When you decide to grow your hair out long, one of the things you have to be most careful about is how much you damage it. You probably know that most dyes and perms are hard on your hair, just as heat is, but the things you do to it every day without even thinking can do quite a bit of damage as well.
When you wash your hair, you may be in the habit of washing the entire length. But really the part that needs it is the roots. So shampoo only that part. The rest will generally be adequately cleaned by the shampoo running down it and by the conditioner you use.
If you think about that, you may quickly realize that this means you should not be piling your hair on top of your head to wash it. Piling it up like that is more likely to damage your hair than just letting it hang down your back as you wash the part that really needs it.
Make sure you use a conditioner every time you wash your hair, and use a good one. This will help you when you are combing your hair, as tangles will come out more easily.
Towel dry your hair gently too. Don't scrub your scalp, as this damages and knots the hair. You can use a towel turban or just have a towel across your back for your hair to dry on. This is far gentler on your hair.
Obviously, don't use a hot blow dryer either. Use a cool one if you must, but letting your hair air dry on its own is best.
Use a good quality comb to remove tangles from your hair when it is dry. Avoid doing this to wet hair, as it is more easily damaged when wet. A good comb is cut from a single piece of plastic, not one that is cast from a mold. If your comb has rough spots it can do tremendous damage to the length of your hair.
Comb by starting with the first few inches, and working your way up. You do not want to be tugging knots down the entire length of your hair, catching more knots as you go. You'll do better to get the knots lower down first.
If you come to a difficult knot, start working at it from the bottom, smoothing that out, and working your way up through it gently. Try not to tug a lot.
Many people with long hair like to give it a little oil to keep the length of it in excellent condition. You can use extra virgin olive oil, but my personal preference is for jojoba oil. Just take a small drop of your preferred oil, rub it between your hands and stroke your hands down the ends of your hair. You do not have to do the entire length, and too much oil will of course make your hair appear oily.
But good care is about more than washing and combing. You also need to think about what you're doing to your hair. You don't want it to get caught by your purse strap, laptop carrying case strap or any other strap. You don't want it caught by your coat collar. Move your hair as necessary to keep these away.
A lot of people with long hair wear it up regularly because it's just better for it. This is especially true if you're going to be out on a windy day. A simple bun or braid can protect your hair. It's also fun having your hair up most of the time, then surprising the people who thought they knew you when they find out how much hair you really have!
Despite what some people think or what this may sound like, having long hair doesn't have to be a ton of work. Many attractive hair styles take less time than curling a shorter head of hair would, and you don't have to go to the salon nearly as often. Just take good care of your long hair for the maximum benefit and pleasure.