By Audrey Siva­sothy, author of The Sci­ence of Black Hair: A Com­pre­hen­sive Guide to Tex­tured Hair Care

How long will it take me to grow out my hair and reach my hair length goals?”

This ques­tion, and the many vari­a­tions of it, is one of the most fre­quent­ly asked hair ques­tions I get. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, it is also one of the tough­est ques­tions to answer. Many fac­tors deter­mine the length of time it takes for a per­son to grow out their hair and reach cer­tain hair lengths. This arti­cle will try to offer some guid­ance for length plan­ning. As you read, bear in mind that the time esti­mates list­ed for grow­ing out the hair in this arti­cle are just that-esti­mates. You’ll see that by the num­ber of “typ­i­callys and gen­er­allys” sprin­kled through­out the arti­cle. There are just so many fac­tors that influ­ence when hair length goals are met includ­ing genet­ics, your anatom­i­cal struc­ture, and the lev­el of care and atten­tion you give your hair. Grow­ing out the hair takes years of con­sis­tent, dili­gent care. Though many folks are inter­est­ed in achiev­ing longer hair lengths, they do not real­ize the sig­nif­i­cant time invest­ment that is involved in grow­ing hair. Unre­al­is­tic goals and mag­i­cal creams and potions that promise faster growth results but fall short on the promis­es make it easy to become dis­cour­aged. The only tried and true method for grow­ing out the hair is good old fash­ioned time. Nev­er fails!

General Considerations

Hair grows approx­i­mate­ly ½ inch per mon­th, for a total of six inch­es in one year. This rate is an aver­age across races. Asian hair grows slight­ly faster than this aver­age, Cau­casian hair grows near the average,and black hair trends to grow at or just below this aver­age each mon­th. Genet­ics will also influ­ence how close to the aver­age ½ inch you get each mon­th. Ulti­mate­ly, the esti­mat­ed time length for grow­ing out the hair and reach­ing any hair length goal depends on two main fac­tors: each indi­vid­u­al person’s hair growth rate and their reten­tion abil­i­ty. A faster hair grow­er will always reach their goals soon­er than a slow­er grow­er if the reten­tion rates are the same. A slow­er grow­er will reach their goals con­sis­tent­ly over a faster grow­er who poor­ly retains their length. Two indi­vid­u­als may grow their hair at the same exact rate while only one reach­es her hair goals con­sis­tent­ly, this is an instance of an ends reten­tion prob­lem for one of the grow­ers. I often hear ladies say, “My hair is not grow­ing, no mat­ter what I do”-and for chem­i­cal­ly relaxed ladies in par­tic­u­lar we see that this is not true every 8–10 weeks when they are going in to have their relax­er retouched! Your hair is ALWAYS grow­ing, reten­tion may be the issue.

The Typical Process

Grow­ing out the hair tends to fol­low a cer­tain path. Gen­er­al­ly changes in the look, thick­ness, and feel of the hair come first. Usu­al­ly it is with­in the first 3–4 months of your hair jour­ney that you’ll notice the­se improve­ments in thick­ness, and this tends to hap­pen before you ever see any addi­tion­al length. The big dif­fer­ence in length usu­al­ly hap­pens around 6–8 months into the jour­ney pro­vid­ed you have been dili­gent with your hair care. For me, I start­ed my jour­ney in about June/July of a year, and noticed my hair get­ting thick­er around Octo­ber of the year. By Decem­ber and Jan­u­ary, I could see the length start­ing to come as well.

The timetable below is one that is sug­gest­ed by the lit­er­a­ture, but my per­son­al hair grow­ing expe­ri­ence has been dif­fer­ent with per­son­al set­backs, style changes, and trims all through­out my jour­ney. Be fore­warned, it is a very gen­er­al­ized timetable and not some­thing you should feel com­pelled to fol­low to the let­ter. I cer­tain­ly have strayed from the mark! Please note that this timetable is so open to inter­pre­ta­tion that I almost hes­i­tate to post it here, but some may find it use­ful!

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Leila, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop cul­ture and black beau­ty enthu­si­ast. bell hooks’ hair twin…

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155 Comments on "How Long Does It Take to Grow Out Natural Hair?"

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Mella Kim

I have been on my jour­ney for the past four going on five years and my hair is not past my shoul­ders, and it is uneven every­thing is off and the cen­ter is the short­est. My hair is the longest in the back and it SHOULD be longer, I know I fucked up but still try­ing to fig­ure out where.


Hi, just. check­ing back! I guess it’s been about 6 months from being shoul­der length and thanks to low manip­u­la­tion, stretch­ing, ams mois­tur­iz­ing, I’m final­ly APL! A lit­tle longer in the back. Can’t wait for BSL with­in the next year is pos­si­ble


It has been 2yrs 7mnths since I tran­si­tioned, and it was just yes­ter­day that I real­ized I’m at lit­tle below shoul­der length but not quite bsl. I’m sur­prised and very proud of my pro­gress. Can’t wait to see what the next 2 yrs will have in store


My goal is Arm pit length but i noticed that my hair appears to have slowed down in grow­ing idk why. i’m not tak­ing meds and i keep my hair in pro­tec­tive styles for 90% of the time idk what’s going on ??


That’s the prob­lem, your hair is in too many pro­tec­tive styles. You’re not let­ting it breathe. You should take the time to wash it out and cleanse your scalp often then let tour hair breathe. Using pro­tec­tive styles too often might cause pro­duct buildup and Every­time you loosen your hair, it will real or be dirty. The dirt clogs your hair pores, as a result your hair can’t breathe enough to grow.


Ya i noticed that over the sum­mer and so now i just leave my hair in a pro­tec­tive style for 30 days and than sham­poo and leave it out for two weeks to breath. As of right now most of my hair is either 10 to 11 inch­es but i needs to be trimmed but this time around i’m going to try to dust my own hair because when i trim i’m right back to square one :(

Um that’s wrong . I reached shoul­der length when stretched (blow dryed ) in a year and I start­ed off with an inch of hair from a big chop . I orig­i­nal­ly had shoul­der length hair when it was per­med as well . My goal is to get to arm pit length by next year 2016 when stretched . I pro­tec­tive style with braid­ed updos my own hair 90 per­cent of the time and I deep con­di­tion and mois­tur­ize . I’m hap­py with my hair growth . If I do reach armpit then my last goal would be bra strap… Read more »
Mekala Hall

hey ive been tran­si­tion­ing for 1 year and 3 months it was so hard so july 5th i decid­ed to text­lax and i regret it ;( do u think itll be ok if i big chop (but not to short) with­in a mon­th or 3 may­be even a week??

Jaada Avila

Can any­one tell me how long does 4c hair type fin­ish growing.How many years?


[…] If you still don’t believe me then you should research some out­side sources. Here is a *** link *** to get you start­ed! So now that we’ve estab­lished that our hair will and does grow, I can tell […]

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