July 30, 2013

Are you Length Obsessed?- Natural Hair Care



I’m sure you’ve heard some of the lingo thrown around by naturals and trust me, it can get downright confusing at times! As I’ve come to learn a bit more, I realized that quite a few natural hair acronyms are length related. From TWAs (teeny weeny afros) to BSL (bra strap length) and beyond, there’s a serious focus on length, especially among types 3 and 4 curlies. So are you hair length obsessed? Should you even be concerned? Let’s talk it out!


Read On>>>



Hair Growth Cycles
First, let’s just be honest, hair only grows so fast. Your hair goes through 3 cycles: anagen, catagen, and telogen. How long your hair stays in these cycles will ultimately determine not only how quickly, but the length at which your hair grows.

The first stage, anagen, is the growth phase and typically lasts anywhere from 2 to 6 years. Next is the shortest phase, catagen, which is a brief 1 to 2 week transitioning period. Last is the telogen phase, the 5 to 6 week resting period when you may notice your hair begin to shed.

Now that we’ve covered your hair cycle, let’s discuss how quickly hair actually grows. For the average person, your hair will grow about 1/2 an inch in a month or about 6 inches a year. Sounds good, right? Unfortunately, a lot of people still fall into the thought process that their hair isn’t growing. Barring a serious medical condition, your hair is indeed growing, but you may not be retaining length. This is where a good regimen, the right products and conscious styling come into play.


Realistic Expectations

Since there’s not much magic to it, the key to growing healthy hair will be length retention. Your ends are the oldest hair on your head so they must be treated with care if you want to achieve a certain hair length. I’ve spoken with so many ladies who either swear their hair isn’t growing at all or they are stuck in the perpetual “shoulder length” stage. In most cases this can primarily be contributed to hair breakage! Protecting your ends, keeping them moisturized, and keeping up with regular trims should allow you to see more of that growth.

So what would be considered setting realistic growth and length goals? Keeping in mind the average speed of growth, and accounting for small, regular trims, it’s safe to say you may see between 4 to 5 inches of growth in a year. Some will see more, others maybe not so much, but it really depends on your genetics, hormones and your own hair growth cycle. As an example, many pregnant women report increased thickness and hair growth during their pregnancy, but suffer considerable hair shedding postpartum. Hormones play a significant role in the hair growth cycles, so if you’re experiencing excessive shedding, I would recommend seeking a professional evaluation.


Long Hair vs. Healthy Hair
I’ve been part of a few conversations that touched on sacrificing length over health. Silly as it may sound, there are some people who just want to be at their target length, even if it means having scraggly hair. Most hair styles will look better when your hair is healthier. Even if you’re aiming for WL (waist length hair) you can still get there with regular trims, so don’t neglect those ends!

Equally as important is to make sure your scalp is clean so the follicles can breathe; clogged follicles can hinder effective hair growth.

When it comes to natural hair, it’s very easy to get swept up in the hair length debate. Don’t put the emphasis so much on length; rather, make the condition and strength of your hair a priority. Especially if you’ve done the big chop, it’s pretty obvious that your hair can grow back, and pretty quickly too. Rock your TWA to the best of your ability! Embrace your curls and watch them flourish when you give them the proper love and attention.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to reach a certain length, but I think a more important focus should be healthy hair. There may always be someone out there with longer hair, that’s just the way it goes. Keeping up with a regimen that includes a focus on overall healthy hair will help you attain not only long, but strong hair. That’s something anyone can appreciate! Happy styling!

Do you have a hair length obsession? What’s your length goal?


CN Says:

See my response here-http://www.curlynikki.com/2011/10/are-we.html

Y'all know, for me, it's volume over length... all day, baby!

50 Weigh in!:

M said...

I'm not obsessed, YET. I do think about it often though. Much more so than when I had a perm because I put SO.MUCH.MORE.TIME and effort into my hair now than I ever did when I had a relaxer. When you spend that amount of time caring for your hair, you really want to see results! By results, I mean healthy hair AND length. My goal is armpit length and my hair is almost shoulder length now. Hopefully I can keep my hair moisturized and ends in good shape so I can actually see the growth. Good article!

Anonymous said...

Hell yes

Anonymous said...

