As mentioned in a previous post, I started a routine to grow my hair about six months ago. Some parts of it may sound quite extreme, and a lot of it is purely common sense, but hopefully this will offer some good tips to help grow your hair long.
Firstly, there is no miracle product or action which will make your hair grow at super human speeds. It is instead important to have healthy hair. If your hair is healthy, the ends will not split and break off, and your hair will stay healthy and maintain its length better, therefore allowing you to grow your hair more easily.
Secondly, I am a believer that you cannot really 'repair' damaged hair, at least not through any shampoo which promises to mend split ends. I recommend looking very carefully at products which mention making your hair healthy. They usually state things like 'for healthy-looking hair.' Healthy-looking hair? Great, but how about actually making my hair healthy? Once an end is split, it is going to stay that way- cut it off. Saying this, I think my hair is in a lot better condition since I started doing the things mentioned below. It looks and feels a lot nicer and is easier to deal with.
(I am not a hair dresser and am certainly not trying to say that you should do all of these to help maintain/achieve healthy hair. These are just things which I believe have worked for me, and if you're looking for things to help your hair, this might be helpful.)
1. Diet: zzz. My least favourite part. Sadly, it is important to have a healthy diet with protein and fat in it. These two will help your hair. Fun fun!
2. Oils. Hair oils have grown massively in popularity over the last couple of years. However, most of the popular hair oils (Morrocan Oil, Macadamia Oil brands) consist more of sillicones than they do of the actual nutritious oil. They will promise things like 'healthy-looking hair.' Sillicones are not necessarily terrible, but it is those which are coating your hair, making it look shiny and 'healthy'- when it is not. These products are also extremely expensive, and while they might make your hair look nice, they are not going to improve its condition, and may damage it. These products are all well and good for styling, but they should not be mistaken for something which is going to alter and imrpvoe your hair's health.
Instead, I use 100% oils which are much cheaper (some, like sweet almond oil cost as little as £2.99 from amazon). I will do a blog post about my favourite oils. Unlike the expensive brand oils, these are not for styling, and will therefore be greasy when you put them on your hair. Instead I like to put them on my hair before I shampoo it. If you don't want to spend money on oils, you can always use olive oil form your kitchen cupboard, and even double it up to use on your skin. This will be much better for your hair than expensive branded "oils."
3. Washing your hair. I say wash your hair as infrequently as you can. Try to leave it until it is visibly greasy before washing it. I don't like to wash my hair more than twice a week, and sometimes leave it for up to eight days- and I have very oily hair. However, if I am not leaving the house, or can get away without tying it up, I just do not wash it. Not washing your hair too often allows it to produce its own natural oils which is much better for it than chemical-laden shampoos!
4. Tying your hair up. This is a subject of much debate. If you scrape your hair back tightly, you are adding strain to it and can end up pulling it out. Instead, opt for a looser up do. Tying your hair up protects it in many ways:
A) It does not get knotty- and therefore you don't need to brush it as much. Brushing out knots damages the hair.
B) It does not get stuck or trapped in things- bags, doors, clothes, jewellery etc. meaning you keep more of it in your head.
C) It stops you fiddling with it, which can lead to damage
So, in my opinion, if tying up your hair doesn't damage it by putting a strain on it, you will be protecting it from a lot of "trauma" (ooh, how dramatic).
5. Sleeping at night/pillow. At night, I think it is very important to tie your hair up. Personally, my hair is a disgusting matted mess by the morning if I sleep with it down. I also sleep on a silk pillow case. this sounds completely pretentious and princessy but it was maybe the best £22 I ever invested in my hair (well, not me personally- it was a gift). Silk is supposed to be beneficial for both skin and hair as it does not take the moisture away from it. It's also 'silky' (of course) so your hair and skin sort of 'slide' on it and therefore get in a lot less of a mess. If you're worried about sleep lines on your face, many swear by using a silk pillowcase. I'm not at that stage in my life yet, but prevention is certainly better than a cure. From sleeping on a silk pillowcase for the last six months I can say that I HATE going back to sleeping on cotton (boo). On silk my hair is a lot tamer in the morning so going back to sleeping on cotton in a complete pain.
6. Brushing your hair. Again, I am unsure how I feel about this entirely. It's important to brush your hair so that it doesn't get into an out of control matted mess. When this happens, sometimes the scissors are the only option- eek. We've all been there, right? There's nothing more disheartening that having to cut chunks out of your own maine :(. However, brushing your hair too much can be detrimental to its health, causing split ends and breakage. I've found that what works best for me is untaggling it as much as possible with my hands, and then running through it with a tangle teezer. This means I'm not running the brush through my knots, but pulling them apart gently to minimise them, and then sealing the deal with the tangle teezer.
7. Heat/chemical damage. I'm slightly embarrassed to say that I have not used a single heat product on my hair since December 2011. What am I thinking? Yes, heat damage is bad but I may be taking it too far. You can probably afford to dry/straighten it once a week. I've never been a big hair straightener as my hair is fairly straight- and limp- anyway. As for the hair dryer? I HATE drying my hair. It is possibly the most boring task I have ever carried out, so I do not miss it at all. Generally I wash my hair in the evening in time for it to be dry before I go to bed, and then in the morning I am set to go- it also has more volume this way. As for chemical damage? I'm sure I still have some of that. I don't use sulphate or silicone-free shampoos and conditioners but I don't put anything else on my hair. No mousse, hair spray or any number of those things you can use to make your hair beautiful. However, I don't think some use of these products is going to destroy your hair. As long as you use a clarifying shampoo to get rid of build up once in a while, your hair isn't going to be a weighed down mess.
8. Cutting your hair. Personally I only cut my hair when I see split ends. It's important to cut these as they will just get worse and worse. Even if your lose a little length, it is worth it in the end. By leaving a split end, it will go further up the hair, causing more damage. By cutting it off you can let it grow back healthily.