From Shoulder to Waist Length: Geniece’s Natural Hair Story


In 2009 when I had my hair care “aha!” moment I couldn’t wait to share the news with others. After months of researching natural hair care on Youtube, hair websites and experimenting with my hair I realized that things had finally taken a turn for the better. I started a vlog and began documenting my journey through pictures. When I realized by the middle of 2010 that I would likely reach my first goal of arm pit length by the end of the year I set another hair goal of bra strap length for the following year. One thing I did not expect in 2009 was that I would change how I cared for my hair as my lengths goals changed.


Twist Out Winter 2007, Shoulder Length Hair Stretched

One thing I can say about growing out my hair is this: Growing out short hair to medium length hair was more challenging than growing out medium length hair to long hair. Moreover, once your hair is already long, say bra strap length, setting a goal of mid back length is even less daunting. In 2009 my hair was shoulder length and not all over either. My hair was layered such that some hair fell a little past ear length, while the hair closest to my nape reached as shoulder. Initially, I focused on growing out my layers and getting my hair to reach a few inches past shoulder length within 7 months. This involved weekly deep conditioning and 24/7 protective styling. I had been pretty rough with my hair during the previous years with daily combing and brushing, so keeping it pinned up in low maintenance style wasn’t a sacrifice, but rather a relief. When I blow dried my hair in May of 2010 I was stunned to see after only 7 months of proper hair care that my fro started to hang (as opposed to stick straight up) due to the weight of additional length. Over the months and years that followed my regimen was adjusted to reflect the hair goal I wanted to achieve.

twists june 2010

Mini Twists Summer 2010, Arm pit Length Stretched

That first year I set a goal of retaining 6 inches so that with trims I’d end the year with 4-5 healthy inches of hair. The following year I had a similar goal. My ultimate goal was waist length so when I set a goal to grow my hair from bra strap length to mid back length I knew that on my body that was a mere 3 inches. I was fine giving myself an entire year to reach that goal and therefore skipped some of the steps in my regimen. The reasons I was able to abbreviate my regimen were two fold. First, keep in mind that as your hair grows the time it takes to do certain tasks will increase significantly. In 2009 I could detangle and wash my hair in the shower in about 30 minutes. Now, the application of my pre-poo and detangling takes a little over 1 hour and then I have to wash my hair, which takes an additional 30 minutes. Second, I begin my hair journey with hair that had been roughed up by my lack understanding. I needed to make up for poor practices by babying my hair. My hair was much healthier two years later because it had not been subject to weekly blow out sessions or a lack of proper moisture. I could therefore deep condition less without damaging my hair.


Blow out, Spring 2011, Bra Strap Length Stretched

By 2012 I no longer cared to retain 6 inches of hair each year and was therefore more comfortable not deep conditioning every week even if it meant I would need to trim more frequently. My hair wasn’t super long but it had reached the length that I set as a goal back in 2009. As of the writing of this post my hair has recently been blow dried and is about 2 inches longer than it was December, meaning I’ve retained all four months of growth.


Current Length of My Hair, Waist Length Stretched

The take away advice I want to leave you with is this: If you currently have ear length hair and ultimately want to reach mid back length or waist length don’t believe that you are glued to your current regimen. If you implement excellent hair care and are able to hit a new milestone each year, you will eventually find that there are some steps that you can skip without ruining your hair journey. Sure, you may not get every single ½ inch possible but you will be able to know how to maintain your hair length or shoot for 2-3 inches a year when you reach the point when you actually don’t want to grow your hair much longer. That point may seem a long way off right now, but with proper hair care trust me, it may sooner than you know.

Has your hair care regimen changed at different hair lengths?



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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102 thoughts on “From Shoulder to Waist Length: Geniece’s Natural Hair Story

  1. Hi Ms. Geniece! Your hair looks amazing! Can I ask you to help me on a regimen for mines please!
    I cut my hair (almost bald)last year Oct (2012) and now it’s just past my shoulders (in the back) when braided and for the sides just above my shoulders when braided. Since i have cute it i haven’t used any heat on my hair. I tend to put myself on month challenges where I never leave the ends out, I have done this 3 times since I have cut it. I don’t wash my hair often and I think my hair is doing ok. However I wish to get to waist length hair too, but I feel like my hair is on a pause.
    I hardly moisturize it and i need help in a routine for it or even how to moisturize it. When i do moisturize my scalp, because i have very dry scalp, my scalp acts as a vacuum and ten minutes later it is dry again. I am between 4a/4b, my hair is very thick but soft and curly.
    What can I do to:
    1. Keep my scalp and hair moisturized?
    2. Grow my hair to waist length?
    3. Keep my scalp and hair healthy?

