Blow dryers, curling irons, & straighteners, oh my!
All these hot tools that make our hair look good for a while can cause serious stress and damage. Trust me, I know - I've put my poor, fine locks through more trauma than they could handle! I've tried all kinds of products to mend split ends and prevent heat damage, but do you want to know the secret to really preventing all that breakage? Be nice to it!
High school me would have been so annoyed with that tip. I used to wash my bleach-blonde hair every day, blow dry it on high heat, and then either straighten or curl it afterward. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. And then I'd scour the aisles of Wal-Mart looking for a split-end mender, as if that would undo all the damage. Dang, high school me was REALLY unreasonable.
A few years ago, I finally realized that treating my hair like denim when it's really more like silk was probably the reason I was having trouble with limp, dull, damaged hair. Since then, I've been able to maintain steady hair growth and control the inevitable split ends that happen over time with fine hair. And today, I'm sharing my tips on how I've been able to grow and maintain longer, healthier locks.
TIP #1: START WITH A CLEAN SLATE.
Let's get this out of the way first: get rid of your dead, split ends. I know, this is no one's favorite part. I'm seriously so protective over my hair that I've awaken at night in a cold sweat thinking about cutting off all my hair. (Okay, maybe I'm dramatic.)
Those split ends will keep splitting up the hair shaft if you allow them to continue, so cut them off. Then move on to step two.
TIP #2: COOL IT WITH HOT TOOLS.
The second and probably most important step I could in taking back my hair health was scaling WAY back on blow drying, straightening, or curling my hair. I'm not gonna lie - it was a huge adjustment to make! I wasn't lying when I said I'd wash, blow dry, and straighten or curl it every morning. I had to let go of the idea that my hair would look perfect every day and embrace its natural texture. (Some days it turned out looking natural & carefree; other days, it looked like a complete dumpster fire. That's what hats and scrunchies are for!) But that's just it - in cutting back on my use of hot tools to manipulate my hair to look a certain way, I actually did begin to embrace the texture I have and love the way it looks naturally.
There will, of course, be some instances when you'll feel the need to use hot tools, and it's fine once in a while. Just don't be surprised like high school Rachel when you've got crazy split ends after annihilating it with a blow dryer and straightener every day.
TIP #3: SPACE OUT YOUR WASHES.
Aside from cutting my hair, this was probably the hardest step for me. My hair is naturally blonde and fine, and it shows grease so quickly. In the beginning, even if I skipped one day of washing, my roots would turn dark and I felt like everyone was looking at my greasy hair. If you start spacing out your washes, you might experience this same thing, at least at first! This is due to an overproduction of sebum, the natural oil your skin produces.
If you wash your hair daily, you're stripping these natural conditioning oils from your scalp, which signals the scalp to produce more sebum. But the good news is that by leaving a day in between washes, you can actually re-train your hair to produce sebum at a normal rate. So even though you may feel like a complete grease-ball at first, eventually your hair will adapt and produce a healthy amount of naturally conditioning oils that strengthen each strand. Say it with me: HATS ARE MY FRIEND.
TIP #4: AVOID BREAKAGE BLUNDERS.
You are damaging your hair while you sleep. Yikes! If you sleep with your hair down on a cotton pillowcase, that friction alone may be causing breakage, especially if you have fine, delicate hair like me. I've ditched my standard pillowcase for a satin one and have seen a huge difference. Since it's a smoother material than cotton or linen, your hair and skin experience less friction when sleeping on a satin or silk pillowcase. It's a cheap swap to make for huge results!
Another breakage blunder might include parting your hair the same way for a long time. I've noticed that near my side-part, the hairs along my hairline just won't grow past a certain point. It took me way too long to realize that my side-part needs a break after over a decade of styling it this way! Try moving your part to give that area some time to grow.
Last, be cautious not to consistently tie up your hair in the same place with elastic hair ties. Because elastic is tight and grippy, it can cause pretty significant breakage, especially if you're using these hair ties in the same ponytail placement consistently. These days, there are tons of alternatives to elastic that are much gentler on your hair (I use these) so again, this is an easy swap to make.
And last, but not least...
TIP #5: CHOOSE PRODUCTS WISELY.
Let me give it to you straight: the hair products that are worth having are usually more expensive than you'd like them to be. But investing in good products could afford you fewer trips to the salon for damage-control if you're properly maintaining the hair you have. Plus, if you're spacing out your washes embracing your natural hair, you're probably using very little product at a time, making that one-time purchase last for months.
Investing in products with high-quality ingredients is not only going to help you maintain and grow your hair, it's an all-around safer option. Some products contain harmful chemicals that stunt your hair's growth and cause dry, irritated skin and prevent your hair from maintaining its natural conditioning process. Plus, higher-end products are more concentrated than cheap dollar store products, so you only need to use a small amount at a time.
The bottom line: you can cut costs in so many other ways, but it's important to invest in high quality products that actually nourish your hair. Pro tip: look for annual sales at stores like Beauty Brands to stock up on your favorite salon products for a huge discount! I buy only one liter each of shampoo and conditioner to last me an ENTIRE YEAR at their annual liter sale (happening soon!).
What are your favorite healthy hair tips? I'd love to know! Leave a comment below with your favorite habits for healthy hair!