Not So Obvious Reasons Why You May Not Be Retaining Length

by West Parsons on June 25, 2012 · 13 comments

in hair care

“A watched pot never boils.” That is the age-old idiom which means when you wait for something to happen, it will seem take forever.  That statement is true when it comes to hair growth for most of us. Then for others, the pot really never does boil — or so we think, because length retention is not noticeable. When you are effortfully attempting to grow your hair to longer lengths but seem to be stuck in a rut, there are a few areas of your regimen that you may want to evaluate.

Protective Styling
Not more protective styling, but protective styling for too long of a time — this typically consists of tucking away the hair to protect it from the elements which may cause breakage such as constant brushing against shoulders, over exposure to air, etc. Braids, buns, weaves, updos, etc are all great ways of protective styling. The problem lies when those styles remain for an extended period of time. For example, braids (with synthetic hair) and weaves should not be left in longer than 3 months.  After 3 months you run the risk of hair dreading and knotting. Remember, hair sheds daily even when your hair is in a protective style.  Waiting too long to remove these styles can result in a loss of excessive hair and breakage because of the knotting and tangling allowed to occur.

Heat Usage
When hair is over exposed to an element of heat (i.e. blow dryer, hooded dryer, flat iron, curling iron), especially direct heat without proper precautions being taken, it is a huge risk.  Hair should always be cleaned and conditioned with the right balance of protein and moisture before introducing heat, especially that of a flat iron. Otherwise, you run the risk of hair being heat damaged.  Heat damage often results in split ends, bubble hair (Trichorrhexis nodosa), and a change in your curl pattern. Each of these physical changes weakens your strands, increasing your hair’s susceptibility to breakage.

MORE: How Heat Damages You Hair + What Ingredients Minimize Damage

Color Treating
Many naturals opt to coloring their hair as an alternative to the (what some call boring) dark and/or uni-tone hair. What must be taken into account is when coloring hair, there is a chemical reaction occurring. This is especially true when multi-steps and mixing is involved.  Our hair, by nature is weak and breaks easily. No matter what the box says or what anyone may tell you, bonds are being broken and the delicate manner in which you will need to treat your hair increases.  Extra special care will be required as you ensure your moisture protein levels are always balanced.  Neglect either of those properties and it will be breakage city!

There are many other reason one may not retain length.  These are a few that I have been guilty of at some point or another and have been the most detrimental to length retention. When you know better, you do better. Now that you know better, will you do better?

What other reasons might one not retain length?


Wranchetta June 25, 2012 at 10:26 am

I think you’ve covered them all. I would also add just plain laziness and not giving one’s hair the pampering it deserves.

The Pomade Shop June 25, 2012 at 11:32 am

Improper handling of hair with combs and brushes, and even your fingers, may lead to a lack of retention. Being gentle is key!

Pinkcotton June 25, 2012 at 11:45 am

This pertains to me right now. I know hair care and yet I decided after 7 years of caring for my own hair, to go to the shop and wear my natural hair straightened. I know better!!! Let’s just say a year later I’m starting my hair care journey from scratch!! 🙁 severe heat damage!!! My ends are like cellophane, my 4a/b hair won’t even get a 2a curl pattern when wet (shampoo’d). Im devastated!!! I vow to not use heat for a long long time. If I do it will only be done by myself….. Thanks for listening

westNDNbeauty June 25, 2012 at 11:56 am

Pink, This happens to the best of us. I’ve been exactly where you are TWICE! I know exactly how you feel. You are doing the best thing for your hair by not allowing others to use heat on your hair and babying your hair in the mean time ((HUGS))

AmeeraNakisha June 25, 2012 at 7:06 pm

I had one bad experience at the Dominican salon. I generally do my own hair but decided to let them wash, put a semi-perm color in (I hate the color being all over my hands), deep condition & roller set under the dryer (I was gonna go home and flat iron myself)…WELL, after the color and deep condition, this heffa grabbed a rat tail comb to detangle my hair. I thought I was gonna lose it.

Anyway, I couldn’t take it and ended up walking out of the shop with a wet head. The left side of my hair by my ear was broken from her rough handling. Never again. It takes a TON of work but ONLY I KNOW how I want my hair to be handled.

Pinkcotton June 25, 2012 at 7:25 pm

Thanks for the Love West..And your hair is gor’geous!!!
Ammera, thats a painful feeling, to see something you cared for and nourished, be destroyed by someone who is strictly in it for the cash!!! It’s one of the worst feelings. I know what you mean by the rat tail and racking through your hair. I think most of these stylist do that mess, very disturbing! At the end of the day it is a lesson learned. I’m DONE.

Its so funny the girl who was doing my hair is my cousins wife, and she has even bra strap hair. She stopped using heat on her hair… ummm but you know my hair is completed damaged from the pressing comb and you continuously burn it out… So you know what heat damage looks like….I feel like fighting.

AmeeraNakisha June 26, 2012 at 7:33 pm

Yes, West has prefect hair. I love it!!!

I have not had any chemicals in my hair since 2005 BUT was wearing a weave til June 16, 2011. I didn’t care about my hair at all and it was dry breaking and the top that was out was being burnt out by the Dominicans. I started watching YT videos in Nov 2010 and decided to go all natural in June 2011. Up until the Dominican incident, I had mid back length but cut a few inches and now its a lil past bra strap. I get SOOOO tried of doing my hair but I have finally found something that works and I don’t think I’ll even let anyone touch my hair UNLESS they are a natural and are very clear on NATURAL hair. Like I don’t want my hair to look good for a day and but be damaged from being burnt out.

I will say this tho, the typical natural regime DOES NOT work for me. I wash my hair every week blow dry and twist/braid & rod (West’s sig style) and go. When I try to do the wet no heat protective style thing my hair just tangles and knots and doesn’t look good at all. Then I am ripping thru it out of frustration. My hair is doing pretty well using this regime so I am going to keep it.

I will straighten my hair about once every few months but I do it myself. I used the perm pre poo method last time and my hair came out GREAT.

Anyway hang in there, mistakes are just lessons on what not to do the next time. Right now, I am just trying to get my edges full again, they got so thin from the weave pulling.

Anyone have any suggestions?

yacoomba June 26, 2012 at 10:12 pm

Some people swear castor oil on thinned spots helps to grow them back, not sure how valid that claim is but I suppose its worth a try if you have some. Massaging it on the thinning edges.

yacoomba June 26, 2012 at 10:20 pm
yacoomba June 26, 2012 at 11:34 am

Possibly not getting trims regularly(whatever regularly is according to your hair). If the hair is slit up the shaft due to no trimming/maint it causes for extra hair to be trimmed or cut that wouldn’t normally be the case.

AmeeraNakisha June 26, 2012 at 10:44 pm

Thanks I have some castor oil in the cabinet right now

Daffnee June 26, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Manipulating the hair too much can also cause breakage. Which would not allow one to retain length.

Edie July 23, 2012 at 11:19 am

Constant “trimming” or “dustings”, imo, this can have an adverse affect on hair growth and length. I dust every 3-4 months, or as needed. Since I’ve been taking very good care of my hair, I dont see split ends as much, which require me to “dust”!