This is something that I get asked about ALL the time: how did I go about getting my hair so long while keeping it healthy? Except for two unfortunate stints with short hair - one in 5th grade and one in 2009 - I have had long hair my whole life. Needless to say, I have learned a thing or two about how to get it as long as possible, AND keep it healthy as well. As a teenager, my hair was damaged from heat and getting it highlighted so often. It was dry and brittle. Now, I have developed much better, healthier habits for my hair. Allow me to pass on to you some tips that I've picked up throughout my long-haired life:
1. Minimize Heat Usage. I used to blow dry my hair every morning before straightening or curling it. Every. Single. Day. Not only did this take close to an hour to do and was a huge waste of time, but it was also REALLY bad for my hair. Now, I don't even own a blow dryer, and I never straighten my hair. In fact, I use zero heat on my hair, except for when I curl it every few months or so. When I curl my hair, I make sure to apply a heat protectant first. I wash my hair at night before bed, towel dry it, twist it up into a top knot or throw it in a french braid, and let it air dry while I sleep. In the morning, it is dry and full of volume and texture from the top knot, or beachy waves from the french braid! No heat required!
2. Brush Less and Brush Right. If I'm being honest, I don't always brush my hair every day. Sometimes I will go a day or two without brushing it. I try to just comb through my hair when I have a conditioning treatment in, or I will take a brush to my hair if it starts looking flat or messy. But by brushing much less than I used to, I've found that my hair has a substantially less amount of split ends. What I DO try to do is brush JUST my scalp in 'U' shaped strokes for a few minutes whenever I think of it. This helps to stimulate the hair follicles and encourage hair growth. Plus, it feels amazing, like a nice scalp massage!
3. Eat Healthy. A healthy diet is so important for a number of reasons! But, for the purposes of this post, let's talk about how important it is for your hair. Eating nutrient dense foods will help your hair to grow longer, stronger, and thicker, AND it can give your hair that much coveted shine. It's important to get enough iron, protein, and fatty acids in your foods. Basically, the healthy foods that you should be eating anyways are important for growing your hair long. And BONUS, they are key to healthy, beautiful skin and nails as well! Here are some foods that you should incorporate into your diet for healthy hair:
- Leafy greens, like spinach and kale
- Pumpkin seeds
- Protein, such as chicken, beef, eggs, pork, lentils, kidney beans, etc...
- Greek yogurt
- Sweet potatos
You can also take supplements, such as Biotin and Vitamin E. These are said to be really great for your hair and for making it grow longer and thicker! I have tried Biotin and didn't really notice THAT much of a difference. But, go ahead and try it! Some people swear by it.
4. Deep Condition. I do a deep conditioning treatment once a week. Since I've started doing it, my hair has felt thicker, softer, and it is much shinier. Basically, it feels and looks healthier. I love this hair mask.
5. Less Frequent Hair Appointments. I only get my hair trimmed twice, maybe three times a year. Honestly, I'll let you in on a secret: there isn't a need to get it done every 6 weeks - that is a myth! You only need a trim when your ends start looking split and ratty. Since I stopped getting frequent trims, my hair has grown longer, and NO, I don't have more split ends. It is thicker and healthier than it has ever been. As far as color goes, I try to only get a full foil maybe three times each year, and then I will just do partial foils the rest of the time to brighten up my hair and touch up my roots as needed. My hair used to be SO damaged and fried when I used to get it colored EVERY month. It is so much softer, shinier, and healthier now.
6. UV Protection. Your hair is susceptible to sun damage, just like your skin is. I try to wear hats when I am going to be in the sun for an extended period of time. There are also sun protectants for hair out there. I haven't used any of them yet, but I plan on getting one to try out soon, so stay tuned and I'll let you know which ones I like!
7. Protect Your Hair From Wind. This might not be something that you would automatically think of, but wind can do a number on your hair. It whips hair around, tangling it up, giving you big knots, and causing breakage. I have learned the hard way to just throw my hair in a braid or bun when I am going to be in windy conditions, such as on a boat or a mountain. This keeps it neat and tidy!
I hope these tips are helpful! I know that everyone's hair is different, and that these tips may not work for everyone. Some of you who are hair stylists may even want to strangle me through the screen. :) These are just some things that I have found to work well for me. My hair is the healthiest, longest, and strongest that it has ever been, and I hope that these ideas help YOU to grow your hair long and healthy too! Let me know if you have any questions or comments!