While individual paths to ‘long hair nirvana’ vary widely, there are certain things that are common to the women who have got there. In my research, here are the top 3 that I’ve found.
1. They wear protective styles most of the time during grow out.
Natural: Long haired naturals wear twists, box braids, cornrows with or without extensions* for a few years of their hair journey to gain the length. During the grow out phase they only very occasionally wear their hair loose.
A lot of us see them style their hair in braid outs and other such loose styles on YouTube so we assume that that is how they gained their length. Not true. They have figured out the real ‘secret’ behind black hair growth. Leave it alone!
Relaxed: Long haired relaxed ladies seem to go down a different path to naturals. Some have achieved their length by wearing weaves or braids but some have also grown it with the use of weekly roller sets and protective styling like buns and updos.
Long haired relaxed ladies are masters of the roller set but here’s the kicker, during grow out, their hair is worn off the shoulders in a protective style like a bun or faux bob or very curly sets that sit above their shoulders. Their hair may be worn down for one, maybe two days in the week but usually it’s worn off the shoulders and combs are avoided until the next wash day.
2. They use low direct heat regimens.
Natural: As much as a moderate heat regimen has helped me achieve my own length, it is clear that giving direct heat the green flag just leads to abuse. Many natural ladies don’t take the time to find out how their own strands react to heat before going all in and this could lead to a major setback.
If you have very fine strands, stick with roller-sets or manual methods of hair stretching like banding. In any event, if you are following the first point above, blow dryers* and flat irons* will not be required until much later in your hair journey when you have already achieved your length!
Relaxed: Yes, if you are relaxed then direct heat is a no no. That means put away the blow dryers* and flat irons*. You can use these a couple of times per year as a treat or for a special occasion but for the most part you will be styling your hair after a wash by air drying or with roller sets.
In most cases a roller set and silk wrap is all you need to achieve straight hair without the use of direct heat.
3. They buy good quality products
Natural: Note that I did not say lots of of expensive products. On the contrary, you can get by on a good regimen armed only with a seamless detangling comb, a natural conditioner and good sealing oil!
You will find that ladies with long hair, while not being product junkies, they will spend the little bit extra needed to get good quality conditioners or sulfate free shampoos. The cheaply made, mineral oil* laden stuff that they used to purchase before just won’t do during their new HHJ.
Relaxed: As much as I’d like to tell you that you can get by as a relaxed woman trying to grow her hair long with just a comb, it just isn’t true. Long haired relaxed women tend to invest in their hair.
While you can make do with a soft bonnet dryer for your roller-sets when first starting out, eventually you will find out that you will probably want to upgrade to professional styling tools like a hood dryer for faster styling on your wash days.
Good quality shampoos, conditioners & moisturizers will also be necessary. The silver lining is that many of these styling tools will only have to be purchased once.
And there you have it. While this list may be simplistic and not by any means all encompassing, it does show that attaining length is less to do with what products you buy but how you treat your hair on a week to week basis.
They are exceptions to every rule of course and I’m sure that they are plenty of ladies who have attained length never having done a protective style in their life, they us direct heat often and use cheap products.
But it’s only right to warn you that these women are the exception not the rule and precious few of us will get anywhere with regimens like that. If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got. And if you are not getting results from your current regimen, then maybe it’s time to change it.
Helen Adair says
I am natural but sometimes I straighten my hair, once every 3 to 6 months, my hair is curly so why doesn’t my hair stay straight, I Don’t straighten it that much and I have been relaxer free for about two years now love my curly hair, but I don’t like the shrinkage what can I do about that, makes me so mad. I use moisture products but it acts it’s best when worn in up dos when in its curly state, I want to wear it down without looking overwhelmingly, my hair can look that way as it gets dry when worn down despite my moisture routine. Frustrated!!!!!
