Reader Question: It Has Been a Year and My Hair Hasn’t Grown Much At All

African american woman holding digital tablet

My name is Semira and I have been natural for about a year and a half now but my hair is still really short. Due to this I started stretching my hair out with a straightening comb and although I still get some breakage it isn’t at as much as I was experiencing before. I mostly braid back to back all year round.
Please help me out as to what creams and practices to apply.

I am going to recommend more so that you focus on changing your practices. Products help, but they only do so much when you are not implementing the correct treatment of your hair. You should think of your hair as delicate material that you are trying to preserve.

The reason why you are experiencing relief when you stretch your hair is simple: stretched hair tangles less thus leading to less breakage. It’s okay to stretch your hair using heat, because ultimately it will help to alleviate breakage. However, just limit your heat usage if you feel this route is for you. Don’t use a curling iron everyday to style your hair, instead choose roller sets (choose alternate routes so you are not using heat all the time). You should also try heatless methods for stretching your hair like banding, pineappling, and twists.

Check out these articles for further reading stretching:

Heat Styling: Get the Stretch You Need Without the Damage

Fast and Easy Ways to Stretch Your Hair

3 Tips for High Shrinkage Hair

Hate Shrinkage? We Have 7 Ways You Can Beat It


As far as you braiding your hair back to back goes this doesn’t sound too good. While braids are a form of protective styling, when used too frequently this can actually work against you. It can cause traction alopecia or thinning of the edges. When thinning of the hair occurs and this issue is left to linger it can also cause permanent damage. Even though you can still wash your hair and moisturize your hair while wearing braids it still isn’t as effective as when you are not wearing them. You definitely want to give your hair breaks in between, so you are not putting so much strain on your hair.


Read these articles about box braids:

Box Braids Gone All Wrong Don’t Let This Happen To You

Box Braids Don’t Change the Game


Now as far as products go of course having moisturizing products that work to stretch your hair couldn’t hurt. Check out these pages:

Which Products Should I Use

Best Natural Hair Products

Semira, your hair is in fact growing all the time! The reason why you are not seeing growth is because your hair is breaking off before you get the chance to see any growth. Once you counteract the issues that are causing breakage, you will see more length retention. I hope I have given you some tools that will help you have a successful natural hair journey!



4 thoughts on “Reader Question: It Has Been a Year and My Hair Hasn’t Grown Much At All

  1. I don’t know what your health is like? Are you on any medication? Stress? Are you exposed to any unusual environmental factors which may affect hair growth? Many black women are anaemic due to heavy peroids, and being anaemic and a lack of iron can lead to hair breakage.
    If you braid your hair frequently, I would suggest not to put in the same style, rather if its all going back, next time do it all across.
    Are you still moisturising whilst your hair is in plaits?
    Is there a possibility that you maybe protein sensitive?
    When you experiment with new hair styles and hair products how long do you do the trial for?
    I’m no expert as such, just throwing out suggestions.
    Good luck. Once you find the magic formula for your hair, I’m sure you will be Rapunzel in no time.

    1. Your hair’s basic needs are: a moisturizing and possibly a clarifying shampoo. (A moisturizing shampoo is good because it won’t strip the natural oils from your hair. A clarifying shampoo is good for when you have a significant amount of product buildup and need a deep cleanse.) You will also need a moisturizing conditioner, an intensive deep conditioner, a moisturizing leave-in conditioner, and an oil or butter for sealing. There are hundreds of products out there and you will have to do a little searching to find what works for your hair. I would start with product lines that you’ve heard a lot of good things about or have been wanting to try. I would also start on the low end and purchase them from Wal-Mart or Walgreens to get the best deal. You don’t want to spend a lot of money on products you end up not even liking. I have 4a hair and am really loving the Cantu Shea Butter line for Natural Hair right now, but that’s just one suggestion.The SheaMoisture, Beautiful Textures, and Dark and Lovely AuNaturale lines also come highly recommended.

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