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Imagine retaining 12 inches of hair in one year. It’s pretty exciting, isn’t it? That’s like going from a clean-shaven big chop to shoulder length or going from shoulder length to almost waist length in one year! I was pretty excited about that prospect years ago and considered “challenging” myself to retain that much length in one year. However, the reality is the amount of hair you retain is both out of your control and determined by your practices. When it comes to hair growth and hair length retention it is common and encouraged to set length goals. Nevertheless some goals, no matter how well-intentioned, can be counterproductive.

Can you retain 12 inches of hair in 12 months? First, let’s review a few facts common among most women.

– On average we grow ½ inch of hair each month. This translates to 6 inches a year.

– Even with healthy hair practices you will occasionally need to trim or dust your ends, leading to a regular loss of length

– Even if you choose not to trim your hair any untrimmed split ends may likely lead to breakage

– If you occasionally experience a spurt in growth (i.e. more than ½ inch in a month) it is unlikely that you will sustain that growth if your hair doesn’t regularly grow at that rate

There’s nothing wrong with setting hair goals that will help to keep you dedicated to a healthy hair regimen. However, unless you have always been a “super grower”, averaging more than ¾ inch of hair growth a month, it’s not likely that you will retain 12 inches of hair length in a year no matter how amazing your hair products or how delicately you manage your hair.

Okay, so now that I’ve been somewhat of a Debbie Downer, here’s some encouraging news: It may be quite rare to retain 12 inches in the course of one year BUT you can maximize your growth. Here are a few key reminders of practices you can incorporate into your hair regimen to reduce unnecessary breakage and retain healthier hair faster.

Treat the ends of your hair like fine lace.

That’s right. Diligently moisturize your hair, paying particular attention to the last 3-4 inches of your hair. Moisturizing and sealing your ends will limit breakage and allow for maximum retention.

Stay Hydrated and Maintain a Healthy Diet

Be sure that you are drinking sufficient water and receiving necessary nutrients/vitamins. If not, your body will prioritize the health of your internal organs and will allow your hair, skin and nails to receive fewer nutrients so that your vital organs will receive what they need.

Wait for Color

You might want to consider waiting to dye your hair until you reach a length that is a few inches shorter than your ultimate length goal. If you do choose to color be committed to deep conditioning on a weekly basis.

Setting challenging length goals should be a source of motivation, rather than a way to determine if you can “cut it” as a natural. Basing your decision to remain natural on rapid hair growth is comparable to using your hair texture as a reason for choosing to remain natural: It is something that isn’t entirely in your control.


What changes have you made in your regime to maximize length retention?