You have decided to grow out your hair!!!!! Congratulations!
It is a fun thing to grow your hair out. So many new hairstyles you get to play with. New ways of dying your hair including to much loved balayage and V-balayage (flame balayage or whatever the latest name for that is). Or you can go dye free and have long, lustrous locks. There’s perks to both. But one thing that will change a lot are what products you use. So here’s my guide to hair products you will need in order to keep those tresses their strongest including how frequently you’ll need to trim those ends and reshape your haircut.
For most women hair grows a little less than an inch a month. Even those with 4C hair kinky, curly hair have hair growth that’s an inch a month; however, its perceived hair growth is only 1/4″ per month. So if you have straight hair and start from a pixie cut it takes roughly a full year to grow out to shoulder length. Shoulder length to bra strap is another year. So to grow out from a pixie to your waist is a 3-4 year process and that’s assuming you don’t have several major cuts.
Let’s assume you are starting off with a bob haircut. I started my journey with an asymmetrical cut with a stacked bob in the back. Super cute cut, super annoying to grow out. I got that cut when Aeon Flux first came out and I kept it for years. Then I grew it out to shoulder length then took it back short again and now it’s down almost to my waist. It’s been dyed every color under the sun since I was 15. Mostly browns and auburns but 3 years ago I was platinum blonde because I really wanted silver gray hair and that wasn’t a good idea. Silver gray was the only hair color my husband couldn’t stand and I’ve had purple hair, granted it was dark purple but it was still purple. But he liked the blond that occured before the gray. So maybe I’ll go back blonde or bronde.
Above Chin Length
So at a bob or lob length you don’t need to be doing much intensive work to your hair. Daily conditioning if you cleanse everyday, otherwise a good dry shampoo like Klorane or Dry Bar will keep you going between shampoos. A deep conditioner once a week isn’t really super necessary since your hair is still rather short and runs the risk of making your roots oily. You can slow down your trims to once every 5-8 weeks in order to make changes to the shape.
From Chin Length down to Shoulder Length – approximate time 6 months
Once it gets to your chin you’ll start making some odd changes to the structure of the hair cut especially if you have an asymmetric cut. How I grew out my asymmetric cut was to allow the back to grow out until it was about the same length as the front which was to my collar bone. It was a severe asymmetric cut. At that point I chopped the front and got what we would call a lob. That left my hair right above my shoulder. One thing to avoid at this point is the dredded pyramid haircut. Made popular in the 80s and 90s, this style looks good on no one.
At this point in your grow out process you’ll likely start adding a detangler and a light leave-in conditioner if you have not. I’m using Drybar’s Prep Rally (it’s a 5/10, ok but not awesome). I’ve also used Johnson’s No More Tangles, Mane and Tail Detangler, and Not Your Mother’s Knotty to Nice. Prevana’s Nevo leave in conditioner also makes for a good, light weight conditioner that also acts as a decent detangler. You’re going to want to add a deep conditioner once a week if you bleach your hair. If you have dry ends you’ll also want to add a deep conditioner but most people won’t. Only put deep conditioner on hair that’s below you ears or can be pulled into a loose ponytail. I put a shower cap on my hair, let it set 5-10 mins (or the rest of my shower) then rinse it out. If you feel deep conditioning leaves your hair too oily, just put it in the drawer for another month or so and pull it out again.
From Shoulder length down to Bra Strap Length – approximate time 1 year
The biggest hair cut change you’ll make at this point are more face framing pieces and you can start to play with your layering a lot more. You may also start removing hair because of the weight with thinning shears. Avoid removing weight with a razer. I had a stylist who did that for years but it damages the hair shaft so it’s more prone to split ends wherever the razer hit the hair shaft.
Products you should be using include detanglers and a leave-in conditioner daily. Weekly, a deep conditioner or a bond refiller such as Olaplex No. 3. Every 4-6 weeks a protein treatment will help keep the hair stronger. Whether you get that at the salon or you do an at home treatment your hair will thank you. Twice a year I go to the salon to have mine done, salon products are just a better quality and my stylist just does an amazing job and gives an amazing scalp massage.
