how long can your hair grow?

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– by Un’ruly Contributor Dorcas Siwoku

“Black hair doesn’t grow past shoulder length.”

“She must be mixed.”

“She has good hair, that’s why it’s long.”

We’ve all heard those statements before. Let me get this out of the way and say, “everyone’s hair grows.” As long as you are alive, breathing and well, your hair will grow. At what rate it grows is another story.

The average person is believed to grow 1/2 an inch of hair per month. Hair length is controlled by the anagen phase (growth phase) of your hair follicle. How long this period lasts (average of 2-6 years) boils down to genetics and can be affected by hormones and stress. After the anagen phase comes the catagen phase—the phase when your hair stops growing, which is followed by the telogen phase when hair usually sheds and falls out. At any given time your hairs will be in different phases at the same time.

Considering that the average person’s hair grows 1/2 an inch per month and the anagen phase can last up to 2 – 6 years, the average person should have between 12 inches of hair on the low end and 36 inches of hair on the high end.

Pause. You’re probably looking at your mane and wondering why it hasn’t hit the floor yet if it’s been growing all these years. There are many factors, one being growth rate differs for everyone—some slower than the average half inch and some much faster (lucky gals). There is also retention. Though your hair grows, is it healthy enough to retain length and flourish? Breakage, illness, diet, health and wellness—every single one of these and more are factors that contribute to growth and retention.

Still not convinced? Safiya D., a natural hair vlogger on YouTube, whose current length is just shy of bra-strap length, felt that her desired length could be reached with proper care. She took some time to share her thoughts on growing her hair from her big chop four years ago to her current length.

Safiya’s big chop five years ago.

Dorcas: What about your hair routine do you think contributed to your hair growth/length retention?

Safiya: I limit applying direct heat to my hair, only allowing myself to flatiron my hair once a year. Proper nutrition also plays a significant role in hair growth, so I drink plenty of water and consume lots of fruits, vegetables and lean protein to get my vitamins and nutrients.


Dorcas: Have you ever done anything odd to achieve growth?

Safiya: I have!  I once tried MegaTek, which is a product used to help horses grow longer tails and manes and is said to work for humans too.  I wasn’t able to stick with it long enough to see results.  I’ve also tried hair vitamins like Hairfinity.

(Check out what Safiya thought about Hairfinity.)

Dorcas: Was there any point in your life where you have had difficultly growing hair?

Safiya: When my hair was relaxed it seemed to be impossible for me to grow my hair past my shoulders.  I believe the excessive heat styling while relaxed prevented me from retaining length.

Safiya with stretched natural hair one year ago.

Dorcas: Do you have a hair length goal? If so what is it?

Safiya: I think I’ll be satisfied when my twistouts hit close to bra-strap length at the longest layer.  I have a long way to go for sure.

As you might have guessed, there are a few moving parts that need to come together for maximum hair length to be achieved. Being patient is key. Another good rule of thumb is if you’re working towards long hair, you should feed your hair and body well. Healthy hair starts with a healthy body and caring for your strands with a great regimen yields satisfying results – at any length!

Check out more Un’ruly articles on hair growth.

Photos via Safiya’s Facebook and YouTube Page.
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