Today I'm writing my first specific topic related beauty post, namely, all about my hair. To be honest, this topic is close to my heart, because out of all my insecurities (that I'm slowly, but thankfully surely working on one by one), my hair is not only one of the oldest, but also one of the biggest ones. I'm all about focusing on the positive, however, and therefore this post is not meant to be a complaining one, on the contrary - the tips and lessons I've learned along the way through years of constant awareness, mistakes and recent efforts.
This will be a rather lengthy post, for which I apologize for, but I hope you enjoy it anyway, because a lot of effort went into it and I really wrote down my best advice.
A little disclaimer - hair is plural in Latvian (my native language), because technically we have so many :) I'm still trying to break the habit of referring to my hair as "them" as opposed to "it", so if I get really into typing and lose my focus and you spot that somewhere along the post - that's why.
Secondly, this post will be mostly aimed at growing out hair, especially when we'll reach the tip and advice section of the post, but I'm sure it could be useful for maintenance of healthy hair also.
Now, my hair has changed over the years. Not necessarily for better or worse, it's just different now. I've always had baby-like sleek, shiny and thin hair. This is some of the oldest pictures I could find on my laptop and I'm obviously a fan of red. Also, now we know my best posing side/angle ;)
I had a perm in middle school, which never disappeared as I was promised, but simply grew out and I was forced to cut all the damaged ends off. After that I grew out my hair without looking after it at all - I washed it with Pantene Pro V (my mom's favorite) and used a hair mousse before blow drying it head-down only to put it up in a pony tail later during the day, because, although my hair is thin and fine, for some reason it's also heavy, so soon enough I started noticing my ears peeping out and that annoyed the *** out of me. Now looking at the pictures - it's pretty, because I obviously arranged it forwards before a photo was taken and because of the shine and length. I also got compliments on the sleek straightness of it, but I never really felt happy with it.
After moving to Denmark and putting even less effort into my hair I decided to cut it shorter around Christmas 2009. I didn't like it, however. I had the same problems, just shorter hair that I therefore couldn't be even a tiny bit proud of and so in May 2010 I cut it again, this time - up to my jaw. I actually liked it, because I could get volume much easier and it was obviously healthy and shiny, because I cut it so far, but unfortunately my "freshman 15" weight gain made me feel less pretty, including my unfamiliar new hairstyle.
Two things happened simultaneously in 2010 and 2011. I lost the weight and ("thanks to" the unhealthy way of doing it) a bunch of my hair. With even flatter and thinner hair I decided to go lighter in hopes for my hair to appear thicker. While it kind of worked, the cut was unflattering, I'd gain a lot of weight back (surprise, surprise - crash diets anyone?) and I've totally ruined the sleek, shiny texture of my hair, which was now dry, frizzy and dull.
For a while I was letting it grow. I kept eating badly and lost even more hair. I also rocked a then unfamiliar look for me now know as the ombre (I wish I'd know, how "stylish" I was, haha).
In 2012 two things happened again. I started eating properly and cut my hair again. I told the hairdresser to cut as much as it takes (meaning I want healthy hair) and apparently, it took a lot! Because I ended up with very short hair. To be honest, I felt poorly at the time and my hair made me very insecure. I found it discouraging to be eating so healthily and actually lose more hair as the first months went on.
For the next half a year I continued to eat well, take supplements and for the first time - looking after my hair specifically. I went heat-free for a while, stopped using hairbands with the metal bond, stopped putting my hair up in tight ponytails etc. In February 2013 I cut it once more and since then - have been (not-so-)patiently growing it out again.
1. My hair will always be thin. I've tried drinking borderline medicine supplements hoping to grow a beautiful bunch of hair, but I haven't and probably won't. And that's okay. Work with what you have. I need to find what works for me and make the most of it anyway.
2. That brings us to - using fitting products and using them properly. I used to think my hair is fine and weak, so I need to condition heavily and shouldn't bother with the rinsing too much - it'll make my hair sleeker and more moisturized. Wrong. Not only did it caused me to run out of conditioners twice as fast as my shampoos, leaving products (that are supposed to be washed out) in you hair causes build up, flatness and dullness. Ever since I started rinsing properly my hair has been shinier and holds volume better. (I also shampoo twice now) Next, I used to swear by hair mousse, because I was convinced it gave me extra thickness and texture. What I failed to realize was that it also gave me the extra weight and caused serious flatness. It's simply not the best product for my hair, just like a gel or a styling wax isn't. Lastly, I used to blow dry my hair after using mousse and that made my hair dull and dry, which made me think my hair is damaged, when it wasn't.
