Photo by Suad Kamardeen on Unsplash
If there’s one thing that will trigger me (no matter how much I try and deactivate the trigger), it’s the fact that the left side of my hair is so much thicker and grows so much faster than the right. It’s pretty much always been that way, so I know that DNA has something to do with it. Plus, as much as I try to rotate, I prefer to sleep on the right side which doesn’t help (basically because I’m compressing my blood vessels which can hinder those hair follicles from getting all of the nutrients that they need). I don’t like it — especially now that I’m more intentional about growing my hair out — yet I know that it’s something that “just is” (meaning it’s the way I was born and there’s not much that I can do to change that fact). Plus, it’s not like I’m the only person who goes through this. A lot of us do.
That’s why I thought it would be a good idea to offer up a bit of support if you’re someone who finds yourself constantly frustrated with hair that seems like it wants to give you a late 80s Salt-N-Pepa asymmetrical look whether you want it to that way or not. If you just read that and you’re nodding your head up and down because you can totally relate, I’m hoping that these tips will help you to make peace with your hair’s so-called lopsided reality.
Accept That It’s Pretty Normal
So, here’s the deal. There are approximately 100,000 different hair follicles on your head and each one comes with its own individualized blood supply. As you probably already know, the left and right side of your body is not identical — your eyes are not the exactly the same, neither are your eyebrows, your hands, feet, breasts, etc. So, off top, that can be a part of the reason why you’re noticing that one side of your hair grows faster than the other. Then you’ve got to factor in things like genetics, your sleeping patterns, your diet, your hair routine and other factors. While I will get into a few things that could help to “even out” your hair, the main thing to keep in mind is if you do notice some lopsidedness, there’s nothing weird about it. It’s very normal. So much that, people who don’t have this issue fall more into the rare category. Real talk.
Is It Shorter or Thinner?
OK, so when it comes to my hair, if the right side would act like the left, I’d probably have hair down my back by now. But between it being about 1 ½” shorter and even a bit thinner than my left and me being suck a stickler that I don’t always know how to leave well enough alone, I’m constantly cutting my hair to “even things up”. Anyway, when it comes to your own hair not being as even as you want it to be, before coming up with strategies that can help, first figure out if one side is shorter, thinner or both. If it’s shorter, your best bet is going to be to leave it totally alone (other than regular trims) for a season because if you keep cutting the shorter side, you are never going to see any real progress. If it’s thinner, consuming foods that will give your hair more protein and help to thicken it over time (like meat, poultry, quinoa, avocados, berries, dark leafy greens and mangoes), using a volumizing shampoo and conditioner, and taking a hair supplement that is high in biotin can prove to be super beneficial.
“Baby” the Shorter Side
The side of your hair that appears to be thriving? You definitely shouldn’t neglect it. However, the side that isn’t flourishing as much as you would like for it to be, you definitely need to “baby it” as much as possible. For the record, this doesn’t mean constantly keeping your hands in it. However, it is important to be gentler to that side when using styling tools, to keep heat off of it as much as possible, to exfoliate that side of your scalp (so that its hair follicles don’t become clogged) and, when you’re deep conditioning your hair, that you apply some pure Aloe vera to the “weaker” side. It’s great for your hair because it’s high in vitamins A, B12, C, E and folic acid. Regular use of Aloe vera is proven to both repair and strengthen hair strands over time.
Give Yourself Regular Scalp Massages
Remember how I just said that it’s a good idea to exfoliate the side of your scalp that needs a little more help getting it to where you want it to be? Well, something that is great for your entire scalp is a scalp massage. It triggers blood flow (the more blood your hair follicles get, the healthier your hair will ultimately be). It increases the thickness of your hair by stretching out your hair follicles. It helps to remove any build-up from sweat and hair products that might be on your scalp. It fights dandruff. It also relieves stress (for the record, stress can also play a role in weak hair and hair fall). For tips on how to give yourself a proper scalp massage, we wrote an article a few years ago entitled, “How to Give a Scalp Massage”. What I will say here is, if you’d prefer to do give yourself one on a non-wash day, warm up an oil that promotes hair growth (like rosemary, grapeseed, peppermint, lavender, argan or a combination of these), part your hair into 4-8 sections, apply some of the oil to your fingertips and rub your scalp in a circular motion for 10 minutes while watching television. It’s the perfect way to relax after a long day and you’ll be doing your hair a favor by massaging it more than just a couple of times a month.
Avoid Being “Scissor Happy”
When it comes to making peace with having uneven hair, something else that really needs to go on record is the fact that sometimes your hair isn’t lopsided so much as you’ve got more than one texture going on which is also extremely common. This is just one of the reasons why — and yes, I’m totally preaching to the choir when I say this — you need to try and leave your shears alone as much as possible because all of that cutting might be actually contributing to even more unevenness. Not only that but take it from me, constantly “evening up” your hair isn’t really helping you out like you might that that it is. You’ll be far better off just leaving it be in between trim times, so that the weaker side can get more time to make some real progress. Oh, and if you need a visual of someone who can totally get where you are coming from Sista With Real Hair posted a video on her YouTube channel some years back that actually may make you feel like, “OK, I’m not the only one out here with this drama.” You can check it out here.
Get into Some Protective Styles
By far, one of the best ways to be less self-conscious about uneven hair while also leaving your hair alone so that it can grow is to put it into a protective style. It could be braids or twists. It could be a sew-in or a wig. Or it could be like what I do a lot during the week — I braid my hair up and rock a turban. What a lot of us don’t realize is all of the effort and energy that we’re putting into trying to make both sides of our hair look the same could be actually weakening our stands even more because if there’s one thing the weaker (or even stronger) side doesn’t need, it’s a ton of manipulation. A protective style during the week while being super gentle with the takedown process and wearing it out on the weekends can give the weaker side more time to benefit from some of these other tips so that it can get significantly stronger in a matter of a few months.
Be Patient with the Process
Did you just roll your eyes? Yeah, I hear you. It doesn’t change the facts, though. On average, hair grows between ¼” and ½” each month (regardless of ethnicity, by the way). This means that you can gain 4-6 inches on an annual basis. If that’s not happening for you, the main reason could be because you’re not properly caring for your ends so that grow can continue to transpire. Still, no matter how proactive you may be, there are some things that only time can do. So yeah — getting your hair to “even out and grow” is something that you’re going to have to be patient with. Yet if you do all of what I shared and add endurance to it, I’m confident that your weaker side will get stronger and you’ll be more at peace with your hair being…just as it is.
©Shellie R. Warren/2021