The Realist’s Guide To Hair Growth

It seems that every time I go on Pinterest these days, I run into a new pin that has however many tips for growing out your hair.  Lauren Conrad’s blog has ’em, BeautyBets has them, I’m pretty sure Maskcara has hers, and seemingly hundreds of other bloggers have their own ideas about supplements, treatments, and products that will magically cause your hair to grown by a foot within less than a year.  So why not unnecessarily add to the pile?!  Well, here’s a difference for you- Consider this the realist’s guide to growing out your hair, because over the years I’ve found that there really isn’t that much truly aides in hair growth other than a whole … lot … of patience.

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Because this is what you had in mind, right?

1.  You need to consider your decision to commit.  Now, this may sound like a no-brainer, but it’s a biggie.  Let me tell you from experience that it’s very, very easy to decide that you are going to grow out your hair and then quickly recant that decision after observing a few broken ends one afternoon or a picture of Taylor Swift’s latest chop.  How many times have you decided that you’re going to grow out your hair, only to become frustrated by a lack of results or made anxious by split ends, only to find yourself having a couple inches cut?  Or you cave and go for the trendy, shorter cut in a moment of whimsical impulse?  If you’re like me and your hair does not grow back quickly, you need to commit to growing out you hair and you must refuse to compromise that decision.  Don’t worry about the cut of the moment on Instagram.  Ignore the comments from those who make you feel ‘boring’.  Insist on only the slightest of trims, and have a stylist by your side that will help you stick to your goal.  Keep pictures of inspiration on a bulletin or Pinterest board to keep you motivated.  Katie Holmes’ hair growth journey has probably been my most inspiring personally, as she’s gone all the way from near-pixie to princess length.  Deciding that you’re actually going to do it will help boost your confidence that you’ll eventually get there.

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My mane inspo.

On another note, give yourself an “enjoy by …” timeline.  Once you’ve grown out your hair to your desired length (and be clear to yourself about what this length is, whether down to your collarbone, breasts, mid-back etc), set a specific amount of time aside to just enjoy it so you can really feel and know that you’ve done what you set out to accomplish.  Lately I’ve gotten so caught up in the growing process that I haven’t taken time to acknowledge that my hair is finally, actually where I’ve wanted it to be for the past year or so!  I’m now allowing myself four-to-six months to just keep the length as it is and enjoy it.  After that, I’ll decide if I want to go for something else.

2.  You need to consider your genetics.  Be realistic about how long it has taken you to grow out a cut in the past.  Your hair just may not grow very quickly, and accepting that fact will help you to not be so discouraged.  Allow yourself plenty of time to let your hair do its thing, and if you see your friends’ hair growing faster than your own, stop comparing and don’t worry.  We all come with a different set of genetics, and it isn’t fair to assume that your hair will grow at the same rapid pace as your friends’ (unless, of course, you’re burning yours every day with a flat iron and she isn’t, which we’ll get to next).  I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that my hair does not grow like a weed (or rather, it splits more quickly than it grows), but I have to keep on keeping on.  If you’re just past the collarbone and the splits have you feeling discouraged, have a half-inch trimmed off and then keep going.  So, while you must consider your genetics in order to give yourself a reasonable amount of time for hair growth, persistence is still key.

3.  You need to consider what you do on a daily basis.  Hair growth, as you know, takes place at the scalp.  Hair, skin and nails all benefit in many ways from a nutritious diet that’s full of omega-3s, vitamin C, iron, folic acid, biotin, and protein (oh and WATER).  If you’re sticking to a diet of mostly sugars, fats, and empty carbs, chances are you’re not going to yield the lustrous locks of your dreams, even with all the fancy Kerastase treatments in the world.  Smoking also introduces a plethora of problems to hair growth (for starters), and steaming hot showers sap moisture from your hair and scalp too.  However, don’t expect a few servings of salmon to suddenly turn your mane into that of a Victoria’s Secret model.  Keeping a consistently healthy diet will mean healthier hair, but keep in mind that “healthier” doesn’t necessarily mean faster growth or increased thickness.  What it will probably mean is that what you already have growing out of your head will be in its very best shape with each strand growing strong and shiney, allowing your hair to grow with less breakage.

Now, as true as it is that your hair comes from your scalp, what you’re doing to the ends of your hair on a daily basis will also have a major impact on length maintenance (not to mention the dreaded extensions or frequent dye jobs [and the platinum trend is doing nothing for anyone in this category]).  If you’re eating right but you’re curling, blow-drying, or straightening your hair multiple times a week, your ends are going to break, and that breakage will travel up the hair shaft causing what will seem like entire strands to snap off, making all that good scalp growth useless.  Rough hair brushing, tight elastics for buns and ponytails, and coarse cotton pillowcases will also work against length maintenance.

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Pretty sure no one did the butter yellow, white girl weave like Britbrit.

So my advice?  Well, it’s nothing you haven’t heard before.  Lay off the heat.  Try air-drying, and don’t wash or style your hair so often.  Be intentional about what you consume.  Try using fabric scrunchies and a satin pillowcase.  Changing your daily habits could yield some surprising results when it comes to general hair health.  It’s our every day habits that have nothing to do directly with hair that tend to go most overlooked when it comes to growth.

4.  Having considered the aforementioned, you may also need to consider that that bottle of Moroccanoil may not be helping in the way you think it should be.  I am somewhat convinced by this point that there is no true “miracle product” when it comes to hair growth.  There are products that smooth better than others, give volume better than others, or perhaps protect against heat better than others, but I really don’t believe anymore that there are products that jump-start your scalp and cause your hair to grow at light speed.  No, I don’t even believe that consistent use of Viviscal will do more than keep your hair in the shape that it’s already in.  I feel that the most you can look for in products in terms of helping hair growth is heat protection and split-end prevention (and maybe temporary repair, or the look of repair).  I deep condition to protect and bring extra moisture, and I use treatment products for the same reasons. I think I’ve finally been able to admit over the past year that no protein-rich conditioner will be able to undo what my curling iron has already done, that a trim is sometimes the only answer, and that the word “repair” is to be taken with a grain of salt when seen on product packaging.

5.  You need to consider enjoying what you have.  Growing out your hair can be incredibly trying because it tends to involve constant comparison and thoughts about what you wish you had, rather than what you do have.  I haven’t met hardly anyone who was openly satisfied with his or her hair.  We (and I’m included in this) have a tendency to always see a whole lot of “yuck” in the mirror when we look at ourselves, and it has deeper implications than we may realize.  Refusing to take joy in the hair (or face, or body, etc.) we have prohibits us from ever being content, and it brought me personally to the point where I couldn’t even see how long it had grown or how pretty it actually could be.  We often think “If only it looked like this; then I would be happy with it”, but we know this is never truly the case.  We kind of have to go all the way back to the fact that it’s just hair, and practicing the virtue of gratefulness will help us love what we have and see it for what it is- a gift!

Let me know what has or hasn’t helped you in your hair growth journey, and if I’m a complete lunatic when it comes to superfoods or helpful hair growth products.  Call me crazy, but there are few things I enjoy talking about more than hair health so bring me all the questions and bring me ALL the answers!  xo, MR

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2 thoughts on “The Realist’s Guide To Hair Growth

  1. Agree with all of this! I take a good multi and omega every day, drink lots of water, wash my hair only 2 times a week and hardly ever put heat to it. Seems to grow pretty fast.

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