There’s more to growing long, lustrous hair than you think. To start with, patience is a must. You’re in it for the long game in more ways than one. Hair actually only grows an inch per month, and that’s when it’s in perfect condition. So how do you get that perfect hair condition?
Like most things in life worth having, you have to put in the work. It starts with hydration and scalp health. Achieving long, glossy locks comes down to a healthy lifestyle and diet and treating your tresses with the right care and attention, which sometimes means leaving it alone completely.
Get to know your hair
Being aware of exactly what kind of hair you have is a great foundation. This might sound like a simple one, but awareness is the key to treating your hair with the care it needs to thrive, and everyone’s hair is different. Hair growth and condition are dependent on lots of different factors, from genetics and age to stress, medication, lifestyle, and general health.
Hair loss and thinning is a medical condition that can be treated, but it’s best to approach a professional if you think that your lack of hair growth or recent hair loss is more serious than meets the eye.
It starts with your scalp
Healthy hair growth starts beneath the surface. Dermatologist Dr. Ahmad Chaudhry M.D. from Scandinavian Biolabs explains, “Our hair gets all the necessary vitamins, minerals, and nutrients from the scalp. A dirty scalp smeared with sebum and dust doesn't allow the hair to grow properly. Washing the scalp daily with a good shampoo, massaging it with oil, and having an appropriate scalp care routine will help you grow long and strong hair.” A healthy scalp means healthy hair, and a healthy scalp is basically healthy skin. You might be well-versed in how to look after your skin already. The same rules apply to your scalp. A healthy diet, a gentle touch, and hydration create a winning formula for lustrous locks full of body and shine.
Dr Chaudhry has some simple rules to a healthy scalp, including to be gentle during scalp massage, washing hair with shampoo regularly and using oil. He also says, “Avoid products that contain high quantities of alcohol, sulfates, and fragrances...they are scalp irritants and can lead to scalp dryness.”
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Don’t forget to massage
A scalp massage is a highlight of a trip to the hair salon, but treating yourself at home to a weekly detoxing scalp massage could be beneficial too. Scalp massage offers a multitude of benefits from exfoliating away any dead skin cells and flakiness, to stimulating blood circulation to the hair follicles to encourage healthy hair growth. Plus, it feels pretty good too. Stress and anxiety can sometimes lead to hair loss or thinning.
Hair stylist Olivia Gallagher explains, “When we’re stressed, our body produces excess hormones in a ‘fight or flight’ response. These hormones are what cause hair loss by speeding up the growth cycle. By taking out time to rest and relax you can help rebalance these hormones before hair loss occurs.”
Massage alleviates stress and calms anxiety through relaxation which can be a great mood booster. If you’re in this hair growth game for the long run, you might as well make the most of it. A massage that's productive? We'll take it!
Gently does it
Tight hairstyles and hairbands can make hair prone to brittleness and breakage leading to fly-aways and frizz. Give your hair a break from tight hairstyles where you can, and choose headbands that are kinder to strands.
The same rule applies for drying your hair. Ideally, leave your wet hair to air dry instead of twisting it in a towel. Wet hair is especially sensitive, weak, and prone to damage. Before you dry your hair, opt for a wide-tooth comb or run fingers through hair instead of using a brush.
Heat styling and chemical hair treatments like perming, and chemical straightening are damaging to hair and can stunt growth by making hair dry and brittle. Hairstylist Gallagher advises, “Blow drying your hair with high heat can lead to the rapid evaporation of moisture, drying it out. Excessive heat from flat irons or curling wands can damage the cuticle ... Once the cuticle is cracked or totally lost, future moisture loss and damage can occur – with or without heat application!” Thirsty, coarse hair is prone to damage, splitting, and breakage. If you can’t avoid the heat, then always use heat protection to minimize the damage.
Choose your hair products carefully
Healthy, hydrated hair is the goal to keep dry, brittle split-ends and breakage at bay. The products you use on your hair make all the difference. Experts advise shampooing every couple of days to keep dirt and pollutants at bay, but don’t overdo it.
Many shampoos contain sulfates (the ingredient responsible for making products lathery and foamy). “They can strip your hair of its natural oils which work to keep your scalp and hair hydrated – key for healthy hair condition,” says Simone Nurse, Hair Director at Urban Coiffeur Salon. Adding an intensive conditioning hair mask to your self-care routine once a week can give hair that extra burst of hydration it needs to keep ends in good condition too.
Hair oils are great at promoting growth. Jojoba and argan oil promote hair growth, both of which contain vitamin E in abundance, working as a hydrator to heal broken damaged hair or split ends and smooth hair. Jojoba oil seals in moisture, helps to restore the scalp’s natural pH balance, nourishes hair follicles to promote healthy hair growth, smooths frizz, and provides an extra sheen for shiny, healthy-looking hair. However, use sparingly; excess oil on the scalp can cause clogged pores.
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Feed your hair with healthy nutrients
Hair is 97% protein and 3% water which might give you an indication of the ingredients hair needs to stay bouncy and full of life. Gallagher says, “If you are not consuming enough protein in your diet, your hair is likely to become dry, brittle and weak. Extremely low protein diets may result in restricted hair growth and even hair loss.” A well-rounded, healthy diet can contribute towards strong, glossy locks and length too. Consuming complex carbohydrates, protein-rich foods and supporting vitamins & minerals will boost energy to follicles to encourage growth.
Plus when you’re shopping for hair care products, choose protein-rich ingredients like keratin, biotin and amino acids to nourish, repair, and replace any nutrients. Salicylic acid and alpha hydroxy acids nurture the skin to prevent sebum build-up and prevent dandruff.
Find hair-growth ingredients in supplements & oils
Layla Sedgemore, hair stylist to fitness influencer Alice Liveing, and founder of Ego Salon advises those who want long, healthy hair to, “Get enough sleep, use the right hair care, and take vitamins.”
If you are deficient in any nutrients because of a health problem or diet, opting for supplements rich in the vitamins and nutrients you need could contribute towards healthy hair development. Dr Chaudhry advises, “Supplements do help in healthy hair growth if they contain specific hair growth-enhancing ingredients. Look for biotin, proteins, and minoxidil in your supplements.”
Hello shiny, luscious locks!
No matter what your hair type, long, healthy, glossy locks can become a reality if you’re willing to put in the work. Healthy daily habits like hydration, scalp rejuvenation, a well-balanced nutritious diet, and gentle maintenance will all contribute to the confidence boost that comes from the volume, body, shine, and vitality of a bouncy head of hair.