Long hair also means different lengths to different people.
For some, it's getting to shoulder length, for others it's "below the bra strap." Then there are the Rapunzel folks.
Growing out length (unless you go the hair extensions route) can take years, it's so important to care for it along the way. Because no one wants to get to their goal length, only to have their hairdresser tell them at least 6 inches of it has to go.
In that spirit, I've put together a collection of my best tips on how to reach and preserve your goal length!
* First and foremost, take it easy! Mechanical damage is a real thing and being to physically rough on your hair causes huge problems. Never ever brush your hair when it's wet...unless you have a Wet Brush Pro. Using a wide-toothed comb, start detangling at the ends and work your way up the scalp section by section. Holding the section at a mid-length point while combing gives support to the root and cuts down on any discomfort.
* Traction Alopecia is a real thing. Too much tugging or tension on the root will cause hair to fall out before the shed phase. Too much premature shedding makes the hair look and feel thin at the perimeter; your overall length will need to be taken up in order to look better. Aggressively brushing wet hair (see above) and too many ponytails are the top two guilty parties. Be gentle on your hair and don't style your hair with root tension (ponytails, high messy buns) two consecutive days in a row -- give those roots a break.
* Don't wash your hair daily! Even great quality shampoos dry out your hair and strip your scalp of the oils necessary to keep it healthy. Find a dry shampoo you love,use it effectively, and commit to it!
* Say goodbye to conditioning your hair and HELLO to deep conditioners/masking. Because we're now going longer between washes, we're also going longer between hydration sessions. When you do shampoo, always always use a deep conditioning mask and leave it on for the duration of your shower. No, you won't be greasy. EXTRA PRO TIP: twice a month leave that same mask on for 30 minutes and watch the miracle happen!
* Dry conditioner will be your new best friend. Never heard of it? I have an excellent recommendation for you! Using dry conditioners before brushing our your hair in the morning will make it more pliable and soft. If you're seeing "hair shards" in the bathroom sink when you're brushing, your hair is stiff and is literally breaking. Plus this new sku cuts back on static and frizz, and refreshes your length much like a dry shampoo does for your roots.
* Blow dry OR heat style : you get to choose your own adventure here. Cutting back on intense heat exposure (and damage) will prevent damage and keep that length strong, smooth, and healthy.
* While I'm on the topic, heat protectant, heat protectant, heat protectant! Invest in a high quality serum (VERB) or lightweight oil (Olaplex) and please use it directly before you use a hot tool on your hair. Every. Time. It doesn't matter how many days it's been since you last washed. If used correctly the product was literally burned off your hair so YES it does need to be reapplied again.
* Please turn down the temperature of your hot tools. Long hair is vulnerable to heat and color treated hair is even more so! Once hair is burned there is no hair product that will ever make it healthy again. NONE. Not even Olaplex. The only fix is to cut if off.
* Speaking of Olaplex....yes, you've got to do it. At least a couple of times a month (weekly is preferable). I know it's tough to work in, but tell me this: do you get roots at your scalp but your hair ever seems to get any longer? That's because it's breaking off at the bottom. The only way to get the length you want (even if that's just getting to shoulder length!) is to re-link broke disulfide bonds and keep that hair attached. If you're infrequent about your Olaplex treatments, be sure to use No 0 along with No 3 -- the extra step ensures you're maximizing the greatest benefit that Olaplex can provide to your hair.
* Have you experienced the K18 miracle yet? K18 is to keratin what Olaplex is to disulfide bonds. Broken hair often looks frizzy (because that cuticle is frayed where it broke off), feels rough, and just doesn't get long. If you haven't tried K18 yet, it's definitely time. The protocols are super simple and the results are both instant (yaay!) as well as cumulative.
* Finally, don't skip trims. Split ends will only continue to split up the hair shaft (like a run in your pantyhose for my OGs), looks terrible, doesn't really read as "length," and will never get you to your goal. Taking off 1/3" at each appointment keeps the ends blunt and stops the problem before it starts. Trimming a third of an inch 3-4 times a year is a muuuuuuuch better option than being forced to lose 6 inches all at once, I see this happen more often than you think! Plus fresh ends just feel better.
If you've made it though that list, you're definitely committed to growing out (and keeping) your hair the healthy way!
Did I forget anything? If you've got a tip that you swear by, let me know what that is (I love learning new strategies).
And if you have a question, need a product recommendation, or are in search of a solution that this post didn't cover, drop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I'll in touch in a jiffy!