tresses update

WEEK SIX (at the start)

“Am I still really doing this thing?” I think that about every two weeks. It’s turned into a stupid obsession, which I hate. To be fair, I think my hair was an obsession before, just in a much more subtle time consuming way. I just didn’t think about it. I don’t want to be this much into my hair. I hate how much I think about it and talk about it. I have to remind myself that, this is a process with the eventual result of not having to care much at all about it. I mean, among other materialistic things, that is a major goal.

When you think you understand a thing after thirty+ years of having it, only to realize that you don’t at all, it’s just weird. This is a girl’s plight. I don’t think I know any guy who would care this much about it and they shouldn’t. No one should, really. Count this as just another thing I feel like I should have gotten out of the way back around age thirteen and yet (tragically?) seem to be caught up in just now.

I used to brush my abuela’s hair when I was little. She would come to visit in the summertime and I didn’t speak any spanish. She didn’t speak any english. She would sit in front of me and hand me a brush and make the motion for me to brush her hair. Strange how brush strokes and fingertips and nearness connected us, where language couldn’t. Taking a brush to my hair today, reminded me of that. Her hair felt like this. 

This waxy but clean feeling in my hair is driving me mad. I go through moments of loving what’s going on with this hair to straight up hating it. All in the span of one day, I am a roller coaster of loving and loathing it. I have hope and cannot wait to stop this obsession. 

Obviously the loving is winning out over the loathing, or I would have caved in to shampoo. So the PROS: WAY more body (volume) in my hair, without me even trying. Even though showering is quite the process, it’s the only process. My hair dries so much quicker than it ever has. When I’m not hating up on it, my hair is definitely smoother and softer. The best part – no product.

With the pro, comes the CONS: The waxy feeling. Could be hard water. Could be a part of transition. Whatever it is, it sucks. What was true of yesterday’s process, may not be true of today’s. Things that I thought were cool with my hair (as if it is it’s own entity) are not so even just two weeks later. That whole coconut milk + aloe vera thing? Can’t do it anymore. Unbelievably greasy hair the last two times I tried it. In fact, right now, I’m considering scratching it all and sticking to water only washing. Also, I broke down and bought a true boar bristle brush today. Finger-combing is nice and all, but I’m not sure I’m really working all the sebum down from the top of my head to the ends, plus it’s time consuming with the length of my hair. My hair feels so different from when I first started this thing, that maybe it can handle being actually brushed at this point? I don’t know. We’ll see. 

At this point, there’s one thing I know for sure. I can’t boldly state that I can follow one specific regimen over another. I really hope sooner rather than later, I will be able to. Hair is annoying to focus this much time and energy thinking about. 

Picture update:

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(taken today) While I’ve been steering clear of any blow dryer or iron of any sort for weeks now, I broke down and used the blow dryer with a diffuser two days ago and have been shocked at the extra body and lack of frizz still. It’s nice to know I can use it. Having wet hair on these cold days in the morning is not fun.

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All about the HAIR again

I’m at the start of my fourth week of this process. That whole “my hair is awesome and not at all greasy” is a thing of the past. It was a short lived perk that made it just past week one. After I wrote my week one post, the very next time I washed my hair with the baking soda + apple cider vinegar combo, I started to dread this whole transition phase I had read about. So, it’s official, I’m not one of the lucky ones that LOVES this no shampoo thing in a short period of time.

In desperate attempts for inspiration, almost every day, I did more casual research (aka googled the crap out of it) to remind myself that it would get better… eventually. Also, I was experiencing more hair than normal falling out in the shower. Not cool.

Before I started this, I had read a couple of blogs talking about the bad involved with using baking soda on your scalp/hair. There were only a handful of the nay-sayers in a sea of all the people PRO it, so I didn’t give it much weight and decided to forge ahead nonetheless. The hair falling out was enough to freak me out to look into it (google) some more. While most wouldn’t say that baking soda was the cause of my hair spazzing out like that, there was just too much (hair more prone to be over-dry/break through time, hair color lightening, PH balance issues with your scalp) that has made me leery enough to steer clear. I know. I only used it twice. I didn’t really give it a chance. But if I can find something to clean my hair without all that happening through time, why not.

I’ve officially nixed the baking soda and apple cider vinegar route. I found this amongst my searches and decided to give it a go. LOVE IT. I’ve used it three times so far. Definitely more of an investment (with the aloe, specifically) than the cheap ingredients before. I’m rationalizing that with washing much less, it will still be a big money saver in the end. Washing with Aloe and Coconut Milk has completely nixed out any need for the apple cider vinegar to detangle/condition. Also, it smells great!

That being said, my hair is still greasy like no other. It’s a different texture all together than what I’m used to. My husb swears that it doesn’t look greasy, regardless of how it feels. Here’s a couple photos to track progress:

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(this is the third day of no “washing”. i’ve been getting it wet every day.)

