Growing long, strong, and beautiful hair (think: the manes of your favorite K-pop girl group, or a Lady Godiva-inspired style), starts with setting the right goals. Maybe your mission is to finally kiss breakage goodbye. Or you’re focused on growing out a bad haircut—like yesterday. So we tapped top dermatologists and hairstylists for their best tips (like meditation…whaaa?) to supporting your specific goals on the way to getting your swishy-shiny dream hair
Hair Goal #1
Say *Bye* to Breakage
Always fantasizing about mermaid-length hair, only for it to snap into a million split ends before even grazing past your shoulders? (Ugh, same.) The unfair reality is, growing longer hair comes with the risk of more breakage. Preventing this comes down to the right haircare routine, and trichologist (or hair-issues and scalp specialist) Bridgette Hill of Paul Labrecque Salon and Skincare Spa, celeb hairstylist Jonathan Colombini, and L’Oréal VP of scientific communications Rocio Rivera, PhD are here to explain exactly how to find yours.
Gently Detangle in the Shower
First, Colombini emphasizes the importance of in-shower techniques to help combat breakage from the first step of your hair-care routine. “Your hair is most vulnerable when it’s wet, so you want to make sure you’re not putting any tight tension on it,” he says.
Start by cleansing with a moisturizing shampoo like the L’Oréal Dream Lengths Restoring Shampoo, which—along with the rest of the Dream Lengths collection—is made with nourishing ingredients like castor oil and B vitamins. (Together, the collection helps smooth ends and strengthen hair.) To bypass wet tangles, Dr. Rivera says to use a conditioner formulated to prevent knots, such as the brand’s Super Detangler Conditioner. She recommends keeping a wide-tooth comb in the shower to gently work the silky stuff through your hair
“Start at the ends and work your way to the top,” she says, explaining that by starting where the most tangles are and working your way up, your brush won’t get stuck like it would from running it from the top down.
Use a Microfiber Towel
Once you step out of the shower, Colombini suggests ditching your terrycloth towel and wrapping your hair in one made of microfiber to help maintain your hair’s smooth cuticles from the root to the tip. His favorites are ones that are designed to wrap around hair and secure in place once twisted and tucked in.
Prep Your Style With a Leave-In
To keep the TLC going, Hill recommends coating damp hair with a leave-in conditioning product like L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths No Haircut Cream Leave-In Conditioner. Once applied evenly across hair, use a boar-bristle brush with wide-set bristles—this is key!—to detangle strands from the ends up. Too-close bristles will cause unwanted friction, and Colombini warns that this can cause breakage especially if you have fine, tangle-prone hair.
Color and Style With Care
Seasonal color changes, hitting the heat tools, and throwing your hair into tight ponies and top knots are all part of your hair rotation, and Hill says that’s okay—so long as you’re giving your strands long breaks and taking measures to protect them. She suggests giving hair some relief with heatless styles made with tension-free accessories, like saturating loose braids with a leave-in to create beach waves.
If you must reach for your wand/iron—we get it!—Hill emphasizes prepping hair with a heat protectant (like the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths No Haircut Cream Leave-In Conditioner, which is formulated to protect hair from temperatures up to 450°F.) When it comes to color, she recommends a look that can go longer between touch-ups, like balayage—which often even looks better with time.
Coddle Your Strands Overnight
Whether you’re the type to sleep pretty still or toss and turn until the first time you hit snooze (then hit it again, and again), swap your cotton or flannel pillowcases in favor of silk or satin ones. The smooth materials are gentler on hair’s cuticles than other fabrics that can ruffle ’em up, leading to big bad breakage. You’ll actually wake up with softer, shinier strands. Pretty dreamy, huh?
Hair Goal #2
Skip Your Next Salon Appointment
Moisturize Your Split Ends
We’ve ALL been there: You chop your ends into the bob trend of the day, only to flip TF out at your first peek in the mirror. There’s no magic technique to growing inches back overnight, but there are ways to help prevent another trip to the salon and focus on maintaining your length.
One way to do so is to consistently use a leave-in conditioner that nourishes split ends via its moisturizing ingredients. Again we recommend the multitasking L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths No Haircut Cream Leave-In Conditioner—which adds shine and smooths split ends, giving you the appearance of fresher, no-fraying strands.
Make Scalp Care a Priority
Another way to prolong the period before your next haircut is by paying attention to how you care for your scalp. Celebrity hairstylist Kendall Dorsey explains that the number of products you use can impact your scalp health. If your oils, serums, hairsprays, and dry shampoos are like your bbs, Colombini says to cut back.
“Think of your scalp as an extension of your skin from your face,” he says. “If you put too much makeup or products on your face, it doesn’t allow the skin to breathe; the same is true of hair follicles.” When you overwhelm your hair and scalp with product, it might not only weigh hair down, but in some cases can even clog follicles.
Hair Goal #3
Strengthen Hair From the Inside Out
Eat the Right Nutrients
You’re eating clean(ish), kind of getting into crystals (?!), and now you’re ready to make getting long, healthy hair part of your ~lifestyle~. Cosmetic dermatologist Michele Green says, and recent research suggests, that eating foods rich in certain nutrients can be a low-lift way to promote stronger and healthier strands.
Try eggs for protein, salmon for omega-3 fatty acids, leafy greens like spinach for iron, and a variety of fruits and veggies for vitamins A, B, C, D, and E. Also check labels for zinc and fiber, which may be beneficial as well, and learn more about foods for healthier hair here.
Practice Self Care
If your hair growth is stunted by profuse fall-out, we get the frustration. After checking with your dermatologist or trichologist as to why your mane might be thinning (it’s possible it’s genetic), you might want to try out a few different methods of mellowing your mind. According to Dr. Green (and a 2017 study), heavy stress shifts the immune response to specific growth factors, potentially leading to thinning and fallout. Yikes.
To lessen the chances of this scary sitch, you might find it’s worth booking that yoga class, spending an hour in an infrared sauna, or tapping into your meditation app for a dose of concentrated relaxation. Because hey, we’re about any excuse for self-care that’s also hair-care.