My hair has probably the most complimented part of my body, for all 17 and a half years of my life. It’s used to be insanely long when was a child, until I got tired of it when I was 10 and got it all cut to shoulder length. I maintained ‘just past shoulder length’ hair til I was about 14, when I started letting it go. One day last year, when I looked in the mirror, I suddenly realised, ‘damn. I have really long hair. It’s past my waist.’ That was probably the moment when I realised I had to start caring for it if I wanted it to stay this healthy. That, and my mother’s insistence.
So, here’s my guide to taking care of your hair.
Brushing is Good
Now, I’ve met people who don’t like brushing their hair. And admittedly, I’m one of them. I never have time to brush my hair in the mornings, and that’s usually okay for me because my hair’s stick straight no matter what I try to do to it. But honestly, hair should be brushed.
Brushing distributes your natural hair oils down your hair. The oily substance, sebum, is secreted at the root of your hair, and acts as a protective barrier, keeping your hair shiny and healthy. Also, brushing it prevents greasy buildup around your scalp.
Pick a good hairbrush. Do some research and find out what brush type is good for your particular type of hair. It’s worth it. I personally just use a tangle teaser when my hair is super messy, and carry around a gorgeous little wooden comb in case I suddenly need to look presentable. Usually, wood is better than plastic, especially for combs. But this isn’t always the case, so, remember: do your research. When you find the right brush, a single stroke with it through your hair makes your hair so much softer and a delight to touch.
Know your hair brushes:
Less is more and more is less: Washing your hair
People often talk about how you shouldn’t wash your hair too often because it damages your hair, or you shouldn’t go without washing because it’s disgusting. The correct thing to do is gauge your own needs. Thicker, oily hair could get away with being washed every day without being damaged. Non greasy hair doesn’t need to washed as often, and finer hair should be gently washed, and less often, to avoid breaking. I myself wash my hair every two days.
Washing your hair should be done with the right shampoo. I used the same kids shampoo until I was thirteen. Then, I started buying a different shampoo every time a bottle ran out. It took me countless tries to find the perfect shampoo that suited me, and I’ve stuck to it for almost two years now. Some people say that you should switch up shampoos or your hair will ‘get used to it’ and the shampoo won’t be effective. But this isn’t antibiotics we’re talking about. If you find the perfect shampoo like I have, stick to it. I use the Aussie Luscious Long shampoo, and the matching conditioner.
Speaking of conditioners, always condition. It doesn’t matter how greasy your hair is, or how short it is. If you’re worried about grease, simply apply the conditioner to only the tips. If you have short hair, use less conditioner. I apply conditioner to the tips first, then work my way up, gently rubbing in the conditioner until I reach approximately the shoulder length area.
Hair Treatments and General Faffing Around
I only use treatments if my hair is super dry. I don’t usually like store bought hair masks, and instead, mostly use different oils.
I warm a bottle of oil, either almond or coconut, in a bowl of water that’s warm but still comfortable to rest a hand in. Before washing my hair, I scoop some of the oil out, and massage it into my scalp like I would shampoo. Then, I rub more into my tips, and comb through my hair gently with a wide toothed comb (plastic – wood can be damaged by the oil). Using a towel, I wrap up my hair and pile it onto my head. After about 30 mins, I unwrap and wash as usual.
If you buy treatments and hair masks, try to buy as organic and natural as possible. Lush does some amazing ones, and I think I’ve sampled almost all of them by now. The people at the shop will usually be happy to help you find the perfect mask to match your hair, and explain how to use it.
Also, something major I have to say to you: dye will damage your hair. This is unquestionable. Perhaps the only dye I have ever seen that does not completely strip your hair is henna. When using all natural henna, it actually keeps your hair healthy. Other than that, every dye I have seen my friends get, professionally done or not, damages their hair. This includes the old ‘using lemon juice to bleach hair’ trick.
Keep your hair tied back. If I’m not leaving the house, I always wear a soft silk hairband and plait my hair. Plaiting your hair is probably the best way to keep your hair from damage – leaving it loose allows it to get caught on various things (zips, door handles, buttons, earrings… Usually other people’s). A major long hair problem. Tying it up in a ponytail or tight bun can stretch the hair and puts pressure on the scalp. Plaits are good.
Elastic bands are bad. Just don't subject your hair to that. Please? Use soft hair ties, without the metal bits. Scrunchies are the best, but failing that, just the ordinary no-metal hair bands will do.
Don’t play with your hair. I’m guilty of this, and it’s really not a good habit. It’s terrible.
Heat is not good for your hair. Hairdryers, straighteners, curlers, radiators, are all bad. I usually try to air dry when possible, and when I do use a hairdryer, I put it on a comfortably warm, not hot, setting. I never use straighteners and only curl my hair with heat maybe about twice a year.
Don’t stress, exercise, drink lots of water, and have a healthy diet. Ultimately, those are the most important factors. Drink at least 2 litres of water a day, depending on your body mass and level of activity. Your hair grows from you, so keeping your body healthy comes first.
Happy Hair Caring!