Black Women Can’t Have Long Hair: Really?
Black woman… long hair… are not words you would usually include in a sentence together. However, with a little knowledge and adjustment to the regular hair care routines that we hold dear we can achieve long, healthy hair of a certain length. It goes without saying that the majority of women of African descent think that their hair cannot grow past a certain length. Could it be that this occurrence is not because of genetics but because of our hair regimens and how we treat our hair?
My sister and I are very close and also very fiercely competitive with each other. Our competition so far has been mostly in board games and dominoes. So, three years ago we were talking about a specific clip that we saw on an infomercial that was designed to hold long, thick hair and she remarked that the clip would be perfect for her niece, who happens to be half Indian.
I casually remarked that it could fit me too because I had shoulder length hair. A length that I had for years, I always thought my hair was longish for a black woman. My sister scoffed and said that my hair could never be as long as waist length because black women can’t have long hair. Being the competitive sister that I am, I declared that my hair would be waist length in a year. Not only would it be waist length but it would be thick.
At the time, I had no idea how I would set about creating that miracle growth but I was determined to prove to my sister that my hair was going to be at a length that would silence her. And so I went on a quest, a growing hair long quest. This quest has turned me into a hair guru or so I like to style myself these days. I was always an avid researcher on health before the challenge issued by my sister, so I decided to combine my love for a healthy lifestyle with this healthy hair quest. I went through an assessment of my hair care and realized three things:
- When I was in high school I used to twist my hair every Sunday into fine two strand twists and would only comb and wash my hair on Sundays. The twists would last a week and it was an easy style to have without getting up and combing my hair every morning, because of this, my natural hair got longer with my hair care regimen.
- When I lived with my grandparents, my grandmother would do a once a month egg treatment for my hair. It was messy and smelly, but my hair would shed little after that. Also, when I ran out of the real hair oil, I had to use coconut oil. The more natural the hair products I used the more my hair grew.
- When I was in first year university I had little spending money and a very tight budget to retouch my new hair growth. I had to stretch my relaxer for up to sixteen weeks because of financial constraints, but interestingly my hair seemed to be in better health with the long stretches.
And there laid the foundations to my hair growth philosophy, unknowingly I was doing all the right things when I was younger and didn’t even know it. Ironically, when I started working and living on my own, I did what everybody else was doing. I used a load of products and listened to my ill-informed hair dresser.
I paid no attention to natural hair products and I relaxed my hair every eight weeks with whatever relaxer my hairdresser had handy. I was doing exactly the things that I should not do to achieve long hair growth. And so, my hair would languish at my shoulders, year after year with my ends getting thinner and thinner. This justified a hair cut every eight weeks which meant that any hair growth achieved was completely lost by my hairdresser’s trusty scissors.
It took a lecture from a herb doctor who recommended that I used stinging nettle (otherwise known as co-witch), rosemary and vervain to wash my hair and I thought to myself, why not research these herbs online. That’s when I discovered hair boards like longhaircare forum. I had no idea that so many black women had the same interests to grow their hair long. I read what was on the boards and I did my own trial and error and I learned some very key pointers.
- Everybody’s hair is different. Hence, some hair care regimens will work differently on some persons and have no effect on others.
- Simple is better.
- The closer we stick to natural ingredients, the better off our hair will be.
Three years later my hair has indeed reached my waist. I had to cut some scruffy ends and did a lot of trial and error but its there. Needless to say, I lost the challenge with my sister because my hair did not reach my waist in a year. However, I finally understood what black hair care is all about.