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By Jc of The Nat­u­ral Haven Bloom

It is a sad fact that there is an inher­ent fear among many wom­en that their hair sim­ply can­not get past a cer­tain length. Many fear their hair may nev­er get past chin or shoul­der length. This fear is rein­forced in part because nat­u­ral hair can eas­i­ly get stuck at this length due to con­stant break­age.  This arti­cle is all about get­ting clear knowl­edge about ter­mi­nal length.

Does a ter­mi­nal length exist?

Yes ter­mi­nal length exists and we have all seen the proof in the form of shed hair. This hair would not be falling out of the scalp nat­u­ral­ly unless it had come to the end of its growth cycle. There is no doubt about the exis­tence of a ter­mi­nal length, hair does stop gain­ing length at a point and will then shed.

Is there a way to deter­mine how long hair will keep grow­ing?

No there is no proven way to deter­mine this. Some blogs and forums do have cal­cu­lat­ed num­bers based on shed hair but this is not sci­en­tific in any way. The truth is even in sci­ence, it is not clear what is an aver­age amount of dai­ly shed hair for a human being. Some say 100 a day but some tests have shown dai­ly shed­ding rates as low as 30.

How long will hair keep grow­ing and how long will it grow?

Many peo­ple will quote hair as hav­ing a 3–5 year growth phase. This is actu­al­ly a sci­en­tific guess and not a fact, some oth­er stud­ies sug­gest hair could keep grow­ing for over a decade.  For growth rate, the low­est esti­mate of hair growth rate is around 4 inch­es per year. Putting the low­est fig­ures togeth­er, the short­est hair length is 12 inch­es in 3 years.

So is 12 inch­es the max­i­mum pos­si­ble length?

No, it is the low­est pos­si­ble guess that your hair can grow up to.  12 inch­es of hair is not short at all though, as Loo said in her pre­vi­ous arti­cle, this can be APL or BSL for some wom­en. I would sug­gest claim­ing those 12 inch­es and then see­ing what more you can gain. Clear­ly if your hair gains even half an inch over those 12 inch­es, the fact is that your hair has not reached its ter­mi­nal length. Many nat­u­rals will already see that their hair gains more than 4 inch­es dur­ing the first year after tran­si­tion­ing which is some­thing that should not be dis­re­gard­ed in future years when growth will be affect­ed by pos­si­ble break­age of old­er hair.

What if no one in my fam­i­ly has ever had long hair?

Genet­ics do play a role in how long your hair will grow but curly and kinky nat­u­ral hair is unique in the fact that hair break­age is a preva­lent issue. If poor tech­niques are used with­in a fam­i­ly to main­tain this type of hair, the real length of hair may nev­er be show­cased. It is a very com­mon quote to hear nat­u­rals say, ‘This is the longest my hair has ever been.’  This is a tes­ta­ment to the fact that once they hit the right tech­niques, rou­tine and pro­duct com­bi­na­tions, hair can gain and main­tain length as it has nev­er done before.

What if my hair has been stuck at neck length for over 6 months?

I sug­gest read­ing this pre­vi­ous arti­cle on hair plateaus to know how to deal with that.

Ladies, have you exceed­ed your expec­ta­tion of how long your hair could grow? How did you do it?

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69 Comments on "Understanding Terminal Length and Predicting Hair Growth"

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Shannon Dominique Bax
Shannon Dominique Bax
When I was lit­tle the longest my hair was down to the mid­dle of my back. Which I guess is con­sid­ered Bra Strap Length. Now genet­i­cal­ly, on my dad’s side of the fam­i­ly I have an aunt and a cous­in that used to have wear hair nat­u­ral­ly all the way down to a lit­tle passed their butts. Which was either, “Clas­sic Length.” Or, “Thigh Length,” and that is my goal nowa­days every sin­gle day with my relaxed hair, and it’s real­ly in it’s best health!!! What I do on a dai­ly basis is I co-wash with only a cheap con­di­tion­er,… Read more »

I’m at a full shoul­der length when stretched . I’m a year and a half nat­u­ral . My goal is armpit length . My grand­ma has bra strap length hair . My oth­er cous­in is between arm pit and bra strap . Also my hair grew 7 to 8 inch­es when stretched in a year so I know I can achieve arm pit length by my 2nd year nat­u­ral . I pro­tec­tive style 90 per­cent of the time . I wear braid­ed updos .

