The seemingly counterintuitive beauty adage of having your hair regularly trimmed if you want it to grow has its merits—split or frayed ends make hair look stringy and unhealthy. So how can you speed up the growing process if you’re in the market for mermaid hair?

Technically you can’t, says Pascale Guyonnet Debersac, scientific communication director for hair products at L’Oréal Paris International. “The only thing that can control hair growth is the hair follicle itself,” says Guyonnet Debersac, noting that hair grows between 0.8 and three centimetres per month, depending on your ethnicity. “It’s where cell multiplication is at a higher rate than in any other organ in the human body; it is not possible to accelerate this process by much.” You can, however, cheat the appearance of long hair with healthy ends. 


L’Oréal Dream Lengths Shampoo and Conditioner ($6 each), Mask ($9), and No Haircut Cream ($9), available July 2018 at drugstores and mass-market retailers.

When developing the new Dream Lengths collection, researchers at L’Oréal Paris found that an altered cuticle and unprotected cortex, as well as the loss of keratin-associated proteins, were the main issues with aging hair. So they formulated a cocktail of vegetable-based amino acids—the building blocks of protein—that are present in the human hair fibre, as well as castor oil and vitamins, to repair damaged sections. (Castor oil has been said to promote hair growth, but there’s no scientific proof that it works that way, says Guyonnet Debersac; it has, however, been found to be effective at strengthening ends.)

At L’Oréal Paris’ lab in France, the treatment was applied to hair samples of varying ethnicities and put through tests using equipment from the textile and automotive industries. They found an impressive 87 percent reduction in hair breakage and 30 percent reduction in split ends after one application. In other words: Start researching ways to style long hair now. 

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2018 issue of ELLE Canada.