State of the Afro 2013

natural hair growth 2013
We are four months away for 2015. Let that sink in for a moment. I wanted to take a moment and review progress from the year that was. Since my growth rate is slightly above a quarter inch a month, sometimes it’s hard to detect progress just by looking at my hair. I also spend a lot of time with my hair, which means sensory perception interferes so changes in length go unnoticed for the most part.

Aside from a personal journal, I track my length via photos because I feel visual progress is far more motivational than just measuring my length and recording in a notebook. Different photos also provide the choice of a side by side comparison, which I feel is the best way to track progress. Progress doesn’t necessarily have to be length; I track thickness, color changes, tensile strength and any current experiments (like the cayenne pepper one).

Normally I expect growth anywhere from 3.5 to 4 inches a year so my length checks are annual since that’s when I see very dramatic development. Plus I would rather focus on healthy hair than obsess over length. That said, I do take photos of my hair nearly every week because I am always experimenting with herbal hair care as well as challenging myself to style my hair more often.  Photographs give a level of detail that my eyes can’t pick up – from closeups of the scalp, to highly zoomed texture shots as well as a great insight on tangles and product-hair interaction. Photos have enabled me to see exactly how my hair strands create tangles, which is very helpful when come detangling time. In other words I am eternally curious when it comes to my hair.

natural hair growth 2013

I have mentioned this before but I feel I must emphasize that I have light density hair. I have fewer strands per square inch of scalp, which means my hair is light density. My single strand diameter (a 2nd determinant of thickness) is smaller than most, which puts my hair in the fine category. The thick luscious mane is a natural hair stereotype . Similar to growth rate, the density of hair is genetically wired (all other facts constant). Hair thickness varies just as much as curls and growth rates.

I prefer comparison shots as opposed to measuring my hair with a tape measure (see this post for explanation). It’s relatively easy arithmetic to figure out my length – at 3.5 inches/yr (safe estimate. I think the true number is 4) for 3 years puts my current length at 10.5 inches.

natural hair growth 2013

PS: My hair was completely dry in the 2012 shots hence the massive shrinkage. With shrinkage a lot of the curl volume is concentrated near the scalp so my hair appears much thicker. I have since discovered water weighs my hair down making it easier to see the length and density. Henceforth I will be taking comparison shots while my hair is dripping wet. Excuse the face…length photography is still a work in progress 🙂

My hair had never been trimmed since I went natural so in July this year (2014, in case you are reading this in the future) I took off two inches. I really thought I was going to cry but was surprisingly unattached to the length, probably because the ends have been impossible to maintain for a while. My hair appears a lot fuller and I have healthy ends. The big trim was definitely a good choice. I am firm advocate of health over length.

natural 4C hair

The henna/hibiscus/beetroot highlights have settled down a bit but they are still very vibrant especially in daylight. My hair looks like it has a reddish tint highlight mid to end shaft. The color has held up pretty well considering the end of October will mark a year since I highlighted (see post here). My roots are the natural color; really dark brown, which is a beautiful contrast against the highlights in my opinion.

Got a question? Please leave it below and I’ll do a video Q&A. Happy hair growing wherever you are on your journey.