I’m no hair expert but I do know that ter­mi­nal hair length is the length of healthy hair your body will nat­u­ral­ly grow not to be con­fused with the length of healthy hair your body can sub­stain. Mean­ing that even if your hair stays at cer­tain length for a long peri­od of time you still may not have reached your ter­mi­nal length you may have just reached the lim­it of healthy hair that your body can sub­stain. Hair growth is influ­enced by a num­ber fac­tors rang­ing from care to genet­ics all the way to what you eat. And many of… Read more »
We know ter­mi­nal length by shed hair appar­ent­ly. But after I BCd I had 1 & 2 inch shed hairs that had reached the end of their cycle then. Now my hair is prob­a­bly some­where between 12 & 14 inch­es (In some places) I have 12–14 inch shed hairs that have reached the end of their cycle now. So I couldn’t very well pre­dict my ter­mi­nal length just by the length of my shed hairs. If I ever reach 16 inch­es I’ll have 16 inch shed hairs reach­ing the end of growth at a much longer length than a cou­ple… Read more »
So… im half black half white and my hair used to be a cou­ple inch­es past my armpit stretched when i was lit­tle. But in 6th grade i start­ed to flat iron it, usu­al­ly with­out heat pro­tec­tant ( my mom did­nt tell me. Now in august i will be a junior… also, in 8 th grade i went through this weird phase of get­ting my hair, bit­ing a lit­tle piece off, and spit­ting it out.. i did thsr in the front of my hair, most­ly , for about 5 months. In those five months i prob­a­bly lost 4 inch­es of… Read more »
Perla Gisselle

My hair is the longest it’s ever been. I’m guess­ing 2 more years and I’ll be at mbl.


If I can get 12 inch­es in 3 years I’ll be the hap­pi­est girl in the world .


When I was main­tain­ing relaxed hair I cal­cu­lat­ed my hair grew about 3/8″ (1cm) per mon­th. So I am with you, if I can get 12 inch­es of healthy, nat­u­ral hair in 36 months, I will be stu­pid hap­py.


After 10 months of tran­si­tion­ing and after I big chopped on that 10th mon­th when I stretched my hair I saw I gained 3 inch­es . I mea­sured it . With shrink­age to peo­ple I have over an inch . Im not mea­sur­ing my hair again untill Feb­ru­ary of next year . I’m hop­ing to get to 4 inch­es with shrink­age by that time and 6 inch­es when stretched pulled out .


I have exceed­ed my hair’s nor­mal (but not my expec­ta­tions). My hair was always short and no mat­ter what I did, it would not grow. I start­ed drink­ing a lot more water dai­ly, tak­ing a mul­ti-vit­a­m­in and hair sup­ple­ments, exer­cis­ing, mas­sag­ing my scalp night­ly, Inver­sion and GHE. As a result, my hair has exceed­ed my nor­mal hair length. My expec­ta­tions are for my hair to grow at least 12″ per year or more. I know it sounds crazy, but at the rate that my hair is now grow­ing, I would not be sur­prised at all.


Pure genet­ics !! Plain and sim­ple



As a child, the longest my hair has been was to chest. Yet I could not tell if it was genet­ics that caused my hair not to grow past neck length before i went nat­u­ral. I think since I know the longest length my hair has ever got­ten I believe genet­ics would not pre­vent me from get­ting the length I desire. After my hair would not grow a cer­tain length when I was still get­ting perms, I used Dr. Mir­a­cle to help grow past neck length. If i come across the prob­lem again I will use that line. I also… Read more »
Well I am not sure but I think genet­ics plays a big role me n my lit­tle sis­ter have dif­fer­ent dads n the biggest dif­fer­ence between us is my hair it grows n grows no mat­ter what I do to it grows espe­cial­ly if I leave it alone .. Now hers on the oth­er hand breaks n breaks n she treats her hair bet­ter than I did ! Now I cut my hair to the Rihan­na cut let’s say 6 inch­es I had on my head oct 2011 it’s now April 2014 n my hair is exact­ly 21 inches(do the… Read more »
The longest my hair has been is at the bot­tom of my breasts. I cut it short (right below my ears) and it grew back. Then I cut it again below my ears when I was 19 and it grew back ever so slow­ly to shoul­der length. I’m now 23 and it’s still shoul­der length. I’ve trimmed it a few times hop­ing get­ting rid of the split ends would help it but it didn’t. I haven’t cut or trimmed in 2 years now and it hasn’t grown at all. I have untreat­ed hypothy­roidism due to finan­cial issues. And I stopped… Read more »

