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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Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila Noelliste, 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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Monisola
It is really important to enjoy your hair journey every step of the way. Why waste so much time in your life being unhappy with X or Y? I want mid-back length hair..but am only nearing armpit length. It has been a long journey with a plenty of mistakes etc, but I made it a point of enjoying my hair at every step–from TWA to full on dianna ross hair. Each stage has its advantages! my twa was aodrable and soooo easy…my hair now is lovely and full and jusssst about to flop down, so it looks awkward sometimes..my solution?… Read more »
EG

+1

Nat
While I appreciate the general sentiment of the article, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to growing long, healthy hair. Yes, growth cycles and genetics play a big role, but sometimes (not saying for everyone) its just like rolling dice. Case in point, I’ve been trying to get my hair to grow for about 2.5 years and just recently saw a spurt in growth. I started eating healthier and working out, but most important, I found a very simple routine and basic products that my hair loves and stick to it. Just as I listen to… Read more »
Kachi
I, regret relaxing my hair, even though I did so when I was an emotional mess! But now, even though the ladies and sometimes Men “ooh & aaah” at my tresses, I still long for my full unequalled thick Afro. I have a plan! ‘Have a half-relaxed ‘icing’ and half-afro underneath #LAUGH#… I cant imagine chopping off my 5 year old hair 🙁 . see a pix of my hair now, among my pics on facebook @ kachi blessing esther. Your hair has a way of telling you it does’nt like a product, just way your skin would react too.And… Read more »
Happy 2B Nappy

Thank you, this article was right on time for me. I bc in dec w/only a couple months transition so I have a short twa and although I’m enjoying & embracing this stage, I can’t help but wonder how long it will be by summer… will I finally be able to do some of those fun styles or stuck in the wash & go purgatory 🙂 Think I’ll download this book as another resources in my journey.

Naz
Don’t bother buying/downloading this woman’s book all the stuff she says is free on the internet, I was bitterly disappointed when I read it. I’d been natural for years before I found websites like this on how to care for natural hair. These sites are all you need no expensive books with no colour photos necessary. Last year January my hair was just past the nose bridge between my eyes now it is past my bottom lip in the front. My back hair is like 4c and tougher to grow but it is finally touching my shoulder. I stick to… Read more »
Lani

You go girl!

LOL. I am BSL. Always been natural.
DJKSDNSD.

And I thought my hair was short.
I guess no one is really satsified until they reach their hair goals!

Shug

Great job Naz! I would clarify “leave it alone”. I met a lady who left her hair alone under wigs and weave asked me why her hair won’t grow after 7 years. I told her, you have to moisturize and detangle your hair. I hoped she listened, because it looked like she haven’t seen her hair in ages and that was just by looking at her edges.

Mops

honestly if you’re in it for the length, you’ll suffer having a twa. of course every girl wants length but they should honestly be in it for the health of their tresses. length is a bonus to having healthy, natural hair. not the other way around.
if you treat your hair right, use protective styles, stick with a hair regimen, cover it at night, and avoid heat/chemicals/coloring, you’ll see results before you know it.

Maturing Naturally

Hi Mops,

There is nothing wrong with desiring length and having that goal in mind with you start your journey. Everyone has a right to make whatever choices about their hair. If length is your goal, then figure out what will it take for you to get there. Reading this article may be one way of doing due deligence. I would also like to say that this lady was very clear that she was writing from her own experiences. Everyone throwing “shade” is uncalled for.

merry

i’m not trying to throw shade at the author. i have this book (it’s a bit overpriced tho…)

i wanted to know what her educational background is. i’ve seen “health scientist” but at what level of education can you be considered a health scientist – b.s., m.s., or phd?

normally, someone with a masters or phd will put it after their name, esp. on a book – audrey davis sivasothy, m.s., phd, md, mph, etc…

Mai
I bought this book for a friend (long story short, I keep giving her hair advice, she won’t listen to me, so I figure she will listen if it’s in a book, lol). The book aggregates information easily found online and personally, it is great for beginners or those who don’t have time to spend looking online, and it has helped many women with their hair journeys. I am not trying to throw shade either, but often have some questions regarding her articles. I’m not sure if Audrey Davis Sivasothy is a health scientist either. I work as a nutritionist… Read more »
kim

