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The Length Retention Checklist: 20 Questions to Ask Yourself When Your Hair Progress Stalls

Avatar • Jun 21, 2014

robin nella waist length natural hair

by Robin (pictured above)

I believe that most women with natural hair have the ability to grow their hair to long lengths.  I grew my natural hair from shoulder length to waist length in three years. I’ve never had hair this long in the past. I don’t come from a family of women with long hair and I didn’t have long hair as a child.
There are many different factors that can impact hair growth and retention. Throughout my hair journey, I’ve learned quite a bit through both research and trial and error. This list of questions below is a great tool to help you assess your regime to  achieve your natural hair length goals.

1.  Do you eat a well-balanced healthy diet?

When it comes to healthy hair and hair growth, what you put in your body is just as important as important as what you put on your hair. The cells in your body need a balance of protein, carbohydrates, produce, vitamins and minerals in order to function at their best and promote optimal hair health & growth.

2.  Do you take a multi vitamin?

Hair grows from within. Your hair needs a sufficient amount of vitamins and minerals to grow. You may not be getting all the vitamins and minerals you need from food. Taking a daily multi-vitamin is a great way to ensure that you’re getting all of your daily vitamin and mineral requirements. *Note: Taking a multi-vitamin, which promotes all over body health, is different than taking hair vitamins, which are targeted to hair growth and have very mixed results.

3. What type of comb do you use on your hair?

A wide tooth comb works best for hair retention as it provides the least amount of tension on your hair.

4. Are you gentle when combing and brushing your hair?

Handling your hair roughly contributes to damaged hair. Don’t comb your hair when you’re angry or irritated. You can’t expect your hair to last for years on your head if you’re man-handling your hair every time you comb it. Always take your time and be gentle with your hair.

5. How do you comb your hair?

When you comb your hair, you should start by combing the bottom section first and slowly work your way up. Never start near the scalp.

6. Do you keep your ends moisturized?

If your ends are dry, they’re more likely to split and break. Taking care of your ends is one of the many essential steps in hair retention.

7. Do you exercise?

Regular cardiovascular and aerobic activity can promote hair growth and reduce your stress level. Having a high level of stress can stunt hair growth.  

8. Do you use direct heat on your hair regularly?

The blow dryer, the curling iron and the flat iron are not your friend, when it comes to retaining length. If you use direct heat regularly, your hair is probably growing. The heat may just be causing some or all of that  growth to break or split.

9. Do you regularly wear hairstyles that strain or pull your hair?

Very tight buns, ponytails, braids, weaves and wigs can put a strain on your hair. Putting excessive stress or strain on the hair can cause damage. Always try to wear your hair in a way that will put the least amount of stress on your hair as possible.

10. Do you drink water?

On average, the human body is made up of 65% water. It’s critical for the production of healthy cells. Water improves all the human body’s functions, including hair growth

11. Do you have a hair regimen and products that your hair seems to respond well to in place?

The same regimen and products don’t work for everyone. However, it’s important to determine what works best for your hair, in order to maintain healthy hair and retain length.

12. Are you consistently following a hair regimen?

Consistently taking care of your hair is not a part-time or seasonal job. If you’re only good to your hair some of the time, expect mediocre results. Remember, you get out what you put in. Consistency is key.

13. Do you spend a lot of time in the pool?

Some chemicals can break down and weaken the hair shaft. Chlorine can wreak havoc on hair. Be sure to cleanse, condition and moisturize hair promptly after spending time in the pool.

14. Do you suffer from product build-up?

Product build-up can stunt hair growth, cause hair loss, limp or lifeless hair. A gentle clarifying shampoo or natural hair clarifier can be used to eliminate build up, without stripping your hair.

15. Do you frequently rock hairstyles where your hair is down and brushing against your clothes?

This can cause hair dryness, breakage and damage. Wearing protective styles can really help in avoiding breakage and retaining length. Protective styles are defined as styles where the ends of the hair are up and out of sight. Many naturalistas with long hair swear by protective styling, including myself.

16. Do you get trims when you need them?

Knowing you need a trim and waiting because you don’t want to lose length can cause split ends to move further up the hair shaft and cause even more damage. You can’t do anything with split ends. They can’t be repaired. Get rid of them.

