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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 that 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 that 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
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
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
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
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
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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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
If you’ve ever wondered what type of mindset it takes to reach icon status like Oprah Winfrey, it’s probably best to start by knowing which one she’s managed to avoid over her long-standing career.
And let’s just say imposter syndrome didn’t make the cut.
While promoting her new book, Build the Life You Want: The Art and Science of Getting Happier, with her co-author Arthur C. Brooks, Oprah shared in an interview with People that when it comes to imposter syndrome, it’s one emotion she hasn’t experienced.
"I don't have any of that imposter feelings that so many people have," she says. "I didn't even understand it, I had to look it up."
According to the acclaimed talk-show host and media mogul, she attributes this to her early life experiences, specifically the impact of her father's influence as a child. "I remember as a young girl being a strong orator in the national competition for speaking and winning the local championships, then the state championships. And then placing, I think it was No. 3 or something, in the nationals," Winfrey shares.
"And I remember after every contest, the families whose kids were just in the contest were going to celebrate and their families were all excited. My father's thing was, 'Get your coat.'"
She continues, "I learned, in all these years, every exciting thing that would happen to me it was always, that's good, get your coat. Get your coat. I don't know if that was ingrained in my personality or I just learned that nobody's going to be excited about it, so you might as well just get your coat and go. I don't have high highs and I don't have low lows. Which is a good thing, because no matter what I'm going through, I know I'm going to come out of it and be okay."
Impostor syndrome, also known as impostor phenomenon, is a psychological perspective of persistent self-doubt and the feeling of being a fraud despite evidence of one's competence, skills, or accomplishments. People experiencing imposter syndrome often believe that their success is due to luck or external factors rather than their own abilities and fear that others will eventually discover that they are not as capable or knowledgeable as they appear to be.
With over 40 years of accolades and history-making impact, it’s clear that Winfrey doesn’t shy away from the fact that her success is due to her hard work and diligence, with everything in her life being that of what she earned — which she finds deep value in: “the ability to live in the space of true appreciation for a life, not just well lived, but well-earned."
From coming from the lineage of an enslaved great-grandfather who earned 80 acres of land in exchange for labor, to becoming the first Black woman billionaire in the world without the foundation of generational wealth, Winfrey beams proudly at her ability to shift her and her family’s legacy for the better.
"I didn't have a grandfather, a great-grandfather who could give me land. But now...I am able to have my own and to know that I work for it. And it wasn't a husband that did it. It wasn't a brother or an uncle, or whatever did it, but I did it," Winfrey says.
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