Ways to give even Rapunzel a complex.
1. Cut it.
Sounds counter-intuitive doesn’t it? But if you want long hair that’s healthy, not scraggly. So make sure you snip all the unhealthy bits. I like to call it the ‘Investment haircut’. It sets the tone for your future hair. You may have to start with much shorter hair than you’d like, but this cut will ensure that your super long hair is… super!
2. Oil it.
This is one of the most important steps to grow long, high quality hair. Oil does a few cool things.
- It cleans the scalp: Think of it as a makeup remover for your scalp. All the dirt, dry skin, dandruff and icky dead cells stick to the oil and come off when you shampoo it. Viola! Clean scalp.
- Stimulates the hair follicle: When you apply oil, you need to massage it into the scalp in gentle but firm circular movements. This improves the blood circulation, encouraging your hair to grow much faster.
- Conditions hair: Oil penetrates your strands and gives it a real moisture boost. It gets rid of all the dry and rough parts by saturating each strand with moisture. So you’re left with soft, shiny hair that’s also less frizzy.
- Stops damage: Oil helps hair to maintain the right amount of protein, preventing damage. It also coats each strand and protects it from being stripped when you shampoo.
- Makes hair shine: Healthy hair will always have a shine. So if your hair is more matte than shiny, douse it with oil. It first penetrates the strands, elimating all dryness and then coats it allowing light to bounce off it.
Apply oil at least once a week. I like to oil my hair 1-hour before every other hair wash, but if you’re short on time, do it over the weekend. Choose from either pure olive oil, coconut oil or almond oil – or better still, mix them all up. Just don’t skip this step!
3. Use the right shampoo.
Just the way no two days are the same, similarly, no two hair-days are the same either. You need to use a shampoo based on how your hair looks and feels on the day you’re washing it. I keep three different kinds of shampoos in my bathroom at all times – a clarifying shampoo, an intense repair shampoo and a gentle shampoo. So if my hair’s really greasy (or I’ve applied oil), a clarifying shampoo is the right product. However, if it feeling all dry and coarse, a moisturizing or repair shampoo is the need of the hour. On most other ‘normal’ days, I reach out for the gentle one. Tip: Nix shampoos with sulfates. They strip your hair of moisture and natural oil, drying it out.
4. Wash it the right way.
When you get your hair washed at a salon, for some reason it’s just better. That’s because there is a technique. Here’s how to wash your hair like a pro. Brush: Before you begin, brush your hair. This stimulates blood circulation in your scalp. Another plus, less hair in your drain. Warm it up: Now wet your hair thoroughly with warm water. What you are doing is opening up the hair cuticle so that the shampoo can go in real deep and do a better job cleaning. Just don’t use hot water as stimulates sebum, leaving you with an oily scalp. The right amount at the right place: Take a 50 cent sized amount of shampoo in the palm of your hand and apply to the roots of your hair only – not the entire length of it. As you build up lather on your scalp, work your way down to the tips. Massage it: After you’ve lathered up, give yourself a good two-minute scalp massage using your fingertips. This helps you relax while dislodging all the grime, dirt and product build up. Every 20 seconds, add just a little bit more water to your hands, and work it into your hair. What you are doing is emulsifying your shampoo so that it can reach its potential. Rinse it out completely: Take the time to thoroughly rinse your hair. When you do this, the shampoo will rinse through to the ends, which is why you don’t need to apply shampoo to the ends. Skip the repeat: You really don’t need to shampoo twice unless you’ve got really dirty hair, a lot of product build up or you’ve oiled your hair. Wring it out: Always always always wring out the water from your hair before you condition. This is because very wet hair can actually dilute your conditioner, which means that it won’t work as well as it should.
