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5 Length Retention Tips for Naturals with Slow Growth

• Jun 17, 2013

slowgrowth

By Chinwe of Hair and Health

Let’s be real.  Not every natural grows the average 6 inches of hair per year under optimal health conditions. Some grow 7 inches or more.  Others grow 5 inches, 4 inches, or possibly less.  Remember, 6 inches per year is just the average – not everyone’s – hair growth rate.

Today I want to encourage those with slow hair growth.  First, check out this earlier post to see if you have exhausted all avenues to reach your optimal growth rate.  Secondly, there is no need to feel defeated or inferior.  This is not a race.  This is not about how you fair against others.  This is about reaching your own personal goal, which can be done.

I want to discuss how you can reach your goal length if you have been struggling until now.   The reality is that your method may have to differ greatly from someone who has a faster growth rate.  This is because every one third or quarter of an inch is crucial in your case.  The following is a strategy that helped me to reach my goal in five years:

1. Detangle once a month or less

Detangling is probably one of the biggest sources of mechanical breakage of the hair, so the less often you do it, the better – with the exception of a caveat.  That caveat is to keep your hair as untangled as possible (for example, via protective styling) during the month.

With frequent or excessive detangling, breakage or mid-shaft splits can accumulate over time.  This is why it is important for a natural with slow growth to detangle once a month or less, if possible.  Weekly or even biweekly detangling may hinder length retention.

2. Limit trimming to no more than half an inch a year

As a natural with slow growth, if you need to trim off more than half an inch (or even one inch) of damaged ends a year, then you may want to evaluate what in your regimen is causing that damage.  Are your ends splitting due to excessive and improper heat use? Are they splitting because of inadequate moisture or over-manipulation?  If you keep your ends under good care, there is no reason why you should have to cut more than half an inch every year.

3. Find a great staple conditioner and invest in good natural oils

Though many naturals can benefit from this tip, it needs special emphasizing for those with slow growth.  You see, a great staple conditioner and good set of natural oils can help immensely with retaining almost every bit of growth you get.  These products can transform a breakage-filled detangling session into a virtually breakage-free one.  They can coat the hair strand to reduce friction from combing and styling.  They can also strengthen OR moisturize the strand to decrease formation of splits on the end and mid-shaft.  Use your oils and conditioner religiously.

4. Be EXTREMELY patient when detangling

Even with the above tips, a rushed detangling session can cost you all the growth you achieved in the month or over the course of a few months.  Take your time as you detangle through each section, and if it helps, play some calming slow music in the background.  (I personally like Maxwell and Daley.)

5. If you can, incorporate long-term protective styling

The reason I say “if you can” is that some naturals simply do not fair well with long-term protective styling.  However, if you want to give it a try, then start by extending your twists or braids from one week to three weeks and then eventually to four or five weeks.  Check out this earlier post on how to make protective styles last a long time.

Ladies, have any of these techniques helped you with length retention?

About Chinwe

Healthy hair care tips and more! http://www.healthyhairbody.com

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JENNID
Guest

Good tips. I,‘d also add try using some protein based conditioners every so often to help strengthen your hair.

msboogee
Guest

I don’t believe in slow growth

dawn
Guest
i agree insomuch as it’s all relative. if you come from an area or ehtnicity (hypothethically speaking, as always) in which all or most of the individuals have a hair growth average of 3 inches a year, then to you, 4 inches a year would be exceptionally fast. by contrast, if you hail from a region or ethnic group in which most individuals or all tend to grow about 7 inches a year, then to you, 6 would seem unusually slow. it’s truly relative, when you think about it. so from this perspective, there IS no such thing as slow,… Read more »
Jax
Guest

Looks like the troll is back for her daily episode of ‘Mindless Foolery’…

Kate
Guest

You don’t have to believe in it. It exists whether you do or don’t believe it.

adashofk.blogspot.co.uk

cb
Guest

Is it because the words ‘slow’ and ‘growth’ does not make sense? This is a wonderful post

ladyluo
Guest

How does it not make sense? The rate of growth is different for different people. Some can be slow, some can be fast, average, etc.

mangomadness
Guest

I don’t know (or care to know) about my rate of hair growth but I am gentle with my hair so as to foster length retention in my kinky, coily Afro-textured, super dense hair.

I consistently follow techniques 3 and 4.

