Why Isn't Your Hair Growing?

Break These Bad Habits ASAP

Woman pulling hair to test elasticity
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Does it seem as if your hair isn't growing? Well, most likely, it is (if it truly isn't, there may be an underlying health reason, in which case you should consult a doctor). But if your hair breaks off at an equal or higher rate than it grows, you'll never see any length gains.

Hair may show stagnant or negative growth rates for a number of reasons. Do any of these sound familiar to you? Because if they do, it's imperative to break these bad hair habits and begin promoting healthy practices that allow you to keep every inch of growth possible.

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Chemical Overprocessing

Chemical abuse is a big cause of hair breakage and not seeing growth.
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Overlapping relaxers, aggressive bleaching and applying too many chemicals to tresses are all prime culprits in damage to Black hair. Damaged hair will still grow from the scalp, but it often breaks off at the ends or requires a drastic cut to get rid of unhealthy sections. Ask yourself if you:

  • Relax/texturize/color your mane at home
  • Have a chemical straightening process and color
  • Have a hair color at least two shades lighter than your natural shade
  • Relax more often than recommended
  • Applied a relaxer or texturizer over previously straightened locks

If you answered yes to any of these, it's possible that your hair is overprocessed. Although stylists aren't always foolproof, it's usually better to receive chemical services in a salon at the hands of a capable professional.

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Trimming Too Often

You can have too much of a good thing, and trims fall into this category if you want longer hair. Many women resort to trimming their own hair at home after suffering the results of a scissor-happy stylist. Healthy hair doesn't require as many trims as unhealthy tresses; the less you do to your hair, the less likely you'll need frequent trims that take off an inch or more. Hair grows an average of 1/4 to 1/2 inch per month, so if you care for your hair properly, you don't need to cut more than 1/2 inch every few months or so if you want to see growth. When you do trim your tresses, be sure to use shears designed for this process, and not dull household scissors that perform multiple tasks, from cutting craft projects to gift wrap paper.

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Lack of Conditioning

Dry, brittle hair can happen to anyone if she's not diligent about conditioning. Black hair often craves moisture, even natural locks. If you're not currently:

  • Applying a moisturizer as needed, whether once a day or several times per week
  • Deep conditioning at least twice per month, preferably with heat
  • Conditioning after every shampoo
  • Applying a leave-in conditioner after a shampoo/condition session,

you may need to start. It's very difficult to over-condition Black hair, so the more moisturizing products and practices you use, the better conditioned, and less likely to break, your tresses will be.

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Poor Protein Structure

Along with a good moisture level, hair needs a suitable protein balance to remain strong. The more chemicals or harsh practices that your mane goes through, the more important protein becomes, simply because every relaxer/touch-up, color, and even flat iron press compromises the strength of your strands' cuticles. Weak hair usually breaks, after becoming thinner and less elastic over time. Because hair is comprised of protein, it needs protein in some form or other. As long as you follow a healthy regimen, you won't need as much protein as someone who doesn't, but a little protein helps most women maintain strong tresses.

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Traction Alopecia

Possible traction alopecia on the edges.
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Tight styles, particularly ones that pull at the hairline, can do serious damage; in some cases, this damage is permanent, killing follicles forever. If your hairline is sparse, this condition may, unfortunately, be irreversible. Braids that are too tight, ponytails that pull, suffocating weaves and more are all styles that need to be abandoned. In many cases, a mindset is what needs to change at the same time the style changes. Sleek, straight hair that's pulled within an inch of its life may look good, but healthy hair is about so much more than appearance. It may be time to reexamine your usual hairdos if you realize they're often too tight for your own good.

Once you identify the causes of your breakage or damage, you can be on the way to healthier, longer tresses, as long as you're willing to leave bad practices behind and adopt gentler ones.