If you look through any of the online natural hair boards, you will find dozens and dozens of post relating to hair growth and retaining length. After giving up relaxers in December of 2009 I found myself frequenting those hair boards, often wondering why three and four years later I still only had barely 2 years worth of hair growth. I knew that for most people, hair grows at a rate of ¼ to ½ inch a month so needless to say I was baffled by the fact that 4 years later, I barely had 12 inches of hair! Like most women, I had stressed myself out trying to implement the many regimens and hair care practices that are found on a variety of hair boards but was still left disappointed after not seeing the results that other women seemed to be getting. I finally decided to take a long look at my hair so that I could really see the length that I was hoping for all of these years.
There always seemed to be talk of a hair typing system floating around the hair boards. From that I determined that my hair was mostly 4a (tightly curled). While that was a start to decoding my hair, that label did not tell me enough about how to grow my hair long. It was not until I compared my actual hair strands to friends that I started to realize that the diameter of my strands was actually smaller than that of many of theirs. After digging around I realized that not only did I have 4a hair, I had fine 4a hair.
Because of how tightly curled it is, 4a hair is very fragile. When I combined that with fine strands I realized I needed to change the way that I cared for my hair. For a long time I followed routines that involved lots of moisturizing and sealing with heavy butters and creams. It seemed that naturals were always running away from protein and packing on the moisture so naturally I followed those who were seeing results and became discouraged because I still saw breakage. After learning that my strands were indeed fine, I realized fine 4a hair not only like protein, it needed it! Little did I know protein helped keep my thin strands strong which was the first step in minimizing my breakage. Because I tend to lean towards more natural ingredients now that my hair is chemical free, I used things like eggs and yogurt as protein deep treatments which really worked wonders on my hair.
After diagnosing my hair, I did a little more research about what having fine hair really means to my hair care journey. Much to my surprise, fine hair tends to have more cuticle scales on the shaft that repel against one another. That is why I was experiencing fly aways, breakage and split ends no matter how careful I was with my hair. I remembered that apple cider vinegar (ACV) was great for keeping the cuticle shut which is important for maintaining pH. I did not really understand why pH was important for hair but nonetheless I gave it a try. I mixed about a tablespoon of organic ACV with the mother into about a cup of water and transferred into a spray bottle that I kept in my shower. After I shampooed I began spraying this on my scalp and hair and left on for a few minutes as I finished my shower routine. After rinsing out the ACV, my hair not only felt strong and healthy, but it also took the frizz and “bulk” out of my hair leaving me with amazing defined curls. Continuous use of the ACV now gives me that feeling all of the time and more importantly it gives me less breakage!
One last thing that has helped me maintain length these last few months was adjusting the way that I prep my hair at night. I had seen so many women put braids and twist in their hair so they could have braidouts or twistouts for the next day. When I tried, my ends would break no matter what products I tried or how gentle I was. I realized, better late than never I suppose, that with my fine hair, I could not braid my hair all the way down to the end like the ladies I saw online. It was too much manipulation to my ends. I remedied this by braiding until I had about two inch left on the ends so I did not have to pick them apart to let the braid loose. Why did I not think of this before?! I can now do my braidouts and keep my ends. If I need a little extra curl at the ends, I just loosely apply a roller or flexi rod to the ends while I sleep so my ends have a more neat and rounded look without the damage.
I am still not sure if hair with absolutely no breakage is possible for anyone especially me with my very fragile hair. However, these small changes that I have made to my regimen have drastically improved the health of my hair and more importantly my ends. With my ends still intact, I am on my way to the long hair I have been wanting for years. If you have fine natural hair, perhaps these tips will work for you!