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.

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

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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 a… 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 exer­cise… 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!

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