Every woman would love to have long Rapunzel-like hair, but it is not easy as it seems. People do anything to grow healthy and long hair; some turn to ancient hair care practices, others take supplements, and many cut out particular food.
But the truth is that you cannot speed up hair growth as it grows an average of half an inch every month, which means it grows six inches yearly.
If you have long hair, you need to maintain your locks as it is a natural covering for the head and protection from the harsh sun and pollution. (1)
Hair is made of protein, so you need a protein-rich diet to maintain your hair along with regular oiling and shampooing. You should also make it a habit to brush your hair three to four times a day to keep it clean and tidy. (2)
Many people go to extreme extents to get beautiful hair – they apply chemicals, use hot tools, and apply styling products, but these harsh ways can damage the hair. If you don’t take care of your hair, it can get damaged and break easily, leading to hair thinning and bald spots. (3)
Tips on Caring for Long Hair
Here are some tips that can help you in taking care of long hair.
1. Use shampoo and conditioner
The first step in taking care of your hair is using a natural shampoo and conditioner. Avoid using products that contain harsh ingredients such as sulfates, parabens, and mineral oil.
Gently massage the shampoo into your scalp in circular motions and wash it thoroughly with cool water. You don’t need to rub your hair as the shampoo from your scalp flows through the hair length and cleans it when rinsing your hair. (3)
Most people do not realize that, after shampooing, they need to condition their hair, except when they’re using a “2-in-1” formula that washes and conditions the hair at the same time.
A conditioner can significantly improve the state of your hair and gives it shine, reduces static, and protects it from pollution and UV rays. (3)
2. Avoid tight hairstyles
Many celebrities style their hair in a tightly pulled up-do, braids, or cornrows. These hairstyles look fantastic, but before you attempt to copy them, you should be aware that wearing your hair tightly pulled back often can lead to hair loss.
To avoid hair breakage and loss, wear your hair in a loose ponytail or braid and avoid hairstyles that pull on your hair tightly. Continuous pulling of the hair can wreak havoc on your hair follicles, causing permanent balding. (4)
3. Clean your brushes regularly
You comb your hair to remove dirt and keep it sleek, but in the process, the bristles of the comb trap oil, dirt, dead cells, and other debris, which can encourage scalp infections that may cause hair fall and breakage. (5)
So, make sure your comb or brush is clean before it touches your strands to avoid such hair problems.
4. Don’t overbrush your hair
Brushing your hair too many times a day can lead to hair fall. A 2009 study has shown that brushing less frequently in a day can help your hair stay long and healthy. (6)
5. Don’t comb your hair when wet
People tend to hurry to get out of the shower, and before their hair can dry completely, they start combing out their hair.
Combing out hair when it is wet can lead to hair breakage as hair is at its weakest when wet. Moreover, wet combing applies force to the scalp and is therefore more damaging than dry hair combing, wherein pressure is laid on the hair shaft. (7)(5)
Thus, let your hair dry a bit before combing to avoid damaging your scalp.
6. Use a wide-toothed comb
Combing your hair out with a brush with pointy bristles can lead to hair fall and can damage your scalp. Invest in a comb with wide teeth and rounded tips to avoid hair fall and breakage. (7)
7. Say no to hot tools
Most often, the hot tools you use to straighten, curl, or blow-dry your hair are set at high temperatures, which can damage your hair. It is highly recommended to stay away from these damaging styling tools.
If you do have to use them, apply a hair protector first and keep the temperatures down. Do not use them often, as they will harm your long hair. (8)
The right way to care for long hair is to first wash it with a natural shampoo that contains coconut oil, onion, fenugreek, and curry leaves, among other beneficial ingredients, and then to apply a conditioner that has similar ingredients only to the hair length and not to the scalp. (5)
Allow your hair to dry naturally and avoid styling it immediately to maintain robust, healthy, and luscious hair.
8. Dry your hair gently
Instead of rubbing your hair vigorously and wrapping it in a towel, you can gently pat it dry with a soft towel. (7)
You can cause damage to your hair by roughly rubbing it, causing breakage. Vigorous rubbing of the hair can also damage the hair cuticle and cause frizz and split ends.
