Our society is fixated on long tresses. Associated with Princesses and Mermaids, there is something mystical about having long hair. Traditionally, long hair signified fertility, femininity and abundance. Despite the ever-increasing popularity of short hair and the influx of gorgeous and stunning short styles, the majority of us still elect for long hair. It’s easier in many ways to care for, it’s convenient to throw it up in a ponytail or a bun on hot days and on days when something extra special is required, longer hair is the ideal muse for intricate and gorgeous experimental styles. It can be worn poker straight, or embrace tousles, waves or curls.
If you want to grow out a short style or simply increase the length of your already long hair, here are natural ways to achieve that full, healthy head of hair you crave.
|Even the cat knows it...|
1. PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE!
The first step required is something you either have or you haven’t – it’s PATIENCE! Hair grows approximately half an inch each and every month. Some people’s hair grows at an accelerated rate, and others grow more slowly. Hair also has an interesting concept of time...
Did you know that the hair grows in stages? Every individual follicle is genetically pre-programmed to follow a particular growth pattern. The growing stage lasts between 3-5 years. After growth, hair enters a resting period. Finally follows the shedding stage, when older hairs, just like autumnal leaves will be depleted, allowing newer, healthier hairs to grow. Intriguingly not every hair follows this process at the same time. Some of your hairs will be growing whilst others are resting. This is why your hair may be predominantly one length but you may have the odd, unexplainable ‘racer’ hair that is tracks ahead of all the others!
If you follow these steps to care for your hair, the essential ingredient is to be patient with this natural process. Your body is growing your hair all the time; it just needs the correct tools and assistance from you.
|Would you notice she was wearing extensions if you didn't look closely?|
|Again, would you know Paris's beautiful blonde hair was mostly extensions if you didn't look for the tell tale signs?|
|Okay, this one is obvious...|
2. DON’T COMPARE TO CELEBRITIES!
One of the biggest mistakes people make is to compare ANYTHING about themselves to celebrities. More celebrities are wearing extensions, weave and fake hair that you probably even realise. This can give ordinary people who do not wish to wear fake hair a real complex about what their own natural hair should look like.
Extensions are ordinarily kept in far better condition that natural long hair, which has to sustain an active lifestyle and also tend to be thicker. They are also better able to take the damage of dyes and styling because they can be removed and replaced when wear and tear begins to show. Not so with your own hair, unless you are happy to regularly chop off, start again and re-grow.
Instead of comparing to stars who are probably changing from blonde to red, long to short every other week (with the help of wigs, extensions and weaves), look at childhood pictures of yourself to gauge the thickness, style and type of hair you were naturally endowed with. Compare yourself to yourself and not to the fake, expensive and unattainable imagery we are bombarded with every day. Have healthy and natural expectations of what your hair can do.
|You can still get your protein in if you are Vegetarian or Vegan. Research your options|
3. YOU BREED WHAT YOU FEED
What we eat goes into every part of our body. It is no different with your hair. Made from keratin (as are your nails), human hair thrives on protein. I won’t bore you by ordering you to eat healthily; I will only say that a balanced diet is heralded as ideal for good reason. Up your protein levels if you wish to see an improvement in the growth and quality of your hair. Eggs, meat and vegetables are ideal sources. A good multi-vitamin, or a particular vitamin that you may be lacking, are also ideal to keep levels topped up. A good way to test whether your hair may be low in protein is to keep check of your nails, skin and eyes. If they are all looking dull and dowdy, believe that your hair is feeling the same!
|Drink, drink, drink! 8 glasses a day is the ideal|
4. WATER, WATER, EVERYWHERE!
Our body thrives on moisture. Our skin needs it to keep supple. Our hair needs it to prevent it becoming dry and breakable. Adults are advised to drink approximately two litres of water a day (that translates to about 8 glasses), but people have different opinions on how much you should drink. Remember, a lot of your fluid will also come from dietary sources such as fruits and vegetables. Water IS the best option so don’t think 12 colas a day will be suitable for your purposes!
|Regular masks will help make hair resilient to damage|
5. MASK YOUR HAIR
I love face masks, and I also love hair masks (although I rarely hair mask unfortunately!). Hair masks replace any lost moisture and although they cannot undo existing damage, they are a great way to pre-empt and prepare for future damage. Healthy, moisturied hair is less likely to become dry and break off. You can mask as often or as little as you like. Once every two weeks is advisable but for very damaged hair you should apply more frequently. You do not need to invest in a purchasable mask if you don’t wish to. You can make your own from homemade ingredients by looking at the myriad of natural recipes online. A quick and easy way is to smother hair in olive oil or coconut oil and sleep on it overnight. In the morning, wash your hair as usual. Hair will feel smooth, soft and silky.
|Swimming caps don't need to be unfashionable...|
6. TREAT HAIR WITH KID GLOVES
A large proportion of hair damage stems from just enjoying life: swimming in chlorinated swimming pools, or salty seas and then allowing hair to dry in the frazzling sun. Of course, we still want to lead active, enjoyable lifestyles. We don’t want to be the girl at the pool sitting on the side scared to get wet!
