Whether you want to grow your hair to beautiful new lengths, or just keep the hair you have in tip-top condition, these steps will give you smooth, healthy locks.
Step 1: Identify the problem Identify the problem. The longer hair gets, the more it's exposed to everyday styling. This can rough hair up and leave hair more susceptible to frizz, damage, split ends, and -- ultimately -- the breakage that keeps your hair from growing longer.
Step 2: Cut split ends Help your hair reach great lengths by trimming split ends; otherwise, they can creep up the hair's shaft, causing even more breakage. Cut at least one-half inch above the damage to make sure you're getting every frayed strand.
TIP: Don't wait longer than 8 weeks between trims.
Step 3: Use a restorative shampoo Use a silicone shampoo as your first line of defense: it helps prevents breakage by making hair easy to comb. Work it in gently with your fingertips; scrubbing too hard can rough up the cuticles, leaving hair vulnerable to split ends. Then, apply a compatible silicone conditioner. Silicone protects hair 2 ways -- it helps lock in moisture, and creates a barrier between your hair and the environment.
TIP: Look for products with either silicone or silicone-based derivatives, such as dimethicone, cyclomethicone, and other ingredients ending in -cone.
Step 4: Rinse thoroughly Rinse hair thoroughly with cool or warm water. Before styling, separate tangles with a wide-tooth comb or pick; it’s best not to use a brush on wet hair. Always apply a leave-in conditioning cream before styling.
Step 5: Protect hair from heat Limit your hair's exposure to heat, which weakens the cuticle, making it susceptible to breakage. Let it air-dry most of the way, and then blow-dry on the cool setting.
TIP: Avoid using hot styling tools on wet hair: it can boil the water within each strand, causing damage that leads to split ends.
Step 6: Deep moisturize Use a weekly replenishing mask. It helps put moisture back into your hair, making hair look smooth and shielding it from damage. Avoiding tight hair clips, braids, and bands helps limit breakage, too. And be careful about trapping hair under a shoulder bag strap.
Step 7: Flaunt it! Now that you have your dream hair, enjoy it. Flick it, toss it, twirl it -- flaunt it!
FACT: Pantene's "Beautiful Lengths":http://www.pantene.com/en-US/beautiful-lengths-cause/Pages/default.aspx program helps turn donated long, healthy hair into free wigs for cancer patients.