“I want to grow my hair out for summer but it just won’t seem to get past a certain point?”
Lewis, via email.
But however easy and breezy a head full of hair may look to achieve (you just, er, wait for it to grow, right?), the journey is often tangled with issues (not limited to the accidental mullet).
When growing out their hair, many men find that it stops lengthening at a certain stage. For Lewis (and men just starting out the process), there isn’t a great deal that can be done to dramatically speed up growth (which occurs at the rate of about half an inch per month). But there are a few proactive things that can be done to give the dream of a flowing mane the best chance of becoming reality.
Firstly, hair does not have teeth – so you’re responsible for eating on its behalf. Hair cells are coated with a protective, fatty membrane, and encouraging growth starts with this. “You can see how healthy someone’s diet is by simply looking at their hair,” says nutritionist, Brooke Alpert.
“People who stick to a crazy, fat-free regime will experience dullness and breakage. For growth, add good fats to your diet – things like salmon, avocado, nuts and olive oil.” Protein (especially egg yolks), vitamins E and C, and Biotin and Omega-3 supplements have also been proven to fire up follicles.
Lengthening your locks means overhauling your grooming routine. Over-shampooed hair is often dry and weak, so switch to daily conditioning to build strength, and cut down shampooing to two or three times a week at most. Ditch the post-shower comb through, too, as hair is prone to breakage when wet.
Dreaming of your hair flowing in the wind? Then it’s also time to say bye to the hairdryer and straighteners. “Heat causes ends to break and slows down growth,” says celebrity hairstylist Michael Duenas. “If you insist on using heat, then you absolutely must use a heat protectant and keep the tool at 80 per cent of its full heat at most, or you will break the hair.”
It’s not all doom and gloom, though – treating yourself to regular scalp massages with oils will offer some hirsute help, and although clarifying the scalp sounds like part of a Saw movie, it’s actually a relaxing way of achieving #hairgoals.
“Clarifying is just wiping out any gross stuff that the head collects from water, air and other products; this will give your follicles room to grow properly. If you don’t want to invest in a clarifying shampoo…[try] a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar mixed with bottled water once a week,” says hair expert Nikisha Brunson.
While it might sound counterintuitive, even the most carefully tended to locks are bound to get a few split ends. “The way to stop them and make your hair grow is to have frequent, minimal trimming, every two to three weeks. By that, I mean 2mm – you cut off very little, but do it regularly,” says hair pro, John Frieda.
And just like that, you’ll go from shaggy to stylish.