wavy hair hiking trail

When it comes to growing longer hair, the number one enemy of fairy tail length is breakage. For every inch you are growing, you could lose twice as much due to bad habits. Not only do you risk losing length but also thickness as well, and long, thinned out hair is not a cute style. Here are some golden rules to avoiding breakage as much as possible.

1. Treat your hair like a cashmere sweater.

The more you manipulate your hair by brushing it, washing it, even touching it, the bigger are the chances that strands will break. A few broken hairs may seem harmless, but in no time you will find your ends will look thinned out and uneven. Be sure to always manipulate your mane in a gentle way. Cut your nails regularly to prevent snagging in the shower while cleansing and detangling.

2. Don't exaggerate the process

Too much of a good thing can be bad. Using deep conditioner every other day can leave your hair overly moisturized, lacking structure. It doesn't depend on the type (protein rich, moisturizing, oil-based, etc.) but more on the effect of your water. The process of deep conditioning keeps the hair in contact with water for an extended amount of time. On top of that, all the emollients in your DC (deep conditioner) add on to the hygral fatigue that your hair experiences. Your hair will "macerate" and lose the outer layer, cortex, leaving the strand weak and prone to breakage. Even if you have colored, dry or processed hair, most people shouldn't use deep conditioner more than once every 2 or 3 washes.

3. Diminish damage from The Evil Four

Bleaching, coloring, relaxing and heat styling. You should be free to experiment with colors and styles as much as you want. Take all precautions needed to diminish damage, like asking for Olaplex when coloring (please try to avoid the DIY route with this unless you are a pro), using the lowest heat possible, and choosing an alternative to relaxing like a keratin treatment. Keep in mind that bleaching is really the worst you can do, so try to opt for naturally coloring instead. And bleaching relaxed hair--you are playing with fire, girl!

4. Goodness in, goodness out

A healthy diet and drinking a lot of water is not just a meaningless mantra. It really works to strengthen your hair. You will notice fuller, shiner, healthier hair when you start taking care of what you put inside your body. Eat plenty of vegetables, whole grains, green tea, and fruits.

5. Don't mix brand collections

Try not mixing and matching too many products. I am guilty of it. Once you find out what you like, stick to it. It is good to discover new products once in a while, but your wallet and your hair will thank you for a bit of routine! Be sure not to mix and match collections or ingredients that don't mix well together-- products are formulated with specific intent. Unless you are an experienced chemist, leave the experiments in the lab and out of your hair.

6. Let your boyfriend rub your shoulders, not your hair

Protective styles are popular for a reason. Your hair can really grow faster if it doesn't always rub against your shoulders. This is especially important if you are trying to grow out your hair from below the ear to armpit length: it is the hardest step! I saw a huge improvement in my growth rate since I started working 8 hours a day in a job where I am forced to keep my hair off of my neck.

7. Cutting your hair on a routine basis is unreal

I am still amazed when I hear a stylist saying that everyone should cut their hair every x amount of weeks--that is completely untrue and really only depends on your hair type and hair health. Pay close attention to your own hair health, if you see single strand knots or split ends it's time for a trim or a dusting.

8. Be an impartial judge

Take some time to assess the situation of your hair and be honest with yourself. Are you noticing a lot of split ends since you introduced that super-hyped product into your routine? Maybe that particular product is not a good fit for your hair, and that's ok. Give it to one of your friends or family members if you don't want to toss it.

9. Proteins and moisture need to be in balance with one another.

Have both in check! Try alternating between products containing proteins and products that are formulated specifically to moisturize. If you use too many proteins your hair will break because it has no elasticity; too much moisture and your hair will become so elastic that it will be extremely weak. Find your balance, it will not be the same for everyone.