Growing Your Hair Out

Long over the face hair with bangs
Long over the face hair with bangs - Photo: Istockphoto
My experience with short hair came very suddenly when I was about 8. Before then I had very long, thick, and wavy hair that my mom insisted on fixing every day. I would sit facing the tank of the toilet, so I could hold on to it.
I know this sounds a little crazy but without holding on for dear life I would have ended up on the floor. I swear my mom secretly lifted weights and worked out just so she could get my ponytails and French braids in nice and tight. And, as you can imagine from an 8 year old, the screams ensued.
On one particularly noisy morning, I was warned that if I screamed one more time, we would be going to the salon to get my hair all cut off. Just as soon as my mom finished with that phrase, out came a scream. So off we went to the salon and I came home with chin length hair. From there it just went shorter and shorter.
Since that day 20 some odd years ago, I have been officially "growing my hair out." The longest it has gotten is about shoulder length, and the shortest is about 1 ½ inches all over with razor lines cut into designs across the back (Hey, it was the eighties!). So I can honestly say that I have a huge amount of experience in growing out hair. Take it from me; it is not easy.
Sure, growing hair in general is easy. Hair grows on average about ½ inch every month. Nutrition and health play a great deal in how fast or slow your locks actually grow. If you are lucky enough to be taking prenatal vitamins, watch out, your hair and nails will grow faster than you may be ready for. When I was pregnant, I had my hair cut at least every 4 weeks just to maintain some sort of hairstyle. If you have very poor nutrition, your hair may still grow but it may be much weaker than normal healthy hair, possibly breaking off very easily.
Average hair growth per month
We've already determined that proper nutrition is important when growing your hair out, the second step is patience. Lots and lots of patience. This is the step that has returned me to the salon time and time again. Just as soon as my hair gets to that ugly stage, I run and get it trimmed. So how do you overcome that stage and make it through? First of all, have a goal in mind and not just a finished goal but intermediate ones as well. If your mind is set only on having those long, wavy, flowing styles you may lose your way when things start getting tough.
Just as a baby goes through many physical milestones before she finally takes those first wobbly steps, your hairstyle will also have to reach several milestones. Go to the grocery store or the nearest newsstand and pick up a couple of hair magazines. Find several styles that will look good with your hair texture and face shape. Choose one that is about 2 inches longer than what your style is now, take the picture with you the next time you go to your stylist. Even if your hair is not yet that length your stylist can give you a cut that can gracefully grow into your desired style. Keep doing that each time you reach your goal length and before long, you'll be there.
Now, just because you are trying to make your hair longer it does not mean you should no longer get it cut until it is flowing to your waist. Regular trims are the key. Without them, styles can quickly get overgrown and out of control. Maintain a style and you will at least look good between your pixie cut and your vixen look. Be sure to get a style with a lot of texture. That way if it starts to get a little shaggy you won't look like a Shih Tzu dog who hasn't been groomed for 2 months.
Don't expect those long locks to be flowing immediately after you declare your intentions to grow, unless you have the bucks to pay for extensions! It takes time, lots and lots of time and patience. Eat well, trim well and grow well. Short hair can be beautiful, but it is not for everyone, so if you realize on your way home from the salon that you are NOT Halle Berry, have no fear - let it grow, let it grow, let it grow!
Gretchen LeAnne   ©
See also: Pictures of long hairstyles