chi's growth

By Chinwe of Hair and Health

Neck length hair is about 4-5 inches stretched for some naturals. If you can retain at least a little over 3 inches a year, then you’re on track to reach waist length in almost five years. This sounds easy, right? Well, not so quite. The hard part for many of us is actually retaining that length over time, especially if one doesn’t exactly average 6 inches of growth per year. However, that obstacle can be overcome if you quickly learn your hair at every stage of your growth. How? Well, here are some tips that helped me – as well as lessons learned from setbacks – to get from neck length to waist length (2008-2013).  Hopefully they can help you as well.

1. Find a hair “sibling” with waist length hair (i.e., a natural who has at least 3 of the following: similar hair texture, density, porosity, or type)

This was a big one for me. Without finding a “hair sibling”, I wouldn’t have reached my goal in that time frame, if at all. After big chopping, I remember replicating the hair care regimens of waist length naturals (from the beginning of their journeys onwards) with hair very similar to mine. Sera252 and Kemi21/Aijo were my main “hair siblings” because they are both predominantly 4B/4C, medium-to-high density, and low-to-medium porosity naturals. Additionally, Sera252’s texture is a mix of fine/medium like mine. I also looked to Mwedzi’s regimen because of similar characteristics, especially her seemingly identical high shrinkage rate.

“Hair cousins” (naturals who share one or two of your hair’s characteristics) are also useful. For instance, I looked to Naptural85 (for her “keep it simple” methods on her high shrinkage hair) though her hair type is different from mine. So, finding “hair siblings” – and a few “hair cousins” – who have reached waist length can certainly be useful in your growth journey. Don’t just go by hair type alone but texture, density, and porosity.

2. Pay close attention to your hair and how it responds to certain practices

As your hair grows longer, your regimen will more than likely need regular adjustments. You’ll need to pay close attention to your hair and how it behaves with certain practices, methods, etc. Does your hair respond better or worse when using your fingers to detangle instead of a comb? Does it respond better or worse with long-term protective styling instead of other low manipulation options? What about detangling on dry hair versus damp or wet hair? How does your hair respond? If you figure out these things sooner than later, it will save you from major setbacks along the way.

My rule of thumb: If I see several little o’s (broken 4C hairs) on the floor or in the sink, I decide that method is not for me. Noticeable breakage is usually a good indicator, so get in the habit of looking out for that (AND split ends) regularly.

3. Save severe experimentation (e.g., color, press) for later in your journey

The very core of experimentation involves not knowing what your outcome will be and when it comes to hair care, this can be detrimental for those on a serious growth journey. Now, this tip is not necessarily in reference to trying out a new product but to big commitments such as coloring or pressing your natural hair. When taking on such projects, your willingness to deal with possible breakage or setbacks must remain present.  If it’s not, then why bother?

4. Finally, incorporate the hair care “standards” – low manipulation, moisture, and deep conditioning

Of course, this post would not be complete without mentioning some hair care “standard” practices, such as low manipulation styling/routine, regular moisture and regular deep conditioning. I have yet to hear about a natural who has reached long lengths without doing all three.


What has helped you in your journey to waist length or beyond?


Healthy hair care tips and more!

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74 Comments on "4 Tips To Take Your Natural Hair from Neck Length to HEALTHY Waist Length in 5 Years or Less"

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im at bra strap length but I would love waist length. if I retain my length right, should take me about 4 years


I am 13 years old and I have literally been natural all my life and I moisture my hair almost every day. How come my hair hasn’t even gone to neck length when i stretch it?

Hope Harris

You’re probably not doing protective styles, if you constantly have you’re hair out and you’re ends are tucked away then you will have breakage. and you should try the loc or lco method.


My hair’s width is the 6th picture but the length is the 1st picture and I’ve been natural for 2 years and 6 months.


my hair is taking forever to grow . my hair is like the second and third picture. the front of my head is the third picture and in the back is like the second picture.

LittleBabyBug Jones

i don’t know how much i can relate to people who are my ‘hair siblings’ lol their regimens seem far too simplistic


I’m at shoulder length when stretched ( so the second pic ). My goal is armpit length . Although if I reached bra strap length I’ll be very happy .

Actually, it is better to color early in your journey than later. I added blonde streaks in my hair when I was around 7 months natural. Easier to moisturize when the hair is shorter. I will never bleach my hair again and I still have a little color left in my tips as i trim around every 9 months. I get a lot of compliments today on my natural hair and partly due to the tips, lol. I am 3+ years into my journey now. If I decided to color now, then I would have to cut off way more… Read more »
Khrystin Ne'Cole

My only mistake was dying my hair to early. It’s been a year almost, I big chopped on June 30th of 2014, went to a salon after 3 months to dye it. I’ve tried maintaining it to keep it moisturized at the ends but I’m starting to think I need to trim my ends. I just didn’t want to cut any hair yet.

