Long and strong hair tips using KBeauty and more
Updated: Aug 22, 2019
My ideal hair would be thick, wavy, down to my butt, and red. And what did nature bless me with? Straight, blonde, fine hair. Awesome, thanks. I’m very stubborn (and goal oriented), so I’ve been working on at least making it long and red. It’s currently well past my shoulder blades. I’ve picked up a few hair care tips and tricks over the years. Perhaps you will find some of them useful.
Full disclosure - I’m not a dermatologist or a hair stylist. I’ve struggled with my hair for years and have finally found some things that work. I have fine, straight, naturally blonde hair (colored with henna), oily scalp and dry/normal strands.
So, how can one grow long, healthy hair?
Tip #1 - stop cutting it
No, that’s not sarcasm. There’s no scientific evidence to support the claim that trimming hair makes it grow quicker. Think about it - how would cutting off what is essentially “dead” cells from the ends make the roots grow? And some stylists can be scissor happy, taking off more than you had in mind. If you are trying to grow out your locks, then stop getting frequent trims. I go in maybe twice a year (or even less often) just to make the ends even. I like a blunt edge.
Tip #2 - and yet… sometimes a cut is the best mask
The first tip works if your hair is relatively healthy. In November of 2016, I was trying to chase that dream of wavy strands and tried getting a perm (in a salon, with a “professional”). Eh… the perm didn’t take, but the damage certainly happened. I ended up cutting a total of about 13 inches (33cm) of severely fragile and tangle prone hair off. If your hair is beyond saving, then go ahead and get it cut (it’s ok to cry). Another reason to get a trim? Split ends. If left alone, the shaft unravels further and further up, making you look frizzy.
The shortest hair I’ve had as an adult; 8 years ago (and 70 lbs heavier):
Tip #3 - focus on scalp health
Skincare doesn’t stop with our faces and bodies - scalp is skin! It needs to be properly cleansed and exfoliated. The internet is full of conflicting advice on how often to wash the hair (daily? Once a week? Something in between?). Find a balance that works for you. I wash my scalp every other day and try not to use dry shampoo if I can help it (since it can accumulate on the skin and clog pores). I don’t really “wash” the hair - the shampoo running off the scalp during rinsing is enough.
Choose a gentle cleanser without sulfates. Harsh detergents dry out the scalp, making it either flakey or extra oily as the skin tries to compensate for the loss of moisture. I love the La’dor Triple X natural shampoo (review here).
Exfoliate regularly to avoid product and dead skin build up. That kind of debris can prevent the hair from growing as well as it can. I love these scaling ampoules (review here) and this scrub (review here).
I also use a root product to normalize the oil production in the scalp and promote circulation. Review here.
Tip #4 - go natural
A popular advice for healthy hair is to stop all coloring, styling, and blow drying. Some or all of it might be non-negotiable to you. Do what you can. For example, I am not fond of my natural ashy blonde hair color, so I use henna (this one) once a month to make it red. Henna, if it’s pure (so only the plant powder and nothing else), is not harmful and is even beneficial to the hair. If you are curious about it, there is a wonderful (and free) ebook on the subject here.
One fantastic benefit of having longer hair is the ability to skip blow drying. Let me explain. The super short cut I had above required daily styling or I looked like a wet, sad hamster - no volume, no shape. So every morning I had to wash my hair, dry it, spray a bunch of stuff in it and fluff it up. Repeat the next day, forever (or until it grew back). Now I can just wash my hair in the evening, let it air dry, then put it in a loose braid and go to sleep. It’s slightly wavy in the morning - good enough for me. I wash every other day. On the nights that I don’t wash it, I still do a braid before bed.
"Next day hair" after sleeping with a braid:
Tip #5 - reduce friction
Friction from rubbing, pulling, and tugging can ruffle up the hair cuticle and lead to dullness and breakage.
Traditional hair towels with little loops cause too much friction against the hair shaft. There is probably something fancy out there in terms of a special hair towel, but I use old soft cotton t-shirts to gently wrap around the wet hair. It’s been working wonderfully and my hair looks shinier and is breaking less.
Me rocking a t-shirt turban:
Wet hair is much weaker and more vulnerable than dry hair. I used to try and comb it after washing, but there’s a better way. Now I carefully brush it with this brush (eBay / Amazon) before getting it wet / shampooing and then let it dry before trying to comb or brush again. It might seem like the tangles will never come out if you don’t brush your hair while it’s wet, but they do - trust me.
So the hair is dry and braided and safe from friction, right? Nope. Traditional pillow cases are quite rough on both hair and skin. Invest in a silk case to save your face and hair from unnecessary damage. I like this one. It says to hand wash, but I use a gentle cycle on the washing machine and hang to dry. I’ve had it for months and it’s working great. Mine is red, because sometimes freshly colored hair can stain the bedding.
Tip #6 - get slippery
This goes along with the previous tip. While trying to grow my hair after that horrible perm, I read all I could find on the subject. One interesting concept that is popular in the long hair forums is “slip”. In short, you want your hair to be silky and slippery so it doesn’t tangle as much. And if it does get tangled, slippery hair is much easier to comb or brush out without damaging it.
I use products that give me slippery, silky hair all the time. A few of my favorites:
Tip #7 - choose the right hair styles
If the hair is damaged or is naturally fine and fragile, you might be one bad ponytail away from breakage. I like to let it down when at work and then braid into a loose braid at home. A few years ago I started seeing hair elastics that look like phone cords on my German colleagues. A friend gifted me a few, and then I brought some back from a business trip to Germany. They are finally hitting the US now. I love these elastics because they don’t break the hair and don’t leave any marks. They also slide out very easily without pulling strands out. I’m sure any brand will work; lots of them are sold on Amazon and eBay.
Avoid tight ponytails or very tight buns. That puts an unnecessary strain on the hair and can pull it out. Don’t believe me? Ask the Amish. I was lucky enough to tour an Amish settlement in Pennsylvania once. The traditional hairstyle for women involves very tight twists around the temples that pull the hair back. The tour guide informed us that it’s the reason many women in the community have hair loss in those areas.
Tip #8 - nourish the hair
Hopefully, some of the above tips were new to you, but do not dismiss the good old hair mask. In addition to that coveted “slip” from tip #6, hair masks restore some of the lost moisture and elasticity to the hair. Besides the ones already mentioned in the sixth tip, I also enjoy an occasional “specialty” mask - overnight ones (review here) and ones to prevent split ends (review here).
Tip #9 - enjoy it
Don’t let the process of growing the hair out become a source of stress (which can cause hair loss, by the way). Enjoy your locks, at any length. And if you feel like going from a Rapunzel mane to a pixie cut - go for it (well, maybe sleep on it first, just to make sure). There are so many stressors in our lives, but beauty should be fun and relaxing.
What are your favorite hair tricks and products? Please share with me in the comments or on any of my social media - Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, or my Facebook group! Subscribe below to get blog updates via email.
All of my hair care reviews (wins and fails) can be found here.
Have a fantastic day!