Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Tips and Advice for growing long hair

Tips and Advice for 
Growing Long Hair

Whilst I have had limited success in growing my own hair out, in the pursuit of what I call 'mermaid hair' (hair that goes past the chest), I have picked up a few tips for making sure that hair grows at an optimum rate. Here is a small list of hair facts:

  • Average hair will grow half an inch per month (1.3cm)
  • Hair usual goes through a three month shedding cycle, mine is during the autumn
  • Hair has a terminal length, a point at which it won't grow any longer. This may be longer than you think if you are committing any regular hair 'sins'.
  • Products which claim to repair your hair are completely lying. Hair is dead, a split end cannot magically heal itself. These products may improve the texture of the hair which can prevent future splitting but it won't fix what is already done.
I have committed a great deal of hair sins: I used to cut my own hair, sometimes with nail scissors! I bleached and highlighted my hair for 9 years; often doing this at home. I straightened and blow dried at least every other day. I glued rows and rows of extensions into my hair, removing them by conditioning and yanking out...

I cut and dyed my own hair, used extensions and here I'd actually back combed the ends. How naughty...

For the past year I have been trying my hardest to get my hair into good condition and to achieve my dream of mermaid hair. I stopped dying my hair (thank god the ombre/dip-dye look is trendy right now!), I only use heat in emergency cases (blow drying on cool setting) and I get regular hair cuts. I never tie my hair with an elastic band or bobble; I use crocodile clips or hair sticks.

This is my hair currently (November 2012) - I had my hair cut last week.

Here are some tips in a nice organised list

1. Get a hair cut. Split ends, left to their own devices, will split further and further up the shaft. To stop them in their tracks, cut off as much of your damaged hair as you can. It gives you a fresh start. Contrary to popular belief, getting a hair cut will not 'make your hair grow faster', rather it will make your hair break off more slowly. I bought some professional hair dressing scissors and occasionally go over my ends and snip just about a split (in between visits to the salon)

2. French plait your hair at night. For those who toss and turn at night, your hair will be getting tangled and damaged as it is rubbed against your pillow or being snagged. Go one step further and invest in silk or satin pillows to really reduce snagging while you're sleeping

3. Be really careful with your wet hair - don't brush it or scrub at it with a towel. Washing your hair will loosen your pores on your head making your hair shed more easily (ever noticed how much you shed in the shower?!). Scrubbing and rubbing with a towel is a big sin; it will tear and damage your hair. I usually wrap my hair in a towel and gently squeeze, then wrap my hair up in a 'turbie-towel'.

4.  Avoid heat at all costs. Straightening, curling, blow drying, crimping (if anyone is reading this from the 90s), all of these weaken and damage hair significantly. Have you ever noticed those short sticky up bits around the front of your face? They aren't new baby hairs they are broken strands that have suffered the extra attention you give your bangs/fringe with the straighteners. 
Try to let your hair dry naturally and use a serum to make sure it dries less out of control. I usually prepare my hair by styling it at night (I rag roll my hair for a blow dried effect in the morning)

If you really really need to use heat on your hair. Make sure you invest in a good heat protectant and use it liberally!

5. Don't colour or dye your hair. Especially lightening it! Bleaching your hair strips it and makes it weak and prone to breaking. Any hair colour will expose your hair to chemicals which will not encourage it to grow long. 

7. Stop using hair bands/bobbles/elastic bands to tie up your hair. Have you ever noticed that 'kink' when you let your hair down from a pony tail? Have a close look... Can you see the broken hairs? When you tie your hair up, split the pony tail in two and pull tight, you're snapping the hair at the outer edges of the pony tail AND putting a lot of stress on your roots. It's a shame because I love the look of hair in a high pony tail or a doughnut bun... Any look that involves a pony tail anchoring your hair up is hurting your hair. 
I've started using crocodile clips/kirby grips (bobby pins) and hair sticks to secure my hair into a bun. The crocodile clips and hair sticks are even good enough to keep my hair up when I'm at the gym or running. It doesn't look as good but I can't wait  for my hair to grow out and get rid of those short broken ends that make my hair look like an intense Farrah Fawcett do all the way down..

9. Don't over brush - brushing your hair 100 strokes every day is a really strange concept since brushing will put pressure on your roots and encourage weak hair to break. The benefits of brushing are to distribute oils from your roots to nourish the ends (yack) and to de-tangle. Over brushing will give you zero benefits. Brushing as little as often with a wide tooth comb or boar bristle brush is the kindest thing to do for your delicate hair. 

10. Don't back comb - this tears at the shaft! 

11. Give yourself a head massage when you're washing your hair. Don't pile your hair up and scrub - this will only tangle. Just gently use your finger tips to work in circular motions over your scalp. This will increase blood flow and help to maximise growth. 

12. Water temperature: Using water that is too hot will not only open your follicles and increase shedding but this heat will damage your hair (doesn't it seem like everything damages your hair?!), use as cooler water as you can handle when washing. A great tip to decrease shedding and close your follicles after washing is to blast your hair with cold cold water. I lean back to make sure my whole body doesn't get the front of this - I like a good morning wake up but I don't want to catch hypothermia. or die...

11. Do eat a balanced diet. I've tried taking vitamins and supplements and even eating tofu but none of these made a real difference. However, the rate of your hair growth will definitely depend on being healthy on the inside. It's well known that people suffering with anorexia experience problems with hair growth (hair loss and excess body hair) so it goes without saying that keeping yourself well nourished from within will contribute to lovely healthy locks. 

14. Let your hair get dirty - as I mentioned before, washing your hair encourages shedding so washing your hair as infrequently as possible will therefore discourage shedding (duh), also, letting your hair get dirty and brushing the natural oils through your hair will actually encourage healthy growth as well as acting as an unattractive serum. I tend to wash my hair every other day (it's all I can manage, my hair is more oily than my face!), but the longer you can leave it the better! Dry shampoo is your friend. 

15. Use the right products. I'm not a scientist or a hair dresser so I am not an expert about this but I do know that silicone is bad for your hair. I do think that the more you pay on a shampoo, the better it is. However, that's not to say that drug store/high street shampoos are no good. Whilst I acknowledge that my hair felt so good and soft using Lee Stafford shampoo and conditioner, it doesn't exactly revert to looking like a bail of hay as soon as I start using Herbal Essences... Additionally, Moroccan Oil was without a doubt the greatest hair oil/serum I've ever used but it cost a fortune! My Aldi Miracle Oil was a whopping 85% cheaper but does a very similar job. 

16. Hair masks. Now and again I'll smother my hair in something intensely moisturising and leave it on for a few hours just to put some life back into it. It really softens it and makes it feel healthier which hopefully will help it split less these include:
Lee Stafford 'for hair that never grows past a certain length treatment' 
Avocado, Olive Oil, Egg yolks, Mayonnaise - moisturising
Beer, Egg white, Apple Cider Vinegar - clarifying

Hopefully this has been helpful, if a little long winded and boring! If anyone has any products they recommend for growing long hair or tips for keeping hair in good condition I'd love to know about it!!


  1. Moroccan oil is nothing but silicone. Try coconut oil, cheap and good for your hair

  2. Or just try pure and natural Argan oil ! Use it as a mask, and sleep with it all the night ! Then wash your hair as usual.

  3. It sounds weird but try washing your hair with baking soda. http://almostexactlyblog.wordpress.com/2013/04/24/extra-thoughts-on-going-no-poo/

    I found this girl's link 6 months ago and have been using baking soda ever since. My hair has been the strongest it has ever been and I have noticed it grows much faster.


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