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Reader Comments: I went natural… Now why won’t my hair retain length?!

Avatar • Nov 30, 2010

Reader Hyspin left the following comment on Hair Confessions: Are you Attached to Hair Length?

Yes I am a little paranoid about length because one of the main reasons why I went natural was to grow my own hair without the use of relaxers, extensions and weaves. But when you don’t see any progress for 1 year and have people give you same response over and over “Give it time, it will grow” the focus seems to become some what resentful.

Worse when you know what typical hair growth is supposed to be (half an inch per month at average no matter where you’re from). I think I would be less focus on length if I saw some growth. What makes it worse is that I have less breakage/shedding then when I was young (about half), before perming, than I do now, after perming, but still no length.

Also I guess what adds to this focus is my target goal, collar length in natural state slightly shrunken. I want my hair to be healthy too but I want growth just as much. I trimmed twice last year about 1/4 inch each time because I was told up and down that it was necessary but I know for me it makes no difference.

When you have a goal and think you have resources, the time and ability to measure progress, and it is (supposed to be) attainable (SMART goals) your going to focus even more to getting what you want, which can easily become somewhat of an obsession. So new tactics will evolve if the same old tricks don’t work.

If anyone can help me with this I would greatly appreciate it.

I think this is the story for MAAANY naturals (perhaps more than actually vocalize it). One popular YouTuber, Kim Love of KimmayTube, speaks at length in this video about how she was natural for several years (5 or 6 I think) and saw little to no growth.

Has anyone had this experience? Where you went natural and still weren’t able to retain length? Has it been frustrating? Also, have you managed to develop techniques and practices that enabled you to retain length? Please share!

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am
am
9 years ago

i dont understand the obsession with length! the old adage rings true — a watched pot never boils! you know what this means — it will boil — but it seems to take much longer when you’re watching it; i think the same holds true for hair.

captain morgan
9 years ago

I have definitely been here. I’ve been natual for about 7 years now and I had to restart my journey all over again last january because my hair was literally growing 1 inch per year. Since my BC my hair had grown 6 inches. It’s getting better now, but it definitely did a number on my self esteem and my willingness to trim. Especially when my mom and sister’s hair has always grown like weeds permed or natural. This post rings true to me. That said, I have learned a lot more about my hair than i ever had before, which… Read more »

vonnie
9 years ago

is it a matter of keeping the ends healthy so that they don’t break? so maybe protective styles? what about eating differently like adding more salmon and such to the diet that helps promote healthy hair? or is it the products used? I hope that you ladies who can’t retain length figure out the solution, that’d be so very frustrating 🙁

http://www.socialitedreams.com

KB
KB
9 years ago

If you’re doing everything to help your hair on the outside (like protective styling, keeping the hair moisturized and sealed etc) and you’re STILL not achieving any length, you need to look at what you’re doing to help your hair from the inside…what are you consuming? Take this from me! What you eat and put into your body is extremely important in helping your hair to grow and stay strong/healthy. I am remedying bald patches that came from stress and faux ponytails, and I’m finally getting a hang of growing hair on a scalp that once looked bare and scarred…… Read more »

Ebby
Ebby
9 years ago

The best advice I can give is KEEP IT SIMPLE!!! You don’t need a ton of things in your hair for it to grow. Remember also what you put into your body as well 🙂

TrendySocialite
9 years ago

I think that some of it is about perception as another poster eluded to. I went through the same thing earlier this year. I ended up getting kinky twists and it seemed to get me over that hump. It’s similar to the advice you get when working out. When you reach that plateau and stop losing weight, sometimes you have to switch up your exercise and the weight loss will start again. It’s the same thing for hair.

I also suggest a vitamin regimen. When I take vitamins, my hair is more manageable and I’m able to retain more length.

