10 secrets to gorgeous long hair
Cut it more often
"The ends of long hair have been styled and colored so many times that they get dry and frizzy quickly," says hairstylist Serge Normant. Ask your stylist to snip less than a half inch every other month (since your hair grows faster than that, you won't lose any real length). If you wait too much longer between cuts, split ends could resplit, which means you'll have to trim away more later on.
Care for your scalp
Scalp treatments may sound clinical (and a little gross), but massaging a serum (like Kérastase Initialiste) or even a shampoo (try Clear Scalp & Hair Therapy Strong Lengths Nourishing Shampoo) that contains essential oils, such as avocado and coconut, into your roots a few times a week will "nourish the scalp, creating the right foundation for healthier, stronger hair with less breakage," says Francesca Fusco, a dermatologist in New York City. And don't skimp on the massage part—aim for a scalp rub that lasts a minute or two: "It stimulates circulation and promotes better scalp health," Fusco says.
Cut it right
If your hair is in that awkward growing-out stage, ask your stylist for long layers that skim the bottom of your cut. "Long layers in the front give you the illusion of length," says hairstylist Sarah Potempa, who's worked with Julianne Moore and Brooke Shields. If you already have the length, it's sexiest when the back falls into a soft V shape that starts with face-framing layers at your cheekbones (to thin a round face) or chin (to soften a square jaw). From there, you want blended layers down to the ends. Your ends should come to a gradual point in the middle of your back. "The shape and layers keep thick hair from looking heavy on the bottom and add body to fine hair," adds Potempa.
Dry shampoo and dry conditioner
Yes, dry conditioner is a thing—and you'll be happy that you know about it on day three of a blowout. Your ends start to look dry right around the same time your roots get oily. Spritz a dry conditioner, like Oribe Soft Dry Conditioner Spray, over your length but never the crown, and focus on the ends to make them shiny and soft. As for dry shampoo, it's a lot easier on hair than cleaning the old-school way, which strips away natural oils along with dirt. Mist it on your roots and massage it into your hair with your fingertips. Then do the same thing on the pieces around your face. "Long hair is so heavy that it gets weighed down easily, and the dry shampoo will also add volume," says Normant.
It's no secret that long gray hair looks a little nutso. But long hair that's all one nongray color isn't so pretty, either: "Without subtle highlights, really long hair looks too heavy and solid—like a blanket," says hairstylist Garren. "If you're growing your hair out, you want your ends to be lightest. Ask for balayage so highlights will look more natural as they grow out," adds Matt Fugate, a hairstylist at Sally Hershberger Downtown in New York City.
Sorry, but "when you've got a ton of hair, a big knot isn't proportional to your face," says Garren. "The ideal spot for a bun or chignon is at the nape of your neck—anything in between there and the crown looks matronly."
Give it a boost
Long hair is heavy. "Without a volumizer, the roots will fall flat," says Normant. After every shampoo, massage an apricot-size dollop of lightweight mousse (we like Paul Mitchell Awapuhi Wild Ginger Hydrocream Whip) into the roots while they're damp to give hair some lift without turning it crunchy—even if your hair is thick and you've never needed to use a volumizer before. Skip the strong stuff, though. "Strong-hold styling products actually weigh down long hair," says Fugate.
Prevent split-ends in your sleep
Satin and 600-thread-count Egyptian-cotton pillowcases create less friction than ordinary cotton ones, so your hair will be less likely to tangle or break when you toss and turn. Another option: Tie your hair into a loose loop on the very top of your head with a scarf or scrunchie. (Yup, they still exist, and they don't stress or crease your hair the way elastics can.)
Less is more
It doesn't take that much effort to make all that hair look good. In fact, you can get away with blow-drying just your volumizer-coated roots as long as you mist the ends with a texturizing spray, such as Sally Hershberger Glam Waves. Unless your hair air-dries perfectly straight or wavy (and you're a Disney princess), that beachy wave makes all the difference. "A natural texture that's neither straight nor wavy can appear too flat and messy," says Potempa.
Take a pill
Models take biotin and Viviscal for more luscious hair like it's their job. And it kind of is. And it kind of works. "Certain supplements really do promote hair growth, and the B vitamin biotin is one of my favorites," says Fredric Brandt, a dermatologist in New York City and Miami. You would have to take 5,000 micrograms (some pills contain that amount) a day for about three to six months before you'd notice a difference, but "studies have shown that biotin elongates the hair follicle, which makes hair grow faster. It also stimulates the cells that cause your hair to grow," says Brandt. The clinical studies on Viviscal, a brand of vitamin that contains amino acids and marine extracts, are less conclusive, but the anecdotal evidence is emphatic. "I believe in Viviscal," says Garren. "I've seen it give women who are in their 40s or 50s and experiencing thinning noticeably thicker hair."