How to Take Care of Long Hair
If you were raised as a boy but whish to grow your hair out for some mysterious reason now, you are likely facing the same issues that i did when The Gender happened to me. To make things a little easier for your endeavor, i’ve compiled everything i learned over the past one and a half years so you don’t have to figure it out all on your own. Trust me, it’s a little more complex than pouring bodywash over your head and rinsing it out again.
If you are not the kind of person who likes to read dozens of paragraphs of prose, fear not: I’ve summarized everything you need to know at the end of the article, so feel free to skip down there if you aren’t interested in the details.
A Little Disclaimer
I am in absolutely no way an expert in haircare. Not even close. Everything i write here is solely based on my own experience as well as what random sites on the Internet told me, so it might just as well be complete garbage. If you have any suggestions or improvements, feel free to reach out to me; i still have a lot to learn myself and will happily update the article.
Furthermore, hair types are just as diverse as humanity itself. There is thick and thin, curly and straight, and so on. What works for me may therefore not work for you, although i believe this guide is rather generic.
Now, with that out of the way, let’s get to the hairy stuff!
Shampoo and Bodywash
Even though Generic Male-Targeted Bodywash Brand, Inc. and various people on Reddit will stubbornly insist on the opposite, you need to accept the harsh truth: No, bodywash and shampoo are actually not the same thing. Yes, they both fulfill the same basic purpose—get rid of dirt—but the distinction lies in how they achieve that goal. Why does it matter? Well, for the same reason you don’t use dishwashing liquid for showering. At least i desperately hope you don’t.
The fact of the matter is that skin and hair are simply not the same material, and thus require different chemicals in order to clean them in the most gentle way possible. Admittedly, the effects are rather subtle in the short term, which is why you likely won’t notice them at all if your hair is only a couple centimeters long. When you cut it every month, using the wrong detergent can only do so much damage.
However, consider this: With variations depending on genetics and hormones, the speed at which hair grows is generally in the ballpark of around one centimeter per month. Thus, the tips of even just shoulder long hair can easily be upwards of two years old. I hope this makes it rather clear why you would want to treat your hair as gentle as possible.
As established in the previous section, you want to do as little damage to your hair as you can. Now, remember what shampoo is for: getting rid of the grease your body produces. And where does all this grease come from, exactly? Why, from glands in your scalp, of course!
Naturally, that is also where you will want to apply shampoo. Pour generous amounts of water along with some shampoo at the top of your head, and gently massage it into your scalp. Don’t forget about the regions above and behind your ears, as those are often the places where grease accumulates the most.
Just remember that you do not need to pay attention to the hair tips for now – they will get all the cleaning they need as you rinse off the shampoo entirely after you’re done. By the way: Some people claim the massaging motion helps with hair growth, but i was way too lazy to verify this independently. Do your own research as you find appropriate.
Why Conditioner Is Important
Now that you’ve gotten rid of all the oils in your hair, you might assume you’re done. Well, think again.
As it turns out, your body doesn’t just waste precious resources for producing this greasy stuff because it finds joy in mocking you; it does it for a good reason. The oil is a natural moisturizer that keeps your hair healthy and prevents split ends. So, basically, by following the societal convention of removing the one thing that keeps your hair healthy while still expecting you to have healthy hair, you need to replace it with something else. And that something is conditioner.
It is important to note that conditioner contains chemicals that are similar enough to their natural counterparts that shampoo washes them away as well, which means two things. Firstly, those two-in-one combo bottles that claim to be both shampoo and conditioner are, as far as i can tell, an absolute scam and can’t possibly work. Secondly, you need to completely rinse off all the shampoo before applying conditioner.
I usually use roughly the same amount of conditioner as shampoo which, for my shoulder long hair, is about 2 cm³. Your mileage may vary, though, and i’m bad at estimating volumes. Just use as much as you find appropriate i guess. Apparently some people say you shouldn’t use conditioner every time you wash your hair but rather only every other time or so, but i disagree with that for the very reason i just explained. Whenever you wash your hair (no matter if it’s once a day like i do, or more or less often), you should probably apply conditioner as well.
In contrast to shampoo, conditioner is primarily beneficial to the tips of your hair because that’s the part that simultaneously is the oldest and gets the least grease from your scalp. A nice technique is pouring conditioner onto your hands, rubbing them a little to spread it apart, and then “combing” through your wet hair with spread fingers while bending your head upside down to distribute it as evenly as possible. This description might make it sound a little harder than it actually is because i’m rather bad with words, but i trust you will quickly get the hang of it if you try it yourself.
When you’re done, generously rinse off everything with not-too-hot water.
After The Shower
Haircare doesn’t simply end with your morning shower. The single most noticeable improvement i experienced was from hair care oil. I don’t know whether that’s the actual English word for it (sorry, ich komm aus fucking Bayern) but your local drug store employee should probably be able to help you out. Also, the Internet is a thing that exists. Just like conditioner, hair care oil also helps keep your hair moisturized and thus healthy.
This oil stuff will usually come in bottles with a pump that dispends about a milliliter per stroke. My personal rule of thumb is around 1 ml per 10 cm of hair, but how much exactly you should use is pretty much a decision you have to make on your own and might differ wildly from what I wrote here.
Just spread the oil over your finger tips by rubbing them briefly, and then gently put the oil into your hair using that combing technique you already used for applying conditioner. Dry your hair with a towel before doing so, but make sure it’s still wet so it spreads more easily. You can use a hairdryer afterwards if you want, but make sure to put it on low heat if possible to reduce the stress on your hair. If you have natural curly hair like myself, you shouldn’t use one at all unless you explicitly want to straighten it out.
Brushes and Combs
First of all, if you want curls, you should be finished at this point. At least that’s the way i’m doing things. If you want straight hair or simply prefer to brush it either way, i recommend doing so while it’s still wet because that makes it significantly easier and reduces the stress you put it under.
I don’t really have a lot of experience with combing long hair because i’ve mostly switched to brushes (if i use any at all; as i’ve said i don’t really do brushing anymore either) ever since i started growing my hair longer. Combing generally seems to make things harder, so my advice for you is to get yourself a fancy brush and abandon your comb completely. Again, your mileage may vary, though. You just have to try.
Going to The Hairdresser
It’s still important to somewhat regularily visit your local hairdresser. You will notice the time is ripe when more and more splits, kinks, or knots towards the end of your hair start to accumulate. For me, that’s usually 1–2 times a year.
Tell them you just want the tips cut though, nothing more. Some hairdressers like to “take out some of your hair’s volume” by cutting it with a special kind of scissor that has a lot of tiny blades with gaps between them so only a portion of your hair actually gets cut off, but from my experience the whole procedure can potentially do more damage than good. Again, your mileage may vary, but what works best for me is simply cutting a centimeter off every 6–9 months.
Alright, that concludes everything i learned over one and a half years of transing my gender. So, here is the promised summary:
- Shampoo is not bodywash; the former is for your hair and the latter for your body
- Shampoo comes first, then rinse completely, then apply conditioner, then rinse yet again
- Put shampoo on your scalp, conditioner on your hair tips
- After leaving the shower, only towel dry your hair and then put on hair care oil
- Hair dryers are generally not necessary
- If you still want to, use low heat and after applying hair care oil
- If you have natural curls and want those, don’t use one at all
- See your local hairdresser every 6–12 months and ask them to only cut off your hair’s tips