Unless your name is Rapunzel, long, strong, gorgeous hair takes some effort.
For an enviable few, long hair just happens. The rest of us struggle to get our hair to grow out past our shoulders.
Have you been waiting patiently for your hair to grow to your shoulders–with no results? If so, it might be time for some very deliberate changes in your hair care routine.
There are many factors in making your hair grow. If it seems like your hair just isn’t growing as speedily as you’d like or as long as you want, read on to learn more about hair growth.
Why Won’t My Hair Grow?
We can hear your lament from all the way over here!
There are several potential answers to your question. Unless the roots of your hair have been permanently damaged, your hair is growing. Everyone’s hair grows about 1/2 inch every month.
All hair roots go through a growth cycle and then a rest period, where the hair falls out before growing again. Your goal is to lengthen that growing period, grow the healthiest, shiniest hair possible, and shorten the rest period.
If your hair doesn’t seem to grow or only grows to a certain length and then stops, there are a few possible reasons.
Medication, Hormones, and Diet
Everything that goes into your body affects hair growth. In fact, your hair is a pretty accurate indicator of certain types of illicit drug use.
Your hair is also affected by radiation and chemotherapy, resulting in the loss of hair completely. Some medications cause hair growth–though not always in the desired areas.
Hormones are also a factor. Pregnant women are often amazed by their lush, shiny hair. This is followed by complete dismay when it suddenly falls out!
Excess male hormones can cause hair to grow in ears, noses, and on chins while thinning the hair on top. People taking birth control pills or other hormone treatments can see differences in hair growth, texture, and color.
Vitamin deficiencies can slow hair growth or cause dry, dull hair. A lack of B-vitamins, inadequate protein or a zinc shortage all have effects on your hair. For example, a dry, itchy scalp could mean a lack of omega-3s in your diet.
Grease, excess skin cells and hair products can clog the pores on your scalp. Your hair has to fight its way through that mess, stunting its growth.
Psoriasis and other conditions can make thick flaky patches that itch. Scratching breaks off the hair and damages the roots.
For healthiest hair growth, your scalp needs to be in tiptop condition. Look out for signs that your skin is suffering.
Splits and Breaks
Maybe your hair is growing at the roots but is so weak or dry that the ends snap off like pasta. People who chemically treat their hair, wear extensions, or frequently clip or pin their hair in the same place are susceptible to breaks.
That ponytail and baseball cap combo you wear to hide your hair? It may make it worse!
Split ends are vertical breaks along the hair shaft. Lack of moisture, heat, chemicals and bad hair technique all contribute to this problem. Split ends can divide all the way up the hair shaft, leaving weak, unmanageable strands.
Taking Care of Hair from the Inside
Making your hair grow to its maximum length starts from the inside. Everything that goes in is reflected in your glorious crown. So start with some basics.
The main ingredient of human hair is the protein keratin. Keratin is strong and rigid when thick (like in your toenails.) It’s thin and flexible in your hair.
Your hair also contains oils for shine and moisture control. Melanin provides the color. If you look at a cross-section of hair, you would see a honeycomb of loose cells at the core surrounded by a keratin-rich cortex. This is topped with an arrangement of scale-like cells called the cuticle.
Water, Water, Water
A healthy scalp and hair root begins with good circulation. Plenty of water in your system ensures that you glow from the inside out.
Your hair strand is almost 1/4 water by weight, so even mild dehydration can slow your hair growth.
Eat Your Colors
Growing long, strong hair depends on which nutrients you put into your body. You need to feed your hair the right things to grow.
That means adequate protein, fiber, and micronutrients. A lack of protein can lead to shedding hair faster than you can grow it.
Fish, beans, nuts and whole grains are great choices for nutrition and healthy hair. Don’t skimp on your fruits and vegetables either. Healthy fiber keeps all the toxins you absorb moving out of your system.
Don’t Do Cleanses (Really)
Trendy diet cleanses promise life-changing results, but they stop hair growth. You are depriving your body of nutrients for a period of time.
Even a week-long cleanse can affect the shine and growth of your hair.
Add Vitamins to Your Routine
It’s difficult to get a diet to supply all of your needs. A supplement of just the right vitamins and minerals for hair growth can make a world of difference in your results.
The best supplements contain important vitamins like biotin, vitamin C, and B vitamins to support hair health. Make sure the vitamins are in a bio-available form so your body can get right to growing those luscious locks!
Care for Your Hair
Now that you know how to grow beautiful hair from the inside out, you must take care of it the right way to encourage future growth.
Get Those Splits Before They Get Worse
It may seem counterintuitive to trim your hair when you want more length. But to get healthy hair, you need to stop those split ends before they weaken the whole hair shaft. Eliminate the breaks and your hair maintains volume, shine, and smoothness.
A 1/2 inch trim every few weeks may be all you need to keep a healthy look. A protein-based end mender might help too. Combine the two for your best-looking hair between trims.