    • I have 4c SUPER DRY hair. I have found, that unlike other naturals, I can’t just use coconut oil and call it a day. The ONLY thing that saved me was Jamaican black castor oil. I transferred the oil to a hair color applicator bottle, and added peppermint oil as well. I part my hair, apply to my scalp and massage in. It lasts for DAYS. It’s very thick, almost like honey, so I don’t put on my hair itself….just my ends for sealing a twistout if they are rough every now and then. It’s also known to be good for hair growth :)
      Good luck!

  2. My daughter has almost waist-length hair because for the most part, I just leave it alone. I think that’s the best way to retain length for more fragile, kinky hair types. I know it’s hard because for a lot of us we haven’t spent many years seeing our natural hair or playing in it. Also, some of us get bored and just want to change it up! But the low manipulation worked out for my daughter’s hair. Her hair used to just grow to just above her armpit and then the ends would break off or split. Her hair wouldn’t get any longer than that. I was manipulating it too much, using thick pomades or body lotion as a hair moisturizer (fail!). Now I use water, oil and a leave-in conditioner. That’s it.

    I combed or de-tangled her hair no more than twice a week to change styles, I only de-tangle my daughter’s hair once a month or every six weeks . . . and it’s dry de-tangling with fingers and oil first, then gently with a wide-toothed comb. Wet de-tangling was causing too much breakage for her hair. I oil the ends of her hair twice a week. I do moisturize with a leave-in weekly. I also keep her ends tucked into a bun or updo on most days. If she has braids I keep them in for two months.

    If your hair is not as fragile as my daughter’s or is not prone to a lot SSK’s than one might not need to tuck the ends into buns, or updo’s or wear braids or twists for weeks. But leaving my daughter’s hair out all the time and combing it often caused breakage. I let her wear her hair out on weekends and for special occasions. After my daughter has reached hip-length, I plan to let her wear her hair out if she wants more often.

  3. I have been having problems with growing my hair since i have been a little girl my mother and sister have indian hair i have my dads hair african so she never could take care of my hair till today when my hair grows just a little and i straighten daily to keep in looking hot it breaks off i just run my fingers through and a whole lot of hair falls out.

    also my hair is a ugly blond mixed with brown naturally i want to dye it but not sure which colur to go with right now i have extentions platted in for 3 months and would like to go natural and not worry about hair falling out or my colour or not knowing what styles to do or hair products to use amla oil hair products heard they are good is this true please help me ladies im so lost and lacking self confidence


    • First start off by cutting back on the flatironing. Everyday is harsh on the hair even Caucasian hair cannot take that much without possibly getting damage. Try to only flatiron weekly or biweekly if you want to have your hair straight. Make sure to moisturized and seal your hair full of moisture prior to flatironing so your hair stay hydrated for at least a week in its flatiron state. Wrapping your hair at night keeps the hair smooth so you don’t have to keep flatironing everyday and get at least a good 4-7 days out your hair. From there you can lightly touch up your ends by having your flatiron on a lower setting around 250-300 depending on what type of African Hair you have 3A-3C Curly or 4A-4Ckinky. If you color your hair darker then you do not have to use bleach and you avoid chemical damage. Going lighter try to go no more than two to three levels above your natural to avoid using bleach. Hope this helps. If you need anymore info feel free to hit me up on my YouTube; DivaNaturalWuan.

    • Hello Ernestine,

      I realize that your question on 11/10/13 was not directed to me, but I want to share my thoughts about genetic links to long hair and growth. I too, have been all over Youtube and Blogs everywhere, and I can tell you that from what I see, before and after and some adolescent photos that some women upload. Most of them already had long hair as a child or shoulder length thick hair. Most will take an opposing viewpoint, but I do believe that genetics plays a role in your ability to grow hair naturally and to reach a certain length.

  4. Wow what amazing progress! I’m gonna start following you! Yes my regimen does change with longer lengths. I am about mid-back length stretched and I would like to remain there but with my shrinkage. I imagine I’d need to be full waist length stretched to hit midback with shrinkage? Not sure though. I go back and forth with wanting to just enjoy my hair verses always trying to “actively” retain more length…However I do understand that with proper hair care which is imbedded in me! My hair will automatically retain a good amount.

