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Reader question – does plaiting make hair grow faster?

16 Feb

I got this question from Beth on the facebook page.  I decided to answer it here so it can benefit more people.  I will do this regularly when I get a question I think more of you can benefit from.

Question:

In Uganda, there is a belief that our hair grows longer and stronger if plaited once in a while but I am so tired of plaiting and it’s still not long enough for me.  It’s now a year since I last plaited.  Do you think there is some invisible damage that I am doing to my hair by retouching and treating it all the time?

Answer:

Plaiting hair is considered a protective style.  This is because when your hair is plaited there is low manipulation ie you do not have to comb it daily.  In this respect hair generally tends to get longer because there is far less breakage than if you were combing and manipulating it daily.

That said, plaiting (including other protective styles like weaves etc) can be damaging to your hair.  If your plaits are too tight and pull the hair out then there will be damage (this is especially so for the hairline).  Also if you have your hair plaited and then just ignore it for weeks on end you will find th once you take the plaits out it just breaks and there is no increase in length.

Plaiting is beneficial when you take care when the plaits are put in (ie no excessive pulling or tight plaits) and ce the hair is plaited you make sure you wash it and keep it moisturised.  Depending on the type of plaits you have you can even deep condition the hair.

It is encouraged that we treat our hair regularly to up the moisture levels in our hair.  I would say treating the hair once a week is ideal.  I do it twice a week and there are those who do it once a fortnight or even less so it is really up to the individual and the hair.  It has to be done regularly though.

Relaxing on the other hand can be damaging if the relaxer is not applied correctly or if it is applied too frequently.  Relaxers are strong chemicals and relaxing in itself is actually a form of damage because the chemicals in the relaxer break the protein bonds in the hair to straighten it.  When it is done correctly (and the hair cared for), you should not have any problems.  You can do an internet search of women with long relaxed hair.  You will find that the one thing they will all have in common is that they take care of their hair.

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6 Responses to “Reader question – does plaiting make hair grow faster?”

  1. Laura 16 February, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    Thanks. This is very informative.

    • Tendayi 16 February, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

      you’re welcome 🙂

      • Nipho 12 September, 2012 at 9:37 am #

        hi girl, im from joburg, my hair is really in bad condtion, what relaxer should i be using? when should i relax(after how many weeks) is it safe to wash my hair once a week? should i dry it with a dryer or should i just let it dry on its own? ur haair is my inspiration and goal! my hair was breaking so bad that i decided to braid it… pls do advise me, do vitamins hair pills work?

      • Tendayi 13 September, 2012 at 4:58 pm #

        Hi Nipho

        The thing about relaxers is that there is no right or wrong! It just depends on which relaxer works well with your hair. Unfortuantely its often a trial and error exercise before you find what works. You can go by recommendations of others but remember that the relaxer may not work for you. Relaxers are also dependant on appplication – they have to be aplied correctly otherwise even the best relaxer in the world will give you problems.

        Relax your hair after 6 or more weeks. I go for 12 weeks in between relaxers. The longer you go, the more new growth you will have and the less chance of overlapping relaxers.

        Washing hair once a week is optimal. I actually wash my hair twice a week. Thats what works for me. If you can, just air dry your hair to save it from teh hea of dryers. Dryers can dry and damage hair.

        Hair vitamins do work for some, especially if your diet has some deficiencies – the vitamins will close those gaps. Many women take hair vitamins ans get good results.

        WHy is your hair breaking? You need to figure this out so you can address it. Is your hair getting enough moisture? Take a look at these posts for more:
        http://africanhairblog.com/2011/01/20/hair-breakage-whats-causing-it/
        http://africanhairblog.com/2011/11/23/bw-why-is-my-hair-breaking/
        http://africanhairblog.com/2011/01/10/relaxers-what-i-have-learnt/
        http://africanhairblog.com/2011/01/10/relaxers-what-i-have-learnt/

  2. Lexie 08 November, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

    Thank you for this. I wanted to know , Im in the middle of a transition from relaxing to going all natural but thing is I don’t want to cut it all off and start again.

    I havent relaxed my hair since February and so far its going alright although its not growing at the rate I want it to. I am currently using Dr Miracle products. What is the best way to go about this.?

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