How to Grow Black Hair Past Shoulder Length

Last updated on May 27th, 2023 at 02:23 pm

how to grow black hair past shoulder length

There’s a misconception that black women can’t grow long hair; That there is a terminal hair length that stops around shoulder length. Worse even, it’s because of our hair texture based on the popular hair typing system that grades hair from 1 A to 4 C hair.

Not being able to grow our hair past shoulder length couldn’t be any further from the truth. The actual truth is there’s just too many women of color not well versed on what needs to be done to grow long hair past shoulder length. In this article, I aim to change that.

If you have been trying to figure out how to grow black hair past shoulder length, look no further. The information you will read in this article is comprehensive. It’s easy to understand and chock full of tips you can start implementing today.

These Things Don’t Affect Hair Growth

Contrary to popular belief, getting regular trims doesn’t grow your hair. It keeps your ends neat and also helps prevent neighboring hairs from getting snagged and damaged. This is not to say you should never trim your hair.

If you want long hair, focus less on trimming so often and more on growing healthy hair in a healthy fashion so you can retain what you grow.

To be clear, trim your hair as you need to but not on some set time table just because someone says you should.

If you allow someone else to trim your hair, just be mindful that they will likely cut more than you would like. So, if you don’t have a trusted stylist who isn’t scissor happy, consider learning to trim your own hair. There are scores of DIY trimming technique videos shared on Youtube.

If you have natural hair you’ll find videos of ladies trimming hair in their curly state and videos of ladies trimming on twists. These may not be professional trims but they are effective at getting rid of split ends and single strand knots.

Here’s an example from Mahogany Curls on Youtube:

If you have straight or relaxed hair, you will find videos of easy techniques to trim your own hair as well. Here’s another really good tutorial on Youtube from Lola Kait:

Controllable Factors that DO Affect Hair Growth

Now, here are those things that actually do affect your hair growth:

  • Otherwise healthy hair follicles that are now clogged
  • Not eating a healthy diet
  • Neglecting hydration inside and out
  • Not being consistent with a hair regimen that’s comprised of healthy hair routines
  • Poor hair practices and habits
  • Heat damage

By simply taking care of those things that could negatively impact your hair growth, you’ll see improvement because these are all things within your control.

Unless you have a health condition that’s stunting your growth, hair always grows.

The average rate of hair growth is about a half inch of hair per month. That may not seem like a lot. However, over a period of one year, you will grow 6 inches of hair, maybe more.

6 inches

Factor in your hair type and texture, you may see more growth or less but your hair is still growing. Of course, nobody retains all 6 inches. Trimming and setbacks have an impact as well.

21 Strategies to Grow Black Hair Longer (Past Your Shoulders)

To grow black hair past shoulder length, there are certain strategies you can implement. They will either stimulate hair growth or protect your hair from breakage. This can be done in myriad of ways.

These length retention tips are in no particular order. They are categorized in a manner that will help you to see the connections:

General Hair Knowledge

1. Know your hair’s porosity: While the rest of the tips follow no particular order, this one is number one for a reason.

How you care for your hair will determine if it grows or stays stagnant. A person with low porosity hair will not care for their hair in the same manner as someone with high porosity hair (and vice versa).

2. Regularly track your progress and make adjustments: in Luke, chapter 14 of the Bible Jesus says to His disciples, “… For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” The same can be said for trying to reach a hair goal.

How do you know if you are doing all the right things to grow your hair past shoulder length if you aren’t tracking (counting the cost)?

Hair Styling

3. Doing protective styles: Protective styling is one of the best ways to retain length but how you protective style matters. Doing styles with your own hair will help you to monitor your hair’s moisture levels.

Check out these articles for more information and how you can also do a combination of protective styles and low manipulation hairstyles.

Low manipulation Styling to Help You Retain Length

8 Protective Styling Ideas for Length Retention

Length Retention Hairstyles for Fine Natural Hair

4. Avoiding styles that require using hot tools and excessive heat: If you do choose to heat style, always use a heat protectant and do not heat style often.

Practices & Routines

5. Trim your hair as needed: Trimming is essential for healthy hair but over-trimming will impact how much length you retain.

If you aren’t doing a lot of damaging things to your hair (like flat ironing weekly), you won’t need to trim nearly as often as someone who does.

6. Keep your hair stretched: This one is for those with kinky curly hair. Allowing your natural hair to shrink up on itself and remain that way is a recipe for tangling and knots. This would definitely impact length.

There are a variety of methods for stretching natural hair, including using non-heat, indirect and direct heat.

I use the RevAir blow dryer to stretch my hair. This is an indirect heat method that I’ve found to be the best way to stretch hair without damage.

The RevAir uses far less heat and takes less time than other hair dryers. It is a revolutionary device and a curly girl’s best friend. I use mine twice a month with no heat damage. My hair stays nearly tangle free until the next wash day.

For all of these reasons, I consider RevAir to be the best hair dryer for natural hair

stretching curly hair with heat

7. Detangle carefully: I’ve been detangling with what I coin the 90/10 Detangling method.

Essentially, you finger detangle 90% of the way (using plastic disposable gloves preferably). Then, you use a detangling tool like the E-Z Detangler brush to remove the remaining shed hair.

Read up all about it here: the 90/10 detangling method – detangle your hair the right way

As someone who has very fine and fragile hair, this method helps me to retain way more length than before I was doing it. It’s a game changer for preventing breakage.

growing black hair past shoulder length

8. Doing scalp massages with castor oil: Castor oil, specifically Jamaican Black Castor Oil has been proven to grow hair in. That’s because it stimulates blood flow to the scalp. This natural resource is also great for those experiencing hair loss. It promotes healthy hair growth.

