Hair grows from its roots at an average rate of one centimeter per month. That means that if your hair is past your shoulders, which makes it at least 16 inches long, then your ends are over three years old! Just think about all the abuse they’ve been through—scorching sun exposure, relentless heat styling, dips in salt water and chlorine, hair color treatments and aggressive brushing.
It almost sounds like a miracle that anyone actually has long hair in the first place.
Yet, long, thick locks that have blinding shine and touchable softness remain to be the beacon of beauty, youth and vitality. The good news: It actually doesn’t take a miracle to make that happen. Follow these suggestions to ensure your locks stay strong and healthy as they grow longer and longer.
Don’t wash every day. To avoid drying out your hair, skip every other day and use a dry shampoo if your roots get oily. When washing, give your scalp a good massage, which will boost blood flow to your roots, helping stimulate hair growth. And suds up gently: Hair is even more fragile when wet because it can absorb as much as 45 percent of its own weight in water, causing it to stretch 2 percent longer and up to 20 percent wider—that’s a lot of tress stress! Avoid using very hot water, which can open up the hair shaft and cause frizz. Always use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner so hair gets clean but still stays soft and manageable.
Dry gently. Blot-dry your hair with a super absorbent, microfiber towel. Don’t rub back and forth with a regular nubby bath towel. Again, since you hair is still wet, it’s extra fragile and you must treat it with TLC. Smooth a detangling spray from ear level down to ends, then use a wide-tooth comb or specific detangling brush on wet hair to gently remove tangles, starting at the ends and working your way up.
Use hot tools with caution. When you’re going to use a blow dryer, curling iron or flat iron, use a heat-protective spray first and use the lowest setting on your hot tools to avoid burning hair. Look for styling products that contain conditioning and strengthening ingredients like natural oils, keratin and amino acids. Use a natural boar-bristle brush when styling, and stay away from accessories with metal clasps and tight hairstyles, which can tear your hair.
Deep condition once a week. Apply a conditioning hair mask to freshly shampooed hair, then wrap a hot towel around it for 10 minutes, which will open up the hair shaft and let all the moisturizing ingredients sink in. Rinse out the mask with cool water to seal up your hair cuticles.
Trim dead ends. Once split ends start, they’ll progressively get worse and work their way up the mid-shaft of your hair. Dry, brittle hair may need trims every few weeks while healthier hair can go a few months.