For all of you who banished the pixie cut, the trendy bob, and any other shorter ’do from your vocabulary, we feel you. Rapunzel is your fairytale alter ego and that will never change. You want her long, flowing locks (and yes, maybe the knight in shining armor, too). However, you cannot just spin your shorter strands into long silky ones overnight. There is no magic potion to make your hair grow in the blink of an eye, unfortunately. But you can promote healthy growth with a few changes to your routine that will have you letting down your hair in the fastest way possible.
While hair extensions are a quick-fix way to additional length, they aren’t permanent nor are they the best option for your scalp and hair health in the long run.
Take your hair to new lengths with these tips from the pros.
1. Trims are your friend
It’s one of the ultimate ironies of the beauty world, but hair must be trimmed regularly to grow longer and live up to its full potential. So, don’t banish the salon from your schedule. We know you want to maintain every millimeter of that hair, but getting it trimmed will pay off in the long run. “While haircuts don’t make your hair grow any faster, they get rid of split ends that break your hair,” celebrity hairstylist Michael Dueñas tells Good Housekeeping. If you let those split ends stick around for too long, they’ll work their way up the strand and cause breakage that will negatively impact your hair growth efforts as you’ll have to trim more later on. Celebrity hairstylist Mark Townsend suggests cutting about an eighth of an inch off every 10 to 12 weeks to prevent extreme split ends before they start.
2. Mind your scalp
If you want long, beautiful hair, you cannot ignore the building blocks, which is to say you need a good foundation with your scalp. Massaging a serum into your roots a few times a week will help nourish the scalp and “lead to healthier, stronger hair with less breakage,” according to Francesca Fusco, a dermatologist in New York City. Look for one that contains essential oils such as avocado or coconut. Massaging your scalp is also recommended as it promotes blood flow to the scalp, which in turn stimulates the hair follicles.
3. Skip the suds
If you’re shampooing on the daily every time you shower, then it’s high time to stop so much sud action. The purpose of shampoo is to wash away dirt and product buildup, but it can also strip your hair’s essential natural oils that keep strands soft and healthy. “Shampooing your hair two to three times a week is a general rule,” celebrity hairstylist Ken Paves tells Good Housekeeping. “This allows your natural oils to penetrate your hair, allowing it to hydrate and repair itself.”
4. Get in the right condition
A good conditioner is key when it comes to attaining long locks. Why? Conditioner helps replace the lipids and proteins inside the hair shaft “as well as seal the cuticle to help prevent more damage from happening so that you can get your hair to grow longer and look healthier,” Townsend said. A weekly deep conditioning treatment such as an oil or mask is also advisable. You can either purchase one from the store, or make your own. “I make a natural oil treatment and give it to all of my clients to use pre-shampoo,” Townsend adds. His easy recipe is 1 cup of unrefined coconut oil mixed with 1 tablespoon each of almond, macadamia, and jojoba oil. Just leave it in for about 10 to 15 minutes before shampooing and conditioning as normal. The fatty acids in the oil deliver much needed moisture to your strands.
5. Feed the need
Much like glowing skin, the fostering of glossy hair begins from the inside out. “Try increasing your protein intake with foods like fish, beans, nuts, and whole grains,” advises Dr. Fusco. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, be sure to still get adequate protein from plant sources. Dr. Fusco warns that women who don’t get enough of it often experience “more shedding.” You may also want to add a multivitamin to your daily routine, or switch up the one you’re currently taking. One that’s formulated and labeled “For Hair, Skin, and Nails” will serve you well. “Those contain important vitamins like biotin, vitamin C, and B vitamins that support hair health,” explains Dr. Fusco. Of course, check with your doctor before you change your routine.
6. Channel your sleeping beauty
If it’s Rapunzel locks you want, then make sure you’re also paying attention to your beauty sleep. While getting enough shut-eye is important, the pillowcase upon which you’re laying your head is just as crucial when it comes to your strands. Satin and 600-thread-count Egyptian-cotton pillowcases create less friction than standard-issue cotton ones. “Silk is easier on hair; it helps avoid tangles and breakage,” Jesleen Ahluwalia, M.D., a physician from Spring Street Dermatology in New York City, tells Good Housekeeping. And, less breakage means longer, healthier hair. You can also tie your hair into a very loose loop on the top of your head with a scrunchie as this will not crease or stress your hair the way an elastic hair tie does.
7. Patience makes perfect
The bottom line is that growing out your strands takes time — and patience. “Hair typically only grows about a quarter of an inch to a half an inch max a month,” says Townsend. “And that’s only if it is super healthy and doesn’t have a ton of split ends.” So, sit back and enjoy each hair length in the journey to your happily-ever-after locks of love. After all, sometimes good things take time.
8. Cool off
If you’re into super hot showers, you may be damaging your hair (and your skin) more than you think. Turning the steam down a bit can be beneficial for your strands, but at the very least rinse your hair at the end with cool water. It will “help seal the cuticle and strengthen your hair before styling it,” Paves adds. And consider cutting back on styling tools when you can.