UGH. Does anything in the world trigger us to cussing more than having a side of our head where our hair doesn't grow nearly as long, fast or thick as the other? I mean really, when it comes to the many things that can keep us from gaining some real inches, this is the one thing that doesn't get brought up nearly enough. So, I figured that I'd do it.
I ain't gonna lie. Nothing in this piece is an overnight remedy. However, what I do think, is as you learn more about your hair and why it does some of the things that it does, it can help you to come up with a customized haircare routine that can get you some of the results that you've been looking for. So, are you ready to read 10 points that can even some of your lopsidedness out?
1. Accept That the Sides of Your Hair Are “Sisters” Not “Twins”
Before getting into some tips that can help you to bring some balance back to your hair and its growth, on both sides, let's address a really relevant point. The left side of our body is similar yet not identical to the right side. That's why our eyebrows, breasts, feet and other parts of our body can oftentimes appear a little different from each other. That being the case, why wouldn't the sides of our head also reflect the fact that they aren't exactly the same either?
While things like genetics, medications and our diet certainly play a role in how our hair grows, if you're expecting the left side to be just like the right, chances are that you're going to be pissed, most of the time, because that's not really a reality. When it comes to accepting your hair, it really is wise to live by the motto, "The sides of my head are 'sisters', not 'identical twins'." This means that each side will probably appear somewhat different, feel slightly different and may need a bit of a different routine from the other in order to get the results that you ultimately want. With that reality check out of the way, let's go further.
2. Is It Thinner or Shorter? That Is the Question.
When it comes to having one side of your hair that flourishes while the other doesn't (at least not as much), it's also a good idea to keep in mind some other different things that could be at the root, other than what I've already mentioned. For instance, one side of your hair may have more hair follicles on it or follicles that are more fragile than the other which could result in thinner hair. Or, one side may have a tighter curl pattern which could cause it to appear shorter than the other. Both of these things could mean that if you apply heat, if you over-brush or comb, if one side doesn't get enough moisture or even if your diet is all out of wack, it could cause the "thinner" or "shorter" side to appear even more that way or even become more fragile over time.
If you think that one side of your hair is thinner, you might want to consider the following—not relaxing or color-treating your hair (so that your follicles can get stronger); eating foods that have more iron including dark leafy greens, red meat, quinoa, watermelon and raisins and protein like eggs, poultry, oats, Greek yogurt and turkey breasts (also check out "Vegetarian Or Vegan? Check Out These High Protein Foods."); washing that side with a sulfate-free volumizing shampoo, and also keeping your stress levels down.
If one side of your hair is shorter and it is due to having a tighter texture, perhaps stretch it out by braiding or twisting your hair while it's wet and letting it air dry before styling. While this won't change the reality that your patterns are different, it can "balance out" the appearance some, if you try.
3. “Baby” the “Weaker” Side
The left side of my hair? I could do almost nothing to it and it's still gonna thrive. The right side? Lawd, she's super high-maintenance. I've come to accept that, though. And since she wants to be "babied" more, that's exactly what I do. While I do deep condition my entire head, I typically add some Jamaican castor oil to my right side to give it some extra moisture. When I give myself a scalp massage (more on that in a bit), I spend a couple of extra minutes on the right side.
When I'm blow drying my hair, I use a cooler setting and less time on the right side. Since it does appear that my hair follicles are more fragile on the right, I'm intentional about following some of the tips that I made in the article "Top To Bottom: 10 Tips To Strengthen Your Hair Follicles & Protect Your Ends". In short, since the right side is a bit thinner and grows slower, I give it extra attention. I've noticed some results since I've been doing that too.
4. Sleep on the Opposite Side. At Least Sometimes.
I've come to realize it's not happenstance that the side of my hair that has the hardest time flourishing is also the side that I tend to sleep on the most (the right). After doing some research into why, there is somewhat of a science to it all. When you spend 6-8 hours a night laying on one side of your head, it can actually cause the blood vessels on that side to become compressed.
