Within the past two years this blog has explored hair history, sociological issues, trends, hacks on combating seasonal affects on hair, and so much more. The one area I have somehow neglected to discuss is how to grow out your hair.
Recently I have had a lot of clients tell me they want to grow out their hair, myself included, between you and me I am striving for Daniel Palmer’s hair. Before I dive into the tips and tricks on how to promote hair growth and strengthen your hair, I would like share some science behind the mane on your head.
Human hair goes through different cycles of growth, the first being anagen, this is the stage where a new hair shaft forms in the follicle. The next phase is catagen, this is where the shaft moves outward and the follicle shortens because the cells making up the lower half shrink and disappear, this phase lasts only a few days. Next phase is telogen, this is the resting phase, there is no cell division, no shaft growth, the follicle is the shortest and the shaft is the longest. This stage can last weeks or months. The final phase is exogen, where the shaft loosens and falls out. On average a human loses 50-100 scalp hairs every day. This entire cycle can take two to six years. This can explain why we may feel our hair grows faster at times and seems to not grow at all at other times. Even though we may be doing everything in our power to keep our hair healthy and growing there is nothing we can do to stop the natural cycle of hair growth.
There are certain medical factors that may disrupt this process. For example, hormones or a weekend immune system may shorten or lengthen this process. Hormones are a huge contributor to our hair, when a woman is pregnant, they are producing higher levels of hormones, like estrogen, and this will stunt the shedding process, but once they give birth and hormones begin to rebalance the shedding process will begin again in full force. I have read articles where men who have lower levels of a testosterone called Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) have created male pattern baldness.
This explains why younger people, age 5-17, have different hair compared to when they reach teenage years, twenties, or even thirties their hair changes. The density may change, the structure, the texture, or even color. The changes in hormone levels dramatically shift their hair.
Now this may sound bleak, we can’t be shifting our hormones and genetics to change our hair, so what can we do?
Like I stated earlier a strong immune system will create strong healthy hair. Our hair comes out of the follicle which is being fed by our blood. Healthy blood, creates a healthy follicle, a healthy scalp, and healthy hair. This is why the first few tips come from how we treat our internal body.
Tip 1- Create a healthy diet: What we consume reflects on the outside. If you are eating greasy hamburgers and fries your skin and hair will become oily because of the excess fats and grease. If you are consuming healthy foods in a variety of colors, textures, and options you will be getting all the nutrients, proteins, vitamins, and minerals your body and hair needs. I say colors and textures because we should be eating the rainbow on a daily basis, consuming green vegetables, red, orange, and blue fruits, tan and brown nuts and grains, and if you are a meat eater consuming pink fish like salmon, or properly cooked chicken.
Eating at a consistent time everyday is also important. Our bodies are beautiful pieces of machinery, think of your body as a car, if you are not regular about changing the oil or getting gas it will run improperly or even break down. If you are eating consistently and healthy your beautiful body will become a well-functioning machine and create more consistency in healthy hair and hair growth.
Tip 2- Take a daily multivitamin: This ties into the last tip. Taking a one a day multivitamin constantly will provide your body with all the vitamins and minerals for your hair to keep it strong and healthy. The key is being consistent, you won’t see any benefits if you take a pill daily for two weeks and stop. Take it regularly for the rest of your life (with guidance from your medical physician). Side not, chewable or gummies are the best, they breakdown the minute you eat them. If you take a hard capsule they will not fully digest and you may pass them partially digested.
Tip 3- Drink water: Drinking a healthy amount of water is going to keep your skin, scalp, and hair hydrated. Being dehydrated on a regular basis will create dry and brittle hair over time. If you have a hard time drinking water carry around a water bottle. It will be your constant reminder to stay hydrated.
Tip 4- Brush your hair: Brush your hair daily! Brushing your hair will distribute the natural oils from scalp to ends keeping your hair shinny and moisturized. Brushing your scalp will remove impurities, product build up, and stimulate the scalp. Stimulating the scalp will promote blood circulation to the scalp and follicle and keep the hair healthy. This is also why massaging your scalp is great for hair growth. Whether its massaging as your shampoo or scheduling a scalp massage.
