I Haven't Cut My Hair in Years—Is That Really So Bad?

Back of a woman with long, brown hair

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When I was younger, I had long, luscious hair that was seemingly indestructible. It grew quickly, and the ends rarely broke. That is, until I did all the things teenage girls do to ruin their hair—flatirons, bleach, straightening treatments… the works.

These days, I still love my hair, but it’s much thinner and far more damaged than it used to be. And then there’s the outcome I despise most—it absolutely won’t grow. It’s been its current length for years, despite my incessant trims, different supplements, and lack of heat tools in recent months.

In order to keep the ends healthy (and because this is the advice all hairstylists give), I went in like clockwork for a dusting every few months. But all that would happen is I’d watch my hard-earned inches float to the floor. So you know what I did? I stopped getting haircuts. Yes, I admit it, I’m a beauty editor who doesn’t get haircuts. Well, I do (about once a year, to my stylist’s dismay), and it seems to have made a little bit of difference in the length of my hair, but not by much.

Am I doing something wrong? I asked celebrity stylist Harry Josh for advice.

Josh explains: “Can regular trims keep your ends clean? Yes. If you feel your hair looks damaged or broken at the ends, I’d recommend a cut every six weeks. But some girls can go for more than six months no problem.”

If you have a high-maintenance hairstyle like bangs or a super-short cut that needs to be shaped—trim every three to four weeks.

And then he got to the good stuff (i.e. the answers I wanted to hear). Josh explains, “No, trims are not going to make your hair grow faster. It keeps the ends clean, but it doesn't accelerate growth at the root. The misconception grows from the idea that trims remove damage and breakage at the end, but, honestly, if you’re suffering from a lot of breakage, you’re probably coloring, heat-styling, or just living a lifestyle that is prone to that kind of damage. You’re going to need to ease up on those if you want to break the cycle.” 

Check. I’ve been wearing my hair naturally curly for about a year now, but give up my precious highlights? That’s a decision I’m just not ready to make. So, in that case, Josh recommends vitamins and clean living. “Drink water, eat healthy, and lay off the heat tools.”

But, he adds, what may happen from going a long time without a cut is that your ends will become uneven and your damage will be far more noticeable. “Think about how often you color and style your hair,” Josh explains, “the ends have been exposed to that hundreds more times than your roots have.”

In the end, of course you should cut your hair to maintain healthy strands, but you can go a few more months if you’re trying to grow it out. During that time, Josh suggests “deep conditioners will help provide the conditioning that dry hair needs. John Frieda’s Frizz Ease Miraculous Recovery Deep Conditioner ($7) is a great option. When you can, try to refrain from heat styling and color processing (lightening, specifically).”

John Frieda Frizz Ease Miraculous Recovery Deep Conditioner $15.00

Looking for more advice from your favorite celeb stylists? Learn the easy trick Jen Atkin taught me for cool-girl hair.

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