Many black women have been led to believe that retain­ing length in their hair is vir­tu­al­ly impos­si­ble. But with the right reg­i­men and knowl­edge, it doesn’t have to be. This week, four BGLH writ­ers will share sto­ries of how they went from TWA to back length. They rep­re­sent a diver­si­ty of hair tex­tures and life expe­ri­ences. We hope that you gain inspi­ra­tion and infor­ma­tion. Our first fea­ture is from Ijeo­ma.

Even though I didn’t big chop with the inten­tion of grow­ing my hair to a cer­tain length, I man­aged to gain sig­nif­i­cant length in my first 2 years. I big chopped in May 2010 after tran­si­tion­ing hap­haz­ard­ly for 10 months, so I start­ed off my jour­ney with about 4 inch­es of straight­ened hair

June 2010

July 2010

Ear­ly on, I focused on get­ting to know my hair, exper­i­ment­ing with biweek­ly wash­es or cow­ash­es, dif­fer­ent cheap­ie drug­store con­di­tion­ers (I set­tled on Aussie Moist), and not doing much styling out­side of twists and ban­tu knot outs. Shea but­ter and coconut oil were my best friends, and I insist­ed on mix­ing my own con­coc­tions at home. Eight months after my big chop I set out on a pro­tec­tive style chal­lenge, where I did mini twists, flat twist updos, and oth­er pro­tec­tive styles using my own hair that I believe con­tributed to my growth. How­ev­er, all my pro­tec­tive styling some­how equat­ed to me not ever trim­ming my hair, so in April of 2011, I real­ized I had made the first of many mis­takes in my hair jour­ney. I had my hair straight­ened at a nat­ur­al hair salon and they informed me that they had to cut about 2 inch­es off of my hair. Now you might be skep­ti­cal, but I had not trimmed my hair AT ALL since I big chopped, so I had a fool­ish amount of dead ends that had to go. The sec­ond biggest mis­take was a ter­ri­ble dye job in August 2011 that left my hair over processed. Despite set­backs, by Decem­ber of 2011, my hair had flour­ished to armpit length with just a ten­sion blown out. How­ev­er, by Feb­ru­ary 2014, my hair — again ten­sion blown out — was only a few inch­es longer, though much thick­er. If my hair had grown the same rate in 2012 and 2013 as it did in 2010 and 2011, it should have been waist length — but alas it wasn’t. So what went wrong?

December 2011

May 2012


Two main things: one, I added a lot of col­or in my hair in the sum­mer of 2013, with­out com­pen­sat­ing with more mois­ture. I got lazy with my reg­i­men, as my hair was long enough to always be pret­ty in a puff, bun, or updo when­ev­er it was too dry for be out. I also exper­i­ment­ed A LOT with dif­fer­ent hair prod­ucts in 2013 and 2014, in efforts to con­duct reviews on my site. Once I real­ized my hair was long but not it’s health­i­est (since it wasn’t show­ing any length gains), I made some changes to my reg­i­men by using few­er prod­ucts and more pro­tec­tive styles such as wigs and cro­chet braids. Out of bore­dom, I cut my back length hair into a tapered fro a cou­ple of weeks ago, and while length is again not a pri­ma­ry goal of mine, I am being more mind­ful of my length progress as an indi­ca­tor of the over­all health of my hair. I’m not sure whether or not I’ll let it grow back to back length again, but I know it’s pos­si­ble with my hair!


Can you relate to any aspect of the hair jour­ney? Where are you in your growth process?

Klassy Kinks founder and edi­tor, Ijeo­ma Eboh, is on a mis­sion to change per­cep­tions of kinky tex­tured hair around the world. You can find her on social media @klassykinks.

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16 Comments on "How I Went from TWA to Back Length, Part 1; Ijeoma’s Story"

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Wow I can def­i­nite­ly relate. Between 2013–2014 I noticed a major stunt in my hair growth.1) I exper­i­ment­ed with hair colour and strug­gled to main­tain prop­er mois­ture 2) I expe­ri­enced a lot of stress from school which I picked up a bad habit of “stress cut­ting” ( I would get super fed up take it out on my hair for a trim and just chop off 2 inch­es or so…) Very bad habit. 3) I stopped car­ing as much about nur­tur­ing my hair in com­par­i­son when I did my big chop in 2012. How­ev­er, its 2015 and just recent­ly I’ve… Read more »

I know right. Strange­ly, I’ve nev­er been a prod­uct junkie. Before I become nat­ur­al, I list­ed a num­ber of prod­ucts I’d use, which I nev­er end­ed up using. And I’m fine with that. My hair is 4b/c and I cut my hair March 2012, although I’ve nev­er actu­al­ly trimmed my hair.
I use black soap for my hair, mixed with hon­ey, and some essen­tials oils.
Of course, you can go wrong with Shea But­ter. I won’t say I par­tic­u­lar­ly take real­ly good care of my hair but it has real­ly grown. I guess dif­fer­ent things work for dif­fer­ent peo­ple.

