I am dedicating this blog post to hair growth and restoration, my hair history, everything I’ve heard of and tried, and what I’ve found to be the most beneficial and effective.
I AM NOT AN EXPERT BY ANY MEANS
MY HAIR STORY
I was a little blondie when I was young and I loved it. Unfortunately, when I was in 2nd and 3rd grade, my hair darkened to a mousy, dishwater blonde that I thought was hideous on me. I have no idea what made me think blondes ruled the universe, but I did. So when I was about 12, my mom, probably worn down from my constant badgering, let me get highlights. Did this appease me? Hell no. It created a monster; “I want to go lighter, I want to go blonder”, I said until November of 2017.
I was 12 nearly 8 years ago, and in the past 8 years, 12 year olds have burst from the frumpy caccoons of my 12 year old days. I bet the pre-teens of 2017 will make the most incredible MUAs and hair stylists society has ever seen, as they’re already so talented and knowledgeable! I, on the other hand-very other hand, thought nothing about a “hair routine” and definitely nothing about a “hair care routine”.
I have, and have always had, naturally straight hair, yet I straightened the crap out of it. Especially my bangs-they needed 2 straightener rounds per every half straightener round on the rest of my hair. I mean, the crispier the hair, the easier to keep in place, right?
I’d say my best move of all was straightening my hair while it was wet. Oh yes, I did that, and I did it with a dirt-cheap flat iron.
Meet my 2011 hair. And my braces. Most importantly, my hair:
Thankfully, my hair stylist is my cousin, so she was really able to knock some sense into me. She provided me with Redken shampoo and conditioner, a Redken argon oil, and a USmooth flat iron. That being said, I didn’t truly start reviving my hair until early 2015. The horrid crispy hair was grown out and less crispy by this time, but I needed to show my hair some TLC if I wanted it to grow long, healthy, and strong.
With 2015 came an obsession with long hair-like, to-the-waist-long. So I got some clip-in extensions and focused on growing my actual hair.So, here are all the tips, hacks, and strategies I’ve heard, read about, and tried for myself in the past 2 years.
One of the first things I did was cut back on washing my hair. Everyone will tell you this tip, and for good reason. I personally feel that this tip is the most important and most ignored one. As you’ve probably heard a million-and-a-half times, washing your hair daily is horrible for it. Contrary to what some say, you’re not disgusting if your hair isn’t squeaky-clean on a daily basis.
Washing your hair strips it of its natural oils, which leads to a dry scalp and dry hair. Dry hair means more breakage, more split ends, and more fragility. A dry scalp leads to dandruff, itching, irritation, and overcompensation-more oil production than necessary. With this, constant washing leads to constant product application and heat styling. While you may wash your hair to remove product buildup, you’re ultimately applying way more product by washing, drying, and styling it so often.
Frequent washing also causes color to fade and shine to dull. If your hair is colored and/or toned, your hair stylist will most likely tell you to avoid washes if you want the color, especially the toner, to last. The dullness relates back to the oils: stripping your hair of its oils will strip away its natural shine. There is a difference between shine and grease.
You are also wasting money, water, product, and time by washing your hair daily. None of these points really require further elaboration, so I’ll move on to styling. Styling freshly washed hair can be a nightmare. Slick, untexturuzed hair is not the most cooperative hair; it slips from hair ties and pins, it does not hold in a braid, and it doesn’t always hold the most volume. I prefer working with “dirty” hair over ripping at my hair with a teasing comb or spraying it into place with stiff, alcohol-laden hairsprays.
Oil: I am fortunate enough to not produce a lot of oil; my skin and hair do not get oily quickly at all, so cutting back on washing was not difficult for me. Truly, the less you wash your hair, the more trained it becomes, which leads to less grease over time. While transitioning, invest in some nice dry shampoo and try braided styles to hide oil.
I currently wash my hair 1-2 times a week-3 at the most-and I have no shame. I’m not nasty, I’m just promoting healthy hair.
MY MAJOR WASHING TIPS:
- Stop lathering your hair from roots to ends with shampoo. Only apply a small amount to your scalp and roots and massage gently. The ends of your hair are the most fragile and the least oily, so they do not need a deep cleanse. You’ll be saving a lot of product as well.
- Conditioner is practically the opposite, especially if you have very oily hair. I do not have oily hair, so I apply conditioner from roots to ends, focusing mostly on the ends, and let it sit until the end of my shower. For oily hair, I’d suggest focusing most of the product on the ends of the hair and working up gradually, applying the least amount to your roots.
- I also suggest rinsing hair with cooler water, as high temperatures are damaging and drying.
- Wash your hair no more than 4 times a week.
The obvious tip for drying your hair is to lay off the blow dryer. Blow dryers are the most damaging tool you can use on your hair. If you’re in a major hurry and need the blow dryer, it is suggested to never use the hottest setting. Use cool air if you can and avoid using a hair brush that will heat up from the dryer and damage your hair more. The suggested technique is to hold the nozzle at a downward angle(to prevent frizz), move the dryer from side to side over the hair, and hold the dryer a decent distance away from your head.
For a while, I would sit in front of my electric fireplace at home to dry my hair, which seemed less damaging than blow drying, but it was still drying out and cooking my hair.
The ideal option is letting your hair air dry after your showers, preferably not when you sleep. Hair is most fragile when it’s wet and some sheet material can cause breakage and static. You also toss and turn, which is not great for delicate wet hair.
- Stop wringing your wet hair out with all your might. You want to be super gentle with wet hair; pat it dry with a towel. I’ve even been told a tshirt is better.
- Stop twisting freshly washed hair into a towel. Again, it’s very damaging.
- Don’t pull wet hair back into ponytails or tight buns.
