7 Tips for Achieving Your Hair Length Goals

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By Cipriana of Urbanbushbabes.com

How many endless pictures across the internet of length crushing hair have you lusted over, fantasizing about the day when you have finally reached your hair length goals but let’s be real, keeping your eyes on the prize can be every bit as frustrating as actually waiting for your hair to grow a couple of those precious inches, especially when you want your hair goals TODAY! These are tips I have accumulated over the years to help me reach my hair length goal…Patiently.

1. Do Protective Styles that You Can ROCK Right Now

Admiring styles you want to rock in the future is cool and like I mentioned, keeping your eye on the prize can be motivating but sometimes motivation needs to be balanced with the satisfaction of the here and now. Finding a protective hairstyle that you love can calm the strong yearning of your future hair goal, making the waiting process easier. So whether it’s a wig, updos, braids, twists, etc, finding a protective style you love will not only calm the storm but will help with low manipulation since your hair will not be a daily focus.

2. Find Hair Crushes with Similar Lengths

Similar to finding a hairstyle you can rock at the moment, finding women with similar hair lengths that you love will make you appreciate your hair in the moment, inspiring you and taking the attention off of what you don’t have.

3. Hide the Measuring Tape

Similar to losing weight, you are not going to miraculously lose the pounds you want in a day so why give yourself false hope in going on the scale every day? Well the same applies to your hair. I would suggest checking your length every 3-6 months.

4. Understand that Hair on Average Grows ½ inch every Month

On average your hair grows ½ an inch every month which translates to 6 inches a year but for some the growth rate could be anywhere from ¼ to 1 inch a month, adding up to 3 or 12 inches a year. But most of us can achieve up, a little less than or a little more than ½ an inch of growth every month.

5. Learn to Take Care of your Hair

Nothing helps you reach your hair goals faster with fewer setbacks than healthy hair care practices such as reducing or eliminating heat, sealing, moisturizing (watering), use of silk pillowcase or scarf, patience while detangling and styling, low manipulation, product usage, etc. Also as I always enforce, what you put into your body is just as important as what you put on or do to your hair topically. Remember “healthy” hair starts from the inside so watch your diet and stress levels.

6. Understand Terminal Length

Yes, due to genetics everyone has a predetermined length their hair can ultimately grow. Our hair growth or Anagen phase not only includes the hair on our scalp, but every hair on our body as well. Terminal length simply means the length your hair can actually grow if it was never cut or damaged in anyway. On average the Anagen phase (which is pre-determined by genetics) is anywhere from 2-6 years. Though some of us may even have a little longer or shorter terminal length, on average most of us are capable of growing at least 12 inches of hair (bra strap from nape area) and this is the shortest growth phase.

You will not accurately know your terminal length unless you are truly taking care of your hair and have found a regimen that works. If you want answers sooner a big clue is your family. Look at the women in your family or photos of female family members who were natural in their youth. See how long it took them to grow their hair out (assuming that, in childhood, their hair was being cared for properly.) For instance my mother is in her 50’s and has extremely thick and waist long hair as well as many of my cousins from the past on my mother’s side.

7. Low Manipulation

Mo Money, Mo Money, Mo Money…everyone wants mo money! Well if you want mo length then you need Lo Manipulation, Lo Manipulation, Lo Manipulation! Keeping your hands out of your hair on a daily basis decreases your chances in breakage that constant manipulation does not protect you from.

Ladies, how do you stay sane while work towards your length goals?

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  • Jo Somebody

    I would add a) take pictures and b) understand shrinkage!
    Sometimes it may not seem as if your hair is growing until you look back on older snaps or pull that piece of hair and find it’s now past your lips!

    • Dee

      I take a picture every month! I call that day my Natur-versary! :)

  • Osh kosh B’gosh

    I agree with most of these tips except for #6. If hair constantly grows at a rate of 1/2″ per month— how can there be terminal length?! How would one explain women with hair down to their bums or ankles? Looking at my family, the women do not have “long” hair, however I attribute that to poor hair practices and lack of knowledge how to properly care for our hair. I am the only woman in my family with long, thick hair– and I am basing this on my acquired knowledge and practices, which not only includes how I handle my hair but also what I ingest. Stop misleading the masses about terminal length. Plateau levels I could understand– similar to a person trying to lose weight, but eventually the person reaches their goals. Same thing with growing longer, stronger, healthier hair.

