As a girl with natural hair, I have often wondered just how big afros can get. African American hair usually falls under four main hair types with three subcategories for each. Every one of these types require different maintenance plans, due to varying degrees of thickness, brittleness, coarseness and shrinkage. Shrinkage, the phenomenon where kinky hair appears shorter when it is not straightened, is the most important variable when it comes to how long I can grow my hair. As someone with 4c hair, I have the most shrinkage and African American can get. My hair barely reaches the nape of my neck when dry, but stops midway down my back. This means I could potentially spend years growing out my afro with little to visible change in poof size, while my straighten hair grows to reach my knees! In order to combat the confusion that could arise from this, I need to see how big afros can get and see the routine that allowed them to grow to that size. That way, I can always know that I’m doing the right thing to increase the actual size of my afro, instead of just increasing its length.


Keeping my hair healthy is key. Brittleness is common in unkept African American hair, so I need to make sure mine is moisturized. Investing in a good conditioner “every 1-2 weeks” when I wash it is a good idea, as well as a leave in conditioner after I’m done. I already do this, so I’m on the right tracks. Oil is also needed when dealing with extremely curly hair. The texture and pattern of curly hair means it can take a little longer for oil to reach its roots, so adding a little extra can aid in the process. “Jojoba, olive oil and shea” seem to be the most popular, so I’ll remember their names when I’m shopping. Oil cannot help split ends or severely damaged hair though, so I’ll need to remember to trim it often. That way, the oil is going to the parts of my hair it can actually help.


Hair is technically already “dead” when it’s out of your scalp. It’s made out of the same stuff our nails are; keratin. However, taking good care of my body can have a good affect on the hair while it’s still growing. Vitamins or other supplements can aid in this process, as well as boost hair growth. Once that growth starts coming in, I must protect it, taking good care of the ends of my hair and wrapping it up before I go to sleep. Moving around on a pillow with uncovered hair can lead to breakage. Satin wraps are the best, not absorbing the oil meant for you scalp and allowing your head to glide around.


Stressors, both physical and mental, detract from hair growth. The best way to facilitate natural hair growth is to let your hair be natural; I should avoid straightening, relaxing or coloring it. Mental stressors can manifest in overworking myself, so I should develop a daily routine to stay relaxed.


Growing a majestic afro is a huge endeavor, one that I am completely willing to undertake. My afro has served as a permanent pillow for my head, as well as a place to secretly stash M&Ms. In order to make it even larger, I must develop a hair schedule according to these guidelines and stick to it.

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October 27, 2017 5:52 pm

i am satisfied with how you put this together and how you used an example by putting yourself into the story. One thing that stands out for me is “stressors, both physical and mental, detract from hair growth.” i think this is interesting because it is true and you obviously did your research on this subject.

October 20, 2017 1:24 pm

I liked your essay! Although I am not personally African American, I found the essay interesting none the less. The “1-2 weeks” you wrote about is the same that my American American friends say is needed in between washes. I have to wash my hair once every two days. How does your afro contribute to your identify? How would you describe it to those of us who are not lucky enough to grow one?

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