As a direct result, your hair follicles are not able to receive all of the nutrients that they need in order for your hair to thrive. The solution? Try switching up sides, at least a couple of nights a week, if you can. You might be surprised at how this one lil' remedy can be a total game-changer for you in the long run.
5. Give Yourself More Scalp Massages
I think I've shared before that I once read that the reason why women of other ethnicities seem to grow their hair out faster and longer is simply because they've got a way looser curl pattern (if they've got one at all). The other reason is due to the fact that they tend to wash their hair more often. As a result, they're massaging their scalp more than a lot of us tend to do and there are some clear benefits that come with doing that.
If you massage your scalp, for four minutes, each day, it's able to increase the thickness of your hair, relieve dandruff, remove some of the build-up that could be clogging up your hair follicles in between wash days and, it can decrease stress; since stress levels can also affect hair growth, that's another cool bonus.
As far as shampooing on a daily basis goes, if we wash our hair every day, that can actually result in dryness, brittleness and breakage; that's why it's best to shampoo and condition no more than once a week. However, while you're winding down for the day, warm up a little bit of peppermint (the menthol will increase blood circulation) and lavender (it's antifungal and also reduces stress) essential oil that's in a carrier oil like avocado (it contains oleic acid and monounsaturated fats that can help to deeply moisturize your hair) or sweet almond oil (it's loaded with magnesium, calcium and zinc), dip your fingertips into it and rub your scalp for five minutes or so. It feels amazing and it will do your entire head a world of good; especially the weaker side.
6. Clarify Your Hair and Scalp on a Monthly Basis
Since your follicles are where the growth of your hair begins, something else that you might want to do is clarify your hair every month. This is simply a process that gets rid of product build-up, so that your follicles aren't clogged and are able to grow more easily; possibly thicker too. Personally, I think the best way to do this is to give your hair and scalp an apple cider rinse.
Not only can it help to get rid of any build-up that you might have, it can also moisturize your hair, add more luster and shine to it and restore the pH balance of your scalp too. Just mix 2-3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar into one cup of water. Then, after washing and shampooing your hair, pour the rinse onto it and let it sit for 5-7 minutes. It's another thing that can help the weaker side of your hair to get stronger.
7. Focus on the Weak Side’s Ends
It really can't be said enough that, a myth that a lot of Black women have believed, for far too long, is that their hair doesn't grow as fast as other ethnicities. Again, that is absolutely NOT the truth. Yes, because most of us have a much tighter curl pattern and the humidity also results in quite a bit of shrinkage, it can appear that way. Still, all of us, on average, grow between ¼" and ½" of hair every month. The challenge isretaining the lengthso that we're able to see results. And so, when it comes to dealing with the weaker side of your hair, it's crucial that you do all that you can to preserve for ends for as long as possible.
Handle your ends with care. Seal them on wash days. Detangle with your fingers as much as possible. Be careful with your styling tools. Always use a thermal heat protectant when applying heat. KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF OF THEM AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE (and yes, I'm yelling it!). This includes when you're sitting on the couch and are tempted to play in your hair or when you're riding in your car and may lean your head into your hands (those compressed blood vessels, remember?).
I've already shared that the right side of my head is way more fragile. That said, there is a small portion of my hair, right around the nape, that gives me so much drama. Know what else? I get so frustrated with it sometimes that I know I'm a part of the problem because I'm always trying to put something on it to get it to grow faster. The friction that I'm causing is working against, not for it. It's growing just like the rest of my hair is.
Thing is, I'm not "bothering" the left side of my head nearly as much as the right and—surprise, surprise, the left side is longer and thicker. Yep. Leaving your hair alone and also making sure that your ends are well cared for are two other ways to effectively address the "lopsidedness" that you're currently dealing with.
8. Go Easy with the Shears
Perhaps the most frustrating thing about having one side of your hair that grows faster/thicker/longer than the other is coming to the realization that taking some shears to even both sides up isn't always the solution. What I mean by that is, there are many times when I've done that and all that's happened is I never really see results on either side because the left is gonna keep flourishing and the right is just gonna keep on showing out.
