Ask most hairdressers, and they'll likely tell you that one of the most common questions they receive from their clients is "How do I get my hair to grow longer and stay healthy". Well we're here to share our experience in this regard, and we hope that what we've learned can be of some benefit to you too.
1. ACCEPTING WHAT WE CAN'T CHANGE
The first thing to do is accept that every woman has a different head of hair. Some of us were born to have Crystal Gayle length locks, while most of the rest of us just weren't that lucky. At the end of the day, we need to accept what we have and maximize our our potential.
2. REGULAR HAIRCUTS
Too many women think that by avoiding haircuts for long periods of time that they'll naturally wind up with long, thick hair. Not true. The average women's hair grows a quarter of an inch to a half an inch each month. The longer you wait between haircuts, the more you give your split ends a chance to work their way up your hair and cause a break higher up the hair shaft. Think of avoiding regular haircuts as the hair care version of "false economy".
3. OVERWASHING YOUR HAIR
Women are typically super-phobic about the idea of having greasy hair, and deal with this phobia by scrubbing their locks far too often, in some cases every day. Not only does this rob your hair of the nourishing oils produced by your scalp, but too much/frequent washing can lead to overproduction of oil by your head, almost as a defence mechanism against the harsh cleansing agents contained in your typical shampoo. What ends up happening through daily washes is that your scalp produces a lot of oil, but that oil never has time to make its way down your hair shaft where it can nourish, restore and protect your hair before you wash it again. Through this vicious cycle, you end up with an oily scalp and dry mid-lengths to ends; the worst of all worlds!!! Though we aren't advocates of the "No Poo" movement, dermatologists do tend to agree that lessening your scalp's exposure to shampoos will, over time, lead to a reduction in the quantity of oil produced by your scalp. Moreover, the longer you go between washes, the more opportunity (through regular brushing, but more on that below) your hair will have to absorb and be nourished by your own natural oils. As a general rule therefore, (assuming you aren't engaging in a super rigorous exercise regime that has you sweating buckets per day) we recommend washing your hair no more than twice per week, and only scrubbing at the base of your scalp, leaving the rest of your hair to incidentally come into contact with the shampoo.
4. PROPER SHAMPOOS & CONDITIONERS
Make sure that when you buy your hair care products, that your shampoos and conditioners are free of sulphates, parabens and certain types of alcohols, as these will damage and dry our your hair. While certain types of alcohols are actually good for moisturizing your hair (eg. Cetearyl alcohol Cetyl alcohol and Stearyl alcohol), others (often those containing the word "prop" in their name) will dry out your hair (eg. Isopropyl alcohol, Propanol and Propyl alcohol ).
One thing is for sure however, and that is that you need to always condition your hair each time you wash it.
5. WEEKLY HAIR MASKS
Generally speaking, think of a hydrating hair mask as an ultra intense, concentrated conditioning treatment. We recommend a weekly application of a hydrating mask that will help penetrate the hair shaft and deeply condition your locks. We like the this one from Moroccanoil for regular hair types and this one for finer hair types, but if you find those a bit pricey click here for some amazing DIY masks are all the rage these days. Hydrating masks should be left in your hair for at least 5-10 minutes, and in some cases can be left in as long as overnight.
6. PROPER BRUSHING
The first thing you need to do is get the right equipment. We've tried every de-tangling contraption on the market, and to this day feel that nothing performs as well as the Wet Brush®. How often should you brush your hair, you ask? If your hair is on the straighter to loose wavy side, you should brush it regularly twice per day in order to remove the knots. If you have curly hair, you would typically brush less often. When should you brush it? First, avoid brushing your hair when it's wet, as your hair is then far more likely to break than when it's dry. Second, always be sure to use a bit of hair oil, serum or detangling spray on your hair prior to brushing, as this will help greatly in lubricating your hair and allowing the brush to gently take out the knots. Third, always start from the tips, and work your way upwards towards your roots, and try to avoid brushing very hard or very often right up against your scalp, as this can lead to the hair being yanked out of its follicle. Finally, after you've detangled your hair with the Wet Brush, we recommend always using a high quality boar bristle brush to re-distribute the oils in your hair (either your own or the ones that you've applied) from root to tip. We've used this one from Moroccanoil, and found it to be an amazing product for the price.
7. DIET, MINERALS & VITAMIMS
At its base, hair is a protein filament growing out of your follicles. One of the important factors in growing healthy hair therefore is in making sure that your body has all of the basic ingredients necessary to grow healthy hair from your head's follicles. Always try to eat a healthy balanced diet with adequate amounts of protein, and if that's ever not possible, make sure to supplement as necessary to ensure that your body has the proper building blocks for growing strong, healthy hair. See here for which vitamins have been linked to healthy hair growth.
8. GO EASY ON THE PONYS
We all love those sleek, tight ponytails, right? The trouble with them is the stress that they can put on hair, particularly those locks that have been damaged either by the elements or by chemical processing. Maintaining a tight pony, particularly overnight, can lead to hair breakage at the point of the elastic, or in some cases to hair falling out from the roots due to the constant stress placed on the follicle. So go easy on grabbing with both hands and pulling that ponytail as tight as you can, and avoid ever wearing a firm ponytail to bed.
9. DITCH THE COTTON TOWEL & PILLOW CASES
While it may seem soft to the touch, cotton is actually quite abrasive, and when those cotton fibres rub up against your hair cuticles, they can lift or damage them, leading to a damaged hair shaft, frizziness and possibly hair breakage. Consider investing therefore in microfibre towels to dry your hair, and in satin pillowcases to sleep on. You'll see the difference!
Remember, while we all can't have Rapunzel like tresses, there are lots of things that we can do in order to maximize the length and thickness of our hair. Follow the 8 steps above, and we're confident that, within a few short months, you'll see the difference in your hair.
We've also pasted in below an amazing tutorial on haircare tips by the awesome hairstylist, Stephanie Decotis, owner of Barbs Beauty Bar, sharing with you some of her own tips and favourite products.
'Till next time! XOXO