The reasons for hair shaft damage are friction, washing, and towel drying. (8)
9. Invest in a silk pillowcase or scarf
Most people with long hair complain about finding a lot of hair on their pillowcases upon waking up. This usually happens with cotton pillowcases, which are not ideal, especially for long hair.
To look after your long hair and prevent it from breaking while you sleep, invest in a silk/satin pillowcase or silk scarf.
If you have curly/coily hair, wearing sleep caps can greatly help in managing it and preventing it from getting dry and brittle. (9)
10. Go for frequent hair trims
Frequent shampooing and brushing can hair fall and split ends. (10) If your hair has started getting split ends and is looking sparse, it’s time to get a hair trim. (5)
For thick hair, you need not have frequent trims. For thin hair, regular trims are recommended.
11. Follow a nutritious diet
A healthy diet plays a vital role in keeping your hair long, strong, and healthy. A diet deficient in protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals will cause your hair to fall out and break.
Along with a healthy diet, you must give up the habit of smoking, get plenty of sleep, and drink lots of water to have long and healthy hair. (11)
General Queries on Caring for Long Hair
Will oiling my long hair help it to grow better?
Oiling your hair protects the hair follicles from getting damaged by surfactants by lining the gaps of your cuticle cells. It prevents hair damage caused by chemical products and prevents hygral fatigue of the hair. (5)
How should I oil my hair?
The first rule is to oil your scalp when it is clean because the oil won’t work on a dirty head. Oil the hair when it is damp or dry, and use a few drops of coconut oil, castor oil, olive oil, and bhringraj oil to nourish your scalp and tresses.
Apply a few drops of the oil to your scalp and hair, and gently massage it into your scalp using the tips of your fingers. Leave it on for an hour or two before washing it off with a natural shampoo and conditioner.
Hair that is colored or chemically treated needs extra care, so you might need to leave the oil in your hair overnight.
How do I sleep with long hair?
Use a satin pillowcase and/or tie your hair and cover it with a silk cap to prevent breakage while sleeping, as the friction can lead to hair breakage. (9)
Does having long hair result in hair loss?
No. Long hair does not cause hair loss, but not maintaining your hair well will affect the hair roots, resulting in hair fall. (3)
Does a trim make my hair grow?
No. A hair trim merely removes split ends from your hair tips and helps make the hair look full and healthy.
It’s pretty challenging to take care of long hair and keep it healthy and strong. But following the above-mentioned tips can help you maintain the health of your hair and make it look thick and bouncy. (3)
- What is the structure of hair and how does it grow? – NCBI bookshelf. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK546248/.
- D’Souza P, Rathi SK. Shampoo and conditioners: What a dermatologist should know? Indian journal of dermatology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4458934/. Published 2015.
- How to stop damaging your hair. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/insider/stop-damage.
- Hairstyles that pull can lead to hair loss. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/causes/hairstyles.
- Gavazzoni Dias MFR. Hair cosmetics: An overview. International journal of trichology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4387693/. Published 2015.
- P; KAGIE-H. The effect of brushing on hair loss in women. The Journal of dermatological treatment. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19016066/.
- Monselise A, Cohen DE, Wanser R, Shapiro J. What ages hair? International journal of women’s dermatology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5419032/. Published February 16, 2017.
- Lee Y, Kim Y-D, Hyun H-J, Pi L-Q, Jin X, Lee W-S. Hair shaft damage from heat and drying time of hair dryer. Annals of dermatology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3229938/. Published November 2011.
- Samrao A, McMichael A, Mirmirani P. Nocturnal traction: Techniques used for hair style maintenance while sleeping may be a risk factor for traction alopecia. Skin appendage disorders. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8138148/. Published April 2021.
- (PDF) a study of damaged hair – researchgate. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/265285712/.
- Guo EL, Katta R. Diet and hair loss: Effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use. Dermatology practical & conceptual. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5315033/. Published January 31, 2017.