My Hair Only Grows 4″ a Year!

My Hair Only Grows 4″ a Year!


Even before I began my official “healthy hair journey” I believed my hair grew at least six inches per year (one half-inch per month) because that’s the average…and well, I thought I was at least average! lol.  While relaxed, it was hard to gauge of my actual growth rate – I would notice that I had “a lot” of new growth while stretching but that was the most quantifying I could do.  Now that I am a year into my transition, the amount of hair I’ve grown in the past 52 weeks is easily identifiable.

transitioning hair, long term transition to natural hair, type 4 transitioning hair, transitioning from relaxed to 4c natural hair

I measured several areas of my hair while wet and noted that I have four inches of natural hair growth.  Wow, for probably the first time in life I’m BELOW average?!  Or am I?  Well, according to a 2005 study published in the International Journal of Dermatology*, Asian hair grows 6″ per year, Caucasion hair grows over 5″ per year while African hair grows only an average of 4″ per year.  Whelp!  I guess I am average after all!

transitioning hair, long term transition to natural hair, type 4 transitioning hair, transitioning from relaxed to 4c natural hair

At my longest hair length, I had 12 inches of hair.  By comparison, 4 inches feels…bald.  Especially when you account for shrinkage; The photos above show wet and damp hair, but dry I have less than an inch of natural hair when shrunken!  A bit discouraging.  But then the conversation in my head goes something like this: “Self?  Yes?  You want at least 12 inches of hair right?  Of course!  Well, you’re already one year in…you only have two to go!”  Sometimes that pep talk works, sometimes it doesn’t!

If you are relaxed or already fully natural, unless you color your hair, it can be hard to tell how fast or slow your hair grows.  Yes, you may be monitoring your overall length but you may not be able to tell if you are growing slowly or if you haven’t retained all your growth.  So if you aren’t reaching your hair length goals as quickly as possible, remember African hair grows an average of 4″ per year.  You could be above or below that average, which does not mean you are doing anything wrong on your hair journey!

*Loussouarn, G., El Rawadi, C. and Genain, G. (2005), Diversity of hair growth profiles. International Journal of Dermatology, 44: 6–9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-4632.2005.02800

  • S.O.S Hair

    I love seeing your natural roots but I’m most impressed by how well your relaxed ends are holding up especially in your nape!. *High Five-Fist Pump*

  • Looking great, Ebony! How long do you intend to transition?

  • Join the club chile! 4 inches has always been standard for me 🙂 You will get your 12 inches tho girl, and a whole lot more!

  • You may not just grow 4″. For whatever reason, I didn’t have any new growth for the first two months of my transition, but then it caught up and I definitely get 6 or more every year!

  • Great job, E! It has been a year? CONGRATS. That’s awesome.

  • Li

    wow! So the “myth” is true that African hair grows at a slower pacer than other hair types? Good when you relax and colour, don’t need as frequent touch up as others.

    Also, that might be why it has often been quite easy for you to stretch between relaxers ?

  • Nicola

    My hair grows 6in a year so I guess I must be Asian 😛 Don’t be so quick to believe such studies, the results vary every few years

    • Well….calculating an average means some people are above, while others are below. And that’s why studies are continually done, to update research 🙂

  • I must be Asian then