We’ve all been there. You let your stylist talk you — or you talk yourself — into that super-trendy bob or crop that just looks so perfect on the celebrity of the moment. Immediately after looking in the mirror, you regret your decision.
The good news is, of course, that hair does grow back. The bad news is that it can feel like it takes forever, especially when you’re unhappy with your look right now.
Never fear, there are 5 easy steps you can take to help grow out your hair. Two top stylists share their best hair growth hacks with Better Homes and Gardens, to help you grow your hair longer and stronger.
1. Take Your Vitamins
Hair growth supplements work by nourishing hair follicles with the vitamins, minerals, protein complexes and other nutrients that are most needed for growth. Thinning and lifeless hair can be the result of a bad diet and vitamin deficiencies, so replace the nutrients you’re missing in your diet in order to boost hair growth. Viviscal Extra Strength contains biotin, which helps your body metabolize amino acids and increases keratin production (the protein that makes up the hair structure). It’s not a bad idea to consider taking a supplement, says John Mouzakis, stylist at Mixed Co. Salon in Chicago, although he notes that a healthy diet and regular multivitamin are important too. And as with any supplement, ask your doctor before you begin.
2. Make the Cut
It may be counter-intuitive, but when long hair is your goal, regular trims are essential. Mouzakis says, “While this won’t speed up hair growth, it will keep split ends at bay and prevent them from moving up the strand and causing breakage, which can make it look and feel like your hair isn’t growing at all.” Go in for a trim every three months or so, and ask for a dusting (a very tiny trim that only cleans up the ends). There’s another benefit to regular trims too: “Your stylist can help re-shape your style, so that it looks good even during the growing-out phase,” adds Nick Pena, owner/lead stylist at SalonCapri in Boston.
3. Turn Down the Heat
Daily heat styling does major damage on hair, leading to split ends and breakage that will slow down or even halt hair growth, says Mouzakis. The best bet is to avoid hot tools altogether, but we know it can be hard to quit your curling iron cold turkey. If your addiction to hot tools runs deep, be sure to use a heat protectant every time you blow-dry, curl or use a flat iron. Apply the protectant to wet hair, then comb through to distribute evenly prior to styling. Mouzakis recommends Kérastase.
4. Break Up with Breakage
Even the most natural habits can lead to accidental breakage and damage to the hair shaft or the root, says Pena. One big fix is to rethink how you brush. “If you brush downward, starting at the scalp, it can turn little tangles into one large knot,” says Mouzakis. “Instead, start at the ends of hair and work your way up.” Ponytails can also be harmful. “Pulling your hair back too tightly can cause breakage around your front hairline, creating short hairs that are also especially hard to style as you’re growing out your hair,” he says. Keep your ponytail loose and use soft snag-free elastics to minimize breakage and maximize gorgeous growth.
5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It
Patience is a virtue, but if you simply can’t wait for long locks, you can always consider hair extensions. Extensions do add length and volume, but beware. Long-term use of weaves and sew-in extensions can cause damage to your existing hair and even can scar your scalp, leading to thinning and damage known as traction alopecia. This could take you into a vicious circle because if your hair looks thinner and more damaged, you might be tempted to keep the extensions in for longer periods of time. Instead, try an at-home, clip-in version if you want less of a commitment, and a little less damage. See a stylist if you prefer to have them professionally sewn in, but keep in mind that in addition to the damage, sew-in’s will require some upkeep, says Pena, since they will start to grow out as your hair does.