For many years, people have had the notion that braiding black hair regularly can lead to better hair growth. While it is true that a woman’s hair is her crowning glory, it is important to debunk the myth surrounding the braiding of black hair for hair growth.
The Science Behind Hair Growth
Before we can delve into the relationship between braiding and hair growth, let us briefly touch on the science behind the growth of hair. The growth process of hair is a natural occurrence that takes place in cycles. There are three phases that make up the hair growth cycle which are the anagen, catagen, and telogen phases.
- Anagen Phase– This is the active phase of hair growth where the hair grows longer. This phase can last for as long as six years or as little as two years depending on an individual’s genetics.
- Catagen Phase– This phase is the transition phase where hair growth slows down and the hair follicle detaches from the blood supply. This phase lasts for about two weeks.
- Telogen Phase– This phase is when hair growth stops and the hair follicle rests for three months. New hair will grow, and the old one will fall out naturally.
The hair growth cycle is unique to each individual and can also vary depending on different factors such as age, hormones, genetics, and nutrition.
Braiding is an ancient and traditional way of styling hair. The method involves the intertwining of three or more strands of hair. Braiding is known to be protective, as it reduces tangling and breakage of the hair. When braiding, the hair is usually tightly or loosely twisted for a period ranging from a few hours to a few months.
Debunking the Myth
The myth surrounding the notion that braiding black hair leads to hair growth is unfounded. Experts argue that braiding black hair does not increase hair growth, but rather it is more of a protective style that can help to retain the length of the hair by keeping it from breaking. Braiding black hair, especially tightly, can cause tension around the hairline, which can lead to alopecia or hair loss. However, the style may help keep black hair safe and healthy as it reduces tangling and breakage.
How Braiding Can Help Hair
While braiding does not stimulate hair growth, when done properly, it has several benefits, including:
- Protective – Braids is a protective style that keeps hair away from harsh elements like sun and wind, which reduces hair breakage.
- Elegant and Versatile – Braiding offers an endless number of hairstyling options such as cornrows, Bantu knots, and box braids, allowing black women to express their individuality.
- Ease of Maintenance – It is normally low maintenance as it can last from days to months, freeing one from the usually time-consuming task of daily hair styling and protection.
Factors Affecting Hair Growth
While braiding black hair is a great protective style for black hair, its effectiveness on promoting hair growth varies among individuals. Factors that affect hair growth include genetics, hormones, scalp health, and diet.
- Genetics – Hair growth cycle and texture are hereditary. The thickness of the hair shaft, density of the follicles, and the rate at which hair grows are influenced by genes.
- Hormones – Hormones can cause hair loss by impacting the hair growth cycle. For instance, a postpartum woman who experiences rapid fluctuations in hormones may suffer hair loss or breakage.
- Scalp Health – A healthy scalp is key to healthy hair growth as it offers a conducive environment for hair growth. Scalp conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis and scalp psoriasis may impact hair growth.
- Nutrition – A well-balanced diet that is rich in protein, iron, and vitamins such as vitamins C, D, and E is essential for promoting healthy hair growth.
The Bottom Line
While it is not a good idea to believe that braiding black hair increases hair growth, adopting braids as a protective style can help retain the length of the hair by reducing tangling and breakage. It’s important to note that certain individuals may suffer scalp damage from braiding, especially when done tightly, so extra care should be taken.
Will braiding my hair cause hair breakage?
When done properly, braiding can minimize hair breakage by keeping the hair away from harsh elements like sun and wind. However, overly tight braids can result in tension around the hairline, leading to hair breakage or hair loss.
Can braids help hair growth?
While braiding can help protect hair and reduce tangling, it does not stimulate hair growth directly. Hair growth is impacted by factors such as genetics, diet, hormones, and overall health.
How can I make braids last longer?
You can make braids last longer by taking good care of them. Sleeping on a silk pillowcase or wrapping the hair with a silk or satin scarf at night reduces friction and protects the hair from breakage. Also, avoid putting too much tension on the hair while styling or removing the braids as it can lead to breakage or hair loss.
- “Hair Anatomy and Physiology.” ScienceDirect, Elsevier Ltd, www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/hair-anatomy-and-physiology.
- “How Does Hair Grow?” Healthline, 25 July 2018, www.healthline.com/health/how-does-hair-grow.
- “How to Make Your Braids Last Longer.” All Things Hair, 20 Sept. 2021, www.allthingshair.com/en-us/hairstyles-haircuts/braids/how-to-make-braids-last-longer/.
- “The Science of Black Hair by Audrey Davis-Sivasothy – Audrey Davis-Sivasothy, Paperback.” Barnes & Noble, www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-science-of-black-hair-audrey-davis-sivasothy/1029103153.