So you want to grow your hair long and strong? Quite literally I have been there, done that. After investing a lot of time into research and money trying out various products, I have compiled a list of my best tips and tricks that I found most beneficial based upon my personal experiences.
Before I begin to list off tips and tricks, it is important to keep in mind that all of the below will be irrelevant if you don’t truly understand your hair texture. Starting off with the basics, it is crucial to know if your hair is naturally oily or dry and to only use products that align with your hair type. If you’ve got dry hair you’re going to benefit from oil-based serums, whereas if you have oily hair naturally you want to avoid such products.
The most important factor in healthy hair is a healthy body – so yes, that means a good diet. If you are not getting the necessary nutrients your body needs, it will take a show in your hair. Vegetarians may or may not know that B12 is a big one; a lack of B12 will have your hair weak and brittle. I have experienced this in the past when first embarking on my vegetarian journey, so make sure your taking care of your body before you start worrying about taking care of your hair.
Now, understanding all the above, let’s get to the good stuff. Below are some tips and tricks you can incorporate into your hair care routine to help get healthier, stronger and longer hair.
1. Pick your brush!
A small detail, but don’t ever overlook it. Invest in a brush that is beneficial to your hair texture. Because my natural hair is quite curly/wavy, I don’t brush it all that often and normally only do so in the shower after conditioning or when it’s been straightened – otherwise, I try to stay away from brushing. Wet hair isn’t the best time to brush as it’s weaker and more likely to break, but I have a wide tooth comb that I use specifically for detangling in the shower. A quick Google search for the perfect brush for your hair type will have you on your way.
2. Shampooing & Conditioning.
Shampoo your scalp ONLY. The rest of the product will rinse through your hair which is all it really needs, as the main purpose of shampoo is to remove any excess dirt or oils from the scalp. Massaging the scalp while you rub your shampoo in helps promote blood circulation which channels more nutrients to the hair roots helping to stimulate growth.
Condition from the earlobe level and below. Don’t condition from the roots of your head as the natural oils from your scalp are most concentrated here, and it is important to allow your natural oils to produce. The only time you should really look into conditioning from the roots is if your hair and your scalp are both extremely dry and really require extra moisture. I always let the conditioner soak for about 2-3 minutes before I wash it out, allowing my hair to really absorb the product.
3. Water Temperatures.
It’s a thing, believe it or not. If you have colored hair you want to avoid using hot/warm water as that will make the color bleed out faster. At the end of every shower, I run my hair through cold water underneath the tap. I don’t do it right at the scalp because the water is so cold, so I do it from about midway down and let the water run through my hair as I move it around. Then, I’ll run the last five inches or so of my tips through the cold water. I do this for two important reasons, 1- because it helps get rid of all the product build up in your hair, and 2- because the cold helps lock in the moisture; sealing the hair cuticles which help prevent breakage and allow the hair to lay smoother, and less frizzy.
4. Wash When Needed.
There’s a lot of benefits to washing your hair as least often as possible. Skip the “ewww gross, you’re dirty” comments and move on to understanding your hair and the products we use. Whether you have oily or dry hair will make a huge difference in how often you’re able to go without washing it. As a dry hair girl, I can get away with pushing the days a little more than my oily-haired friends can. However, it has long been said that the more you wash your hair, the more naturally oily it will become… So, if you can refrain from washing, do so! The main purpose of this is to preserve your natural oil and moisture barriers.
5. Avoid heat & towel drying.
Heat is a huge, huge damaging factor. From blow drying to straight irons and curlers, our hair takes a lot of heat damage on top of the fact that the majority of us are already dealing with hair that’s lacking in moisture, proper nutrients, and most likely colored. If your hair is bleached, you will most definitely want to avoid using heat at all costs since your hair has already gone through extreme processing. When it comes to towel drying, be GENTLE. Before, I would use the towel to aggressively shake my hair around. Now, I gently pat it down from top to bottom. Again, because the hair is wet and more susceptible to breakage, it’s important to be gentle with it.
6. Find heatless styles that work for you.
Whether it’s space buns, a messy braid or a loose bun – this has also been another big game changer for me. Embrace hairstyles that don’t require heat. I started doing my hair in french braids after almost every shower (seriously, to the point I was getting migraines from constantly having my hair pulled back so tight and had to go on a french braid hiatus), and this is my favorite go-to hairstyle. The first (and sometimes) second day it’s in nice tight braids, the third day I have it down and the fourth day it’s in a high ponytail. It’s never oily by the fourth day either because I’m not touching it, which brings me to our next tip…
7. Stop touching your hair!
I wonder if we realize on a daily basis how often we actually fiddle with our hair. The more we touch our hair, especially at the scalp, the more oil you are bringing to it. The same way that skincare advocates will tell you not to touch your face throughout the day, the same applies for your hair.
8. Protective products are important.
I used to think it was a bunch of marketing B.S., and honestly, a lot of them are – but there are a lot of them that are really helpful, too. I use a moisturizing leave-in spray after every shower and if I do have to blow dry or straighten it then I use a protective serum prior to. I will then use an oil-infused serum after to add in any lost moisture from the heat.
9. Night time care.
I don’t like to leave my hair down when I sleep mainly because I toss and turn, and so by the time I awake my hair will be in a giant knot that I may or may not be able to get out next morning. I recognize that it is bad to keep your hair tied up for long hours and/or on a consistent basis, so I tie it in a very loose (wrapped twice) ponytail or bun with a soft scrunchie. This helps me wake up with hair the next morning that is easily manageable.
10. Research & invest.
Now that I’ve given you a list of tips and tricks based upon my own research and experience, it’s important to know there is no guarantee they’ll work for you. Like I said, hair care is more than just about the products we use. It’s about the genetics we were born with and the food we put into our body, on top of the climate we live in and the health choices we make. Once I better understood my hair type was once I was able to then invest into the right products that would benefit my hair type. Being that my hair is naturally dry and frizzy, I’m always looking for products that will add moisture while avoiding using heat as much as I can. Take time to do research on your own hair type and don’t be afraid to try new products once you better understand what you’re looking for. A great brand I recommend is Paull Mitchell, I’ve used various product’s of his and have always been satisfied.
Using the tips and tricks provided to you above I encourage you to experiment with different products and hairstyles that suit your needs. Above all else, the most important tip I can give to you is to be patient. Don’t expect to see a change immediately – just as it took time to damage our hair, it will take time to restore it, too. Especially when it comes to making a change to your diet, results may be slow to show. Growing my hair and getting it to the healthy place it now is didn’t happen overnight or in the span of a few weeks. It took time; time for my diet changes to show, for my products to work their magic and for my haircuts to turn into trims. Whereas when I used to go for a cut my hair would be wrangled with split ends, my hair is now smooth right down to the tips and just get a yearly trim for maintenance.