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Curly Nikki

3 “Secrets” to Natural Hair Growth You’re Overlooking

By January 27th, 202147 Comments

3 "Secrets" to Natural Hair Growth You're Overlooking

by Danielle of

The general consensus from women seems to be that ladies with long hair have some secrets they’re holding on to. There must be some mystical combination of tools, products or techniques they use in order to get hair that grows past your shoulder blades. As of today my hair is just slightly past my waist and I’m still growing.

When speaking to women, “what’s your secret?” is a popular question. My usual response is “I take good care of my hair.” I realize now that “taking good care of” something means different things to every individual. What I consider routine in my hair care practices, may be foreign or unintuitive to others.

Coming to that realization compelled me to share some of the key features in my healthy hair growth journey.

With that said, here are my 3 “secrets”: Moisturize, Protect, and Low Manipulation

Moisturize and “Seal”

African American hair textures are notoriously dry. My hair is no exception, so keeping my hair well moisturized helps it remain pliable and elastic. Moisturized hair is less prone to breaking and snapping. It behaves better and is easier to style.

Moisturizing my hair comes in different levels:

  • I will wash my hair with either conditioner, or a moisturizing shampoo. 
  • I will then deep condition with a moisturizing conditioner and rinse out.  
  • I will apply a moisturizer to every strand in small sections ensuring that each strand gets moisturized. 
  • Lastly I follow with coconut oil to “seal” in the moisturizer I applied before I style my hair.

On a daily or every-other-day basis (depending on what your hair needs) I will moisturize to ensure my hair never gets dried out or crunchy/crispy. I deep condition weekly, and at times every other week. But I’ve noticed my hair responds best when deep conditioned every week.
You will learn how often your hair needs moisture by noticing how it feels and seeing how it responds to your touch.

CN Says:
Raw Shea butter is hands down the most
effective sealer I’ve ever used. Ever, in all of natural-dom. I relied
on it solely for years, drifted away (to other less effective sealants,
and at times, *grasps pearls* no sealant at all), and I’m back, baby!
 Raw shea butter.  That’s all you need. Thank me later :)   

p.s.  I usually pick some up from the local beauty supply when I’m in
a town with Black folk, but when I’m in Happy Valley, I order from

Protect Your Ends

Your “youngest” hair is growing directly at your scalp. This is your “new growth” as it’s often referred to. Which means the hair at the ends of each strand is the “oldest.” The ends of your hair “make or break” your length. This bit of hair is the most delicate because it has been through so much. It has received the bulk of the damage simply by hanging around for as long as it has!

To protect your ends:

  • You must first ensure that you have no split ends. If you do, trim your ends to just above the splits. 
  • Then you must keep the ends very well moisturized. 
  • Try to alternate wearing your hair out and loose with wearing it in updos that “hide” the ends of your hair, keeping them protected from the elements, and from brushing against your collar, shoulders or back. If your hair is too short for an updo, keeping them moisturized is enough.
  • At night, protect your ends by wearing a satin scarf or bonnet and sleeping on a satin pillowcase. This will protect your ends (and the entire length of your hair) from snagging/pulling/snapping on harsher fabrics.

Low Manipulation

Do you twirl your hair around your fingers? Stop!
Do you let the ends of your hair brush against your collar or clothing every single day? Stop!
Do you comb and brush and flatiron and curl your hair daily? Stop!

Do you get the picture? Good!

Low manipulation is key for retaining growth and getting long healthy hair. If you normally style your hair, and use heating tools daily, you will notice and incredible difference in your hair by cutting back. Instead, opt for styles that will last you a week, such as twists or twist-outs, braidouts, buns, or flatirons/rollersets that don’t need heat touch ups each day. Try to comb and brush your hair only on wash days if you can. Use your hands to smooth areas and keep your hands out of your hair during the day.

So there you have it! The “Secret’s” Out!
Try these three techniques and you will notice your hair retaining length like never before.

What’s your secret?

This article was originally published in
February 2011 and has been updated for grammar and clarity.


  • Peachey says:

    Information article, it was very helpful! I simply began in this and I'm attractive more familiar with it better! Thanks, keep doing amazing..

