Anyone that knows me, knows that my hair changes frequently. Over the past year, my hair has gone from light brown to blonde to red to now dark brown and purple. To say my hair has been every color in the book is completely an understatement. With all of this change, most of which was not done gently, my hair has taken a beating. Even more recently, infertility treatments have taken an even bigger toll.
So, over the past several years, I have done heavy research on proper hair care techniques, tips, and tricks. Some have worked others have flopped. I thought I would share some of my insights. I’ll preface all of this by saying, I am not a hair care professional. All of this is my opinion so take it as you will.
Reevaluate your hair products.
When I started really digging into why my hair was so unhealthy, I took a look at what I was using on my hair. I did quite a bit of research about the “No-Poo” way of life. As promising as it sounded, after about two months of trying it out, it wasn’t for me. My hair wasn’t surviving the transition. The drastic change left my hair incredibly brittle and there was not enough coconut oil and other deep conditioning treatments in the world that could keep my hair afloat.
When I finally threw in the towel, I decided to breakup with sulfates instead. Sulfates like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are the chemicals that give shampoo the satisfying bubbles and suds we’ve all come to love. They also are what get your hair all squeaky clean. So why ditch them? In most cases, the get your hair TOO clean. They can strip your hair of its natural oils that it needs to be healthy causing dandruff, scalp irritation, breakages, etc. They also wreak havoc on colored hair. Sulfate free shampoos like these are some of the best. I personally use L’Oreal Ever Pure Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner.
Choosing the best conditioner for your hair type is crucial. If your hair is thinner, a very heavy deep conditioner will do more hair than good. Lightweight conditioners or even just a spray leave-in are your best bet. For more dry and damaged hair, a deeper more nourishing is necessary. Deep conditioning treatments are for added conditioning are should be used as a regular conditioner. When my hair was more damaged, I was doing a deep conditioning treatment like coconut oil or Hask Argan Oil Deep Conditioner , every other wash. Now I am doing them about monthly.
To better protect my hair, I also invested in a good leave-in conditioner. Leave-in conditioners provide additional moisture and protection to your hair. They are also good for people with thin hair to use in place of normal conditioners if they leave your hair feeling too heavy. After reading a lot of reviews, I chose It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-in Plus Keratin. It also acts as a heat protectant which I love about it. This is the most expensive part of my hair routine at about $30 for a bottle however it does last me about six months.
Lastly, I use a type of hair oil/gloss. I have used argon oils in the past and while I liked them, I felt like for my hair they built up too quickly after a couple days leaving my hair stringy at the ends. When it comes to oils/glosses that I put on my hair, they need to do three things. I want them to absorb into my hair, nourishing my ends and strengthening them. They also need to add additional protection to heat styling products. Lastly, they have got to give my hair that healthy shine we all love. I currently use Kenra Silkening Gloss, which does all three like a champ. To get it at the best price I get through Amazon’s Subscribe and Save. A new bottle shows up on my door step ever four months so I never go without. Eventually I will transition to something with less silicones (when I get brave enough to stop using them) in it but for now this is my go to.
I do use other products too like a dry shampoo, mousse, hairspray, and molding paste, but I use them VERY lightly and don’t hair too much effect on my hair’s health.
Reevaluate the frequency you wash your hair.
How often do you wash your hair? For me, I only wash my hair one to two times per week. I even have specific days that I have set that I wash my hair. It’s usually Wednesday and Saturday nights. If I hit Wednesday night and my hair still feels clean then it usually does not get touched until Saturday. I’m crazy, I know. Why do I do this? Because for my hair, it is what it needs. If I were to wash my hair more frequently, my scalp would overcompensate by flooding my hair with an excess of oils making my hair greasy and sprouting a plethora of zits along my hairline. For most people, this seems like impossible to go so long between washers. Trust me, I felt the same way once. I used to be an every other day and sometimes an everyday washer. I loved my hair feeling clean and fresh. I justified it because I had “greasy hair.”
