An aspiring gymnast, Meredith is the tallest in her class and has burgundy hair that extends to her waist. She ties her hair into a bun or tight braid during practice sessions and into a loose ponytail at other times. Of late, she has noticed her hair has lost much of its luster. A neighbor, who works at a hair salon, suggested she make an appointment with a hair professional.
Meredith goes to a downtown hair salon and explains her problem to the lead hairstylist, who recommends a haircut. On seeing Meredith’s reluctance to chop her long locks, the hairstylist decides to simply snip about an inch and a half from the ends. The hairstylist asks Meredith about the hair care routine she follows as she examines her hair. To Meredith’s utter surprise, the hairstylist tells her she is using products and tools which are detrimental to long hair.
Below is a list of all the products and tools that should be avoided by women with long hair as also advised by Meredith’s hairstylist.
It takes much time and effort to keep long hair healthy and beautiful. It also takes the right type of hair products and tools to protect long hair against knots, frizz, split ends, and breakage. The following products and tools are harmful to long hair in the long term and must, therefore, be avoided by young women like Meredith
1. Mineral oil
This hair product coats the strands of the hair thereby trapping naturally occurring toxins inside the hair shaft. It also acts as a barrier, preventing hydrating products from penetrating the hair shaft. As a result, the hair’s normal cell development slows down thus stifling hair growth. When applied to the ends of long hair, mineral oil can make the hair look very lackluster and feel very heavy. For this reason, organic hair oil such as avocado oil or olive oil is a healthier alternative for long hair.
2. Hair Product Containing Propylene Glycol
Present in a vast range of beauty products, propylene glycol is used as an industrial chemical to decompose protein. It is commonly used in antifreeze for industrial purposes. Its modern use in shampoos is disconcerting because it is known to break down the cellular structure of the hair, causing the process of hair growth to become stagnant. While this ingredient should not be used for any length of hair, it is particularly unfavorable for long hair because the hair appears dull from the mid-lengths to the ends over a period of time. The hair has to be chopped eventually. Women with long hair are advised to read product labels carefully and avoid shampoos with propylene glycol.
3. Hair Product Containing Isopropyl Alcohol
Popular as an industrial solvent, this chemical was recently incorporated into shampoos. Few people are aware of its demerits as an ingredient in hair products. It weakens the hair at the cellular level and suppresses hair growth. Women with long hair are particularly vulnerable because the ends of long hair start to wither away faster than normal, giving an appearance of lifelessness. Needless to say, long-haired ladies should be wary of any hair product that contains isopropyl alcohol.
4. Sulfate-based Shampoo
The chemicals sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate have earned notoriety for their dehydrating properties. They are also especially harmful to long hair because they stop hair growth and cause the hair to lose its natural elasticity from the mid-length onwards. This makes it extremely difficult to use heat-styling tools on long hair from the mid-lengths to the ends without damaging the hair further. For this reason, sulfate-free shampoos are recommended for long-haired women even though they cost more.
5. The Wrong Type of Hairbrush
It is important to reduce friction while brushing long hair. Using a wooden or metal brush may cause the strands to tug at the bristles and create knots that are very difficult to negotiate. A wet brush or boar bristle brush will help to smooth out the hair shaft and decrease friction thereby eliminating knots and preventing breakage in long hair.
6. Cotton Towel
Wrapping long hair in a cotton towel after a shower can cause the hair cuticle to rise and the hair shaft to weaken due to the friction. Women with long hair are advised to get rid of excess moisture from their hair using a piece of soft linen. This fabric is very smooth and will not cause any friction with the hair thereby preventing frizz and breakage.
7. Regular Hair Band
To avoid pulling long hair at the roots when removing hair ties or bands, it is a good idea to use scrunchies. These will glide out of long hair without tugging or any kind of friction thereby protecting long hair against damage.
8. Hair Bleaching Agent
If you have a naturally darker shade of hair, it is best not to bleach it. The bleaching product puts more stress on dark long hair than it can handle, leading to split ends and breakage. To enjoy your long locks longer, avoid bleaching products and opt for darker shades of hair color instead.
9. Cotton Pillowcases
Similar to a cotton towel, a cotton pillowcase will cause too much friction during the night. You will wake up with far too many knots to manage in the morning. To prevent this, make a habit of sleeping on satin pillowcases since they will not cause long hair to become tangled.
The conversation with the hairstylist helps Meredith to become better aware of how she is damaging her long locks and what to do about it. In a nutshell, she should stay clear of hair products containing mineral oil, isopropyl alcohol, propylene glycol, and sulfates. She should also stop using a wooden or metal hairbrush, regular hair ties, and a cotton towel to dry her hair after a wash. Bleaching the hair is equally harmful if not more and sleeping on cotton pillowcases can wreck her mornings. If she follows the hairstylist’s advice on the products and tools to avoid for long hair (as listed above), she will enjoy healthy and beautiful hair for many years to come.