Growing out damaged hair: What I wish, I’d known.

Six years ago I decided to cut my locks into a chin-length bob. Flash forward, I’ve just managed to grow it out. My sins include box dying (repeatedly), using color remover (repeatedly), hair extension addiction, bleaching (repeatedly), and frying my strands with daily washing and heat styling.

There are too many things I wish someone had told me. And I mean honestly, bluntly, gave it to me:

Put that f*ckin box dye DOWN.

(If you’ve ever seen a triple split end, you’ll know what I mean.)

Box dye is so cheap! I used to get it from Walmart (cringe) for about 3 bucks a box. And boy did I go through a lot of it! At one point I even box-bleached my sister’s hair french fry yellow. (Oops sorry Carli!)

Color chemistry is far more complicated than what you find in those cheap little cardboard packages. By taking this route you run the risk of surprise color (hence my color removal incidents) and snapping your ends off.

 

Hair extensions are addicting and damaging.

After about six months of the constant teasing and straightening my adorable but time-consuming bob required, I was tired. Tired of the way it looked, tired of what I considered a less flexible hairstyle, just done. So I turned to clip-in hair extensions.

The first day I wore them I felt like my world was transformed.

At one pack a year I spent at least $500 on extensions when I was barely getting ten hours a week at minimum wage. I was also developing bald spots on my scalp and extensive breakage in throughout my own hair, which, I was still attempting to grow out. (baby hairs x10)

But the worst effect was that for the next four years I never felt attractive without my clip-ins. My hair had become several inches longer than it was before I had cut it into a bob, but it never seemed long enough. I had developed an unrealistic beauty standard with my habit.

As I perused my favorite extension site, ogling over my next pair, I took a look at their celebrity clientele. Their extensions had been worn in photo shoots by actresses, reality stars, and artists who I would have previously sworn had naturally thick, or long, or textured hair. It was all just extensions—just an illusion I had fallen victim to.

 

Choose carefully.

Invest in high-quality products! Nothing with sulfates and preferably something you buy from a salon. My hair stylist/best friend Emily told me that sometimes the products on grocery store shelves have expired, acidified, or the chemicals have been up to some super funky business.

They may be more expensive, but better products are usually far more concentrated than second-best. When a little bit goes a long way, you don’t have to buy as often.

I recommend:

 

Redken All Soft shampoo and conditioner has been a lifesaver for me over the last couple of years! It’s one of the only products that can actually make my hair feel silky anymore, plus it comes in giant bottles that last me a year and a half.

Kevin Murphy Hydrate Me shampoo and conditioner is my most recent favorite. Sweet Jesus the plum smell is amazing! Don’t be fooled by the small bottles. After a week of not washing and days of dry shampoo, nothing cleans my hair like the tiny tiniest amount of this shampoo! The conditioner is also super concentrated!

Redken Extreme Anti-Snap is a leave-in product that strengthens hair and prevents future breakage. I put in a pump or two (my hair is long now) after my shower.

TIP: Whenever you use a strengthening product, keratin-based or anything the like, always use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner. Without the protein, hair snaps easily, but without the moisture, hair gets brittle. Opt for a balance!

Dirty hair is worthwhile investment.

Ugh. I remember when I started skipping a wash every other day. Flat and greasy. Then I transitioned into washing once every three days, once every four, etc. Now I only wash it once a week. I tried upping my game to once every ten days. I have to be real, the wonders of this method only go so far—not up to ten. At that point, it’s not healthy for your scalp.

I’m so so so happy I did this because:

  1. My hair doesn’t break so much.
  2. I can afford to buy high-quality shampoo and conditioner that last me a WHOLE YEAR.
  3. I’m now both lazy and efficient. Do you even realize how much freaking time it takes to wash and style hair?

No horse shampoo, oil, vitamin, elixir, or unicorn horn, is going to magically lengthen your locks.

This was the last thing I wanted to hear for so long. Don’t waste your money on Mane and Tale or any other mystical grown formula! The ingredients you can’t read on the back of the bottle only translate into broken promises.

Hair starts from the inside and gets long when it’s taken care of from the outside. Growth is a genetic thing, a hormonal thing, and a nutritional thing. And if you’re taking biotin and hair/skin/nails vitamins, (my hair-wing-woman endorses) research the brand first. Some of these supplements barely contain the active ingredient.

Chic hair comes in every length.

Instead of trying to have either short or long hair, I wish I would have experimented with styles at all the lengths along the way! Have there been times in the last year that I wish I would have tried a lob (long bob)? Hell yes! I had that chance and I missed it because I was way too busy trying to be something I wasn’t. (Okay—maybe it’s not that deep, but you probably know what I mean!)

I’ll leave you with some hair inspo. from my graveyard of hair opportunities past. I suggest you play this while you look.

 

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