Did you know that a good chunk of people with “greasy hair” are actually not washing their hair properly? Over washing strips your hair of its oils, so your scalp overcompensates by producing more and more. Hair needs a certain amount of oils to stay healthy and strong but too much leads to unsightly grease ball hair.
For those who want to start washing your hair less, it does take time to reassure your scalp that you are starting to be kind to it. When I started my transition, I went from every other day to every third day. I did this transition before dry shampoos were a thing and I would suggest doing it without the aid of them as much as possible. Think of it this way, you are trying to convince your body that it is producing too much oil, if you use a dry shampoo that absorbs the oils then your body will just keep on producing more. Pretty counter-intuitive if you think about it, right? Look into ways to hide your transition with certain hairstyles, thick headbands, or hats if needed. Like I’ve said, it takes time and A LOT of patience.
Are you washing your hair incorrectly?
I don’t doubt that all of us know how to wash our hair, after all it’s not rocket science, but have you actually stopped to think about what each step affects your hair?
Shampooing your hair is the step that is meant to clean any excess oil, dirt, and product build up. If you are like me and use styling products sparingly, the main focus of your shampooing should be on your scalp. Think of it this way; if you are cleaning your house you do not spend equal amounts of time, effort, and cleaning supplies in each room. Rooms like the bathroom and kitchen which get messier, need more cleaning attention. The same is for your hair. Most of us do not need to apply any shampoo from the middle to the end of our hair because they are not as dirty. The only shampoo that touches my ends if the what washes down it when my hair is rinsed. My scalp on the other hand gets scrubbed thoroughly.
Conditioner is meant to do just that, it’s meant to condition, soften, and nourish your hair. With conditioner, it should only be applied to your actual hair NOT your scalp. If you have a dry scalp, conditioners are not your solution. Specific scalp treatments are your best solution. Applying conditioner to your scalp could also be a big factor if you have greasy hair. Also, give your conditioner enough time to actually penetrate your hair. My best practice is to apply conditioner liberally and clip it into a bun while I finish showering and then rinse it out at the very end of my shower. This gives my hair long enough to soak all it needs to from my conditioner before rinsing.
Not rinsing your hair adequately can also do more hair than good. The purpose of washing your hair is to do just that, wash it. If you are not rinsing out your shampoo and conditioner enough, they will leave build up on your hair causing your hair to feel heavy, greasy, and even dirty. You should rinse your hair until you cannot feel any of it left. After shampooing, I rinse for about a minute and conditioning about 30-45 seconds. If you have thick hair, rinsing your hair in sections helps make sure you’ve rinsed properly.
The way you dry your hair can be causing a TON of damage. Using your regular towel to dry your hair is big cause of frizz and static with your hair. Microfiber towels are some of the best for your hair. They are softer and gentler. However, if you are a cheapskate like me; an old t-shirt is your best bet for drying your hair. What I do, is gently squeeze excess water out of my hair. DO NOT wring your hair like a towel or rub it between anything – that will break your hair. If my hair it still dripping heavily, it will carefully use a towel to get my hair to stopping gushing water down my back then grab an old t-shirt to do the rest. Since I’m usually allowing my hair to airdry, I pull my hair up with the shirt (like you would with a towel) until it is damp.
The last step in washing my hair, is applying hair products. I apply my leave in conditioner, a small amount of mousse (on my roots and mid shaft), then oil – in that order when it damp. Applying them when your hair is super wet, is just a waste of product and will mostly come out of your hair while it dries. I give the leave-in conditioner at least a full minute to soak it while finger combing it to evenly distribute it throughout my hair before applying anything else. Overusing products can also be the reason your hair feels dirty sooner. Leave-in conditioners should allow your hair to feel soft and easily untangled but not slimy. Products like mousse or gel should allow your hair to hold your style and not make it feel heavy, crispy, or hard. Oils and glosses should be applied sparingly and mainly on you ends; hair should feel soft not oily.
Invest in alternate ways to style your hair.
My name is Kayt and I am a heat styling addict. I use some type of heat styling product on my hair at least five days a week. Horrible, I know. That is why I do so much to care and protect my hair. However, I am making strides to be more and more friendly to my hair in the way I style it.
