Long Hair Confessions

When you have a long hair routine but possibly doing it all wrong…

In 8th grade, I started growing out my hair. Before that was the shoulder-length mom cut that I would normally wear gelled back in a semi-low pony and, before that, the bob — with bangs. I’m not really sure which was worse…

Regardless, the decision to let my hair go was one of the best I ever made — it’s now one of my favorite features. It was around the same time I realized I liked going to the movies with boys more than playing capture the flag at the local rec center on Friday night. Since then, I’ve never had the desire to revisit a short ‘do, or anything else, for that matter. My mom always warned me that using dyes would ruin it so, except for scoring a few highlights on Valentine’s day (treat yourself), I’ve never altered my light brown locks. Going completely blonde has crossed my mind, multiple times, but actually going through with it is something to which I may never commit. Will it completely ruin my hair? No, probably not. My hair will still be attached to my head, but I think it’s the supposed maintenance that holds me back, which leads me to a confession…

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I used to wash my hair every single time I took a shower. Shampoo, and conditioner. Literally. Every. Single. Time. This routine sometimes took place twice, three times a day, depending on my shower schedule, for as long as I can remember…I thought this is how people washed their hair! It wasn’t until I became roommates with Brigette that I learned that was absolutely not the case. I still remember when she went no ‘poo and I thought it was the most wack thing I ever heard.

“Wait, so like, you don’t wash your hair…with anything?!”

After trying it myself, I now completely respect her routine, or lack of one. During my recent visit to Costa Rica, I decided to test the waters — how long I could go without washing my hair? It may have been a vagabond beach life that encouraged that decision, but I refrained from touching my hair that entire trip.

Result? I was into it.

So much so that I told myself that I’d keep up the “non-keep” once I got home. Unfortunately, Philly is not home to a convenient saltwater rinse (i.e., ocean), but I have tried to keep my shampoo and conditioner use to a minimum. Actually, conditioner no longer exists in my repertoire. Just shampoo, every two days or so.

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Sans conditioner seems to make my hair more wavy — there’s less substance weighing it down. And shampooing every few days allows my scalp’s natural oils to build up and keep my hair moisturized. I like this routine, but I’m not so sure it’s the best thing for my hair. Which leads me to my other confession — I never brush my hair.

Like, not ever. Only If I plan on straightening my hair. In which case I have to brush it while wet, immediately after a shower. Otherwise, a dry brush creates an awkward-looking, half-straight, half-poofy mane.


Above photo by Magdalena Kernan

Is brushing so little also bad for my hair?

If you have long hair, what is your routine? Do you wash regularly, or not at all? Are there any special products or treatments you swear by? I’d love to hear your answers in the comments below!

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  1. I used to almost never brush my hair either (maybe once a week) but I would get the most gnarly tangles! Borderline dreadlocks. But I hate how poofy it gets too …
    I’ve discovered that using a wide-toothed comb + a natural leave-in conditioner spray (I use one called ‘Love’ by Escents) it keeps my hair untangled but not poofy at all :) and the leave-in will keep my waves defined!

  2. I also never brush my hair. My mom would flip out if she heard me say it, but I have so much natural volume that brushing just makes it a huge, frizzy mess. I’ll use a wide tooth comb if I have to put my hair in a bun for ballet, but other than that, I’ve stopped messing with it. I have to be doing something right though – people at work have commented on how much nicer my hair looks! Cue the looks of horror when I say I stopped brushing, but hey, it works. In regards to washing, I only wash every 3 days or so but am looking for ways to let it stretch even longer. I’ll let it air dry, while combing with a wide tooth comb frequently (this is the only other time I comb my hair) so it straightens just a tad. I’ll also add some Giovanni smoothing serum to keep the frizzies at bay and leave my waves defined. I have no idea how my hair would react without conditioner, but I might try it.

  3. What if you hardcore sweat everyday?! When I get home from the gym my hair is still soaked from my gym session, so I shower and wash my hair with both shampoo and conditioner every day. Good idea or bad idea?

  4. hi!!!

    I used to have wicked long, THICK hair that I would wash daily. A couple months ago I chopped all my locks off to have a fresh look–took away all the emotional burdens and constraints that come with long hair. Recently I have grown a liking to conditioning my hair then using shampoo–it moisturizes the locks then cleanses it with shampoo. I would recommend that. Brushing hair isn’t necessarily bad so long as you stimulate the hair follicles. I don’t brush my hair every day either, even though its short now, but I do enjoy being able to run my fingers through my hair. There isn’t a right or wrong way for anything–just whatever suits you.

  5. @Paige I also sweat A LOT at the gym. My hair especially since there is so much of it. If I go two days in a row, I’ll just rinse it really well with water on the first day, then use shampoo on the second day. If I try and go longer than that, I feel slightly gross lol.