try men­stru­a­tion teas , tsp apple cider vine­gar drank every­day with some hon­ey in it, eggs are great too may­be a lit­tle cal­ci­um vit­a­mins


Your hair is longer when you’re a child because your body is small­er.

Ter­mi­nal length does exist: Every oth­er crea­ture that walks the plan­et. has genet­ic expres­sion and so do we. Think of cats! Some are Per­sian long­hairs, some have very short or even NO hair. It’s DNA folks. Prob­lem is that too many com­pa­nies make too much mon­ey by promis­ing hair growth from their prod­ucts. (Ahem pan­tene) ..


Man, my ter­mi­nal length is about halfway down my back, but I don’t ever see it chang­ing. My fam­i­ly has the unfor­tu­nate cir­cum­stance of liv­ing with a were­wolf, the shed hair is that bad. And the frizzi­ness that results, ugh!
I switched from reg­u­lar old super­mar­ket sham­poos to Argan Oil stuff, which has brought down the frizz and vol­ume con­sid­er­ably (Ever met some­one whose hair stands out so much it’ll sit nat­u­ral­ly at 90 degrees to ver­ti­cal?!). But there’s just too much of it. Too much. And it all falls out super-quick.


[…] and mon­ey mak­ing again! They say the­se prod­ucts will facil­i­tate Rapun­zel length while we all know ter­mi­nal length is […]


My goal is to grow mega longer hair every­day and My hair prod­ucts are tex­tur­iz­ers, super grow hair grease, sham­poos, con­di­tion­ers, hair grow­ing sup­ple­ments, etc. accept relax­ers.


No if your hair was longer and thick­er before it can be long ever longer then ever . Long sto­ry short you may not be han­dling your hair with prop­er care. I would look on youtube and learn on pro­tec­tive styling con­di­tion­ers and mois­tu­i­riz­er your oils… Go on long hair care jounery.…. curly nikki there is a lot on the inter­net to find why your hair is grow­ing


This may be a sil­ly ques­tion, but does your ter­mi­nal length ever change? My hair when I was younger was super long and thick and now it’s stuck at my shoul­ders. :-(


Ter­mi­nal lenght nev­er change pret­ty :D


I did the big chop and only had about an inch of hair. I am at 2 & 1/2 years nat­u­ral and my hair is already to my col­lard bone. That’s the longest my hair had ever got­ten when it was relaxed. I have no doubt it will con­tin­ue to grow longer because I know how to take care of it now. Relaxed or nat­u­ral you just got­ta know what your hair needs to grow.


Ter­mi­nal length is yet anoth­er myth. Hair grows con­stant­ly. Even after you die your hair and nails still grow. The prob­lem is improp­er hair care and even more impor­tant­ly lack of hydra­tion and nutri­tion.


Hair and nails grow­ing after death is also myth. The allu­sion of “grow­ing” is actu­al­ly due to the skin shrink­ing and retract­ing as the body behind to decay.

