We have all seen long, beautiful hair on television, magazines, or the people around us. Many of us would like to have long, flowing locks of our own, but growing so much hair seems like a daunting task. Long hair does not grow overnight.
Most people can not grow their hair faster than a half-inch per month. There is more to achieving long hair than simply letting hair grow on its own. Hair must be exceptionally healthy to grow faster and reach impressive lengths.
Nutrition may be the single most important factor in growing long hair. A balanced diet should contain all the essential vitamins and minerals the body needs to stay healthy. The human body reacts to nutrient deficiency by using available nutrients for essential functions first. Hair and nail growth are not essential. Brittle hair and nails frequently indicate a vitamin or mineral deficiency. A healthy, balanced diet is the best way to combat nutrient deficiency, but some vitamins and supplements are specially-formulated to stimulate hair growth.
Shampoo often contains harsh chemical sulfates that strip natural oils from the hair. Most people do not need to wash their hair every day. Tie hair up and cover it during daily baths or showers, and wash hair only two or three times per week. Use a sulfate-free shampoo and only lather hair near the scalp. The suds will flow down the rest of the hair shaft without lathering it. A cold water rinse after washing and conditioning hair causes the other layers of each hair to flatten. This prevents moisture loss and snags.
Trimming hair regularly does not actually make hair grow faster, but it does keep split ends under control. Hair with damaged ends breaks and the damage can spread quickly. Long hair without frequent trims can end up with several inches of damaged hair at the ends. Hair loses more length from removing badly damaged ends than from frequent trimming.
The tension from twisting hair into a towel or vigorously rubbing it dry pulls some hairs out at the root. Hair is damaged from top to bottom during normal towel-drying methods. People with curly hair have discovered the plopping method, and it works for most other hair types as well. Lay a long-sleeved cotton shirt on a flat surface. Lean over to rest wet hair in the middle of the shirt. Carefully roll the shirt up and wrap it around the hair. The sleeves of the shirt go around the neck and shoulders to hold the shirt in place. Plopping dries hair without damaging it or pulling out individual strands.
Curling irons, straighteners, and other hot styling tools damage hair. The heat dries out hair and increases breakage during styling. Use tools that regulate heat evenly, and apply a heat protectant spray to hair during styling. Some styling tools use forced air with minimal heat to reduce hair damage. Cutting hot tools out of daily styling routines entirely is the best option for growing long, healthy hair.
Some styling products, especially harsh straighteners, destroy the hair. Straightening products and relaxants break the disulfide bonds that form curls and give hair its natural texture. Damage caused by straightening products is irreversible. Hair has to grow until the damaged portion can be trimmed away.
Sunshine helps the body sustain the hair growth cycle, but the benefits actually come from vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency often causes hair loss. Sunlight stimulates vitamin D production, but many fortified and natural foods also contain vitamin D. Unfortunately, UV radiation in direct sunlight damages hair. Enjoying the outdoors and summer sunshine is appealing, but eating a balanced diet or taking a supplement are safer choices to increase vitamin D intake. Hair and skin should be protected in direct sunlight.
Stress can actually cause hair loss. Telogen effluvium occurs when continuous stress causes hair follicles to enter a resting phase. The body marshals resources to deal with danger, so growing hair follicles take a back seat to more important functions. Trichotillomania is a compulsive urge to pull hair from the scalp or eyebrows. It may be the origin of the phrase 'pulling my hair out' that people often say when they are very frustrated. Keep stress at manageable levels with yoga, meditation, and other relaxing measures.
Several oils derived from botanical sources enhance hair's health and appearance. Jojoba oil comes from the jojoba plant, and its chemical structure resembles natural oil, or sebum, produced by the scalp. Jojoba oil hydrates the hair and scalp to promote growth and reduce breakage.
Castor oil contains vitamin E, minerals, proteins, and antioxidants to support keratin. Keratin is the largest component of hair and nails. Argan oil, often referred to as Morrocan oil, contains vitamin E, ferulic acid, fatty acids, and antioxidants to protect hair from UV rays. Argan oil also makes hair soft and shiny.
Lavender essential oil encourages hair growth. It has antimicrobial properties to improve scalp health. Mix 3-5 drops of lavender essential oil with 3-tablespoons of olive or melted coconut oil. Apply the oil mixture to hair. Make sure to coat hair along its entire length and work the oil between strands. Leave the oil on hair for approximately 10 minutes. Wash the oil out with shampoo and use a high-quality conditioner.
Silk pillowcases enhance hair growth because silk is very smooth. Cotton pillowcases feel smooth and soft, but cotton fibers stick to individual hairs. Every movement throughout the night puts stress on the hair strands stuck between cotton fibers. The strands of hair become increasingly damaged over time and eventually break away completely. Silk consists of very fine, smooth protein fibers that do not catch or rub hair strands.
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