There is a trick to growing long hair, and nobody will tell you about it because it doesn’t cost a penny and it doesn’t make money for anybody. Want to hear it?
Yes, the first and most important thing you need is patience, followed by dedication and common sense. You can stop buying expensive vitamins and magic ointments, because you are likely not to need them and they won’t make your hair grow faster.
The following 10 steps guide will teach you how to grow long hair in a sustainable manner.
How Long Can Hair Grow
According to trichologists, most people can grow their hair between 12 and 36 inches, which is a very respectable length.
There are two reasons why hair stops growing:
- Hair has reached terminal length
- Hair is too damaged to growth any further. The ends split and break quicker than the hair grows.
Terminal length is how long each hair follicle is actively growing hair before going into a dormant phase and then shedding. The longer your growth cycle, the longer your hair can become. Your hair’s terminal length is based on your genetics, and there is nothing you can do about it. However, the good news is that your hair growing phase can last from 2 to 6 years, so that gives plenty of time to achieving 12 inches long hair or longer. For most women of average height that would fall around the middle of your back, which is already considered long hair.
How Fast Can Hair Grow?
According to The American Academy of Dermatology hair grows about 1/2inc per month, on average. If you have curly hair it will look like it grows slower, but that’s just because the hair curls and so length is lost. This means you can grow about 6 inches per year.
So why doesn’t your hair grow so much?
The reason is most likely damage. Excessive shedding or unexplained changes in your hair or scalp often point to thyroid issues, but often the culprit is environmental and styling damage, or a bad diet that weakens hair. If you want to grow very long hair, avoiding damage is paramount. Your diet and stress levels also affect hair growth: if your body doesn’t have enough nutrients or feels stressed the first thing it does is slow down hair growth (and often nails).
Get Rid Of The Damaged Hair To Grow Healthy Long Hair
Going for a chop when you are trying to grow long hair sounds counterproductive, but it’s actually the way to go.
There is no actual way to permanently repair damaged hair and split ends. You may be able to temporarily seal them using silicone based products, and that will make your hair look better. However, in order to grow your hair long you need to start with healthy hair and no broken ends. This doesn’t mean you need to cut your hair short, unless your hair is really damaged. A trim can be enough. Keep in mind that this is the only time you’ll need to cut your hair while growing long hair.
If you ignore this step and have damaged hair you will find your ends split and it feels like your hair stops growing. This is because the split ends travel upwards the hair shaft, causing breakage.
Trim Your Ends Regularly
In order to grow healthy hair you want to keep split ends from damaging the rest of your hair. The best way to stop breakage is to remove the damage as soon as it happens. The best way to do this is through hair dusting which is a cutting technique that removes only the broken ends, not the length.
A dedicated pair of good quality styling shears may look pricey, but it will save you a lot of time and money if you can trim your ends yourself and remove damaged hair at home. Hair styling scissors should exclusively be used to trim hair and should be kept really sharp. If they dull they won’t cut hair as much as damage it further, so you want them to keep them safely stored in between trims.
How often should you trim your hair for hair growth? If you are growing your hair longer, you should trim a half inch every three or four months alongside removal of broken ends when necessary. This will allow for healthy growth of about 2.5 to 3 inches every 3 months. If your hair grows more slowly or the ends doesn’t get damaged so much you can go longer in between trims. As your hair grows healthier and stronger you may find that you don’t need to trim more often than every half a year or so.
Long Hair Needs A Good Diet And Lifestyle
I stand by my words, no magic pill is going to make your hair grow faster than your genetic makeup intended. However, modern life means most people are stressed, and don’t eat as well as they should. When the body needs to make savings and conserve nutrients the first thing to be affected is often the hair and nails. If you are dieting heavily and don’t eat any fat, your hair won’t get the oils it needs to keep growing.
Biotin is probably the most important hair and nail supplements, alongside Zinc, vitamin C, Iron and Niacin. If you are a woman and suffer from hair loss you may be iron deficient, and that would severely impact your hair growth. So when in doubt, a supplement or a visit to a doctor to get your diet checked won’t hurt.
It is not a miracle cure, it is just a way to give hair as much nutrients as possible to grow as fast as possible. If you already have a balanced diet and you aren’t losing hair due to stress you probably won’t get much benefit from this kind of supplement. But sadly, most of us aren’t so lucky and so the multivitamins for hair growth are useful.
