How Long Does It Take to Grow Out Natural Hair?

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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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  • Kaelyn Green

    What if my hair is already arm put length and I’m going for bra strap length? How long do you think it would take in general?

    • Keturah

      I would say about 4-5 months

  • http://howlongdoesittaketogrowoutnaturalhair elizabeth kelly

    My hair length is at 15 inches. Which is full arm pit length. question? How long will it take to get bra strap length. Currently,I am taking daily multivitamin. To help speed up the process.

  • Cearra

    I BC’d down to 1-2 inches in November 2011, so now I am 2.5 years natural and my hair is collarbone length. I thought my hair was growing kinda slow but according to this chart, I’m right where I should be

  • Meagan

    My hair length is about 25″ and I can’t even remember when I started growing it. Do I even want to know? maybe 2-3 years?

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  • terece jones

    I want to know how long would it take for my girls to transition from relax to natural, im not cuting there hair but I do keep it braided?

    • Laura Ndialeloc

      You have to cut out the relaxed part for the natural hair to grow out. Relaxers are permanent.

  • Rochelle

    my hair is 3-4 inches of growth since I big chopped in September 2013. The front of my hair is 4 inches, the middle is 4.5 inches and the back of my hair is 3 inches (which is collar bone length). I have post big chop for 8 months now. I wanted to know if my hair is growing on the track and by August 2014 what length would be my hair by that time?

  • Cearra

    So it’s safe to say that a little past shoulder length is normal for 2 and half years? Because I only transitioned for a month before I bc’d.

  • Icesis

    My hair grows extremely fast i guess.It is like an inch a month usually. But then again my mother grew hip length hair in 2 1/2 years (shes white.)

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  • Vaughn

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  • Millie

    My hair is 11 inches in the middle, 8 inches in the back, and 10 inches at the sides. I have been natural all my life, but through constant blow drying my hair had been breaking off hence not growing. I decided to start my hair care journey but I didn’t want to bald my hair because I have not heat damage, just split ends which i trimmed off. Anyway my question is how long would it take me to reach bra strap length/ waist length?

  • ChaNita Bei

    Of all things that puzzle me about “gurus” and self-proclaimed “hair experts,” is the fact that no one talks about food/nutrition and the role it plays in healthy hair. You can not be serious if you think nutrition doesn’t play a key role in healthy hair. With healthy hair comes long hair.

    • Jade

      ….i don’t understand this tbh. lol if you use youtube (which we prob all do) then under all those ’10 ways to grow your hair’ videos like that, eating healthy is almost always there. i think its been mentioned on this blog as well, its not something that is neglected.

  • zizah

    *sigh im approaching three years since i big chopped and my hair is 8 inches long for the most part and 6 inches long at the front. my hair was extremely damaged from perms and braids and i meesed up my hairline. i went through alot of stress and i also had surgery so i dont know weather that has contributed to the slow growth or if im doing something wrong. at my two year mark, i saw no difference between that and my one year growth length. ive gone natural in the past before and it took my two years to reach the length that i am at right now. its frustrating because ive been setback by an entire year! i dont know what to do

    • jedidah

      Sorry to hear about the slow growth. I can only imagine the disappointment you feel. Stress can ruin your entire health. I suggest you chill out about the length. It will only get worse if you stress about it. Just try!

  • Aliyah

    I have been 6 months natural . My hair has grow a lot since I first big chopped . I love my tight curly Afro hair :) . This is my hair .

  • Aliyah

    This is my hair goal for February of next year 2015 . I already reached my first hair goal I hope I reach this hair goal . :)

  • Rashonda

    My hair is waist length. I have reached my goal! :) One thing that I can say has helped me tremendously is Nutress Hair products. Their products are designed to stop breakage and repair damaged hair so my hair was growing longer and healthier. You ladies should definitely try Nutress!

  • Aliyah

    My goal is shoulder length I’m currently neck length and I started protective styling and deep conditioning and Moisturizing . My next goal is bra strap length then I’ll stop any thing longer than that is too long for me . Also would be too much work and harder and take longer .

  • Jacqui

    In June 2013 I shaved my hair, as soon as I could I started weavering my hair because I hated the way it looked. All I did was weave until July 2014 When I finally decided not to put the weave back in, my hair was so thick I couldn’t really get a comb though it. My hair is shoulder length after just one year.

    All I did was make sure that I greased my hair and sprayed with hair spray and in the last month took Hairinfinty. My friends were shocked because they all thought I was still wearing a weave!! Your hair will grow 1 1/2 inches in a month but you have to drink water or you will get spots and headaches.

  • donnalynn

    I used to perm my hair years ago but it started to break off so June 2009 – June 2013, I grew it out and cut off all of the permed hair. My hair was healthy and virgin and bra-strap length (bottom of the bra). I have 4a hair type. So, I took me longer to grow than other girls. One thing that has helped me during that time period was not using any heat! Also, I had a routine. I washed + conditioned my hair 1x/week and then used hair butter to moisturize. Since then I have used hair dye to have fun. Now that I’m done with dying my hair(red, brown, and now back to black), I am growing it out again. So, here’s to another 3-4 years of growing. Nice website!