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Healthy hair care for long hair

By: Karlie Eldred

long hair care

I have had long hair most of my life and have learned through many trials how to best care for long hair. Some things to consider when wanting long and healthy hair are the following.

How thick or thin your hair is depends on heredity. Thick or thin hair can still grow long and healthy but its length will also depend on what genes you have. Some women have genes for really long hair and others can only grow hair to their shoulders. I've seen some women with thin hair that is down to their knees too. Most women can grow their hair to about the middle of their back before it starts to get wispy and thin looking.

How often you trim your hair is another choice. You don't have to trim you hair at all if it's healthy. The only purpose of trims is to keep the hair shorter and thicker looking and to get rid of split ends if you are prone to them. If you do not have split ends and want longer hair you do not have to trim your hair. Remember, salons are in business to keep you coming back and most will tell you that your hair needs a trim every four to six week to grow which isn't true. Hair is dead and the grow rate has nothing to do with the bottom ends. (See Hair 101: Get to know your hair's anatomy.) However, split ends should be trimmed off because they cannot mend with even the best of products and will make your hair look frizzy.

What you eat is more important for healthy hair than what you put on it. A well balanced diet and exercise keeps the body healthy and the circulatory system working, as it should. Circulation is important for your skin and hair follicles. Drink plenty of water too. The healthier your skin is the better off your hair will be. Biotin has been proven to be a great vitamin for enhancing healthy skin and hair growth. Many new hair products have biotin in them but taking the vitamin will do more for your hair than putting it on your head. Other important vitamins are A, B1, B12 and C.

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Less is more. This is very true for long hair. The less you do with it the better off it will be. You can get away with washing your hair every other day or less. I wash my hair twice a week. Long hair does not need to be washed as often as short hair because it needs the moisture from your scalp to be brushed down onto its length. In fact if you wash your long hair too often your scalp will produce more sebum (oil) leaving you with greasier looking hair. If you are used to washing your hair everyday it may take a couple of weeks to slow down the production of sebum so your hair won't rely on those daily washes that dry out your length.

Long hair should be brushed no more than twice a day with a high quality vent brush. Leave in oils such as jojoba make a nice hair conditioner the night before you wash. Put some jojoba oil into your palms and rub together then smooth down the length of your hair. Using a high quality soft boar bristle brush to distribute the oil. Braid your hair and leave in for at least an hour or overnight if you are going to wash your hair the next day. You can add some essential oils to your jojoba to boost the conditioning properties. Rosemary, lavender, cedar wood oil and Juniper berry are excellent for your hair and scalp. Just add a couple drops each to a 2oz bottle of jojoba oil.

Products for every hair type are easily available on the market. I suggest using a simple and basic shampoo followed by a light conditioner. My favorite brands are Bed Head, Avalon Organics, and Paul Mitchell. Don't be afraid of generic brands either if you are on a budget. Select the type of shampoo that is the most compatible with your scalp type. If you have oily skin then use a clarifying shampoo. If you have dry skin then use a moisturizing shampoo. I like the Avalon Lemon Verbena shampoo. Shampoo only your scalp and not the length of your hair or you will be stripping it of its most needed natural oils. To keep hair from looking too greasy use a lightweight conditioner on a regular bases. I like the Paul Mitchell Detangler because it is lightweight and makes the hair tangle free. A deep condition is also good to use once a month or whenever your hair feels dry. Most companies make deep conditioner packets that you can purchase in any drug or grocery store.

After you have washed your hair you need to be careful with how you handle it. Wet hair is more fragile than dry hair and will break easier. Try using a large tooth comb and comb your conditioner through your hair while in the shower to detangle. Then gently bring all the hair to one side and carefully wring out the excess water. Gently wrap into a towel and let the towel absorb the water while you dress.

Blow-drying long hair is not something I recommend on a regular basis. If you are going to blow dry your hair use a heat safe product to protect against heat damage. Just about every company on the market these days makes a leave in heat and iron safe product. Rub the product between your palms and smooth onto your wet hair before drying. Use a large wide spaced toothcomb to distribute the product. Keep the blow dryer on a cooler setting and use your fingers to comb the hair as you dry. For special nights out when you are going to use a curling iron or flat iron make sure you get a good distribution of the heat safe product on your hair. If you hair is on the oily side use the type of product that is thicker and looks like a lotion. If you hair is kinky and prone to be dry and frizzy use the spray on type of heat safe product but spray it onto your hand and not your hair or you could end up with too much product on one area. I like the Tigi Catwalk Fashionista Smooth & Shine Heat and Iron Safe product.

Product build up can happen to hair causing your favorite shampoo or conditioner to not work the way it once did. To prevent this all you have to do is a simple vinegar rinse whenever you feel your hair is becoming limp or not responding as normal. I use equal parts white vinegar with water and pour it onto my hair after I shampoo. I let the vinegar sit on the hair for about five minutes and then rinse and follow with my lightweight conditioner. If you have oily hair you can do your rinse last after you condition. For blonde hair add a cup of chamomile tea to your rinse for added golden shine. If you have dark hair apple cider vinegar works too but it does have a strong smell that you will have to put up with for a couple of minutes. The smell goes away after you rinse it out.

Visit our hair style gallery for hair style ideas you can do with healthy hair.

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