Other things I do to foster length retention are:
— detangle before shampoo-ing
— finger-detangle 98% of the time (2% of the time I use a seamless wide-tooth comb)
— wash and condition in twisted sections (10)
— wear stretched styles (braid-outs)
— protective style often (cinnabuns, donut buns and updos)
— trim 1/4 inch to 1/2 an inch every 4 months

monisola
Guest
HALLELUJAH for this post! I am a slow growth natural and it took me 4 years to figure out that all of these tips were beneficial.I wish I had seen this post back in 2009– Especially detangling infrequently BUT gently and doing longer term protective styles. Oily finger detangling using coconut oil not a water based conditioner, is best for me. (water=weaker shrunken-tangled hair for me) 4 week mini braids and 3 week kinky twists, havana twists, or yarn braids with ADEQUATE moisture have been a god sent to my length retention. Also using a leave in with a little… Read more »
stephanieb
Guest
I agree this post is great and I definitely needed it a few years ago as well. Nevertheless, I’ve gone back to the drawing board and did the BC about a month ago and have been wearing a wig since then and my hair has done so good. I had a great deal of heat damage and had to cut it off because my hair was spliting like crazy, but my hair has done so well since then. I have 4a/b hair and out of all of the things I’ve tried, and I “done tried them all”, from Carol’s Daughter,… Read more »
monisola
Guest

mini braids with my OWN hair.

Charlotte
Guest
I have very fast growing, hip length hair and while I am probably going to get booed on this I want to say this to help that one who is willing to hear me out. I strongly disagree with almost everything in this article. I have never lost more length until I started protective styling. Not everyone should protective style. I was very gentle and used silk hair accessories, big loose ones, and banana clips, and my hair suffered massive breakage even from loose bunning. I especially advise to take precaution against any sort of wet updo. The reason my… Read more »
monisola
Guest

I tried everything you do with your hair for the first year and a half of my journey and had little to NO retention. It was not until i started protective styling that my length budged at all. Please, everyone has different hair. There IS A REASON why millions of black women in the world SWEAR by protective styling. We are not cray-cray ok?!?

silkynaps
Guest

My hair is predominately 4c, but I’m not a fan of protective styles because I don’t care for fuzzy hair. However, I am a fan of leaving hair alone!

Once, my hair reached puff length, that became my go-to style. By keeping the tension minimal and keeping my edges smooth, I find that I can go a few days without actually having to handle my hair which, for me, results in optimal retention. My daughter has 4a hair and wore a puff most days of her childhood. While under my care, her hair reached her tailbone.

Jessica
Guest
Well,I would say that you discredited yourself right off the rip when you said that you have fast growing hair. THe article it meant for those with slow growing hair- so your hip length hair is irrelevant, BUT I will say that i do agree with you in that protective styling is not for everyone and i have had your same experience with protective styling. My hair grows pretty fast as well, but mainly when i leave it alone. I attribute that more to the width of my hair than to my growth cycle. My hair is very fine, and… Read more »
My4CHair
Guest

Protective styling is best for type 4 hair as this is the most fragile hair type, you probably don’t have type 4 hair…

stephanieb
Guest

I totally agree Jesssica, you have to find what works for you and stick with it, not going with everything someone else says or everything you read in an article. I learned the hard way about doing that unfortunately. And I agree, I doubt that Charlotte has 4a/b hair, people can kill me talking about their hair and making comparisons, SMH!

jmh
Guest

Do you have 4a b or c hair? I sincerely doubt it!!!

TINA SMITH
Guest

RUDE

DreamGirl
Guest

Great article,I have this problem,been natural 3 years and my hair is barely bsl. I have fine 4c hair so I will try to wash my hair less often and try to be gentler when I detangle.

Sabrina Antoinnette
Guest
@dreamgirl this is my greatest fear! I also have mixed texture hair that is a mix of normal/fine 4a/b/c depending on the area of my scalp. This article was right on time for me. I just made a pact with myself regarding the same things: more patience, less detangling (this is a big one for me because I have to cleanse every 2 weeks due to sensitive skin & scalp), and in spite of how much I love wearing my hair out — more protective styling. My goal is to wear protective styles at least 50% of the time with… Read more »
stephanieb
Guest

I’m trying to do the same thing too Sabrina, trying to wear more protective styles, which is hard because I love wearing my hair out too. I have been wearing a wig for the past few weeks since I did the big chop so that I can protect my hair and let it grow out some but I REALLY miss wearing it out, especially in all of this heat.

