The dos and don'ts of growing out your hair

From the myths that don't help to the products that actually might.

From the myths that don't help to the products that actually might

(Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

Allow us to paint you a picture that we suspect you'll find familiar. 

You strut confidently into your hair salon and sit down in the chair, feeling self-assured and fearless. You don't even blink as strands and inches graze your shoulders before floating gently into a pile on the floor around you. You walk out, thrilled, and impressed with your nonchalant attitude (NBD!) about what just happened. You head home to enjoy your chic new haircut… and then, you hear that familiar voice. 

It might happen that night when you try to tie your hair into a ponytail before you begin your nighttime skincare routine — and you find that you can't. It might happen after your first at-home wash post-haircut, when you realize that you have no idea how to style your new 'do. At some point or another, we've all been haunted by the same thought: How long is it going to take before this grows out?? 

If you've ever experienced post-haircut regret, or just struggle to get your strands past a certain length, you might feel at a loss when it comes to encouraging growth. But, there are things you can do to speed up the process and make it more bearable. We spoke to celebrity hairstylist Matthew Collins, who has worked with the likes of Mandy Moore, Bryce Dallas Howard and Kristen Stewart, to get the scoop on how to grow your hair out the right way, and what you can do to move things along a bit faster.

First things first: do regular trims actually make your hair grow faster? 

"Regular baby trims are important," suggests Collins, "to make sure a split end doesn't slide up the shaft of the hair." Translation: when you go in for a trim, it's fine to just remove split ends — nothing more, nothing less. Leaving a split end alone will only make it rise higher and higher, until you're forced to chop off more of your strands to finally get rid of it. So when it comes to split ends, it's always best to nip them in the bud. 

So a trim every six to eight weeks, like we've always been taught, isn't really necessary? 

"Not unless you have short hair to begin with and it needs shaping," says Collins. "If your hair is already past your shoulders, every three months is great. The whole six to eight weeks idea is dated." Game-changer! 

Are there things we can do to encourage hair growth? 

You know how stylists spend a long time really getting in there during your hair wash at the salon? Yeah, there's a reason. Having a clean scalp that's free of buildup and dead skin promotes cell turnover, explains Collins. Creating a healthy environment for your hair to grow is key in, well, growing your hair.

Collins says that a healthy diet will also support growth and adds, "supplements, like fish oils and various others, are great options for healthy hair."

Paying your doctor a visit to get to the root of things (no pun intended) might be in order, in certain cases. Over the years, Collins has found that if clients are "having issues with lack of growth, or sudden hair loss, it often has to do with a trauma or stress in [their] life, or a sudden change in medications." 

Is there anything that slows down hair growth?

"Not having an honest hairstylist," says Collins. "Most take off more than is needed, so if you want it long ask for baby trims." 

But the top offenders when it comes to keeping you from your 'long hair, don't care' dreams? Bleaching your hair, and — you guessed it — heat. Collins says simply that the damage caused by bleaching leads to those split ends and breakage. "The worst these days, though, is mechanical damage [caused by] dryers with too much extreme heat for quick drying time, and excess use of hot tools," says Collins. "Especially when growing out bangs or face-framing layers, be very careful to not overuse your tools, as this area of hair is very fragile." 

Do hair masks help? 

As it turns out, you really shouldn't be skipping those weekly deep-conditioning treatments, no matter how pressed for time you may be (surely you have five minutes). They smooth the cuticle and strengthen the hair shaft, Collins says, so the strands are less likely to break when brittle.

Any old hair myths that definitely won't work?

"Brushing your hair 100 times a day." 

Any final words of advice?

Invest in a silk pillowcase! "It will prevent your hair from getting too messed up at night, so you don't rush through brushing in the morning and break off ends," says Collins. I often see one shorter side [on clients] and it's always the side they sleep on." 

Below are some products to help keep your hair in tip-top shape while you're trying to grow it out. 

Combat scalp dryness with natural oils and butters to hydrate the skin. 

Rhythm of the Rain Hair Masque & Scalp Detox, $36, Voir Haircare

A multivitamin that's formulated with biotin, believed to promote hair growth, while (bonus!) also strengthening your nails. 

Nature's Bounty Hair, Skin, Nails Gummies with Biotin, $9.37, Walmart

These multivitamins contain vitamins A, C and E, and claim to encourage the growth of not only healthy, but thicker hair. 

Centrum Multigummies Multi + Beauty Multivitamin, $17.47, Walmart

A styling product, like this luxe gel-cream formula, that temporarily smoothes split ends and protects hair from hot tools is a must-have for growing out your hair. 

Résistance Thermique Extentioniste, $48, Kérastase

This shampoo contains a spicy blend of wasabi and horseradish that, according to Lush, stimulates blood flow to the scalp to promote hair growth. 

Wasabi Shan Kui, $10.95, Lush

This hair mask is designed to strengthen and hydrate strands, and can be left on for up to 30 minutes for deeply moisturizing results. 

Shea Moisture Strengthen & Restore Treatment Masque, $13.96, Walmart

In addition to preventing tangles, silk pillowcases are said to prevent frizz and even fight off wrinkles (really!) — plus, there's nothing quite as luxe and satisfying as laying your head onto smooth silk. 

MYK 100% Pure Natural Mulberry Silk Pillowcase, 25 Momme, $49.99-$56.99, Amazon

Souzan Michael is a Toronto-based writer and editor with a deep, undying love of astrology, watermelon and golden retrievers. Follow her on Instagram @suziemichael_.