everything I've learned about growing, maintaining, styling, and loving long hair

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long hair problems…

You know you have lots of hair when you’re going for this…. image and you end up looking more like Princess Leia. image

hair growth

IMG_0184This is what it looked like last time I trimmed my hair.  It has never, I repeat… NEVER, looked like this before.

My hair has always been somewhat thick, but always naturally tapered drastically.  I end up with more hair on the floor when I trim my bangs than I do when I trim my hemline.  That’s the way it’s always been.  As long as I can remember.

And did I mention the 8 inches I trimmed off last year to maintain length?

Pregnancy has been kind to my hair. :)

no-poo success

So I’ve been doing the baking soda and vinegar routine for about a month and a half now.  I can’t tell you how impressed I’ve been!  I didn’t have any transition phase.  I haven’t used “normal” shampoo on a regular basis for years, so my scalp really had nothing new to adjust to.  My hair feels soooooo much better!!  It also looks considerably better, as you can see from the photos.  The curls are coming back, it’s shiny, it feels soft and healthy.

image  image

I finally bit the bullet and ordered some good shampoo and conditioner.  I’m not sure yet how I want to continue….. stick to no-poo for a while?….. switch back to shampoo and conditioner?….. use a combination of both?  I’m undecided.

product troubles

If you’ve read much of my past blog, you probably know that my biggest complaint is finding a shampoo or conditioner I love……. and then they change it.  And the hunt for the right product starts all over again.  The past few years, things have been up in the air with products for me, never quite settling on one I love.  And in the process, using my husband’s Pantene in between.  😝

I finally settled (as in, I bought it more than once) on one my hair mostly likes, but it’s about $8 a bottle, and I can only get it online. (No stores around here carry it.) But money got tight, and I stopped ordering it. I used Pantene for a few months, just because we already had it, but my hair felt gross and got really tangled on the under side (a result of cones).  So, I stripped my hair and tried another product.  It’s organic, no cones, cheaper than the one I order, and I can get it in local stores.  However, after using it for a couple of weeks, my hair feels like it’s coated in wax!

So……. with all that, my hair is not in good shape.  It’s limp and heavy, it waves instead of curls, it frizzes as it dries, etc.  The only time I wear it down is when I flat iron it. 🙁  I seriously need a change.

Last week, I decided to get real basic and try the baking soda & vinegar routine.  I’m giving up shampoo and conditioner entirely for the time being.  I can already tell a difference after only one wash!!  I won’t be doing this long-term because I’ve heard it can be damaging.  I’m just hoping to get rid of all the build-up and get my hair back into decent shape.

On the up side though… my hair is thicker and growing faster than it ever has before!  (I’m sure it’s due to pregnancy hormones, since I just had my second child.)  I trimmed off a total of about 8 inches last year to maintain my length.  8 inches in 1 year!!!  How exciting is that?! 😊

Here is a video showing the baking soda & vinegar wash routine.

 

oil vs water

Years ago, when I first began my hair journey, I quickly discovered that some of the widely accepted and practiced methods for growing long healthy straight hair did NOT work for me at all.  In fact, sometimes it made it worse.  One of those practices is stretching the time between washes (as in, don’t get your hair wet in the shower) so the natural oils will have a chance to soak in.  Another is to apply oil to the ends of the hair where the natural oils never get a chance to reach.  I tried this for a few months.  It made my hair look and feel awful.  What I hadn’t yet learned was that curly hair is generally dehydrated by nature, and that my hair actually NEEDED the water I had been depriving it of in the shower.  I do try to shampoo only once a week or less, and I use a gentle shampoo, to keep from stripping away all the natural oils on my scalp and hair.  But I still get it wet, even when I don’t wash it.  Doing this improved the health significantly.

This article does a good job of explaining why.


Written by Jonathan Torch, owner of Curly Hair Solutions

At the base of every hair on every human, there is a gland that secretes a waxy material called sebum. The sebum is essential for supplying nutritious minerals to the follicle that moisturize and protect the skin and hair. The sebum has a tiny molecular weight that allows for deeper penetration and absorption of these minerals without blocking or clogging any other pores and cuticles – and to make it even better, the sebum evaporates without any residue.

