5 Reasons You Aren’t Gaining Length

By Dr. Phoenyx Austin

Growing longer hair should be pretty simple for every woman- right? I mean, the hair just grows out of our heads. It’s not like we have to look at our scalps on a daily basis and say “Yo follicle! Handle your business!” So why is it that some of us can never seem to grow our hair to the length that we desire? Many women are surprised to discover that the answer to that question isn’t found in taking hair pills or hunting for a new hair product. Growing longer hair is simply about allowing our hair to grow more than we are damaging it. It’s actually that simple. So if you’re having trouble gaining length, you may want to look a little closer at your hair care regimen. Maybe there are specific things that you are doing to cause damage and counteract your hair’s growth. Here are 4 reasons you may not be gaining length:

1. You’re over-manipulating and under protective styling
I constantly get questions about whether women can get away with not protective styling and still achieve length. The fact is that curlier hair is more delicate (and finer) than straight hair. Because of this, you need to protect it from frequent manipulation. Sure, you can try your luck with infrequent protective styling- but more manipulation equals more hair damage, which equals more breakage. And more breakage will always counteract attempts to gain length.

2. You’re not moisturizing and sealing
Kinky, curly and coily hair CRAVES moisture. Moisture it what’s need for our hair to preserve elasticity. And when hair is deprived of moisture, the result is that not so pleasant “B” word again—Breakage! To gain length (and prevent breakage) you must help your hair maintain its elasticity by making moisturizing and sealing part of your daily hair routine. Hair that does not gain length is simply hair that is breaking faster than it is growing. In the case of curly hair (especially curly, porous hair), you always want to counteract dryness and breakage by moisturizing and sealing.

Jenells 3 Year Natural Anniversary and Length Check23. You’re using heat
With the exception of using mild, wet heat to deep condition, dry heat (i.e. from flat irons or blow dryers) should be avoided. Dry heat literally boils moisture out of hair- leading to dryness and ultimately breakage. I know there are women that like to flat-iron or blow dry their hair for the occasional sleek look, but those are two of the fastest ways to damaging your already-prone-to-dryness curly hair. I know it may be hard for some to accept, but to gain length you’re going to have to step away from the heat.

4. You’re not trimming damaged or spit ends
Hair doesn’t need to be put on a frequent trimming schedule. But if you are damaging your hair so much that splits ends and breakage become a common occurrence, then you need to trim your hair regularly to counteract this damage. If you don’t take care of these damaged ends on the spot, or ignore them, you’ll just have damage that will literally start to extend from the tip of your hair and up the hair shaft. In those cases you’ll end up having to do a bigger chop than when there was less damage. And this bigger chop will, once again, make it harder for you to achieve the length you want.

5. Keep Things Low Maintenance
Keep things simple with low maintenance and protective styling. All hair goes through normal wear and tear. But the less stress you put on hair by manipulating it with things like combing and heat styling, the less likely it will incur damage that will cause things like split ends and breakage.

Have you ever had a problem with growing your hair to the length you wanted?

What changes did you make in hair regimen to help solve this problem?

If you’d like to send a comment/question to Dr. Phoenyx Austin, you can find her on Facebook andTwitter. Dr. Phoenyx is a writer, media personality, and physician.

About Jenell B Stewart

Jenell Stewart MS, the founder and editor in chief of the award winning website KinkyCurlyCoilyMe.com dedicates most of her free time educating and uplifting women with natural hair by way of her extremely popular website and YouTube channel. Jenell has been featured in Essence Magazine, Black Enterprise.com, and starred on the Dr.Oz television show as a Beauty Expert. In 2012 she was named one of Essences top Instagramers and that same year KinkyCurlyCoilyMe won an award for “Favorite Website” of the Natural Hair Community.
  • Naturalista Take 2

    I have recently completed chemotherapy and my hair actually started growing back sooner than I expecte, which is great! My texture however has changed from pre-chemo 4b/4c to post chemo 3c. What types of moisturizers should I use now that my texture has change?
    And any tips for a healthly scalp (I have some thin, non growing small spots on my head)

    • Anais EpicRealist Owens

      That’s awesome! Try using castor oil on the spots that aren’t growing. It’ll do two things. Either it’ll make your hair begin to grow in that spot or it’ll make whatever hair you have thicker , giving the appearance that you don’t have any bald spots. Good luck!
      Your question was featured on Curls of Innocence Facebook page as an example for others going through the same thing. :) #healthyhair http://www.curlsofinnocence.blogspot.com

    • queenbee9

      There are also helpful aryuvedic remedies for balding or thinning hair issues:
      Vatika oil has a follicle stimulant and is a combination of many holistic oils.
      Amla and brahmi oils are used for creating thicker hair and helping with bald areas.

      I have both 3c and 4a hair–If you want an excellent regime for your hair try this:
      1. wet hair with distilled water
      2. coat hair with a small amount absorbable oil like grapeseed, coconut, avocado, sunflower, wheat germ, jojoba, sweet almond
      3. follow with a moisturizer such as a butter cream or leave in
      4. seal with jbco, shea butter or vitamin E oil 9use vit e only on hair not scalp)

    • http://kinkycurlycoilyme.com/ Jenell : BlakIzBeautyful

      Ive heard that after chemo the hair texture changes. Thats so interesting. Get well.


  • MZ-X

    Please don’t forget the other word that attributes to hair growth. GENETICS!!

    • finephillygirl

      not really my grandmother n great had long hair n mom had short hair.

    • queenbee9

      What are genetics? Nothing but learned behavior distilled into cells over time. The fact is–if YOU take care of your hair and let it grow and your children and grand and great grand children do the same–over time your descendants “genetics” will have the propensity for long hair. This is a fact Almost everyone who wants long hair can have it and if it becomes a generational habit, those who do not know any better will assume it is genetics.
      My mom had short (neck length) coarse hair all her life.My sisters had the same. My hair was to my waist until I was 12. Later in life I advised my mom on what to do for her hair. At age 50, she ended up with the longest length hair of her life –not seen in her family’s memory for at least a century. (her hair was APL at it’s longest)

  • AA

    Leaving my hair in cornrows (under a weave), helped me get to the longest length i’ve ever experienced I definitely think protective styling is key for certain hair textures or at least low manipulation.

    • cb

      when I wore wigs during the winter, same thing happened to me also…cornrows and plaits…retained length

  • queenbee9

    This article is so on point. I would add that manipulating natural hair with too much braiding, buns and brushing (the triple B’s) is also a NONO.

    I had waist length hair as a child and enjoyed it again between 2003-2010. What was my regimen? micro braids for 3-5 months with 2 weeks down to take down, cleanse and condition. What products did I use? when down–Affirm shampoo and reconstructor and crème press for a light pressing at the relaxed demarcation line.

    What did I use while in the braids? NOTHING [GASP] ON THE BRAIDS, BUT I USED sally’s HAIR POLISH on every itchy part of my scalp. count all that growth up to benign neglect and REST. the less I could comb/brush my natural hair, the more it grew. So I agree–it not what we put on so much as moisture, time and rest.

    Most of the “care” we give is over kill. A little is very beneficial a lot–can defeat our best efforts.

  • Adeola @ The Mane Captain

    moisturizing helps. so does protective styling.

  • Nia Vant

    my issue is dry scalp, when I do protective styles my scalp gets so itchy and flaky, I drink alot of water, what can I use or do to reduce the flakes and itch?

    • queenbee9

      Apply an absorbable oil like coconut oil or a mix of coconut oil and JBCO or cantu shea butter leave in and JBCO. If itching persists, try dabbing a little tea tree oil on but don’t use tea tree to moisturize, use a different mix.