Make Hair Grow Longer

African teenager with shoulder length hair
Q: I am an African American teen, and it seems as though my hair just will not grow! I keep very good care of it, and it looks healthy, but it has stayed at the same length for over 2 years!
I relax my hair, but I know lots of girls who do as well, and their hair has grown to the middle of their backs! I trim my hair when I am supposed to, and it always looks healthy, so my question to you is: why doesn't my hair grow, and how can I make it grow longer?

A: I can certainly sympathize with your frustration over your hair's seeming refusal to grow beyond a certain point. However, your hair's ability to grow to a certain length is ultimately determined by the length of its growth cycle. The average person's hair has approximately 90% of the hairs in a growth phase at a given time. This growth phase lasts an average of 2-6 years, and sometimes longer, depending on the person.
This would imply that everyone could achieve hair lengths of at least three feet, and under ideal conditions, this might be true. However, the hair is often subjected to breakage and damage from everyday wear and tear. Buffetting against the clothes, bedlinens as you sleep, and damage due to styling can also inhibit the length to which the hair will grow.
In order to see if your hair could grow longer, you need to make sure your hair isn't being lost to damage. Do you find hairs in your brushes and combs? Do you have split ends? Even a few of these symptoms can add up when considering the length of a growth cycle.
A few of the best tips to help ensure maximum hair growth is keeping the hair well-conditioned, and protect the hair from environmental damage. Try using satin or silk pillowcases to minimize the friction you experience while sleeping, and use a smoothing serum to help repair split ends. These tips may not result in longer hair, but you will see an improvement in your hairs condition.
Photo: Cheryl Savan/Shutterstock
See also:
How to repair split ends
How to protect your hair while you sleep
Maximizing hair growth with kelp
The 3 hair growth phases