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Top 10 Tips to Keep Your Hair Healthy at Any Length

Below you will find a quick list of our favorite top ten tips that will help to ensure your hair will, be you man, woman or child, remain healthy and beautiful at any length from an inch or two to your shoulders and beyond. Follow these easy tips and you will have shiny, healthy hair in no time, and more importantly, be able to keep it that way!

If you have very long hair growing goals in mind, have trouble growing your hair, or your hair won't grow at all, be sure to read our award-winning detailed tutorial for very long healthy tresses, the LongLocks Ultimate Guide to Growing Long Hair, to learn all about how to achieve and maintain the healthiest locks you can possibly have, even at extreme lengths!

Getting your hair into healthy condition and keeping it there isn't a particularly hard thing to do, it only takes a bit of awareness as to what can damage your hair, and a bit of good old-fashioned common sense.

1. Because there is no way to permanently repair damaged hair no matter what any product label says, if your existing hair is more than a few inches long, not healthy and/or you intend to grow it longer, get a good trim so you are starting out with it in the best possible condition.

2. Have your hair trimmed regularly by someone you trust implicitly, or trim it yourself using a good pair of hair cutting shears, even if you are anxious for it to grow. This is especially important if you use any products that contain harsh chemicals, such as peroxide. When damage occurs, it causes the cuticle to lift and the hair shaft to split. This damage will move up the shaft and weaken it if you don't stop it in its tracks, causing breakage and effectively working directly against your ultimate goal of healthy hair.
Susan Maxwell Schmidt Visual Fine Art 3. Condition, condition, condition! Use a good daily conditioner every time you shampooo no matter what its length (my favorite "light" conditioner, perfect for daily use, is Nature's Gate Herbal Conditioner... I have used it for over 35 years, it's extremely affordable, and the scent absolutely heavenly!), and if your hair is more than a few inches long, deep condition it at least once a month (you may want to try the organic hair products from JustNatural). Not only will making a habit of using a good deep conditioner regularly help to smooth your hair and make it look beautiful, deep conditioners like long time favorite Nexxus Humectress return lost moisture to your hair and make the cuticle lay flat, which will result in less damage in the long run and of course make it appear more shiny. If your hair is very damaged or frizzy you may want to consider also using a good leave-in conditioner, as well (Redken Extreme Anti-Snap Leave-in Treatment is an excellent one).
If you have longer hair goals in mind, or if you use color or apply a lot of friction to your mane when you style it, using a shampoo that is made specifically to strengthen your hair will also go a long way to keeping it in excellent condition between trims. There are several brands on the market today made to strengthen your locks, including those made specifically for color treated hair. Matrix Biolage makes both a very popular strengthening shampoo, as well as one made for the needs of color treated tresses.

4. Be especially gentle with your hair when it is wet, and always use a wide-toothed comb on wet tresses, never, ever a brush. Wet hair is exceedingly delicate, it has no elasticity and will snap and break extremely easily if it is stretched or suffers undue tension. We are all familiar with that chill-inducing sound of hair snapping when you rip a tiny knot out of a wet lock. Your goal, should you choose to accept it, is to avoid ever hearing that sound again! In my opinion there is no better comb on the market, for both wet and dry hair, than the Mebco Shower Detangler, and trust me, I've tried many.

5. Avoid putting hair toys in your hair that will cause damage to remove (like Velcro or rubberbands, for instance), or anything that has sharp edges that could potentially tear or damage the cuticle.

6. Treat your hair delicately. The longer it is or you intend it to eventually be, the more important this is. Your hair's length, your growth goals and how often you have it cut or trimmed determines what you can get away with. For instance, because you are continually cutting off any potential damage to maintain your style, if your locks are short (no more than a few inches long), it's less of an issue if you to go to extremes, such as using the double-process method to go blonde (a harsh process that involves using peroxide to completely lift a naturally dark color before adding a new lighter color), or backcombing (teasing) your locks into a trendy spiky 'do every day.
On the other hand, if your hair is currently shoulder length or longer, or longer length is your goal, it becomes more important to avoid damaging hairstyling methods and harsh chemicals. In this case if you are determined to change the color of your hair, try highlighting or low lighting to keep the damage to a minimum, and only touch-up roots, never hair that has already been processed. Both hi-lighting and lo-lighting are great ways to grow out color processed hair while keeping the color change as minimal as possible. If this is your goal, it is definitely best to let your hair stylist tackle the job for you. If you are determined to keep coloring your entire head of hair however, I would suggest you at least use one of the cool new hair color "markers" like the ones made by Color Mark to prolong having to reapply peroxide to your precious locks for as long as possible and keep the use of these extremely damaging chemicals to as little as possible.

7. Never, ever just rip a knot out of your hair. Doing this is sure to result in breakage and splitting. Remove as much hair from the knot as possible and then simply snip the tiny tangle that remains. Find lots of great tips and more detailed information on how to avoid and safely remove knots with our Ultimate Guide to Removing Knots and Tangles From Hair.
A mermaid combs her hair in a painting by Waterhouse
8. Avoid hairstyles that will pull and put stress on your hair and scalp such as a tightly-pulled ponytail, tiny braids or hair extensions. This is especially important for long-haired men who tend to wear a ponytail every day. If you pull your locks too tightly, especially if you put tension on the same roots day after day, you can actually cause hair loss!

9. If your hair is shoulder length or longer, try to keep heat away from it whenever possible. Save dryers, hot rollers, curling irons and especially flat irons for special occassions only, and even then use appliances that are specifically made to keep damage at a minimum. If you find yourself in a position where you must use one of these appliances, be sure to use a product specifically designed to protect your hair from the damage you are inflicting upon it (Tresemme's is extremely popular, and has the added benefit of being extremely affordable). Don't let manufacturers convince you that you can use their heated appliances without doing any damage to your hair; remember, if heat wasn't very damaging, there would be no need for the hundreds of products available to protect your tresses from it!

10. Always try to avoid putting friction on your locks as much as possible. Friction both weakens your hair and raises the hair cuticle, which makes it very susceptible to damage. When you expose your hair to friction it essentially causes wear to your hair just like it does to the knees of your old jeans, the seat of your favorite leather chair or your heels when you break in a new killer pair of Italian leather pumps. An excellent means of avoiding friction is to use a good wide-toothed comb instead of a brush whenever possible. If you do find you have to use a brush on occassion, be sure to use a good quality natural boar bristle brush, as the sharp texture of nylon bristles can be extremely damaging to your hair. If you have come to the conclusion that your hair is very important to you and you are ready to make an investment in an excellent brush (Mason Pearson is considered to be the best of the best), and are willing to take good care of it, there is no reason it won't last your entire lifetime and your hair will be eternally grateful. Other methods for avoiding unnecessary friction include:
- Using a satiny pillow case to avoid causing unnecessary friction while you sleep (and this has the added advantage of helping to preserve your hairstyle).

- Combing your hair often throughout the day to avoid damaging knots. Remember, there is little that will cause more damage than tangles that cause damage when you remove them.

- Lastly, wear a hat or smooth scarf if you are going to be in a windy environment. This will also help to protect your hair from the sun's damaging UV rays.

As you can see, it really is easy to keep your hair in great condition with just a little awareness of what your tresses are subjected to on a daily basis and how you can avoid damage before it occurs. Follow these steps and you will quicky have a head of hair gorgeous enough to be envious of, no matter what its length!

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