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.