How To Grow Long Beautiful Hair
  • Hair Grows by Itself:
    Yes, hair grows by itself, but it also splits and gets tangled and unhealthy, necessitating trims and cuts.  If you want to grow long, beautiful hair, what you must do is learn the rules of care that will allow you to keep your hair healthy so that it does not require shortening.  Consider that "average" hair grows about 6 inches per year.  If you want your hair to hang to your waist, the tips will be about 5 or 6 years old.

    The principles of long hair care are based on two simple precepts:
    1. Minimize the actions which can weaken the integrity of hair fiber.
    2. Maintain or replenish the oil which keeps hair from drying out.

  • Combing, Brushing, Tangles:  theory and practice:

    • Brushing, theoretical:
      Brush your hair only when it is completely dry.  Brush the bottom 4 inches first, all around.  Then start 4 inches higher and brush the bottom 8 inches.  Continue in this manner until you have brushed all your hair from the scalp down.

      Brushing is supposed to redistribute the oils in the hair, bringing them from the scalp down to the ends.  However, the kind of vigorous brushing with boar's hair brushes that CAN redistribute oils, isn't good for all types of hair (damaged hair, mixed fiber hair, curly hair, very fine hair).  There are some long hair advocates who want you to brush 100 times at least once per day.  You need to make this decision based on the type of hair you have.  Use conditioner to replenish oils if your hair type doesn't lend itself to this type of brushing.

      Pick the kind of brush that will work best for your hair.  I use a wooden-tooth detangling brush.  You will know you have picked the right brush when it doesn't seem to pull your hair to the point of weakening it, when it feels good on your scalp, and when your hair looks and feels good to you after you have used it.

    • Combing, theoretical:
      Use a wide-tooth comb.  It is acceptable to comb hair when it is wet or almost dry, provided you do so very gently.  Comb the bottom 4 inches first, all around.  Then start 4 inches higher and comb the bottom 8 inches.  Continue in this manner until you have combed all your hair from the scalp down.

      Some types of hair (very fine, curly, or damaged) don't respond well to combing unless their hair is at least a little damp.

      I recommend buying a white wide-tooth comb and being sure to clean it with liquid soap, water, and an old tooth brush or fingernail brush whenever the smallest amount of dirt shows on the teeth.

    • Tangles:
      If you come across knots while combing or brushing, do not pull or bear down on them.  Do not comb them down from the top.  Instead, comb or brush beneath the knot and approach it from underneath (lower down), gently, a little bit at a time.

    • Combing and Brushing, practical:
      Do I really comb the bottom 4 inches first, all around my head, then start 4 inches higher and comb the bottom 8 inches and continue in this manner until I have combed all my hair?  No.  After years of taking good care of my hair, I have very few tangles.  Here is what I do:

      I reach to the back of my neck with both hands and pull all my hair forward, the right hair to the right side, the left hair to the left side.  I now have all my hair in front, about half down my right side and half down my left.  I begin about 6 inches from the bottom and comb or brush downwards on one side and then the other.  Then I begin 5 inches higher than that and comb or brush 11 inches down on each side.  If I find a tangle, I stop combing or brushing immediately and begin lower down on the strands and work my way back up.  I continue in this manner until all my hair is combed or brushed.

      When I come across an area that is susceptible to tangles, I try to understand what makes that area weaker.  For a while I was forgetting the necklace rule and the hair in the back of my neck was snarling because the hair fibers were kinked from having been caught on clasps and beads.

      Yes, I really do use a white wide-toothed comb which I scrub and wash at least every time I take a shower.

  • Washing:
    Wash primarily your scalp rather than your hair unless your hair is very oily or dirty.  Before washing, brush or comb your hair to untangle it.  Washing frequency depends on your own skin and hair type.  Most people with long hair wash their hair two or three times per week. 

  • Conditioning:
    Yes, use conditioner and/or creme rinse.  The type and the amount you use will depend on your hair.  If you have long, very straight hair that rarely tangles, just use conditioner on the last 4 inches.  If you have mixed width hair fibers (some thin-fiber wispy hair, some thick fibers), or curly hair, you will need to use lots of conditioner from your head to the ends.

  • Drying:
    • Don't
      Never wring your hair.  When hair is wet it is particularly fragile.  Twisting hair and/or stretching it when it is wet is bad for the hair fibers and will encourage splitting.
      If you must use a blow dryer, use it on low heat and leave your hair a little damp so that it can air-dry for the last bit.  Do not make a practice of blow-drying.
    • Do
      Squeeze water out of your hair without wringing it.
      Use a soft, absorbent towel and wrap your damp hair to dry it.
      Allow to air dry.

