Tips for Maintaining Length on Fine Natural Hair – Part 1

hair in need of a wash

It’s no secret that I like long hair. I personally believe that a woman with a head of long hair is a full reflection of God’s crown and glory upon her. Some may disagree because there are obviously women who have short hair that “appears” not to grow or they choose to wear their hair short. Then, there are those who just don’t believe in a God at all. I’ma pray for y’all 🙂

For the ladies who choose short hair, this article is probably not for you. It’s more for the ladies who want to see their hair grow to longer lengths and are willing to do what it takes to retain as much length as possible. And while, the tips I’m about to share can be helpful to any lady seeking long tresses, I’m specifically addressing my fine hair sisters since I am one of them lol. I can only share what I notice is working for my hair type – fine and moderately dense.

fine natural hair

As we all know, getting your hair to grow to long lengths isn’t always an easy feat. While your hair DOES grow, if you don’t retain most of what has grown (yes, there’s always some breakage), you will be wondering if it’s growing at all.

For those of us with fine hair, the quest to obtain long luxurious locks is even more challenging. (So not fair. I know right!) Natural hair that’s fine has yet another roadblock to growing long. For every twist and groove along our natural hair strand (the curliness), there’s an opportunity for breakage. At least our straight, fine hair sisters don’t have that part to worry about.

As a fine haired natural for over 10 years, I believe I’ve picked up some tips along the journey that I’d like to share with fine hair ladies like myself who want long hair. That’s not to say I know it all. I just know what I know…what I discovered works for hair like mine. It took some trial and error but here are the tips I believe will help my fine hair sisters maintain more of their hard earned length.

Wearing Your Hair Out

You CAN wear your hair out. Whaaaat? Yup. You heard me girl. Your hair growth journey doesn’t have to be about socking your hair away every single day until you get to your desired length. Instead, when you wear your hair out, you need to be diligent about protecting it.

Your twist outs, braid outs, loose curls etc. will be rubbing on your clothing and can certainly cause breakage from the friction. This can be x2 when you are commuting to wherever you are going on a given day. Therefore, consider putting your hair up until you get to your destination. Large claw clips work really well at clipping your hair up and off of your shoulders. Then, when you get to your destination you can release the clip, shake and be fabulous. Keep that claw clip handy for putting it up throughout the day.

Low Manipulation vs Protective Styling

This is nothing new to you I’m sure. You’ve heard about protective styling and low manipulation styling. However, the key I’ve found is you can protective style til the cows come home (I’m a city girl. Not sure where that came from lol), but if you have to do a lot of manipulating to get that protective style in place, it will cause your fine hair more breakage than length retention. I learned this the hard way with mini twists.

Mini twists are NOT for everyone. The finer your hair, the more susceptible it will be to breaking when it’s time to take those twists out. Instead, opt for medium sized twists. They are a lot easier to manage and require much less manipulation.

If you are going to do a protective style, opt for shorter term styles. The longer you leave a style in your hair, when it’s time to take it down and out, there’s more of a chance for breakage due to webbing of the new growth that now needs to be detangled. Even if you wear braids, when your new growth starts coming in there is some tangling. Keep your protective style in for 2 weeks max. Fine hair doesn’t like to be bound up much longer than that.

Twist, Don’t Braid Ends

box braids

Braids can be a great protective style but depending on how you do them, you may be manipulating your hair way too much. That manipulation is evil! Why? Breakage of course? (isn’t that what we’ve been talking about? lol)

After a few times wearing my natural hair in braids, I realized that I was causing breakage when it was time to take them out. I was doing too much to unbraid. I would use my fingers to try and unbraid and then had to use my rat tail comb to help. So, now what I do is when I get to about a 1/2 inch of hair down the braid, I twist the remainder of the hair.

When it’s time to remove your braids, you’ll find it much easier and a lot less manipulating to your hair, when you just have to untwist your ends vs. unbraiding them.

Bunning Your Hair

bun on fine hair

Still thinking of protective styling (and this is my final word on the subject…promise). Buns are a fine haired chica’s best friend in the protective styling department. Buns require very little manipulation to do and you don’t even need to thoroughly detangle your hair to bun (save full detangling sessions for wash day).

However, bunning can also cause breakage. If you are going to rock your hair in a bun for a length of time, consider changing the placement of the bun every few days. You’ll also want to take down that bun and moisturize  your hair daily. That brings me to my next tip. To be continued…

*As I was writing this article, I realized that it was getting to be quite lengthy and you know how y’all get ADD online lol! Part two will be up later today and will delve more into the care of your hair. We strictly covered the styling part today 🙂

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Michelle Smith

Michelle is a Christian special needs mom residing in the NYC area who shares useful tips to grow and maintain fine natural hair. She’s a published author and Creator of Fine Natural Hair and Faith, inspiring others with faith for living along side knowledge on how to care for their “crown.”


5 thoughts on “Tips for Maintaining Length on Fine Natural Hair – Part 1

  1. Hi there, I’m Linda and I’m a struggling natural for about 2 years now. I have never had hair longer that the top of my shoulders. I use no heat and I have been using the loc method, trimming my ends when necessary, trying countless styles (nothing that seems to work for me at all). Reading your article gives me hope but I don’t know what is wrong. On top of this fine/thin nightmare it feels like I’m starting to bald in the center of my head. I already don’t have much hair as it is I’m sure you understand that. In the center of my head the hair is super super thin and extremely short about no more than 2 inches while the sides of my hair have been growing to be about 3 inches longer with my bangs being the LONGEST part in my hair. This journey has been absolutely disappointing and I am truly at a loss and have no idea what to do. I’ve tried growth oils, protective styling with braids and twists. Is there anything at all you could recommend me to try that you think would help?

    1. We are in the same boat! Except, 5 -6 flat twist work well. I’ve tried some vitamins and I plan on going back on them in January. Lately I’ve been experiencing alot of breakage, small wisps of hair before washing, might be due to dryness so that’s what I’m trying to combat now. Then I can make it back to retention. I thought it was just me since it felt like my hair wasn’t growing longer. It can be that my hair growth is slow and/or retention problems. agh.

    2. Hey Linda did you ever get over this stage and how if so. I’m in the exact same position you described 2years in natural disappointed literally no hair in the centre of my head..

      1. Zoe, have you seen a trichologist? You may need to check on your scalp health if it’s not growing any hair there. Another option is to see a dermatologist that specializes in scalp health and black hair if you are a woman of color

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