Monisola
Monisola
9 years ago

I had a VERY similar problem. I was natural for a year and saw no growth. Maybe the ssssmmmmmallllest bit. Then five months ago, I started doing five things: Keep my hair in protective styles 60% of the time or for 20 days out of a 30 day month. I would do ten days in (protective styles) and three days out, ten in …three out. STOPPED switching products (product junkie-ism) and just stuck to what worked. STOPPED combing STARTED keeping my hair in large loose braids at night with a scarf over them, no tangles, snags single strand knots. MONITORED… Read more »

Monisola
Monisola
9 years ago

Since doing those five things, my hair is grown more in five months than it did in the entire year! Seriously.I went from TWA to shoulder length in 6 months…i mostly attribute this to protien/moisture balance (which upholds the strength and integrity of each strand) and to protective stlyes, which maintain the integrity of each strand and lastly to using the same products consistently…which nourishes each strand in a consistent way that your hair and scalp will adjust to and get used to.

Hyspin
Hyspin
9 years ago

To give people an idead of what I did for a year heres a list: I had trimmed my hair twice last year at about 1/4 inch each time. I had a very healthy diet I lost additional 5 pounds without trying. drank lots of water I don’t smoke, and am not taking an prescription drugs, or other drugs. I was gentle with my hair I air dry for the most part but hood dry if I am crushed for time. I had less breakage/shedding than I did then any other point in my life (I used to be proud of that). I keep my hair moisturized… Read more »

Hyspin
Hyspin
9 years ago

Oh yeah I only iron twice in the first two months and used heat protectant both times (and deep conditioned), I never coloured my hair in my life. Hair style of choice mini buns at the beginning and twist, braids, and braid outs for the majority (5/6 of the year)
Let me know if you guys need any more details.

Hyspin
Hyspin
9 years ago

Oh yeah I started tracking my progress at beginning November 2009 and did a check more than half point August 2010 and Did the last check Mid November 2010. Otherwise I didn’t check length just watch out for if there was any unusual breakage or shedding or if my scalp or hair was behaving badly but noting out of norm.

Anon
Anon
9 years ago

I get that it can be frustrating but I’m not sure why everyone thinks that they’ll be able to grow super long hair. There are plenty of things that relate to the body and mind that some can do and others cannot, despit their best efforts. I mean, I could work out 5 hours a day but doesn’t guarantee me that I’ll be as skinny as Naomi Campbell or Halle Berry. I could hire a voice coach and never sing like Leontyne Price. It doesn’t mean that I’m doing anything wrong. It just shows how we are very different people… Read more »

myblueskiez
9 years ago

I’ve had this experience but just for a short period of time. Its a combination of not treating your hair gently ie using combs, brushes, heat, etc. and also what you put in your body or lack of. Here’s my advice: –Our hair loves water so why not drink more of it –Keep the hair moisturized –Keep your hair protected for longer periods of time than being worn out, such as twisting/braiding your hair, wearing wigs or extensions (carefully placed in.…not tight) –Take multivitamins NOTE: There are literally thousands of videos out there of YT’s who document there growth experience, including me,… Read more »

Monique, Sofull Sista
9 years ago

There are so many other scientific factors that can affect hair growth. Some people have naturally thin hair that breaks easily. Others have scalp conditions that hinder growth. There are white women with hair that has never grown long (past shoulders). There are women who have challenges with retaining length. Additionally, if you have fragile hair understand that you may be extremely limited by styling options. For example, I know I should not straighten my hair if length is my ultimate goal. Any time I straighten it, I’m weathering my ends and moving back from my healthy/long hair journey. A… Read more »

anonda
anonda
9 years ago

I’m so glad other posters mentioned health from the inside out. Are you getting enough exercise and good fats? Have you had blood work to determine a micronutrient deficiency? If your haircare practices are otherwise sound, then putting more stuff on top of the hair may not be the solution. Address the root, not just the branch. Ditto another poster said keep things simple. Monisola I really appreciated you mentioning the slimy hair syndrome lol. You really have to know what’s the natural texture of YOUR hair. Nobody’s hair should feel like brillo, but if your hair is coarse then… Read more »

CarmelStacks
CarmelStacks
9 years ago

When I was younger I’d be in the mirror messing with my hair, combing it, styling it, etc. I’ll never forget when my dad said “you’re going to comb all that hair out of your head.”

And he was right. I had locs for 5 years that grew ridiculously long, simply because the hair isn’t manipulated much. Now that I’m loose I’m addicted to wearing twists and flattwist crowns with buns and I’ve noticed major length retention just from not messing with my hair.

