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4 Habits That Stall Hair Growth

Avatar • Mar 1, 2013

frustrated

Confession: Some of us transitioners and naturalistas get a little overzealous (and borderline OCD) when it comes to caring for our hair. Some of us have routines that are hardwired into our into our lives, with no chance of changing. Pre-poo every Wednesday. Detangle and co-wash Thursday. Protectively style for 3 weeks. Henna on the 1st of every month…and the list goes on. Personally, I can’t live my life that way. I just do what my hair needs, when it needs it. If I can go a week and a half before washing, then so be it. If I’m not feeling protective styling, then I’ll let it all hang out. Even though I’m not the most routine//regimented transitioner, I do believe that there are some little habits and practices that if done often enough, can lead to real damage. Let’s jump right in:

1. Picking at Split Ends and Single Strand Knots

As we all know, direct sunlight is very telling. When I’m chilling passenger side riding around (not gettin’ it), I often hold the ends of my hair up so I can see how they’re doing. Sometimes, I see split ends that look absolutely terrifying. Of course, I don’t have scissors in my car, so I pinch down with my nails and yank. I know. Bad Christina. I had to stop myself from doing this because well, it is damaging. And truth be told, it only exacerbates the problem instead of alleviating it. Whenever you use dull scissors (or in this case, fingernails) to take off split ends, the hair bends; which lends itself to fraying as opposed to a clean cut across. Frayed ends split, which means the problem you sought to remedy has come right back. Additionally, often times picking at ends leads to taking them off unevenly across the shaft of the hair. When a strand of hair is unevenly cut (or nipped), the ends are more susceptible to damage and splitting. Even though a simple split end pinch here and there might be tempting, just wait until you can get a sharp pair of hair scissors in your hands. That way, you can avoid having to take off more length more often.

2. Finger Twirling and Touching

This one might be more for me than it is for ya’ll. I am a recovering chronic finger twirler. Not a day used to go by where I wasn’t twirling my hair at some point — while having conversations, while working, while deep in thought, while driving, over dinner.…you get the point. While twirling your hair around your finger isn’t the worst thing you can do, it isn’t exactly the best either. Each time you touch or otherwise manipulate your hair, you may not see it, but you are losing protein and damaging the cuticle. Over time (especially if you tend to twirl or touch the same area or section of hair), you run the risk of weakening that area by causing mid-shaft splits and breakage. I am not saying that you can never ever touch, run your fingers through, or twirl your hair. That is crazy and unrealistic. What I am saying, is if you have a bad habit like I do, tucking your hair away (buns, etc.) may help you save your strands from unnecessary damage.

3. Constant Length Checking

This practice doesn’t really cause damage to your hair, it causes damage to you. Transitioners and naturalistas that are interested in retaining and growing longer hair are often curious to see how much their hair grows in a given period. I understand. I am curious too. But please understand that length checking your hair every 4 days isn’t going to yield you any satisfactory results. Some months, your hair will grow like a weed. Other months, you’ll swear your hair got stage fright and coiled back into your scalp. Growing out healthy, natural hair is not a sprint. It’s not a marathon. Heck, it’s not even a race. It takes time. So what if so-and-so got 3 inches of growth in 3 months. What does that have to do with you and your hair? Stop “tryna see” if your hair has grown every five minutes. A watched pot never boils.

4. Trying to Get That Old Thing Back

For the longest time, I was in denial about my banana clips. When I first began transitioning, I loved me some banana clips — they made for quick, easy, and cute styling. But toward the end of summer, I realized that every clip I attempted to work my hair into either broke, wouldn’t close, or popped open. I spent more time (and incurred more breakage and tangles) trying to force my hair into an old favorite that simply wouldn’t work anymore. As much as it sucked, I had to move on. If you have an old style, styling tool, or accessory that used to work wonders but now is a struggle, it might be time to let it go. Save yourself from the frustration, breakage, damage, tangles, and time. Find something else to use, or a new style to wear. There is always more.

What bad habits keep your hair from thriving?

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About Christina Patrice

Born, raised, and living in Los Angeles, Christina is BGLH's resident transitioning expert and product junkie. In addition to loving all things hair, she is a fitness novice and advocate of wearing sandals year-round. For more information on transitioning, natural hair, and her own hair journey, visit maneobjective.com. Or, if you like pictures follow Christina on Instagram @maneobjective.

