I am growing long hair now, really really long, down to my waist and all one length, eventually, when it gets there. I have done a lot of research lately on growing long hair. Listed below are a few sensible things I have learned to get it there and keep it healthy.
This is too long and needs about a meter cut off the bottom.
The first key to healthy hair is eating right and drinking lots of water We all know how to eat right, whether we do it or not. Everyone in this day and age knows that you need lots of veggies, some fruit, some meat and some fat. Leave the sugar and saturated fats alone. Ideally you should eat only natural things, REAL food (but who does that?) and drink a lot of water and we all know how much "a lot" of water is, too.
When you have that under control (and I'm not there yet, but moving towards it) here are other things you can do that make a big difference:
a) Don't use a brush of any kind. Use only a very large toothed comb and be gentle. File off any rough spots on it. There is a wooden pin brush and a boar brush out there that are suppose to be good for long hair but its a new thing. Try it at your own risk.
b) Keep all chemicals away from your hair, including stripping or harsh shampoo, peroxide, perms, straighteners and hairspray.
c) Wash only when absolutely necessary using shampoo as little as possible. You can get away with a little shampooing at the scalp only, but very little and not often. Let it gently rinse through the lenth of your hair and out. A healthier alternative is to use cornmeal on your scalp when you need to remove oil and rinsing it out. It helps to remove dirt and oils if you massage your scalp for a few minutes, breaking up the deposits there, then wash. Baking soda makes a good natural stripper, but don't use it often. Conditioner alone can be used to remove contaminants, especially if you have dry hair. Use a conditioner for your hair type to also remove tangles so you can comb it carefully and gently. There is a large movement out there to do away with shampoo altogether and these people have clean, healthy hair. Do some research if you are interested.
d) Keep it as tangle free as possible at all times to make the combing less damaging. It helps to comb your hair before you wash it and keep it straight while washing it. Don't pile it on your head, let it hang down long while you gently clean it. When you wash it, treat it gently. Very gently remove any tangles with your fingers. If you have something in your hair that you carefully cannot comb out with your big comb or work loose with fingers, cut it out. Never, ever tear tangles out of your hair with a brush, better yet, don't use a brush at all.
d) Use a slight acid rinse at each wash, after everything else, to restore the correct ph balance to your hair and help remove shampoo residues. Any vinegar mixed with a little water will work well. Lemon juice and water also works but might lighten your hair slightly. Strong tea works well but will darken your hair.
e) Rinse out the vinegar with clear icy cold water when you are finished, as cold as you can stand it. The icy cold water will make the cuticles lie flat helping to keep it from breaking. It will make it shinier too.
f) If you have dry and/or damanged hair, deep condition it once a month with a natural oil. Olive oil works well. Warm it up and apply to hair. Wrap your hair in a towel or a plastic shower cap and leave it on all day or over night. You will probably need to use a little shampoo in the wash to remove it. Follow the guidelines in "c" above.
g) Keep all electric appliances away from your hair. This includes curling irons, flat irons, hot rollers and crimpers. Never, ever put that kind of heat on the ends of your hair, no matter what kind of stuff you put on them to protect them. If you want curls, use gentle pin curls or roll it up in a rag and tie it. You can actually go to the store with your hair rolled up on top of your head in a rag and tied. It looks cute. It's quite curly and wavy when you let it down. NEVER USE VELCRO ROLLERS! and don't sleep on rollers, crushing your hair against them (see "d" below). Put soft ones on the very top of your head where you won't be sleeping on them.
d) Lesson any friction on your hair. When it gets long enough for you to lean back on, don't. Rubbing the ends between your back and a chair is a good way to damage the ends. Pull it over your shoulder when you sit down or clip the ends up or braid it. Don't sleep with it loose. A long braid will hold it tight to keep it from the friction of moving around between your head and the pillow case in the night. Don't wring it out tight when drying or scrub the ends vigorously in a towel. Avoid all friction between your hair and another surface.
e) Do not put anything elastic in it to hold it, including cloth scrungies. Don't tie it tight in the same spot over and over again. That's weakens the hair there. Clip it up or braid it. Braiding is the style of choice for me, when I can get it all in a braid.
f) Constantly trimming the ends will not make it grow any faster. If you are maintaining a healthy length, trim it 1/2" every month just to remove the damaged ends. That is the normal rate of growth for the average, fairly healthy individual. If you think you hair never grows, it could be because your damaged ends are breaking off that much every month or you are getting a "trim". It will never get any longer if you lose it off the ends. If you think the ends look bad and need a trim, take off the damage and resolve not to need a trim again until it is the length that you want it. If you already have very damaged ends, you will have to eventually cut them off. You can wait to do this when it gets longer or you can do it before you start to grow it long.
g) Never cut your hair with anything other than very sharp scissor made specifially for that purpose. If you are going to be trimming your hair or bangs yourself, invest in a good pair of hair cutting scissors. If you take care of them and never use them for anything else, they will last you a lifetime.
h) Avoid hairstylists. Don't let anyone near your hair with scissors that you don't trust to do EXACTLY what you request. If you must have someone else trim the damaged ends off your hair, ask to see what she is going to cut off before she does it. Remember, it is not in the best interest of most salons or hairdressers if you don't spend money there regularly. If someone tries to convince you that your long, healthy hair should be cut, run screaming from the salon immediately! Otherwise smile politely and ignore every word they say.
The only way to really fix damaged hair is to cut it off, so minimize the damage in the first place.