You’ve done it. You grew out your hair, and you finally have the long hair of your dreams. Now you may be wondering how to take care of long hair. Long hair can be tougher to maintain simply because there’s so much of it. But with a few simple strategies, you can learn how to care for long hair and keep it looking fresh and healthy.
Read on for long hair maintaining tips that’ll help you achieve a long, flowing mane that turns heads in the best way possible.
Why Long Hair Is Vulnerable To Damage
On average, hair grows about 6 inches per year.1 If you have long hair, that means those hair strands have been hanging on for several years (i.e., they’re old.) Over that time, they’ve put up with exposure to the elements, harsh products, hot tools, and more. Because of all of this, long hair is typically more vulnerable to breakage, split ends, and to appearing thin and dull.2
To break it down, these are some of the reasons why long hair may become damaged:
- Lack of hair-friendly nutrients like zinc, iron, and folic acid in your diet
- Dry, hot weather or hot water is drying out your hair
- Heat damage from styling tools
- Processing with professional straightening, perms, or coloring
- Shampooing too frequently
- Towel drying that is too vigorous
- Tight hairstyles and elastic hair ties
- Brushing hair too frequently
- A lack of regular hair trims
- An underlying health condition3
Avoiding these potential pitfalls will help you as you learn how to care for long hair.
Hair Care Tips For Your Long Hair
Long hair – any length of hair, actually – looks its best when it’s healthy and well-cared for. Here’s how to take care of long hair so it’s bouncy, lustrous, and smooth rather than dull and unmanageable.
Skip Shampoo Every Once in A While
Could you be shampooing your hair too much? Over-washers have their heart in the right place – they want to care for their strands – but they may be unwittingly damaging their hair by stripping it of its natural oils. You can usually tell if you’re over-shampooing if your hair is dry, brittle, and hard to style.
Instead of washing your hair every day, try skipping a day, using dry shampoo instead, and waiting to wash until your hair feels oily or you have an oily scalp. Yes, you can still shower daily if you’d like, just skip over the shampoo and add conditioner to your ends.4
Try A Cleansing Conditioner
Consider replacing your typical shampoo with an ultra-hydrating cleansing conditioner. A cleansing conditioner can gently cleanse your hair and scalp without stripping it of natural oils like a regular shampoo might. People with long, dry hair can benefit from this infusion of much-needed moisture. As a result, long hair may feel stronger, more lustrous, and silky to the touch.5
Massage The Scalp To Keep Follicles Healthy
In addition to sounding very relaxing, an occasional scalp massage may also help keep your long hair in tip-top shape. Adding a scalp massage to your hair care routine may boost blood circulation and hair thickness. Try massaging your dry scalp with a massaging tool, or spend some extra time in the shower rubbing your scalp with your fingers.6
Try Not To Brush Wet Hair
Running a brush through your hair right after a shower may not be the best thing for your hair. When your hair is wet, it’s actually more fragile and prone to breakage. To protect your hair, skip the hair brush after the shower. Instead, wait a few minutes and run a wide-tooth comb through your hair – starting at the ends and gently working your way up. This will help you get rid of tangles and potentially avoid breakage.7
Get Regular Trims
If you have long hair – especially if you’ve been growing it out for a while, you may be hesitant to cut it. However, trimming your hair on a regular basis can help make any hair style look better, even longer ones.
Some beauty experts recommend trimming long hair every three months. That may help ward off hair breakage and split ends. If you’re not sure if it’s time to get a cut, take a closer look at your hair. If your ends look split, your layers look grown out, and your hair tangles easily, it may be time for a trim.8
Increased stress in your life may cause hair loss. If your long hair seems to be shedding more than usual, try slowing down and taking a deep breath – literally. Adopting some relaxation strategies, like deep breathing, meditation, and exercise, may help you let go of stress. Taking the time to relax may help reduce your cortisol levels, which may help with the shedding.9
Look To Your Diet For Support
The saying “you are what you eat” rings true here – your diet affects your hair health. The food that you eat provides the nutrients that your body uses to grow your hair. Supporting the health of your scalp and hair follicles through nutrition is key.10
Here are a few recommendations if you’re wondering how to care for long hair by adopting a healthy diet:
- Eat plenty of protein from foods like fish or poultry. Your hair follicles are mostly made of protein – consuming protein may help your follicles grow healthy hair.11
- Eat foods with biotin, like eggs. Biotin is essential for the production of the hair protein keratin.12
- Consume plenty of antioxidants from fruits and veggies, like berries. Antioxidants help protect your hair follicles from potential damage caused by free radicals.13
- Eat your leafy greens. Spinach, for example, is loaded with nutrients like folate, iron, vitamin A, and vitamin C, which may all help support healthy hair.14
- Load up on omega-3 fatty acids from fish sources, like salmon, herring, and mackerel. Studies have linked omega-3 fatty acids to healthy hair growth and density.15
- Reach for foods rich in vitamin A, like sweet potatoes. Research shows that vitamin A promotes the scalp’s production of sebum, which may help support healthy hair.16
- Foods high in vitamin E, like avocados, may also help support hair health. As an antioxidant, vitamin E may help protect the scalp from oxidative stress and damage.17
- Be sure to get plenty of zinc, a mineral that helps support hair growth and its repair cycle. You can get zinc from shellfish, like oysters and shrimp.18,19,20
Try A Hair Supplement
Overwhelmed by all of the vitamins and minerals you need to grow healthy, shiny hair? A hair supplement may help you get what you need to support long, healthy, shiny hair. Look for high quality ingredients, such as:
- Hydrolyzed collagen, which supports the protein that gives your hair structure. This may help support stronger, healthier hair.21
- DFK-GLOW, which is abundant in keratin, a protein that may help support healthy hair.22
- Antioxidants, such as luteolin and quercetin, which can support a healthy scalp.23
- Hyaluronic acid, which supports a moisturized scalp to create the conditions for healthy hair growth.24
Use Hot Tools With Care
Who doesn’t love a fresh blowout? But heat styling can do a number on your hair health. If you’re on a quest to learn how to take care of long hair, you’ll definitely want to look at how you’re using hot tools, like your blow dryer.
To minimize hair damage from hot tools, always spray on a heat protectant product before you use them. When you’re blow drying your hair, try not to hold the hair dryer right up next to your hair. Give yourself some space, and move it continuously while you dry your hair.25
Switch Up The Way You Wear Your Hair
If you always wear your hair in the same style – whether it be braids, ballerina buns, or tight ponytails in hair bands, it may be time to make a change. Hairstyles that tug on your hair can make it more susceptible to hair breakage. Sub in a looser hairstyle, or try wearing your hair down a few days a week.26
Long Hair Takes A Bit Of Care
Long hair has many benefits – you can easily switch up the style, it may help keep you warm, and it tends to flatter many different face shapes. But keeping long hair looking lustrous, shiny, and healthy does take a bit of work. If you can, follow these long hair maintenance tips: condition it well, watch the heat styling, give your hair the nutrients it needs, and show it the love it needs so it can love you back.