- Do not use a hair brush on wet hair!! Only use a wide-tooth comb or wet brush.
I’m not a snob when it comes to durgsgore products, but some cheaper hair products will do more damage than good to your hair. Some drugstore shampoos containing lathering ingrediants and sulfates strip hair of color and oils. They will often dry hair out and cause severe damage. They also often leave a gross, waxy feeling to the hair that I despise. I feel like any time I use Pantene, Suave, or Treseme, my hair either feels like hay or like I just coated it in wax.
PRODUCTS TO AVOID
- Alcohol: often found in hairspray. It dries the crap out of your hair. It often sucks all the moisture right out.
- Silicone: while it may give hair the appearance of smoothness, that’s all it is- the appearance. It actually coats hair and seals off folicles from absorbing moisture and nourishment.
- Parabens: the real evil. They are inherently toxic to some human cells and can be absorbed through the skin.
- Salt: the sad truth is that salt sprays are insanely drying to your hair. I learned this one myself two summers ago and have avoided them ever since.
- Heat proctectant(?): This is controversial, but I am not the most supportive of heat protectant. I owned one heat protectant(44 Chi Iron Gaurd Protection Spray) and I noticed even more damage when using it; I felt that it made my hair feel very tacky, damp, and heavily-coated. When I straightened my hair after applying this, it would sizzle and steam like nobody’s business and still feel waxy afterwards. In fact, it felt more dry and damaged afterwards. I’ve read that applying heat protectant spray and/or oil to the hair before heat styling is actually prepping the hair to get cooked and fried. I do not hear style my hair, therefore I do not use heat protectant, so it’s something to look into for yourself. I feel like everyone says to use it, so what do I know?
My suggestion is to get all products from professionals. I use the following:
- Redken Diamond Oil Shampoo
- Redken Diamond Oil Conditioner
- Redken Diamond Oil argon oil
Dare I say it…cocoanut oil.
I believed it, fell for it, did it. I’d lather my head in cocoanut oil once a week and let it sit in my hair overnight. When I washed it out, my hair would feel nice, smooth and thick, but that was it. I noticed no long term benefits whatsoever. None. It did not truly repair damage, it didn’t make my hair grow magically, nor did it thicken my hair. I’ve been told by some stylists that it works, some say it works only for some people, and a stylist with enough skill, experience, and knowledge to charge $50 for a hair cut informed me that it’s mostly a myth. He told me it doesn’t really absorb into the follicle enough to truly make a difference; it’s only temporary since it sits on the follicle. It does make your hair feel and look smooth, thick, and shiny but the effect is gone after a wash. For hair repair, he suggests mixing a bit of moroccan oil with your conditioner and letting it sit in your hair for 5 minutes before washing.
I think I’ll test the Moroccan oil treatment throughout one month and then the cocoanut oil treatments throughout the next to give both a fair opportunity.
This one is kind of just annoying. It seems a bit overboard, but It’s also easily forgotten. In order for your hair to be healthy, you need to be healthy. Eating a balanced diet promotes a healthy body, healthy enzymes, healthy cells and so on which promotes…you guessed it: healthy hair! As equally annoying is hydration. To ensure that your locks stay nourished and lustrous, you need to be sure you’re hydrated enough. If your body is a desert, your hair is, too. It is suggested that we all drink 64oz. of water a day, which I successfully do maybe twice a month if I’m playing myself up.
VITAMINS AND NUTRIENTS
- Vitamin A: important for all cell growth in the body. Also helps produce oily substance that keeps hair moisturized.
- B vitamins: Biotin and B-12 are the best known vitamins for hair. With that, B vitamins help produce red blood cells which carry oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.
- Vitamin C: helps produce collagen, which is an important part of hair structure. Vitamin C also helps the body absorb iron.
- Vitamin D: known to play a role in hair production.
- Vitamin E: antioxidant that reduces oxidant stress and helps hair growth.
- Iron: carries red blood cells throughout the body. Iron deficiency is a leading cause of hair loss.
- Zinc: plays important role in hair growth and repair, along with maintung oil gland function.
- Protein: all that needs to be said is that hair is made almost entirely of protein.
This does not mean you should run out and purchase supplements containing all these vitamins and nutrients; food is the best source of all. However, if you are deficient already, supplements would have been a good ideayesterday.
If you are vegan or vegetarian like myself, supplements are a great idea. Vegans and vegetarians can often miss out on protein, iron, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin B, and vitamin D.
This category includes both heat tools and regular styling, as they can both be damaging to your hair. I think we all know very well what heat does to the hair, so it’s not very necessary for me to say that nobody should blow dry and curl/straighten their hair with heat anywhere near the amount we do. It’s ideal to reduce your heat styling to only once or twice a week and to keep the heat below 375 degrees.
The less obvious damage comes from styles such as:
- Tight ponytails every day: These are damaging because hair ties can grip too tightly and cause fraying to your hair when it’s thrown up into thia style too often. If you can’t resist a tight bun or pony all the time, opt for a fabric hair tie like a scrunchie.
- Tight braids: Yikes. Pulling hair into tight braids can lead to splitting, breaking, folicile damage, and hair loss. The tugging of the braid can pull hair from the root or just cause intense stress that leads to hair loss. I am a braid lover, however, I stick to very loose, pulled-out braids.
- Wet styles: Like the others, this can cause breakage, split ends and hair loss. If dry ponytails can be damaging, imagine what wet ones do since we know wet hair is much more fragile than dry hair.
- Sleeping with a bun or ponytail: Again, these are damaging regularly, so they’re much worse when you’re rolling around at night, causing friction and pulling at your roots. It’s best to sleep with your hair down at night.
So there you have it. That’s all my non-expert advice on hair.