I’ve had waist-length hair since high school. While I've often considered cutting it into a short, trendy lob, I always imagine myself rushing to my local salon for extensions as soon as I chop off a few too many inches. Though I love having long hair (and doubt that I'll part with it anytime soon), keeping it soft, hydrated, and free of knots can be time-consuming. After years of testing out various techniques and products, however, I’ve developed a hair care routine that makes maintaining long hair a breeze.
Ahead, I'm sharing my tried-and-true hair care routine with you. Whether you're in the process of growing your tresses out or looking for tips on maintaining your length, you'll find all the details you need below. Keep scrolling for the ultimate guide to caring for long hair.
How do you keep your hair long and healthy?
Use length-strengthening products
The first step to any long hair care routine is investing in products formulated to keep your tresses healthy and strong. That’s why we love Redken’s Extreme Length line. This strengthening line, featuring the Extreme Length Shampoo, Conditioner, and Leave-In Treatment, is formulated with biotin to help prevent breakage and allow hair to grow longer and stronger. Whether you’re trying to grow waist-length strands or protect your ‘do from damage, you’ll want these products in your routine.
Keep your mane tangle-free
Rule number one in mane maintenance: Always make sure you’re brushing properly. Long hair is particularly prone to knots and tangles, which means you need to be extra careful when you’re detangling your tresses. Using the proper brush and techniques can help protect your mane from damage.
Soaking wet strands are prone to breakage, so it’s crucial to squeeze out excess water before detangling. We recommend wringing out soaking hair while you’re in the shower, then towel-drying as soon as you step out. Keep in mind that being rough with the towel will only cause more damage. Instead, try gently blotting hair to soak up extra moisture. Once your hair is fully towel-dried, you’re ready to begin detangling.
Be sure to apply a detangler like Biolage Hydrasource Detangling Solution throughout your hair before you begin brushing. Use a wide-tooth comb to tackle knots at the ends of your hair before gradually working your way up. Combing from the bottom to the top makes removing any knots easier while keeping pulling and tugging to a minimum.
If your long mane looks or feels parched, remedy that with hydrating hair products. We recommend starting your hair care routine with a hydrating,salon-quality shampoo and conditioner. We love the Redken All Soft Argan-Oil Enriched Shampoo and Conditioner from the L'Oréal portfolio of products. This system provides softness and nourishment for dry, brittle hair.
Your journey to soft, smooth hair isn’t over once you cleanse and condition. You should also treat your mane to a weekly hair mask ,like Redken All Soft Heavy Cream Deep Conditioning Treatment Mask. This formula delivers intense moisture to soften and control frizz.
Though products can do wonders for the look and feel of your hair, true hydration begins with your lifestyle. Maintaining a nutritious diet, managing stress, drinking lots of water, and exercising regularly will help you sustain a healthy body and beautiful hair.
Pay attention to your scalp
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Healthy hair begins at the scalp, so it’s essential to prioritize scalp scare in your routine. Adding a pre-shampoo treatment like Kérastase Chronologiste Gommage Exfoliating Pre Shampoo is a great place to start. This exfoliating and purifying formula revitalizes the scalp and hair while removing excess oil and product build-up.
Keep heat styling to a minimum
It’s best to limit heat styling as much as possible, whether you have waist-long hair or a short haircut. People with long tresses, however, should be particularly wary of the damage caused by heat styling since it’s more prone to breakage. Now, we’re not saying ditch hot tools completely, but it’s best to let your mane air-dry as much as possible to keep it healthy and strong.
Simplify your heat-free styling routine by using an air dry product that’s specifically formulated for your hair type and concerns. If you have straight or naturally wavy hair, create effortless beach waves with a texturizing spray like Pureology Style + Protect Beach Waves Sugar Spray.
If you’re working with unruly hair, you’ll want to invest in an air-dry styler that’s made to tackle frizz. We recommend a smoothing cream like Matrix Style Link Smooth Setter Smoothing Cream.
Natural ringlets come with their own set of styling needs—especially if they’re on the lengthier side. If you’re concerned about frizz and your curls lacking volume, opt for a lightweight curl-enhancing formula like Mizani True Textures Curl Enhancing Lotion.
When you do decide to heat style, don’t forget heat protectant
Rule number one of heat styling: Always use a heat protectant. Be sure to apply a generous amount of heat protectant from your roots to ends every time you reach for your hot tools. The Redken Iron Shape 11 Thermal Holding Spray is one of our all-time favorites. This lightweight, thermal heat protection hairspray is perfect for use with flat irons and curling irons up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit to protect your hair, add shine and reduce frizz.
Good hair day by @msnataliejean.
Protect your hair while you sleep
Tossing and turning all night can wreak havoc on your hair, so taking the right measures to shield your lengthy locks is essential. We suggest gathering your hair into a loose clip or a braid while you sleep to avoid snagging and pulling.
Cotton pillowcases can sometimes cause static, frizz, and tangles, so you may want to consider swapping them out for a softer fabric such as satin or silk to eliminate friction. Making this small switch can significantly improve how your hair looks and feels when you wake up.
Maintain a haircutting schedule
Contrary to one of the oldest misconceptions in the hair world, you don’t need to skip haircuts to maintain long hair. You can snip an inch or so off every few weeks and still keep your luscious length. A regular trim helps rid your mane of damage and split ends, keeping your hair looking and feeling healthier longer.
How often you should go in for a trim depends on your hair type and concerns. Those who heat style and color their hair regularly will need to hit the salon more frequently. If you’re not exactly sure how often to book a trim, your stylist will be able to determine a schedule that works best for you. Keep your lengths healthy between trims with a treatment like Redken Extreme Anti-Snap Split Ends Hair Treatment. This formula provides heat protection and helps protect against breakage and split ends.
Good hair day by @cathy_devinelooks.
Opt for loose hairstyles
We have a love/hate relationship with tight ponytails and buns. On the one hand, we love that they keep your hair from getting all sweaty during a workout. With all the pulling and tugging required to achieve them, however, you might be causing unnecessary damage. Skip the high-and-tight styles and opt for loose braids and updos that won’t pull on your hair as much.
Pro tip: You might also want to consider trading in your regular hair elastic for a hair bungee. It’s a straight piece of elastic with clips on either end that is designed to wrap around the base of any hair style. Essentially, it allows you to create and unravel hairstyles easily without causing friction. You can also opt for hair accessories made from materials like satin or silk.
Most importantly, know what kind of care your hair needs and be as gentle with it as possible. Your stylist (and your scalp) will thank you.
Interested in more long hair care tips? Use our salon locator to book an appointment at a salon near you.