I'm growing mine out, and the suggestions here are good, even though I don't follow them all. I color and diffuse dry. When wet/straight, I'm right around 30 inches in length. I just don't like the look of wet hair at work, and I am not waitng 8 hours for it to dry.
It *is* possible to grow longer healthy hair doing the above, it's just harder.
I get trimmed about 3-4 times a year and I have recently started snipping off my own splits.
I put my hair up sometimes. If it's military, it's totally different. My military hairstyle has to be more strict with few tools, so I can have more isues with damage from that than I get with blow drying or coloring.
For non military updos, I like the styles from the book "Stricly Curls."
I see lovely braids and buns on straght/wavy lonhaired folks, but they just don't seem to look as nice on the curlies to me. I think curlies need different updos that straighties.
I have some layers to avoid pyramid head. I am thinking of getting more layers in the back because the length is starting to pull out my curl in the back. If I had to chose, I'd rather have curl than length, so I'll stop growing it out at the point where I can't keep the curl. I don't want long scraggly hair.
I Low-Poo when I feel I need it - about once a month. I condition 5-7 days a week. My hair has been dry and coarse since childhood, so I DT once a week most week, sometimes twice.
I sleep in a loose bun on a satin pillowcase. If I am trying for seond day hair, I sleep in a pineapple.
I take a multivitamin and fish oils for my body, so I figure it'll work for my hair too. I'm a quick grower, so I guess it helps.
Shoulder length was awkward for me. I used a lot of clips.
Oh, I make my barettes safer my following the instructions here