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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91 Comments on "5 Reasons You’re Not Gaining Length"

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Some­one asked, but I didn’t see a response. What does it mean to dust hair? I’ve nev­er heard this expres­sion before. And thanks. I’ll google also.


These tips are on point. When it comes to my hair, I so want to be the woman who can wear her hair out 24/7 and it retains all its length but b/c I have fine strands, I need more of a bal­ance between wear­ing it out and wear­ing it up. I’ve tak­en to wearin my hair up or in pro­tec­tive styles dur­ing the week and wear it out on the week­ends. This rhythm works for me. 

It’s about lis­ten­ing to your hair and not just doing what you want. That’s how you get to retain the length that you want.

I know a lot of nat­u­rals con­sid­er a twist-out, braid-out, or twists to be low manip­u­la­tion, but my hair begs to dif­fer. Although I like all of those looks, my hair prefers a good old wash n’ go. I notice very lit­tle hair shed­ding when I do wash ‘n gos, com­pared to the oth­er styles. Even if I wet my hair on a dai­ly basis. In addi­tion, my hair tends to stay more mois­tur­ized through­out the week. So, I had to lis­ten to my hair, instead of oth­er nat­u­rals, who do not have a pos­i­tive expe­ri­ence with wash ‘n gos.… Read more »
Aisha Soleil
I’m also team wash-n-go. I BC’d in ’09 and as soon as I got a lit­tle length I start­ed doing twists and twist-outs or braid-outs because that’s what I thought I was *sup­posed* to do. Most of my nat­ur­al hair idols were doing it and they had long hair so I was going to do what they did. It took me almost a year and a half to fig­ure out that my hair does not like those types of styles. Actu­al­ly, my hair doesn’t like to be stretched for long peri­ods of time. I find that if I keep my… Read more »

Yeah glad that you’re able to do the wash n gos with no prob­lem. I can’t do that because my hair will knot the f.. up like nobodys busi­ness. lol.…lol.…. Now I will spritz my hair every oth­er day with my water/glyercin/oil mix­ture and this give a nice mois­ture fac­tor for my hair. I’m actu­al­ly think­ing about buy­ing Jane Carter Nour­ish & Shine prod­uct, saw the good reviews on it but $21.99 for 4oz is alot… hum maybe a christ­mas present to myself lat­er this…


the best thing about the nour­ish and shine is that i only have to buy it about every 8 months or so and i use it dai­ly. my hair is thick and about 10 inch­es right now. so to me its worth it because it lasts so long


Awe­some post! 

I was guli­ty of #1 and #4 in the past. I used to detan­gle my soak­ing wet cndi­tion­er-soaked super coily hair with a wide-toohed comb floowed by a mod­i­fied Den­man brush because I saw some­one else with super long hair (and a sig­nif­i­cant­ly dif­fer­ent hair tex­ture) do it. Need­less to say, that tore up my hair and cre­at­ed exces­sive break­age. Even­tu­al­ly, I wised up and looked for a bet­ter (read: less break­age pro­mot­ing) detan­gling method for my hair. Now, I fin­ger-detan­gle sec­tioned, stretched, damp­ened and oiled hair before wash­ing. Detan­gling has nev­er been eas­i­er and I have lit­tle break­age.

No one manip­u­lates their hair more than me, and I can hon­est­ly tell you that it hasn’t done any­thing to my hair. In fact my hair has thrived. It is now push­ing 13 inch­es. I cut off 1 inch last month. I think each person’s hair is dif­fer­ent, and each per­son has to know their hair and act accord­ing­ly. My hair has a ten­den­cy of work­ing itself loose no mat­ter what style it’s in and then get­ting inter­twined with oth­er hair. After one day my hair starts to lock, and you know how some peo­ple can leave their hair in… Read more »

I con­fess — I’ve been guilty of over-manip­u­lat­ing my hair. I’ve noticed more itty-bit­ty pieces of bro­ken hair. I am tak­ing that as a sign to leave my hair alone for a while. My daughter’s help­ing me with braids as I type this, and I hope to keep the style for a month. This way, I hope to save time on styling, $$ on prod­ucts, and, ulti­mate­ly, my hair strands. This is a very infor­ma­tive arti­cle. I appre­ci­ate it great­ly!

Great arti­cle, Jc.  How long do you think is too long to leave in pro­tec­tive styles, since you men­tioned that as a pos­si­ble fac­tor? For the past sev­er­al months, par your influ­ence, I’ve been wear­ing medi­um-sized box braids (well, top half of strands = box braids, bot­tom half = rope twists…so that they’re eas­i­er to take out come that time). I leave them in any­where between 4 and 7 weeks. The thing is, when my hair is twisted/braided up, it’s hard­er for me to tell the con­di­tion of my hair. I can bare­ly feel if it’s dry or not, let alone… Read more »
The Natural Haven

Sor­ry for the late reply Court­ney, I have been away for the past week!

I think you can keep braid­ed or twist­ed styles in for as long as the hair is not get­ting mat­ted. For most peo­ple this is between 2–4 weeks and less for those with loos­er curls. I am also a 4abcxyz and I can go for much longer (upto 8 weeks) but I do know the back and mid­dle of my hair requires redo­ing every 2 weeks.

