So you’re stuck with me today.
I have really long, fine, stick straight hair.
It’s about down to my bum, actually, and with every inch that it grows, I end up with more and more funny stories about it.
For example, I was in line at a convenience store last week, I was wearing a fleece top, and it was cold, so my hair was sticking to about everything in sight. This lady in line behind me fished something out of her purse, and my hair must have liked it, because when she went to zip up her purse, I felt that distinct tug that told me my hair was getting stuck in or to something. Again. I turned around and took custody of my wayward locks, and she started apologizing all over herself for not noticing. I thought it was funny, and said so, and realizing that no harm had been done, she joined me in a chuckle.
That’s just one of the anecdotes I can share about my hair. The real focus of today’s soundbite is this: Long hair hasn’t been fashionable since the 70’s, and with the saturation of ads today touting the scrubbing of all your parts everyday, I wanted to toss my hat in to the ring, and explain some long hair stuff that seems to work for me. Most of this might go against the fashionable grain, but as my hairdresser (who I imagine has a bit of experience with this sort of thing, since she’s been doing it as an occupation all her life, and she’s in her mid 50’s to early sixties) says my hair is the healthiest long hair she has ever seen in her career, I think that gives me a leg to stand on regarding my hair care routine.
So here’s my advice, and hey, if it works for you, Mazel Tov!
Wash it as little as possible.
Yes, you read that right. I was the whole of my hair about once a week. Otherwise, your ends get frizzy and fried, and split prematurely. When I wash my hair, I shampoo the hair that actually touches my head, down to about the first vertebra below my hairline. The rest I don’t actually shampoo – just letting the shampoo from my head wash through the rest of my locks is usually cleansing enough.
Use good conditioner. This is one of those instances where “good” conditioner usually equates to spending a little more money. But in my experience, you get what you pay for, and stuff that is thin and washes right out does not help a comb go through my hair post-shower. I use Aussie’s 3 minute miracle, and a bottle lasts about 2-3 months. (Hey, if you’re only using it once a week, it goes a long way!)
Apply the conditioner from about the first vertebrae below your hairline down the rest of the length of your hair, and then finger comb the part that’s conditioned until you can comb it without hitting any snags. Rinse the conditioner out with slightly cooler water than your normal shower temperature – super hot water seems to make hair snarly, which negates any conditioning you just did…
Comb it, then do it up
Comb all your hair out when you get out of the shower, then figure out a way to do up all or part of it so it doesn’t affect you sleeping on it. Keeping it up during the night and not fussing with it much on a daily basis is what keeps it from getting prematurely greasy. Milkmaid braids, a side french braid, ponytail by night-hairsticks by day, whatever works to keep it a bit contained will help. (All the photos in this article are ideas for how to put it up and keep it up.)
Get it trimmed regularly
I get my hair trimmed about every 10-12 weeks, and I keep the trim to whatever my hairdresser recommends – usually about half an inch or less. It really cuts down (no pun intended) on the split ends.
When I’m in a dry or dusty environment, or have been on the road for awhile, I get stressed out, and that begins to stress my hair out. I can tell (and I don’t know that I can explain it well, but I’ll try…) When the last 3-4″ of my hair starts to feel like it’s kind of frizzy, or straw-like, or when I pull a hair elastic out of the bottom of a ponytail and it grabs up a lot of hair with it, rather than sliding nicely out, then it’s time for some hair TLC. Warning: It’s messy, so have an plastic bag or two ready… Mix olive oil and honey together until you get a toothpaste sort of consistency, then microwave it until it’s warm. (Not hot – you should be able to stick your fingers in and keep them there without it burning them…) Mix it again when heated, and it should now be the consistency of thick soup. Dunk all of your hair that you can fit into the honey-oil mixture, up to about 4″ below your natural hairline at the back of your neck. Slip your hair into the plastic bag and hold it on there for about 20 minutes. Then wash your hair out normally and don’t over shampoo it – it will feel super conditioned, and may need an extra wash the next day as the excess olive oil is released.