We've discussed the long natural hair phenomenon for years. It's been analysed, broken down, blown up, compared, hair-typed and negative cultured to death from the birth of this natural hair movement. If there is one thing besides curl definition that can get a natural woman's back up, it's striving for long hair. We have even come up with terms like "BSL" meaning "bra strap length" and "MBL" for "SBL" for "shoulder blade length" as gauges of what we consider to be "long hair." But for you as individual natural or napptural woman, you should have your on ideas and realistic expectations for your hair to keep yourself moving forward in your journey.
If you don't understand how hair grows, you need to read THIS ARTICLE which breaks it all down for you. I really suggest you read it FIRST, so you understand your hair's growth cycles.
You may be able to grow your hair long, you may not. You may be doing all the right things and still can't seem to get your hair to grow longer than your shoulders. What you may not understand is that wherever you are at MAY BE YOUR MAXIMUM LENGTH and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Genetics plays a HUGE role in maximum hair length and regardless of what you hear from all the "guru" naturals on YouTube, you cannot lengthen your growth cycles with pre-natal vitamins or silica tablets. But there are things you can do to maintain your maximum length and the most important thing to retaining the length your hair reaches to get to your maximum length is to minimize hair breakage.
If you are a healthy person with a healthy scalp and living follicles, your hair is growing. The rate of hair growth varies from person to person. The problems you are having with your hair ot getting as log as it can is probably because you are doing things that cause your hair to break, this length is never reached. And one of the most important things to minimize breakage is hydration. Because that's what your hair needs to maintain elasticity. Not just by drinking water but through vegetables and fruit. If your skin is dry, your hair probably is too.
Here are my 10 tips for longer, stronger natural hair.
1. Do not use direct heat on your hair. Every time you use a flat iron or hot blow dryer to bone-straight your hair, you are applying direct heat to the hair strands which lowers or removes your hair's natural elasticity (no matter what heat protectant you use) so the next time you comb/brush/style, if you haven't restored that elasticity you will snap off strands. See those little hairs in your comb or on your shirt? That's not normal shedding, that's lost length.
2. Protective style as often as possible and tucking those ends really does help your hair maintain its length, especially for those ladies like me who have fine, cottony natural hair. For those with the looser, shinier-type, stronger hair types who can maintain length better that we can with less effort, they can get away with wearing "outs" every day. We cotton-heads can't do that and expect to maintain any kind of length. Do not over-manipulate your hair wear extensions that pull or twist too tightly and do not use hair that is too coarse, which may damage your hair strands. Moisturize your hair and scalp while under extensions, to keep the extension hair supple and to prevent it drying out your natural hair.
3. Do not use silicone. 'Cones harden and break hair off. Check your hair product ingredient list for anything that ends in "cone" or contains it.
4. Vitamins contining Vitamin E can help. But do NOT take more than the recommended dose.
5. Trim split ends. Split ends need to be cut off to stop damage migrating up from the ends.
6. Protect your hair at night. Sleep in a satin cap or on a satin pillow. A satin cap will help keep moisture in your hair.
7. Don't bleach or lighten your hair. Peroxide is the devil. You want breakage? Use peroxide. You may look cute as a blond for a little while, but your hair will be damaged.
8. Use rich, natural hair butters. Shea, mango, apricot blends with olive oil are heaven for natural hair. Use as much as you like, as often as you like. But wash out thoroughly on wash day before reapplying.
9. Use gel with caution. Go ahead and lay those edges and hold those twists, but be careful. commercial gels can dry out your hair. Use a butter underneath the gel, and opt for gels like flax and aloe, that do not contain alcohol.
10. Take a hair and nail vitamin supplement. But never exceed the recommended maximum dose! Too much silica is toxic.
Growing your hair takes patience, attention and care. There is no magic concoction out there that will make your hair grow 2 inches a month and anyone who claims they have a method to do that is not being truthful. But there are essential oils that help increase bloodflow to the scalp, and in turn stimulate the hair follicles. There are also laser treatments that claim to stimulate hair growth, again by increasing bloodflow to the scalp. I can attest to the oils but not to the laser treatment as I have not tried it (and do not need it anyway). I will put a link in this article once I have completed my work in that area.
The one oil I recommend now is Jamaica Black Castor Oil (JBCO) for length retention and hair growth. It feeds the scalp and softens the hair beautifully. Mixed with a few drops of lavender oils and you have a combination that really works.
So, when do you know you have reached your maximum length? Well, if after about 12 months of healthy natural hair and body with your hair maintaining its elasticity and having grown to new lengths, you are maximizing your length. If your hair continues to get longer, you are still maximizing. After you have experienced this and your hair reaches a point where it seems to "stop" growing while it is healthy and elastic, that is your maximum length.
Figuring out out your maximum length could take years, and in the end you may not ever know. So keep growing on that journey! You never know how superfro you can go!