Do you have very long hair that sometimes becomes a bit more of a handful than you'd like it to be?
Well you aren't alone! I've got very long, extremely fine hair, and until recently, for a long time, I'd been struggling with trying to keep it in order. I'd discovered that once it got beyond waist length (and I've got very short arms as well which doesn't help) then it was hard work, brushing it out and washing it, without getting aching shoulders and dropping the hairbrush. There just seemed to be too much of it to control, and it always seemed to be getting snagged or tangled or getting in the way, and I was almost beginning to think that I should consider trimming it! Papa Bear needless to say was appalled when I suggested this (in our culture it is unheard of for a woman not to have long hair, quite aside from the scriptural teaching in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 11, which we believe instructs us that a woman dishonours not only her husband, but God, if her hair is short) -
"But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.
For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man". (1 Corinthians 11, 3 - 8).
So what was the answer?
Well I've been doing some research about how to care for long hair, in the hope I might be able to tame it a little and make keeping it in order a bit simpler! And now I'd like to share what I have learned with you too, in the hope that it might be of use to others who've been troubled with untamed hair just as I have!
Having easy to care for, very long hair, is all about CONDITION. Just like a much loved pet, your hair will never be easy to tame, if it isn't happy and cared for with a sensible routine. And thankfully, it's a bit easier, less time consuming, and not as expensive as taming a pet, to keep your hair in order!
First of all, although I have absolutely no connection with the company that makes and supplies them, I really feel I must recommend wholeheartedly, this wonderful little gadjet! It is called a Tangle Teezer, and although it seems impossible that this small handheld hairbrush could really do what it claims to do - I can assure you that it really truely does! I am not absolutely sure how it works, but it is created out of very fine, short rubber bristles which are attached to a simple, plastic, handshaped base that you use like an ordinary hairbrush. It runs smoothly through even wet hair (I have tried it), and after only one or two uses, you will really see and feel the difference. It makes my hair so much smoother, shinier and more manageable. It even works on Papa Bear's thick, curly hair, and is much kinder to your hair than an ordinary hairbrush, so hopefully this will encourage my hair to grow even more! Now that it's so much easier to manage, I don't mind either! You can get a Tangle Teezer from Amazon, and some chainstore chemist shops also - mine is purple and glittery (which makes me love it even more!). They are a little more expensive than regular hairbrushes, but I think the cost is well worth it (and so does my husband, who bought it for me!).
There's a technique to brushing your hair with a Tangle Teezer, or for that matter any hairbrush (if you don't wish to invest in a Tangle Teezer, then I would recommend as second best, a good quality bristle hairbrush. Brushes made with stiff plastic bristles will damage your hair, and combs are really no good for long hair, even if the teeth are spaced wide apart). Whether your hair is wet or dry, start by smoothing it out with your fingers, running them through the hair from the ends upwards. Take sections of hair and work through each section separately. Then take your hairbrush and repeat this, brushing until all your hair is nicely smooth. Make time to do this properly - with hair past waist length like mine - even fine hair, it should take 5 or more minutes to brush out properly. Always brush your hair before you wash it, and again when you fix it in the mornings. You're asking for trouble if you don't brush your hair regularly.
However, a good hairbrush and brushing technique is only the start of the story. There are other bits of kit that you're going to need also, to ensure that your hair is well cared for and in perfect condition. The next consideration, and probably the one we get most in a muddle about, is what to wash and condition our hair with - and how often. Of all the hair travesties that I've commited, washing too often, is probably my worse offence. I absolutely dread not having clean hair, so against all recommendations, I still persist in washing my hair every single day. I can't miss a day, not even if I am sick. I really would advise that if you can bear to, you do not follow my example. Long hair does better if it is not washed every day. Even gentle washing dries and damages long hair and if you can manage to leave it 2 or even 3 days in between washes, then you will really be doing your hair a favour. Obviously, some hair types will benefit from this more than others. Papa Bear couldn't even contemplate washing his hair as often as I do - it would turn into a huge frizz if he tried. But even fine hair like mine benefits from a rest. However if you insist like I do on washing it more often than you should, then follow these simple steps, to protect it as much as possible and keep it in super-shiny, well conditioned and easy to manage shape.
First, keep the water at the lowest temperature you can bear (lukewarm is actually better than freezing cold, but a final cold rinse will make it look more shiny, as the cold water flattens the cuticles).
Use the C-S-C technique - condition the ends FIRST, before you put on the shampoo. Shampoo your scalp, whilst this first dose of conditioner is still on your hair. The ends of your hair don't need sudsing like your scalp does (and remember that lots of lather doesn't necessarily mean you are making your hair cleaner, than if there are only a few suds - it is just a cosmetic gimmick to make you feel as if you are making it really clean).
Rinse the shampoo and conditioner off thoroughly. Rinsing is as important - if not more - than washing. Once the water is running clear, then add a second dose of conditioner and smooth it all the way through your hair. Leave on for a couple of minutes and then rinse thoroughly again. NEVER scrub, or pile your hair on your head. The technique you should aim for, is the same as if you were handwashing a delicate item of clothing. Very carefully!
Finally, apply a light detangler or leave-in hair treatment, if you like to use this.
