Do you need a new hairstyle? If you have long hair, it is easy to get into the ponytail rut. Just put it up and go. But long hair offers a lot of hairstyle options if you are going to the prom, having senior pictures or bridal pictures made, going to a wedding, or just needing an updo for a formal party. You do need to know some basics of hair care before getting started with long hairstyles though. Knowing the best way to shampoo, comb, brush, and dry your hair and the tools to use can give you a head start in your hairstyle. First, shampooing long hair is best done standing up, preferably in the shower. This helps reduce matting and tangling. You should choose a shampoo that fits your hair's needs. For instance, chemically treated or damaged hair should be treated with a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner. Only apply shampoo to the scalp and then rub in circular motions to clean the scalp thoroughly. When you rinse, work the shampoo through the ends of your hair and this will also help with less tangles. Your goal is to clean your scalp, so it is not necessary to rub shampoo into the ends of your hair. Use several towels to blot your hair dry. Never rub wet hair because this is a major cause of matting and tangling. Second, combing and brushing long hair can be difficult if you do not use the proper tools and technique. To make combing wet hair easier, start with a leave-in conditioner. Using a large tooth bone comb, start at the ends and work up a little, about an inch at a time, getting the tangles out. If you are working with dry hair, a large paddle brush works best. Again always start at the bottom and slowly work up to the scalp. When blow drying long hair, use your fingers to comb through the hair from scalp to ends while drying. Third, you need a few hair tools on hand to make the perfect hairdo. They include a large comb, square paddle brush, bobby pins, hairpins, and elastic bands. The best elastic bands to use are covered with some type of material. You might not have known there is a difference in bobby pins and hairpins, but using them correctly will help your hairstyle. Bobby pins touch in the middle and are designed to hold the weight of your hair. Hairpins are made to hold hair in place that has already been secured with bobby pins. You can make curls and then spread them and hold them in place with hairpins. There are lots of great hairstyles you can choose once you have mastered the basics and have your hair clean and ready. Braids and updos are perfect hairstyles for proms, senior pictures, bridal pictures, weddings, and formal functions. Many hairstyle professionals can style your clean dry hair in an updo in about 15 minutes. Having long hair doesn't have to mean always wearing a ponytail. Talk with your hairstyle professional about some of the many hairdos that would work for you.