By Geniece of Beautifully Made

When I made the decision to go natural in 2004 I was under the impression that my hair would grow long and thick with little effort. My relaxed hair grew past shoulder length with relative ease, so I naturally assumed that with the elimination of harsh chemicals my hair would be stronger and longer. Now you think I was naïve but in my defense I didn’t have Youtube videos and natural hair blogs at my disposal. Armed with my non-sulfate shampoo, wide tooth comb and 5lb tub of shea butter I was ready for my hair to grow lusciously long. Well, that isn’t exactly what happened. My TWA grew out quickly enough but my hair seemed to reach a plateau once I reached shoulder length. I was stumped but not discouraged. I enjoyed my puffs and mini twists even after 2 ½ years with only about 3-6 inches of retention I wasn’t dismayed. In retrospect there are several mistakes I made over those years to which some of you may be able to relate. In ascending order here are my top four hair mistakes.

4. No regular moisturizing of my hair

The shea butter was fine to use but it didn’t add moisture to my hair. My hair was dry in between washes and remained so until I figured out that my hair needed to be moisturized in between washes and that moisture meant a water based product or just plain old water. Duh!

3. Hair Washing

I washed my hair like I was one of those models on a shampoo commercial. I lathered the shampoo by rubbing it throughout my hair and scalp without sectioning. Can you say tangles? I would then rip through my hair when detangling further ensuring that my hair never passed a certain length.

2. Dry Combing

I would almost daily rake a comb through my hair with no moisturizing product. I think this was one of my most damaging practices. The regular manipulation of my hair ensured that the tangled ends were constantly being ripped out, hence the lack of retention.

And, the top hair mistake of my natural hair journey (drum roll please):

1. Abuse of Heat

I did the occasional blow out without using heat protectant but my hair never seemed to suffer any visible damage. I even went to the salon twice to get a press and curl and my hair seemed to bounce right back. It took a really negative experience with heat for me to truly get the message that my hair care practices were nothing short of a hot mess.

The Great Heat Fiasco of 2007

In July of 2007, the most humid month of the year, I got the bright idea to flat iron my hair. I bought a ceramic iron, some anti-frizz lotion and after about 2 hours, using a heat setting of 450 degrees, I had a head of straight hair. I was rather proud of my results and wanted to maintain the look for the next two weeks. Because it was July I needed to touch up the hair daily, sometimes multiple times a day, with my flat iron set on 450 degrees. When I washed my hair two weeks later I was shocked to find straightened, limp hair rather than the fluffy shrunken fro to which I had grown accustomed. My hair was severely heat damaged. The damage was so severe that when I went to a hair stylist she questioned if I was growing out my relaxer before I could even explain my heat damage. To deal with the two textures I decided to disguise the damage by wearing updos. I slowly trimmed off the ends and by mid 2008 I was damage free and at about the same length I was prior to my heat fiasco. Although the experience was unfortunate it was a wake up call. I learned that my hair was not invincible. I also gained a newfound appreciation for my natural hair texture. I vowed not to do anything to compromise my texture from then on out.

This is a picture of my heat damaged hair. If I’d known the hair wouldn’t revert I probably wouldn’t be cheesing so hard.

After my heat damage experience I began to think more seriously about hair care. In the beginning of 2009 I thought about charting my length retention. I never followed through because I was so fed up with my hair. It wasn’t until November of 2009 when I decided actively change my practices that I started to document my hair journey regularly on my youtube channel and in photos.

Pressed hair in January 2009 (I don’t know if you can tell but those ends are raggedy.)

I look back on these pictures and realize that I’m glad I made these mistakes sooner than later. I didn’t like having to trim away 3-8 inches of heat damage but if I made this mistake now it’s possible I’d have to trim away upwards of 17 inches of damage. Ouch!

If you’ve been discouraged over a hair set back that you’ve experienced during your hair journey then take heart, you’re in good company. You now know what NOT to do and how to better care for your natural tresses. If you haven’t experienced the kind of setbacks that I have described then please, PLEASE, learn from my errors. Wishing you all a happy hair journey!

Ladies, what mistakes have you made that kept your hair stuck, length-wise?

For more of Geniece’s haircare regimen, check out her YouTube channel: Beautifully Made.

Gen

Island girl raised in the most royal of NYC's boroughs. Proud nerd, social scientist, educator and recovering awkward black girl. When not listening to NPR, trying to grow spiritually, or detangling my fro, I'm searching for the best shrimp and grits in the Queen City.

Leave a Reply

222 Comments on "4 Mistakes that Will Keep Your Hair Stuck at the Same Length"

Notify of
avatar
BeautyIAM

“This is a picture of my heat damaged hair. If I’d known the hair wouldn’t revert I probably wouldn’t be cheesing so hard.”

I don’t know why, but that line really made me laugh. LOL.

Anyway, the main mistake I did was not taking care of it at all due to ignorance. I seriously didn’t know what to do with my hair. I was barely washing it correctly. I’ve made a plethora of mistakes after I finally started to take care of it, but at least I was seeing improvement with my hair.

Tee

Lol. I thought that was funny too.

Netta

If anyone was wondering who the girl is in the first picture, Her name is Kai and she has a web series. It’s who is chick.com (minus the spaces of course). She has really good articles. I encourage everyone to check it out.
*She rocks cute afro puffs lol

Leo the Yardie Chick

My hair gets drier faster as the days inch closer to summer, so I’ve been showering without a cap a lot more these days. Sealing after, of course.

