Terminal Length – How Long Can Your Hair Actually Grow?

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On BHI our mission to to teach women of color to grow long hair but ‘long’ means different things to different people. When we first begin our hair journeys, we have hopes and dreams of hair swinging in the wind lapping at our waists but is this even possible for all black women?

Before we get started, this graphic below shows different hair length terms.

Hair lengths from neck length to tail bone length

Hair grows at a genetically pre-determined rate, the rate that you will often hear quoted is an average of 6 inches per year but in truth, the rate is 4-6 inches per year. It tends to be faster in Caucasians and Asians and slower in people of African descent, mine is only 4 inches per year.

A strand of hair can only grow for so long and this period (anagen phase) ranges depending on who you ask from 2 to 6 years with men having shorter anagen phases than women. Even though different strands may be at different stages in their cycle, about 85% of your hair will be in anagen phase at any one time. The anagen phase is clearly a big player when it comes to determining the length of hair.

So what is terminal length? Terminal length is the maximum length that a strand of hair can grow, if it never broke and was never cut, from when it sprouts out of your scalp until it eventually sheds. It’s a simple formula really, Terminal Length = Growth Rate x Length of Anagen Period.

There’s no denying that an individual’s growth rate and the length of anagen period is genetically predetermined and as such, so is the terminal length. That being said, its clear that majority of black women have never reached their terminal length. Even if you didn’t cut your hair, a certain amount of breakage is inevitable which makes true terminal length an elusive prospect for most of us.

So the question is, will you ever have long hair? Let’s do the math. Let’s put you right in the middle of the figures I have already quoted with a growth rate of 5 inches per year and an anagen period of 3 years. This would give you 15 inches of hair as your terminal length. With an average height woman in the USA being 5′ 4.6″ that would be close to waist length hair. Long? I think so!


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About Alma

Hi! I'm Alma Ruddock, a full time blogger. I stumbled on a hair care forum in 2008 frustrated with my breaking relaxed hair and the information that I found there changed the fate of my hair forever!. I started BlackHairInformation.com as a way to help both myself and other women of color achieve their dreams of long healthy hair. I have now achieved my goal length and I continue to bring new information about hair on both this website and my personal blog.

  • https://www.facebook.com/mimiejessie.mimie MimieJessie Tembo Mimie

    ampit length

  • https://www.facebook.com/shai.pruitt.1 Shai Pruitt

    I`m going for tail bone length….

  • https://www.facebook.com/floflo.siana Floflo Siana

    mid-back lengh

  • https://www.facebook.com/aaliyahdenisejones Aaliyah Stawberrykiss Jones

    Shoulder length

  • https://www.facebook.com/rae.florexil Rae Florexil

    Hip length is my goal

  • https://www.facebook.com/sandy.jay.7 Sandy D’embalmama Jay

    Bra strap length to start off with

  • https://www.facebook.com/mrsjketchum Jaycelyn Tipps Ketchum

    I’m good with armpit length, anything more I can’t handle.

  • https://www.facebook.com/musheerah.lewis Musheerah Lewis

    Im mid back bit hoping for waist or tail bone. Have to keep it healthy!!!!

    • https://www.facebook.com/BasheeraHassanali Basheera Hassanali

      Me too!

    • https://www.facebook.com/BasheeraHassanali Basheera Hassanali

      I just noticed your name rhymes with mine.

    • https://www.facebook.com/lamiathepink LaMia Bentley

      I hope you reach your goal :)

  • https://www.facebook.com/aisha.johnson.395 Aisha Johnson

    Mine doesn’t past my collar bone…All it does is break of after that..

  • https://www.facebook.com/adelice.nicole Adelice Nicole

    I’m perfectly satisfied with whatever length it gets to its maximum healthy length..♡

  • https://www.facebook.com/tarachase.stephens Tara Chase Stephens

    Im abt 2 inches past arm pit length..

  • https://www.facebook.com/margret.onyeaghor Margret NotMargaret Onyeaghor

    My natural hair is currently armpit length, but I’d like it to be mid back length when wet. (That is how I tell my approximate straightened length.)

  • Candace S

    I just wish all my hair was even the same LENGTH! No matter what I do, it doesn’t seem to want to grow out. The top half grows, but the bottom doesn’t. My sides continue to break off and not grow. I’m staying to think I should just shave my head! :(

  • https://www.facebook.com/carmella.mccoy Carmella McCoy

    I ain’t nowhere near 5ft4 so 15in of hair would never be waist length on me.

  • https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002996772804 Seccface Griffin

    I’m armpit length

  • https://www.facebook.com/miriam.correa.1232 Miriam Correa

    I’m already waist length, hopefully I’ll be tailbone later on this year, early next year.

  • https://www.facebook.com/debnkado Debra Benny

    My goal right now, armpit length. I’m at shoulder length now. One goal length at a time. Lol

  • https://www.facebook.com/ahmalyah.maynard.5 Ahmalyah Maynard

    Tail Bone Length right now it is Bra Strap Length

  • https://www.facebook.com/ObeyZennedy Zennedy Bibbs

    Trying to get tail bone length but I’m almost at the shoulder! Lol

  • https://www.facebook.com/shannon.reed.142687 Shannon Reed

    This obsession with long hair is ridiculous. Who cares, healthy hair should be the goal.

