As requested by Melyssa, I want to share tips and tricks on protecting your hair while you grow it, without going completely mental over the daily life challenges of a longhair.
Many things can cause your hair damage to some degree and make it harder for you to grow long. But there is ways to get around that, and I'm not talking about wrapping your hair up and never taking it down again, there are compromises ;).
#1 Wear your hair up frequently
Most know that one. By keeping your hair up you will reduce it rubbing against your body or other things, simple as that. It does not have to be boring at all though, there is gentle hairstyles and hairtoys that bring exitement into this. I used to wear my hair down all the time, I did not know one updo, and I was so bored I felt like frequently getting layers or shortening. Now, all I think about is which of the 100something styles to wear and how to accessorize.
#2 Handle it gently
No matter if you wash, comb or style your hair. Treat it as gentle as possible. Make sure you use a comb rather than a regular brush, some brushes can be pretty hars to your hair and have sharp edges. But even with a comb, make sure it has no seams or shar edges. I always use a very wide toothed curls comb to detangle, and a finer one for combing. I rarely brush, but if I do I use a boar bristle brush.
Same goes for washing, shampoo gently, less shampoo on the lengths is better and don't rub it with a towel, just gently wrap it, after 5-10 mins. take the towel off and let your hair airdry while only gently detangling with a wide toothed comb.
As you can imagine, its better not to blow dry, even on a cold setting your hair can slightly dry out and suffer a wee bit of mechanical damage, especially if you use a brush for it.
#3 Protect it during outdoor activities or sports
During certain activities that take part outdoors or simply during sports. I often see women just throw their hair into a messy knot when they make sports and that can cause a lot of tangles in longer hair (it depends a bit on the hairtype). So its important to find a style that works for you and your hair during sports, braids are not bad if your hair is not too long...but the longer it gets, the harder it may be to find a style that works.
I'm afraid I can't offer a universal solution, YOU really have to see what works for you personally.
Then there is the Sun, the beach, a pool...wet hair is more fragile, saltwater and chlorine are bad for your hair, and the sun can act like mild bleach (actual bleach, yes). My hair survived a week in the carribean (St. Lucia) with lots of oil and shade. No problem if you want to let your hair out and enjoy yourself...just don't overdo it. You don't need to swim with your hair down all the time (mermaaiid...yay!)...and well Sun, you should avoid that anyway..but you know that right ;)?
In case you can't avoid the sun, make sure you carry a bandana, hat or even an umbrella...Carribeans do it too! Don't be stupid tourist! :P
Hair oil has a low SPF btw. (SPF 4-8), but if you need more, there is ways to make your own hair mist with micronized zinc oxide. If your hair turns white you have used too much zinc Around 20% should be good.
#4 Learn how to move with long hair
No kidding! You can do that...Some are quite clumsy when it comes to wearing their hair down, mostly because they are not used to it. But you can manage without getting all tangled up in your hair, sitting and stepping on it.
There is ways to move and to sit down where you can get your hair out of the way in a heartbeat. You may think over time it may become really annoying to move your hair out of the way, but truth is..you become used to it. I don't even notice it anymore, its routine, I can even do it in my sleep (really!).
Most of the time its just about grabbing the whole hair and moving it real quick. And before someone asks...the same goes for your hair during S e x.
#5 Protect in when you sleep
Sleeping on your hair can be really bad, I remember one day I woke up and my waist length ends looked all weirdly matted up and tangled..like a different texture. Thats when I knew I had to start wearing it in a better sleeping style. Braids are good, but you can still end up sleeping on the braid, which is not good...depends on your sleeping habits. Some like to drape their loose hair over the pillow and down on the back of the bed, but thats also not for people that turn in their sleep. Then there is sleeping caps....which I think may not be too appealing to your SO, and you will also still sleep on your hair..its just all balled up in there.
My favorite so far has been the high bun, it keeps all hair longer than chin length protected and out of the way, you even wake up with gorgeous loose waves in the morning. The only hard part is getting it to stay. I have tried many things from one big claw clip to hair forks, over small claw clips. Short hair forks (w. lazy wrap bun) I think would work well for hair that is not too slippery or heavy, same goes for big claw clips. What works best for me at the moment is just securing small claw clips all around the bun that I make on top of my head. The clips need to be made a certain way to grip the hair well, I like Scunci "no slip grip" mini clips for thick hair...the longer claws hold better. Use as many as needed. The bun may still loosen up a bit over night but your hair should be pretty protected over all. Whats also good is that you can dress up this bun nicely, make it look pretty...bangs in or out, braid it, coil it different, use different clips etc.
#6 Detangle often
It's simple, if you detangle once in a while you won't have to deal with a load of knots at the end of the day. I'm not shy about it, I carry my comb and when I need it I get it out. People may stare or even think you are just too vain, but just don't give a damn about that. You know what you are doing ;)
If you detangle often it shoud just take a short moment too.
That is the main things I can think of, they are pretty basic, but maybe they help a little, certain topics I may write about more detailed in the future.