    • Cipriana

      Everyone has a terminal length, if that was not the case you would never shed hair. We are all individuals and like weight, everyone’s bmi index differs which is why some women are able to grow their hair below waist and beyond. This info is not misleading, just scientific fact. The shortest terminal length is quite long at bra strap length. Hope this info helps you understand terminal length a bit better.

      • Brynna

        Terminal Length does not mean length added but the time it takes to complete a growth phase. 2-6 is the time limit but the cycle does repeat. It’s not impossible to everyone to reach wl hair.

      • TINA SMITH


        • Cipriana

          Again if we did not have a terminal length we would not shed hair. You shed hair because the strand has reached the end of it’s growth cycle. Of course diet and malicious manipulation of strands can cause a shorter cycle growth. This includes every hair on our body. If terminal length did not exist we would have arm, leg, eyelashes and eyebrows reaching to the ground. Of course our body hair has a much shorter cycle growth but terminal length still applies. There are no exceptions to shedding therefore no exceptions to terminal length. Terminal length for everyone varies just like a fingerprint. Hope this helps on understanding terminal length better.

          • Joi

            Agreed. I believe the wording in the article is what is rather hard to comprehend for many of us. I will admit that I thought the same way as other readers did when you initially explained terminal length within the article.

            Thank you for the clarification.

          • afra

            What about the woman with the world’s longest locks… Yeah and the person with the world’s longest nails yeah terminal hair growth is not true no matter what you say!

        • InnovativeBME21

          The term “terminal hair length” is the confusing part. It’s easier to understand the concept if you focus on the hair follicle (u can find hair follicle studies via Google scholar that discuss this, but it’s been scientifically proven):

          So the hair grows from the follicle (we accept that) but the hair follicle itself has an ON and OFF phase. The ON phase (Anagen) is the time period that the follicle is actively putting out more hair at the root. As long as the follicle is in this phase (which typically lasts 6 or so years) it will be putting out hair, which to us is seen as adding length/hair growth.
          Ultimately at the end of that period, comes a transition into Telophase–the OFF period where the follicle will rest and reboot. Unfortunately, that means it will completely shed the individual hair shaft that it was growing for the past 6+ years.
          Every healthy head has ~100k follicles and each is going through these on/off stages but not simultaneously, which is why we always have hair on our head.
          But the key is that each of us has genetically controlled follicle activity: hair growth rate (1/4 – 3/2 inches per mo), and anogen phase time period (5 – 8 yrs). Knowing this, we can estimate that each of our follicles can only produce a hair strand with a maximum length = (growth rate) x (anogen phase).

          Now u can imagine why personA (rate of 1in/month, anogen phase of 8 years) can achieve wl hair of:
          [1in x 12 mo/yr x 8yr] 96in, and personB (3/4 in/mo, 6yr anogen) is maxed @54 in.

          • FabULess

            Now, what YOU’VE explained makes perfect since. Thank you!

          • cydnie

            Fricken fantastic explanation!

      • lea

        nao existe comprimento terminal!! a genetica determina a cor do teu cabelo,o tipo do teu cabelo mas nunca o comprimento!!! o comprimento e determinado por ti mesma!! eu sou praticamente a unica da familia com cabelo 4c comprido o resto tem todas o comprimento ate as orelhas bem curto… nao te esqueças que a grande maioria das mulheres negras nao sabe nem conheçe o seu cabelo por más praticas… isso de comprimento terminal sempre foi a causa de ignorancia entre negros stop that nonsense please nao existe comprimento terminal nao existe

    • vera

      I agree with you Osh B’gosh. I put a perm in my hair on Jan 20th 2013 and I have at least 3 inches of new growth on it I carry out my perms as long as I can go. I am firm believer that hair grow longer than 1/2 inch a month I am living proof my hair is about 23 24 inches now an longer in some places, the reason I don’t cut it I let it do what it do. I am not one that is pron to split ends never have been and i keep my hair very moisturized,. hair is like a potted plant if you moisturize it it will grow if you don’t then it dries out and break off

      • lebo

        I want to perm my afro – will I regret it? Please advise & provide links for photo reference. Would really appreciate info from someone who actually has an perm.

      • lebo

        I want to perm my afro – will I regret it? Please advise & provide links for photo reference. Would really appreciate info from someone who actually has an perm.

