You’ve probably read a lot of blog posts and watched many videos about natural hair growth tips by now. But just in case you feel like none of these tips work for you and are wondering why your hair is still not growing after doing your best, this blog post might answer all of your burning hair growth questions.
That’s why in this post, I will be breaking down, step by step, how to grow your hair in the simplest and easiest way possible.
But unlike other blog posts out there, I will be diving deep into the science and technicalities of hair growth, so that you have a better understanding of the mechanics of hair growth.
I always provide the “whys” of a problem before I can start sharing the “whats” and “hows”. I believe this is the best way to solve a problem and avoid future occurrences.
FYI, I know this is a LONG blog post, probably the longest you will ever read about hair growth. But I want to make sure I answer all of your hair growth questions in one post, rather than sending you all over the place.
I will however provide related posts that I’ve written about hair care so that you can have a more comprehensive knowledge about natural hair growth.
A quick intro
Hi, I’m Adeola and this is my hair growth progress when I began my natural hair journey. You can read my hair story HERE, it explains why I started this blog to help other Naturalistas like yourself to achieve your hair goals.
To get the most out of this blog post, I recommend reading through everything once and then going back to read the related post. This way, you can stay on one page without being distracted. I’ve included the related posts so that you will have a comprehensive understanding about natural hair growth.
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Understanding the Science of Hair Growth
In case you’re wondering why your hair isn’t growing, you must understand how your hair grows and what it requires to continue growing. This is why I want to discuss the hair growth cycle first.
From the diagram below, you can see that there are four main hair growth stages. Every hair follicle on your scalp where your hair grows out of has its own hair growth cycle that happens independently of the others.
This is the birth phase of the hair, it’s also the most active phase because this is when your hair is actively growing. The good news is that this phase takes up about 90% of your hair growth cycle, up to 6 years long! This means that your hair is ALWAYS growing.
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This is when your hair growth factory starts to slow down because it’s preparing for the next phase when your hair stops growing completely.
In this phase, your hair shaft is no longer connected to the dermal papilla, which is like the seed that sparks hair growth.
This stage is considered to be a resting phase because your hair is no longer growing and it’s just waiting to exit the scalp in the next cycle. This is also when your hair reaches its terminal length and can no longer grow.
This is when your hair exits the scalp by shedding. At the same time, the dermal papilla is reforming to produce new hair growth out of that hair follicle that just bid fair well to the shed hair.
Hair growth cycle happens simultaneously
Like I’ve mentioned earlier, each individual hair follicle has its own hair growth cycle that runs separately from the others. This is why you still have hair on your head, despite the fact that your hair sheds everyday.
If you believe your hair is not growing because it’s taking forever to grow long, these simple 4 stages of hair growth just proved that your hair is constantly growing.
If you’re not going bald, it means your hair is growing
If you believe that your hair is not growing, you should notice some bald spots on your head because when your hair shed, new hair never grew out of the follicle.
However, if you don’t have any bald spot anywhere on your scalp, it means that your hair growth cycle is going strong and your hair is always growing.
Your problem might be length retention which I will discuss later on.
RELATED POST: Four Stages That Determines Your Natural Hair Growth Potential
Frequently asked natural hair growth questions
Now that I’ve broken down the science of hair growth, I want to answer some frequently asked questions and address popular hair growth tips from a scientific and practical point of view.
Why is my hair not the same length?
I’ve had naturalistas ask why one part of their hair is longer than the other side. Some claim that their left side is shorter or longer than the other side.
I currently don’t have a scientific explanation for this, but generally, parts of your head such as your edges will be significantly shorter than the rest. And this is just pre-determined by the genetics that control your hair growth cycle.
Another reason your hair length is uneven can be explained by the simultaneous hair growth cycle that’s taking place all over your scalp.
While a particular follicle might have hair that’s about 6 years old and 12 inches long, a neighboring follicle might have baby hair that’s only a few months old and not longer than 1 inch.
So the next time you start to wonder why one part of your head has shorter hair than the other, remember that each follicle has a different hair growth cycle.
If you believe that one side of your hair is significantly shorter than the other, you can try changing the side you sleep on at night. Instead of sleeping just on one side all night long, you can either sleep on your chest (which is better for you anyway) or sleep on your back.
This way, your scalp is free to produce healthy hair all night long while you sleep.
Does terminal length exist?
According to the hair growth cycle diagram, terminal length does exist because depending on your genetics, your hair can be in the Anagen phase for as little as two years or as long as six years before it stops growing and sheds.
But there are women with hair down their back or even almost touching the floor because they haven’t cut their hair in over a decade and their hair just keeps growing. Which goes to show that the hair growth cycle is just an average and some people can fall outside of the norm.
