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Olayinka Olagunju: There is No Short Cut to Real Hair Growth! 8 Things I’ve Learned

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If I tell you that you can’t get long hair in 3 days, let alone 3 months or even a year would you still care about your hair?

I see so many people who are fascinated about growing their hair. They watch YouTube, read articles or listen to others proclaim that they grew their hair long in a short amount of time. Everyone is jumping on the bandwagon.

Well, sorry to disappoint you but there is no easy shortcut. If there was, your hair would grow regardless of how you mismanage it, even with the “magical growth serum”; but that is not the case.

The truth is, your hair growth takes time and patience. Patience is virtue. You have to take the time to know your hair; to understand what it likes and dislikes. But most of all you have to step away from what does not work; if you are relaxed and you do not see results try being natural. If you are natural and don’t see results try being relaxed. If you wear a weave the entire time, try stopping that and pay attention to any changes.

Another issue is that people jump from bandwagon to bandwagon not giving their experiment enough time – hence the need for patience – to see if they are getting results. We are obsessed with instant gratification that we take a scissors to the hair every 4 to 6 weeks under the false guidance of so call experts. We also think we must shampoo every day, or relax every so often.

Those who truly know hair know that none of the above is accurate for all hair types.

I used to feed into the false notion that I couldn’t grow my hair; I used to envy my younger sister who was blessed with the “Rudy Huxtable” type of hair- thick and long. While we were young we did not have relaxers, but things changed while we were in Junior High. I loved the styles that relaxers provided, and boy did I take advantage of them all, even the shaved back.

One thing that was consistent was that my hair grew back after years, but seemed to stop at a certain length and it was so thin. I went years with relaxers trying to obtain those wonderful long locks, but all the relaxer ever paid me back was thinner hair and fading edges.

After much research I went from relaxer to transitioning for more than a year to a semi big chop, and the latest big chop after 3 1/2 years as a natural. It has been almost two years now and here are some of the things that I have learned along the way.

Don’t Buy Into the Hype
Not all products are special; most are made with the same ingredients… just a different way of marketing them.

Know your Hair
What works for some might not work for all. Eggs are a big craze now for conditioning the hair. I eat eggs, but have always had a disaster when attempting to use it on my hair. In fact, I attribute it as the reason why I had to do my last big chop. I developed a scalp infection which caused me to itch like crazy.

Maybe it wasn’t eggs, but picking out remnants of scrambled eggs in your hair is not cute. There are better ways to condition your hair effectively.

Keep Your Money
Going natural or relaxing should not be expensive. Black hair care is a money making machine, and many people are taking advantage of this. They will claim their product is the best and jack up the price because they know we are chasing length, manageability or thickness.

As a natural I once heard that going natural was expensive. I was so upset with that comment. Starting anything is only expensive to the newbie on the block because they believe the hype and don’t know the ways of the land yet. There are hair products out there that have to charge more because of distribution, marketing and production since they are made by smaller companies fighting for recognition. However, once you know your hair you will come to the realization that the products you need are simple and cost effective.

Keep it Simple
Yes, most people with long hair will tell you that they do not have time to do all this 24- hour hair regimen that most people talk about. It is bad enough that we go into the salon and spend half of the day; but why should you continue to do the same out of the salon? Of course some take the time to give their hair extra TLC, but it should not be an everyday event. Take the time for your hair to miss you and miss being fussed over.

The conditioner IS Your Best Friend
It doesn’t have to be fancy; as long as it is a conditioner that works for you, it is good.

I once got into conditioners when I asked a white guy in my college chemistry class what made his blond hair so long. The boy said lots of conditioners. This was odd to me back then (80s and 90s) because as black people we didn’t use conditioners. You were fancy if you did. Shampoo was the only hair product next to the black hair care products. But the idea didn’t sink in till I used my college roommate’s conditioner and fell in love with it. Shhh…don’t tell her that!

Our Hair Does Grow
It might not be at the astronomical rate that you desire but it does grow. Try taking pictures at intervals and by the end of the year check the progress. If you don’t see a change, think of what you might have done wrong. It could be that you trimmed more often than you should; and breakage or split ends could be another culprit.

Minimum Heat is Required
If you know anything about black hair care you know that we are raised to believe that heat (extreme at that), is our hair’s best friend. This is false. Heat causes damage to the follicles, which can lead to breakage or split ends.

Be Wary of Myths & Hair Legends
There are so many myths about our hair that it is taking us a long time to dispel them. Majority of us used to believe that our hair can’t grow – that if you have long beautiful hair it must be genetic… or that we all have the same hair type. It took some time, but those myths as well as others are going out the door and never coming back.

Patience calls for you to give your new texture almost the time you provided the previous texture, as well as the same understanding. There is nothing more annoying than a person who was natural for a hot second after being a relaxer for more than a decade only to rant about being natural. You didn’t exercise patience to see if being natural works out or not. Knowledge is important, and so is patience.

