Why Length Retention Doesn’t Always Mean You Can Rock the Same Hair Styles


As you go through your natural hair journey, you will inevitably find that some methods will require adjustment. Length retention is a top 3 goal of many naturals. For those of you gazing longingly at the twist outs and locs of your long-haired peers, let me let you in on a little secret now that I’ve been a “black girl with long hair” for a little while: You may have to readjust in ways that you won’t like.
So, What is “Long Hair”?
In a number of articles I’ve mentioned long hair, but the concept of “long hair” is, of course, subjective.  When setting a goal, be sure to do so based on what works for your lifestyle and what length looks good on you. For me, “long hair” was defined based on the styles I wanted to accomplish and not simply an arbitrary length milestone. I knew that other naturals who shared my hair texture were able to accomplish the updos, blow outs and stretched ponytails I hoped to achieve right around mid-back length. So initially, this was my hair goal. However, I found that my shrinkage (up to 75% in some areas) made it almost a necessity to use heat to accomplish certain styles. Therefore, I knew that in order to achieve certain styles with heatless stretching and minimal effort I would need to set a goal of waist length, a goal which I have since reached. I am also fairly tall (5’9”), so someone a few inches shorter may find that hair at that length to be less attractive than shorter lengths
Will you have to Let Go of Favorite Styles?
Whether or not you have to retire some of favorite styles all depends on your ability to change your styling methods. One of my favorite styles in particular are mini twists.  In 2010, the style would take me 5 hours to complete and last for 4 weeks. Now, in order to complete the style, I need to give myself 2 days; something which I was only able to do during the Thanksgiving holiday. Given the amount of time it now takes me to complete the style, (around 12 hours with breaks) it simply is no longer practical for me to wear the style more than once or twice a year. It’s helpful to keep this in mind as you set your hair length goals. The very styles you love wearing might be difficult to achieve with longer lengths. Although I love mini twists, I am willing to give up the style for other styles I can now achieve with longer natural hair.

What is your length goal? What length do you consider to be “too long” and why?

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