More Stages: The Science Behind Hair Growth!



J.E. Wise & B.E.K Royal

In this article I will tackle some hair myths and provide useful insights on how to promote healthy hair growth. Many insights in this guide will be labelled as a rule that I have followed and continue to follow. I encourage you to download the complimentary Mobile APP. Keeping a detailed record of your process increases the likelihood of success.

Please take note. First, I am not a hairstylist and don’t profess to be one. I am merely sharing my hair-growth experience.  Growing up, my mom cared for our hair. My sisters and I relaxed our own hair, put in extensions, weave, and trimmed our own hair. We learned about hair by caring for our own hair. I believe that part of the journey to hair growth is to know your hair inside and out. I know my hair really well. I am the expert on my hair. The words I use to describe my process are words that I chose carefully and that best describe my experience. They may not be the jargon associated with the hair styling profession. As such, I have taken some liberties and choose to exercise poetic license to explain my experience. I have, however, interviewed some of the stylists who have worked on my hair over the years. Their expertise and knowledgeable words and guidance grace some of these posts. Furthermore, I have conducted extensive research. Information I have learned over the years and information I discovered for the purpose of this “article” are included here too. In addition, my sister, the Royal in this Wise and Royal venture, who is now sporting a beautiful natural look, is in the process of earning her cosmetology license.

Second, I know we live in a society where we want things immediately. Waiting is a word and a practice that we wish to remove from our vocabulary and lifestyle but practice, patience and time are essential to the process of growing healthy hair. Third, although this guide may prove to be helpful for many hair types, this guide is based on my hair which is 4b as depicted by Walker (Hair Typing System). Or, it is 4c– depending on the hair Typing System you follow. Andre Walker, Oprah Winfrey’s hair stylist is the one who created this original hair typing system. His system, however, excludes 4c hair  which more accurately describes the hair type of many women of color who find that their curl or more precisely, their coil pattern is not accurately described by Walker. This hair type is more tightly coiled and is more dry. For the purposes of this article and blog, 4c is my hair type. According to an article on the Curlcentric website, 4c hair is similar to 4b hair (Kenneth). There are those who agree with Walker’s hair Typing System while others find his exclusion of 4c hair and depiction of type 4 hair overall to be offensive (Kenneth), but this article and blog is focused on characterizing specific hair types using labels that you may already be familiar with. These labels are consistently a part of the contemporary vernacular so I use them too.   This is, however, neither a promotion for or against this hair typing system.

I will on occasion discuss my sister’s hair journey.  She has 4c hair too. In 2015 she cut all her hair and started a natural hair care regimen. As part of her regimen, she follows many of the guidelines I adhere to. A year and a half later she has approximately 4 inches of growth.  In addition, to ensure that the her hair growth journey as a natural sistah is accurately described, she provides a detailed account of her regimen and experience in the blog entitled rediscovering my natural hair.


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Myths


But first, let’s dispel some myths. Especially as it relates to kinky hair, there are many myths surrounding maintenance and growth. This article and blog is not only about natural hair, but because I have kinky hair that has been chemically relaxed, I like to start there. Nevertheless, the practices explained in m can be applied to natural hair too. Kinky hair is dryer than all hair types. Kinky hair needs supplemental moisture to stand up to styling because it is naturally dry. Kinky textures tend to be the most vulnerable to drying out and breaking because the bends in kinky hair make it difficult for natural oils to work their way down the hair shaft” (Goins). If not properly cared for and moisturized, dry hair leads to breaking hair.

Many years ago, I read a hair magazine in which a beauty and hair expert explained in an interview that as Africans and women of African descent, or simply–women with kinky hair, we could not expect our hair to grow longer than that of our mother’s.  She said, and I quote: “look at your mom’s hair, that’s how long your hair will be.” Eye roll. I refuse to accept this. To me, this reasoning is flawed on so many levels. I’m sure you will arrive at the same conclusion simply through reasoning and common sense. But I can back up my words with documented evidence. Referring to hair growth, Kristin Russel the author of Yoga for Hair Growth notes: “Gene or DNA is not our destiny. Our everyday skillful choices can reverse even the behavior of our genes” (19). Genetics determines the look of our hair, but not its ability to grow. Because African hair follicles are in a flat oval shape, it grows out of our scalp in a coily-kinky manner. Whereas straight hair comes from hair follicles that are round. The more compressed the hair follicle is the curlier or coilier it is.  I created a very crude diagram of my explanation. Please see the image below. The follicle of kinky coily hair is almost flat as can be seen in the diagram. Nevertheless, it  is not genetics but rather behavior that prevents us from experiencing a flourishing hair growing outcome. On average, kinky African hair, which grows slower than any other hair type, grows about 4 inches long each year (Castro). The issue is not that your hair is not growing or can’t grow it longer than it is. Of course genetics plays a role in your hair’s look and length as explained above. Still, the issue is maintaining a scalp free of build up and maintaining the length you currently have while new growth comes in. It also means constant nourishment and moisture.  Now, it is true that everyone is different. But one thing is true about everyone’s hair–the hair goes through three stages of growth: anagen, catagen, and telogen. The anagen stage is the hair-growing stage, the catagen stage is the hair-transitioning stage, and the telogen is the hair-resting stage (Help for Hair Loss).

Every strand of hair in your head is in one of these stages right now.  Each stage occurs simultaneously in different parts of your head at any given time. In other words, some hairs on your head are in the anagen stage while others are either in the catagen or telogen stage. Nevertheless, these stages occur disproportionately to each other. Check out my blog entitled Girl, your hair is always growing–for more information on the subject


References

Castro, Joseph. How Fast Does Hair Grow? | Hair Growth Rate. Live Science, http://www.livescience.com/42868-how-fast-does-hair-grow.html. Accessed 28 Aug. 2016.

Goins, Liesa. “Expert Q&A: African-American hair care.” WebMD. WebMD, 2005. Web. 31 Aug. 2016. <http://www.m.webmd.com/healthy-beauty/features/expert-q-and-a-african-american-hair-care&gt;.

Hair Typing System. andrewalkerhair.com, http://www.andrewalkerhair.com/v/vspfiles/templates/140/Hair-Typing-System.asp. Accessed 28 Aug. 2016.

“Help for Hair Loss.” WebMD, WebMD, 2010, http://www.m.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/science-hair. Accessed 3 Sept. 2016.

Kenneth. “The Only Hair Typing System Article You’ll Ever Need.” Going Natural, Curl Centric® | Rewrite the Rules of Natural Hair Care, 27 Aug. 2016, http://www.curlcentric.com/hair-typing-system/. Accessed 16 Sept. 2016

Russel, Kristin. Yoga For Hair Growth.


© 2017 Wise & Royal, LLC.

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