More than four years ago, I did a thing. What was that thing? Well, I watched V for Vendetta, realized how gorgeous Natalie Portman looked with a buzzcut, went to the store, and the next day I dragged my two friends into the bathroom (Hi Sara! Hi Scott!) and, bzzzzz. Did halfway through I get very nervous that I was making a huge mistake? Yes. But, let me get one thing straight: I loved my new cropped look. The fuzziness of a fresh buzzcut is one of the most pleasing feelings in the world, right next to getting in the shower, briefly scrubbing my scalp, then hopping out without a worry. Of course, not everyone was pleased with my chop (to name a few: my mom, my brother, my hairstylist). But as much as I loved the cut, growing out short hair is one of the purest hells known to man.
After growing shoulder-length hair only to cut it to my ears again I am now back where I started: With hair to my collarbones, a desire for change, and no patience. Only now my hair goals can't be achieved with a $20 trimmer. I want mermaid-length, to-my-waist hair, naturally. I've never had hair longer than my décolletage, but my God I want it now. If you share the same desires I do, we're in this thing together. With a little help from the experts, read on for the best methods and products to get the hair we want.
Step 1: Maintain Health
Wait, wait, don't click away! Yes, telling someone to be healthy when they want to grow out their hair out is the thunder-stealing equivalent of telling someone who's hungover to drink water. But still: It's #effective. Hormonal changes, stress, prescription drugs and illness are all components that affect how quickly and healthily our hair grows.
The dermatologist-approved saying, "You are what you eat," applies to your hair as well. Celebrity stylist Juan Carlos Maciques lays down this hard truth: "Hair health and growth comes from within so nutrition and personal care are crucial." Hair-growing supplements get a bad rep, but there are a few on the market that Maciques believes can help. Even though, sadly, there isn't any magic pill to pop that will make me wake up with Rapunzel-length hair, some of the new supplements on the market contain ingredients that have shown to give strengthening nutrients that your hair craves, which might will it to grow a little longer.
Step 2: Pay Attention To Your Scalp
Scalp care is a must when trying to grow out your hair, seeing as it's the place where your strands come out. Luckily for us, scalp care is having a moment and there are a plethora of products all with the express aim of making sure our scalps are as healthy as possible. "Keeping a healthy scalp helps because build-up can hinder oxygen and circulation, which can contribute to bacteria and yeast," Maciques explains. Plus, scalp scrubs, serums, and treatments can be just as fun as a hair masque.
Sarah Schiek, stylist at the Marquee Salon in Oakland, finds that over-washing your hair can damage the scalp's protective barrier. Alternating wash days and finding shampoos that treat scalp issues can all help not strip the scalp of natural oils. You might even have some scalp-care ingredients in your medicine cabinet. "Tea tree oil and eucalyptus have antibacterial properties while apple cider vinegar and coffee combined with avocado oil have cleansing properties," says Maciques.
There are some medical conditions that affect your scalp health that can't be solved with standard solutions. For continuing issues, a dermatologist may prescribe you a topical or oral prescription if that's what's needed.
Step 3: Style Appropriately
A critical component of encouraging hair growth is to avoid harmful practices. Trey Gillen, the artistic director of SACHAJUAN, explains that heat and bleach are two of the most harmful things you could do to your hair if you want to see some extra length. You should also avoid spending too much time in the sunlight, or saltwater or chlorine-treated pools, Friese informs us. If you can't resist taking a dip, wet your hair in the shower beforehand so your hair doesn't soak up too many harmful substances.
If you are incapable of not scorching your hair at least a little via, you need to take some precautions to at least make sure you're doing the least amount of damage. Gillen recommends using a lower heat setting on your blowdryer or flat iron, and you should always use a heat protectant. Schiek recommends the Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer ($399) for those of us who are unwilling to set down hot tools and want to use "healthy" blow dryers.
When it's time to wash your hair, find shampoos and conditioners that are designed for strengthening, damage repair, or preventing hair loss. Experts agree that the most common reason why you're not seeing your hair grow is that it breaks before getting to the length you want. In terms of styling products, Gillen recommends paying attention to the ingredients. Avoid silicones and harsh sulfates in products, while there are plenty of inexpensive products that work wonders, you should also treat yourself and your hair to the good stuff.
Step 4: Avoid Cuts
The urban legend that frequent cuts make hair grow faster is simply untrue. Maciques and Gillen both agree that leaving your hair alone and letting it grow without interference is the best thing you can do to achieve extra length.
The exception to this rule is damaged ends. There is essentially no time in my life where I've looked down at my locks and not seen a few split ends. I have naturally brittle, dry hair, which means that I have to treat it extra nice to have it look healthy. "Split ends are the culprit that don’t allow hair to grow because the ends disintegrate on their own. Like ashes," Maciques warns. Gillen recommends "micro-trims": haircuts where only the dead ends are snipped off, leaving nourished, healthy hair that can continue to grow.
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