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Fall/Winter Is A Great Time To Gain Some (Hair) Inches

'Tis the season to grow your hair out.

Hair

Not too long ago, a girlfriend of mine sent me a picture of her hair. After shoot, about a decade of being natural, she decided that she wanted to get another perm and chile, her hair is all down her back. After I said a few cuss words under my breath (because she never struggles with hair growth while my tale is a bit different), I decided to use her as inspiration as I'm still on the journey to grow mine out. So far, it's looking like this fall and winter are gonna do more for my progress than this past spring and summer did. And a big part of that is because I'm actually being focused on implementing some fall/winter hair hacks that I learned about a couple of years ago, but I wasn't the most consistent in.

If one of your 2021 goals is to gain a few more inches come, say, March, I've got 10 tips that could have you actually being the envy of your friends when it comes to hair length retention.

1. Eat More Vitamin C

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First up, consider adding more foods that are high in Vitamin C into your diet. There are a couple of reasons why this is a good idea, as far as your hair is concerned. For one thing, Vitamin C is loaded with antioxidants that can help to reduce oxidative stress; that's the kind of stress that can affect hair growth (and not in a good way) over time.

Another cool thing about Vitamin C is it helps to trigger the production of collagen. That's a good thing because collagen is what helps to hold your hair follicles and the dermal layer of your hair together, so that your hair is able to retain length. Some Vitamin C foods that are in season this time of the year include broccoli, oranges, Brussel sprouts, kiwi, butternut squash, leafy greens and pears.

2. Do an Herbal Tea Rinse

I wouldn't be surprised in the least if something that you're drinking more of, right through here, are herbal teas. Aside from a cup of hot cocoa, there are few things that feel more warm and comforting than tea on a chilly day. Well, the next time you're making some, make enough to create an herbal rinse for your locks. Remember, herbal tea is full of all kinds of nutrients so, pouring some of it onto your hair will help to promote healthy hair growth.

For instance, if you go with black tea, it can decrease the hormones in your body that may be triggering hair loss (black tea can reduce hair shedding too). Sage tea is able to prevent oil build-up on your scalp. Rosemary tea is known to increase hair growth. Green tea is the ultimate scalp soother. Peppermint tea stimulates your scalp and increases blood circulation. All you need to do is put two cups of water into a pot and add 2-3 tea bags of your preferred tea. Once the water is boiling, turn down the heat and let the tea steep for 15 minutes. Then, once it has cooled completely, pour the tea onto your hair after washing and conditioning it. Let the tea sit for 30 minutes and then rinse a final time with cool water (it will help to seal your cuticles). Your hair will instantly feel softer and your scalp will feel revived.

3. Massage Your Scalp with Bergamot Oil

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One of the best ways to de-stress is to give yourself a scalp massage. It can also benefit your hair in the long run because it helps to increase blood circulation to your scalp which ultimately encourages hair growth over time. If you want to really pamper your locks, warm up a little bit of bergamot oil. This spicy-yet-citrusy oil contains anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties that can help to soothe an irritated scalp and keep a healthy scalp in great shape, so that long-term growth can transpire. Just mix 5-7 drops of the oil into one-fourth cup of a carrier oil like almond, grapeseed or coconut. Zap the mixture in the microwave for 10-15 seconds, put some on your fingertips and then use your fingertips to gently massage your scalp for 15 minutes or so. It will feel heavenly and your scalp will only benefit from you doing it.

4. Turn the Heat Down

Because there is oftentimes less humidity during the colder seasons (more on that in sec), the less heat that you apply to your hair the better. Now, as someone who is team blowout, I'm not saying that you should go without your blow dryer or flat iron entirely. However, make sure that you use styling tools that are made out of ceramic, that you stay around a medium-level of heat, that you apply a thermal heat protectant and that you keep the "less is more" approach from now until spring. Heat-damaged hair is irreparable. The only real solution is to cut it off. If you keep that in mind, each and every time that you apply heat to your tresses, it should help you to constantly handle your hair with extreme care.

