Waiting for your hair to grow is as boring as that metaphor about watching paint dry. But you should be doing more than just waiting: your hair will actually grow more quickly if you give it some extra care and attention. That's an important fact, especially when growing out a bad haircut feels extra urgent.
We asked Mara Roszak, a celebrity hairstylist for L'Oreal Paris, to help us put together an easy guide to getting your hair through any awkward phase. She knows what she's talking about: her new Los Angeles spot, Mare Salon, tends to clients including Brie Larson, Lily Collins, and Emma Stone.
Learn how to modify your current hair-care routine, and finally get an answer to the question of whether regular trims will help or hurt your growing efforts.
Invest in a New Cleanser
"Incorporating a cleansing balm into your routine is good because it's moisturizing, not stripping," Roszak says. Cleansing balms are also known as cleansing creams, cleansing oils, and co-washes. "Use a regular shampoo and conditioner at least one day a week," she says, "and then use cleansing balms throughout the week." Believe it or not, the natural oils in your hair help it thrive, so when they're stripped out by traditional shampoo, it creates a drought of sorts—and nothing grows during a drought, right?
Go All Out With Conditioning Products
"I would recommend using a mask as your conditioner," Roszak says. And strategic application is key. "Use it especially on your ends, because you don't need to condition your roots ever, for the most part." Conditioner protects hair structure, which creates a healthy barrier while it grows—a weak structure can cause breakage which will decrease the growth you've worked for!
Your Styling Products Should be Moisturizing, Too
"I would just suggest using oils and creams as your styling products," Roszak adds. Look out for stylers with emollient ingredients like argan oil and aloe.
Turn Down the Heat
When hot curlers and flat irons are overused it can be detrimental to the strength of your stands. And if your hair isn't strong, it won't grow out nicely.
If you simply can't live without your straightener, at least take some precautions. "Protect hair with a serum or oil before you use heat," Roszak says. "I would try not to do it every day—give your hair at least a one-day break between heat styling."
To Trim or Not to Trim?
Roszak is ready to clear the air regarding a very popular rumor that you need to cut your hair in order for it to grow. "You don't need to regularly trim," Roszak says, "that's sort of a myth." Wait, sort of? "Obviously, over time, hair can become really damaged and if you're not trimming your ends they can potentially break," she explains.
But you can stop that problem before it starts. "If you're applying regular conditioning treatments on your ends, then it won't be necessary to get trims." If you want to do some cleanup every now and then, Roszak suggests a trim every four months if you absolutely need it.
Brush Up on Brushing
"I see damage caused by improper brushing," Roszak says. "Get a great brush." A good brush is one that has a combination of boar bristles and nylon or ceramic bristles—the softer bristles gently distribute natural oils throughout the strands, while the harder ones help detangle. If you only need to detangle, try a wide-tooth comb that won't tug or rip hair.
"Always start [brushing or combing] at your ends, which should have a little bit of oil or a spritz of water on them," Roszak advises. "Brush your ends first, as opposed to starting at the scalp and brushing down, which causes tearing and creates tangles."
"Coloring your hair less often during the grow-out process is beneficial," she says, as dye can be drying. Roszak suggests using a root color spray (which is volumizing) while your natural color grows in.
The easiest way to conceal awkward growth or a plain bad haircut is to incorporate some sort of texture into your hair. "Learn how to wave your hair, braid it, or use some texturizing spray," Roszak says. She also recommends getting creative with a flat iron to create some body—but, don't forget to use it safely and sparingly! "With texture, you won't be so focused on what doesn't look right because you won't see precise details."
Share this guide with your friends, and see who can grow their hair the fastest.