I often hear people say they do not want to cut their hair because they want it to grow. Another comment I hear is that they don't cut it because it doesn't grow. For a lot of these women, the damage has become so much that without a good healthy trim, they are correct, their hair will not grow any longer than where it is.
Let's first discuss how much and for how long hair grows. On average hair actually grows 1/2" every month and has a growth span average of 2-5 years. Rember these are averages and we are talking only about the hair on top of your head, not other body areas. For some of you, you may find it grows a little slower, some faster, and yet some seem to have seasons.
If your hair grows at this rate you should see 6" of new growth every year. So why is it that many of us seem to see our hair stop at a certain point? Remember I also said it grows an average of 2-5 years. Hair sheds when it gets to the end of its life cycle after its resting phase (Telegen phase). Once it sheds, a new hair starts to form in its place entering the Anagen phase. Luckily hair follicles go through these phases at different times throughout our lives allowing us to always have hair on our heads.
Let's go back to the question about our hair stopping again. We know now that yes even with healthy hair all of us have a growth point. But are we taking care of our hair to help it achieve its full potential? Hair can be damaged by many things from chemical services to just everyday styling or lack of styling. Yes, even the lack of styling of your hair can cause damage. If we are not cutting this damage off, then it will continue to damage the healthy hair behind it, thus not allowing your hair to reach its full potential of growth. Think of that thread of a piece of clothing that continues to unravel until you fix it. Our hair acts the same way when the ends start to split or become brittle and break.
There are many tips on how to keep your hair healthy allowing it to reach its full potential but today I want to focus on my top 2.
The use of a heat protectant is a must for everyone. Some leave-in conditioners have them built in. All of us are exposing our hair to heat. It is not just for those who are doing heat styling. Do you run the heater in your car and house? Do you use your fireplace to heat your home? Do you spend any amount of time outside in the sun? What about every time you open the oven door to check on dinner? And then there is also another hidden heat source we don't think about and that is the friction of our hair on our pillow as we move around in our sleep. That's not even considering the type of job you might have working around heat sources all day. So if you were to make one change to your morning routine I recommend buying a heat protectant and using it, remember it does not good just sitting on the bathroom counter.
So now let's get down to the nitty-gritty of how and when you should cut your hair. Remember how I said your hair grows on average 1/2" every 4 weeks? Check out my recipe for haircuts based on desired outcomes.
4 weeks - This is for the person who wants to maintain a certain haircut,
especially if you are wearing short hair or any version of the bob.
After 4 weeks your hair will start to lose its shape. 1/2" off
8 weeks - This is great for those with longer hair that still want to
maintain the style they were given or those growing their hair out from
short to long. For your maintenance trim, while growing out, if you took
1/4" off you will still have 3/4" of new growth keeping ends healthy. It's a 1" trim to take you back to the previous cut.
10-12 weeks - This is only for those with long hair. And only if you are taking proper care of it between visits. No one should be going longer than this for haircuts unless you are growing your hair back after chemo and that's a whole other topic. Your hair has now grown 1 1/2" and needs to be cared for. If you go past this point with your hair plan on taking more than the 1/4" trim off. For some of you going past this point will result in you losing all progress and then some, because your hair is thin and fragile.
Your hairstylist/barber wants you to maintain healthy hair and is all for helping you grow it out. By following these schedules you will find over time your hair starts to get longer than you have had it since your youth. For those who are wanting to maintain a certain look, keeping on top of your haircuts will have your hair behaving better and better for you. Of course, remember these are averages, so some months your hair will grow faster and some a tad slower.
So how do we stay on schedule when life gets in the way and we don't realize we went 6 weeks instead of 4 weeks, or 6 months instead of 3 months? Most hairstylists/barbers will let you book at least a couple of appointments in advance. Talk to your hairstylist or barber at your next appointment about pre-booking your next 2-3 haircuts. If you go somewhere that doesn't allow this as an option, or you simply can't run your life with those kinds of commitments then set up reminders on your phone calendar to alert you it's time for a haircut. Pro tip* set that reminder for a week before you are due, don't wait until the last minute to find you can't get into your favorite stylist or barber.