‘Her hair is long because of her genes.’ It is a very common comment that you will see especially within the natural community. It is a provocative statement that kindles passionate arguments for and against it. Some will be adamant that the statement is ignorant and others will emphatically argue for it, pointing out how the person concerned may have a looser texture or other factor that may be responsible for length. The truth is…….long hair actually is genetic, here is why:
1. Long Hair IS Genetic
The length your hair will grow to is determined by how long it will stay in the anagen or growth phase. In order to get to APL/BSL, on average you will need your hair to keep growing for 2-3 years. In order to get to waist or hip length, you will need your hair to keep growing for 4-5 years on average. Simply put, your genes will determine whether or not your hair will keep growing and there is pretty much nothing that you can do to change that.
2. Does This Mean Some People Are Bound To Have Short Hair?
Actually, no. Although many people quote the hair growth phase as lasting 2-6 years, the truth is that mathematical calculations estimate that an average normal growth phase may be as long as 12-14 years (J Cosmet Sci, pp 367-378, 2003). This would correspond to around ankle length for many. It would therefore be actually more accurate to say long hair is genetic and most people are genetically disposed to grow very long hair.
3. What if Nobody In My Family Has Long Hair?
We need to separate the hair’s ability to gain length from the person having the hair being able to maintain it for long enough to showcase its length. Often poor hair practices limit the ability for hair to showcase its full potential length. If you inherit those practices, then you inherit those limits too.
4. Why is it that people with long hair tend to have one of the following – looser curls, less kinky hair, hair that can be heat treated repeatedly and easily or locs?
In all the cases listed, hair has a low predisposition to tangling, knotting and breakage when manipulated. Hair that can be heat treated repeatedly without obvious damage is less susceptible in general to physical damage. Locs are the ultimate protective style and hair incurs very little breakage. It therefore stands to reason that those with hair in the categories above should be able to showcase its full potential length with very little damage and breakage along the journey.
If your hair requires gentle treatment even with minimal manipulation, it stands to reason that your hair may break a little more often or require more trims in order to be in the best condition. It does not mean that your hair cannot gain length or grows at a slower rate; it just means that you have to be have to be more diligent and possibly factor in a little more time in order to achieve the same results as hair that does not break as easily.
Ladies, does this provide some clarity for you? Have you ever believed that black women couldn’t grow long hair?