10 Tips for Length Retention

Disclaimer: These are not set in stone and may be different for you based on your hair type and regimen.

Hair Length Depends on Three Things

  • Hair growth rate

  • The length of the anagen growth phase (which can be anywhere from 2 to 7 years)

  • Hair retention (how good you are at keeping your ends from snapping, splitting and breaking off)

The bread and butter to length retention has more to do with how you care for your hair after it’s grown out. Your ends are the oldest, thinnest, and weakest part of your hair. It will thin out if you’re not careful.

The ends of your hair are higher in porosity. The best you can do to keep them as healthy as possible is to slow down the rate of damage.

Here are 10 brief tips to help you retain your length (especially for newbies) as it grows out. I hope you find them helpful.

  1. Avoid Towel-Drying Hair. Towels cause friction which can increase split ends. Instead, use an old t-shirt, microfiber towel, or let your hair air dry. Do not rub your hair because this can cause the cuticles to open and make your hair frizzy.

  2. Handle Ends with Care. Keep them moisturized and lubricated before they dry out. The ends of your hair tend to be the most fragile since they are the oldest section of your hair shaft and they need to be hydrated properly to prevent breakage and splits.

    Water and water-based products are the best moisturizers, while oils and butters are great for sealing in that moisture. Coconut oil, castor oil, grape seed oil, a combination of oils like @righteousrootsoils and shea butter are the top sealants used by many.

  3. Protect Your Hair While You Sleep. Low thread count cotton pillowcases could be the culprit behind your stagnant hair growth. Cotton is a highly absorbent material that robs your hair of moisture while you sleep. Furthermore, the weave of cotton fibers can cause individual stands to tangle and break. Satin/silk scarves, bonnets and pillowcases provide a smooth barrier that hair strands can glide across to reduce hair damage and friction.

  4. Use Protective or Low-maintenance Styles. Especially in the winter, to protect your ends. The lower the maintenance is, the less you have to trim. When it comes to length retention, less manipulation is always best.

  5. Know Your Ingredients. The key is to use products specifically made for curly hair, which are without harsh ingredients such as, sulfates and drying alcohol.

  6. Take Inventory of Your Accessories. Hair accessories could pose a threat to your hair strands. If you notice any broken clips or teeth on your accessories or bobby pins, these sharp edges could literally tear your hair out or cause nicks and scratches on your scalp which could lead to follicle damage. Tight headbands can also cause hair loss around the edges, so be sure to use satin/silk lined headbands when possible.

    Instead try @zazzybandz @lozatam @graceeleyae.

  7. Beware of Too-Tight Hairstyles. If only I understood the damage I was doing to my hair when I wore tight ponytails and hair buns. Braids and twists can be ideal as length retention styles, but they defeat their purpose if they’re done with excess tension. You should never feel headaches or soreness during or after getting your hair done. Another red flag is if you see bumps or have irritation along your hairline- these are tell-tale signs that your hairstyle is too tight and could lead to hair loss or breakage.

  8. Treat Your Scalp with TLC. Healthy hair growth starts with a healthy scalp. While cleansing your hair, make sure to massage your scalp with your fingertips instead of using your nails. You can also stimulate hair growth with weekly scalp massages with essential oils or your favorite combination of oils.

  9. Get Rid of Scraggly Ends. If you’re holding on to scraggly ends for the sake of longer length, stop it. Split ends will continue to split up the hair shaft and can even begin to tangle onto nearby hairs which will cause even more breakage. And don’t buy into claims that split ends can be magically repaired by creams, pomades or conditioners. The only way to make them disappear is to cut them off.

  10. Be Gentle When Detangling. One of the best tips I’ve learned from @honeyblondegigi is to detangle your hair gently. Don’t rush through it. Detangle hair in sections if you have to, making sure to start at the ends and work your way up to the roots. Using the proper tools to detangle is imperative, so be sure to use a seamless wide-tooth comb, detangling brush or your fingers.

Don’t forget to drink more water. Hair that is hydrated from the inside out will last longer against environmental damage.

And but not least, be PATIENT with your growth.

While this is not a ‘hair retention tip’ per se, having patience during the grow-out process is imperative. Without it you may feel that your hair is not growing fast enough.

Keep in mind that we all have different rates of growth and your hair can and will grow with proper care so embrace each stage of your journey.

Maintaining a balanced diet, using the right products for your hair type, finding a solid regimen that works, and sticking to it are essential to success in retention.