Tools For Keeping Your Hair In Control When You Aren’t

Coming to both understand and know how to properly work with one’s own hair is a lifelong journey.  We pour through blogs (no irony there), scour through magazines, ask all our friends, experiment with myriads of product, and stare into the mirror for probably what amounts to weeks of time on Earth just trying to get a grip on what it takes to make our hair look consistently great.  There are the rare awesome hair days that we manage to pull off without help of a stylist, but for the most part, our hair is just kind of … there.

Maybe you’re one of those folks that insists on every day being a great hair day, and so you wake up earlier, or go to bed later, bust out the heat tools on a daily basis, take time to actually blow out your hair once it’s washed … but that’s not everyone.  If the aforementioned describes you, I sincerely admire you.  I mean it.  Not in that fake, condescending Well I just don’t have the time for that way (because I probably do have the time, if we’re honest)… I genuinely admire you.  And my side-eye is probably just me being jealous of you.

But for those of us whose biceps start whining at the very thought of blowing out our hair, for those of us who wake up and feel like your hair needs a complete do-over if you’re going to actually style it with intention, for those of us that lack the daily discipline, for those of us who can’t wait for the curling iron to heat up- I give you my list of the most helpful hair tools for when laziness strikes.  And all are meant for unwashed hair.

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A boar bristle brush

When my hair has become greasy and I have to go out before I get the chance to wash, I find it helpful to embrace the oils and brush my hair thoroughly with this sturdy brush.  It distributes the oils evenly through my hair and smooths things out.  This usually works best when my hair has gone flat at the roots and lost any wave or curl.  It also adds fluff to the body of my hair so that I can pull it back in a full ponytail or a voluminous bun.  You don’t want to brush with something wimpy on second or third-day hair; a plastic bristled brush or something less dense won’t control the oil as well.

A combo of sea salt spray and dry shampoo

In my case, I prefer Bumble and Bumble’s Surf Infusion spray that contains hydrating oils in it along with the salt mixture, because salt sprays can really dry out my hair.  The Surf Infusion brings texture, volume, and some curl or wave back into the lengths of my hair without making it feel like a sticky pile of hay with tacky glue all over it (as is the case with some texture products).  If I add a little Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo to my crown along with that, I’m usually in fighting shape for another day.

A black elastic headband and some bobby pins

These usually end up being the tools for my hair during the final day before a wash.  I also default to this style when I just want my bangs out of my face.  I pull my hair up in a high bun, try to “neaten” it by pinning down the pieces poking out with bobby pins, and pin any bits falling out as well as my bangs.  Adding the black headband can give it a sporty vibe or something a little more ballerina inspired if the band is maybe a satin ribbon, and if the bun is elegant enough.  Be sure to push the band forward enough and see that it’s not too thing; otherwise, you end up looking more like a high school soccer player.  I’ve been trying to see what I can add to make this look more intentional rather than haphazard; its very easy for a quick bun to look haphazard in my case.  If my bangs are in good shape, they can really take a bun to the next level, as bangs can give a bun that extra “fashion blogger” feel.

On some days, if the lengths of my hair are doing okay, I’ll just pin back my bangs with two bobby pins in an “X”.  A little dry shampoo in the roots and that pretty much settles things.

A shot of cold air with a blowdryer or a spritz of water

Sometimes, the best answers are the simple ones.  Running over your hair with a blowdryer can do different things on different days.  For me, sometimes it volumizes it, brings back texture, adds shine, etc.  Other days, it doesn’t really do anything.  I’m not one for claiming my advice is foolproof; things just don’t always work on everyone’s hair, everyday.  The same goes for water.  On occasion, just spraying my lengths with water has done amazing things.  It’s brought back wave or tamed frizz in certain areas when it’s dry out; other days, my hair dries and looks just as it did before.  My point is, sometimes you just give different solutions a shot and see what happens before resorting to pinning it up.

Any other ideas you have to offer?  I always hear about the braiding solution, but as I’ve mentioned before, that’s something I can rarely do without needing a third or fourth arm.  Anyhow, I’m an open book, so give me your tips!  xo, MR

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How to become a filthy beast.

So, one of the more peculiar aspects of my beauty routine revolves around my hair-washing habits.  I figured I’d share this because friends of mine often tell me they hate me (out of envy or something) after first hearing about it, and I’m here to say that this habit can be yours, too.

I wash my hair twice per week.  Maybe.

