10 Genius Tips For Growing Out Your Hair

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Growing out your hair is probably the most awful thing ever. Alright, maybe we’re being a tad dramatic. But you’ve got to admit, it does kind of blow. All that time and effort, and you end up with nothing more to show for it than gross ends and awkward styling results (anyone who’s ever tried to get rid of bangs can attest to that one). While we can’t make the process painless, we can make it a little less miserable. Here’s our easy guide to getting long locks without going nuts.

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1). Set A Goal
According to Aussie celebrity stylist Sarah Potempa, it's important to have a goal in mind for what you want your hair to look like. This will help you determine a time frame for your growing-out phase. "At the most, hair can grow up to 1/2-inch per month, so you need to be patient," she says.

2). Make The Cut
Just because you are growing your hair out, that doesn't mean you can skip regular trims. Be sure that you're clear with your stylist about your goals, otherwise a trim could turn into a chop. "When growing your hair out, ask your stylist for a light 'dusting' of the split ends, and remind them that you are growing out your hair every time you go in," she says. Curly girls should ask their stylists for a soft, blended-layer cut (like Reese Witherspoon, above), so that the curls move together in the same way that they grow. Straight-haired girls should ask their stylist to trim their ends to help even up layers. Got bangs like Heidi Klum? Potempa says to trim up just the exterior of the back of your hair and allow the front to skip the trim.

3). Protect What You've Got
The most important part of growing out your hair is keeping it healthy — this will reduce split ends and damage, which translates to less hair that needs to be cut off by your stylist. Potempa says to always use a heat-protectant (we like Sebastian Potion 9) when styling, and to apply a split end product, like Aussie Split-End Protector, daily.

Photos: (Homepage) MCV Photo; (Above, from left) Getty Images; Via Soap.com, Drugstore.com; Matt Baron/BEImages
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4). You Are What You Eat
"A healthy you means a healthy head of hair," says Potempa. She recommends a diet rich in protein (to build up the hair's strength), complex carbs (to assemble the proteins for growth), iron (to supply oxygen to the hair for growth), plus vitamins and minerals like biotin and folic acid (to speed up the hair growth process). "Hair is made up of protein and by adding this to your daily diet, you will build up its strength and help it produce more keratin," she says. Throughout the day, Potempa suggests snacking on nuts, dark green veggies, and to try and eliminate processed foods. She also suggests investing in a juicer to meet all your fruit and veggies needs in a yummy way (her favorite is a carrot, ginger, and orange juice).

5). Get Moving To Get Growing
Believe it or not, exercise actually helps hair growth. "Exercise stimulates your cell production and gets your body working," says Potempa. "When you are growing out your hair, you need to have the energy for your body to be working at its peak performance level, sending oxygen and sebum to the scalp to stimulate blood circulation and oil production." Exercise is also a good way to relieve stress, which can be one of the main culprits of stunted strands. According to Potempa, hair growth can actually slow down or stop completely when someone is really emotionally or mentally stressed, so try to have a balanced mind and body.

6). Get More Vitamins & Minerals!
Adding supplements to your diet can help with hair growth, provided you know which ones actually work. Potempa recommends taking a daily multivitamin (we love Dr. Frank Lipman's Be Well Daily Dose, available next month) to help fight any deficiencies you might have that aren't already being addressed. "You are looking for added iron to get oxygen to the scalp, folic acid and zinc to build up the protein, vitamin C to build collagen for hair growth, vitamin E for improved scalp circulation, and B vitamins to speed things up," she says. Potempa says she's also heard a lot of positive feedback about the hair growth supplement Viviscal, but recommends checking with your doctor first before taking it.

Photos: Via Crate & Barrel; Courtesy of Dr. Frank Lipman; Via Drugstore.com, Walgreens
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7). Embrace The In-Between Stage
There's nothing more annoying than that awkward in-between stage, where it seems like there's nothing you can do with your hair. According to Potempa that's not true — there are tons of ways to style your mane. She suggests playing with braids, twists, waves, and texture to find a style that's right for you. Here's a few of her suggestions:

Growing out bangs? Try a two-strand braid and criss-crossed bobby pins.
Growing out layers? Try beachy waves and haircuts that just trim off the bottom layer.
Growing out a bob? Try changing your part for a new feel.
Growing out curls? Try a twisted updo with a headband.
Growing out an asymmetrical cut? Trim it even!
Growing out an undercut? Try a funky version of a low braid.
Growing out a razored haircut? Get a clean trim with scissors and start fresh.

Photos: MCV Photo
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8). Wash Less
According to Potempa, one of the keys to growing your hair out is allowing the natural oil production to help increase and stimulate the follicle. "The body regulates the production of oil based on what it needs, so if you wash your hair daily, you are stripping away the natural oils before they have a chance to get to work," she says. Aim to wash your hair every two to three days, not every day. Follow these tips to help skip shampoos.

9). Stay Conditioned!
"Make it easy on your hair and avoid having to get haircuts more often by using a deep conditioner two to three times a week," says Potempa. Try Philip B.'s Light-Weight Deep Conditioning Crème Rinse for a shot of hydration that won't weigh your locks down. When brushing your hair, Potempa recommends you be gentle (don't rip your brush through your strands) and spray hair with a detangler, like Original Mineral's No Knott Conditioning Detangler. She also suggests sealing the hair cuticle with a cool water rinse and a cool blast of air after you blowdry.

10). Make Waves
If you are stuck in an awkward stage and just have no clue how to style your hair, Potempa says you can't go wrong with beachy, natural-looking waves. "Adding texture to your hair will conceal the layers and add movement," she says. Not so great at making waves? Potempa recommends trying her new Beachwaver styling tool, available later this month on QVC. It features an automatic, rotating barrel that guides your hair into its natural curl direction, seamlessly blending layers and creating effortless waves.

Photos: MCV Photo; Courtesy of Sarah Potempa, Original Mineral; Via C.O. Bigelow