Hair Growth Practices for Healthy Long Hair
There are two very important formulas to achieving long hair, healthy hair growth, and preventing the hair we have from breaking. If we follow these two steps, we are on our way to long and flowing hair.
To gauge whether or not you have a healthy hair care routine, if your hair has been the same length for years without you having to cut it, give or take a few inches, then you do not have a healthy hair care routine. Unfortunately, that is the reality for many black women today. Yet, if you walk into any black neighborhood in any major city in the world, you are bound to find two to three beauty supply stores selling countless items catering to our hair. With so many beauty supply stores and their many products, there are many of us with unhealthy scalp and hair. What’s more perplexing is that we continue to purchase these products without a second thought. We continue to buy these useless products hoping that IT will be the one to make our hair nice, long, and healthy. We keep chasing for that miracle product INSTEAD of educating ourselves about our hair.
Applying Beneficial and Chemical Free Oils
A healthy scalp means that your hair will be in the best environment to grow. For optimal hair growth, you ABSOLUTELY need a healthy scalp. In our community, dry scalp (and hair for that matter) is an epidemic. The majority of hairdressing for our hair is made up of Petroleum, Petrolatum, and Mineral oil. These ingredients are crude oil byproducts, the same crude oil that gasoline comes from. These ingredients actually create a barrier on your scalp and hair that prevents it from truly being nourished and moisturized. Not only do they leave a film that blocks moisture from entering the skin on your scalp and the hair shaft itself, but it is also tough to remove without a harsh shampoo.
Opt only for natural oils when using it for hairdressing, and/or as a growth aid. There is nothing in PETROLEUM, MINERAL OIL, and PETROLATUM scientifically proven to grow or moisturize your hair. If you must ever pick up hair oil at your local beauty supply store, be sure to check the ingredients, no matter what is written on the front of the bottle. Often time, the ploy would be to label the bottle as “Castor Oil,” “Coconut Oil,” “Tea Tree Oil,” yet when you read the ingredients, it’s not the first thing on the list. LEARN TO READ LABELS. The label on the back of a product goes by percentages in descending order. The first ingredient listed is the highest percentage in the product, the second ingredient is the second highest percentage, so on and so forth. Thus, if you were to pick up a product that has these ingredients listed- “Mineral Oil, Soybean Oil, Castor Oil,” this would mean that the product has Mineral Oil as the most abundant ingredient, follow by Soybean, and then Castor Oil. While it gives you a list in descending order, unfortunately, it does not tell you the percentage or amount of each of the components. So, this product can have 90% Mineral oil, 9% Soybean Oil, and 1% Castor Oil, or 50% Mineral Oil, 30% Soybean Oil, and 20% Castor Oil. The only way we would know for sure what exactly is in the bottle is to either ask the manufacturer or get the product scientifically tested yourself. Since most of us do not have access to labs, and we can’t really trust the manufacturer to tell us their formula, it is best, for the time being, to just avoid products with ingredients that are ineffective or damaging to our hair.
As well as avoiding harmful products, avoid harmful packaging for your product. ONLY BUY PRODUCTS CONTAINING OLIVE AND ESSENTIAL OILS IN DARK GLASS BOTTLES. If you were to Google essential oils, 9 out of 10 pictures would show the oils contained in dark bottles, either brown or blue. The reason dark color glass bottles are used to package essential oils is that they offer some protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays, allowing it to last longer. Never buy essential oils, products containing carrier oils mixed with essential oils, and olive oil in plastic bottles, as the oil can absorb the phthalates and BPA in the plastic bottle. With olive oil, it not only absorbs these chemicals but it can also go rancid fast. Skip olive oil and products containing essential oils from the Beauty supply stores if they are stored in plastic bottles, if you don’t, you are either applying rancid oils or oils filled with unwanted chemicals on your scalp and hair. If you have purchased our blend, you are on your way to having a healthy scalp. Please see our WHY US page for details as to the benefits of using our oil blend. If you are unable to buy our blend, and you are in need of hair oil for your scalp, take a trip to your supermarket and get a bottle of Olive Oil, or a jar of Coconut Oil. If you are at the BSS, look for Castor Oil and 100% Pure Jojoba Oil.
