For many of us, trying to achieve the long and glossy hair of our dreams can turn into a nightmare. Our efforts can often see us dropping a small fortune on products that don’t really work, or trying dubious DIY solutions.
The secret to the tumbling, healthy tresses you desire is actually quite simple. Get ready to have your mind blown: all you have to do to have long hair is have strong hair.
Yep, that’s the big secret. Hair only grows at a rate of just under an inch per month, so short of getting extensions, there’s nothing you can do to make your hair look longer. However, you can prep your strands for ideal growth by ensuring they are hardy and healthy. This boils down to doing everything you can to prevent breakage. Here’s how you do it.
How to Grow Long, Strong Hair
- Massage Your Scalp
Massaging your scalp while applying shampoo or a deep conditioner will stimulate the hair follicles and encourage blood flow to the area, which will promote healthy hair growth. Do this every time you shower. An added perk? It feels great!
- Wash Infrequently
You don’t need to wash your hair every 24 hours unless you’re dunking your head in a vat of transmission fluid on a daily basis. Your hair’s natural oils keep it healthy and strong, so you want to leave them alone to do their work. Don’t strip them away with too-frequent shampoos: aim to limit your washing to 2-3 times a week. If your hair is super oily, use a dry shampoo to tie you over between washes.
- Protect Before Styling
Apply a heat protection cream or serum before you blow dry, curl or straighten your hair. Styling tools have come a long way since they first hit the market, and they have been re-designed to offer your hair maximum protection from heat while still getting the job done (just check out the Cloud 9 hair straightener!), but the fact remains your hair is enduring a potentially harmful amount of heat. So, when you style, protect, and don’t style more than necessary.
- Cool Off
Speaking of styling, here’s a pro-tip to help keep your hair strong for optimal length: when you’re done drying and styling your hair, hit it with a cool blast of air from your blow dryer. This will help seal up the shaft and close any lifted slivers of hair.
- Brush Softly
The brush you use to detangle your hair could be breaking it, compromising your chances of getting the long, luscious hair you want. To minimise damage, opt for a boar bristle brush. These soft bristles will gently smooth your hair, while also moving natural oils from the roots to the tip — natural oils that will protect and nourish your locks.
- Brush Dry
Wet hair is weaker and more susceptible to breakage. Spare your tresses the stress and hold off brushing wet hair. Instead, use your fingers or a wide-toothed comb to work out the big knots, and then use a brush when your hair is dry.
- Oil Up
One of the best, most natural ways to add healthy, vitality and volume to your hair is to give yourself a coconut oil treatment. Once or twice a week, prior to shampooing, work coconut oil into the roots of your hair and let it sit for 20 minutes. Coconut oil has been shown to not only hydrate hair and moisturise your scalp, but it has also been touted as a natural way to encourage hair growth.
- Deep Condition
Once a week, treat your hair to some serious TLC with a deep conditioning treatment. These treatments should be left on for a few minutes, so add it as part of your total care regime. While the conditioner works its magic preventing and repairing damage, you can moisturise and exfoliate your body. By the time you’re done doing that, it’ll be time to rinse.
- Cool Water Rinse
Just like how blow drying your hair with cool air will seal and protect the shaft, so will rinsing your hair with cool water. It doesn’t have to be so cold you put yourself at risk of hypothermia, but it should be fairly cool to do the trick.
What to all these tips have in common?
Damage prevention. The truth is you can never really truly repair hair breakage. You can make a split end appear whole, but that’s just appearances: the hair is still split. To have long, abundant, radiant hair, you’ve got to keep it healthy, starting at the roots, and keep it healthy as it continues to grow. Sure, this will take a little extra time, and require some extra self-care, but we could all use more self-care in our lives. Start with your hair, and go from there.