My hair is very long. It comes down to about 4″ above where my pants sit, and I’m 5’9 with a long torso… if that gives you an idea. It’s straight and very thick.
I’ve tried lots of shampoos and conditioners, but my favorite is Herbal Essences. The shampoos aren’t too drying and the conditioners smell amazing and make my hair very moisturized (which helps prevent damage and breakage). I wash every 2-3 days and condition every single time I get my hair wet, usually 5-7 times a week.
Every time after I wash and/or condition my hair, I spray it *generously* with detangler, then with a hair heat protectant and follow up with 7-8 pumps of leave-in conditioner. The amount of what you use will depened on how much hair you have, obviously. As for detangler, I use whatever I can find at Walmart–usually it’s a kids brand. I love love love the Got2b Guardian Angel 425° F Heat Protect spray. For leave-in conditioner, again, I love the Herbal Essences stuff–they used to make a “long hair care relationship” leave-in that came in a red bottle, but they apparently have discontinued it. I was devastated. Sometimes I can find it on eBay. But thank god they came out with another one “split end protector” which is pretty much the exact same thing.
All the products I use are inexpensive and easy to find. These are just my personal favorites. There are millions. 😉 The important things are to keep your hair moisturized, and protect it from heat–heat includes the sun, so use your heat spray every sing day no matter what. Your hair suffers from friction, too, so using the detangler is important. It’s like a little lube for your hair when you wear it down, lol. Of course it helps for brushing it out after a shower.
A few other things: if you’re color-treating your hair, consider not. I stopped dyeing my hair 3 years ago and I miss the lighter color, yes, but my hair is so smooth and shiny and healthy; I’ll take that over a fried blonde any day. Get some nice sharp hair scissors like your hairdresser does (not the ones you use at home), and once a week or so, go on a search and destroy mission for split ends. Cut about 1/4″ past the split end. This will keep them from spreading more. Of course, the more healthy your hair is, the less you will get, but this process could take many months or years depending. Wear your hair in a bun when you sleep; this will prevent friction more. Wearing it in a bun during the day helps protect it too when you’re trying to grow it out. Buns are your friend! Using a deep conditioner a few times a month is also a good idea. And cut down on as much as you can on heat products.
I’ve never used it, but biotin is supposed to be good for strengthening hair/nails. Keep in mind, though, it will only help new growth, not existing hair or nails. Good luck!!
P.S. From my personal experience, I haven’t found any difference when I’ve used the expensive salon products vs. the “nicer” brands at Walmart or drugstores. I’ve sampled lots of stuff over the years and have had wonderful results with the mainstream brands.