Another thing I’ve decided against is that whole brushing thing. Full disclosure though: I’ve never really spent any amount of time brushing my hair, ever. On top of more hair coming out than normal, I was noticing more baby hairs around my face. This was something I was hoping would completely stop, in steering clear of the flat iron. Seeing more was disheartening. I think it was a combo of that baking soda wash and brushing with a dense bristle brush. The whole point of brushing (or using a BBB) is to move sebum from the top of your scalp to the ends of your hair. I think I can do that just fine with basically finger combing my hair. Many people swear by that whole brushing thing. It just doesn’t do jack for my hair type. 

I feel like I’m relearning how to handle my hair. At this point, it feels strange and kinda wonderful, when it isn’t greasy. Everything I thought I understood about it, has completely changed. My hair tends to spiral more than haphazardly curl. My experience has been that, if I don’t leave my hair alone while it’s drying, bad Don-King-like things will happen. Now, the more I play with it after showering, the better it is. When I leave it alone, it feels frizzy and nasty greasy. When I finger comb it and continue to move it around while it dries, it feels soft and silky. Weird. It’s been a sort of retraining myself on how to deal with my own hair again. Also, haven’t used a curling iron since the second week in. There hasn’t been any need.

From what I’ve read, weeks four and five seem to a turning point for lots of ladies. Given the progress I’ve seen so far, I really can’t wait. 

 

 

Confessions (Obsessions) of Curly Hair

{CAVEAT: This post is all about hair. That’s it. I’ve never spent this many key strokes on this topic before, just lots and lots of time and money, unwritten.}

 

A week ago today, I asked the sweet lady cutting my hair what she thought about this whole “no-shampoo” (or its less than attractive affectionate name “no-poo”) thing. She stopped cutting and gave me a very serious “are you crazy?!” look. I’m honestly shocked she hadn’t heard of it before.

Years ago, back when I religiously blogged on LJ, I joined a community called Curly Gurls. Women, like myself, fed up with their curly tresses of non-conformability, took to this no shampoo approach and updated more than a political twitter feed during election time about it. From an outside perspective, it seemed like a cult following/support group all about HAIR. A wee bit vain, perhaps. Aren’t we all, though? I’d read their updates as a fascinated observer, never fully subscribing to their testimonials enough to take the plunge myself. 

I am a self admitted product junkie. No really, 

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This is current, not cumulative. If it’s out there, has a fun label and promising hair spun gold, I’d try it. It’s a ridiculous and expensive habit to OK for yourself. If left to its own devices, my hair is unruly and wild in a rabid sort of way. And so I have always seen this product overkill as a necessary evil.

When I was a little girl, I had beautiful, silky straight hair. Clearly, I romanticize it, not really recalling what it truly felt like. I’ve seen faded pictures, and that’s enough for me. Thirty three years later, generally speaking, I have tried everything to get back there on any given day. It’s fighting reality of what it has grown into ever since probably age eight or nine. Not to over-sensationalize it, but that’s a stupid long exhausting time to battle with something as silly as your own hair. In matters of vanity, as women (maybe men, also?) we are conditioned to thinking that it’s pretty standard to want what we don’t have rather than embrace what we do have. 

Anyway, I have been flat-ironing the crap out of my hair ever since high school. Winter, when everything is dry, is the worst for my over-processed hair. I’ve gotten into the habit, within the last handful and a half years, of not washing it every day. At max, I’ll wait three days before I can’t stand it. It’s helped but not entirely, as I’m still chained to that iron every day regardless. Every now and then, when I’m tired of it, I’ll let it do it’s natural thing with the help of at least three products to tame the beast. Did I mention, though necessity and smart marketing has me attracted to it, I loathe the feel of product in my hair? It’s a BIG reason why I steer clear from the curly route.

About two weeks ago, I read a post from a friendquaintance who put her no shampoo testimonial out there. I couldn’t help but pay attention. After reading it and seeing photo documentation of a woman so close to home, it lit a small fire under me. I’m not gonna lie; it helped that her hair truly did/does look amazing. It’s no longer some sort of far away, infomercial-like cult following. It’s from someone who I trust to be sincere about it all. 

I’m brand new at it (less than a week, really) but I’m literally jaw dropping shocked by it. Everything that I’ve read on it, talks about this awkward transitional period that sucks and to invest in large sunglasses and powers of invisibility because there’s no way you’ll want to brave the public off of traditional shampoo and conditioner. Everyone will know you are going through withdrawal and it won’t be pretty. I was nervous and geared up for this to take place. I even warned my coworker. Maybe it’s too early in the process, but I haven’t had too many issues (oil slick or straw like hair) yet. There was a tiny frizz on the day I washed with baking soda/water mixture, but I didn’t look like Don King, so that was a plus. 