While yes, it's a good idea to trim—or at least dust—your ends every couple of months or so, constantly cutting the stronger side isn't always gonna give you the results that you want. Real talk, sometimes the best thing to do is to give your entire head one good evening out and then really focus on nourishing the weaker side. And what if things still look uneven? Well, that brings us to the next recommendation.
9. Find Styles That Will Get Your Mind Off of It
There's a YouTube channel called Sista with Real Hair who posted a video a few years back about how she can't get her hair to grow out evenly to save her life. So, the conclusion that she came to was just to leave her hair alone. Yeah, I know some of you might think, "If that's what you're gonna tell me, what did I read all of this for?" I hear you.
Here's the thing to consider. You know how they say that a watched pot never boils? If, when you comb out your hair, you're noticing that one side is 1-2" shorter than the other, why not either style your hair or put it into a protective style that gets your mind off of the unevenness so that your weaker side has time to catch up?
As far as styling goes, parting your hair so that most is on the weaker side can give the appearance that it is thicker and fuller. Putting your hair up in a ponytail may help some; just don't rely on that look on a daily basis because the strain of your strands being constantly pulled up can also result in breakage and further weakening over time. Braids, twists and Bantu knots are always a good look because it gives your total hair some time to relax.
Then, once you take your protective style down, you should see some length on both sides. That way, if you do decide to even things out, at least there will be a couple of more inches of progress, because you choose to leave your hair—all of your hair—totally alone.
10. Understand Hair Growth Takes Time
I won't lie. Nothing embodies the saying, "patience is a virtue" quite like trying to grow your hair out does. Still, as you're trying to figure out what works and what doesn't, a silver lining to it all is you can happen upon all kinds of things that can help to improve your hair over time. For me, it's been Chebe powder (I use the loose powder in my deep conditioner and have recently been applying an oil that has Chebe and Fenugreek in it; you can cop some of it for yourself by going here) and also learning how to make my own herbal infused oil (I got the herbs from this sistah here and learned how to infuse them myself by watching this video).
And although things didn't change overnight, I have noticed that the quality of my hair has significantly started to improve and that the weaker side of my hair is getting stronger. Dealing with uneven hair growth really can be the absolute worst sometimes. Yet if you make peace with your reality, you create a haircare regimen, you remain consistent and you keep your hands out of your hair, you can see some results that can bring a smile to your face. In time, you can even see some retention too. I'm in this thing with you. Keep the faith, sis.
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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.
Deanna Robinson, a health and wellness advocate and professional based in the Washington D.C. area has been helping Black and brown women reach their fitness goals for more than a decade. And with her brand of self-love and faith, she's redefining just what "fitness" means when it comes to women of all shapes and sizes.
There's definitely a need for women like Robinson, especially since recent research shows that between 47% and 55% of Black consumers' needs "are not being met" in the wellness space, and the U.S. fitness industry hit $32 billion last year and that it's important for Black women to see themselves prominently in the space.
As a health and wellness programming expert, licensed nutritionist, mom, wife, and former all-women's gym owner, Robinson has built up a body of experience that has culminated into doing something she loves via the FabBody Retreat, an experience for women ages 30-60 to be enriched via group activities, good food, and connection in the backdrop of tropical peace and tranquility.
This year's retreat was held in Grenada, with special guest and TV host icon Free Marie (BET's 106 & Park). Next year's event will be held in St. Maarten with plenty of opportunities to enjoy beach vibes, authentic and healthy dishes, and all the pleasures of being among other fabulous Black women seeking holistic wellness in paradise.
"My God-given purpose is to help serve, connect, and heal Black and Brown women," she said, taking her experiences serving corporate and individual clients via projects like the NFL's "Fuel Up To Play 60" initiative and the Nike Training Club live experience, to do just that.
xoNecole caught up with her to talk about why she chose the fitness industry, her success in launching and running the FabBody Factory, and how she's pivoted to use her skills to build impact on a larger scale in health and wellness.
xoNecole: What sparked your interest in a career in health and wellness?
