The Complete Guide to Growing Out Your Hair

Rapunzel was probably taking biotin, FYI.

(Image credit: Getty)

There's hair, and then there's Hair: the ripple-y, glassy kind that comes with its own green-screen fluffers just like the ones that flapped Superman's cape around for him. More often than not, that shampoo-commercial hair has also got some serious length, which tends to strike envy in the hearts of the not-so-lucky among us.

Whatever your motivation, know that getting mermaid strands isn't just a waiting game—it's a science. So follow along as we break it down, from trims and treatments to awkward bang management.

Cutting and styling

In an ideal world, you wouldn't start the growing-out process unless your hair was healthy. Why? Because existing split ends could travel up the hair follicle, meaning more dryness and damage, meaning you'll eventually have to cut them off and start all over. (Beauty sure has a finely tuned sense of irony, eh?) To prep, incorporate a deep-conditioning mask like Shu Uemura Ultimate Remedy ($53) into your routine once a week and ease up on the heat tools to get your strands in top form. Then, schedule trims up to once every three months. Some experts also recommend shampooing less frequently to preserve the hair's natural oils, but if this lady's testimonial was a bit extreme-sounding, try using the dry stuff or a gentle cleansing conditioner in between washes.

Now, not all hairstyles grow out attractively, so you might need to get creative and/or seek professional help. Pixies, especially, require special attention, because of the hair's tendency to grow faster in the back than in the front, AKA into a mullet. Have the back cut short, and when you've got enough length on top, blend the sections with layers. Bobbed girls should beware the triangle and ask to have the ends thinned. As for bangs, once they reach the eyebrows, part them in the middle for a pretty, Bardot-esque effect. After that, go for a bobby-pinned or slicked-down deep side part.

Diet and supplements

There's weak scientific evidence to support the effective of vitamin H, more commonly known as biotin, at promoting hair growth, but droves of reviewers and beauty gurus say otherwise, so it couldn't hurt to try it if you're impatient. (It's also non-toxic.) The standard dosage is 5,000 micrograms daily, though you can find biotin naturally in nuts, eggs, leafy greens, milk, bananas, cauliflower, and legumes. Folic acid is often recommended too, but little has been proven about its hair-lengthening abilities. It does, however, improve biotin absorption.

And what about Viviscal, the miracle marine complex every model mentions in her Into the Gloss interview? It does seem to work, but it works everywhere, so you might need to whip out your Schick more often. Small price to pay, really.

Other random stuff you might consider

Flip your head upside down and, starting at the back of the head, massage the scalp to increase blood flow. Sleep on a silk pillowcase to minimize friction. Basically, be nice to your hair, take care of yourself, and the rest will follow.

You should also check out:

All the Cool New Ways to Wash Your Hair: A Guide

You Have to Cut Your Hair to Grow It Out, and 8 Other Beauty Ironies

Why You Should Cut Your Hair More Often