After many years of doing hair I have learned from experience much more than I could possibly have garnered from beauty school. Hands on experience is invaluable in my business. At this point in my life, I believe that others may benefit greatly from my experiences with African American hair. This book will deal with all ages and textures of hair…what to do and what not to do.

For those who desire length uninterrupted I have simple advice that if followed will enhance their hair growth. In the year 2000, my hair was ¼ of an inch long on the crown and tapered almost to shaved around the sides and back. By 2002, it was 14 inches long, but it didn’t get there without some diligent care.

We all know that when our hair looks good we instantly feel better, more positive and that is projected on to anyone who sees you. This book is intended to be informative and at times amusing. Sometimes the best way is so simple that we tend to overlook it.

All of my advice is simple when one thinks about it. The things in this book have been tried and proven, it’s not speculation. I have seen what has been deemed by many in my town as miraculous transformations in hair. People simply walk up to me and say, “I cannot believe that Ms. X, Y, or Z’s hair has blossomed so beautifully.”

I have been blessed with a gift and would like for all people of color to feel comfortable and satisfied with their hair. My ladies have hair that ranges in length from extremely short, by choice, to hair that reaches to their rear end. The idea that some African-Americans have about hair growth is perhaps one of the greatest fallacies that we have injected into our minds and afflicted ourselves with for centuries.

Everyone’s hair grows! The proof of that is the necessity of touching up the “new growth.” The new growth comes in at the roots. It is very visible if your hair is tinted and with some, when a relaxer retouch is needed. Unless you have some physiological defect that prohibits growth, hair grows about ½ per month, every month. The problem with some black hair is that it breaks as fast as it grows for various reasons.

If you have grown out an inch of new growth and in turn you have broken off an inch and a half, then you’ve just lost ½ inch, it didn’t show up as growth. The secret is to watch your ends. When you have them clipped and the time comes that you need a retouch, those ends should still look neatly clipped, if they do, your growth has been added, if they do not you may have burned or shredded the ends, losing the appearance of growth.

By following the guidelines that I will lay down, your hair will be beautiful and healthy. This book will not be laden with a lot of technical jargon but more with simple, common sense applications that IF, and the operative word here is IF, they are followed will yield to healthier and longer hair.

The first advice that I will offer is that you find a caring professional and put your hair in their hands, because nothing beats professional care. A caring hair technician will in time get to know you and your hair, because knowing you helps to know your hair. However, because going to the beauty shop is a luxury that some cannot afford and others think that they cannot, in reality they can because some will waste more money in a week or two than it would cost to get their hair done, put the 5 bags of candy and chips back.

I will offer some ways to minimize breakage for the “home” girls. But know this, some people like chuck steak and some like filet mignon and some shop at flea markets and others like to shop at Saks Fifth Ave. and as with what they eat and wear, some will spare no expense for beautiful hair.

Beautiful hair is hair that is well kempt, vibrant and healthy, not so-called “good” which refers to the so called grade of the hair, lack of the tight curl indicative of African hair. Good hair is any hair that is healthy. Hair that is abused, like a woman who is abused, looks bad, bottom line. I have been in the business for 24 years and have seen the worse of the worst, but never the impossible. Women have started with me and their hair was an inch long, some even less, several broken lengths with severe damage.

They felt that it was impossible for them to have a healthy head of hair, but in the end it was flowing down their backs and those who did not desire long flowing hair ultimately ended up with beautiful healthy hair, knowing that the length is not what was of importance but the condition of what was there. It takes time, patience, and some money to achieve maximum beauty in hair.

For those who think that African-American women are wrong to want flowing hair, I say by virtue of the fact that it can flow means that God placed hair on the heads of African-American women with the possibility of what they deemed beautiful as individuals, not a collective race and that races varying opinions on what true black beauty is.

The changes that we do to our hair are more of a “woman thing” than a color thing; we are always adorning and trying to improve our looks, from head to toe. When other nationalities of women curl, color or permanently wave their hair they are never accused of “selling out,” yet many women of the great myriad of races often change their hair as well as other facial and body features.

It is the woman in us and the never-ending quest to be as beautiful as we can that make us seek these changes. Because we have been programmed to think at the outset that our blackness was gross and unattractive, many of us think that we cannot be beautiful or have beautiful hair.

When we try any change that we make to enhance our beauty is labeled traitorous. I do find it peculiar that the to hear so-called deeper than deep, blacker than black, pure 100% African-Americans say, “My ladies hair never would grow as long as they were putting all those chemicals in them, being ashamed of who they are.” Yet, when they went with dreds, according to them, “their hair is way down their backs.”

They do not even realize what they are saying, that they are still searching for what most African-American women want, long hair, and for them, it was the only way to get it. It’s almost funny, especially when they throw their heads about in the same fashion as the women with straight hair. Lord, we are so confused.

This controversy, however, does not retard our endless search for perfecting our beauty, which is each individual’s right, holding no allegiance to anyone but self. You have heard the old axiom that patience is a virtue and when it comes to having a full head of healthy hair, patience is the virtue that is most needed, not a lot of money.

Patience, discipline, and consistency, not miracle hair growth products or advice from everyone and their cousin and pookie girlfriend and nem is what’s needed. Consistent lifetime care is the only miracle needed to keep your hair at its optimum of beauty. Our hair is not an area of our beauty that we can ever become slack on because years of work can be undone in a matter of weeks or months.

If we become slack, the process of regaining the hair will take much longer. Keeping hair beautiful is simply, for most African-Americans, a lifetime job. For this, patience truly is a virtue, again I say, be patient. Victoria Crystal is the mother of two sons and works as a hair stylist. “My Hair Won’t Grow” by Victoria Crystal.

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