1: Use conditioner every time you shampoo.
“If your hair is wet, that means you have to condition it,” Townsend says. “Over time, from coloring and heat styling, strands start to get thinner at the bottom.” Conditioner helps replace the lipids and proteins inside the hair shaft, “as well as seal the cuticle to help prevent more damage from happening so that you can get your hair to grow longer and look healthier,” he says.
Give these conditioners a try:
2: don’t shampoo every time you shower.
“It’s shocking to me how many women skip conditioner when showering, which is the worst thing you can do for your hair — especially when you’re trying to grow it long — and it’s actually shampoo that you should be skipping as much as possible,” Townsend says. Here’s why: The purpose of shampoo is to wash away dirt and product buildup, but it can also take essential natural oils that keep strands soft and healthy along with it. When you really do need shampoo, be gentler on your hair by only lathering up at your scalp and then simply letting the suds slide down strands, hitting the rest of the hair as the water rinses it away.
3: Apply an oil or mask treatment weekly.
Hair that touches your shoulders or beyond can be several years old and most likely needs more TLC than normal conditioner. Townsend suggests using moisture-based masks and oils weekly. “I make a natural oil treatment and give it to all of my clients to use pre-shampoo,” Townsend says. (His easy recipe: 1 cup of unrefined coconut oil mixed with 1 tablespoon each of almond, macadamia, and jojoba oils.) Because oils can leave a residue on hair, he says to apply it to damp hair, leave it on for 10 minutes, then shampoo and condition like normal. “These oils are able to fill strands up with fatty acids and then, when rinsed out, using regular shampoo helps seal them inside the hair,” Townsend says, adding that Kate Bosworth, Diane Kruger, and Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen are fans. Not into DIY? Try an oil-based hair treatment instead.
4: Consider trying hair-boosting supplements.
Your body requires many vital nutrients to create new hair, from ample protein to a slew of essential minerals. So take a look at your diet — because while eating a balanced diet helps, you may not be getting the proper amount of all the hair-building nutrients needed to create healthy hair that can grow super-long and withstand damage. “I take Viviscal Extra Strength and biotin tablets every day and tell my clients to do so as well — especially if they want to grow their hair and make it healthier as soon as it comes out of the follicle,” Townsend says. Before starting to take supplements, it’s best to check in with your doctor to make sure that you take the right amounts and that they won’t interact with any medications you’re currently taking
5: Do a cold-water rinse at the end of each shower.
“This really does help to grow hair and keep long hair healthy for longer,” Townsend says. “Cold water lays down the outer layer of hair more smoothly, which helps prevent moisture loss, snags and heat damage — you only need to do it for a few seconds, but this one extra step over time can make a huge difference.”
6: Never wrap your hair in a massive towel again.
What could be so bad about putting hair in your super-soft bath towel? A lot. “It causes so much breakage,” Townsend says. “Your hair gets caught in all the woven fibers and since most women almost always wrap it too tight around their face, all those tiny, fragile strands around your face are more prone to break.” Opt for the super-thin and soft microfiber hair towels instead (like Aquis microfiber hair towel), which are totally OK to wrap into a turban.
7. Brush your hair like it’s spun from gold.
Constant brushing can cause physical harm to your hair. “When you detangle wet hair, be sure to start from the bottom and work your way up — we often instinctually go from the scalp down, but that just brings small tangles into one large knot and can cause you to lose a lot of hair,” Townsend explains. He also suggests reaching for the Sheila Stotts Natural Boar Bristle Brush, as boar bristle brushes are good at distributing your scalp’s natural oils down your hair and being extra-gentle on strands too.