However, before you blame your short hair on terminal length, it’s crucial that you first examine your hair habit and track your hair loss to see if it’s breakage or shedding.
You might also struggle with breakage which is interfering with your length retention rate. I will discuss length retention in more detail later on.
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Can Scalp Massage Speed Up Hair Growth?
It’s believed that when you massage your scalp, you stimulate more blood flow to your hair follicles which then boost hair growth. While this method might work for some people, it’s not practical and it’s also not necessary because your hair is constantly growing.
Merely massaging your scalp for a few minutes doesn’t make that much of a difference to the 24/7 hair growth cycle.
But if you absolutely believe that your hair isn’t growing or is growing slowly, you can try massaging your scalp at night with a scalp brush for at least five minutes before you go to bed.
This will help to increase blood flow to the scalp and increase hair growth. Don’t be surprised if you give up this technique after a few days though, because this method is just not practical and it’s hard to stay consistent with it.
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What about the inversion method?
The inversion method works in a similar way as a scalp massage because it causes a rush of blood flow to your scalp. The blood flow carries necessary nutrients needed by your hair factory to start producing hair at a faster rate. Also, standing upside down will cause more hair to grow out of your scalp due to the law of gravity.
The inversion method is not a practical way to speed up hair growth and it’s also a dangerous way to grow your hair because you can have a concussion from the sudden rush of blood flow to your brain.
This is why the method fizzled up so quickly because most people won’t commit to standing upside down for a few minutes everyday just to grow their hair.
Can I Speed Up Hair Growth With Hair Products?
Hair products such as Jamaican black castor oil, virgin hair fertilizer and wild hair growth oil have helped many women to grow their hair, especially around the edges. Like many other topical creams, these products works to heal the hair follicles so that they can open up to produce hair.
When these products are applied daily and massaged into your scalp for a few weeks consecutively, the active hair growth ingredients in these products will work to heal the hair follicles from the inside out so that your hair follicles can start to grow hair again.
A few other things you can do to ensure that these products work as described is to protect your hair at night by wearing a satin bonnet, keep your hair moisturized so it can retain more length, and be gentle with your edges.
What about hair vitamins?
Many women have used hair growth vitamins successfully. However, in order for hair vitamins to work for you, you must take it in the recommended dosage so that you don’t overwhelm your body with an excess amount that it ends up doing more harm than good.
Essentially, hair growth vitamins work to supplement your body with any hair benefiting nutrients it might be lacking due to an unhealthy diet. This means that if you’re not eating healthy and getting the required amount of nutrients you need for a healthy body, your hair growth factory will slow down.
So taking multivitamins or a hair vitamin such as hairfinity will help to ensure that your hair growth factory gets all the nutrient it needs to stay on schedule to produce healthy hair.
Factors that determines hair growth
There are six factors that determine how long and and how fast your hair can grow. They are genetics, time, health, diet, age, and weather.
Now let’s discuss each in more detail.
You can see from the hair growth cycle that the anagen phase which is when the hair is actively growing occurs anywhere between 2-6 years. This length of time is genetically predetermined, which means that if your anagen phase takes longer, you can grow your hair longer than someone who’s anagen phase is only up to two years.
How fast or how long your hair can grow is often part of the genetic trait that has been passed down to you from a previous generation, which can be different amongst siblings. The same way you have siblings with different skin tones, weight and height is the same way you can have siblings with different hair textures and hair growth rate.
This means that you can have a sibling whose hair grows very fast and thick, even though she doesn’t do much to her hair. And here you are, struggling to grow one inch and you spend way more time on wash days, have a ton of hair products and you even have a dedicated hair regimen.
Instead of blaming your parents for passing on a slow hair growth gene to you, you can focus your efforts on length retention to ensure that you keep a good portion of your hair growth and you can grow your hair to your desired length.
The dermal papilla underneath your scalp is like a seed while your hair is like a plant. Like any seed that you would plant in the ground, you have to give it some time to grow.
So if you just did the big chop last night and you’re wondering why your hair is still 1″ long, you might need to wait another few months before noticing a significant difference in growth. You can also track your hair growth rate monthly by measuring your hair length, take pictures or use a length check t-shirt.
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If your body isn’t healthy due to an illness, stress or depression, your hair growth cycle will significantly slow down. You might even start to notice excessive shedding, breakage and thinning hair.
To deal with stress, it’s recommended to take walks, get enough sleep, do meditation, and practice yoga. I also recommend getting out of the stressful situation.
