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By Jc of The Nat­u­ral Haven

I have pre­vi­ous­ly writ­ten about the pos­si­bil­i­ty of African hair actu­al­ly grow­ing at a slow­er rate. How­ev­er it should still get you to one foot of hair. I think that there is a huge dis­con­nect for us in the tri­an­gu­lar rela­tion­ship that is reten­tion, break­age and mechan­ics (i.e Hair does not gain length because the ends broke off. The ends broke off because they were either weak­ened or were pulled with exces­sive force.)

Truth is many of us are not will­ing to accept that WE are the rea­son why hair is not grow­ing. We want it to be genet­ics or a hair pro­duct. It sim­ply can­not be our fault.

Going nat­u­ral is not going to auto­mat­i­cal­ly help your hair get longer (espe­cial­ly so if your curl is tighter).
Here is what I have observed

1. Long haired nat­u­rals (with a type 4 tex­ture) LIVE in twists or braids (espe­cial­ly so in the begin­ning 2–3 years). The basic reg­i­men is wash, con­di­tion and twist up for 3–4 weeks (and even longer). Hair is out for a week­end or a few days and then back to to the 3–4 weeks of twists.

2. Long haired nat­u­rals with a looser tex­ture LIVE in pro­tec­tive styles. They do not typ­i­cal­ly twist up for 3 weeks but would reg­u­lar­ly do so for 1 week then bun up or wear off the shoul­der styles.

3. Nat­u­ral hair thrives in a heat free reg­i­men. This is espe­cial­ly true for peo­ple with thin strands. Peo­ple with thick­er strands can get away with mur­der. Type 4 hair is usu­al­ly assumed to be thick and this is sim­ply not true. Some have thick strands some have thin.

4. Most long haired nat­u­rals rarely if ever use exten­sions.

5. Trim­ming is more impor­tant than peo­ple make out. The less dam­age you have to your hair, the less you need to trim. It is not about trim­ming a quar­ter inch every 2–3 months but rather about exam­in­ing the ends of your hair and assess­ing how much needs to be trimmed and how often (i,e look for split ends!). Split­ting and thin­ning hair ends will not gain length. peri­od.

Mean­while the most com­mon ques­tions that peo­ple ask when it comes to grow­ing hair are
1. Which hair pro­duct to use
2. Which wash­ing method is best
3. How to avoid ‘chem­i­cals’ in hair prod­ucts
4. How to style hair
5. How lit­tle should we trim (empha­sis on lit­tle)
6. How should I mois­turise my hair
7. How can I make my hair soft
8. What can I apply to my hair/scalp to make my hair grow faster
9. What should I eat to make my hair grow faster

In my opin­ion, peo­ple have used dif­fer­ent prod­ucts and meth­ods in their hair care and still gained length. The fun­da­men­tal sim­i­lar­i­ties are what we should see instead of invest­ing time on the dif­fer­ences.

The sim­ple truth is that peo­ple do not want to wear 4 week old twists which have been washed week­ly and are a lit­tle puffy and unde­fined. We lis­ten to and do things that are not suit­able for our par­tic­u­lar tex­ture (i.e we do not lis­ten to our hair choos­ing instead to do what works for a dif­fer­ent per­son).

Ladies, what are your thoughts??

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178 Comments on "5 Habits That Lead to Longer Natural Hair"

