How to Keep Long Hair Healthy

e struggle to keep up with the most on-trend hair lengths these days. It’s 10 years since Victoria Beckham went from lengthy extensions to the now classic ‘Pob’ but with an influx of wigs at runway events, who knows which length we should aim for any more?

One woman going to the extreme end of long is Dashik Gubanova Freckle from Russia, who says she has not cut her hair since 2003. She hit the headlines earlier this week, claiming she intended to continue growing her now calf-length hair until it reached her toes – at which point she would cut it off and auction it for charity.

She may be waiting a while – trichologist Sally-Ann Tarver says she may struggle to grow her hair any longer than it already is. “It’s probably at its maximum growth now,” Tarver told The Telegraph. “The average rate of growth is six inches per year. If she has been growing it for 13 years at that average rate, it would now be 78 inches long – or 6 feet 6 inches. I would say hers is probably about five feet, which is 10 years of growth – pretty impressive anyway.”

The average growth cycle (the length of time hair will grow before it falls out and starts again) is three years, which is why most people struggle to grow hair any longer than 18 inches. 

What sets Dashik apart is that her extra-long hair actually looks very healthy – even enviable. This is partly down to good genes. “Your rate of growth is genetic,” says Tarver. “If your mum managed to grow her hair long, you will probably be able to as well, but if no one else in your family has been able to grow their hair that long, it’s likely you won’t either.”

If you are lucky enough to have done so, or are aiming for it, here are Tarver’s top tips for maintaining long – if not ankle-length – hair. 

Control – if not avoid – heat 

It sounds obvious, but heat really is hair’s worst enemy. “You couldn’t grow hair to that length and keep it healthy if you were using a lot of heat on it,” says Tarver. And that means definitely not straightening irons. “I see people with quite short bob length hair with no colour in it, but the hair is still disintegrating on the ends due to the use of heat.”

So if you are going to use heat, keep it to a minimum. “Using a hairdryer is not as bad, but it depends on how close the hairdryer is to it, how hot the hairdryer is, and whether you dry it from wringing wet or not.” Ideally, you should let your hair air-dry for as long as possible before finishing off with a blast from the hairdryer.

Alternatively, a clever hairdryer will keep the temperature of the heat under control – like the new Dyson offering, which measures the temperature 20 times per second and warns you if it’s getting too hot.

Get more technical than conditioner

“Hair conditioners only treat the outside of the hair and are designed to close the cuticle – plus contact time is relatively short,” says Tarver. “A weekly intensive moisturising treatment like a masque from Moroccanoil, left on for half an hour under a plastic cap once a week will be far more effective.” In-salon Olaplex is another of Tarver’s suggestions. 

Look at your wider lifestyle 

“A good diet and keeping an eye on your blood levels will help too,” says Tarver. “It’s all the little things that help – making sure you get your five a day and taking a few supplements as well.” Viviscal supplements have been 25 years in the making and use a compound of marine extracts to nourish hair from within. 

If you don’t have the genes, or the patience to faff around with air-drying and twice-daily supplements, fear not: you are in good company. Take inspiration from the celebrities who have gone to the other extreme and chopped it all off… 

Article Credit: Sian Ranscombe

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