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.

Leave a Reply

103 Comments on "From Shoulder to Waist Length: Geniece’s Natural Hair Story"

Notify of

You’re amaz­ing! A real inspi­ra­tion, and a true icon in your own right! You go, girl :) x
Check out her youtube chan­nel, as well.

I’m stuck at just below bra strap when stretch(top of bra strap with­out stretch­ing.) Won­der if this is my “ter­mi­nal length because, just past my bras­trap was my length through­out H.S. (before perming; only straight­en­ing) and col­lege (permed and flatironed so much end­ed up with hair just past shoul­ders). I’m a no heat nat­u­ral­ista now and know that it is ben­e­fi­cial to length reten­tion. How­ev­er, I know that length is also genet­i­cal­ly deter­mined, so maybe this is it. I’m going to do a lot of pro­tec­tive styling this sum­mer (buns and twists in buns). It’s going to be too hot in… Read more »

I think we have to be care­ful with ter­mi al length as we don’t have all the info.I per­son­al­ly don’t believe so just keep per­se­ver­ing and you will see break­through. I under­stand hair hae cycles how­ev­er that I nfor­ma­tion is not giv­en to us o paper when we are born so we just have to apply what we know until we know bet­ter. I am curent­ly BSB (below shoul­der blade) and my goal is WL so will keep going until I reach it as I believe it is with­in my reach.


I love your sto­ry, and it’s such an inspi­ra­tion to all of us. You have beau­ti­ful hair and a beau­ti­ful spir­it! Thanks for shar­ing :)


Thank you for shar­ing! I’m at a point where shoul­der length is real and not real­ly mov­ing any fur­ther. I do pro­tec­tive styles but I think I missed some­thing. Work­ing on a reg­i­men right now.

your hair is so pret­ty. long and fluffy. i wear my hair out every­day. too lazy for twists. and, i am so scared to blow it dry because i had a ter­ri­ble expe­ri­ence with heat dam­age once before. i noticed that you had a bad expe­ri­ence with heat before. how do you blow it dry now to do your length checks? what type of blow dry­er, what is the set­ting? do u do it or do u trust some­one else to do it? how often to you blow dry? do u still have heat dam­age? i end­ed up hav­ing to… Read more »

Once my kinky, coily, Afro-tex­tured hair got to be ~6 inch­es long, I start­ed fin­ger-detan­gling before wash­ing and wash­ing in twists. I also stopped doing wash-n-goes and opt­ed for stretched styles (braid-outs, buns, updos, etc.) 

I recent­ly made BSL (Yay!) and I look for­ward to mak­ing MBL. Patience and con­sis­ten­cy will get me there.


Good post. I to am under­stand­ing that my reg­i­men can no longer stay the same. Its easy to get lost with all the “style tuto­ri­als” online, but I’m real­iz­ing I have to get “back to basics” as far as pro­tec­tive styling if I want to see my hair pros­per. I also deep con­di­tioned reli­gious­ly and was able to change the poros­i­ty lev­el of my hair. I’m los­ing less hair now in the wash as a result


Did you do pro­tec­tive styling 24/7 all the way through? How much did you depend on pro­tec­tive styling through­out the process and what were your sta­ple styles? My hair grew from APL to BS+ in one year of mar­ley braids. I am won­der­ing if I can achieve as much growth while not pro­tec­tive styling.


I love her she is such an inspi­ra­tion!


LOOOOOOVE these kinds of articles..keep em com­ing!


I don’t under­stand why some have their box­ing gloves on.. It’s titled ‘Black Girls with Long hair’… Not inter­est­ed why post?…I’m very inter­est­ed because that’s what I want and its moti­vat­ing. To see we can grow our hair or healthy with­out dreads (noth­ing against them I had them for a few years) or with a relax­er is won­der­ful to me! BGLH please keep the posts up. Thank you :-) BTW very gor­geous hair


That was an encour­ag­ing post

nappy headed black girl

Oh my…I’m in awe of your hair. It’s fab­u­lous. Do you have an ulti­mate length goal?


I’m com­fort­able with this length. I’m not active­ly trim­ming it to main­tain the length so I could the­o­ret­i­cal­ly graze hip length by the end of the year. If I grew it out to hip length I would prob­a­bly cut it back to waist for blunt even ends.

Coconut + Cream

Stun­ning lady with gor­geous hair!

On anoth­er note, I’m slight­ly annoyed that my hair has come to a stand still after 3 years (APL). My hair seemed to be grow­ing like weeds in my first two years, now it’s at dol­drums! *sighs*


I am 3 yrs in, APL and i’m feel­ing like i’m stuck too. Im going to try tak­ing some sup­ple­ments and see if that helps with the growth because I real­ly wan­na get to that BSL.


This means you’ve hit a plateau in your length reten­tion. Most prac­tices that may be harm­ful for your hair will not pre­vent reten­tion the first two years. How­ev­er, as the hair grows old­er, your hair may not be able to han­dle cer­tain things with­out dam­age after those first 2 years. I found this arti­cle to be espe­cial­ly help­ful: http://blackgirllonghair(dot)com/2012/04/3-ways-to-get-over-hair-length-plateaus/

I hit a plateau maybe a year or so also, and was able to grow it out to BSL after tweak­ing my reg­i­men a bit.