The first step I took was to eliminate blow-drying my hair. By allowing my hair to air dry then style it, cut the amount of heat applied to my hair by half. When my hair is longer, I allow it to dry overnight. If it is damp in the morning (and I’m not in a rush for time) I put my hair up in large Velcro curlers for it to dry. This allows my hair to dry straighter and smoother than when I air dry, cutting down on the amount of heat styling even more. One product I am dying to try are the Sleep Stylers and when I do, I will definitely write a review on them. You can also try different no heat ways to style your hair like these ideas.
Learn when you can just touch up your hair and the right temperatures to use. If your hair looks halfway decent only touch up the other half. There’s no point to redo every inch of your hair if parts of it still look decent. Even better it the bottom portion of your hair still looks good, just pull the top half up. The top parts of your hair that are more predominant receive the most heat damage because those are the parts we all obsess over making them look perfect. Invest in styling tools that allow for temperature adjustment. Touching up a curl requires less heat then initially curling it. Start with a lower temperature and adjust if needed. You’ll be surprised how “cool” you can style your hair with.
Switch up your hairstyles. If you do your hair the exact way every day, you are doing the same damage over and over to the same parts of your hair. If you wear your hair down every day, try adding at least one day with an up do. YouTube tutorials are a huge help to learning new styles. They take practice but are worth it. When in doubt, ponytails and braids are always a good bet.
Invest in your hair.
My best advice I can give anyone with regards to their hair is to find a good hairstylist. Hairstylists are about a dime a dozen and a poorly trained one can decimate your hair in one go. I speak from experience, DO NOT do anything drastic with your hair with a hairstylist you don’t have experience with. You are asking for trouble. Also, if you do not trust your hairstylist, don’t go to them. Your hairstylist should be knowledgeable, keep up on trends, and is constantly expanding their knowledge. I am blessed with a wonderful hairstylist that plays along with all of my changes and cautions me when I am pushing my hair too much.
Even if you are someone who doesn’t color or style your hair, you still need a trim regularly. The frequency all depends on your hair. I currently get my hair cut every five to six weeks. Like I’ve said, my hair takes a beating and needs trimmed often. If you are worried about cutting too much length off with your trims, ask your hairstylist for a dusting. Dustings are when run parallel down small sections of hair, lightly trimming split ends while leaving you length untouched.
If you want A-lister hair then prepare to pay the A-lister prices. Well not always. Invest in haircare products that have heaps of good reviews. Not all expensive products are worthy the hype; however, some are. That’s where research comes in. Also, not all products will be beneficial to your hair. A good person to ask about products will be your hairstylist. They will (hopefully) recommend products that will be good for your specific hair type and not just ones that are being sold at the salon.
Along with good haircare products, the tools you use on your hair can also be helpful or detrimental to your hair. Brands like GHP and CHI, are some of my favorites though you will pay a pretty penny for them. Recently I purchased a GVP (Generic Value Product) blow-dryer and flat iron from Sally Beauty Supply store and for the price I think they are pretty comparable. GHP and CHI are probably still better, but for not paying over $150 I’m pretty happy with them. When buying a new styling tools, do your homework. There are so many factors to consider and not all tools are good for all hair. Thicker and more coarse hair needs higher temperatures than fine hair. Since you will hopefully be buying these every five years or so, it’s best to splurge a little.
Vitamins can play a big role in the health of your hair. Omega 3, 6, and 9 are all great for your hair. They are said to increase strength, shine, and length. My favorite brand is Barleans Total Omega Swirl in Orange Cream. Biotin and prenatal vitamins are also said to benefit your hair. Both of which I take. I take the prenatal and omegas for my infertility and not for my hair. Now since taking these, my hair has become stronger and healthier but I have also made the majority of the changed I have talked about as well. So, whether they work miracle; the jury is still out for me.
In conclusion, I’m not an expert. These are all just things I have learned in my journey from fried hair to on the verge of healthy hair. I am always exploring new tips and tricks in attempt to not only better my hair but to also improve my health.
Have any tips, tricks, or advice that you’ve learned, comment below.