This one goes out to all the girls who’ve ever gone into a salon appointment and made a split-second decision to cut off five inches. One minute you’re casually saying that you “just want to change things up a little,” the next you’re leaving with a chin bob and baby bangs. Baby bangs! (That’s me. This one goes out to me.)
If you’ve ever gotten a bad haircut, you know this feeling all too well. Sometimes we just don’t pick the most flattering cut. How could we have known?
What comes next is a six-month awkward phase of growing out the chin bob and baby bangs. Sadly this is not an instant gratification scenario, unless you glue fake hair to your scalp. We get desperate. We’ll do anything—anything—to speed our strands up.
There’s no holy grail secret, let’s go ahead and clear that up. But there are a few things you can do to help make your hair grow faster this month, next month, and the month after. That’s when you’ll notice.
It’s all about taking steps that will make your hair the healthiest it has ever been. To put it simply, healthy hair grows—and at a much, much faster rate than damaged hair. It’s like the difference between running flat-ground versus uphill. In all cases, we’d much rather take to the flattest of flat roads. (Also, can we walk? Asking for a friend.)
Ideally, you can expect hair to grow about a half-inch per month. How can you make sure that actually happens? We talked to five hair experts about how to make your hair grow faster, and this is what they had to say.
First, why isn’t my hair growing?
“While it may seem like your hair isn't growing very fast, or isn't growing at all, your hair is more likely experiencing breakage. When the damage is treated and avoided and the hair is being nourished, then it will appear to grow more and faster,” says April Peck, founder of SAVE ME FROM, a damage-specific hair care line.
Tip #1: Don’t cancel your trim
We know that you’re thinking, “Not there. Not again!” Hear us out. It might seem counterintuitive to cut off more hair when you’re trying to make your hair grow longer, but trimming off split ends will actually keep the damage from moving up—and up, and up—your hair shaft, which can slow down your hair growth something fierce.
“After a while, your ends get damaged from wear-and-tear and begin to fray into split ends. Shorter hair needs to be trimmed about every four weeks (on average) to maintain the cut, with longer hair about every six to eight weeks is best,” says Michelle Blaisure, certified trichologist at Bosley Professional Strength.
It might sting in the moment, but consider yourself playing the long game. And the long game always wins.
Tip #2: Don’t shampoo every. single. day.
If you’re used to shampooing every day, it’s time to get a hobby. What we like: a clean scalp. What we don’t like: a dry, stripped scalp. Try to make the switch to a more manageable “every other day” shampoo schedule, at least; and pick a gentle cleansing formula.
“There are two major ingredients to avoid: sodium laurl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate. These are harsh cleansing agents that can strip the hair completely of natural emollients and oils and should be avoided at all cost,” says Sarah Lund, STYLE.MASTER for KEVIN.MURPHY.
Shampooing every day can strip your scalp of its natural oils, which can make your hair dry and brittle. Dry, brittle hair will break, split, and keep whispering short nothings to you at night.
Tip #3: But make sure to condition, condition, condition
Dry, brittle hair means one thing: breakage. Breakage means “slow growing, sister.” Introduce deep conditioners, hydrating hair oils, and moisturizing hair masks to your hair routine.
A few favorites include Briogeo’s intensive Don't Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask, cult-brand Olaplex No. 7 Bonding Oil, and REPAIR.ME.RINSE from KEVIN.MURPHY.
Hydrated hair is healthy hair, and healthy hair will grow.
Tip #4: Try not to manhandle your strands
We’re talking about all of the aggressive behavior we secretly do: that rough towel-drying thing, any and all hair brush yanking (think Paolo in The Princess Diaries), and going too long without getting a silk pillowcase. Besides feeling as posh as Holly Golightly, you’ll fight off hair breakage and face wrinkles in one sleepy swoop. All of these practices can break your strands faster than wine glasses at a frat party.
“Pro tip: Sleep with hair in a soft scrunchie or a loose braid to keep hair contained and less tangled when sleeping,” adds Lund.
Tip #5: Avoid heat styling like it's your job
If you’re sick and tired of hearing about split ends and breakage, imagine how your strands feel. It really all comes down to keeping all sorts of damage at bay. One of the easiest ways to do that? Skip the hair straightener—and curling wand.
It might also be time to embrace the air-dry. Once your hair is almost completely air-dried, blast the roots with the cool setting on your blow dryer for added volume and lift. If you must blow-dry, make sure to use heat protectant, like Aveda’s Heat Relief. Otherwise, turn down the temperature on any other heat styling tools to minimize damage.
Tip #6: Don't keep over-processing your hair
As far as we’re concerned, over-processing and heat damage are like two birds of a feather. We know asking a Southern belle to give up her signature blonde is dangerously close to being a step too far, but consider pushing back your touch-up appointments, focusing more on root touch-ups, or asking for demi-permanent color. All-over bleach blonde is not your friend.
“Stay away from big changes, like dying brown hair to platinum blonde. If it’s your normal maintenance touch-up at the roots, that won’t have too much effect on your growth,” says Ricardo Dinis, Global Artistic Director at Aveda.
Tip #7: You can take the vitamins—but mainly just eat a healthy diet
Just because those gummy vitamins look tasty doesn’t mean they’re actually going to help your hair grow. Some swear by these coconut oil-infused capsules ($14) with over 7,000 five-star reviews on Amazon. Others swear this cult-favorite French supplement ($60) fortified with fatty acids and antioxidants is worth the splurge. Us? We're more inclined to go the natural route with a well-rounded diet featuring nuts, berries, fish (like omega-3 fatty acid-packed salmon), and leafy greens.
Tip #8: Try a scalp scrub or massage
You’ll find talk of stimulating your roots (where the hair follicles are located) to encourage faster growth. Using a scrub like Ouai’s foaming Scalp and Body Scrub works to decongest your follicles and get rid of product buildup. Not to mention, it’s always beneficial to spend time on self-care practices like this. A stress-free you means clearer skin, longer hair, and strong nails. (That might be our new mantra.)
“When you’ve got a night to yourself, try to work in a super moisturizing hair mask and invest some extra time in massaging the scalp as this will stimulate the scalp and help to promote hair growth,” says Christinah Nicolaisen, president of Nikita Hair.
Tip #9: Choose the right hair care products
Look out for products that work to treat heat or color damage, repair dry and brittle strands, and fight off split ends and breakage. Many swear by Olaplex Hair Perfector No. 3, but we suggest tailoring it to your texture and specific concern. This is not the time to grab whichever shampoo has the prettiest bottle, ladies.
“As hair damage experts, when we designed our Tip to Root Hair Reboots, we knew that split ends and breakage were going to be the type of damage that everyone wants to fix (since it so cleverly disguises itself as hair loss and slow growth),” adds Peck. "We based each reboot upon what source of damage you're going to expose your hair to."
Pollution, sun, sweat, product buildup, aging, heat, and chemical treatments...pick your poison.
WATCH: This Is the Most Flattering Haircut Ever—Plus, 15 Examples to Show Your Stylist
What are you waiting for? It's time to say buh-bye to the bob and hello to long and luscious locks.