Ummmm....Guilty as charged. I don't want to be but can't help it. I have had long hair all my life and I honestly miss it. I probably will never ever cut it this short again. I don't regret my decision to BC because the attached permed hair was literally atrocious when compared to my natural roots. I was tired of looking crazy when trying to blend both of the textures. Transitioning didn't work for me. In time I hope to get used to the length and just appreciate my true natural beauty. But for now I'm hiding behind fashionable scarves and hats :(

Anonymous said...

I can honestly say that I am not length obsessed. I currently have shoulder length hair (unstretched), but have had one inch hair in the past (twice, once relaxed and once natural), by choice .

I think once you have made a conscious decision to cut your hair to an extremely short length on multiple occasions and it has grown back, you are much less likely to obsess over getting to a certain length.
I understand why and how some people are obsessed , but I'm so happy to be free of those feelings.

Berthia D. said...

I HAVE a serious obsession with hair length. In fact that is the reason why I even began my natural hair journey in the first place. To me long, healthy hair is the universal sign of beauty in a woman.. and that is why I am afraid to chop off all my hair eeek.. but it feels like im getting no growth.

Sophie said...

I think about it, but I'm more looking forward to length than obsessed with it. When my hair was relaxed it broke a lot, so I kept it pretty short and didn't even imagine trying to grow it long. But now, my natural hair is much longer than I've ever had it, and it's kind of fun. My ultimate goal is for it to be shoulder length curly (my nape is there, but the hair on top of my head has a good 5 inches to go!) because I think that would be a nice length for me, but I'm enjoying getting there to because it's all new! Also, I know a lot of women of all sorts who are length obsessed. My good friend chopped off about a foot of her wavy red hair and now that she's decided she wants long hair again she's been rather impatient about growing it back!

RandomlySpeaking said...

@Sophie ME TOO! cosign every thing you said! Except about your friend (I dont know her).

adelh said...

i didn't bc because i like long hair, and i have a huge head that would not look good without hair. My hair is down to my armpits, and i periodically trim. I also think that a twa would not be good where i work - with lots of white people that would not get it, and i teach disabled children. Even now, I see them looking hard at my transistioning head of hair. What do i want - hair down to my butt. But at the age of 50, I know it isn't practical, but THAT'S WHAT I WANT BEFORE I DIE lol!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post.

I've never worried about my hair length, although I wished that the back and sides of my hair was as long as the crown. For some reason, it grows much faster than the rest, but I'm happy with my hair. I can usually work around my "uneven" length with pretty much any hairstyle. The unevenness is only noticed when I attempt fro's because the of crown's length and curl resistance, but even this is sometimes helped by knot-outs.

I have a few friends that their hair reaches their calves and their ankles. Maybe the chart could include those lengths as well?

A lot of us on the natural hair journey are learning to love the uniqueness of our hair, its varying curl patterns, textures, and lengths. It's a process, and contentment can be obtained.

Anonymous said...

I can say with certainty that I am not length obsessed...however I am hair obsessed o_O. I think about hair alot. Hair fantansies occupy a noticeable amount of time. I am find myself cruising the net on one hair blog or the other or I am on YT looking at tuts. But I enjoy it he he he :)

Black Belle said...

When I first went natural, that's all I cared about! lol. I've been natural over 5 years and I'm over the hype of length checks and all those abbreviations. Growth depends on genetics, diet, stress, lifestyle, and many other things - so it's pointless to be frustrated over things you may not be able to control. I enjoy having natural hair but I'm not obsessed with it.

Melinda said...

At Anon...7:37pm that is so crazy that I am the exact opposite...I wish my crown would catch up the sides and back lol and I also feel that my afro and puff ponytails look weird because I think it is flat in the middle..even though no one else ever sees what I am talking about. lol Stay patient, I am sure the back and sides will catch up with time and proper care :~)

Good Article!!

Dana said...

I prefer volume and health versus length any day! I was length obsessed when I was relaxed but not as a "natural".

African Violet said...

I think I'm concerned about hair length because I had hair that stopped just below arm pit when I was relaxed. Then I got braids installed (which wasn't the first time I'd had braids, but it was the first time this person put them in), and the hair at the back of my head broke off in the worst way!

