even hemline without loosing length

So, many have been shocked about the progress I have made in the past 3 months when it comes to my post shed hair, it looks much less thinned out. I'm not surprised, and I will explain to you why.
But first you need to understand a few things about hair and how it grows.

1. As hair grows long, it tapers...which means simply that it thins out as it gains length. Depending on a persons genes that thinning out is more or less noticeable. Everyone has a certain amount of taper.

Now before everyone freaks out and starts examining their hair - taper is not necessarily a bad thing, the word "thinning" just makes us think of balding old men...but it is not that kind of thinning.

Taper is caused by the hairs you shed and how long your Anagen (growth) Phase is. Many hairs on your head live until shoulder length, but around Midback it will already be less hair that has grown this far.
This quick skech shows what I mean:

Both women have equally thick hair, it is only that the woman on the left has next to no taper, whereas the girl on the right has an considerable amount of taper.
Depending on how thick and heavy your hair is, it can be good to have some taper as it takes away some weight and a certain "drag".
But as we all know, noone wants to have so much taper that their ends dissappear, so I guess we can say that both extremes are not something you would want, but inbetween is all good depending on the look you are going for.

2. Layers are artificial, created taper, meant to make the hair fall differently, take some weight off, give some lift around the face or simply to create a different style. There is different types of layers but most commonly the front hair is shortened and the layers get longer further down the lengths. In some styles a "top layer" is cut, and most recently fashion has been thinning out hair with a razor to create a more natural tapered look (popular in Asia).
But - you may not like your layers, they have many fans but also many haters. I don't think you can generalize, it really depends on the person and what they want their hair to look like. But know this - layers can make it harder for you to grow out your hair since natural taper will be added to your already layered, thinned out hair. I used to have a ton of layers and I grew them out.
My technique: was to trim off the monthly growth while maintaining at Tailbone length. Within only a half year my hair looked plenty different!
Left: That was my layered cut, already somewhat grown out but still very layered. Center: This is what the same cut looked like after having grown my hair without any trims. Right: That is the result after only a half year of monthly trims.

How does this work?
You have to keep in mind that when you trim, you don't simply only snip off 1/4 inch, your hair also grows down from on top. More even thickness grows down, while you trim at the bottom and in the end the thickness will meet in the middle.
That is also way more productive than just "cutting 8 inches" like most people would suggest, since you don't have to battle uneven growth and the shedding rate as much, you are in fact taking care of it monthly....not after 4 months. Take a look at the next skech, it shows heavily layered hair and the response to monthly trimming.

There will be sucess for everyone, but how fast can vary depending on your growth rate. My hair does grow very fast, that is probably the only unusual thing about it...so I will see results sooner. But the average monthly growth is 1cm/0.4" which will also make a big difference in a few months.
What can fail you is if you are not healthy and your hair not growing at a normal pace and shedding rate. And - you need to have a base to start...meaning "3 hairs" is not enough of a base and your shedding rate will beat you to it. You will have to try and see...but my current base is/was very thin, so you don't have to start with a pronounced hemline.
While growing out layers your hair should thicken up soon, but to be all one length it can take much longer, especially when you are going to keep growing (my layers are TB length+).

If you are only growing out taper:
There will also be sucess, but a bit less since nothing was taken from you, no hair loss or layering occured (or you have grown it out for the most part).The thickening up will be much more gradual. See my 6 month progress made in 2008 with less layers:

August 2008 vs. February 2009

Just a little extra advice: Don't give the layers all the blame, they do make your hair thinner, but keep in mind that a part will always be natural taper, you expectations will be more realistic that way.
Dyed Hair - If you dye your hair chances are it tapers more because of the dye and breakage caused by it, so you can also trim dyed hair and see how the virgin hair will taper more gradually and slowly.

Taper and thin ends are showing the end is near right?

Nope, against popular belief that is rarely the case, neither does it mean your hair is damaged. You can have the worst taper on the healthiest hair. What is true is that if you hair tapers at a shorter length you can not expect floor length, but you can still push it very far. Its like you get a warning years and years before it happens. My ends have been "thinner" since I can remember growing my hair....but the thickness does consistently travel down...years ago midback used to look thin and a few years later it was only thin around butt length, and so on. That is a lot of simply uneven growth too. What will happen is actually that the taper "stretches out" , if you would be looking at a braid you would see that maybe the thickest part at the nape, measuring 3inches from nape to shoulder, will measure 3inches from neck to Bra Strap Length in the future.
Ends are almost always somewhat tapered...even someone with a thick braid will see that the bottom 3 inches are just a considerable amount thinner than the section above. That is perfectly normal.

