Long Hair and Its Care - Am I Doing This Right?

OK - I’m male, raised in the '50’s - 60’s.

Always a buzz cut, and the mysteries of caring for long hair was reserved for the females.

20 years ago I decided to find out what my terminal length was.

Right - no haircut since 1992.

A great deal of my hair fell out in 2002.

It wasn’t until last year I learned not to try to comb in the shower - the retention factor has skyrocketed.

My big Q is this:
Rather than using shampoo (which dries out the hair), I just use conditioner the same way as others use shampoo - apply, rub in, rinse off immediately.
I comb it out every night, it still does not have the luster and shine most women with long hair have.

The other thing - is has become very fine - almost baby-like. It also has developed the habit of forming tight curls/hooks (along with breaks creating V shaped ends). These get tangled while combing out - are there was to fix this short of ironing it (yes, kids, some women in the 60’s (when long, straight hair was “IN”, actually applied a clothes Iron to their hair - do they still?)

Any suggestions?

(I’m retired and don’t give a rat’s ass what people think)
(below waist, some to crotch)

Sudden hair loss in 2002 could be due to disease or sudden change in diet. Or it may be due to late onset of male pattern baldness. IANAD, so I suggest that you discuss this with your medical practitioner asap (assuming that you are not damaging the hair from excessive rough handling, or heat treaments of course).

It sounds like you have old dude hair. Everyone’s hair gets thinner and finer as we age. And fine, thin hair doesn’t shine.

I’d suggest dumping the comb and picking up a natural bristle brush. If you want your hair straight, you could use a straightening iron. It’s a bit easier to use than a clothes iron, but does the same job.

I’d also suggest regular trims. Cutting off the broken ends will help your hair lie flatter. It will also look better, although of course you don’t care about that.

Trim the hair to get rid of the split and damaged ends.
The conditioner may be building up on your hair and making it dull with no shampoo. Do use shampoo occasionally and follow with conditioner. You can comb your hair with the conditioner in to detangle, then rinse it out.
Never blow-dry, iron, or apply heat. Don’t wash with super-hot water.
When you brush or comb, start at the bottom, not the top. Do the bottom few inches, then move up, etc., so as not to worsen any tangles.

I agree with a lot of what has already been said. In the 60s, when I was young, my air was long and thick, and shinier than you can imagine, and yes, I did iron it with a clothes iron.

Once I hit 50 or so, it’s as if someone cast a spell on my head. The hair is much finer, it’s a little thinner on my head, and the gray has a totally different behavior than the regular hair. It seems to go in different directions and frizz out. It’s age. If I tried to iron it (now using a straight iron) I think it would just snap off. There is a shine to it but nothing like there was fifty years ago. Of course nothing in or on my body is like it was fifty years ago.

So I think age has a lot to do with it. That said, I think you do need to use a gentle shampoo on it at least weekly, blot it instead of rubbing the towel on it, and comb from the bottom using a very wide-toothed comb. A regular comb will just tear it up.

Another thing I forgot to mention is to change product brands. At least alternate between purchasing two or three different brands or product lines. I have found that a product that works great seems to lose its efficacy over time (build up of same chemicals perhaps) and changing products then returning to it works well for me.

You might want to try “Mane 'n Tail Detangler”. Makes it very easy to comb out tangles and makes the hair shiny. Be aware, though, that it makes the floor extremely slippery if the spray hits it.

Yes, it’s for horses. You can get it at your local Tractor Supply store. You can also buy it at Sally Beauty Supply. I don’t care much for their shampoos and conditioners, but the Detangler is great.

My wife says the same thing.

Even if you’re conditioner only, maybe try an occasional wash with a shampoo or baking soda and vinegar. I find that conditioner can build up over time and look dull, too. Some people do better with lots of ‘cones’ in their conditioner, some people don’t. I tend to try to avoid silicone and the like.

I second the wide toothed comb- only brush if you’re relatively straight- otherwise, you can get frizz and breakage that way. Comb slowly, working from the bottom up in stages.

I use some oil, myself, for shine and don’t apply any heat- neither clothes nor curling iron.

(disclosure- I’m a lady with waist-hip length hair)

Thanks for the tips!

I’ll try swapping brands - I’ve been playing with “for thin hair” vs “daily clarifying” vs whatever - haven’t noticed any difference after a month or two with one or the other - is there any difference behind the labels, or is it all marketing crap? Any real difference between “Salon” formulas and the stuff on the bottom shelve at WallyWorld?

Yeah, I did figure out not to use much heat, and comb from the bottom.

I tried a brush years ago - it wouldn’t go through without taking a whole bunch of hairs with it.

I have figured out using the end of the comb to hook a bit to pull it away from the mass a bit at a time. Useful for getting the mess from back (washing) to front (drying)

I just threw out a half-bottle of shampoo - I think it dated back to about 2004. It does get used, but only when it is really filthy - it takes a week to recover from it.

Thanks again!

Hair tends to break more when it is wet, as it is more fragile then. In addition, it is better to dry hair with a t-shirt rather than a towel, as obviously a t-shirt is softer and therefore easier on the hair. I think with really long hair, it is going to be hard to comb out, and I guess you can just experiment with different products and see what works best. I don’t really know what most folks do nowadays with their hair, as I just use a curling iron to set my hair. In addition, I’ve noticed my hair has gotten thinner over the years, and I guess there is nothing we can do about it that will substantially help. On another note, an advantage of living in a city where it gets cold in the winter, is that one can just wear a hat on “bad hair days”.

