I also haven’t had a haircut in that time… Why? I’m trying to grow my hair long!
I had been trying to grow my hair for 15 years now… I have really coarse thick pube-like hair that splits really easily. In the mornings, it is so frizzy and wild that I have an afro. I would nearly grow my hair to my shoulders, and it would be split and frizzy, so I’d again get the horrible ends cut off and I was back to square one, and it felt like I’d never get my long hair ever again.
It has been truly frustrating. I wanted long hair once more before I’m way too old to have long hair… Long luscious locks – down to my waist. Crazy cat lady hair – I long for it!
Never thought I’d get my hair this long!
Two years ago I heard about the Curly Girl method of not using shampoo on my hair… Just washing it with conditioner… So I thought I had nothing to lose and decided to give it a go. Talking to other friends with hair similar to mine, I’ve managed to pick up a few more great tips – and now I can honestly say my hair is in the very best condition it has ever been in. It certainly isn’t down to my waist yet, but I’ve got it to boob length – which is further than I’ve ever been able to get it before! Plus I have no split ends (and haven’t cut it in over two years!) and my hair feels full of life, full and swishy!!! Swish Swish!
So the greatest tip I have learned is that hair is super fragile and if you want it long, you need to treat it like threaded gold… Gentle is the key – in every aspect from thinking about the type of hair elastics you use, to how you brush it, to not using heat (you knew that was coming didn’t you!). So there are quite a few steps – but if long hair is what you want – use these tips and you shall receive!
1. I let my hair get dirty – really dirty!
A bit of natural oil is good for your hair and scalp. Even if you already have really oily hair, try and stretch your wash out to three, four or even five days. Greasy hair can be worn up in a ponytail or bun. If it is truly driving you mental – try dry shampoo! The natural oils from your scalp are conditioning on your hair, and washing your hair too often will just be drying it out – and dry hair means you can’t get your hair long as it will eventually snap! So if you can – go three, four, even five days between washes!
Yes it can get itchy. Yes it will drive you mental for the first six weeks or so you try it, but I promise…it will be worth it!
Washing too often just strips it – same with getting it wet too often – so if you swim, use a cap.
Dry Shampoo is also something I use ALL THE TIME! Especially on the front part of my hair if I need to go out of the house and make it look half decent. Just spray it in upside down, brush – and it looks clean! If you have grey roots (like me) – using a coloured dry shampoo is a double winner! One bottle lasts AGES! I also keep a can in my handbag in particularly sweaty weather!
2. I only use lukewarm or cold water on my hair.
Your hair is like your skin: if you have a scalding hot shower, it will damage your hair. Keep it to cool water. In fact, giving your hair a final rinse in cold water really helps your hair to be shiny! If you tend to get the hair itchies in Winter, rinse your hair with some apple cider vinegar or beer – it makes your hair shiny and stops your scalp from itching!
3. Stop using shampoo!
Shampoo is the devil! It dries out your hair so much, especially if you are using it more than twice a week. Ditch your shampoo now – throw it all in the bin! Instead, use conditioner to ‘wash’ your hair. How? Well, apply a good amount of conditioner to your scalp, make sure your hair is uber wet, and gently massage it through your hair (without tangling it – gently gently!). Massage the conditioner right into your scalp for a few minutes, then rinse – and your hair will be clean as a whistle – and oh so soft! It may take a week or two for your hair to ‘get used’ to not using shampoo, and might appear a little flat, but it is worth pushing your way through those two or so weeks.
If you are really struggling – a good middle step is to buy some ‘Cleansing Conditioner’ – which is made just for people like you that want great hair but also don’t want to go cold turkey!
There are loads of Cleansing Conditioners if you look. They can be rather pricey.. but if you need that middle step – it is the way to go.
4. Use a rich hair treatment as a conditioner.
You can use any old conditioner to ‘wash’ your hair – but you still need to condition it afterward. I use a really heavy hair treatment instead of conditioner… (I use the Nioxin brand of hair treatment as it is really thick and heavy) If you have really oily hair (like I do), only use this on your lengths, not at the scalp.
5. Don’t use towels on your hair.
Towels are great for drying your body, but please please please don’t use them to dry your hair! It is easy for your hair to get caught up in the fibres of the towel and break – especially as wet hair is the most vulnerable. Instead, invest in some of those microfibre hair towels – they are gentle and remove a lot of the water from your hair without damaging it. Another alternative is to use a soft cotton t-shirt to dry your hair – or wrap your hair up in the t-shirt and allow it to soak up the moisture.
6. Only use an afro comb on wet hair.
Yes, you’ve heard this one before but I can’t stress enough! Wet hair is easily damaged hair – so treat it very, very gently. Start combing your hair from the bottom and gently work your way up. If your hair is particularly knotty, try using your hands to gently separate the hair – without pulling! Afro combs are perfect as they are wide-toothed.
7. Once your hair is dry, add MORE rich treatment.
So you have a t-shirt on your hair, absorbing all the excess moisture… Once you take off the t-shirt and your hair isn’t dripping water anymore, grab a tiny 10 cent piece coin worth of the rich conditioning treatment you used to conditioner your hair, and run it through the ends of your hair (up to your shoulders). Don’t wash it out! It’s got to stay right there where it is! It doesn’t make your hair look oily, is better than a leave-in conditioner, and reduces the amount of frizz!
8. Invest in satin or silk pillowcases.
Even when you are asleep, you need to look after those locks. Not only are satin or silk pillowcases gorgeous to sleep on, but they are less likely than cotton to ‘pull’ your hair when you are asleep. Less breakage means your hair looks healthier! Plus only use scrunchies instead of hair elastics – so much gentler!
9. Loosely braid your hair at night.
Most people toss and turn during the eight or so hours they are asleep, and your hair can get really tangled (you know if you wake up in the morning and your hair is standing on end!). To keep this from happening, gently braid your hair before bedtime – not tight enough that it pulls, but not so loose it falls out. This will keep your hair lovely and ‘contained’ overnight – and less tangles mean less split ends! Plus it gives your hair a great look the next day!
10. Avoid using hot irons, hot curlers or anything…hot.
Okay being realistic here, we are all addicted to our hair dryers and straighteners… But when you can avoid it, allow your hair to dry naturally. Heat will literally fry your ends – even if you use a protectant on your hair (which we recommend!). Another good way to avoid the damage straighteners do is to only do your fringe and wear the rest of your hair up. That way you are limiting the damage to just one area!
If you have the patience for it, drying your hair with a hair dryer on the cold setting gets a great result. Yes, it takes ages to dry but is a heat-free way to get your hair dry without damage.
11. Only colour the roots of your hair.
I don’t care what anyone says, colouring your hair is going to damage it. I only ever use box colour at home – and yes that is more damaging; however, I only ever colour my roots and I water down the colour a fair bit (with water) to make it gentler. If you use full strength colour on the full lengths of your hair every single time you colour, your ends will go to mush and will need to be chopped off. I highly recommend just colouring the roots of your hair.
So these are my tips on growing long hair. Of course, it comes with a whole dose of patience as it doesn’t grow overnight! But if you want your hair in fabulous condition, this is the way to do it!