7 Steps for Growing Out Your Hair, According to a Pro Stylist

If lengthy locks are what you’re after, you’re going to have to put in the work. Here, an expert reveals the nonnegotiable steps to take to grow your hair.

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gwyneth paltrow long hair

Forget what you've been told.

I’m here to report we’ve all been duped. “In order for your hair to grow, you need to get regular trims,” they said. “Your split ends need to be cut off so your hair is strong enough to grow,” they said. And so we listened. We got our trims, and we waited for our hair to soar down to our hips—but our stubborn, stubby strands never seemed to grow at all.

After nearly three decades of trying to gain Rapunzel-like length, my hair is almost there (“there” being at my waistline)—and it’s all because I broke the rules and listened to my hairstylist’s insider tips.

For anyone who’s been unsuccessful at growing your hair, read up: Toronto-based hair guru Jason Lee (and owner of Jason Lee Salon) reveals the seven steps you need to take to get your mane as long (and healthy) as possible.

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hair cut

Step 1: Cancel your upcoming appointment for a trim.

“If you’re trying to grow your hair long, don’t see your hairstylist for a long time—I mean like a year,” says Lee. “Otherwise it’s just never going to grow.” If your hair tends to split at the ends, you can consider getting a dusting (a trim that only takes off about an eighth of an inch) one or two times a year, he says. And if you feel your hair is losing its shape, just get the layers framing your face trimmed.

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vitamins on spoons

Step 2: Look at internal factors.

“If there’s an imbalance in the body, your hair may not be getting the nutrients it needs,” says Lee, “so the hair depletes and doesn’t grow well.” He suggests chatting with your doctor to determine if the reason your hair won’t grow is more internal than external. “I’ve seen it with women who have low iron,” says Lee. “Their hair can be weak and keep splitting.”

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collagen peptides

Step 3: Consider adding collagen powder to your daily diet.

"One thing I’ve noticed is my clients’ hair can get really strong when they use collagen,” says Lee. “We’ve seen significant hair growth with people who take Collagen Peptides, in particular.” Even Lee is drinking the collagen Kool-Aid and having a scoop of it every morning. But he shares a fair warning: Be realistic—if you have really thin hair, collagen can help strengthen it, but it probably won’t give you long, luscious strands. (Thinking about trying hair supplements? Read our review of SugarBearHair gummies.)

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides, $58, iherb.com

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kerastase resistance products

Step 4: Invest in the right products.

Product expert and co-owner of Jason Lee Salon, Anthony Pennino sites Kerastase’s Extensioniste collection at being the best for anyone experiencing breakage. “The products coat the outer layer of the hair to prevent breakage and split ends,” says Pennino. “It rebuilds hair from the outside, coating it so it can’t break.”

Kerastase Sain Extentioniste Length Strengthening Shampoo, $45, kerastase.ca; Kerastase Resistance Fondant Extentioniste Length Strengthening Conditioner, $48, kerastase.ca

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t3 straightener

Step 5: Cool it with the hot tools.

You'll want to avoid using hot hair stylers too much, on a high heat setting, and on damp hair. “Using tools that are too hot even once or twice a week can cause damage, so it doesn’t grow,” says Lee. For some hair types, straighteners, curling irons, and even hair dryers can dry out the hair and burn it, which results in strands just breaking off.

What’s worse than using tools that are too hot? Using them on damp hair. “You never want to hear a sort of crackling, like it’s cooking,” says Lee. “Putting excessive heat on wet hair ruins it and prevents it from growing some length.” This may be the perfect time to wash your hair less, invest in safe styling tools, and rock French girl waves. But whatever you do, just remember: “The less you use, the lower the temperature, the better,” says Lee.

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hair dye tools

Step 6: Tell your hair colourist to touch up only the roots—leave the strands alone.

“Even though there are so many products you can use to make hair stronger, the lighter you go, the harsher it’ll be on the hair,” says Lee. “If you're really focused on growing your hair, consider going a touch darker, so it’s not too rough on your hair.” If you’re adamant about staying blonde (cue girl-raising-hand emoji), find yourself a good colourist (hi, Jason!) and get them to touch up just the roots (which is what he does for me).

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hair extensions

Step 7: If you can’t wait any longer for long locks, get tape-in extensions.

“Tape-ins are very gentle on the hair—gentler, in my opinion, than other extensions out there,” says Lee. What’s more, clients who get them tend not to use hot tools as much (because the extensions add shape to the hair so styling isn't needed) and their natural hair ends up growing longer. “Ninety-five percent of the time, I’ve seen clip-in extensions be positive for hair growth,” says Lee.

So, in theory, you could just skip all the other steps before this one, get tape-ins, and achieve the long, cascading mane of your dreams.

Next, check out the hottest wellness classes to try this season.

Originally Published in Best Health Canada