Why Your Natural Hair Isn’t Growing

Last updated on November 10th, 2023 at 11:43 am

If you have anything other than straight hair, it’s not easy to see your hair’s true length. It may seem as if your natural hair isn’t growing. Then, you straighten it to discover it really isn’t growing.

natural hair isn't growing

Or is it?

Unless you have a health condition that is stunting your hair’s growth, it is indeed growing. What’s happening has nothing to do with hair growth and everything to do with length retention.

Breakage is the Main Reason You Think Your Hair Isn’t Growing

hair breakage

If you’re not retaining length it’s because you are experiencing breakage.

So, the correct question is actually why is your natural hair breaking?

There’s more than a few reasons why your hair could be breaking that don’t include health reasons:

  1. You’re over manipulating your hair
  2. You’re protein/moisture balance is out of wack
  3. Heat damaged hair
  4. Your hairstyles are causing tension on your strands
  5. You aren’t protecting your ends
  6. Hair damage from chemical treatments or over processing
  7. Your ends haven’t been trimmed in a long time

Over Manipulation

Handling your hair too much or too often will cause breakage. Fine hair is very fragile as it is so it’s even more susceptible to breakage with over handling.

Even if you don’t have fine strands, natural hair in general with all its curves and coils along the hair strand increases its potential for breakage.

Stick to styles that don’t need to be redone every day. These can be protective styles or hairstyles like curls that can be preserved while you’re sleeping

Protein/Moisture Balance Issues

If your protein/moisture balance is out of wack, it’s because you’re either focusing more on moisture (over deep conditioning) and neglecting protein treatments or you don’t do either.

Many naturals struggling with length retention are doing so because they neglect protein treatments. There’s a myth called protein sensitivity that way too many people are buying into.

Hair is more than 90% protein. Hence, if your strands are fraying, doesn’t it make sense that an added dose of protein is what’s needed to temporarily strengthen the hair?

If you’re hair isn’t properly reacting to a protein treatment it’s because of one of these reasons:

  • – You’re not using the right type of protein for your hair
  • – The protein treatment isn’t being properly balanced with moisture (ex: deep conditioning after)
  • – You’re using protein when your hair doesn’t need it

Heat Damage

Heat styling any hair type on a regular basis is risky. Using heat to style fine hair is extremely risky since the circumference of a single strand is extremely small. The integrity of a single strand of hair is already compromised.

Heat can weaken and damage a hair strand which can lead to serious breakage. If you heat style your hair, this could be the culprit of your hair breakage.

Damaging Hairstyles

How you style your hair can have a direct impact on your hair’s length.

If you’re pulling your hair into tight hairstyles or tightly twisting/braiding/twirling the ends of your hair, breakage is inevitable.

Your Ends Aren’t Protected

If you wear your hair out all of the time, your ends are coming into contact with a number of things that can cause breakage. These include:

  • – your clothing
  • – the environment (harsh winds etc)
  • – jewelry

It’s ok to wear your hair out once in a while. Wearing it out all of the time will accelerate the wear and tear on your ends, leading to (you guessed it)… breakage.

Damage from chemical treatments or over processing

Using chemicals to straighten, color or create unnatural curls weakens it. The protein integrity and structure of the hair is compromised. Often times, chemical treatments change a hair’s porosity in a manner that moisture retention now becomes difficult (high porosity hair).

It’s also very difficult to determine how much processing of a chemical in your hair is too much. Yes, a manufacturer provides instructions on how long to leave the chemical treatment in your hair. However, that’s a universal, one size fits all instruction.

We know that every head of hair is different. 10 minutes of a chemical on your hair may be just enough but on my hair it may be too much.

It’s best to steer clear of chemical treatments if you want to avoid even the risk of breakage in your natural hair, especially fine natural hair.

Your ends haven’t been trimmed in a long time (or ever)

The final thing to consider if your natural hair isn’t growing because of breakage is trimming.

Do you trim your hair or do you avoid trims in an effort to retain length? It may seem counterintuitive but in order to see your hair grow in healthily, you need to mitigate damage that will be caused by split ends.

Once your ends are severely damaged from natural wear and tear, it will start breaking off.

Contrary to popular belief, a split will not work its way all the way up to the top of the hair shaft. With all the handling you do to your hair, that split may move slightly up the shaft but it’s so weak after splitting it will break off before it travels further.

While all of these reasons for breakage are causes for why your natural may appear to not be growing, there’s yet another reason you may think your natural hair isn’t growing.

You are trimming too much!

hair sheers

While breakage is the main culprit for not realizing your hair’s length potential, trimming it too often is the other reason.

You’ve heard them say to trim your hair every 6 weeks. Why?

The only reason for trimming your hair that often is to maintain the neatness of a certain length.

First, unless you are rapidly damaging your hair, it would not require trimming in such a short period of time. You will essentially be trimming off the same amount of hair (in inches) that you’ve grown over that period of time.

Hair grows on average a 1/2 inch a month. In six weeks your hair wouldn’t have even grown a full inch and here you are cutting it off. How can you recognize any significant length cutting it this often?

If you don’t think your natural hair is growing, think again. By process of elimination, you can experience more hair growth by factoring out each of the things I just shared.

two reasons your natural hair appears to not be growing

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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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