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

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.

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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.

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Discuss! Where are you in your growth process?

Chinwe

Chinwe

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

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

  1. 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

  2. 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!

    • 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.

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