Tabatha
Guest

Right now I’m wearing cornrows help my hair grow out. I’ll be taking them out in about 2 weeks. Then I think I’ll let my hair rest and then I’m going to try twist braids.

ladyluo
Guest

I do have slow growing hair and I am really trying to incorporate long term protective styling though it is so hard for me to go more than a week without handling my hair. The long term protective styling will also be beneficial for me so that I am not constantly checking my hair for growth on a weekly basis.

Jessybabe
Guest

My hair at the moment is up grazing my shoulders. I don’t have a protective go to style due to my uneven/ short length. I do know that if I do not detangle my hair, may god help me cuz a whole heap of knots will be waiting for me

Yas
Guest
Good tips in theory and I’m definitely intrigued enough to find a way to make this work, but this would result in the reduced washing of one’s hair. It’s sort of like robbing Peter to pay Paul when both are necessary; and I wonder if it’s really worth it. Limiting detangling may prevent breakage; but dirty unwashed hair weakens the shaft and that ALSO causes breakage. If you notice, the stands of hair in dreadlocked styles are sealed–so there’s no concern for tangling and that does allow for length. However, unlocked hair will tangle when washed. There’s really no way… Read more »
melissa
Guest

These tips seem to relate more to retention than growth rate; which would make them applicable to everyone, not just those with ‘slow growth’. I personally have normal growth but tend to have issues with ssk’s and mid shaft splits. I could see how some may think their hair is growing slower if breakage is playing a role

LBell
Guest
Completely agree with this… Growth is an internal process that can’t be controlled anywhere near as much as length retention can be. Fixation on how fast the hair comes out of the follicles is counterproductive IMO. It’s FAR more important to focus on making one’s external hair care as damage-free as possible, and this post reflects that. I don’t think growth rates really matter with regards to the tips found here. If I didn’t know better, I’d call myself a slow grower. However, when I wore a TWA on the regular I’d have to get it trimmed every 3 weeks… Read more »
mangomadness
Guest

I agree! I think length retention should be the focus if one desires longer hair. Growth rate is hard to ascertain and cannot be changed.

Tee-winder
Guest
Excellent tips! THE KEY FOR SLOW GROWERS IS TO HAVE A REGIMEN THAT RETAINS YOUR HAIR!! As time goes on, even though you are a slow grower, you will still have very long hair in however many years. I started my journey in 2009 and now my hair is approaching waist length (the longest length). I am a slow grower so instead of getting to waist length in 4 years, it will probably take me 4 and 1/2 years or maybe even 4 and 3/4’s of a year. That’s okay with me. I’m comfortable with my slow growth because I… Read more »
Mesha
Guest
I’m sorry, but I had to laugh when you said that you have been natural for 4 yrs and your hair is waist length. Honey, that is NOT slow, that’s extremely fast! Shoot, I’ve been natural since 2009 and my hair is barely past my shoulders…and that’s at my nape! Now THAT’S slow! And I’ve been doing everything I can think of to get my hair to grow: prenatal pills, biotin, washing every other week, once a month, every week, moisturize, etc and NOTHING seems to get my hair to sprout out! The only way I can tell that my… Read more »
Monisola
Guest

it is hard to ascertain and to change, but trusssst me, some people’s scalps push hair out more slowly than others, it is a fact of nature that all bodies are not the same, some scalps grow hair more slowly than others.

Ugonna Wosu
Guest

stimulating your scalp with 1)scalp massages(using oils), 2)the inversion method(standing on your head or leaning forward for several minutes), and 3)ingesting vitamins like A, C, and E help as well. But whatever rate you grow at, it is retention of the length that matters, not the growth of it. We grow all the time, but it is hard to keep it without the right haircare practises. So ladies, make sure you have a good regimen and protective styles. That’s the most important thing.

shelikes
Guest

aside, the model is beautiful. i like this site because some of the women featured are so pretty.

shelikes
Guest

they are very inspiring. short shiny black nappy hair beautiful cocoa colored face and i absolutely need to know the color of the lip gloss she is wearing lol.

Rachel
Guest
I suffer with Systemic Lupus and have experienced slow hair growth and thinning (particularly in the edges and crown of my hair) in the last 2 years since diagnosis in 2010. I have been religiously caring for my locks using shea butter, coconut oil, castor/argan oil, daily scalp massages, taking vitamins and observing a Lupus diet — but have seen very slow progress in terms of growth. I recently had a protective style (kinky twists) put in and advised my hairdresser about the problems with my edges and crown so that she could apply them gently. However, after 3 weeks… Read more »
nigeria
Guest

I wonder if growth aids like biotin and viviscal could help those who lose hair due to medical conditions?

