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Have your ever gazed longingly at a picture of a woman with natural, long, thick coils and thought, “When my hair gets to that length you can’t tell me nothing,”? If so, then this article is for you!  The cliché, “hindsight is 20/20,” rings quite true when it comes to what I’ve learned about my hair. I’ve gone from 4 inches of coils to dry, brittle hair stuck just above shoulder length for 5 years to wigs and a few quick growth bandwagons to boot. After seven and a half years of being natural there are some lessons I’ve learned that would have made my hair journey ten times easier.  Hopefully this retrospective reflection on my hair journey will help those of you at an earlier stage in your journey.

Lesson 1

There’s no need to take shortcuts to see results. You want to give your hair an opportunity to retain length and health without the intervention of methods that may cause side effects that can harm your hair and health. You also don’t want to apply methods that may improve your rate of hair growth but also lead you to false expectations. For example, if hypothetically you’re able to retain one inch one month, you might assume that you will be able to grow and retain a foot of hair in a year. Let me assure you that I’ve been down that road and it is one fraught with delusions of grandeur.  Set a goal to achieve the healthiest hair that you can, rather than achieving fast growth and I promise you will find your journey more enjoyable and less frustrating.

Lesson 2

Single strand knots, split ends and tangles are not your enemies. Annoying, yes but not the enemies you think they are. Early in my healthy hair journey, I found tangles and knots extraordinarily frustrating because I felt that each one represented 100 more that I had not yet discovered.  However, I eventually realized that other than regular trimming I didn’t need to do anything else to rid myself of these irritating hair nuisances. Again, let me assure you that tangles and small knots have not hindered my hair growth so don’t worry that every knot you detect will hinder yours.

Lesson 3

Protective styles that adversely affect other aspects of your hair health are simply not worth it. For about 7 or 8 months in 2009-2010 I was an avid wearer of half wigs. Eventually, I realized that my sensitive edges were irritated by the mild tension required to secure the wigs to my hair. While wearing the wigs allowed me to hide my large fuzzy twists for two weeks at a time, it also weakened my edges. I made the decision to stop wearing half wigs even though it meant that I would have to style my hair regularly and give up my lazy go to protective style. If a protective style helps you to grow hair down your back but causes bald spots or thin edges, it is NOT protecting your hair. Be sure to monitor both the health of your hair and scalp if you wear wigs or weaves to be sure that you aren’t unwittingly damaging your tresses.

 

Is there anything you have learned earlier in your hair journey that changed the way you handle your hair?

Gen

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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34 Comments on "3 Lessons On Growing Short Hair I Learned Once I Hit Back Length"

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[…] By Black Girl Long Hair […]

Debra

This is directed to anyone who can answer,my question is I’ve been natural for about two yrs and my hair in the front is straight,is there any thing that can do to rectify this or do I have to just cut it and start all over again,I would appreciate it and thx in advance.

Tina

I was having problem with tangles and knots. I tried this product by a company call shunsleek go curly custard. It’s great for knots and tangles.

Dabney

Great Points! When I first went natural, I never had a length goal. I didn’t think that my hair could ever grow long. I would see split ends or get that paper feeling to my hair and cut it off again. It was an endless cycle. With the recent knowledge I have acquired fro your website, reading books on black hair, and YouTube, I now see my hair as limitless.

Da1nOnly-Chi*
A couple major things that I’ve learned in achieving healthier longer hair; and I’m only learning this within the last 3/4 yrs, even though I have been natural most of my life- Accept your hair hair texture, length and struggles as is. Don’t compare it to other hair types, etc. Your hair is beautiful and has plenty potential. Learn your hair and you’ll do well. Also, take the precious time necessary.to care for you hair. This is quite crucial, as most days we just rush through getting stuff done. We need to pay better attention to our hair. When I… Read more »
Paula

Thank you for an interesting and educational article. I’ve been natural for about 4 years now. And I think the best thing I ever did for my hair was finger detangling instead of detangling with a comb or brush. At one time I thought I had to get every knot out. I’ve learned to be thankful for the knots, the kinks, and the volume they provide.

lockstress

I REFUSE to get caught up in pictures. I just apprceciate the beauty of others and keep it moving.

Eldora

Recently I have been becoming quite impatient with my hair growth and thought of resulting to hair growth pills. I was wondering if there are ways for me to refrain from impatience and pills. – 16 from London

Da1nOnly-Chi*

Hi. See my post below and be versatile but careful in your styling. 😉

Kiiyana
I’ve been natural all my life but I am just not starting to take care of my hair. When I was younger my mother always put twists or braids in my hair and when I started flat ironing and hot combing my hair it was long. But I didn’t think of the consequence to doing that all the time, shortly my hair was nothing but dead ends so I had to get my hair cut to just under my chin length. I went from collar bone length to chin length in about 3years do to my hair breaking and slipt… Read more »
alison

Castor Oil, it does wonders, in deep conditioning, sealing, and scalp treatments, oil rinsing, etc. I’m nursing my hair back from damage caused by leaving it dry for long periods of time. And also wild-growth oil, it helps with gaining length.

dee

all of these lessons are so true,especially number 3

my hair is short and i started wearing twists for 3 weeks just to see how much length i would get;
i moisturized the twists every other day;so three consecutive weeks with these twist in my hair only to take them out and my hair is breaking off rapidly in little tiny pieces,and still is 🙁

Dananana90

Hey dee, what’s your strand thickness like? My fine strands don’t like smaller Senegalese-like twists very much, and I get breakage when I wear them…especially when I add hair. Loose twists have been my best length retention style.