M.J.
M.J.
9 years ago

Definitely take these ladies’ advice. I’m sure you will see some healthy-hair results, but let me say this (and I hate to be a “boo-bird”). Your hair may not grow 6in/yr. A rate of 3 in/yr MAY be normal for you. On another website, JC posted a journal article (with a very small sample size..so bear that in mind) where south african women had hair growth of 3–4in per year. We can argue that maybe they weren’t caring for their hair the way they “should”, or we can be open to the fact that not every woman of African descent… Read more »

M.J.
M.J.
9 years ago

forget the last part of my statement. I didn’t realize you SAID you were aiming for collar length hair. Rosemary oil diluted with a carrier oil increases circulation and rate of hair growth and so does exercise.

E
E
9 years ago

Natural Hair Length Check #2 Video for “Naptural85” fellow Youtuber.. My goodness everyone you have got to check out her latest video, I love it and she got all of this amazing growth within 2 years. This goes to prove that if you take care of yourself both inside and outside your hair will thrive.

9u-0865
9u-0865
9 years ago

I am glad some folks have added comments about being realistic. Most black women of West African descent do not have long hair. ITS OK. Part of embracing natural hair is embracing whatever charachteristics it comes with on your head. If you are healthy, have a good hair care system and still don’t have long hair-its not meant to be. And ITS OK.

Nina
Nina
9 years ago

@Hyspin — If you’re open to experimenting, you can see if the problem is growth or retention by simply lightening a very small, discreet patch of hair. Just a few strands somewhere in the middle or back of your head, with a mild lightening agent, just enough so that you can see the difference in color. First you measure it, then you wait. Keep a journal and over time compare it to the rest of the hair. Not only can you literally see the growth, but you can see how much you retained and if the retained hair is “shrinking”… Read more »

Anon
Anon
9 years ago

@E. What someone else with different genes got to grow out of her head isn’t going to help someone who doesn’t have her DNA. That’s the problem here. This poster is convinced that her hair isn’t growing, or isn’t growing fast enough to suit her precisely b/c she looks at what other people have. Duplicating their lifestyles isn’t going to turn her into them. And she also mentioned that she has a good diet. I don’t know why everyone is assuming you can eat/exercise your way to long hair either. There are plenty of people with bad diets who have long hair.… Read more »

Ashley
9 years ago

One thing that I noticed when I had relaxed hair was that my hair wouldn’t grow past my shoulders and I think it had a lot to do with my hair constantly rubbing on my clothes. It would also break at the place my ponytail holder was. Because many of us have fragile hair, we need to consider what styles we wear our hair in and how much our hair rubs against our hoodies, scarves, and other garments. I think people should be concerned if they don’t feel like they see their hair growing. It doesn’t mean that one is… Read more »

Crystal
Crystal
9 years ago

Don’t forget to massage your scalp. The looser the scalp the better and the easier it is for the hair to grow out of the scalp.

SankofaScholar
SankofaScholar
9 years ago

KB is right and so is CarmelStacks,

Health from the inside out IS ESSENTIAL, before I loc’d my hair I ate
very healthy, but now that I have started up bad eating habits, I notice a change in my hair and overall energy, if you want your hair to be healthy everything else on your body should be too. Oh and if us women stopped frolicking in our hair soo much it would not break off or “shed” like we think it does. leave it alone. your hands are your combs too.

trackback

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by aeriall walker, aeriall walker. aeriall walker said: Reader Comments: I went natural… — check it out here: Most black women of West African descent do not have long … http://bit.ly/fMWt3y […]

Dee on team stretched
9 years ago

i never had hair growth problems it seemed my hair has been sprouting since i bc a year ago. Here are some key tips that worked for me;
1. keep scalp clear of dirt and product build up by clarifying at least 1x weekly
2. scalp hot oil treatments weekly always add a few drops of rosemary/peppermint/tea tree oil in it
3.PS my hair responds well to braids
4.DT

