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.
I measured my hair length yesterday and was very surprised to find that it has grown 2 1/2 inches since November! It has exceeded my goal and I didn’t even know it! The tips just reach 37 inches!! I’m so happy! It appears that after my extreme shedding phase, I had an extreme growth spurt. In the past 6 years that I’ve been keeping up with it, my hair has never grown that fast.
So now my new goal length is 40 inches. I cringe as I write that because it seems impossible that I’ll ever be able to reach it. For me, every half inch is worthy of a celebration. As you know, my hair is so dry and the ends are constantly split, no matter what I do. (even when I wear it up daily) I was just about ready to do another microtrim, but now I can’t bring myself to do it. I want to keep my full 37 inches. The longest it’s ever been before now is 35 3/4.
I was doing some reading and found that George Michael, a long hair expert, says that generally women go through shedding phases at 10, 22, 26, 36, and 54 because of hormonal changes due to the aging process. I’m 26 years old. Maybe that explains my 3-month excessive shedding phase. I do have a ton of new hairs though, so hopefully the thickness will get back to normal soon!
My hair has actually been behaving exceptionally well lately. It obviously loves the cold weather! The temperatures have been low enough to be cold outside, but not enough to need much artificial heat inside. We’ve only needed to run our heater at home about 3 days so far this winter because, as usual, it’s been up and down between 20 and 70 degrees. The artificial heat kills my hair! It makes it so dry and static-y. I like it like it is right now. I’m not that much for cold weather anyway….
I trimmed my hair yesterday. I noticed that it was getting very uneven again. One little section on the right in the back grows faster and healthier than the rest. I have no clue why or how this happens. It was more than an inch longer than the rest! So I trimmed it to match, and trimmed the rest of it just a tiny bit (about 1/4 inch or less).
Also, I was pleased to notice that some of the shorter parts are catching up. The top layer has about 3 inches to go before it’s the same length as the under side. I’ve never had my hair layered, but it appears that way because of the severe breakage a few years back. I’ve been gradually trimming the shape into less of a V and more of a U. I want to go gradually to just a little curve. I don’t like it to be completely straight across, just not a deep V.
I started cutting it that way to begin with because the left side was significantly shorter than the rest. (as in this picture) When I discovered how to self-trim in a V or U, I decided to go with it because it would improve the appearance without actually taking off any length.
One other thing….. I have started drying my hair in a different way. I’ve done something similar to this a few times before, not knowing it was an actual technique until I read about it the other day. Ok, I don’t do this every time because it’s still a bit awkward and sometimes I just don’t want to spend the extra time and effort. But it really does make the curls more bouncy and formed. One problem: it seems to amplify the differences in texture as some parts of my hair curl up tighter than others. When I dry it this way, the corkscrew parts curl really tight and then the parts that are only wavy look out of place. Maybe I’ll be able to perfect the technique. I’m still working on it.
I’m pleased to report that the shedding has greatly decreased over these past two weeks and I’m finding quite a bit of new growth. Yay!! Also, my allergies have stopped bothering me so much and I’ve been able to wear my hair up without any headaches. Yay again!
I bought some castile soap this weekend to experiment with it as a shampoo. I’ll let you know what I think about it. I also came across a book of recipes for natural hair and skin care and couldn’t pass up a good deal. I hope to get a chance soon to try some new stuff and maybe find some new favorite recipes.
To measure the length of your hair…… Place the end of the tape measure at the front hairline. Lay the tape across the top of the head and let it fall down the back. Note where the hair length ends. It’s easier if you have a friend to help you.
This may not be the most accurate way to measure the actual length, but it’s the most consistent way which is important if you’re trying to mark your hair’s growth.
My hair’s not doing so great lately. I’ve been shedding like crazy for the past couple of months. I can tell the difference in the thickness, which is kinda scary. I’ve started doing a nettle tea rinse regularly because nettles are supposed to stimulate the scalp and help new hair growth. Hopefully this is only a phase that will pass soon!
Also, the ends of my hair began to feel like straw because they were so dried out and full of splits. I couldn’t stand it any longer, so I trimmed it about an inch. It probably needed more, but that’s all I could bear to part with. The length is now at 34 1/2 inches. (click here to see how I measure my hair) I ran out of shea butter and I need to get some more really bad. I’ve been using sweet almond oil in the mean time. It’s just not the same. And my hair is suffering for it.
On top of that, this is a really major allergy season for me, particularly indoor allergies. This means lots of sinus headaches, which means not wearing my hair up in any way because it makes the headaches worse. So it’s either wear my hair up and protect it and have a headache, or leave it down to be wind-whipped and dried out and relieve my headache. Can’t win for losing.