Right now I’m try­ing to NOT ACCEPT that my hair won’t grow past neck length. I’m in a hold­ing pat­tern bc the back of my hair is more coarse& it appears real­ly dry & I have break­age. Some­times I could just be doing noth­ing a ran­dom curl will fall right in front or me. You can see lots of lit­tle coils of hair in my car­pet bc they fall often & ran­dom­ly so I vacumm often! I’m try­ing to give my hair more atten­tion TLC like mosi­tur­iz­ing daily,finger comb­ing, deep condish& know­ing what prod­ucts my hair likes (glycerin,shea,etc) & its… Read more »
I don’t know what your hair type is but believe it or not I think a lot of nat­u­rals have issues with the car­pet or “kitchen” area break­ing. Try apply­ing coconut oil, avo­cado oil, or extra vir­gin olive oil there dai­ly — per­haps twice dai­ly. I read those are the only oils that pen­e­trate inside the hair shaft. Also make sure you are not pulling your hair too tight­ly back there when you are doing pony­tails, buns, etc. Check the back of your hair in a hand mir­ror with the large mir­ror behind you. Or take a pho­to of the… Read more »
God i loved buns! it was my first class pro­tec­tive style! Then six months ago i saw a bald patch in the top right side of my head… it was just that area.. then i read it could be the buns and pulling my hair too tight! and i was pulling it too tight — because i liked it that way! i would nev­er have guessed it was this that was caus­ing the break­age, in that sec­tion! I now have a weave — it looks like its grow­ing back now! but what a learn­ing curve! When i take the weave… Read more »
Thanks for all the sug­ges­tions and tips. I will def­i­nite­ly keep in mind. I will say that I almost nev­er ever put my hair in a pony­tail. I com­mit­ted to min­i­mize the strain on my hair by not pulling on it too much.I only tuck the front of my hair with side­combs on most days.I’ve tried non­pro­tein regimes and then tried pro­tein treatments.That area of hair is tough. Even when I had a perm it was the short­est part of my hair with the front & sides out­pac­ing the back in growth. My styl­ists always want­ed 2 even me out… Read more »

That’s good that you don’t do the pony­tails. You are very wel­come and good luck to you.

A few years ago, I watched three Youtube vlog­gers, Long­hair­dont­care2011, Kim­may­tube and Ser­a2544, and told my hus­band that my goal is to grow hair as long as theirs for myself and my daugh­ters. He told me that he didn’t think that was pos­si­ble and that I should just focus on keep­ing the girls’ hair and my hair healthy. My husband’s moth­er is “mixed” and has long loose­ly waved hair. He’s accus­tomed to pri­mar­i­ly see­ing wom­en who look like her with long hair. Also, I used to have locs and my hair was waist-length then but has been short since I… Read more »
N Francis

My hair is cur­rent­ly the longest it has ever been. I mois­tur­ize more, wash while twist­ed and wear more pro­tec­tive styles. I have no idea what my ter­mi­nal length is b/c in the past I’ve got­ten bored and cut my hair. It’s now just past my clav­i­cle and April will be two years since a big chop. I’m excit­ed to see where I end up, ear­ly sum­mer.

I am new to this site but have been read­ing all the com­ments. I am going to try my very own mtg with­out min­er­al oil. I have ordered all the oth­er ingre­di­ents and have replaced the min­er­al oil with a mix­ture of almond, coconut and a lit­tle cas­tor oil. My hair is very thick and curly and I will be putting up pic­tures soon. I have nev­er been able to get past my shoul­ders but I real­ize that was part­ly my fault in the care of my hair. I am over­seas right now but will be home soon so i… Read more »

This arti­cle is non­sense. There is a lim­it for how long hair can grow– for some peo­ple very long for oth­ers short. Of course, if you do some things it may not break off but it still will not grow down your back if genet­i­cal­ly it is only pro­grammed for 8 to 10 inch­es like many but cer­tain­ly not all black wom­en.


did you read the arti­cle at all? quit being neg­a­tive and stop to read before com­ment­ing, please.


I like many black wom­en use to believe my hair couldn’t grow past a cer­tain length. It wasn’t until I dis­cov­ered the many forums and saw pro­gress pic­tures of wom­en who took their hair from a retard­ed length to a healthy long hair. Then I start­ed apply­ing basic prin­ci­ples such as mois­tur­iz­ing and self-styling (styl­ist abuse my hair) and my hair took off. Though it’s a slow growth now, but my hair has grown well past the length it has ever been.

