Time and time again I see a video or read a blog post of a lady who stretched their relaxer for x amount of weeks, who spoke about having a lot of new growth throughout the stretch and then after relaxing, realises her hair has hardly changed in terms of length since her last chemical process. She has done everything right during that stretch. She has deep conditioned religiously she has moisturised and sealed faithfully and she has done nothing but protective style during that stretch. She has therefore done everything and so she is convinced that nothing is wrong with her hair and her regimen. She declares that her hair is not getting longer, but that health is more important than length.
To me it really is a matter of the chicken or the egg. Does health come before length? Or should they come together. I can understand this in the first few months of a Hair Journey. Your hair is damaged and it needs to be nursed back to health. However, once you get health, you also need to be gaining some length. If you have not had any major setbacks and you have not been scissors happy, then you should see your hair getting longer.
I was there. I first hit APL in mid 2009 but by mid 2010, I was just a bit longer than APL. My hair was creeping along and I used all the excuses I have seen other girls use. My hair grows slowly. I have a long torso so it will take me a long time to get to BSL. I'm focusing on the health of my hair and length will eventually come. Had I realised that it should not take 2 years to grow 6 inches of hair, I would have recognised I was not retaining my length and would have done something about it. It was only when I noticed that cumulative effect of my breakage in 2011 did I have a wake up call.
Now I know everyone's hair grows at different rates but I think for those of us who have been at it for a while now need to pay more attention to retention of our ends. If you believe your hair grows 1/2 inch a month and you are retaining your length, then in 6 months your hair needs to have gotten longer by 3 inches, barring any minor/major trims. After a year, it should be longer by 6 inches. It is as simple as that. If after a year, your hair is almost the same length it was the year before, then something is wrong.
Here is a photo of my hair from the start of my journey in 2009 to the 1st quarter of 2010. You can see how it changed length significantly in 2009, but by 2010 things seem to be slowing down. My hair was not growing any slower than usual but retention of my length was becoming a problem due to PJism and testing out new products all the time.
I recommend everyone do progression shots so that they can indeed recognise whether they are retaining their length or not. You need to see your hair getting progressively longer as the months go by.