In this series, Stephanie from our research and development team blazes through the afro hair myths that prevent us from living our best natural afro hair lives!
One myth I believed growing up was that "If you trim your curls, they will grow longer and faster”. If you were told this hair myth growing up and still hold onto it, get ready to get disappointed!
Sure, trimming your hair a few inches will definitely make your hair look and feel healthier, bouncier and lighter, but unfortunately, it won’t aid in actual afro hair growth. All that happens when you trim your hair is the split ends, damaged and old hair are removed. The damaged ends are thrown out of the window (or in the hoover or bin) making the curls soft to the touch.
In particular with curly and afro hair, some weight is lifted off the scalp, the strands aren’t as stretched as they aren't as heavy and ultimately the coils bounce up.
Why it is definitely a myth
The truth is, hair growth literally comes from within. Our hair is covered by the hair bulb which has a papilla at its base. Each papilla has a strong blood capillary network. During the growth cycle of the hair, especially during anagen, these structures are activated. Similarly to the way bloodstream transfers nutrients and waste from our body, so it performs in the hair papilla. The blood provides the hair papilla with essential elements, like oxygen, and keeps metabolic waste away to keep the bulb a safe zone for hair nurture and production.
Nutrients such as vitamins are food for every hair texture including afro and curly. With them, the cells making up the hair are formed and multiply in numbers. During the catagen phase of growth, they fill with keratin and other proteins to build strong bridges and mature to become the dead hair shaft. The hair gets strong by forming these internal bonds. While the old hair moves upwards, the hair follicle detaches from the papilla to stop the nutrient supply. The hair will follow with the telogen phase and by the time the hair is shed, the same hair follicle will travel to meet the papilla to restart the hair cycle. New hair is formed and pushes the old hair.
The hard facts
Because trimming only removes dead hair, it won't "make your hair grow". The real magic that makes your hair grow happens inside your body, which scissors can't do much about. Removing damaged ends of your hair can reduce the chance of further damage so that you can retain length, but it won't make new hair grow longer or faster.
The only factor that will determine the length of your hair and the time it will take to grow is the duration of the anagen phase which is written in your genes. Long periods of active hair growth mean longer hair. During the anagen hair phase, it “grows by 1 cm per month for a period of 2-6 years” with 80-90% of the hair on our scalp in this phase at the same time.
Trying to grow your hair longer? These articles can help:
The Ultimate Guide to Afro Hair Care