I cut my very curly hair shoul­der length 4 years ago. It’s tak­ing a very long time, and I can’t wear it straight very often, but it is now down to my waist. Grow­ing hair takes patience! I haven’t had hair this long since ele­men­tary school. I do not have a relax­er, I make sure to con­di­tion it with a mix­ture of cas­tor and jojoba oils every week, and tend to wear it in a french braid. Dur­ing this 4 year grow out peri­od, I also was bleach­ing blonde! I just took very very good care of it, includ­ing my… Read more »

This is a great arti­cle. Props to all the ladies who keep stick­ing it out and mak­ing sure their hair is healthy above all, no mat­ter the length. We’re beau­ti­ful!

Cay James
To answer the article’s last ques­tion, I did exceed my expec­ta­tions of how long my hair could grow. I didn’t think that my hair would grow past my shoul­ders but now my hair is armpit length and I’m now work­ing on grow­ing itto armpit length. This is much dif­fer­ent from what I expect­ed when I was grow­ing up. Back then I was in a fam­i­ly of nat­u­rals (all of their hair was cut short) and grew up in a neigh­bor­hood where girls act­ed as though it was a fact that we just couldn’t grow hair.  It wasn’t until I was about… Read more »

Thank you for a tru­ly inspir­ing sto­ry. I love your hon­esty!


Very thought­ful and hon­est post. I enjoyed it.


This is a very well writ­ten arti­cle.

My longest lay­ers will be BSB soon and its just patience,technique and being flex­i­ble.

As far as i know fears are unproven and here’s a great acronym for it:


One thing I know is that the world is filled with ladies who CAN retain length so lets not believe the lies our hair can­not grow long if that is your goal. :)


I wish my hair would grow. It’s been the same length for lit­er­al­ly 5 years. The only time it seems to grow is if I have it braid­ed, and I get too tired to braid it myself any­more. My hair is too short to do any prop­er pro­tec­tive styles with­out adding in fake hair.


you have actu­al­ly answered your own ques­tion.

you said your hair grows when in braids. that prob­a­bly means you ben­e­fit from pro­tec­tive styling and should do it to RETAIN length while it grows.


Some­times, when you see that your hair is not grow­ing after you have done every­thing you pos­si­bly can, you need to change your reg­i­men if you are not see­ing results.

DJ J you are cor­rect. I have seen peo­ple with dread­locks all the way down to their low­er back, to their but­tocks and longer. This tells me that there is no ter­mi­nal length. I say there is only ter­mi­nal care. When my (relaxed) hair reached my shoul­ders, I could not fig­ure out why it stopped there. Every 8 weeks, I had anoth­er 1/2 or so of new growth. So where was it? I began to focus hard on every­thing that I was and was not doing. I realised that my purse strap, high back chairs, car seat shoul­der straps and… Read more »

there is noooooo way you can judge ter­mi­nal length by dread­locks! dread­locks is just dead hair that remains attached to grow­ing hair through peri­od­ic “lock­ing.”

Peo­ple just need to real­ize that just as we all were not born with good skin we were not all born with strong hair. There­fore, some people’s hair would break faster than oth­er before it can get to a cer­tain length.

Actu­al­ly, ALL hair is dead. And it doesn’t mat­ter what pro­tec­tive method is used to retain the strands / length, it still means reten­tion is achieved. But if by the term ‘dead hair’ that you referred to,you mean ‘hair that is not attached to the root’,I do not know how we can know that for sure that it is not attached. Do you? It sounds like sup­po­si­tion to me. I can only say that The loc’d Ladies reten­tion method is that is of min­i­mal han­dling, and this is why it is long. Sue,I know very well that not all hair is… Read more »

I agree with you except dread­locks also become longer because it con­sist of dead hair mat­ted togeth­er and they don’t have to brush or come the dead hair out which con­tributes to the length as well.


I use Red­ken prod­ucts( inter­lock pro­tein net­work) and my hair grew about 3 inch­es in two mon­th.


I used to use Red­ken the so soft line.…and it did won­ders from my hair but i stopped using it in place of nexxus …I always planned to go back..but end­ed up with Bio­lage strength­en­ing line.…I may revis­it Red­ken now that you remind­ed me.


