How Long Does It Take to Grow Out Natural Hair?

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Shoulder length:In general, assuming that you are starting from a fresh, bald shave it should take you about 2 to 2 ½ years to reach shoulder length with great hair care.

Armpit Length: Between shoulder length and brastrap length lies another popular hair length in the hair forum world known as “armpit length” (APL). This is the length along the back that is defined by the imaginary line drawn across the back where the arm meets the back (armpit) and then travels across to the other side. From shoulder length, APL could be anywhere from 6-15 months away- obviously depending on individual trim rates and retention.

Brastrap Length: About 9 months to 18 months from there, you can expect to be reaching brastrap length (BSL). I’ve seen it done in both. This is the length along the back where the bottom strap of your bra rests.* This length is typically 3 years out from a clean shave.

Midback/Waist: From a clean shave, it will take you about 3-4+ years of healthy hair care to reach midback length (between brastrap and waistlength), and possibly another six months to a year to reach waist length considering the length of your torso/back and any trims you may do along the way.

This is the general schedule that I have in mind when I’m thinking about growing out hair. Keep in mind that these measurements are all mathematical and based on ½ inch a month growth and probably “average” height. If your growth rate is slightly slower than average, and you are a taller person-these estimates will be different from someone who is shorter, but has a faster than average ½ a month growth. Trimming, then takes the estimates to an entirely different dimension so there is a lot of wiggle room here. The bottom line is that it does take several years to reach many of the lengths along the back.

Growing out black hair is basically a commitment to care. You almost have look at it as an investment in your hair. Though some of the health returns are immediate (shine, thickness, strength), the length returns may be several years off. If you are aggressively trimming, experimenting with colors/styles, or have setbacks along the way, (raises hand) of course– it will take much longer for you to reach your different goals. If it is taking you longer to meet your goals, do not be too hard on yourself. Consider re-vamping your regimen or changing a few products or techniques. And don’t, don’t, don’t compare your progress to others no matter how tempting it might be. That is a surefire way to throw in the towel and give up! We are all different and our paths to whichever hair goals we have will be just as different. There is no one way there, and I’ve even had to come to grips with the fact that I am not a ½ inch a month timetable follower myself!

A word of encouragement

Finally, there are always exceptions to the rules. Some of us take longer to reach various hair milestones (raises hand), while some of us reach them in record time. In any event, be encouraged ladies! Sometimes change is hard to see. The problem is that we are faced with our hair everyday. You know how when someone has a baby and you don’t see the baby for a few months and then BAM the kid is practically graduating from college the next time you run into them?! Hair is like that too. I’ve run into many ladies that say, “I’ve been at this for a few months now- I’ve changed everything! But I don’t see very much growth. I am about to quit!” The problem with this thinking is that whether you quit or not, time is still going to continue to move right along. You are going to have to pass that time anyway! Six months, 12 months. . . healthy hair care or not! Wouldn’t you rather be six months down the line knowing that you’ve done all you can to address your hair with a little growth rather than be 6 months down the line with hair that is in the same condition it was before you started caring for it? So don’t give up! Be encouraged ladies.

*(Note about BSL: Others have suggested that this length be measured using an imaginary line at the height of the nipples and around across the back. Others suggest that it should be measured at the bottom of the shoulder blades on the back.)

Ladies, how long has it taken you to achieve your hair length goals?

Audrey Sivasothy is a Houston-based freelance writer, health scientist and author of The Science of Black Hair: A Comprehensive Guide to Textured Hair Care (available on & Barnes&

For more insight from The Science of Black Hair— relaxed, natural or in between, visit us on the web and on facebook & twitter.

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Black Girl With Long Hair

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila, founding editor of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008), social media and black beauty enthusiast. When I'm not here, I'm moderating a Facebook group for black mothers called Black Moms Connect.


144 thoughts on “How Long Does It Take to Grow Out Natural Hair?

  1. 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?

  2. 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.

  3. 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

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  5. 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?

  6. 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?

  7. 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.

  8. 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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  11. 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?

  12. 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.

    • ….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.

  13. *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

    • 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!

  14. 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 .

  15. 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 . :)

  16. 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!

  17. 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 .

  18. 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.

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