I’ve been getting so many comments and questions about my hair, I thought I would write about it! I cut my hair short in 2017 and started to let it grow out in 2019 until now (2024). In that time it went from a chin length bob to now nearly hip length layers. Everyone asks “what do you do to it?!” and my reply is usually “nothing special”. Except, that when I stopped to think about it, it’s probably a lot of little things. So here are all those little things!
Genetics, Diet and Lifestyle
Let’s start off by saying that I probably hit the long hair gene lottery. Which is a great help, but even better if you take care of your locks! I believe that diet plays a big role in healthy hair. A common question I get is “do you take special hair vitamins?”. The answer is yes and no. I do take vitamins; but of course, I have to remember to take them! And some of them are great for hair growth. Collagen and glucosamine chondroitin with MSM perform double duty, as they are excellent for joints and cartilage, but also great for skin, nails and hair! I also take a multivitamin, a multi mineral and Vitamin C. (Disclaimer: I am not a physician or nutritionist, please do your homework and use what’s best for you!)
So yes I do take vitamins, but I think eating foods that are naturally rich with hair growing goodies are much better. I also avoid sugar and processed food. It is thought that sugar can increase inflammation and accelerate aging. Smoking can also be hard on your hair because of oxidative stress on the body and depletion of vitamins and antioxidants. Wine, well ehhh. Don’t take away my Friday night glass of wine, mmkay? There’s antioxidants in there, right? Right?
As for food, here are some of the things I like to eat nearly every day that I think probably help my hair:
- Spinach: Lots of vitamin A, C iron, folate and zinc
- Eggs: Rich in amino acids, protein, biotin, folate, vitamins A and E
- Avocados: Delicious, good for you fatty acids, biotin, magnesium, potassium and vitamins A and E
- Onions and Garlic: Lots of antioxidants and sulphur-thought to help promote collagen production
- Mushrooms: Yummy source of biotin and antioxidants
- Real Butter: Excellent source of vitamin A
- Peanut butter and nuts: Full of protein, vitamin B6, biotin, magnesium, and zinc
- Animal Fat and organ meats: This might be an unpopular opinion, but I think that some fat is your friend. I usually do not trim a lot of fat off of meat before cooking. However, I also think it is possible to overdo it. Some say too much saturated fat can actually cause hair thinning- yikes!
Start at the ends and work your way towards the scalp a little at a time. I like to use a paddle brush to get all the tangles out. For everyday styling I use a natural boar bristle brush. These are softer on the hair and great for getting the oil from your scalp down the ends. When combing though wet hair, I like to use a wide tooth comb.
Washing, Shampoo and Conditioner
Brush your hair before you wash to reduce tangles and breakage.
I wash my hair once or maybe twice a week. Get creative with your hairstyles if it gets too oily. Or just wash the front part that frames your face if you really need it.
As far as shampoo and conditioner? I usually buy whatever has a coupon that day. But some of my favorites are Tresemme, Flex (yes, super old school) and if you like organic, JĀSÖN. A special tip- if your hair is thinning (or you have dandruff), try Nizoral. The active ingredient is thought to help stimulate hair growth.
Apply shampoo only to the roots and scalp, the ends don’t really need it.
Here’s a silly tip I learned as a dog groomer in my past life. Put your conditioner on at the same time as your shampoo. You save a step and it’s easier to get the conditioner all through your hair when it’s slippery from the shampoo.
Rinse your hair with cold water if you can stand it!
Drying and Styling
Try to avoid the hair dryer and heat tools if you can. A trick I like to use is letting my hair air dry and use the dryer only when it’s time to style. This way you can still get volume and lift without a lot of extra time and heat. I try to only use curling irons and rollers for performances and special occasions.
Products and Special Treats
Not kidding-buy some cheapo Suave Kids detangling spray. The easier it is to comb through your hair, the less damage you will have. I use this after every wash when combing my hair. The green apple scent is the best one!
This is a product I like a lot! Mielle Rosemary Hair Strengthening oil smells minty and I love to apply it to the ends of my hair. The product claims to smooth split ends and strengthen the hair. It makes it shiny too!
Every once in a while, I like to slather on a homemade hair mask and rinse. I use a combination of mayonnaise, honey and olive oil. Mix it up and let it sit on your hair for 20-30 minutes. Rinse with a cup of apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar and then shampoo/condition like normal. You will smell like a pickle, so don’t do it on a performance night!
Haircuts and Color
You would think that I never cut my hair, but I really do get trims! A lot of people say to cut your hair every 4-6 weeks. I think I cut mine every 8 or 10 or whenever I remember. Trimming the ends off every so often as you’re growing your hair will actually help it stay healthier in the long run.
I would love to be more adventurous with my hair color, but I try to avoid bleach and dyes. If anything, I sometimes add a few colorful streaks at the ends or use a semi-permanent dye that will wash out over a month.
That’s All Folks!
So there you have it. Just my little opinions and things that I do for long, beautiful belly dance hair! I hope some of this helps if you’re trying to grow your hair long. And if it’s taking too long or just won’t grow, remember to embrace your inner Samia Gamal!