Hair Care

10 proven habits to grow long healthy afro natural hair

Afro hair care blog

HeyTresses! I’m back again to share top 10 habits that have positively impacted my hair journey to give me that long healthy afro natural hair.

I get excited seeing people rock their God-given naturally textured hair. Whenever I get the question, “how can I grow long healthy afro natural hair?” I feel the need to always highlight a few important things”

  • First is the importance of shifting our mindset from growing long hair to growing healthy hair. Healthy hair will inevitably retain length. On the other hand, the focus on growing long hair alone could be counterproductive because this could make you develop certain unhealthy habits for your hair; like holding onto split-ends in the name of length.
  • Second thing is, the speed of hair growth is determined by genetics (not the colour of your skin), age, hormones, nutrition and blood flow access to the hair follicles. Since we cannot control the genes we receive from our parents or our age and to some extent hormones, it is healthier to focus on the things that we can control or change.
  • Thirdly, hair growth is not the sole factor that determines how long your hair will become. You need to be able to retain the length that you grow in order to see any noticeable difference in your hair length.

Here are my top 10 advices on how to achieve healthy long afro natural hair results:

1. Have the right mindset

Just like everything, you need a good mindset to succeed in anything. This comes down to self-perception. I’m addressing this first because it’s often the main factor setting us back in our healthy natural hair journey.

The journey to a more positive self-perception and self-image in the natural hair community is increasingly embraced. However, the European standard of beauty remains the more preferred look. As a result, many still struggle with accepting their appearance, wearing their natural hair.

When you hear about kids being turned away from school or an employee being cautioned because of their hair, one could say this struggle is validated.

Worrying about what people would think of your hair could make you do things that could rob you of that long healthy afro natural hair goal.

Here’s my advice…

  • Embrace your God-given afro natural hair. Wake up every morning and decide you’re going to love it no matter what it looks like, how it acts or how other people view it. You are not your hair but your hair is certainly part of you.
  • Be curious to learn more about your hair. Knowledge is power. The more you know about your hair the more you know how to handle it and this leads to a better, healthier relationship with your hair.
  • Stay consistent with your hair regimen.
  • Be patient with it, even on the bad days. Even non-blacks have “bad-hair days” so it’s important to remember that it is not unique to black hair.

2. Stay hydrated

If you follow me on instagram you’ll know I say this all the time but I honestly can’t say it enough.

Did you know?

  • Hair is the second fastest growing tissue in the body (with bone marrow being number 1) and this is regardless of race or your hair characteristics.
  • Up to 60% of the adult human body is made up of water.
  • The cells in your hair follicles require energy to generate new “hair growth”.
  • Our body requires a lot of water to make this.
  • Your hair strands need water to remain adequately pliable which in turn minimises hair breakage when you manipulate your hair.

… do you see the direction I’m heading?

If long hair is your goal, here is a simple equation you might find helpful.

Hair length = Hair growth + hair shaft retention.

Hydration comes only from water, so the bottom line is, your hair needs water. Water is your natural hair’s best friend. Without it, your hair growth becomes stunted, literally.

The little growth you get is also not retained (because the hair is dehydrated, leading to breakage) and this will lead to your hair length being compromised.

Here’s my advice…

  • Drink enough water. A simple formula to determine the minimum amount you need per day is:

your weight (in kg) X 0.033 = amount of water (in litres) per day

  • If you find drinking water boring, here are other options:
    • switch it up sometimes with fruits that have high water content like watermelon or cucumber (you would need to eat lots of them though and combine with drinking water)
    • infuse your water with fruits (orange, lemon, lime, strawberries, kiwi, cucumber etc) to give it some flavour.
    • Drink lots of freshly squeezed juice (you should check with your doctor regarding this point if you have diabetes).
  • Directly apply water to your hair by washing your hair or just simply spraying water on your strands in between washes and then sealing this with oils. (Be mindful of the shampoo you use if you plan to wash frequently – avoid sulphate containing shampoos).

3. Take your diet seriously

Growing and maintaining a healthy afro natural hair (or any type of hair) is more than just using the right hair product. Your hair needs nutrients to grow and your diet determines what nutrients will be available to your hair.

There’s a trend in the natural hair community where people seem to apply very nutritious food directly to their hair but then turn around and feed on junk food. Conditioning your hair with fresh avocado and eating junk food at the same time won’t do much for your hair in the long run.

Yes, the avocado would provide the slip to detangle your hair but that’s about it. Your hair will not absorb any of the great nutrients contained in avocado because YOUR HAIR STRANDS ARE DEAD CELLS AND THEREFORE ARE NOT ABLE TO ABSORB NUTRIENTS for the most part.

The living part of your hair is the root which is found within your hair follicles which is deeply underneath your scalp and is too deep to absorb anything you put on your hair.

Your hair follicles get their nutrients through your blood circulation and the nutrients in your blood is determined by what you eat. When your follicles absorb enough nutrients it feeds into your hair growth.