For example, if you’re in a job that’s giving you a lot of stress, I would recommend getting another job. I know you might be thinking, “it’s just hair and I can always wear a wig“.
But remember that your hair is usually the first place where a chemical imbalance in the body shows up first.
The longer you stay in the stressful environment, the more your internal body factory starts to break down and by the time you realize there’s something wrong with your body, it might be too late.
And now instead of you loosing your hair, you might start to lose your mind, vision or even end up with a heart attack, stroke or a serious illness.
Aside from the fact that you’re loosing your hair, imagine the shame, embarrassment and lack of self-confidence that comes with having bald patches and thinning hair.
A woman’s hair is her crown and glory, and when that is taken away, it will affect the way you feel about yourself. This can spill over into your professional and personal relationships.
So I suggest you listen to your hair.
Taking prescription medication that causes hair loss
If you are on a medication that’s causing hair loss or impeding hair growth, you should talk to your doctor about an alternative medicine. You can also request for recommended multi-vitamins you can take to counter the effect of the medication.
You can also seek a more natural alternative from holistic practitioners. I’ve heard many stories about people who have eaten their way out of cancer and other terminal and serious illnesses.
Which means that you have an option to a healthier treatment that won’t cause more harm than good. This is why so many people are opting for traditional and natural healing alternatives that have been provided to us by mother nature.
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Pregnancy and hair growth
During pregnancy, your hair will grow longer and thicker because of the high estrogen levels in your body. But then you might have more shedding after childbirth when your hormones return to their normal level.
The excessive shedding you’re experiencing is similar to the excessive shedding that normally occurs after taking down a month-long braids.
The longer you’ve had braids in your hair, the more shedding you will experience. You can also take pre-natal vitamins to help minimize excessive shedding after you’ve given birth.
RELATED POST: How To Care For & Grow Natural Hair After Giving Birth To a New Born
Your age plays a huge role on your hair growth cycle because the older your body gets, the slower your internal factory becomes. This is why athletes in certain profession have to retire when they reach a certain age because their body isn’t as active as it used to be.
This change in the body is even more obvious in women due to all the changes a woman’s body goes through in her lifetime.
Monthly cycles, pregnancies, child-birth, nursing and menopause can cause a strain on the body which can affect the hair growth cycle.
RELATED POST: Four Developmental Stages That Determines How Long and Healthy Your Hair Can Grow
While you may not be able to have the long thick hair you had as a child, you can still have similarly healthy hair by taking your multivitamins, exercising and maintaining a healthy diet. You should also focus on length retention so that you can still grow long hair, despite how slow your hair grows.
Natural Hair Growth Tips for Women 50+
Menopausal signs can start to creep up before a woman turns 50, which means that this section is for any woman above 40 who is going through menopause.
As you already know by now, hair growth is determined by a number of internal factors that control your hair growth factory.
For women going through menopause, the hormonal imbalance will affect the speed and flow of your hair growth cycle. This might result in slower hair growth, thinning hair and/or excessive hair loss in different sections of your hair.
To counter these dramatic changes when you turn 50, you can start to put some things in place now, years before you mark your golden age! If you want to have the hair, health and body you had in your 20s and 30s, you have to start putting some things in place now while you’re in your 20s and 30s.
This means cutting out all the soda, strong drinks, fat, grease and replacing them with more plant-based foods.
If you’re already in your 40s and 50s, you can still regulate your hormone levels by taking daily multivitamins and engaging in healthy activities such as walking. You can also join a health and fitness group that caters to women around your age. This way, you won’t overwhelm your body with exercises that are too extreme for your body.
You should also engage in activities that strengthen the brain such as reading, puzzles or learning a new language. Another thing you can do is to write-up a list of things you’ve been meaning to do since you were young but never got around to doing due to one excuse or the other.
Then, start getting those things done. Travelling and taking a class to improve a particular skill is very common hobby among older women.
Finally, I encourage joining a cause (volunteering) or starting a hobby that keeps you busy and makes you feel good. I call them soulful activities. Sometimes the body’s factory slows down significantly due to stress, depression, sadness, regrets and unhappiness that often occurs at this age.
5. Your Diet
When your body isn’t receiving adequate nutrients that it needs to keep the engine running, your body will automatically re-prioritize the little nutrients that it’s getting to crucial areas such as vision, hearing, mobility and other essential parts of your body that are needed for survival.
Since your hair isn’t vital for survival, it will be left with whatever nutrients remain, which may not be enough to produce healthy hair.
If you notice that your hair isn’t growing as long as it used to, I recommend checking your diet to see where you can incorporate more hair growing nutrients.
