5 Common Myths About Afro-Textured Hair
Dr. Phoenyx AustinHave you ever heard questionable facts about “Black hair” that made you think, “Hmm, I wonder if that’s true?” I sure have. Growing up I heard many so-called "facts" about Black hair. I heard other Black person say that it just wasn’t as easy for Black women to grow long hair like our White female counterparts. And when I asked why this was the case, I usually got an answer like, “Well, because Black people don’t have ‘good hair.’” In fact, it was comments like that that led me and many other Black women to relaxers. Supposedly relaxers were the key to having longer and more manageable hair. Kind of funny considering that my hair (I’m 7 years natural) is significantly longer (and healthier) than it was when I had a relaxer.I know many women that are absolutely desperate for guidance on how to grow healthy and longer hair. But they have such a hard time doing this because they follow hair care regimens based on Black hair care myths. So what are these myths? I’ll get to them in a sec, but first let me say this: Through personal experience and research, I have learned the importance of taking personal responsibility for my hair and approaching hair care from a place of knowledge. The hair I have now is the result of time, patience, commitment to learning and most importantly, self-love. Those are the key things that you will need to help you achieve your hair goals- whatever they may be. Now let's start separating fact from fiction when it comes to Black hair care (or afro-textured hair care).MYTH # 1: Trimming ends will make your hair growTrimming your hair will not make your hair grow. Trimming is simply a form of maintenance to remove damaged ends, and to give hair a fuller "appearance." Hair grows at approximately 1/2 inch a month. So if you want your hair to grow longer, you will need to do 2 key things: 1) Avoid excessively damaging your hair and 2) Trim your ends on an "as needed" basis.MYTH #2: Washing your hair more than once a week will dry it outThis is something I’ve heard quite often. But it’s totally false. Water is actually a moisturizer and does not dry hair out. Mind you, if you have an issue with hard water, then yes, washing hair frequently could lead to dryness and breakage. I talk about hard water and how to tackle this issue in my book. Now let’s get back to the normal case scenario where hard water is not an issue… Under normal cases, you should wash and even ‘wet’ your hair regularly (when I say ‘wet,’ I mean simply mist with water). Ultimately, washing hair regularly helps keep your hair moisturized and it also helps to remove product buildup. Product buildup can stunt hair growth (by clogging hair follicles) and it can also damage the hair itself (by blocking the absorption of moisture).MYTH #3: You need to brush your hair to stimulate hair growthBlack women do not need to brush our hair to make it grow. Furthermore, brushing can actually be very damaging because it causes friction and damages to your hair shaft and cuticle. So toss your brushes- you really don’t need them. I put away my brush over 6 years ago and haven’t had a problem growing long hair at all.MYTH #4: Black hair grows slower than other racesEvery heard comments like, "She has good hair. That's why she can grow her hair so long." First off all, healthy hair is “good hair.” A person’s race, hair type, or hair texture does not determine whether their hair is “good.” Secondly, all hair (regardless of race) grows at approximately ½ per month. The reason afro-textured hair appears to grow slower is usually a combination of two things: 1. Afro-textured hair appears has a tendency to shrink up into a curly/coily state (making it appear shorter than its actual length) and 2. Afro-textured hair is more prone to breakage than other hair types- especially when women don't take proper care of their hair.MYTH #5: Natural hair is hard to manage- that's why we need relaxersFirst off, no one "needs" a relaxer. Second, natural hair will be hard to manage if you attempt to treat it like relaxed hair. The truth is many Black women have never learned how to care for or style natural hair. Many of us were given relaxers around the same time we were learning our ABC's. So basically, there are many of us who know next to nothing about caring for our natural hair. Trust me, it's not a case of natural hair being harder to manage. It's a case of learning the skills necessary to take care of your natural hair, so you can achieve the hair goals you want.Have you heard these myths about Black hair? Are there any other myths you’ve heard about afro-textured hair care? Share one important lesson you've learned about caring for your natural hair.Want to learn more on how to grow healthy and longer hair? Check out Dr. Phoenyx Austin’s new book If You Love It, It Will Grow! A Guide to Growing Long Afro-Textured Hair. Also available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Dr. Phoenyx Austin is a physician, media personality and author who offers advice on topics related to beauty, love & sex, and lifestyle. You can find Dr. Phoenyx Austin on DrPhoenyx.com,Facebook, Twitter.