Surviving The Hairdresser
You may not want to trim your hair at home, and choose to go to the hairdresser instead. Often this ends up with more hair cut than necessary to grow long hair. If you are serious about growing your hair long, make sure you indicate to your stylist exactly how much you want trimmed, on your hair. Some people’s perception of “the ends” mean “about 4 inches” and unless your hair is very damaged because you skipped step one, that is totally overkill.
Don’t let hair stylists tell you that you shouldn’t grow your hair long, or that you should trim it every 4 weeks. Some stylists will do this because they want to see a paying customer coming around more often. Others just have personal preferences about long hair. At the end of the day, the decision to grow long hair is yours. Find a stylist that understands long hair and can help you shape and layer it so it flatters your face and your lifestyle, and stick with him or her. They do exist!
Avoid Heat Styling Tools
No matter how careful you are, frequent heat styling will damage your hair and can make growing really long hair more difficult. Hair damage is cumulative, so every time you flat iron or blow dry your hair you are making it more difficult to grow really long hair.
If your goal is just to grow long hair but you are not into extreme, waist length strands, heat styling won’t be so damaging because the tips of your hair won’t be so old. But if you want healthy, long hair please invest in a good quality flat iron and heat protectant products.
If you like blowdrying your hair, air drying until hair is about 80% dry is better for the health of your hair. Investing in a high quality blow dryer will also reduce heat damage to hair, and make blowdrying faster.
Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer Iron Fuchsia
Avoid Harsh Chemicals
Bleach, perms and hair dye cause damage to your hair, no matter how careful you are. This is why most people with platinum blonde hair that weren’t born naturally blonde have short or mid-length hair. If you want to grow long hair, you should avoid products that cause chemical damage as much as possible. Chemical straighteners and relaxers are also out of the question, which is why if you are wondering how to grow natural hair the first step is usually a big cut.
If you don’t want to go around sporting your natural hair color or grey hairs, there are options. You can choose to have your hair highlighted, knowing that the highlighted bits will probably break off much earlier than the rest of your head. You should opt, when possible, for highlights without bleach. Or you can color your greys with henna or use non-ammonia hair dye instead of the more damaging versions. Vegetable based semi-permanent dyes are also great particularly if you like red or rainbow hair, and they condition instead of damaging your hair.
|Tigi Bed Head Colour Goddess 25.36oz Duo||$$|
|BIOLAGE Colorlast Shampoo For Color-Treated Hair||$|
|Paul Mitchell Color Protect Shampoo,33.8 Fl Oz||$$|
In order to limit how often you need to color your hair, proper haircare is a must. Dedicated color safe, sulphate free shampoos and conditioners will extend the life of your color. Deposit only glosses (or purple shampoo if you are blonde and want to avoid brassiness) will extend your color without damage. And if you are getting any color done at a salon, use Olaplex to keep your hair in better health and minimize damage.
Perms, chemical straighteners and relaxers, on the other hand, break the bonds in your hair to try and force it into a different curl pattern. You just can’t undo that kind of damage, and if you want to grow your hair long you should 100% avoid them.
Avoid Hairstyles That Damage Your Hair
If you want your hair to grow very long, you need to treat it with care. This means avoiding undue traction on your scalp, not pulling from it too tightly and often sleeping with your hair in a protective hairstyle such as a loose braid. If you wear locs, twists or braids as a protective style, make sure they aren’t too tight that they hurt your scalp, and use a braid conditioning spray.
|The Roots Naturelle Braid Sheen Braid Spray||$|
Palmer's Olive Oil Formula Hair Conditioning Spray Oil
|Parnevu T-Tree Braid Spray||$|
If you wear braids or ponytails to keep your hair off your neck, or love ballerina buns, make sure they aren’t so tight that they add stress to your roots. Vary your hairstyle often and give your scalp a chance to rest to encourage quick hair growth. And speaking of ponytails…
Use Hair-Safe Hair Accessories
Cheap rubberbands will stick to your hair and cause loads of breakage when you remove them. Avoid them if your goal is growing long hair, because they will literally cut layers into it like you had a bob. Accessories with sharp or rough edges, particularly things like metal barrettes, snag on hair and will literally cut it off. Scrunchies are back in fashion and they are 100% hair safe, but they may not be to everybody’s taste. Cotton hair brands or spiral hair bands like the Invisibobble ones are much safer for your hair.
