~Length Retention~

The most common question I get concerning my hair is “how did you grow your hair so long?” And I always answer the same “I just let it grow. Instead of focusing on length, I focus on health.” If your hair is healthy the length will come eventually. Here are a few hair health tips that have helped me retain length.

Length at last check 11/8/14.
Length at last check 11/8/14.

1 Protective styling. Some naturals can get away without protective styling, I have found that my hair can not. It doesn’t like to be manipulated often. My hair is usually in some sort of a protective style because my hair texture is prone to single strand knots or fairy knots. Keeping my ends moisturized and tucked away greatly reduces the number of these which in turn reduces the need for trimming the knots and length away with them.

Go to protective style, bunned twist.
Go to protective style, bunned twist.

2 I limit manipulation from combs and brushes. Finger detangling is best for me. But I have a love hate relationship with my denman brush. I need it to smooth my hair for some styles however it is not very friendly to my ends. As a result I try to limit combing or brushing to when my hair has some sort of slippery aid in it (like a leave in conditioner or styler) to help guide the comb or brush along. I always start smoothing my hair at the ends and carefully work my way up to the root. I really try not to comb or brush my hair dry at all to avoid breakage and split ends.

3 Knowing when my hair needs deep conditioning vs when it needs a protein treatment. This really comes from taking time to do your own hair. You get to know it. I know when my hair misbehaves, it is in need of one or the other.  Here are some of my tell tale signs of needing protein: hair tangles very easily, takes longer to fully saturate with water, dries out fast and sheds more than usual. It can also appear dull despite the presence of oils etc. Here are some tell tale signs of my hair needing moisture: hair feels “straw like”, frizzes easily regardless of the weather but more so in humid weather, hair breaks, curls are piecey instead of clumped together, drinks up product. If you do not know your hair well yet you can also tell if your hair needs protein from a strand test. Take a strand of recently shed hair and gently pull on it. If it breaks immediately you probably need protein. You can also examine your shed hairs. If your shed hairs do not have a tiny white bulb on the end it is more likely from breakage than normal shedding meaning you may need to incorporate moisture AND protein. If you hair is in good shape it is less likely to break. A healthy balance of both moisture and protein equals strong hair.

4 Trim away splits and dead ends. I dont trim my hair regularly but I do pay close attention to my ends. I do search and destroys going through my hair to trim any splits I see. I cut the least amount necessary by cutting just above the split or knot. Many swear by trimming your hair every 3 months. That’s always been counter productive for me. What’s the point of growing your hair out for three months, only to trim off a month of growth? I personally don’t believe you have to as long as your ends are healthy.

5 You know this one was coming…avoid heat. Step away from the blow dryer and flat iron. I air dry my hair year round and no I don’t get more colds in the winter. Like I’ve mentioned in previous posts I only blow dry and flat iron my hair 3-4x a year, if that. Once I have it initially flat ironed I do not go back and add extra heat to touch it up” or bump it with the curling iron etc. I wrap my hair nightly and I will roll it with flexi rods if I’d like a curl in it while it is straight. I can and have maintained my straight hair for three weeks with no touch ups.

Curly cuties last length check and trim February 2015.
Curly cuties 2nd blow dry and flat iron. Ive only straightened her hair twice. last length check and trim February 2015.

It’s usually not a matter of if your hair is growing, it is if you are retaining what has grown. Be extra vigilant and mindful of your hairs health to make sure you keep the 6 inches (1/2 inch per month) of growth yearly. #bundlesforwhat ❤ Ash


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