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Beginner Wednesday – Length Retention

9 Nov

Today the topic is retention!  Simply put retention refers to retaining / keeping the hair on our heads and minimising breakage.  Everyone’s hair grows (barring a medical condition).  The problem comes in retaining our growth so that we gain length.  Relaxed ladies often complain around 6 weeks post relaxer that they are struggling with the new growth.  This will happen several times a year yet at the end of the year the hair is still the same length as it was at the beginning of the year.  All this new growth does not translate into length.  This is due to a lack of retention.  If you want to increase the length of your hair you have to retain your hair.  The one thing black women with waist length hair have in common is hair retention.  They have retained the hair that they have grown.  Our hair grows on average between 2 and 3 cm a month.  This is often not reflected in our hair length.

Right now my hair is longer than it’s ever been.  In the past my hair would never grow past my shoulders.  When I began taking care of my hair, I went from shoulder length (SL) to arm pit length (APL) which is the length my hair is now.  Right now, my goal is to grow my hair to bra strap length (BSL).  I am doing everything I can to make this happen!!  I estimate I am about 10cm away.

So what can you do to retain your hairs length?  Read on…

  • Use minimal heat.  Try and use as little direct heat (flat iron, blow dryers) as possible.  Wherever possible air dry your hair.  You can wrap your hair to straighten it or you can air dry it in braids if it natural in order to loosen the curl.  When you do use heat make sure to use a heat protectant.  Roller sets are also a great way of straightening the hair without heat.
  • Use low manipulation.  If possible finger comb / style your hair.  Be gentle when combing the hair.  Being rough on the hair only leads to excess and unnecessary breakage.  A wide tooth comb is a great tool to have.  If your hair is natural do not comb it while it is dry, wet or moisturise the hair first.  Comb hair from the ends towards the roots.  This will also minimise breakage.
  • Keep hair moisturised.  African hair thrives on moisture and dry hair is susceptible to breakage.    When moisturising make sure you concentrate on the ends.  The ends are the oldest part of the hair and are also prone to breakage.  Keeping the ends moisturised will prevent the ends drying out and breaking.  If you are not seeing an increase in your hairs length it is most likely that your ends are breaking.  If you want to see an increase in length, hold on to those ends.
  • You can seal the ends of your hair with a natural oil or butter after moisturising.
  • Let go of split and damaged ends.  If you have split and damaged ends, they will need to be trimmed.  They cannot be repaired contrary to what some products claim.  You can trim them gradually by cutting a bit over a length of time.  On the other hand you can cut the damage out completely in one go.  Do not be scissor happy though!  This will eliminate the length you are trying to achieve.  Only trim when there is a need.
  • Practice protective styling.  Some women see great results with protective styling.  This is when you protect the ends of your hair with styles like buns, wigs, braids, weaves.  Protective styles are only beneficial where no damage is inflicted on the hair or hairline.
  • A good diet is essential to optimal hair health.  Where your diet is not great you can take multivitamins to supplement your nutrition.

Remember good hair practices are only as effective as the techniques you use to retain length.  You can look after your hair very well but if you comb it roughly and it breaks then all the hair care is in vain.

So what do you do to retain length?

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14 Responses to “Beginner Wednesday – Length Retention”

  1. melody 09 November, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

    Hi Tendai!
    You read my mind. Since the beginning of the year I’ve really been working on getting my hair healthy. And following your articles closely. Now I’ve noticed I’ve got split ends and have been wondering how to get proper trim. I want to retain length at the same time. Can I send you pic of my hair now?

    • Tendayi 09 November, 2011 at 3:48 pm #

      Yes, I would love to see your hair! This hair growing process takes patience!

  2. Colette 09 November, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

    Lots of moisture.

    • Tendayi 09 November, 2011 at 3:30 pm #

      Lots and lots of moisture 🙂

  3. awurabena 15 November, 2011 at 1:58 pm #

    you said that after shampooing and deep conditioning you moisturise and seal in the moisture.do you moisturise and seal in when the hair is wet or you air dry before you moisturise and seal.

    • Tendayi 15 November, 2011 at 4:21 pm #

      After shampooing and deep conditioning I moisturise and seal the hair while wet (soon after towel drying). I will then continue to do this each day until the next wash (my hair will be dry on these other days). Sometimes I will damp my hair slightly before moisturising, especially on very hot days. I do this if I am going to be wearing a bun.

      • awurabena 16 November, 2011 at 11:22 am #

        Thankyou very much I bought myself the olive oil mositurising lotion(which has been in Ghana for a long time,just that i didnt know its use!) I have not yet seen the scurl activator moisturiser in Ghana. I also bought myself the olive oil replenishing conditioner to use after using the protein conditioner(mayonnaise)on my hair. How are your braids doing i’m sure you are moisturising like crazy!!!(smile)

      • Tendayi 16 November, 2011 at 11:41 am #

        I am moisturising like a mad woman!!

  4. maritha justice 12 January, 2014 at 4:11 pm #

    hi, im also trying to grow my hair to waistlength, any advice 4 me?

    • Tendayi 12 January, 2014 at 11:07 pm #

      This whole article would be my advice!! Just make sure you are retaining length.

  5. maritha justice 13 January, 2014 at 7:30 am #

    hi, u av no idea how happy it makes me dat finally, i av a professional ear 2 listen to & assist me on my hair journey!! Hw do i start? I’m a 16-year old girl 4rm Nigeria who got sick of d can’t-go-beyond-the-shoulders hair problem so i decided 2 set myself wat i call my “Hair Goal”. How long will it take 2 grow my hair 4rm APL to waistlength??

    • Tendayi 17 January, 2014 at 4:50 pm #

      Hair growth rate is different for everyone. SOme have hair that grows faster / slower than others. The average growth rate is around 2cm a month so do the math!!! This is assuming your hair is not breaking though, which is a very common problem.

  6. maritha justice 17 February, 2014 at 6:50 pm #

    Tank u 4 replying me, and tanks 4 dis wonderful informative blog u’ve set up 2 educate & assist alot of ladies abt their hair. Do u tink i can still travel successful on my hair journey wit relaxed hair?

    • Tendayi 03 March, 2014 at 11:46 pm #

      I have relaxed hair and my hair is doing well. You just need to take care of your hair. When hair is neglected, it suffers.

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