As I'm currently on a journey to grow out this hair of mine, a part of me feels like I'm back in school again. I say that because I am constantly—and I do mean, constantly—researching products, tips and naturalistas who can help me to achieve my ultimate goal: longer hair than I've ever had that is very healthy and totally natural.
As far as the naturalistas go, some of my faves include (these are their IG accounts, by the way) naturallytemi (who I believe I recently saw in a Suave commercial—big ups!), naturalneiicey, torichloemiller, univhair.soleil, sadoraparis, evaniwithav and maryamjhampton. All of them have fabulous hair, super-informative YouTube channels and are proudly natural. As far as the products go, I'm actually not that much of a product junkie; at least, not when it comes to commercial brands. But what I will do is find an herb, an essential oil or some sort of other natural item and test it out. Doing that is what inspired me to provide you with this list.
If you've never heard of any of these before, don't feel bad. I honestly didn't either until not too long ago. But if you are looking for some super-effective-even-if-they're-not-mad-popular all-natural things for hair growth, I'd be totally shocked if you and your hair and scalp do not fall in love with all of the following.
1. Moringa Oil for Hair Growth
Moringa oil comes from a plant that is mostly found in the Himalayan mountains. The cool thing about it, from its seeds to its bark, is it's edible and packed with antioxidants. As far as your overall health, moringa oil is good for you because it contains three times more iron than spinach (good to know if you're anemic or you have heavy-flow periods). Moringa oil also contains amino acids to keep your cells in good shape. It's also got a great reputation for giving you an energy boost, healing ulcers and reducing arthritic pain. Plus, if you're a new mom, it's an oil that has the ability to significantly increase the flow of your breast milk.
What makes moringa oil so good for your hair is because its high amount of Vitamin A will strengthen your hair follicles, its high amount of zinc will prevent your follicles from experiencing atrophy and, all of the Vitamin E that is in it, will increase blood flow to your scalp so that your hair follicles will get all of the nutrients that they need. Healthy follicles mean healthier hair from root to tip. As a bonus, if you massage your scalp a couple of times a week with the oil, you'll see less split ends too. You can learn more about it in oil form here.
2. Chebe Powder for Hair Growth
I am pretty intentional about not abusing the word "love", but when it comes to my hair, if there is something that I am absolutely falling in love with, it's Chebe powder. If you've got any kind of 4-type hair, you will too because it has been hailed for decades as being an ingredient that will help you to grow tailbone-length tresses.
Chebe comes from an African shrub known as Croton Gratissimus. If you commit to using it 1-2 times a week, it will remove fungus (including the fungus that causes dandruff) from your scalp, restore the pH balance of it as well, and deeply moisturize your hair to the point that breakage will truly be a thing of the past. For women with 4-type hair, it is a highly-praised solution for gaining length retention. It really is!
I won't lie to you, Chebe powder is not the cheapest stuff on the planet; but I choose to see it as an investment—a very worthwhile one at that! As far as the best way to apply it, I recommend making a paste out of it and applying it to your hair on a wash day. Oh, one more thing—in order to get the best results, it's a good idea to leave it on for 4-6 hours before rinsing it all out. Hey, I never said it wasn't high-maintenance; what I am saying is it's a total game-changer. (Learn how to make a Chebe powder hair mask here.)
3. Arnica for Hair Growth
Arnica is a European flowering plant that is pretty popular in homeopathy. Some people take it as an herbal supplement while others prefer to apply it as a gel directly onto their skin. Although it is used to treat muscle pain or to help to heal the swelling process following a surgical procedure, too much Arnica can prove to be toxic (when taken internally), so make sure to speak with a doctor, health practitioner or homeopath before consuming it.
Arnica's super strong anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties are what make it a great hair remedy. As an oil, it will strengthen the protein of your hair strands, reduce dandruff, slow down premature greying, help to eliminate split ends and increase the lifespan of your hair overall.
I had a hard time finding a naturalista doing a video featuring this oil, but if you'd like to purchase an organic brand of it, you can find a good one here.
