Let’s face it: We’re fickle. One day we’re jonesing for the long bob and the next we want mermaid waves, and we all know that after a drastic cut it can take what feels like forever to get any kind of length back. (It turns out our hair grows on a 2-6 year cycle. So yeah, it could be a while!) While you wait out the growth phase, practice these styling tricks from hairstylist and partner of Blo Blow Dry Bar David Babaii—you know, the man behind Gwyneth Paltrow’s enviable mane—to give the illusion of long hair. No hair extensions required—we promise.
First off, your cut is imperative. “Stay away from the blunt cut as this truly defines the actual length of your hair,” says Babaii. “[Instead] opt for longer layers that allow the hair to look softer and add movement.” This movement restricts an obvious end to the hair.
Straight hair, of course, makes the hair appear longer. A simple trick to getting the most out of your natural length is to stretch the hair with a blow dryer. Babaii recommends using a paddle or boar bristle brush to grip the hair, which allows you to fully extend and stretch the hair through. Babaii also recommends sectioning the hair before blow drying and straightening. Create four sections—the top, sides, and the nape of the neck. “Always begin with the nape area and work your way up. This allows you to concentrate on each section,” he says.
Creating height may seem counterintuitive, but with layered hair, the lift takes the weight away from the midshaft. The hair then looks longer and leaner.
Opt for a Center Part
Here’s a simple rule to follow: A side part adds width, and a center part adds length … or at least creates the illusion. The face and hair appear narrower, and thus, longer.
Caution: Don’t Go Too Sleek
Straight hair does utilize the length, but it also exaggerates the tips. “You want ‘swing,’ so no one can actually see where your length begins or ends,” says Babaii. Add a subtle wave with texturizing spray—just spritz and scrunch the ends.
Be Strategic With Product
Avoid hairsprays and oils. They, and any other products that weigh the hair down, “make the hair look too controlled,” Babaii says.
Read more: How to Determine If Your Hair Loss is Normal