We all know that trimming our hair regularly helps to keep it healthy and prevent split ends, but if you want to grow your hair longer that can seem counterproductive. But did you know that trimming hair can actually help it grow longer? I know, I know, that sounds crazy. After all, you’re cutting a few inches of your hair off, and that surely makes your locks shorter, not longer, right? Well, yes, but by doing so you’re also helping hair to attain a longer length. Here’s how:
Why trimming hair helps it grow longer
According to the Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists (pg 155-75, 1978), hair can sometimes appear to grow very slowly or even not at all. Now, hair can grow only to its terminal length and, once reached that, nothing will make it grow longer. Even if you trim it, it will only grow back to that same length again. But there are times when hair appears to stop growing before it reaches its terminal length. In reality, your hair keeps growing but because it keeps breaking, it just doesn’t seem to get any longer. In other words, your hair breaks faster than it grows and so gains no length.
As your hair gets farther and farther away from the scalp, the cuticle (the outermost, protective, part of the hair that’s made up of several layers) starts to thin down. That’s because as the hair grows, it is more and more subject to damage from heat, styling tools, environment, combing etc.. And all this damage strips away the protective layers until only one is left. The inner cortex now has almost no protection and so the hair breaks and split ends occur. Because of it, cutting off the tip of the hair (ie the part that’s so thinned down it doesn’t offer much protection anymore) reduces or even stops breakage so that your hair goes back to growing faster than it breaks.
How much and how often should you trim your hair?
That depends on the damage. If you trim your hair regularly, then cutting off only one or two inches should be enough. If you haven’t had a trim in a while, though, you may have to cut off more. In any case, if you see split ends occurring shortly after a trim, then you just didn’t trim your hair enough. But how often should you trim your hair if you plan to let it grow longer? The trick is, obviously, to trim less than your hair grows. I’d say to trim your hair every 3 or 4 months so you can cut off only half a inch or so. If instead, you are lucky not to have thinning or split ends, then trimming isn’t necessary. You may wanna do it to prevent split ends but it’s not as important so you can wait longer between trims.
Do you trim your hair regularly?