Kiiyana

I read somewhere that if u over moisturize it can be harmful to ur hair. I only moisturize once a week where I wash and oil my hair and that usually lasts all week. So I would stop moisturizing so much and see if that helps. Also it could be shedding and that’s normal as long as it’s not coming out in handfuls in one spot. I hope this helps.

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[…] How to Grow Hair […]

JenniD
The best things I learned was 1. Don’t be afraid to experiment and chill out on the “I’m gonna do me attitude.” Its my hair and no one knows it but me but I’m humble enough to take on some advice and try/ drop stuff that doesn’t work. 2. Natural RAW products ( not company manufactured products like Oyin or As I am, Shea moisture etc) are stupid cheap and are better suited to my needs more often than buying something pre-made off the shelf. Taking the time to whip up some shea butter mix or and oil blend doesn’t… Read more »
Miss T

Just curious, how do you do your wash n go? I’m 4b/c too, so I’m always looking for ideas.

JenniD
Nothing fancy. My wash n goes always begin with freshly washed and deep treated hair that has been detangled prior to doing both of those things. I simply do the L.O.C method ( or in my case L.C.O) finger fluff ( pics cause breakage for me) into a shape I like and go. Instant chunky fro. No re=wetting through out the week. I use mini pineapples at night to keep my hair slightly stretched at the roots, and to keep my hair from matting as I sleep on it. This also aids in keeping tangles at bay. I L.C.O daily… Read more »
Miss T

Thanks JenniD for the info! And I agree about the abrupt style changes, 4b/c hair is very fragile and when I’ve tried to do too many drastic hair styles too close together, my hair seems more resistant to it, but if I keep a style for a week, by the end of the week I can change it with ease and end up with a totally different style that just works.

Phoxxie
Right now my hair is in a gazillion mini twists that I did on Sunday and it took me like 8 hours all together, 12 with breaks. Normally it wouldnt take that long but I was taking my time, watching movies while I did it. This is my winter protective style. Its short when its done but its cute when I dress it up with headbands. I keep them in for 3 weeks and in between I spritz, rub coconut oil on them then a hair lotion and sleep in a bonnet. They stay fresh and moisturized throughout. I also… Read more »
Lansky

My hair ain’t mean to be for all those products (I tried many products). Only conditionner (Hello hydration), shampoo (TREsemme Natural), Cantu shea butter leave-in conditionner, olive oil and coconut oil works for me. That’s it! Oh and of course a gooooddd deep conditionner. That’s all my hair need. My natural hair doesn’t work with winter AT ALL so I wear braids only. And when I wear my own hair I just wear two strands flat twists. I’m good. I’ll not really listening to all the technic to grow my hair. Less is better for me.

Caramelcurls

One thing I’v learned so far is to find the products that work for YOUR hair b/c what works for someone else may not work for you. When I first went natural I was so caught up in using all natural products and unfortunately there were not keeping my hair moisturized. When I became open to the idea of other types of products such as Hello Hydration, my hair begain to flourish and dryness has not been an issue. Find what works for you!

sara

when you dont focus on the length of your hair, that is when it begins to flourish the most. natural hair has also been a journey for black people and accepting it and working with it is always a struggle. but overtime when you begin to love your hair – it will love you back.

Cami

As much as I love hair wraps, and even created several of my own out of beautiful stretchy fabric, I can only wear them every once in a while now. I’d wear them all the time if I could, but they’ve thinned out one small area in my hairline and brought back my dreaded cowlick. It will take me a long time to regrow the hair in that area to what it was before, but at least now I know what not to do!

When we know better, we do better.

A+

I’ve had the same problem with night time satin bonnets – even when they do not have the rubbery, elastic edge but the smooth satin edge. I learned to only wear it when I have a twist out otherwise use a satin pillowcase. The bonnets thinned out my edges in the front and nape in the shape of a band. Terrible!

cacey

“I found tangles and knots extraordinarily frustrating because I felt that each one represented 100 more that I had not yet discovered.”

This. I’ve learned they’re not enemies, but darnit. They’re certainly not friends! But i really did think just along the lines of the quote, that there were surely more lurking around amongst my tresses waiting to foil my efforts at amazing length retention lol

Mika

AMEN SISTER! This is my thoughts exactly.

teetering

I have learned not to focus on length so much I found myself wanting to prove how long my hair was to people by blowdrying and flat ironing when I should have embraced my shrinkage and enjoyed big hair while I could.

Kiiyana

This was me in high school I had long thick hair and I got blow outs and flat ironed my hair all the time and now my hair is shorter and now I’m like I wish I didn’t do all that to try to impress others with my hair because I didn’t need weave to have long hair but now I’m trying to get my length back and I’m leaving my hair natural instead of flat ironing.

folamix

People need to realize that the roll, tuck, and pin is the best protective style there.

transitioningchica

Hi! Is the roll, tuck and pin like a bun? I’m currently 13 weeks post and trying to figure out what to do with my hair right now. It’s so weird with the two textures, BUT I am excited for the first time in my life to finally become acquainted with my natural hair! Too broke for braids & weave at the moment. Any assistance anyone can provide would be most appreciated! Thank you in advance! 🙂

Christina Patrice

Hi Transitioningchica!!! Congrats on being 13 months post! I transitioned for 21 months, and I’ve got a lot of articles here on BGLH about transitioning and styles, as well as even more on my blog maneobjective.com. Good luck in your journey!!!!

Tyler

I would say the same thing for two-strand twists.

Tyler
onelittleblackdress.com

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