Whether you’re growing out a pixie, or you just feel like you’ve hit a hair growth plateau at your shoulders, you may be looking for the secret to reaching long, healthy, mermaid-hair status hair. The truth is that the speed at which your hair grows is mostly predetermined by your genetics so, if you’ve been on the hunt for a pill that will triple your hair growth, you can stop looking. Exercise, drinking plenty of water, getting enough sleep, and a nutrient-rich diet are your best bets for optimizing hair growth speed.
The real barrier to reaching your hair length goals may actually have nothing to do with new growth at your roots at all; you are more likely dealing with breakage at the ends of your hair. If you feel like you’re not seeing the length adding up, try incorporating these tips into your hair care routine.
Stop the heat
If curling wands, flat irons, or blow dryers make a regular appearance in your hair styling routine, then you are definitely dealing with heat damage. Heat damage can manifest itself in many ways, from frizz to dullness and dryness, to loose, limp curls that don’t spring back after you wash them. This damage leads to breakage, so if you feel like you are losing an abnormal amount of hair in the shower, this could be a factor. The fastest way to avoid such damage is to minimize your use of heat tools, especially while you’re trying to grow your hair out. Some women use them as little as once or twice a year, but if you are using them daily, then at least try reducing that to once a week or less. Unfortunately, this change in the structure of your hair is irreversible, so there’s only one way to get rid of it…
Say Yes to Trims
Damaged, split ends are likely to end in breakage. Rather than lose that length inadvertently, find a stylist you can trust to trim a very small amount, also called “dusting,” so that your ends will be in a healthy state without losing too much length. The popular adage is to get a trim every 6-8 weeks, but the truth is you should base your trims on your individual hair health. If you have split ends, you’re experiencing more knots and breakage than is normal for you, and your hair is less manageable than it used to be, then it could be time for a trim. As an added bonus, getting rid of those stringy, unhealthy ends will instantly make your hair look thicker, fuller and healthier.
Use your fingers
If you lead an active lifestyle that causes knots and tangles, then detangling is a critical step in your hair routine. This is the moment when you can lose large amounts of hair if done incorrectly. Your fingers are going to be the gentlest tool that you can use on your hair, because they can feel the knots and don’t snag the way brushes and fine tooth combs can. If you prefer to use a tool, then a seamless wide tooth comb is best. Carefully work it through your knots when your hair is saturated with a slippery conditioner to lose a minimal amount of hair.
Reduce the friction
If you feel like your hair has stopped growing at your shoulders, this might be due to friction. Throughout the day, our hair rubs on clothing, pillows, and towels. You can reduce the friction by wearing your hair in a protective style like a braid, twists, or bun (which protects your ends). The world record holder for the World’s Largest Afro, Aevin Dugas, told us she maintains her length by “keeping it in a protective style 90% of the time and maybe wearing it out on the weekends.” The proof is in her hair. If you love to wear your hair down, you can make easy switches like using a satin pillowcase or amicrofiber towel, both of which are gentler on your strands. Complicated hairstyles which involve a lot of manipulation can also lead to breakage and increased hair loss, so keep it simple!
We can’t control how fast our hair grows, but we can play a part in caring for what we do have. The single most important piece of advice we can offer is to love and have fun with your hair at every length. This simple act will give you the patience to care for it so that it’s in its healthiest state possible.