|Kitsch Spiral Hair Ties, Coil Hair Ties, Phone Cord Hair Ties, Hair Coils||$$|
|Kitsch 4 Piece Hair Coil Set||$|
|Thick Seamless Cotton Hair Bands||$$|
|Kenz Laurenz 100 Hair Ties||$$|
|invisibobble ORIGINAL Pretzel Brown||$|
Detangling Very Long Hair
If you want to avoid breakage, you need to be really gentle with your hair, particularly when it’s wet. The ends of your hair are always fragile once they reach a certain length. Avoid rubbing your hair to dry it, as that will raise the cuticle and make your hair more prone to snagging. Always use a conditioner in the shower, and a leave-in conditioner/detangler for the lenghts so you can remove knots with minimal damage.
|Mane-ly Long Hair Detangler Polisher 8oz||$|
|Mane-ly Long Hair Conditioner Hydrator 16OZ||$|
Mane-ly Long Hair Restore Shampoo
The best way to detangle when you are growing long hair is using a wide comb brush and, starting from the tips, carefully work your way upwards. It needs to be done gently, and it can take some time, which is why you probably want to use dry shampoo to avoid having to wash your hair too often.
If you have curly hair you probably don’t want to brush your hair to avoid frizz, but otherwise brushing with a boar bristle brush will redistribute the natural oils produced by your scalp. If you have long hair, those oils are unlikely to get to the ends of your hair unaided, and they play a vital role in keeping your hair healthy and strong.
|Boar Bristle Hair Brush||$|
|BESTOOL Hair Brush-Boar Bristle Hair Brush||$|
|Spornette DeVille Cushion Oval Boar Bristle Hair Brush||$$|
|Boar Bristle Hair Brush Set for Women and Men||$$|
|100% Pure Wild Boar Bristle Hair Brush||$$|
How To Shampoo And Condition Long Hair
The first rule of washing your hair when you are growing long hair is… do it as little as possible. Every time you wash your hair, important oils go down the drain instead of conditioning your hair. It doesn’t mean you should have dirty hair, just be strategic about how you wash it. It will take a while to wash it, long hair is not a wash-and-go affair, so can as well plan ahead 🙂
In order to avoid breakage to grow hair quicker it is best to detangle it using a wide tooth comb and a boar bristle brush gently, while the hair is dry. This will also stop hair clogging your bath drain. Long hair has a tendency to do that and it’s incredibly effective at that job.
Once your hair is ready, start by using a good quality shampoo or cleansing conditioner on your scalp and let it wash off towards your tips. The tips of your hair are often quite clean and you should focus on your scalp. Do not pile the hair at the top of your head, or aggressively rub it. Think of your long hair as a delicate piece of silk that should be treated with care to avoid knots and damage. If your are washing your hair after going to the pool, use a shampoo suitable to get chlorine out of hair to avoid your hair drying out.
Conditioner is a must for long hair, and a weekly mask treatment will make your hair grow faster (or at least it will feel that way). Gentle work the conditioner on your tips and ends, and use your fingers to detangle knots. This will make it much easier to comb your hair afterwards. A leave-in shampoo or treatment will also give hair more slip, so it’s easier to detangle and it doesn’t snag. If you have very long hair or dry tips, applying a deep conditioning treatment before bed and washing it off in the morning is a wonderful treat for your mane.
|Philip Kingsley Elasticizer Pre Shampoo Treatment, 5.07 Ounce||$$$|
|Philip Kingsley Elasticizer Pre Shampoo Treatment 500ml||$$$|
|Philip Kingsley Elasticizer Extreme Pre Shampoo Treatment||$$$|
The Pillowcase Trick
How to grow long hair, if your hair keeps tangling at night? Invest in a silk pillowcase! You want to reduce friction in your hair as much as possible even if you move a lot when you sleep. A silk pillowcase helps keep hair healthy, and has added skincare benefits (it allegedly is less likely to create wrinkles and sagging). Whenever possible, particularly if you have very long hair, you should sleep with your hair on a braid or other protective style.
|100% Pure Mulberry Slip Silk Pillowcase||$$|
|Bedsure Two-Pack Satin Pillowcases Set||$|
ALASKA BEAR - Natural Silk Pillowcase, Hypoallergenic
On a similar note, if you have never had long hair you may be surprised at how often it gets caught on things: seat belts, doors, under people bums when sitting down, glasses… All of that causes damage. Braids and updos are there for windy days when you feel like everything around you is out to break your precious strands.
Learning how to grow long hair and how to keep it healthy and beautifully looking will take some adjustments to your hair routine. Most of those tricks to grow long hair are synonymous with healthy hair, and that is good for any length. So even if you decide mermaid hair is not for you, keep up this improved hair care routine and you’ll enjoy healthy, glossy hair.