Let me just start by saying that ‘beauty blogs’ are deffo not my forte. Prior to this, the only time I have ever posted anything remotely ‘beauty’ related was my article on adult acne at the start of 2021. Not exactly the most sassy or glamorous topic...
As stated in that article, ‘going all out’ make-up wise for me basically just entails switching up my Nivea lip-scrub flavour from plain to rosehip.
I have never even attempted to contour in my life and I think the only time I have ever worn eye shadow was when it was ‘Elf Day’ at work and I messily chucked green powder across my eyelids.
Make-up wise, I know my limits, and they tend to end rather abruptly around the Boots Natural Collection range.
Sometimes, if I’m feeling EXTRA cheeky, I might slash on a flick of red lipstick. Most of it ends up on my teeth tbh, which is always a professional look in the office, NOT.
One thing I do get complimented on, however, is my hair. It’s very thick, naturally wavy, and three foot long in length (no, I’m not joking – I made my husband measure it. We don’t waste our lockdowns).
I often get asked what I do to retain the length of my hair, and how it came to grow so long in the first place, so I thought I’d put together a little hair-related blog post.
(BTW, I’m WELL out of my depth with this one! Please don’t be expecting arty shots of expensive products against a backdrop of homegrown indoor Moroccan jasmine flower or anything like that. I took my obligatory ‘Product pic’ on the duvet after shoving my husband out of the bed during his post-Christmas nap. Don‘t think I’m ever gonna be TikTok famous for my beauty tips, put it that way… 🤔🤣)
I always had long, thick, wavy hair as a child, although it only got as dark as it is now when I was around 11. I was born white-blonde, and it has just gradually gotten darker and darker over the years.
If you’ve read my ‘Beauty Disasters of 2011-2013: The College Edition’ blog (https://www.carajasminebradley.com/post/beauty-disasters-of-2011-2013-the-college-edition), you’ll be familiar with the catastrophe that occurred in 2012, whereby I – in my quest to become a WAG - went from my natural dark hair colour to blonde IN ONE SITTING.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I had to have about three quarters of my hair hacked off and spent a bitter six months saving the money I acquired from my part-time waitressing job to hire a lawyer to sue my hairdresser. (Never happened, obvs. Pretty sure I saved about 30 quid before blowing it all on Bondi Sands fake tan and a knock-off Juicy Couture hoodie. I’m not proud of the state of 18 year old me).
A week after going blonde, I was forced to dye it back to my natural dark shade, but this didn’t amend the damage that the bleach had already done.
It took literally YEARS for my hair to return to its full health.
After blonde-gate, I DESPISED having shoulder-length hair. It was in such hideous condition; I only had to be in the same building as a pair of GHDs and it would pretty much whither in fright and start shedding. I avoided putting any heat whatsoever on my hair for a good few years. It wasn’t even as though I could embrace my natural waves during that time either – the bleach had wrecked my locks so much that my curls refused to spring into life. It was literally just this horrific, straggly mop of straw, and it had reduced its thickness by half.
When I moved to Spain in 2015, my hair was still reviving itself and I was conscious of the sun causing further destruction. I shoved it up in a bun every day and washed it with Joico K-Pac shampoo and conditioner, which had been recommended to me by a hairdresser friend. This stuff was incredible and really restored some moisture into my hair, but Christ I’d have to remortgage my house if I were to use it again. It costs a small fortune, but if you’re looking for a quick and guaranteed way to improve colour-damaged hair, I would stress that it is worth every penny.
When I moved back to England, the condition of my hair improved. I noticed significant growth. Slowly but surely, my waves came back and thickened up my mane.
My hair is now the longest it has ever been. It touches the bottom of my spine, and I have to tie it up when I go to the loo (TMI, I know. Gross, but true).
Sometimes I even accidentally sit on my own hair, which is actually quite painful, believe it or not (imagine rockin’ up at A&E and them being all like, ‘So how did you get this terrible bout of whiplash? Were you involved in a car accident?’ and I’m there like ‘Nah I just sat on my own ponytail.’ No wonder the NHS is under strain).
I only wash my hair once a week. Some people find that utterly disgusting, but it’s actually recommended! Washing your hair too frequently strips your scalp of the natural oils that promote healthy growth.
Even more bizarrely, I also wash my hair in olive oil… No, I don’t need sectioning – hear me out! Olive oil has been well renowned in the beauty world for years, especially in Mediterranean countries.
It’s not advised for those with thinner hair as the oil simply weighs down the follicles, but this basic kitchen-king is unbelievable for thick, wiry hair like mine! It has been proven to reduce and prevent split ends, which are public enemy number one when it comes to growing hair.
I pour a few drops of olive oil into the palm of my hands and then lather it into my scalp, before rinsing it out with two helpings of shampoo.
If you’re going to try this, please God above make sure you THOROUGHLY wash the oil out! If in doubt, whack on another splash of shampoo. On more than one occasion, I have fallen victim to rushing this routine and have then had to walk around all day looking as though I’ve had a particularly ferocious argument with a chip pan. Not a good look...
Any olive oil will do, though I do tend to prefer one of a higher price range as opposed to supermarket's own brands. I also buy myself my own little bottle for the bathroom, because it can get a bit awkward if your other half wants to fry some chicken after a long day at work and thinks you're out of olive oil so storms off to the shops and you're upstairs sloshing it all over your head, none the wiser.
I use Herbal Essences Argan Oil shampoo and conditioner. I have tried and tested everything from Head & Shoulders to John Frieda, and I have to say that Herbal Essences have been the best for my hair by far.
After I have shampooed and conditioned, rinsed my household’s water bill and seen in the next millennium, I round-off my ritual by applying Garnier’s banana flavoured Ultimate Blends Hair Food. If I’ve got time, I’ll apply this as a mask and leave it in for an hour or so.
If I’m in a rush, I’ll just apply it as an extra layer of conditioner and then rinse straight away.
There are tonnes of products claiming to nourish and improve dry hair, but in my experience, very few deliver the goods. Garnier Ultimate Blends Hair Food is INSANELY amazing!!! In fact, I can’t believe that it comes at such a cracking price. The smell of this stuff is just divine too, and the scent lasts for days.
So, just to recap, this is my once-a-week hair routine:
1) Olive oil
2) Herbal Essences Argan Oil shampoo
3) Essences Argan Oil conditioner
4) Garnier Ultimate Blends Hair Food mask
5) The laughter tears of Scottish pixies
6) Extract of Pikachu sweat with hidden enriching hair growth elements
As a vegetarian, I do eat a lot of vegetables which are also good for hair health. To supplement any potential lacking in nutrients from my diet, I take Hairburst Vitamin capsules. I’ve only been taking these for a few months but have already noticed a further increase in the thickness of my mane and it does seem to be growing at an even faster rate than normal!
I still try to avoid putting heat on my hair. I blow-dry it perhaps twice a month (so for half of my washes), and I use straighteners/ curlers probably no more than five times a year.
If I want big, bouncy curls for a special occasion, I’ll use the old faithful ‘dressing gown chord’ trick – it’s heat free and totally genius! (If you’ve never heard of this, just type ‘dressing gown chord curls’ into YouTube and prepare to have your mind blown – you’re welcome!)
If I am going to use heat on my locks, I make sure I have a bottle of heat spray to hand. It’s a no brainer.
So to conclude, when people ask how I grew my hair so long, it’s hard to give a definitive answer. I believe that a combination of the products I use paired with the fact that I subject it to heat very sparingly have all helped to build up and maintain my hair’s strength.
Cara Jasmine Bradley