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Stuck at APL? 6 Tips to Get You to Mid-back Length (MBL)

Avatar • Apr 15, 2014

hair

By Chinwe of Hair and Health

So you’ve made it to armpit-length (APL) or maybe even BSL, but your journey to mid-back length (MBL) is arduous and never-ending.  You’ve tried conditioning more, changing your products but even that doesn’t seem to help.  Well, sit tight and put your reading glasses on for these six tips that may help you reach MBL.

1. Make oils your best friend

Avocado oil. Coconut oilOlive oil. Grapeseed oil.  Make oils your best friend.  You do not have to own every type of oil on the planet, but you can benefit from using oil on a regular basis.  Pre-poo overnight with oil.  Apply oil to your ends before taking down a set of twists or braids.  Put some oil on your strands prior to combing, detangling, or any other manipulation.  Also, use oils as part of your moisturizing method AND conditioning routine.  If you make oils your best friend, your ends can suffer less breakage and splits.

2. Keep your hair up – and not just at night

Many of you probably already practice putting your hair up and in a satin bonnet or scarf at night.  However, keeping your hair up during the day is just as important if you are striving to reach MBL.  This is where regular protective styling comes into play.  Make updos, buns, or some sort of pinned up look your staple style on stretched, twisted, or braided hair.  It is okay to wear your hair out and free once in a while, but overdoing it can wear down your ends and prevent you from retaining more length.

3. Fingers and/or seamless, wide-tooth comb – nothing more

If you are stuck at APL and use a brush and/or fine-tooth comb, then take those tools and toss them.  Again, this is not to say that no natural can reach MBL with such tools; this is to say that you yourself probably cannot.  So I suggest letting those tools go.  Brushes and fine-tooth combs may be preventing you from retaining more length and thus may be keeping you stuck.

4. Invest in a good protein conditioner  for your ends

If you have not being using a protein conditioner yet, you may need to start.  Use a good one, too, like ApHogee Keratin 2‑Minute Reconstructor – a favorite of mine (not to be confused with ApHogee 2‑Step).  Why protein?  Because, as you’ve probably heard me mention before, the ends of your hair about 2–3 years old now and need some reinforcement to reduce breakage and splits.  Oils (as discussed in #1) and a good protein conditioner can help with that!

5. Keep trims to a minimum

If you find yourself getting trims on a set schedule, such as every 1–2 months, then you may want to reconsider that.  Rather, trim only when necessary – that is, only when damage is apparent.  Additionally, focus on tips #1–4 so that you can reduce damage, and thus reduce the need to trim.

6. Stop fussing with your hair

Lastly, stop fussing with your hair.  When you had the teeny weeny afro (TWA) or were in the awkward length stage, you may have tried every natural hair style in the book on your new curls, coils, or kinks.  You probably did a puff one day, a fro-hawk the next day, twists the following day, then a twist-out, then a blow-out, then a rod set, etc.  You were probably really excited about playing in your “new” hair, and I get it.  If you want to reach MBL, however, continuing with that kind of experimentation can cost you some length retention.  That being said, it helps to stay out of your hair as much as possible.

Ladies, are you stuck at APL or even BSL?  Have you finally reached MBL after being stuck?  Share below!

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About Chinwe

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

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[…] Stuck at APL? 6 Tips to Get You to Mid-back Length (MBL) […]

Mary
Guest
Mary

APL?? BSL??? LOL. Not even close. Not that I really want it that long though. Too much work. Mine just barely got the 1/2 (in some sections) since I started a year and a half ago and that was while in weaves, braids, wigs and massaging. Lol.

Miss Mo
Guest
Miss Mo

PREACH!!!

lablooplah
Guest
lablooplah

lol that was my problem, stuck at APL haha.

lablooplah
Guest
lablooplah

i meant to say i wish that was my problem, my bad.

Tatalalicious
Guest
Tatalalicious

Thanks for the tips. I have been stuck between APL and BSL and I am certain it’s because I have not been regularly using oil in my hair. I am going to take heed and see where I am by the end of year.

Japanese Lunch Time Rush
Guest
Japanese Lunch Time Rush

Wait.. how are we judging MBL, BSL, and APL length? Stretched or not? I have nearly APL/BSL length hair when I have it stretched but I have like, 70 — 90% shrinkage that leaves my ends barely arching over the tops of my ears. I would LOVE it if my shrinkage reached shoulder length.…

Ellipsis
Guest

awesome name! anime fan? *i know it has nothing to do with hair*

Japanese Lunch Time Rush
Guest
Japanese Lunch Time Rush

Yep! The name is a joke from an anime called Kuroko no Basuke~
=D

Savannah
Guest
Savannah

Usually the lengths are judged with hair stretched or straightened. I know how you feel! My hair is APL and even in twists it shrinks an inch above my shoulders.

