Have you ever experienced a hair growth plateau? It’s when your hair
can’t seem to grow past a certain length: be it neck length, arm pit
length, bra strap length etc. This is probably due to some practices (or lack
thereof) in your natural hair care regimen. If you are currently at a growth plateau, you’ll probably
find that hair growth isn’t the problem: retaining length is (your hair may be breaking off as fast as it’s growing). It’s also
possible that your hair isn’t growing as full or as rapidly as it could
depending on how well you take care of your hair. It’s tough to come to
terms with the fact that your hair isn’t prospering, but once you take
steps to address the issue(s), you’ll be well on your way to longer hair
at its healthiest.
1. Assess the problem.
What is causing your hair to stay at
one length? There are a number of poor hair habits that could be the
culprit; here are a few to start with:
- Over-manipulation (can cause dryness, shedding, and breakage)
- Rough handling of the hair (combing too hard, detangling improperly etc.)
- Moisture overload (reduces elasticity and therefore weakens the hair)
- Protein overload (results in brittle hair that breaks easily)
- Defective styling instead
of protective styling (not properly maintaining the hair during and
after installing a protective style, leaving the protective style in for
- Misuse/overuse of hair tools such as combs, brushes, bobby pins, etc.
- Overuse of heat styling
- Using the wrong products for your hair
harsh chemicals: coloring/dyeing the hair (almost always causes
dryness/breakage to Type 4 hair, especially when it isn’t maintained
properly with regular conditioning treatments)
- Not trimming often enough
- Not following healthy hair practices such as: deep conditioning, detangling properly, and moisturizing and sealing
list may not end here, but these are some of the more common ones to
give you an idea of where you may be going wrong at. Once you know the
problem, you can eliminate it and take steps to get your hair back on
track. If the issue is heat or color, don’t be tempted to go back. Do
whatever is necessary for the health of your hair, it’ll be worth it in
the long run.
2. Trim it.
When you’re at a growth plateau,
it’s likely that starting with a fresh trim will benefit your hair
tremendously. You don’t want to try nursing damaged hair back to health.
(Trust me, I’ve tried it myself). If you’re uncomfortable with losing
length, you can protective style until your hair grows back or simply
trim gradually. Once you have the damaged hair out of the way, you can
focus on preserving and growing your healthy hair.
3. Take pictures.
that you know the problem and have cut away any damage, you’re ready to
start with a clean slate. Take pictures! I cannot stress how important
this is. When you don’t have a way to document your hair growth, you
will feel like it’s going nowhere. But when you have pictures to look
back on every milestone, you can really tell if you’re getting it right.
6 months or a year from now, you’ll be able to see that you are finally
on your way to getting past your growth plateau.
4. Put it away.
Type 4 hair, protective styling is almost always a bulletproof method
in regards to retaining length. When long term protective styling, some
things to remember are:
- Never leave the style in for longer than 4-6 weeks
- Moisturize and oil your scalp while you have the style installed
- When you take the style out, remove any shed hair before wetting the hair. If you don’t, you’ll have a knotted, tangled mess on your hands and you will lose hair.
- Give your hair a break for at least 1-2 weeks in between styles.
can also do short term protective styles like buns or goddess braids
which give you the freedom to wash your hair when desired. (When
bunning, be sure not to bun too tightly and to switch up the placement
of your bun every few days to keep the hair from breaking off in that
5. Go on a hair challenge.
When your hair has you
in a funk, one of the best things to do is to go on a hair challenge.
It’ll keep you from cutting all of your hair off on a whim because of
sheer frustration. And it’ll give you something to look forward to and
work towards. Mentally record and/or write down your goals and strive to
achieve them. For example, I am currently on a 6-month no
heat/protective styling challenge with my hair. For the first month,
I’ve been co-washing my hair every three days and keeping it in buns. I
flat ironed prior to the challenge and took pictures and I plan on flat
ironing at the end of the challenge to see my growth.
6. Get inspired.
out other naturals whose length your aspire to have. It’s not to make
you feel bad or down about your own hair, but to give you something to
look forward to. Some of my personal favorites on Instagram are @hey_curlie, @chronicurls, @chigirlmakeup and @simplybiancaalexa.
7. Learn your hair.
you’re working on getting past your growth plateau, make sure you
utilize this time to learn your hair if you haven’t already. Try new
products if you need to and discover whether or not your hair likes
them. I used to wear box braids all of the time and having my hair out
now while wearing buns has really given me time to learn my hair. I know
what areas are drier than others and what areas have tighter curls than
others. I’ve found products my hair said “eh” to and products that it
absolutely loved. I have a regimen that works for me and my hair and I’m
sticking to it because I’ve seen prosperous results.
You can and
you will get past this growth plateau. This is not the end for your
hair. You may be having some trouble now, but if you follow these steps,
you’ll be able to get your hair where you want it to be. Have patience,
show your hair love, and watch it grow.