Right now, my hair is super long. I usually like it that way, but it's extra long right now and I'm noticing that the longer it gets, the harder it is to take care of without it turning into a ratty mess of split ends and grown out color. Basically, it needs more TLC. So I've been really gentle with it lately and have been trying out a plethora of things to keep it shiny and healthy and looking good. Here's the routine that's working for me:
If your hair is colored, buying a shampoo and conditioner that are made for color-treated hair is a must. Especially if, like me, you wash it more often than is recommended. (I know it's bad to wash it almost every day, but I can't help it. I find it impossible to go to the gym and come home afterwards and not shampoo it. It just feels icky). But since I go through a lot of shampoo and conditioner, the last thing I want to do it spend a ton of money on them. There are shoes and purses to be bought! My favorite bargain duo right now is L'Oreal's Advanced Haircare Color Vibrancy Nourishing Shampoo and Conditioner. They're a total steal at around $7 apiece at the store (less if you order online). Plus, you can often find a coupon and they go on sale frequently, so you can stock up on them for even less. When I use them, I honestly don't notice a difference between the way my hair looks if I use a much more expensive duo, which is high praise. And since it's made especially for colored hair, I know that it's not stripping the (expensive!) color out of my locks, even if I shampoo every day. Definitely worth picking up on your next trip through the drugstore.
When your hair is long, a good brush is an absolute must. A cheap one may get the knots out, but it's also much more likely to contribute to split ends and break your hair along the way. An expensive one is definitely an investment, but it's one that'll last you years and years and pay for itself many times over. My personal favorites come from the brand Mason Pearson. There's a reason why they have such a stellar reputation – they just make a quality product. It's as simple as that. I have a lot of cheaper brushes from beauty supply stores and the drugstore, but once I got my first Mason Pearson brush, I never looked back. It leaves my hair completely knot-free (which is a big deal because my long hair seems to almost dreadlock in the back if I don't brush it out constantly) and so soft and shiny. It's a noticeable difference that I can see every time I look in the mirror, so I keep reminding myself of that when I remember how much it cost! (But honestly, it was so, so worth it. I'll still be using it when I'm in my eighties – as long as I still have hair!)
Along the same lines – I highly, highly recommend getting yourself a T3 hairdryer. I had a travel-sized one years ago, then, being the clumsy girl that I am, dropped it on a hard tile floor and broke it. So for the past three years, I'd just been using a generic cheap one from the drugstore. (So generic that I can't even tell you who made it!) And then recently, T3 sent me a sample of their new Featherweight Luxe2i Hair Dryer. The difference in the way my hair looks after using it is astonishing. It's so smooth and sleek and there is literally no frizz to it at all. None! This one is a super pricey investment at $250, but if you break it down into cost per use, it's actually really cheap. (I know, I know, cost per use doesn't help when you have to lay out the initial cash, but it's still something to think about). It also dries my long hair amazingly fast. Like, shockingly so. I'd say it cuts my drying time in at least half, if not more, from what it was with the generic dryer. And that is valuable morning time that I can spend in bed or drinking coffee or any other activity that lets me relax more. If you can at all afford it, it's definitely worth it.
I know some of these are splurges, but my hair looks ten times better than it did before I discovered all of these things. You need to discover them too!