L.u
Guest
The problem for me generally is that as much as I look into tips and advice, no one who knows better is able to see, touch, and feel my hair. I feel like for some of us, we simply lack something in our knowledge base that prevents us from understanding our hair. For example, if a product does not work well, one should cease its usage. But people like me would continue to use it because we are oblivious to the fact that Product X is ruining the hair. Or we keep doing twists as a protective style, when twists… Read more »
anon
Guest

I wish i was mixed with something instead of being just ”black”. Then i would have nicer and better hair and better skin and then guys would find me attractive 🙁

Phoxxie
Guest

Whoa are you serious or are you just being a troll? You cannot be serious. Just “black”? Straight hair doesn’t equate to nicer hair. Nor does skin color. You have a lot of issues and I really dont think its how you look that doesnt attract guys. Its your attitude and the fact that you’re nuts.

anon
Guest
No I am not a troll. I really do feel this way and so do thousands of other black women. It really is an absolute torture feeling like this. It is seriously causing me to become depressed and dislike myself even more. I have always been told how ugly i was because of the colour of my skin and my hair. In high school i was threathened by my entire class to get a perm or they will continue to torture me. Someone even told me that they would bring a gun to shoot me if i didnt do it.… Read more »
MM
Guest

This is how you feel so your feelings are legitimate and likely come from years of bullying and seeing yourself through other people’s eyes. However, you clearly know by your statements that it’s not the way you SHOULD feel. All people are beautiful and you will learn that in time. I would encourage you to seek professional counseling to deal with the past issues that brought you to feel this way. It will take a while but it will truly help. Blessings to you my friend 🙂

Rebecca
Guest

I find just plain old African American women very beautiful, I am not mixed and couldn’t love myself anymore than I do now. Besides don’t you get tired of hearing about how mix women are prettier, more attractive etc. that is just a myth. If you want people(men) to love you you have to love yourself first don’t blame you for who you are. Black women are beautiful too-have you seen black people who are loved? ex; Viola Davis, Alek Wek

anon
Guest

I am not trying to be rude but i don’t really think those two were that great examples. That made me feel even worse 🙁

Positive Vibes
Guest
I know this was posted 2 years ago, but someone might read this someday. Lol, let me give you some better examples: Gabrielle Union, whose in her 40’s and can give some 20 yr olds a run for their money (out skin is the bomb-diggity) Dana Davis, who I think is adorbs Adaora Akubilo, a sports illustrated model with short natural hair. Its sports illustrated, men all over the world think she’s gorgeous. (she’s as african as you can get) Mo Abudu, in her 50s and shes still got it. I agree with the commentor on top, if you feel… Read more »
Hannah
Guest

The rate your hair grows is genetic there nothing you can do about that. Detangling is one give point but not the only. I notice I had faster hair growth when one i exercise regularly & drink a lot of water. Two when I was eating healthy ex. I started adding spinach & greens to my diet my hair was thicker, I also had to reduce the amount of sugar & coffee in my diet. All theses things have more to do with over all health & diet then hair.

The Mane Captain
Guest

detangling once a month will only work for those who do protective styling for that long. If you leave your hair out most of the time, then you’ll need to detangle more than once a month.
while protective styling are great for length retention, one might end up loosing all the hair you’ve managed to retain if proper care isn’t taken while the hair is in a protective state.

but all good points!
themanecaptain.blogspot.ca

lovingthenaturallife
Guest

I condition and go everyday and wear my hair out, I do finger comb, but I only seriously detangle my hair once a month and in the past year since the bc I’ve had 7 inches of growth. So detangling everyday even for those who wear their hair out isn’t always necessary.

LYnne HArrison
Guest
I took my daughters locks down and her hair grew like a foot and a half in a year in a half and she retained most of her hair after take down. Now I have her hair in micro braids which I plan to take down and redo every six months to a year. I will interlock in between time, which is what I did with her prior locks. For maintance, I wash every two weeks and apply oil to her hair every day. Rather it be coconut, shea, or/and castor oil. Her hair is past her waist and this… Read more »
LYnne HArrison
Guest

Sorry I said foot and a half in year in a half…should have been in 2 years in a half that it grew that long

LYnne HArrison
Guest

This is what her hair looks like unbraided and with shrinkage
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Toni
Guest

Beautiful

Nana Esco
Guest

I think thicker hair is so much more beautiful than fine thin hair.

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