I have tried a lot of things, some which I regret. But I've come to find that these few things are key to maintaining healthy long hair.
1. Sleep on a 100% Silk Pillowcase
The silk helps prevent breakage, which often happens with cotton pillowcases. It also naturally contains vitamin E, which is great for your hair and skin. Cotton pillowcases pull out and absorb your natural oils which can dry out your hair and skin. I got a silk pillowcase on Amazon for $20. A cheaper alternative is a satin pillowcase, but as it is man made, there will not be any vitamin E.
2. Oil Your Hair
Doing frequent oil masks can greatly improve the texture and sheen of your hair. The best oils to use are organic coconut, avocado or macadamia nut. All you do is put the oil evenly in your hair an hour before taking a shower. It makes a huge difference in only two weeks. I even oil the end part of my hair during the day and braid it back. Which brings me to the next point.
3. Braid Your Hair
Your hair is easily broken throughout the day when worn down or in a ponytail. The best way to prevent breakage is to braid the hair. It might sounds boring, but I usually do either a Dutch braid down my back, a Katniss Everdeen style braid down my shoulder, a fishtail braid, or sometimes a normal braid. There are so many different ways to play with braids.
4. Take Supplements
Specifically cod liver oil and biotin. Cod liver oil is the best fish oil and it will help with the shine quality of your new hair. Biotin makes hair grow really fast. It's a miracle. Another supplement you can take that promotes hair growth is MSM. However, do not take this is the evening or you'll have vivid nightmares. I have no idea why.
5. Do Not Do it if You Know it Will Damage Your Hair
This is so self explanatory. Get over the fact that you cannot straighten or curl with heat. Just forget about blow drying. And why dye your hair multiple times in a year? I do admit, I like to change up my color. But that means living with the consequences of possibly damaged hair. The only way I have seen that does not damage your hair is to use henna dye. But there are serious commitments that come along with henna. For starters, it takes five hours to dye. The deal breaker for me is that you can never use any other type of hair dye over top because it will completely mess up your hair due to the chemicals reacting with the henna. It's just too complicated.
6. Use Shampoo That Uses Ingredients You Can Pronounce
A lot of people recommend either not using shampoo at all or to try washing it less frequently, but I just can't yet. The process involved is just too crazy for me at this stage in my life. For the first six months your hair will be extremely oily because your head has been trained to overproduce oil from using commerial shampoos. So I just try not to use a shampoo with ridiculous looking ingredients and definitely not a shampoo with sulfate. The sulfate is what makes the shampoo bubble up, but it really will dry out your hair. Try looking in the holistic markets for a shampoo. And if you're ambitious, you can try the "no-poo" method or try washing every other day.
7. Don't Cut Your Hair
Lastly, just don't cut your hair. You can do dusting, which is taking off extremely small amounts off your ends. You do not need to go to a stylist to dust your ends. The whole "trim your hair every six weeks" thing is a myth and you will not be growing your hair if you cut it an inch every month and a half!