Deanna Robinson: I have always been involved in sports, always been active in cheerleading, dance, [and] gymnastics. In my college career, I was a competitive cheerleader at the University of Maryland, College Park, and I've just always been passionate about physical activity, health, and fitness. I double-majored in kinesiology and public and community health, and it's always been a passion for me about others being well.
Out of college, I wanted to be a personal trainer, and I interviewed at a big-chain gym. I was really excited about getting this job, but when I had the interview, they informed me of what the split was—what the client paid, what I'd get as a personal trainer, and what the gym got. And I just thought it was a ridiculous split. I've always been into entrepreneurship as well, and doing things on my own terms, so I actually opened up my own gym in the community I grew up in called the FabBody Factory, an all-female gym in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
I was able to hire several trainers, offer group classes and personal training, and one of the things I was always a big proponent of is making sure that they got a better cut than they would get at larger chains.
xoN: Talk a bit more about that in terms of starting a gym, especially one that caters to women. What was the process and motivation?
DR: I have worked out in big-box gyms before and just never felt comfortable. It was always really uncomfortable working out in a huge gym where men would be gawking at you or try to get your number when you're trying to focus on yourself in that moment. So I always wanted the FabBody Factory would be a safe haven where we didn't have to worry about our titties flopping when we're doing jumping jacks, it was just for us by us, and we could just [be] comfortable making ourselves a priority.
I was almost talked out of doing something like that because people would say, "You're cutting off half of your potential clientele," but I never had an issue. Women flocked to the gym, and I'd sometimes have to split classes. I might have to do part one of a class at one time and a second another time. It was majorly successful. Ladies loved it. And on top of this being all-women, it was all Black and brown women.
Culturally, we get each other, so it was a big social thing for us, too. We were able to fellowship with each other and get fit at the same time.
xoN: Your brand includes the concept of a 'Fab Body.' What does that mean for you---and just wellness---in general, for Black and brown women?
DR: FabBody in itself is not a look at all. It's more of a mindset and a willingness to invest in your mental, spiritual, and physical self. In promoting the FabBody Retreat, I actually had someone DM me and ask me, "Do you have to have a 'Fab Body' to come on the retreat?" and my response to her was that you do have a 'Fab Body.' Everyone has a Fab Body. It's more of a state of being—a sound, healthy mind, body, and spirit. It's not about aesthetics at all but about overall improvement.
xoN: You decided to pivot from owning a gym, which you ran successfully for more than a decade, to your current role in health and wellness programming and launching the FabBody Retreat. How did this come about?
DR: My gym closed last year, and the reason was because of where I saw myself going and where I wanted to be in the next 10 years. A lot of my time at the gym was selling and getting people to register for classes, and it wasn't as lucrative and fulfilling for me as it had been in the beginning.
Now I'm doing more consulting work with larger companies. One of my passions is programming, and that is where I see my future going. I'm moving more toward passive income, coming from my being able to use the knowledge I have from years in this industry and putting together programming that can reach the masses versus individuals.
xoN: What can people expect from the FabBody Retreat next year, and how does this venture continue your love for advocating for health and wellness among Black and brown women?
DR: One of the things that really sets this event apart from so many other retreats is that I have married everything that is important to me: wellness, my faith, and my community. God is a huge part of all of the events we do, and all are interwoven with faith-filled, intentional activities, and I think that's what makes it different. On Sunday, we do a service on the beach, and we always have a guest speaker—someone you can relate to where you don't feel like you're being preached to. It's an awesome experience, unlike any retreat I've seen.
It's definitely rooted in faith, but at the same time, there's a balance. We'll get on a boat and have a cocktail with an umbrella in it, and then we'll go back to wellness. There's a healthy balance.
Find out more about Deanna Robinson via Instagram @deannarobinsonfit and more on the FabBody Retreat via the website.
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