Now, when I tell folks this, the most common response is something along the lines of, “Oh, you’re so lucky.  I can’t do that.  I have to wash it every day.”  Nine times out of ten this is the response, followed by the reason why they believe they have to wash it every day, which is usually oily scalp.  Well, I have something to say to those that believe my my hair routine is the result of sheer luck and “good genes”- Nope.

Let me give you a small dermatology lesson.  When you over-work your skin, your skin over-works itself to compensate for what you’ve taken from it.  Just think about that for a minute.  When you wash your scalp every day, your scalp is stripped of its natural, essential oils.  Yes, some of that oil is good for you.  Such oils keep your hair and scalp balanced and moisturized.  Stop trying to get rid of it!  And so, as a reaction to being stripped of its essential oils, your scalp actually overcompensates by working twice as hard to produce more oil.  Get into the routine of washing your hair once a day (or more), and you’re asking your scalp to work overtime.  Keep this up, and you’re guaranteed to have oily roots every evening.  And of course, this will freak you out, and your impulse will be to “wash out the oil”.  You don’t need to wash your hair everyday because your hair is oily- your hair gets oily because you wash it everyday.  I must add too that what really doesn’t help is the fact that most of the shampoos we use contain harsh detergents that don’t work gently to clean our hair.  If you find the word “sulfate” anywhere on the ingredients list of your shampoo bottle, know that that’s some rough stuff going into your hair.  In fact, I’d say that if you can’t identify or pronounce the majority of the ingredients on your shampoo bottle, I would suggest finding a new kind.

As for my own journey toward not washing my hair more than twice a week, I can tell you that it began with a little something called dry shampoo.  Now, I started using this stuff in 2007, and since then pretty much every drugstore brand has come out with their own version of it.  My advice?  Go for the natural, more expensive stuff. Two brands I can highly recommend from experience are Frederic Fekkai Au Naturale and Klorane.  Both are sold at Sephora.  I remember reading about dry shampoo in a magazine and thinking it sounded like a miracle product.  Extend the life of my blow-out by another day or two?  Are you kidding?!  And what do you know- it was a miracle product.  Slowly but surely, I started going two, three, four days between washes.  I felt filthy for doing such a thing, but my hair was showing no signs of filth!  And if a little oil ever cropped up in my bangs or front layers, just a touch of dry shampoo whisked it away.  I’d even rub a little on the crown of my head (where it can get really oily after four days) just to see if I could go one more day without washing.  Additionally, I began being conscious of how I washed my hair.  I started rubbing shampoo just into my roots and trying my best to keep it off my ends (as in not piling your hair on top of your head and lathering it all up).  I also took care to condition just my ends for the most part, as conditioner can create lots of build-up.  I’d only cover my whole head in conditioner when giving it a deep treatment with oils.

I began to notice after a couple months that my hair wasn’t a total mess after just twenty four hours anymore.  I’d wake up, and it would be manageable and relatively similar to what it had been like the day before.  No more extreme oiliness, no more nastiness.  I just didn’t need to wash my hair that much anymore.  My schedule loved me for it, my scalp loved me for it, and even on the days when a washing seemed much needed but I didn’t have the time or energy, why not just throw it up in a knot or use a headband?  Take advantage of your already-greasy hair and go swimming!  Or work extra hard at the gym!  Your hair does not need to control your time.  It.  Can.  Wait.  And what was even more freeing was when I started air-drying my hair ten times more frequently than blowing it out.  My hair hasn’t been the same ever since, and for all you color-treated ladies, let me tell you that my color lasts forever now.  I just went full brunette thanks to Justin Kamm (as pictured above!  Weeeee!) at Salon 9, and I know it’ll be looking fresh for a looooooong time.

So let me challenge you- tomorrow, don’t wash your hair.  Leave it.  Will it be oily that evening and the next morning?  Yes.  Will it bug you?  Yes.  But stick with it.  Commit to washing it every other day.  Use a little dry shampoo on oily patches that bother you after the long day or after the gym.  But stick with it.  Then, try switching up your shampoo.  Do some research on natural kinds with minimal synthetic ingredients (and not just ones that say “no sulfates”- you can do even better).  Have tough standards and be willing to spend a perhaps five extra bucks (because if you aren’t washing as much, the bottle will last longer anyhow).  You can do it!!  I believe this is the solution for oily scalps and dry scalps.

Please fill me in on your questions, comments, and your own experiences in this area.  I really am curious!  Cheers to filthy habits!  xo, MR