No hair journey is more agonizing and time-consuming than the grow-out phase. Short hairstyles, like the pixie or buzz cut, require minimal maintenance, so returning to actual work is quite the culture shock. And instant gratification is nowhere to be found because all-natural growth takes time, no matter how many weird hacks or hair vitamins you try.
However, there are ways to make the process a little less daunting without getting frustrated and veering away from your ultimate goal. Ahead, two experts, L’Oreal Professionnel Artist Michelle Lindsay and Streeter’s Artist Tina Outen, share eight tips that will keep you hopeful and make your grow-out phase more pleasant.
Have a Plan
Mapping out a hair plan with your stylist means that there should be tasks that apply to the middle of the process and not just the end.
“When you run a marathon, they don’t just post signs at the start and the finish lines. There are mile markers along the way,” says Lindsay. “Do the same with your hair. Decide some style markers that you can meet along the way so you have something new and fresh to look forward to as you grow it out.”
Keep the Shape
Don’t let exasperation and excitement take you off course. Lindsay says while it’s important to stick to your haircut schedule, you should also expect the shape to slightly alter as it grows.
“Layers need to be blended or defined as they grow, and the hair still needs to have body and movement that works with your current length. It might not be quite where you want it to be yet, but it can still look good at every stage.”
Although it may feel as though you’re moving backward, Outen says regular trims help rid the hair of split ends, thus fostering healthier growth.
“At some point, you will need a cut/shape for your hair to grow out in,” she says. “Growing out doesn’t have to be awful the whole time. You can get to the point where you can get your layers all the same length … or you may be growing out a crop and actually need to have layers to give the grow-out a shape.”
Focus on Strength
It doesn’t matter what state your hair is currently in, do everything in your power to keep it healthy and strong. Lindsay recommends regular hair treatments such as a L’Oreal Professionnel Powermix to add moisture or a heat protectant such as L’Oreal Professionnel Serie Expert Vitamino Color 10 in 1 every time you style or restyle.
“Minimize friction when you brush or comb,” she adds. “Don’t make the journey longer than it needs to be by weakening those hair strands and causing split ends.”
Use Your Texture
If your hair is naturally wavy or curly, you’re in luck because texture can be very forgiving. And if you don’t have some, create it.
“Curl your hair in alternating sections—one section toward your face, the next away from your face—until it’s all curled. After curling, gently brush or comb through the hair and finish with a texturizing spray such as L’Oreal Professionnel Tecni.Art Beach Waves or Tecni.Art Next Day Hair,” says Lindsay.
Both Lindsay and Outen agree that accessories are an easy fix on those days when you feel discouraged and impatient about the length of your hair. “If you don’t know what to do with them, says Lindsay, “ask your stylist for suggestions or look to Pinterest for inspiration. Make sure to use accessories that won’t damage or break your hair, and don’t apply them too tight or sleep in them, which can cause unnecessary tension.”
Outen adds that “ribbons are fab for hiding nondescript layers sitting in buns or ponytails.” Headbands worn around the hairline also keep strands neatly in place.
Fake It ’Til You Make It
Clip-in extensions or wigs come in handy when you grow tired of hiding your growth with accessories alone. Instead of going straight to the beauty supply store or ordering hair online, Lindsay recommends consulting with a stylist first to figure out the best placement and blend the pieces in with your hair, so they look as natural as possible.
“If you decide to get extensions, choose a stylist who’s trained and skilled in their particular extension method. Proper application and removal are key to not damaging your natural hair while it’s trying to grow.”
Last, be patient and remember that ultimately, only a healthy lifestyle will help your hair reach its maximum growth speed, which Lindsay says averages a quarter inch to a half inch per month.
“The health of your hair is directly linked to your overall health. Don’t believe any product that claims otherwise. Improving your diet is the best thing you can do to achieve maximum growth, including making sure you’re getting the recommended doses of omega-3s, biotin, niacin, and other essential vitamins.”