When it comes to oils and our hair, we have had quite a long track record of using them! All around the world, humans have been using and bathing in oils; to try and replenish the missing moisture that preserves youthful glow and energy. Cleopatra, the infamous Queen of Egypt, was constantly in search of a more miraculous oil to preserve her beauty. The more exotic the oil, the bigger the price tag, and therefore, the more in demand it was. It was seen and believed to be cosmetic elixir.

To this day, oils are still extremely popular in hair care and therapy. Sales of oil-based products continue to grow every year, as more and more exotic and potent oils enter the beauty industry – and it`s completely understandable, as the benefits of oil on hair are so easy to notice. In particular, the look and feel of soft, shiny, and supple hair is most appealing to everybody who uses oils.

When I started to focus on naturally curly hair as my specialty, it became increasingly obvious to me that while oils make the exterior of hair look beautiful, there is a tremendous difference in the quality of the hair when comparing oil-based products and water-based products. My focus was on the end results: Style Management is incredibly easier to have when there is absolutely no silicone or oils coating the hair. Water is the healthiest moisturizer in the world – it is what makes up our atmosphere, it is what our bodies are made of, and it is an integral part of the hair. Water is essential to life, and hair automatically responds as a natural moisture magnet – it sucks up all the moisture it can, particularly when water is involved.

By understanding this common-sense fact, it became obvious that eliminating oils from the styling process makes it far easier to moisturize and style hair. Oil and water do not mix. While they both have their proper roles and benefits, they are very far apart in what they do. Oils act as a lubricator, cosmetically softening – and weighing down – the hair. When there`s a coating surrounding the hair, it becomes very difficult for each hair to group with other hairs to make a beautiful curl or a ringlet. Because of this effect, any movement to the hair causes flyaway hairs, essentially encouraging frizz. On the other hand, water fills the hair cuticle, encouraging grouping and joining of each hair, and this automatically creates a frizz-free curl. Water works every time in every scenario of curl formation in all weather conditions – and it`s the most natural thing I could base my products on.

length update

Here’s the latest pic of my hair.

IMG_7730a

IMG_7733aAfter taking this photo, I realized that there’s not enough contrast to see the ends very well.  So I took another one wearing a white robe.

You know, it really is a good idea to take pics every so often.  So many times I start thinking that I’m not making any progress, and then I look back and realize I really am!  All this time I’ve been thinking about how much my hair has suffered the past year during this total lack of attention.

Then I compare it to this pic, —> taken about a year and a half before.  My hair looked pretty sad back then.  Much better now, in spite of everything.

The roots have flattened out quite a bit and I’m not getting as much volume.  Part of that is lack of trying, but a lot is due to the length weighing it down.  Even when I put out a lot of effort to get volume at the top like I used to have, it just doesn’t happen.

post-pregnancy update

As far as my hair is concerned, I have good news and bad news.

The bad news is that I’ve allowed myself to settle into the terrible damaging habit of wearing the same hair style every day (and even at night).  I recently began noticing the results of that – lots of broken hairs around my hairline.  I’m trying to break that habit before I do some serious damage.  Also, because I’m wearing my hair up 95% of the time these days, my curls aren’t looking so great.  Which makes me just put it up again because it looks bad.  Ah, the vicious circle………

The good news is my shedding is drastically reduced!  During my pregnancy (especially the first trimester) I was shedding by the handfuls.  With each wash, I would end up with a wad of hair that looked like large mouse.  Now, I can literally count the hairs!  Like an average of 5 or 6 hairs come out with each wash.  That’s crazy!  I’ve never had so little fall-out!  I hope my body is building back all the thickness I lost during pregnancy.

From the bit of research I did online, I found that I’m in the minority concerning the hair loss.  Most women will experience thicker healthier hair due to increased estrogen, then will experience a massive fall-out after delivery when the hormones go back to their non-pregnant levels.  Some sources suggested hair loss during pregnancy may be a result of morning sickness not allowing you to get sufficient vitamins and nutrition.  Other sources said it could be a thyroid issue.  I experienced both of these.  (my doctor believes I may have pregnancy-induced hypothyroidism)  So I guess that could explain it?

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