Back in May, the idea of chopping your hair to a cool, easy bob or pixie cut “for summer” seemed brilliant, right? If this is you, you might be feeling a bit of hair-cutter’s remorse upon reaching what I like to call the awkward teenager length of hair 3 months later, when it’s not quite short or long enough to look nice other than twisted up into a variably sized knob at the crown of your head. It’s helpful that top-knots are having a huge moment, but it can be a little repetitive (not to mention it gets in the way of headstands) to style your hair this way day in and day out while you wait for it to grow out.
Depending on the current and desired length of your hair, as well as its texture and the season, the time that it takes to grow can be very different. Studies show that hair grows 10% faster in the summer–so good for you if this is a current concern. That being said, the average amount that hair grows per month is a measly 1/4-1/2 inch, which may test your patience even when hair is growing at its peak rate. Here are some ways to get through this potentially frustrating time in your hair’s life, without resorting to pulling it out–or becoming The Top-Knot Girl at your office.
1. Moisturize. Keeping hair moisturized is the key to letting it grow long without regular 6-week cuts. Investing in a quality conditioner for the shower will help avoid split ends and general damage, but a deeper conditioning routine will take your moisture balance to the next level. I love the leave-in conditioner/all purpose styling products from Mineral Fusion, which you apply after normal shampoo and conditioner; and using a mask on your hair is just about as fun as on your face, it turns out! Scalp massages are excellent, too, when done twice a week to keep exiting hair smooth and strong and help ensure that the new hair growing in is healthy and full at the root. An easy DIY routine involves just a little bit of coconut oil, which you probably already have, but there are other great oil blends available (and probably easy to make), like this organic Ayurvedic Brahmi balancing oil.
2. Snip, sparingly. Split ends are inevitable, even if you avoid excessive heat and styling tools, and keeping them at bay will make your hair look better and healthier as it grows (i.e., less reason to hide). Personally, I would hate to spend money on a professional cut to lose just a fraction of an inch, but I have many friends and relatives with a steady enough hand to snip off a bit every 2 months or so. The small loss in length seems like a set-back in my mission to grow, but it’s worth not feeling miserable every time I look in the mirror.
3. Boost your inner strength. Certain vitamins–in the form of pills/supplements and foods–can help to make hair cells stronger and less prone to breakage. Biotin, a B vitamin, is the industry favorite for hair, nails, and skin conditions of every stripe, and it can be found naturally in foods like almonds, peanuts, onions, and carrots. Vitamin D-3 has also been shown to promote hair growth by stimulating follicles; most food sources are animal-based, but mushrooms, or a walk outside in the sun, are cruelty-free.
4. Change your style. Wearing your hair the same way every day–especially pulled back tightly–will damage and weaken hair at the root, resulting in more hair loss and more brittle strands. If you must pull it back, use a gentler hair band like fabric ties (or if you’re into the revival of the scrunchie, you do you!), which won’t make a ridge farther down the strand of hair, or alternate between low and high styles. I found in particular that when I run, wearing my hair up high in a ponytail or bun results in a lot of Marcia Brady-like bouncing, which puts stress on my scalp. Switching to a lower ponytail style minimized the bounce but keeps the hair (and sweat…) out of my face. Try to wear your hair down whenever you can–hopefully easier with the tips above; use fun and gentle accessories, like wooden sticks.
5. Unplug. Avoiding heat styling is a good rule for general hair health, but it’s especially important to avoid blow dryers, flat irons, and curling irons during a grow-out. But other sources of heat can also be damaging: you protect your skin from the sun, but UV rays also affect hair, so try a leave-in conditioning spray–moisture bonus!–before you head outside (or, wear a fun hat!). Metaphorically, unplugging from daily stress will also keep hair from falling out, thinning, and looking dull.
As I work on getting my hair to grow past my shoulders (and long enough to donate!) after years of consistent lobs, I’ll try to be patient with these tips in mind.
Share you favorite growing-out hairstyles, photos, and tips!
Also by Jennifer: Spend v. Save: An NYC Book Editor’s Vegan Budget
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