The answer is more obvious than you think, so it's not really a secret - it's retaining the growth that's the real problem.

I remember when I first went natural; my hair was such a priority. I made sure to abide by every natural hair rule and didn’t skip a step on washday. Over time I slowly started skipping steps and cutting corners, expecting the same results. It simply doesn’t work that way. Growing long natural hair is a process. Think of it as growing a plant: If you decide that you’ll water it when you want and constantly alternate between drought and flood, chances are you won’t get the results you desire. I’m back to following the most important rules: pre-pooing, deep conditioning and detangling only when wet/damp. If you’ve stopped, you should start following the rules again.

Growing long natural hair is almost every woman’s dream and the process of doing so is no secret. We all know what we should be doing, but we don’t all do it. Following the natural hair rules makes all the difference.

Re-evaluate your hair regimen for a second. Are you doing everything you were doing when you first went natural? Are you sticking to a hair regimen that works for you and includes all the necessary steps required for long, healthy natural hair?

Sometimes we forget the basic steps and believe the problem is deeper than it actually is.

Just as a reminder, here are four natural hair rules you can't afford to skip.

1. Pre-pooing

I think this is the most over-looked aspect of natural hair. Pre-pooing is done before shampooing with oils or conditioners and creates a barrier between your hair and the shampoo. It prevents the shampoo from completely stripping your hair of its natural oils.

Watch our tutorial to make your own pre-poo at home:

2. Deep conditioning

Now, you know how important this is. African American hair is notorious for being dry. This is the secret to moisturized hair.

If you've been deep conditioning and haven't gotten convincing results, there are a few things you can do to make your deep conditioner work better, like using a thermal cap. Here are 5 more ways to get the most out of a deep conditioner.

3. Low manipulation

Cut some heat out. Stop twirling your hair around your fingers, even though it’s so tempting. Try not to comb your hair everyday, instead opt for finger detangling.

4. Satin/Silk Bonnet

Have you started just going to bed without your bonnet? Or maybe you got a new boyfriend and you can’t be sexy with a bonnet on? Try a satin pillowcase!

Growing long natural hair is no secret and while genetics plays a role, the “secret” is simply taking care of your hair consistently.

What's your secret?

This article was written by Chelsea Satine of and published on CurlyNikki.