I loved your comment…Agree 100%

EG

Out of curiosity, why is it that what she writes is taken apart, but when JC post information on this site, it is taken as gospel? I have found contradictory information to what she post as well.
I’m not being sarcastic by the way, just genuinely curious as to what makes one person’s ideas more valid than the other.

merry
for me, the natural hair gurus, be they on blogs or on youtube have started to annoy me a bit. the faux product reviews and misinformation about the simplest things is annoying and sometimes dishonest. i’ve just noticed lately that there are so many self-appointed experts on youtube for ex, who just because they have subscribers just talk about whatever and give advice which is sometimes just plain stupid, and of course uninformed. honestly, i’ve got a few issues with jc, but i think she’s a bit more clear about her credentials. although i do sometimes find her confusion. but… Read more »
EG

I cosign on the product reviews. I hate that they get the products for free and spend very little time actually testing it before they pimp it out to their viewers. The only one who I respect and trust when it comes to product reviews is Naptural85. She will take a year trying something before she talks about it.

naturally matted hair
naturally matted hair

I too co-sign on Napptural85.

KWL0711

Agreed. She’s awesome.

Mai
Personally, whenever I read any beauty advice, I look at it under a microscope just because it may work for me and it may not (whenever I see a youtuber use gel or heat, I keep moving, that stuff is just no go for my hair regardless of the science). I will admit a bias to Jc because I have been reading her blog since I went natural almost 3 years ago. I don’t believe everything she writes, but when I started out a lot of her information helped me. I have no problem with Audrey either, if I were… Read more »
Munna

(1 comments)This is intntesrieg.. I always have a problem with my hair.. I always suffer from hair fall and no matter what product of shampoo and conditioner I will use to control my hair fall problem but nothing happened.. So I must as well try this recommended products that you suggested.. Thanks for this!

BrinkyDinks

I once said that on a natural hair Facebook page and got slammed for it!! When I went to a hair fair back in London a couple years ago, this famous trichologist said that as long as you are breathing, your hair will grow!!! I used to be obsessed with these forums and YT but not anymore. I think a lot of them make natural hair more complicated than it needs to be, and they aren’t always honest.

EG

That’s fair. Why don’t you contact the owner of this site and post why you think we should not be so quick to create a cause and effect relationship between nutrition and hair health? It sounds like you know what you’re talking about and it would be interesting to see the feedback.

hyspin

Oh and before I forget also because these numbers provided are based on math, one must take the total estimated growth of the year and subtract the average trim multiplied by frequency yearly. Of course this is under the assumption, that the hair completely healthy and doesn’t suffer from breakage and single strand knots.

hyspin

Yearly growth rate – (average trim length x frequency per year) = Realistic Yearly Length Retention
🙂

* Disclaimer: this doesn’t take in account , changes or health or stress, breakage (resulting from physical manipulation, dryness, hot tools, and chemicals), your hair tendency tangle, Single strand knots, clogged pores, on set of hair loss, thinning hair (do to ponytails, buns, tight cornrows, weaves, extensions), disease and ACTS OF GOD. 😛

Thin and Natural

er…the article to did infer to take the info with a grain of salt as results were not guaranteed. Did you not read the article in full?

hyspin
Very informative (I already knew most of this). This article came just in time for me to bleach test few strands of hair in the back area of my head. “Why?” you might ask because the best way to know your actual growth is the measure from the root, a fellow BGLH follower gave me the idea. Once I know what my actual rate of growth versus my retention rate I can see how good or bad or specific my situation is when it comes to retaining length and rate of breakage. The beginning of the month is a perfect… Read more »
vero77

Bi

feeling really miserable 19 months ofgrowth – 2 years will be this May but convinced for the last six months my hair has NOT been growing.

I have tried dying the back a lite brown colour so that i will be able to tell – But it was dark enough so consequently I couldnt see. i’m afraid of bleach – never bleached before – as I always felt it would break the hair! Did u find the bleached hair dry and wispy? did u do it yourself?

Janelle Winkler

I totally agree about the bleach method. When I went natural the first time in 2009, I had colored my hair not for growth reasons though. Over time, I realized the separation between the my natural color and color treated hair was significant. That ultimately let me know, my hair was growing.

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