The March issue of Glamour magazine contained the following tidbit: “’Long hair is like your favorite t-shirt’ – meaning it’s the everyday staple you feel great in, but untended, it’ll get beaten up.”
When I read that, I almost fell off the elliptical (because Glamour’s quality of writing has spiraled down so much in the last couple years, to near Cosmo levels, that I will only read it if I’m desperately trying to distract myself, i.e. at the airport or the gym), because I had never seen my feelings about having long hair put into words better.
Long hair, when it’s well taken care of, can be utterly gorgeous. It’s versatile, it’s eye-catching and it is inherently feminine.
Of course, it is also a pain in the a** to take care of. Blow-drying feels like an eternity, even more so when your hair is long and thick. Then, it might actually be an eternity, although the stop watch on my phone doesn’t go that far. I have literally cried in the summertime when I’ve had to endure the misery of blow-drying my hair on a 115-degree day. (Hey, sometimes it has to be done.) Keeping split ends at bay is a constant task, especially if you’re heat styling often; and if you dye or highlight, maintenance of that much hair is going to break you, in both time and money.
Long hair, especially if you’re not dyeing it, can also get really boring. When you’ve invested so much time growing it, it is mentally difficult to have it chopped off, even just a few inches. Not having the willpower and freedom to go switch up your cut can be kind of a hindrance, because if you’re feeling like doing something drastic, a haircut is often the most noticeable change you can control.
My hair is currently a couple inches past the standard (and highly scientific) girl measurement of “bra strap length.” Let me tell you something: I am bored with it. I keep having fantasies about getting the angled bob I see in the mirror every time I put on a t-shirt and haven’t pulled my hair out of it yet. No wait: a bob and bangs! Even better: a bob and bangs and highlights!
But I can’t bring myself to do it; I’m too attached now. I have spent almost five years growing my damn hair out after bleaching the hell out of it too many times and having to chop it to almost chin length. I even went on an almost four-year hair dye hiatus, trying to help it grow in stronger and healthier (which did work really well). I get antsy when I go in for just a tiny trim now because I can totally tell the difference without that extra half inch.
I have tried a lot of different products and brands from Aveeno to Vidal Sassoon in attempts to manage frizz, curtail oil, keep the ends moisturized, add shine, boost volume and — oh yeah — keep it clean. The following are three of my most remarkable finds when it comes to the basics of great long hair care.
Giovanni Smooth as Silk Shampoo
This “eco-chic” shampoo is a natural wonder. I picked it up recently after a brief relapse in dyeing because a stylist friend told me that to protect your color, you don’t need color-protectant shampoo; you just need to go sulfate-free. I know, sulfate-free makes you think of hippie shampoos that don’t get the job done and leave your hair greasy and limp; but I swear this one get it done, and done well.
It lathers just as well as a traditional shampoo formula, has a delicious but not cloying tangerine scent and leaves my hair feeling soft and looking great. It moisturizes without weighing down and cleanses without stripping, leaving hair with just enough shine and volume — for up to three days. That’s right: I can usually go two full days in between wash days and with this shampoo, I never end up looking greasy in between. Not having to wash (and thereby, blow-dry and style) as often is pretty huge in my book and I’m grateful to have found a product which makes it possible. This shampoo can be found at Ulta (and now Target, too!) for about $8.50.
Pantene Pro-V Restore Beautiful Lengths Replenishing Mask
Once the Giovanni has been rinsed out, I spread roughly a quarter cup of this dense deep conditioner through my hair from about where I would make a ponytail to the ends. I leave it on for the rest of the shower (shaving, etc. so about six minutes) and then rinse it out. Using this twice a week for about three months has given me impressive results.
After the hair-dyeing incident, I was so sad that I had seemingly ruined a lot of the health and softness that had taken me so long to get back by not dyeing it. My hair felt like straw, and I was afraid I might have a pretty serious cut in my future. This mask has totally turned the situation around, and my hair is almost back to being as shiny and conditioned as it was before. It has never weighed my hair down or made it feel greasy; the conditioner is thick, but it rinses clean and leaves hair light and super soft. This fantastically scented mask is truly a miracle worker for long hair.
You can typically find it at Target, Ulta and other stores for less than $6.00.
Redken Satinwear 02 Ultimate Blow-Dry Lotion
There was a time that I was using six different styling products when I would do a blowout, not including the shampoo and conditioner. I kid you not, six: a root booster, a heat protectant, a skinny serum, a frizz crème, a thickening lotion and a finishing spray. That is totally ridiculous, and it is no wonder my hair would fall flat after just one day. Now I am down to just one, albeit glorious, product: Redken’s Blow-Dry Lotion.
Two measly pumps are all you need to apply wet hair and allow it to work its magic as you blow-dry. This heat protector and styler, frizz fighter and shine booster all-in-one leaves my hair softer and smoother than anything else ever has. I have used other potions in the past that left my hair feeling like a giant clump, or worse, like I hadn’t even washed it. Unlike a lot of other leave-in products, no residue, oil or film is left behind and hair feels clean, light and separated.
It’s found at Ulta, as well as select salons and online stores, for roughly $16.50. It is pricier than what I usually go for, but it’s worth it and the bottle will last a very long time.
I would love to know what you’ve discovered to keep your hair feeling healthy and looking beautiful. If you have a product suggestion, please leave it in the comments below!
Shauna once asked her husband, “How do you know if you’re thinking about your hair too much?” He responded, “Do you think about your hair?” and she replied, “Well, yes –” and he quickly said, “Then it’s too much.” Despite this, she clearly still spends an inordinate amount of time thinking about her hair. Shauna also wrote “Top 5 Beauty Buys Under $10” for The Full Moxie.