Hi Khrystin my name is Gale, I am also natural and I have color at the end of my hair, I used to have very dry hair then I came across As I am double butter it is the bom they cowash is also awesome I use the butter along with as I am jelly or kinky curl custards and my hair stay moisturizer for the whole week I my spray my hair every two day with cantu comeback curls diluted with water sometimes I add a little more butter. Let me tell you girl that butter is the real… Read more »
sankyaw wright

awesome hair my mom big chopped my hair three weeks ago but she left a little bit of perm ends and right now I am at neck length cant wait in the next 5 years or less


I have about 7 1/2 inches of hair in roughly a year and 8 months. I think I have a 4b/4c hair texture as well and I often do protective styles like two strand twists, jumbo cornrows and senegalese twists and maintain a fairly good moisture regimen, but my breakage level is high despite all this. I dont know what I am doing wrong. Any suggestions?

Towanna Fletcher

I am in the same situation as you are. Recently I’ve been trying to do tea rinses and protein treatments more often to tackle my breakage and shedding. You should give it a try!


Try black tea rinses or black coffee rinses. It will reduce the shedding and breakage to little or none nd rice water rinses to strengthen your hair


regularly moisturize your natural hair and seal moisture even while protective styling. Deep conditioner between protective styling and try varying the length of time you leave them and monitor how your hair reacts. I hope you can finally stop the breakage

Whitney Adu

Im 17 and don’t know how keep my transitioning hair moisturized. The middle part of my head is really short and the rest of my hair is long but over all its dry even though there is oil on it what should I do?


Oil doesn’t moisturize hair, only water can moisturize. Oils & butters should be used to seal the moisture in.


As said below oil is not a moisturizer. You should look for water based daily moisturizers and then seal with oil. Plus drink as much water as possible.


add humectants like honey, glycerin etc to your regimen. Humectants draw moisture from your environment to your hair. look it up to get a better understanding. Early in my journey my hair would be extremely dry and wouldn’t retain moisture I found that this helps. sometimes i just fill up a spray bottle with water add in some honey or glycerin or both and just spritz my hair in the morning and evening. you can add in some coconut oil as well. hopefully this helps


this late but I have the same problem with my hair and I realized its cause I did not wear a scarf when sleeping and that part of my hair rubbed on the headrest and broke my hair off in time .


i have a very similar problem

Kyanna Kitt

This is a great article for people looking to grow their hair who don’t know where to start. I have found that keeping my scalp clean (I have a very very oily scalp) really helps with hair growth. I wash every two days which sounds crazy to most but it works for me and it’s what I have to do to keep my tight kinky curly mid-back length hair healthy.


Great article! Check out my natural hair journey thus far on my blog 🙂


please check out my youtube channel

Leah James

Honestly I just want armpit length hair and I’m a year natural and I’m at collarbone length now so I’m almost there . I’ll be happy with just armpit length but if my hair happens to grow longer in time I’ll be happy too and not everyone can reach waist length. My grandma is the only one in the family to grow hair past waist length and she had it cut to her mid back .

Great advice but everyone is not genetically predisposed to grow waist length hair. That depends on your hair’s growth cycle…how long a hair will grow before it falls out. It’s usually about 2-7 years. If your cycle makes your hair ‘s growing phase last 2 years & your hair grows 1/2″ a month then that equals 6 inches /year or 12″ in 2 years; that’s the limit & then the hair sheds & the cycle starts again. A 3 year growth phase would yield 18″, which could produce waist length hair, assuming that there’s no bad breakage, improper regimens,etc .… Read more »

agreed 100%


Hi I live in Kansas and would like to know is it possible to grow waist length hair in the climate I live in? I ask because I have southern family members and all they’re hair is long they say it’s the climate they live in Where it’s mostly warm year round. I hope my question isn’t confusing. Thanks


Yes. Just adjust to any adverse conditions.


I like your points because they are realistic and achievable. Thank you.


Very useful. I will try these


I’m in dire need of a hair sibling lol… But I’m not sure if my hair is long enough to know exactly what type of hair I have. I love Naptural85 but I’m not sure if we are a good match… When or how do you know that you’ve found your sibling?


