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Let's Gain An Inch A Month Of Hair Growth 'Til December, Shall We?

Time to make that super long ponytail happen.

Hair

Jessica Zziwa. Indigenous Strandz. StayUniquee. Merry Curly. Maryam Hampton. BeYoutifully Natural. Seun Okimi. Believe you me, I could go on and on but for the sake of time and space, those are seven naturalistas on YouTube who have some pretty long hair (most of 'em are Type 4 hair too). I thought that shouting them out would be a great way to intro this because, if one of your new year's desires is to have the longest ponytail ever come Christmastime, those women can inspire you—right along with some tips that I've got down below.

I won't lie to y'all. Genetics play a valid role in how long our hair gets and how fast it gets there. Yet if you're someone who thinks that you can't get longer tresses than you've ever had because your hair simply doesn't grow, that's a bold-faced lie. It grows. Somewhere around one-half inch and an inch a month, to be exact. You've just got to make sure that you do all that you can to retain your inches. That's where these tips come in.

If your deepest desire is to keep as much new growth as possible, apply the following 10 suggestions and watch how close to your goal you get by around this time next year.

1. Take the “Less Is More” Approach

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When I first began my own length retention journey, I would literally spend hours a week on YouTube, listening to what different naturalistas would put in their own hair to get the inches that they had. One tip that had me super stoked, I wrote about on here ("Looking For Hair Growth? It Might Be Time To Bring 'Blue Magic' Back"). I got so excited that I purchased 4-5 tubs of Blue Magic, right out the gate. Unfortunately, using it more than to seal my ends every once in a while ended up being way too heavy for my hair (although some folks have been thriving with it). Anyway, after spending more money than I ever thought I would on a bunch of other products that are still in both of my bathroom cabinets, the thought crossed my mind to simplify and see if that would be my best bet. It was. Hands down.

I'm not even going to get into the specific products that worked for me vs. the ones that didn't because it doesn't really matter. All of us are unique, so it really is different strokes for different folks. What I will say is clogging up your hair follicles and weighing down your strands with tons of stuff is gonna probably do more harm than good. So, get to know your hair type and texture, try a few things that are branded for those two things specifically and wait at least a month to see how it all turns out. In the long run, you'll probably come to realize what I did—that less (product) really is more when it comes to hair growth.

2. Boost Your Collagen Intake

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If you want your hair to thrive, it definitely needs protein. Something that a lot of people don't realize is collagen is one of the most abundant forms of protein that there is. The reason why it's so good for your tresses is because, for one thing, your hair is made up of mostly protein (keratin). Also, collagen provides your hair with the amino acids that are necessary to build protein. Also, collagen fights off free radicals at the root (your hair follicles) and, as bonuses, it can slow down hair thinning and greying as well.This is why it's wise to eat foods that contain a good amount of collagen in them. Some of those include fish, chicken, berries, citrus fruits, red bell peppers, tomatoes and bone broth. If you'd like, you can also take a collagen supplement. A list of some of the best ones for 2021 can be found here.

3. Stay Hydrated

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Our bodies are made up of more than 60 percent water, so of course, we need to consume a lot of it on a daily basis. Unfortunately, 75 percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated which can lead to all sorts of health issues. If you're wondering if you could be among that number, check out "10 Overlooked Signs That You're Dehydrated". As far as your hair goes, a sign that it could use some extra hydration from the inside out is if your strands feel dry and brittle, no matter what you do or if your scalp dry.

In the quest to have long hair, a lot of people overlook very simple steps. When it comes to making sure that your hair is moisturized, it's not going to matter how many moisture-rich products you use if your system is begging for water on the inside. So, definitely make sure that you get no less than eight glasses a day. Your hair will thank you with every sip.

4. Take a Vitamin B12 Supplement

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A vitamin deficiency that is actually pretty prevalent within the Black community is Vitamin B12. What are some signs that you could be low in it? You're irritable. You have low energy. Your vision is blurry. You have an unexplainable shortness of breath. You're constipated. You sense that your muscles are weak. Your tongue feels "slicker" than usual. There's a random numbing or tingling feeling throughout your body. You've got memory loss. Your hair follicles are dormant.

Since Vitamin B12 is something that helps to keep your iron in good condition, when you don't have enough of it in your system, it can weaken the blood supply to your hair follicles which can result in weak follicles, hair thinning and even hair loss. This is why it's also a good idea to take a Vitamin B12 supplement and to also eat foods that are loaded with this particular nutrient. Some of those include fortified cereals, salmon, eggs, Greek yogurt and beef.

5. Wash Your Scalp More than Your Hair

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A huge mistake that folks make when it comes to wash day is focusing a ton on their actual hair more than their scalp. The reason why this is a no-no is because your scalp is the foundation of your hair. If you don't get all of the gunk and build-up off of it, ultimately, your hair isn't going to thrive. Not only that but I once read an article that said, a part of the reason why it seems that white women have more success with length retention is they shampoo their hair more often which means their scalp gets massaged more in the process.

