If you have kinky, tightly coiled hair, you may notice you have a hard time gaining length. You may also have breakage.
It’s All About Your Ends
Of course lack of moisture is a big reason hair breaks off and never gains/retains length, but don’t forget about your ends.
If you don’t take care of them, it will seem as if your hair never grows.
Everyone’s hair grows. The bigger problem is length retention.
The End Test
Here’s an easy way to see how healthy your ends are. Spritz your hair with water and add your favorite styling cream.
Twist a small section of your hair into a two strand twist. (See how to get the perfect two strand twist here.)
When you get to the bottom of the twist, twirl the ends between your thumb and forefinger to seal it. If the twist does not seal well and unravels, or you have a lot of fly-aways, then you need to trim your ends.
See how my ends seal in the pic below?
Granted, your hair may not be very curly so your twist may not curl — but they should seal.
Compare that first pic to the one above. Notice how you see more fly-aways. My ends needed a trim.
If left untreated, that damage will travel up the shaft and cause more breakage.
If you do the “twist test” again after trimming, your hair should seal better.
NOTE: Don’t try to hold on to bad ends because you want to keep length. You will regret because what happens is the damage travels up and a few months later, you’ll have to cut even more.
So even if you have to cut more than you’d like, you will gain more length in the long run as long as you follow the steps below.
Trust me! I’ve been there and have gone through this 4-5 times because I was hard-headed! Get rid of those bad ends now!
Once your ends are healthy, start this nighttime routine below and you will be on your way to healthier ends and longer hair.
If you wear your hair out (free and loose) then it’s important that you take care of your ends — especially as your hair grows.
When your hair is loose, it dries out faster. And if your hair rubs on your clothing, it can snag and dry out.
You should re-moisturize your ends at night. Period!
- Spritz your hair with water and pay special attention to your ends. Remember, water is moisture. If you don’t want to use water, use a moisturizer where water is the first or second ingredient.
- Twist your hair in sections. The smaller the better because you’ll be able to coat your ends better and the twists will stay together.
- When you get to the bottom of each twist, dip your fingers in your favorite natural oil. Coating your ends in oil will help seal in the moisture and protect them.
- Sleep in a satin bonnet or on a satin pillow case.
- Perform this routine every other night.
It’s best to re-twist your hair every night, but you can probably get away with every other night as well.
When you go too many nights without twisting, your hair begins to knot up. This is what causes split ends, knots and breakage.
Even if you are keeping your hair in twists, lightly spritz your ends with water before bed, and add your favorite oil to seal in the moisture.
The Best Shampoo Routine for “End Preservation”
Always gently detangle your hair with your fingers before you shampoo. Here’s how…
- Spritz your hair with water and begin sectioning it off into 4-6 sections.
- Start with the first section. Use an inexpensive rinse-out conditioner, and gently guide your coated fingers to the ends of your damp hair until it’s detangled.
- Gently run your fingers through until you have as much shed hair out as possible in that section. Removing the shed hairs will prevent tangles when shampooing.
- Twist the section up and hold it together with a duck clip or hair clip.
- Repeat with the remaining sections.
- After your hair is in sections, shampoo your hair by taking down one section at a time.
- Apply your favorite rinse-out conditioner after shampooing each section and smooth it through in a downward motion.
- Always rinse the section with the prayer method. That means you put your hair between the palms of your hands and smooth the section downward. This removes tangles.
- Re-twist the clean section and put it back in your clip.
- Repeat with all sections.
When you get out of the shower, your hair should have minimal tangles. This will help preserve your ends so you can gain more length.
Why I Dust My Ends Monthly
The idea of trimming your hair often confuses naturals because it sounds counter intuitive. Why would you trim your hair so often if you want it to grow?
Look at it like this…
A lot of naturals NEVER trim their ends because they are anxious for their hair to grow. They wait until their breakage is so bad that they have to cut off so much. So their hair never gets beyond a certain length.
Can you relate?
I happen to wear my hair loose a lot. So in order to keep my hair healthy (especially when it gets longer), I have to trim more.
Keep in mind a “dusting” is just trimming a smidgen of hair. It’s not like I’m trimming inches. I’m trimming less than my 1/2 inch per month growth rate. That means I’m still gaining length every month AND my ends stay healthy.
A lot of naturals gain length, but their hair gets thinner as it grows. This is because they don’t keep their ends healthy. They have to keep trimming, and then wonder why their hair never gets passed a certain length.
Now, if you wear your hair in a lot of protective styles, then you might not need to trim often. That’s fine. But if your hair is constantly breaking, it could mean you aren’t taking care of your ends.
Remember, all natural hair grows. Breakage is the reason you aren’t retaining length.
Ruth Walker says
I have been natural about 7 years now and I still have a TWA. My hair is thick 4c and very tiny curls. It tangles so so bad!!!! Any suggestions on how to care for my hair and how to keep it from tangling. I NEED HELP PLEASE!!!
Lots and lots of moisturizers. Wear your hair in low maintenance styles (mini twist) and keep some conditioner on your hair before shampooing and after.
Are split ends different from when the hair is growing cause mine looks like its growing. And yeah, I don’t think they are split ends?
my HAIR WONT GROW BUT BY THE MERCY OF GOD IT WILLL!!!!!!
Tracey Kramer says
This is a good article. I have been natural since 2011 and my hair still looks the length it looked when I did the big chop. It is only 3 inches long and fails to trow. I will print this article out and use this regimen for my hair for the next 5 months. I will get my ends trimmed at least every 6 weeks.
Hey just wondering if you’ve seen any results yet? I have the same issue. Transitioning for almost a year and front is growing but I have almost no relaxed ends in the back, which means they must have broken off.
I need a. New. Hair dresser! My. Hair. (that. Is.!!!!!!!!
NBuchey J Davis says
My hair is always so dry and the ends are so rough I tried everything I want my hair to have some length I have been trying for years
My hair is naturally very light.. it has no weight nor volume whatsoever and it keeps breaking..it also looks sickly and just not nice.. I think I am a 4C.. it actually looks as though it ain’t growing and it’s quite disturbing cus I have had it for almost 3 and half years and it still looks like a recent haircut.. I need help.. I am in Ghana
I got a promblem My hair th as not grow it grow at the back on side no it looks I have cut it
What I can do?
How do you want your wet hair to grow faster