Two years ago, this coming July, I made the decision to grow my hair out. Chile, when I tell you that NOTHING will teach you more about patience and how to be at peace with the process of things like your hair will, sometimes I think that I'm gaining more character than actual hair length.
Anyway, since I've always been able to cut and style my own hair (even when I was rockin' a fade), it's been a form of self-torture to try and keep my hands out of it. And to not color it. And to not want to dust my ends on a weekly basis. Because I've been in detox in these areas, while my hair should be getting close to shoulder-length at this point, it's actually around my ears. It's not that my hair isn't growing. It's that it's taken me a while to do what is necessary in order to retain lasting length.
In the pursuit of gaining more self-control when it comes to leaving my hair totally alone, it's currently in a set of long box braids. But for about six months before I decided to do that, I must admit that my natural hair was making more progress than ever. Through research, trial and error and even random days of cussing and crying, I have finally figured out what I need to do in order to keep my hair healthy and in order to keep it on the road to gaining more inches.
If you're currently natural and wondering why your hair ain't growin', I'm thinking it's because you're probably not doing some of the following things. Whatcha think?
Why Won't My Natural Hair Grow? Here Are 10 Reasons
1.You Don’t Know Your Hair’s Texture or Porosity
If I had known more about this point alone, perhaps my hair would be down my back without the help of braids (sigh). Anyway, know better, do better, right?
You probably know what your hair texture is about. It's how tightly or loosely your hair curls/coils. For most of us, we tend to have more than one kind of texture (I'm mostly 4a with some 3c and 4c in areas). As far as hair porosity goes, the long short of it is how well your hair is able to hold and retain moisture. Porosity breaks down into three categories—high, normal and low.
This point could be its own book series, but if you want to learn more about your hair texture, check out this article. To figure out more about your hair's porosity, check out this video, this video and this video. It's well worth the research.
2.You Have a Love/Hate Relationship with Shampooing
Figuring out how often you should shampoo your hair is not a one-size-fits-all type of situation. The amount of product you do or don't use, how much you workout and even if your scalp flakes a lot, all play a factor. Whatever the case may be, one thing you can be sure of is if you use a shampoo that contains sulfates, you're doing your hair more harm than good.
Something that natural hair is always gonna need is moisture. That's why it's important to not use any product that will strip your hair of it. Personally, I shampoo with a non-sulfate brand and then follow that up with a deep conditioner (more on that in just a sec). I used to do the whole co-wash thing (that's basically when you wash your hair with conditioner), but it actually made my hair too soft to the point that it was losing elasticity.
What I do know is that our hair goes through a lot on wash days, so it's important to find the kind of products that work best for you rather than picking what's popular. And how can you know if your shampoo isn't being all that beneficial? If after using it, your hair feels dry or dull, your color fades fast, it's difficult to style, it's lacking volume, your scalp is irritated or you simply see far too many chemicals on the label—that's a cue to look for something else. Or (even better) to make your own shampoo.
3.You Don’t Deep Condition Often Enough
There's conditioning. Then there's deep conditioning. When you're trying to keep natural hair healthy, it's a good idea to deep condition your tresses every time you shampoo your hair (if you do that every other week or so). Not only does deep conditioning penetrate your strands and protect them, it also reduces the amount of damage your hair experiences from styling it. Deep conditioning also helps to promote your hair's elasticity and keep it extra moisturized in between washes. It's also a good move if you color treat your hair since doing that has a tendency to make hair dry and brittle.
That's not to say that your hair can't get too much of a good thing. If you deep condition your hair more than four times a month, it can make your hair look flat and feel mushy. The way to bring balance back is to do a protein treatment (which basically fills in the holes along your hair shaft), but if you do that too much, it can make your hair hard. So yeah, deep conditioning no more than once a week (and following the instructions on the label) is gonna be your best bet.
Bonus Tip: Rice water as a form of a conditioning rinse is pretty dope too. Learn more about why here.
4.You Rarely Pamper Your Scalp
Does it matter how beautiful a house is if its foundation is all jacked up? That's how we need to look at our scalp when it comes to growing out our hair. Just how can you know if your scalp needs some TLC? If it's extra dry; if you've got dandruff (which is basically like a mild yeast infection on your head because dandruff comes from a yeast-like fungus called malassezia globose); if it's irritated; if you have lots of product build-up; if your hair is breaking (pieces of it are snapping off) or shedding (full strands of hair with the bulb attached are coming out more than usual) or if you notice any sores, bumps or it's burning.
In most cases, you can heal your scalp yourself by exfoliating it with some brown sugar and olive oil, massaging it with a blend of peppermint oil, lavender oil and avocado oil and keeping your dirty nails or sharp styling tools off of it. Bottom line, your scalp needs just as much attention as your hair does. Love on it consistently. Your hair will thank you.
5.Your Hands Stay All Up in It
This. One. Right. Here. Sometimes my hands are in my hair and I don't even notice it, like when I'm driving or chillin' and reading a blog. That's not good because hair is a lot like silk in the sense that it's as fragile as it is strong. If you're always messing with it, between the pressure of your fingers and the dirt on your hands, it can start to make your hair weak over time.
