Growing your hair is a mission that requires a lot of patience. And once you get there, you’re presented with a new goal: How to have long healthy hair?

Whether it’s just below your shoulders, or all the way down to your knees – long hair presents unique challenges. Hair tangles easily, gets caught in everything, and is more likely to see wear and tear, since it sticks around so much longer than shorter hair. All this wear and tear can lead to brittle hair, split ends, and breakage.

The key is to minimize damage with a combination of deep moisture, gentle styling, and good scalp care. For tips to keep hair long and strong, keep reading.

1. Don’t Skip The Shampoo

Shampooing long hair is an involved process. With all that length, it takes quite a bit more time to lather up and rinse thoroughly. But it’s still not a good idea to skip out on shampooing regularly. Keeping your scalp clean is fundamental to promoting healthy hair growth and preventing unnecessary hair fall. When your scalp is free of debris and oil, hair can grow more freely, without having to fight through layers of buildup.

A buildup of oil and product can also irritate the hair follicle, leading to hair fall. 1 Frequent shampoo use can help prevent buildup and the development of irritation that may lead to hair loss.2

To prevent unnecessary drying out when shampooing, concentrate on applying shampoo to the scalp – where oil and debris build up. Avoid shampooing the ends of the hair, which can strip your hair of natural oils that keep it moisturized.

2. Deep Condition … Frequently

Conditioner is essential to a good hair care routine, but it becomes even more importantthe longer your hair gets. Short hair gets trimmed often, so whatever hair is on the head tends to be relatively new growth. Long hair, on the other hand, has been attached to your head for awhile. That means the mid-lengths and ends of your hair have had plenty of time to be exposed to the elements – sun exposure, heat-styling, chlorine, combing, and brushing. All this exposure can weaken the hair shaft, leaving it vulnerable to breakage.

To restore moisture and build up strength, deep condition at least twice a week. For an easy DIY deep-conditioning treatment, use coconut oil. Coconut oil helps reduce protein loss in the hair, which means it can strengthen the hair shaft and help protect the hair from styling damage.3,4

For a coconut oil treatment, place a cup of coconut oil in warm water and let it melt. Massage into damp hair from the mid-lengths through the ends. Cover with a shower cap, and let it absorb at least 30 minutes. You can also leave it on overnight – the longer it has to absorb, the more repair work it can do. Just slip on a shower cap and and let that coconut oil work its wonders while you sleep!

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3. Get Your Beauty Sleep

You know those tangles you wake up with in the morning? They’re not only time-consuming to detangle — they’re also likely to cause breakage in the process. You can avoid tangles by not wearing your hair loose as you sleep. Instead, braid your hair and tie it with a gentle, fabric elastic at the ends. Stay away from elastics with metal clasps — they’re likely to snag hair and cause damage.

Now that you don’t have to unravel all those knots in the morning, you’ll have time to enjoy a second cup of coffee!

4. Value Your Scalp

Since all that long hair originates in the scalp, it’s a good idea to treat it well.

Give your scalp a little TLC with gentle, daily massages. Not only is it relaxing — studies have shown it may actually help boost hair thickness, so you’ll have hair that’s not just long, but full, too.5

To take your scalp massages to the next level, use some essential oils. Essential oils like lavender, rosemary, and cedarwood may help boost hair growth.6 Simply dilute 2 to 3 drops of any of these essential oils in 2 tablespoons of a carrier oil – coconut or jojoba are great choices. Gently massage this solution into the hair for three to four minutes, then rinse out.

5. Ditch The Heat

Heat-styling is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to hair damage, causing dryness, roughness, and loss of color.7 And since all that long hair has already been exposed to plenty of wear and tear, it’s imperative to be as gentle with it as possible. That means keeping heat-styling to a minimum.

If you are going to use a blowdryer, use a heat protectant spray and dry on a cool setting. Also, try to only blow-dry at the roots. This will add a little lift to your hair, without causing excessive damage to the rest of your locks.

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6. Comb and Brush With Care

Make friends with your wide-tooth comb. In fact, keep it in the shower where you can use it to detangle your strands while your hair is soaking in all that deep conditioner. Start from the bottom and work your way up the hair shaft. This way, the strands won’t get stressed if you happen to come across a tangle while running your comb through. Additionally, consider investing in a natural bristle brush. It may help minimize friction, helping to keep your hair smooth and silky.

Love Your Long Locks

Long hair requires intentional care and a gentle hand. Follow these six hair care tips to keep your tresses locks strong, shiny, and breakage-free.

For more hair health tips, keep reading:

6 Golden Rules for Healthy Hair