  6. Wow it’s so nice to hear that other ladies don’t brush their hair! I only brush it when I straighten it as well. But I have gotten A LOT of hell my whole life for “looking like I rolled out of bed” “omg brush your hair” but I can tell my hair doesn’t take brushing very well unless I use a lot of leave in conditioner. My hair is thin and breaks and is weak. I don’t use much product (light hairspray and leave in conditioner on just the ends every single day) but I only wash it 2 times a week. Usually on Tuesday and Friday. I use a crap load of dry shampoo on my roots and around my face and for the most part let the ends do as they wish. I haven’t colored my hair in years but I can still tell its weak from that ONE time I went platinum.

    My friend Twiggy Vitoria has a YouTube channel where she talked about working out and abstaining from washing your hair but while still looking and feeling fresh. Yall should check her out

  7. I like to shampoo my hair once a week and instead of conditioner I use Organic Coconut oil every once a week. I try not to use too much because it is very oily.

  8. Once a week, usually the evening before I plan on washing it, I put coconut oil in the ends of my hair before going to bed -wearing it in a bread to keep it from making everything too disgusting. I wash it with organic shampoo & use conditioner for dry hair on the ends only.

    I totally get where you’re coming from with the brushing! I have found that it helps a lot to brush it in the evening before I go to bed! That way at least the worst tangles are taken out once a day, but by the time I wake up the poofy-poodle-look is long gone :)

  9. I have had long locks my whole life and have tried everything in the book to take care of it. My routine now, that I love, is washing once or twice a week with nourishing shampoo – but very little. I load up on conditioner though, for my ends. A brush never touches my hair except for the 30 seconds before I shower. Hair breaks when it is wet, so getting the tangles out pre-shower is ideal. I rub argan oil on my ends as it dries and I’m set for a good 2-3 days with soft natural waves!

  10. I have long, wavy hair & also struggle with brushing it every day! AND I also go to the gym daily… What I’ve started doing is wash every other day and on the off days will actually put baking soda and massage it into my scalp (with dry or post-workout hair)… The baking soda is an awesome natural dry shampoo (If you have dark hair you’ll need to add arrowroot powder though so it doesn’t give any white tint).
    On the days I shampoo I’ll comb my hair and put it into braids so that no wavy texture is lost.

  11. I’ve been growing out my hair for almost 5 years and my hair is down to my lower back. I workout almost every day in a gym with no air conditioning in FL, so I get pretty sweaty. I’ll rinse my hair in the shower almost every day, but I skip the shampoo and only use conditioner. I’m paranoid about dry and split ends so I always condition plus Biosilk after my shower. I only shampoo my hair about once a week or when it starts feeling really oily. I don’t brush my hair unless I’m putting in a braided ponytail for when I work out. After my showers, I comb my hair with a wide toothed comb and I always let it air dry. I am pretty low maintenance. I love having long hair!

  12. I love having long hair and I have just come to the point where I’m able to call it that (it’s about to the bottom of my rib cage). The only thing is my hair is fine and straight so I can go two-three days without washing, but when I do I have to use conditioner twice in the shower because my hair gets insanely tangly. And once i get out(I let it dry a little) and then its takes me around half and hour to comb out the majority of tangles with a wide tooth comb and leave in conditioner, and it sometimes is pretty painful. This is not ideal for me. I admire all of you no-brush ladies, but I don’t know if I could do that. I’d love any tips on how to get there or just detangling in general??

  13. I have pretty long hair too, but since it is this long it falls quite flat and straight.

    I tend to wash every 4-5 days now but used tot do it three times a week. I get a very oily scalp resulting in greasy hair after day 2-3. I use dry shampoo to keep it a little less greasy.

    Also I find that because it is longer it annoys me a lot and gets in the way when I work. So I put it in a bun or ponytail a lot. I don’t really like that look on me but currently I don’t really know what to do.

    It’s now below my ribcage, but I’m playing with the thought of cutting it shoulderlength again. But we’ll see!

  14. Wow, I can’t imagine rinsing without washing, you guys. My hair is like a sponge, so it takes hours to dry. If I get it wet, there needs to be a reason. Once for a performance, I put it in a bun wet on Friday afternoon, redid the bun for the Saturday shows, and still had wet hair for the Sunday matinee. It was awful. (This is also why I won’t get dreadlocks. I’m afraid they would grow a lot of mildew.)
    Anyway, I shampoo the roots and condition the ends about once a week. I brush it every day or two, or it gets gross. I’ve been thinking about investing in a boar’s hair brush, which would (in theory, I think) help distribute oil more evenly throughout my hair, but I haven’t done it yet.
    Does anyone else have issues with french braiding their hair?! I can get about halfway done before the tangles in the bottom get so bad I have to stop and brush them out again.
    Also, does anyone else (especially any fellow dancers) special order really huge hair pins on the internet? :) They make this gadget for doing a french twist that’s basically one really huge u-shaped hair pin, maybe five inches long. I use two of them, plus some bobby pins, to keep my hair in line during dance classes. And, as my best friend points out, it’s a handy weapon if I ever need to gouge an attacker’s eyes out (Hey, you can never be too prepared.)

