The past few years, I’ve been on a mission of sorts to grow long, healthy hair. I think it all started with a bob-gone-wrong haircut a week before my wedding. (NEVER get your hair cut right before your wedding, no matter how cute that picture of Carey Mulligan is and how great you think it will look on you! It’s just not worth it, my friend.)
My hair always seemed to grow relatively fast, so it didn’t take long before it reached my shoulders. And then it stopped. For the life of me, I could not get it to grow any longer. Like any competent Millennial, I scoured the Internet for tips. I bought tons of products recommended by celebrity stylists and other hair It Girls. I slathered them on my head and waited for the magic to happen. But nothing did. My hair felt like straw and simply broke off at shoulder-length. My former stylist suggested that bleaching my hair was probably contributing to the problem. Unwilling to give up my highlights, I resigned myself to the fact that this was as long as my hair was ever going to be. (*cue world’s tiniest violin*)
However, as I have made the switch to a more natural lifestyle over the past few years, I’ve noticed that my hair is growing… and it won’t stop! My hair is currently down to the small of my back, despite cutting off a few inches on several different occasions. I have to go back now every six weeks to get a root touch up because I have a good inch or more of growth, where I would have been able to go three months in the past. My hair is also blonder than its ever been!
So, I’ve complied a HUGE list of tips here for you to use. This is everything that I’ve done and/or used over the past year or so to grow out my hair naturally, without having to give up my highlights! Happy hair growing!
1. Be Gentle
Your hair is never going to grow if you don’t treat it nicely! Before I shower, I brush my hair to get out any tangles. In the shower, I make sure to massage my shampoo into my scalp with the pads of my fingers, NOT my fingernails, which can damage the scalp. Happy scalp = happy hair. A little scalp massage also stimulates blood flow to the area which brings more nutrients for healthy hair growth. Once I’m out of the shower, I apply a natural detangler then use a wet brush or wide-toothed comb to gently smooth out my hair. Make sure to take your time brushing it out!
If you choose to color your hair like I do, make sure to seek out an experienced stylist and stick with that stylist. Jumping between stylists like I used to do can damage the hair because one stylist may use products that don’t jive with what the last stylist used. I’ve also learned that it’s worth it to pay a little more for someone that really knows what they’re doing.
Make sure to always use a natural shampoo and conditioner. Many commercial products contain harsh chemicals that strip moisture and others that coat the hair to smooth it and make it look healthier. None of these are good for hair growth, not to mention the health of the rest of your body! Here’s the shampoo and conditioner that I currently use and love. It’s very affordable and comes to your door in 2 days thanks to Amazon Prime! (How did we live before Amazon? Ha!)
Speaking of shampoo and conditioner, try to NOT wash your hair as often. In order for your hair to grow long and healthy, it needs to have adequate moisture. Even if you use natural products, washing your hair too often can dry it out OR actually cause it to overproduce oil. Neither is a recipe for a healthy scalp. I actually was my hair every 3-4 days. If I’ve had a sweaty workout but it’s not hair washing day yet, I’ll rinse my hair well and condition it, but hold off on the shampoo. In between washings, I’ll use some good ‘ole dry shampoo. I’ve tried a few natural brands and even some homemade concoctions but I haven’t found one I love yet. Stay tuned…
I’m not as good about this as I should be, but I’ve found that oiling my hair makes a big difference in its health and strength! Currently, I apply argan oil to the bottom half of my hair at night and then twist it up into a bun. I sleep with it like this, then wash my hair as usual in the morning.
3. Protect It
In order to prevent my hair from tangling or being damaged throughout the day and night, I baby it a bit. I always put it up in some sort of protective hairstyle at night while I sleep, when I’m working out, or when I’m travelling (my hair tends to mat in the back if it’s been smooshed up against an airplane seat for several hours). For sleeping, I gently twist my hair into a topknot and secure it with a small jaw clip. For working out or travelling, I tend to put it in a loose braid either straight down my back or off to one side.
I’m a somewhat restless sleeper, so I make sure to sleep on a satin pillowcase when I’m at home. I’ve found that this keeps my hair from becoming tangled and I toss and turn.
I know that we’ve all heard a thousand times how terrible heat styling is for your hair. I don’t disagree, but I also don’t like to be told what to do. I have fine hair, so if I don’t style it somehow it just limply hangs there. Not a good look. So, I choose to be selective with heat styling. When I wash my hair, I only blow dry the roots. This gives my hair some volume but minimizes the damage. It save me time in the morning too! I also only curl my hair for special occasions.
Also worth mentioning is to not wear tight hairstyles or the same style repetitively. For example, pulling your hair back into a tight ponytail everyday, while convenient, is not the best for your hair. It can actually create thinning around the crown of your head and breakage where you place the elastic. I still wear my fair share of ponytails, but I try to space them out throughout the week to give my hair a break.
4. Nourish From Within
My last and probably most important tip is to take care of your hair from the inside. Your body is not going to prioritize hair growth if it’s not otherwise healthy. To make sure my body (and therefore hair) is getting what it needs, I try to eat a mostly Paleo diet full of fruits and veggies, high-quality proteins and plenty of healthy fats. As extra insurance, I take a whole-food multivitamin daily.
While I don’t take many supplements, I absolutely make sure I take collagen hydrolysate most days of the week. I originally began taking it for some joint issues, but I noticed that my hair grew INSANELY fast when I began taking collagen! This made total sense when I thought about it because collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and makes up a large portion of our hair, skin and nails. I usually use this collagen hydrolysate in place of protein powder in shakes and smoothies because it has several grams of protein. It doesn’t have any taste so you’ll never even notice it’s there.
Lastly, I would be a terrible physical therapist if I didn’t mention exercise! Seriously though, exercise is also good for hair growth. It helps to circulate blood throughout the body, bringing nutrients to the scalp. Exercise also reduces stress, which can cause hair loss if left unchecked. Besides, who doesn’t want a healthy glow to go with their great hair? 😉
Whew!! That’s all of my tips for growing long, healthy hair naturally WITHOUT having to give up your highlights! Bless your heart if you read this far! Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions, product recommendations or tips!
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