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Cacey
What i’ve found to work the most for me that made a vis­i­ble dif­fer­ence is in gen­tle han­dling. i have found that i can get away with han­dling my hair on the dai­ly pro­vid­ed that i keep ten­sion off my ends (manip­u­late roots- to mid hair only) and that i fin­ger detan­gle (com­plete­ly have excised the comb out­ta my reg­i­men for the past mon­th and the results are amaz­ing!) exclu­sive­ly. i’m now in the process of wean­ing myself slow­ly off of wash­ing my hair every 2–3 days to stretch­ing it to 5–6 if my scalp per­mits lol it’s used to… Read more »
LBell
I’m sup­posed to be tak­ing a break from hair dis­cus­sions but I HAD to come in here and throw bou­quets of ros­es for this post…thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! :) I keep think­ing the dis­con­nect you men­tion is resolv­ing itself — because we’re sup­pos­ed­ly more edu­cat­ed now that we have all this info online now, right? — and then some­one posts about how braids/castor oil/eating raw lemon peels/having a Greek grand­dad­dy made her hair grow faster and it’s like *face palm*… Growth rate large­ly isn’t in our con­trol, but length reten­tion absolute­ly is. Cer­tain types of hair are sim­ply not going to… Read more »
chica
Have to say I total­ly agree with you. I also sus­pect my growth rate is above the aver­age espe­cial­ly when wear­ing 2 strand twists for weeks. I seem to notice more length reten­tion when I wear them for 3 -4 weeks although I will admit that my hair actu­al­ly starts loc­ing when I take them down (there’s a trick though to tak­ing them down that reduces break­age and tan­gles — water and coconut oil gen­er­ous­ly applied before pulling apart). I hate the way they look on me because I have some­what fine strands but for me at this point I’m… Read more »
LBell

*…know­ing that FOR ME fun does not equal length…

Former Dread

Also, just want­ed to add: I have 12–13 inch­es of hair after tak­ing down my locs. Is JC sug­gest­ing that this is vir­tu­al­ly as long as it’s going to get for me?

Naturalista

I am going to take my chances and con­tin­ue to rock my afro puff or twist outs. I just can’t do pro­tec­tive styles 24/7.

Former Dread
I am not sure about that first point. I am a type-4 nat­u­ral, and wear­ing twists or braids with­out exten­sions for days on end results in knots and ter­ri­ble tan­gles upon take down. Even being gen­tle in detan­gling — to the point of doing so by hand — does lit­tle to min­i­mize this unin­tend­ed side effect. I am start­ing to feel like point #2 is more accu­rate and rel­e­vant for me. Keep­ing my hair stretched and mois­tur­ized — per­haps set in big twists overnight or upe­on wash­ing — is essen­tial to pre­vent all the knots (and SSKs). I then am… Read more »
bee

check out my vids on dry detan­gling for how to detan­gle with­out break­age and tan­gles
http://www.acurlcandream.blogspot.com/2012/06/videos-dry-detangling.html

Faith

you are so right hun! i tried this pro­tec­tive style twists one and it actu­al­ly cut my hair because the shrink­age from get­ting wet and just humid­i­ty in gen­er­al caused me to have so many sin­gle strand knots . Now,i either braid my hair at night or blowdry(once in a blue moon though) and rock it in the morn­ing. I dis­agree that long haired nat­u­rals dont wear exten­sions cuz wear­ing weave actu­al­ly grew my hair,i was­nt manip­u­lat­ing it and that led to a lot of length reten­tion.

hyspin
Well I have to say I have learned a lot in passed year, even though I have been “Offi­cial­ly nat­u­ral” 2+ years and may­be actu­al­ly gain­ing some length now even though the trims set me back by inch and half. It def­i­nite­ly has to do with what good for you not oth­ers. I am glad that I am start­ing to see some pro­gress. I found that low manip­u­la­tion (not braids) pro­tec­tive styles are the best for me bor­ing as hell and not for­giv­ing for human sleep­ing habits but def­i­nite­ly ben­e­fi­cial. I have start­ed get­ting the time it takes to do… Read more »
vero77

whats this??? hair and skin track­er ?

nev­er heard of this.,..

Suzanne

Id also love to learn more about his skin and hair tracker…i would so love one…

Joan B. in S. C.

hyspin, what type of phone and phone app track­er are you using? I’ve been look­ing for just that.

