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

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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… 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.