This is me (well, this is my hair) six months ago. About two weeks after this photo, I chopped it all off, donating 10 inches to the American Cancer Society during Relay for Life fundraising efforts. I was so happy to support a wonderful cause, and I was really loving my new “lob”. Fast forward to about two months ago when I realized I was really, really missing my long hair. During the summer months, all I want to do is throw it into a fun ponytail or top knot. There is still not enough length for a full bun and there is nothing “fun” about my stubby ponytail. Suffice to say, I’m ready for it all to grow back. I measured it out recently, and I realized I have grown back almost 4 inches in the past 6 months! Hair normally grows only half an inch a month, so I must be doing something right! I’ve also noticed how much thicker my hair is. It used to require 2 twists of my ponytail holder to secure it and now I only need to do one. Frizz is pretty much nonexistant unless I step outside during the sauna that is the Deep South after a summer afternoon storm. Now that I am paying closer to attention to my hair, here’s what I do to help my hair grow stronger and longer.
(1) Put down the curling wand.
I can count on one hand the number of times I have used a hairdryer since cutting my hair. I haven’t used a straightening iron in years, and I use my curling wand maybe 2-3 times a month. Laying off the heat makes such a huge difference. Once your overly heat-styled hair grows out completely, you will not recognize it. “But, Lauren, my hair is awful and it HAS to be blowdried to look good!” I’m gonna call bullcrap on that excuse. Woman up, accept your “awful” hair and find a style that works with your hair type.
(2) Let your natural highlights shine through.
The hair in the above photo is long and pretty, but it’s also had some color done. There is a slight ombre color job which caused it to be pretty dry and damaged at the ends. While I understand that women of a certain age wish to color away the grey, if you are young with no greys in sight, embrace your natural color! I have never met ANYONE those natural skintone, hair color, and eye color doesn’t match flawlessly. Nature creates a color palette for us that is so much better than anything we could ever create with tanning, contacts, or hair color.
(3) Shampoo only when you have to.
I play this game with myself called How Long Can I Go Without Washing My Hair Before I Get Grossed Out. And basically if I can make it three days, I feel like I’m winning. I think most people have jumped on the dry shampoo train, but if you haven’t you aren’t doing yourself any favors. You can extend your shampoo by only using conditioner on the ends, not using any styling products, and keeping your hands out of your hair. Some of that oil in your hair made it there on your hands so keep it pulled back to prevent yourself from touching it too much.
(4) Be gentle when you brush.
During a KonMari-all-the-things session, I tossed a bunch of combs and hairbrushes. I now only have a Tangle Teezer (that I keep in my purse), a teasing comb (for special occasion hair), and a wide-toothed comb. I use the wide-toothed comb about 95% of the time. I always start at the ends, holding the hair shaft as I brush, and I work my way up to the roots. If it hurts when you brush or comb your hair at any point in time, you’re doing it wrong. I comb my hair once when I get out of the shower and normally don’t comb it again unless I’m pulling it into a ponytail while I wash my face or for the following day’s shower.
(5) Switch up your hairstyles.
If you pull your hair back in the same way every day, you are going to start to see breakage in that area. Do a high ponytail one day, maybe a low bun the next, just try to not be too consistant with the style if you wear it back often. The tools you use will also make a huge difference. Bobby pins or spin pins are great for holding buns securely. A ribbon hair tie (versus the normal elastic with metal band) not only helps with breakage, but prevents the dents you normally get from a ponytail. Headbands also do very little damage and look great.
(6) Eat your beauty foods.
Just like with your skin, it will make a difference with your hair when your diet is good. Hair loss is a sign of malnutrition; even slight hair loss can be a sign that you are not getting enough calories, fat, protein, vitamins, or minerals each day. My diet is pretty high in healthy fats, and I also take a couple supplements that support my hair, skin, and nails.
(7) Protect and pamper your hair.
When you go out in the sun, you protect your skin with an SPF, right? Well, your hair (and scalp!) needs that same level of protection. A beach or pool day is also the perfect opportunity to work in a deep conditioning treatment and throw on a big floppy hat. Use your normal conditioner, coconut oil, or a combination of the two and pull your hair into a low ponytail, bun, or braid. Rinse it out in the shower whenever you’re done with your outdoor fun, and reep the benefits.
I’m looking forward to seeing how much stonger and thicker my hair will be as I grow it out and continue to follow these steps. I would love to hear any methods that have helped you grow longer, stronger hair, so share your tips in the comments!