Sophie Ann
I agree and sup­port most of what she said, but I have type 4 hair (A through C depend­ing on the dif­fer­ent areas of my head), and I do not “live” in pro­tec­tive styles; my hair has actu­al­ly grown a great deal in the past year and cou­ple months(7–8 inch­es). I per­son­al­ly do not like pro­tec­tive styles, so I don’t wear them that often.. If you have thick­er hair strands like me, and want to retain length with­out pro­tec­tive styling, just twist/braid your hair at night after you light­ly fin­ger detan­gle with water, seal with your favorite oil/butter, and wear… Read more »
Sophie Ann

I also did a hen­na treat­ment once, and I noticed that it REALLY helped my hair be stronger and great­ly reduced the amount of lit­tle wisps of hair that I get on my shirt when manip­u­lat­ing my hair. So that prob­a­bly will also help with length reten­tion. I now plan to con­tin­ue doing those once every 1 or 2 months.

Michèle Thérèse

Yeah, hen­na is GREAT for our wig-look­ing-suo­er-coarse-4c-hair lol

Landry
I total­ly agree Sophie Ann! I have 4a/b hair and am about 8 months post big chop; I tran­si­tioned for 10 months. My hair is about shoul­der length when ful­ly stretched so it has grown a lot! I RARELY wear pro­tec­tive styles, and wear my hair out 99% of the time. When I do wear updo’s, I take them down night­ly, mois­tur­ize my hair with water and shea but­ter and put it in large twists. I cov­er with a sat­in bon­net and go to bed. In the morn­ing, I take down the twists and cre­ate an updo. On the week­ends,… Read more »
Sophie Ann
Yup! I com­plete­ly agree. And like I said before, this may not work for every­one, but I have thick/coarse hair strands, and thick/dense amount of hair (peo­ple often ask me if I’m wear­ing a wig because I have SO Much hair per square inch..) I was just sug­gest­ing that for those who do have stronger/thicker hair, there is no need to “live” in pro­tec­tive styles; it’s hon­est­ly not my style either. My friends rec­og­nize me from miles away because of my icon­ic round fro, or my big stretched out styles. I think the lesson is, no mat­ter what kind of hair… Read more »
Del
I agree with you, Sophie Ann — and with Denise — I real­ly believe it is all about what works for you! I wear my hair either out in curls/waves, or in a puff (which is great for sum­mer and when I work out). I don’t like the way I look in my twists because it makes me look a tad young. :-) How­ev­er, my hair has been grow­ing because I take very good care of it. :-)I don’t know all of the acronyms for the growth lengths, but when stretched my hair is brush­ing my shoul­ders. I expe­ri­ence shrink­age,… Read more »
Denise

I would have to agree with Landry. I under­stand if longer hair is your absolute goal, but what fun is it to have to con­stant­ly wear your hair in pro­tec­tive styles? I like my hair loose and wild! I keep the curl loose by occa­sion­al­ly twist­ing, but a lot of the time I use a water-based curl cream to loosen it, and I wear it out. For me, wear­ing it pro­tect­ed all the time is like hav­ing can­dy and nev­er eat­ing it! Just my thoughts, no judge­ment on any­one-DO YOU LADIES!!!!

Landry

Also, I use indi­rect heat (hood­ed hair dry­er) because I don’t have ALL day and night to wait for my hair to air dry, and I’m not to keen on bean­ies, and I’ve haven’t suf­fered any dam­age.

Shay

Landry, when I first began my jour­ney I too wore my hair out and didn’t wear pro­tec­tive styles. My hair grew out tremen­dous­ly but now that I am 3.5 years into my jour­ney my hair has stopped at APL. I am a 4 b/c and believe that when you get to a cer­tain length you will need to wear pro­tec­tive styles to grow it beyond that point..I do agree that the stretched method works as well because when my hair is stretched I rarely have any break­age.

Landry

I under­stand Shay, and hon­est­ly, I do look for­ward to wear­ing pro­tec­tive styles as my hair get’s longer. It is cer­tain­ly less time con­sum­ing that twist­ing night­ly.

The main rea­son I don’t pro­tec­tive style too much now is because I don’t like how mini-twists/two strand twists look at my cur­rent length, even in an up do. I look about 12-lol! It’s inspir­ing to hear a 3.5 year Vet­er­an reach APL–I look for­ward to that!

