Growing Out Your Haircut
Your hair is always growing. If you've ever had color or a perm, you can see that it grows out -- probably faster than you'd like. But the trick to getting your hair to look long is to keep it from breaking off at the ends. When you're growing out your hair, breakage is counterproductive. So it pays to avoid doing anything to your hair that would tend to break it off.
Breakage and Damage
Overuse of heat, chemicals, and other things can do this to your hair.
If your hair is damaged or dry, ask your stylist for a deep conditioner once in a while, when you're there for a trim anyway. In our salon, we only charge a few dollars extra for it. But if you can't get to the salon or don't want to spend the few extra dollars, you can do a hot oil treatment at home with warm olive oil. Add a little lavender for fragrance (essential oil, which I think you can get at Whole Foods Market or your vitamin store), and massage or blow-dry it into your hair. The heat opens up the hair cuticle a bit, so the oil can penetrate the hair shaft and provide the necessary flexibility to the dry or damaged hair shaft. If you can't get the oil to penetrate, it'll just sit there on the surface and won't do much except provide some temporary shine, so you'll have to coax it a bit with the heat. Cover the oiled hair with a plastic cap, and leave it in overnight. Wash it out in the morning with a good shampoo.
You'll want to use a conditioning shampoo, as opposed to a clarifying shampoo, so that you don't wash away all the work you just did with the hot oil treatment. You can tell the difference between a conditioning and a clarifying shampoos -- even if it doesn't say so on the label -- because the conditioning shampoo is creamy or opaque, while the clarifying shampoo is clear or transparent.
For a deep conditioning treatment the way it's done in the salon, you'll need extra stuff, like one of those old-timey blow dryers with the bonnet attached, or a heat cap, plus the rather more expensive moisturizing and reconstructive conditioners used in the salon. And by the time you spend the money on those things, you might as well have paid the few extra dollars to have it done for you while you chill out comfortably in the salon.
The Occasional Trim
We used to advertise our Los Angeles hair salon in a music newspaper ("BAM") back in the '80s, when all the musicians had hair practically down to their waists. You had to like long hair and learn how to trim and style it in order to work here. We did. Even though the styles have changed and that paper has since gone out of business, some of the people who originally came to us from that ad are still with us today because of the trust factor that we've established over the years.
Just like the rock stars, you too are going to need the occasional trim, to avoid looking scraggly during the growing-out process, and you'll probably want a stylist for that. Find one you can trust not to sabotage your long hair goals. I think it's the rule, rather than the exception, that most stylists will try to lop off your hair. It's not their fault actually. They learn in beauty school that having clients with shorter hair is "good business." I actually had one of my beauty school instructors tell me this. Short hair is faster to do than long hair. It doesn't take as much shampoo and conditioner, nor as much time to detangle and blowdry; and as a stylist, your time is your money. That's what's being taught anyway. I always saw it as a false economy though, since a stylist who's trying to talk you into making your hair short when you want it long is probably going to lose you as a client altogether.
But I went to beauty school as an adult seeking a career change, so I had already formed some opinions of my own, based on previous experience, and wasn't quite the "blank slate" that my 17-year-old classmates were. Now these classmates of mine are out there as stylists, perpetuating the information they were taught in beauty school. No wonder long hair stylists are hard to find.
When you tell your stylist, "I only want a teeny bit off the ends," make sure you clearly define what you mean by "a teeny bit." Some stylists think an inch is a teeny bit. Well, that could be true if your hair is two or three feet long and straight, and you haven't had a trim in six months or so. But with shoulder-length super curly hair, taking off an inch could mean the hair is going to shrink up to your chin after it air-dries. Since hair only grows an average of half an inch a month, to me "a teeny bit" is something less than that, if you've been coming in regularly and if you've told me your goal is to grow out your hair.
If your hair texture is fine to medium, make sure your stylist doesn't use a razor to cut your hair. A razor cut leaves the ends in a diagonal shape. The razor cut was originally adopted as a way to make coarse hair lie flatter on the ends and promoted as a way to make it more manageable. But except for when I was in beauty school and had to learn how to do it, in case it happened to be on the State Board Exam, I've never used a razor even on coarse hair, because I think it's damaging in the long run. The diagonal shape makes the ends wear unevenly, look and feel dry, and split eventually, whether the hair is coarse or fine. I use scissors instead, which results in a clean blunt edge for each hair that makes the ends less likely to split. There are other less damaging ways to make the style less "poufy" on the ends, if that's what needs to be done, but in general a good cut and good conditioner are all a person needs to have hair that stays manageable while it's growing out. If the cut is good and you keep your hair in good condition, you'll have few if any bad hair days between trims.
Genetics and Nutrition
You might not be able to do anything about the genes you were born with, but good nutrition is definitely under your control. In this age of information, you can learn enough about it to know how to eat foods that will be good for your body and overall health. Over time, your hair will reflect the improved state of your health, and I think you'll be happy with both results.
© 2012-2021 by Lynn Fountain Campbell. This article may be freely re-distributed, as long as all content is left intact.