Asian woman with long hair in a blue dress

If you’re dreaming of long and flowy mermaid hair that goes up to your tailbone, you’re in for both good and bad news. The good news is, there are ways to maximize your hair growth. The bad news? Every person’s hair growth has a limit, which is influenced by genetics and lifestyle.

This limit depends on the length of your hair’s anagen phase, which is the active phase of hair where the cells in the root are rapidly multiplying. This process forces hair to grow out of the hair follicle and out. Some people have an anagen phase of two years. On the other hand, others have seven, according to the National Institutes of Health. It depends on your genes. 

The hair can grow by one centimeter every 28 days or roughly a month during the anagen phase. Hair stops growing when the anagen phase stops. About 85-90 percent of hair is in the anagen phase at any given time.

After this, hair goes into the catagen phase, where it stops growing, and the telogen phase, when old strands fall out and new hair grows from the same follicle. Losing 100 strands of hair a day is the average — don’t worry, you have about 100,000 of them on your head.

If you want to grow your hair, the goal is to lengthen your hair’s anagen phase or prevent your hair from prematurely falling off. Achieve the mermaid hair of your dreams with these tips — note that they are not steps, but habits that you can practice to encourage hair growth.

Treat Your Scalp Like Your Face

You can’t have healthy hair without a healthy scalp. Treating your scalp like you treat your face, that is, paying attention to it as often and adjusting your products and practices according to its needs, is essential to growing long, healthy hair. Anything that blocks the follicles, whether that’s sebum, dead skin, or dandruff, can impact your hair’s ability to grow.

— not overly oily and not too dry with products that nourish the scalp. Try Love Beauty and Planet Hope and Repair Shampoo, which moisturizes the hair and scalp with virgin coconut oil. It’s also free of parabens, colorants, and silicones that can clog hair follicles and stunt hair growth.

Minimize Breakage and Damage

Minimizing breakage and damage can help keep your hair strong and healthy. You can do this by not subjecting your hair to friction and tension from and rough fabrics. Avoid brushing your hair when it’s wet to prevent breakage, and instead, use a wide-tooth comb. Protect your hair from the sun — it too can get UV damage.

Protect your hair with products that smoothen the hair cuticle to protect it from fracture, and those that strengthen it at the root. Dove Nourishing Oil Care Keratin Tri-Silk Serum Shampoo coats hair with a blend of Nutri-oils that make it smooth.

Meanwhile, Dove Hairfall Rescue+ Keratin Tri-Silk Serum Shampoo has DynaZinc complex that fortifies hair at the root, making each strand more resilient. Try alternating shampoos as your hair and scalp require.

Eat for Hair Growth

Eating for hair growth simply means maintaining a healthy, balanced diet. Talk to your doctor for a complete assessment of your body’s needs and ask about which nutrients will benefit your body the most. In general, however, iron, zinc, biotin, vitamin B complex, and vitamin D can help boost hair growth by giving it a healthy place to grow: your scalp.

While there’s no guarantee that these will give you mermaid hair, eating a balanced diet will have benefits overall. Long, luscious locks are merely a nice side effect.

Manage Stress

According to the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, stress can shorten your hair’s anagen phase. The stress hormone cortisol affects the function and cycles of the hair follicle. High levels of this hormone can result in stunted hair growth, or, in some cases, . Telogen effluvium or temporary shedding of the hair is common in women.

Factors such as stress or extreme hormonal imbalance disrupt the hair’s anagen phase and force them to enter the telogen phase prematurely. As mentioned earlier, this is where they fall out.

According to the UK Mental Health Foundation, a balanced diet, exercise, relaxing activities, getting restful sleep, and being kind to yourself, in general, can help reduce feelings of stress even when there are triggers all around you.

Don’t Fear the Shears

Your road to should be paved with regular appointments with your hairstylist. Just because you’re growing your hair, doesn’t mean you should avoid getting trims. Trims don’t significantly alter your hair’s length or style, but it does make your hair look significantly healthier by getting rid of dry, .

On the other hand, if you’re starting with really short hair, having a regular haircut can keep you from getting bored and giving up. Ask your stylist for transition cuts that keep your length but give your hair movement and shape.

Mermaid hair is achievable but manage your expectations. At the very least, it’s a good way to find out your hair’s maximum capacity for growth — while challenging it. Manage ultra-long tresses easier with TRESemmé Keratin Smooth Shine Serum. It uses keratin and African Marula oil to detangle hair and keep it soft and smooth, regardless of length.