3. Hair loss can leave your hair looking different than layers, in some ways easier and in some ways harder to treat. Easier because you will get "full regrowth" (assuming you are healthy), so if you lost 30% you will get a lot of thickness back very soon because you are supposed to have that much on your head, it fills in again.
Plus, if you had even hair...it will look even (although thinner) as soon as it gets to the point where its not transparent anymore. It may even look almost normal to others, only you will feel and your braid will show that you are still missing some thickness, it will follow.
But it can also be tough because it is a irregular kind of taper that can leave your hair looking quite wispy for a while. It can also leave your hair looking weirdly shaped, mine tapered in a reverse U-shape with the outer corners longer and thicker than the rest....(*it looked like a 2 prong fork...wtf.? Why couldn't it be a nice V-shape at least?*) But even that is fixable and as you can see much less obvious after a couple of trims.

This looks a bit like my situation, the transparency/ wispiness is very hard to draw but if anything it will show more the straighter the hair. You can see I have marked section 1., 2. and 3. Whenever your hair tapers, it will have certain "turning points" (Ger.: Knackpunkt), here the hair is thick until point 1. - Bra Strap Length, until point 2. - Waist Length it is a bit on the thinner side and you could probably see through it a little. And below that to point 3. - Butt Length, it is just completely whispy.
But after [x]months it will look more like on the right, the thickness will have traveled down below BSL while you were trimming off the thin ends.
What is nice about is that you will get a lot of satisfaction when you feel the bettering! The same way you felt that your hair was getting lighter when loosing thickness, you will feel the gain every time you deal with your hair, and that is just very uplifting!

4. Chop. That would be most peoples first reaction after hair loss, to cut the hair off. It "solves" the problem quickly and without much effort....or does it?
What for example if it has taken you a long time and much effort to get to a certain length, or you are not sure wheather you will have the power to just grow back, maybe you are still very attached to your hair and feel that letting go so much length would be more of a shock than awful taper...and what about all the hairdos you used to enjoy and that are not possible at shorter lengths?
People are very different and I think there should be an option for everyone, not just the chop. Especially since - if you do like to keep your hair long, you WILL have cutters remorse...its not like you felt the need for a change.
But, there is yet another problem with "chop 'n grow", your hair will grow back...but it will grow back with some taper UNLESS you will be trimming your heart out on the way down and take your sweet time...
When maintaining you will get no more than 1 month of uneveness, that you take care of every month. This way you really max. out your thickness while keeping an even, trimmed looking hemline.
Not to say a chop will make it all horrible, your hair will most likely grow back more even, but with the second method YOU are actually shaping it into what you want it to be, the whole time.
I understand that it does take more patience to maintain and trim. But as someone who has grown her/his hair to a very long length you will naturally have some patience ;)
Aaaand: I always say ~ "It never hurts to try.."
Noone can force you to stick with the trims if you are not happy with it, but maybe try and see how the maintaining goes before you go for the chop. I know I would have done it that way, and now that I see bettering I will stick with the trims.

Last but not least - I find it to be a challenge to proof my method right once again, hoping that it will continue to help people in the future when dealing with the same question. Another good reason for me to stay strong :)

This was just a very small and brief insight into hair and taper....so you can expect me to explain a few more things next time.
PS: Excuse the diminishing quality of the skeches, I got impatient on the chop and braid one -_-


20 comments:

  1. Wow Em, that was an extremely helpful & informative post. You truly have become an authority in growing & trimming to achieve healthy, fuller hair. Unfortunately, last August I was foolish enough to go to a salon for a 'trim' but she cut my hip length hair to my shoulders. I admit my hair was extremely damaged from years of dye & it's much healthier now but I so miss my length. I'm hoping to follow tips you provide as well as tips on the long hair forums to regrow my length but healthier this time. Maybe you can post an informative blog about ways to care for & style your hair while growing it out from your own experience during the time where you stopped cutting to gain length (I believe that was when your hubby was away). My life has been crazy busy so I haven't had time to look into learning new updos but any tips you can give us on the best way to keep your hair, whether up or down, while growing out would be great. Also what kind of hairtoys. Just a suggestion.

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  2. Hi Melyssa, sorry to hear you had to cut this much. Maybe I should include damage in this article...because if hair only tapers it will be easier to save than when it tapers and is damaged. Some damage is "topical" and can be fixed, like the sudden dryness and splits I got from my thyroid acting up, once I got rid of the splits (S&D) and got my hair back to a good moisture level it pretty much all recovered. Only old damage is often not fixable since it goes much deeper. I will try to write more about that...actually I have been passing out hair care science for years, but in German (my website and forum) its about time I write down the same in english.
    Thank you for your suggestion, I will do an article about it soon! In the meantime you can check out my site (linked from my Forum Galery)

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  3. This was probably the most informative blog post about hair ever ! I will remain at my current length, too... And I am excited to see results... Thumbs up, Emi !

