By Chinwe of Hair and Health

You have been doing everything “right” when it comes to hair care, but your strands just do not seem to be retaining any growth.  Your regimen appears to be intact.  You follow a rigid protective styling routine.  However, no matter how much care you put into your hair, it remains the same length.  Here are five reasons why your hair growth may “seem” stunted:

1. Underlying health conditions

Certain types of anemia and thyroid disorders can make hair growth and length retention difficult.  These health conditions may present themselves via other visible symptoms, but that is not always the case. Be sure to speak with your doctor if you suspect that you may have a health-related root to your hair issue.

2. Certain medications and birth control pills

Breakage, thinning, and even hair loss can result from the intake of certain medications or birth control pills.  Communicate with your doctor early on so that he/she can give you an alternative prescription that will not adversely affect your hair.

3. Using detangling tools

While it may work for some naturals, for others, using a Denman brush or even a wide-tooth comb while detangling can be equivalent to cutting the hair.  You may have to use your fingers instead in order to start experiencing length retention, and this may especially be true for those with fine hair.  Also, be sure to lubricate your strands with oils or a conditioner.

4. Protective styling on wet hair

Hair is most fragile when it is wet, and putting in your twists or braids at this stage could mean breakage (especially at the ends) for some naturals.  Wait until your hair is damp or partially dry as opposed to styling while soaking wet.

5. Approaching terminal length

Every individual has a specific terminal “time” when it comes to hair growth.  This time can be two years or five years, and some have mentioned seven years as well.  The length that you retain during this period is termed your “terminal length”.  If you find yourself stuck at twelve inches in spite of proper hair care and good health, then it is possible that you have reached your terminal length, and that is not unusual at all.

Have you had a difficult time growing your hair?  Share your story.


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31 Comments on "5 Reasons Your Hair Growth Seems Stunted"

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[…] still not growing, I would encourage you to read this article from Black Girl Long Hair entitled: 5 reasons your hair growth seems stunted. And as always, you can ask your questions down […]

I don’t believe in “terminal length”. That just sounds like an updated version of “black girls hair never grow past their shoulders,” which this natural hair movement has already debunked. “Terminal length” is very easy to disprove. If there were such a thing as terminal length, then anyone who has hair of a specified length would not be able to regrow their hair if they cut it all off. If you’re able to chop off all your hair and watch your hair grow back (which just about anyone who doesn’t have a health problem can do), it’s proof that your… Read more »

Hey, i was wondering if seborrheic dermtitis can stunt hair growth too?

I know this subject has already been debated, but some good info to explain the last tip on the article can help us undestand why our hair can reach that “terminal lenght” Here’s how wikipedia explain the cycle of humain hair growth : I understand why it can be hard and long or even seem impossible to grow longer hair (past shoulder, bra-lenght…) But we should seriously consider the stages of our hair growth and take advantage of the one where our hair seem to be growing and try to make our hair grow the most. And that of… Read more »

I used to have this problem but these tips helped me consider my routine. I did everything but not regularly. I got lazy & didn’t moisturize the back of my head which broke off & stayed short. I moisturiz & seal with oil daily. I also take vitamins. Now I have even growth that has finally passed my nape.

Ara Ambres

Oil folliculitis is inflammation of hair follicles due to exposure to various oils and typically occurs on forearms or thighs. It is common in refinery workers, road workers, mechanics, sheep shearers. Even makeup may cause it.*-..-

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My hair used to grow to shoulder length, but since 2011 when I came to the UK I started losing my hair quickly. I do apply oil especially coconut oil but my hair keeps breaking.

Another problem I have with my hair is that the front rarely grows, when my hair was longer I always do part to cover the front. I have read different articles on growing your hair and tried them but my front hair still didn’t grow. I have come to the conclusion that my front hair may never grow. Help anyone?

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Really nice. But when my hair get back to old growth? Stunned???


i’m at around 12 inches on average on my head. i just want about three more inches. is that too much to ask?


I agree with the birthcontrol statement everysince I started my birthcontrol last year the texture of my hair has changes along with my edges begin to get thin I just recently started getting them to grow back. I’ve been wearing weaves! I plan on stopping my birthcontrol!

I have been natural for 4the years now and recently went to a hair salon and asked for a trim and got a hair cut 2 1/2 inches cut off, but the realization that Im back to 8 inches of hair is so disheartening. Why is my hair not growing or breaking off? I do not use heat and I wear my hair in two strand twist 90% of the time. I have started taking hair vitamins again. I want some hair growth. Lets have an article on how hair vitamins help hair growth. Sometimes we need a supplenent to… Read more »
The Natural Haven

Yes detangling tools were the worst thing for me. I knew you were stepping into all kinds of mess by mentioning that a shorter terminal length is possible, many women do not want to hear that. When my hair was 12 inches, it was just past APL, not quite BSL and indeed what I would consider long. It is now about 3 inches longer than that but I do consider 12 inches my happy place 🙂


Hey, Jc! Lol, yes, I was debating whether to step into a possible mess with that statement. Sometimes the truth hurts, but sometimes the truth must be mentioned. :o)

Hey Loo. I liked your response to the terminal length point. Hair on your head just like your eyebrows, eyelashes and on your arms has a cycle- meaning individual hairs will shed and new hair will sprout to the surface. Few people question the veracity of body hair only reaching certain lengths but if you apply the same logic to hair on the head, it brings out the naysayers and debate. Maybe it’s becuase head hair is so personal and the concerted efforts put into trying to get that bomb APL twist out of BAA. Few people say “Damn I… Read more »

Admitting to terminal length would mean defeat! For decades we have been told by every other race that our hair cant grow long! That’s why women dont admit to TERMINAL LENGTH instead they will ask if u have a medical condition lol.

