Ok, there’s a lot of misinformation out there, so let’s save some time and get the FACTS about healthy hair growth. Many believe that their terminal hair length is based on genetics. This is partially true. The amount of time hair spends in the anagen, or growth phase of the hair cycle is predetermined by genetics (and for the record, NOT by hair type). This phase can last between 2-6 years. On average, about 85% of scalp hairs are in this phase. The longer the anagen phase lasts, the longer the hair grows. Now the reason some may think that their hair doesn’t grow past a certain length has more to do with preserving the hair that is growing.
Let’s say your hair is in the anagen phase for 2 years. You’re pretty healthy, so you are able to grow about ½ inches of hair per month, thus about 6 inches of hair per year. At the end of 2 years, you would have about 12 inches of new growth (of course we haven’t accounted for trims). That’s quite a bit of hair! However, the reason some of us are not able to retain this length is because we fail to implement hair practices that allow us to keep it!
Here are a few simple tips to maximize length retention:
- Moisturize and seal. Dryness leads to brittle, broken hair and split ends that will need to be cut often. I personally like the popular L.O.C. or Liquid, Oil, Cream method. Start with a water-based leave-in conditioner such as Straight From Eden Detangling Leave-in Conditioner (Liquid), followed by a penetrating oil, like Optimum’s Amla Legend Rejuvenating Oil (Oil), and top things off with a cream moisturizer (Cream). I like to use a heavier cream as a moisturizer during colder months, like As I Am DoubleButter Cream. You can switch the order based on what your hair likes. I always add a bit of extra oil as the final step to make sure I have the moisture totally sealed.
- Deep condition regularly. I realize “regularly” may be relative, but as a rule of thumb I suggest deep conditioning at least twice a month. It’s best to use a conditioner that is formulated as a deep treatment for maximum penetration and benefit. A popular fav is the ORS Hair Mayonnaise. Remember, deep conditioners work best with heat, so if you do not have a dryer, be sure to cover the hair with a processing cap, and wrap with a towel or scarf to generate heat from the scalp.
- Trim when necessary. Split ends need to be cut; if left for too long, the splits can creep up the shaft causing you to have to cut more. But don’t over do it. Hair that is properly moisturized will not be plagued with those pesky splits. If your ends are dry, revisit tips 1 and 2.
- Add protein. It’s essential to replace the protein that is lost from the hair due to harsh styling practices and the elements. For regular maintenance, use light protein treatments that can be used once per month. For severe damage, you will need a deep treatment like the Aphogee 2-Step Protein Treatment. Regular treatments help strengthen the hair shaft and follicles, reducing breakage.
- Utilize protective or low-manipulation styles to preserve ends. Buns, wigs, braids (but not too tight!), roller sets, and twist outs are all great styles that help retain length. Remember to shampoo and condition regularly though, and never leave a style in too long to avoid tangling and breakage.
- Avoid excessive heat. Heat can suck the moisture out of hair pretty quickly making it dry and prone to breakage. Be careful! Try limiting your heat styling to once per month, or stretch it even longer. If you must use heat, make sure the hair has been deep conditioned and ALWAYS use a heat protector. Try Fantasia’s Hair Polisher Heat Protector.
Hair grows; it’s up to us to hold on to it. Follow these rules, and you’ll have long locks in no time!