Long, flowing luscious locks. You dream of hair past the middle of your back. Who doesn't want Mermaid Hair? Everyone does! Even I do.
But I can't.
It's not because of my face shape or body type; those are not the reason I can't have the hair that I have always dreamed of.
This is the most common phrase I hear over and over from clients in my chair. I always ask to what point they are growing it out. What is their goal?
For some reason long, luxurious hair is the ultimate in hair growth goals. Why is that? And why does it seem to be so elusive? Why can some people grow their hair down to their waist while others max out at shoulder length?
In order to understand why you might not be able to grow Mermaid Hair, we need to look at the life cycle of hair.
Unique to curly girls, is that they seemingly lose three times the amount of hair as their straight-haired counterparts. Some clients after beginning to practice the OlyCurl method, cleansing their hair less than before (typically they were washing daily), will contact me in frustration because they seem to be losing more hair. The explanation is simple.
If we lose about 100 hairs per day (curly girls only shed in the shower during detangling), and wash every third day, it stands to reason that in the shower we would lose around 300 hairs. It seems like a lot, but we must remember that it is three days’ worth of shedding at one time. Imagine if you went five or seven days. Be prepared for that amount of shed, and remember… it is normal!
Back to why you can’t have Mermaid Hair.
Everyone’s hair cycle is different. Some may only be two years; others seven. At the growth rate of half an inch per month, someone whose hair sheds on a two-year cycle would max out at a length of twelve inches. Now make that a curly girl with two to four inches of spring factor and you are looking at only six to ten inches of hair at their longest, if they don’t have layers.
Now if someone was on the higher end of that spectrum and their hair grew at the average speed, they might have hair that is 42 inches long! Now I measured from the top of my head to the bottom of my butt and that measured 37.5”! That would be some dreamy mermaid hair. Incidentally, I do know someone at my church that has hair that long!
Think of how many people you know with hair that long. Not very many, right? That’s why they are on the higher and extreme end of “average”.
The life cycle of my own hair is about two years. This gives me about 13 inches of length. How do I know this? I know this because my hair does not seem to want to grow past my shoulders. Once it hits my shoulders, it starts to get stringy and thin on the ends and I can see through the curtain of my hair.
So why is this important to know?
Back to Mermaid Hair and those who want it but can never attain it. I see people all the time trying to grow out their hair, but they have very wispy ends and no matter how often they get “healthy trims” it never seems to get any longer or thicker. This is because their hair has a shorter lifespan than is necessary for hair of mermaidian length. It just sheds out before it can grow that long.
I have seen clients hanging onto their “length”, but it is not a true length, because the last five inches of it is thin and very flyaway. I once had a client who could pull all her “length” into a tiny little snap clip; it was so thin and wispy.
Part of what we do at OlyCurl is counsel clients on their expectations and what is possible, and sometimes what is not possible. We show them where their ideal length is, and at what point their hair starts shedding. (Remember though, artificial shedding can happen due to medical reasons, or big life events like having a baby.) These are things we discuss to determine if this is a one-time big shed or if we are truly addressing the life cycle.
It can be a tough message to deliver, but once the client understands the WHY, they can be liberated from that “Mermaid-Hair dream” and move on to more realistic styles that will flatter and enhance their image.
As members of CHA (Curly Hair Artistry) and your local curly hair specialists, we welcome you to learn along with us!