You’ll know you’ve found your sibling when, as you’re watching their tutorial on YouTube, you say to yourself, “Her hair looks like mine in that state” (straight or curly). Sometimes it can help determine which products you can try. I know that not everyone will like the same products, but if you’re newly natural it helps if you have a starting point.


For those of us who are new to natural hair, can someone break down what this article actual means? What is a hair sibling and how do you determine what grade of hair you have? I’m battling severe hair loss (in my opinion) from a supposed protective style. Between that and the inability to keep my hair moisturized, I’ve pretty much given up and am resigned to the fact that I will look like a Chia Pet for the rest of my life.



A hair sibling means finding someone whose hair looks similar to yours, in terms of ‘type’, length, etc. This helps because you can see how some styles may look on your hair, and in my opinion, it prevents feeling so discouraged. For example, I have a mixture of kinky/curly hair so I know that by watching someone whose hair has a looser curl than mine, I can get some ok ideas, but the results are going to look different. Hope this helps 🙂

Finding a “hair sibling” has been pretty difficult for me. I’ve been natural for about 2 years now and I’m mixed race so my hair ranges anywhere in between 1b at the front of my head (yes, it is literally straight and will not stay curled for long regardless of what I do) to 4a at the back of my head (driest part of my head that will not retain moisture regardless of what I do). The rest of my hair is mostly 3b. I’m at the point where I no longer care what my hair looks like, as long… Read more »

Um I’m 3c/4a so I’m not sure if this is for me . My grandma has the same hair as me but she has long natural hair I just want to reach the same length my hair was when it was straight permed before I cut it off which is shoulder length after that maybe bra strap length then I’ll stop super long hair would be too much to manage . I’m also neck length only been natural for 6 months .

Blessing Fleming-Patterson
Blessing Fleming-Patterson

We have the same hair type

Shanae Moore
It’s been a long road for me & I’m still trying to understand my hair! 🙂 In the beginning I experimented way too much, used too much heat, was very ignorant to moisture & sealing and I ended up starting all over (bc-ing) in 2010. Even after starting over i still had setbacks but I believe I’m the right track now. I love the idea of a hair sibling! That’s usually what I do for styling knowing that I’ll get similar results. As far as the density and porosity – time for more study & research. Im mostly 4c with… Read more »
Ms LiLi

Wish those links in the article worked as I believe those ladies mentioned have similar hair as to own.


check out my channel more vids to come

Jessica Dudley
Hey ladies! I had some heat damage and ended up having to cut my hair to neck length in May 2013. I just did a length check this August 2014 and my hair is just past bra strap length. I am aiming for middle back length by Summer 2015. I think what helped me was using products with natural ingredients and staying away from alcohol based products bc those dried out my hair. I deep condition my hair every week using my Huetiful steamer, take the Mane Choice vitamins, drink water, and I juice using a combo of fresh fruits… Read more »

I wish that I had the means to purchase a steamer.


This was a good post for me. Naptural85 is my hair sibling. Same type, texture, porosity, density, and similar temperaments. Everything that has worked/works for her works for me too. These were awesome tips!!! I’m currently APL. I’m not really focused on length but it’s nice to know that I can grow my own hair (instead of my mom and stepmom who did it for 18yrs of my life lol)


Nice article. Naptural85 is my hair half-sibling. My hair resembles hers a lot but there are some differences. I thank God for YouTube which helped me to find naturals with similar hair textures as mine.


Keeping it simple is helping me retain length. I am starting to learn what my hair likes and doesn’t and adjust accordingly. Thanks for your article!

Jen. Miller

Thank you for these tips girlie! I do have a question though- how on earth do you practice low manipulation when you do wash and go’s on your TWA. My hair is thin so twist outs are a no go for me at this point, and for some reason whenever I do a style in which I don’t wet my hair daily, my hands are covered in hair when I finally do wet and style it. Normal?



Hi ladies! Right now, I have neck length hair when my hair is stretched with braids. Does anybody here use vitamins for hair growth (I’m not referring to Hairfinity, Manetabolism or anything of that sort)?


I don’t use vitamins specifically for hair growth, but I have noticed increased length retention once I started being strict about taking a women’s gummy multivitamin and flaxseed oil pills. The flaxseed oil pills noticeably increased my natural oil production on my scalp, and I’ve seen an improvement in the condition of my skin overall. It took me about 3 months to notice any difference.