For trim­ming — Have you seen this post on trim­ming with­out need­ing to see the split ends?

fluffy in flight
I under­stand where you’re com­ing from. Each person’s hair is dif­fer­ent. I have to deal with my hair EVERY DAY or not it will start to knot and tan­gle. and my hair agrees with what i’m doing because my hair has grown enor­mous­ly — what some peo­ple have in 2 years, i have at one year or < than one year, and i’m very scis­sor happ­py so I’m try­ing to cut back on using the scis­sors since it’s right by my side when­ev­er i’m doing my hair. Last Novem­ber i chopped off 3 inch­es on the spur of the moment… Read more »

I have high­ly tex­tured hair as well. I can tell when I need a trim by run­ning my fin­gers down the strands and you will feel the dif­fer­ence from the ends that need to be trimmed and what doesn’t. Mine usu­al­ly kind of rough com­pared to the top of the strand. I trim where the rough­ness begins. Some­times I trim while my hair is in twists, the ends that are stringy I cut. HTH.


Real­ly liked num­ber 4. That can be true there are peo­ple out there using ultra sheen or do groo and have great hair.


Great article.….ESPECIALLY #4!!!! I will be shar­ing this on my page!!


Very edu­cat­ing


After a change in my Wash/Conditioning reg­i­men, I noticed shed­ding and break­age. Also, I was over manip­u­lat­ing my hair this past sum­mer. I am hap­py to say that I am return­ing to my pre­vi­ous reg­i­men. I’m sure the results will be very reward­ing. I was won­der­ing why I hadn’t seen any growth over the sum­mer. Now I know bet­ter!


I KNOW I’m guilty of not trim­ming my hair, lol. I haven’t trimmed it since I went nat­ur­al 1 year ago (exact­ly, that’s ter­ri­ble). Oth­er than that, I’d say I’m pret­ty decent about low-manip­u­la­tion since I wear pro­tec­tive styles now. 

O yea and true about buy­ing too many products/using too many prod­ucts in my hair. Just today I thought about try­ing a cou­ple more stuff, and glad to say that I’ll stick by my Shea Mois­ture prod­ucts until the end of year. That’s just what my hair loves the most. 

Antother great arti­cle BGLH!!


What does it mean to “dust” your hair?

The Natural Haven

Dust­ing means trim­ming very lit­tle of your hair (say less than quar­ter of an inch).

I think a lot of nat­u­rals skimp on reg­u­lar trims. There is a school of thought sug­gest­ing that nat­ur­al hair does not need to be trimmed reg­u­lar­ly b/c it is gen­er­al­ly health­i­er than relaxed hair. But relaxed hair (or any processed hair), which cer­tain­ly can be healthy, is not nec­es­sar­i­ly the best barom­e­ter. Even women with straight hair (who arguably encounter less obsta­cles to length reten­tion than curly or kinky haired women) are urged to trim every 6–8 weeks. I think per­haps some of the trep­i­da­tion about trim­ming has to do with the fact that a lot of us still… Read more »

Ok what is Dust­ing? Please explain. I just love how every­time I read these blogs i learn just how clue­less I am when it comes to car­ing for this kinky curly coif that I’m ready weave. Lol. Thanks y’all =D


Trim­ming is def­i­nite­ly one of those to each his own tech­niques. I have known peo­ple who did not trim their hair for years, and their hair is down their butts. Then there are those who trim every 6 weeks and their hair is to their butt. Moral of the sto­ry, fol­low the advice of this post and learn what works for ‘your’ hair.


It also depends on how much you trim. I nev­er trim more than 1/4″ at a time. A “trim” doesn’t mean cut­ting 2″ off. ;)


Exact­ly. If you re-read my com­ment you’ll notice that I was refer­ring to my per­son­al expe­ri­ence of under­stand­ing what my hair needs.

Thanks for read­ing.


Am I miss­ing some­thing? Did I not sup­port your state­ment and this post by show­ing that the same tech­nique yields dif­fer­ent results?
I may be read­ing too much into your com­ment, but ‘re-read’, and ‘thanks for read­ing’ smells like scar­casm to me.


I think you were read­ing too much into it because from your state­ment it showed me that you were in sup­port of both the arti­cle and the com­menter, I per­son­al­ly didn’t per­ceive any sar­casm when I read her response but I guess the writer her­self would be a bet­ter judge of whether or not she was being sar­cas­tic…


oops- that should read “I dust my hair once a month or every oth­er month.” My hair is cur­rent­ly BSL.


I dust my own hair btw. The method I’ve always used is pret­ty much iden­ti­cal to Rus­tic Beauty’s method. She also dusts fre­quent­ly.

Yep I do this alot, esp. if my ends don’t look up to par. Those bad boys will get cut in a heart­beat. Now I have to make sure that my mois­ture lev­el is up on my hair, because my 4b thick coars hair soaks up prod­ucts. Now I just did my own mix of long aid acti­va­tor gel, blue mag­ic sheabutter/aloe grease,glycyerin (1ta­ble­spoon), 1 tea­spoon of V05 mois­tur­iz­ing condish, and a lit­tle bit of mur­rays beeswax and mixed every­thing together,and did some twists on my hair. Wow that thing is so mois­tur­ized and the shine fac­tor is off the… Read more »

pls list your hair grease again — sounds inter­est­ing!!