  5. Hi,I was just reading some comments and basically I get the idea that you have to not use heat to grow your hair out longer. For me this is not possible as every time I wash my hair and then dry it, it goes matted and very dry. Therefore when I get out of the bath or shower I put my hair into sections and put my moisturizer in it then comb it out with a wide tooth comb. After that I blow-dry my hair. I was thinking of straightening my hair but I’m not sure as I have been reading what other people think and there has been some negative feedback to that. Anyway,my question is: Can I still grow my hair down to my waist and use some heat still? By the way my hair is around about my shoulders and I have a goal to get down to my waist. Thanks x

    • There are plenty of people who use heat and grow their hair to long lengths. In fact, look up the longhairdontcare channel on youtube. That young lady “heat trains” her hair, which means that she blow dries it. You just have to be careful with the heat, make sure to use heat protectant and be diligent about your conditioning and moisture regimen.

  6. My hair grew very long. About shoulder lenght when I was pregnant. And that was 2 years in my natural hair journey. Now it’s just about at my neck. It’s been shedding like sick. The front is short like it’s been pulled. I’m trying to grow it again but just scared if I had another baby same process will repeat itself. Also it looks very ugly I feel like covering it up. My twist outs don’t look as nice. Please help. Can I take vitamins or something? This is how it looks on twist outs. So uneven. Thanks.

    • Do take zinc as it works on your immune system and is great for those of us dealing with stress, and having a baby is a lot of stress on the body. I had terrible post partum hair loss, but because I was taking zinc, I lost a lot of hair but didn’t end up with bald patches. Your hair will grow back and it is upsetting, but bear with it and don’t let it put you off having another child. Get a good hair/skin/nails vitamin to take regularly and take care of your hair.

  7. Hi, I grew up relaxing my hair for as long as I can remember, and it came to point where my scalp became sensitive to relaxers. Salons tried to advise me to use that and that. I have even tried baby product but still my scalp would start to burn quickly. It was in 2012 I decided to cut my hair and go natural and i was overwhelmed by how much I loved my natural hair. Beginning, of 2013 I went to a salon n did bonding and the tight pulling of my hair damaged my scalp, right in the center of my head and I ended up in an emergency room. The salon refused to take the responsibility. I would love to take them to court, but I have not investigated how do i go about that but i know I can.

    Ever since, I have been shaving and slowly my hair is growing. It came to a point I got tired of shaving. I have let my hair grow for about a month now. I would massage the affected area every night with a warm mix of coconut+olive +vitamin E oils. After that, I would use tea tree shampoo and let my hair dry (but not completely dry) and I would apply a casto oil and sometimes mix it with vitamin E oil and take 2 vigro bio-capsules a day as recommended by a pharmacist. I have been trying to grow the affected area for almost a year now but have not seemed to succeed. Please I need help to grow back my beautiful hair.

    • I use Jamaican black castor oil on my spot and massage it. My hair is growing back. I’m also going to try the cayenne pepper and castor mix. Google it and there are several ways to mix it. The cayenne is the same stuff found in alopecia treatments and is supposed to stimulate the hair follicles.

    • Hi,
      Last year my hair broke off from medication that I was taking. I had bald patches around my temples and the sides of my hair. The rest of my hair is very long 14 inches so the damage was very evident. I used aloe vera leaf on the affected area every 3 days and massaged my scalp with black castor oil. I wore my hair in two large cornrows for like 2 months but, now those areas have around 4 inches of growth. I think diet is really important too. I ate lots of greens and red cabbage which helped alot

    • I opened the photo to look at it more closely but my best advice is to go to a dermatologist. It looks to me like whatever happened it gave you at least a 2nd if not 3rd degree burn, and the skin is now healed over and shiny which isn’t a good sign. You should always be able to see the hair attempting to push through the skin even if it is very fine

    • No sweetie, you have alopecia. Look it up it’s very common and the hair will eventually grow back I had the same thing happen to me. It’s not the salon’s fault. If your bald surface was smooth then it’s definitely alopecia providing your blood test came back normal. Why has no doctor told you about alopecia as yet? You can get medication and the hair will grow back eventually.

  8. Hi, im 14
    i’m mixed (my mum is white my dad is black)
    I have short hair, it’s soft but kinky
    i wash my hair everyday
    I used chemical hair straighteners 3 times (big mistake of my life)
    my brother cut my hair, and it is now so short ( just a bit below my neck line)
    it hasn’t been growing for 5 months
    I need help, please tell me your natural hair secrets, it’s awesome :)

  9. Trust me on that one though research it or go to a dermatologist or doctor and I’m sure eventually you will be told. I had all of your symptoms. Burning fast with relaxers etc, etc, I highly recommend not using the castor oil just go to the doctor and get medication it will grow back trust me! I’m back to normal and haven’t had it since, drop the castor oil first though that’s what I had to do. Just be patient after the medication it will take a few months but slowly you will get back your hair in the spot.

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