  • Kim L. McFadden says:

    While sealing the hair with coconut may work for the author, I would advise against this for fine and medium/fine low porosity hair types. Speaking from personal experience, I found this advice on the internet in various articles but believe me, these tips do the exact opposite for tightly closed cuticles. It may work for high porosity or maybe even medium porosity hair because their cuticles are open & do not close easily. …Those open cuticles easily allow moisture to escape easily, so sealing with coconut for that particular hair type may work. Whipped Shea Butter can be too heavy and oily for low porosity curlies also. If you decide to use it it, I'd suggest you start out using only the tiniest amount on your ends

  • Shak says:

    How long did it take for your hair to get to the length it is now?

  • Grow Hair Faster says:

    Want to grow hair fast?

    • The first hair growth formula is to use Rosemary leaves. Rosemary leaves boiled in water make a perfect addition to your shampoo when you wash your hair.

    • Hair growth is significantly stimulated by? scalp massages. You need to employ only your fingers here. Use your fingers to knead the scalp in a circular motion, start from the base of the scalp and end at the front of your head

    Tips from

  • Erika says:

    I wrote a short article on this called "3 ways to get your hair growing now". I myself have waist length hair and these things have worked for me. Feel free to check it out.

  • roshani says:

    how do i keep my hair silky, straight and thick in an easy way

  • T-lor says:

    Thank you so much for this article! My hair grows so fast but I have trouble retaining the length. After the last year of wearing a fro 24/7 w/out a solid care routine I've failed to grow it longer and even experienced bad breakage in some areas. Just started doing protective styling a month ago and Will add your moisturizing routine to the mix. Thanks!

  • T-Lor says:

    For you perhaps but pls don't rudely disregard what is crucial to the average natural black woman. Thank you and I wish you continued luck with your hair growth.

  • Anonymous says:

    My fingers stay in my hair, but I only BCed 3 weeks ago. It doesn't seem to be bothering it much because it's grown some already in that super short amount of time. *twirls a curl* maybe I'll break that habit….someday. Lol.

  • Anonymous says:

    guess i will try … i have 4 girls and i just want them to have beautiful hair i need sum help also

  • Anonymous says:

    protective styling and deep conditiong are EXTREMELY UNimportant and overrated. I hardly ever wear protectiv styles and I don't follow a regular routine yet my hair still grows exceptioally fast, currently Im 1 year and 5 months natural and my hair has just reached below shoulder length.

  • Anonymous says:

    this is sooo awesome :D cuz im a 14 yar old with hard to manage hair and i've been searching on google for months for somethin like this. it is well put together and i cant wait to try it
    P.S: i love twirling my hair and my mom always said i should sop. i had no idea this could cause my hair to stop gowing :|
    well thanks for this post <3

  • C'est Moi, Samii™ (The Listener) says:

    Could not be more simple. Love this post. I will begin to follow these steps (as I am guilty of allowing my hair to get dry and crunchy, until the next wash)….


  • Jameela/BohemianEarth says:

    What a wonderful, informative post. These are guidelines anyone can follow without feeling the need to buy a whole new set of products.

    The updo has been my go-to style for growing my hair out for sometime now. I usually cut my hair before it gets past my shoulders (when straightened), but when it begins to get long again, I always put it up to keep it protected.

    Thanks so much.

  • Anonymous says:

    Yes God do want us to protect what he has given us

  • Anonymous says:

    I went natural in 2000. My hair was always long (mid back), but a year before the BC I started getting "bored". I started slowly cutting it shorter, then, Chop. 11yrs later, with a couple more random chops in between, my hair is still only mid-back length (when straight). Ive wondered why it hasnt grown even longer. Reading this, I'm now wondering that perhaps I mess with it too much (mostly wear it loose, thus it's always brushing against clothing), and maybe I dont moisturize enough (do a daily leave-in, but no deep conditioning). I dont wear a satin cap often either. Maybe I need to better my ways for more length.

  • Ariel X says:

    Growing long hair is easy, it just takes time. Basically treat it like you would antique

    1)Wear it up.
    2)Throw away your chemicals, flat irons, blow dryers etc.
    3)Trim only once or twice a year. Search and destroy otherwise
    4)Wash it infrequently and moisturize it. Moisture = water. So use water based products

    Those are the main things. Other things that help are henna, deep conditioners, clay masks etc

  • FAITH says:


  • Anonymous says:

    Thank you so much for this website. Reading it always gives me renewed motivation to try my best to improve on taking care of my fro. b.t.w. has anyone noticed that the back of their hair is a bit more kinky than the front? Maybe it's just me.

  • Anonymous says:

    Thank GOD I am one of the (apparently) few people who can twirl, rub against collars and anything else I wear, and never put my hair up (it gives me a headache) because if I had to I'm sure I would've run back to relaxing a long time ago. Instead, I've grown my hair out from big chop to midback in 7 years.