4. Red Palm Oil for Hair Growth
If clean eating is one of the goals that you set for yourself this year, add some red palm oil to your diet. It's an oil that is derived from the oil palm tree that is able to fight heart disease and promote weight loss. It's got a lot of Vitamin E in it and more antioxidants than tomatoes or carrots. Many health professionals also credit it for healing asthma, treating liver disease and protecting your skin from UV ray damage, making it an ideal oil to cook with.
Red palm oil is also the kind of oil that you can put on your hair. We already touched on what Vitamin E can do, but two additional bonuses are this oil can prevent greying and slow down hair loss. You can get a wash day routine tutorial here. (Head's up, the oil is literally red and can stain, so don't use it while watching television in your living room. You need to be able to apply it where it won't stain your stuff!)
5. Brahmi for Hair Growth
Something Ayurvedic medicine uses quite a bit is the plant Bacopa monnieri, also known by its "nickname" Brahmi. It contains compounds that reduce bodily inflammation, strengthen brain function and is even known to treat ADHD-related symptoms. Also, if you're someone who struggles with stress and/or anxiety, Brahmi is the kind of herb that will naturally reduce your cortisol levels while boosting your mood.
If you happen to deal with excessive shedding, Brahmi powder is definitely something that you should try. It protects your hair's roots, strengthens your hair follicles, and can also relieve dandruff or dry scalp flakes. For a walkthrough on how to make this particular kind of hair mask, click here.
6. Beef Tallow for Hair Growth
If you're vegan, this is a hair solution for hair growth that you'll probably want to pass on; if you're not, this is one to definitely consider. If you don't know what beef tallow is, it's a healthy form of fat that comes directly from grass-fed cows. It contains loads of vitamins A, D, K and E; so much that a lot of people apply it directly onto their skin. It's great for your hair because it reduces itchy scalp, smooths out any frizz and, it's able to give your hair some really amazing shine.
A young sistah sells the concept of using it pretty darn well here. What she uses is a combo of whipped beef tallow and Chebe power as her night haircare routine. Not sure how you can go wrong there!
7. Hibiscus for Hair Growth
There's a pretty good chance that you've at least heard of hibiscus before; especially in tea form. If you are an avid tea drinker, it's a cool one to add to your collection because it's got lots of antioxidants in it. Not only that, but hibiscus can help to lower your blood pressure, improve the health of your liver, fight bacteria and free radicals, and it aids in weight loss.
As far as what hibiscus can do for your hair, the benefits are kind of endless. It encourages regrowth in thinning areas, strengthens your hair follicles and slows down the appearance of greys. And, thanks to all of the Vitamin C that is in hibiscus, it can boost collagen levels so that your hair has less breakage. Hibiscus can also trigger dormant hair follicles so that they can start growing again. To learn how to make a DIY hair rinse, click here.
8. Bhringraj Oil for Hair Growth
When the Indian herb Bhringraj is used in powder form, it is able to strengthen your vision and even improve your hearing abilities. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, Bhringraj is also able to relieve joint and muscle discomfort and, when applied directly to your temples, reduce the pain that is associated with headaches and migraines. Also, because it is used heavily with Ayurveda treatments, Bhringraj also considered to be a very powerful liver cleanser.
But perhaps what it's best known for is how it can improve the quality of your hair. When applied as an oil, it is able to immediately relieve dry scalp, reduce hair fall, add shine, reduce greying and, if you massage it onto your thinning areas three times a week, it can even fill in bald spots too. One YouTuber shouts out how the oil has worked for her hair here.
9. Organic MSM for Hair Growth
The technical name for the dietary supplement known as MSM is methylsulfonylmethane. Some people consider it to be a "miracle supplement" because it decreases joint pain, restores muscle damage that is associated with working out, reduces the pain and stiffness that's associated with arthritis and it can boost your immune system as well.
