I've been obsessed with Long Hair Community
-- the vaguely creepy site for people who like to take photos of themselves sitting on their long, long hair, then post them on the Internet to brag about it -- for years.
Just read the message boards with posts titled things like "I FINALLY HAVE MY FAIRY-TALE HAIR!". It's addicting. They've got a lot to teach me about growing my hair to levels of Rapunzel-worthy epic-ness, and I can't get enough.
Of course, when it comes to growing out your hair, the real key is -- as your friend and mine Axl Rose would tell you -- just a little patience. Actually, a lot of patience. It takes forever! And then there's that stupid rule that you have to keep cutting it to keep it healthy while you grow it! I hate that rule, but I've interviewed 40 million (not an exaggeration, practically) hair experts and stylists over the years and they've all said it's true.
Anyhow, that brings me to this: the endearing weirdos of Long Hair Community and all of the amazing advice I've culled from them over my years as a beauty editor. Among the most useful information are the products and tools the die-hards swear by. You don't have to totally convert to long-haired-loony-dom, but whether you try a few these tricks or all of them, you'll get results. Read on
!1. Deep Conditioner, Leave-ins and Hair Oil
OK, OK, OK. How bored are you about reading about how important it is to deep condition? Answer: not as bored as I am about writing about it, friend
. I've written the same article 10 times! Because, duh, intensive treatments are crucial if you want healthy long hair, and I promise you that no one will ever tell you otherwise.
But I'm starting with conditioners because they're the essential to end all essentials. So, to review what we all already know as quickly as possible: Find a deep conditioner that you love to leave on for 30 minutes twice a week. I am a lifelong devotee of Terax Crema
, which is not only one of the best-working treatments ever, but one of the best-smelling ones, too. I am also a big fan of the conditioners that come in boxes of hair dye, which are now sold individually, like Clairol Nice 'N Easy ColorSeal Gloss Conditioner
Another way to condition is with leave-in. Again, Terax is a favorite of mine: their Life-Drops
, which have reconstructive protein, are so, so good, as is Frederic Fekkai's Protein Rx Reparative Spray
-- it's a dewy milk that's super-lightweight and doubles as a detangler. And my hair is a long, fake blonde, tangled mess – both soften and pretty it right up like crazy. I actually use both products together every day, to give you any indication of how much product I need just to look decent and unlike early '80s Vince Neil
Use hair oil on dry split ends: anything really works here; I use Philip B.
These are not inexpensive, particularly, either. I spend money on conditioning. Not denying it.
2. Biotin Vitamins
We here at Lemondrop do not endorse of any kind of compulsive pill-popping to achieve glossy, Kardashian-worthy (minus the extensions -- oh puh
-leeasse, like they don't have them) hair, but as far as taking supplements go, a daily dose of these babies is safe -- unlike, say, habitually abusing pre-natal vitamins for vanity purposes. (Not unheard of in Hollywood circles.) They make hair and nails stronger and more lustrous (can nails be lustrous? Just go with it.), are relatively inexpensive, and can be found at any GNC or Vitamin Shoppe, or here on amazon.com
. They allegedly make hair grow faster, and while this is probably true, remember that still means your hair will grow agonizingly slowly, just ... a little less agonizingly so.
3. Scrunchies, Snag-Free Elastics and the Spin-Pin
First of all, that's right, SCRUNCHIES! How psyched is your inner Kimmy Gibler? Okay, the reason you need a scrunchie is because you need to be seriously, seriously protecting your hair from snagging at all times, especially at night, especially when you wear it up. You're going to look really dorky and unsexy, like, a lot, and you're going to just have to deal.
Don't try to make it work, style-wise. It just doesn't. (Well, OK, Urban Outfitters has some cute ones
, but that's it. Oh, and American Apparel
. FINE. Scrunchies are back for real life! Gross.) At night, sleep with your hair wrapped up in a bun right on TOP -- not at the back -- of your head, like you're the kidnap-ably cute ballerina little sister in "Welcome to the Dollhouse." Bonus: During the day, you can put them on your dog
! Gotta love Etsy.
Then, during the day, if you can't bring yourself to wear the scrunchie out of the house (and I don't blame you, my dear), go with snag-free elastics, like these by Blax
, which every hairdresser I've ever interviewed has named as the best elastics for mastering really sleek, beautiful ponytails and buns, so you should probably add them to your hair-care arsenal anyway.
