5 Reasons You’re Not Gaining Length

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By Jc of The Natural Haven

I recently  received a comment that said, ‘I am stuck at 5 inches and I really just want 12 inches of hair, is that too much to ask?’ I smiled because I could relate to that need to achieve a goal hair length except I never put a number to it, I just wanted enough to make a low pony tail. Coincidentally,  my hair is also currently 12 inches, so I was sitting here with her goal length and thinking, no it is not too much to ask.

The thing I found in my journey is that the sole factor in getting my hair to move on from a ‘stuck’ position was for me to recognise the things that I was doing that were harming my hair. You are in control of whether that hair stays or moves. Here are 5 reasons why your hair does not gain length

1. You ignore breakage.

This is the top reason and if you read no further, at least read the next two paragraphs. If you have been stuck at a particular length for a long time, the most likely reason is that you have split ends which are breaking off your hair at the same rate as it is growing. The only reasonable thing to do is to trim your hair and by trim I mean cut 2-3 inches off. I could hold your hand and say just look for splits and knots and trim them off but in reality it is very had to do a search and destroy on short hair which you cannot see properly.

The second form of breakage that is largely ignored are those short little quarter inch end segment breaks that happen  with very kinky hair.  While it is not possible to fully eliminate breakage entirely, it is possible to reduce it to a minimal level by being very gentle, choosing  gentle detangling methods and being patient when handling your hair.

2. You are over-manipulating it

I will start with the obvious – puffs and afros are addictive. They are simple and cute but they are styles that for the vast majority can cause hair to tangle, knot and break.  The not so obvious is keeping a protective style in for too long. The time and effort required to unravel the strands and remove lint can cause a lot of damage.  For those with looser curls, styles like twists which are normally regarded as protective may be terrible for you  if they unravel easily and you may be tempted to constantly use a drying gel which does not help your hair.

Your hair will complain bitterly when it is over- manipulated. The top signs are breakage, tangling and knotting.  Find a happy medium with your hair.

3. You are still hunting for that magic product

There are no magic products.  There are people who have seemingly terrible product choices but great hair and similarly people with great product choices and terrible hair.

The thing to understand about hair length retention is that it is largely mechanical damage that really does you in.  Mechanical damage meaning how you physically break your hair.  Hair products mainly mask damage, what you can do is prevent damage in the first place. You and your  hair handling methods are the most important tools, over and above  products.

4. You are following someone else’s regimen

Never ever make the mistake of not listening to your hair.  If someone swears by heat training, that does not mean it will for you. If someone swears by coconut oil, that does not mean it will work for you.

There is nothing wrong with experimenting with any method, product or routine. There is something wrong with failing to see that it is not working for your hair. Always pay attention to if your hair breaks or feels less than ideal.

5. You are still using too much heat

As I said previously, length retention has a huge mechanical component to it. Heat ultimately degrades hair. For some people, regular heat use is not a problem as their hair is able to cope with it while for others, even slight heat is an issue.

Learn how your hair behaves. Do not choose style or ease over and above hair health. It may be easier to handle your hair when its curls are not as tight but consider doing a heat free method such as curl formers, braids/twists or banding.

The finer and kinkier your hair, the less likely it is to be able to take a lot of heat.

Ladies, have you been guilty of any of these?
For more of Jc’s writings check out The Natural Haven.

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87 thoughts on “5 Reasons You’re Not Gaining Length

  1. I know this isnt the point of the article but Wow Dot you look like a model &your hair is beautiful in all of the pics! Id love to get my hair to the length in your first one :) Anyways love the article and appreciate the great advice. Ive been feeling stuck at the same shoulder length (when flat ironed that is) since becoming natural about 2 yrs ago. Im pretty sure heat is whats causing it altho I only do it twice a week. If I had thicker hair that might be ok but not for me. If only I could feel confident leaving it natural &find a good leave in or find some other way to style it that doesnt leave it frizzy or poofy. More research I guess..

    • QUESTION: Love this community of informed natural women! 4c hair type (serious shrinkage, tight coils – no curls, often dry) & Ive been natural for about a year now. 4 weeks ago I did an aphogee protein treatment & saw less shedding immediately. I followed up with heavy moisture (as recommended) to ensure that I would balance the protein. Well, now 4 weeks later my shedding is back! (&just so Im throughout, its small pieces not long strands w/ bulbs) So my question is, what am I missing here? I protective style weekly, wash every 2 weeks (to minimize hands in hair) &moisturize daily (or at least every other day). All of my products have essential oils & carriers infused and Im using shampoos, conditioners, butters, and leave in. Any feedback would be appreciated! Stay beautiful ladies :)

  2. Okay, I live I arizona where it gets to about 115 degrees And up in the summer. I always wonder if that was a factor of my hair growing so slow. My hair has been at the nape of my neck for a long time and I just want it at 12 or even maybe 14 inches. It just won’t grow:/ I get it washed every two weeks. My mom takes me to the shop to get it done properly. It’s killing me that it won’t grow.!!. My frustration is deep Dx

    • 1. Stop paying all thatmoney to get your hair washed “professionally”. Go to walgreens or any store like that around you and pick up the pantene in the brown bottle. Get the shampoo, conditioner, and daily moisturiINg lotion.
      2. Your hair probably isnt growing due to build up. In heat like that you probably sweat alot. If you get the products i recommended your hair will be conditioned enough to wash 1 time a week. you need to get the aweat off your scalp.

      BTW sorry for all the typos.

      • Again, the problem is no with hair growing. If the poster’s hair was not growing they would have bald spots. As with most that seem to stuck at a certain length, the problem is retention at the ends.

        Original poster! Please go back a read the article, especially numbers 1 and 2.

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  6. hi, i didn’t know puff were bad … :(
    also i’m wearing buns everyday (for my work) and my hair don’t grow anymore : but i read this is a protective style. someone can tell me?

    • Buns can be a great protective style, but if you have fine strands like mine, you won’t want to wear a bun for more than a week’s time….especially if you’re trying to grow it out. Fine hair gets tangled and breaks much easier in protective styles like buns, so to avoid breakage I frequently style my hair in twists.

  7. I’ve just read this article with eagerness. I have shoulder length hair but I want it to grow past my shoulders and hopefully below my waist.
    I’ve tried everything to grow my hair, when I say everything, I mean everything EXCEPT for the very hard to do advice of tip No.1 in this article-cutting off the ends. My hair has been grown rapidly but it breaks at the ends regardless of how well I look after my hair.

    So I read this article, paused for a while, then I got the scissors out. I’ve just done it. I’ve cut off 2 inches of dead, dry ends that were so bad that no treatment would repair them. I feel that I have been mistakenly hanging onto them with the view that they were part of the length of my hair. As hard as it was, I actually feel better for it.

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