There’s a wide range of good reasons for wanting to cut your hair short - self-expression, to help rectify the damage of too much processing… however, wanting to chop it off because of expectations of what’s ‘age-appropriate,’ surely shouldn’t be one of them.
Long hair doesn’t have to have a cut-off point just because of what’s printed on your birth certificate - if that’s the way you want to wear it, nothing should convince you otherwise. That being said, many of us probably have felt the pressure to impose an upper limit on ourselves at one point or another.
“I have spent so many hours over the years telling women not to cut off their hair just because they have reached a certain age,” says top hair stylist, James Galvin . “There used to be this perception that everyone had to have the same short hairstyle once they hit a particular point in their life, but that is not the case now, it is no longer one size fits all.” He adds, “As long as the hair is in good condition and the colour looks vibrant, there is no reason why it should be cut off.”
The healthier hair is, the longer it’s likely to look and feel its best at a longer length. A well-balanced diet rich in protein, iron and complex carbohydrates , and ensuring that you always use heat protection when styling are key, as are certain length-boosting at-home and in-salon products, tools and techniques. I asked the experts for their top hair growth and care tips for keeping hair strong, shiny and healthy in the short and long-run.
1. Get regular haircuts
Even if you've lined your bathroom shelf with the most expensive hair products on the planet, a haircut would still be the most important tool in your arsenal for getting rid of split ends. “I recommend regular haircuts every two months,” says James. The same applies if you're growing it out too. “As a rule, I would say aim to grow hair for two months, then get one month’s worth of growth cut off. It’s better to get there slowly in good condition than quickly in bad condition.”
2. Get the right cut and style for your face shape (and lifestyle)
“Not only will this be the most flattering way to wear long hair, but it will also add movement so that it doesn’t look long and lifeless,” says James. A thorough consultation beforehand is important for discussing your options and for letting your stylist know about your current hair care regime and lifestyle. I’m a low maintenance type of gal and by telling my stylist this from the get-go, they've been better able to create a style that not only saves me valuable time in the mornings, but also reduces my dependence on heated styling tools to therefore prevent future damage.
3. Try a hair growth shampoo
Shampoos that claim to boost length and/or reduce thinning are growing by the number, but which ones deliver? Caffeine shampoos are particularly effective in this regard and can help hair grow thicker and longer after a couple of months. Plantur 39 , £9.75, is is particularly good in this regard - especially when used with the other products in the range.
Kerastase also has an exciting launch in the pipeline - its Resistance Extentioniste range which is landing in May. Dubbed a ‘hair training program’ for long hair, its formula contains a creatine R complex, amino acid taurine and maleic acid to nourish the hair fibre without weighing it down. “It’s perfect for anyone wanting longer hair as it reinforces the structure and surface of the hair, while giving it a healthy glow,” says James. It consists of a length-boosting shampoo, £19.50, anti-breakage conditioner, £22.90, weekly hair mask, £31.70, and one more product that is especially intriguing...
4. Use a hair serum
The Serum Extentioniste Scalp and Hair Serum, £44.70, is the hero product of the range - and for just reason. Containing ceramides, it’s designed to be used on both scalp and hair to restore hair fibre cuticles and protect them as they grow.
It’s a haircare category that’s seen noticeable growth as of late and just like its skincare counterpart, provides a more intensive option for dry, damaged or sensitised hair. Current favourites of mine include Mr Smith Serum , £38, a silky textured number from Down Under that brittle hair types will love thanks to its cocktail of argan, jojoba and hemp seed oil ; and the spray-on Shu Uemura Urban Moisture Hydro-Nourishing Double Serum for dry hair, £26.90. Calling to mind Clarins’ skincare equivalent, it too is built for hydration and protection courtesy of ingredients such as moringa oil and red algae extract.
If you prefer the texture of an oil though, James recommends Kerastase Elixir Ultime , £27.70, to restore moisture to ends - often the most dehydrated parts of the hair. It's a popular number in my house - the bottle often goes walkabout.
My Hair Doctor Colour Protection Liquid Gold Hydrating Oil , £22, also has pretty far-reaching appeal too. Enriched with baobab , argan and jojoba oils, it leaves hair soft and more manageable plus, it’s fast-absorbing too.
5. Have regular salon and at-home treatments
Deep treatments are an essential part of protecting long hair from the damaging effects of pollution, over-processing and climate changes. A multi-pronged approach can help - an in-salon treatment first, perhaps every 2-3 months, followed by at-home upkeep. Kerastase Fusio-Dose (from £20) is James’ top pick. “It allows you to combine ingredients that target both your primary and secondary hair needs,” he says. “So for those with long hair, it allows you to treat the condition of your hair while also addressing your secondary concern, whether that be body, frizz, shine etc, the list goes on.” Follow this with the at-home kit, the HomeLab, £44, (mixed up by your stylist) so you can continue the good work in the weeks that follow (it’s amazing).
For a two-step at-home option, Rita Hazan’s Weekly Remedy Treatment , £34, is great for reinvigorating colour and boosting shine. Containing moisturising oils and rice proteins, its first ‘Treat it’ step opens the cuticle to allow for better penetration of conditioners. Its second ‘Seal It’ step then locks in its reparative ingredients to make hair softer, shinier and more vibrant. For added volume, hair stylist Neil Moodie recommends Viviscal's Gorgeous Growth Densifying Conditioner , £9.99. "It moisturises and conditions hair leaving it looking and feeling fuller, thicker and shiny," he tells us. He advises leaving conditioners on for as long as you can to allow their ingredients to penetrate the hair shaft properly.
6. Don’t forget your scalp
And lastly, remember to care for your scalp. You can be as hands-on as you like: “Give it a good massage,” advises Neil Moodie. “A healthy scalp means good hair growth.” Or, if you’re in the market for a product-based solution, there’s ample choice out there too. From chemical and physical scalp exfoliators to specialised scalp treatments , there’s something for every hair type, skin type and need.