I’m writing this because as I am prone to do, I researched this topic pretty extensively before jumping in. There are not a ton of no shampoo girls out there with my hair type, writing about it. Not every question I had was answered. It’s impossible. Nevertheless, those that I did find were super interesting, especially if they had photo documentation from the very beginning of their hair journey. There were a few that had posts documenting a year out. Also, they all used acronyms like it was their own no-poo secret language. ACV, BS, WO ??? In short, I’d be thrilled if someone googling it, found this post amidst the others and found themselves inspired to be freed from a time consuming, expensive product junkie habit, like myself. Seriously, my husband and I are looking forward to the money and time saved on this venture. It’s a worthwhile topic.

This probably isn’t the best photo to document my hair looking its best this week, but it’s pretty good considering it was washed Wednesday morning and has been slept on twice since then. Taken this morning:

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It’s curliest the first day after washing and progressively gets less and less in the days following. Makes sense. 

My chronological journey thus far:

  1. First things first. Hair Cut. No need to go into this thing with dry split ends.
  2. {Day ONE} Purchased a cheap Silicone Free shampoo to use one time only in order to rid my hair of everything unnaturally there. I was convinced my hair would be over dry, so on top of the Apple Cider Vinegar concoction (2 TBSP ACV + 1 1/2 C water) I also mixed up this: (2 egg yolks + 2 TBSP olive oil + 1 C water) and put it on my hair after washing with shampoo. My hair went from tangled to too oily within seconds, so I washed just my roots again with the shampoo. Rinsed everything out and then sprayed the length of my hair, avoiding the roots, with the ACV mix. Left on for a minute or so and then rinsed again. Parted and combed my hair with a wide tooth comb while it was still soaking wet. Squeezed most of the water out of it and used a pair of cotton shorts (Everyone says use a long sleeve cotton shirt, but the shorts were the first thing I grabbed. They were cotton, so whatever. They worked.) to lightly squeeze my hair with and dry a bit more. Let it air dry with no product. Definitely freaked a little when I thought I saw frizz as some pieces dried before others, but once all was mostly dry, it was easy enough to just twirl individual pieces into curls. Overall, hair felt lighter and cleaner than it had in a long time.
  3. {Day TWO} Used a curling iron on the front pieces. It literally took all of maybe five minutes and held all day long. My hair had definition and felt great with no product. Zero frizz.
  4. {Day THREE} Probably could have held out longer, but I was itching (though, not literally) to use the Baking Soda concoction (2 TBSP BS + 1 C water). I used all the hot water this morning (I’m glad my husband loves me) trying to figure out if I had used not enough or too much of this stuff. It’s pre-mixed in a condiment squirt bottle and applied at just the roots. You’re supposed to massage it in until it feels “slippery”. Do I use half of it? All of it? A quarter of it? I don’t know. I probably ended up using a little less than half. Spent a bit of time obsessing over whether or not I had rinsed it all out sufficiently enough. Sprayed on my ACV mix. It’s kind of amazing how this stuff detangles and conditions your hair. Of all the products I felt most leech-like-dependent on, conditioner was my BFF. Did the whole cotton shorts drying thing again. Apologized to husband for his upcoming cold shower. Throughout the day, my hair definitely felt drier than it did the last time. I put it up in a loose bun for about an hour or so just to help it relax a bit. For future reference, a little under a half of that BS mix was too much. 
  5.  {Day FOUR} Curling iron on a few little pieces. Once again, it held some beautiful definition all day long sans any product. It should be mentioned that this is some feat given that I work with 2-3 year olds all day long currently. My hair no longer feels too dry. Also, it looks very shiny. Not greasy at all. No frizz. I have vainly mentioned to my husband how awesome my hair looks at least ten times so far this week. Thankfully, he’s agreed. I don’t think he’s lying…
  6.  {Day FIVE} (pictured above) There are a few spots around my hairline that feel a bit greasy but nothing major. The main thing I miss is the curl that fizzles out by now. From what I’ve read, this seems to be common for curly haired ladies going through the early on transition to no shampoo. It’s nothing that can’t be fixed with a little bit of curling iron, but I’d like to also be free of that most days. I guess we’ll see.

This is my journey thus far. All the products pictured above with hopefully be shelved for the below pictured ones:

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Oh yes, Coconut Oil. I forgot to mention that above. Each time I washed my hair, I made sure to brush my hair with a dense bristled brush (Most people say to use a boar bristled brush. I don’t know if that’s what I have, but like the shorts mentioned above, it works.) and then used a tiny bit of coconut oil on my ends before showering. The brushing of the hair beforehand is meant to help distribute your hair’s natural oils from root to tip.

Almost all the tutorials/testimonials I read had a spiel about the harsh chemicals in all hair products and the beauty of being all natural and free of them. I’ll be upfront and honest to say, I mostly skimmed all that stuff. I wish I cared more about all of that, because I really do think it’s good to be knowledgeable about it and to steer clear whenever possible. I’m doing this mainly to officially detox my hair from its current dry, static-y, over processed, product junkie state of helplessness; to save money and time in the long run, and to embrace/love my hair for once.