Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tips on growing out your hair...

There is nothing easy about growing out hair, which is rather absurd when I think about it.  What could be more easy than doing nothing?

I find it very easy to leave a dish or two in the sink.

Spending an entire day on the sofa watching a Law & Order marathon takes little effort at all, and I really would enjoy it.

So what's the big deal about growing hair out?  What's the deal?!?

I have mentioned before that nearly 2.5 years ago I had the worst hair experience of my life, and that is saying a lot for me.  I had rather short hair, but longer on top and in the front.  My salon owner wanted to color my hair "salmon," and somehow that sounded like a good idea to me.

As you may or may not know, in order to tint hair with a vibrant temporary color, one must extract all of the existing color from the hair.  Think of it this way- imagine you have a handful of bright crayons, and you have a choice of brown, yellow, or white paper to decorate.  On which piece of paper would you get the best result?  The white one!  The same concept applies to hair color.  In order to achieve a vibrant salmon, my stylist needed to pull out all of the color from my hair (aka "bleach").

I do not blame my stylist entirely for the blunder, as I know my hair's capabilities when it comes to bleach; but I never expected to be able to mush off large chunks of it a half inch from the root.  That day I received my last pixy, and that was that.  I was growing my nasty, half-inch long hair out.

That was in March of 2009.  Here is a picture of me in September of that year, 6 months later.

Yikes.  At an average of 1/2 inch a month, that is 3 inches of growth.  Wow!

And this is in late October, a month later, pulling a Friar Tuck...

This hair-do came straight out of Robinhood...

And this is in January of the following year, and it is finally in a bob configuration...

And in the summer of that year...

And from here, I had to just let it grow.  Here it is last week, 2.5 years after the original offense.

Success!  My goal is another 3-4 inches, and then I'll hang out there until... whenever.

So here are some practical tips on growing out one's hair, with very few awkward moments.  It is not easy, but you really can do it.  I did, and that is really unbelievable, believe me!

1.  If you have cut your hair in a pixy or near-pixy (over the ear, nearly every piece the same short length), the goal is to grow out the very top and front first.  Find a stylist you can trust.  See her no less than every 4 weeks for the first few months, and get her to taper in your neck (from the occipital bone down) for the first 5 months, or until the hair at the highest point above the ears is down to your jaw line (an average of 3 inches).

2.  In month 6, get a good 1/2 inch trim all over.  It has been 6 months since you received a good haircut,  and your hair is tore-up.

3.  Month 7, your hair could be in a bob configuration ( the weight line is straight from jaw around to the back hairline).  If it is not, continue to have it tapered in the back until it is in a bob.  Why am I so hung up about the bob?  I am trying to get you to avoid the awkward mullet stage.  This is important for your self esteem, and for the person who has to sit behind you in church.

4.  Once it is in a bob, do not get monthly trims.  Really.  This pulls from my pocket, but you can't keep getting hair cut off if you want to achieve length.  I would suggest that you schedule cuts for every 3 months, and only get a half an inch off at those times (if you even get that).  Again, find a stylist you can trust.  You should be able to partner with your stylist to achieve your length.

The above is the ideal situation, and there is really only one variable: chemicals.

Are you chemically dependant?  Do you crave color change every 3 months like I did?  I hate to say it, but your color-craving is only going to hold back or even halt your growth.  Here are a few suggestions...

1.  Opt for a shade that is 2-3 shades (max) away from your natural level.  If you are naturally dark brown, do not dream of pale blonde and expect to keep it healthy.  The farther you are away from your natural shade, the stronger the chemicals we get to use, and the more often you will feel compelled to visit us.

2.  Steer clear of foil.  Sure, a few foils can make a huge difference in solid drab hair, and they are great for subtle change if you can stay there.  But in most cases, blondes here in Augusta achieve their flaxen status through regular highlights, and I have to say that if you are growing your hair out foiling is not the way to go.  The idea in any hair-color maintenance is for the stylist to not overlap previous work, but when it comes to foiling, this is nearly impossible to do.  Nearly.  "Overlapping" is the act of spreading product (bleach in this case) over hair that has already been lightened (compromised in regard to hair health).  I am not saying that you are killing your hair by foiling, but you are making it more prone to breakage, which makes it harder to grow out.

3.  Stick with root color.  Sure, all over color change is fun, but I would say that you leave those ends alone.  If your stylist cannot accomplish your desires with either a simple touch-up or a ammonia-free demi-permanent color, you are not helping yourself.

Obviously, "touching up" implies that you have done an all-over color before.  Color is fine.  Color is awesome.  I love color.  All I am saying is that if you are growing your hair out, you need to lighten up on the frequency of chemical treatments.

As for maintenance, all I can say is take care of those ends.  They are old.  If your hair is one foot long, your ends came out of your head almost 2 years ago.  They need some love.

1.  Shampoo every other day.   This is not a necessity, but rather a suggestion.  Buy some dry shampoo, pull it back in a cute pony, and give it a rest.  Letting the natural oils sit on your hair for a day is soooo good for your hair.  C'mon.  Just try it.

2.  Focus on the blow-dry.  Instead of manipulating your hair every which way with an iron, do most of the smoothing work during the blow-dry.  Get a good round brush, a good dryer, and go for it.  And if you do find it absolutely necessary to smooth your hair with an iron afterward, do this right after you blow it dry.  Your cuticle is wide open, and your hair wants to be manipulated.  It will take you no time at all, and it will be more likely to last.

3.  Avoid tight ponytails.  It is so sad to me when I see a perfectly healthy and gorgeous head of hair with a halo of breakage, right where a pony tail would be.  Especially avoid doubling up your pony, as then there is a tight band right at the ends of your hair.

So the reality of the situation is that growing hair is out is not about doing nothing.  You have to work at it.  You have to maintain.  The desired result can't just be long, but also swingable, touchable, and worth the effort.  You can do it.  I promise.

Love to you all,

Rachel Bee


  1. I thought this was very interesting and helpful. I didn't have a pixie, but I am trying to grow my hair out. I am going through a mullet stage. Josh likes it, though and I don't too much mind my hair creeping down my neck. Also, that makes me see I am very lucky that my hair grows out a lot faster than other peeps hair. It's probably b/c I am pregnant every 5 seconds. ;) Loved this.

  2. ugh... i hate my hair growing down my neck. you have movement in yours, and mine at that length is bone straight, making it a straight-up mullet! yes, pregnancy definitely helps with that:)