Sneaky Ways To Make Your Hair Look Longer

So, you're growing your hair out. Welcome to the support group. Some of us are newbies, while others have been on this tress quest for what feels like eons. Growing your hair out is an arduous process that requires patience and perseverance. You have to fight through the mane monotony and deal with a snail-like pace of growth, seeing little return on your investment. Lame. Can a girl get a shortcut, please?
While you may not be able to make your hair actually grow faster (believe us, we’ve tried), there are some simple tricks you can employ to make your locks appear longer. We asked Michael Van Clarke, a top London stylist and founder of hair care line 3 More Inches (we like the sound of that) to share his tips on how to make your strands look like they’ve gone the distance. Read on and score that (faux) Rapunzel’s mane for yourself.
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Photo: Maria Valentino/MCV Photo
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According to Van Clarke, the most crucial thing you can do to make your hair look longer is to get the proper haircut. "The way a lot of hairdressers approach hair is to cut some variation of a long, A-line bob and that doesn't blend in," he says. "You just get these two hanging haircuts. Instead of leaving hair looking long and fluid, it actually ends up looking shorter and squatter."

Since that's the exact opposite of what we're trying to achieve here, Van Clarke says to ask your stylist to cut blended layers instead — this will make your hair look more flowing, and in turn, longer, than if you have this wide-at-the-bottom, square, flat cut. "Hair is very much an illusion," he says. "The job of the hairdresser is to guide the eye to see what he wants it to see."

Also important: just getting your hair cut in general. While it may seem counterintuitive to cut your locks when you are trying get them to be longer, skipping those trims is actually causing your hair to shrink. "Your hair gets to a point where it starts to split, and it can't really cope with being longer. If you let it continue to grow, that split will move up the hair shaft and you end up with broken and split hair much higher up the cuticle," says Van Clarke. He recommends a cut every six weeks (unless your hair is very short and healthy) or whenever your mane gets that dry, dusty effect at the ends. By just trimming off as little as a quarter of an inch, you can actually give your hair more length by making sure that every half-inch coming out of your scalp is adding to your overall length, rather than splitting and shriveling up at the ends.

Photo: Maria Valentino/MCV Photo
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While it may look harmless, this beauty tool is actually one of the most dangerous things (for long hair at least) in your bathroom. "While people understand that a flat iron is hot and they shouldn't leave it on their hair for five minutes straight, with a blowdryer, people just dry and dry and wreck their hair," says Van Clarke.

Dryers can be safe, if you use them properly. First, ditch the nozzles: "They triple the amount of heat on a section and it actually melts the hair," he says. We repeat, it melts your hair. There's no coming back from that ladies — once your hair is melted, there's not a leave-in treatment in the world that's going to repair it. So, put down the nozzle and pick up a diffuser instead: Because these spread out the heat, there's less of a chance you'll singe your strands. Van Clarke also says you should never touch the dryer to your hair and should always stop blow drying when your hair feels dry to the touch. "Unless your hair is going from super-frizzy to poker straight, does it really matter if that last two percent dries on its own?" he reasons.

Photo: Courtesy of T3
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While it may seem like flattening your hair down would help stretch out your length, Van Clarke says you are actually better off adding a bit of volume to your mane. "When hair is layered correctly, having a little bit of lift in the roots and mid-lengths takes the heaviness and the weight away from the width and makes it appear like there's more hair overall — it gives you a leaner, longer, more fluid look," he says.

Photo: Maria Valentino/MCV Photo
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What many people forget about their hair when they are growing it out is that you are carrying around at least 2+ years of growth on your head. That means everything you've done to your hair in the past few years — sun exposure, heat-styling damage, chemical processes, chlorine — is all still in there, causing your locks to look shorter (and damaged). "Hair is at its healthiest at the root," say Van Clarke. "As it grows away from your scalp, it starts to suffer from everything life throws at it and it will literally shrink."

Once your hair leaves your scalp, it is no longer living tissue, meaning it can't repair itself. That's why it's important to have a nourishing hair treatment to repair broken protein bonds and infuse hair with moisture. Van Clarke's 3 More Inches Pre-Wash Treatment uses cashmere proteins to help protect the healthy hair at your roots and restore the damage already done to your ends.

Michael Van Clarke 3 More Inches Pre-Wash Treatment, $38, available at SpaceNK.

Photo: Courtesy of SpaceNK
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While Van Clarke says there's no one hairstyle that makes everyone's hair look longer (drats), in general, he believes that a center-part makes hair look lengthier. "It directs the eye to give a slightly narrower effect, whereas a side-part, while very flattering, gives you width on the side, as opposed to adding length."

Photo: Maria Valentino/MCV Photo
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Finally, Van Clarke says that all those bi-monthly dye jobs are not helping you on your long-tress quest. "I think that people underestimate just how much any chemical process takes out of the hair," he says. As your hair gets longer and you continue to color it, you will notice that the ends fade much faster than the rest of your color. That's because your hair shaft is completely shattered and won't be able to hold on to any color for a long period of time. According to Van Clarke, you're better off using vegetable dye on your ends — it doesn't last as long as chemical colors, but when your hair is damaged, it lasts just about as long as a permanent color would, without damaging (and, in the process, shrinking) your strands any further.

Photos: Via Amazon
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