Long Hair Do's and Don'ts!
by D.A. Fox
If you've never had long hair before, there are going to be changes you need to make in order to reach your long hair goals. Long hair care is different from hair care for shorter lengths. The longer your hair gets, the older your ends are, and as with anything that ages, it requires special care.
A common saying in the long hair realm is "Treat your hair like old lace!" This is good to keep in mind because in our busy world, you might often find yourself rushing through the brushing or combing process, snapping and popping as you go, and the end result will be damaged hair. If you remember to treat your hair as though it could easily be damaged, your locks will show off the rewards of gentle care!
Now that you know that your hair will require a new concept in care, lets get down to the basics!
Brushing, Combing, and Detangling:
As a child I always remember my Mom brushing my hair and starting from the top and working those knots clear to the ends! Ouch! I dreaded the brushing experience, but there is a way to really enjoy it! In order to avoid tangles; start by detangling the hair.
Do not try to use combs with the teeth close together, instead use a wide tooth comb or pick . Combs with teeth close together will cause unneeded strain on your hair. The best way to comb your hair is to start at the bottom and work your way up. I like to run my fingers through my hair as I go. This gives you some warning if you are coming upon a tangled or knotted area. Run your fingers through a small lower section, then the comb, go up a few inches, and then back down through the ends, continue working your way up in small sections, until you reach your roots. At that point you should have a nice smooth stroke all the way to your ends. Move on to the next section, repeating the same thing, until youve worked your way around your entire head. For some, combing alone will be enough to keep hair neat and looking smooth. Those with curly hair find picking or combing to be the ONLY thing possible for their hair. For others, you can follow the same procedure for brushing after you've detangled. When brushing, try running your hand over your hair behind the brush strokes to make sure there is no static and to smooth hair.
It is possible to safely detangle with a brush, and in fact, some prefer this. Large Paddle-type brushes work well for this. Make sure your bristles give your hair enough room to glide through. Again, bristles too close together can cause more harm than good. Follwing the same method as comb detangling, work your way up from ends to roots, section by section until your hair is tangle free.
For scalp stimulation, after you've detangled, you might want to try bending over so your head is upside down. Starting from the ends, work your way up. Once you are assured that you can smoothly brush from roots to ends, begin brushing. You will feel the blood flow into your scalp, which is excellent for root health. Once you are back upright, allow your hair to settle. If your hair is easily prone to tangles, you might want to make sure you are still tangle free.
Avoid brushing your hair while wet. Hair is at its most fragile time when wet. If you must detangle wet hair, use the wide tooth comb. My favorite comb is the Mason Pearson
rake comb. This is a seamless comb, so there are no seams to catch and pull hair. The teeth are perfectly spaced for detangling.
There is only one method of brush detangling that seems to work well on wet hair. This is to be done in the shower. The flow of water from the showerhead will help to detangle your hair. With the shower water flowing down over your hair, starting from the ends and working your way up, brush gently with downward strokes until you can go through the entire length of your hair. This should be done on hair that has conditioner in it or other acidic rinses. The conditioner or acidic rinse (like Apple Cider vinegar and oil) will make the hair easier to detangle. This method has helped those who lose too much hair when detangling wet hair. Just remember to be very careful when handling wet hair!
If you're tangle prone, it's important to take the time to detangle your hair before washing. This will help to tame your mane, even before you start the washing process.
There are several shampooing methods that can be used. We will cover some of them here. Washing in the shower is the one I find easiest.