I've also read only the biggest raves on Long Hair Community about Goody Spin Pin
, a coiled miracle bobby pin of sorts which holds up gigantic buns and French twists (sort of high-class prosti-chic, but I'm into it) with minimal damage to hair. You can even wear them when you work out and they stay put, according to everyone who seriously won't shut up about them. Has anyone reading this tried them? AWESOME.
4. Sulfate-Free Shampoo
The key thing about sulfate-free shampoo is that it doesn't strip your hair of any crucial oils or other conditioning agents essential to having beautiful, long healthy hair. The downside is that many of the best sulfate shampoos are akin to fragrance-free laundry detergent: they leave your hair, after a shower, simply smelling like unscented ... hair. It's sort of disconcerting.
As far as product goes, I cannot recommend enough, for those very serious about this growing-your-hair-long thing, a line of fantastic, absurdly gentle shampoos by a little-known brand called Aestelance; they are an entire company devoted especially to people who are obsessed with long hair, and every product is like nothing you've ever tried. Drugstore brands are also on the sulfate-free bandwagon: check out these options from Organix, L'oreal, Burt's Bees and TIGI Bed Head.
Oh, and the in-shower tip here is to shampoo at the roots and scalp only, which is truly where you need it most anyway; this way you don't strip good oils from the length of the hair. Later, skip conditioner at the roots so they won't get weighed down, then condition the length of your hair which you neglected to shampoo practically to death (or for however long you can stand it, whatever).
5. Satin Pillowcase
A satin pillowcase, in theory, sounds both expensive and prissy when you imagine it in your head, but is actually cheap and butch! No, I'm joking. It's just a regular-looking pillowcase. It doesn't have to be shiny-satin per se, just a special, non-breakage pillowcase like this one, which only costs $10.
6. Boar-Bristle Brush and the Old T-Shirt Trick
OK, so there are all sort of crazy rules you have to follow about brushing and combing your hair in order to grow it long and perfect. LIKE: Do not even THINK about brushing it when it's wet. You can only brush it when it's dry, and preferably before every shampoo, so you distribute the oils over every strand to protect them from shampoo and don't have to detangle much post-shower -- hair is most vulnerable to breakage when it's dripping and you're roughing it up with a towel. Oh, and incidentally, stop roughing it up with a towel! What are you thinking?! Everyone on Long Hair Community dabs their gorgeous hair dry with old, soft T-shirts, and now I finally know what to do my The Cramps tank top that's too obscene to wear out of the house. (I'm not trying to be mean, by the way. I'm just trying to terrify you. It's two totally different things!)
AND you're supposed to use a boar-bristle brush. I'm too lazy and this post is too long already for me to look up if that means the bristles are extracted from ACTUAL BOARS. WHATEVER. Maybe some PETA henchman will do my research for me in the comments section for me if I'm lucky. Boar-bristle brushes can be expensive -- the ultimate example being the stylists' universal favorite, any style seen sold here by Mason-Pearson, but there are cheaper versions at beauty supply stores. The most expensive stylists I've ever been to rave about these boar bristle brushes by Denman, which are totally affordable indeed.
7. Wide-Toothed Comb
When you're out of the shower, comb out wet hair and tangles with a wide-toothed comb. Please tell me you own one already. I linked to the Sephora comb if not; it's good, but they are all good. And that's it. You're not allowed to blow-dry your hair EVER AGAIN! Or flat iron it, or curl it! Seriously! If you're serious about growing your hair long like a fanatic, at least. That's the biggest lesson you'll learn from reading the Long Hair Community message boards -- posting about crimping your hair in one of those forums would be like waltzing drunk into an A.A. meeting. No one would be feeling you. So if you're seriously trying to grow your hair long, curb your hair tool enthusiasm at least a little bit and, again, patience is key.
Good luck! Leave any hair growth tips, stories and experiences of your own in the comments section -- we can start our own little Lemondrop community, har har!
Cat Marnell was a magazine beauty editor before she was a blogger. She HATES the words "tresses", "locks," and "mane" because no sane person uses them in conversational speech, which is why you had to read "hair" over and over again throughout this post. Check out her other awesome "Secrets of an Ex-Beauty Editor" posts here.