Japanese Lunch Time Rush
Guest
Japanese Lunch Time Rush

Yea, twists are my go to protective style (aside from low buns) but they don’t always keep your hair stretched; mine tend to shrink to about an inch from my shoulders as well~ The great thing about twists though, is that they are adorable no matter what length, right~? XD

Caray
Guest
Caray

Now thats shrinkage, my hair is also APL but my hair my hair sits on my shoulders.

marie
Guest
marie

I’ve never seen that much shrinkage ever!!!!!!

anastasia
Guest
anastasia

Bglh, this article was right on time! Yaaaaaasssss! Just purchased ApHogee Keratin 2‑Minute Reconstructor after leaving work TODAY…wow!! It’s kismet…mitzvah!!! Just washed my hair soooo…5/15 it’s on!

Anecha
Guest
Anecha

Hellllooo!! Who is this bombshell!
Beautiful face with gorgeous hair to match
Is she in twitter! Would love to follow her
Thanks

Christina
Guest
Christina

Her name is sabina karlsson and she is a half swedish half gambian Model 🙂

Anecha
Guest
Anecha

Thank youuuuu <3 <3

Jailyn
Guest
Jailyn

I would agree except for the point about the brush/combs. maybe it was just the wording. but it seems confusing to say that there are naturals who can reach a certain length with those tools, just not you. I guess I get what was being said, but maybe an alternative would be to assess if these tools are doing damage before tossing them out. Just a small detail I was hoping for clarification on. Great article all around though!

Rosa Harris
Guest
Rosa Harris

I started getting real length when I ditched the brush and comb. I finger comb my hair only. I gently separate it after washing with a good conditioner in it to give it slip. I keep it up constantly except for special occasions where I want to show off my sexy.

iamnotasian
Guest
iamnotasian

how do one reach top of the should length?

Toni
Guest
Toni

Good hair practices. Ones that helped me includes eating well (ditching fried foods and eating more FRESH fruits and veggies), exercising regularly, washing and deep conditioning the hair, detangling and using olive oil and coconut oil. Find what specific methods work for you within those mentioned above and remember that it’s marathon, not a sprint.

KynnaB
Guest
KynnaB

Stuck at apl? I wish, I’ve been stuck at chin left for the past 2yrs.… I’ve long given up shampoo, I pre-poo, deep condition bi-weekly with avacado+honey, eevo, evco, tto, jbco, and jo. I also protective style with braids and twists, so I don’t know what to do now… I got a little heat happy a couple months ago and ended up chopping off about 3 inches due to damage 3months. My cousin did sew-ins for a year and it worked wonders for her, but there’s no possible way for me to cover my hair for more than a month… Read more »

Como?
Guest
Como?

When you protective style how long are you leaving the style in? I found that longer term protective styling was really helpful in getting me over the hump during my early years. I would wear braided extensions for 3 months to 4 months at a time. I know some would gasp in horror at this, but I found that getting the braids done less frequently prevented undue tension and manipulation. As my hair has gotten very long buns are my new protective style of choice. Super low manipulation (especially super gentle detangling) has worked pretty well for me, so it… Read more »

KynnaB
Guest
KynnaB

I keep them in usually for a month in a half, 2 months tops. Anything longer than that will drive me crazy and once I take them down I wait about 2–4 months before I put them back in. I’m going to invest in natural looking hair and try protective styling with sew-ins. I’m hoping that if the hair looks like mine I won’t be so anxious to take it out. Thanks for the tips 🙂

LaShon Renee @ For the Love of Curls
Guest

How’s your eating and water intake? What you eat and drink also affects your hair growth. You can also try hair vitamins.

anastasia
Guest
anastasia

@KynnaB Hey there KynnaB =) I had to abandon braid extensions owing to very fine 4abc hair, but of course this may not be the case for you. Marley hair wrecked havoc on these babies and kanekalon, even after ACV/h20 soak, caused more trouble than it was worth. Believe it or not, it took me about two years to understand that extensions and henna (given the fine and kinky/wiry texture of many of my strands) had to go. Given such fine strands, at a minimum I must redo the perimeter of my hair while in two strand twists (no extensions)… Read more »

Kenyetta
Guest
Kenyetta

I’d like to stay away from anything with keratin in it (It had formaldehyde. Eek!). Any suggestions for other protein conditioners? Thanks.