Yes black hair can grow! Many fac­tors plays a role.…. How­ev­er many black wom­en do not care for their hair prop­er­ly so their hair is unable to reach it’s full poten­tial. I have been nat­u­ral 4.5 years now. I did not have long hair grow­ing up.…. This is the longest my hair has ever been. 

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keli gatlin
just beau­ti­ful! i have very dry curly hair no blw dry­ing and col­or my hair every 6 mnths, no curling iron lots of oils esp pink in the eth­nic isle! im indi­an and swedish=white and i just have hair that looks dry when i brush it so i nev­er brush it and i cut it myself as u cant tell if i mess up cause so much curl, i tried 20 years ago straight­en­ing it and i loked awful! guess we huld be proud of what we have many peo­ple said they would love to have my nat­u­ral curls and… Read more »

Very nice! I think it takes patience and dis­ci­pline to adopt a reg­i­men to retain length but if length is what you want, it’s worth it. Con­grat­u­la­tions on reach­ing your hair length goal.


Wow your hair looks great! What is your hair reg­i­men? Do you wear cer­tain nat­u­ral styles most of the time or do you use heat at all? I would be total­ly over­joyed for my hair to just look like the sec­ond pic­ture :)




OOOOH, your hair looks gor­geous!!!


Jc you hit the nail on the head!! I always remem­ber hear­ing “nobody in my fam­i­ly has long hair etc,” I just always think “girl your fam­i­ly shares all of the same hair care prac­tices,” so if one per­sons hair is dam­aged, all of y’all hair is dam­aged or on the way.


I think that most don’t know what their ter­mi­nal length is. My hair is almost to waist length (between 18 and 21 inch­es) and this is it longest it has ever been, had you asked me years ago I might have said my ter­mi­nal length was some­thing much short­er but now I know I just using too much heat, way too often. I also was col­or­ing my hair all the time so my hair nev­er reached its poten­tial.


Im almost to waist length im at 16 inch­es in the front, 18 in the back. Im hop­ing to make it to 21 by end of May. I think I can do it thats about 6 months from now, so that should equeal 3 inch­es, but I am going in for a trim soon but Im faith­ful!


Hard­er to retain a relaxed lenghth thenn nat­u­ral


I think it depends on the care given to relaxed hair. There are less tan­gles and eas­ier detan­gling. I have seen many wom­en on healthy hair jour­neys who have beau­ti­ful super long relaxed hair. Also, depends on the hair type. My hair is super fine so when it was relaxed it was so thin and broke eas­i­ly, but then this was when I wasn’t tak­ing good care of my hair.




Hair is DEAD it can only be healthy look­ing so relaxed hair can be healthy look­ing too, I guess that’s what Mar­cia meant :)
For the ques­tion, yes I exceed­ed the expec­ta­tion of how long my hair could grow in three years but not what I want for when I’m at right now. In 3 years, I’ve been able to exceed what I had on my head for 19 years… very crazy. I real­ized that the prop­er care and patience were the key prod­ucts :)

i man­aged to grow from just past shoul­der length to close to armpit length in about 3 months then my mom said it was split ends so she cut it :( now i have to start again. but the good thing is that i spoke to her and she said “i real­ly find it hard to believe that my hair will grow down my back. its been instilled in me since i was a child.” thats when i realised i need to start edu­cat­ing my fam­i­ly before i get out there. even my sis­ter thinks im nuts but i want… Read more »

Since kinky hair breaks so much is 12 inch­es is your ter­mi­nal length, wouldn’t you be very unlike­ly to reach it tak­ing into account even low manip­u­la­tion styling?

The Natural Haven

I dis­agree that reach­ing 12 inch­es is impos­si­ble. I do agree that kinky hair is more affect­ed by break­age but and this is a big BUT, you CAN stop or great­ly min­imise break­age.

Tech­niques like fin­ger­comb­ing, wash­ing hair in braids, wear­ing pro­tec­tive styles for most of the time and for suf­fi­cient­ly long are must haves for peo­ple with very kinky hair that is sus­cep­ti­ble to break­age using ‘con­ven­tion­al’ tech­niques (i.e brush­ing, wash­ing hair free and wear­ing most­ly out hair styles).