Can Anyone Grow Long Hair?

in , by FroBunni, Tuesday, August 20, 2019
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Whenever I make a post about growing long hair, there’s always the inevitable comment about genetics. I don’t respond to these comments anymore because they always take up more energy than I care to devote, and if someone is committed to believing that genetics is standing in the way of long hair, then so be it. The problem with their comment, and truthfully, much of my own statements and blog posts, is that the answer is complicated. Very complicated.

Can Anyone Grow Long Hair?

The short answer is yes, but it depends on your definition of long. Can anyone grow hair that is bra-strap length, or around 12-14 inches. Yes. Can anyone grow hair that is down to their knees? No. On average, hair grows around ½ inch a month, 6 inches a year. This is an average and based on a study that had poor methodology (few participants, no controls), so take it with a grain of salt, but for most people, they can expect to grow between 4-8 inches of hair a year, and retain, at least, half of that with good care.

So, what does this mean? Well, it means the average person can expect to reach 12-14 inches of hair within 1.5 to 3 years. “I disagree, it’s about genetics.” *Sigh* Yes, and here is where the simplified genetics comment is interjected. Yes, genetics does play a role in how long your hair will be (as well as speed of growth, density, thickness, porosity, and texture), but genetics also plays a role in how you should take care of your hair. And just like genetics can create thousands of possibilities, so too are there thousands of ways to take care of one’s hair. So, whenever someone pops up with this statement and follows with “I’ve done everything and my hair hasn’t grown that long,” the reality is they haven’t done everything because everything is infinite.

If There’s Infinite Ways to Care for Hair, How Do I Find the Right One?

And here is where the quagmire lies. With infinite possible regimens, and only so much time on Earth, and even less patience, if someone doesn’t see growth, they’ll usually just give up and say, “it’s genetics.”

Hair growth, or should I say length retention since that’s really what we’re talking about, requires hair to be moisturized and strong (moisture-protein balance), and requires keeping breakage and damage at a minimum. And this means different things to different people. For one person, it could be braids for a month. For another person, it could be low buns and the greenhouse method. For a different person, it’s wash n’ go every third day. And those are just three examples. Now, let’s add in other factors like products/ ingredients (some people respond well to shea butter, others don’t), time (some people have a lot of time to devote to their hair, others very little), and money (some people have a lot of money for trial and error, others have the money for hair stylists to figure it out, and some don’t for either).

As you can see, you really can’t say if genetics, particularly your hair’s inability to grow to a certain length, is preventing your hair from reaching 12-14 inches in length.

But What if I Use Rice Water (Chebe Powder, Castor Oil, or any other grow long hair quick product or ingredient)?

Let’s go back to the beginning of this post where I clarified “it depends on your definition of long.” When I say anyone can grow long hair, I mean anyone can grow 12-14 inches of hair with the right care for them. Not anyone can grow 40 inches of hair by using [insert ingredient de jour]. Once you start getting to around the waist, your moving more from the genetics of how your hair responds to care to the genetics of hair length. View super long hair length (hip length and beyond) like being a professional athlete. Yes, anyone can develop and hone their skills, but there are a select few who can excel naturally.

My issue with how rice water, Chebe powder, and the like is that they are portrayed as panaceas to hair care. I see this all the time on social media when someone asks a hair question. Hair breaking? Rice water. Dry hair? Coconut oil. Short hair? Chebe powder. The answers to these questions are actually more complicated than a single solution, and providing a solution when you don’t even know someone’s regimen isn’t actually helpful anyways.
But Wait, There Are Pictures of Women with Long Hair Using Chebe Powder. Isn’t That Proof Enough?

The short answer is no, and the long answer is no. Take for example the Chebe powder video. It’s a single video of one woman having Chebe powder applied to her hair. The narrator says that the women say the Chebe powder grows hair, but that’s not strong enough evidence to know for a fact that it grows hair (and no, those same 3 photos that go around aren’t either). Now, please understand, I am not saying she is lying or trying to mislead people. What I am saying is that this narrative isn’t strong enough to determine if Chebe powder is the reason for long hair or something else (I personally think it’s a mixture of genetics and the way they wear their hair). A single video and a few photos does not prove that Chebe powder is the all-powerful hair grower, especially when there are YouTubers who use it and don’t have the same results.

To know if Chebe powder really was responsible for growing super long hair, there would need to be a scientific study. There would need to be, at least, 30 participants (and even that is a bit too small of a sample size), a control group, an outlined way to care for hair (and remember what I said above about the infinite ways to care for hair), and it would have to be repeated successfully many times to ensure Chebe powder is responsible for hair growth. As you can see, it would get complicated fast. (If you want to know what makes a good study, beyond hair growth, Chebe powder, etc., this is a really good article to read.)

And before I step off this soapbox, please understand I am not saying that Chebe powder offers no benefit, or that you shouldn’t include it in a well-rounded regimen, what I am saying is that chebe powder (rice water, next “miracle” product) ALONE will not grow your hair to super long lengths. That is genetics. (And to be honest, it probably won’t even grow your hair 12-14 inches if that’s all you’re using.)

So, What Does This All Mean?

I’m going to be honest and say I’ve had the privilege to care for my hair and grow it to this length, and being in the natural hair game for over 10 years, I’ve noticed that a lot of bloggers, vloggers, and influencers with similar or longer hair lengths have too. It’s not easy, nor quick, and little things can really give you an advantage (time, money, location, school or work culture, looser textures). Genetics definitely plays a role in growing hair, but genetics to how your hair responds to care is more important. So, before you tell someone just going natural or struggling to grow an inch of hair with no regimen, please consider holding off on telling them it’s just genetics…unless, of course, they’re trying to grow their hair to the floor with Chebe powder.

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