What Science Says about Hair Growth and How Real Life Differs

Woman with gray natural hair

Here’s a fun fact for you: a single bolt of lightning has enough energy to toast 100,000 slices of bread. Yet we continue to use fossil fuels as our main source of energy in the industrial and technological sector. Why, I hear you ask?

Without going into specifics, mainly it’s because fossil fuels are more dependable, we know where to find them and how to harness their energy to continue our industrial endeavours. The same cannot be said for lightning.

Here’s another one, more germs are transferred through shaking hands than kissing. True story. Yet you can bet your sweet behind that I will not be kissing my weird cousin Fred at our next family gathering. He will have to make do with my handshake.

Point is that science has a lot of answers to give us about aspects of our physical world and that includes our hair too. It can tell us how hair grows, it’s makeup in the molecular sense and even how it reacts in different environments. But not all scientific findings are easily transferable to real world situations. Here are few examples of situations in hair care where science clouds the issue when growth and length retention is the focus of your regimen.

Rates of hair growth

I’ve covered this topic in a previous post but to give you the cliff notes, we all hear over and over again that 6 inches of hair growth is what the average person should expect in any given year of hair growth. But the truth is actually more complicated than that.


Think about this, we accept that in hot summer months some of us will invariably get darker but to what degree? Some people get darker tans than others even exposed to the same amount of sunshine and others don’t tan very easily at all, they may just turn red.

In real life, rates of hair growth vary widely depending on genetics among groups of people, nutrition density of the diet or even environment. So the average rate of growth is mostly a suggestion, not a fact.

How long to deep condition your hair

Ever wonder why many bottles of conditioner say that you can rinse it out after two minutes? Well some cosmetic scientists and cosmetologists will tell you that conditioners don’t do much good to your hair after the first 2 minutes.

Others still say that a 1/2 hour is the maximum time that they should be left in your hair because absorption rates diminish after the first 30 minutes. Well that may be true in a lab environment with a handful of subjects but does the same hold true across the board for every single hair type, texture and porosity level there is out there? Errrm no.

We see this all the time, the women getting the best length retention are those deep conditioning for a hour or so every week. Its not rocket science, if your hair is low porosity you need to deep condition longer but if your hair has medium to high porosity, you can get away with shorter deep conditioning times.

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About Alma Ruddock


I’m Alma Ruddock, the founder and editor-in-chief of Blackhairinformation.com. I stumbled on a hair care forum back in 2008 frustrated with my breaking relaxed hair and the information that I found there changed the fate of my hair, and quite possibly my life, forever! I immediately started to transition to natural hair and started BlackHairInformation.com as a way to help both myself and other women of color achieve their dreams of long healthy hair. I have now achieved my goal length and I continue to help others achieve their dreams too. My three passions are hair, art and entrepreneurship and I love to be able to bring my unique view on hair growth and successful hair journeys to our readers. I am an eternal optimist and workaholic. In addition to BHI I have founded quite a few other websites and businesses including Elongtress Hair Vitamins and Urban Gyal which all fall under the umbrella of my company Coils Media Ltd.

About Alma Ruddock


I’m Alma Ruddock, the founder and editor-in-chief of Blackhairinformation.com. I stumbled on a hair care forum back in 2008 frustrated with my breaking relaxed hair and the information that I found there changed the fate of my hair, and quite possibly my life, forever! I immediately started to transition to natural hair and started BlackHairInformation.com as a way to help both myself and other women of color achieve their dreams of long healthy hair. I have now achieved my goal length and I continue to help others achieve their dreams too. My three passions are hair, art and entrepreneurship and I love to be able to bring my unique view on hair growth and successful hair journeys to our readers. I am an eternal optimist and workaholic. In addition to BHI I have founded quite a few other websites and businesses including Elongtress Hair Vitamins and Urban Gyal which all fall under the umbrella of my company Coils Media Ltd.

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Chereta Colonel-Gilbert

I have a very bad case of what to do with my hair I am very depressed and feel lost I can send pictures of whats left of my hair many pictures I see of hair journey the individual hair is already full and good length nothing compared to what I am going through

talesia98

I’m so sorry Chereta, without knowing what is specifically wrong it will be hard for me and others to give you advice. I can only say hang in there it will probably get better. I didn’t big chop until I had transitioned for 2 years so I don’t know a lot about short natural hair but there are many, many you tube videos out there, have you tried searching on you tube under short natural hairstyles? It does get better, I think back to 2012 when I first started my journey and how hard it was… I felt lost on many days but you tube became my saving grace. Good luck to you.

Dawn
Dawn

Just google specifically what you want to know/improve on and you will find there is always help at hand. If you see it as a journey that will bring ups and downs, but still an exciting one, you will get there. It is a learning process. Have faith.x

Christina J Pollard

#dropsthemic I felt this one Alma! Lots of things were put into perspective, especially deep conditioning. Loved the article

Kernisha
Kernisha

Unfortunately I will be sticking to my coconut oil. I react negatively to mineral oil. Eggs with mayo an whatever oil I have at the time work wonders. I don’t trim often. I just did a big chop (got fed up of transitioning). Weekly washing for me (I may be able to stretch to two weeks)

Great article.

BiscuitBunny
BiscuitBunny

I can say that the average hair growth rate was a myth for me. It took me 3 years of being natural, all over root-to-tip heat damage, and silica supplements, to find out my hair can go for 3 months without growth.

Needless to say, I now take one silica pill a day since I began transitioning (June 2014). For the first 5 months, it helped me get to an average 0.5 inch per month. I took a 2 month rest from silica and noticed my hair didn’t grow at all. From December to the end of January 2015 I grew one inch per month.