  • Anonymous says:

    For those who have hand in hair issues, I feel you . It will get better over time. I remember when I first went completely natural (in 2000), I was so in love with my new hair. It felt so alive! I could not stop touching it. I am no less in /love with it now, but I guess me and my hair are like an old married couple- we love each other and take care of each other, cuz we dont want to break up. LOL
    Do a weekly, overnight DT and that should take care of the dryness concerns. If you like to comb, try and take a widetooth comb and concentrate on massaging your scalp with it, rather than running it through the entire length of the strands. Happy Growing and

  • Chimmy O. says:

    Ever since I went completely natural, Dec. 21, 2010, after a year of transitioning, I have not been able to take my hands out of my hair. I love touching each and every little coil. They are so cute to me, and it's very fun to pull them gently and let go. I love watching them spring back up into their coily goodness. I know it's such a bad thing to play with your hair but I haven't found the cure for my Hand In Hair Syndrome. lol.

    I'm also always in my hair because I'm so afraid that it isn't moisturized. My hair, much like my skin soaks up moisture really fast and becomes dry quickly. I wish it didn't but that's why I'm such a Hand in Hair person.

  • Anonymous says:

    I don't know, but I have not been able to stay out of my hair. I enjoy combing it …lol. My hair is healthy so we will see. However, I don't comb my hair unless it is wet or damp. We will see, how much growth i get. I just feel that my hair does much better when i twist at night. However, since it has started getting cold, i have been putting it up so it does not brush on my coat. I am so happy that I have enough to put up now.

  • NapturallyFit says:

    Greattt article…. and I love the discussion about working out and maintaining a good hair regimen, because I was wondering the same thing too. How can i maintain both.
    I did my second BC in Feb 16 2010 (soon 1 year natural… Yayy me!!)and i only had about 1/2 inch of hair, if so much. My hair is now about 6 inches long all over.. not too shabby growth..and my hair has definately done better than the last time i went natural because I moisturized much more.. However, my lazy habits are trying to raise their ugly heads again and i find my hair has started breaking.

    So i am very happy for this article to get me back on my way to natural hair growth. My other goal is weight loss. I had a bouncing baby boy last year June and have atleast 50 unwanted pounds to shed..
    So here's to healthy living and healthy natural hair in 2011! :) Also I am in the process of blogging my journey to longer hair and a smaller waist lol.. look out for me lol

  • Danielle says:

    I'm so grateful that you all enjoyed the article!! I'm glad it could help and thanks for sharing your "secrets"


  • Anonymous says:

    and your hair is beautiful!

  • Anonymous says:

    Thank you Danielle and Nikki! I love this article, great info and easy to read!

  • Carla says:

    I workout several days a week too and it can be a challenge keeping your hair moisturized despite the salty sweat. I have to wash (shampoo or co-wash) and DC more often than if I was sedentary. Its a bit of a challenge since my hair is now APL, but its worth it.

  • Bobbie says:

    This is a great post. Currently wearing my hair in braids. This will help with low maintenance and protective style.

  • Nelly says:

    I agree, it is difficult to find styles that are protective that do not consist of twisting your hair. I visit YouTube on a regular basis to search for styles that are truly protective and leave most of my ends tucked away. Currently I am rocking the "cinna-bun style" which I think can be adjusted to fit many hair lengths. It's trial and error but for the most part it's working out. When I do twist my hair I try to find a creative way to pin it up so that the ends of my hair remain protected. Hope this helps.

  • Anonymous says:

    I agree with {8:18} my hair is also too short for a bun. But, my hair is long enough for a pony… is this the only protective style I can achieve? btw I'm tweetie514 just can't seem to get it posted…

  • Anonymous says:

    So my hair is too short for a bun…any suggestions for easy protective styles? My two strand twists often "untwist" themselves too…ugh. Help…

  • Anonymous says:

    OK – OK! I'm trying to keep my hands out of my hair. Jeez louise – I really am :>) But Lawd have mercy my hair feels so good! And I'm wearing my hair in twists, and they touch my collar/turtle neck EVERY DAY! As the kids says: I sorry :>( Gotta come up with a style so this doesn't happen. I don't comb/brush/flat iron/curly daily though. WHEW: for a minute I thought I was going to the back of the bus for flunking all three no-no's :>)

    Thanks for the post! Very informative and helpful!

