How to Manage Your Long Hair
Managing long hair can be mighty difficult sometimes. Just ask anyone who has, or has ever had long hair. There is so much extra care required to keep it under control, and sometimes it can get a little out of hand. The more hair you have, the more work you have to put into it, and the easier it is to damage it. I know first hand, having had long hair all my life, how unruly it can get, especially if it's not cared for properly. If you're like me, it may seem like you've tried everything to stay on your hair's good side, but to no avail. I have some tips that will help you take good care of your hair, and keep it looking and feeling healthy.
Don't wash your hair every day! I repeat, do not wash your hair every day! The natural oils that your scalp produces is actually good for your hair. That's why it's produced in the first place. I know, I know. Your hair gets really oily and starts looking terrible if you don't wash it every day. Believe me, I know. But there are things you can do to hide the oil. For example, try using a dry shampoo to minimize the appearance of the oil between washes. Washing the oil out every day dries out your hair. Not to mention the harshness of the washing process and the shampoos used. Try cutting down to washing every other day, or even less often if you can. You'll notice a big difference in the health and look of your hair (the difference is good, I promise!).
After trying just about every conditioning product available, this one is my favorite.
Conditioning your hair is an important step in keeping it healthy and manageable. If you don't already use a conditioner on your hair, I strongly suggest that you start doing so. Conditioner helps to soften your hair, so that tangles can be worked out much more easily. Conditioner is made for all types of hair, and comes in lots of different forms. Some of the most popular types are:
1. Regular hair conditioner. It comes in a bottle of it's own, and can be found in just about any store, right next to your shampoo.
2. 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner. This is just one product that acts as both shampoo and conditioner.
3. Leave-in conditioner. This form usually comes in a spray bottle, and can be sprayed into either wet or dry hair. You simply comb it through, and you don't have to rinse it out. This can sometimes come in handy when you don't wash your hair every day, but the tangles get really unruly.
Just like your shampoo, there are conditioners available for every hair type: dry, oily, curly, straight, color treated, and so on. You will just have to try a few different kinds to figure out which you like best.
How to Brush Your Hair
With long hair, damage is a particular concern. It's important that you take care when brushing your hair so that you don't cause split ends. Split ends happen when the hair (usually when wet) breaks. When a single strand of hair breaks, the end that remains is left damaged, and often splits into two or more pieces. The split can spread all the way to the top of the strand. When this happens to several strands, your hair as a whole becomes weak, and appears frizzy.
To avoid causing split ends when brushing your hair, you need to use the correct brush. When your hair is wet, use a wide-tooth comb (shown in the picture on the right). This will prevent your hair from breaking. When your hair is dry, use a brush with plastic bristles. You should never use wire ones, as your hair will easily get caught around the wire and break.
Technique is important as well. Always begin brushing your hair from the bottom. In small, gentle strokes, carefully work the tangles out of the bottom two or three inches. Then move a little further up, and work the tangles out. Keep moving upward until you've reached the top.
A hair dryer with attachments (like this one) is your best bet for avoiding heat damage.
Blow drying your hair too often can easily damage it. The heat from the blow dryer "fries" your hair, leaving it feeling dry and looking dull. If possible, avoid blow drying and let your hair dry naturally. If you absolutely must blow dry it, use these tips to avoid damage:
1. Use the low setting. Lower settings on blow dryers are much kinder to your hair than the higher ones, which use more heat.
2. Add some distance. The blow dryer should never be closer than six inches from your hair.
3. Take advantage of attachments. Some blow dryers come with an attachment that clips onto the front and fans the air out over a larger area. If you have one, use it! By increasing the area you're covering at one time, you lessen the intensity of the heat.
4. Always start at the top of your hair, and work your way down to the bottom, pointing the dryer downward at all times. Pointing the dryer upward while blow drying your hair can cause damage to the hair follicles. It can also contribute to frizz.
Be careful about the styling tools you use, especially hair ties (otherwise knows as "pony-tail holders"). Try to avoid the rubber ones, and those with metal bands on them. These will pull on your hair. Not only is this painful, but it will cause breakage as well. Instead, use the "ouch-less" ones, which are now available just about everywhere. They are much easier on your hair.
Curling irons and flat irons are another thing to watch out for. Heat does absolutely no good for your hair, and curling or straightening on a regular basis causes quite a bit of damage. If you absolutely must use a heated styling tool, try to find one that has a low heat setting. But if you can, find alternatives to curling and straitening. For example, use non-heated rollers to curl your hair. Put them in while your hair is wet, and take them out after it dries. Use hairspray to hold the style.