The Secret To Getting Longer, Stronger Hair In 90 Days

Photo: MCV Photo.
So you finally got the cut you've been coveting for what seems like forever, but about three months into your new 'do, you realize you desperately miss your long hair. We've been there. It's not that you hate your new look, necessarily, but there are only so many ways one can style a bob/lob/pixie, and you get bored easily. So, what to do?
While you can't exactly get that length back overnight (although we're still waiting for the day this becomes a reality), there are some tips and tricks to help maximize your growth and, most importantly, make the process a bit more bearable.
First things first, you've got to have a game plan — and commit to it. "Be on a schedule, do the right things, stick with it. Don’t just say, ‘Yeah, [I'm] going to do it’ and then [not] do it," advises hairstylist Nunzio Saviano. "Put it on a calendar...know when you get a trim, if you need to take vitamins, etc."
Sounds strict, but the great part is, you’ll learn how to take care of your hair all over again. You'll come out of the 90 days with healthy tresses (maybe the healthiest they've ever been), a couple of inches of growth, and a great jumping-off point for however long you plan on growing out your mane.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Getting Started
Before you even think about growing out your hair, you must get a trim. We know, it sounds super counterproductive (and we know all too well how scissor-happy some stylists can get), but if your ends are split, they become prone to breakage. After three months or more, the length you've acquired becomes null and void.

Saviano advises getting a trim every eight to 10 weeks, but if you're planning to grow out your hair, you can stretch it to 10. It's also important to be open, specific, and clear with your hairdresser. "Tell [them] to just dust the ends. There’s a cut, trim, and dusting, and at this point, when you’re really trying to let it grow, get a dusting...which is a minor, minor trim," he says.

Celebrity hairstylist Garren echoes the trim sentiment, but also recommends going a step further and getting bangs. What, bangs? They won't help your hair grow faster. But Garren notes that they'll make you look cooler (and younger, if that's what you're going for) during the growing-out process.

"Let's say you have a bob that’s just below the chin, or just at the chin, and you want to grow it out so it gets long. The cool thing to do would be cutting fringe that is very short, so you have a very modern, cool-looking haircut as the sides grow out," he says. "It’s one of those eye-catchers that sort of distracts from what's going on... You’re getting what you want at the end of the rainbow — which is your longer hair — but in the meantime you have a definite look, which helps."
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
The Beginning Stages
You got your dusting done and out of the way; maybe you even opted for some bangs. Now, the hair-growing process can truly begin. You've already taken care of the ends, so now it's time to give the rest some loving.

"You want to make sure your hair is super-healthy, all the way from scalp to the ends," notes Saviano. One of the biggest no-nos, which he often sees happen, is not enough moisturizing. “Do a mask once a week. Leave it in for, like, five minutes or, if you have time, 20 minutes," he recommends. "The benefits are endless."

Stay away from alcohol-based products (this is especially true for ladies with curly hair), make sure both your shampoo and conditioner are safe and nourishing, and don't neglect your ends during the conditioning process. "If you don’t condition the ends, again, you get breakage," Saviano says. "[Hair] grows at the scalp, but you won’t get length from it. So you want to take care of your hair in every possible way."

Saviano is also a big fan of scalp stimulation. Brushing it or massaging it with the tips of your fingers helps increase circulation, which, he notes, makes a notable difference in hair growth.
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Get you a product that can do both. This shampoo doubles as a face and body wash, too.

Meant The Do-All Wash, $31, available at Meant Simply.
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Beauty writer Mi-Anne Chan was already into The Seaweed Bath Co.'s body wash, but also loves the shampoo, too. "The hydrating formula didn't disappoint and left my hair feeling clean, but not deprived of moisture. It's a win-win!" she says. And while their conditioner technically isn't alcohol-free (it contains Cetearyl Alcohol), it's one of the "good," fatty kinds.

The Seaweed Bath Co. Unscented Moisturizing Argan Conditioner, $12.99, available at The Seaweed Bath Co.
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Naturalistas love this holy grail good, chockfull of soothing aloe leaf and smell-good calendula flower.

Carol's Daughter Black Vanilla Moisture & Shine Sulfate-Free Shampoo, $10, available at Carol's Daughter.
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Lavender oil and panthenol strengthen brittle hair, making this perfect for anyone with parched strands.

EO Daily Shampoo for Normal Hair, $6.15, available at Target.
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Curly girls and guys around the world sing the praises of this mask, made with cupuaçu, murumuru, and cacao butters.