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Not Impressed
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Not Impressed

This is a very lazy list (-.-’)

cb
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cb

agree…how can #3 stall hair growth?

D.P. (to not impressed)
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D.P. (to not impressed)

I have to agree with you :/ Of course ripping/pinching and over manipulating your hair isn’t going to help with hair growth. I would love an article with more scientifically based data and not just the same old common sense information. Tell me more about proteins, oils, porosity, and rebuilding structure! I would loooove more facts and data and less “don’t twirl your hair”

tabatha_frm_RI
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tabatha_frm_RI

hair grows no matter what. the topic should be “how to retain length,”

Dananana
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Dananana

I can totally relate to #3. I’m super impatient! I noticed that I was becoming obsessive, so I’ve been trying to keep my hair in protective styles with added hair. Putting my hair up and taking my hair down in such styles takes so long that it discourages me from length checking too frequently 🙂

Kayce
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Kayce

Same here. It got to a point where I was measuring my hair length daily. DAILY! I was not going to see any change and I knew it but I couldn’t help myself. I just kept having dreams where I’d wake up and my hair would magically be down my back. Currently in braids so I can’t length check.

NaturalHairMojo.com (@NaturalHairMojo)
Guest

Cosign! I did this early on after my big chop. I checked for growth about once a week, and now I can look back and realize how detrimental it was.…not to my growth per se, but to my psyche! Some weeks I SWORE I saw growth, and others when I didn’t notice anything different, I’d obsess over my regimen to see what I could change, if there was a supplement I could use, what products were “working against me”…anything! I wasted so much time and MONEY watching that proverbial “pot”. Once I got to a point where I realized I… Read more »

Loreal
Guest

I twirl my hair when I do my finger cools and at lease once or twice daily to touch them up so r u saying that’s bad too?

MichelleF
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MichelleF

No. 3 was me when I first started my natural journey, once a week to be exact! Now, that I’m older and less ‘OCD-ish’ about my hair, I do length-checks twice a year and no more. I don’t have a regimen for it either so basically in 2012 I did a length check in October and again in December … there, that was twice. I haven’t done any yet for 2013, but when I do it will only be TWICE! So if I’m weak and I do it twice in one month I won’t be checking again for the rest… Read more »

Caramelcurls
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Caramelcurls

This is a good list! I think it’s normal to be be concerned about the health of your hair to an extent, but there is a balance. I think keeping it simple is best. My motto from the beginning has been to keep my hair moisturized, stretched, and trimmed, and it has grown tremendously over the past year and a half.

LM
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LM

I’m #2 and #3.. I absolutely love to play with my coils and I get tons of SSK’s because of it and end up having to cut them off. I feel like I just can’t help myself. It’s,also, a nervous habit to either scratch my head or twirl and tug my hair when I’m anxious. I protective style 3–4 days a week for nursing school clinicals, so I hope that is helping lol. However, when it’s not in a protective style, I’m twirling and tugging. I length check at least 2–3 times a week while I’m washing or styling. I… Read more »

jjac401
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jjac401

I am a chronic curl twirler! I have alot of hair so the clips break. My hair is only shoulder length so I need to figure out what other accessories will work for me. Any ideas ya’ll???

Karjiana
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Karjiana

#4 Applies to me because I used a hair scrunchy for my ponytails but they just aren’t working anymore and I really don’t like how banana clips look… would they help me achieve a “normal” looking ponytail or are there other substitutes out there? I’m 7 months into transitioning btw.

BrinkyDinks
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BrinkyDinks

You can try hair bungees. They are sold at Ricky’s and Sally’s Beauty Supply. It looks like a miniature bungee and basically you hook one end into your hair and wrap it around then hook the other end into the first hook. Hope that helps!

Karjiana
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Karjiana

Oh yeah… I remember I used to wear those when I was little (last time I was natural), I never knew their name though. Thanks for the tip:D

Jeanetta
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Jeanetta

I twirl my hair by my edges/nape All.The.Time. I need to stop, those areas are signifigantly shorter than the rest of my hair. :-/

Nakita
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Nakita

i am so guilty of 1 and 2. I swear 5 minutes before readin this I was twirling one of my twists and felt a knot and snapped it off. I guess thats another habit to get rid of.

