Long hair can be something of a demanding luxury. It requires some extra care and gentle handling on your part, but often the effort is worth the benefit of flowing mermaid-like locks. And while a pixie cut, for instance, can stand up to frequent color changes and aggressive styling techniques, there are a few things you shouldn’t do to long hair to keep it looking and feeling great. The ends of those strands have had to battle the elements for a long time, so it makes sense to baby them when caring for your hair. You can think of your long locks like fine old lace that must be handled with care.
In general, keeping your long hair away from too much heat or product and using a light touch when styling it, can keep your strands happy and split-free. But the benefits of long hair are usually worth it: you can play around with fun braided styles, elegant updos, and other styles that can’t be managed with shorter strands. (And there’s always the option of a messy bun when you just want to get it off your neck and out of your face.) Just a little TLC can keep your long hair healthy for years to come.
1. Avoid All Trims
Although it may be tempting to hide from your hair stylist forever, keeping the ends of your hair trimmed may actually help you get healthier hair the long run. As trichologist Cunnane Phillips said in the Huffington Post, regular trims "aid in keeping the ends from splitting and looking frayed, thereby giving the appearance of healthier and longer hair." Because the damage from split ends can travel up the shaft, it's a good idea to keep those ends maintained.
2. Use Harsh Dyes
The box of dye that promises to take your hair from black to blonde in one application might not be the best choice for your strands. Sometimes gentle is better. Good Housekeeping suggests dye that is "semi- or demi-permanent — it'll fade faster but is less harsh than a permanent dye." Bonus: it will fade out before you get that obvious line of demarcation at your roots.
3. Brush While Wet
4. Blow-Dry A Ton
Everyone loves the occasional blowout, but blasting away at the highest heat setting every time can lead to some damage. For the gentler way to dry, Prevention suggested letting it dry naturally and then blow dry your hair with your dryer on the coolest setting. This will keep your hair looking great without taking all day to dry.
5. Heat Style On Super High
There's nothing wrong with an occasional swipe of the flatiron. But using hot tools in moderation might be the key to maintaining your hair's health. As hairstylist Sunnie Brook Jones told Today, "giving your hair a day or two off is going to save the integrity of your hair." Braids or updos are fun for second-day styles.
Backcombing can create amazing volume, but it's tough on the hair shaft. Women's Health notes that "teasing regularly will damage hair cuticles and lead to breakage." Consider saving the backcomb for special occasions.
7. Leave Chlorine In It
If you love swimming, then it would be silly to avoid the pool just because you're worried about your hair. Health's Min-Ja Lee recommends dousing your hair in the shower before a dip in the pool, as this "helps slow down the absorption of chlorine because your hair is like a sponge, and will take on less water when it’s wet." There are also specialty shampoos specifically formulated to remove chlorine thoroughly.
8. Use Drying Products
When it comes to hair products, you can have too much of a good thing. As stylist Dominick Pucciarello told WebMD, "the more fragrant the shampoo, conditioner, or hair spray smells, the worse it probably is" for your hair. Products that contain Isopropyl alcohol or Propanol can also be exceptionally drying.
9. Snatch Out Tangles
Tangles can get annoying (and sometimes painful!). But ripping through them with a brush can really wreck your hair. As Cosmopolitan recommends, try gradually moving upward when combing or brushing your hair. Working from the ends makes it easier to pick out the tangles before they become a major problem.
10. Brush Too Much
100 strokes every night? Definitely not necessary. "Over-brushing can be detrimental. Over time, it can even lead to significant weakening and damage to your hair," Maria Del Russo wrote in Refinery 29. Step away from the brush.
11. Shampooing Too Much
You might be able to skip that daily shampoo. "Washing too often can do more harm than good, and strip your strands of essential oils,"Marianne Mychaskiw wrote for InStyle. Using a gentle shampoo sparingly is a good call.