Here’s my advice…

  • Avoid crash diets: this causes sudden deprivation of nutrients available to your hair follicles leading to excessive shedding.
  • Ensure your diet contains proteins, fruits, vegetables, grains and an appropriate amount of fat. These together will provide all the micronutrients that your hair will need, like iron, zinc, selenium, vitamins etc.
  • Take your vitamin tablets with food. Most of the vitamins (especially vitamins A,D,E and K) require food for our body to actually absorb them. Taking your multivitamin tablets in an empty stomach is pretty much a waste of that tablet.

4. Cleanse your scalp

You need a clean and healthy scalp to maintain a steady hair growth. When your scalp is dirty, it could trigger dandruff which could clog up your follicles and sebaceous glands (the gland that produces sebum – the natural oil for your hair) and this could potentially stunt your hair growth.

I don’t think you need to wash your hair every single day to maintain a clean scalp; that could actually be counterproductive if your goal is to grow your hair long.

So the question is, “How often should we wash our hair?”

There actually isn’t a one-size fits all answer to how often you should wash your hair but there are a few things to consider to be able to determine how often you should wash your hair. Check out this YouTube video for a guide on this.

Ultimately, it is important to cleanse your scalp using a cleanser with the right pH (a pH conducive for your hair and scalp). I will touch on this a bit more on either another blog post or a YouTube video.

5. Have the right tools for your hair type

There are a number of tools I could recommend to incorporate into your natural haircare regimen. I could make a new blog post on this but here are my recommended top 3 tools.

  • Sleep with a satin/silk scarf or bonnet or swap it for complete satin/silk beddings. Check out ndunaturals on instagram to purchase one if you don’t have any. She makes really lovely bonnets with a personal touch.
  • Use a wide-tooth comb. Type 3 hair types could possibly get away with most combs and brushes but not every detangling brush works on type 4 hair. If you don’t know your hair type please refer to my previous blog post on “Natural afro hair care: The basics”
  • Spray bottle for hydrating your hair with ease.

6. Read the hair product ingredient list before you purchase.

This point requires an entire blog post dedicated to it where I could elaborate on it more. However, to summarise it, here are some ingredients I would advise you to avoid in your haircare products:

  • Sulphates (although there are points where it might be necessary to use this)
  • Silicones
  • Short-chained (denatured) alcohols
  • Formaldehyde
  • Parabens
  • Mineral oil (to some extent)
  • Other ingredients to consider avoiding are: Synthetic fragrances, phthalates

7. Avoid direct heat as much as possible

Heat denatures (breaks down) protein. Your hair is mainly protein (called keratin) and water. Applying direct heat to the hair will literally break down the hair shaft leaving fractures a long the shaft. This leaves your hair prone to breakage.

Using a heat protectant prior to applying heat could reduce this damage but it never totally protects your hair from a potential heat damage.

Here’s my advice…

  • Air-dry instead.
  • tie your hair up in a microfibre turban/towel/cap. this can speed up your drying time (especially for low porosity hair types)
  • Put your hair in a stretching style while wet to minimise shrinkage and tangles while you air-dry or while you use a microfibre turban.
  • Examples of stretching styles are, bantu knots, large twists or large braids.
  • You can try Africa threading when your hair is almost dry to achieve further stretch.

8. Always seal in your moisture

After every wash or after spritzing your hair with water, always remember to follow with an oil or (cream and oil) to seal in the moisture.

Do this when your hair is still lightly damp to avoid sealing dry hair. Sealing your hair when it’s dry would keep your hair shaft dry from within for an extended period which will lead to hair breakage.

9. Protect and care for the ends of your hair

The ends of your hair is the oldest part of each strand and so they are more prone to splits, tangles and breakage. You need to treat them with care and protect them as much as possible.

You can do this by keeping them tucked away or wearing your hair in ways that protect the hair tips.

Here are a few examples of how to care for them:

  • Keep them moisturised and sealed
  • Wear a silk/satin scarf to bed. You can even wear your satin/silk scarf on a normal day out; especially if you’re in a rush or feel too tired to make your hair or just as part of your outfit for the day.
  • Other protective hairstyles: bun with the ends tucked in, twists, braids, cornrows, bantu knots, sew-ins or wigs.
  • If you use hair extensions for your protective styles, remember to moisturise and seal your hair properly before installing the extensions.

10. Keep your hands off your hair

Your hair just wants to be left alone most times so just let it be. Too much manipulation can cause mechanical damage to your hair

Bonus point 11.

Don’t stress over your hair (or anything at all if you can)

When you stress, your body releases stress hormones that have a negative impact on your hair growth. So avoid stress as much as you can.

Your natural hair regimen does not have to be stressful. If you need a simple hair regimen with less stress, please get in touch using my Hair consultation form detailing your issues and what you need help with in the form and we’ll work together to find what would work for you.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog? There is so much more detail to this but I have summarised it as a start. I hope it helps you achieve that long healthy afro natural hair goal. If you have any questions on this topic you can leave your question in the comment section below, let’s start a conversation.

(1) Comment

  1. Donnie Mossien says:

    Hey very nice site!! Man .. Beautiful .. Amazing .. I’ll bookmark your website and take the feeds also…I am happy to find a lot of useful info here in the post.

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