It’s no secret that natural hair is extra sensitive. Gentle curls are seriously breakage-prone, making growth a challenge. If you feel like you’re doing everything right and your hair is still not where you want it to be, it could be any number of reasons, but we checked in with natural hair pro Ticia Cruz, a L’Oréal Multi-Culture Division Stylist, Stylist and Educator for Carol’s Daughter and Owner of Turning Head Hair Salon to get the full download on exactly why your natural hair isn’t growing — and what you can do about it right this second.
It seems like every and anything is capable of affecting your growth pattern, from the way you brush your hair, whether you sleep with scarves or sleeping bonnets, and of course, the hair styles you wear (including how tense they are) and even undergoing a color process. Any combination of these mane activities can weaken the hair, or cause split ends, which will ultimately slow (and can even – gasp – stop) the process of growing healthy hair.
How to Prevent Breakage
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent breakage. “When you’re detangling, make sure your natural hair is moisturized and use a Denman brush brushing the hair from ends to root,” comments Ticia on an easy trick that may change your growth asap.
“At night, wrap your hair up snug but not too tight, your scarf can actually rub your edges right out. Also, wash your scarf weekly to get rid of the oils,” she adds. It’s also a good idea to give your hair time to breathe, as even protective hairstyles can be damaging. “You want to make sure there isn’t too much tension on the edges as this can severely and permanently damage your hairline,” she notes of protective styling. The same goes for dyeing natural strands. “If you are interested in coloring your natural hair, seek out a professional,” emphasizes Ticia. “Chemicals can dry out your hair, causing split ends and irreparable damage.”
Repairing the Hair
Even if the damage has already been done, fear not — your hair can be repaired, it just takes time and self-care. The first step to achieving your goal growth is taking the time to seek out a stylist who specializes in natural hair. Not only will they serve as a go-to guide through your natural hair journey, they’ll take care of split ends and keep you up to date on restorative treatments. Also, protective styles aren’t a deal-breaker. As long as “there isn’t too much tension on your edges,” they’re okay, adds Ticia.
And of course, where would we be without a really good mask? “A weekly treatment has great benefits for damaged hair,” notes Ticia, who says it’s key to find “a hair treatment that best suits your needs,” specifically – not everything is right for everyone.
After you find your go-to products, it’s all about making your natural hair care a ritual. “Establish a regime, like a Sunday to Sunday. On Sundays, shampoo and condition your hair, apply a leave-in and a moisturizing cream. Detangle your hair with your fingers or a Denman brush. On days that you are giving yourself treatments, apply it from root to ends – thoroughly saturating your hair and put a plastic cap on. If you have a hooded dryer, 20 minutes will do. The heat will help your treatment penetrate into your scalp and hair. If you do not have a hooded dryer, then throw a bath towel in the dryer for a few minutes then take it out and wrap it around your head — this works just as well,” continues Ticia —we’re relaxed just thinking about it. Though it can be hard to restrain, it’s always sage advice for anyone dealing with damaged hair to avoid coloring and excessive heat, including flat ironing. These treatments provide immediate gratification but are standing between you and healthy hair (and nothing looks better than that).
Products That Encourage Growth
You may need to invest in a new hair wardrobe to make sure your re-growth journey yields the most optimal results. “As a Natural Stylist, I recommend products that are free of sulfates, parabens, petrolatum, mineral oil and artificial colors. The Carol’s Daughter product line is one of my favorites!” says Ticia. In particular, she loves the brand’s Monoi Repairing Hair Mask and the Rhassoul Clay Softening Hair Mask, which she notes are “excellent treatments when trying to restore dry, brittle, over processed hair.”
Ticia also turns to Carol’s Daughter Green Supreme, Monoi and Coco Crème Shampoos and Conditioners should once a week, followed up by one of Carol’s Daughter Leave-in Conditioner sprays. After hair is washed, she suggests applying a curling cream like Black Vanilla 4-in-1 Combing Cream or Pracaxi Nectar Wash n’ Go Leave-In, sectioning the hair starting from the bottom. “Apply your curling cream from tips to roots and watch your curls snap right back,” she adds. If you prefer twist styles, Ticia recommends Parcaxi Nectar Curl Twisting Custard or Coco Crème Coil Enhancing Moisture Butter.
If dry scalp is your main concern, then Tricia is confident Carol’s Daughter Mimosa Hair Honey “is what you need.” To really work it in, apply a small amount throughout the scalp and gently massage in a circular motion.
Growing on Your Natural Hair Journey
No matter what stage of growth you’re in, don’t forget that “natural Hair is a journey,” says Ticia. “When you make this decision you are making a commitment. You need to be patient with your hair and learn to understand what works best for you. Water will be your hair’s best friend. Invest in a good product line. It doesn’t have to be the most expensive but you might not want to settle for the cheapest — not everyone’s hair is the same,” she continues. Ultimately, consistence is key; once you find out what works for you, stick with it.
Ticia’s other natural hair must-do’s include, “moisturizing as much as possible and keeping ends clipped; avoid blow outs and silk presses — heat is not your friend, especially when trying to achieve healthy hair. Have a good hair routine like a Sunday-to-Sunday, pick this same day to do your hair shampooing, conditioning and styling. Play with hairstyles and embrace your natural curl pattern, the more you understand your hair the more it will respond to you. It’s almost like a plant, feed it and watch it grow.”