At some point in your life you’ll probably want to grow your hair long. Whether you change your hairstyle frequently and simply can’t decide on what you want to do with it or you’re set on achieving long, flowing locks, growing your hair long takes a lot of time and dedication. The health of your hair is of the utmost importance if you want to grow it long. You need to have strong, healthy hair that is less likely to split and break off as this will keep the length you desire, as well as giving it a glossy appearance.
You may not realize just how much affects the health and growth rate of your hair. How much you wash it, the temperature of the water, your diet and how much stress you deal with on a daily basis all have an impact on the health of your hair, and therefore affect the length of it. Getting these things right it key to getting the long, healthy hair that you desire.
Get a Haircut
It might sound counter-intuitive, but regularly getting your hair trimmed is one of the best things you can do to grow it out long. A trim every 6-8 weeks, depending on how much you use heat on it, how often you style it and if you dye it, will keep your hair in good condition, removing split ends that will eventually break off anyway.
If you do let split ends become a problem, your hair will end up looking unhealthy, losing volume, shine and smoothness. It’s also likely to break off higher up the hair than it would need to be cut, so not getting a trim can actually result in shorter hair. Most people have skipped haircuts to let their hair grow long, only to have to eventually cut several inches off when the ends are all dead. This is why it’s important not to skip your haircut appointments.
Dying Your Hair is Killing Your Hair
Dying your hair is an extremely common thing to do, with 75% of American women dying their hair at some point. There’s nothing wrong with that, unless you’re dying dark hair blonde, regularly changing colors, dying too frequently, or just not looking after your hair in between dying it. A lot of hair dyes, particularly shades that are lighter than your current color, will strip out pigment, damaging the hair’s cuticle in the process.
This results in split ends and thin hair that doesn’t look healthy. Of course, hair can still be dyed, but try to pick a color and stick with it, leave as long as possible in between each time you dye it and look after your hair’s condition before and after dying.
Styling Your Hair
The more you mess with your hair, the more chance there is of you damaging it. This includes anything from twiddling it around your finger and brushing it to using heated styling tools and tying it up with hair bands. If you’re happy to brush your hair each morning and leave it, it’s the best thing you can do for hair health.
If not, you can tie it up to avoid using heat on it but be aware that hair bands put pressure on hair that can cause it to break, especially if you regularly tie it up in the same place or your tie it up tightly.
Alternatively, blow dry your hair into the style you want as this is still a better method than using hot styling tools, but some heat can help to get your hair how you want it. If you do use any hot styling tools on your hair always use a heat protective spray first and keep the temperature as low as possible.
Vitamins, Vitamins and More Vitamins!
Diet plays a huge role in all aspects of health, and that includes the health of your hair. All cells need vitamin A for growth, including hair. Vitamin A also helps with the production of sebum, which naturally moisturizes the scalp and hair. Too much or too little vitamin A has been linked to hair loss, so it’s important to get the right amount. Sources include carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach and kale.
B vitamins are also essential for hair growth, with biotin one of the most important. A deficiency of biotin has been linked to hair loss in several studies and some hair loss treatments will use biotin as a natural treatment method. Other B vitamins help to create red blood cells, which are used to carry oxygen and deliver nutrients to the scalp and hair follicles, a process essential for hair growth. B vitamins can be found in lots of different foods, including whole grains, dark leafy greens, almonds and fish.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects against the oxidative stress caused by free radicals. It also creates collagen, an important part of the hair’s structure, which is why it’s such a vital vitamin for healthy hair. Vitamin C will help your body to use iron efficiently, too, which is an essential mineral for hair growth. You can get vitamin C from strawberries, peppers and citrus fruits.
Vitamin E plays a similar role in preventing oxidative stress and can increase hair growth. One study even found that people with hair loss had a 34.5% increased growth rate once they supplemented vitamin E, compared to 0.1% in the placebo group. Vitamin E can be found in seeds, almonds, spinach and avocados.
