Congratulations! As a redhead, you already have truly excellent hair. Whether by birth or by bottle, your ginger hair is flaming great. Literally. But what’s that? You want more of it? Well, of course you do. Who wouldn’t want to step out into the world armed with even more gingerness?
There are already plenty of tips and guides out there on ‘How to Grow Long Healthy Hair’. However, what they don’t always explain (possibly so as to not dishearten you) is that your hair growth is largely determined by your genes, and so speeding it up is not possible.
But, dear redhead, do not dismay. There are some things you can do to help your hair grow, namely by taking care of the red hair you already have, which leads to less tangles, breakage and split ends. Limiting any damage to your hair means you won’t have to lose so much length next time you hit the hairdressers, which eventually equals longer, healthier hair!
You will have to be patient, however, because hair only grows at an average of 0.5 inches a month, a (not very) whopping 1.27cm. Some people’s hair grows at twice this rate, others at only half of it. This speed is the part that your genetics control, and despite what people say about the benefits of holding your head upside down or massaging your scalp, there’s not a lot you can do about it.
First of all, look at how you’re handling your ginger hair. Do you tear through it with a brush whilst running late for work (or while it’s still wet)? Do you wear it down all the time, meaning that it gets caught under your bag strap or in between layers of clothing? Do you regularly use heat to style your hair?
All of these things cause massive stress to your red hair by gradually corroding each strand’s cuticle. The cuticle is what protects your hair by sealing in moisture and protein, and reflects shine. It makes sense that we automatically assume that shiny hair is healthy, because shine signals functional, intact cuticles.
Instead of dragging a brush through your hair from root to tip until all your tangles are gone (and your brush is full of a wad of your poor unsuspecting ginger hair), gently prise any knots apart using your hands. Work from the ends of your hair upwards, and once you’ve eliminated the knots you can lightly brush through your hair to distribute natural oils from your scalp through your mid-lengths and ends. Most importantly, though, never brush or comb your hair when it’s wet, as it is so much more fragile.
Next up, try to avoid using heat to dry or style your tresses. Every single time your hair goes from wet to dry, you will incur some damage. This is because when your hair absorbs water in the shower – healthy hair absorbs about a third of its weight in water – it swells, which puts pressure on the cuticle. When you then dry your hair with heat, the cuticle reacts by contracting really quickly, and this repeated cycle of swelling and rapid contraction can leave you with a damaged cuticle, i.e. dull, rough hair. For this reason, try to avoid washing your hair too often. Your hair will only get as greasy as it is expected to be washed, so gradually train your hair to need less washes over time.
Consider wearing your hair up as often as you can, so that the weakest and driest parts of your hair – the ends – are safely tucked away. You might not realise it, but your sofa/desk chair/clothes rubbing against your red hair can be damaging. Keeping your ginger hair tied up in a protective style will shield it from the elements (sun, wind and rain are all damaging) as well as preventing tangles from working their way in during the day.
Teach yourself a few different up do styles to wear on a daily or almost daily basis. Make sure you vary the position of your up do every few days so that you don’t put too much repetitive strain on just one section of your hair. Try our Ginger Hair Love tutorials for inspiration
Another thing to watch out for is hair elastics. Bin any that have exposed metal that hair can catch on, or better still, eschew elastics altogether in favour of a nice soft scrunchie! Scrunchies are have made a comeback lately, and are cool Eighties/Nineties throwback. Just ask Topshop and ASOS.
Oh-so Princess Ariel: Forever 21, £2
When it comes to any material you wear in your hair, the softer and silkier the better, so satin and velvet are good choices. Some people sleep using satin pillowcases for this very reason.
In addition to all of this, eating healthily and staying hydrated helps provide your hair follicles with nourishment to function properly, just like the rest of your body, so it’s a good habit to keep!
As well as a few other obvious healthy hair faux pas such as perming, relaxing and dyeing (except with henna, which actually strengthens hair), you should avoid shampooing vigorously with harsh shampoos and favour conditioner when you can. Look out for milder alternatives, and be sure to never pile your hair on top of your head and scrub whilst shampooing, just let your lengths hang down your back while you focus on lightly massaging shampoo into your scalp.
One final tip is to apply a tiny bit of oil on your lengths and ends (everything from your ears downwards) every day. Just one or two drops of your chosen oil (be it coconut/olive/jojoba/argan), rubbed together in your palms and then distributed evenly throughout the lengths will help keep hair ever so slightly slippery, enabling it to resist damaging friction that little bit better. You can also do deep oil treatments before you wash your hair.
Hopefully these gentle hair-handling techniques will help you avoid snaps and splits from root to tip, and enable your ginger hair to grow into a kingly (or queenly) mane.