For the majority of my life, I haven’t had a particularly loving relationship with my hair. I always deemed it to be flat, fine and lifeless and I longed for the sort of waves and curls that bounce as you walk. For the entirety of my pre-teen and teenage years, I experimented with countless different hair trends (from a VB-esque inverted bob and a fringe to a scruffy shag) in a bid to find a style most complimentary for my limp, straight strands.
But as I entered adult life, I realised that it was time to admit defeat and embrace the cards (read: hair) I was dealt. So, from the age of 18, I have sported, for the most part, the same long hairstyle. And while I’ve spent a lot of time resenting my hair, in recent years I have realised that, actually, when it’s healthy, it really works. In fact, my super-long, sleek hair has sort of become my most-defining beauty characteristic.
Nowadays, my long hair is by far my most asked-after feature. Friends and colleagues are always asking me how I manage to grow my hair so long and keep it looking healthy at the same time. In the past, I’ve been stumped for an answer. It just kind of grows like this, I’d say. But the truth is, the many years of TLC I’ve shown my strands in a bid to get them to look the way I’d like have all contributed to its willingness to grow.
So, to finally answer the question in a genuinely thought-out, informative way, I’ve compiled all of the things I do to help encouraging my hair to grow. And because my first-person account might not ring true for everyone, I also reached out to creative director of colour at Butchers and my go-to guy for any hair-related questions, Dominic Roach, to get his insights, too. If you want to know how to grow your hair long, this is the best advice out there…
1. Be Strict on Heat Styling
This is by far my most important tip. Applying high temperatures to the hair with tools such as straighteners and tongs will result in dryness, split ends and breakage. A few years ago, I started using my Dyson Airwrap to dry and smooth my hair instead of opting for more intensely heated options. As a result, even after 12 months of not having a trim during the pandemic, my hairstylist commented on how healthy the ends were, all things considered.
Having said that, avoiding heat styling is way easier said than done. “In an age when heat styling is very much de rigeur, it can seem impossible to avoid,” says Roach. “It’s key to make sure you use a thermal heat protector. Perhaps try and minimise your tong and straightening iron affair to once a week or experiment with heat-free techniques like rollers or plaits,” he adds.
Shop The Best Products for Managing Heat Damage
Dyson Airwrap™ Styler Complete (£450)
Undone by George Northwood Wave Holding Spray (£15)
Cantu Shea Butter Thermal Shield Heat Protect (£8)
2. Have Regular Haircuts
It seems counter intuitive, I know, but having a regular trim really is the best way to keep strands healthy and happy. “Spilt ends can travel up the hair shaft, causing breakage. I recommend a trim every 4-8 weeks to keep them at bay,” says Roach. Over time, I have managed to stretch the time between my cuts. Reducing heat styling combined with the fact my hair is straight (and therefore not naturally dry as wavy or curly hair types) means that I can just about get away with getting an inch taken off the ends every 12 or so weeks.
3. Use Bond-Repair Treatments
Growing your hair long is all about keeping strands as strong as possible. If your hair is damaged and weak, you better believe it will snap and break (this is often what is happening when you feel like your hair won’t grow past a certain length). To help keep up strength, bond-repair treatments can make the world of difference. “Use products that strengthen the layers of the hair and rebuild bonds internally. It will make hair visibly stronger, healthier and shinier and is an investment in achieving your ultimate long hair. I really recommend Aveda Botanical Repair Strengthening Shampoo and Conditioner,” says Roach.
Shop Bond-Repairing Products
Aveda Botanical Repair Strengthening Conditioner 200ml (£28)
Olaplex No. 3 Hair Perfector (£26)
Redken Acidic Bonding Concentrate Conditioner (£22)
Amika The Kure Multi-Repair Treatment (£23)
4. Ditch The Daily Top Knots
This was the most recent and difficult hair realisation for me to come to terms with. If you ask me, throwing your hair up in a quick bun to keep it off your face is the quickest and chicest option. However, when my hair started snapping, I realised how important it is to change your style day-to-day. My stylist told me that to prevent breakage, I should opt for silk hairbands (to prevent friction), switch up the style (ie.g. a low ponytail one day and perhaps a plait the next) and, where possible, tie the band looser. Since adopting this advice, the breakage has virtually stopped.
Shop Strand-Friendly Hairbands
Slip Set of six skinny silk hair ties (£39)
Silke London The Frida set of six silk hair ties (£30)
Slip Set of 3 silk hair ties (£39)
5. Make Scalp Scrubs Your Go-To
Healthy hair starts with a healthy scalp. In short, if the environment in which your hair grows isn’t fighting fit, you can expect growth to be inhibited. To help rid the scalp of build-up and keep it as healthy as possible, I use a pre-shampoo scrub once a week.
Shop Scalp Scrubs
The Inkey List Glycolic Acid Exfoliating Scalp Scrub (£13)
Sachajuan Scalp Scrub (£35)
Kérastase Fusio Soothing Scrub (£43)
Ouai Scalp & Body Scrub (£32)
This article originally appeared on Who What Wear
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