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 sec­ond fea­ture is from Chin­we. Click here to read our first fea­ture, from Ijeo­ma.

I big chopped because I was tired of my relaxed hair.  To me, nat­ur­al hair is health­i­er, stronger, more beau­ti­ful, fun, and ver­sa­tile.

I big chopped in Feb­ru­ary 2008 down to a one-inch shrunk­en TWA (about 4–4.5 inch­es stretched). Dur­ing my first year nat­ur­al, I wore most­ly wash-n-gos, fros, puffs, and twist outs and even­tu­al­ly moved towards pro­tec­tive styling in twists. My hair was super low main­te­nance ini­tial­ly (because it was short), so I could co-wash/wash mul­ti­ple times per week and con­di­tion with inex­pen­sive instant con­di­tion­ers. Ear­ly on, my prod­ucts con­sist­ed of VO5 Mois­ture Milk con­di­tioner, Lus­traSilk Cho­les­terol con­di­tion­er, Crème of Nature sham­poo, oils and shea but­ter.

After a cou­ple of years, my reg­i­men became more suit­ed to my grow­ing hair.  The switchover was to a most­ly low manip­u­la­tion rou­tine, which includ­ed less detan­gling (and thus, less break­age) of my longer hair and longer pro­tec­tive style peri­ods. My goal was length reten­tion and health, so I did the research before­hand on what exact­ly I need­ed to do to avoid any major mis­takes. Cir­ca 2010/2011, I even­tu­al­ly set­tled into the rou­tine of wear­ing twists month­ly, detan­gling month­ly, and wash­ing + con­di­tion­ing week­ly or bi-week­ly (while in my twists). My sta­ple prod­ucts also changed to extra vir­gin coconut oil, Desert Essence Lemon Tea Tree Sham­poo, Suave Nat­u­rals Con­di­tion­er, and shea but­ter mixed with oils (coconut, olive, saf­flower, etc.). For my twist rou­tine, check this “twist series” label on my blog.

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 8.56.36 AM Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 8.48.47 AM

It took me about 5 years to reach my goal of waist-length in ear­ly 2013. Though I avoid­ed some major mis­takes along the way, I did learn some valu­able lessons about my hair. For one, my hair and the salon are not a good mix. (I had a set­back – an unwant­ed and uneven cut – after vis­it­ing a salon a few years into my jour­ney.) For two, pro­tec­tive styling and super low manip­u­la­tion are my hair’s best friends.

Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 10.39.30 PM

Dis­cuss! Where are you in your growth process?


Empow­er­ing women of col­or to break bar­ri­ers. Cherish.Thy.Melanin.

Leave a Reply

6 Comments on "How I Went from TWA to Back Length, Part 2; Chinwe’s Story"

Notify of
Lavinia Lahrese

Thanks so much for shar­ing your jour­ney! Your hair is GORGEOUS!

Alwina Oyewoleturner

Thanks for shar­ing your jour­ney! Look­ing for­ward to get­ting to your length in the next few years.

Linda De La Cruz

Amaz­ing beau­ti­ful sto­ry!


I’ve learned that pro­tec­tive styling is a MUST for hair growth for me. Shea but­ter and organ­ic extra vir­gin coconut oil (with a few oth­er oils) mixed into my own con­coc­tion is a MUST for me. I must agree, the less you manip­u­late, the bet­ter for your hair and the more your hair grows. I haven’t let a salon touch my hair yet and have been clip­ping my own ends. I said I would go to the salon when I reached year two of being nat­ur­al for a length check. We’ll see.…… Great arti­cle and great tips!

Lisa Middleton

I’m at year two and thought about going to the Salon for that length check and a good trim but decid­ed against it. I did my own trim and decid­ed just to pro­tec­tive style anoth­er year. My back is col­lar bone length and the sides shoul­der length when stretched.


This will be the year that I real­ly start tak­ing care of my hair and health. I’ve been nat­ur­al for almost five years and am just now bare­ly hit­ting the top of my armpit. I believe it has less to do with not being able to grow out my hair and every­thing to do with my diet and exer­cise because when I was treat­ing my body well is when I saw the most growth. That, and my hair prac­tices, so I’m gonna get a reg­i­men down and give my hair that extra TLC