How to grow your hair long and strong

Hair extraordinaire Naomi Panizza reveals the simple secrets to hair growth, and where we’re all going wrong

“Go and see Naomi Panizza!”

“Have you spoken to Naomi Panizza?”

“Book in with Naomi, she’ll sort you out!”

These were the responses I got from several friends when I’d clutch their mermaid hair and whine that mine couldn’t ever get that long.

Naomi Panizza is the owner of Creative Lengths, a Perth-based hair salon that specialises in hair extensions.

She’s been a hairdresser for 30 years and developed her own unique way of inserting hair extensions 15 years ago, which involves inserting micro bonds in a special way so that they grow down with your hair and protect it.

naomi panizza

She now has a reputation as one of the best hairdressers in Perth, so I booked in with Naomi and took on her advice.

Eight weeks later I went back with longer, healthier hair to bombard her with questions and here’s what she told me…

Thanks so much for taking the time out to chat with me today! Let’s start with how you got into hairdressing…

My pleasure! I was in boarding school doing a lot of acting and sports, but the careers councillor saw the [hair] creations I was doing on everyone in my boarding house, so she put me onto work experience.

What sort of creations?

I was cutting their hair and using food colouring in foils to colour sections. That’s how it started!

Amazing! Well you’ve come a long way since then and have had thousands of clients by now; what mistakes do you always see women making with their hair?

Overusing thermal tools without a protective cream or spray. Never EVER use a heated tool without protector, Nak’s repl.ends Leave in Moisturiser is brilliant!

People don’t realise that every time you’re putting thermal heat on hair it’s the same as ironing a delicate cloth over and over and over again; it breaks down.

Also using a brush with nodules on the bristles (those little plastic balls) or afro combs. They just tear through the hair as the strands get stuck in the nodules. Tangleteezer, Michel Mercier, Great Lengths, Mason Pierson and Denham have beautiful brushes.

So there must be a few hair myths you’d like to bust?


1. Don’t brush the hair when it’s wet

People have always said this damages the hair but it doesn’t.

Just put a bit of Nak [Repl.ends Leave in Moisturiser] or a protein spray in when its wet, then section it up with some good quality sectioning clips.

Start brushing at the tips of the hair and work your way up toward the scalp. Never start from the top of the head going down as you’ll tear or stretch it.

When the hair is dry and knotty and you’re ripping from the top of the crown down, you’re just going to tear it out.

2. Split ends are on the ends of your hair

Split ends are all over. People will ask for a ‘split ends trim’, and the stylist will just say okay and nip the ends off.

Split ends are up the follicle, not to the root, but a fair way up.

I do a technique called roping, which is going up the shaft of the hair with very sharp scissors and taking them away, it’s like putting a match to a piece of rope it stop it splitting.

This gets rid of the fluffiness that appears from split ends. Think of hair like rope that keeps on fraying and you’re brushing it incorrectly; all of a sudden that hair is ruined and girls come to me saying my hair isn’t growing.

Stylists are either being lazy or they don’t know how to get rid of split ends. 

3. Blowdrying your hair upside down to get volume

Visualise constantly brushing a fish against its scales, eventually they’re going to break down aren’t they? It’s the same with your hair, you’re going against its gravity.

Brushing your hair over your parting on the top is fine but do it on a cool dry, everyone thinks you’ve got to have the hairdryer really hot, you don’t. 

What are your top tips for growing hair long and strong?

1. Brush your hair and scalp correctly

Why brush your scalp? Everyone nowadays is stressed.

When you have a lackey band on your finger the blood flow is getting cut off, so visualise that with your stressed and tight scalp, that follicle is not getting fed.

Brushing is time out for the person as well, it may only be for two or three minutes, but brushing your hair and scalp is so relaxing and your scalp tingles afterwards!

2. Shampooing

Always use your fingertips and zig-zag over your scalp from the parting downwards.

Never do that slicing motion with your fingers across the top of your head, you’ll pull it out.

3. Don’t overload your hair with protein

Some companies use too much protein (keratin) in their products. If you’re not prescribed correctly, you can do more damage.

4. Always use conditioner after a treatment

Hair treatments have an ingredient in them that opens up the shaft so it can go in to develop.

People don’t understand that if the hair isn’t sealed back down by conditioner, that treatment will keep on processing.

Girls say to me: ‘I’m using this treatment every week but my hair getting drier.’ That’s why.

Are there any ingredients we should look for in products to grow our hair long and strong?

I’ve always promoted light protein and moisture together.

So when my girls come to me I prescribe the Matrix Instacure for protein reconstruction and to stop breakage. Then there’s the Nak Leave In Moisturiser, which is instant.

The incredible Anti Tap Water by Great Lengths neutralises all the chemicals, chlorine, its a reconstructor too, but it goes in and strengthens to the ends which stops breakage.

There are so many supplements out there, I’ve tried and tested everything and absolutely love the Planet Health Silica vitamins. That’s helped my girls that have had chemotherapy, alopecia, everything!

When you’re consistent with them, they will double or triple the thickness of your hair. My extensions and those vitamins are the sexiest products you’ll ever come across.

Any ingredients we should avoid?

Anything that has silicone or petroleum.

I wont mention the names, but there are two well known companies that use them and I have photographic evidence of a girl’s hair completely torched to white powder from those two ingredients combined.

The product states it repairs the hair, so a client uses those products as it’s fuzzy or breaking, but what it does is it goes onto the shaft, stains the hair and coats it. Petroleum is petrol and silicone, well, what does that do when you put heat to it? It ignites!

What about dry shampoo, does that damage your hair?

Depends on the company and the ingredients.

Be careful of the aerosol; don’t point it too close to your hair as that carbon, that gas, will be drying on your hair as it snap-freezes.

Nak’s is absolutely brilliant, you won’t want to use any other dry shampoo. It doesn’t dry your hair out – excessive use of anything will – but gently brush it out at night. Bumble and Bumble’s is also brilliant.

If you were stranded on a desert island and could only take 3 products what would they be?

  1. Definitely my Great Lengths brush!
  2. My Nak, I couldn’t live without my moisture!
  3. I’m torn between Instacure and Anit-Tap water. Probably Anti Tap Water because when you’re deserted on a romantic island, you still have to have flowing hair.

Hair products for long hair


From left to right: sectioning clip, Nak Relp.ends Leave in Moisturiser, Nak Dry Klean Dry Shampoo, Matrix Biolage Keratindose Protein Spray, Compact Tangleteezer, Michael Mercier Detangling Brush for fine hair, Great Lengths Anti-Tap Water, Great Length Measuring Bottle

This was my hair the day I saw Naomi for the first time…


I purchased the Anti-Tap Water and Nak Repl.ends Leave in Moisturiser from her and followed her advice for 6 weeks. My hair now looks like this…


Normally my hair is in raggedy points by the time it needs a cut so I can’t believe the difference!

I use the Anti-Tap Water after every wash and the Nak Moisturiser 1-2 times per day.

I’m finally on my way to mermaidhood!

If you want to see Naomi about your hair, contact her and get the results yourself. She’s one of the kindest women I’ve ever met and really wants the best for you and your hair.

As for me, I’ll meet you by ocean in a few months, I’ll be the one wearing the seashell bra.

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