Since your hair is made up of protein, eating protein rich foods such as meat, fish, eggs, poultry, beans, tofu, cheese and milk products will make sure that your hair can grow strong.
If you are a vegetarian or on a strict diet or going through weight loss, I recommend taking daily supplements to help your body compensate for any nutritional deficiency and keep your hair growth factory running.
Supplements with vitamin B, folic acid, magnesium, sulfur, silica, zinc and beta-carotene are great for healthy hair. Also, eating a balanced diet filled with seeds, grains, nuts, lean meats, colorful fruits and vegetables will ensure that your body gets all the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants needed to produce great hair.
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This isn’t crucial to hair growth, but it’s worth pointing out, which is why I’ve listed it last. Essentially, when the temperature starts to cool down in the autumn, your body’s internal factory will slow down to re-adjust to changes in the environment.
This is why you may feel tired and gain a lot of weight in the winter because your metabolism has slowed down to help your body adjust to the change in your environment.
As a result, your hair factory might also slow down, which means slower hair growth.
You can counter this effect by eating healthy and exercising to keep your metabolism and body in its optimal condition.
You should also ensure that you keep your hair moisturized and focus on length retention so that you experience less breakage and can retain more length, despite the weather.
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Hair Growth Vs. Length Retention
Now that we’ve covered the six main factors that affect hair growth, let’s now talk about what most bloggers and vloggers don’t talk about when it comes to how YOU can grow your hair.
The truth is that you can’t really grow your hair since it naturally occurs, although you can help your hair grow faster and long by eating healthy and staying healthy.
Hair growth is largely determined by genetics, but it’s also influenced by the five other factors I listed. So since you can’t really control your genetics, you can control the food you eat and your mental health.
Then, it’s up to your internal body factory to get to work to produce the hair of your dreams!
However, what you have 100% control over is length retention. This is what the next part of this article will be all about.
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Why is my hair not growing after all these years if my hair is always growing?
If you notice that your hair is stuck at the same spot for a few months, you will need to check your hair regimen and habits. Remember that if you don’t have any bald spots on your scalp, it means your hair is growing 24/7.
When it comes to hair growth, once your body has done its job to grow hair out of your scalp, it’s now up to you to maintain it to ensure it stays healthy.
This means washing, deep conditioning and keeping it moisturized so that it stays soft and continues to grow.
To retain length, what you should focus on is breakage control, which is the key to length retention.
To be clear, length retention is the act of actively working to keep your hair long and growing. However, due to the nature of your hair and the natural weathering that occurs on the ends, you will not retain your entire length as some will break off during manipulation such as washing, detangling and styling.
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One of the reasons why it’s so hard to grow black hair is that its coily nature makes it very vulnerable to breakage. Black hair also tend to feel dry more often due to all the twists and turns on the hair shaft. All of these differences are the reason why natural hair is more susceptible to breakage and why it seems like Black hair can’t grow long.
Your hair is growing while you sleep, length retention happens while you’re awake!
7 ways to Increase length retention and grow your hair long
1. keep your hair moisturized
It’s crucial that you keep your hair moisturized at all times so that it doesn’t feel too dry to the point that it breaks off.
Moisturized hair is usually more flexible and stretchy and it doesn’t tangle and form knots as dry hair does. When your hair is soft, it’s more flexible and less susceptible to breaking off. This means you can retain more length!
RELATED POST: Six Best Times To Moisturize Your Natural Hair For Hair Growth
2. Do protein treatments
Your hair is mostly made up of keratin proteins that hold the hair in place and keeps it strong. Overtime, your hair will start to lose some of these protein bonds due to manipulation and the usual wear and tear. As a result, your hair will start to break off because it’s too weak to withstand daily manipulation.
To counter this, you should do regular protein treatments to ensure that your hair has all the chemical bonds it needs to stay healthy. I like to do the aphogee 2 step treatment every 6 weeks or so to repair my hair and keep it strong. I also find that my hair is often able to hold on to moisture longer and feels very soft after doing this treatment.
RELATED POST: Top 5 protein treatments to stop breakage and keep your hair growing
3. Protect your hair with protective styling
Black hair is the only texture that needs to be styled for manageability and health. While protective styling isn’t crucial for length retention and hair growth, it will definitely help to minimize the usual breakage that would normally happen when you change-up your style every day.
There are different ways you can protect your hair without using hair extensions or braiding your hair for too long.
A simple two strand twists, bun, or flat twist that’s kept in for about 5 days will help you retain more length. These styles also help your hair to retain moisture longer, as opposed to leaving your hair loose which can increase moisture evaporation.