I ended up salvaging my hair my getting the Victoria Beckham bob, but after that bob, my hair would only grow to just above shoulder length. It took me several years before I made the decision to leave the relaxers behind (figuring that they were finally (yeah, finally) wreaking havoc on my hair), and last year I started my transition. Knowing that my hair was capable of growing long even when I relaxed it for so many years, I know that I am hoping it'll reach that length again, just in its natural state, and that it'll be fuller than it was before.

Anonymous said...

I used to be length obsessed (i blame sidney poitiers RIDIC hair in the movie Grindhouse) but now im focused on keeping it healthy and trying to stay away from heat. I'd still love to get to mbl though :)

Anonymous said...

I am definitely not length obsessed, though I feel that so many who post on here are. My hair relaxed when to the bottom of my shoulder blades, and by choice, over 2 years, I kept cutting and cutting until I got to a caesar. It's just not a big deal. Never has been. As a natural, I do not want my hair to get any longer than collarbone length because I am lazy.

Anonymous said...

YEP! I had healthy, long relaxed hair. I miss my length and can't wait to get it back.

janubie said...

I am obsessed!!! I take length as a measure of whether or not I am treating my hair right. I have been doing alot more research and my hair finally reached shoulder length (thats after being natural since 07- so you can imagine the lack of progress for the first 3-4 years). I keep my ends trimmed bc I only want healthy growth.
I would be extremely happy with bra strap length hair as an end goal, though I'm not sure what I would do after that point bc the idea of cutting it repeatedly doesn't sit well with me either.
Guess we'll have to wait and see!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Black Belle. I am over all the hype too. I think that those length checks are a little bit silly and it makes me giggle.(lol<---see?!) If it makes some girls feel better, then that's awesome! I love those naturals who have shorter hair and they can make the most luscious and juicy twists that I have ever seen!! I love that! It's so beautiful. I like the length that my hair is right now. It's a little past shoulder length, and it's perfect for my current lifestyle!!

Anonymous said...

"knee length" though..laughing my TWA head off!!

Annabel said...

Not length obsessed but am looking forward to longer hair. I had to cut off my bra strap length hair, due to an unmanageable transition. I loved the length of my hair, but of course health came first. I enjoy the length my hair is now and wear it with confidence, but look forward to the day it's long enough to pull up into a bun.

Sparkle Arts said...

I kept my hair short for so many years and loved rocking the TWA. But now I want healthy hair of any length. There's no point having waist length hair if it looks all dry and fried.

Anonymous said...

Healthy hair, if that is so, the length will come. My hair 4aish, is coming up 2 yrs in Augu and is now touching the tops of my shoulder, I think that's pretty darn good!

Q said...

Great article, definatley took some of the fear I had about regualr trimmings away. Dido to what a lot of people said here but while I would love for my hair to shoot out of my head like Repunzal I'd much rather know its healthy and full :) Right now its sholder length but my goal is to to down to mid back

Cris said...

A lot of women who go natural either never saw their hair go back their shoulders while relaxed; always had long hair while natural; and/or have seen countless women on youtube with luxurious big, thick, LONG curly hair. The "famous" youtube naturals always preach that if you take care of your hair (mainly ends) and moisturize, etc...you will have hair that is just as long if not longer. SOOOO we go natural. And we do all the right things. And thus we expect the same (or similar results) in terms of LENGTH SPECIFICALLY because logically we know we might not have the same hair type or thickness as our hair idols BUT! we can have their length. So yes we do obsess about it somewhat and really I don't think there is anything wrong with this, however, it is like watching paint dry. Hopefully at one point or another (mostly likely) some of us at our own times will get bored and just stop worrying/caring about our hair so much for a while (but keep up out routines) and VOILA, one day you'll notice your hair is exactly where you want it and expect it to be. :)

Cris said...

I meant long hair while relaxed**

(thats why its good to proofread!)

Valeria said...

I'm length obsessed only when I see pictures from childhood or before I BC'd. I know the length will come if my hair is healthy, so I focus on keeping my hair and body as healthy as possible. Its ridiculous how almost deathly afraid I am of flat irons (the thought of a flat iron near my ears and edges make the palms of my hands sweat...) My goal is tailbone length. Once I reach that goal I want to cut 10-12 inches to give to locks of love, then grow it out again and repeat. (:
And when I feel like I'm doing the most and being I have to tell myself "Ultimately its just hair. It'll grow back."

Anonymous said...

