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

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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?

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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.

  • Diana

    Hello Veronica!!!…
    I just wanted to offer my support in your current hair journey and to let you know that you are not alone in your frustration. first, I completely appreciate the fact that you are an “older woman”..I am too and many of the ladies here and on you tube are quite young and enjoy so many of the Less conservative styling of their hair. I just don’t look the way I want to look with say a “fro Hawk”. I have found that this journey is a slow one step at a time kind of thing. I lost a great deal of my hair in 2008 been natural since that time. One thing that really worked for me was watching you tube…there are so many wonderful women showing you exactly how to do your hair, how to make your own products, makeup tips..etc..etc..what is missing is styling and makeup for older women. By older I mean 50 plus years old and older. Because I prefer more updo’s which are low manipulation styles…this (for me ) would include smooth styles like a nice cinnonbun or the classic puff( I use organic root stimulator olive poil pudding for these kinds of styles along with olive oil eco styler gel) to help lay my hair down so I can achieve these looks as simply as possible. My weird hair loves ORS pudding and their deep conditioner called “hair mayonnaise”. I use the hair mayo to deep condition my hair every other week. I wash my hair twice a month with Burt’s bees no sulfate shampoo..or Giovanni tea tree shampoo…my hair loves both of these products. The Burt’s bees is a little expensive but the Giovanni is in my price range. I also use the Giovanni direct leave in as between washed I co wash with my cheapo VO5 conditioners or with Tresemme Naturals….both have great “slip” and my hair responds nicely to both. I part my hair in 4 sections and shampoo , detangle and dry in the same four sections..then I decide what kind of styling I do and I do that by sections. Like you the twist out has yet to work for me…but I recently learned how to flat twist and ya know what..THAT MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD FOR MY TWIST OUT…in fact there is a very nice young lady on you tube called “Mahogany Curls” that has a rather simple process when it comes to her hair. Her twist outs are glorious but I think they would be because she has a nice curly texture to her hair anyway. She has several videos on you tube and I would encourage you to watch her. Along with her I highly recommend Tamika Fletcher of Natural Resources Salon and the DIY net work …she is fabulous and her videos definitely deal with low manipulation styles..and a variety of updo’s which work really well for me and are pretty easy to do! ( I am an admitted hair styling challenged person) Tamika uses a “tool” call the upzing by conair..if you like up do’s go to your near by Walmart or target or CVS and purchase a few of these tools. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the three I have and they help me style my hair (after a few practice trials )is under 10 minutes!. I also would point you toward a woman called Simply Unique…she is the first person I started watching on you tube and I still follow her channel. She started as a TWA and over the last 3-4 years has a head full of long beautiful natural hair that she sytles in a number of different ways…She is another person that has discovered a few products that really work for her and has remained with those products (Giovanni direct leave in conditioner is one of those products along with Eco Styler gel and extra virgin olive oil. Please give her a look and think you will be pleased .
    I have found that moisture in the form of water is something I need everyday addition my hair LOVES coconut oil..I use one called is pure coconut oil and I add a essential oils of my liking to it. I use a spray bottle and spray a bit in to my hands, rub them together and add this to my hair..all over and them spray more oil into my hands and add that to my ends…this keeps every thing well moisturized and shiny. The coconut oil will “melt or liquify” once heat is introduced…I run my spray bottle under hot water for a few seconds and I am good to go.
    I have also been using pure aloe vera gel and it is great too!!..NO FLAKES!!! and it is just the right “weight for my weird hair” The kinky Curly brand has been good for my hair but I use it sparingly.. do not go over board on any of the styling products…use enough to get a good idea what works for you. Last but not least in terms of products. I take 1000 mg of biotin everyday(it is one of the “B” vitamins) and I have to tell you my hair and nails have responded nicely to this vitamin and are growing leaps and bounds. it has been about a year and this is something I will continue to use from here on out!
    I do not blow dry my hair on the high settings and I do not blow dry without a heat protector on my hair. You may be blow drying to much on high heat settings and this could be causing more damage to your hair….I also blow dry my hair in sections…this way I don’t get overwhelmed and impatient with the process..which makes me want to rush thru things.
    All in all your hair takes time and care…your genetics plays a role in the amount of time it takes to grow your hair…how you care for it determines how much hair you retain.
    Please do not give up and return to chemicals unless it is the absolute last option you have. You have been natural this long..give it a fighting chance and just settle down into “your routine or groove”.
    I am going to continue to look for other “older diva’s” so I can communicate with women in my age range that maybe have discovered something new in terms of natural hair styles and make up for us older girls…I would be very glad to keep in touch with you as well on this and any other topic you may have on your mind.

    • vero77

      Oh Diana

      Thanks so much for a really good meaty reply!

      I think i may have seen Tamika not sure – but will check her out now and those tools sound interesting! – and will defintely look out for Mahgony curls – i have seen simply unique – her hair grew so fast! I was taking Biotin since April stopped two weeks ago i didnt see any difference in my hair – only my nails. But i suspect didnt take it long enough…

      Also your right about the heat… I loved blow drying on the hottest setting (shaking head)…tut tut!.

      Thanks Diana for your encouragement – i guess i’l wait it out now!!

      • Diana

        You are so welcome!!!. I honestly think that if you stop or at least reduce the blow drying..or watch Tamika’s video on blow drying plus use a heat protector before you will see your hair take off…ya gotta be patient…I know you want immediate results but Rome was not built in a day!
        Watching Tamika will give you all kinds of great styling suggestions and tips that will give you the kind of low manipulation hair do’s up or down that you seek. I have been taking the biotin for about a year now and yep!! I see a big difference..I also take about 1000 mg of it a can split this in half..500 in the morning and 500 before bedtime…what ever fits your fancy and schedule. You gotta get a few upzing combs….watch Tamika and soon you will have that comb and your hair under great control in just a few minutes…I wish I had the money to book a flight to Houston Tx..I would make a visit to Tamika and her salon and get my hair done or take her “hair boot camp” just to learn all of the braiding and styling stuff she teaches. Keep me informed on how the hair is doing…I betcha once you lose all that heat your hair will recover and grow like a weed

  • mags

    Hi Geniece,

    I have 3c hair. I used to have waist length hair in my early twenties, but started cutting for various reasons (rebelling against mother dearest etc…). It is currently when stretched mid back, and I would like to get it back to where it used to be. I do not straighten, blow dry or shampoo, but I am guilty of wetting my hair more than once a week because it’s quicker and easier (I use co-wash by Pantene). Is there a good product you would recommend to moisturize? I do not like spending more than 20 minutes on my hair! I am lazy! I have tried all sorts of things from Carol’s Daughter to mixing my own concoctions, but it just takes way too long and I do not have the time.
    My mum sent me this link by the way, and if she reads it will probably get annoyed that I wet my hair more than once a week.

  • http://none Jasmine James

    hi what do you use in your hair the steps you take an the natural things you use in your hair i see u mention it not what oil you put in your hair what made you hair grow then what kind of care do you mean

  • Chantelle

    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?

    • Shevone

      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!

  • Kelly

    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.

  • cheav


  • Chandra

    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.

  • Sherise

    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

    • Toni

      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.

  • Nini

    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.

  • Bulelo

    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.

    • sebrina

      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.

    • katie

      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

    • Geneva

      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

    • GK

      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.

  • Isabella la

    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 :)

  • GK

    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.

  • Allnatural

    Hi I’m based in South Africa and our hair is generally of a tighter curl texture. I’m challenging myself to reach waist length and have a blog to share my experiences