5. At the Same Time, Apply Some Steam

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On the flip side, something that can definitely do wonders for you hair is applying steam to it. Think of it as being a humidifier for your hair. Since you already know that you need to work a little overtime to make sure that you replenish the moisture that fall and winter zaps out, steaming your hair can help to lift the cuticles of your hair, so that water is able to deeply penetrate your tresses, giving it more elasticity and making it more manageable too. As a bonus, if you know that you struggle with dry scalp, steaming your hair can also soothe your scalp while increasing blood circulation to it too.

Some people steam their hair by putting a plastic bag over it and standing in a hot shower for about 10 minutes. Or, if you'd prefer to use a literal hair steamer, there are some good ones on the market that are less than a hundred bucks. I've got one of them for you right here.

6. Make Sure Water Is the First Ingredient in Your Hair Products

You might think that cold wet weather would equal your hair getting a lot of moisture, yet actually, that isn't really the case. As the temperatures begin to drop, oftentimes that results in low humidity. Then, if you add to that cold harsh winds and then the central heat going up in your house in order to keep your body warm, again, it's very easy for your hair to become zapped from the moisture that it requires in order to remain healthy and avoid breakage.

That's why, if you do happen to be a bit of a product junkie, it's a good idea to look for items that list water as its first (or at the very least, second) ingredient on its label. That way, you can be certain it's something that is full of moisture that can help to keep your hair protected.

7. Keep Your Ends Off of Your Clothes

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Personally, my favorite time of the year is the fall. I like the beauty of the season. I also like how it provides us with the opportunity to layers our clothing like nobody's business! Still, with all of the flannel, tweed, velvet, wool and corduroy that a lot of us are rocking, when we wear our hair in a style where our ends are constantly rubbing against the fabric—whew, that can not only zap moisture out of our hair but it can lead to constantly snagging (and fairy knots and breakage) too. So, as much as you can, try and style your hair in a way where it's not rubbing against all of your fly fashion. Also, on wash day, make sure to seal your ends. The more extra conditioner your ends receive (because they are the oldest part of your hair 'n all), the better.

8. Invest in Some Baobab Oil 

Speaking of your ends, an oil that doesn't get brought up much (tell me if you've heard of it in the comments) is baobab oil. Oh, but it should. Baobab oil is great because it's loaded with fatty acids, Vitamin E, calcium, tannins (which are basically tea compounds) and beta-carotene (which is a precursor to Vitamin A). Something else that's dope about this particular oil is it's loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. All of this works together to strengthen weak hair cuticles, deeply moisturize your strands and "feed" hair follicles, so that your hair can grow healthy and strong. Applying a little bit of this oil every morning and night to your ends can help to protect them from the bitter cold that can try and zap the moisture out of your tresses.

9. Be Careful with the Hair Accessories

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Remember what I said about how certain fabrics can dry your hair and snag your ends? Some hair accessories that are currently all the rage are hair clips, velvet hairbands, and fancy hairpins. Those things and a dope fedora are never gonna go out of style. Those are all prone to do some pulling and snagging too, so just make sure that, before putting them onto your head that you dab a bit of a light oil (like sweet almond, avocado or jojoba) and that you're extra gentle when taking them out. Oh, and that you definitely don't sleep with any hair accessories on your head. Oh, one more—that you make sure your wool hats are lined with satin.

10. Wear More Wigs

So long as you've got on a quality wig and you take extremely good care of the hair that is underneath it (check out "This Is The Way To Properly Care For Your Hair While Rockin' A Wig"), I think fall and winter are the perfect times to become Regine (the real ones know what I'm referring to) and rock your wig out! It's a great way to keep your hands out of your head, protect your hair from the harsh weather elements and give your tresses the stressless time that it needs in order to grow. Plus, what keeps your hair warmer, right? Definitely bless yourself with a wig in the next couple of weeks. Watch your hair thrive because you did. Enjoy these next couple of seasons, sis. From head to toe. Literally.

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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