There are pros and cons to every kind of hairstyle out there. A short hair cut may be quick to style, but you’ll need to visit the salon more regularly; and while layers add movement to thicker hair, they can make fine hair look thin and lifeless. The same can be said for long hair: long locks are beautiful when they’re healthy and shiny, but they also require their own unique form of care to fight against split ends, damage and breakage. It’s one thing to grow your hair out, but it’s another to make sure it’s healthy, damage-free, and full of shine.
Luckily for all of the long hair enthusiasts out there, we have some simple tips and tricks to help you get the healthy, strong long hair that you’ve been looking for — and keep it looking that way.
It might seem counterintuitive to get regular haircuts when you’re trying to grow your hair, but it’s an essential part of the process. Going too long without a trim means potential breakage and split ends; when left alone, these splits can move up the hair shaft, leaving you with frizz, damage and scraggly-looking locks. Schedule regular trims with your stylists to make sure your ends are healthy and growing strong. And as an added bonus, regular trips to see your stylist means that they can monitor your hair growth and make recommended changes in your daily beauty routine — they may even have suggestions for different hair cuts that can make your hair look more voluminous and healthy without sacrificing too much length.
Since longer locks are more susceptible to split ends, the hair care products you use need to be protective and moisturizing to help your strands maintain their strength. Try an anti-breakage shampoo to reinforce and elasticize your hair, and a conditioner for long hair to moisturize, add shine and protect against damage. But since damage from dryness can go beyond just a simple shampoo and conditioner swap, check out our blog post on how to moisturize your hair to make sure that you’re doing everything you can to get long, healthy and hydrated strands. Especially if you’re using your blow dryer a few times a week...
Even though you have the right products, you need to make sure you’re using them the right way. Just because your roots may be oily, doesn’t mean your lengths and ends need the same amount of cleansing — overwashing can strip your hair of the essential oils it needs to maintain the optimal balance of health and shine, leading to excessively dry ends, damage and breakage. To see how often you should wash your hair for your specific hair type, check out our recent blog post. And never underestimate the power of a good dry shampoo when you’re in between wash days to keep your natural oils in balance!
photo by Lindsay Del Colletti
Once or twice a week, it's important to treat your hair to a deeper form of conditioning and nourishment. Swapping in a rich hair repair mask instead of your usual conditioner will help repair and correct any dryness or damage from the inside out, leaving you with softer, silkier and shinier long locks. After shampooing, apply the deep conditioning treatment throughout your hair (concentrating on the ends to combat dryness), allow it to sit for about 10 minutes, then rinse.
Longer hair is more susceptible to tangles and knots, which means you need to be careful when brushing your hair (especially when it's wet). After drying with a microfiber towel to reduce friction or damage, spray a leave-in hair milk and use a wide tooth comb to gently detangle your hair. When you need to brush your hair when it's dry, tools such as a boar bristle brush act as a gentler alternative to minimize friction on your hair. Being too rough with the way you detangle and brush your hair is another main cause of split ends and breakage.
A high, tight ponytail can be a cute look, but it can also be damaging to your hair. Styles such as ponytails, top knots or anything that involves tightly pulling your hair back can lead to tension and breakage, which can be made even worse if you’re using rubber hair bands that cause friction. But if you do need to pull your hair up for your next shopping trip or gym session, consider swapping in hair accessories, like scrunchies, that cause less friction on your hair, or opting for a looser style. Whether you have thick, coily curls or thin, straight locks, find the right hair accessories for your hair type.
If you’re planning on heat styling, always apply a heat shield for hair or blow dry primer to protect against heat damage and frizz: apply evenly from roots to ends before using a blow dryer or other hot styling tool to help minimize the amount of stress you’re putting your long hair under — and distribute evenly with a wide tooth comb. Allow your hair to air dry slightly before whipping out the blow dryer as another way to reduce the amount of time your hair has to be blasted with heat, and try to not use the maximum setting on your hot styling tools. And check out our blog post on how to do a perfect blowout at home to make sure you’re keeping your long hair healthy and protected during the styling process.
Photo and style by Mélanie Guille
Make sure your hair gets its beauty sleep: here are our favorite ways to ensure you don’t wake up with your long locks in a pile of frizzy tangles.
You know how we recommend using microfiber towels instead of standard cotton ones to help reduce friction and breakage? The same goes for your pillowcase. Silk and satin pillowcases help your hair glide more easily, meaning less potential damage and morning tangles for you.
The best beauty tips are the ones that require minimal effort, so improve the quality of your hair while you sleep. Apply an anti-breakage hair mask before bed to help add body and elasticity to your strands, helping them to grow long and strong. If you’re worried about product residue getting all over your pillow, invest in a silk scarf or hair wrap.
Your long hair is just a few tosses and turns away from leaving you with a heap of tangles to wake up to in the morning. Specific hairstyles like loose braids or buns help keep your strands in order, protecting against breakage or future damage from friction and knots. As a bonus, they’ll usually leave you with more voluminous or wavy-looking hair when you take them out in the morning. To find the ideal style for your hair type, check out our blog post on overnight hairstyles to avoid hair damage.
A final thing you should consider looking into when you’re trying to maintain hair health is your diet. Because you know what they say, you are what you eat. There are a lot of delicious, healthy foods that help grow your hair: omega-3 fatty acid-rich salmon or chia seeds help restore protein and shine, leafy greens like spinach and kale are rich in antioxidants and vitamins to promote hair health, and the vitamin E in avocado is amazing for helping to grow your locks. Every healthy lifestyle requires balance, but try to avoid excessive consumption of foods high in sugar, which can have a negative effect on your overall hair health.
Long, healthy hair has long been considered a standard of beauty, but it doesn’t have to be an unattainable dream reserved for Rapunzel. Once you start using the right hair products, making sure you’re styling gently, scheduling regular trims and finding the right overnight care routine, long and healthy hair is well within your reach. And if you have any additional tips or tricks to maintain long hair, let us know in the comments!
By Lauren Hannel, staff contributor
Cover photo by Saty and Pratha
Balayage and style by Mélanie Guille