Any hair can grow long and healthy; at least, if it grows at all, then it can be that luxurious mane you always wanted. Most people know that extreme heat and chemical treatments are bad for your hair. In fact, as far as styling irons, blow dryers, dying and relaxing – it’s all hair murder. Those aside, there are a few things you can do to help ensure your hair gets the right nutrition and the right delicate treatment to be healthy at any length. These are some of the ways I got to knee-length hair without the dull, frizzy, brittle, split hairs that happen so often along the way.
Healthy hair starts with a healthy you
Like it or not, a good diet and exercise regimen comes into hair health just as much as any other aspect of health. Drink plenty of water and eat a well-balanced diet. Try to limit or eliminate alcohol, caffeine and tobacco. Get regular checkups to rule out major health issues; health problems often show in the hair and nails first. Want a cheap and easy way to make your hair grow faster and stronger? Take some biotin supplements, or a multivitamin containing extra biotin.
Take care when you wash and dry
Shampooing your hair every day will dry out your hair. In addition, shampoos that contain ingredients with the suffix -cone are silicone-based – they will make your hair appear smooth and shiny, but only by giving it an artificial coating. These “cones” seal out moisture and nutrients, degrading the true health of your hair even while it makes it appear healthier.
Never “scrub” your hair while you’re in the shower. Gently smooth shampoo and conditioner over the length of your hair, using shampoo sparingly at the ends and conditioner sparingly on the scalp. Gently pat your hair with a soft towel, then lay the towel over your shoulder so the hair can dry flat. Twisting your hair into traditional terrycloth towels will tear and tangle it, and the position of hair dried in a turban-style towel may cause it to hang at unnatural angles. Don’t have time to let it dry naturally? Throw your hair into a messy bun or other simple updo while it’s still wet.
Throw in some extra oil
Some people think that you wash your hair to remove oils. While that’s often what happens, it’s actually to remove grease, dirt and debris. Most shampoos strip your hair of beneficial oils, so it’s important to put them back into your hair. The exact type of hair oil you use will depend on your hair type and the surrounding environment. Some favorites include jojoba (technically a wax ester), coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil and almond oil. These help reduce friction for fewer tangles while combing, and can even reduce or eliminate the need for mousse or hairspray. Use sparingly – a couple drops of oil will be plenty for most heads of hair.
Wear your hair up as much as possible
It’s fun to wear your hair down, especially when it starts getting to impressive levels of length and body. That said, wearing it down invites trouble. Your hair will tangle more, get caught on clothes and furniture, and suffer mechanical damage from rubbing against things in your everyday life. Sure, you can wear your hair down for a treat every now and then, but try to keep it up. That doesn’t mean you’re doomed to boring buns and ponytails, though – there are thousands of creative updos you can try that will still make your hair stand out from the crowd.
Trim your hair regularly, even outside of the beauty salon
A real trim with a trained stylist is a good idea once every few months, but there’s more you can do with your hair in the meantime. Micro-trims help keep split ends at bay by clipping them off before they have a chance to get worse. These trims can be done every 2-6 weeks, and usually involve a cut of ¼” or less. Make sure that you use good, high-quality hair scissors that will cut individual hairs instead of crush them. In addition, you can “dust” for split ends while you’re watching TV or chatting with friends and family at home. Dusting is simply checking individual hairs for splits, and clipping off any that you find.
Your hair may be fragile and unhealthy right now, but it’s not hopeless – it can still be the long and gorgeous hair of your dreams. Do some research and find the best hair tools and accessories for your hair type, and don’t be afraid to experiment as you grow out your damaged hair.