You can decide to wear a swimming cap, hat, spray hair with protective UV sprays (coconut oil is also great as a natural alternative) and keep hair in up styles. It is better if hair does NOT get wet for long periods in chlorine and sea salt as these can be so drying, so if you have the option to swim in fresh water, this will be MUCH better for your hair. This isn’t particularly realistic nor feasible for most of us, so I say get wet, life is short. Just pamper your hair afterwards.
|Don't be bullied into excessive trimming. Understand your hair.|
7. TRIM, TRIM, TRIM
Firstly, I disagree with the frequency of trimming advised. Some people, particularly hair dressers and stylists, will advise that you get a trim every six weeks. If hair grows about half an inch a month and you commit to regular trims, you can potentially (if you have a scissor happy stylist) be cutting off all of your growth EVERY month.
My personal advice, after having so many stylists cut about 3 inches when I wanted a trim, is to keep close inspection of your hair. Do the ends look healthy? Are there any splits? If not, you really don’t need that trim. Of course the good thing about trims is that they will also ensure your hair never gets damaged. If your hair is prone to damage, get it trimmed, but really consider how often YOU feel this is needed. You might agree that every six weeks is great, or you might decide your hair can last longer. I am also so sick of stylists cutting more than I’ve requested that I let my mum give me a tiny trim. If you know someone you can trust with scissors (preferably a friend with hairstyling experience), pass them the scissors. If you are personally scissor savvy, you might like to trim your own.
|Treat yourself! I really need to buy one of these!|
8. MASSAGE, MASSAGE, MASSAGE
Massaging the scalp stimulates blood circulation and thus hair growth. Before I even knew this, I’ve always been the type to sit and play with my hair and massage my head. If you have a partner or friend who loves giving massages, take advantage! Otherwise, you can perform your own. 5-10 minutes is sufficient. Exercise in general is also great for growth believe it or not because it stimulate the entirely of your circulatory system.
|You said it, sister!|
9. KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON
A large cause of hair loss is stress. Stress impacts the body in a whole host of ways and not even scientists fully understand why. Stress can be responsible for acne, rashes and ulcers. It’s important to find a way of relaxation that works for you. It might be yoga, meditation, exercise, music, reading, journaling or regular spa treatments.
|I totally sleep like this...|
10. SLEEPING BEAUTY
Your body beautifies itself in its sleep. Now I won’t nag about the importance of a good night’s rest. It’s not always possible (or desirable if you have a big night planned). So long as most of your nights are spent sleeping well (or you have time for a good nap), your body will find the time to grow your hair.
|She's run out of shampoo...we've all been there!|
11. CHOOSE YOUR SHAMPOO AND CONDITIONER WISELY
Some people swear by natural products, others take no issue with high street buys. If you have the money and time to invest in looking at natural products, you should always buy them. That or create your own from homemade ingredients. I can’t say I’ve noticed much difference between shop-bought and home made in terms of the effects on my hair but I’m fully aware that the less chemicals and artificial nasties, the better! You also do not need to wash your hair every day. It’s best to wash your hair every 2-3 days. If you can go past 3 days feeling happy about your hair, keep going! You don’t need to apply conditioner to your roots (unless you dye your hair) as this can make hair heavy, greasy and clog the scalp. It’s better to condition the longer parts of your hair only.
|It looks great but your hair will hate you for it!|
12. BEWARE OF HEAT!
Regular heat styling is the bane of healthy hair. When you must style use heat protection, but be aware that heat protection doesn’t offer full protection for your hair. When styling, do not go over and over the same piece of hair 20 times; this intense, concentrated heat is horrible for hair over time. Styling now and again will cause no problems. Remember, you can create straight hair or curls with bristle brushes and your hairdryer, rather than with tongs.
|Here are my three favourites: coconut, olive and Moroccan argan oil from Organix|
13. REGULARLY APPLY OIL
I love applying argan oil or coconut oil to my hair after I wash it whilst it’s still damp and once again when it’s dry. The hair has its own inbuilt natural oils, but it’s nice to add a little extra for moisture, shine and care.
|Experimenting with dyes is fun, but familiarise yourself with the risks|
14. BEWARE OF DYING
Many people with long hair regularly dye their hair. What you need to be aware of is that dying hair is a commitment requiring much upkeep and potential hair damage that will build over time. If you dye your hair, particularly if you are dying your hair a colour far removed from your own (brunette to blonde), you will need to dye more frequently and mask, oil and condition far more often.
Most people want to experiment with hair so by all means do it. Just understand that you may need to take extra care of your hair to make up for some of the damage. You can speak to stylists or friends about suitable dyes and products and their own experiences with their hair to make an informed choice.
For long term long hair, your natural colour is the better choice, but experimenting with colour is part of what makes hair so fun!
|Wide toothed combs are great, as are bristle brushes|
15. BRUSH WITH CAUTION
I gave up my brush for a wide toothed comb and it was the best move I made. Do not comb wet hair. Instead, comb hair before you wash it so that you can run your fingers through it. Then wash and allow hair to dry. If you need to comb/brush again, do so on dry hair. Also brush from the bottom up to detangle. Brushing from top to bottom can cause breakage.
|Some look great and natural, others look obvious and some are just...WTF? Just please don't go there mmm'kay?|
16. SHY AWAY FROM EXTENSIONS
Anything that repeatedly tugs or pulls at the root of your hair will be damaging to it. Extensions are all the rage in our society but you’ll feel better knowing your hair is all yours! Extensions are also linked to alopecia and hair loss when used excessively over time and can actually think out natural hair.
17. TAME YOUR TIES
It’s better to use soft, silky hair ties rather than harsh elasticised ones that can end up tugging out hairs. It’s advisable to tie hair loosely in the night as if you’re anything like me you practically break-dance in your sleep!
FINALLY...let time pass and enjoy what you have made! J