  • Trimming
    Trim as needed.  If your hair grows about 6 inches per year, and you want to grow your hair longer, you will need to trim it no more than 3 inches each year.  It is acceptable to spot-trim bad parts (hunting for and cutting off split and weak ends when you find them), and even-out your ends once per year.  You will know when you need to trim your hair because combing and/or brushing will become a little more difficult.  Trim your hair to avoid pulling it when you comb or brush it.

  • Coloring:
    • Don't
      Never use peroxide or ammonia coloring on hair.  It makes hair brittle and weak.  The first couple of months it will probably look fine, but as the treated hair ages, it will continue to weaken until it splits and breaks.  It is unusual for hair treated with peroxide to look good after 3 years.
    • Do
      It is better not to color hair at all, but if you must color it, use henna or a temporary color.
      If you have colored your hair, you must treat it using conditioner and/or hot oil treatments to replenish the oils that coloring removes.

  • Sleeping
    Sleep with your hair either loose, wrapped around your head, or tied in a braid.  People who do not toss and turn much in their sleep are better candidates for sleeping with their hair loose.  You will know if you are taking proper care of your hair during sleep if when you wake, you have very few or no tangles.

  • Swimming
    Like wind, water can tangle hair.  It is better to swim with your hair in a cap and/or braided.  Always wash your hair after swimming in salt water (to remove sand, debris, so hair can be brushed and combed) or a chlorinated pool (to remove chlorine which can cause damage to hair in similar ways as peroxide can).  If you swim regularly, you will also need to treat your hair to replenish the oils.

  • Special treatments
    • Hot Oil
      You can do this yourself or go to a salon for it.  If you do your own, heat some oil.  Do not use olive oil because it will take at least 4 shampoos to remove.  I have used and like hemp oil, jojoba oil, or almond oil.  When the oil is hot to the touch but not burning, apply to the palms of your hand and finger tips, work into your hair.  If you are certain the oil feels comfortably warm on your scalp, you can pour some directly on.  Work oil into scalp.  Wrap your hair in a cotton rag like a turban.  Keep your head warm.  The easiest way to keep warm is to go under a hair dryer at low heat.  Alternatively, you can blow-dry (outside the rag-turban) and put a shower cap on afterward to keep in the heat.  Allow oil to soak into scalp for at least 2 hours before washing.  Do not over-wash in order to get all the oil out the first time, instead, begin washing by applying conditioner, then use shampoo only once.
    • Conditioner
      One day after your last shampoo, wash your hair again, but this time don't use shampoo, only conditioner.

  • Hairstyles
    Wearing your hair long and loose is best, but there are times when you will want to braid your hair or put it up.  Don't let your hair blow in the wind, that will tangle it.  When it is windy, keep your hair braided or tucked under your clothes.  Do not use rubberbands to tie hair.  Rubberbands pull hair fibers and weaken and tangle hair.  Use coated elastic without the metal seam, made specifically for tying hair, instead.

  • Teasing
    Don't.  No, never.

  • Clothing and jewelry
    Avoid wearing necklaces with beads or clasps that tangle in your hair.  Avoid wearing fibers (collars) that catch your hair or are abrasive on it.  If you do wear a necklace that can catch your hair, wear it under your collar or cover it with a scarf.

  • Products
    These are some of the favorite hair products that I use.  I haven't received any remuneration to endorse these products.  Of course, if any of the companies that provide these products would like to offer me some cash, or even free product, I certainly won't turn it down....

    Different hair products will work best on different types of hair, so find the ones that work best for you.  If you are looking for some good products, I recommend trying these because they have worked for me.
    • Beauty Without Cruelty Revitalizing Leave-In Conditioner
    • Jason Tea Tree Oil Hair & Scalp Therapy Shampoo
    • Jason Hemp Enriched Shampoo
    • Jojoba Farms Jojoba Treatment Shampoo and Jojoba Treatment Conditioner
      Jojoba Farms is manufactured by Mill Creek Botanicals (Parent Company USITC) and based out of Las Vegas.
      It can be purchased at the retail outlet Beauty Universe
      For years, I thought this product was no longer available (their product is better than their marketing and distribution) because it disappeared from all stores in my area and has been impossible to special order through any stores.  In November of 2007, Rajeev K. Prasad of USITC contacted me with the correct information for the manufacturer.  Thank you, Rajeev! 
    • Aquis Essentials Super Absorbent Microfiber Towel
      I use two of them to dry my hair.  First I squeeze my hair, then I wrap it in the first towel.  About half an hour later, I hang the first towel to dry and wrap my hair in the second towel.  When I am done with the second towel, I allow my hair to air dry for the last bit.  Find them at

  • Links
    Growing long hair for men
    Scalp Massage On this site, this is the only article I recommend.
    Sesame Street Muppet.  Yes!  Of course African descendant hair can be long and beautiful, too!

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Authored & created by Meryll Larkin:  10/7/02
Updated:  11/29/10