CurlyNikki reveals her secrets to making natural hair retain length.
Calling all naturalistas: Do you have urgent tress questions? If so, you're in luck. Every Thursday, natural hair blogger extraordinaire CurlyNikki will be solving your curly hair conundrums! Submit your questions by tweeting them to @EssenceMag with the hashtag #AskCurlyNikki.
READER QUESTION: My hair has been stuck at chin length for two years and I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. How do you grow your hair long? CURLYNIKKI's RESPONSE: The key is "retention." Your hair grows every month, but your ends are probably snapping off just as quickly as new growth is sprouting from your scalp. I know this can be supremely frustrating and sadly, there is no overnight fix. My first suggestion would be to get a professional trim. Now before you cuss me out, I promise you it’s not counterproductive. If you want to achieve length, you have to rid yourself of those nasty, broken off ends that are only exacerbating the issue. I’d also recommend that you take a look at the products you’re using. Perhaps you should lay off of the stylers (mousses, hair sprays and gels) and focus on hair health. Look for deep penetrating moisturizing and/or protein reconstructing conditioners. If you're not sure whether your hair is craving moisture or protein, I've shared a few helpful tips to find out on my blog. You would also be wise to increase your water intake (drinking half your body weight in ounces), and make sure your diet is healthy and balanced.
Below, I’ve listed my top three length retaining techniques:
1. Moisturize! Between washes, don’t allow your ends to dry out completely. On an as-needed basis (usually every two to four days), apply water and/or a water-based, leave-in conditioner. You don't need much, just be sure to evenly distribute. You know it’s water-based because "aqua" will be the first ingredient! Also, try deep conditioning at every wash. My personal favorites right now are Curl Junkie Rehab, Jessicurl Weekly Deep Treatment, MyHoneyChild's Olive You and Davines MoMo. They’re all incredibly moisturizing and extra slippery which aids in detangling.
2. Try finger detangling. It's time consuming, but it rocks. It'll take a little practice (and a crap load of patience) to master the technique of detangling solely with your fingers, but you'll enjoy a much happier head of hair. I do it in small sections, working from the ends up, and I'm able to gently remove shed hairs and tangles with minimal (if any) breakage. One of the benefits is that you can actually feel where the knots and problem areas are — that's a major advantage! Also, as long as your fingernails are trimmed, you don't have to worry about snagging your strands on anything sharp or jagged, which reduces breakage and split ends as well.
3. Follow up your moisturizing routine and wash day with sealing. Apply a thin layer of oil, butter or a silicone-based serum to seal in the moisture from the water and conditioner.
Happy Hair Growing!
Nikki "CurlyNikki" Walton is a successful psychotherapist and creator of one of the most credible online sources about natural haircare, maintenance, and decoding the psychological ties between black women and their hair. Visit her at her blog CurlyNikki or follow her on Twitter @CurlyNikki.