Am I the only one who caught an ear worm from that title? Luther Vandross? 1989? Here and Now? Pretty sure it was played during at least one of my proms. Anyway, I’m showing my age, time to move on….
Today’s post has nothing to do with Mr. Vandross or with music of any kind. This one’s about … how’d you guess it? Hair.
My hair has a long history of crimes and misdemeanors: frizz, dryness, notoriously awful haircuts (some committed by yours truly), extreme brassiness when mixed with the wrong colorants, etc., etc., etc. These days, though, it’s behaving much better. Why? I think it’s mostly because I’m treating it right. While I’m no expert on haircare, I’ve done plenty of research and loads of experimentation (a.k.a. cruel and unusual punishment), so I’m pleased to share the route I’ve found to happier, healthier hair, here and now.
Behold the Sandalwood Comb, in all its glory
Can I make a confession? I’m a little in love with my brush and even more with my comb.
My brush is made with boar bristles. (*Some companies sell humanely-harvested versions.) Can you say volume?? After flipping my hair over (brushing outward from the nape of my neck), I flip it back again to admire my spot-on impression of Sideshow Bob. Despite boar bristles’ ridiculous effect on me, they’re very kind to hair; they spread out oils to reduce dryness and frizziness, while adding shine and improving texture.
My comb–ah, my comb. It’s wide-toothed, so it can be used on wet or dry hair. My favorite part, though, is that it’s made of lovely-looking, lovely-scented sandalwood. It’s great with detangling, doesn’t cause static, and its nearly-invisible seam won’t catch in my hair. I use it both before and after brushing, to rid my hair of tangles and also to help bring out my hair’s waves and shine. Plus, did I mention? Sandalwood smells divine. Trust the comb-sniffer on this one.
Let’s talk process. So, you think you know how to wash your hair? Could be. Depends on how well you follow instructions. I’m talking the whole “Lather, rinse, repeat” bit. Do you do this? If not, do. Do do it.
Also, when working the shampoo into your hair, focus mainly on the scalp. Your first wash will loosen sebaceous oils; your second will send them packing. *Bonus: massaging your scalp stimulates blood flow, increasing the health of hair and scalp, while encouraging hair growth.
You may have heard some talk about low poo or no poo–yes, we’re still talking about hair. This is referring to the shampooing spectrum. It exists, really. I’ve seen graphics. I won’t go into too much detail, but basically, at one end, there’s traditional shampooing and at the other end, there’s no poo, or a “wash with water only” method, which–let’s be honest–I never intend to try. In between, there’s a “wash with baking soda/rinse with apple cider vinegar” method, which also sounds a little too hard-core for me, and a “wash with shampoo bars” method, which I have tried with little to no success. (Granted, I did make my own shampoo bars, which could have been an issue, but the apple cider vinegar-rinse didn’t work for me, either. Every time my hair got wet, I smelled like a salad.) Moving on up, there’s the “natural shampoo” option, which is where my hair and I are currently living–very happily, I might add. I’ve even dragged my husband and kids into the natural-shampoo zone and, I promise, we’re all very well adjusted. Which reminds me: if you want to join us in natural shampooing, it will take some time for your hair to resume its natural balance of oils. After that, it should be all smooth–and shiny–sailing.
In case you’re wondering what I mean by “natural shampoo,” I also like to call them “NO” shampoos. (Really clears things up, doesn’t it?) As an example, my current bottle of Shea Moisture’s Jamaican Black Castor Oil Shampoo has this list on its label: No Sulfates, No Parabens, No Phthalates, No Paraffin, No Propylene Glycol, No Mineral Oil, No Synthetic Fragrance, No DEA, and No Animal Testing (yay for this!). All these negatives add up to a great big positive, if you ask me.
Image via Unsplash/Oscar Keys
Bad hair day. Don’t look at me.
Dry Shampoo for Oily Hair
In the past, I could not–I repeat, NOT–skip my daily shampooing. Now, though, my hair loves its in-between washing days. Nonetheless, if any surprise oils do crop up, I have another natural tool in my arsenal to deal with them: dry shampoo. I work a small amount through any oily areas (moving from the scalp, outward) and brush it through my hair to blend. Since dry shampoo can be costly, I’ve been making my own:
1/4 cup arrowroot powder or non-GMO cornstarch
1/2 TBSP colloidal (finely-ground) oatmeal (optional)
2 TBSP cocoa powder (optional–I use this to darken the powder for my brown hair; it can be left out for lighter hair)
5-10 drops lavender essential oil (optional–I use it for its fresh scent, but other skin/hair-safe essential oils can be substitued, such as peppermint)
Argan Oil for Dry or Frizzy Hair
Warning: a little goes a long way! I keep some argan oil in a little spray bottle, scented with 5-10 drops of lavender (or peppermint) essential oil. If my hair is frizzy or dry, I wet my hands a bit, spray a very, very small amount of the oil solution into the center of my palm, rub my hands together and then lightly pat my palms over any dry areas of my hair. Keep in mind, though, my hair is curly-ish, so to avoid making straight hair look greasy, it might work better as a night-time, pre-wash treatment to bring the extra shine.
Image via FreeImages.com/Ewerton Thomeu
Fight the Frizz!
More Hair, Now
Well, maybe not now, but soon. In searching for ways to help thicken my fine air (and to help my husband’s hair regrow where it was thinning), I researched natural ingredients. These are reputed to encourage hair growth and/or maintain the health of hair and scalp: castor oil (cold-pressed and cold-processed is best), rosemary essential oil (**NOT to be used by pregnant women, children, or those suffering from epilepsy or hypertension), lavender essential oil and dry nettle.
They can be mixed in a glass bottle (about 2 oz. castor oil, 5-10 drops each of rosemary and/or lavender essential oils, 5 or so capsules’ worth of dry nettle). Gently massage a small amount into scalp, leave on for a while (overnight works well), and later shampoo from hair. If it’s hard to remove, work in some conditioner first to loosen the heavy castor oil, before shampooing. That’s it. Easy, peasy. After using it, my hair seems thicker and, as my husband’s barber, I can attest to seeing more hair where, previously, there had been less. (*The Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Shampoo I mentioned earlier is also a great one for promoting hair growth–no, I’m not affiliated with the company. I just love their products.)
Grow, grow, grow your hair….
Due to health concerns and the fact that chemical colorants don’t like my hair, I switched to coloring it with a combination of henna, indigo and amla powder. I’ve been getting a lot of compliments on the color, which is a warm brown/auburn, and my hair is shinier than ever. For more details on my henna experience, please check out my previous Henna Gabber blog post.
Image via Unsplash/Ashley Bean
The goal: hair zen.
So, there you have it, my tried-and-true methods for pampering my hair the best way I know how: naturally.
If you give any of these methods a try, it would be great to hear whether or not your hair falls in love. (I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that it does!) Also, if you have any other methods you’d like to share, it would be great to hear that, too!
**A FINAL NOTE ABOUT ESSENTIAL OILS: It is always best to check health warnings before using ANY essential oils and I NEVER recommend ingesting essential oils or applying it neat (undiluted) to the skin. Use EXTREME caution when exposing children to any essential oils (diffusers, etc.) and NEVER use with children under two years of age. Here’s a good post on essential oil use with children, in case you’d like to learn more: http://naturopathicpediatrics.com/2014/09/08/essential-oil-safety-danger-essential-oils-seizures-children/ and one for adults: http://www.aromaweb.com/articles/safety.asp