It’s been mentioned, but I’m going to repeat it, because it’s so critical and a very big difference between short and long hair: start brushing/combing at the bottom. Really, at the bottom. Just aim to detangle two inches or so on the bottom. Then a couple more inches above that. And then move up a little more. A vast amount of split ends, breakage and thinning can be caused by yanking a comb or brush through two feet of hair from the top.

Long hair should never be brushed or combed when wet, as it causes breakage. Curly hair should never be brushed or combed when dry, as it causes “frizz”. I take it you can see the dilemma here for people with hair like yours. What you’ve got to do is choose your evil - is your hair more prone to breakage or to frizz? Which one pisses you off more?

Best bet is to take yourself to a decent hairdresser (cost does not correlate with skill; ask people who live near you for a recommendation, or use yelp) and while s/he’s trimming your split ends off, ask for suggestions for hair maintenance from the person who has their fingers in your hair. S/he will probably try to sell you products she just happens to have in her salon. If you’d like to treat yourself, go ahead and humor her and buy 'em. Try them and see if they make a great difference. Chances are, they won’t, but then you’ll know for sure, and you’ll at least know if you should be using leave in conditioner, or products for dry hair or oily scalp and so on. And you never know - once in a while, there really is something that’s only sold in salons that’s made of awesome. I was steered to this stuff back when it was salon-only (now it’s in every drugstore) and it really is a great product for my hair. It may or may not be a great product for your hair.

*ETA: And make sure you get your recommendations for a hairdresser from people with long hair. Long hair is a separate skill set from cutting/styling short hair, and being good at one does not mean you’ll be good at the other.

What I learned a long time ago is shampoo from the roots down and condition from the ends up.
The oils are up by the roots and the further from the scalp the dryer your hair gets.

I never real rub the shampoo and conditioner in, I just kind of squish it through.
I never really dry my hair either, I just pat it with the towel and let it air dry.
Comb out any tangles before you wash your hair.

Avoid balsam shampoos, they are great for making thick curly hair lay flat, not so great for older thinning hair.

Sometimes I’ll leave the conditioner in over night. Some people have told me it makes no difference but I think it does.

I’ll throw in the obligatory link to the Long Hair Community- LHC. There’s a few guys on there, including one who’s grown down to his knees.

I’ve had long hair, with almost no interruptions, for over 35 years. Although it’s changed consistency a little in the last half-decade or so, it’s still almost unbelievably thick and sturdy… maybe just a little less shine and bounce than my heyday, but certainly not showing any signs of “old dude hair” reported here. I’ve been grayish through the temples for maybe 10 years - startling, because both my father and older brother grayed early and muchly. My dad had very thick hair (although he wore it much shorter) until his death at 57.

I do nothing but wash it 2-3 times a week with a moderate-detergent shampoo, towel it back, and brush it when it’s mostly dry. I use conditioner once in a while when it feels particularly dry and frizzy - maybe every six weeks.

The only trouble I’ve had was a frighteningly copious hairfall, right on schedule about three months after the worst (10-day) bout of flu I’ve ever had. That was almost ten years ago. I could pull out hair by the handful, like a chemo patient. I was afraid it would never gain back its body and thickness, and that it would grow in much grayer… nope on all counts.

Anyone else past 50, with shoulder-plus length, only modest graying, whose cutter has to hit the top and sides with thinning shears at least every other cut? And who draws a crowd of the other cutters almost every time? (Yeah, I know how lucky I am.)

I’d go short if it ever got thin, straggly or unattractively gray. Balding doesn’t happen in my family so that’s not an issue. Honestly, I thought I would have cut it years and years before this, but it looks like I will be the Santa Claus guy until the end…

You should search pinterest for homemade hair treatments for long lustrous hair. They always seem to have egg yokes in them. I haven’t tried them yet, but I intend to, very soon!

I was talking with my wife about this. Her hair is long enough that she can sit on it. She washes only the scalp area of her hair when she showers, but conditions it all. She puts a little coconut oil in it when it’s still slightly damp. She never combs it (except her bangs), just runs her fingers through it to keep it untangled. She also pulls out detached hairs in this process. She would never iron her hair.

She reads the Long Hair Community website mentioned above, but warns that some people on there have kind of crazy ideas about how to take care of their hair. She did say they made her realize how there are so many different hair types, you need to find out which ideas work for you.

She keeps her hair braided or in a bun most of the time now. She picked up the idea of putting it up in a bun at the Long Hair Community, and has a collection of different sticks now. (I’ve never heard of a man putting his hair in a bun, but the OP did say he didn’t give a rat’s ass what people think.)

I have. They’re usually carrying a drum under their arm and smell a little like goat. :smiley:

Thanks again!

I looked at LHC - turns out I was not the first to come up with using only conditioner. But yeah, they do seem to speak a different language - how can a stick (for buns) NOT work? Some of that IS scarey.

I used to use hot oil at one time - didn’t notice much difference, so I quit.

I apply condition in two steps - the pony tail gets it first, then the scalp - I use elastic bands and pulling then out dry is asking them to snag a couple of hairs on their way out - with the slippery stuff on it, they slide off by themselves.

Yes, I comb out the pony tail before showering, and comb bottom up, a few inches at a time. When I get to the top I will gently run the comb through the entire length.

I have always perted on the left, and combed the forelock across to the right. It has always been problematic, and it is still to short to reach the ponytail. Maybe, just maybe, if I am super careful with it and live to 90, it will finally be long enough to do something with. In the meantime, it covers my right eye most of the time. Sigh

Shampoo is fine (mostly scalp). But not more than once a week. The “no-poo” extremists are a reaction to women ruining their hair by daily shampooing.

Do you take Zinc and Biotin?