Thank for your input, Dananana. 🙂


The first one sounds pretty stupid to me..what may work for one person might not for the next..factor in lifestyle and the possibilities are endless..the rest of the tips are great though


The irony of this criticism is cracking me up right now. “What may work for one person might not for the next…” The first one–finding a hair sibling/cousin– IS what worked for her. If it doesn’t work for you (which you might not even know if you didn’t try it), it STILL might help someone else to find their own path on their hair journey. It’s not “stupid” to try things to see what works. That’s what hair journeys–and life, come to that–are all about: finding what works and sticking to that for as long as it works.


Glad I could make you laugh. Have a great day!


I was referring to hair products..what may work on one persons head may not work for the next person..although they have the same texture.


Great article. I chopped off most of my hair in 2008/2009. I didn’t actively try to grow it until 2011. But I think I’m a year away from waist length which is super exciting. I watch Naptiral85. Deep conditioning and low maintenance styles have helped greatly.


By January 2015 I will be at BSL, at that point I will be natural for 20 months. I think one thing I do that helps me retain length is washing with Sulfate Free Shampoo instead of Co-Washing! Co Washing did nothing for my hair, it left it dull, dry & dirty. I also spritz water on my hair daily with coconut oil.

ss (short & sweet)

What were your favorite sulfate free shampoos?


Creme of Nature Argan Oil Sulfate, I tried Shea Moisture I didnt like its.


Yes, Caray! I have been searching and searching and searching for a great shampoo, and i finally found it in Creme of Nature Argan Sulfate free. My hair wasnt stripped at ALL and even felt like i could’ve skipped the conditioner (i didnt!). Love it! And to think I was *this* close to dropping 17 bucks on Mixed Chicks Shampoo at Target- smh


I love that shampoo & it’s the only one I ever used since I started my hair journey almost 2 years ago. It leaves your hair feeling so moisturized & smooth that you really do feel like you could skip conditioning. I hope they keep it just the way it is because it’s my one & only staple product (recovering product junkie)!


You’re my hair sibling! I love reading your articles here and on your blog. I wore twists all through my school year, and they really saved me a lot of time for school, so THANK YOU!


My four years of growth has garnered about 10 inches all over – apl in the back and collarbone/shoulder length elsewhere. *sighs* it seems I retain best when I loooong term protective style (3-4 months) only problem is my hair looks a darn mess.


10 inches in 4 yrs, that doesnt seem like a lot of growth, could the protective be hurting u retain my length?? That means your hair only grew 3 inches a yr….


some peoples growth rate is less than 1/2″ a month so because of that it could end up being 10 inches a year.


oops sorry not 10″ a year. i meant 10″ in four years.


Very true but her 3 to 4 months of protective styling maybe causing her hair to break and thats why its growing so slow. 3 inches of growth a yr. is very slow growth, for all that protective styling she is doing.

Ummm…she may have only begun protective styling in recent years. Before I utilized protective styling, my hair hovered around the same length for 3 out of the 5 years that I’ve been natural: neck to shoulder length and no more. It wasn’t until I started experimenting with PS that I passed that plateau. Mind you, I only PS 1-3 weeks at a time, but that’s because my hair can’t handle any longer than that without starting to loc. Some folks need less manipulation –> longer stints of PS. Furthermore, some people really do only get 3-4 inches of growth a… Read more »

It is just about right because you haven’t accounted for loss of about 3 inches through shedding, trimming and just general styling


Shedding doesnt cause length loss, that is called breakage. And styling that causes breakage means youre doing something wrong. Ive been waist length with and without a relaxer.
Protective styling when done wrong causes breakage which leads to loss. This isnt shade its called corrective advice. Maybe once a week or twice a month styling is her thing, or more moisture.
And unless someone says they are offended dont say they are giving shade.


What do you mean your hair looks a mess?


Great article. I big chopped in October 2013 and had 2 inches of hair. I now have 7 inches after two small trims. I’m far from waist length but I plan to drink lots of water, eat well, moisturise, deep condition, trim as needed and just be gentle with my hair. I hope to see good results.


Good read!! Kudos to you Chinwe, you always provide useful info. I’m far from waist length( currently been at apl for far too long to mention *sighs*)but I am keeping hope alive. Lol @ hair sibling and cousins. I seriously need to put the above practices in place and stop playing games!! Makes no dag on sense.


I’m on my way to BSL. Simplyounique was my “hair sibling”, but now she’s relaxed. (Though I was never a subscriber or regular follower). I think weekly deep conditioning+steaming, and keeping my hair protected 90% of the time will get me to BSL by year’s end/early 2015.
I wear my giant stretched out fro 1 or 2 days prior to wash day, but any other time, my strands are protected/covered.