If you told me six years ago that I would one day write an article about how to grow waist-length locks, I would have thrown back my head (of short, damaged hair) in laughter.
As someone whose unruly curls were the bane of her middle school existence, I made it my mission to achieve sleek strands throughout high school. That meant straightening my hair every single day for 4 years.
While constant flat ironing unexpectedly became an arm-strengthening workout, it was seriously weakening my strands. My once long corkscrew curls became short tufts of frizz that always required heat styling. So, I proceeded to fry my locks to the point of breakage without even a spritz of heat protectant (I didn’t know it existed!).
In 2013, I decided to begin my healthy hair journey. Growing curly hair is already hard, so growing out fried curls while still using hot tools seemed downright impossible. However, after considerable research, hours of trial and error, and 2 years of waiting, I was able to resuscitate my dead hair and grow it significantly.
Left: 2013-My damaged, heat-styled hair at its worst point; Right: 2013-When I got my hair back on the healthy track.
Left: 2015-My curly hair growth after just 2 years; Right: 2015-A heat-styled photo of my hair growth
When I first started, I remember reading a quote by beauty expert Dr. Phoenyx Austin that stuck with me throughout my journey: “If you love it, it will grow.” Instead of rebelling against my hair, I opted to care for my curls and started embracing my natural hair more. Fast forward to the present day, my hair is currently 26 inches long and the healthiest I’ve ever seen it.
Left: 2018-Curly hair; Right: 2019-My hair blown out and curled
The craziest part: I still continued to heat style my hair throughout its growth, contrary to the popular belief that strands can only grow if you completely ban hot tools.
I created a system in which I would alternate between wearing my hair natural and heat styling it with minimal touch ups. Throughout the process, I was constantly babying my strands with hydrating treatments, heat protective formulas, and keratin-infused products.
The moral of the story: You can absolutely grow out your hair even as an over- styler—you just need the right tools and a routine.
While hair growth depends on overall health, time and genetics, the unimaginable can always be achieved. Read on for my tips on how to regain hair health, grow out your locks and continue using hot tools. Commit to the following hair-saving (and timesaving!) products as you grow to great lengths.
Rule #1: Never blow out, fully straighten, or curl your hair every day. Instead strike a balance between rocking your natural locks and heat styled hair. Limit yourself to one blow out per week with minor retouching using a straightener or curling iron. I know it might be hard, but the following products will help keep your style in place to minimize the damaging effects of frying your hair on the daily. Also, remember that braids, buns, and ponytails are great heatless ways to lengthen the life of your style between washes.
This revolutionary blow dryer features Digital IonAir Technology that generates negative ions, which smooth the hair cuticle for frizz-free results the first time around. This groundbreaking dryer also has super fast drying capabilities—in most cases, it can dry hair in less than fifteen minutes!
I used to straighten my curly strands 3-4 times per section to get them flat. Not only was this incredibly time-consuming, it also led to unwanted breakage that hindered my hair growth. Luckily, this iron can smooth even the coarsest hair in just one pass. With tourmaline-infused plates and five adjustable heat settings, you can easily straighten for silky smooth strands with minimal retouching.
Much like the SinglePass X, these three detachable barrels curl any hair type in just one pass—and these tousled spirals actually last. A helpful trick: if you have curly or wavy hair these customizable barrels can also help you embrace your natural hair by adding extra body and shine. Simply wrap only the frizziest strands around the barrel that best mimics your hair texture to refresh your style while using limited heat.
Keratin is a fibrous protein that comprises hair. Using excessive amounts of heat can contribute to Keratin depletion, leading to thinning, breakage, and inevitable loss. So, in addition to cooling it on the over-styling, you’ll need to counteract damaging heat effects with keratin-infused products. Strengthen your strands with Keratin-infused shampoo to set the stage for repairing brittle hair and apply a powerful Keratin spray along with your leave-in to reinforce damaged spots and protect while you style.
Deep condition your hair as much as humanly possible! I like to apply conditioning treatments to dry hair and leave on overnight to reap the full benefits. Find a mask with lipid-replenishing shea oil to replace moisture and reestablish your hair’s keratin structure. Before washing your hair, apply the mask to your strands, cover your head with a shower cap, and fill the bonnet with heat from your blow dryer for a DIY steaming effect. This will deeply moisturize and restore hair’s protective barrier to prevent breakage.
Find yourself a blow out cream that does everything from restoring hair fibers to taming flyaways, while providing 450° heat protection. Make sure you evenly coat your strands from root to tip to fortify strands and safeguard hair while you style.
If you only purchase one thing from this list, make it hair oil. You can use it as a sealant on straightened hair to add shiny nourishment, apply it to perk up day old strands, heat it and use as a pre-shampoo or overnight treatment—it can seriously do anything! Since hair grows from healthy scalps, I recommend massaging the oil into your head for ten minutes every week to moisturize your roots and help stimulate hair growth.
Regular trims can help prevent breakage that is the result of split ends—but it also removes the precious inches you’ve painstakingly grown. Instead, go for a product that seals the cuticle and fortifies your hair against breakage while you style. A split end mender seems too good to be true, but I’m a firm believer that this product was key in my hair growth. Fun fact: I used a split end mender throughout my journey, and never felt the need for a haircut. In fact, I haven’t cut my hair in 5 years!
I could go on and on about the life-changing effects of dry shampoo. This little bottle of oil-eradicating powder can save you hours of styling, which means less heat damage and more hair growth. My personal go-to is Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk Aerosol because it revives my hair in less than three minutes without any need for touch ups.