(image source: http://www.quemark.com/)
use image to help understand how hair grows
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, hair growth starts at the papilla (also know as the root of your hair follicle), that root is made up of protein cells. Those protein cells then feed off of the blood from the blood vessels underneath your scalp (sounds a little gross, but hey, it's just doing it's job) and this process gives nourishment to the root to grow. As the root grows it passes the sebaceous gland ( also known as the oil gland) that is located in your scalp, as the root has now grown into a hair shaft and pushed its way to the outer skin (also know as your scalp in general terms) and then once they reach the scalp you are able to see the hair shaft (the visible end of the protein cell, aka. hair).
So, what does all that mean...
A: You have to take care of your body by eating right, to make sure that what is in your blood is feeding your hair with nutrients.
B: Inside your scalp there is an oil gland in it that helps it to grow out of your scalp.
C: Your hair is growing and everyone has oil naturally in their scalp to help in the process of growing hair, it is just that some have more oil that secretes after the hair reaches the outer scalp (ie. straight hair) and some have just enough to help grow the hair in the initial process (ie. coily hair).
Now, that we have a basic understanding of how hair grows regardless of your hair type, let's talk about naturally curly, coily and kinky hair and it's growth. When it comes to curly, coily and kinky hair types, there is a mask that can hide the true length of your hair and what I mean by that is that it's texture will deceive you and make you think that it is not growing when it is (as long as you are properly taking care of your hair). Curly, coily and kinky hair textures shrinks...it literally...shrinks when you wash it and it drys; that shrinkage is a sign of healthy hair.
Why isn't your hair growing?
It isn't your hair that isn't growing it is just that you need to understand more about your hair, become what I call "A Smart Natural". Here are THREE things your probably thinking:
1. I have been natural for years...why isn't my hair as long as hers: Lack of Patience
Your hair is growing, as I explained earlier, but all textures don't grow at the same rate and as you try to examine it everyday you don't see growth. Like the old saying goes "a watched pot never boils", just relax and continue to take care of your hair when you aren't micromanaging it's growth you will see in the months to come that it has grown a lot. If you want you can keep a journal of your progress on a month to month basis measuring your hair from root to tip.
2. Why is my Afro or twist out so short: Shrinkage
As I explained earlier shrinkage is unique to curly, coily and kinky hair and that is awesome and it is a sign of healthy hair. The coil or coil-like pattern should act as a coil for example, when pressure is applied to a coil in your mattress it shrinks and then springs back once pressure is taken off, that is elasticity. When your hair has elasticity (you can pull it and it bounces back) and hair that is damaged (split ends / hair that has broken off) and brittle does not have elasticity in it.
see hair type ranges: 3a to 4c
3. My hair sheds a lot: Breakage
Your hair is breaking at the same rate or faster than it is growing. The reason for your hair breakage could be a biological condition, toxic products, hair braiding or twisting or pulling that is too tight, not taking care of your hair or a combination of these issues. The easiest and simplest way to fix hair breakage is by gaining a better understanding of your hair, the products you use and your overall health.
Find out more about toxic ingredients in manufactured hair / beauty products in this blog article: Keep Calm AND Protect Your Natural Hair From Harm