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If #longhairdontcare is what you’re after, it might be time to stop and think about the steps you’re taking to Rapunzel-esque tresses. Over-washing, cutting, and trimming could have a negative (or reverse) effect on your grow-out goals, just like skipping masks or scalp stimulating products probably isn’t doing you any favors. And then there’s hair coloring to take into account and even how you handle your hair when wet.

In a quest for tips, tricks, and definite DON’Ts – when it comes to hair growth – we polled hairstylists, colorists, and product educators and learned some invaluable advice. From the hot tool temperature you shouldn’t exceed, to the correct way to braid and style strands and ponytails, here’s the 411 on achieving those covetable long locks.

Rule #1: Nix the Over-Washing 

Alterna national education manager Paul Wintner recommends only washing your hair 1-2 times a week – MAX. “Excessively washing can dry your hair out and create breakage,” he says. “I recommend using CAVIAR Anti-Aging Professional Styling Sheer Dry Shampoo, $25, to extend the life of your styles in between washes. If you work out, spray the dry shampoo on your roots before the work out to soak up the sweat and oils and if you still feel the need to get your hair wet, do a thorough rinse and then just condition the mid-lengths and ends.” 

Rule #2: Never Double Process During a Grow-Out Phase

Thinking about undergoing a drastic color change – or transitioning back to your natural color – but want longer locks at the same time? Welp, you can’t have both says Eddie Parra, hairstylist at Serge Normant Salon at John Frieda. “Someone growing out their hair should never go double process,” he explains. And for those of you who don’t know WTF that means, allow us to elaborate. Double process is when hair is lightened more than two shades and requires bleaching to remove natural (or unnatural) undesired color, before the new desired color is added. Basically it’s intense for your hair and Parra warns against doing “any severe chemical treatments” when you’re looking for a mile-long mane. Noted.

Rule #3: Watch Your Ponytails and Your Ponytail Holders

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Can’t understand why your strands just won’t grow? That could be because you’ve been rocking too-tight ponytails or braids. “Always do loose ponies and braids,” says LA & NYC-based celebrity hairstylist Matt Fugate. Another no-no per Fugate? Cranking up your hot tools for styling purposes, when you want a grown and sexy head of hair. “Keep irons no higher than 385 degrees – especially if you have thin hair,” he adds.

Rule #4: Don’t Get Scissor Happy

“Don’t keep cutting inches off your hair unless it’s absolutely necessary,” advises Orlando Pita, celebrity hairstylist and founder of Orlando Pita Play. “Instead, think of how often you typically see your hairdresser and skip 2 or 3 appointments.” Even then, you should only have them trim the damaged ends and do ‘dustings’ if you really want longer hair. Pita recommends prolonging this routine until you’ve reached your desired length and then you can resume your regularly scheduled program, AKA appointments.

Rule #5: Be Extra Careful with Wet Hair

According to Odete DaSilva, master colorist and owner of Artistex Salon and Spa in Westport, CT, you should never twist or bun wet hair. Well, great. File that one under: been doing it wrong ALL along. “The hair is the most fragile to stretching – and eventually breaking – when wet,” she says “and if it’s constantly being stretched, it weakens and breaks easier.” While this other tip might be a no brainer, we have to include it one more time for the people in the back: ONLY use soft, ouchless, creaseless, no-slip elastics. Those snaggy ties are definitely setting you and your hair back.

Rule #6: Turn to Treatments and Masks

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“Do not give up conditioning on a regular basis, as this helps to prevent split ends,” says Michelle Blaisure, Bosley Professional Strength certified trichologist and product specialist. “Also choose an intensive hair masque like Bosley Professional Strength Moisture Masque, $39, that will keep locks looking healthy and a treatment such as Bosley Professional Strength Follicle Energizer, $29, to help stimulate healthy hair growth.”

Rule #7: Be Patient and Versatile

Hair can take a year or more to get to a good length, depending on how short it was when you started to grow it, adds Blaisure. “As it grows out, do not continue to wear it the same way. Try to part your hair differently, or wear accessories like headbands, clips, scarves, etc. on days when it’s hard to manage so you don’t give up.