Jun 18, 2021

Waist Length Hair: Is It Attainable For You?

Time to rock some mermaid hair 🧜‍♀️

Formulate user Izzy H. has a question that's been a ~long~ time coming:

Hey Formulate,

I've wanted waist-length hair since, like, forever. One of my childhood best friends had super long hair, she looked like a mermaid and I was always so jealous! My problem is that my hair doesn't seem to want to be waist length which is... frustrating. As soon as my hair starts getting long-ish, it starts to look really scraggly, like I chopped at it with dull scissors. I always end up with gross, dead ends that I have to cut short. 

I don't dye my hair. I only wash every few days. I don't use heat tools. Overall, I'm really careful with my hair. My friend always treated her hair super terribly - she straightened it all the time and trashed it with other heat tools. I, meanwhile, BABY my hair. Why is it so hard for me to get it long -- if I take such good care of it, shouldn't I get some length in return?

Thanks for getting in touch, Izzy!

We feel you on the pain of growing out short hair. So do a whole bunch of other Formulate users -- of everyone who's taken our hair wizard to create their customized products,a whopping 53% have chosen Lengthen to be one of their primary hair goals. That's over half of all our customers!

So why is it that Izzy's hair is just refusing to grow long?

Time for some detective work - we already know that Izzy is using high-quality, sulfate-free products. She also doesn't use heat tools or chemically process her hair. She only exposes it to water once every few days. All of these factors are definitely good things that should assist her in growing her hair out.

Detangling and long hair

One important thing that we don't know: how Izzy detangles her hair. Because even if you baby your hair in every other way, brushing roughly can pull hairs right out of your scalp, leaving behind scraggly ends.

The longer hair grows, the knottier it tends to be. This is for several reasons:

  • There's both more hair to tangle (this is not a more-the-merrier kind of situation) 
  • Because the hair is long, the ends have less access to sebum from the scalp. (Note: Sebum is super helpful for hair health since it helps keep hair smooth, moisturized, and less prone to tangles. It's kind of like your body's natural conditioning system.) 
  • The ends of the hair are quite old, and likely at least a little damaged. Shorter hair ends tend to be in much better shape than waist-length ends, since it's newer. When hair is damaged, it's more likely to tangle and accrue more damage, and damage is kind of inevitable with long hair.

Long hair knots can be darn frustrating -- these are the kind of knots that most people would rather rip through with a brush rather than attempt to finger detangle. It might be that Izzy has a more aggressive detangling strategy than is typically optimal -- if you want to grow your hair long, slowly detangling with a wide-tooth comb and with your fingers whenever possible will do you a world of good. 

Genetics, hair types, and long hair

Another important thing that could contribute to breakage: the type of hair that grows out of Izzy's head. Genetics plays a huge role in hair strength, and how long hair will grow before breaking off.

We all know at least one person who can eat five cheeseburgers a day, drink literal gallons of soda, skip the gym, and they still somehow maintain a petite physique. Meanwhile, other people do everything that they can to lose weight, but never quite shake off a few extra pounds. That's genetics for ya.

A decent number of people with fantastically healthy-looking long tresses were, to quote the Maybelline slogan, just born with it. They do everything that haircare professionals say not to do and their hair somehow still keeps thriving. This probably describes Izzy's long-haired childhood friend. 

If you naturally grow hair that's thick, dense, and shiny (lucky you!), you'll likely have a better time of getting it to grow long. But if your hair is thin, sparse, and frizzy, it'll be a lot more challenging. Fragile hair is fragile and withstands less stress before it breaks. Strong hair is the opposite -- it'll eventually accrue damage, but it might take a lot longer. 

So those are two major things that can get in the way of long hair. Of course, there could be a ton of other reasons that Izzy's hair isn't growing -- it's hard to figure it out without seeing hair in person. In order to really get an idea of what's going on, it'll help Izzy to have a consultation with a licensed cosmetologist with at least a couple of years of experience under their belt. 

Thirsty for more hair knowledge? Here's what to check out next:

How Often Should You Brush Your Hair?

We talked to the experts to find out

Living With An Oily Scalp + Dry Ends

#unfair, right?

How Long Does It Take For Hair To Grow Back?

How long does it take for hair to grow back after a bad cut?

Is Hair Alive?

The answer might be a little more complicated than you thought 👀

Caroline Schmidt