HTH, for details check out my blog

binks
binks
9 years ago

First,you are NOT length obsessed, you have a valid concern because most people would like to see their hair grow in that time span so don’t feel ashamed for stating it. My hair use to be like that, especially when I use to relax it. It doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that your hair can’t grow to a desirable length you want it. Even though, each person’s do have a breaking point of where their hair won’t simply grow anymore I don’t think that is the case with you it could be other factors like scalp conditions… Read more »

Michelle
9 years ago

I don’t see an issue if a person has certain hair goals and is concerned because that goal is not being reached. It’s like any goal in life.… you re-evaluate to see what the root cause is if you aren’t reaching that goal so hair shouldn’t be any different. I have been natural for years and I have pinpointed the reason why I have seen the growth I wanted to, mainly due to the me neglecting my hair and doing things that didn’t promote growth. So, it isn’t always an issue of obsession when a person is seeking a certain… Read more »

Jc
Jc
9 years ago

As MJ said, I have previously written about the possibility of African hair actually growing at a slower rate. However it should still get you to one foot of hair. I think that there is a huge disconnect for us in the triangular relationship that is retention, breakage and mechanics (i.e Hair does not gain length because the ends broke off. The ends broke off because they were either weakened or were pulled with excessive force.) Truth is many of us are not willing to accept that WE are the reason why hair is not growing. We want it to… Read more »

trell
trell
9 years ago

I keep my daughters hair braided in cornrolls every 2 weeks then rebraid them again. If you try this for about 3 months straight you should see some progress. Take pictures of your hair before and after…

Cacey
Cacey
8 years ago
Reply to  trell

i wanted to cosign on this. my parents did this with my hair and by the time i was twelve, my hair came to my midback. it works.

serenissima
9 years ago

low manipulation is key for me. my regimen is simple (cowash and moisturize) and i sleep in a satin scarf at night. i dont like protective styles, so during the day i keep my hair wrapped up all the time. like, ALL the time… and im pretty sure this has helped me in retaining length because im never touching it. HOWEVER i also think the comments on everyone being different and genetics playing a part are valid as well… because, even when i was relaxed, i had long hair. Thanksgiving 2010: http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a183/bluefaery05/thanksgiving11.jpg My infamous turbans/scarves, Oct 2010: http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a183/bluefaery05/threepeat8.jpg http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a183/bluefaery05/docmarten20.jpg Aug 2010: http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a183/bluefaery05/96103–1.jpg… Read more »

serenissima
9 years ago

@Hyspin: the comments about taking lots of pictures to document your growth are great, too… i take tons of pics (as you can tell lol) and it helped me out. i thought my hair wasnt growing for awhile, but pictures dont lie… and even when it seems like my hair isnt growing down, i can look at pictures and definitely pinpoint that its gorwing OUT. so while you may not be getting the vertical length you want, is your hair growing any thicker or bigger?

serenissima
9 years ago

*growing out, sorry

Amina
9 years ago

AMEN!!! I completely agree with Natural Haven. I rarely wear protective styles and I am okay with my hair length

b.
b.
9 years ago

Thanks for putting yourself out there, Hyspin, and for initiating this particular discussion. Many things said before me are spot on, but I’d like to highlight one specific thing: Be careful how you treat your ends. I have very tightly coiled hair, and over time I realized it was best for me not to detangle it while sopping wet. The reason? Sopping wet hair is easy to snap. Instead, I used a microfiber towel (hit up the automotive dept for that) and blot it until damp. (I wash it in sections. Mist your hair first and section it off with ouchless… Read more »

b.
b.
9 years ago

Oh yeah…

After twisting my hair during detangling, sometimes I keep the twists in for a day or so, sometimes I just let it dry and wear it in different styles until the next wash. Either way, I try to allow it to dry in a style that will stretch it, and that makes the next detangling easier, even if I wear it loose for days afterwards.

Hyspin
Hyspin
9 years ago

Wow you guys are overflowing with great advice. @Black Girl With Long Hair— Thank you for your valuable point, my hair has gained 0 length in 1 year, that why I am nervous and frustrated with myself. @KB— I will reduce the sugary drinks (I love juice) Can’t handle pop everything else you suggest I drinking. I eat a lot less carbs because I don’t really like bread and my when hangin with mom she doesn’t eat gluten. @TrendySocialite— Plateau for hair that definitely a different way of looking at it I mean I used to work out with train… Read more »

Hyspin
Hyspin
9 years ago

Wow missed so major corrections
@KB: I trying to say I can’t really drink pop anyway.