What I do now is rinsing my hair properly, using a leave in conditioner instead and letting my hair air dry. I style it with a salt water spray, which gives me texture without weighing my hair down and comb it only when dry.
3. Cutting. Now, this is a rather controversial topic for many. Some swear by regular trims. Some - oppose arguing, that the only way to grow out hair is to actually let it... grow! :) What I believe now is as simple as this. Once a hair breaks, it breaks. There's no way to reverse it. Therefore products with"split end repair" and similar claims will let you down. What's worse is, that a split hair continues to break upwards damaging more and more of the hair length. A lot of the times (trust me, I was so, so guilty of this) a girl , especially one, who's trying to grow out her hair, will pity the efforts and refuse to cut it, which sort of beats the good intentions. Therefore, I'd highly suggest biting the bullet and getting a trim before starting on the growing out journey and going all in, even if it's unfavorable. After that you can start doing everything you can to KEEP the hair healthy (not trying to reverse existing damage) through a proper diet, water intake, careful styling etc. and from then on - getting a trim, when it's needed. There's no need for a scheduled 2 month trim if you want to grow out your hair and it's doing well. As long as your hair is healthy - you don't need to cut it. The sooner you get a trim after noticing split ends, the less length you'll lose cutting it. Find a hairstylist you trust and like - also - let them know you'd like to grow your hair out - then you can get advice every time you visit and you don't have to worry about getting an unexpected hairstyle - he/she will know you're only in for a trim.
4. Your natural hair is probably your best shot at long, healthy hair. What I mean by this is - embrace your natural hair, if your goal is length and strength. If you have naturally wavy hair, but you blow dry and straighten it every day, chances are, it'll be more difficult for you to grow out significantly longer hair (mostly time-wise - in a span of one year, for example) as opposed to letting your hair be natural as much as possible. By all means, style your hair, have fun with it, but if you can find a way to work with your hair's natural texture and style and you're able to wear it like that most of the time, you'll notice an improvement in the way you hair looks and feels and the length it's able to achieve. We all grow hair. Some people claim, that their hair simply stops at one decided length and refuses to grow longer. That doesn't really make much sense, considering how we can see that by someone's roots, when hair is being dyed or bleached. Hair grows. What likely happens is that the ends break and the length therefore remains the same. We can all grow hair - for some it takes more conscious effort and care, for some - it doesn't. But if you want to grow out your hair - don't get discouraged, you can do it. Just treat it with care and be patient. Try to avoid breakage. Don't put your hair in a pony tale at the same height all the time. Don't sleep with a pony tale. Don't be rough on your hair when styling - don't pull, tear or burn.
5. Diet. We've all heard about the importance of drinking water and having a proper diet. I've found that for some people it doesn't matter. Similarly to growing in length, each person is different when it comes to strength and health of their hair and those people don't have to worry about proper nutrition in regards to their hair. I won't even go into detail about the importance of a healthy diet regardless of the physical factors and person's outer appearance. (A slim, long haired person with strong nails, beautiful skin etc. should still eat healthy to nourish their body and mind.) What I'm aiming at here is, that even if you feel like your diet is not making a difference - I'd suggest to still have a healthy one. After all, there are only benefits involved! Some of my absolute favorite foods are also high in good fats - salmon, avocado, nuts, nut butters, especially almonds, healthy oils (coconut! yay) along with many others, then - protein (meat, eggs, beans etc.), dairy, and healthy carbs, brown rice, sweet potatoes, fruits, especially greens and other veggies - why not treat yourself to a healthy diet and feel all the benefits. Mix it up, use hummus instead of Philadelphia or even more so - butter on your toast some days, have a cup of tea instead of a soda sometimes, try to feed yourself with good stuff. Even if it doesn't make your hair grow 10 inches overnight, it's still better than blaming the genetics and eating crap.
6. Limited heat styling. Heat protection. Sort of ties in with number 4. Heat protectants are for the most part - affordable and lasts for ages. A few spritzes and your hair's better off curled, straightened, blow dried and similarly styled. I used a heat protectant during the summer months also, because my hair's dark and the sun can make it dry and burned.
