Are you trying to grow your hair long but aren’t getting much success? Growing long type 4C hair can seem daunting and can feel impossible for some so let me break this growing long 4C hair saga down a little for you.
When I was about eleven years old, I started caring for my younger sister’s hair. I was also starting to learn how to braid hair and so she was basically my little teacher. Her hair was maybe a little less than an inch long. I had access mainly to bar soaps and foaming shampoos & petroleum-based oils and at the time, coconut oil was very pungent and so I didn’t use it. I also knew nothing about its benefits.
I mainly wanted to learn how to cornrow hair and that’s what I practiced the most on her type 4C hair. My type 4C hair in the meantime was a few inches longer, dry, hardly retained length and somewhat brownish in color. I cared for my sister’s hair for some years and her hair grew out past her shoulders! Jet black and long. Mine in the meantime was at a stand-still and didn’t show any remarkable change over the years. My hair health started changing as I grew older and learned how to take better care of it. I would apply some oils to my scalp, brush both my scalp and hair (gently in small sections) and from time-to-time blow dry it. So, what made my younger sisters 4C hair grow long and what started transforming mine? Below are some ideas gathered from my journey then and now that could change the game for you.
Understand your hair growth phases
Hair grows from the follicle (root) underneath the skin (scalp). Blood vessels at the base of the follicle feed and nourish the hair. You’d think that hair would keep growing until we cut it off but that’s not the case! Our body has its own regulation mechanisms and cycles and goes through three distinct stages:
- Anagen – hair growth phase which lasts between 3-5 years approximately. As new hair grows out, the old hair is shed. This stage determines how long our hair can grow before we shed it.
- Catagen – transitional stage which lasts for about 2 weeks.
- Telogen – dormant phase during which hair stays in follicle for 3-4 months prior to growing.
In a normal hair growth cycle, a larger percentage of hair is in the Anagen phase and every hair is at a different stage of the growth cycle. We normally lose 50-100 strands of hair per day and when we create conditions that cause hair loss, we cannot replace additional lost hair with new hair quickly enough. We then start noticing thinning and if we continue in this vein and damage our follicles, we start suffering from alopecia.
My younger sister’s natural hair has a longer growth cycle before it breaks and/or sheds. That was one contributor to the growth she experienced.
Breakage vs Moisture
4C hair is particularly prone to breakage because it’s intrinsically dry. The oils produced by the scalp don’t effectively travel far along the hair shaft. If they do, the cuticle layer is likely lifted and absorbs as well as losses these oils quickly thus exacerbating dryness. This was a major issue for my sister and I. I used water to add moisture to my sister’s hair before combing and braiding and sometimes I didn’t. It helped somewhat but wash day was not much fun for either one of us even though we loved the end result. Fast forward to today, a product like the Naturaz Rehydrating Mist & Detangler would have transformed wash day for my sister and I. Note though that you shed up to 100 hair strands a day so you’ll always have some shedding.
If you want to see steady growth month over month, use products with humectants and moisturizing and nourishing ingredients. Using my background in chemistry and experience in research and development, I formulated the Naturaz Moisture Burst System to infuse and sustain moisture in hair. I always advocate that you stick with one product line for at least three to six months to give it a chance to transform your hair based on your needs and the brand promise. As you can imagine, as we comb, brush, hang out s at the beach, swim, apply chemical treatments etc. our hair experiences wear and tear. Because hair is a keratinous (protein based) substance, I also formulated the Moisture Burst System to deliver proteins needed to repair and strengthen the hair shaft.
I had my younger sister’s hair in cornrows all the time. I loved trying out different hairstyles on her head and she loved the experience of checking herself out in the mirror and exclaiming “I look nice!” I always felt so happy hearing her acknowledge the effort even though she didn’t enjoy the process. I think this is one major reason why I was driven to creating a solution so that girls, moms and caregivers don’t struggle like we did. Regardless, the protective styles allowed my sister’s hair to rest and grow without much manipulation. Over time, the results were evident in the length that she enjoyed.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you’re protective styling:
- Keep your hair moisturized while styled and when taking down the style. The Naturaz Rehydrating Mist & Detangler will hydrate your hair, soothe and feed your scalp and soften your hair so that breakage becomes a thing of the past.
- Take down your protective style every 4-6 weeks depending on the style.
- If you have extensions, keep the area around the roots of your hair clean and avoid build up. This buildup can accumulate if you leave extensions in for too long and can cause extensive breakage as you try to ease your hair out of it.
- Feed and nourish your scalp with a vitamin and protein rich scalp and hair treatment like the Styling Moisturizer.
When I went to a boarding school to complete high school, my sister ended up cutting her luscious, coily mane because her crazy, hair loving older sister wasn’t consistently around to fuss over her hair! I’m forever grateful for my first teacher, my sister who graciously allowed me to learn about hair by caring for hers.
So grow your hair longer by:
- Understanding your hair growth cycle
- Using highly moisturizing products that help your hair hold moisture for longer whether or not it’s protectively styled
- Keeping in mind that your hair is made up of keratin and use products that deliver proteins needed to repair and strengthen your hair.
- Protective styling your hair to avoid manipulating and breaking it.
Feel free to leave a comment below or reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi, I’m Mumbi Dunjwa, founder & CEO of Naturaz. I’m the scientist who created deeply moisturizing and repairing Naturaz formulas. I’ve been a lifelong natural and have a passion for educating people on how I’ve been able to stay natural all my life even when “natural hair” was not popular. I have a background in Chemistry, Nuclear Medicine Technology and Information Systems Management and have extensive experience in large health care systems as well as big pharma. Curly, coily hair is fascinating to me and I believe that healthy hair is not only about product. It’s about what we eat, our environment, stress levels and more. Health on every level is critical to growing and keeping a vibrant head of hair. I love science and technology and I believe that there is so much more to be invented that will transform hair care and help folks with curly, coily hair better harness their magnificent crowns. I want continue contributing to this transformation so stay tuned. Learn more at www.naturaz.com and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest & Youtube.