The no (sham)poo method of washing your hair has been around for a while now and many people swear by it for quicker growth and healthier hair. Shampoo basically strips your hair of the bad stuff that makes it greasy and dirty, but it also strips out the natural oils that hydrate and repair hair. No ’poo isn’t for everyone and it takes some time for your hair to adjust and oil levels to balance out again, which can be a lengthy process that some people simply don’t want to endure. Cutting back how many times a week you wash your hair can help, such as going from daily to every other day and gradually get down to just a couple of times a week. The no ’poo method recommends brushing your hair each night to help distribute the natural oils for healthy hair.
Finish Your Hair Wash with a Cold Rinse
There’s nothing better than washing your hair in a nice hot shower, but the warm water will open hair cuticles. The cooler you can have the water to wash your hair, the better it will be for the condition of your hair. You should always do a final rinse of your hair with cool water to close the cuticles back up. This will help to prevent damage to your hair so that it stays healthy and won’t result in hair breaking off or needing to be cut off to remove split ends.
Protect Your Hair from Sun Damage
The heat from the sun damages hair by drying up the natural oils that the hair needs to stay healthy and hydrated. Short term, this results in hair looking dry and brittle, but it can also slow down growth in the long term. The sun’s UV rays are also damaging to hair. UVB rays, in particular, are responsible for protein loss in the hair, while UVA rays are absorbed by the hair and cause it to change color, usually lightening it.
UV light also causes radiation, which pulls out moisture from the hair and scalp and stunts the production of new hair cuticles. Once this damage is done it’s very difficult (and expensive!) to repair. The best way to protect your hair and scalp from sun damage is to wear a hat or something else that covers your head. You can also get sprays for your hair that protect against UV or you can make your own by mixing sunscreen in with some water into a spray bottle.
De-Stress Your Life
Stress can be directly linked to hair loss, so finding ways to lead a less stressful life can benefit you in more ways than you realize. Stress can cause hair loss for several different reasons. Firstly, it can cause alopecia areata, which is either a sudden loss of large clumps of hair or gradual hair loss that becomes severe overtime.
Secondly, telogen effluvium is a condition where more hair than normal prepare to fall out. The effects of this can take around two months to be seen. This is because hair has a growth cycle of two years before it stops and then falls out around two months later, so when the body mistakenly tells more hairs than normal to stop growing the results are seen at the two month mark. Finally, trichotillomania is a condition caused by stress where the person literally pulls their hair out.
What About Hair Extensions?
Hair extensions can help you to see what you’ll look like with long hair and are good to use when you’re growing your hair out. They also give you the option to switch between short and long styles, which is great for indecisive people. The best thing about hair extensions is the worst thing about growing your hair out: the wait. There’s no wait with hair extensions, it can be as easy as clipping them in and you’re done. But could they be damaging any progress you’ve made for long, healthy locks?
Well, it really depends on which type of hair extensions you go for. Clip-in hair extensions are unlikely to cause any damage if they’re put in correctly as you take them out at night, which takes the tension off hair.
However, if you go for long-term hair extensions, such as ones that are sewn in or glued on, you should expect them to pull your hair out overtime. The weight of the extensions around your hair will eventually pull your hair out from the root, resulting in patchy hair that will take even longer to grow back to the length you want. So, you don’t need to avoid all hair extensions, but go for temporary, short-term ones that can easily be taken out to give your hair and scalp a break.
The Big Question: How Long Will It Take for Hair to Grow?
This is what anyone who is growing their hair out long wants to know. Just how long will it take to get your hair to your desired length? The CDC says that hair grows at an average of 1.25cm a month, or 0.50 inches. So, over the course of a year you can expect your hair to grow around 6 inches, which is just over 15cm.
Of course, some of this hair will need to be trimmed to remove split ends and keep it healthy, so you need to take this into account. Following the above tips will help to keep your hair as healthy as possible so that less hair needs to be trimmed off and won’t break off from damage.
A lot of things that will benefit your hair will also benefit you in other ways, from your skin to your wellbeing. The key to long, healthy hair is good health in general, along with going back to a more natural hair care routine. Ditch the shampoo, wash your hair less frequently, avoid over-styling it and using too much heat on it.