The Length Retention Checklist: 20 Questions to Ask Yourself When Your Hair Progress Stalls

robin nella waist length natural hair
by Robin (pictured above)

I believe that most women with natural hair have the ability to grow their hair to long lengths.  I grew my natural hair from shoulder length to waist length in three years. I’ve never had hair this long in the past. I don’t come from a family of women with long hair and I didn’t have long hair as a child.
There are many different factors that can impact hair growth and retention. Throughout my hair journey, I’ve learned quite a bit through both research and trial and error. This list of questions below is a great tool to help you assess your regime to  achieve your natural hair length goals.
1.  Do you eat a well-balanced healthy diet?
When it comes to healthy hair and hair growth, what you put in your body is just as important as important as what you put on your hair. The cells in your body need a balance of protein, carbohydrates, produce, vitamins and minerals in order to function at their best and promote optimal hair health & growth.

2.  Do you take a multi vitamin?
Hair grows from within. Your hair needs a sufficient amount of vitamins and minerals to grow. You may not be getting all the vitamins and minerals you need from food. Taking a daily multi-vitamin is a great way to ensure that you’re getting all of your daily vitamin and mineral requirements. *Note: Taking a multi-vitamin, which promotes all over body health, is different than taking hair vitamins, which are targeted to hair growth and have very mixed results.

3. What type of comb do you use on your hair?
A wide tooth comb works best for hair retention as it provides the least amount of tension on your hair.

4. Are you gentle when combing and brushing your hair?
Handling your hair roughly contributes to damaged hair. Don’t comb your hair when you’re angry or irritated. You can’t expect your hair to last for years on your head if you’re man-handling your hair every time you comb it. Always take your time and be gentle with your hair.

5. How do you comb your hair?
When you comb your hair, you should start by combing the bottom section first and slowly work your way up. Never start near the scalp.

6. Do you keep your ends moisturized?
If your ends are dry, they’re more likely to split and break. Taking care of your ends is one of the many essential steps in hair retention.
7. Do you exercise?
Regular cardiovascular and aerobic activity can promote hair growth and reduce your stress level. Having a high level of stress can stunt hair growth.  

8. Do you use direct heat on your hair regularly?
The blow dryer, the curling iron and the flat iron are not your friend, when it comes to retaining length. If you use direct heat regularly, your hair is probably growing. The heat may just be causing some or all of that  growth to break or split.

9. Do you regularly wear hairstyles that strain or pull your hair?
Very tight buns, ponytails, braids, weaves and wigs can put a strain on your hair. Putting excessive stress or strain on the hair can cause damage. Always try to wear your hair in a way that will put the least amount of stress on your hair as possible.

10. Do you drink water?
On average, the human body is made up of 65% water. It’s critical for the production of healthy cells. Water improves all the human body’s functions, including hair growth

11. Do you have a hair regimen and products that your hair seems to respond well to in place?
The same regimen and products don’t work for everyone. However, it’s important to determine what works best for your hair, in order to maintain healthy hair and retain length.

12. Are you consistently following a hair regimen?
Consistently taking care of your hair is not a part-time or seasonal job. If you’re only good to your hair some of the time, expect mediocre results. Remember, you get out what you put in. Consistency is key.

13. Do you spend a lot of time in the pool?
Some chemicals can break down and weaken the hair shaft. Chlorine can wreak havoc on hair. Be sure to cleanse, condition and moisturize hair promptly after spending time in the pool.

14. Do you suffer from product build-up?
Product build-up can stunt hair growth, cause hair loss, limp or lifeless hair. A gentle clarifying shampoo or natural hair clarifier can be used to eliminate build up, without stripping your hair.

15. Do you frequently rock hairstyles where your hair is down and brushing against your clothes?
This can cause hair dryness, breakage and damage. Wearing protective styles can really help in avoiding breakage and retaining length. Protective styles are defined as styles where the ends of the hair are up and out of sight. Many naturalistas with long hair swear by protective styling, including myself.

16. Do you get trims when you need them?
Knowing you need a trim and waiting because you don’t want to lose length can cause split ends to move further up the hair shaft and cause even more damage. You can’t do anything with split ends. They can’t be repaired. Get rid of them.

17. Are you trimming your own hair?
If so, invest in some decent scissors that are specifically for cutting hair. All scissors are not created equal. Using the wrong type of scissors can sabotage your progress. Don’t do it!  

18. Do you pre-poo?
If not, you may want to try it. A pre-poo is a treatment applied to the hair before shampooing/washing. Pre-poo treatments can be done with oil or conditioner. The benefits of pre-pooing include: keeping the moisture locked into hair while washing, preventing the shampoo process from stripping natural oils from the hair, protecting your ends, as well as nourishing the scalp and roots.

19. Do you use hair products with Sulfates in them?
Sulfates are inexpensive cleaning agents (detergents) and you’ll find them in most cleaning products and in many hair products, such as shampoo and conditioner. Sulfates can cause scalp irritation, hair loss, dry hair problems, brittle hair and split ends. The benefits of using sulfate-free hair products include having less dryness, irritation, hair loss and frizz.

20. When you go to bed, do you wear a satin scarf/bonnet?
Satin does not damage or dry out hair. Cotton and polyester hair scarves and pillowcases can dry out your hair. Dry hair breaks more easily. Don’t forget your satin scarf, bonnet or pillowcase!

Did you have any past habits that proved to be detrimental to retaining length?

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