Hey naturalistas and future naturlistas!
Long time no “see!”
Have you ever noticed that your hair gets to a certain length and then it seems to stop growing?
Of course hair never stops growing, it just breaks off.
I’ve gone through this in my four years of being fully natural. And while I’ve never had issues gaining length, I’ve had problems keeping health AND length.
Parts of my hair would break off (my crown) while other parts would grow out with no problem (area by the nape of my neck).
Before I knew it, I’d have some weird 1990’s mushroom-shaped hair.
Uh. No thanks.
Mini Twists Were The Source of My Hair Growth Plateau
Yes, mini twists.
Sounds crazy, right?
You would think that mini twists would be the best protective style because they last long and require no manipulation. But if you aren’t taking care of your hair properly, they can actually do more harm than good.
And technically, a protective style means your ends are tucked away. So even though people often call mini twists protective, they aren’t truly protective unless you pin and tuck the ends away.
When I was newly natural, mini twists actually helped me gain and retain length, but as my ends matured and became worn, mini twists were my hair’s worst enemy.
After cutting my hair three times since becoming fully natural (due to knots and breakage), I want to share with you what I’ve learned.
Don’t Leave Mini Twists in Too Long
This is where I really screwed up!
It’s so easy to leave these in longer than you should because they are so convenient, but this can be hard on your ends.
Mini twists are more likely to take on the shape of your individual hair strands (compared to larger twists). So the smaller you do them, the curlier they are.
Sometimes those curls on the ends can form knots over time (especially if you need a trim and/or your ends rub on your clothing.)
This is what was happening to me.
Dusting Your Ends Helps You Gain More Length
If your ends are raggedy, split, and knotty, you can’t ignore them. You are just asking for more breakage.
Sometimes I would turn a blind eye to ends that needed attention only to keep my length, but it ended up costing me more length because I had to cut off more hair in the end.
If you’re wearing styles where your ends are out/exposed or they rub against clothing, you may have to trim more.
That doesn’t mean you have to trim a lot of hair… just a smidgen will do. Some call it a dusting.
Your hair will still gain length as long as you aren’t trimming more than you’re growing out (usually a 1/2 inch per month).
You may have heard some naturals say they only trim every 3-6 months. Many times these people are wearing a lot of protective styles, and if that’s the case, maybe you can trim/dust less.
Do what works for YOUR hair. You can’t always go by what someone else does.
I dust my hair (snip off about 1/8th of an inch or less) at least once a month now because I wear a lot of puffs. When you wear your hair out/loose a lot, you need to watch your ends closely.
Moisturize Your Ends Regularly
Every 2-3 days I lightly mist my ends with water and seal them with some kind of butter or oil.
This is a good tip if you’re wearing any kind of hairstyle. For example, if you’re wearing a twist out, you can re-moisturize by re-twisting and applying the mixture.
Since our ends are the oldest part of our hair, they tend to get worn and break off as your hair grows. Keeping them moisturized prevents breakage.
Take Your Mini Twists Down With Conditioner
Now I spritz my hair with a water/conditioner combo prior to removing them. This softens the hair as you unravel the twists.
If you do hit a tangle, the mixture will help prevent a knot.
Also, be gentle with the take-down. Slowly rotate the twist in the opposite direction and it should come down smoothly.
Healthy Ends = More Length
Mini twists may not be your issue, but if you aren’t retaining or gaining length, more than likely, you need to pay attention to your ends.
- Wear a satin bonnet or sleep on a satin pillow case
- Make sure they stay moisturized with a water-based product and seal in moisture with shea butter or oils
- True protective styles tuck the ends away
- Keep them trimmed — even if that means dusting once a month
Ever notice that shorter hair seems to grow faster? That’s because the ends aren’t as old, and they tend to be stronger/healthier. So if you take care of your ends as they mature, you’ll get more length.
Here’s to healthier, longer hair!
Have You Seen My New Shirts?
My natural hair store had a record year in sales thanks to you!
I’ve been busy designing, and with over 150 products, there’s something for everyone! If you have suggestions, please let me know.
The Holidays are fast approaching, and you can knock out several gifts by grabbing some shirts for the naturalistas in your life.