Avoid Chemical Warfare
As chic as a Brazilian blowout sounds, going from curly to straight (or vice versa) can stand between you and the length of your dreams. The same goes for taking your black tresses to platinum blonde.
Chemicals damage the cuticle of the hair. Every time you curl, straighten, bleach or dye you need to lift the cuticle to change your hair. Damaged cuticles lead to dullness, dryness, and breakage.
And breakage is the enemy of growing your hair past your shoulders.
Speaking of chemicals, look for gentle shampoos without irritating and drying detergents. Many people have joined the no-shampoo movement with great results. If you can commit to a no-shampoo transition, give it a try.
If the idea of giving up shampoo sounds less than hygienic, try to reduce your washing damage. Compromise and shampoo with the gentlest, residue-free product possible no more than three times a week.
Follow with a leave-in conditioner applied to the hair ends, not the scalp. Product build-up causes itching and dandruff–and that’s bad for your scalp!
Rinse with Cool Water
A super hot steam shower opens up your hair cuticles and roughens up your hair shaft. Turn the temperature down to as cool as you can stand to seal the cuticle before you style it.
Smoothing the cuticle gives your hair a better appearance. If your hair is still rough after treatment, you may need a protein filler or smoothing treatment to add shine.
Handle Wet Hair with Care
Hair is especially easy to break when it’s wet. If you absolutely must get some tangles out after showering, use a detangler comb with wide plastic or nylon teeth.
Work from the ends and work your way towards the root. Don’t just smooth the top layer and leave snarls beneath.
Whatever you do, do not brush wet hair! The only thing this will do is stretch and break your delicate strands.
Allow your hair to air dry whenever possible. Avoid heat styling as much as possible.
Flatirons, curling irons, and blow dryers are very damaging. If you must use heat, use the lowest temperature possible and use a heat protectant product.
For that matter, avoid harsh sun, salt water, and the bleaching effects of chlorine. Blot your hair dry with a towel. Never rub, as this breaks hair shafts.
Sleep on Silk or Satin
Keeping your hair from tangling preserves its length. Silk or satin pillowcases allow strands to easily slip past one another. The less breakage your hair experiences, the longer your hair can grow.
A loose braid helps long hair avoid tangling. If at all possible, try to avoid elastics, as they can break the hair shaft. Consider a chic turban or wrap instead.
Brush Only Dry Hair
A few quick strokes of a hairbrush to distribute oils along the hair shaft encourages healthy growth. Use a boar-bristle brush every afternoon or evening.
The “100 strokes before bed” old wives’ tale is just that. That’s about 90% too much brushing!
Use vigorous strokes, but don’t dig. Start at the scalp. Use the boar bristle brush to distribute your scalp’s oils evenly. This step also serves to stimulate the scalp.
Taking care of your scalp is also vital to hair growth.
Hair follicles begin beneath the skin surface. An individual hair is called a follicle. A follicle begins under the skin with a base called a bulb. This supports the hair’s root and sebaceous gland.
Clogged and congested follicles can become blocked and inflamed. Avoid waxes, sticky or harsh chemicals. Damage to your scalp stunts the growth of your hair.
Dandruff, inflammation, and infection are symptoms of unhealthy skin. This negatively affects your dream of long, strong hair.
Pick the right shampoo, conditioners, and styling products to avoid irritations. Look for the purest, least harsh detergents. Alcohols, silicones and sodium lauryl sulfates can irritate sensitive skin.
Watch out for natural products too. Citrus and sunshine can not only bleach hair but can cause extreme sun sensitivity.
Don’t Break the Skin
Daily brushing to distribute your natural hair oils also serves to stimulate circulation to your scalp and loosen shedding skin cells. Your scalp should feel soft, hydrated and silky.
Make sure to use a natural bristle brush with rounded tips. Hard plastic or metallic bristles can be harsh on your delicate scalp.
Choose a mild shampoo and remember to massage your scalp gently whenever you wash. Use your fingertips, not your nails to stimulate circulation. Sharp digs and scrapes can let in infection.
To gently exfoliate dead skin cells, try using a spoonful of sugar gently massaged in and rinsed well. Follow up with plenty of clear, cool water and a light moisturizing conditioner.
If you suffer from a tight, dry scalp, you might want to massage a drop or two of argan oil or similar directly onto your scalp.
Putting It All Together
Many factors greatly affect the appearance of human hair. You can’t make your hair grow without addressing your diet, your hair care regimen, and your scalp health.
No matter what shape your hair is in now or how your previous attempts to grow it out ended up, you can have strong, shiny hair with some effort. Correct poor nutrition, eliminate split-ends and breakage, and avoid scalp damage to get your hair to its longest lengths.
Shiny, healthy hair is within reach–even if you aren’t Rapunzel. A benefit of trying to achieve healthy hair is improving your overall nutrition and health. And we are always in support of that!
For more information on Feelz Good and what we stand for, comment below or contact us. If you’re looking for more health and beauty advice, we encourage you to visit our blog regularly.