I'm a little obessed with hair length but I know that if I take care of my hair and be patient it will grow.....Don't get me wrong I do have my break downs every now and then! LOL

WineGrrl said...

My hair is pretty fine, so I am volume obsessed. You can pretty much buy length these days!

aesats said...

Admitedly, yes, A BIT. LOL. During my 3 year journey, I had a major setback last year and suffered tons of breakage. SO, of course my goal would be to reverse that damage (with a new routine, it's so far so great, glad to say!!) and the consequence of healthy hair, if you don't cut is = length.

I want collarbone length hair when twisted. That's my goal and I'm sticking to it! I love my hair now, collarbone length stretched, but my hair is really fine, has lots of shrinkage and also because I big chopped, its so much longer in the back than in the top. All I want is for my hair to be even all over, so my fine strands/medium densitiy, get more volume and awesomeness!! In everything in life you should try to set goals, that's my mantra, the key is not to be devastated or discouraged if you don't meet them :-)

Maria said...

I don't think I'm obsessed with length. I went from nape length to waist length in about 3 years and although I didn't cut my hair during this time I was determined to be X length by a certain time. I think, and this is just my opinion, most natural hair sites discourage length and encourage cutting hair. I am glad that my hair is long and I won't be cutting it any time soon. If that's your "obsession" so what. I don't think its bad to have goals.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't consider myself length obsessed. I check my hair length and stress about retention but is mostly because caring for my natural hair is new to me. I don't know how long it can grow and how much what I do to it is a factor in that. I also spent most of my life with just past ear length hair. Way too short for my big head. lol I don't want to rely on extensions because that is a never ending expensive cycle. If I make apl by the end of the year I'll be quite content.

Anonymous said...

I wouldntcall it an obsession. Im used to having longer hair. I cut it into some pixie style. Cute but too much of a shock for me so I'm rushing time to get my length back. I'm finally there after about 3-4 yrs.

Anonymous said...

Hey! They forgot to put toe length on the chart!

Ms. Em. said...

I'm not obsessed with length. In fact, I think I shock my friends whenever I decide to cut my hair. You'd think I hated it! But I grew up in Georgia and when I could have short hair I was all over not sweating products all over my face during the summers. I've been very physically active and even now I cannot imagine hair beyond my collar bone as I swim, cycle and run regularly. Where it is now is a bit too much for me to manage especially when factoring what I have to do to my hair on swim days.

Anonymous said...

I'm one of the natural girls who NEVER had long hair. It was pretty difficult growing up because I always wanted long hair but it never happened. In some ways I was actually "shunned" by some pentecostal church circles (long story).
It's weird because all of the women on my mother's side of the family have long hair and so do my sisters (my dad's daughters) but not me. I decided not too long ago that my hair would probably never reach BSL and so...long story short...I just want to make sure my hair is healthy.

Anonymous said...

I meant APL...my bad.

Anonymous said...

I am length obsessed but that is because of shrinkage. I dont think short natural hair fit me but now my natural hair is shoulder length it frames my face well.

Erica S said...

I remember reading this article on their website. I think it is VITAL to have realistic expectations when it comes to our hair. When I first began my healthy hair journey I was very length obsessed, and as a result, I didn't retain ANY length lol. Once I just chilled out and redirected my goals, I started to see more length. Basically I went from just wanted long hair, to wanting healthy hair. Healthy hair creates longer hair. Whenever people ask me why I've changed my hair style (I've never been relaxed, my "journey" started when I stopped coloring and straightening my hair), usually they make comments like I'm trying to be all "earthy" when really I just want healthy hair. And coloring and frying my hair with heat isnt going to get me to my goal of healthy hair.

Tiffany B. said...

I desire lenght and don't regret it. Realistic expectations, I have those.

Anonymous said...

i desire length it doesnt got to me down to my butt or nothing like that but i see hair styles that i really like on differnt websites and on other people and i need hair longer than mine is now plus i have thinner hair i am more obsessed with making my hair more thicker than i am longer though

Coily Curly Doni said...

I never even thought about length past putting my hair in a pony puff. After I could do that I was happy. It wasn't until I started reading hair blogs and vlogs that I learned about "length checks". I remember standing in front of my bathroom mirror with my arm contorted to see how long my hair was.