At this point you don’t need to wash your hair everyday unless you hit the gym or swimming pool every day. If you swim mix some conditioner with water into a spray bottle, 20% conditioner to 80% water. Don’t use an expensive conditioner, cheaper is better. This is going to keep your hair somewhat moisturized while you’re swimming and the chlorine won’t eat away at your natural oils. If you’re in the pool more than 30 minutes not wearing a swim cap, the conditioner has been removed from your hair. This trick will help save your hair from damage due to the chlorine and it keeps your swim cap from snagging on your hair. You’re swim cap shouldn’t move either while you’re swimming outside of normal movement, mine never does.
From Bra Strap Length to Waist length or Below (1 year plus)
At this point moisture and structure for your ends is going to be key. Regular trims every 3 months will keep those ends looking good with minimal breakage. Using a protein treatment more than once a week will result in overly dry ends still not more than twice a month. Shower caps will also be your best friend. Depending on what your roots look like or scalp condition you should be washing your hair every 3-4 days. Cowashing can also help adding moisture, removing extra oils but also keep oils on those ends. Overnight conditioners will also be your best friend. Overnight conditioners are heavier than deep conditions but also take more time to penetrate the hair shaft. Sealing those ends with a dimethicone heavy hair sealant/split end sealer will help minimize those split ends or keep them from expanding. Split end menders also help the hair ends slip past one another instead of getting tangled and knotted. Also, consider purchasing a super absorbent microfiber towel if you haven’t already done so to remove as much water as possible to lower the amount of heat applied to your hair when you dry it. You can find these at all price ranges. I use Aquis Lisa Luxe Hair Turban. The original was the Turbie Twist.
Heat damage is something that needs to be minimized throughout the grow out process. Keep your hair dryer set to medium and your straightener should go no higher than 375F. There’s no reason for hair to require a 400F straightner on high unless you have the curliest of hair and even then it’s causing severe heat damage. I use an Amika Polished Perfection Straightening Brush 2.0 to get some of the nastier frizz out of my hair when I having a bad hair day or want something a little more polished and set that to 375F.
Hair Oils: I still haven’t figured out the absolutely perfect amount of hair oil to use on my hair. I feel like some days I need a heavier oil, other days I need a lighter oil only to apply what I think I need and it’s either not enough or too much. It really is user error. I still use them though. If I go heavy I tend to bun my hair or do a braid. I live in a very windy state and spend a lot of time outdoors so it makes sense for me. I’m in love with Ouai’s Rose Hair and Body Oil. I use about 3 pumps on my hair and concentrate on the bottom 1/3 of my hair. Any of the leftover I wipe over my arms. As I brush my hair while I dry it the oil has a tendency to move and it keeps those ends well moisturized.
Order to add hair care after washing:
2. Leave in Conditioner on Damp hair
3. Hair oil (concentrated on those ends, I stay below my collar bone)
4. Split end mender (on damp hair)
5. Blow Dry to 70% dry, air dry the rest or dry completely and style as normal. Set heat to medium. If using a Dyson AirWrap, Revlon One-Step Volumizer Hair Dryer, or similar product I’ve had the most luck drying my hair to 70% or just slightly damp dry and using those stylers to complete drying and get my waves straightened out and ends curled under. These create the least amount of heat damage compared to straighteners. Unless you want pin straight hair, which I don’t, I highly recommend getting a product like that. The Revlon styler is even on sale at Ulta today and already very affordable.
If you run your hands through your hair and feel lots of tangles, it’s time for a trim. Don’t be afraid to trim 3-4 inches at a time, if you need it your hair will grow out healthier than if you just keep the damage. At this point your hair progression won’t be as fast or feel like it’s as fast due to hair breakage and damage.