I had short hair for a really long time; in fact, my hair now is probably the longest it has ever been. I was never really able to get past shoulder-length, and from the time I graduated high school until maybe three years ago, I had a short Edie Sedgwick-inspired cut.
When I finally decided to grow my hair out long, around three years ago, I thought it would be a simple process. I figured I’d just let it grow all long and healthy and gorgeous! Hair is meant to grow right?
Flash forward to two and a half years later, and I was convinced my hair had stopped growing altogether. It just wouldn’t really push past my shoulder area, and I didn’t know what I was doing wrong. As clueless as it sounds, I was at a total loss for why I kept having to bleach my roots, but never saw the length come in at the bottom. I just wanted hair that covered my nipples so I could look all forest goddess like when I was naked--was that so much to ask?
Enter Carla, long-hair extraordinaire.
Carla is a stylist at Blyss salon in Toronto, and she has the longest, prettiest, silkiest natural hair I’ve ever seen.
Carla took one look at my chemically burned, matted and tired hair and told me if I kept up my same habits, it would never ever grow; in fact, it would get shorter if I wasn’t careful. She explained that while my hair is still growing at a normal pace from the roots, it is breaking off before it ever gets a chance to grow long. This means no matter how much hair I actually grow, I’ll never have long hair, because the ends are so dry and damaged that they snap!
In that moment, everything made sense: I had so many friends who complained their hair just wasn’t growing past a certain length, and I realized breakage was probably to blame in most cases.
I begged Carla to share her wisdom with me. She started talking, and I started eagerly taking notes.
1. Invest in some Davines Melu products. An anti-breakage product line, the Melu family is specifically formulated for long and/or damaged hair, and will help a lot with the growing-out process. Carla especially recommends the anti-breakage serum, a light treatment with cherry oil and keratin that you put on your ends while still damp to prevent split ends.
2. Get regular trims, at least every three months. In my case, Carla needed to take off all of the thin, basically see-through ends on my hair and cut it straight across to help it grow in more evenly.
3. Brush your hair before you shower. Carla says a lot of people brush their hair after, but not before, so when they shampoo they’re causing a lot of breakage. Brushing before also helps to bring the natural oil from your scalp down to your dry, oil-deprived ends.
4. Use a Tangle Teezer. These brushes are designed to gently detangle your hair without causing too much damage or breakage. If your hair is super-matted and knot-filled like mine was, go slow and work in sections until everything is smooth. Not sold yet? Check out this cute video by Faz.
5. Sleep on satin or silk pillowcases, and/or sleep with your hair tied up. Friction is one of the leading causes of breakage, so anything that rubs on your hair is not good. Cotton pillowcases can cause a lot of friction, and even if you put your hair up but you move around a lot, this can be a problem; opting for something smoother is the best route. If you don’t feel like changing up your bedding, try tying a silk or satin scarf around your hair instead.
6. Use a nourishing oil or "milk" after you wash your hair. Carla recommends the Davines OI milk and oil, as they also contain shine-enhancing, anti-aging and protective qualities.
7. When towel drying, don’t rub! Slowly and carefully pat your hair dry. It will take a lot longer, but the friction from rubbing causes a ton of breakage.
8. Wash your hair as little as possible, using a dry shampoo when your roots are looking oily. Carla recommends one wash a week, and Davines dry shampoo in between washes.
9. There is a proper way to wrap your hair in a towel in order to minimize damage and make sure your hair dries nicely and without any weird bumps. Carla will show you:
Most of all, Carla says you need to put a lot of time and care into the way you treat your hair. Some final words of wisdom:
Imagine you’ve just bought a gorgeous dry-clean-only blouse. You wouldn’t throw it in the wash with everything else, would you? Now imagine your hair is that blouse, except better, because it’s attached to you. Give it that same special care.