5. Condition it correctly.
Spend well: If there’s one hair product you should splurge on, conditioner would be it. It’s what’s going to nourish and protect your hair till the next shampoo. So choose one wisely. Make the right choice: Pick a conditioner that’s going to work on your hair – whether it’s fine, limp, coarse, dry, curly… there’s something for everyone. For everyday use, skip the deep conditioning masque. It will weigh your hair down (unless that’s your intent). Masks are more of a once-a-week thing. Don’t overdo the conditioner: If you think that by slathering on more conditioner, you’re benefitting your hair – you’re wrong. Extra conditioner is a waste. The hair doesn’t absorb it and it just washes off. So save yourself the money. Take no more than a coin-sized amount. Smoothen like a pro: Rub the conditioner between your palms to heat it up.Then smoothen from the tips upward till the ears. Using your thumb and index finger, gentle emulsify the conditioner in small circular motions on the driest parts of your hair. Now using your fingers as a comb, gently untangle your hair from crown to tip. Give it some time: For the conditioner to work its magic, it needs time – a minimum of 3 minutes. If you can stretch it further, even better. I like washing and conditioning my hair first and then continuing with the rest of my bath, so that gives enough (and more) time for the conditioner to sink in. Rinse it off, but not all of it: The trick is to thoroughly rinse the top of your hair, but leave about 5% of conditioner at the tips. This helps keep your tips moisturized and sealed. Keep it cool: Spend about 30 seconds rinsing with cool (or cold, if you can handle it) water. You’re basically flattening your hair cuticles, which simply means more shine.
6. Dry it with TLC.
This is a big one. Always treat your hair like you would expensive silk or lace. You wouldn’t be all harsh on that and rub like crazy. Instead, using a super soft cotton towel, very gently pat and squeeze your hair dry. No nasty rubbing, scrubbing, beating or shaking required. Just be gentle. It may take a little longer to dry but you won’t be damaging your cuticles and nor will you have to deal with that horrible frizz either.
7. Never ever brush wet hair.
I can’t say this enough. Your hair is at it’s weakest when wet. You run a brush through it, and you’re guaranteed to break and damage it. But as your hair dries, the weak bonds are re-established, and your hair starts gaining strength rapidly. So you have to allow these bonds to form before brushing your hair. Just wait a while – say 30 minutes. If you just can’t wait, use the widest tooth comb you can find. Some breakage is inevitable, but it’s still better than using a brush.
8. Oil it again. But lightly.
Now that your hair is all clean and soft, it’s time to protect it, tame the frizz, detangle hair, prevent split ends and add that much needed shine. Whew! Quite the task. That’s where using a lightweight natural oil comes in and does the magic. The ones that get the maximum votes are argan oil and jojoba oil. Here’s what they do: Moisturize: These oils quickly penetrate the hair adding an extra dose of moisture. Eliminate frizz and increase shine: Oils moisturize hair and flatten cuticles – thereby eliminating frizz and leave a slight film on each strand, upping the shine. Lessen the damage and prevent split ends: Oils contain anti-oxidants, vitamins and fatty acids that go deep in to each strand to nourish and strengthen hair. It also seals the tips, thereby reducing the likelihood of spilt ends. Tip: Use just a little on wet hair. You don’t want to weigh your hair down or get that horrid product build-up. Also, always apply from the tips upward (dry parts first).
9. Use a satin pillowcase.
Everyone loves cotton because it soaks up moisture. But that may not be such a good thing when it comes to your hair. That 300-count Egyptian cotton pillowcase may actually be sucking out the moisture and natural oils from your hair, leaving it dry and brittle. What’s worse, if you toss and turn (like every normal human being), the fabric pulls your hair causing it to tangle and even break. So it’s time to switch to satin. It doesn’t absorb moisture and it’s smooth enough to allow hair to move freely without any snags.
10. Eat your way to gorgeous hair.
If you want hair that’s really long, thick and healthy, you HAVE to eat right. Protein, vitamins and fats are your best bet. Hair is mainly protein so that’s really a no-brainer. Vitamins and minerals will improve the quality and prevent damage. And when I say fat, I mean the good kind – from fish, avocados, flaxseed (basically foods that contain Omega 3). If eating right is not always possible, what is possible is popping a multivitamin and cod liver oil capsule every morning. That way, you’re covered – though nothing ever beats the real natural stuff.