  15. I’ve had locs (dread locs) for thirteen years (fourteen next month) and as a result my hair is fairly long. It reaches my lower back. My washing routine is monthly and I both wash and condition. I will admit that I desire a change and will cut my hair soon. In the mean time I’ve enjoyed the freedom having long hair has provided me. The maintenance has been minimal, however, others assume this means “no maintenance.” This is not the case. If you have long hair ENJOY THE JOURNEY!

  16. I have long thick hair and I wash it when it feels dirty…about every 3 to 5 days depending on what I did through out that time. I only brush my hair right before I step into the shower to wash it. If I brush it any more than that it turns into a bushy mess. The rest of the time I finger comb it. I get some gnarly knots in the back, but I find that it’s easier to manage the knots with your fingers rather than a comb or brush. If it starts to feel greasy and i’m not ready to wash it I use corn starch on the roots..probably not the best thing, but it gets the job done and doesn’t feel gross or leave a nasty residue in my hair.

  17. Your hair is super dreamy. I have long hair (Down to the lower middle of my back) and I feel like I am always struggling to figure out how to take care of it! I’ve never tried the no-poo routine but I am very tempted. My hair looks very thick and like there’s a lot of it, but when I put it up in a bun, the bun is so TEENY! I do have layers but I don’t think just having layers would do that.. if anyone has any suggestions I’d love some!

  18. I never brush my hair either! I’m 5’9 and my hair is a little bit past my hips and I rarely brush it–I think it prevents breakage; I wash my hair once a day for the most part and that works pretty well for me, but I think everyone’s hair is different. I just recently dyed the ends of my hair a lavender color without bleaching it first, and I really like it because it’s not super noticeable and won’t damage my hair, but I love how it looks when it catches the light. If you want to dye your hair you could try something that doesn’t involve bleaching all of it.

  19. My hair is down to my hips and for the last 5 years I’ve gradually slowed down my wash schedule. I use to wash it once every 3 or 4 days, then I moved to a week, then 2 weeks, now I wash my hair about every 18-20 days, and although I shower a few times a week, I don’t even get my hair wet. I know it may sound crazy that I wash my hair maybe once a month, but because I’ve gradually decreased my hair hardly ever looks greasy. When I tell woman my wash schedule they honestly can’t believe it because from the look of it you’d never know I don’t wash my hair. When I do wash it, I use shampoo only on my scalp and conditioner only on my ends, and I rinse with cold water. My hair is pretty wavy and dry so I’ve found this all to be the best way to keep my locks flowing nicely. I also use Moroccan oil on the ends once I do wash. Then I don’t brush for a few days to maximize my waves, I usually brush every few days after that though to stimulate my scalp. And those are my long hair confessions! It’s so nice reading about other long hair beauty routines!

  20. I have thin long wavy hair and I wash it every 3-4 days but by the end it gets greasy and I have to braid it or wear it up. I think it’s because I just switched to deva curl no poo. I want ready to go to acv and baking soda so I did this instead and I love it. it’s specifically made for wavy and curly hair. I have to brush my hair before each wash or it dreads really bad.

  21. I have really long hair (it reaches the middle of my butt) and I fell really identified with your post. I used to wash my hair every day (sometimes twice a day). There’s two reasons why I did that: 1. Because I touch it a lot and it gets really greasy, specifically in my bangs, and 2. Because, even though I have a lot of hair, it is very thin so it gets easily tangled. So, anyway, I used to wash it every day. But about 5 months ago I discovered a way to stop the constant washing. I now sleep with all my hair secured to my scalp thanks to MANY of bobby pins so when I wake up there’s almost no tangles. The only thing I wash daily are my bangs (and I wash my scalp every three days but I keep the rest of the hair dry by tucking it in a shower cap that I tie with an elastic band). Now I feel that my hair looks better than it has ever looked.

  22. I wash my hair twice a week, and air dry it most of the time. I do use curling or flat irons on occasion, but very little product. I have wavy hair naturally, so I lucked out in the hair doing department. My hair is long, and I like to braid it and do updos, so I have to brush it. I brush it every day. I can’t handle a tangled mess. I used to wash it every day in high school and early twenties, but now I’m in my early 30’s and I’m not as oily as I was then, so I’ve managed to stretch it to 4-5 days of no wash on a regular basis.

