While many celebrities and hairstylists are claiming that cutting it all off is the summer trend I can bet that most of us dreamed of having long, lush hair at least once in our lives. Why does it seem to take an eternity for our locks to reach those lengths? Well here I will explain the basics of hair growth rate and what you can do to make the most of it.
Hair grows at a set length, it will vary for each person, but on average only about 1/2 an inch a month. At 6 inches a year it will be a slow process to reach those mermaid lengths, but they are attainable! The chart below is my favorite illustration of hair’s growth rate from bald to waist length.
Hair also has 3 stages of growth: anagen, catagen, and telogen. In the anagen phase the root of the hair is actively being fed by proteins in your blood and is actively growing. These hairs will hurt when they are pulled out accidentally. The catagen phase is when the root begins to detach from the blood supply, the hair will no longer be receiving protein and the root will begin to shrink- these hairs are the ones that you find most often in your hair brush. Eventually the hair will fall out completely. The telogen phase is the resting period between a hair falling out and when a new hair begins to grow. The image below illustrates the 3 stages.
There are a few things to keep in mind when growing out your locks, some might sound counter productive, but they are your best chance at reaching the length you are looking for.
Trim Regularly: Cut your hair to grow it. Like I said- some things will sound counter productive but I promise they’re not! Keeping your hair split end free will allow it to grow longer than if you never trimmed your hair. Hair is dead by definition- if it was alive we would feel pain when it gets trimmed. That being said, split ends are like mummified bodies- dried out, empty, and easily broken. To keep that ‘mummified’ texture from spreading up to the rest of your hair shaft the hair must be cut. Skipping trims can lead to hair breaking off or causing more hair to be cut off later! The trick with trims is to get them done as soon as they are needed. For most people that will mean a salon visit every 6-8 weeks.
Style Smartly: Using styling tools are beneficial now, but the damage they could be doing can cause your hair to require more frequent trims and more time to reach your desired length. Make sure you are using your tools correctly and at the right settings! No-heat styling should be your new best friend. Read my post about what tools to use, and how to use them here.
Moisturize me: Keep your hair moisture rich- this means conditioning treatments. Spending major bucks at a salon for this is not required but not discredited either. I definitely recommend having your hair analyzed by a professional from time to time. Hair types vary, just like skin types, some people are prone to dry hair and others are not. If you are prone to dry hair then conditioning treatments are something you should be considering at least once a week. If you are lucky enough to be one of those annoyingly perfect hair types of people (cough) then conditioning treatments should still be something you do from time to time but not nearly as frequently as dry hair types.
Anything that you can get over the counter that claims to increase your hair’s rate of growth is lying. Nothing applied topically (shampoos or serums) or taken orally (pills and vitamins) will have any affect on your rate of growth. If there was truly a miracle product it would make major headlines and infomercials would be unnecessary.
That being said, they can’t hurt either. Hair needs protein and blood flow to grow. If a shampoo or scalp serum has an ingredient that increases blood flow, then it can encourage hair to grow. A pill or vitamin might not provide the exact protein that your body needs to produce hair, but it can encourage the absorption of these proteins. The important thing to keep in mind when considering these ‘miracle’ products is to remember that growing hair takes more patience than most of us would like, and this product will not get your hair to the length you want over night.
Growing long locks is a slow process but maintaining healthy hair will get you there. You have already educated yourself about how hair grows so now you can make better decisions about how to style, trim, and condition your hair. True ‘miracle’ products might not exist, but now you are better equipped to weed out the gimmicks and find products that really can encourage your hair to grow at the fastest rate possible.
Whatever length you’re at right now, don’t lose hope! Just think about how great you will feel once you reach your dream length and push on!