  • Naphtali says:

    Good Post I have been focusing on the moisture retention and low manipulaton, th ebrushing I do with a paddle brush max. of once a day. when blown out , when natural state I brush up the frontand back if needed.

  • Unknown says:

    Buns have been my best friend. I usually start with washed or cowashed hair and do a wet bun. I use leave in conditioner,olive oil, aloe vera gel and ecostyler. I smooth everything in and let dry overnight with a satin scarf. My waves pop like crazy! It lasts a few days, then i take the bun down and moisturize and seal my ends then baggie over night. I put hair back in a bun and after about 5-7 days, it's time to cowash or wash again. I repeat this process and it has really been helping to retain length. I think it's a great low manipulation style and it can go from conservative to chic…all depends on how you dress it up.

  • Anonymous says:

    Wow, that would be an act of God- trying to keep a press n curl looking good while working up a sweat each day. It may not be addressed on the boards because it seems impractical or even impossible. It brings up an interesting question though.

  • Pecancurls says:

    Thanks for the pointer ladies. Like you am, I too am determined to work out no matter what. I have lost about 25 pounds since July.

  • am says:

    in addition to the above, if you're pressing your hair then working up a sweat is counterproductive. i'v really not seen this addressed on the hairboards as everyone assumes that you will wash and go. I cant wash and go – so i wear a headband; i put some sort of leave in in my hair before i workout and after and i wash more frequently. i must say that i havent had a lot of breakage…i think the key is to keep hair moisturize.
    i've decided that i'm working out no matter what my hair looks like after and this is working for me.
    just my .02cents.

  • Anonymous says:

    I usually wear a sweatband during the workout which helps to absorb some of the moisture. I place it on the hair not the forehead. By the end of my workout, it , along with my scalp is usually soaked. I wash my hair once a week with Curl Cleansing Cream followed by an overnight DC tx. I also like Wen products for cleansing.
    If I get REALLY soaked from a hard workout, I (usually only once a week, otuside of my weekly wash) rinse my hair with water and apply Curls Mlikshake and a bit of Yes to Carrots Mask to damp hair, let airdry a bit then put in 4 twists overnight. If I am tired and dont feel like doing that, I simply loosen my bun after my workout and let my hair dry a bit, then take it down, put a bit of coconut oil on the ends and put a few twists in. I usually wear my hair in a bun with the ends tucked in. You may wonder why I put my hair in twists just to wear a bun??? It keeps things relatively tangle free, allows for me to moisturize more throughly, allows for the hair to dry and air out from the workout a bit. At night I keep it covered with a scarf which usually slides off,so I sleep on a satin pillowcase as well.

    Sweating (the salt in sweat, I guess) can really dry out your hair, so I try not to let it build up. I also moisturize consistently with coconut oil based products primarily. I do tend to comb (with a widetoothj comb or the tangle teazer) my hair daily , but very briefly to make twisting more consistent. I have had no problems with breakage or excess shedding. In fact, if I dont comb it out, it doesn't seem to fare as well.

    Sorry this is so long. I hope it helps!!!Sounds like a lot, but I actually spend very little time on my hair daily.

  • Pecancurls says:

    Anon @ 2:58 (or anyone else). I noticed you mentioned exercise. I am 5 months into my transition and exercise regularly and I sweat. I don't have time to wash/condition after every session. How do you keep your hair moisturized when you throw exercise and sweat into the mix?

  • socialitedreams says:

    really good, thorough piece….thanks!


  • Anonymous says:

    I agree with every single word she said. My hair is a tad shorter than hers, but I've noticed a tremendous growth spurt once I developed a consistent low manipulation, no heat, lots of moisture routine. Other things I would add: diet, water and exercise. Eating lots of raw foods, wholesome, nutritious foods, drinking lots of water (and virtually nothing else), and taking vitamin supplements (especially biotin) has helped too.

    I DC once a week (overnight) and henna once a month (overnight).

  • Jennifer S. says:

    Thank you for this post. Very helpful information. Your hair is beautiful!


  • Anonymous says:

    very well written.

  • BreukelensFinest says:

    love this post because it doesn't give miracle cures and creams and pills. moisturizing is soooo important. everyone focuses on protien treatments like MegaTek, which are great, but moisture is the most important tool.

    My secret is protective styles. 4-5 days out of a week my hair is up and ends are tucked in. If I'm going out, maybe I'll deal with it, but for the most part i leave it alone!

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