How to Grow out Your Natural Hair in 7 Steps

Updated on August 15, 2019
Cheyenne M profile image

Cheyenne keeps her hair natural and shares her tips and tricks for growing it out and keeping it healthy.

Minimizing breakage is the key to long, natural hair.
Minimizing breakage is the key to long, natural hair.

1. Accept Your Hair's Texture

You might not have a chemical treatment in your hair, but that doesn't mean you've completely accepted your hair in its natural state.

If you are natural, but always trying to find ways to manipulate your hair so that it looks more defined or loose, chances are you are trying to mimic someone else's hair texture rather than being comfortable with your own. I see this all the time, especially on YouTube. Many black women cover their hair with wigs or style their hair with extensions.

The most important step to having healthy, natural hair is to grow accustomed to how your hair looks without manipulation. Otherwise, it's pretty counterproductive and defeats the purpose of going natural.

2. Style It Gently or Leave It Alone

It's not really about growing your hair because your hair is always growing. This is why if you were to dye it or relax it, you have to be dying or relaxing your roots continually. Growing your natural hair out is all about keeping or retaining the growth you already have. You need to focus on maintaining the oldest and most fragile part of your hair—the ends.

What is the number one step to doing this? Leave your hair alone. This is the single most important thing for retaining afro hair. This doesn't just apply to afro hair; this is true for any texture of hair. Black women especially suffer from breakage. Many never see their hair grow past their shoulders because of too much styling or manipulating their hair.

Even simple styles cause damage over time if done too frequently or too tightly. Go for a very simple style that allows your hair to stay detangled and stretched. It will be difficult to retain length if the oldest parts of your hair are never really given a break.

3. Use Moisturizing Products

YouTube has taught me how to take care of my hair rather than how to grow it. Like I said before, hair is always growing, it's just a matter of keeping the ends from breaking.

But YouTubers also have a career in which they promote products. Most of that is from sponsorships they need to make money. So this is why you might find a natural-hair YouTuber saying that one brand is the holy grail for her, then in the next 20 videos, you never hear of it again.

Honestly, the only thing anyone needs to grow their hair is water. For afro hair, which tends to be dry, you may not consider water a product. I do, especially since it's free. Although I also use the following products to keep my hair healthy and strong.

  • Water: You need it to survive, so does your hair.
  • Oil: Olive oil or jojoba oil doesn't clog pores. It keeps the hair moisturized and makes it shine.
  • Butter: A relatively thick shea butter helps stretch your hair while giving it definition and hold when doing styles like twists and twist outs.
  • Shampoo: Obviously, keeping the hair clean is a must.

4. Use Your Fingers for Detangling

Having afro hair means that it is necessary to manipulate your hair to an extent. In order to keep your strands from wrapping around and getting caught on each other, you need to untangle your hair.

Combs and brushes break and tear off fragile hair, especially when the hair has not previously been detangled or the hair is dry when the comb or brush is used. I suggest not using a comb or brush at all. If you want to use a comb, I recommend using a wide-tooth comb and a brush with very elastic bristles like the Denman brush.

The difficult part about finger detangling is building a tolerance for it. It can get frustrating, but you will definitely keep more hair using your fingers than if you used a comb or brush to untangle your hair. So it is worth the time.

Always Begin by Moisturizing

Do not, I repeat please do not manipulate afro hair while it's dry. Kinky, curly hair knots and tangles easily because it's dry and the strands hook onto each other. The tighter your coils, the harder it is for your natural oils to reach the ends of the hair. This is why people with straighter textures tend to have oily hair. Because their strands are straight, it's easy for those natural oils to glide down to the tips. With that in mind, we have to add moisture manually. Moisture adds slip, which makes it easier for the strands to slide past each other rather than getting caught and tangled.

Whenever I'm going to do my hair, I make sure that it's saturated in something moisturizing before trying to separate it. Usually, my product of choice is water, especially if I haven't been applying any moisture to it throughout the week. It's honestly not necessary considering I wear my hair in twists most of the time. That is unless I want to stretch my twists, do a twist out, or make them last longer.

How to Detangle Knots With Fingers

  1. Hold the strands of hair with two fingers. Don't pull it tight!
  2. Hold it so that the hair above the knot is loose.
  3. Pull while gently shaking the hair from the bottom.

Try to be very light-handed with your hair. The gentler you are, the easier it will be to detangle your hair.

My hair after doing the banding method to stretch my hair.
My hair after doing the banding method to stretch my hair. | Source

4. Stretch Your Hair Gently With Banding

Above is a photo of my stretched hair after using the following banding method:

  1. Detangle damp hair with your fingers.
  2. Part hair into four sections. Depending on the density of your hair, you may be able to get a good stretch with only two sections.
  3. Place 15–20 elastic bands on each section of damp hair moving from the roots of your hair to the tips. The number of bands you use depends on the length of your hair. My hair was about 14 inches when I did this.
  4. Allow hair to air dry with bands in place.

One of the main things kinky-haired girls deal with is shrinkage. Keeping your hair stretched prevents tangles and knots that lead breakage. Stretched hair makes the detangling process much easier. It also helps product and natural oils flow down your hair strands. Styling the hair in twists can also really stretch the hair, as you can see the photo below.

My hair after being unraveled from stretched twists.
My hair after being unraveled from stretched twists. | Source

6. Beware of Damaging Styles

I mentioned earlier that too much styling or over manipulation of the hair would cause damage and lead to breakage. A lot of styling focuses on the look rather than the health of your natural hair.

One example of unprotective styling is styling that's too tight. If you or someone else is styling your hair and you are in pain, this is a sign that your hair is too tight and can cause damage. I've even experienced more severe damage like bleeding and peeling of the scalp before.

Many styles seem like they are helping, but they are actually causing more damage. For example, box braids or lemonade braids are really harsh on the hair. Because the hair used to create the individual braids for these styles are too thick and heavy for your natural strands of hair to hold, they cause more damage.

Certain styles and hair practices are better off left alone altogether. These styles can cause damage to the hair along the perimeter of the head or edges. Most of these styles are fine if done sparingly:

  • Using glue-in wigs and closure pieces
  • Pulling back tight, superslick ponytails
  • Constantly laying your edges
  • Styling or not protecting leave out
  • Overusing heat for straightening

7. Do Your Own Hair

This is not by any means meant to discredit hairstylists or aspiring stylists, but nobody will care about the well-being of your hair more than you. A lot of black women are jealous of women who have naturally long hair. It's sad, but it's a reality that should be taken into consideration when deciding to let someone else do your hair. I think it's better to take care of and do your own hair.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Cheyenne Morgan


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      • Lady Summerset profile image

        Lady Summerset 

        9 months ago from Willingboro, New Jersey

        Great hints for keeping that natural afro hair. Remember to add coconut to your list of absorbable oils!


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