Extra-long hair is more popular (and possible) than ever
While it seems as if an A-lister debuts a short bob haircut daily, another famous face will step out sporting ultra-long hair. Meghan Markle, Gigi Hadid, Priyanka Chopra, Margot Robbie and Victoria Beckham have all recently opted for hairstyles with significant length, elevating a simple aesthetic to of-the-moment status.
Why now? “Extreme length is a type of wealth signalling,” Tom Smith, hairstylist and trend forecaster, tells Harper’s Bazaar. “Typically we are seeing very long hair with effortless, relaxed waves, and subtle, multi-tonal colours, and this all plays into the ‘quiet luxury’ lifestyle” – that of whispering wealth via understated sartorial codes. “Extra-long hair gives off an effortlessly cool vibe, as opposed to short, structured cuts which can come off as more high maintenance.”
How to achieve extra-long hair
Part of the reason extra-long hair is growing in popularity, is because achieving great lengths “is more possible than ever,” adds Smith – mainly “thanks to the advancements in hair repair science”. He is a huge proponent of the use of Olaplex's No.3 Hair Perfector “at least every three washes to minimise the micro breakage that can stop or slow your hair getting longer”.
Bond repair treatments and products – from brands like Olaplex and K18 – are now a staple in salons and at homes. Hairstylist Sharon Landmann, founder of salon Lulu Blonde, explains that they “restore broken bonds and lost elasticity caused by colouring and thermal heat styling, as well as strengthening naturally brittle hair”. For prevention she also recommends fatty lipid moisture treatments such as Philip Kingsley's Elasticizer “for regular use which is essential to maintain softness and shine by sealing the cuticles and retaining moisture in the hair”.
Of course, not all ultra-long hairstyles are home grown, and often hair extensions are employed. “While many celebrities rely on the use of extensions, the stretched out lengths that we are seeing right now are styled with relaxed, elongated waves that give an effortless and undone feeling, rather than an uber-glam look,” notes Smith. “This is actually harder to achieve with extensions, as you want to avoid artificial thickness, and so any extensions need to be cleverly cut in a softer and more fluid way so no blunt lines show.”
Using hair extensions for length
“Extensions are not a low-maintenance option, and they must be adjusted every six-to-14 weeks depending on the method used,” explains Smith. “An experienced hair extensions stylist is essential, and they must be well taken care of by using a more gentle and delicate approach to detangling and styling and never tying the hair up or sleeping when the hair is wet.”
To achieve extra-long length Smith uses “a combination of extra small tape extensions with an invisible tape membrane hidden far underneath in the body of the hair, with customised tiny, bonded extensions around the hairline and higher up so that the blend is perfect and the extensions are mostly undetectable.” However, hair extensions must be chosen and achieved on a case-by-case basis. As Landmann says, “each type has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it's important to choose the type that will work best for your hair type, current hair length and lifestyle”.
How to style extra-long hair
Length aside, for the most current take on longer hair, less is more when it comes to styling, says Smith. “Avoid styling with rollers or doing a big bouncy blow-dry, which can make very long hair feel a little old fashioned,” he offers. Yes, bombshell glamour is trending too now, “but this typically looks most current on hair sitting just below shoulder length,” he adds. Instead, encourage texture on long hair by “gently twisting or loosely braiding it overnight to set it in a relaxed wave, or when you want to put a little more work in, twist random sections with a straightening iron and then brush it through while still warm to get a little bit of body”.
If you have corse, frizzy or naturally curly hair, a keratin treatment is a great option for a long-term smoothing, adds Landmann. “Keratin is a structural protein which is combined with natural silk proteins that smooth the individual hair strands, making the hair look and feel sleeker while dramatically reducing blow-dry time. Keratin treatments also repel environmental moisture which causes hair to frizz.” Keratin treatments last between three-and-five months and gradually wear off, leaving the hair in its natural state afterwards with no regrowth.
How to maintain the health of extra-long hair
A well-tuned home haircare regime is crucial to maintaining longer lengths if you want that healthy, wealthy look the A-listers go for – especially as long hair means going longer between salon haircuts. Smith feels the foundation for every routine for long hair should be begin with weekly Olaplex treatments and weekly moisture masks – his favourite being Evo’s The Great Hydrator. “This keeps the hair silky, soft and avoids tangled or split ends by keeping the cuticle conditioned and supple.”
Naturally, avoiding excessive heat styling is advised, too, as it can damage both natural hair and extensions, Landmann adds. “Especially with longer hair, being diligent with extensions after-care is important and extra attention is needed when brushing, combing and washing.”
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