In the natural hair community, there’s a lot of emphasis placed on getting healthy hair, growing long hair, and retaining length. All too often, we tend to think the answer is a certain product, vitamin, or “grow hair overnight” scheme, when it isn’t.
I’ve been natural for about six years now and in the beginning, there was a lot of trial and error involved: emphasis on error. I wanted my hair to grow long and healthy but I wasn’t equipping myself with the three habits necessary to get it there. You don’t need an arsenal of products, 10,000 tools, or even a personal hair stylist. You can grow long, healthy, strong, and beautiful hair, no matter your starting point or texture. Start implementing these habits and your hair will prosper!
1. Gain Understanding.
When you decide to grow your own hair, the first step is to learn about natural hair AND your own hair, because it is unique from any other head of hair you will encounter. It’s good to know about natural hair in general, but if you never examine your own waves, curls, kinks, and/or coils, you won’t be able to handle them properly. You should take the time to really do your research so that you won’t waste time buying products that aren’t suitable for your hair or creating habits that are ultimately just a waste of time.
When I first went natural, I spent hours on YouTube and hair blogs, just immersing myself in natural hair, which was something I didn’t even know was a “thing.” At the time, there wasn’t nearly as much information available as there is now, so your task actually quite easy! But you must also realize that you have to eat the meat and throw away the bone. Every tip isn’t one you should acquire, and with time, you’ll find your groove.
You’ll quickly see that there are many methods, routines, and regimens out there but you’ll find that everything isn’t good for your hair/lifestyle. Me, personally? I’ve learned that for my hair and lifestyle, it’s best to just keep it simple. I wash my hair once a week, following up with conditioning, and then deep conditioning with heat for 30 minutes. During the summer my hair is almost always in a bun, which I take down 2-3 times a week to moisturize and give my hair a break. Every other month, I install box braids to give myself a break from styling. This routine has helped me retain 2 inches of growth this summer, and it’s all because I spent time learning what is good for my hair.
2. Get Dedicated.
You say you want long and healthy hair, but what are you doing about it? A few years ago I called myself getting serious about my hair journey, but I was still doing things to counteract any progress I was making, such as: using too much heat, neglecting my hair, leaving protective styles in for too long, not deep conditioning, not moisturizing, etc.
Once you gain understanding, you’ll know exactly what you need to do to grow healthy hair, including: following a regimen, refraining from damaging hair practices like excessive heat and over-manipulation, deep conditioning regularly, maintaining a good diet, and drinking lots of water. But do you do it?
If you’re still learning, don’t be afraid to try but just know that retaining length is going to take some sort of effort. The amount of effort depends on the person. My hair tends to be prone to split ends so I have to be very cautious and watchful of anything that will hinder me from retaining length, like slacking on my regimen or handling my hair too harshly.
Ultimately, if you really want long and healthy hair, you’ll do what it takes to achieve it. It doesn’t take all of your time and a boatload of money to do it. Truly, being dedicated will take you farther than any hair product or miracle growth oil ever will.
3. Be Consistent.
Now that you’re equipped with the knowledge and are really ready to put your best foot forward, consistency is all you need. There were many times in my hair journey when I made significant progress but I found myself growing weary, getting antsy, or was just tired of trying. Right when my hair was on the cusp of greatness, I would resort back to my bad habits because it was just easier.
Sometimes you have to tell yourself no! So if you’re committed to refraining from heat for six months, don’t let yourself give in at month three. Don’t skip a week of deep conditioning or allow yourself any room for excuses. At times you may feel like it’s “not that big of a deal” but if long and healthy hair is your goal, consistency is essential because it takes time to see lasting results. It’ll take some discipline, but it will also be well worth it.
As with anything in life, the more you put in, the more you get out. So if your hair isn’t where you want it, just know that it can get there! It’s up to you. So learn what you’re doing wrong, get serious about what you need to change, and just stick with it. You’ll get there!