Many naturals think that the ultimate key to getting long hair is to try to speed up the rate at which hair grows. No, ma’am, no sir. This is not the key to get longer hair, because many factors that are related to hair growth (like genetics and hormones) are, to a considerable extent, out of our control. In addition to that, no matter how fast our hair grows, if we are not taking care of the existing hair on our heads, we will never see the growth we desire. We need to retain length to see growth. This article will cover 5 tips for how to retain length with natural hair.
Let’s get into it!
Tip 1: Be Cautious With Chemicals and Heat
Most of us know that hair color, bleaching, texturizing, and other forms of chemical processing are not good for our hair – neither is heat use like flat-ironing or blow drying often with heat.
Both chemical processing and heat alter the structure of your hair, making it weaker and more prone to breakage. This is not to say that you absolutely can’t have long processed or heat-treated hair, but if you want to give your hair the best chance to flourish, chemical processing and heat should be either done with care or not done at all.
I went through a hair color phase that lasted years. Over that time, I colored my hair several times- probably more than I should have. While I knew that keeping my processed hair healthy would require more work than my own natural hair, I didn’t always have the time to give it the TLC that it needed, and damage came slowly but surely. I eventually needed to cut my processed hair off. UGH.
The main point that I am trying to make here is that chemical processing and heat styling shouldn’t be done frivolously if your goal is to retain length.
Tip 2: Avoid Overwashing Your Hair
Dryness is the enemy of natural hair, and one way to make sure that your hair is dry and unhealthy is to overwash it. We need to preserve those scalp oils (sebum) and added moisture as much as possible.
There are some people who need to wash their hair every day. This might be necessary when the hair becomes too oily over the course of a day (usually for those with looser curls), or when you sweat profusely during a workout. It is totally fine to wash often in these cases. But as often as you can, reach for gentler shampoos vs. harsher ones. See some of the differences between the two below.
Gentle shampoos usually do not have any sulfates or harsh chemicals in them. They usually do not lather (some do, depending on the shampooing surfactant in the product), and they usually have some moisturizing ingredients in them, like coconut oil and aloe vera. After you are done washing your hair, it won’t be squeaky. If it is squeaky, your natural oils have been washed away.
Not So Gentle Shampoos
Unlike gentle shampoos, harsher shampoos usually have sulfates and other synthetic chemicals in them. They usually produce that luscious lather that most of us have loved since childhood. They leave your hair squeaky clean.
*Note: There are some mixed or balanced shampoos that have attributes of both gentler and harsher shampoos. The key is to find a shampoo that makes your hair feel clean, but not overly clean.
Just keep in mind that whenever you do wash your hair, you are not stripping your hair of those good, natural oils necessary for your hair’s health.
Tip 3: Keep Your Hair Moisturized
I have written on this topic several times because it is SO IMPORTANT to keep your hair moisturized.
You can do things like the LOC Method, deep conditioning, protecting your hair at night, and more to keep your hair moisturized. If you would like to read my post focused on keeping your hair moisturized, click here.
Tip 4: Pamper Your Ends
The ends, the oldest part of your hair, need the most love.
A few Dos and Don’ts:
- When washing your hair, don’t focus the shampoo on your ends (this can easily dry them out).
- When conditioning or deep conditioning your hair, do focus the product on your ends (they need extra conditioning).
- When detangling your hair, don’t rip the comb (or your fingers) through your hair roughly. I wrote an article on detangling natural hair – read it here if you’d like.
- When moisturizing your hair, do add extra moisture to your ends.
If you are constantly having to cut off split ends, you are losing length as new hair grows in. If you notice that your hair seems like it is not growing, paying more attention to your ends may help.
Tip 5: Don’t Overmanipulate
Manual manipulation of your hair can be a major cause of not retaining length.
If your hands are always in your hair, or you are someone who always likes to switch up your styles every day or two, you may be overmanipulating your hair. When your hair is overmanipulated, structural damage to the hair occurs, and breakage is not far off.
A Couple of Tips on Overmanipulation
- Give your hair a break between long-wear protective styles like sew-ins, lemonade braids, and box braids.
- Choose gentler styles that don’t require too much handling, like flat twist updos, buns, or a wash and go.
Natural Hair Is Worth The Effort
I am a strong believer that natural hair is worth the effort. Why? Because I love being able to embrace the hair that I was blessed with.
All of these tips work for me, as well as many others who have natural hair. If you have not been doing these things, I encourage you to start now-try these tips and see if they work for you.
As always, I encourage you to leave a comment below with your reaction to this post.
If you have any questions, leave them down below in the comment section. You can also reach me directly by using the Contact Us page.
I’d love to hear from you.