Category Archives: Hair growth

The Length Factor


Don’t let a fixation on length ruin your natural hair journey


Most of us have experienced the longest hair we have ever had since going natural.  We have dispelled the myth that Afro-textured hair doesn’t grow.  In the natural hair community, you will see women at different stages of their hair journey.  From TWAs (teeny-weeny afro)  to waist length hair, the different textures and styles of black hair are all beautifully unique.  However, is the initial excitement of going natural being tainted by an anxiety about length?  I’ve heard some women say that they are not too concerned about length rather, they simply want healthy hair. Most however, talk about wanting long hair.  Healthy hair grows at a regular and steady pace, so if your hair is healthy there is no reason for it not to grow. However, one factor that must be considered is terminal length.

Do not get disheartened when you see a YouTube vlogger reaching a certain length in what seems to be record time. Don’t compare them to yourself and become discouraged.  It took me over four years to reach BSL (Bra strap length), when some YouTube vloggers appeared to reach that in two to three years after their big chop.  Regardless of how long it takes for your hair to reach a certain length, once it is longer than it has ever been, you have achieved an awesome goal.  I’ve watched certain vloggers get criticized for not reaching a certain length within a certain period of time. This is despite their hair being longer than it was when it was permed.



Many of us regarded shoulder length hair as long when our hair was permed. Now that we are natural, we regard armpit length as short!  Are we not too hard on ourselves when it comes to length?  After all, armpit length hair is just as long, if not longer, than the average hair length of  Caucasian woman.  You only have to look around you to see that.  In the natural hair community we have demonstrated that black hair can grow just like any other type of hair.  However, because some of our favorite YouTube vloggers are waist length, we decide that armpit length isn’t long.  We fail to consider that some of these ‘waist length’ vloggers have been natural for 5 to 8 years.  Do not consider yourself a failure for not reaching waist length in five years.  We now must move on, from growing hair just for the sake of pulling it down our back for a length check.

Some of us look better with short hair or may have a preference for short hair.  Let us not make each other anxious about cutting our hair because we don’t want to be judged for not reaching a certain length, after a certain number of years.  Women who have cut their hair may feel the need to give a disclaimer when asked how long they have been natural.  Remember,  Afro-textured hair shrinks and your true length isn’t really evident until it is pulled down or straightened.  I have been asked numerous times if I have cut my hair by people who do not understand shrinkage.  Perhaps the fixation on length is more to do with what other people think or, it may be a need to prove to yourself that your hair can grow long. This is understandable but, don’t be afraid to be be versatile with length.

Tia Mowry

Tia Mowry

Taren 916

Taren Guy

Women of other races can cut their hair whenever they please.  Then, they can grow it back relatively quickly, when they decide to do so.  Well guess what? Black women can do the same.  With the knowledge we have acquired about our hair, we will find that most of the length struggles we had, with our relaxed hair, will no longer exist.

Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys

So let us celebrate hair of all lengths, textures and styles.  A TWA can be just as beautiful as waist length hair. A tapered cut or diva cut can be edgy and stylist.  We need not only experience short hair once, in our natural hair journey.

short hair instagram

KCCM Tapered Cut

KCCM Tapered Cut

Do you think there is an obsession with length within the natural hair community? Or have we now moved on from that? Share your thoughts below.


Growth and Terminal Length


If you watch YouTube videos and view Instagram photos, you will see your favorite vloggers displaying their amazing tresses. Many people attribute their hair growth to genetics.  You may wonder if it is possible for you to achieve such lengths with your hair.



Isn’t growth genetic?

Some may believe they are destined to have short hair forever, because long hair simply isn’t in their DNA.  Well first you have to examine the growth pattern of hair and the rate in which Afro-textured hair grows.  The truth is, unless there is an underlining medical condition, everyone’s hair grows.  Think back to the days you had relaxed hair, every six to eight weeks you would need a retouch because of the new growth.  The main reason many of us experienced a limit in hair length was due to the lack of length retention.  We now know that avoiding chemicals, protective styling, trimming off damaged ends and moisturizing, are the best ways to retain length.

So why is it that some of us are still at armpit length when others seem to reach BSL (bra strap length) in the same amount of time?

Terminal Length

A hair follicle grows for a certain number of years before falling out to make room for the new strand of hair.  This is called the anagen phase.  Terminal length is the number of years a hair strand grows before falling out.  This can range from 2 to 6 years on average.  Hair typically grows ½ inch a month.  This is the average rate, so for some it may be a little more or a little less than that.  The rate is usually higher in Asians and Caucasians, average or slightly below average for people of African descent.  The monthly growing rate and the number of years your strands grow for is determined greatly by genetics.  General health and environmental factors also have an influence.

Hair growth-cycle

Hair growth-cycle

The terminal length is the length that any strand can reach without being cut or broken off.  Once it sheds it is replaced and pushed out by the new strand.  This happens with every strand on the head continuously over a person’s lifetime.  So with a 2 -6 year cycle of growth, a person’s length will be affected by the length of time each strand grows for, on average.  Having the shortest growth phrase of 2 years does not mean that a person is limited to having short hair.  Even with a two-year growth rate, a woman’s hair can reach 12 inches in length.  12 inches on average would equate to BSL.  Women with longer growth cycles can usually reach waist length.

Does it really exist?

Terminal length is not a myth because nobody to my knowledge has eyebrows long enough to braid.  The hair on our head has the longest growth rate.  Author Audrey Davis-Sivasothy believes with 99.9% certainty that shoulder length and APL (armpit length) are hardly anyone’s terminal length, as two years growth equates to 12 inches.  So after going natural, do not get discouraged because you haven’t reached BSL in two years.  Your growth rate may differ and may simply take longer to reach this length.  This doesn’t mean that your genetics is preventing you from having long hair.  Just be patient and continue to care thoroughly for your hair.  Enjoy your hair regardless of its length.


Achieving terminal length

To achieve your terminal length, consider your hair care practices.  I know that relaxers and the over use of heat, prevented me from achieving my terminal length.  The incorporation of protective/low manipulation styling helped my hair push beyond the point it had reached previously.  I  had to learn from past mistakes in my regimen.  For many of us, it may have been bad hair care practice that stunted our progress in length retention.  You may have been natural for 5 years but have only just begun to see real progress over the last two years, because you have improved your hair care practice.