Use gentler shampoo for Weekly washes and Clarifying Shampoo as Needed
Using harsh shampoo itself is detrimental to our hair strands. Use a gentle, sulfate free shampoo for your weekly hair washes. You also have the option of diluting your shampoo, or not using it all. Some people use clay washes. The clay can be mixed with Braggs Apple Cider vinegar to clean your hair strands further as it draws out impurities. At times, it will be necessary to use a clarifying shampoo but only use it about once a month, as they are very harsh and will strip your hair of moisture. If you are using the hair growth oils, gels, leave in conditioners and other hair products and have opted NOT to use a sulfate shampoo for your weekly washes, using a clarifying shampoo is a must, as it will remove product build-up on the hair strands. Whatever cleansing method you use, follow that with a moisturizing conditioner.
Achieve Optimal Protein/Moisture Balance
Now that we’ve touch briefly on shampoos, be sure to wash your hair weekly. There seems to be a misconception in our community that washing your hair often will cause it to break. What causes hair breakage is washing with harsh shampoos that dry out the hair, thus causing breakage, as we’ve just mentioned. Even if you are using a gentle shampoo, you still need to follow up with a conditioner, as even the mildest shampoo has to have cleansers/surfactants that has to have the ability to lift dirt/oil/debris from your hair and scalp and that itself, is a drying process. If you are not washing your hair often with a good shampoo and following up with a great quality water based conditioner, or good deep conditioner, you need to start ASAP. The conditioner will restore moisture to your hair, repair, and hydrate the hair strands. When choosing a conditioner, bear in mind that some do contain silicones. Silicones are akin to petroleum/crude oil byproducts, where they can leave an occlusive film on your hair that may be hard to wash off without the use of harsh shampoos. It may dry your hair over time and lead to breakage. If you are new to the healthy hair care community, do skip products with silicones until you can research and learn the names of lighter silicones that can be easily washed off and which are the harsher ones to avoid. Be sure to allow conditioners to sit on your hair strands for at least 15 minutes before washing it off.
While some deep conditioners often contain protein, you will need a standalone protein product since most products don’t serve both functions very well. Proteins are necessary as they add strength and repair the hair strands (temporarily, that’s why they have to be reapplied every so often). There are hardcore or intense, medium, and light strength proteins. If you are new to proteins, AhPhogee 2 step protein treatment is highly recommended. It is a hardcore protein and a tried and true product that has helped countless people who have had great results with using it. It only needs to be used once every six to eight weeks. If you were to use it, it is mandatory to follow up with a deep conditioner to bring your hair back into balance. The benefit of using intense protein is that:
⦁ you don’t have to use a third product on weekly wash days.
(2) You won’t need to keep buying protein treatments as a 16oz bottle will last you a whole year.
(3) It stops breakage instantly and gives you a feel as to what protein balance hair feels like.
It is a great practice to keep your hair moisturized in between washes. A few times a week, you can apply a live-in conditioner or a moisturizer and seal your hair with a small amount of oil. Our hair is porous, so the purpose of sealing with the oil is to prevent the moisture from escaping and keeping our hair from drying out too quickly. Using oils before applying leave-in conditioner/moisturizer will prevent the moisture from absorbing, as it creates a barrier and repels moisture. This is especially true in the case of synthetic oils. Their molecules are too large to penetrate the hair shaft, so they just create a film. On the other hand, natural oils made from plants, fruits, and seeds are absorbed into your hair over time, and there will be no need for it to be washed off with harsh shampoos. Certain conditioners can also be watered down to be used as a leave in conditioner, that way, you do not have to buy and use multiple products. When moisturizing your hair, do give extra attention to your ends, as they are the oldest parts of your hair and therefore are more prone to breakage.
A great healthy hair care practice is to exfoliate your scalp periodically. Exfoliating your scalp has the same benefits as exfoliating your face. Exfoliating clears the scalp of dead skin cells, dandruff, sweat, oil, dirt, and product buildup, which helps to reduce the chance of inflammation. Exfoliating your scalp is also akin to clarifying your hair, it is necessary every so often. Also when you exfoliate, it’s stimulating more blood in your scalp which in turn feeds your follicles, so that your hair will be fed more nutrients to grow healthy and strong. Clogged hair follicles can suffocate growing hair and lead to shedding and at times, hair loss, as the clogged follicle can suffocate growing hair and permanently deactivate (kill) the follicle itself. If your follicles are indeed clogged, exfoliating them will revive the hair follicles and prevent the remaining active hair follicles you have from becoming clogged and dormant.
