Contrary to popular belief, long hair involves less maintenance than short-medium length hair. It doesn’t require styling and I can get away with cutting it only twice a year. Growing it isn’t hard (patience is key), and it only needs as much attention as your skin.
Long hair is quite simple. The main reason that hair breaks or “doesn’t grow” is because it’s dry. It’s over-dry from products, excessive heat, styling devices, and frequent washing.
Many shampoos and conditioners contain common drying agents such as alcohol and sodium lauryl sulfate. The chemicals in dyes and styling products can be dangerous in addition to being harsh on skin and hair. Extreme heat from hair dryers, curling irons, and straighteners also damages hair. On top of that, daily washing strips away natural oils that moisturize and protect hair follicles.
I went through several sulfate-free shampoos before realizing that any sort of traditional shampoo and conditioner was going to continue overdrying my hair. I then tried washing it less, but to no avail. I still had a sensitive scalp that was always on the verge of dandruff and hair that was oily at the roots and extremely dry at the ends. I tried various salon-grade smoothers, waxes, and anti-frizz serums before settling on the simplest solution of all.
To quote the architect, Miles Van Der Rohe, “less is more.” I balanced my hair by washing it every other day, using natural and minimalist hair products, and letting it air dry while I sleep. Gone is blow-drying and straightening it every day, gone is a cabinet full of half-used hair products, and gone is the clutter in my shower. (Learn more about my minimalist shower habits here).
I’ve settled on using gentle bar soap as shampoo and apple cider vinegar as conditioner. After toweling my hair so that it’s damp but not dripping, I add a couples drops of organic jojoba oil or argan oil to the bottom length. This re-adds any natural oil that was lost by washing or absorbed through clothes, hats, and pillowcases.
Hair doesn’t have feeling, but it’s a part of us that needs to be maintained. By being more mindful and gentle with it, we can make it as healthy and happy as possible.