Finally, take the time to truly understand your hair.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

14 Comments

  1. soji

    November 14, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    Bullet point 7 should be Minimum Heat is Required, Point 8 should be Hair Legends.

  2. Fisa

    November 14, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    Pls i have very thick and coarse hair, what is the best relaxer to use that will soften my hair? I use Dark and Lovely (Super) all these years but recently i noticed that my hair dosent relax anymore.

    • Deb

      November 14, 2014 at 2:47 pm

      Try “SOFT & BEAUTIFUL BOTANICALS NO-LYE SENSITIVE SCALP RELAXER; COARSE”
      I’ve got thick/coarse hair but a sensitive scalp and this relaxer works really well for me. So give it a try.

    • Uby

      November 14, 2014 at 3:22 pm

      I was in your shoes back then, Tried every relaxer but it just seemed like I always combed out my hair after relaxing. Until until, I met Profective 3 years ago. Best Relaxer or stubborn hair.

    • Chu

      November 14, 2014 at 4:47 pm

      Yea, my friend with very stubborn hair was also introduced to profectiv and her hair relaxes well now. You also know a stylist that knows how to relax hair well.

    • hap

      November 18, 2014 at 12:33 pm

      i totally know this feeling. please use profective kit. it may not work at first use but in time you will be amazed. it worked for me, i hope it does for you.

  3. Name

    November 14, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    Also we should be abreast of our porosity levels. Then we can accurately feed our hair with the right products. Nice article

  4. Estee

    November 14, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Try UB or proeffective

  5. A bit of advice

    November 14, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    I’ve been on a hair journey for 2 1/2 years now. And I just wanted to share some myths that Nigerian people should be very aware of. Sometimes these hair stylists just feed us with so much information you’d forget that most of them were found on the streets. The truth is that a lot of these people simply know how to STYLE hair, they don’t know how to look after it. So don’t listen to them if they try and tell you the following…

    1. Trimming your hair will make it grow – i’m sure we’re all intelligent ladies here. So please tell me how does this make sense?? If you cut your hair, you are making it shorter not longer. Trimming your hair gets rid of split and damaged hair – that’s it! There is no recommended time period for when you should trim, everyone is different. If your ends are damaged, then trim them off. If they’re not, then leave them! Hair, on average, grows about 1/2 an inch a month. If you cut of the inches that are growing, you wont see growth.

    2. Black hair doesn’t grow – not true!! It grows, but it just breaks of really quickly cause we don’t know how to look after it. Black hair is actually the most fragile of all the races. Thats why other races can get away with being careless with their hair but we cant. My tip – treat your hair like its the finest silk. Be very gentle, especially when combing.

    3. Black hair doesn’t like water – again, false. Black hair needs moisture. What is the primary source of moisture – WATER! Which is why you should have water based moisturisers and not ones that contain mineral oil and petrolatum. Another obvious use is for washing your hair. You need to keep your scalp clean to let your hair grow. A dirty scalp is bad for hair growth.

    4. Oils are moisturisers – not true. Oils are oils. What is the natural enemy of water? Oil. So why would you use it to “grease” your hair and scalp and then be complaining that your hair is dry?? Especially the scalp thing. your scalp is supposed to be clean and fresh, you don’t need to grease it. Scalp is skin on our heads. Will you put grease on your face? No. So don’t put it on you scalp. Your’e blocking the pores.

    5. You have to be mixed to have long hair – I am fully Nigerian and have longer hair than most of my mixed race friends. I also have the longest hair in my family so it’s not genetics. But this only happened when I started looking after my hair.

    6. You can only have healthy hair if your’e natural – having natural hair is great, but you can also have healthy relaxed hair like I do.

    I love how Nigerian women these days are starting to learn more about their hair. When I was younger, we were all at the mercy of the hair stylists, who only knew how to weave hair and just gave us really bad and false information. Make sure you tell other females that you know about these tips and hopefully hair salon owners will start training their stylists better.

    • phoenix

      November 15, 2014 at 9:24 am

      Best words ever! The trimming advice and how hair is genetic always drives me insane. “She has good long hair” yes that’s cos of genetics… So annoying.. AS for the expensive bit, well it is only expensive if you want it to be.

  6. sum1special

    November 14, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    simple and straight to the point.

  7. tish

    November 14, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    Fisa I think this has a lot to do with who retouches the hair, I thought my hair had stopped relaxing but when I changed salon, that stopped. You can try argan oil relaxer tho.

  8. Nikky

    November 16, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    I have coarse african hair, my hair is not thick though, and not so full..I use only super no-lye relaxers to relax my hair, but my problem is that the hair looks relaxed for only about a week thereafter and then starts looking coarse again. Suggestions anyone?

  9. efe

    November 17, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    my little contribution to ladies out there ,will be to relax your natural hair twice or at most thrice in a year.
    even since relaxing my hair twice a year,my hair texture and growth has greatly improved with Olive Oil hair relaxer,am good

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