The Dreadlocks Question
In discussions about length potential, you often hear folks bring up the fact that dreadlocks grow so long that they must be a testament to the great lengths that we can achieve. I believe in the potential of every black woman to grow their hair to amazing lengths, but dreadlocks are not a good example in this case. While it is true that dreadlocks can and do reach great lengths, there is also a catch. Dreadlocks are unique in that they do not represent true “root to ends” length. They are the accumulation of shed, broken, and growing hairs matted together. Imagine if all of the shed or broken hair you ever had in the span of a year or in a lifetime were woven together! You too would have hair well down your back. This is the science behind loc’ing. Those hairs that are dropped are “locked” into your locs.
Interestingly, there is a process by which locs can successfully be undone or unloc’d, preserving quite a bit of the natural length. But much of the hair is still lost to the process at the end of the day, and waist length or floor length locs simply do not translate into waist length of floor length loose hair.
Optimistic, yet Realistic
Some of us do have it easier than others it seems, and genetics may be at play– but I have yet to see a strong, focused regimen fail to deliver on its promises over time. If years of healthy hair care have not produced hair growth beyond a certain point or healthier hair in general, before you chalk it up to genetics, a regimen re-evaluation may also be in order. What works with your shoulder-length hair, may not work for your brastrap or longer length hair etc. Also, look at your overall health— are you getting the nutrients you need? Are you drinking enough water and exercising? Are your nails healthy? (Our nails can give us a clue about the actual scalp nutrition our hair is receiving from our blood supply that feeds the roots. )At the end of the day, you must evaluate your long term hair care methods to see if they are conducive to growing and maintaining YOUR own hair.
Unfortunately, the chances of you growing your hair out to floor-length are slim to none- and Slim just walked out the door. Hair this length has been growing for more than 6 years in its growth cycle; and though it can be done (I’ve seen it!), it is difficult for most people to grow their hair to this length. Since the hair is older, it will take lots of time and amazing dedication to perfect a regimen that will sustain hair at this length. While lengths like tailbone, knee, or thigh length may be ambitious for many of us (and definitely require a bit more optimism), brastrap length and waist length hair are not that long for us and are certainly within our reach! These lengths are not some unobtainable dream! Do not be discouraged ladies, we can do it. As more of us learn the proper hair care methods for our hair, we will begin to see more and more of our sistas sporting lengthy tresses- natural and relaxed.
Audrey Sivasothy is a Houston-based freelance writer, health scientist and author of The Science of Black Hair: A Comprehensive Guide to Textured Hair Care (available on Amazon.com & Barnes&Noble.com).