My hair never grew past shoulder as a relaxed head so im going to try my luck as a natural currently transitioning. ^_^


Thank you, Lou! I agree with everything you’ve said. Well articulated.

Yes … “We should be able to have a transparent discussion about all aspects of hair growing.”


eh, i don’t agree with number 4.


I hate that term teminal length! I think that in a way it’s the opposite of what we are trying to accomplish; the fact that Black women can grow long hair.

For YEARS we have said, “my hair just doesn’t grow” or other people may have said, “my hair doesn’t grow long” or “you will never have long hair”. Now we are saying that just maybe, some women may only get to 12 inches?

I think we need to figure out which one is it; can we grow our hair long or not?


Terminal length at its shortest would be back bra strap length. Far longer than most black women’s hair gets to grow to due largely to overprocessing and poor protection. That’s still quite long. Other races have terminal hair length as well. I knew a white girl whose hair never grew beyond a inch past her shoulders. Our hair is just more prone to dryness and breakage than other races but truly that has nothing do with our terminal hair length being any shorter overall.

Hi Avaspeaks! Twelve inches on many women is BSL. That is not short at all. By mentioning terminal length, we are not saying that black hair cannot grow long. We are just saying that one shouldn’t be frustrated if one is doing everything right but doesn’t grow past BSL or waistlength or etc. Just as our eyelashes and eyebrows have a terminal length/time, so does the hair on our head. The mention of terminal length should not discourage those with shorter hair (i.e., much shorter than twelve inches) but educate those with longer hair who feel stuck in spite of… Read more »

Well maybe my head is really big or long or I am using the wrong kind of tape measure, because 12 inches on my head is no where near BSL.

Or on other people’s heads as well. So again, my head is really long or maybe I am using the wrong kind of tape measure.

Hi Avaspeaks, to clarify, when I say 12 inches of hair I mean the measurement you get when you take portions of your hair at any given point, stretch it out and measure from ROOT to TIP. Naptural demonstrates this here: Paraphrasing an explanation taken from LHCF: If your hair is 2″ long from root to tip, but you measure your hair length starting from the front of your hairline, pull the measuring tape over your head and to the end of your 2″ strands in back, you’ll end up with a 14″ measurement for hair even though the… Read more »
yeah i think that terminal length thing is a major copout. i don’t believe there are many people floating around with a terminal length of only twelve inches. and the ones that do i’m sure have medical conditions or are taking medications. if someone had a terminal length that short they would know because half the hair on their head at any given present time would have to be shed in a years time if their hair grew the average of 6 inches. that would be a helluva lotta shedding for the average person. so that’s why i don’t buy… Read more »

Terminal length is determined by genetics and external factors, many are stated above. It doesn’t specifically refer to peoplet of color.

I learned that my hair is not stunted it has grown. Unfortunately after march of 2012 dying test (dyed just a few strands)I found out that my rate of growth is only about 0.25″to about 0.375″ per month which means for me to see growth I must avoid a 1/4 inch breakage at all times I trim about 6 months that’s when about time notice the mini-quarter inch breakage. But what is a good solution for a individual who only grows at a rate of quarter inch a month? extension maybe? I know my other big problem is stress it… Read more »
Hi Nora! For me, long-term protective styling and less (or even, no) combing have helped. I also try to trim an average of once a year. The rest of the time, I just do a search and destroy. If you haven’t tried these methods, they may be worth trying. When it comes to slower growth rates, you have to manipulate your hair less frequently in order to experience length retention. 1/4 inch breakage over two or three months is not as bad as 1/4 breakage per month. That’s where long-term protective styling comes in. I hope that helps!

I’m 3 years natural and my hair is still short. I’ve just come to accept the fact that maybe shorter hair is in my DNA.


well now I know why my hair won’t grow I have no hair starting from both side to almost back of my head no hair in the front I just gave up trying to grow my hair I just have to accept the fact I want be able to wear my natural hair out in public due to humility all I can do is wear wigs

I agree with CherishBomb that that type of hair loss may be a result of the wigs. I personally love my wigs but I try not to overdo it because it takes a toll on my edges (especially the lace front wigs) Is that how it has always been or is this new? You should look into underlying health problems. For about 2 years or so I lost most of my hair in the back and in the sides of my head. I had about 1/4 inch of hair in these areas I went to tons of doctors & dermatologists… Read more »

maybe the wigs are the problem? you may want to wear your hair out for a while and see if it improves