I get compliments on the health of my hair often and people ask me how I keep it healthy when it's long. I thought I'd share some of my favorite DIY tips that don't break the bank.
There are several factors to consider when choosing how to best care for your long locks. The most important is probably your hair type. As you can see from the photo to the right, my hair is straight and I have fine strands. Because of my hair type, I have a fairly easy time taking care of it. It doesn't require too much styling so most days I let it air dry after applying an olive oil polishing serum (mostly toward the ends).
However, if your hair is wavy or curly, it may take more styling and different products to manage it and keep it healthy.
There's a few universal things we can all do, though, to keep our hair healthy regardless of type:
1. Know your hair's tolerance for washing. While some people produce more oil on the scalp than others, they can wash daily. Others that are prone to dry hair and breakage may want to only wash every other day (what I do).
2. Remove product residue. Clarifying shampoos have made their way to the market for a reason. If your hair is looking dull, it may not be dry - it might have too much product build-up. There are numerous clarifying shampoos to choose from ranging from cheap to expensive, but again, find one that suits your hair type. I actually use baking soda mixed with my regular shampoo about once a month to remove residue. This works well for me, but if you color your hair, you probably want to find one meant for color-treated hair. Baking soda can strip your color. Also, depending on how much product frequents your hair, you may want to clarify more or less often.
3. Condition!! I can't stress it enough how important conditioning is. It helps reduce tangles and lock in moisture. I live in such a windy place, that it is my hair's worst enemy. I have to keep it as moisturized as possible and protect my hair from the wind as much as I can because it will rip the moisture from my hair like a band-aid rips out arm hair! While daily conditioning is good, especially in dry winter months, I also like to do a deep conditioner every now and then. Below are a few options for at-home deep conditioning.
- Option 1: Hot oil treatment. These are simple to do, but can be messy so don't wear your best clothes. I usually opt for olive oil or coconut oil. I get about a 1/4 cup of oil and warm it up in the microwave. I have the cheapest microwave that Wal-Mart can provide so mine takes a little longer to heat. Be sure to check it often because your microwave temp and time will vary from mine. You don't want it to be so hot it burns you. While the oil heats, wet a thin towel. You want it to be completely saturated, but wring it out so it isn't dripping all over. When the oil is done, put your towel in the microwave and let it heat up (but again not so hot it will burn you). Saturate your hair with the oil - started at the ends and working your way up to the roots. Once your hair is saturated, take your warm towel and wrap it on your head and place a plastic bag over it. You may look funny, but the soft, shiny results are nothing to laugh at! I generally keep this on for about 20 minutes then wash and condition as normal.
- Option 2: Use a store/salon-bought deep conditioner. I have tried Nexxus Humectress Hydrating Treatment and the generic Joico K Pak Penetrating Reconstructor that you can purchase at Sally's Beauty Supply. The name brand Joico will cost about $19 at your local salon. I'm too frugal for that. Anyway, I use this after I've washed and conditioned with my usual products. I then towel dry and comb my hair before applying the deep conditioner. Once i apply the deep conditioner, I again grab a bag and put it on my head. This time, I blow dry on high for about 5-10 minutes then let it set for about 10-15 before removing the bag and rinsing my hair thoroughly.
4. Trim Regularly. Long hair can get stringy at the ends, especially on thinner hair like mine. Keeping the ends regularly trimmed will not only sever your ties with split ends, it will also keep the hair looking fuller and loved.
The one area I still have issue with, and haven't figured out how to fix, is annoying baby hair! I don't know about you, but I have lots of baby hairs around my hairline. If you have any tips for taming these, please divulge your secrets!