I’m no hair expert – in my ‘day job’ I sit in an office dealing with the wacky world of human resources – that is recruiting staff, keeping them happy, keeping their bosses happy, keeping their bosses’ bosses happy, and making sure they fill out the right forms (HR is really much more complicated and interesting than that, honestly :P). But alongside being born with a birthmark on my arm that kind of looks like New Zealand (legend has it, in a previous life I caught the North Island alongside Maui himself), I was also born with super thick hair. Because it’s hard to manage thick hair on a small human who enjoys rolling in mud and putting marmite on her face (I was trying my first face mask), my mum decided that up until age 13 I wasn’t allowed hair much longer than a bob. I hated it. I forever envied girls with long hair. I very rarely gave my Barbies haircuts, because if I wasn’t allowed to have long hair, at least I could live through them.
So thus as I grew up and my somewhat-NZ-shaped birthmark faded slightly, I became obsessed with growing my hair as long as I possibly could. Now that I’ve stopped rolling in mud and putting marmite on my face, I’ve managed to grow my hair to a few inches above my butt. It takes a bit of care, but it’s worth it to look and feel like a mermaid. I get asked a lot about how I do it, and honestly, patience is key – but I’ve discovered a few handy hints along the way to keep hair looking healthy and stop breakage as much as possible. I hope you find some of these tips useful!
For the products below, click on their picture to find out where I bought them from (in NZ).
Good shampoo and conditioner –and when washing hair, leave conditioner in for a minute or so before rinsing out. This gives the conditioner more time to do its thang. We don’t all have the budget for salon brands, so go for the best that you can, within your budget. I love the Organix range that you can get at Countdown, I use the Macadamia Oil one. At just under $20 each for shampoo and conditioner, they’re not as cheap as other supermarket brands, but they’re sulfate free and super nourishing.
Microfiber towel – I use one from Kmart, from memory it was something like $5 – and found in the haircare section, not with the normal towels. You can also get them from places like Bed Bath and Beyond, though. The fabric of normal bath towels is rough on your hair, creating friction, which causes frizz (gah) and breakage (GAH!). Microfibre also apparently is quicker at drying (I never towel dry my hair with a regular towel, so it’s hard for me to say) – which means less time spent rubbing your hair with the towel – which makes the process even gentler! I’ve also heard though that drying your hair with a cotton t-shirt can have the same benefits – have a look at this great explanation here.
Tangle Teezer – before I bought one, I was a bit skeptical about how much a bit of plastic would change my hair. But as soon as I tried it for the first time, I was completely converted! Seriously, it’s like nothing I’ve ever brushed my hair with. So gentle, which is especially important if you’re plagued (or um, blessed) with thick hurr like me. It’s also great if your Significant Other owns a convertible and you go on spontaneous drives with the roof down, and forget a hair tie/hat and you come back from the drive with one giant dreadlock for hair. This baby makes it less painful to untangle the said dreadlock!
Hair masks – my favourites are the Restorative Hair Mask by Moroccanoil, the Hydrating Mask by Hello Hair and the H’suan Wen Hua mask by Lush. Masks are great because you can chuck them on, forget about them for a little bit while you do something productive or eat your body weight in pretzels while watching The Walking Dead, and then wash off! For bonus points, I use a face mask at the same time and feel so damn efficient, before I question why I couldn’t use my time that efficiently while I was a uni student.
A good hair oil/serum – the way I see it, there’s no point in using a hair mask, then washing your hair with decent shampoo and conditioner, if you’re not going to follow up with a good hair oil or serum after it’s washed. I love smoothing Argan Oil or the Miracle Hair treatment by Eleven into my hair while it’s still damp. This helps with detangling, and also helps to restore some of the moisture and natural oils that are removed when you wash your hair. I particularly love Miracle Hair as it’s an all-in-one product that’s well, a bit of a miracle – pun intended.
Fabric hair ties are the BOMB DIGGITY. I use the Pretty Ties brand, and they are so kind to my hair, they deserve a medal. Or like a humanitarian award or something. Hair-manatarian. The soft fabric doesn’t snag or dig into your hair, leaving it dented like other hair ties do when you take them out. They don’t have any metal bits either, which also prevents snagging. AND best of all it’s damn near impossible to break or snap these, WHERE MY LONG THICK HAIR BUDDIES AT? You know my struggle. Just ask the graveyard of snapped hairties in my bedside drawer.
Sleeping on a satin pillowcase – or a silk one, if you’re a little bit ballin’ – I have a cheap satin pillowcase from Bed Bath and Beyond, and it’s done wonders for my hair. As well as stopping friction between your locks and the pillow while you sleep, stopping breakage and tangling, satin will also not absorb moisture like standard cotton pillowcases would – keeping that moisture in your hair where it’s needed! The (significantly) more expensive silk pillowcases carry these benefits too, and more, since they’re made from natural fibres rather than synthetic, like satin is. I’m yet to try a silk one though, due to the price! Maybe it’ll go on a future birthday wishlist 😉
Anything that doesn’t involve buying stuff? Yes!!
As hard as it is – especially if you’re addicted to straightening your hair, your hair will thank you for using as little heat as possible on it. That means yes, less heat-styling with straighteners and curling irons. Embrace your natural hair texture – because we all know that nearly every single straight-haired girl wants curly hair, and nearly every curly-haired girl wants straight hair! Someone out there wants YOUR HAIR. If you absolutely can’t go without straightening, look into Keratin straightening options near you, with a reputable hairdresser. Obviously, this is a semi-permanent, intense treatment and will take some toll on your hair – I have done some research into this but not enough to claim to be an expert. But if you’re a daily GHD-culprit, long term this could cause less damage than your every day option. If you swing the other way and love having wavy/curly hair, there are some amazing heat-free tutorials to create that kind of look on Pinterest. I’m going to give some of these tutorials a go in the future, so keep an eye out!
Another tip that will probably make you cringe – try to wash your hair less! Overwashing strips your hair of its natural oils – so bye bye to shininess, and hello to a greater chance of your hair being brittle and breaking. I know, I can’t handle having even slightly greasy hair either. But try to reeeally stretch how many days you can go between washes – and think about whether your whole hair is in need of a wash, or if you can get away with just washing your fringe/bangs in the meantime. Keeping your bangs off your face will help prolong this – there are tonnes of tutorials out there for cute fringe braids and other ways of clipping it off your face. This is also something I’m keen to try in the future, so look out for that in a future post too.
And… the one that I don’t follow, but can’t be denied – the importance of getting your hair trimmed! Split ends are split, and dead, and sadly that is that. Despite trying a few products I still haven’t personally found a miracle product that actually mends my split ends. By all means if you have, please let me know in the comments! But the way I see it, the damage is done, and those ends are never, ever, ever, getting back together. Like, ever. I just deal with mine, because they aren’t that bad. But sometimes you need to bite the bullet and just have them trimmed off.
Voila! You made it to the end! You deserve a medal. I hope you weren’t put off by the long post, but I really wanted to detail everything I’ve found that works for me – because the same thing won’t work for everyone, but hopefully you were able to find at least one or two pointers that will help you, if not more. Do you currently use any of these products/tips? Found some new ones here that you want to try? Orrr have I missed something out? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below xx