I use the CWC method, which is Condition, Wash, Condition. I wet my hair under the shower spray, then apply conditioner to the length only. Leaving the conditioner on, I apply shampoo to the scalp area. I find that diluting shampoo in an empty bottle is helpful in this. You can point and squirt at different areas of the scalp, getting good coverage. NEVER pile your hair up on top of your hair and move it all around. This creates too much wear and tear for long hair. Place your fingers against your scalp and gently massage in a small, circular motion until youve covered your entire scalp. The next step varies depending on your preference. I like to hold my length out to the side, or pull the length forward over my shoulder, and allow the shower spray to rinse the shampoo from my scalp before I let the rest of my hair down to be rinsed. Others have said that they like to just let the suds rinse down over the conditioner, rinsing all at once. If your hair is more damaged, I would opt for keeping all shampoo off of your length. It's been washed many, many times, and if damaged, does not need the cleansing agents on it. Conditioner alone is enough to clean the hair. Once the hair has been rinsed, you can either rinse with an herbal or vinegar rinse, before applying a second round of conditioner on the length again, or you can skip the acidic rinse step and go right to the conditioner. If you are using a protein conditioner, you might want to apply it to your scalp at this time as well. Allow the conditioner to stay on as long as you can before rinsing. Most conditioner are designed to work well within 1-5 minutes. I leave mine on while I finish the rest of my shower, and leave the rinsing step until I'm ready to get out. Remove excess water by gently coiling your hair. You may wish to place a towel over your hair "Mother Mary style," keeping your head upright and wrapping the towel ends around your length. If you dont wish to cover your entire head, simply wrap the towel around the length and bring it forward. For those who tangle easily, keeping the hair in the same position as it was washed, can help prevent excess tangling.
Leaning over the sink or tub is another washing method. Keeping your hair upside down, wet, lather, and rinse. (You can use the CWC method here as well) Squeeze hair out gently by coiling until excess water is removed. While remaining with head in the down position, wrap a towel around your hair, twist around length and bring back over your head, turban style. Turbie Twist towels are helpful for this, and available at local beauty supply stores as well as on the internet. A similar method to this is the George Michael
washing method. For more information on that, click here: GM washing instructions
Scalp Washing is a way to freshen up your scalp without washing all of your hair. You might want to put your length in a pony tail, low braid or low bun. This will help to keep your length dry and out of the way. Leaning over your sink wet the crown area of your scalp. Apply shampoo and massage gently. With a cup or large sea sponge, rinse well. You can mop up excess water with a sea sponge or towel, and gently finger comb in place to dry.
As you experiment with different washing techniques, you will find what works best for you. It may be a combination of the things I've covered here, or something entirely different. Washing topics are something the main hair care board often covers.
Some, like me, find oils to be a wonderful help in protecting fragile ends. As your hair gets longer, natural scalp oil, sebum is not able to reach down to your ends, like it could when it was shorter. Use of a boar bristle brush is one way to help your scalp oils reach your ends, but this doesn't work for everyone. By substituting oil, like jojoba, which is very similar to sebum, you can apply a few drops to your hand, then run your bristles over the oils before brushing. Another option, which is my personal favorite, is to tilt the bottle of oil over on your hand and back up again, leaving only a small amount of oil. Rub your palms together to distribute oil. I run my fingers through my length first. I then follow that by placing my lower hair length between my two palms and lightly press together, sliding my hands down my hair. You can only do the last couple of inches, or like me, do 6-8 inches. The longer your hair gets the higher up you can go without fear of getting an oily scalp. I do this before bed, and sometimes in the morning too, depending on how well my hair has absorbed the oil.
is also a good use of oils. Apply a thin layer of oil exactly as directed in the methods above, and allow it to remain on your hair for 30 minutes before washing. Depending on your hair and washing method, heavier amounts can be used. You just dont want to use so much that it requires additional shampooing, which defeats the whole purpose. A thin layer of oil is protective and the hair seems to respond well to it.
Just say NO
to heated styling tools! Heated styling tools like curling irons, hot rollers, and blow dryers, can be extremely damaging to hair, especially with repeated use. Find other ways to style your hair. Braiding for waves, with a roller on the ends works very well. Rag roller, roller setting, and pin curls are all "curl" options that stay away from heat. If you want your hair straight, try wrapping your hair or using extra large rollers, which will give body, but no curl. Sitting in front of a fan is a nice option for drying hair more quickly without using the blow dryer.