If you know that you have a nasty habit of always being up in your head, make sure to wrap it up at night (more on that towards the end of this) and wear something to cover up your head a few times a week. Maybe a (non-wool) hat or a silk, satin or organic cotton scarf. Anything that will keep your hands away.
6.You Trim Too Little (or Too Much)
Figuring out how often you should trim your hair poses quite the dilemma. Although a lot of stylists say that it should unequivocally be every 6-8 weeks, it really depends on the rate your hair grows (on average, it's half an inch a month but that varies) and how well you should take care of it.
As far as me and my hair shears go, because I'm a little OCD when it comes to how my hair looks, I used to have a habit of dusting (which is when you take off tiny pieces of the ends of your hair to prevent splitting), at least a couple of times a week. There's no way my hair was gonna grow if I kept going at that rate.
So, how do you know when it's time to dust or get a professional trim? You notice that you have split ends, your hair is super frizzy or you continue to have a difficult time holding a style or shape. If that's what's happening, it's definitely time to pull out your shears. Better yet, to schedule a trim appointment.
(By the way, a good stylist is like a good editor—they will correct what's "wrong" but you'll barely know they were there after they are done. If you are losing a couple of inches every time you go, somebody's stylist is showing signs of being a hater. Real talk.)
7.Your Diet’s All WrongVegan Healthy Food GIF - Find & Share on GIPHYGiphy
You can put all of the stuff on your hair that you want, but if your diet is crazy, your hair is gonna tell on you. Remember that the hair that's actually showing on your head is dead (that's why it doesn't hurt whenever you cut it). What you need to be focused on is what you're feeding your hair's follicles.
Foods that you should try and consume on a daily basis include proteins (because your hair is made up of protein) like almond butter, lentils and broccoli; foods with iron in them like dark leafy greens, cashews and baked potatoes; omega-3 fatty acids foods like salmon, walnuts and chia seeds and also foods that are loaded with antioxidants including citrus fruits and berries. Foods you should be avoiding? Basically everything white (white sugar, white bread, white rice unless it's jasmine rice). There aren't many nutrients in them so, they aren't doing your hair—or the rest of your body—much good.
Oh, and drink water. Since you're made up of mostly H2O, your scalp and hair definitely need plenty of that!
8.You Aren’t Properly Using Your Styling Tools
While I personally feel that the best styling tools you can use on natural hair are your fingers, there are a few other things that you should have in your hair care collection. A wide-toothed comb. A Denman Brush. A water bottle. A hair diffuser (you can control how much or little curl you want with those). A hair steamer. Some ouchless hair bands and bobby pins. A tourmaline (it retains the moisture of your hair without drying it) hair dryer or ionic (it removes water from your hair without causing heat damage) hair dryer.
But even with all of these types of tools in tow, manipulation is manipulation. If you're drastically changing your hairstyle a couple of times a day—or even every couple of days—the constant wear and tear can start to wear your hair totally out.
Think of your hair like a rose. If you're constantly touching it, even with the "right" things, the petals are still gonna eventually weaken and fall. The same thing applies to your hair and the styling tools that you use. First, use the right ones. Second, use them properly while applying the motto of "less is more".
9.Your Protective Styles Stay in Too Long
Whether it's a wig (y'all some of these wigs these days have been absolutely blowing my mind as far as how natural they look), a weave or something along the lines of twists or braids, protective styles are great because it gives your hair an opportunity to take a break from some of the styling tools we just talked about; it also keeps your hands out of it. Plus, protective styles can protect your tresses from environmental damage as well.
However, I'd be irresponsible if I also didn't say that protective styling is supposed to be a temporary hair growth alternative, not a permanent solution. When it comes to all protective styles, your scalp needs to breathe, your edges need relief from stress and tension and your hair needs a thorough washing and conditioning from time to time.
How can you know when it's time for your protective style to go? If it's been more than six weeks (on average) is a good start. Some other signs is if your hair is dry and brittle; your scalp is itchy and irritated; you notice some thinning in certain areas; your roots appear tangled, matted or full of build-up or you've worn a protective style for so long that you've totally forgotten what your natural hair even looks like.
Remember, protective styling isn't supposed to replace your natural hair. It's supposed to assist it as you strive for healthy long locks. BIG DIFFERENCE.
10. Your Bedtime Routine Sucks
If your hair bedtime routine consists of nothing more than tying a scarf around your head and calling it a night, you're definitely working against the kind of length retention you're looking for. Keep in mind that you are (hopefully) spending 6-8 hours in bed, each and every night. The tossing and turning alone is enough to send your tresses through it! That's why it's a good idea to do the scalp massage thing that I mentioned, that you apply a little bit of hair oil to your ends and then that you braid it up or put it into a pineapple. Also, make sure you've got a satin pillowcase on your pillows for additional hair support (in case your scarf falls off).
If you do this consistently, your hair will not dry out due to your bedding and it will require less manipulation in the morning. Less manipulation equals more length retention. At the end of the day, that's what we all want. Definitely.
Featured image by Shutterstock
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Originally published on May 14, 2019
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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.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masturdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masturdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masturdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masturdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masturdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masturdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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