Over the years, as I’ve become more and more conscious of how precious healthy hair is, I’ve developed some … what shall we call this … neuroticisms when it comes to my hair. Those who’ve touched my hair and had the pleasure(?) of working with it know that I am what I like to call a hair hypochondriac. If there were ever such a thing, I AM IT. I always think my hair’s damaged. I always think it’s falling out. I always want it to be two inches longer than it is, but I can’t bear the idea of damaged ends and so I give in and go in for a trim anyhow. And then I always think that too much is being trimmed off and now a whole foot of hair has been lopped away (and yes, you wouldn’t believe the things my brain sees that aren’t actually there). I always ask my friends trained in cosmetology to feel it and tell me if it feels “porous”. I always look at my coworkers’ and friends’ hair to see if their ends look less healthy than mine (and yes, I literally stare at the ends of your hair when I’m checking you out … sorry if you thought it was a more exciting part of your body). I always have this idea of what my hair should look like, and as my friend pointed out to me just a couple weeks ago, I think I’m always a little dissatisfied because my face doesn’t match the hair inspiration pictures I always refer to (as opposed to just the hair).
Sometimes it’s a fun game I play with myself, to see just how healthy and how long I can get my hair to be. But at other times, it’s nothing short of a neurotic fixation that causes anxiety and an endless amount of comparison. Which, of course, will truly make my hair fall out. But for now, I felt it may be fascinating to at least let you in on my … hair cleansing routine.
First, start with what you’d expect: a good wash and condition. And of course, it has been at least three days since the last wash and condition (right????). Use a shampoo with as few sulfates as possible, and as many natural ingredients as possible (read: ingredients that you can understand, pronounce easily, and aren’t chemical-synthetic compounds). I happen to rotate between two shampoos and two conditioners. Be sure that once you’re in the shower, you wash your hair first so that you can immediately move on to conditioner (as Matt Damon discusses in The Informant!). Remember not to worry about conditioning your roots; just cover your hair from mid-shaft downward to the ends. Put your hair up in a clip so you can go about the rest of your showering business without accidentally rinsing out the conditioner, and so that any steam and heat help along the conditioning process (but do remember that it’s best to shower in tepid or even cold water if possible, as it’s better for your endocrine system and less harsh on your strands).
Once you’ve rinsed out your conditioner, blot your hair with your towel to gently dry it (and do not wring it or throw it up in a turban-style towel, as this promotes breakage in your hair’s wet, weak state). Then, using a wide-tooth comb, detangle slowly by running the comb through your hair, with assistance from a detangling spray if you so choose. And after that, you wait. You do some Netflix time, make some tea, let it air-dry and lay not a watt of heat to your head. And ideally, you do not touch it with your fingers either as that promotes frizz.
Perhaps when your hair is 60% dry, you apply some kind of repairing or smoothing product, concentrating specifically on the ends. This may be an oil, a serum, a cream, or who knows what at this point. If your product is heat-activated, perhaps you’ll apply just a bit of warmth from a blow-dryer to produce it’s most effective results.
Whew! Talk about “before”. This is how my hair dries naturally after doing just the aforementioned. I suppose it’s “wavy”, but it’s a little wonky, you know? Could be worse, but not the most flattering.
After your hair is almost totally dry, see what sections need help from a curling iron or flat iron. If you’re satisfied (because perhaps your hair is curly), then you’re done! If not, then fix whatever kinks or create whatever waves as you see fit. I use a 1.25′ Hot Tool Professional Ceramic + Titanium spring curling iron. I just wrap sections around the rod and skip the clamp all together. If I think any section of hair can forego the heat treatment, I leave it be. What comes next all depends on my mood, quite honestly. It’s usually a tad of Frederic Fekkai’s Glossing Creme to impart just a touch of shine and to shut down any tameable frizzies, but I usually finish by flipping my head upside-down and sort of mussing up the roots for a bit of volume and to avoid looking too neat. A bit of dry shampoo to the roots perfects the look on day two and day three of a wash (and by day four, it’s probably up in a bun and perhaps covered in oils, treating it for the next wash).
Sooooo much better. And let this be a lesson: don’t get too discouraged by how your skin looks if you’re standing in horrible bathroom lighting. Look for some natural light for a real assessment. And that whole makeup thing always helps, too.
So anyhow, this is what I do. Sometimes whatever particular combination of products I’ll use will just produce a really great response from my hair, and I’ll have a great hair week. I have to take into account what I’ve eaten too, or if I’ve worked out. Other times, my hair will get oily quickly, or my scalp will itch. The weather is even a factor at times. My point is, no matter what I do to try and control my hair’s condition and growth, it just tends to operate like the rest of our bodies do- sometimes it needs a little of this, and sometimes a little of that. Rarely will it always need the same exact same things forever. And it’s not always going to do what I tell it to do. So with that said, I’ll just keep up with my bi-weekly washes (and they really are some of the best parts of my week), keep eating my salmon and berries, and … oh yeah … sleep with it up in a scrunchy and on a satin pillowcase. Less damage that way. xo, MR
P.S. And the following is a list of my absolute favorite products that I use for my routine (and again, I alternate my use of the shampoos and conditioners, and I don’t use all the treatment/styling products at the same time):