9. Pre-shampooing (also called pre-pooing) your hair before washing: Another way to protect your hair’s moisture (and protein) levels, pre-pooing also promotes shinier more manageable hair.

10. Hair steaming: This is a great practice to help you increase the moisture in your hair. it’s especially beneficial in the winter when hair is notorious for drying out.

You can even steam your hair while pre-shampooing. 


11. Cease sleeping on cotton pillowcases: These leech the moisture right out of your hair. Just one night’s sleep on a cotton pillowcase can suck all the moisture out of your hair shaft. Cotton has its place, just not on your hair when you can help it.

A satin pillowcase will help your hair to retain its moisture levels. Silk pillowcases are even better. Especially, those made from mulberry silk.

silk pillowcases

12. Baby” your ends: Since your ends are the oldest parts of your hair, you need to give them extra TLC to preserve them. The longer you can preserve the health of your ends, the more time you have for your hair to gain length.


13. Take a hair growth supplement: If you have a deficiency in any nutrient that helps with growing hair, a hair growth supplement will fill in the gaps to give your body what it needs to support healthy hair growth.

For example, Biotin helps and Vitamin C helps your body to produce collagen which is a building block for healthy hair (skin and nails too).

14. Using hair products that stimulate growth: This includes DIY products made with hair growth herbs like Amla and Fenugreek.

DIY Hair oils and hair masks are great vehicles you can use to add herbs to for hair growth. 

15. Using natural oils: Adding oils like coconut oil and olive oil into your hair regimen will help you to keep your hair moisturized. This is key for hair growth. Dry hair causes hair breakage and is a clear enemy to anyone looking to grow longer hair.

16. Use a high quality deep conditioner after every wash: Deep conditioning is the step on wash day where your hair will receive the deep moisture it needs to remain pliable. 

17. Use a leave-in conditioner every wash day: Some may debate the leave-in’s usefulness but when you come face to face with the decision to use a product on your hair that helps it to further retain moisture, what would you choose? 

18. Use hair Teas: Teas help to strengthen the structural integrity of your hair. If you use a hair tea infusion, you’ll need to balance all of that strength with moisture. That’s where a good leave-in conditioner sans protein come in handy.

Spritzing a hair tea on your strands a couple times a week provides a good balance of moisture and strength.

19. Add essential oils to your hair regimen: Essential oils like peppermint, rosemary, or lavender to your scalp massage oil can help improve your scalp health. Check out the best ssential oils for curly hair

Essential oils are one of those natural ingredients that can fight an inflamed and itchy scalp. To grow long hair you must have a healthy scalp. Consider using essential oils diluted in a carrier oil in your hair and scalp. They can also be added to your shampoo and conditioners.

Motivation & Focus

20. Steer clear of fad hair growth hacks: It’s the tried and true hair routines that you can follow consistently that will move the needle to get you to the next length.

You’ve heard of things like the inversion method, using Chebe powder etc. These hacks can help with a short term boost of hair growth. However, sustaining them isn’t realistic for the average person.

21. Be consistent: This is likely the most important tip you’ll ever read. You can try all the tips above. Yet, if you do them just a handful of times, you won’t see results. You need to be consistent.

To grow black hair past shoulder length, consistency is required. In the church, we talk about how consistency is the key to the breakthrough. Same with growing hair.

If I could provide a supportive bonus tip, it would be to exercise patience. It takes years to grow your hair extremely long. To help you with developing patience, let’s take a look at the hair growth cycle.

The Hair Growth Cycle

As you employ some of the strategies to grow your hair past bra strap length, take into consideration the hair growth cycle. This will help you to be patient when it appears your hair may not be growing when it actually is!

hair growth cycle infographic

As you can see, while different areas of your hair are either in the Anagen phase, the Telegen Phase or the Catogen, most of it is always in that Anlagen growth phase!

Understanding Hair Loss and It’s Impact on Hair Growth

Hair loss can be devastating for both men and women but especially women. However, if you are looking to grow black hair past shoulder length, hair loss is something that affects your density more than your actual length.

Density = the amount of individual hair strands you have on your head

Length = the total distance in inches for hair rom root to tips

While the two aren’t synonymous, they are closely related.

If you are experiencing hair loss which is actually excessive shedding, there are many potential causes:

  • A health condition
  • Hormonal issues
  • Toxicity
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Medications
  • Scalp conditions like ringworm
  • Traction alopecia (repeatedly over stretching the hair, pulling it into tight hairstyles)

Addressing the cause of hair loss is obviously more important than worrying about the length of your hair. If you can get to the root cause of why you’re experiencing hair loss first, getting past shoulder length will be a much easier goal to focus on.

While dealing with a health condition, hormonal issues or taking medications that cause hair loss may be the most difficult to remedy, the others are easier to address.

For example, if you have a scalp condition, a dermatologist can help you to treat and stop the hair loss. It’s the same for vitamin deficiencies. Give your body what it needs and your hair will respond in kind.

Helpful Resources

As you aware, growing black hair long is no small feat. Here are some additional resources to help you on your journey:

Black hair growth is not only possible, with proper care. it’s more common than you may think. There are many women of color with extremely long afro textured hair.

You’ll find scores of Youtube videos of women with black hair past shoulder length, even waist length hair.

As you focus on the areas that will help you with your natural hair growth, remember to also focus on retaining the length you grow. Both are a crucial part of any hair journey.

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Michelle Smith

Michelle is a Christian natural hair enthusiast. She's been natural for 20+ years and shares natural hair care tips and easy hairstyles for those with low density or thin fine natural hair. It's her joy to inspire you to live by faith in God while caring for your "crown."

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