While formulas might differ from one brand to the next, you can look for shampoos the promise the following things for different hair types: Thick hair needs hydrating, straight hair needs smoothing, textured hair needs defining, thin and thinning hair needs volumizing or thickening.
Those are the general parameters when shopping for the right products, but above all, remember to shampoo every second or third day, and to always condition after washing. Shampoo should target the scalp above all, while conditioner should target the mid-lengths and ends. Let the conditioner set for a couple minutes before rinsing it clean.
You can also condition on non-wash days if you choose. But any moisture at all acts like humidity: It frizzes the hair, so sometimes it can be smart to avoid getting hair wet altogether, and taking short, mild-temp showers on non-wash days.
The Best Shampoo-Conditioner Duo for Long Curly Hair
The Best Shampoo-Conditioner Duo for Long Straight Hair
The Best Shampoo-Conditioner Duo for Long, Thinning Hair
The Shampoo Alternative
Since you’re not shampooing daily—especially with long hair—you might wonder how to mitigate things like oil buildup at the scalp, or a nourishing rinse on the non-wash days. That’s where dry shampoo and co-wash come in.
Dry shampoo is a powder-based product that soaks up excess oil at the root of the hair, which gives hair added lift and volume and buys you an extra day before shampooing.
Co-wash is a conditioning-wash that is a super nourishing version of those ol’ 2-in-1 products; it more or less rinses excess product out of the strands, but moreover conditions the strands. You can also use many regular conditioners as a co-wash, if you don’t want the extra product.
The Best Co-Wash for Long Hair
The Best Dry Shampoo for Long Hair
The Hair Mask
Once a week-ish, you should treat your strands to a deep conditioning hair mask, to undo any damage from heat, pollution, UV rays, styling and such—and to fortify the hairs against those same aggressors for the week to come.
Like shampoos and conditioners, masks will often target specific hair variables or goals, so find one that fits your description, and follow its directions carefully; some are worn overnight, some for 10-15 minutes before a shower, and others worn after a shower for as long.
The Best Mask for Long Hair
The Best Mask for Long Curly Hair
The Scalp Scrub
Scalp care is an oft-ignored component of hair care. And while a nourishing shampoo can refresh the scalp without causing dryness, there is still more that can be done to promote healthy and unencumbered hair growth. Incorporate a scalp scrub into your regimen 1-2 times weekly to lift away dead cells, and to stimulate circulation throughout the dome, which will boost nutrient delivery to the follicles and in turn promote thicker, healthier, longer hair growth.
The Best Scalp Scrub for Long Hair
The Detangling Spray
In a perfect world, long hair would never tangle. But even the straightest, seemingly least-tangly hairs still manage to intertwine themselves, especially towards the ends of the hairs. Instead of forcing a comb or brush through there, slick things up with a detangling spray, serum, or cream, and you should meet a lot less resistance (and a lot less breakage) as you style.
The Best Detangling Spray for Long Hair
The Conditioning Styler
You have to find a styler that works for your hair variables and goals, but above all, make sure it’s lightweight and conditioning. These types of products will prevent hair from getting soggy and worn down, they will nourish hair all the day long, and they will also rinse away more cleanly. So, while you may have to dig deeper for a product that suits all your variables, use the above parameters as your starting point. Don’t shy away from the word “balm” either, especially if you have straight hair. Those balms targeting long hair might feel heavy on application, but in the end will often give strands a smooth, frizz-free finish.
The Best Styling Cream for Long Hair
The Best Styling Balm for Long Hair
The Best Conditioning Cream for Long Curly Hair
The Best Volumizing Cream for Long, Thin Hair
The Hair Oil
Hair oil is your new secret weapon. They can smooth strands, tame strays, add a healthy amount of shine, prevent split ends, and many can even shield strands from heat and UV damage. Use it as a finishing product to prevent the ends of your hair from fraying upward and outward, or mix 1-2 drops into your styler of choice for a light-catching photo-ready finish.
The Best Hair Oil for Long Hair
The Anti-Frizz Product
If the weather is too humid, you get poofy, frizzy hair. If the weather is bone dry, you get frazzled, frizzy hair. What gives? Basically, the moisture in your hair is susceptible to its surroundings, unless the cuticle is sealed off properly (so that it can lock moisture inside the hair and keep strands smooth). While it’s possible to find many stylers and oils with anti-frizz abilities, you can also use a dedicated product to smooth things out; some even have a creamy consistency and double as stylers. On the other hand, many curl styling creams will also double as an anti-frizz product, given the textured hair’s susceptibility to poofing.
The Best Anti-Frizz Product for Long Hair
The Right Comb and Brush
When hair is short, it’s easy to run a comb through it to achieve a cooperative style. But with long hair, it’s quite the opposite. Because of tangling and any texture, you risk serious breakage and long-term damage with each pass, especially when the hair is wet. While every hair texture has its own designated products, know that there are specific brushes for dry brushing the hair (to distribute oils to mid-lengths and ends) as well as detangling brushes and extra-wide-tooth combs to aid in detangling (especially after a shower when hair is most prone to damage). It never hurts to add a detangling product in the mix, too, to reduce resistance. Oh, and avoid plastic combs, since they give hair some serious static. Instead, look for combs made of cellulose acetate, hard rubber, or wood.
The Best Detangling Brush for Long Hair
The Best Brush for Blow Drying Long Hair
The Best Comb for Long Hair
The Smarter Hair-Drying Regimen
The best thing about blow drying long hair is (obviously) how quickly it dries the hair. But that tool also risks serious damage to the strands, since it can dry things out, cause severe heat damage, and unleash frizz, breakage, and split ends. So, invest in a blow dryer that utilizes one of four drying technologies: ionic, ceramic, tourmaline, or light. (Read more about each type here.) These will each dry the hair faster but also more effectively, by preserving the strand’s internal moisture and protecting the cuticle.
You should also get a heat-protective spray, oil, or cream that coats strands prior to the process, which further protects them from heat damage. The best ones will also neutralize UV damage, and prevent the sun from compromising hair quality and color.