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 firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
What would you do if you just got laid off from your corporate job and you had a serendipitous encounter with someone who gave you the opportunity of a lifetime? Tamara Taylor was faced with that decision in 2013 after she was let go from her sales profit and operations coach job in the restaurant industry and met a then-up-and-coming stylist, Law Roach, on a flight to L.A. She and Roach struck up a conversation, and he shared how he was looking for someone to run his business and was impressed by her skills. While she took his business card, she was unsure if it would lead to anything. But, boy, was she wrong. Two weeks later, after packing up her home to move back to her hometown of Chicago, she called Roach; he asked if they could meet the following day, and the rest is herstory.
Taylor founded Mastermind MGMT, an agency that represents some of Hollywood’s best “image architects” like Roach, Kellon Deryck, and Kollin Carter, who are responsible for creating unforgettable style and beauty moments for celebrities like Zendaya, Megan Thee Stallion, Taraji P. Henson, and more. Taylor and her company possess an array of functions, but her biggest role is to be her client’s advocate. We hear endless stories about how creatives aren’t paid or underpaid in the entertainment industry, but Taylor ensures that her clients get their piece of the pie. The entrepreneur opened up about her company and her non-profit, Mastermind Matters, in an exclusive interview with xoNecole.
“I always say that I'm an artist advocate first, deal closer second. So my primary focus is to just make sure that the artist is getting everything that they deserve, whether it's compensation or, you know, certain accommodations, but just making sure that they have everything that they need to be able to show up and provide the best service that they're hired for,” she explained.
“So you know, in the beginning, it was hard because I didn't have any experience, and the artists who I was working with at the time–we were learning together, meaning neither of us had assisted anyone. We didn't have mentors in our specific fields. So every deal was like a new learning experience for us from the styling side and also from the business side, and so it took, you know, doing some research, using some very creative tactics, to find out information in the industry and just starting to request accommodations that I knew other artists were granted, who maybe didn't look like my artists.”
Photo by Christopher Marrs
Ten years later, there’s still not many people who are doing what Taylor is doing. However, things have gotten easier thanks to the research and connections she made in the beginning. During Mastermind MGMT’s ten-year anniversary celebration, she announced her non-profit, Mastermind Matters, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that focuses on helping young entrepreneurs through a 12-week program. The program is divided into “two routes.” The first route is for aspiring creative artists who want to start a business from their talent and all the things they need to learn about business, such as taxes, life insurance, etc. The second route is for practicing creative artists who are already in the industry but need resources such as how to plan for retirement or how to sustain themselves if they can’t work for a short amount of time, i.e., the pandemic.
“I just feel that I'm able to have a business and be successful because of their art as well. And so there are things that I know, I tried to teach it to them but understanding that I can only do so much because I'm not a subject matter expert in those fields,” she said. “So I at least want to be able to provide the resources, and then if they make their grown decision not to do it, then that's on them. But you know, I could be guilt-free and taking advantage of the resources that I'm also providing to them.”
Taylor continues to be an innovator in her industry by always pushing the boundaries of creativity and thinking one step ahead of everyone else. The Chicago-bred businesswoman is moving into the tech space thanks to a new invention created with her clients in mind, and she is looking forward to bigger collaborations in the future. Follow Mastermind MGMT on Instagram @mastermind_mgmt for more information.
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Feature image by Christopher Marrs