I don’t know about you, but for me, curls and length don’t always go hand in hand. It’s something I’ve been talking about for a while – how do you grow out curly hair? And most importantly, how much longer will it take to grow your hair out, as compared to our straight-haired counterparts?
Depending on your curl type, it can be very, very long. I’ve begun to realize that the length I crave (mid-back, while curly) will be a years-long process. But the things I do along the way can make all the difference as to whether that hair will need to be chopped at some point, or if I can continue with minor search and destroy trims for a while. Since it’s been over a year since I began my hair journey, here’s what I’ve found has made the biggest impact thus far:
- EAT RIGHT. I don’t care what supplements you’re taking – if you’re not consistently putting good, nourishing foods into your body, you can forget about lovely, lustrous locks. Avocados, flax seeds, eggs – great stuff for your hair. But guess what? Adding these things to your diet from time to time won’t cut it. Load up on lots of veggies every single day to see results, and keep fruit to a minimum (here’s an excellent link showing the variety of foods required). I combine this with a vegetarian vitamin supplement and, very occasionally, some zinc. Not only does my hair thank me, but my skin looks great, too.
- SCALP MASSAGE. I started seeing a huge decrease in dry skin, and an increase at the rate my hair grew. It wasn’t a lot, but enough to be noticeable to me. I look at it as a daily relaxation technique; when I’m watching TV, or even just relaxing and try to unwind, I will give myself a 5-10 minute scalp massage. This works two-fold: your scalp produces more oils, making your hair healthier and shinier (a problem area for a lot of curly peeps), and it also helps boost the blood flow to your hair follicles. Which means, hair growth! Awww yeah. If you want to kick it up a notch, you can add essential oils to the routine; some have suggested lavender, or peppermint oils. However, if you suffer from eczema or psoriasis, I would avoid this route (and speak to your doctor before performing a scalp massage).
- WEEKLY DEEP CONDITION. So you’ve done everything Curly Girl approved: no sulfates, no silicones, alcohol-free gel? Don’t forget a weekly or bi-weekly deep conditioning mask. It can be something as simple as mashing up an avocado with some olive oil and honey, spreading it on your damp strands, and letting it soak in for 20 minutes with a plastic bag over your hair. I don’t know about you guys, but my hair gets dry and cranky if it hasn’t been properly treated for a while, and that can lead to breakage. In order to prevent my hair from breaking before it’s reached its maximum length, I want to make sure it is extra conditioned. Soak it up! For more information, check out this link discussing how weekly deep conditioning can boost length retention.
- FEW TRIMS. Sure, from time to time, I know that I need a good search and destroy of split or dead ends. It can instantly boost my hair, and easily allows me to go extra months without visiting the hairdresser (typically, I get my hair professionally cut about once a year). But over trimming will result in shorter hair, without any real results or benefits. Save yourself some time and effort and only seriously trim or seek a hairdresser if you ends are fried (or, if you’re like me, things are constantly getting stuck up there…sometimes without your knowledge, and it became a labyrinth of tangles once you try to get it out).
- DON’T PLAY WITH IT. I am so, so guilty of this. Playing with my hair to the point that I’ve told J to stop me if he notices me doing it. Nothing better than having your boyfriend scold you for playing with your hair, right? (In my defense, it’s just so DAMN fun!) Better yet, put your hair into a protective style. Even if it’s back from your neck using a braid, it’s helping to protect the ends (why not throw some extra leave-in conditioner on the ends, while you’re at it?). Twirling, grabbing, and general tomfoolery with your hair can easily cause breakage, especially considering it’s weaker state (sorry, curlies – it’s a known fact that straight hair people have stronger strands).
Now that I’ve shared my take, what do you do to gain length? How do you retain it? Is there a formula that has worked for you?