How to Do a Proper Length Check for Natural Hair Growth

How to Do a Proper Length Check for Natural Hair Growth

Full transparency here: I'm at the end of month 2 as a participant in The Mane Choice's Manetabolism Hair Growth Challenge. I'm in no way being paid to promote the vitamin, I am simply being supplied with free vitamins for 6 months (plus I'll be doing a giveaway of 2 bottles of the vitamin in April).

Now that we've got that out the way, let me share a funny story with you all circulating around a picture I posted on Instagram only a few weeks in to taking the vitamin.

The caption read: A hair short of 2 weeks (it's been 12 days to be exact) taking @themanechoice @manetabolism vitamins. Am I crazy for thinking I see growth already?!? I can't wait to get at least 2 months in, so I can do this giveaway and have ya'll join me!

My followers went IN on me. Not a full reading, but enough to make me reconsider my life as a blogger. Of course I'm being a little dramatic, but they definitely let me know that they were here for nothing other than the hardcore truth. I was told everything from, "you'll see what you want to see" to "your facial position is different", and "your sweater is visually interfering". Of course,  it was all in love and wanting to see the progress with the vitamin for nothing less than what it actually was. I get it. Totally. My followers and naturalistas on the whole are tired of being marketed to through bloggers (at least in that cheesy, painfully obvious way), and want the facts. They want the truth. And so do I.

So I did what any person who knows what to do with criticism does -- take it in, make some changes, and do better next time. So with that being said, let me use my lessons learned and share with you how to do a proper length check (for those that are interested in tracking length retention):
Tip 1: Pick the right tools for the long-haul.
If you pick a particular shirt, be prepared to use that shirt -- Every. Single. Time. I personally recommend making your own DIY Length Check Shirt, because trying to recapture the same exact angles in an unmarked t-shirt or tank top is an exercise in futility. You'll use all the memory in your phone trying to get the pictures right, and spend even more time in your photo grid app trying to make sure your shoulders line up. Trust me. Also, a shirt that has some sort of print or graphic on the front works best. That way, along with the measurements at the back, you'll have a visual reference for the front. If you're going to go the tape measure route, make sure you've got some help. You'll need a second pair of hands to hold the measure while you hold your hair in a stretched state, or at least to hold the camera.

Tip 2: Have at least 2 or 3 points of reference.
Different areas of your hair may grow at different rates. For example, the front of my hair grows disrespectfully fast in comparison to the back of my hair. But I would never know that, because the front shrinks up so much more. If you're looking to remain encouraged along a growth/length retention journey, having multiple references or checkpoints for your length will help you keep it all in perspective. It will also help you determine if there are any changes you need to make in your styling regimen, especially if you begin noticing breakage or increasingly thinning ends.  

Tip 3: Always grab the same areas.
Admittedly, when I wrote this I immediately thought of breakage due to excess manipulation of a particular area. But then I realized, unless you're doing length checks on a daily/weekly basis (which I absolutely do not recommend), you should be fine. The main idea here is to make sure that you have consistent points of reference for your photos. If you measured your hair at the front on the right side last month, why would you compare it to the left side this month? Keep it simple, and keep it all the same.

Tip 4: Avoid angles.
There's a hilarious meme circulating on social media of a girl doing a length check with her head tilted back as she's essentially bent over backwards. As hilarious as it is, it's true. I see so many #lengthcheck pictures where it's painfully obvious that the head is tilted back or forward to give the impression of extra length. As much as possible, try to look straight ahead in all shots. I know, camera angles are a lady's best friend (right next to filters and lighting), but they've got to go if you're serious about being as accurate as possible.

Tip 5: Don't do it too often.
There is absolutely no point in checking your hair every day, every 7 days, every 10 days. Most hair grows between half an inch and an inch per month. What are you checking for, nanometers? At least wait 3 weeks between length checks, otherwise you're bound to get discouraged. My personal rule of thumb is every 30 days, or every month. Give your hair enough time to work it's magic!

What are some of your best practices when it comes to length checks?


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