@TrendySocialite:train=trainer “the always talked about plateau”= “they always talked about plateau”

, Sofull Sista— I meant “shouldn’t” not “should” “Life definitely shouldn’t revolve around hair”

am
am
9 years ago

well, i still dont know what a normalized relationship to hair is…
in my experience hair grows, and all the factors mention here can affect growth. moisture, protection, and minimal manipulation seem to be the key — outside of taking care of your body, and genetics — which you cant control.

Monique, Sofull Sista
9 years ago

@Hyspin — RE styles that last 3–4 weeks. Try mini-twists or mini-braids. My mini-twists can easily last 3–4 weeks, same with the braids. I can wash them in between and maintain a professional look with pin-up styles if it starts looking ratty worn down. I have pics of me rocking them over a 2‑week period on my blog. Currently rocking mini-braids, they’re going on week 2.

Peace,
Monique

Jc
Jc
9 years ago

Hair is still washed weekly in twists or braids without undoing them. There is no question of being ‘filthy’.

Loolahloo has an excellent twist series on her blog http://hairandhealth.blogspot.com/

KJ
KJ
9 years ago

I think that the issue here is shrinkage. She said she wanted colarbone length hair in a shrunken state. That can take a very long time considering how much shrinkage a person has. The question is: how long is it when stretched? and is there progress there?

Monisola
Monisola
9 years ago

SOME SUGGESTIONS:
MAYBE your scalp/hair is in its natural resting phase?

Maybe the low manipulation styles your hair is in aren’t the protective styles for you. Some protective styles are bad for my hair. Bigger looser ones are better for my fine hair.

Are you super stressed? This causes hair to go into resting/shedding phases.

But maybe your hair grows REALLY slowly and you might need to wait like 6 years to get your hair to the ultimate length you want.

Ashley
9 years ago

I agree with KJ. I’ve been fully natural for 1 1/2 years and, when shrunken, my hair looks nearly the same now at 11 inches as it did at 4 inches. There is just a slight difference in body and it looks more even all around.

LBell
LBell
9 years ago

Aside from a big old loud AMEN!!! to Jc… KJ brought up a very good point. Hyspin, if your goal is collarbone length SHRUNKEN…how much shrinkage do you actually have? I don’t know how you feel about hair typing but it would help to know what yours is. My hair shrinks well over 80% in the front and top of my head. That old belief about gravity making it hang? Yeah right. My Afro-textured hair grows UP and OUT, not down. So I will NEVER have shrunken collarbone length hair because my hair simply doesn’t hang like that. I grew my hair… Read more »

Monisola
Monisola
9 years ago

TRY wearing your hair stretched and seeing how you feel. I never let my hair shrink all the way down…it tangles and knots (single strand) too much to let it shrink fully. I wear it in braids at night when out and in updos made out of “cellie” braids. I use the braids to make braid outs. I can only see the growth of my hair in a slightly stretched state. I don’t know if I will ever get to shoulder length unstretched, even though this is my goal. So my goal is shoulder length while in a braid out/twist… Read more »

Melinda
Melinda
9 years ago

Sorry if this is already covered but GENETICS plays a major role in hair length. period.

Hyspin
Hyspin
9 years ago

Shrinkage, okay well its natural state shrunken is ear length to a about 1–1 1/2 inch below the earlobe and when straighten shoulder to collar bone length.

anonda
anonda
9 years ago

Hi Hyspin,
That’s very kind of you to address all the advice here.
Anemia can affect a lot of things, but again its best just to let the doc tell you if it’s an issue or not. Self administration of iron supplements can be toxic, so I always advise people don’t try to self-diagnose or treat suspected anemia. From your last post sounds like shrinkage 🙂 Hair growth may not be the issue as much as controlling shrinkage (though i have my doubts one can truly “control” shrinkage as its characteristic of afro-textured hair). Stretched styles may be more for you.

