This blog post has been highly requested for a while so I’m looking forward to writing it. It’s a post all about my hair. I’ll be honest, I’m no angel when it comes to my hair and I do take it for granted. It’s definitely a love hate relationship, but I know that hair is one of those things that really defines a woman and her style.
I’m the girl that gets grabbed at. I’ve honest to God had strangers pass me on the street and stop to grab a handful of my hair and ask ‘is this yours?!’ Nah it ain’t, I borrowed it. Of course it’s my hair. I was quite shocked at first at this kind of response because I assumed that most people’s hair is theirs. I later discovered that all the Instagram girls with mountains of shiny black hair down to their asses, owned only about 50% of the hair on their head. So turns out, growing and maintaining your own natural head of hair is more challenging than I realised.
Now this is in no way a criticism of extensions. At one point in my life I couldn’t live without them, in the stages of growing out my bob into the mane I have now. I also don’t actually like my hair that much; you won’t catch me doing a lame-as-fuck slow mo video of me running my fingers through my hair anytime soon. I find it hard to manage, it takes a literal century to dry, gets greasy after an afternoon and I genuinely think it doesn’t even flatter my face – I spend more time fussing over it than actually liking it. I’d die to cut it all off and rock another bob like the one I had 5 years ago, but I’ve had too people tell me they’d disown me if I did, so I’ll stick with it for now.
Before I jump onto my advice & tips on growing and maintaining naturally long hair, I’ll talk you through the characteristics of my hair. It’s virgin to dye, meaning I’ve never put a colour on it. It’s taken approx. 5 years to grow it to the length it is now, which is around 28 inches long. I’ve got naturally bone straight hair (I know not everybody is that fortunate) and I struggle with an oily scalp with dry ends.
I understand that I’ve been dealt a pretty good hand when it comes to haircare, and I know my solutions will be difficult for most and brutal for others, but here are my top tips on growing & maintaining naturally long healthy hair.
Don’t Dye Your Hair
I know without doubt that the Number 1 reason why my hair’s grown so long and stayed relatively free from damage is because I’ve never, ever dyed it. God bless my mother for being strict and not letting me bleach it blonde at 15. I do still go through phases of wanting to dye my hair either darker or get Balayage, but I value the quality of my hair way more than the damage it would endure for the sake of being bored of the colour.
If you have already dyed/do dye your hair, my next piece of advice is to do it at a trusted salon, always. I don’t care if it costs you £150, it’s well spent for a head of hair that’s professionally treated and minimally damaged. Home bleaching, experimenting with package kits or doing DIY jobs just isn’t worth the long term drying & damage. It’ll cost more to fix your damage with a mountain of bonded hair extensions than it ever will be to just pay good money for the job to be done properly. I’ve heard from friends that the best dye is Olaplex, which is offered at many leading salons.
It’s also important that if you do dye your hair, you try to stick to one colour. The process of actually dying hair isn’t the damaging part, it’s the stripping or bleaching of the previous colour that dries the hair, damaging it in the process. Don’t jump from blonde to black, steer clear of box dyes and get it done by a pro are my top dye tips.
Avoid Using Heat
I rarely use heat on my hair. I only ever wash it at night and go to bed with it damp, leaving a towel over my pillow so I don’t wake up thinking I’ve dribbled everywhere. I know this is basically another impossible task. Yes, I know I’m lucky to have a head of naturally straight hair. But my second best piece of advice is to steer clear of heat as much as possible. Don’t go to the salon for a curly blow dry every week. Don’t curl your hair daily if you don’t need to. And always always use heat protection if you do choose to add heat.
Surprisingly, ever since I was a little girl I wished for curly hair. Big tight crazy lion curls were all I ever wanted, but my mum cut my cute little ringlets off at 2 years old, assuming they’d grow back thicker, and all that grew back was a mass of poker straight hair. She bawled her eyes out for weeks, bless her. So please, please lovely girls, if you can, try to embrace your natural hair. There’s so many good taming products that can cut out frizz or define your curls. I wish I saw more girls’ natural curly hair, it’s another facet that makes us all different.
Away from the preachy vibes though; if you do rely on drying/straightening/curling your hair, try pulling back on how often you do it. Your hair will thank you and you’ll notice growth begin again. It’s definitely worth a messy bun every few days if it means your hair will grow longer & stronger.
Don’t Cut Your Hair too Frequently
I can hear every hairdresser scream as I write this. But I kid you not, cutting your hair doesn’t make it grow faster. I swear to God it’s just bullshit that salons say so you come back and hand them another £30 for another inch of precious hair to be snipped off every 8 weeks. IT DOES NOT WORK. IT’S A LIE! I actually cut my own hair myself at home and only do it 1-2 times per year, however like I said, I don’t suffer with damaged ends much due to sticking to all these other steps.
The principle of cutting your hair to make it grow faster is logical. Cut off your damaged split ends and it will prevent the hair shaft from splitting any higher, weakening the shafts of hair, meaning your hair will remain minimally damaged. That’s great. BUT. Big but. Prevention is the best cure. If you’re getting an inches worth of hair cut every 8 weeks, as suggested by your hairdresser, you’re losing around 6 inches of hair per year. That’s a lot of hair. It’s better to avoid damage in the first place than cut it off to stop it getting worse.
