Recently a friend of mine went to her stylist and had her long locks cut. She now
sports a very sassy layered hairstyle that comes to the bottoms of her ears. Personally,
I never thought she'd go short, since she'd worn her hair long as long as I've known her
and every photograph I've ever seen of her from childhood through her teen years and
twenties featured long hair at least to the shoulder. But she decided it was time, and
went for it. About two weeks later, we met for lunch and she was still gushing about it.
What surprised me most was that she said the greatest thing about her new
hairstyle was "no more tangles". I noted the comment at the time and we continued
with other conversation, but her words stuck in the back of my head. I, myself, used to
have long hair (past my shoulders) and I knew first hand how frustrating it could be to
keep your hair tangle-free. However, I never considered tangles to be an issue worthy
of causing a dramatic hairstyle change.
Those individuals with long hair (particularly if it is even slightly curly) know what a
torture tangles can be. The romantic notions of driving with the top down and the wind
in your hair (or sitting on the windswept beaches) that movie and television makers are
so fond of depicting never seem to result in the kinds of torturous aftermath for the
people onscreen that it does for those of us real people. When my moderately wavy
hair was long, a fifteen-minute drive with the sunroof open or the windows down
resulted in at least twenty minutes of careful brushing to smooth out the snarls.
So, for those of you who know the struggle of tangles, here are some tips that will
make taming those tangles easier. Just remember, one of the best ways to get rid of
tangles is to keep them from happening. With that in mind, I offer the following advice:
I know you've all been preached to at length about the need for conditioner as a
part of your daily hair care routine, but it can't be said enough. Thoroughly cleaned
and conditioned hair is silky and smooth, and resists tangles, especially if your hair is
anywhere close to being straight. Even wavy, curly and coiled hair resists tangling when
conditioned properly. One of the functions of a good conditioner is to smooth down the
cuticle layer of the hair shaft. A smooth cuticle layer won't grab on to the neighboring hair strands.
And I'd say at least 7 out of 10 women I see in the course of the day don't
condition their hair properly or with the right kinds of conditioner. Regardless of how
often you wash your hair, you should condition your hair EVERY DAY, and not just with a
rinse-through conditioner in the shower. Most women with normal hair should also use a
leave-in conditioner and detangler after they towel-dry their hair. There are several
great products on the market, both in salons and at your local drugstore or supermarket.
Drying the Hair:
One of the biggest hassles of having long hair, especially if it's thick (dense) is
that it takes forever to dry on its own, and blow-drying is a necessary part of our daily
routine. So, after you've finished your shower (and remembered to use your
conditioner) be gentle with your hair. Don't rub the towel across your head or in your
hair. Instead, wrap the towel around the ends of your hair and squeeze the excess
water from your hair working your way to the scalp where you pat the head and blot up the water there.
Try using two towels (most long-haired women find this necessary
anyway) and wrap your hair up in your "hair towel" to form a turban and leave it there while you finish drying your body.
Continue wearing the "turban" while you dress and apply your make-up. This gives
your towel the chance to continue soaking the excess moisture from your hair. When
you're ready to take your turban down, be sure to spray on your leave-in conditioner
and massage it through your hair with your fingers. You can blot up any excess (to avoid dripping) with your towel.
If you can let your hair "air dry", do so. Otherwise, if you must use a blow-dryer,
use the dryer on the lowest heat setting, regardless of the fan speed you choose to
use. The heat will only cause the damp hair's cuticle to swell which is what allows the
dryer to force the moisture out of the hair. In addition, always direct the flow of hair
in the direction your hair grows; in other words, away from your head. This prevents the
cuticle from being roughed up by the warm airflow, and has the benefit of keeping the hair shiny and smooth.