  23. I don’t brush my hair at all and I wash my hair every other day. My shampoo is just castille soap and coconut milk. Then I always put oil on my hair after washing. I think a lot of people like the natural waves / curls I get from it. It’s still super messy though but I don’t really care much. Hahaha.

  24. I have super thick, long, curly hair and I wash my hair once a week and condition it twice a week. I leave a little bit of conditioner in and put in lots and lots of pure coconut oil. This keeps my hair hydrated because since its naturally curly it tends to be pretty dry.

  25. I don’t have long hair, although I am trying to grow it out. However, my hair is curly, frizzy and bleached, so I’ve found that coconut oil is absolutely the best thing there is for your hair. You just have to be careful when applying, because it can make your roots look dirty. Almost every night I apply coconut oil to my hair, run my fingers through it to comb it, and split my hair in two, making two french braids to go to sleep, since friction is one of the biggest mane-killers. It is overnight, so the coconut oil gets absorbed by you hair, it smells amazing, makes it easier for you to untangle it (even with just your fingers), and adds a very impressive shine and moisture. I also only wash my hair once a week, but only with conditioner, since shampoo dries off the hair, and once I get out of the shower, with semi-damp hair, I apply a bit of coconut oil and use it as a leave-in conditioner. Works miracles. Hope it helps :}

  26. I wash my hair with shampoo and conditioner once a week in winter or more. I comb with wide-tooth comb once in a while :D I have love-hate relationship with my long wavy frizzy hair.

  27. I have long hair way past my waist and finally figured out the best way to care for it. Shampoo once a week with a soft shampoo (Redkin) then apply weekly conditioner (Redkin/Diamond) and use clip and leave in hair while shaving and exfoliating then rinse hair and let dry naturally. While still slightly damp I braid hair to one side not to tight and shake the braid to loosen so doesn’t pull on scalp. Pin curl the braid end. Next morning hair is shiny, wavy and never tangled. For maintenance always brush hair at night and wet hair with little water and braid again pin curl ends before bedtime. Always use one side braid. If you use two braids your hair comes out crimpy instead of nice and wavy with just one side braid. I am almost 60 and have been dying my hair blonde since 20. My Norwegian grandmother had hair down to the floor when she died and always braided her hair. It is the magic cure for no tangles.

  28. Long hair, don’t care! Hahhaa. Ive had long hair for a few years now, but mine is stick straight. I only wash it every 2-3 days depending on how it fares with my workouts & yoga. I havent tried the “no poo” idea though & probably never will only because I really like that fresh shampoo smell. I only wash it @nite so my hair can air dry. I avoid blowdrying it as much as possible.

    Your long locks are gorgeous! Wish mine had more wave to it.

  29. Oh, I also NEVER BRUSH mine out. Finger combing is my go to as I rinse out conditioner.

    Viva Long Flowing Hair!

  30. You should be using a conditoner if you have long hair, just don’t slop it on your entire head lol focus on the ends. The oils in your scalp don’t end up protecting the ends if you have long hair. Also not sure why this article is posted alongside photos of incredibly damaged hair

  31. Brush your hair people! Not because it looks nicer but because it is actually healthy for your scalp. I learned in middle school not to wash my hair every day and have had long hair since. Last year my hippie streak came to a peak as I lived in Guatemala for 3 months. I barely washed my hair, but brushing was necessary to stimulate blood flow on the surface of my scalp and help slough off some of that buildup of dust, skin, and particles that inevitably hang out in your hair (I.e. Buildup). It also helps some of those good oils travel down the hair shaft to the ends, which are more and more dry the more we let them bounce around in the elements with no moisturizing aid. Just brush at night or before you shower and it won’t effect your look. Conditioner is also a need, especially if you are shampooing. Maybe not so much for your scalp (although mine became really dry from NOT treating it) but again for those ends. Also, get regular trims. You’ll thank me come next year when you don’t have to chop your locks because of poor maintenance (lost 7 inches).

  32. Ps I recommend a boars hair comb for brushing. Massaging the scalp is also a great way to stimulate the scalp for those who just can’t make the leap toward brushing

  33. I have been no poo about a year. I do color but with henna so it doesn’t fry it. I have super fine and thin hair. Thin mostly due to meds I take for a condition I have. But what hair I have is healthy, super shiny. Even though I swim almost daily. I use a cap. I do rinse with baking soda and vinegar, I feel it counteracts the chlorine a bit.

  34. I wash my hair about once a week. Sometimes even less. I have very thick curly/wavy red hair.
    When I do wash, I use a combo of Dr. Bronners and coconut milk I made myself and Retread conditioner from LUSH.

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