Courtney
Guest
Courtney

Kenyetta, do you get a keratin treatment recently? I got a professional treatment done about 4 weeks ago. Any complaints? As for protein conditioners/treatments, I would recommend Mane N’ Tails Instant Protein Reconstructor, Mills’ Creek Keratin Conditioner and Crome Wheat-Germ Treatment. Mane N’ Tail can be found in any beauty supply and it comes in a spray bottle. It’s a quick protein leave-in with very few ingredients. Kept my hair strong and reduced breakage. Mills’ Creek can be found at the Vitamin Shoppe or Whole Foods. Second to water, hydrolyzed keratin is the second ingredient and everything after that is… Read more »

LaShin Renee @ For the Love of Curls
Guest

Getting a keratin treatment is different that buying products with keratin. Keratin is naturally found in our hair and nails, it’s a protein.

T
Guest
T

You could go on the DIY/homemade side and use yogurt or egg yolk, or mayo for your ends! 🙂 Save yourself some money!

Kenya Thomas
Guest

I onlyy use Natural/Organic products on my hair. You should give Aubrey Organic Protein Conditioner a go. It has Rosemary and Peppermint in it for growth, along with lots of other yummy ingredients for your hair! ^_^

Nubia Ashanti
Guest
Nubia Ashanti

I’ll take armpit length any day!! Great tips!

KynnaB
Guest
KynnaB

Clearly you need a time out, go find a corner and sit in it…

LaShon Renee @ For the Love of Curls
Guest

This is so right on time for me right now! I just knew I’d be at midback length by now so I’m definitely stepping up my game this year.

Andiegurl
Guest
Andiegurl

I’m stuck pretty much at APL. It seems like my hair refuses to budge lately. Ugh! I may need to get some of that Aphogee.

Jasmine
Guest
Jasmine

the 2 min reconstructor is LIFE! i even told my relaxed friend to try it and she sent me a snapchat of her swinging her hair around with joy lol

Pseudonym
Guest
Pseudonym

YES on the ends!!!!!! The only struggle I’m having at the moment is keeping the bottom inches of my hair alive. I might even be seeing breakage for the first time ever b/c I’m seeing short 1–2 inch strands w/ no bulb at the end! 🙁

Jaye
Guest
Jaye

My hair has lots of shrinkage. They’ll be digging my grave before I reach arm pit length. lol.… I’m just trying to keep it healthy after years of abuse and neglect.

Niara
Guest

I have to disagree with #5. Trimming at a minimum is one thing, but to only trim when damage is apparent? Apparent to who? You or everyone else? Some women may take that literally and only trim when they have a quarter inch of split ends or when someone else tells them their hair is split. I’ve made that mistake before and I’m regretful because in the end, I lost more length as a result. Pay attention to your hair — if you notice that your ends seem weaker around the tenth or twelfth week, schedule regular “dusting” trims to… Read more »

Michelle
Guest

Coloring your hair can also keep you at the APL dilemma. I’ve BC’d my hair almost three years ago, and I am still between APL and BSL. After an honest assessment, I had to let go of permanently coloring my hair to blonde and red, and now just opt for a semi-permanent color (Manic Panic’s black dye is my friend!). My hair has since stopped breaking and it’s finally growing again. Also, ditto on the oils and protein treatments! I DC my hair every week and pre-poo with oils. I also use JBCO for my scalp and ends, and my… Read more »

Linda
Guest
Linda

I transitioned from relaxer and color! My hair is BSL when its straight. I only straighten it on special occasions. I do twist outs, buns and flexirod sets. I have major shrinkage, it hangs on my shoulders but I don’t mind because its like having short hair without getting a haircut. On the few times I straighten it, people always say I did not know your hair was that long! For me its about having healthy hair! I try to be careful with it and mostly leave it alone. My hair is now also salt and pepper! I love it!

E.C. from D.C.
Guest
E.C. from D.C.

i’ve read to stay away from coconut oil.

Chelsea
Guest
Chelsea

You want to empower ‘women of color’ yet you use a picture of a white girl for an article on growing healthy long BLACK hair, no wonder some people think blacks can’t grow their natural hair and that if they have long hair it’s a wig. Her hair may be curly but it’s not black hair, she is not black, clearly… and you’re too into the eurocentric beauty standards to even realize. This is why people think you have to look European to feel attractive. An image of an African queen in her natural pride is common sense, not a… Read more »

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