Extra-long hair is more popular (and possible) than ever

While an A-lister debuts a short bob haircut almost daily, another famous face will step out sporting ultra-long hair. Over the last year Gigi Hadid, Priyanka Chopra, Victoria Beckham and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, all recently opted for hairstyles with significant length, elevating a simple aesthetic to high-fashion status.

The trend was cemented with actresses (and Euphoria co-stars) Zendaya and Sydney Sweeney both appearing – separately – at the spring/summer 2024 fashion week shows during Paris Fashion Week, where front-row looks from stars with status comparable to theirs consistently set the trends as much as the designers do.

The latest to join the XXL hair cohort is Demi Moore, regularly seen with mermaid waves from Cannes to New York City.

demi moore
Gary Gershoff - Getty Images

So why the collective urge to go ultra-long? “Extreme length is a type of health and wealth signalling,” Tom Smith, hairstylist and trend forecaster, tells Harper’s Bazaar. “Long hair needs to be healthy to look good, and takes effort to keep glossy. If achieved with extensions, this shows one takes care of their appearance and is willing to invest in it.” Typically, very long hair can be seen with effortless, relaxed waves, and subtle, multi-tonal colours, which all plays into the ‘quiet luxury’ lifestyle – that of whispering wealth via understated sartorial codes. “Extra-long hair gives off an effortlessly cool vibe, as opposed to short, structured cuts which can come off as more high maintenance.”

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How to achieve extra-long hair

Part of the reason extra-long hair is growing in popularity, is because achieving great lengths “is more possible than ever,” adds Smith – mainly “thanks to the advancements in hair repair science”. He is a huge proponent of the use of Olaplex's No.3 Hair Perfector “at least every three washes to minimise the micro breakage that can stop or slow your hair getting longer”.

Bond repair treatments – from brands like Olaplex – are now a staple in salons and at homes. Hairstylist Sharon Landmann, founder of salon Lulu Blonde, explains that they “restore broken bonds and lost elasticity caused by colouring and thermal heat styling, as well as strengthening naturally brittle hair”. For prevention she also recommends fatty lipid moisture treatments such as Philip Kingsley's Elasticizer “for regular use which is essential to maintain softness and shine by sealing the cuticles and retaining moisture in the hair”.

Of course, not all ultra-long hairstyles are home grown, and very often hair extensions are employed to achieve the look. “While many celebrities rely on the use of extensions, the stretched out lengths that we are seeing right now are styled to give an effortless and undone feeling, rather than an uber-glam look,” notes Smith. “This is actually harder to achieve with extensions, as you want to avoid artificial thickness, and so any extensions need to be cleverly cut in a softer and more fluid way so no blunt lines show.”

miu miu  outside arrivals paris fashion week womenswear springsummer 2024
Marc Piasecki - Getty Images

Using hair extensions for length

“Extensions are not a low-maintenance option, and they must be adjusted every six-to-14 weeks depending on the method used,” explains Smith. “An experienced hair extensions stylist is essential, and they must be well cared for by using a more gentle and delicate approach to detangling and styling and never tying the hair up or sleeping when the hair is wet.”

To achieve an extra-long length like the A-list, Smith uses “a combination of extra small tape extensions with an invisible tape membrane hidden far underneath in the body of the hair, with customised tiny, bonded extensions around the hairline and higher up so that the blend is perfect and the extensions are mostly undetectable.” However, hair extensions must be chosen and achieved on a case-by-case basis. As Landmann says, “each type has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it's important to choose the type that will work best for your hair type, current hair length and lifestyle”.

We recommend the tape-in hair extensions service at Oxford Circus salon Beauty Club London. They add instant volume and length while remaining undetectable no matter what style hair is worn in, all while maintaining the natural hair health.

sony pictures'
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How to style extra-long hair

Length aside, for the most current take on longer hair, ask your stylist for ‘hourglass layers’, says Smith.

“Hourglass layers are less about flattering one's face and more so flattering one's body, with the length sitting just at the narrowest part of the waist, enhancing the feminine ‘hourglass’ shape. The ends should taper around the waist which is achieved with clever layering to ensure the correct balance of the bulk of the hair.” Whether with natural hair or extensions, he says to ask your hairstylist to layer carefully, keeping a balance of thickness while tapering the ends softly to hit the narrowest part of your waist.

ciara 'hourglass layers' long hair trend
Amy Sussman - Getty Images

And note that less is more when it comes to styling, adds Smith. “Avoid using rollers or doing a big bouncy blow-dry, which can make very long hair feel a little old fashioned,” he offers. Yes, bombshell glamour is trending too now, “but this typically looks most current on hair sitting just below shoulder length,” he adds. Instead, encourage texture on long hair by “gently twisting or loosely braiding it overnight to set it in a relaxed wave, or when you want to put a little more work in, twist random sections with a straightening iron and then brush it through while still warm to get a little bit of body”.

If you have corse, frizzy or naturally curly hair, a keratin treatment is a great option for long-term smoothing, adds Landmann. “Keratin is a structural protein which is combined with natural silk proteins that smooth the individual hair strands, making the hair look and feel sleeker while dramatically reducing blow-drying time. These treatments also repel environmental moisture which causes hair to frizz.” Keratin treatments last between three-and-five months and gradually wear off, leaving the hair in its natural state afterwards with no regrowth.

priyanka chopra mermaid hair
SUJIT JAISWAL - Getty Images

How to maintain the health of extra-long hair

A well-tuned home haircare regime is crucial to maintaining longer lengths if you want that healthy, wealthy look the A-listers present – especially as long hair means going longer between salon haircuts. Smith feels the foundation for every routine for long hair should be begin with weekly Olaplex treatments and weekly moisture masks – his favourite being Evo’s The Great Hydrator. “This keeps the hair silky, soft and avoids tangled or split ends by keeping the cuticle conditioned and supple.”

Avoid excessive heat styling, too, as it can damage both the natural hair and extensions, Landmann adds. “Especially with longer hair, being diligent with extensions after-care is important and extra attention is needed when brushing, combing and washing.”

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