I generally judge growth by how big may hair is. This can cause a bit of confusion depending on my hair's said personality, the weather, products I use and... You name it.

My primary goal is to have healthy hair, length will come. Hair will grow, hair will shed. I have other things to worry about.

Anonymous said...

I believ that a lot people in our community feel that long hair is beautiful but to me confidence is the key to beauty (and that's for a man or a woman). Hair should define us; hair and even clothes may get a date but confidence and knowing one's worth will have bring about a more fulfilled life. A close cut hair cut or long hair winging is all great but if that's all you have...then....that's all you have. I will say one of the reasons why my dad married my mom is because she had very long hair but my mom had the confidence to cut it very short every summer and my dad would almost faint(lol) but either way was good and it thought us girls to focus on more important things in life. Having healthy hair and a healthy scalp is most important to me if you have long or short. Some people look great with a short sassy cut and long hair doesn't become them. Jusr embrace yourself regardless of the length!

Belizean Jewel said...

Well as of this year my goal is to get the following accomplished for my hair:
* Figure out an effective stretching method that works for my ends that love to curl up (as of a few days now I think it might be Roller-setting yey!)
*Thickening up my fine hair is a BIG ISSUE! So I plan to try the Aphogee 2 Min treatment and also Old School Egg and Mayo which used to work when I had a relaxer
*Next up is to find some intricate go to protective tuck in styles! Such as the one I have in now ( I should probably take a picture) those always work for me with length retention less knots and retaining body!
*Finally I plan to take this ship to MBL this year! It's been 2years and change & my hair seems stuck between APL & BSL...Living on this island I live is rough on your hair especially partying every night but DAMN! I KNOW I CAN DO IT!!!

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't say that I'm obsessed but I wonder how long my hair is and worry about breakage. I find it though, that I notice the most growth in my hair when I'm not worried about the growth. It could be that I don't pay that much attention to it when I'm not stressed about it. But I do have a hair goal. How long it will take for me to reach it, who knows. But my goal is to have shoulder length hair with curls.

Anonymous said...

I will admit that I am a bit obsessed with length. Not as much as when I first began my journey 1.5 years ago. I use length checks to determine whether or not I have the right regimen. I find that being just a little bit obsessed with length encourages me to do what I can health-wise for my hair in order to achieve my goal. It seems to me the two (length and health) go hand in hand. I have been transitioning for 1.5 years, natural hair line reaches arm pit length (stretched) and relaxed hair line grazes waistlength (flat ironed). I plan to big chop sometime next year :-)

Anonymous said...

I didn't get length obsessed until I started watching Youtube and seeing people grow waist length hair in 2 years! It made me feel like whats wrong with me and my hair. I never paid attention when I had permed hair. I always thought my hair grew fast until I bacame natural. Am I the only one?!

Anonymous said...

I didn't start my journey thinking about length and now a year later after completly chopping off my hair I think even less about it. I wanted the THICK!, BLACK, hair that I hated as a child but missed as a adult, plus being diagnose with Alopecia acreata really put things into a whole new light for me. going natural help me grow my hair back and healthy,I still struggle with some areas of alopecia but, I now have that thick black hair back and I am very happy! the only reason I look forward to more length is to achieve more styles and to hide patches better but I have no goals just want to hold on to the healthy hair I have rediscovered.

Lisa Michelle said...

It's funny to me looking back at this article...I was one of those "I thought I had long hair when it was relaxed" but it would never grow past my shoulders. Although I had worn short hair before, there was always a bit of fear in going back down that path, but man once I cut it I LOVED it!! Especially in Houston...it's hot and I hate hair sticking to my neck lol! Now that it's 2012 and my hair is past bra strap length, the length issue isn't much of an issue for me anymore. I know I can grow long hair just for the simple science of hair. Your hair WILL grow...it's a matter of how healthy you can keep it once it grows. I am definitely in agreeance with Nikki...the volume is what I most crave from when my hair was shorter. I think one of the ladies previously mentioned thick juicy twists...I want that!!

So to sum it all up, when you focus on the HEALTH of your hair, the LENGTH will follow! Thank you guys for all of the great comments, I enjoy reading them :)

Lisa Michelle

mia said...

I'm just like you. I wasn't thinking about no freaking hair until I saw all those damn hair journeys on YouTube. DAMN! LOL!

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