Length-Checks ≠ Vanity

Hello beautiful people!

AB here! What’s good? 🙂

Natural in Paradise is in exactly 8 days! Bring a friend, tell a friend! 🙂

Today, let’s talk length-checks. Are you for or against? How often do you do a length check? Are they in your view, a healthy habit or an unnecessary one?

I came across this length-check collage from September 1, 2013 a few weeks ago, and I panicked because, I felt like my hair was still in the same place it was, over 12 months ago.

September 1, 2013

Most times I’m walking on sunshine, but I can also be a very creative worrier and over thinker. So I began:

Am I not doing all the right things? This year, I’ve been eating better. Until I fell off the wagon in August, I made considerable effort to exercise, didn’t I? I have my busted right knee to show for it. I will get back on but yeah, I did. My regimen has been better. Moisture – Protein levels? Check. Unlike last year when I combed and combed, not caring about breaking hair every day, this year I’ve made effort to protective style. If anything, this year beats wet combing for 20 minutes every damn day. Yet my hair appears to have fared better last year. Confusing. 😦

My hair was under extensions at the time, so I couldn’t confirm if I was really stuck.

I read that people tend to plateau for a bit at APL (Armpit length) and BSL (Bra strap length) but I’m not even there yet! So I was worried. Every time I saw a post on Instagram or Natural Hair Babes Facebook- seeing a blooming big fro (8 months post big chop! 10 months post big chop!) I’d feel a twinge of emotion. Not envy, no. More like me wondering, what is wrong with me? Why is my hair not growing?!

I texted my friend D about this one day and then she tagged me in this picture LOL

Image 2

Yes Lord!! I say Amen!

So after I took the weave out, I did a length check and took photos, carefully comparing them to September 2013.

And there, I saw it. Some progress at least! Not at all impressive in the front or the sides, but the back is really trying! For the hair behind my ear, it looks like nothing has changed in over a year. I do know that when I tried the African Hair Accel Hair Vitamins in April, I grew one inch everywhere else, but only half an inch in that area, so clearly, I have not retained that half inch!

September 30, 2014

September 30, 2014

On the bright side,

Asides length, my ends are doing great. I haven’t spotted any split-ends since I dusted my ends in August, and my edges are growing back, unassisted. I’ve been lazy, couldn’t keep up with rubbing castor oil on them. Also, my hair is still thick and shiny, accepting and maintaining moisture. I really can’t complain!

Length-Checks ≠ Vanity

After my length check in May, I told myself that I would not be doing any length checks till the end of the year.

Now, I feel differently. I will commit to doing length checks every three months. I feel like I put a lot of effort in caring for my hair, but I need to work on my length retention practices. And how do I know my work is effective if I don’t check?

Sure. We can find ourselves in a mental trap, going overboard with length checks, doing them every other week. Yes, as much time spent obsessing over length should be channeled into thinking about our hair’s overrall health.

But. What use is nurturing your hair if you aren’t retaining what you grow? Having your hair snap or break off “by accident” a lot can cause more problems- split ends, complex knots which lead to more tangling.

I limit combing to the days when I wash my hair, but I’m thinking that even this may be too much. Can I give up combing completely? Nope, not right now. Finger detangling has its own issues, I’ll talk about this later. I’ve been having slightly scandalous thoughts about hair care lately lol but this is a story for another day.

I still don’t know what expectations to have of my hair. Is my growth rate fast? Is it slow? Average? Not comparing it to others, but I feel like maybe I could be doing better? When I was transitioning, I went from one protective style to another for the entire eight months, and I had a decent sized fro post BC. Looking at this picture, isn’t it reasonable to expect that I should have grown as much (and more) in the last one year?

8 month old 'fro. Shrinkage and stuff :)

One month post big chop. 9 months of growth.

I had a major haircut shortly after and another trim before the year ended (the first one was a huge fail and the second was to remedy the horrible first) Sometimes I wonder what my hair would be like, without those cuts. Not dwelling on them oh, the photo is just making me think. My hair appears to be growing much slower than it was during my transition or maybe it’s just my poor length retention??

Anyway. Setbacks or nah, slow growth rate or not, we are going to waist length, come what may! 😀

And if there’s anything you should take away from this post, it is this: Take photos of, or with your hair. It’s the easiest, most fun way to document your journey.

This is one of those Hair Diary posts. Not too whiny, I hope? Is everything groovy with your hair? Tell me all about it!




22 thoughts on “Length-Checks ≠ Vanity

  1. Length checks depending in what side of it you’re coming from can be depressing or encouraging. If you’re coming from the point of competition and comparison with other naturals, it can be depressing cos your hair will never in your mind measure up but if it is coming from a point of tracking your personal progress, it can be encouraging to notice the difference in length and can motivate one to keep in track or make some useful changes.


  2. You had me at scandalous 😭😭😭. It’s alright to obsess a little about length especially when one puts extra effort in taking care of ones hair. Plus pictures are definitely are great way to document your journey

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t consciously do length checks. In fact, left to me, my hair isn’t growing – or doesn’t grow quickly (fine fine, I’m bad at protective styling cos I like touching my hair too much). I don’t think it’s vain, but people shouldn’t look at others too much. When I see people whose hair grew 18inches in 3 blawdy months, I’m like WTH?!?!? So lemme just wach from afar and not stress myself.

    P.S. I sent you an IG DM.



