Hey guys! Throughout my life I have had more hairstyles than you can count - every different length, color, cut, you name it. And even though I can appreciate shorter hairstyles on occasion, I seem to always go back to longer hair. We grow a lot of hair in my family, my own mother's hair has almost always been to her waist or longer. I am 36 years old and have been doing this for quite some time now, so I thought today I would tell you a few things I do to not only grow my hair out long, but what I also do to keep it looking nice once it is at the length I want it. I am not a licensed cosmetologist or a hair professional in any way, this is simply what I have learned through trial and error through the years. When in doubt, always consult your hairstylist about what is best for you and your hair!
Keep your scalp healthy - The overall health of your hair starts at your scalp. It's important to use products (shampoos, conditioners, treatments, styling products) that do not irritate/dry out/aggravate your scalp. Pay attention to how different products are working for you, regardless of how other people rate them. Also, popular opinion is that you should go as long as possible without washing your hair, and that is not necessarily true. If I go too long without washing my hair my scalp gets really itchy and I inevitably end up scratching and picking at it, which sometimes results in some scalp sensitivity and tenderness. If I wash my hair every other day I don't have this problem and my scalp stays in perfect shape. Try massaging your scalp when you're in the shower washing your hair, not only does it feel good but the stimulation is good for circulation and hair growth as well. Unless something is specifically designed to be put on the scalp, I tend to keep most styling products on the length of my hair. Clean and dry is usually the best when it comes to your noggin.
Try to embrace the natural state of your hair - More often than not we are not born with hair that looks perfect without doing anything to it, that's just how it is. Most of us have hair that looks better if we do some type of heat styling, whether it be flat ironing, curling, or even a good blowout. All of those things are damaging to your hair, not only if you're trying to grow your tresses out, but also if you have long hair and you are trying to keep it in good condition. There are always going to be those occasions where we want to fix up and look our best, but trying to incorporate some natural hair days into your routine is really beneficial to the overall health of your hair. I'm not saying roll out of the bed and head to the office, as we all want to look presentable. Here is where all those products you have accumulated will come in handy. Depending on your hair type and what your specific needs are, you can never go wrong by starting with a leave-in conditioner. My favorite is the Milk Shake Leave In Conditioner, it smells delicious and makes my hair feel really soft. Other than that you might want to add a shine serum and/or a product to control frizziness like a mousse or styling cream. Favorite products of mine include Chi Silk Infusion, Aveda Smooth Infusion, Living Proof Perfect Hair Day, It's A 10 Miracle Leave-In Product, and the OGX Split Ends Mender. Washing your hair strips it of a large percentage of it's natural oils, so always put some good stuff back in it and you will see a change in your hair (for the better). Also something to consider, if your hair is long enough, throw it up in a messy topknot or in a super chic bun. Braids are uber popular right now, so try your hand at a fishtail or a bohemian milkmaid crown, or at the very least a simple side braid. Effortlessly cool hair is super chic if you ask me.
Extend the life of a heat styled hairdo - Dry shampoo is an excellent tool for stretching out the number of days you can rock a good blow out or hairstyle. You know your hair better than anyone, and you know when it's time to wash your hair and style it again. Try to keep your hands out of your hair, the more you play with it and run your hands through it the quicker it gets oily. My favorite dry shampoo is by Batiste, it really helps freshen my hair up for an extra day or two.
Take your vitamins - Specifically vitamin B7, or Biotin. Biotin is great for your hair/skin/nails, and it is likely safe for most people to take. Always check with your doctor or healthcare professional if you have any questions about taking any supplements and/or medications and vitamins. I get mine at my local drugstore where it is super affordable, and I can really tell a difference in my hair growth when I take it.
Don't be afraid to get your hair trimmed - Even if you're not doing a lot of heat styling to your hair and you are really trying to take care of it, you are still going to get some damage on your ends through just basic wear and tear. Get your ends trimmed! Talk with your hair stylist to see what works best for you, as everyone's hair is different. Let them know you are in the process of growing your hair out so that they only trim what's needed. The slightest bit off your ends helps beyond belief.
When in doubt go to a professional - Obviously if you are a licensed cosmetologist or you have some crazy good skill at coloring and cutting hair, then this really doesn't apply to you. But if you are like me and a large percentage of the other people in this world who are not pros at this stuff, there are trained professionals who can help you achieve whatever look you are after. Attempting to highlight your hair with a discounted box of color from the clearance section of your grocery store might not be the best thing if you are unskilled in this area. If you're looking to make a change then go ahead and fork out the extra $$$ to have it done properly, which could save you a lot of grief later on down the road. Granted, I wouldn't trust my hair with just anyone, licensed or not. But do your homework and find someone you trust. One big mess-up and you can destroy your hair. Saving a few dollars isn't worth it.
Aim to lighten or darken your hair only a couple of shades different than your natural hair color - If you have pale blonde hair and suddenly get the craving for jet-black tresses, you're gonna see in a couple of weeks time why this is usually more of a hassle than it's worth. And vice versa, if you have super dark, chocolate hair and you bleach it to platinum, in just a few days time you are gonna have roots from you-know-where. The more stark and drastic the difference of your natural hair to your colored hair is, the harder it's going to be to maintain. Instead, try some sunkissed balayage highlights, where the roots are closer to your natural color and there is a gradual lightening effect. Where there is no definite line of grow out and the whole root situation to deal with, you can go much longer without requiring any additional bleaching or touchups. Again, try to embrace your natural hair. Add some touches of spice here and there, but if you're trying to grow your hair you really need to back off on as much processing as you can.
Incorporate deep conditioners and protein treatments in your routine - As hair grows long it is typical to see more oily roots and drier ends. Apart from your daily shampoo and conditioner you should add a deep conditioner to your regimen about once a week. Without being too technical, your hair structure consists of 3 layers: the medulla (inner most portion of the hair strand), the cortex (middle portion), and the cuticle (the outer portion of the strand). You want the cuticle portion of your hair to be laying smooth in the same direction. When hair is dry, dull, and frizzy the cuticle is not laying smooth. Deep conditioners really help to moisturize and close cuticles which smooths them out. Protein treatments are beneficial if you have damaged, brittle hair. Heat styling, chemical processing, the sun, poor diet, all of these things can wreak havoc on your tresses. Protein treatments can reconstruct and repair some of the damage in your hair. Just be careful - too much protein can actually make your hair more brittle leading to breakage. Again, always consult your hairstylist about what's best for you. My favorite deep conditioner is the Carol's Daughter Monoi Repairing Hair Mask. My favorite protein treatments are the Joico K-Pak Reconstructor and the Palmer's Coconut Oil Deep Conditioning Protein Pack.
Growing out your hair is a very long process, as the average human's hair only grows about 6 inches a year. Be patient and be as kind to your hair as possible. You will get there, but it's just something that is going to take some time! If you have any questions just let me know! Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!