Anyone with healthy hair can grow it long and show it off. But those who do research, and who invest in maintenance and styling regimens, will outshine the rest. Their long hair will sit better, look healthier, tangle less and cooperate more.
If you plan to grow your hair out, or if your long hair is in need of some attention, it's important you establish both grooming and styling routines, maintenance ones, too, if you swim or color your hair, and stock up on the proper products.
This is an easy-to-follow routine for people with (or planning to have) long hair. Even if you don't have flowing locks yet you should be preparing for them. If you want long, healthy hair you need to tend to it daily.
- Shampoo only once or twice weekly.
- Condition daily. Always after shampooing, or on its own. Never use it together with shampoo, nor before.
- On the days you shampoo, follow it with a leave-in conditioner (in the morning, or before bed). Often this can replace your in-shower conditioner for the day if your shampoo itself is nourishing.
- On the days you don’t shampoo, or the mornings after, use dry shampoo to soak up excess oil.
- Apply a dime or nickel or styling cream to clean, towel-dried hair in the morning.
- Comb it through, then blow dry.
- Add a couple drops of hair oil for added luster or shine, as needed, or to the ends of the hair to control flyaways.
- On days when you don’t need as much product or regimen, try applying a few drops of hair oil through rinsed, dried strands for just enough control over flyaways.
- Finish your style with a spritz of texturizing spray in the ends and side of the hair—or at the roots if you want added lift there. Run your fingers through your hair for a more natural finish.
- Brush rinsed, towel-dried (damp) hair nightly to detangle and evenly distribute scalp oils. Add a couple drops of hair oil to the middle section and ends, to help nurture the parts of your hair that aren’t close to the oily scalp.
This is our guide to reparative and restorative care, which sometimes, although rare, requires the help of a licensed professional. Return visits to the stylist are still required even though you're forgoing cutting it. They'll tidy that which you have grown already and get it ready to grow even more.
Maintaining long hair is much simpler when you focus on a thorough daily and weekly regimen as outlined above. The main things to mind are to avoid excessive exposure to harsh chemicals (like chlorine), as well as harsh sunlight (UV damage affects hair quality, too).
Visit your stylist every 8 to 10 weeks to clean up the ends and texturize the hair throughout your head — this is especially important as it grows out, to avoid awkward in-between stages. Don’t strain about whether or not it negates the “growing out” process. They’re simply layering and texturizing it so it looks healthier and grows evenly.
Be mindful of additional stress on the hair, like with hair ties and hats. This can either pull the hair too taut and cause it to fall out permanently, or it can lead to breakage and fraying at the site of the strain.
Most people already own shampoo and a comb. But styling cream? Leave-in conditioner? Less likely. So, order all of these, or fill in gaps in your existing routine, but don't skimp. Healthy hair can be needy, and even costly, but it's worth it.
Although you’re going to shampoo just 1 to 2 times weekly with long hair, you still need to invest in one that doesn’t strip your hair of its natural moisture. Look for shampoos that promise to be both hydrating and conditioning, but never pick one that is a 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner. You need to save that second step for its own powers to work. (Read on.) Alternatively, if you suffer from dandruff or itchy scalp, it’s important to prioritize that with a shampoo, especially considering the number of other products you may be applying.
While you should only wash your long hair 1 to 2 times per week, you should absolutely be conditioning it daily. There is no harm in doing this — quite the opposite, in fact. Now, more than ever, you need to prioritize the long-term health and ongoing strength of your hair. So, fortify it daily with a soothing, softening conditioner when you shower.
You can use hair oil for a couple different reasons. On the one hand, it helps tame flyaways and keeps hair from frizzing. Better yet, it nourishes dry strands—especially the ends of the hairs, preventing them from splitting—and restores a healthy shine to the hair. (Worry not, a couple drops won’t make your hair look greasy.)
On the non-shampoo mornings, you may notice that some excess sebum has gathered on your scalp, and that your hair isn’t as lively as you’d like. Resist the urge to shampoo, which can dry out all of your hair, and instead target the scalp with some dry shampoo spray. It’ll soak up the excess grime, seemingly disappearing it into thin air, and will give life and volume back to your hair. Use this on rinsed, dry hair, however, as it can clump up if your hair is wet or covered in product.
Get an ionic hairdryer, which helps dry the hair faster, while also minimizing damage. (Typically, faster means higher temps and more damage to the hair; ionic makes your life easier in both senses.) A blow dry will reinforce any product you apply in the morning, and help maintain control over your style throughout the day. It can also give your hair a little extra volume, too, and an ionic one will do so without overdrying and poofing.
Your longer hair will often style itself, thanks to gravity and a good texturing from your stylist. However, you’ll still want to apply a dime- or nickel-sized amount of styling cream to it on the daily, to keep control over it. This will prevent any wind sweeping, frizzing, tangling, and the likes. Most people won’t even realize you’re wearing anything. But trust us—you will notice, and you’ll be so relieved for the difference it makes.
A texturizing spray, often boasting minerals or sea salts, will give your long hair more definition and body. You can apply it last in any styling regimen, then tousle everything for just the right kind of unaffected surfer-caliber finish. It’s especially good for giving you definition at the middle and ends of the hair, whereas the dry shampoo and creams often work better atop the head. (Though you can and should apply and comb cream or oil throughout the strands.)
Once or twice a week (perhaps on the nights you wash), you can follow your shower with a leave-in conditioner, often called a leave-in mask. You apply it to towel-dried (damp) hair, and typically can leave it in — hence the name. However, some hair masks are designed to be rinsed out after 10 to 20 minutes, so please read the instructions carefully. These products seep deep into the cuticle of your hair to strengthen and soften it, restoring dry, damaged hair to a healthy state—or preventing healthy hair from losing its luster.
This will help you distribute product, tame flyaways and coach hair into place as you style in the morning. You can always tousle the hair once it’s styled if you need to hide comb-tooth tracks.
Before bed each night, it’s wise to brush your freshly rinsed (or washed) hair. This helps distribute the natural oils in the hair all the way to the ends so that you avoid splitting and fraying. On the days you wash, when there aren’t as many natural oils in play, you can add a couple drops of hair oil, and instead comb those into place. Do this before bed each night, and you’ll notice an enormous difference in the strength and quality of your hair, and quickly.