Many black women have been led to believe that retaining length in their hair is virtually impossible. But with the right regimen and knowledge, it doesn’t have to be. This week, four BGLH writers will share stories of how they went from TWA to back length. They represent a diversity of hair textures and life experiences. We hope that you gain inspiration and information. Our first feature is from Ijeoma.
Even though I didn’t big chop with the intention of growing my hair to a certain length, I managed to gain significant length in my first 2 years. I big chopped in May 2010 after transitioning haphazardly for 10 months, so I started off my journey with about 4 inches of straightened hair.
Early on, I focused on getting to know my hair, experimenting with biweekly washes or cowashes, different cheapie drugstore conditioners (I settled on Aussie Moist), and not doing much styling outside of twists and bantu knot outs. Shea butter and coconut oil were my best friends, and I insisted on mixing my own concoctions at home. Eight months after my big chop I set out on a protective style challenge, where I did mini twists, flat twist updos, and other protective styles using my own hair that I believe contributed to my growth. However, all my protective styling somehow equated to me not ever trimming my hair, so in April of 2011, I realized I had made the first of many mistakes in my hair journey. I had my hair straightened at a natural hair salon and they informed me that they had to cut about 2 inches off of my hair. Now you might be skeptical, but I had not trimmed my hair AT ALL since I big chopped, so I had a foolish amount of dead ends that had to go. The second biggest mistake was a terrible dye job in August 2011 that left my hair over processed. Despite setbacks, by December of 2011, my hair had flourished to armpit length with just a tension blown out. However, by February 2014, my hair — again tension blown out — was only a few inches longer, though much thicker. If my hair had grown the same rate in 2012 and 2013 as it did in 2010 and 2011, it should have been waist length — but alas it wasn’t. So what went wrong?
Two main things: one, I added a lot of color in my hair in the summer of 2013, without compensating with more moisture. I got lazy with my regimen, as my hair was long enough to always be pretty in a puff, bun, or updo whenever it was too dry for be out. I also experimented A LOT with different hair products in 2013 and 2014, in efforts to conduct reviews on my site. Once I realized my hair was long but not it’s healthiest (since it wasn’t showing any length gains), I made some changes to my regimen by using fewer products and more protective styles such as wigs and crochet braids. Out of boredom, I cut my back length hair into a tapered fro a couple of weeks ago, and while length is again not a primary goal of mine, I am being more mindful of my length progress as an indicator of the overall health of my hair. I’m not sure whether or not I’ll let it grow back to back length again, but I know it’s possible with my hair!
Can you relate to any aspect of the hair journey? Where are you in your growth process?