        • http://blackgirllonghair.com/2012/03/7-tips-for-achieving-your-length-goals-patiently/ Iruka

          I suggest that you just try a blow out and then flat iron it. Not sure if you have tried that before but there are tutorials on youtube! Women can do whatever they want with their hair but I personally find perms very scary and will not be getting a perm ever again. I think it’s nice to know whether your hair will safely revert back to its natural/healthy texture.

          • http://blackgirllonghair.com/2012/03/7-tips-for-achieving-your-length-goals-patiently/ Iruka

            oops sorry! no I don’t currently have a perm but when I did get them not too long ago, they destroyed my hair and scalp lol *shivers* never again

    • Khala

      terminal length scares the h-e-double hockey sticks out of me!!

    • ay

      terminal length means till where your hairs remain healthy, they will grow after that length but chances of falling off from scalp will increase,and you can visibly identify the poor quality ends. only cure to this situation is to make scalp healthier and avoid split ends.

  • Qiana M

    You know what’s weird! I didn’t realize how fast my hair actually grows until I got it dyed auburn. Other than color now, I have no other chemicals in my hair and I try to refrain from using products full of chemicals. I also don’t apply heat to my hair except once in a blue moon and I moisturize it daily, washing twice a week. My hair is worn natural 99% of the time. The dye has grown out half way at the roots and through out my hair however its grown out approximately 66% around the edges. My hair was dyed back in June yet my color is almost gone. Testament to no matter what you do to your hair (color, cut it, weaves, protective styles etc) how low manipulation plays a huge part. Another huge factor is diet, sleep and hydration. I get my rest and eat as healthy as I possibly can, improving my diet more and more as my knowledge and funds grow. Hair regimen, products and protective styles may vary from naturalista to naturalista but rest, healthy diet, low stress and low manipulation are synonymous with every natural.

  • chhhrraa

    good article

  • michelle

    I have 2 daughters,they are mix,i am a beautiful black woman and my husband a handsome Indian*smiling*my daughters both have different type of hair,the elder one hair is very thick and a little course,but was very long,but the younger one who is 10 yrs old, her is a little softer with a little wave and at 9 yrs her hair is was pass her knees,i cut off 7″ of her hair so it’s now under her butt..and it’s all natural..i do have pic’s of her hair but it’s on my face book photo…

    • Nana

      So you came here to show off…?

    • Sandy

      I’m sorry. I’m missing your point…

    • Toni


    • Juanita


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  • Sherrell J.

    Hi, I’ve been natural for 3 going on 4 years in August of 2013. I’ve done a big chop twice in the past 4 and 1/2 years (first: a short look & second time: to go natural) Its come to my attention that my hair has always stopped at a certain length. What I am not understanding is why it is not growing (stopping at my shoulders)? I always do protective styling and my mother is a cosmetologist so she’s always conditioning & washing my hair really good. When I was younger I did have long – full hair. Now my scalp is very fragile & I always have to trim my split ends very often. I don’t flat iron it often either, I normally get a Brazilian blowout. It seems like I had more progress when I had a relaxer than being Natural. Do you have any suggestions for achieving my length goal?

    • Chocolatechip

      Brazilian blowouts are harsh on your hair too, because they still use a lot of heat. Also, don’t trim your hair too often. Only trim when it is needed.

    • anonymous

      Have you tried hair vitamins

    • 3/7-tips-for-achieving-your-length-goals-patiently/?replytocom=603127#respond

      What i understand is that some protective styles can damage your hair. Like braids weaves etc. look at jenelle stewart of kinkycurlycoilyme. (youtuber). My hair broke of when i did crochet braids. So doing protective styles only can damage your hair also. And take a good look at your products. maybe you can change your regimen.

  • vanessa

    Thank you dr Opingo for the hair spell you did for me, my hair is so long and strong, i never believe this will really work and i remember i promise to bring people to your temple and share your testimony online if it really work. here i am happy and rejoicing for the hair spell Dr Opingo did for me, you can also contact him at: alterofcandletemple02@gmail.com thank you Dr Oping you are really a great man and i will stop sharing your testimony.