17. Are you trimming your own hair?

If so, invest in some decent scissors that are specifically for cutting hair. All scissors are not created equal. Using the wrong type of scissors can sabotage your progress. Don’t do it!  

18. Do you pre-poo?

If not, you may want to try it. A pre-poo is a treatment applied to the hair before shampooing/washing. Pre-poo treatments can be done with oil or conditioner. The benefits of pre-pooing include: keeping the moisture locked into hair while washing, preventing the shampoo process from stripping natural oils from the hair, protecting your ends, as well as nourishing the scalp and roots.

19. Do you use hair products with Sulfates in them?

Sulfates are inexpensive cleaning agents (detergents) and you’ll find them in most cleaning products and in many hair products, such as shampoo and conditioner. Sulfates can cause scalp irritation, hair loss, dry hair problems, brittle hair and split ends. The benefits of using sulfate-free hair products include having less dryness, irritation, hair loss and frizz.

20. When you go to bed, do you wear a satin scarf/bonnet?

Satin does not damage or dry out hair. Cotton and polyester hair scarves and pillowcases can dry out your hair. Dry hair breaks more easily. Don’t forget your satin scarf, bonnet or pillowcase!

Did you have any past habits that proved to be detrimental to retaining length?

About Robin: Robin is a health & fitness enthusiast who’s had natural hair for more than 10 years. In January 2010, with shoulder length hair, she started a Waist Length Hair Challenge and by developing a healthy hair regimen, reached her waist length goal in 3 years. You can find Robin on instagram @msrobin_nella for hair retention/growth tips, fitness motivation and healthy eating ideas. 

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Deedeemaha
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Deedeemaha

This was a very nice check list, not only for stalled growth, also just good reminders. Tks.

D
Guest
D

Wowww, her hair is loooong!
This is a great list of questions to ask yourself to find out what you’re doing (or not doing) that’s stunting your growth.

Andiegurl
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Andiegurl

If only my hair was that long. Beautiful!

cepfeng
Guest
cepfeng

I have to question whether whoever writes these ‘essential’ lists has the faintest idea about basic human biology and how multivitamins actually work. Most, if not all of the multivitmanin actually passes out of the body through your urine and countless studies have proven them to be completely ineffective to improving health, unless you are on a severely restrictive diet.

JenniD
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JenniD

Your reply is a bit harsh. I agree with you but this is the case of do your own research. She is probably stating a health fact she read some where or may have been told that by her doctor. Just as you have done just now. The consensus is that many medical professionals can not come to an agreement about multivitamins and I’m sure they studied biology thoroughly in school. Other key essentials could be: Are you stressed out? Could you possibly have a hormone imbalance issue? ( stress and hormone imbalances affect the hair more than people think)… Read more »

cepfeng
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cepfeng

But the thing is, health professionals have. They have said that multivitamins are a ploy and their really hasn’t been a correlation between hair growth and an increased level of vitamins and minerals. Still, I guess trial and error

Kweenie
Guest
Kweenie

But the thing is, health professionals have.”

Cut to the chase and post a link to the meta-analysis you’re referencing. Otherwise, it’s just your “health professionals’ info” versus hers.

O
Guest
O

What medical professions actually say (OK the ones who are my friends and relations) is that for most people in developed countries vitamins and minerals are a waste of money at best and dangerous at worse. For example taking too much vitamin A or iron can cause problems as they are stored in the body and aren’t eliminated in the urine. However for some people (and lots of Black women actually fall into these groups) taking various supplements are beneficial. This is because women who haven’t hit the menopause are often deficient in iron due to heavy periods or pregnancy.… Read more »

Di
Guest

That only applies to synthetic vitamins (98% on the market) because our bodies can’t process fake things (like junk, processed, fast food). It doesn’t apple to vitamins that come from actual food sources, organic, non-GMO, no synthetics and no fillers like Sunwarrior Vitamins

O
Guest
O

Lots of vitamins and mineral supplements are found to not actually contain the amount they claim on the tablet.

In addition some vitamins and minerals have to be consumed at certain way for example vitamin D is more likely to be absorbed when taken with a food with fat in it while if you eat calcium containing products and take iron it won’t be properly absorbed.

