As my long healthy hair cascades down my back now, it’s hard to believe that in 2017 I started with a very short military cut. The first year, I felt like my hair would never get past looking sloppy and gross. By the middle of 2018, I could pull it back into some semblance of a ballerina bun. Now, I can do almost anything with my beautiful long healthy locks.
There didn’t seem to be a lot to it towards the beginning, but as with most things, health takes effort and love. The first thing I learned was about proper hygiene that prevents serious damage to your hair and scalp. Then, I began looking into herbal and vitamin supplements to boost my hair from the inside. Finally, I started learning about hairstyles that promote healthy hair and avoid damage related to yanking and pulling.
Caring For Your Growing Hair
I took my first step towards my goal by talking to my stylist, Grace. We discussed my goal of being able to wear my hair up while having to maintain it within military standards for about four months. I’ll never forget her response, “You’ll have the best-looking hair before and after!”
True to her word, Grace kept trimming it as needed and fading it from my sides and neck. Then, one day she told me I really needed to start conditioning. I asked my wife about it, and Crystal took me to the store to show me the overwhelming amount of products available. We began experimenting until one day I ran my fingers through my now inch long locks and it felt like pure silk.
Happily for her, Grace found the perfect man and left. However, that left me searching for a new stylist. I quickly found Sarah who knew my goals and she began taking really good care of my hair. As my hair continued to grow, now within a different standard, Sarah recommended I stop shampooing it every day. When I pointed out that it’s gross after the gym, she suggested rinsing and conditioning instead of using shampoo. Sure enough, that kept the gunk from building up and stopped drying my hair out.
Washing Long Healthy Hair
My schedule now includes two days a week, Sunday and Thursday, where I will give my hair a full Shampoo and Condition. I begin by soaking my hair under the showerhead. Then, I step out of the stream, and with about a palm of shampoo, I’ll lather up the entire length of my hair. My fingernails help massage it all the way to my scalp and run the lather the entire length of my hair. Once I’ve lathered up and scrubbed both my hair and scalp, I get back under the showerhead and soak my hair through again, scrubbing lightly. As the shampoo rinses out, I continue massaging my scalp and combing through my hair to get every little bit of soap out.
Next, I use about the same amount of conditioner and massage it into my hair much the same way I do the shampoo. Unlike the shampoo, I don’t immediately rinse the conditioner out. I’ll exfoliate my face, shave something, and lather/rinse myself off with my loofa before I rinse the conditioner out.
Finally, after I get out of the shower, I’ll wrap a towel around my hair and squeeze as much water out as I can. I avoid scrubbing with the towel and using a hairdryer as both can cause damage.
Supplements for Long Healthy Hair
Almost as soon as I began looking around on Pinterest for tricks to growing my hair out, I began seeing ads for hair growth pills. A few bloggers pointed out that these were either prenatal vitamins, homegrown supplements, or frauds. Most of them build off of the three main ingredients of Biotin, Niacin, and Zinc. After researching for several months, I decided the risks associated with Niacin weren’t worth the squeeze. That said, I did start taking a strong biotin supplement, and made sure my daily multi-vitamin contained all the recommended doses to maintain healthy hair.
Because I am NOT a medical professional, I’m going to leave this section as is. I can strongly recommend discussing with your primary care provider the risks and benefits of taking any supplements.
Healthy Styles for Your Hair
Wearing your hair down provides the ideal environment for your hair to grow. Now, let’s be real, down doesn’t work as well for every face (read “mine”). However, pulling it into a tight ponytail, bun, knot, or other strict updo damages your hair, stunting growth, and recedes your hairline.
From 2017 to 2020, I seriously didn’t know what to do. Work requires that I wear my hair up in a professional bun. My unfounded assumption said that I needed it neatly pressed as tight as humanly possible against my skull. Fortunately, one of the officers I work with, pointed out that according to the order, I could actually “poof” my hair up to three inches away from my scalp. She didn’t recommend that, but she showed me how something as simple as a French twist or plaited braid could allow my hair to relax, and still look super professional.
Since then, I’ve worked on my braids and attempted the french twist several times. It’s still a work in progress in 2021, but that’s good for resolutions. The more serious note comes from what products to use to keep your hair up.
While my work does require that I use gel or spray, I absolutely never wear anything the rest of the time. Opting to clean the goop out of my hair as often as possible. IF you can avoid it, I recommend not putting any products in your hair. Otherwise, wash it out whenever possible.
What kind of writer would I be if I left out my own results? Well… fine. The first few months I stuck to my strict regime, I say an average of about three centimeters a month. It stopped growing for a little bit, and after a bit of research, I started cycling the supplements instead of just taking them every day. By tweaking that little bit, my hair continued growing quickly for almost two whole years. Then I hit another plateau. This time, it took trimming the split ends and adjusting my supplement cycle again. I began taking them for two months, with a six-week break between. This cycle allowed my body to flush the residual supplements, and every time I started, it would grow faster again.
On a related by different note, taking biotin specifically did cause my nails to grow a lot faster, and I will post a different article about how to care for those. My skin also began to toughen up a little without losing any of its softness or subcutaneous fat.
That’s it. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to comment below or reach out to me on social media.
What supplements did you take?
Hello Carrie, I took a generic over-the-counter supplement for Biotin, Niacin, and Zinc. I highly recommend speaking to an endocrinologist at the very minimum before you try that though, as at least Biotin can severely impact your thyroid.