24 months post BC
Hola Chicas/Chicos..I pray all is well with everyone. Ok, now talk about a topic that's super popular in the natural hair community and that's 'HAIR GROWTH'. There are loads of products that promise growth, hundreds of techniques that promise growth and more..Now, while we may not all be obssessed with it, we all love to see a little growth here and there within our tresses. However, when that want turns into an obsessed need, that's when we find ourselves trying every product on the market, trying every technique that many have never even thought nor heard of, just to see our tresses move one step further than what it was.. YESTERDAY!! That can definitely get us into some hot water and create bigger issues. So, let's just chat about what actually affects our hair growth. Now this one may get pretty lengthy and I will try to explain as best as possible what affects hair growth to where it may be easier to understand, so if I fall short, don't judge me, lol..kidding!
HAIR GROWTH AND WHAT AFFECTS IT
In order of what affects hair growth from the least to the most effective are:
(2) HORMONES: Birth control and events such as pregnancy
Because any of the nutrients we get from food are FIRST utilized by our bodies, our hair and nails receive any left over proteins, vitamins, water and nutrients after the body has used them. So, if our diets are already poor and our water intake is not so great, any possible vitamins, minerals and nutrients from the food eaten are distributed within our bodies and if none are left for our hair and nails, this affects how the hair and nails grow. So, this is why it is stressed to try as much as possible to feed our bodies great healthy foods and have great water intake.
(4) EXERCISE: Extremely important factor that is many times overlooked in terms of healthy hair growth. Exercise promotes oxygen flow. It also releases endorphins (neurotransmitters , which are chemicals that pass signals along one neuron to the next). They are the pain blockers and are responsible for our feelings of pleasure. Which is why when we exercise or have a great workout, we feel great, pleasurable (they are also released during sex, as it serves as a form of exercise in a sense as well). And, exercise regulates the adrenal glands which are responsible for your body's relation to stress.
5) STRESS: The top dog. Did you know that a stressful event can cause the hair to go into a 'resting phase' known as the TELOGEN PHASE (the resting phase of the hair..this is where our hair sheds and falls out). Now, normal hair shedding is between 75-100 hairs per day, however, excessive shedding can be created by a few things. Now, let me go a little deeper. On average, about 85%-95% of the hairs on our heads are in the growing phase (ANAGEN PHASE), and the others are resting (TELOGEN PHASE). The hair is normally in the Anagen or growing phase for 2-4 years then it enters the resting or Telogen phase for about 2-4 months, then it falls out and is replaced by a new growing hair. Now, when a stressful event occurs, the hair will enter what is called TELOGEN EFFLUVIUM. This is where some body change or shock pushes MORE hairs into the Telogen (resting phase). So when a person is struggling with Telogen Effluvium, they may lose 300 hairs vs 100 hairs per day. Here is a list of things that can trigger Telogen Effluvium:
(2) Major physical trauma
(3) Major psychological stress
(4) High fever, severe infection or other illness
(5) Extreme weight loss
(6) Extreme change in diet
(7) Abrubt hormonal changes, such as childbirth or menopause
(8) Iron defenciency
(10) Some medications
(11) Poor diet (in some cases)
Now, keep in mind, because the hair rests for 2-4 months, you may not experience the excessive shedding until a few months later, so that will cause you to back track and think about what major stressful event may be the cause..For example, if in February, I begin to experience excessive shedding, I would think back to the surgery (c-section) that I had in October as the potential cause of my excessive shedding. The great news is that normally, no one can tell that your hair is experiencing this excessive shedding but you and the Telogen Effluvium usually runs its course within 6-9 months. (note: see your doc if you begin to experience bald patches or more extreme hair loss, this could be something different).
A few other things that can affect Hair Growth are:
(A) STYLING TECHNIQUES: combs, brushes, use of heat, harsh chemical use (relaxers, color, texturizers)
(C) SCALP ISSUES: These are created by numerous things and because our scalp is sensitive, it is imperative that we do things to make sure that it functions properly. Try not to use nails or objects such as combs to scratch the scalp. These make tiny microscopic slits on the scalp and forces the scalp to go into a 'repair mode' which can make it malfunction. And because our scalp produces normal sebum (oil) it's usually not necessary to add additional oils to the scalp, which creates clogged pores in the scalp and over time will cause the scalp to malfunction.
(D) WASHING: Many harsh ingredients (sulfates in particular) strip the scalp of it's natural sebum causing some to assume the scalp is dry, which in turn makes us want to 'grease/oil' the scalp, again, potentially creating scalp malfunction which leads to other scalp issues. Our hair's pH range is between 4.5-5.5, so it's best to try to utilize products that fall into that range. Now, cleansers are usually formulated at higher pH, however, this is where a conditioner plays a major part because they are usually formulated at lower pH levels to help close the cuticle , soften and temporarily repair the hair. ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar) rinses are great for aiding in scalp issues and for protecting the hair and scalp from harmful contaminants and it helps protect the hair by closing the cuticle preventing further damage to the hair. So, yes, ingredients do matter. For more information on potentially harsh/harmful ingredients, check out this post for 10 things to avoid putting on your hair: click here
Hope this helps..Happy Natty Day!