Many people aspire to have long, beautiful and healthy hair. I'm fortunate to have long, healthy hair and people often compliment me and ask me how I grow and maintain it. Even strangers will stop me in the mall and on the beach to talk with me about it. I'd like to share my hair care secrets with you. These proven techniques will help you get the naturally healthy, shiny long hair that you desire.
1. Get your hair trimmed once every 6-8 weeks.
In order to grow your hair long, you want to keep the dead ends from splitting. Once your hair is damaged, the ends will split and make your hair look and feel frizzy. Getting your hair trimmed every 6-8 weeks gets the dead ends off and prevents further damage.
2. Only brush your hair once or twice a day.
This recommendation seems unusual, but it really makes a big difference in the health of your hair. Brushing your hair is helpful to distribute the natural oils from your scalp throughout the rest of your hair, but it's also damaging to the strands. Brushing your hair less frequently will minimize breakage and allow your hair to look smoother.
3. Always blow-dry your hair on low with warm heat (never hot).
If you blow-dry your hair, be sure to set your hair dryer's intensity on "low" and never use the "hot" heat setting. Using the highest settings fries your hair and accelerates damage. Your best bet is to also use a diffuser attachment to distribute the heat and help your hair dry faster.
BONUS TIP: To make your hair look even shinier, use a round brush at the ends of your hair while focusing the hair dryer on it to "curl" it slightly under. Using this technique from the roots of your hair down to the bottom while holding the "cold" shot button will add extra shine because it helps seal the hair strands. (Hot air expands them and cool hair contracts them.)
4. Use a hot oil treatment once a week.
Hot oil treatments help smooth your hair and prevent future damage. They're easy to use, just heat the tube up in the sink and apply to your hair before shampooing. Let it set for one minute and then rinse, shampoo, and condition as you normally would. You can find hot oil treatments in the hair care aisles of discount stores and drug stores. The brand isn't important, go for the least expensive one you can find. Be sure to stock up when they go on sale.
BONUS TIP: Use a hot oil treatment the day after you have been exposed to sun, wind, chlorine, etc. more than usual. I always use one the day after a trip to the beach, a theme park, and the pool to repair any damage that may have occurred and to smooth my hair.
5. Wash and condition your hair with moisturizing products. Look for shampoo and conditioner labeled as "moisturizing." Never skip the conditioner, it's important in order to maintain the silkiness of your hair. I like Redken All Soft products with avocado in them. They smell amazing (tropical scent) and they work wonders on my hair. I've been using them for years and continue to be satisfied with their products. The best place to buy them is in discount beauty stores. You'll save at least a few dollars compared to what you'd have to pay at a salon. Ask the discount beauty stores when Redken products will be going on sale and then stock up. If you're looking for a less expensive option, I find Pantene products to be decent as well.
6. Give your hair a moisture treatment once a week.
The key to growing long, beautiful hair is to keep moisture in and avoid/minimize damage. A moisture treatment is a high-intensity moisturizing cream you can apply once a week for 15 minutes to help restore your hair. My favorite is the Redken All Soft moisture treatment. If you follow this routine, your hair will feel incredibly soft.
7. Only use "ouchless" ponytail holders and hair accessories.
A lot of damage is caused by sharp or rugged hair accessories. If you want to wear your hair in a ponytail, be sure to use "ouchless" ponytail elastics. These are very inexpensive and are available in all drug stores and discount stores. If you're not sure if it's "ouchless" or not, look for accessories with non-rubbery smooth edges with no jagged pieces to get caught in your hair. This is especially important as your hair gets longer and heavier.
8. Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as fish.
Similar to your body, your hair cannot look its best if it doesn't get the proper nutrients. Eating an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables every day will help you maintain your hair's radiance. Fish contains healthy fats that give your hair strength and shine.
9. Take a good multi-vitamin daily.
Your body needs a lot of different vitamins and minerals to be healthy. Take a multi-vitamin each day to ensure that you're getting everything you need. This will be a compliment to the healthy foods you're already eating. Your hair will look its best when you're taking the best care of yourself.
10. Drink lots of water every day.
Your hair needs water to hydrate and grow. Make sure you're drinking enough. Most people need 6-8 glasses of water each day. The easiest way to make sure you're drinking the optimal amount is to carry a water bottle with you everywhere you go and drink from it throughout the day. Keep count of the number you drink and refill or replace as often as necessary.
11. Avoid cigarette smoke.
Cigarette smoke is very damaging for your hair. A smoky environment will dry out your hair and make it much more susceptible to breakage. Your hair will look dull and brittle if you spend a lot of time smoking or around smoke. The best thing is to avoid smoky environments all together. If you have to be in a smoky place, make sure to use a hot oil treatment the next time you wash your hair to help restore some moisture to your hair and minimize the damage.
12. Be patient and it will grow.
This is sometimes the hardest part. Long hair takes time to grow. If you continue to use these techniques, you will eventually have long, beautiful hair. In the meantime, you'll have healthy hair that you can be proud of. Whatever you do, resist the urge to crop it off. Hair goes through "awkward" growth stages and if you can just wait a little longer, you'll have the shiny long hair that you desire.
Follow these guidelines and you'll improve the look and feel of your hair in just a few days. Take great care of yourself and your hair and you'll have long, beautiful hair before you know it.