How to keep your long hair healthy, strong and shiny

Natalie Baker
Yahoo! Contributor Network
How to keep your long hair healthy, strong and shiny
Mark Hill Straight-a-holic Give It To Me Straight! Extreme Straightening Spray

While long, thick hair can be your best accessory, it can quickly become dry, brittle and damaged if you don't care for it properly. From using heated styling tools, skipping frequent trims or bleaching and colouring there are many reasons why your hair probably isn't looking as great as it could.

Wash less, condition more

Many of us are guilty of washing our hair too much. Try to limit washing to twice per week - but if you can wash once per week, that's even better. Too much washing strips the hair of its natural oil, causing it to dry out and making it more prone to split ends. When you do wash, use a gentle shampoo and a rich conditioner.

Cold rinse

The warm water in your shower opens up the hair cuticle which can allow moisture to escape. After rinsing your conditioner, finish with a blast of cold water - as cold as you can handle. The cold water will close up the cuticle, which in turn makes hair look shinier. Shiny hair always looks healthier.

Massage your scalp

Don't overlook the importance of taking care of your scalp. When you have your hair washed at the salon, the scalp massage that many stylists give you, not only feels relaxing but it also stimulates the blood flow, which can promote hair growth. Each time you wash your hair, spend a little time massaging your scalp.

Brush wisely

The right bristles in your brush can really make a difference to the condition of your hair. Opt for natural bristles as they aren't as damaging as synthetic or metal - which can led to hair splitting and breaking. Try the GHD Natural Bristle Radial Brush, £17.50, And remember, always use a wide-tooth comb to detangle wet hair to avoid damage.

Use leave-in conditioner

If you can barely get a comb through you long hair then make sure to use a leave-in conditioner. Not only will it make your hair softer and offer added hydration, but it will also make detangling a whole lot easier too. Aussie Miracle Hair Insurance Leave-in Conditioner, £4.49,, is a great buy.

Don't overload on products

Too many products can weigh your hair down making it look flat and lifeless. Although products that contain silicone may initially make your hair look shinier, they can actually cause dryness overtime. Switch to a clarifying shampoo every couple of weeks to help remove product built-up that can leave your hair looking dull and damaged.

Limit heated styling

While many of us seem to totally give up the straighteners and hairdryer, limit the amount you use them to a couple of days per week. On the days you go without, try wearing your hair in loose waves, a topknot or ponytail. And when using heated styling tools, always apply a heat protector, like Mark Hill Straight-a-holic Give It To Me Straight! Extreme Straightening Spray, £5.99, Boots, first to help prevent heat damage.

Eat well

It may not be as exciting as glossy hair treatments, but eat a diet rich in Vitamin A and C if you want shinier strands. Found in green veggies such as spinach and kale, these vitamins are sebum-producing and will promote shine from the inside out.