If having long, healthy hair is your goal, you probably focus a lot of your energy on figuring out how to get your hair to grow faster. While faster hair growth might help you reach your length goals more quickly, an even more important factor is keeping that long hair on your head instead of having to cut it off due to damage.
Length retention is less popular and less discussed, yet is an immensely important part of your hair growth journey. What good does it do you to grow 12 inches of hair in a year if it’s full of split ends, knots, and feels like straw?
You have to take care of your hair as it grows or it won’t be healthy enough to stick around at those longer lengths. This means using high quality products with natural ingredients, laying off the heat, and moisturizing your hair on a regular basis.
The ends of your hair in particular need a lot of extra attention. This is the oldest part of your hair, and the part that’s most prone to breakage and splits. Here are 10 things you can start doing today to help your ends stay healthy and reduce the amount of hair you have to cut with each trim.
1. Trim your ends on a regular schedule
Let’s go ahead and get this one out of the way. I know you hate getting trims because you want to hold on to as much length as possible and you're afraid of scissor happy stylists who chop when you ask them to clip. But, you have to do it.
Your ends need to be trimmed every 8-16 weeks. No matter how careful you are, how great your hair products are, or how many protective styles you wear – your ends are going to sustain some level of damage. Exposure to heat, wind, sun, your fuzzy sweaters, your couch, your hands – it all causes wear and tear on your hair strands and you have to cut them to keep them healthy.
If you are using good products and hair care techniques you shouldn't need to cut a lot. About 1/4 inches every 8 weeks is fine if your hair is healthy.
Examine your ends on a regular basis. If you start to see splits or knots on your strands it’s time for a trim. Also, if your ends just start to feel dry and rough or if your hair becomes harder to detangle, these are also signs that a trim is in order.
If you’re trimming your own hair at home, please make sure you are using hair cutting shears and not your baby’s kindergarten scissors. If you go to a salon, make sure you talk to your stylist about the health of your hair and how much you need to cut so that there are no surprises.
If you haven’t been taking good care of your hair, you may need a cut instead of a trim, but once you get that out of the way you can focus on maintaining your ends and trimming a small amount every few months. If your hair is damaged, it's best to cut the damage off and start fresh with healthy hair.
2. Deep condition regularly
Natural hair is prone to dryness. It’s one of the main complaints I hear from women with kinky hair – their hair always feels dry. Even more so for your ends, which again are the oldest part of your hair.
Deep conditioning is the best way to keep your hair hydrated. If you struggle with dry hair, I recommend deep conditioning weekly for 4-8 weeks, then every 2 weeks for another 2-3 months, and then monthly for maintenance.
As the health of your hair improves, you may find that you don’t need to deep condition every month, but for most people a monthly hydration treatment works best to keep your hair in good shape. You can find our organic Honey Hibiscus Deep Conditioner here.
3. Keep your ends moisturized
Aside from your regular deep conditioning treatment, you also need to apply a moisturizer or leave in conditioner to your hair. This will help to maintain moisture and softness between washes.
A water based moisturizer that absorbs into your hair strands is your best option. If you’re looking for a high quality moisturizer for type 4 hair, you can find our Argan Aloe Leave In Conditioner here.
4. Apply extra product to your ends
When you are applying your deep conditioner and moisturizer, be sure to apply extra product to the ends of your hair to give them a little extra hydration. Remember you want those ends to stay healthy for as long as possible, so a little extra attention will help you reach your goal.
5. Comb gently
Detangling is another major source of damage to your ends. Make sure you are using a comb that has smooth teeth so that the seams of the comb are not snagging your hair. Do not pull or rip through knots. When you run into a snag, comb gently or stop and detangle with your fingers. Detangle with conditioner or oil in your hair to make the process easier.
6. Seal your ends with an oil
I am not a fan of coating the hair from root to tip with oil after washing. This is an unnecessary step that can actually cause your hair to feel more dry – the opposite of what we want.
Instead, I like to use oils strategically, with the understanding that different kinds of oils serve different purposes. For preserving your ends, I recommend using an oil to coat the ends of the hair. This is to help reduce the damage that friction causes, which leads to split ends.
You can apply a light oil to last half inch or so of your hair after washing and every 4-7 days depending on how often you wash your hair. This will help prevent single strand knots and split ends.
You can find our 100% organic Pre-Shampoo Oil here. This oil can be used prior to washing, as a hot oil treatment, and it’s also great for sealing your ends.
7. Reduce friction
Friction is a topic that I don’t often hear discussed when it comes to hair care, but it is one of the main causes of split ends. As you go about your day, your hair rubs against various surfaces that snag your ends and cause breakage and splits over time. As I mentioned in the section on trimming – your couch, clothes, chairs, blankets, etc. are all rubbing against your hair every day causing damage to your fragile ends. After a while your ends start to split and need to be trimmed.
Contrary to what some hair products claim, split ends cannot be repaired. It’s best to avoid them as much as possible, and trim the split ends once they have formed.
So how can you reduce friction on your hair? Should you stop wearing sweaters? Cover your work chair in silk? You don’t need to do anything that drastic. Just be mindful of what your hair is touching throughout the day.
If you have to wear a hat for work (healthcare workers, warehouse, etc.), try wearing a silk scarf underneath, or sewing a scarf into the lining of your hat. This works great for your winter hats as well. Another quick fix is to put your sleep scarf on when you’re at home relaxing on the couch, instead of waiting until you go to bed. If you're wearing a particularly rough fabric, try pinning your hair into a cute updo instead of wearing it down.
8. Cover your hair with silk or satin when you sleep
We all know that we should be covering our hair when we sleep. It doesn’t just help preserve your style, but it keeps your hair from tangling, and from coming into contact with your sheets, blankets, pillowcases, and pajamas.
You can use a silk pillowcase, but unless all of your bedding and sleepwear is also made of silk, I still recommend using a scarf or a bonnet.
As for the material, silk is best. It’s a natural fiber that helps keep your hair moisturized. Satin is an acceptable alternative. This is a synthetic fiber so it doesn’t have the moisturizing benefits, but it will still help reduce friction while you sleep.
9. Avoid products with drying ingredients
Choose products that add moisture to your hair. Avoid products with ingredients like benzyl alcohol, sulfates, and synthetic fragrances. The Indara Naturals hair care line is formulated with organic, non-drying ingredients that hydrate your hair from the inside out. Find our products here.
10. Limit heat
You know that applying heat to your hair can damage your curl pattern, but too much heat can also dry out your hair, especially the ends. Try to limit how often you’re using the flat iron – no more than once a month – and don’t turn the heat up to the max when you do decide to straighten.
Those are my top 10 tips for preserving your ends and avoiding excessive trims. If you have any questions, join our email list so that you can email me directly and let me know how we can help you!