Even the most natural of products leaves residue and buildup, let alone the myriad of products that contain waxes, silicones, and petroleum byproducts that just sits on top of your hair follicles. Normal shampoo removes regular buildup, but at times, dead skin can accumulate, and sebum can harden and get stuck inside the follicle. In those instants, unless the shampoo contains exfoliating enzymes that will break down and soften the substance so that it can be easily washed away, regular shampoo will not clean your scalp fully, and you will need something stronger to dislodge the debris. Only products with AHA, BHA, and sharp edges will get the congestion out of your scalp. By exfoliating your scalp, your hair follicles will become healthier. Also if you suffer from dry scalp, exfoliating your scalp is a great way to stimulate your sebaceous glands; the glands responsible for producing sebum.
If you are using any of the oil blends, it is highly recommending that you use a scalp exfoliating product. The sulfur blend will actually promote cell turnover by helping shed dead skin and other buildup that can clog your pores. Using the sulfur blend itself may prevent pores from being blocked, but I recommend that you exfoliate every six weeks, at the very least, to start your scalp off with a “cleaner slate,” leaving your hair roots with the ideal environment for hair growth. If you are not using the sulfur brand, do exfoliate your scalp more often, at the very least every month.
Please Note: it may be more beneficial to use exfoliating products with AHA and BHA enzymes, like fruits and salicylic acid as opposed to physical exfoliating products with sugar crystals, salts, coffee grinds, shells, and kernels, unless they are micronized, as they can have jagged edges that can make small cuts into your scalps.
HEALTHY SCALP LONG HAIR CHECKLIST AND PLANNER
When you have a healthy hair regimen in place, you will see visible growth and will be able to retain more of the hair you are growing. On the other hand, if you are losing length, thickness, or your hair stays the same perpetual length year after year, you do NOT have a healthy hair regimen in place, and it’s time to try something new.
SIX USEFUL PRODUCTS CHECKLIST FOR STARTING A HEALTHY HAIR JOURNEY
1. Scalp oil.
2. Shampoo (sulfate free or a cleansing agent).
3. Deep conditioner.
4. Leave in Conditioner.
5. Scalp Exfoliating Product.
6. Protein Treatment.
7. Oil/ Butter to seal hair.
8. Satin or silk scarf/pillow case.
⦁ Pick a date to start your healthy hair care journey.
⦁ Get a good trim if you have split ends, see thru hair, or damaged ends.
⦁ Take a starting picture of your hair, every three or 4 months, do a health and length check.
Intend and plan for long healthy hair instead of joining hair challenges. Growing hair is not a challenge, as it is a process that occurs naturally, automatically, and is a God given right. At times, we may face challenges with our health that robs us of our normal bodily functions/responses. There are conditions, such as anemia, thyroid and hormone issues, and many more that can keep us from having the hair we want. If that is the case, take care of your health first and long and healthy hair will follow once you are well and have your issue under control. If you are otherwise healthy, try new methods and products until you find what works for you and for whatever problem you may have with your hair. Do not get disappointed or take it as a challenge, instead, choose to plan for the outcome you want for your hair. We at Conscious Essence are in the process of developing a hair app, but in the meantime, be sure to download and print out our planner to help you execute your hair goals. Posted close by, it will serve as a good reminder of what you need to do and when to do it.
In closing, I remember growing up, and up until my late teens, my family and I use to scratch our scalp (before wash days, or just before grooming and plaiting my hair) with a comb and all the flakes and dandruff that would fly or land on our shoulders. We didn’t think anything of it back then; we didn’t think that our scalp was either dirty or inflamed and that the cause could be some kind of imbalance, be it fungal or otherwise. We didn’t know that certain hair oils, greases, and pomades can clog the pores on our scalp, making our scalp even drier in the long run, causing our scalp to itch, become inflamed or have dandruff
Please let’s teach ourselves and the younger generation better hair care practice. As we become better educated about safe and effective products and methods. Through our buying powers, we can force these manufacturers to stop producing ineffective products that is being marketed to our community. Conscious Essence oil, while it is formulated to give you optimal growth, makes no outrageous claims that you will have instant long hair. Our message to you is to educate yourself to better hair care practices and to consciously choose the best products to help you manifest your hair goals. Happy Healthy Scalp and Long Hair Growing!