Protective styles also protect your hair from tangles and knots that happen when the hair is left loose. Plus, it saves you time from changing up your style every day!
Before you install any protective style, be sure to read the related posts below to ensure that you benefit from protective styling.
RELATED POST: 10 Ways to Grow Your Hair With Protective Styling
4. Practice protective handling
Protective handling has to do with the way you handle your hair when you wash, detangle and style it. You will generally lose a lot of hair when you comb through your hair.
This is why it’s recommended to use your fingers to detangle your hair. If you must use a comb, make sure to use a large wide tooth comb and try to detangle your hair while you have a slippery detangling conditioner such as Aussie moist in your hair.
Before styling your hair for braids, it’s best to do a blow out to stretch out your hair so that the stylist won’t comb off too much hair. Also be sure to apply a leave-in conditioner before combing through your hair, whenever you style your hair.
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How to comb your hair without breakage
5. Trim your ends to get rid of split ends
Overtime, the ends of your hair will split due to manipulation. A splitting end will continue to split until it turns into split ends, which will ultimately result in breakage. As a result, your hair will look like it’s not growing.
This is why it’s recommended to trim your hair at scheduled times, so that you can eliminate split ends and healthy hair can continue to grow, without interference.
You can choose to trim your hair every three months or whenever your ends start to feel rough or dry. You should also trim your ends when it you start to notice excessive knots or tangles.
Also, whenever you start noticing tiny ringlets of hair on the floor or bathtub when you wash, detangle or style your hair, it means it’s time for a trim! Be sure to use a sharp hair shears when you trim your hair, or you can go to a natural hair salon to get a professional trim.
RELATED POST: How to use hair shears for maximum length retention
6. Protect your hair at night
When you sleep, you have no control over length retention, but you can still retain length while you sleep by keeping your hair protected in a satin bonnet or sleeping on a satin pillow case.
I sometimes prefer to wrap my hair with a silk scarf to keep it in place and prevent it from brushing against each other while I sleep which can cause breakage.
7. Have a hair growth regimen
A healthy hair care regimen helps to ensure that you retain more length overtime as your hair grows out. If growing your hair is a priority, you will need to plan out your hair care routine.
This means knowing what products to use in your hair, when, and how. It’s also crucial that you keep a hair journal so that you can keep track of what’s working for your hair.
RELATED POST: Three Simple Routines That Leads to Long Hair
8. Set a length goal and track it monthly
I have a post you can check out HERE that explains the hair growth chart. You can use this chart to set a length goal and track your hair growth monthly to ensure you’re approaching your length goal.
RELATED POST: Natural Hair Length Check Chart
*Post includes a length check chart you can download
To track your hair growth, you can either measure your hair with a tape measure, or stretch out the front part of your hair and take a picture monthly. You can also use a length check t-shirt to track your progress every month. Then, write your measurement in your hair journal or keep a folder in your computer to track the pictures.
Average rate of hair growth
Typically, the hair grows at an average of about 1/2 to 1 inch per month. This means that you can fall on either end of the spectrum. Depending on your health, diet, fitness and genetics, you can fall short or stand above this average.
Your hair follicles can slow down hair growth if your body is under stress from nutritional deficiencies, illness, medications, and hormonal changes. This is where eating healthy and exercising comes into place to ensure that you meet your minimum hair growth rate.
What an extensive post. Longest I’ve ever written!
Now that I’ve broken down everything you need to know about hair growth, I’d like to invite you to join us for the Natural Hair Growth Challenge where we will be working together to set and achieve your length goals.
***Hair Growth Resources***
I’d also like to recommend the following resources that I’ve put together to help you grow your hair to desired length.
1. E-Guide: 365 Daily Natural Hair Growth Secrets. This e-guide is like a daily devotional where I’ve put together a list of 365 natural hair tips that covers over 20 different topics.
Any question you might have about your hair has been answered in this e-guide. What I love about this e-book is that each page is only up to two sentences long. I cut right to the chase with each tip so that you can get to applying each tip much quicker and sooner.
2. If you are in a rush for a quick tip and don’t have the time to go through the entire guide for now, I’ve broken each topic in the e-guide into mini e-books so that you can read through the subject that relates to you at the moment. Some of the tips here have been taken from my mini eBook “Natural Hair Growth Secrets.”
3. If you need me to work with you one-on-one to craft a personalized regimen and answer your hair related questions, you can book an hour consultation with me which includes a customized regimen and report after our meeting together. You will also receive one of my e-books for FREE!
Now I want to know, what were your a-ha moments when you read through this post? What is your biggest takeaway? Anything you’ll be putting into practice moving forward?
Let me know in the comments below.