Below are 4 key factors that have contributed to my length retention. They are simple tasks that anyone can incorporate into their hair regimen.
1. Moisturize - Extremely essential in any hair care regimen! Hair that is dry and brittle will snap and break off, thus leading to shorter hair. Hydrated moisturized hair has elasticity, so when stretched (due to manipulation i.e. combing, brushing, etc.) it will return to it's original state, without breaking off. Sealing moisturized hair with an oil (applying a dime size amount of oil on the ends) locks in the moisture into the hair. Highly textured hair tends to be very porous (moisture escaping the hair quickly), therefore, sealing helps prevent the moisture from escaping the strands. The natural oil (olive oil, castor oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil etc.) will help improve the shine and pliability of the hair. Moisturizing and sealing should be done daily!
2. Protect - Protect the hair! Reduce hair manipulation/combing, cut back on heat use, or keep the hair up and off of the shoulders. Incorporate buns, braids, clipped up/updo's, weaves, wigs etc. into your regimen. Keeping the ends protected from the elements is essential for hair health and length retention. I suggest protective styling 5-6 days out of the week. In the category of protection, wearing a satin/silk scarf, satin/silk bonnet or sleeping on a satin/silk pillow case prevents dryness in the hair. Cotton tends to suck the moisture out of the hair. Dryness = breakage = shorter hair.
3. Low Manipulation - Leave your hair alone! They say "when you comb your hair often, it's as if you are giving yourself a hair cut, each time". Put down the comb, hot comb, flat iron, blow dryer and just let your hair be. The less you do to it, the better. Try finger combing, that way you don't loose hair unnecessarily. If you need to detangle, use a wide tooth shower comb to do so, but finger detangle first. In a week, you should detangle from root to tip 2-3x max! Finger comb in between. Also. opt for styles that require no heat i.e. buns, braid outs, twist outs etc. Give your hair a break and it will thank you for it.
4. Deep condition - At least once a week! Deep conditioning is essential in any hair regimen in order to have healthy hair. It prevents dryness, frizz and breakage. Deep conditioning restores strength and elasticity making the strands more resilient. Strong hair = less breakage = length retention. Deep conditioning is best done with heat (heating cap, steamer, hooded dryer) for 20-30mins or 1hr without heat. Heat allows the cuticles to swell open, thus allowing the conditioner to penetrate the strands and nourish the hair from the inside out.
Have patience :)