Also, hairdressers aaaalways get trigger happy. Even if you go in for ‘just for the tips off’, you run the risk of walking out feeling bald and teary eyed. So unless you truly trust your hairdresser, I’d recommend learning to trim your own hair like I did. It saves me a lot of money and means I can tidy my hair up whenever I want. If my ends look dry or ratty, I get rid. Simple. However, it goes without saying that if you’re looking for a new style or to get it dyed, always go to a pro. Your hair is too precious to be lobbing chunks out of it for fun.
I learned to cut my own hair from YouTube Beauty Guru Carli Bybel, who has the hair of every girls dreams! Check out Carli’s Hair Cutting video here: https://youtu.be/0lLqLk-pwfM
I do have a few treatments that I use on my hair. When I was first growing my hair out when I was 17, I bought Dabur Vatika Coconut Hair Oil. I bought it on a whim from a supermarket for absolute pennies and I kid you not my hair grew at least an inch in around 3 weeks. All I did was massage it into the roots of my dry hair for about 10 minutes to stimulate hair growth, then put a plastic shower cap on and left it to soak into my hair overnight. I washed it all out the morning after. I did this around once a week for a good few months and noticed a big difference to the speed at which my hair was growing. I’d never heard of the brand before, but I’m happy I stumbled across them as they do a fantastic range of nourishing hair oils for loads of different concerns. I buy mine off eBay.
Another great oil is 100% Raw Cold Pressed Castor Oil, mixed with a few drops of Peppermint Essential Oil. Castor oil contains natural compounds that promote hair growth. It’s full of Ricinoleic acid, one of the essential amino acids required by the human body. It’s an Omega-9 fatty acid that can penetrate into the pores of the skin and the hair follicles to deeply nourish, meaning the hair follicles restore growth to a normal level. Castor Oil has been proven to speed up average hair growth (around 1/2 an inch per month) by up to 4x! The Peppermint Oil, paired with a 10 minute head massage stimulates the scalp and increases blood flow, which I turn leads to growth.
Again, this is such an inexpensive treatment and works absolute miracles on growing and nourishing hair from the roots to the tips. Use this treatment in the exact same way as the Coconut Hair Oil; It’s very greasy though so use sparingly and leave plenty of time between treatments to prevent getting an overly oily scalp.
Here’s another video from one of my favourite DIY YouTubers, Farah Duhkai, who is absolutely amazing at creating inexpensive DIY hair masks. I tried this one and saw good results and I got my Castor Oil trick from her too! Check out this mask here: https://youtu.be/6fqYEWYOpXs
Try to Steer Clear of Extensions
I know that it’s natural to want a quick fix. When your hair looks short and straggly and shit, you’re going to want to dump a load of money and just get extensions. I get it. But I’ve only known a handful of people who have ever had good experiences with extensions. Relying on glues, bonds, weaves and clips to give you princess hair will only cause damage to your hair follicles over time. My advice if you are getting extensions is to do your research, go for the most minimally invasive extensions and only rely on them as a temporary solution. I used clip in extensions for 2 years in my growing period but I made sure to give my hair a break between wears and I didn’t really have any issues, I just know it stunted my growth. I have friends that have had great results from various types of extensions but with every style comes their pros & cons so all I can emphasise is to do your research. Extensions are another thing that you can’t scrimp with if you want realistic and minimally damaging results, so be prepared to spend a lot.
Go For a Simple Style
If you’re wanting to make your hair look as long as possible, it’s always best to go for a simple hairstyle. Obviously, straightening your hair will show your hair at its longest, and going for a sleek look will always trick the eye into making it look longer. Layers are a fantastic way of making hair look more full bodied and voluptuous, but if you’re wanting your hair to grow quickly and look as long as possible, I would steer clear of layers and try to keep your hair mostly at one length. It’s also very on trend at the moment to rock slick, low maintenance hair. Just look at Kimmy K rocking the Pocahontas vibe recently.
I can’t lie and say I’m not lucky; I know a lot of these tips are hard to stick to, but believe me, persistence is key. Like I said, it took nearly 5 years to grow my hair out to this length (however I have recently cut it a little shorter) but stick at it. I remember having hair that physically wouldn’t grow past my elbows; it spent years hovering over my boobs and never growing. With a bit of TLC and commitment, I’ve grown my hair so long that at one point I could sit on it, it was actually TOO long.
Strong, healthy hair should be a priority in your beauty regime, not only for the fact that you can proudly show off your natural hair, but also because it’s saves sooo much time, hassle and money. Just as you would look after and treat your skin, you should protect and take care of your hair. So they they are, my top tips to growing & maintaining long, healthy hair.
And after alllll those years of effort and all that advice, I’m still tempted to just chop it all off and go short like the photos below. So, let me know if you think I should cut my hair like this; I’d love your opinion!