Organic MSM is fabulous for hair growth because it contains a sulfur compound that is naturally found in the body. It's the type of compound that makes hair stronger and can even help with hair growth too. The best way to get the most out of MSM is to take it in supplement form (500 mg, twice a day) or pour a couple of teaspoons of MSM powder directly into your hair conditioner.
10. Hops for Hair Growth
Hops is a flowering plant that is used for insomnia, restlessness and irritability. Sometimes it's also used for bladder infections, post-menopausal symptoms and even underarm body odor. Skin-wise, hops can help to improve skin discoloration over time. Hair-wise, it's really powerful when it comes to reducing dandruff and hair fall. If you want to learn how to DIY a potent hair growth oil that includes hops, click here.
Apply it 1-2 times a week, preferably at night, and watch how much longer and fuller your health becomes by year's end!
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
This Is Why Your Natural Hair Ain't Growin'
10 Must-Have Product Staples For Curly Girls
Thinking About Going Back To A Relaxer? Ask Yourself This First.
One But Not Equal: Natural Hair Is Not The Same
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
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Here's Why Very Few Relationships Can Actually Be 'Platonic'
Recently, while in an interview, someone asked me if I think that men and women can be just friends. I didn’t even hesitate to answer; my response was immediate, “Absolutely.” What I followed that up with is what intrigued them — “Life has taught me that not a lot of male/female dynamics are ‘platonic’, though.” When they asked me to expound, the interview ended up taking a whole ‘nother turn.
As a writer who really pays attention to word meanings, something that can be a bit frustrating about our culture is the fact that based on whatever is popular at the time, folks will just up and change the original definitions of words to suit a particular agenda or whim — and the word “platonic” 1000 percent fits into this category. And perhaps that’s why we seem to continue to go in circles about whether or not people of the opposite sex can (and should) be friends and what that even can (and should) look like.
Let’s talk about it for a bit. Because as a word-literal type of individual, while again, I absolutely believe that men and women can be friends, at the same time, I think it’s about as rare as a red diamond to truly find yourself in a friendship that is…platonic.
It’s Time (More) Folks Knew What ‘Platonic’ LITERALLY MeansGiphy
So, let’s do first things first — let’s define what it literally means for something to be platonic. If you go to your favorite search engine and put something along the lines of “What does platonic mean?”, the first thing that you’re (probably) going to see is a ton of dictionary definitions that say something along the lines of “of, relating to, or being a relationship marked by the absence of romance or sex” (Merriam-Webster), “designating or of a relationship, or love, between a man and a woman that is purely spiritual or intellectual and without sexual activity” (Your Dictionary) and, my personal favorite, “purely spiritual; free from sensual desire, especially in a relationship between two persons of different sexes” (Dictionary). Yeah, bookmark that last one; I’ll be circling back.
Keeping this in mind (and please do), where does the word “platonic” actually come from? From what I’ve researched, the philosopher Plato once penned something entitled “Symposium.” In it, he addressed the topic of two people sharing the kind of love that is free of any type of sensual desire; one that is based on divine love alone. An author from the 1800s broke it down this way: “Platonic love meant ideal sympathy; it now means the love of a sentimental young gentleman for a woman he cannot or will not marry.” A write-up on Merriam-Webster’s site stated that, “The term platonic was initially used to mock non-sexual relationships, as it was considered ridiculous to separate love and sex, but eventually this connotation faded away leaving us with today's notion of close friendships.” Yeah, we used to live in a culture where love and sex were not separated. Hmph, that’s another article for another time, though (check out “We Should Really Rethink The Term 'Casual Sex'”).
Anyway, as with many things (especially in our culture), the word “platonic” is kind of used in “broad strokes” these days (bromances, female friendships, etc.). However, because there continues to be this forever discussion — and oftentimes debate — about whether or not men and women can be “just friends,” I’m going to tackle this topic strictly from that angle — from the place where platonic actually originated.