Sophie
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Sophie

I feel like I periodically have problem 4. Between TWA and not so TWA but not long, by hair styling started to feel complicated. I figured out some new styles after a while, but now that my hair is actually getting longer it’s tough again! I’m trying to be gentle even if that means hairstyles not working out exactly as planned sometimes.

DreamGirl
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DreamGirl

Dear BGLH,I wish to voice a complaint. I love this site and don’t hesitate to recommend it,it is my go to for hair information and it has helped me tremendously in my hair journey,however lately I feel that the articles aren’t of the standard I’ve come to enjoy from this site. Please write more ‘well thought out’ for lack of a better phrase articles. Many thanks

D.P. (reply with dreamgirl)
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D.P. (reply with dreamgirl)

My thoughts exactly. This article feels like it was written in five minutes and posted just for the sake of having a new article up. I would rather wait a few days and have an article that was well researched and thought out than have an article of common sense basic information that has been told to us over and over again already. I think if this website wants to stay competitive it should raise the standards for the articles. Waiting 2 or 3 days is not going to make me quit checking the website. It will simply add a… Read more »

Bre
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Bre

I agree with the ladies above, I have seen this topic on this site many times within the last few months. Each time, the article does not add anything new. Every time it’s just a few suggestions. I’d rather have a well thought out article then this.

imani
Guest
imani

I’m guilty of the bannana clip thing! lol! cant tell you how many i’ve broken, sending them FLYING across the bathroom trying to get them to open wide enough for my big poof of hair! lol! When i was relaxed I used to see these huge clips that i knew were for women with LOTS of hair and I alway got the smaller ones.…now? i need those HUGE long ones and they can’t be CHEAP little dollar store ones bc ive broken more of those than I can count. They look cute n fashionable but might as well be put… Read more »

imani
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imani

i think i’m going to start carrying some small sharp scissors in my beauty bag…i am always ripping off knots when i see them and i KNOW its bad!!! I just can’t stand to look at them and know its there! Bad Bad girl!

LISA
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LISA

my hair is 3years natural.… I Discovered on my 3rd year anniversary that my hair was damaged from me constantly playin in my hair…one minute I was two strand twisting and then I was wearing it loose, then I would twist it up and bend the ends with a flat iron..yes, I said it…flat iron.…and needless to say on my 3rd year anniversary my hair was a hot mess.…no growth change.…for acknowledge being natural for 3yrs… I notice one side behind my ear was shorter than before… I was devastated.… I am still trying to find a way to keep… Read more »

Jacky
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Jacky

I agree with the list,over-manipulation is not good for any hairtype.

Sukie75
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Sukie75

Thanks for the tips, I am guilty of #1 and #2. I knew they were damaging but I continued to do them. After reading this article I will be more proactive in not being damaging to my own hair. Again Thanks!

LaNyra
Guest
LaNyra

I never knew finger twirling could cause damage. I guess it really is the smaller things cause the most impact!

umarie
Guest

snapping at split ends *guilty smile* . if im new a white surface, i feel like i must hunt down splits.
i LIVE in two strand swists, so im always untwisting and retwisting strands. bad habit of mine.

Dabney
Guest
Dabney

Here’s my take. This list is kind of lazy. In my years of being Natural, I have realized the worse thing we do to ourselves that has cause us not to retain length is being totally ignorant to the science of our hair. We are constantly looking for magic products and solutions which lead us to: #1. Stress, #2 constantly manipulate, #4 become inconsistent with our hair regimen #5 Compare our hair’s growth and progress to others which leads us down a worm hole of product addiction. The best thing to do to your hair is be consistent, use good… Read more »

Mohmed
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Do you might have a spam problem on this witesbe; I also am a blogger, and I was wondering your situation; we now have developed some nice strategies and we are looking to trade options with other individuals, be sure to blast me an e‑mail if serious.

Elaina
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Elaina

Oh a watched pot boils alright, it just seems like it takes forever to start boiling,

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