I've been seriously committed to growing my hair since the late 70s.
For most of my life I favored longer hair except for a period of intense insanity in high school when I had the shortest pixie in high school. I briefly fancied myself as Jane Fonda and I proudly sported the Klute shag for about 2 years.
By the time Farrah Fawcett Majors had started the winged hair mania, I was ready for longer locks again. Starting in the mid70s I maintained my hair somewhere between bra and shoulder length.
Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against short hair. I actually think that the shag and the modified winged hair looked flattering with my round face and short body.
I personally believe in freedom of hair and think everyone should pick the hair style and length that works best for them (so please no angry emails from short hair fans).
Originality rocks in all areas of life starting with your hair. Embrace your soul and express the true you whether it be topped off by long, short, spiked, white or striped locks.
However there was a moment of spiritual long hair longing that hit when I was the Playboy playmate, Debra Jo Fondren in the late 70s. That was the turning point for me. I decided that I would least attempt to grow my hair knee wards.
The word "attempt" is key here because I discovered early on in my "hair to there quest" that my genetics may not completely co-operate. After all, even with an iron will my hair never seemed to inch past the top of my bra strap.
By 1984 when my hair would not budge past the top of my bra I decided to do what I do best when I am frustrated, I research, research, research.
I discovered after reading all the hair books I could find, that my hair's growth was directly impacted by many factors. These factors included the genetic pattern I was born with, what foods and drinks I put into my mouth and how healthy my body was, Other factors included whether I was stressed or not, the general climate where I lived and other variables including my age, the vitamins & minerals I took and any mediations for medical conditions or problems.
I also discovered that how I cared for my hair was a major factor (gulp).
After serious reflection I identified several problems. Since 1968 I have been addicted to Clairol's Nice & Easy platinum blonde permanent hair care formula. I loved to shampoo my hair in very hot water, I faithfully used a blow dryer, curling irons and hot rollers, on a daily basis.
No wonder my hair would start to get brittle and break off. Also, I lived on coffee (even before Starbucks), chocolate, junk foods and Diet Coke (to make up for the chocolate).
Basically I discovered that everything I was doing was an additional strike against growing my hair "down to there".
The problem I encountered at that point was not knowing what to do next. There was no way I was going to go cold turkey from my beloved hair color. While I could wean myself from coffee, giving up chocolate was not an option.
While I was still very committed to growing my hair, I was stuck. Things started to change when I moved to Dallas in 1974. Not only was the warm and sunny climate an instant boost for my circulation and hair, I instantly fell in love with my new home. My stress levels dropped, I found a great Chinese doctor, a massage therapist and started doing Yoga.
My hair started growing a little longer and I noticed that it felt fuller, thicker and less brittle.
I was still doing the Nice and Easy trick but instead of soaking my entire head in the permanent colors I was only applying it to my roots.
I also experimented with all sorts of hot oil treatments (where did you think I get all those hair care recipes?).
By 1987 I was moving forward with my life. Unfortunately my hair was still stuck just below my bra and nowhere near my waist.
Then I found a long hair specialist. He had studied under world famous long hair expert George Michael. He took one look at my hair and told me that I really wanted to grow gorgeous long hair I would have to work very hard to get it into shape.
I spent 3 hours in his shop the first time. He made me take notes. I walked out with pages of instructions but with a newfound determination.
By 1989 by hair had grown back to right below my bra strap, but it was the healthiest it had ever been. My long hair consultant had convinced me to ditch the Nice N Easy. (Karen w/ Michael in 1989 in St Louis).
Walking The Long Hair Walk & Talking The Talk
Over the past 13 years I have walked the walk and talked the talk of long hair.
It has been my mission, my passion and the one thing that I have remained committed to from the minute I walked out of the long hair consultants salon with 6 inches of my precious hair laying on his floor.
As he explained while I cried, the hair was dead, over bleached, split and keeping my hair from growing. If I was serious (and I was) the hair had to come off to move forward.
So while I cried, he cut and cut and cut some more hair. My hair was just above my shoulders. While he insisted that I had to follow the George Michaels "no bangs" look, I absolutely refused to agree to that. Remember I have a round face and feel like a bowling ball head without the bangs to soften the roundness.
What have I learned in my 13 year journey of growing "hair to there"?
To share everything I would need to write a huge book, but I can summarize a lot of my secrets right here in this article:
1. Decide you're really committed to growing your hair long and healthy. Before you even think about growing your hair long you must examine your goals. You must really be committed to growing your hair long. It takes time, patience, persistence and it is not cheap. There is no "shortcut".
I get at least five emails every single week asking me for secrets to growing hair "really fast". Unfortunately there is no miracle formula or secret. Even hair that grows at 1 inch per month (and this is the exception to the rule), would take one year to achieve 12 inches of total grown.
2. Be realistic. Not everyone can grow knee length hair. Some hair textures are not conducive to long locks. Thin or fine hair is one example. Some curly hair can grow long, but because of the corkscrew nature of the hair cuticle the hair will look a lot shorter than it really is. Don't beat yourself up if you have hair that has a hard time achieving a lot of length. Love the hair you have and find styles that are uniquely yours.