  4. The hair I lost after my last protective style eeehn, and I start thinking are this styles really protective or just an excuse to be lazy about one’s hair .My hair is just a Lil bit more than a TWA obviously. I’m scared to do a length check cos I think it won’t be up to par .


  5. My hair is growing SLOWLY!!! Will take the pictures advice. when see the picture of natural hair babes on FB, if the hair was not so precious, I would have been pulling mine out in frustration!! . Waist length?!!! O ga o


  6. My plan is to do length checks every 6 months; it gives me a chance to see the progress of my hair and make any corrections (if I can) in terms of my regimen. You should take note of your growth rate per month so you can track what’s happening. My hair grows a little over 1/4″ per month so I know what to expect.

    I think you should indeed do a length check in 3 months to see your growth rate, and if any fixable issues are seen, adjust your regimen. Anything else beyond your control, leave it be and enjoy your hair! And don’t ever compare progress pictures to another natural.. It won’t do you any good whatsoever!


  7. I pay very little mind to length checks, my hair is always shrinking up and I never really mind. Sure sometimes I stretch out my twists and I comb out my fro just to see how much bigger it has gotten (only for it to shrink up in about 5 minutes). As long as my hair is healthy, I don’t care about the length but I see why you would.

    The trick is to not compare yourself to other naturals, because if you do, your own hair will never be enough.


  8. Girl I feel you, I dyed my hair last year and now it’s grown out a few inches, so i can already see that my growth rate is sower than ‘average’ but I also realised that I only have about 2 inches of dyed hair left, meaning that the dyed parts of my hair are either breaking off, or i’m doing too much with the trimming (which trimming?).

    I think length checks are important to some extent, your hair can look healthy, but if you aren’t retaining length it means you’re doing something wrong. Our hair may not show an increase in length unless properly stretched, so even unofficial length checks can do the job But obviously there can be too much of a good thing, and i fell victim at the beginning of my journey. What can a girl do eh?




  9. I BCed again the end of August and wasn’t too happy about it. I’d had a great amount of growth but I’d also damaged my hair at beginning of my journey and it needed to be corrected. So I took the drastic step and started all over. So far my hair seems to be growing quite well. It looks as if I’ve grown about 1.5-2 inches. I definitely miss my twist outs but I’m not really worried. I took photos this evening for my first length check since cutting my hair. I probably won’t do another one until the beginning of the new year.


  10. I think length checks are important to an extent. They help you see if your regimen is working for you and if it isn’t you can adjust the regimen accordingly. I don’t think they are helpful when you do them too often. It could be a setup for disappointment.

    But, I’m one to talk. I haven’t done a proper length check in over a year. 😯

    Don’t Touch The Hair


  11. This length check business sometimes isn’t for the faint hearted! I understand exactly what this post is talking about! I have been there so many times! Until I just decided that I am going to enjoy my hair and I will never do a length check again!!! I have had it with the pang of emotion that my hair isn’t growing as it should! Heck even men have joined, my husband was like “Ahn since I met you, your hair isn’t bum bum length yet!!!” Imagine my shock and guilt! I was like but it’s growing normally! What is he expecting!
    My point is as long as the hair is healthy and bouncy length will come eventually. Infact before I see length I experience thickness first.


  12. Your hair does show progress. I think you’re on the right track with the length checks so at least you get to gauge the efficacy of your methods.
    As for your slower growing front hair, tell me about it. I’m all “waist length, waist length” but that’s just the middle and the back. My front isn’t even APL. Length retention there has been war


  13. lol, no not whiny at all. I totally understand your desire to see significant progress between milestones.

    I got a uniform haircut (purposely wanted exactly 8 inches of length all over my head) last November cos my hair was beginning to frustrate me. I wanted to test the half-inch-a-month theory and nearly 12 months after, with TLC, I am happy to see a significant difference.

    You take really good care of your hair, well done.


  14. First and Foremost, the picture of your September length check is A KEEPER!! Secondly, On my take on performing length checks, I think it is a personal decision. I personally feel length checks sort of show your progress and help determine the techniques or products that have been making and breaking your progress. Coupled with length check charts and monthly haircare notes, I access the cause and proffer solutions immediately.


  15. Lovely read! I am against length checks because personally, I think it’s unhealthy. However, I fully support progress pictures over time. 🙂 I think length checking is discouraging if you don’t keep the science of hair growth in mind. At any given time, all of your hair strands are at different phases of the hair cycle… sometimes in the growing phase while other times in the resting phase, etc. And unfortunately, it is impossible to know what phase your hair is in. 😦 As naturals, we tend to beat ourselves up when we length check after a few months and our hair seems to be at the same place. Rather than obsess over hair length measurements, I think it is better to assess the state/ health of your hair periodically. Are you seeing a lot of short strands in the sink as you style your hair instead of longer shed hairs? Do you notice any split ends? Is your hair dry? Are you due for a trim? If so, these are possible reasons why you may not see any progress month over month since your hair is breaking as it grows. You should revist your regimen to determine what you can change to retain more length. If after your assessment you feel that you are not experiencing any of these symptoms and your hair feels healthy, don’t fret! Your hair is probably in the resting phase which is completely normal! ❤


  16. Your hair is definitely longer. The ladies above have given really good advice and tips so there is no need for me to repeat it.

    I rarely do length checks, not because I’m against it or anything but generally because I rarely wear my hair stretched so the length doesn’t bother me. I am contemplating making a length check t-shirt. I think by monitoring my growth rate it will help me set goals.



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