By Chin­we of Hair and Health

Let’s be real.  Not every nat­u­ral grows the aver­age 6 inch­es of hair per year under opti­mal health con­di­tions. Some grow 7 inch­es or more.  Oth­ers grow 5 inch­es, 4 inch­es, or pos­si­bly less.  Remem­ber, 6 inch­es per year is just the aver­age – not everyone’s – hair growth rate.

Today I want to encour­age those with slow hair growth.  First, check out this ear­lier post to see if you have exhaust­ed all avenues to reach your opti­mal growth rate.  Sec­ond­ly, there is no need to feel defeat­ed or infe­ri­or.  This is not a race.  This is not about how you fair again­st oth­ers.  This is about reach­ing your own per­son­al goal, which can be done.

I want to dis­cuss how you can reach your goal length if you have been strug­gling until now.   The real­i­ty is that your method may have to dif­fer great­ly from some­one who has a faster growth rate.  This is because every one third or quar­ter of an inch is cru­cial in your case.  The fol­low­ing is a strat­e­gy that helped me to reach my goal in five years:

1. Detan­gle once a mon­th or less

Detan­gling is prob­a­bly one of the biggest sources of mechan­i­cal break­age of the hair, so the less often you do it, the bet­ter – with the excep­tion of a caveat.  That caveat is to keep your hair as untan­gled as pos­si­ble (for exam­ple, via pro­tec­tive styling) dur­ing the mon­th.

With fre­quent or exces­sive detan­gling, break­age or mid-shaft splits can accu­mu­late over time.  This is why it is impor­tant for a nat­u­ral with slow growth to detan­gle once a mon­th or less, if pos­si­ble.  Week­ly or even biweek­ly detan­gling may hin­der length reten­tion.

2. Lim­it trim­ming to no more than half an inch a year

As a nat­u­ral with slow growth, if you need to trim off more than half an inch (or even one inch) of dam­aged ends a year, then you may want to eval­u­ate what in your reg­i­men is caus­ing that dam­age.  Are your ends split­ting due to exces­sive and improp­er heat use? Are they split­ting because of inad­e­quate mois­ture or over-manip­u­la­tion?  If you keep your ends under good care, there is no rea­son why you should have to cut more than half an inch every year.

3. Find a great sta­ple con­di­tion­er and invest in good nat­u­ral oils

Though many nat­u­rals can ben­e­fit from this tip, it needs spe­cial empha­siz­ing for those with slow growth.  You see, a great sta­ple con­di­tion­er and good set of nat­u­ral oils can help immense­ly with retain­ing almost every bit of growth you get.  The­se prod­ucts can trans­form a break­age-filled detan­gling ses­sion into a vir­tu­al­ly break­age-free one.  They can coat the hair strand to reduce fric­tion from comb­ing and styling.  They can also strength­en OR mois­tur­ize the strand to decrease for­ma­tion of splits on the end and mid-shaft.  Use your oils and con­di­tion­er reli­gious­ly.

4. Be EXTREMELY patient when detan­gling

Even with the above tips, a rushed detan­gling ses­sion can cost you all the growth you achieved in the mon­th or over the course of a few months.  Take your time as you detan­gle through each sec­tion, and if it helps, play some calm­ing slow music in the back­ground.  (I per­son­al­ly like Maxwell and Daley.)

5. If you can, incor­po­rate long-term pro­tec­tive styling

The rea­son I say “if you can” is that some nat­u­rals sim­ply do not fair well with long-term pro­tec­tive styling.  How­ev­er, if you want to give it a try, then start by extend­ing your twists or braids from one week to three weeks and then even­tu­al­ly to four or five weeks.  Check out this ear­lier post on how to make pro­tec­tive styles last a long time.

Ladies, have any of the­se tech­niques helped you with length reten­tion?


Empow­er­ing wom­en of col­or to break bar­ri­ers. Cherish.Thy.Melanin.

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80 Comments on "5 Length Retention Tips for Naturals with Slow Growth"

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HALLELUJAH for this post! I am a slow growth nat­u­ral and it took me 4 years to fig­ure out that all of the­se tips were beneficial.I wish I had seen this post back in 2009– Espe­cial­ly detan­gling infre­quent­ly BUT gen­tly and doing longer term pro­tec­tive styles. Oily fin­ger detan­gling using coconut oil not a water based con­di­tion­er, is best for me. (water=weaker shrunk­en-tan­gled hair for me) 4 week mini braids and 3 week kinky twists, havana twists, or yarn braids with ADEQUATE mois­ture have been a god sent to my length reten­tion. Also using a leave in with a lit­tle pro­tien. I… Read more »
I agree this post is great and I def­i­nite­ly need­ed it a few years ago as well. Nev­er­the­less, I’ve gone back to the draw­ing board and did the BC about a mon­th ago and have been wear­ing a wig since then and my hair has done so good. I had a great deal of heat dam­age and had to cut it off because my hair was split­ing like crazy, but my hair has done so well since then. I have 4a/b hair and out of all of the things I’ve tried, and I “done tried them all”, from Carol’s Daugh­ter,… Read more »

mini braids with my OWN hair.


I don’t know (or care to know) about my rate of hair growth but I am gen­tle with my hair so as to fos­ter length reten­tion in my kinky, coily Afro-tex­tured, super dense hair.

I con­sis­tent­ly fol­low tech­niques 3 and 4.

Oth­er things I do to fos­ter length reten­tion are:
— detan­gle before sham­poo-ing
— fin­ger-detan­gle 98% of the time (2% of the time I use a seam­less wide-tooth comb)
— wash and con­di­tion in twist­ed sec­tions (10)
— wear stretched styles (braid-outs)
— pro­tec­tive style often (cinnabuns, donut buns and updos)
— trim 1/4 inch to 1/2 an inch every 4 months


I don’t believe in slow growth

i agree inso­much as it’s all rel­a­tive. if you come from an area or eht­nic­i­ty (hypo­theth­i­cal­ly speak­ing, as always) in which all or most of the indi­vid­u­als have a hair growth aver­age of 3 inch­es a year, then to you, 4 inch­es a year would be excep­tion­al­ly fast. by con­trast, if you hail from a region or eth­nic group in which most indi­vid­u­als or all tend to grow about 7 inch­es a year, then to you, 6 would seem unusu­al­ly slow. it’s tru­ly rel­a­tive, when you think about it. so from this per­spec­tive, there IS no such thing as slow,… Read more »

Looks like the troll is back for her dai­ly episode of ‘Mind­less Fool­ery’…


You don’t have to believe in it. It exists whether you do or don’t believe it.


Is it because the words ‘slow’ and ‘growth’ does not make sense? This is a won­der­ful post


How does it not make sense? The rate of growth is dif­fer­ent for dif­fer­ent peo­ple. Some can be slow, some can be fast, aver­age, etc.


Good tips. I,‘d also add try using some pro­tein based con­di­tion­ers every so often to help strength­en your hair.