TriceePeacee
Ok… so I pretty much noticed that I was making the same mistakes. Well, I actually just let my hair grow, shampooed maybe twice a month, sported a wild curly fro all the time and deep conditioned maybe once a week. I was also detangling my 4b hair, after a week of being dry, with conditioner and a wide tooth comb. My hair came out so much! All it took was for me to run my fingers through my hair and I would have a considerable amount in my hand. And this was for almost 3 years. My hair was… Read more »
Natural girl
Hi, I’m far from expert, but with experience in medical field I would say look at all factors. Age, stress, diet, exercise, vitamin supplements, product usage maybe you need to change. It’s the total package. I too have had MAJOR shedding after a hair do done by beautician. I applied one product to my thin edges (all natural)and made it worst bald spot. Started faithfully on vitamins,fruits, veggy and a new all natural product (everyone hair is different so find what works for you). After two short weeks after months of use with all above now growing back. Just starting… Read more »
Beth C.

I appreciate you pointing out that there’s a difference between moisturizing your hair, and applying a hair dressing/shea butter/oil. I’ve been natural for about ten years and actually never thought about that. My hair is very healthy and elastic (after much trial and error, I’ve been devoted to a simple regimen of water and castor oil for a few years now), but knowledge is power, and I appreciate the reminder. Sorry about the Hair Fiasco; we have ALLL experienced a hair heartbreaker like that!

LM
I haven’t experienced a major setback YET in my 15 month journey. However, lately i’ve been so fed up with my haircare that I have decided to get micro braids this weekend to give us(my hair and myself)a break. I desperately need a trim but have to wait until i go home this weekend to get my hair shears which i left there. I’ve been kind of ripping through my damaged ends while finger detangling because they are extra tangly, so i hope all isn’t lost by the time a get a chance to trim. I’ve been doing styles that… Read more »
Avanti
Wow. I made all the exact same mistakes as Geniece did and had the exact same result… I went natural after I graduated high school in the fall of 2005, BEFORE there was any support for natural haired lovelies. I didn’t do it because I wanted long hair, I just hated getting relaxers. Since my hair has never been long, it would grow to shoulder length and break off, I would cut it super short into a pixie style and start over again, I just assumed my hair’s terminal length was shoulder length and I never had a problem with… Read more »
Goldeelocks

This was really helpful! I never thought about the shampooing. I’m pretty sporadic with my heat use but I certainly do get flat iron happy when I want my straight hair look. The suggestions you have will certainly be used.

tapiwa

I started my natural hair journey transitioning with braids never moisturising. On removing the braids, I’d get crystalline salts where the new hair growth and th braid met, then I’d dry comb removing clumps of hair, thinner braids would get knotty I’d cut or roughly pull th knots out

Dani

Yeah that was me a couple months ago during my transition lol right now am trying to stop being so scissor happy….its been 2 months since i last trimmed my ends –before i was doing it every 2 weeks lol dnt ask me why i thought that was a good idea cuz i dnt know either. Am glad am making these mistakes now cuz i would hate to jeopardize 2 years of growth and end up havin to cut that off

T. Stallworth

I believe my mistake last year was trimming to aggressively. I was going in without thinking twice until one day I noticed one side was clearly longer than the other. :-/ ….That did it for me.

Jackie

Hey @Rayven…She has a youtube channel 🙂 Her hair looks so lush and much longer than in the old pics! I’m so grateful that my hair is growing and I’ll be even more grateful when it reaches her length, too!

Rayven

Thanks, I will check it out!

Candice
I went natural in 2009. I put my hair in dredlocks and wore those for a year. Not realizing how fine my hair was, the roots started thinning under the weight of the locs, and I also was not twisting in the same direction. I big chopped at the end of 2010. I had no idea what I was doing and similar to the author of this post, I hadn’t discovered youtube tutorials! I was just using Pink! moisturizer on my hair and my hair as almost always dry. The only way I could get it to look the way… Read more »
dominique
thats exactly wat i was doin because my hair was dry everday so i washed everday realizing that im not a white girl and that i cant wast my hair everday. but try using pink mousrruizer that makes ur hair shinig and it helps it grow my hair is im the middle of my back but its has split ends that get on my nervers but if u use the ceraminc flat iron that wont break out ur hair its actually better than the chemicals u put in ur hair. and dont try goin natraul that only braks out ur… Read more »
Rosina

For me its good old Dax hair grease, mixed with castor, olive & coconut oil.

Cia

My hair has been stuck between BSL & MBL for way way too long and I don’t do any of these things. Sigh…maybe having long hair is just a dream

Candice

Wait, BSL is bra-strap length, right. MBL is mid-back length. That’s pretty long in my opinion. There is a set point where your hair just stops growing. It’s different for everyone, but it’s genetic. BSL is pretty darn long if you ask me. I would say you’ve been doing a lot right if you’re that long.

Cia

Maybe you are right and this is my terminal length but I also have random breakage that is annoying and is making it hard to retain length

Cacey

is your hair dyed or do you flat iron a lot? that’s what contributed to me having to chop my BSL hair off to SL-APL recently. 🙁

Rayven

It would have been great to see a current picture of her hair :/

dominique

i kno right

dominique

my hair is kinda past my sholderr but then i started to put flat irons blow dry and used to play in my hair everday.my hair is still lnog but my ends are getting raggedy. my mom says that getting conrows if ur hair is heaithy enogh and getting twist will make ur hair grow better and that does waork bescause i used the same thing and my hair has been growing ever since!!!!

BlackOnyx03

@ Rayven – Geniece was just featured as a natural hair icon a few weeks ago. Here it is: http://blackgirllonghair.com/2012/04/genieces-4b4c-styling-regimen/

@ Geniece – Girrrrrrl. I honestly wish I had been taking notes back in 2009. I’m sure I saw you every week at church, and I honestly can’t ever recall your hair being as short as it is in the pics above. You are officially my inspiration to get myself together. Seems like your hair grew like a weed in no time at all with proper treatment and care!

1 3 4 5
wpDiscuz