Basic haircare tips for long hair

By Candice Zen

This week’s blog post is all about how to take care of long hair effectively.  The condition of long hair can vary enormously from person to person and depends on factors like:

•    How wavy/curly or straight your hair is – wavy and curly hair tends to be drier on the ends because less of the natural oils produced by the scalp get distributed to the ends
•    How often you use irons/straighteners or tongs on the hair – straightening or tonging very regularly knackers the hair, especially if you don’t use heat protection spray. Blow-drying is less damaging (and good for the scalp), although if you use a round brush to smooth the ends, you should also use heat protection spray.
•    How long the hair is – Hair grows on average around 1cm per month or 12cm per year. Hair at the ends of long hair can be 3-4 years old+ so it will be more weathered.
•    How long between haircuts you leave it – if you leave it 6 months to 1 year between haircuts, your hair ends are probably going to be split and frayed.
•    How tight you tie it up – if you wear your hair tied back tightly with an elastic all day every day, you may be causing it mechanical damage/stress, as well as potentially pulling the roots out and thinning the hair (traction alopecia).
•    How lucky you are! – some people have naturally strong and dense hair. If your hair is fine or naturally dry/brittle, you should perhaps give up on trying to grow it much past your shoulders. Treat it with care and with a nice haircut, it’ll look good.

So here are some basic haircare tips for people with long hair:

1.    Wash your hair every 1-3 days
Regular washing shifts scalp sebum (natural oil) and all the dirt and pollution particles stuck to it. 

2.    Dry your hair (roots at least) with the hairdryer.
Drying your hair with a hairdryer is a good idea in winter, enough said. At other times, at least dry your roots next to the scalp even if you leave the ends to dry naturally. This helps to prevent fungal yeast growth (and dandruff) on the scalp. Use your fingers to lift the hair next to the scalp when drying and circulate the air.

3.    Always use conditioner
It helps to reduce static so the hair lays better, as well as reducing brittleness and breakage. You don’t need to put it on the roots – concentrate it on mid-lengths and ends. To get your conditioner to work harder, comb the hair through with a wide-tooth comb while in the shower and leave on the hair for a few minutes. Don't bother with those 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioners. Just run some conditioner through after shampooing and rinse well - an extra 45 seconds.

4.    If your hair is tangled when wet, use a Tangle Teezer
You can buy these from most chain pharmacies – they’re about £10. Cheaper versions that are similar can be found in Poundland. The soft plastic bristles gently detangle without ripping the hair. Remember – hair is more delicate when wet.

For those people with hair in poor condition, first of all get a trim, then reduce usage of heated tools/straighteners. Finally consider investing in a leave-in conditioner, or a hair mask (concentrated conditioner) twice a month. At the Totem Hair pop-up, we use Davines Dede Leave-in Hair Mist which is light and non-greasy. For a more heavy duty effect, Aveda’s Damage Remedy Daily Hair Repair is lovely or Redken’s Extreme Anti-snap treatment is light-weight and non-greasy.

Masks are a whole other topic, which I will blog about more soon. But for a natural mask, start with a mixture of coconut and olive oil on the freshly washed hair ends for 1-2 hours (then a light shampoo to remove).

More on that soon. Any more questions, mail in at the address above!