ESSENCE.com enlists the help of hair growth expert and celebrity stylist Eugene Smith from the Ted Gibson Salon New York to unlock the secrets of growing healthy hair.
By Qianna Smith
Eugene Smith specializes in the growth of all types of hair textures (Naomi Campbell, Beyoncé and Zoe Saldana are devotees). Here, he breaks down five main reasons why Black hair won’t grow!
“The biggest problem I find with Black hair breakage is improper relaxer and color treatments. These are strong chemicals that can break or damage hair if not used carefully by a professional!"
“Every time you sit in a new stylist’s chair, you’re at the mercy of that stylist’s talent and experience,” says Eugene. “Find a salon and stylist you’re comfortable with and stick to them!”
“Find someone invested in growing your hair! He/she should learn your hair history, and together you both should come up with a plan to get your hair where it needs to be.”
“An inch is not four inches. If it’s your first visit to with a new stylist, ask your him/her to show you how much they plan to cut. A confident stylist will have no problem doing this!”
“Protein treatments are an excellent solution for repairing damaged hair, but no more than once a month. Anything more than that could result in breakage,” advises Eugene.
The average person loses between 50 and 100 hairs a day, and the hair on your scalp only grows at an average of one-tenth of an inch weekly. Ready to start Eugene’s 12-step hair rehab?
The first step is having your stylist assess your hair. “I’m usually looking for over-processed, damaged hair that needs to go," says Eugene," and giving you a style that’ll give you length."
Tell the stylist your hair history, including problems you’ve had with relaxers or color. “Together, you two will come up with a plan to grow your hair out,” says Eugene.
“Change your way of thinking,” says Eugene. “Stop saying ‘my hair won’t grow’ and begin saying ‘my hair will grow.’ It makes a difference!”
“If a relaxer is necessary, ask your stylist try to avoid relaxing the hair bone-straight," says Eugene. "It’ll keep the hair stronger and maintain bounce and vitality.”
Your stylist should assess what kind of treatment your hair is thirsty for. “He/she should administer a conditioning treatment tailored to fit your hair’s specific needs."
An ultra-rich moisturizing shampoo is necessary for growing out healthy hair, according to Eugene, who performs a good scrubbing to prep my hair for the conditioner treatment.
When conditioning, your stylist should give you a good head massage, which arouses the root shaft where new hair cells are formed.
“Proper pre-styling products are essential to preventing stress on the hair. I use Ted Gibson Hair Sheet Treatment before applying any heat. It protects, conditions and detangles."
Here’s where the right haircut comes in! “I’m very sensitive to the client’s desire to have long hair. I cut off the problem areas the first time, and then lightly trim every eight weeks."
Heat is not the enemy, says Eugene. “Hair that’s been properly prepped can withstand some heat, even in the damaged stages. And as it gets stronger, your hair will get bouncier and shiner."
“Once the hair has been cut and styled, this is where we discuss at-home maintenance,” says Eugene, who recommends that you take home whatever products your stylist used on your hair.
I was so pleased with the results from Eugene’s hair care treatment! My hair looked and felt so much stronger. Hair growth results take 2 to 3 months, so I can’t wait to see real results!
Here, Eugene’s clients speak out about his 12-step hair rehab program. “Since meeting Eugene, I’ve grown my chin-length damaged bob to the middle of my back. I no longer get relaxers!”
“I first started coming to Eugene in May 2006, and my hair was thin and damaged. Eugene convinced me to cut my hair if I wanted it to grow. Now it’s below my shoulders, shiny and healthy!”
“When I think about my hair history, there are really only two periods: before Eugene (B.E.) and with Eugene (W.E.). Now my hair is growing evenly and thickening up beautifully!"
With so many products on the market, it can be difficult finding products that repair strands and stimulate growth. Here, Eugene finds ten products that deliver the most bang for their buck!
“It specifically targets fragile hair at the edges and nape of the neck. Excellent for relaxed, braided, weaved or natural hair, it has a tingling sensation that stimulates growth!" ($8.39, drugstore.com)
Ted’s Daily Cleanse Shampoo ($24, drugstore.com) and Hair Styling Sheets ($17.50, sephora.com) are great professional quality products for at home use.
“I really like the benefits of the PHYTOSPECIFIC line, for curly, frizzy and relaxed hair. This conditioning crème bath meets the needs of weak, chemically damaged hair." ($36, drugstore.com)
“It nourishes your hair, helps repair damage, and stops shedding due to breakage.” ($6.02, amazon.com)
“This is the ultimate at-home treatment to stop hair breakage. It rebuilds hair structure within six weeks, and is formulated with proteins that activate with heat.” ($15, sallybeauty.com)
“Nothing is better for dry scalp than KeraCare Essential Oils for the Hair ($25.35, amazon.com)." Itchy scalp? Eugene recommends Doo Gro Stimulating Growth Oil ($5.99, walgreens.com).
“Made with shea butter, this treatment prevents breakage before it starts by penetrating and moisturizing hair from the roots to the tips.” ($4, drugstore.com)