Healthy Hair versus Length: Reframing the Obsession with Hair Length

Most naturals have made the transition because they want to achieve healthy hair, in the first place chemical-free. But with the emergence of the natural hair movement, there is the question of growing natural hair envy.  With a growing popularity of natural hair, tips, tricks, and some downright questionable practices leave us wondering at what lengths (pun intended) some of us are willing to go in order to get longer hair.

Healthy Hair Versus Length

Are you more concerned with length and achieving long hair as quickly as possible, or do you care more about the long-term health of your hair no matter where you are in the hair growth process?  Either way, health and length of your hair go hand-in-hand.

The Hair Growth Cycle Explained

Healthy Hair Versus Length - ShortThe key to growing longer hair depends on factors that we cannot control as well as those that we can. Hair growth occurs according to a cycle of 3 stages; anagen, catagen, and telogen. Each stage of the hair growth cycle is dependent upon genetics and will ultimately determine the length and pace that your hair grows. On average, your hair will grow at least ½ inch per month or 6 inches per year and this is about the same for everyone unless there is an underlying medical condition that prohibits hair growth.

The first phase of the hair growth process is anagen which is the active growing phase that can last from 3-6 years. The shortest phase of the hair growth cycle is catagen which is the transition phase. The telogen phase is the resting period in which the hair does not actively grow but does shed.

It is important to know that every single strand of hair on your head will go through the same process but not at the same time. This is why you may see some daily shedding because while some hairs may be in the active growing or transitional phase, some may be in the shedding phase. Shedding hair is normal but when this shedding becomes excessive then it can greatly delay your hair length goals.

The Key to Growing Longer, Healthy Hair

The key to growing long hair is to maintain length and that is something that requires healthy hair. The more damaged your hair the less likely you are to retain length. You’ll notice more breakage and split ends that you should remove. Holding on to split ends will only cause more damage in the long run. The entire hair shaft can become weakened and the damage will spread.

Yes, your hair may still grow but the hair strands will also continue to split right up the hair shaft. You have to ask yourself if you want a head full of split ends and damaged hair or if you want vigorous, flourishing hair that looks and feels healthy.

Examine your hair care regimen

Healthy Hair Versus Length - LongIf you feel as if your hair isn’t growing then it may be a good idea to re-examine your natural hair care regimen, products you’re using, and your particular styling methods. Keep in mind, no matter what a product promises there is no magic potion, pill, or hair product that will instantaneously increase your hair growth. The only way you can change your personal hair growth cycle is to change your DNA and that just isn’t something that can be done.

However, you can adopt healthy hair care practice to help you retain length so that your hair isn’t breaking faster than it can grow, especially when it comes to kinky, curly, Afro-textured hair types. Natural hair textures are the most delicate of them all. It becomes dry quicker than other hair textures and requires moisture to prevent breakage.

In reality, your hair needs to be treated delicately if you want to grow it longer and stronger. Pay close attention to your ends and be sure to keep them moisturized, and seal them with an oil when styling your hair. The ends of your hair are the oldest and most delicate so they are more prone to breakage and susceptible to damage. So if you believe that your hair isn’t growing or won’t grow past a certain length it’s normally because of the rate your hair is breaking off.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to grow long, voluminous natural hair but if your hair isn’t healthy you’ll only end up frustrated with the end results. You should never compromise the health of your hair for length, you’ll only end up having to cut away all of the damaged hair and start the process all over again.

About Shaju

Sharon is the owner of Shaju, a holistic, socially conscious and environmentally friendly beauty brand that uses unrefined shea butter and all natural ingredients to create exquisite skin and hair products.

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