Photo courtesy of Stevendepolo: Flickr.com

While braids look great and, in some cases, make styling hair easier, they cannot increase the rate at which your hair grows. In fact, if done improperly, they can cause more harm than good.


Braids have been used by many civilizations throughout time to adorn the hair of both men and women. The Greeks used small braids intertwined in women's hair. Cornrows, most popular in Africa, were used as symbols of status and religion.


Most braids are temporary and can be created quickly at home. The French braid and English braid are the most common types and are usually created as a single or pair of braids in long hair. African-American women often wear braids known as cornrows. These tiny braids can number in the hundreds on a full head of hair and are most often created by experienced braiders in a salon.


Many myths allude to our ability to speed up hair growth. The truth is, we cannot speed up our hair's growth. On average, a person's hair will grow one half inch per month. Proper diet and exercise can help maintain this rate, but you cannot speed up your hair's growth through braids.


Braids or cornrows done incorrectly can cause severe damage to your hair and, in some cases, even hair loss. Braids weaved too tightly can cause breakage to the hair shaft or even cut off circulation from the scalp, causing a condition called traction alopecia.


Always have your hair cornrow braided by a trained and experienced professional. When styling your own hair, do not wear your braids excessively tight against your scalp.