How to Grow Long, Healthy Hair: Health vs. Length

When I first made the decision to go natural, my number one goal was to grow long, healthy hair. As a result of the relaxers I had gotten for years, I felt as though my hair was not reaching its true potential in terms of health, thickness and length. Therefore at the onset of my natural hair journey, the goal was not only to grow long hair, but to grow healthy hair. And now that I’ve been natural for about 7 years, I’ve seen a very strong trend toward length becoming one of the most important factors in the natural hair community. Nowadays, people want to know how to grow long hair as fast as possible, but not necessarily how to achieve the healthiest hair possible. In this article, I want to discuss the importance of hair health versus hair length, how they are connected, as well as realistic goals we should set for ourselves in our own natural hair journeys.

Hair Growth vs. Hair Length: What’s the Goal?

I recently wrote a post about my experience going natural and whether or not to big chop or transition. In this post, I briefly discussed the importance of having long hair for women. This is one of the biggest standards of beauty in America which makes it very difficult to feel feminine if you do not have long hair. Therefore it is no surprise to me that even in the natural hair community, healthy hair discussions have been overshadowed by the desire to grow long hair as fast as possible.

When I go on YouTube, I see countless videos with the subject lines “how to grow long hair fast” or “how I grew my hair in 6 months…” etc. There are so many videos on how to grow long natural hair fast, although what about growing healthy hair?

grow long hair

I can’t tell you how many naturals I’ve seen on YouTube that have a full head of long hair…that’s damaged. I see women who have achieved great hair lengths, but their curl pattern is altered due to heat damage. Or women with long curls that desperately need to be trimmed. One recent trend in particular has led to women constantly slicking back their edges and at the same time complaining that they don’t have any. Therefore one change I would like to see in the natural hair community is to start having conversations about how to achieve healthy hair before we talk about length.

Now, I want to stop here and say that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to grow long hair. I want to grow long, healthy hair myself and I understand the frustration associated with feeling like your hair is not growing as fast as you’d like it to. With this being said, after being natural for about 7 years, I’ve learned that the most important thing to seek after is healthy hair. Once you do that, you will see results in terms of length and thickness.

How to Really Grow Long Hair

grow long hair

The best advice I can give toward how to grow long hair, is to focus on the health of your hair first. Developing healthy hair habits will allow you to not only grow long hair, but to have thick, healthy hair that’s damage-free. There’s no one secret to growing long hair. In fact, everyone’s hair grows at a different rate according to genetics as well as lifestyle. Therefore try not to seek after someone else’s hair, but instead focus on everything you can do for your hair to ensure it’s healthy.

Below I have listed several things I have learned along my hair journey that have allowed me to grow thick, healthy hair.

  • Deep conditioning regularly– I used to not deep condition my hair regularly because…well, I was lazy. But now I deep condition my hair every week and I have truly seen the benefits of it. My hair is thicker, stronger, softer, shiner, and yes, longer since I’ve started deep conditioning every week.
  • Healthy Scalp: Maintaining a healthy scalp is very important when it comes to growing long, healthy hair. If your scalp is clogged and under-stimulated, then it is unlikely that your hair will grow healthily. Therefore check out my post on how to maintain a healthy scalp.
  • Protective Styling: Protective styling is a must for growing out your hair and keeping it healthy. Too much manipulation will cause breakage and hair loss, as well as damaged strands. It is also difficult to retain length if you’re constantly styling your hair. Therefore, regularly do styles that tuck your hair away and do not require manipulation. Twists, braids, and updos are great protective styles to try.
  • Trimming: While you don’t necessarily need to trim your hair for it to grow, you do need to trim your hair if you want it to be healthy. There are plenty of people who have long natural hair, although a quarter of their strand length is split ends or heat damaged hair. You do not want this. Therefore trim your hair regularly to get rid of any damaged areas and to prevent split ends from riding up your hair strand. This will cause breakage and hair loss, thus preventing your ability to retain length.
  • Healthy Diet: Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet should be the first thing you do to maintain healthy hair growth. When you provide your body with the proper nutrients, it is then able to produce the best results. Therefore eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and drink A LOT of water to flush out your system. Also, adding the proper vitamins to your diet can really help you to grow strong, shiny hair as well as thicken areas that are thinning. If you’re looking for good vitamins to take for healthy hair, check out my post on my vitamin routine for healthy hair, skin and nails!

I’d like to reiterate, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to grow long hair, although if you seek after healthy hair in every way, you should experience new heights in terms of length, thickness and strength. You don’t only want to have long hair, but you also want to have hair that is strong, shiny and soft. Therefore use the tips above to ensure that you grow a full head of long, healthy hair!

Check out my natural hair style routine here!


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