Articles, Food, Health, Loc Care & Styles

How to Grow Long Locs – What You Need to Know

black woman with long locs standing on patio with her hands her hair. wearing a blue shirt posing for article on how to grow long locs

Having healthy and long locs is an aspiration for many. The question is, how do you grow long locs? Likely you feel like your locs are growing too slowly or are just curious on how long it will take to get there. I want to warn you before you read further that there is no magic bullet, so you won’t find that referenced here. Read below to see the top four factors that go into achieving long locs. 

Genes

It is unfortunate because there is nothing you can do about your genes. But rest assured, the other factors are things you can control. However, given how big of a component genes go into determining how long and fast your locs grow, it is something you should definitely be aware of.

The main determinations here are:

  • Hair growth by race: African 4 inches/year. Caucasian 5 inches/year. Asian 6 inches/year 
  • Individual characteristics: Even though averages may show that your hair type by race may be slower or faster, there still is variance from person to person. 
  • Hair type: Coily hair tends to shrink up more and show less length. This doesn’t just happen with lose hair but with locd hair as well. 

While there is nothing you can do about your genes, you can do something about the next factors.

Hair Retention

Probably the single most important factor that you can control in terms of growing long locs is retention. That’s why it is a big part of my article, “Why Your Locs Aren’t Growing.” You can have the fastest growing hair in the world, but if your hair is breaking then you won’t achieve long locs. If you’ve started locs with damaged (eg., split ends, thinning hair on ends) then you will have a certain amount of breakage that is inevitable. 
But overall, there are some keys to keep in mind to still have an impact on retention. Those are, avoid pulling/tugging on hair (ie., avoiding Hand in Hair Syndrome) and avoiding product build up. Product buildup can cause itchy scalp, sticky locs, and dull looking locs. There will be no loc retention if you end up cutting your locs off!

Nutrition

The three parts of nutrition will determine how your locs grow. The first factor is diet, the second is general supplements, and the third is targeted supplements. 

Diet

For many aspects of life, from growing long/healthy nails to feeling good, you’ll hear that you should optimize your diet. Your locs are no exception. If your basic diet is not healthy, then the hair that grows from your scalp won’t be either. There are a lot of cultural aspects to the food we eat, but there are some basics to keep in mind whatever your diet is. 

“Eat food, not too much, and mostly plants.” This advice comes from Michael Pollen’s book, “In Defense of Food.”  The only thing I’ll add here is, drink a lot of and mostly water. 

General Supplements (for Deficiencies)

For the most part, if you follow the advice under diet, you’ll be fine. There is much debate over the benefit of general supplements. However, ensuring that you aren’t deficient in some basic nutrients will go a long way for your overall health. Getting a blood panel can help identify deficiencies that are not only affecting your hair but your overall health. Some common nutrients that affect your hair are below. You can read here to learn more.

nutrients for healthy locs - list of 10 nutrients for healthy locs; protien, vitamin a, biotin (b7), vitamin b12, vitamin c, vitamin d, vitamin e, iron, selenium, and zinc

Eating a well rounded and healthy diet should help with making sure these nutrients are at their optimal level, but it doesn’t hurt to check with your primary healthcare provider, particularly if you feel your locs are growing very slowly or you’re having other health issues.

Targeted Supplements

If you figured out that your nutrient levels are optimal, are there other supplements you can take to speed up loc growth? 

Unfortunately there is no magic bullet. There aren’t any FDA approved/scientifically significant studies that show additional supplements will increase hair growth. Thus you should be careful of any company/brand claiming to have one. 

Extensions

Having long loc envy? Some people use extensions to start their loc journeys. They’ll start off with extensions and continue their loc journey from there to grow or maintain long locs. If you don’t want to go that way, that’s fine. However, use this as a reminder that everyone’s journey is different. You may want to grow long locs naturally and be comparing your locs to someone with extensions.

Thanks for stopping by. Remember, these are the four most important factors into growing long locs. You may decide that you don’t even want to grow out your locs that long, but this information is still good for healthy locs.

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