When I first attended integrated school at age 11, I heard the white girls talk about shampooing their hair daily. I asked my great grandmother why she only washed my hair every 4-6 weeks, and she let me in on a dirty little secret She told me that dirt makes black hair grow.
Recently I ran into an acquaintance, who cut her hair off more than a year ago. She wore it natural until recently. Now that it is permed, she is wearing a nice length pony tail. When I commented on her tresses, she replied that she only washes her hair every few months, because frequent shampooing strips the natural oils, and leaving it dirty causes black hair to grow.
I thought of Violet,who portrayed the Innkeepers wife, in A Charlie Brown Christmas The Innkeeper was Pigpen who is always surrounded by a cloud of dust. Violet protested that Pigpen’s dust cloud would ruin her naturally curly hair. Linus tells her to pretend it is dirt from an ancient civilization that will not hurt, but help her curls.Violet buys into the fantasy, and begins fluffing her hair.
The urban legend regarding black hair and dirt, is no more true than the ones which state that wearing dreadlocks, or a curly perm make hair grow. There is however a common denominator with these myths. Wearing a curl, dreadlocks, or infrequent shampooing of the hair, means tresses are handled less.
When you stop combing, brushing, pulling, twisting, curling and applying heat to hair every day, it becomes stronger, This is because black hair thrives when we wear styles that require little or no manipulation.
Growing up my hair was over my shoulders. As a teen began allowing the hair dresser to use a hot comb on my hair. I did not shampoo between my monthly visits. y hair continued to be long. When I later wore an Afro, my hair suffered. It broke off so I tried relaxers. The daily grind of hair rollers, combing and brushing, along with the chemicals broke my hair. It was not shoulder length again, until 15 or so years later, when I wore a curly wave perm.
Over the decades, my husband cut my hair down to the scalp 4 times. Each time it grew back, it reached a plateau at the same point.it was very thick, but grew just below my ears, and was ever long enough to pull it all back into a pony tail. One year ago he cut it, and today I wear it natural.
After shampooing, when I comb it, my hair is one again on my shoulders. I shampoo and deep condition every 7-10 days. I only comb my hair when it is wet. In between shampoos I fluff with my hands, and hold my hair back with a head band. I sleep in a cap at night.
Black hair does not need daily washing as does white hair. African American hair is fragile, and should be handled with care. Relaxers dry out the hair and cause ends to thin and break, unless you stay on top of conditioning. If you wear it natural, there is no need to pick it every day. This is what we did in the 70’s ad the result was nobody’s hair grew.
Black women, leaving your hair dirty will not cause it to grow but decreasing how much you handle it will. It may sound strange to those who believe they must wash their tresses daily, but 7-10 days works for me, and many others. I do not deal with dandruff or flaky scalp. And no one has ever complained of my hair having an odor.