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

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?



Empowering women of color to break barriers. Cherish.Thy.Melanin. https://cherishthymelanin.com/ https://www.facebook.com/cherishthymelanin/


* indicates required

63 thoughts on “4 Tips To Take Your Natural Hair from Neck Length to HEALTHY Waist Length in 5 Years or Less

  1. 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

  2. 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 . The best thing you can do is to take the best possible care of your hair so you can retain the length your hair is programmed to reach.

  3. 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 .

  4. 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.

  5. 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?

    • 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

  6. 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?

    • 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!

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. 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 hair now.

  10. 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 .

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

  12. 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *