Texture Talk: Expert Tips for Growing Longer, Healthier Curls

Photography by Getty Images. Design by Kayleen Dicuangco.

Welcome to Texture Talk, a column that celebrates and deep dives into the dynamic world of curly hair, from crowns of curls that are free flowing to strands that are tucked away in a protective style.

We’re always wondering how to get long, healthy hair (at the quickest rate possible!) — and the methods and products to get us there. While there’s no shortcut to growing hair faster (hair grows about half an inch a month), you can increase the amount of hair follicles that are growing and prevent breakage so that when it does grow, you retain the length. For those of us with 4C hair, growth is often hard to track because of factors like shrinkage and fragile strands. The good news is that it 4C curls grow at the same rate as any other texture.

We tapped celebrity hairstylist Glenna Sandy (who has styled Issa Rae’s famous curls) and Salon Académie owner Nancy Falaise, and Amika global artistic director Naeemah Lafond for tips on how to achieve the inches we’ve been vying for, plus product recommendations to help us along the way.

Don’t skip wash day

Since textured hair is thick, oils don’t travel down the hair shaft as easily, which is why you may not get that telltale greasy look when it’s in need of a wash. While you might be convinced that you can go weeks or even months without washing your hair, Falaise stresses that anything beyond the two-week mark will cause product build-up, sweat, dirt and oils to accumulate and prevent actual hair growth. Sandy suggests establishing a wash day routine with a shampoo, conditioner, deep conditioner, leave-in conditioner and a styler.

Embrace the scissors

It might seem counterintuitive, but in order to retain length, getting your hair trimmed is key. Since dead and split ends stunt the growth of your hair, getting rid of what’s no longer healthy will actually give strength to the root of the hair to encourage growth, says Falaise. If you regularly wear your hair curly, regular trims will also give the appearance of bouncier, more defined curls.

Heat is not your friend

Heat can definitely make life with curly and coily hair a lot easier. It can help elevate certain styles, assist in identifying growth and cut your drying time in half. However, be wary of potential heat damage. Lafond suggests using a heat protectant like the Amika Blockade Heat Protectant Serum to ensure there’s a barrier between your hair and your heat tool of choice to prevent heat damage and maintain your true curl pattern.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Make daily hydration a top priority, says Sandy. Incorporate products that have humectants (like glycerin) to attract and retain moisture. Honey and aloe vera are excellent natural humectants — add them to your deep conditioning masks for an extra boost of hydration. And, use a nourishing oil to lock in any moisture that you add to the hair, says Lafond. Since curly and kinky hair need plenty of moisture to thrive, we often compensate with hydrating hair products. Staying quenched is a great way to ensure you’re providing moisture to the hair from the inside out.

Handle with care

Hair is delicate but curly hair is especially fragile. Since each strand is unique and has a slightly lifted cuticle, it allows for the internal structure of the hair to become exposed making the hair more prone to damage. Ditch the towel (the smallest tugs from the fibres can cause knots and snags) and wrap your hair in a cotton t-shirt or a microfibre towel like this one from Pattern Beauty. When detangling hair and styling, use a leave-in conditioner that contains a lot of slip or a specialized detangling product. Since over-manipulating your hair can also lead to breakage, embrace the wide range of protective styles that are available for textured hair.

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