There comes a time in all of our lives when we look in the mirror, pout at our shoulder-grazing haircut, and think, I want to grow out my hair.
Unfortunately, gaining a few extra inches (without wigs and extensions) doesn't happen overnight. It could take months of incorporating supplements and frequent trims into your routine before you actually see results. But if you have blonde hair, it could take even longer, because the only thing harder than growing out your hair is growing out your hair while bleaching it on the regular. It's counterintuitive — the color causes damage and breakage so you never reach your goal of healthy, longer hair. You might assume that you have to sacrifice one for the other: either have long, dark hair or short, blonde hair. Luckily, you don't.
But to achieve your dream of long, blonde hair, it will take patience and a plan, which is why we enlisted Justin Anderson, co-founder of dpHUE and colorist to the stars (he counts Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Aniston, and Margot Robbie as clients), for help. Anderson is the pro who helped Miley go from her Bangerz pixie cut to a butt-grazing length in less than three years — all while maintaining her blonde hue. But how?
The truth of the matter is, growing out your hair — dyed, virgin, or bleached — takes time. But Anderson stresses that, more than anything, you have to commit, which not only could affect your daily routine, but also your reliance on hot tools and future color appointments. Ahead, Anderson offers up the perfect plan to gain extra inches while staying blonde.
Delay Your Next Salon Appointment
Being a bottle blonde typically means paying a visit to your colorist every four to six weeks. Of course, the frequency in which you get your roots touched-up depends on how quickly your hair grows, how dark your base is, and whether or not you’re getting a partial highlight or bleaching your entire head from root to tip. Nonetheless, that still means heading to the salon at least once a month. But if you're on a get-long-hair-fast plan, Anderson suggests delaying your next visit as long as possible.
It’s no secret that bleach breaks down the natural protein in hair, making it more susceptible to breakage — in fact, the higher the volume of bleach applied to your hair, the more likely it will break off, ensuring that your hair (at least the bleached parts) won’t grow. “Just go the longest you can until it’s driving you crazy," Anderson advises. “I think visiting the salon every eight to 10 weeks is a good rule of thumb.”
Adjust Your Highlights
So, your next appointment isn’t for another two months, but what happens when you get there? Of course, you can keep the root entirely and ditch highlights altogether, like Miley. “She was okay with looking grunge and having the rooted look,” Anderson says. “But in case you don’t like that, a good trick is to get baby highlights instead.” Ask your colorist to focus the smaller sections of "babylights " around the hairline, closer to the front of the face, not near the back or the internal layers.
Putting the majority of highlights where the sun would naturally hit, mimicking the kind of natural dimension we had as children, creates movement while avoiding harsh, rooty lines as it grows out. Anderson adds that focusing the bleach mostly at the crown and hairline will help connect the older color at your ends to the newer color on top, making even a minimal dye job look fresh.
Adjust Your Blonde To A Darker Shade
Another option is to adjust your shade of blonde. When you first go to the light side, you can get addicted — you might even demand more foils next time to be brighter and blonder. Anderson says no one is immune to this feeling, but running to your colorist every time you feel like your hair needs to be more whatever could mean you just need a minor touch-up. Besides, the more bleach you ask for, the more damage you'll have to contend with, prolonging your journey to longer, luscious hair even further. So, Anderson says, go warmer.
“There are times when Jen says she wants to be really blonde,” Anderson says. “But she looks her best when she has golden tones with lots of dimension. Usually, I’ll only highlight her hair every four months, get it rooty, and it looks great.” If you want to be like Jen — and only visit your colorist three times a year (the dream!) — then request a gloss to tone down the brightness of your current shade.
Create A Dark Root
In addition to reducing how many highlights you get, Anderson says adding a root — a faux one! — is key to extending the lifespan of your highlights. A shadow root removes the the harsh line between your natural hair and where the highlights begin, so as the hair grows out, the transition from the new growth to the highlights is smooth. And if Margot Robbie co-signs a lived-in root, then so do we. “Margot’s root always looks modern and beautiful, even as it grows in,” Anderson explains. “The root looks so good, I almost have to convince her it’s time to come back and get highlights again. If I made her too blonde, without the root, she would be in my chair every six weeks. It would be so damaging.”
Stock Up On Purple Shampoo
Growing your hair longer means reevaluating your in-shower routine. “If you’re not going to the salon for months, start using a purple shampoo,” Anderson suggests. “It makes old highlights look fresh and pulls out the brassy undertones.” He explains that when shopping for a purple shampoo, you have to look at the formula color: The richer the purple, the more effective it’ll be. “If you look at the color wheel, purple counteracts yellow,” he explains. “The deeper the purple color, the more yellow it’ll pull out. The lighter lavender formulas you see aren’t going to do much in comparison.” He adds that you can’t use a purple shampoo every day (more on that in a minute), so he suggests incorporating it into your routine at least once a week.
Try Apple Cider Vinegar Rinses Instead Of Shampoo
“Anyone with any hair color [should] do the least amount of shampooing as possible,” he says. “Over-washing the hair will dull the color and force you back in the salon sooner than your plan allows.” Even so, Anderson understands that a lot of people like that clean feeling after a shampoo and, no matter what, prefer to wash their hair daily. Luckily, he has an alternative: apple cider vinegar rinses.
This new step in your routine doesn’t call for a DIY project in the shower — in fact, dpHUE, along with Cantu, R&Co, and Pureology offer their own ready-to-use ACV rinses that cleanse the scalp of dirt, oil, and product build-up without actually stripping it of the good stuff (your natural oils). Anderson says to apply the product — with the handy nozzle — directly on to the scalp in three strips from front to back. Then, rub it in like you would a shampoo. But don’t expect that sudsing texture you’re used to: Most ACV rinses are made without the bubbling detergents. In any case, your hair is still getting cleaned — even if the suds-free sensation tries to tell you otherwise.
Hide Your Dry Shampoo
If you’re going to be skipping your usual washes that means you’ll probably be using more dry shampoo, right? Not exactly. Although dry shampoos are helpful in extending your blowout, they can be damaging in the long run. A spritz here and there is okay, but covering roots in the powdery formula every single day can lead to product build-up and clogged hair follicles, which could contribute to potential hair loss. (Please, never forget that dry shampoo isn’t actually shampoo.) “One of the scariest things in my time working has been seeing hair loss,” Anderson recalls. “As a colorist, you see really gnarly scalps with clogged pores, and it’s something you should be worried about making a habit of.”
Don't panic: This doesn’t mean you have to give up dry shampoo forever; you just have to use it in moderation. Although it's hard to come by, Anderson suggests finding a formula that offers antimicrobial qualities, specifically something formulated with apple cider vinegar. But if you can't cut down your dry shampoo use or swap out an old, faithful formula for something new, Anderson says to try a scalp scrub, one that’s just gritty and cleansing enough to lift away all that dry-shampoo residue.
Ditch The Hot Tools
According to Anderson, it’s time to rethink your hot-tool regimen in the name of long, healthy hair. Packing away your straighteners, curling irons, and blowdryers immediately reduces heat damage. “Constant use of hot tools will pull out your hair’s natural oils and that’s when breakage can happen," says Anderson. “When Miley decided she wanted really long hair, she also decided she didn’t want to use extensions to get there. So, we talked about her cutting back on the hot tools instead." Try blowing out your hair once a week and extending the style for as long as possible. Eventually, you’ll get used to keeping your curling irons tucked away. Or, you could always adopt a wash-and-go routine and incorporate air-drying products that help tame hair while it styles itself on your way to work.
After you enact this plan for longer hair in 2019, the only thing left to do is wait...