7. Embrace the process. You've decided you want to grow your hair. Preferably, by tomorrow. I've been there. Heck, I'm there now! But it takes time and you can enjoy your hair in the meantime anyway. Try different hairstyles (there are great no-heat tutorials on youtube), enjoy how easy it is to have shorter hair in terms of drying, managing and up-keeping, be patient and apart from treating your hair with care, don't obsess over it. Let it be. It'll happen. Probably, faster, if you don't pay too much attention to it.
Now onto the actual products I use. When it comes to my shampoo, I'm very inconsistent. I used to buy the cheapest of the "middle class" - if brands like Dove, Pantene, Schwarzkopf or similar had a sale, I'd get those. More than a year ago I bought the 900 ml TRESemmé Less Sulfates shampoo and conditioner and had it for months. That stuff was seriously never ending. After that I bought another TRESemmé - the popular Keratin Smooth. I also bought and used up the mask.
After trying other Trine's Wardrobe products (last day of her giveaway!) and liking them I am now currently using the Trine's Wardrobe Argan Oil Shampoo (79,95 DKK) and the Trine's Wardrobe Argan Oil Conditioner (79,95 DKK). Both of these smell lovely and leave my hair feeling light and clean. I haven't used them for too long, but so far, so good. After shower I sometimes use the Keune Care Line Vital Nutrition Leave-in Hair Repair (long name for a tiny bottle :) which I got from my sister a few months back, but it retails for $7.90 at Amazon. It has a light consistency and requires little product, but what I noticed when going to the gym after my Danish class and subsequently taking a shower in the evening not in the mornings, was that my hair seemed a little frizzy at first and after soaking in during the night my hair was super soft and sleek the next day, which is how I really got to like it. After that I let my hair air dry and then spray the Toni&Guy Sea Salt Texturizing Spray (129,95 DKK). I previously used the Trine's Wardrobe Salt Water Spray (79,95 DKK) and liked it, but bought a mini version of the Tony&Guy one for traveling during the summer after it ran out. I quite liked it, because the consistency was stronger - it gave me more texture and a more defined beachy look, but after repurchasing the bigger Tony&Guy salt water spray I can also say, that it sprays rougher, meaning I don't really get an even light spritz of the spray, but a stronger, more precise one, which (although I realize, I sound weird) means I get a lot of product where I spray it and hardly anything other places. When I style my hair - curl or blow dry, I use the TRESemmé Heat Defence Styling Spray (89,95 DKK), then the salt water spray for texture and finish off with the got2b Volumising Style Powder, that I bought in Stockholm after forgetting to pack ANYTHING hair related and experiencing seriously flat hair days and not wanting to waste money buying anything liquid, that I'd have to throw out at the airport anyway going back to Denmark, because I only had hand luggage, but it currently retails for £2.70 at Superdrug. I would love to try the Bumbe&Bumble Thickening Creme Contour after reading reviews like this one, but it does retail for $27.00 at Sephora at I find that pricey for me at the moment. It's definitely on my list, though and if someone reading this has tried it, I'd love to hear more about it. If I curl my hair (see the wand here), I give it a slight spray of the Schwarzkopf Poly Swing Hairspray (32,95 DKK) - a very affordable drugstore choice. At the moment I'm in between hair masks and don't use any, but I'll probably give the Trine's Wardrobe one a try (89,95 DKK), especially since I'm using her shampoo and conditioner line currently anyway. I'm also in between dry shampoos as I'm struggling to find one that doesn't make my hair more greasy as opposed to less. Again, I've tried Trine's and liked it, after that Tony&Guy's, but haven't been a fan. That's basically it! I sleep with my hair up some nights (a high bun secured with a very thick fabric band) and use a clip while washing my face. I use a Remington hair brush, that came with my curling wand.
This has been the longest text I've written since my bachelor dissertation, I think :D I'm sorry. But I hope, that you found it helpful and/or interesting to read. I also intend to post about my eyebrows (growing them out after years of serious over-plucking), maybe a few cooking and food posts (let me know, if you'd be interested in WIAWs for example or something similar) and definitely an autumn wishlist and wardrobe necessities.
I'd love to hear from you, if you have any feedback! Talk to you soon.