Mahalia
I have thin fine hair and I pro­tec­tive styled with braid for my first 8 months of being nat­u­ral but I noticed my edges were suf­fer­ing so I stopped. I have been nat­u­ral just over 1.5 years (tran­si­tioned for 2 months) and I rarely pro­tec­tive style and my hair is thriv­ing and grow­ing, it’s almost at AML. But I am start­ing to pro­tec­tive style with my own hair, I gave up on two strand twists but mine are so scalpy. Like Sophie Ann I am very gen­tle with my hair to the point where I only fin­ger detan­gle and do… Read more »
Sophie Ann

I’m glad we’re on the same page :) I don’t use heat either. I haven’t used it in 1.5 years (not even indi­rect heat).
A tip for the future if you do decide to go back to pro­tec­tive styles, try not to make them too tight because that’s prob­a­bly what was hurt­ing your edges.
Btw, sor­ry for ask­ing, but what is AML?

Allegre

Yeah, I’ve had APL hair or longer for prob­a­bly 9 out of 11 years of being nat­u­ral and until recent­ly nev­er lived in pro­tec­tive styles. I only do so now b/c of my busy work sched­ule. And while my hair has retained a bit more length late­ly while being exclu­sive­ly worn in pro­tec­tive styles, that was nev­er an essen­tial com­po­nent to me achiev­ing long hair. I think pro­tec­tive styling can be a real­ly impor­tant tool, but I don’t think it needs to be the exclu­sive (or even pre­dom­i­nant) mode of styling to achieve long kinky hair.

Dolores

I don’t think it works on “nor­mal” (medi­um) hair either. It may also depend on the length you are start­ing with. My hair can grow from 0 to 10 inch­es with­out any effort, but to get to 19 inch­es (where I am now) I used pro­tec­tive styling for 1.5 years.

Sophie Ann

19 inch­es! wow that is awe­some! Well for now I have not reached a plateau in my hair growth yet. But if I do, I will def­i­nite­ly fol­low the advice given here. I also like the way pro­tec­tive styles look on long hair rather than shorter/medium hair. So I’m sure you look great with your twists/up-dos :)

Rachel

This may work on thick hair, but it doesn’t work on thin hair :(

LaNeshe

I appre­ci­ate the note that not all type 4 hair is thick. You can have a lot of strands, but they can be thin in nature.

Auset

A lot of strands by thin, that is my hair as well. Some­thing else I notice is that doing a month­ly coconut milk hair soak made my hair less break­age prone.

Ardis

This is arti­cle is spot on. I saw the most length reten­tion when I would wear two strand twist 90% of the time. It works. It just requires dis­ci­pline and patience.

Joan B. in S. C.

I would like more expla­na­tion on num­ber 4. Most long haired nat­u­rals rarely if ever use exten­sions.

Dolores

Exten­sions weigh down your hair and can cause trac­tion alope­cia (hair being pulled out because of ten­sion) if they are too tight. This can cause hairs to be pulled out, and as a result your hair will be thin­ner. Edges are more sus­cep­ti­ble to this type of dam­age.

Allegre

MBL/WL “type 4” here and I’ve worn exten­sions at var­i­ous points dur­ing my 11 year jour­ney. My hair actu­al­ly thrives with sewn-in pieces and braid­ed exten­sions. Per­haps that may not be the case for some, but I don’t feel like there was very much sup­port offered for that par­tic­u­lar propo­si­tion. Would need a bit more evi­dence…

Allegre

that is, the propo­si­tion that nat­u­rals who have long hair typ­i­cal­ly don’t wear exten­sions…

I believe the blog­ger, Cipri­ana also cred­it­ed care­ful­ly done exten­sions with help­ing her regrow her hair at one point.

Just seems like a blan­ket state­ment with­out much sup­port.