  • Demetria

    I found this via google this article was very inspirational..what I would like to know though is how do I make the transition from processed/perm hair to natural..this seems really heard for me..the thing is I am really not attached to my hair my husband is and he is really against me chopping it all off and start over fresh..I been natural before and I loved it…my hair was way pass my shoulder it was beautiful but I processed it,and yeah I regret it ever since..so can I please get some help with going back natural even though my hair is processed/perm..

    • Alexa

      Just let your hair grow out and during the grow out phase do protective styling, braids, weaves, you can also do roller sets to mask the difference of the natural hair and permed hair…and when you take the braids, weaves, whatever you choose to use cut a little of the perm off at a time… Hope this was helpful

  • CaN

    Low Manipulation means NOT touching your hair. But how am I supposed to moisturize daily? Especially if I have extremely dry hair? (I never touched my hair anyway for the last 6 years but now it is thirsssssty).

    • mimi

      Low manipulaction means low manipulation not “no” manipulation. So you can mosturise your hair, but reduce the use of combs ,brushes, pulling and tugging and

    • http://voodooroots.com Voodoo Roots Organics

      I like Shea Moisture it really works well for moisture regarding really dry hair, but I recently ?came across this product that a friend of mine recommended and I’ve been using it for the last three months and I have seen my hair go from dull, dry and shedding to having lots of sheen and moisture. The most amazing thing about this product is, it made my hair grow, so now I’m telling anyone that would listen… I think you can only get it online, it really works at least I was highly impressed with the results. I will keep you posted… The hair line is call? Voodoo Roots Organics, the website is http://www.voodooroots.com you can also find it on amazon.com…

      Good Luck With Your Hair Journey…

  • NaturalnBless

    Great article on achieving your length. I definitely agree with finding hair crush with similar length and hair type. At the end of the day, patience, patience ;-)

  • Yup

    Do I have to water my hair? If makes my scalp itchy and flaky. Also I de tangle, twist and roll my hair every night. I have not found any good protective styles that are work ready.

  • Yup

    Also, I don’t agree with the predetermined length theory. Have you seen KimmayTube? Chick has your average black female texture, I’d say about 4A/4B mixed with other textures. Her hair is all the way down her back. I don’t know how long the women in her family’s hair grows, but I don’t think she comes from a line of women with long hair.

    • afra

      Well said!

    • J2

      She may just come from a line of women that don’t know how to take care of their hair so it stays short. Terminal length has nothing to do with the texture of your hair. That’s determined by the actual shape of the follicle. Kinkier hair is usually shorter because structurally it is easily damaged compared to other textures. Someone with kinky hair and someone with straight hair can have the same terminal length but you may not be able to tell if the kinky hair is not well cared for

    • Madiba

      Kimmaytube has a video where she shows her hair growth journey, you will notice that for over 6 years she had the same length because of not knowing the best way to care for hair. This all changed when she came across blogs/blogs for natural hair. He extreme growth comes from about 3-4 years of proper and total hair care

  • naturallyme

    Great article, very informative. Thanks

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  • Chris

    I’ve had natural hair for more than ten years. Closer to fifteen. Long before the amazing resources we have today like YouTube and blogs like this. This was even before all of the great products available today. I think Miss Jessie’s had just come on the scene! I just had to feel my way through it. I never did bother with protective styling and I’m still not convinced that it is beneficial. At all. I do agree with low manipulation, and think that protective styling is too much pulling, tugging, and often blow drying of the hair.

    I don’t style my hair every day and don’t need to. I’m lucky that it’s long enough now to put it up in a “pineapple” or Afro puff on top of my head before bed each night. This allows me to keep my curls fresh and untortured for more than a week. Now THIS is low manipulation. If we touch and style it less often, it will thrive. Our hair also doesn’t need daily moisturizing. Leaving it alone allows the natural oils to moisturize. Anyway, this is just one old heads opinion, but I think that protective styling is a crock. Treat it well, leave it alone (completely), get it off the pillow at night and it will thrive.

    • lea

      chris protetive style its our braids and you dont touch your hair for weeks thats why they say protetive style… we used to say do your hair with braids or do som twists :) anyway im like you i mousture my hair and keep with braids in aa several weeks i dont touch it and its ok for mi i never complain and i have very ggod 4c hair

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  • Delis

    Reading some of the comments I can only conclude some people should have stayed in school or at least paid more attention in Biology class while they were there. Why is the concept of a growth cycle so difficult to comprehend? It isn’t a belief system, it’s something proven by science and by everyone’s experience since we aren’t walking around looking like Yeti’s because our hair won’t stop growing. Having a growth cycle in no way suggests that hair cannot grow long – evidently there are people who have incredibly long hair. And as has been pointed out, how the hair is cared for will also determine how much length is retained. It just seems people are getting over emotional instead of understanding the information – it’s not a personal attack,jeez.

