With the blogosphere being so full of advice for long hair care you might wonder why I'm bothering adding my two cents to the mix. Well, much of it is, well, not very practical! Also, not much is geared towards those seeking a simpler, less consumer driven life. And let's face it, for many of us ladies, we will buy nearly any product that promises beautiful, shiny, tangle free, sweet smelling, silky hair!
I began actively growing my hair when I was eleven. It took me eight years to get down to knee length, which was my goal, and I've hovered in that area for quite some time now.
At this point, I've narrowed down my hair care to a happy standard. It's not always super shiny, and it will never be tangle free thanks to natural wave, but most of the time I am very happy with it.
Styling Tools. I don’t require much in this department.
I have a wide toothed shower comb I use for basic detangling.
For finshing, and basic styling I use a Tangle Teezer. I LOVE this brush, it detangles and smooths hair beautifully, and nearly painlessly. Seriously, if you don’t have one, get one.
I always keep a fine tooth rat tail comb as well for getting clean parts and sectioning hair for accent braids.
To hold my hair up, I use two products. When it’s wet from washing, I put it in a bun held with steel hair pins. These are the work horse of hair pins, last forever, and are gentle on the hair.
When it’s dry, I put it up in various twists and hold it with a Flexi8 Clip. This is my go to hair clip. I work in a restaurant and need my hair to be kept up firmly, for many hours at a time, and this baby does the trick. I own four, and wear them about five days a week. They are the BEST hair clip for very long lengths.
Last, I keeps some standard hair pins, and small elastics around for accent work.
Products. Again, I don’t like many different products. After many years of trying hundreds of different things, these are what I currently use.
Giovanni Triple Treat Tee Tree Shampoo is what I’ve been using for a while now. Every once in a while, I will switch to a different flavor in the same brand just to keep things from getting too settled. I tend to use a more moisturizing one in the winter months, and the tea tree in the hot summer months. I only apply this to my scalp, not the length. The length does not need to have to oils stripped from it on a frequent basis. Regularly pulling the shampoo down your length is setting you up for a hopeless attempt to grow your hair past that ‘certain’ length it never seems to get past.
Suave Everlasting Sunshine Conditioner is my go to conditioner. I use it every wash.
Every couple months I clarify with Neutrogena Anti Residue Shampoo. This is very important. It removes all the build up from my shampoo and conditioner, and starts me back at square one. Unlike my regular shampoo, this I apply to the entire length. It can be quite drying if used frequently, so use judiciously. When my hair is feeling dull, extra tangly, limp or coarse, I clarify, and one or two washes usually fixes everything.
Oil. I like to oil my length of added moisture and protection. For many years I used Virgin Coconut Oil and had great success with it. However, I developed a severe topical allergy to it, and since, have yet to settle on any one particular oil. I switch between Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Shea Butter and Castor Oil. I’ve tried many others, but they are all expensive and don’t work any better than these. If you don’t oil, I would highly encourage you to begin. Very little oil is needed, but it makes a big difference in the long term for your hair.
Routine. So, I don’t wash my hair too often. I’ve experimented with many different times, and for the last few years this has worked best for me. In The cooler months I wash once a week, when things start to warm up and I’m sweating everyday, I wash twice a week.
I shampoo the scalp hair, condition the length, leave in a micro fiber towel for a few minutes, detangle and damp bun for the day.
At night, I put my loose hair into a silk sleep bag I made for it. This has majority cut down my my tangles. Some folks have success sleeping with their hair in a braid, but I find it highly annoying, so the sleep bag has been a much better way for me.
Trims are done sporadically, usually I’ll trim a few times a year. Since I’m maintaining, this is no problem. Back when I was growing, I still trimmed, but only twice a year, and only an inch at a time. Trimming does not help you hair grow faster. However, by trimming off the worst damage on a regular basis, it allows the hair to grow longer without the stress of rough ends.
So, a few points in closing.
Shampoo length on a regular basis.
Use heat such as blow dryer, curling iron or flat iron. These will FRY your hair.
Drag any old brush through it. Take the time to invest in a brush that will not rip or damage your hair. I strongly recommend the Tangle Teezer, but you could also try the Denaman brush or a quality Boar bristle brush.
Condition, condition, condition. I never get my length wet without applying conditioner.
Clarifying when hair seems rough and tangly and your ready to chop it all off.
When you need to cover your hair, try using a Buff. I use these everyday in the restaurant as the standard uniform hats don’t fit over my hair. They come in many colors, and several different material options. I find the UV protection, when dampened with water actually helps cool me in the heat of the kitchen.
Keep hair up an protected most of the time. It won’t look it’s best if it’s subjected to the rough life of being down, stuck between chair backs, caught on door knobs, tangling in the breeze and such.
Happy growing, and if you have any questions feel free to ask.