If you find you must blow-dry, use a cool setting. Drying on high heat causes the moisture in your hair to swell up before evaporating, like boiling water, which causes damage to your hair structure. Use your blow dryer on cool, warm if you must, but NEVER
hot! Always blow down the length of the hair, and never upward. You want to keep your hair cuticles laying flat and smooth, so blow downward! A gentle use of the blow dryer when using the "Scalp Method" of washing, is often helpful when you need to get ready for work quickly. Just keep the heat on low
Are you stuck on hair sprays, gels, and mousses? If you are, be sure to consider the ingredients in your products. Alcohol can be very drying! Cetyl Alcohol is actually a moisturizing agent, but beware of others like SD alcohol. Consider using Aloe Vera Gel in place of your regular hair gel, or find a more natural product like Aubrey Organics
, which has a couple of hair gel options as well as mousse. Kiss My Face
also has a natural gel option, as does the Jasons Natural Cosmetics
line. Jasons also has a hair spray. If you cant give up that hair spray of yours, use it in moderation, small amounts, and not everyday!
Hair up or down? You will find that the longer your hair gets, the more you might want to wear it up. When I first started down the road to long hair, I thought long hair should be worn down ALL the time! Why wrap up that glorious mane? Well, I've come to learn there are plenty of reasons to wear your hair up. Wearing your hair up can help protect your ends from rubbing against clothing, chairs, and from getting caught on doorknobs. If you find you're having trouble with dry ends, wrapping a bun up while your hair is damp helps to trap moisture into your ends. Some have found this to be a "hair saver" in dry climates.
Wearing your hair up also insures that there will never be a "bad hair" day. If your hair doesn't look right down, any one of a number of updos can solve that problem! Scalp too oily? Leaving your hair looking limp? Grab a bottle of your favorite oil; apply a few drops down the length, and then slick back all of your hair into a sleek, chic bun. You can make the most of many "problems" by using updos. If you are style challenged, take a look in our Styling Station
. You'll find step by step instructions and pictures to help you find something easy for your hair type. Updos give you an escape from heat in the summer, and an easy way to tuck your hair under a warm hat in the winter. As one of our valued members here says, "At some point, everyone buns!"
On windy days, secure hair with scarves, scrunchies, Hairgloves, or updo styles to keep from getting tangles.
Braid before bed to keep from stressing your hair from movement in your sleep.
Sleep on satin. Cotton absorbs oils from your hair. The slippery satin will allow your hair to slide over it rather than catch.
In cold weather, protect your hair by keeping it on the inside of your coat, or by tucking it up under a hat.
Before cutting your hair, wait 3 weeks to be sure that this is truly what you want. If you change your mind even once, wait three weeks from that point. Never cut hair out of frustration or depression.
If you are thinking of a major cut, cut in stages. If you should change your mind after taking off 3 inches, at least the other 6 are not yet gone! Once you cut, you cant put the hair back on, but you can always cut off more later, if thats something you really want to do.
Learn to adapt to new things as your hair gets longer. What worked with shoulder length hair, may not work at waist length.
Above all, enjoy your hair at every length, in every stage. There is joy in the journey of long hair, and it starts right now!
IF you have additional tips youd like to see added please Email Me!
17/33.50/35+ - Bangs at 15 inches - Type 2CMii (3B underneath layer) Somewhat fine, slightly wavy (with curls on the underneath layer), light brown with gold and red highlights. To see more pictures, click on the gallery link found here:
You can also find me here: The Long Hair Loom
"Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Choose your words, for they become actions. Understand your actions, for they become habits. Study your habits, they will become your character. Develop your character for it becomes your destiny." -John MacArthur
Aubrey Organics S&C
Oils: Jojoba, Sweet Almond, Virgin Oil de Coco Creme, Monoi, Castor, Meadowfoam Seed & essential oils
Shea Butter (from which I make my own leave-in)
MP Popular Mix Brush
Wood and Horn combs