Jasmine
Guest
Jasmine

It also depends on the type of vitamin synthetic vitamins are harder for the body to extract so it’s a waste but plant/food based vitamins are more likely to be absorbed since food is were you should be getting your vitamins. I personally like Garden of Life Raw Meal as my vitamin supplement since its got all those vitamins found in a supplement and they all come from the plant based foods in the powder but its more of a meal replacement and my dad swears by their Raw Code vitamins (NOT ADVERTISING I PROMISE).

kia
Guest
kia

i think it’s a personal choice and we can come to that conclusion on our own 🙂

Jacky
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Jacky

Great post! I had a habit of laying my head and hair on my blanket whenever i took a rest during the day because my blanket is softer than my pillow. Unfortunately, this caused strands of fabric to get into my hair and sometimes form knots in my hair which had to be cut out. A definite hair growth staller! I trained myself to stop it for the sake of my hair and also because it’s not fun when complete strangers pull out pieces of fabric from your hair and show it to you. If you do this…STOP! It’s just… Read more »

ClipsCity
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ClipsCity

What a great article! I love reading the tips of ladies who have achieved great success by practicing what they preach! That’s not to say that much cannot be learned from cautionary tales or the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do bunch (I’m thinking of the numerous stylists with damaged/hot mess hair doling out (sometimes bad) advice), but I’m more inclined to put more stock in someone who obviously knows what works for her hair!

firefly
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firefly

to much rules for me!!

firefly
Guest
firefly

rule #8 The blow dryer,curling iron, flat iron is not your friend.

Yet still the pic in the slideshow on the main page has her sitting down with a flat iron on the table. Oh wait, I guess it’s only ok for length shots!

breanne
Guest
breanne

The key word being “regularly.”

Mary in Md
Guest
Mary in Md

Why so negative?! She cautions against REGULAR use of direct heat. She didn’t say no heat use. She’s obviously doing something right.

hyspin
Guest
hyspin

They missed one
21. Adjusting your hair routine to your environment
Are you adjust your hair needs according to seasonal weather changes!
Doesn’t wear you live you have different changes of weather. And that greatly affects your hair.

That’s the mistake I made this past Ice storm winter.

Tre
Guest
Tre

You are totally right!! Not only seasons but climate of where you live. I’m a natural but I live in a coastal town in the northwest. Really all I can do during the winters is wear a protective style. Why bring out the blow dryer in the rainy season.

MAJ
Guest
MAJ

21 — Adapt your hair regiment depending on what your hair need and your hair seems. Just listen your hair…
I think that is the best way to retain lenght and to grow hair.

Didi
Guest
Didi

Great post!I’m a new transitioner and I need help on what to do with my hair.My first twist out was…TRAGIC,TRAGIC!
Thinking of braids or twists at the moment but…
Please heeelp!
Graciaz amigos!

wildcurls
Guest
wildcurls

I think the first replier is confused b/c Robin is not the best writer. I visit her Instagram page regularly and she does give good advise but the writing isn’t the smoothest and doesn’t flow as well as it should. Also, the last question wasn’t answered. Her previous article on bglh was written in a format not reader friendly. I’m sure she’ll get better over time. I must say it’s a little (just a little) humorous that b/c someone knows how to take care of their hair they are now experts on hair or knowledgeable enough to now tell the… Read more »

Ann
Guest
Ann

I find it interesting that you visit the author’s instagram page regularly and came on BGLH to read both her articles, but feel that she can not write and is not qualified to give natural hair tips. Then why do you keep up with her instagram and BGLH articles? Any black woman that figured out how to grow their hair down their back is qualified to me. You would have been better off just saying she can’t write and not saying you follow her. Lol! You sound like a certified hater.

wildcurls
Guest
wildcurls
joycee
Guest

I recently went to a salon and the stylist used a recontructive conditioner and color on my long mane at the same time. When I arrived home the front of my hair is out in bald spots. The sides are out as if I have a disease. This stylist also used cuticle remover to remove the dye stain from my forehead. This left my fore head with blisters and swollen, bruised. I did not sleep for several days due to applying Aelo Vera gel on my forehead during the night. I had to purchase a wig to wear to work.… Read more »

Nemsaj Divine
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Nemsaj Divine

Jamaican Black Castor oil

Rishi Agarwal
Guest
Rishi Agarwal

Healthy Hair Care for Long Hair

#healthyhair #haircare #foodforhair #healthtips

http://goo.gl/vbMk0A

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