First up—white women's hair doesn't grow faster. Their hair is straighter (so it appears that way), it's naturally oily (which makes it harder to break) and we experience more shrinkage (by a country mile). Second, I didn't just say all of that so that you would up your wash day frequency (more than once a week can rob your hair of the little natural oil that it has). However, it is a good idea to detox your scalp once every 4-6 weeks, massage your scalp at least once a week (all you need is to warm up a carrier oil like jojoba or avocado, put a few drops of lavender in it and then use your fingertips to rub your scalp for 5-10 minutes), and to definitely put more emphasis on washing your scalp than your hair. The key is to get your scalp really clean so that your follicles are healthy; your hair doesn't need that "squeaky feeling", tho. The cleanser that drips down from your scalp is more than enough.

6. Rinse Hair in Cool Water

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It definitely feels divine to let hot water run down your hair and scalp, but it's actually not the best thing for your hair's progress. It's because hot (or even super warm) water can end up drying out your hair and causing frizz. So, how can you avoid all of this? By actually rinsing your hair in cool water after your deep condition it (because you do that every wash day so that it's extra moisturized, right?). Cool water is what will help to seal your hair's cuticles while closing the pores on your scalp too.

7. Dust More than Trim

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Is there anything more annoying than uneven hair growth? When you want to get your hair down your back, probably not. The thing is, having one side of your hair that is thicker and grows faster is pretty normal, for two reasons. One reason is because the left vs. the right side of our bodies is not identical. This is why one of your feet or breasts may be bigger than the other. The other reason is because we tend to give one side of our hair more stress than the other when it comes to things like constantly sleeping on one side, parting our hair on one side—stuff like that.

While you would think that the remedy may be to constantly cut the "thriving side" so that it will catch up with the "weaker" one, that is actually gonna be more counterproductive than not. Your best bet would be to focus on dusting (lightly trimming) your ends (you can watch videos on how to do that here, here and here) and then keeping your hair in a protective style so that you don't even have to think about it. Then, once the weaker side has made some real progress, you can get a trim to even things out. Make sense?

8. Remember That Protein Is Essential

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Again, your hair is made up of protein, so it needs a lot of it in order to remain healthy and strong. Aside from what I already shared about getting more collagen into your system, something else that you should do is eat other foods that are high in protein. Meat is an automatic protein booster. If meat's not your thing, check out "Vegetarian Or Vegan? Check Out These High Protein Foods." for a list of other options.

Speaking of protein, it's also really important that you give yourself a protein treatment, about every six weeks. It's what will help to improve your hair's elasticity, so that it can endure more of the styling and manipulation that you do. A lot of people notice more breakage than they should because they miss this small-yet-impactful step. I hit on this specifically in "10 Things Your Natural Hair Needs In The Winter".

9. Leave Permanent Dye Alone

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There used to be a time when you couldn't guess what color my hair was going to be on a pretty much weekly basis. Now that I know how detrimental hair dye and chemical relaxers are, especially to our health ("our" meaning Black women), I tend to use hair wax or a semi-permanent alternative (henna is a pretty good one too). Besides, if you are serious about gaining ½-1" of growth each month, permanent hair color is gonna be your ultimate nemesis. The main reason why is because the ammonia in hair dye strips your tresses of its natural pigment (in order to deposit the color) which can make your hair brittle as all get out. And if your hair keeps breaking off, you'll never reach your hair goals.

I know for some of you, it sucks to even think about going without dye. But sometimes we've gotta make sacrifices for the greater goal. Bottom line, color or inches? In 2021, which one is it gonna be?

10. Use Saw Palmetto Oil

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If there's a new oil that you'd like to try on your hair, my vote is saw palmetto. It has a great reputation for preventing and even restoring hair loss because it blocks an androgen known as DHT from developing in our bodies. Why does that matter? Because DHT plays a direct role in hair loss. Saw palmetto also has a pretty good reputation for increasing hair density too. Not only that but it's an oil that can decrease inflammation, treat urinary tract infections and can regulate your man's testosterone levels too. For internal health benefits, it's probably best to consume it as a supplement (like maybe a liquid extract) or in tea form. If you want it to be the main oil that you use for those scalp massages that we already talked about, a cool place to purchase some is right here.

11. Apply Extreme TLC to Your Ends

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One more time for those in the back. Again, a myth that you need to make sure to debunk for the rest of your life is your hair doesn't grow. That is a damn lie. If you are living, your hair is growing. The reason why a lot of us don't see proof of this is because our ends break off as fast as our roots grow. The way to prevent this from (further) happening to you is to treat the ends of your hair like you would a newborn baby in the sense that you choose to treat them oh so very gently. Seal them on wash day. Try and keep your hair in a protective style (even if that's a wig) most days of the week. Wrap your hair up in a silk or satin scarf (or bonnet) at night (friction is your hair's enemy too). Let straggly ends go. When your hair is out, keep your hands out of it. Simple things like this will keep your ends about as fresh as your roots.

12. Stick with What Works

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Out of all of what I said, the main thing to remember when it comes to achieving hair growth is you've absolutely got to be as patient with the process as possible. The reality is, growing out your hair is a lot like baking some cookies—if you keep watching the oven or your roots, it's going to seem like nothing is happening. However, if you cultivate a routine, stick with it and try and leave your hair alone as much as possible, by June you could have 4-6 inches and by December…at least double that!

Alright. Let me get off of here and nurture these cornrows I've got so that I can walk the talk, chile. Let's all check back in around the holidays to see how things have been going. Can't wait to see you flipping your hair back. Whew, girl. #wink

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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