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  4. Hi Emi,
    that was so informative. I have a lot of taper and for the moment I am fine with it, but my family isn't. With this article i can expain them, how my long hair journey will continue.
    Best,
    Teufelchen

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  5. Thanks for this Emi! It was very helpful, and certainly cleared up some confusion I had. I thought the sketches were quite good too!

    I'm planning on growing until my goal length (buttcrack length :P), as long as my damaged ends are fine, and then slowly trimming off all the damage while maintaining at BCL, which will take a while. Like you, I can't bear to chop it all off and be done with it - and now that I see it doesn't even make sense in a practical way, I'm even more determined. :)

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  6. Thanks for this great insight! You're right! I do have patience and I'm going to use it! You have convinced me to trim monthly!

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  7. I hope the trimmming works out for you guys! Don't hesitate to ask questions along the way, and if you like, keep me updated on the progress! I would be gla to hear that it worked as well for others too! :)

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  8. Emi... I would love to use your monthly trimming method as I find it superior to the old method of trimming once the damage accumulates after several months, how much should I trim each month if my hair grows at a rate of 1/2 inch per month...I will be writing this question on your Youtube channel as well. Thanks so much!

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  9. I'm TBL with fairy tale ends, and I'm not sure wether I should stay and maintain at TBL, or grow to classic with so me trims along the way (?) and then maintain. Right now I just wait and don't do anything until I know what I should do...
    I like the "LOTR look" with the whispy ends (think Galadriel, in the movies) but I want to thicken my hemline and make it more even.

    Any suggestions?

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    Replies
    1. Hello Julia,
      when FTE's get very wispy, to the point where they are transparent, it can be harder to thicken up the hemline. But if your ends are still somewhere around pencil thickness, it is safe to grow a bit more. TBL to Classic can take some time. I would "trim as needed", if you feel your ends are getting to thin simply do a small trim and then continue to grow? It is hard to make a schedule for your hair because you will never know how it behaves, how many hairs shed, break and how many grow down to Classic ;) I have also done short maintaining phases of 3-6 months in some cases.

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  10. I don't even know if I want classic... I feel TBL is allready a lot of hair for me. It's just that I'm not really ready to stop growing, yet.

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    1. Hi! Well since you are so close I suggest just grow until you feel you don't like it anymore. You can always cut it a bit shorter. I personally did not feel like classic or thigh length was more of a hassle...though after hair loss it was a bit annoying to have very long hair and thin ends. I certainly feel long hair is more compact and stays in one blob better when the taper is more gradual...(as in hair loss free gradual)

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  11. Hello Longhairedatheart. I really do find your updos inspirational as I too had an illness with a huge shed and after diagnosis was started on medication that causes increased shed,(methotrexate). It doesn't help that I'm over 50 and hair thinned due to hormonal changes before sickness. Thank Goodness I started all of this with a lot of hair. I stayed the course and have worked on my health and now am seeing a thicker hemline with "dusting" trims every 2-3 months. Thank you for sharing your journey and your updos with us. Julia

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    Replies
    1. Hi Julia! I'm glad this method worked for you! I also have a few posts about hormonal changes in case they may be interesting to you. I had problems with my hormones after pregnancy and really bad PMS, very irregular, abnormal periods. I took supplements that support a healthy estrogen metabolism and they helped completely. They do not interfere with hormones like synthetic hormones or soy would.
      Just in case this is interesting to you and I hope sheds stay away in the future! ;) Emi

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  12. this post of yours really brought about a change(+vely :) ) in my hair related anxiety.i had very long hair from my early teenage itself but when i began losing it in a pathetic way that nothing more than 1/4 th of the initial thickness remained i was in dilemma.after fighting with almost 7 years of dandruff,scalp acne and resultant hair loss thinking that i had very bad hair(now i feel it was not soooo poor), i let the whole length turn into layers beginning from my cheek bone to below butt area.regret lead to more stress and pain but for heaven's sake i found out this post even though a little late.THANKS A LOT DEAR FOR GIVING ME THE CONFIDENCE TO LET MY HAIR REMAIN WITHOUT A DRASTIC CUT.now i am waiting (though it will take some 4 to 5 years to get rid of layers and regain the post-shed thickness) with a thin but thigh length hair.A BIG HUGGY THANKS .. :) :)

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  13. nice tutorial about hair which is very useful for me.

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  14. This is a wonderful and very in-depth post. Thank you! :)

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  15. I think your method of just trimming was very informative. I wish I would've read this sooner....Like, before doing a big chop. Thanks!

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Emi

Emi
34 year old mom of 2 boys from Frankfurt Germany

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