Dolores

I see what you are say­ing. Exten­sions can be a pro­tec­tive style if they are done safe­ly. The prob­lem is that they are often done improp­er­ly. Anoth­er issue is the take-down process, which can eas­i­ly cause break­age. In addi­tion, hair that is in exten­sions is often neglect­ed.

I don’t real­ly have a prob­lem with the state­ment regard­ing exten­sions because I’m a “long haired type 4” and I don’t use exten­sions. But I agree, just because I don’t do it doesn’t mean that’s true for most “long haired type 4’s”.

Del
I have to say — I have worn exten­sions in the past, espe­cial­ly when I was tran­si­tion­ing and since I have been com­plete­ly nat­u­ral, and they have not done a thing bad to my hair at all. The only prob­lem I ran into was using the same prod­ucts ini­tial­ly that I used on relaxed hair. When I get exten­sions, I mois­tur­ize and con­di­tion my hair before and while it’s being braid­ed. I also take care of my hair while the braids are in my hair, and I don’t leave the braids in long — no more than a mon­th. I… Read more »
Loo

Long-haired type 4 nat­u­ral cosign­ing to this post! :o)

Nikki

+1 Long haired type 4 as well. It can be done. Peo­ple ask me how it I do it. I tell them that I just leave my hair alone. :o)

crimsonpeach
For me this is unfor­tu­nate­ly true. I have thin and fine hair so my twists always look scalpy and ane­mic (huge spaces between twists). Exten­sions tend to ruin my edges so I avoid them. I keep see­ing the­se gor­geous pics of two strand twists in love­ly styles but only on thick and/or dense hair. “Out” styles just look best on me (at least in my eyes). I’m look­ing for some sort of hap­py medi­um. I cur­rent­ly wear twists for a 5–6 days and then out for 1–2. Redo on day 7 or 8. I’ve just accept­ed that my hair reten­tion will… Read more »
Jasminicole
Hey ladies! look at oth­er types of pro­tec­tions styles in con­junc­tion w/ your twist outs. Like scarves, head wraps, etc. I per­son­al­ly don’t know about keep­ing a twist in for 4–6 weeks (my hair wouldn’t stay in a 2 strand twist for that long), but i can braid it, and then wrap it. To be hon­est.. even “wig­ging” it would be an option. corn­row that up & wig it to pre­vent con­stant manip­u­la­tion ( just make sure to keep it clean & mois­tur­ized). Thats what i would do. so the key is find a way that will work for you so we… Read more »
Rachel

I have the same prob­lem with twists, and my hair doesn’t like them any­ways cause it’s a night­mare to detan­gle when I take them down.
I’m try­ing a mix of 2 strands flat twists and african thread­ing and it seems to be work­ing well. Braids are good too, if you find the right thick­ness (it looks a lot less scalpy).
I’d rec­om­mend try­ing african thread­ing; check out the Youtube chan­nel Girl­sLoveY­our­Curls for tuto­ri­als (my Mum used to use this method on my hair when I was a kid, and I had quite long hair).

Julia

Braids?
Thought that will look more scalpy.…not to talk of how long it takes to detan­gle.

And yes, my twists also come out scalpy :(

Tinuke

I agree with you. This is how I style my baby’s hair (African Threading)and she is retain­ing length more than I am doing. I am going to start thread­ing my hair for the sum­mer and see if I can retain more length. I actu­al­ly tried it a bout a mon­th ago. It was very hard to thread my own hair but I just have to prac­tice more.
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Taji

What is African thread­ing and can I do it myself?? Or get a pro to do it?

Joan B. in S. C.

Taji, I found a link to a cou­ple of youtube vids on African thread­ing. Looks easy. I just have to remem­ber to pick up the thread.

http://www.curlynikki.com/search?q=african+threading

lina

this is gor­geous!

Cia

I am the same way. My hair is fine and not super dense so my two-strand twist look crazy scalpy. I drool over and envy those thick full twist but I know mine will nev­er look like that. My hair is MBL now but I have to be very del­i­cate with it and I know that retain­ing length is more of a chal­lenge for me than oth­ers with thick­er strands.

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