By Chinwe of Hair and Health
Neck length hair is about 4–5 inches stretched for some naturals. If you can retain at least a little over 3 inches a year, then you’re on track to reach waist length in almost five years. This sounds easy, right? Well, not so quite. The hard part for many of us is actually retaining that length over time, especially if one doesn’t exactly average 6 inches of growth per year. However, that obstacle can be overcome if you quickly learn your hair at every stage of your growth. How? Well, here are some tips that helped me – as well as lessons learned from setbacks – to get from neck length to waist length (2008–2013). Hopefully they can help you as well.
1. Find a hair “sibling” with waist length hair (i.e., a natural who has at least 3 of the following: similar hair texture, density, porosity, or type)
This was a big one for me. Without finding a “hair sibling”, I wouldn’t have reached my goal in that time frame, if at all. After big chopping, I remember replicating the hair care regimens of waist length naturals (from the beginning of their journeys onwards) with hair very similar to mine. Sera252 and Kemi21/Aijo were my main “hair siblings” because they are both predominantly 4B/4C, medium-to-high density, and low-to-medium porosity naturals. Additionally, Sera252’s texture is a mix of fine/medium like mine. I also looked to Mwedzi’s regimen because of similar characteristics, especially her seemingly identical high shrinkage rate.
“Hair cousins” (naturals who share one or two of your hair’s characteristics) are also useful. For instance, I looked to Naptural85 (for her “keep it simple” methods on her high shrinkage hair) though her hair type is different from mine. So, finding “hair siblings” – and a few “hair cousins” – who have reached waist length can certainly be useful in your growth journey. Don’t just go by hair type alone but texture, density, and porosity.
2. Pay close attention to your hair and how it responds to certain practices
As your hair grows longer, your regimen will more than likely need regular adjustments. You’ll need to pay close attention to your hair and how it behaves with certain practices, methods, etc. Does your hair respond better or worse when using your fingers to detangle instead of a comb? Does it respond better or worse with long-term protective styling instead of other low manipulation options? What about detangling on dry hair versus damp or wet hair? How does your hair respond? If you figure out these things sooner than later, it will save you from major setbacks along the way.
My rule of thumb: If I see several little o’s (broken 4C hairs) on the floor or in the sink, I decide that method is not for me. Noticeable breakage is usually a good indicator, so get in the habit of looking out for that (AND split ends) regularly.
3. Save severe experimentation (e.g., color, press) for later in your journey
The very core of experimentation involves not knowing what your outcome will be and when it comes to hair care, this can be detrimental for those on a serious growth journey. Now, this tip is not necessarily in reference to trying out a new product but to big commitments such as coloring or pressing your natural hair. When taking on such projects, your willingness to deal with possible breakage or setbacks must remain present. If it’s not, then why bother?
4. Finally, incorporate the hair care “standards” – low manipulation, moisture, and deep conditioning
Of course, this post would not be complete without mentioning some hair care “standard” practices, such as low manipulation styling/routine, regular moisture and regular deep conditioning. I have yet to hear about a natural who has reached long lengths without doing all three.
What has helped you in your journey to waist length or beyond?