    • aprilracine

      Thank you for your comment. You prevented me from saying something nasty. I would have mentioned something about: “4 year olds reading blogs” and I would have regretted it immediately. Predetermined length exist people! If it doesn’t exist on you, then I would hate to see your pubic hair.

    • Stevie

      Thank you! I cannot understand how so many missed this in middle school biology. Terminal length is not a theory, it is a scientific fact embedded in every person’s DNA. But it doesn’t mean you can’t grow hair down to your feet. If your hair is extremely long, then you have an extremely long terminal length! And… A couple of people mentioned locks. I’m no expert (never had them), but it seems to me locks allow you to maintain hair that has already been shed from the scalp? (This last assumption may be incorrect, but terminal length is the truth!)

  • Shameka

    To add some info to this thread, I will say that with science the explanation usually requires a bit of finesse for those who weren’t science majors. I think a few people here have successfully explained the idea of terminal length, which can LOOSLY be described as the stage at which a particular hair follicle stops growing and sheds. Terminal length sounds like your hair will never grow past this point right here. For many naturals that is a scary thought… I mean think about it, putting hours days and years into maintaining healthy hair, only to end up with 10 inches of hair for the effort… your entire life. I know for some length is not a goal but for many it is, which is why I believe terminal length has been such a touchy subject on this blog. We want to hear that our hair will continue to grow without a predestined length curtailing our progress. Well for those naturals who are concerned about this DONT WORRY. I am serious, as people have stated previously, every single hair on your head is in a different phase of its growth cycle. So if you have been caring for your hair for years, or are a new natural with just a couple of inches, understand that even when many hairs are about to be shed because the follicle is at the end of its cycle… there are many more hairs that are in year one two three or four of hair growth… Even though your hair might all be about the same length many of year hair follicles are in different STAGES of the growth phase. What this means is that ALL of your hair WILL NEVER just stop growing at one time. Most of your hair is in a continuous state of growth at different stages meaning that your hair can reach an undetermined length of growth over the course of years. ANY human being in normal circumstances male female or child can grow very long hair. Terminal length (GROWTH would be a better word for this… length is misleading) only describes the end of a particular hair follicle’s growth cycle… not the final length an individuals entire head of hair will grow. Ask Cipriana if her hair has stopped growing from her scalp now that it is waist length( which I am assuming she believes is her terminal length)… I guarantee you it hasn’t and not because all the women in her family have hair down to their ankles… Its because she like all of us has hair in different stages within the growth phase. If you take good care of hair from follicles that are in year one of their growth they will grow for years without breaking. After which, there will be plenty more follicles that will just be entering year one of growth while last year new hair growth is entering year two… and so forth causing an overlapping of cycles allowing hair to reach an undetermined length. Lastly hair growth is a dynamic process your average hair growth per month is just that… an average. We all fluctuate in terms of how much hair grows out of a scalp per month, and if you have done your research, you know that everything from hormones to stress can affect the rate at which your hair grows… The hair follicle has no predetermined length for the hair it extrudes, anything can affect that whether its internal (diet health) or external (excessive manipulation mistreatment). Hair growth is part of a cycle affected by pretty much everything we do. Any ideas otherwise comes from people not understanding the science enough to explain it properly, which unfortunately happens often in the natural hair community.

    • Kia

      Awesome explanation! I always hated the idea of “terminal length.” To me it sounds like the only people who say it are the ones with very long hair and it can be so discouraging and exclusive. Girl bye, we can all have long hair lol! The main thing people need to focus on in the black hair community especially us type four women are protective styling, moisture, and gentle handling. Hair is a crown and we should treat it as such!

  • Shazzer

    You have to manipulate your hair when going to work school ect you can’t just leave it messy. I’m currently doing low ponytails but I’m going to change because I don’t want any breakage. I wash my hair weekly moisterize and seal. I don’t use heat a lot but I would use roller set if I was in a hurry. 2 years natural and my hairs been growing well when used weaves as protective styles