3. Consider the long term implications. Not everyone can grow knee length hair. Some hair textures are not conducive to long locks. Thin or fine hair is one example. Some curly hair can grow long, but because of the corkscrew nature of the hair cuticle the hair will look a lot shorter than it really is. Don't beat yourself up if you have hair that has a hard time achieving a lot of length. Love the hair you have and find styles that are uniquely yours.
4. Do the necessary hair research. Growing your hair "to there" is a major effort. Are you sure you want to walk down that path? After I made my decision to grow my hair as long as my body would allow, I became consumed with research.
My favorite long hair sites include The Long Hair Site (Frank is awesome), The Long Haired Men's Site (Victors site for men with long hair or wannabe long hair). The International Long Hair Site (Dave Tichnor works hard to provide great tips).
5. Be willing to resort to other options. I get hundreds of email every week from people with all sorts of hair problems. So many people want long hair but have accepted the fact that their genetics make it impossible.
What do I tell them? To explore other options. If you have the money, the time and the deep desire to have long hair, consider extensions.
If people can buy eggs to create babies, why should people with challenged hair genetics be looked down upon for buying hair? My own advice is to buy the best that money can buy and have an expert handle it.
6. Keep a hair growing journal, scrapbook or notebook. It helps you stay focused and write down all the wonderful tidbits of information that you discover.
I learned that while olive oil worked really well for my hair, castor oil made it darker and was hell to wash out. I also learned that cutting my hair by the moon worked for me. It didn't work for everyone but after 1 year in my journal I noticed trends. I also noticed that certain season impacted my hair differently.
7. Eat as healthy as you can. A well known dermatologist that I consult with has told me for years that when hair doesn't complete a full growth cycle it is because the body is not able to supply the hair with all the essential minerals and vitamins that are so important for good healthy growth.
This is also true when hair starts to fall out more frequently than normal. In some cases improper nutrition can permanently alter the hair's ability to recover.
In most cases though once the proper minerals and nutrients are restored to the body, the hair can again grow faster, longer and healthier.
8. Supplement with vitamins. It's unfortunate, but true that in our heavily polluted environment the soil is not what it used to be. Therefore even if you eat like a saint (no caffeine, sugar, white flour, junk food, alcohol, nicotine, etc.,) you may still not get the maximum nutritional benefit from just food.
I've learned when I add vitamins and minerals to my diet, my hair reacts in a very positive way.
9. Record your hair growth progress in a measured but reasonable way. The best way for me to record my hair growth is with photos. You can take measurements, but set reasonable expectations.
Limit the recording process to every 3-6 months. Hair grows at a variable rate and some months will grow slower while other months will grow much faster.
10. Incorporate planned relaxation and stress busters into your life. I personally have found that I benefit from body work. I have incorporated regular massage, rolfing and acupuncture into my life.
Many experts believe that meditation, affirmations and aromatherapy can also help relieve stress and benefit you hair. Find what works for you and then incorporate the actions into your own growing pattern.
11. Find a long hair specialist. There are many long hair consultants all over the country. Since 1998 long hair has become very popular again. With the new interest in long hair more stylist are becoming long hair experts.
12. Follow your own hair growing path. The first long hair specialist that I went to followed the George Michael system of long hair care. While I respect George Michael immensely, he follows a belief system that prohibits bangs.
I personally could not live without bangs. When my long hair specialist refused to give me bangs, I went to another salon where they gave me the fringe style I wanted. Remember it's your hair and the stylist works for you.
13. Find a "Hair Buddy" Just like dieting, growing hair is a process and there will be periods of hair growing ups and downs. There will be good days and bad days and times when your hair just may not seem like it will ever grow as long as you want.
I found great comfort in having long hair buddies that could help me with encouragement, understanding and general support. On days that I just couldn't stand my hair, they would help me hang out and understand that "this too shall pass".
14. Be willing to resist peer pressure. Long hair, like every other style, falls in and out of popularity on a regular basis. At the click of a scissors a model will go from waist length hair to a short bob. This will start a whole new hair movement. If you love your hair, ignore peer pressure to conform.
Understand that people will try to convince you that their ways and ideas are better. They're not. Be true to yourself and your own goals. If growing long and beautiful hair is your goal then follow it religiously.
15. Enjoy your hair. In my opinion, long hair is the easiest hair to deal with on a daily basis. I wash my hair, twist it into a knot, attach a clip and let it air dry on my head for several hours. By the middle of the day I let my dry hair down and am rewarded with thick waves.
The days of hair dryers, hot curlers and styling agonies are long gone. I also enjoy the feeling of my hair on my skin. To me, having long hair is a wonderful experience. So once you have grown your hair, love it and enjoy it. After all, you earned it.
There are many methods for growing long hair. Before you embark on your own long hair journey, do your research and find your own path to eventual long hair bliss.