Yes, Men and Women Can Be Just Friends. But…Giphy
At this stage in my life, I’m pretty sure that I have more male friends than female ones. There are layers of reasons why, yet I think a huge one is because I like the balance that masculinity brings to my femininity (especially as I'm learning to embrace different aspects of my femininity, intentionally, even more). And while every single one of my male friends is respectful and is a super safe space in my world on every single level that I can imagine (and have been for years now), there are probably only a couple who I would say 100 percent qualify as being…trulyplatonic.
Why would I say that? Well, I’ll illustrate this point with something that one of my male friends once said to me. He’s super cute. He can sing his ass off (and definitely has one of my favorite speaking voices). People see us out together often and some have told us that they assume that we’ve had something going on at some point. Anyway, after hearing someone share their theory about us, I told it to him.
Me: “I told him, ‘He’s my brother. We would never mess around.'”
My Friend: “Correction, you are like a sister. You are not my sister, though. Under the right conditions, you could still get it.”
When I shared that exchange with another male friend of mine, he basically cosigned on the sentiment: “Shellie, I have never approached you like that because I really respect you. I want to be good for you for the rest of our lives.” (That reminds me: check out, “Question: Is The Man In Your Life Good 'TO' You? Good 'FOR' You? Or...Both?” when you get a chance.)
Then I went to one more guy homie and ran both statements by him: “Girl, yeah. If I didn’t want to keep you in my life long-term, I would’ve tried to holla a long time ago!” And he and I have been friends for almost 20 years at this point. When did he get around to telling me this? Eh, maybe two years ago. LOL.
So, my takeaway from all of these “for real?!” exchanges is, even though men and women can be just friends, there is a certain level of intention, self-control, and ability to see into the future (on some level) that must go into account — because, just because something more-than-friends-like may not have gone down, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a “dormant seed” lying around somewhere…whether it’s one-sided or on both sides of the friendship dynamic.
As you can see, I just provided you with three instances where the male friends in my life, we’ve had nothing sexual or even physically intimate beyond a hug when we greet each other in nature — although things aren’t exactly platonic if there is some sort of attraction or sexual/romantic curiosity that simply never got explored. Because again, according to Plato, a platonic relationship is free from all of that kind of…tension — or possibilities. Zero. Nada. Zilch.
And now you probably get why I entitled this article in the way that I did…right? I mean, just think about it — out of your male friendships, where is there NO sensual desire or dormant romantic interest…on your side and/or on his? If you’re not sure about “his”…have you ever asked him? Or them? Because again, once I really let the definition of platonic sink in, I think maybe two guys in my life totally fit the bill.
This brings me to my next point.
Are You Platonic? Or Are You Friend-Zoning?Giphy
Now that you know that probably 70 percent of the people you know (both online and off) have been using the true meaning of platonic all the way wrong, let’s go about deeper: when it comes to your friendships with men, are they genuinely platonic or…is it more like you’re friend-zoning them?
A few years ago, I penned an article on the topic entitled, “Before You 'Friend Zone' Someone, Read This.” If you’re skimming this on your lunch break, I’ll summarize friend-zoning as knowing that a guy has so-much-more-than-platonic feelings for you yet because you basically want to keep the benefits of the friendship or even his emotions around, you will string him along on some level.
Personally, I can’t stand friend-zoning. I think it’s selfish, with some sprinkles of manipulation and wasting someone’s time. Don’t agree? How would you feel if a guy was friend-zoning you? (Yeah…exactly.)
This all needs to go on record because, knowing that a guy wants to “take it there” with you (whether sexually or romantically), you not full-on addressing it and/or giving him just enough hope to take you out, listen to all of your stories about other men and give you the attention that you need knowing that he doesn’t have a shot in hell — that is NOT a platonic friendship and honestly, you’re not being a good friend at all. Friends protect each other’s hearts, not abuse them.
A platonic friendship means that you both have no interest in each other and, as Plato put it, while you may have a strong and solid bond, it’s spiritual love that connects you. And what exactly does that mean? Spiritual love also deserves its own article yet the gist would be that you recognize there is a purpose in your friendship yet it’s about wanting what’s best for one another and even helping each other to get there.
