Since committing to a third big chop nearly three years ago, I have been able to retain a good amount of my 4C hair length. There are many ways to increase length retention such as deep conditioning regularly and moisturizing your hair. However, protecting the ends of your hair is a really underrated, yet extremely beneficial way to retain length.
The ends of our hair are the most fragile and our oldest. And two, having coily hair means that it’s much more difficult for the sebum that naturally develops on our scalp to travel all the way down to the hair shaft due to the tightness of coils and kinks. As a result, the ends of our hair are the dryest. They have the tendency to break or to split off. Creating a regimen to protect and care for your ends is a must if you want to see length retention. Here are five tips to consider:
1. I trim my ends every 3-4 months for length retention
In the photo set below, you can see a fresh trim that I did in November 2020. Consistent trims are necessary to maximize length retention efforts. I trim my hair roughly three times a year, and regularly assess their overall appearance. Coily hair is more prone to tangles and knots. Additionally, split ends have the tendency to knot up on themselves. If they seem excessive, especially near the ends, it’s probably time for a trim. Do they feel rough? Are they having difficulty retaining moisture? Do they appear transparent compared to the rest of your length? If you answered “yes,” then it’s definitely time for a trim. There is a common natural hair myth that trimming hair means losing length. However, that is not completely true.
Have you ever told yourself that your hair is “not growing” or retaining length? It most likely appears that way because the hair is experiencing breakage at the rate of hair growth. A good trim will prevent damaged or split ends from traveling up the hair shaft and damaging healthy hair. A good rule of thumb to consider is to ensure that your hair is full in thickness from the roots to your ends.
2. I seal my ends with oil throughout the week
Sealing your ends means to trap moisture into your hair. It’s not enough for me to just have a daily moisturizing hair spritz to use for my hair, especially when my ends are so fragile and can still dry out quickly. I take an extra step to seal moisture into my ends every few days. To do this, I simply mist my ends with plain water and then directly massaging oil into them to keep them lubricated and supple. This is usually done when they are in two strand twists. Sealing oils are typically lighter for your hair. For example, some of my favorite light sealing oils are jojoba oil and sweet almond oil. I usually do this in the morning and sometimes in the evening before bed. I have noticed that this has made a huge difference in the overall health of my ends.
3. Reduce hair puffs or other hairstyles that compromise (expose) the ends
Hair that is worn out is not going to retain length as quickly as hair that is worn in protective hairstyles. I’ve learned that retaining coily natural hair requires some sacrifice. Earlier this year, I made the comittment to reduce the amount of times my hair was in a puff or in a style that would compromise length retention. Since then, I’ve only had my hair in a puff about five times all year.
Although the puff protect your ends from brushing against your clothing, there are negative impacts to consider as well. For one, puffs can cause tangles and matting because they compromise your hair’s ability to remain in a stretched state. Additionally, there’s a tendency to manipulate our hair to get the desired puff. This can look like pulling our tugging at your strands. I’ve also been guilty in the past of wearing a puff for days because of the ease of styling, but it definitely did a number on both my ends and my edges!
4. I opt for simple protective styles instead
I love two strand twists and I stand by them! For one, they are easy to install and require very little tension. Plus, I can install them with no heat or hair tools involved. When I style my two strands twists, I love using the stretchy knotted ribbon hair ties. They give me zero tension and always remain securely in place.
A protective style is any style that keeps the ends of the hair tucked away and there is little no manipulation involved. However, a complicated hairstyle can thwart your ability to retain length because of the excessive manipulation and tension that is needed to create the style. It can also thwart your ability to retain length when the style has run its course and you have to take it out. So, keep your protective styles simple!
5. I use Ayurvedic powders in my haircare routine
I was introduced to the world of Ayurveda back in in 2017. It started out as a way to address my thinning hair at the time. Now, Ayurveda is a part of my natural haircare regimen. Ayurvedic powders are useful in that they provide remedies for a variety of hair issues. Some of my favorite powders have been fenugreek powder, hibiscus powder, and bhringraj powder. I incorporate these powders into my deep conditioners, homemade shampoos, or in my homemade hair oil. However, what I love most about ayurveda is being able to experiment with powders to see what works for my hair.
What are your tried and true length retention tips?