I cut about 4 inches off my hair earlier this week, the most I've ever cut off. I've never actually CUT my hair off before - I've always just "dusted" for split ends. After a year of neglecting my hair the damage was so bad that I just had to hack haphazardly and hope for the best. It still has a long way to go before it's back to the good condition I used to keep it in, but it's looking and feeling so much better already.
The henna REALLY helped. My hair is super soft. Here are some long hair tips that are helpful for people who already have long hair or for people who want to grow theirs longer:
Take Biotin. A friend turned me on to this supplement which is derived from brown rice. You can get it on the cheap at Target. The recommended dose for people wanting to achieve longer hair is 5000 mcg a day, which is 5 pills if you're getting the most commonly available size. It helps keep your hair follicles active longer, as well as promoting more active follicles at once. Be warned: It makes ALL of your body hair grown faster, longer and more dense. I normally don't mess with my eyebrows too much unless I'm on Biotin, then they become almost a daily task. Biotin is a B vitamin and is commonly found in prenatal vitamins. I prefer to use just plain Biotin supplements instead of prenatals because the latter do not contain the high doses required for improving hair and nail growth.
Use oil once a week or more. Back when I was taking good care of my hair I used to apply olive oil several hours before I planned to wash my hair. My hair was in the best condition when I did this twice a week. My other favorite oils are Jojoba oil and Monoi oil but they are (or at least they used to be) more expensive. Olive oil can be hard to remove so you kind of need to be willing to have a little oil residue left over after your shower. In fact, this helps prevent further damage from forming. The second wash usually yields soft, shiny, easy to style, healthy hair. Some people flat out do not like using oil for this reason, or will use it but will scrub it out with shampoo, but that sort of defeats the purpose. FYI I have used silicone products before in lieu of oils and while I hear they are better for protecting heat-treated hair than oils for obvious reasons, I prefer to use oil (I don't own a blow-dryer and the only heat that touches my hair is the sun and a tiny flat-iron for my bangs a few times a week).
If you want long hair, dust for split ends, don't trim. I have never set foot in a salon without being attacked by ravenous stylists with itchy scissor fingers. I can't tell you how many times I've heard, "Your hair is so beautiful! You should cut it!" We all have friends that went to the salon for a trim and came back with half their hair missing. Rather than losing my growth to a full trim, I dust for split ends with some good quality scissors meant for hair. If my hair is very damaged I'll give a 1/2 inch snip to the ends which keeps them fairly even. If you want a really even look, enlist the help of a trusted friend. I find dusting to be relaxing, especially in a sunny spot where I can easily see my splits.
Later I'll be posting some product reviews of some commercially available products I use between oil applications. Happy henna-ing!