Personally I had the same problem when i first decided to go natural. My hair is naturally very think and coarse and I found that in it’s curly state retaining moisture was extremely difficult. I also had TERRIBLE single strand knots there were really delaying my growth progress. What has worked for me is biweekly washes, blow drys and flat irons. I shampoo, deep condition ( with heat cap) and apply leave ins first, then blow dry on warm using a heat protect ant. After that I flat iron my hair on the lowest heat possible that can still get it straight. The straightening not only makes me hair MUCH more manageable but it ALSO does wonders for it’s moisture retention. After this process I only need to add moisture maybe 2x a week depending on the weather. A lot of natural sisters are scared of heat by for me it’s worked wonders! Straight hair can DEFINITELY be used as a protective style. It’s easier to moisturize and cuts down A LOT on daily manipulation.
Sakiina Lifeisablessing Pleasant says
Love lady says
I feel like I have the slowest growing hair possible. I try to keep it in loose braids and most of the time I keep them under a wig. Once in a while I’ll get my hair done in sew ins. Any advice on this? I’d love for my hair to fall well below a bob for once.
Indira Barton says
There is only two things listed..
Heather Roebuck says
The rest is on page 2
Familia Rojas Carter says
Indira Barton says
@heather, thank you!
Maww S Moore says
Dey forget one most people ask “is that your real hair”
Kareen Foster says
I’m relaxed, I grew out my hair in 2009 using buns. Then I cut it to neck length last year April 2013… I did mainly braidouts all year my hair is bsl after one year of braidouts and twist outs … I flatiron it once. And roller set a couple of times. I always dust and trim right after the new moon. Hope this helps someone
Cleopatra Jones Best says
this is true!
Coa Luck-Spicy says
Wow i can honestly say I like the natural hair better than the relaxed photo
Adriana Porter says
I’m relaxed but people seem to think I’m natural because my is still super thick even with a perm. I wear braid outs a lot and I keep my hair up in a bun most of the time. I did try weaves but couldn’t take it. My head itched like crazy no matter what I did.
Quecina Burts Nute says
This is so very true… I wear my protective hair units and/or twists all the time with daily moisturization and low manipulation. I’m a natural advocate since 4 yrs and also had long hair just past bra strap length hair when I used to wear a relaxer BUT now my hair moving in the direction past waist length being natural…. I love my hair and I love it enough to not always show off my length daily and care for the strands that’s what retains length… Check out my natural hair on INSTAGRAM @pinkstarnute
Jemele Austin says
Who cares who’s natural or permed. I done both and equally love them both. Its about keeping your hair healthy either way.
Brittney Holland says
I believe that relaxers aren’t for everyone. Its possible to have long relaxed healthy hair. I’m living proof.
Cassandra McNeil says
And some people hair will just grows long because that is what it will do no matter what they do to it.
Kamela M Oxner says
I’m relaxed & I have been for many years. I think the key to to healthy hair (short or long) is not over-doing with the styling tools, wearing styles that don’t put a lot of stress on the hair, good moisturizing, drinking water, eating healthy & genes.
Хенли Янукович says
I think hair grow faster when are not relaxed i never did and my hair grow fast !
JoshandKris Royal says
My grew super fast and long when I relaxed my hair, and I flat ironed and blow dried weekly. I never did any protective styling. Now I’m natural and though my hair is growing at the same pace, I have to do more protective styling to avoid knots. It kinda makes me miss my relaxer days… :/
Roxanne Holmes says
genetics plays a role. some people just dont have the active genes to grow long hair
Jenny JackJack says
Ive been relaxed for 21 years with no problem…My hair is long and thick and i don’t do anything special to take care of it……Yes relaxed hair can be healthy to with minimal upkeep.
April Byrd says
What? Everyone thinks it’s a weave anyway! Lol
Alisha Marie Berry says
Black women and this natural/relaxed stuff Lord y’all need to get it together
Did you ever read the article ? This is not a relaxer vs natural article . This is saying what relaxed ladies AND natural ladies with long hair did to grow their hair long . Also how they kept their hair healthy and styled it . READ NEXT TIME !
Fine Brown Frame says