Devacurl Heaven in Hair Intense Moisture Treatment, $28, available at Devacurl.
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Finding a hair mask that costs less then $10, but feels rich and thick enough to feel like prestige, is a keeper in our books.

Garnier Whole Blends Honey Treasures Repairing Mask, $5.49, available at Target.
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This thick, heavenly-smelling formula is meant to saturate your strands. The instructions suggest covering your hands with it, as opposed to starting with a quarter-sized dollop in your palm, then work it through from ends to roots. (We suggest you play by the rules on this one.)

Vernon François Whipped Deep Conditioner, $39, available at Vernon François.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
In The Interim...
Living in an age of instant gratification, it can often become extremely frustrating when your hair grows as slow as molasses. To help jump-start the process, both Saviano and Garren recommend reaching for some vitamins.

Biotin and Viviscal are two of the most popular hair-boosting supplements out there. They both help improve the keratin infrastructure (keratin is a basic protein that makes up not only your hair, but also your skin and nails). Research also shows that Viviscal Pro has the ability to keep up to 80% more hair on your head before you naturally shed it, and can increase strand diameter so your mane looks fuller.

Not sold on the benefits of these vitamins? You can always get your fix of protein through food. Saviano is a strong believer in the benefits of avocados, and you can't go wrong with adding nuts and dark-green veggies to your diet. This, combined with a regular workout, will definitely speed up growth.

Still not seeing a noticeable difference? Think back to the last few times you styled your hair: Did it involve a lot of blowdrying, straightening, or curling? That could be your problem. "Lay off the irons, because they can break your hair and make your ends drier," he says. "Curling irons are like 400 degrees, and that’s not to be taken lightly. Even when you do it fast, the ends still stay in the curling iron for, like, one or two seconds."

If you use hot tools once in a while, Garren advises being selective. "Make sure that you’re using the proper tools that have some kind of coating on them, so that they don’t burn the hair," he says. "Anything that’s a hot tool with gold or metal is going to be damaging." And always, always use a styling cream beforehand to protect your hair from the heat.
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A vitamin that gives you healthy hair, nails, and tastes like strawberry? Count us in.

Natrol Biotin 10,000 mcg Fast Dissolve Tablets, $6.99, available at Walgreens.
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Editors will do a lot to have thicker, stronger hair — and this chic supplement is one of our favorites. Not only can you find it at Sephora, but the results are legit enough that we're afraid to stop taking them.

Hum Nutrition Red Carpet Hydration Supplement, $25, available at Sephora.
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After three long years in the lab, hairstylist Jen Atkin debuted three different supplements that address various needs: thin, dry, and oily hair.

Ouai Supplements, $28 to $84, available at The Ouai.
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A ceramic-covered iron provided a shield between your hair and those hot, frying plates.

InStyler Cerasilk Woven Ceramic Styling Iron, $115, available at InStyler.
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For further protection, slick this well-loved cream on before passing the iron through your hair.

Living Proof No Frizz Nourishing Styling Cream, $37, available at Ulta Beauty.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
The Homestretch
You made it to the three-month mark, and that alone deserves kudos. At this point, you should have gotten another trim, be regularly conditioning your hair, and taking your vitamins and/or eating those protein-heavy foods. Your mane should have at least an inch and a half of growth, and might slowly but surely be making its way into the awkward not-short-but-not-long stages.

If this part of the process frustrates you to no end, Garren says that opting for extensions is a good workaround. This kind of protective styling allows your hair to continue growing, gives off the impression of length, and can be worn for several months when cared for properly and if your hair is in a healthy state.

There are many weave types out there, but Garren recommends sticking to the tape-in version. “I think the tape ones are much more safe… They're holding on to an inch-width of hair, so the tension or the drag on the root of that hair is equal," he says. "When you use the little beaded ones, you’re hooking like 40 hairs onto six and that pull actually tears your own hair after a while because of the way it’s connected."

At the end of the day, keep in mind that growing out your hair is going to take some time. You might shed tears, you might find yourself turning back, or you might fall in love with one stage in the process and stick with it for a while. Whatever happens, if you use this as your guide you'll have a solid foundation for your journey.
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Craving a little extra length? Add these in and you might be almost close enough to rival Nicki Minaj's.

Satin Strands Tape In Santiago 18 Inch Human Hair Extensions, $94.99, available at Sally's Beauty.
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