Nina
Nina
9 years ago

@Hyspin — Do what you’re comfortable with, but be gentle. It’s funny, but if you were relaxed, you’ve already done this experiment and your “new growth” was proof that your hair was growing. If you’re going to a professional stylist, you can explain it to him/her and get it done without too much worry, mess or wasting an entire packet of dye. Henna is more noticeable on some textures/tones and has conditioning properties, but if you can’t tell the difference, it may defeat the purpose. As for the protective and low manipulation styles, two and three strand twists done small… Read more »

Hyspin
Hyspin
9 years ago

@ anonda: I guess I will have to suck up my pride and go back to my doctor again and see if he can give me a dermatologist recommendation while I am there. I tried the last appointment but he was reluctant to suggest a dermatologist and my reason seem so superficial so I didn’t push it. But since I going to have go get blood work done might as well as again @ nina: If I could huge you I would that was very thorough process. Thanks for all the specifics and suggestions. Using your suggestion and the others like… Read more »

letitfro
letitfro
9 years ago

Shesingslovely on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8p4DI2NxMA is currently on a hair challenge for length using the tips and techniques provided by Lisa Akbari http://www.lisaakbari.com/. some of the issues with retention that she shares resonate with the concerns mentioned here. i appreciate that she is tracking her progress and letting us all be a part of it… perhaps you may gain something from it as well. there is no harm in trying to achieve your dream length as long as we are realistic about what we are born with (genetics), the effort it will take (sacrificing the time and diligence), and PATIENCE– sucks… Read more »

LBell
LBell
9 years ago

First off, let me correct my original post because I used to be a math whiz so I do know how to figure out percentages: TWENTY (100 — 80) percent of 10 inches is two inches. What I should have said was that my hair shrinks down to 20 percent of its length. Secondly, Hyspin, I’m going to pull out the following comments you’ve made so far: – 1. I started tracking my progress at beginning November 2009 and did a check more than half point August 2010 and Did the last check Mid November 2010. 2. I thought my goal… Read more »

teresz
9 years ago

“We do not listen to our hair choosing instead to do what works for a different person” Exactly right. It always surprising to hear women say their hair hasnt grown, AT ALL. I mean unless your a corspe, then everything on your body is continuously GROWING. Whether we notice it or not. And everything has it’s limit and growth cycle. Im 28 years old and my hair is the same length as it was when I was 16. (Slightly at the shoulders) That doesnt mean that im doing something wrong. Eating right, moisturizing right. Its just my length, for my… Read more »

Ashley B
Ashley B
9 years ago

just do exactly what kimmay does on youtube.com/kimmaytube. guaranteed at least 5 in a year

H2WQueen
H2WQueen
9 years ago

This won’t be popular but for me it is true. I retain length best by keeping my hair straightened. I don’t mean stretched but straightened. I think it’s because of no tangles, no knots…It’s just either flat or curled(via curling iron)

Dawn
Dawn
9 years ago
Reply to  H2WQueen

i know you posted this a yr ago, but i’m just now seeing this and i have to say that flat ironing works best for me too. i retain length best that way. when i give up the iron, detangling results in much more breakage for me. so though it’s not popular among naturals, i see where you’re coming from as i’m in the same boat. i love my natural curls and it’s because i want to see them longer and longer that i continue to straighten because barring braids/twists that’s the only way i can get my hair to… Read more »

A.G.
A.G.
9 years ago

no, after I transitioned for a year in braids, I had a head full of big 4a hair. If you’re hair is not retaining any length after a year, I would suggest getting blood test done for anemia.

A.G.
A.G.
9 years ago

TYPO

no, after I transitioned for a year in braids, I had a head full of big 4a hair. If your hair is not retaining any length after a year, I would suggest getting blood test done for anemia.

evadatdiva
evadatdiva
9 years ago

u could consider loc’ing ur hair, If u feel like its for you. i
It locs in all the hairs that would have otherwise broken off.

AJ
AJ
9 years ago

Oil it, braid it, and leave it alone! It WILL grow! Growth is from the scalp, not from the ends!

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