    • https://www.facebook.com/BasheeraHassanali Basheera Hassanali

      Shannon Reed Long hair is Beautiful, if it weren’t then there wouldn’t be so many buying long wigs and weaves. A woman’s Hair is her GLORY.

    • https://www.facebook.com/shawntel.chinn Shawntel Chinn

      So true.

    • https://www.facebook.com/antwanette.wiley Antwanette Wiley

      soooo if your hair is short its UGLY????? no, SOCITY has shaped people to think long hair is beautiful, the new it…..all Shannon is saying is strive for healthy hair and the rest will come

  • https://www.facebook.com/nicole.caldwell.520 Nicole Caldwell

    I’m at shoulder length

  • https://www.facebook.com/nicole.caldwell.520 Nicole Caldwell

    It’s nothing wrong with wanting to have long hair.

  • https://www.facebook.com/jaican15 Stacy-Ann Shreeves

    My goal is armpit lenght.. If I can achieve bra strap lenght then that’s great.. But my main goal is being healthy overall and with that mindset, I know I will achieve my goal! :)

  • https://www.facebook.com/yaasmiyn.reed Yaasmiyn Ahshaki

    Smh how about who cares!!! what length you have. Ain’t gonna make our race any more accepted then we are now! Put more energy into our childs education n moving our community farther!

    • https://www.facebook.com/kimberly.dixon.944 Kimberly Dixon

      I understand what you’re saying but this is a hair page. So they’re going to talking about hair topics such as hair lengths.

  • https://www.facebook.com/Taneesha.Renee Taneesha Renee

    Shai Pruitt I’m a gone head and try for that ankle length lol

  • https://www.facebook.com/kimberly.dixon.944 Kimberly Dixon

    I’m at bra strap length but I don’t have a length goal. It’s just growing on it’s own and I only trim my ends.

  • https://www.facebook.com/PhillyChickAC Asia Battle

    Certain styles require certain lengths, so I see why people have length goals. When I first started, I wanted to be able to wear a side ponytail that would lay on my shoulder and not be stiff stick straight up in the air! But I also agree that healthy hair should be the main focus…

  • https://www.facebook.com/nadlhy.b.pierre Nadou B. Pierre

    Im a little past shoulder length in a straightened state I want to be shoulder length in my natural state .

  • https://www.facebook.com/ilsis.pozo Ilsis E. Pozo

    My goal is HEALTH

  • https://www.facebook.com/jessica.flanigan.169 Jessica Flanigan

    I’m currently at neck when straightened. I want armpit length to be where I stop. Anything below that is too long for me,

  • https://www.facebook.com/lisamac021 Lisa Fields McDonald

    I have bra length and my 4 year old has tail bone

  • https://www.facebook.com/karen.nkweini Karen Nkwe-ini

    My goal is to get from neck to armit hair length! I can’t stand short hair!!!!!

  • https://www.facebook.com/deyonia.Mz.Independent Dey Dey Faulkner

    Im shoulder length but my goal is to be bra strap length

  • https://www.facebook.com/josie.nelson.167 Josie Nelson

    Mine is neck line now, I want shoulder length!!!

  • https://www.facebook.com/terry.norman.129142 Terry Norman

    Neck length right now. Ready for shoulder

  • https://www.facebook.com/Missjazzy1984 Jasmine Kearns

    I used to care about length but all I’m wanting is healthy hair. If it grows long cool. If it doesn’t oh well. I’ll still love it anyway!

  • https://www.facebook.com/sabine.jeanpierre.73 Sabine Fontilus

    How about toe length. Lol

  • https://www.facebook.com/llorata Llorata Aaliyahandlloydstt Handia

    I have been at arm pit length. I am seriously aiming for bra strap.

  • https://www.facebook.com/ashley.sanon Ash Doll

    My goal is waist length :) Im Chin length noww

  • https://www.facebook.com/kimberly.limas.7 Kimberly Limas

    I’m 2 inches passed tail bone length =)

  • https://www.facebook.com/ama.barton2 Ama Barton

    My goal is waist length

  • https://www.facebook.com/charles.craig.750 Alexis Craig

    U forgot ear length…lol

  • https://www.facebook.com/naomi.daniella.7 Naomi Daniella


  • https://www.facebook.com/leandra.charles Leandra Adalia Charles

    waist but i cut it all off :'( and im missing it

  • https://www.facebook.com/camilla.sparrow Camilla Sparrow

    I’m currently working towards armpit length, I have the shoulders covered :)

  • https://www.facebook.com/terry.purce Terry Lynch-Purce

    Mid Back length!!!

  • https://www.facebook.com/eve.cornell1 Eve Cornell

    Man I hope it can help me

  • https://www.facebook.com/deanna.ross.3994 Deanna Merritt Ross

    Not interested in length. My hair is the healthiest it has ever been.

  • https://www.facebook.com/tonita.lawson Tonita Lawson

    Women love long hair. We buy long weave hair by the Billions of dollars.

  • https://www.facebook.com/chelsea.thattallchick Chelsea Crouch

    all the ppl saying “who cares!?” prob cant grow their hair long. theres nothing wrong with wanting long hair

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