Five years ago my hair went from long and brunette to short and blonde and stayed there.
I thoroughly enjoyed being a member of the bob and lob club; they’re such versatile and low-maintenance cuts that pair well with a textured (read: dry as hell) blonde like mine.
The only time my hair has ever looked remotely on the ‘long’ side in recent years is while travelling, and it was always straight to the hairdresser once I could.
But, whether out of circumstance or boredom, a year ago I decided to grow it. And not just grow it, but actually try to nourish and nurture it while I did so, in the hope that it would look as healthy as it did long.
Let’s just say prior to this self-imposed ‘challenge’ the care I showed to my hair was… minimal. I’m talking wash, dry, get out of the house.
So it’s safe to say I’ve learnt a lot over the past year and I thought I’d share the best tips of the bunch.
P.S. If you’re a long-time long hair-haver, please refrain from too many ‘duh’ comments. Like Jon Snow, I knew nothing.
#1 Wash your hair less
There are two main reasons for this. The first is that yes, it’s a bit more time-consuming and energy-draining to wash, dry and style longer hair, so why put yourself through that on the regular? Secondly, I find the lengths of my hair crave the natural oil production from my roots and a longer time is needed for my mane to benefit down low. Now that it’s long it actually looks it’s best on day two and three of my wash cycle instead of freshly washed, so I didn’t find stretching it out too difficult (and with the help of dry shampoo).
#2 Use a hair-specific towel
This was a game-changer. Not only did a separate hair towel mean I was no longer trying to dry my limbs with a wet rag because my hair got in first, but by making it a microfibre towel, my hair reaps the benefits too. I’m much more careful when it comes to drying now, squeezing the excess moisture out instead of roughly shaking the ends. These towels make it such a more mindful process, and are a lot more gentle too.
#3 Air-dry when you can
Another thing I’m more mindful of? Heat damage. I would always blow-dry my hair post-shower when it was short, but now that it’s long I try to only use the hairdryer for finishing off. It’s easier in the warmer months, when you can let the breeze on a morning walk do most of the work for you, but I’ve found this has really helped tone down the fried factor of my hair. I also try not to brush it while wet, I’ll smooth in a leave-in treatment on the ends and then leave it be until at least 80 per cent dry.
#4 Invest in a good quality hair brush
Speaking of brushing, boy did I never believe in the hype of a good hair brush until I tried one. But damn, if you thought having to yank and pull at your knots was normal, investing in a quality paddle will show you the light. Like I said, I try not to brush it when it’s wet anymore, but I actually now have two brushes depending on whether it’s damp or dry. When it’s damp I use one with spaced out, single nylon bristles and when it’s dry I like to use one with a mix of boar and nylon to keep it smooth and tame.
Dyson Paddle Brush, $49 at dyson.com.au
#5 And professional hair products
I am a huge fan of supermarket shampoos. I am that person in the aisle sniffing the Herbal Essences with glee. But with my lengths sticking around for longer, I found the cheap and cheerful formulas just weren’t cutting it. Turns out if you’re going to go to the effort of growing your hair, it needs the extra effort of professional haircare to keep it hydrated, shiny and healthy — otherwise your trims will not be as minor as you want them to be. Making the switch has made a huge difference to the manageability and shine of my hair, keeping it stronger and less prone to breakage so it can grow long without looking dishevelled.
#6 Hair oil will be your BFF
Another thing I’ve been missing out on all the years? Hair oil. Where the hell has this magic elixir been all my life?! When my hair was short it was easy to run with the dry, textured look all the time. It was voluminous; it was messy in a good way. But now that it’s long, my ends sorely need extra hydration to look swishy and smooth, and hair oil has become the answer and saviour. I no joke use it every day and don’t know where I’d be without it.
OUAI Hair Oil, $43 at Sephora
Do you have long hair? What’s your best care tip?