Tip 5- Don’t wash your hair daily: Your hair and scalp need the oils your scalp is producing, if you wash your hair daily you are removing your oils and your body goes into over drive producing more oils than you need. If you are a daily washer try going ever other day, if you feel your hair gets too oily try brushing the oils throughout your hair distributing it from roots to ends. If this does not work get a dry shampoo to absorb excess oil. Trust me, your scalp will stop producing so much oil once you start training it. I have some clients who wash their hair once, maybe twice a week with no problems.
Tip 6- Stop using hot tools and being harsh on your hair! I wish I could come and take all your flat irons and curling irons away from you and put you on hair probation if you are growing out your hair! I have a client who has been trying to grow her hair out for a year, in that year it’s grown (maybe) an inch. After having a deep truthful conversation, I discovered she was flat ironing her hair daily, back combing it, and using a lot of hairspray. Think of your hair as a fabric, if you use a lot of heat and pull on it everyday the fibers will break down and the fabric will be damaged. Same concept with hair! If you use hot tools on it daily it will damage the hair and it will break. If you are back combing it daily it adds stress to the hair and will create damage and breakage. Treat your hair like the finest silk in the land, care for it with respect…. And stop using the hot tools!
Tip 6- Be mindful of over coloring and cutting your hair: Let’s start with hair color. All hair color will damage the hair, if the hair color calls for a peroxide it will add some damage. There are safer options like demi-color that calls for very little peroxide levels. If you are trying to go a lighter color or blonding your hair that will be the harshest and can cause damage and breakage. Limit your hair color or don’t color at all while trying to grow out your hair.
Let’s talk about hair cutting. It’s great to get regular haircuts, cutting the split ends off will prevent breakage and assist in hair growth. If you are being gentle on your hair and not using color or hot tools, I suggest getting a trim 8-12 weeks. Now if you are using hot tools and color you may need to get on a more regular basis like 6-8 weeks. Keep in mind, the more damage you cause the more haircuts you’ll need and the slower your hair will grow. But coming in every 4 weeks for a trim is excessive and also unnecessary.
Tip 7- Use the right hair products: Check your hair products, does your shampoo and conditioner have moisturizing properties and proteins? Or are they supermarket products that have sodium chloride and sulfates that will dry out your hair? Are you using a weekly deep conditioner or mask to help protect and hydrate your hair from the environmental conditions? Be sure to be using salon quality products to protect and heal the hair. A great shampoo, conditioner, and weekly treatment will be more than enough if you are low maintenance with your hair. If you are blow-drying your hair be sure to get a leave-in conditioner to protect your hair from the heat of the blow dryer.
When deciding to grow out your hair it calls for a lot of discipline and surrendering. Discipline on creating a routine of nurturing your hair and a surrender to the unavoidable circumstances of the grow out process. The unavoidable circumstances being the ‘awkward stage’. There will be a phase (or many phases) in which you will reach a point in the grow out where you just have to accept an unflattering hair style. This usually happens when the hair reaches the neck or shoulders and will wing outwards, or perhaps your hair has lost its volume because the layers have grown too long, or maybe you have thick hair and will have to stop removing bulk and let it become full so it will grow long. Hairdressers can only do so much in helping in the awkward stage but you will just have to accept and surrender into a hairstyle you may not want. Goodness knows that’s where my hair is currently at, I get it, it sucks, but just remember it’s a temporary stage for your long-term hair goal.
In conclusion, be patient, treat your hair with love and care, and don’t give up. Our hair only grows ¼ to ½ inch a month so don’t give up on your mermaid hair dreams.
THE GEOGRAPHY OF HAIR
The Geography of Hair is devoted to share experiences and stories in cosmetology and how it has affected people, myself, or us as a society.