When you first begin building your natural hair regimen, you’re bound to have some hits and misses. However, through a process of trial and error, you will come to realize what works and build a routine around a few staple products and techniques. But what happens when your time-tested methods no longer seem to work? You make it to shoulder length—no problem. You effortlessly glide to arm pit length—piece of cake. Then the brakes screech, the record scratches and you are stuck at just above bra strap length for 2 years. Where did you go wrong? From personal experience, I can offer a few insights that will hopefully be of some help to those of you who have found yourself inexplicably stuck, while using “good” hair techniques.
1. Are You Using Shortcuts?
First, ask yourself this question: Are you doing the things that helped the health and growth of your hair initially? I remember back when my goal was to grow my natural hair just below shoulder length. I alternated between deep conditioning with moisture-packed products and protein products every other week. I wore my hair in protective styles weekly and moisturized the ends of my hair religiously.
After a year of using these practices, my hair was armpit length and I felt confident that I had “cracked the code” for achieving longer, healthier hair. The following year, my hair growth was almost stagnant and it’s no surprise why: I slacked off. As your hair grows longer it requires more time and energy to achieve the same results, so we sometimes take shortcuts. Sometimes those shortcuts save time without consequence. However, sometimes we change our methods in ways that negatively impact the growth of our hair. Return to the beginning, if you know that you’ve tweaked your regimen. You may find that shortcuts are fine if you are maintaining your length; but if you are actively trying to retain length, then you will need to aggressively and constantly make the extra effort to maximize the health of your hair.
2. The Lure of the Bandwagon
Isn’t it funny when you’re doing something that works yet are still tempted to pursue a method that promises quicker or easier results? It’s like weight loss. You know that eating healthier and exercising regularly helps you achieve slow and steady weight loss. Still, it is exciting to consider the prospect of losing weight in half the time, something that weight loss ads often promise. Likewise, it can be tempting to incorporate products or methods into your regimen that can ultimately hurt rather than help your hair progress if the product “promises” exceptional results. Keep in mind that a product may offer great results for other people, but that doesn’t mean that you should abandon what works for you. Consider this: The regimen that works for your hair may not work for another person. Therefore, be happy that you’ve discovered what works for you rather than trying to adapt someone else’s method to your hair.
3. The Dreaded Hair Plateau
The hair growth plateau or the maximum length your hair can grow, garners too much attention in my opinion. If your hair length goal is tailbone length, then it is possible, you might not readily achieve your final hair goal. Otherwise, I wouldn’t worry about your hair plateau as a reason for hair retention issues. Barring conditions that a dermatologist or trichologist should be able to diagnose, I believe most women can achieve bra strap length. Now, for some women, hair at bra strap length appears stringy or limp, which is why they may opt for shorter lengths. But in terms of actual hair growth, you can probably retain hair several inches longer than shoulder length.
If you’ve been stuck at one length, don’t get discouraged. I never made it past shoulder length during the first five years as a natural and figured that was just the way it was always going to be. I was wrong and found that particular mindset kept me from adopting practices that would have helped my hair years ago. If you’ve found what works for your hair, keep doing it until you reach your length goal. Good practices don’t just suddenly stop working. We often change our practices in ways that don’t benefit our hair.
Have your “good” hair care practices suddenly stopped working? What do you think was the reason?