How to Achieve Shiny, Healthy Waist-Length Hair

Waist-length hair makes a beautiful statement and can be achieved a few different ways. Besides adding foods like avocado, chia seed, and eggs to your diet, you need to follow some pretty general maintenance steps to grow and maintain waist-length hair. We reached out to two hair gurus, Carolyn Aronson, founder of It's a 10 Haircare, and Ursula Stephen, celebrity hairstylist and Unilever global haircare brand ambassador, for some tried-and-true hair care tips. We got advice on how to grow and take care of waist-length hair, as well as how to experiment with waist-length extensions if you'd rather take that route.

Meet the Expert

  • Ursula Stephen is a Unilever global haircare brand ambassador, and the owner of Ursula Stephen The Salon, in Brooklyn. Celebrity clients include Rihanna, Zendaya, and Laverne Cox.
  • Carolyn Aronson is the CEO and founder of It's a 10 Haircare. She has over 20 years of experience as a hairstylist and salon owner.

There are many internet forums and YouTube videos dedicated to answering questions about how to grow hair down to your waist. So before we dove into our full list, I wanted to ask each of our experts what they thought the key was to growing hair to your desired length, and their answers were simple: trims, cleansing, and conditioning.

Trims Are Essential

"Hair grows about an average of 1/2 inch per month," says Aronson. "If you're trying to grow your hair long, trimming it every 6-8 weeks is enough to keep your ends healthy yet still let it grow." For those with natural hair, Stephen recommends getting a trim every three and a half to four months "to avoid single-strand knots and split ends."

Find a Shampoo That Can Help Promote Hair Growth

We've all likely been tempted by a haircare commercial or advertisement that claims to give you longer, stronger hair. However, it can be difficult to confirm whether these claims measure up, but some shampoos are specially formulated to support healthy hair growth, which is especially helpful for those experiencing hair loss. You'll want to look for a cleanser that provides nourishment to the scalp with the ability to remove build-up. I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but it is possible. To find the right shampoo, look for a sulfate-free product with scalp stimulating and hair strengthening ingredients like peppermint oil and antioxidants.

Keep the Use of Hot Tools and Styling to a Minimum

Like any other hair length, waist-length hair requires TLC, which means deep conditioning and minimal hot tool use are necessary to prevent breakage and promote healthy hair growth. "Breakage often is a result of dryness and over- processed hair, whether from heat, chemicals, or styling. If you're suffering from breakage, I recommend using a deep conditioner to strengthen and moisturize the hair shaft," says Stephen.

Stephen also encourages minimizing the use of heat tools. "Try keeping your hair in protective styles to reduce breakage from everyday styling." If you can't put down the hot tools, Aronson suggests using a light styling serum while straightening [with a] flat iron or a conditioning curl cream before diffusing; "[This] will help protect the hair from heat damage," she explains.

Say Goodbye to Hot Showers

Hot showers not only dry out and irritate your skin, but they can do the same to your hair. Stephen co-signs this scientific fact."It's definitely very important to keep the water at a lukewarm temperature. Avoid hot temperatures as they will quickly dry out your scalp." If you want to ensure you seal in the benefits of your hair washing routine, rinse your conditioner out with cool water. This method will help rinse your hair clean of the conditioner without stripping away the good stuff you just put in.

Use a Hair Mask

Conditioning is a crucial step to any hair care regimen, especially when trying to retain length. Since shampoo opens the hair cuticle during the cleansing process, you need a conditioner to seal the hair shaft while locking nutrients as a preventive measure to combat breaking and split ends. You'll want to select a conditioner based on your hair type, so you don't run the risk of using a product that is too heavy or a conditioner that doesn't provide enough moisture. "My go-to for pre-styling treatment is Dove's Amplified Textures Moisture Spa Recovery Mask ($7), says Stephen. "The creamy formula is infused with honey and strengthens the hair shaft from within, reducing breakage and letting you easily comb through your hair."

Try Extensions (but Make Your Hair a Priority)

If you want to experiment with waist-length hair without committing to growing yours out, extensions are a simple way to switch up your look. The options are endless, whether your hair is straight or curly. Some of the most popular brands for extensions are Glam Seamless (for tape-ins/clip-ins), Indique Hair (for natural hair), and Extensions Plus (for all hair types). You can try clip-ins, tape-ins, sew-ins, and of course traditional protective styling.

Regardless of which method you choose, caring for your scalp and hair should remain a priority, and pre-extension prep is vital. Stephen recommends washing your hair with a sulfate-free shampoo to remove any product buildup and following-up with a leave-in conditioner to prep the hair. If you’re caring for extensions that can be reused Aronson says we should, “care for them as if it’s your own hair. Detanglers, thermal heat styling products, masks, [and] wrapping them at night are all still a must to help preserve the length of use.”

Invest in a Silk Scarf and Pillowcase

Both experts agree that silk and satin are the best nighttime fabrics to use on the hair. For some, that might mean sleeping on a silk pillowcase for others that may mean a combination of both (that is what I do)—either way, don't let your hair hit the pillow without it. "I recommend wearing a satin scarf or bonnet and sleeping on a satin pillowcase every night to prevent your hair from becoming dry, says Stephen. "Sleeping on a cotton pillowcase strips the moisture out of your hair."

All and all growing and caring for waist-length hair seems to be fairly similar to taking care of shorter hair. Stephen did leave us with one more gem that can be used in beauty and in life: "Be patient with your hair and trust the process. Remember, moisture is your best friend!"

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