Once upon a glorious and idealistic time in my youth, I would wake up two hours before my first college class of the day to shower, blow dry, and style my hair. I had epic hair. It was once described as perfect makeout hair. It was also described as mermaid hair and Mufasa hair. I loved it when it looked pretty and hated it the other 90% of the time. You see, I’m an impulsive person, and when I have long hair I spend my time dreaming of short hair and when I have short hair, I spend my time dreaming of having long hair. Am I the only person that does this? In May, I got myself an alternative lifestyle haircut and chopped it real real real short and dyed it blonde instead of my usual bright red. It was awesome for awhile, but now I’m tired of waking up looking like a cockatoo and not being able to braid it or put it in a ponytail when I’m lazy. So. Commence the awkward and long and toiling growing-out-hair process.
Are you growing your hair out from that awesome alternative lifestyle haircut, too? Isn’t it awkward? Let’s commiserate over accidentally looking like Carol Brady. Maybe you’ve spent a long time googling “How to make my fucking hair grow faster because I think I have a mullet” because I have.
My best friend Amanda Miller recently graduated from The Paul Mitchell School of Really Pretty Hair and now she cuts my hair in my living room like my own personal Tabatha Coffey and I pay her in beer. Technically, she started cutting and coloring my hair when we were sixteen and in her kitchen (it never occurred to us to use toner when we bleached my hair, so my high school years were permanently orange). I consulted her on the best tips for growing out your hairs in the least awkward possible way and, along with my intense Googling and Pinning of hair solutions, we’ve compiled a handy dandy HOW TO guide on growing out your alternative lifestyle haircut.
Amanda’s first tip: Biotin will not make your hair grow faster. It can make the hair that grows after you start taking it stronger if that is what your hair is lacking. However, if your hair is already brittle, you don’t want to add another protein. Instead, use oil treatments or collagen supplements to reduce breakage.
Collagen supplements can be taken as powders or capsules. It’s the stuff that makes your nose and ears flexible and keeps your skin elastic. We lose the ability to produce it as we age. Before she had told me about collagen supplements for hair, I really had only pictured collagen in Goldie Hawn’s lips from First Wive’s Club.
Make sure in the in-between stages to keep up on trims because trims will keep your hair from becoming a split-end paradise. You don’t have to cut off that much! Trimming your hair will also help shape it into something less awkward so you’ll continue the grow-out process instead of getting tired of the process halfway through and cutting it off again. That is a vicious cycle, my friends.
Also, the hair below your occipital region (that protruding bit at the back of your skull near your neck) grows faster and you’ll end up with a Carol Brady mullet. Nobody looks good with a Carol Brady mullet, not even ironically. Amanda said, “When I was growing out my hipster A-line, I got trimmed about every two weeks just to keep [mullets] from happening and to blend the layers between the back and front.”
Sometimes, if you book three or even six months worth of frequent trims with your hairstylist at once, and you keep all of those appointments, you might get them at a discount and also you’ll probably become bffs with your stylist. Tabatha Coffey recommends communicating with your stylist on growing out your hair. Tell your stylist about “your game plan so that they know how much hair to cut off and can also adjust their cutting technique to keep a stylish shape while retaining as much length as possible.”
When I asked Amanda if anything, anything, will pretty please make my hair grow super duper fast, she said that the best bets are probably scalp treatments or shampoos with tea tree, mint, and caffeine. Tea tree is a natural antiseptic, so it’ll make your hair follicles healthier. Mint and caffeine stimulate the scalp. Basically, though, you just have to make sure that your hair is as healthy looking as possible and it will look longer and better and you’ll feel better about those awkward in-between stages. Remember, nothing will make your actual hair actually healthier. You can make your hair follicles healthier, but the hair that is outside of your scalp is dead. You cannot “repair” split ends no matter what any shampoo commercial tells you.
Maybe if you’ve got a bit of dough and a lack of patience (I’ve only got the latter, personally), extensions might be a good investment. Amanda had a weave when she was growing out her hair, and recommends getting non-synthetic hair, especially if you’re going to be doing heat-styling. You can dye human hair extensions to match your color. Make sure to get your layers blended after you put in your extensions and they’ll look more natural.
Hansen Hair Grow Out Pro Tip: Routinely look at pictures of women with long, beautiful, healthy hair. Tape one to your bathroom mirror. Follow hair tumblrs. Make a hair board on Pinterest. Tell your partner you’re going to grow out your hair so that she can talk you down from the “I’m going to fucking shave my head right now” ledge. My girlfriend has mastered the “are you seriously talking about cutting your hair thirty seconds after complaining about short hair” look. Your girlfriend will, too.
Headbands, hair clips, bandanas, and hats will become your very best friends. The most important tip of all: no one knows what awkward in-between style is under your beanie.