Lee Torrey

Great sto­ry Ijeo­ma, case stud­ies like this are impor­tant. It gives proof and encour­age­ment to those who once thought it was impos­si­ble. You and many oth­er show that it’s not only pos­si­ble, but beau­ti­ful women are doing it left and right.

Pret­ty girl and pret­ty hair. I think everyone’s hair is dif­fer­ent to be hon­est. I start­ed my nat­ur­al hair jour­ney in 2011. I big chopped and used all the “right” tech­niques to main­tain it. Come 2012, I had only gained about a quar­ter of an inch. I tried prod­ucts, advice from trust­ed 4c nat­u­rals who start­ed off like me and end­ed up with so much growth. Mean­while my hair was healthy­ish but oh so short. So in 2013 when I was star­ing my long lost pack of relax­er in the eye…I remem­bered that as a child…my hair was thick and healthy… Read more »
per­son­al­ly, i did all the right things. I had to go through 5 dif­fer­ent styl­ists who agreed that I was doing the right things: not manip­u­lat­ing my hair often, use min­i­mal prod­ucts, 97% in pro­tec­tive styles, and mois­tur­ize week­ly, as well as oil and seal. 2 years with no length reten­tion (after my first 2 years of mas­sive growth after Bc’ing) , I was suf­fer­ing from dry­ness (no mat­ter how much I would DC and mois­tur­ize) and my scalp was always dry and flaky. I had exper­i­ment­ed with extending/shortening wash days, and using as many nat­ur­al prod­ucts as much as… Read more »

I’ve always been deter­mined to keep things sim­ple and despite hav­ing break­age in my front sec­tion (pos­si­bly just a weak spot), I’m on track to have at least some hair that’s close to 12 inch­es at the two year mark in July. I’ve done my share of aggres­sive detan­gling ear­ly on, but I think Afro tex­tured hair is a bit more resilient than we give it cred­it for. My hair has still grown. I do noth­ing spe­cial and manip­u­late in mod­er­a­tion.


You’re a beau­ti­ful girl with awe­some hair!

April marks 2 years nat­ur­al for me, and I learned ear­ly on that try­ing a bunch of prod­ucts wasn’t for me. Shea But­ter and coconut oil are main­stays for my hair. I also make my own con­coc­tions. Pro­tec­tive styles are the keys to my hair grow­ing. My 13 year old on the oth­er hand, has lost hair and I’m not sure where we’ve gone wrong. I think hor­mones is play­ing a part and her con­stant­ly scratch­ing sores into her scalp. I keep her hair mois­tur­ized and I use Jami­a­can black cas­tor oil on her hair. She has 3b/4a type hair.… Read more »

her scalp may just not like the cas­tor oil. I love the way it makes my hair “feel” but I would scratch all the way down to my brain if I could cause it would irri­tate my scalp soooo bad.


I made the mis­take of not trim­ming my hair as a new nat­ur­al until almost 3 years after my big chop. Big no no! When I had my hair pro­fes­sion­al­ly flat ironed for the first time, I end­ed up hav­ing to get a lot of hair trimmed. My hair looked and felt bet­ter, but I could have avoid­ed cut­ting so much of the length if I had trimmed along the way.

Ije Onyeobia

My name sake! Your hair is beau­ti­ful. I too have got­ten lazy with my hair and I’ve noticed it isn’t thriv­ing as it did my first two years as a nat­ur­al. This has moti­vat­ed me to get back on a con­sis­tent reg­i­men.

Ms. Vee

such a cute lady :-)


You and your hair look love­ly sis! Thanks for shar­ing your sto­ry!

Alwina Oyewoleturner

Thanks for shar­ing your expe­ri­ence. Although I have sig­nif­i­cant length, there is always some­thing that is keep­ing my hair from being its health­i­est. So I am also focus­ing on mois­tur­iz­ing and adding pro­tein, as well as, pro­tect­ing my ends. Espe­cial­ly with col­or in my hair. May I sug­gest Tame­ka McNeil-John­son aka Jad­edTress­es? She cuts/trims my hair and also col­ored my hair last August. My col­or still looks awe­some from August. I hope all works out for the best for your hair!

Emprezz Abena

I can relate to the prob­lems of exper­i­ment­ing with dif­fer­ent prod­ucts and suf­fer­ing set­backs when some of these prod­ucts do more harm than good.


I cut my back length hair in Sep­tem­ber due to bore­dom and I’m still bored. I recent­ly had my hair braid­ed into a bee­hive bc I was tired of my hair & was going to try wigs. I last­ed 9 days. I hat­ed wear­ing a wig every­day, I’ve nev­er been one to put my hair away since return­ing to nat­ur­al over 4 yrs ago. I think hair should be enjoyed so that’s what I need to get back to, which may mean cut­ting it short­er for me.