For instance, a platonic friend of yours may know that you desire to be married one day, so he has no problem setting you up with a good guy in his life. And if things go well, he would have no problem standing up as your own best man (without feeling like he’s dying inside) because he never saw you beyond anything but a friend. A guy in the friend zone doesn’t move like this; he likes you too much to help you move on with someone else. See the difference?
Why Relationships Should Start Off As NON-PLATONIC FriendshipsGiphy
Before I end this with some tips on how to properly care for the few platonic friendships you may actually have, since the use of the word may require a bit of mental reprogramming, I do think we should also address that if you’ve got a good guy in your life, who right now is a friend and either you’ve never thought of him in that way or the topic has never come up — he’s someone that you may not want to brush off.
What I mean by that is, it’s one thing for there to be absolutely no interest in someone vs. never considering it before — and the reason why you might want to give it some thought is because, ask any healthy married couple who’s been together for more than five years and I’ll bet you my next rent check that they will say that the best relationships are birthed out of friendship (check out “Are You Sure You're Actually FRIENDS With Your Spouse?”).
Yeah, just because you’ve filed someone in the “I see him as a good guy” category, that doesn’t automatically mean that y’all’s friendship is platonic. For instance, I have a male friend who is fine and I adore on many levels yet the reason why it would never work on my end is because there are certain relational standards that I have that he does not meet. However, don’t get it twisted — I’ve considered him because, on so many levels, we “fit.” So, the mere fact that I ever seriously thought about him on that level means that we are “good friends” yet it’s not exactly platonic.
I’m not free of potential sensual desire…I just choose not to act on it. Yet because I get the value of having friendship as the foundation for my own future marriage (should life play out that way), I am wise enough to know that I would’ve been a fool to not at least…ponder him and the possibilities.
So yeah, if there is a male friend in your life that the thought of dating or having sex with him doesn’t make you want to throw up in your mouth, there’s a pretty good chance that it’s not a classic platonic dynamic — and you might want to consider if it could/should go to the next level — if not immediately, eventually. Because there’s a pretty good chance that if you are thinking that way, he probably is as well.
Protect Your Genuine Platonic Friendship(s) At All CostsGiphy
Let me end this with how one of my platonic friendships rolls. We both think that the other is attractive yet neither of us is attracted. We both give each other opposite-sex insights. We both have said that the mere thought of dating each other makes our noses turn up like there’s an odor in the air. And even when I try to imagine us together, my mind goes blank. I love, love, LOVE this man — oh, but it is absolutely nothing more than platonic — and he feels the same way. It’s as close to familial love without being blood relationships. It’s a rare dynamic and that is what makes it so special. There is definitely a spiritual type of love there; no more, no less.
If you’ve got someone in your life who you feel the same way about (again, it’s got to be mutual; he must feel that way too), you’ve got a gem of a situation going on because there is nothing like having the kind of friendship where you and a guy can hang out, exchange perspectives and thoroughly enjoy each other’s company, knowing that’s all it is and will ever be. Things will never get weird. No one’s feelings are gonna get hurt (from the whole friend-zoning thing). You don’t have to walk on eggshells. You can just be.
And that’s why I’m all for platonic friendships. And listen, if you’re blessed enough to have even one in your lifetime, be fiercely protective of it. Don’t take it for granted. Nurture it in a way that your male friend needs (because it probably won’t be the exact same as your female friendships). Y’all, platonic friendships are so bomb because, if it’s honored and protected correctly, it’s the one male friend that you can probably keep for life because even your romantic partner will not find it to be a (true) threat — hell, they honestly could probably end up becoming (some level of) friends with your platonic homie as well.
I hope that I broke this all down enough to where, when you decide to use a word to describe your opposite-sex friendships, perhaps you will pause and ask yourself, “Wait, is this a platonic friend or a good or close friend?” Because the clearer you are on the differences, the easier it will be to know how to maintain your friendship — and feel about your friend. Feel me? Cool.
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