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So,...You Want Long Hair?

My Top Five Must-Do's to Ensure a Healthy Grow-Out

1) Invest in a salon-quality (salon-purchased) shampoo and conditioner

Hair health starts in the shower. Those bottles you pick up while you're doing your weekly Target shop may be cheaper, but you get what you pay for. Let me repeat: you get what you pay for. And this is what you are paying for: high concentrations of water, low concentrations of the goodies featured on the bottle, and fillers that make the hair feel good the first time you use it and then begin to build up on the hair.

In-salon brands may be a little pricier, but they have higher concentrations of the good stuff. They cost more because of the time and money that went into developing high-quality formulas.

Maintaining long, healthy hair requires nutrition, hydration and strength. Everyone's hair requires a unique regimen that your hairstylist can recommend based on their knowledge of their guests' hair.

I'm working on an in-depth post regarding the horrors of purchasing salon products like Kerastase on Amazon. But for now, just trust me. Don't.

2) Use a mask at least once a week

The longer the hair, the older the hair and therefore more care and nutrition it requires. Outside elements such as hard water, heat styling, sun, chlorine or just brushing can weaken hair and rob it of it's essential moisture.

A mask or treatment can deliver intense, high concentrations of moisture and strength to hair to help keep it shiny and healthy and reduce breakage.

3) Get regular trims every 8-12 weeks

Getting a trim won't make your hair grow faster BUT it will keep your hair from splitting. If it has already split a trim will prevent it from splitting further. As a hairstylist, I often see guests who go six months to a year between cuts to keep it long, but then request just an inch be cut off at their appointment. In these cases I usually see six inches that need to come off. If regular trims are scheduled your hair will end up longer at the end of the year than if you go six to 12 months between cuts.

4) Beat the heat and use a thermal protectant (every. time. heat. touches. your. hair)

I sound like a broken record but this is important. Hot tools can and will burn your hair if used improperly. Most people crank their hot tools higher than the temperature required to BAKE A CAKE. Then they put that heat on their hair over and over, day after day. Thermal protectant provides a barrier to keep hair from burning. My favorite formulations have added benefits like hold/memory, frizz control and moisture. Bonus Tip: keep the heat below 360degrees.

5) Lay off the messy buns (at least a few times a week)

Oh, I get it. Big time. The messy bun is quick, somehow always fashionable, and can be accessorized to make the perfect oops-I-slept-in hairstyle. But the downside (there is always a downside) is that messy buns in particular create tension and friction against fragile hair strands (namely from the front and back hairline) and can cause major breakage. Many times I can look at a guests' hair and tell them exactly on their head they wear their messy bun because of breakage patterns.

Switching to braids, headbands or half-up styles with bobby pins or clips every once and a while can help reduce the amount of breakage from buns and ponytails. Soft hair ties such as scrunchies can help as well. Beware of the Invisibobble. I have guests who use these who have still experienced breakage. They claim not to leave kinks, but the material can tug on the hair causing breakage especially when used on wet hair.

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