healthy head of curls and coils. Most of us naturals also desire natural hair growth. Yes, we want to have healthy hair, but we also want long hair. African American hair grows just like any other hair texture, even without the use of hair growth supplements, hair vitamins or other hair growth products.
However, these hair growth products can benefit women who have experienced hair loss from a medical condition or from improper hair care. Some want faster hair growth along with stronger hair. To achieve long natural hair, we first must understand how the hair growth cycle works.
How the Hair Growth Cycle Affects Natural Hair Growth
Natural hair growth occurs in every head on the planet. It occurs in three stages: the anagen phase, the catagen phase and the telegen phase. Each and every strand on your head goes through this hair growth cycle.
The Anagen Phase is the growth phase. According to follicle.com, 85 percent of hair is in this phase, and it can last two to six years. Genetics predetermine how long your growth phase is. Usually, 90 percent of our natural hair is in the growing stage, while the rest is in the other two phases.
The Catagen Phase is the transitional phase, or the period of time when the hair rests. Hair growth stops, the hair follicle shrinks, the lower part is destroyed, and the dermal papilla (the group of cells that form below the hair follicle) also breaks away to rest.
The Telegen Phase is the resting phase. This is the time the hair follicle is at rest. At the end of this phase, the hair sheds. People shed anywhere from 25 to 100 hairs per day. When you unbraid and wash African American hair, it naturally sheds. Natural hair in locs does not show shedding because shed hairs end up locked up.
What Stops Natural Hair Growth?
Natural hair growth can be stopped from two main reasons: a medical condition or improper hair care. Alopecia is a type of medical condition that can cause hair loss. According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, alopecia is “a common autoimmune skin disease resulting in the loss of hair on the scalp and elsewhere on the body.” Medication, hair growth supplements, treatments and hair vitamins can promote hair regrowth. You should consult a physician for recommendations on the types of medications or supplements you want to take.
Most often, improper hair care stops natural hair growth. Actually, it doesn’t stop natural hair growth; improper hair care makes natural black hair break. So, it appears to not be growing. Chemicals, direct heat, very tight braiding, the wrong tools and just a plain harsh hand all cause natural hair to break.
Traction alopecia is a condition that damages the hair follicle and dermal papilla from constant tension, like tight braiding or overprocessing, over a period of time. Natural hair growth can stop permanently if traction alopecia is not detected early.
Can We Get Faster Hair Growth?
Natural hair growth is determined by our genes. We cannot actually get faster hair growth. We can strengthen our hair and moisturize dry hair to prevent breakage. We can eat a healthy diet as well as specific types of food that promote natural hair growth. We can do regular scalp massages to increase blood circulation to encourage our hair to grow. We can follow a gentle hair care regimen that doesn’t cause unnecessary damage.
Even though we cannot get faster hair growth, we can lengthen the growing phase of the hair growth cycle with hair vitamins and supplements. Natural hair growth products, like emu oil and rosemary oil, can even regrow natural hair.
Basically, if you strive for healthy hair, you can grow long hair.