Photo on 7-29-13 at 2.06 PM

Style Icon Mer­cedes

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?


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

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

Notify of

[…] By Black Girl Long Hair […]


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.


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.


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.

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 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 start­ed imple­ment­ing… Read more »

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.


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


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


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

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 »

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.


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 :(


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.


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.


[…] How to Grow Hair […]

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.

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.

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 »

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.


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!


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.


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.


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!


“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


AMEN SISTER! This is my thoughts exact­ly.


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.


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.


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


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 Good luck in your jour­ney!!!!


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