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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