Do you dream of having Rapunzel-length locks? If it seems like your hair just isn't growing as quickly as you'd like, look no further than your hair care routine. And then try these pro-recommended tips to get longer, stronger hair in no time.
1. Get frequent trims — yes, really.
It may seem counterintuitive, but if you want long hair that's actually healthy, you need to get regular trims. "While haircuts don't make your hair grow any faster, they get rid of split ends that break your hair," explains celebrity hairstylist Michael Dueñas. "Eliminating the breakage gives the appearance that your hair is growing faster." After all, a split end that breaks can lead to your hair losing length — not to mention shine, volume, and smoothness. Not sure how often to trim your hair? We've got a guide for that.
2. Spread the wealth that is your hair's natural oil.
Going to bed with unbrushed hair may seem tempting when you're tired, but giving your hair a few quick strokes can be great for its health. "Starting at the scalp, use a boar bristle brush to distribute your scalp's oils evenly onto your hair so it stays naturally moisturized," recommends Eva Scrivo Salon senior colorist and hair educator Meri Kate O'Connor. Bonus: This simple step each night helps increase circulation, which helps make your scalp healthier. Which leads us to…
3. Keep your scalp healthy.
Think of your hair like a tree: If the soil and roots aren't taken care of, the tree can't grow tall and solid. "Hair growth starts with a healthy scalp," explains celebrity hairstylist and WEN founder Chaz Dean. "When you cleanse and treat your scalp with healthy ingredients, you product strong, beautiful hair." If you're not sure how healthy your hair is, Chaz recommends doing a "root lift test": At the crown of your head, hold up a section of your hair. Healthy hair should be the same thickness root to end, but if your ends are thinner, it's time to rethink your haircare regimen.
4. Start from the inside by eating the right foods.
Having long, strong hair doesn't just depend on which products you put on your hair, it also depends on what you put into your body. "To promote hair growth, you need to 'feed' the hair from the inside," explains Dr. Francesco Fusco, dermatologist and CLEAR Scalp & Hair expert. "Try increasing your protein intake with foods like fish, beans, nuts, and whole gains." If you're not a meat-lover, be sure to maintain a diet high in protein — Dr. Fusco warns that women who don't get enough of it often experience "more shedding."
5. Stop abusing it with heat styling tools.
The biggest culprit that's ruining your hair: damage from hot tools. "Stop over-styling your hair," warns celebrity hairstylist Ken Paves. If you must use heat, Paves recommends decreasing the temperature and always using a heat protectant — otherwise, you risk damaging your locks, leading to breakage and frizz.
6. Skip the daily shampoo.
Good news: Your hair care routine just got a whole lot simpler. By now, you've likely heard all the testimonials attributing great hair to going "no 'poo," but do you know why it actually helps your hair? "Shampooing your hair two to three times a week is a general rule," says Paves. "This allows your natural oils to penetrate your hair, allowing it to hydrate and repair itself." But just be sure not to let too much buildup occur — Dr. Fusco warns that this can lead to a surplus of oil, itching, and dandruff.
7. Add a vitamin to your morning routine.
If your diet isn't supplying you with enough nutrition, a supplement could make a world of difference. "Look for a multivitamin that's formulated and labeled 'For Hair, Skin, and Nails,'" advises Dr. Fusco. "Those contain important vitamins like biotin, vitamin C, and B vitamins that support hair health." Bonus: You'll get better skin in the process!
8. Finish your shower with a cool rinse.
A super steamy shower isn't just bad for your skin — it's also rough on your hair. "Turn the water temperature down when cleansing," recommends Paves. "And rinse with cool water to help seal the cuticle and strengthen your hair before styling it."
9. Stop doing trendy "cleanses."
Diet companies may try to convince you that a "cleanse" will turn your whole life around, but Dueñas strongly advises against them. "Doing a cleanse is terrible for your hair because you're depriving your body of nutrients," he warns. "After doing a cleanse even for a week, you'll notice slower hair growth and lackluster locks."
10. Sleep on a silk pillowcase.
Getting better hair in your sleep is possible — all you need is to switch up your pillowcase. "Silk is easier on hair — it helps avoid tangles and breakage," says Jesleen Ahluwalia, M.D., a physician from Spring Street Dermatology in New York City. The less breakage your hair experiences, the longer your locks will be.
11. Pay attention to how your skin feels after using hair care products.
It's easy to see shiny locks initiallyand assume a product is working for you, but Dean recommends taking a closer look (and feel). "What the formula is doing to your skin is generally what it's doing to your hair," he says. "Does it make your skin f eel dry, stripped, heavy, waxy, sticky, or greasy? Or does it feel soft, hydrated, silky, and supple?" Treat your hair the way you would treat your skin — after all, it's another part of you! If your hair follicles are clogged and congested, there's no way it can grow as efficiently.