By Jc of The Natural Haven
It is well documented that hair grows approximately half an inch per month. This would translate to 1 inch every two months , 2 inches every four months and so on and so forth. However is it really realistic to expect 100% retention of this growth? Here are some factors to consider:
1. How long/old is your hair?
Generally the easiest growth and retention phase happens at the beginning. Gaining and retaining the first 4–6 inches is fairly easy with very little extra care necessary. However, after this point, the ease with which you retain length depends on how well you protect the older hair from weathering and damage. Naturally texture and individual strand thickness differences will influence retention ease but regardless of hair type, the fundamental ‘be gentle with your hair’ mantra really matters for hair that is over a year old.
2. Breakage and Split Ends
Some hair breaks easily while some hair doesn’t. Some people can comb their hair with little to no breakage while others will suffer some breakage regardless of how gentle they are to the hair. In general hair that is most affected by breakage and splits tends to be fine in thickness (individual strands) and kinky. It will not be possible to retain 100% length retention if your hair naturally breaks with gentle handling but it may be possible to get quite close to it (80- 90%) utilising breakage prevention techniques such as protective styling and low manipulation.
3. How do you prefer to style your hair?
The two previous subjects namely the age of your hair and whether you experience breakage and splits are intrinsic properties of your hair which you have limited control over. The choice of how you style your hair especially for natural hair has a huge influence on how much hair you will retain. Once more texture differences come into play but in general the longer the duration of time (consecutive days) that you spend in low or no manipulation styles, the more length you retain. This does not mean you cannot style your hair in an ‘out’ style as often as you like, it just means that there is a trade off (for example, you can choose to alternate 1 week of protection with 1 week of out styles which may give you 50–60% retention or you could choose 4 weeks of protection with 2 days of out styles which may give you 80–90% retention)
My advice is that in the first year a goal of 100% length retention is quite realistic but as the years go by, adjust this goal to suit your hair’s abilities and your lifestyle. If you are keen to grow your hair as long as possible and as quick as possible, then having a high retention rate as a goal is ideal. If you are keen to enjoy your hair as much as possible but still also gain length, reducing your expectation to a minimum of 50% retention is probably more ideal.
Ladies, how much length do you retain?