Towel dry your hair - never, ever use a hairdryer. Heat treatments of any type are banned completely if you want to have long hair, and will just cause terrible damage, making it even harder to look after. You will never get long hair if you crimp, iron or blow dry. I just wrap a large towel around my head and leave it for about 5 - 10 minutes, then remove and gently straighten my hair out to dry naturally. Only when it is almost dry do I attempt brushing it, though with the Tangle Teezer, it is possible to safely brush it whilst still wet. I tried this the other day when I had to give the cubs a lift in the car in the evening when I had already washed my hair, and the Tangle Teezer went through it without snagging once!
I should add here that it is worth checking the ingredients in your shampoo and conditioner, because there are some that are not so good for your hair. The worst culprit is SILICONE. Silicone is added to lots of hair products (particularly those that you leave in, such as hair spray glossing products) and its action on your hair is deceptive, because at first, it will seem to be making your hair very glossy and shiny. However, this is shortlived, because the silicone is actually extremely drying, and long term use will only cause more damage to your hair. It isn't good for it at all - so try to avoid it if you can.
Another additive commonly used in shampoos and conditioners (along with other products that froth) is SODIUM LAURETH SULPHATE, or SLS. This too is very drying and damaging to your hair, but it is extremely difficult to find hair products, especially shampoos, that don't contain this (particularly budget ones). One good product that is reasonably priced and which seems to contain low levels of this is the Inecto range which again can be purchased on Amazon, or at chainstore chemists. Some of the larger brands such as Tresemme are starting to introduce products made with more "natural" ingredients - so these may be worth checking out too. Some are slightly more pricey than the bargain ranges of hair care products, but in all truth the cheapest ones are really not going to do your hair any good. They may be OK for your husband and sons, but not for you or your daughters!
Also look out for PARABENS - there are several types. These also can cause damage to your hair. You'll notice a difference in the condition of the skin on your hands, too, if you change to a gentler shampoo and conditioner. That made me realise more than anything, what I must have been doing to my hair with all the harsh products I'd been putting on it! Now I have nice soft hands as an added bonus to my smoother, silkier hair!
Now and then, try to give your hair a deep conditioning treatment. The cheapest way to do this is to use a good quality generic oil, like almond oil, which you can apply to the ends of your hair or the whole head, and then leave for a while (or overnight if you can bear - I'm afraid I can't!) before rinsing out well. I personally have found that these cheapest oils are so difficult to rinse out of my hair that the extra washing outweighs the moisturising advantages of the oil, so I prefer to use VO5 hot oil treatment once a week or so, which is designed especially for hair and therefore easier to rinse out. It isn't that expensive, and if you only use it occasionally, a pack of 4 will last you for a month or more. It's widely available in England in chemists and supermarkets - I buy mine in Morrisons with our food shop!
As for colouring your hair, I'm afraid that the rule really is, don't - especially lightening treatments. Whatever the packaging promises, colour treatments won't do your hair any good. The chemicals in them are designed to change the actual structure of your hair, so they are always going to do some damage. The exception to this is the temporary rinse-out type, which last for a few washes. These don't alter the structure of the hair but just coat it with a colour that slowly washes off. They won't do your hair any good, but they won't do it any harm either. They're OK to use now and then. Papa Bear likes me to add a little red tint to my dark brown hair, so I do use these, and although it isn't the cheapest, I recommend L'Oreal Casting, as it seems to be very kind to my hair.
Finally, think about the styles that you wear your hair in. Soft gentle styles, are better than tightly fixed ones (and your husband will probably agree too!). Styles that pull the hair back from your face may be practical as you go about your housework and baking, but worn over time, they can cause damage to the hair shaft, and actually break the hair. If this continues, eventually the shaft will be damaged (think of overplucked eyebrows!) to such a degree that the hair won't be able to grow back, and you may fetch up with bald patches. It sounds shocking, but it has happened to me, so I am writing from experience. Luckily now that I don't pull my hair back so severely, the hair is starting to regrow, but it has taken a long time. At night I braid my hair and then clip this up on my head with a large butterfly clip, so that Papa Bear can't accidentally roll onto the braid and pin me to the bed! He he! It has the added bonus of leaving me with nicely crinkled hair in the morning too - which in turn makes it look a bit thicker! Having said that, I still wear it in an updo most days, but now it is more likely to be a loose braid, fastened with fabric covered bands, and pulled up with a big clip, with loose hair at the front. I tend to take a small section of hair in front and pull it back, fasten with a soft scrunchie and tie up with a pretty bow, then take all the hair and plait or twist it, before fastening it up behind the bow. It looks sweet and stays tidy this way. I don't ever wear my hair loose in public. In our culture, a married woman's long hair, like the rest of her, is the property of her husband. It is considered immodest for a married woman to wear her hair loose for other people to see - so it should be worn in an updo and covered in public. I only wear my hair down when I am at home, for Papa Bear to enjoy. We're hoping that with the care hints I've learned, it will keep on growing and growing, but who knows! Not everyone can get Rapunzel style hair - it depends on how often the follicles renew themselves. Most people's renew themselves every 2 or 3 years, but some people's take much longer, and these are the ones who will be lucky enough to have floor length hair! Even so, most of us should be able to achieve at least waist length - if we take good care of our hair.
I hope that in sharing what I've learned, my hair care hints might help other women to enjoy making the best of their crowning glory! Now all I need to do, is learn how to style it in some different ways!
"But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering." (1 Corinthians 11, 15).