I was going through the ends of my hair to trim them, getting frustrated as I yet again stumbled across damaged, brittle ends that never seem to go away. I'm a bit of a perfectionist, and I'm determined to have healthy hair after damaging it so badly over the years with improper treatment (which I will go into soon). My goal: to have long, soft, healthy hair that does not need to ever be straightened or curled to make me feel good about it. After going through my hair with a small pair of scissors now and then for several months (I am trying to postpone a professional haircut for as long as I can to save money), I decided to do some hair research. I learned tons of great ways to improve the health of my hair and I will be sharing this information over a few blog posts. First I will cover what I did wrong.
1. Blow-drying, Straightening, and Curling
Oh, the things I did to my hair in high school. The fastest way to damage your hair is to constantly blow-dry, curl, or straighten your hair with heat. The heat dries out the hair as it rids the hair of the natural oil it needs to keep the hair strands together so they don't unravel at the ends. For about three years I have avoided straighteners and have let my hair air dry instead of using a blow dryer. This has been making a huge difference, and I'm finding that my hair's looking way better without heat damage. If you have to blow-dry your hair for some reason, use the cold setting on your blow-dryer to lessen the damage.
2. Not Trimming it Regularly
I've been pretty cheap with my hair, postponing haircuts as long as I can to save money, which makes my hair look worse over time. Split ends are irreparable so it's best to cut them off as quickly as you can; they travel up the hair shaft as the hair unravels so you actually end up ruining the rest of your hair in an attempt to keep the length. Your hair will appear to grow faster if you trim the ends every one to two months or so, depending on how quickly your hair becomes dry and brittle. Mine was so damaged this year, I was trimming it almost every three weeks in an attempt to catch the ends before they became worse (keep in mind I was trimming it myself, you would probably be better off going to Great Clips).
3. Using a Sulfate Shampoo
You know how shampoo has that wonderful bubbly quality when you lather it into the hair? You can thank sulfate. I did some research on sulfate shampoo and was horrified to learn of the damage it can do over time. If my research was reliable, sulfate dries the hair out (the sulfate strips the hair of it's natural oil) and prevents healthy new hairs from growing (the sulfate can invade the inactive hair follicles and make the new hairs weaker). It also can irritate the scalp and make your hair color fade over time (sulfate-free shampoo is perfect if you dye your hair). I decided to switch to an organic sulfate-free shampoo and am researching different brands to try. Is it more expensive? Yes, but my hair is on my head every day, so it's worth it to me. The only downside with sulfate-free shampoo (there are many benefits) is that there is a buildup in the hair over time, so I am thinking about using a sulfate shampoo once every one to two weeks to keep the hair clean. As scary as it is to use sulfate again. Yikes.
My next series of posts will cover more tips on what-not-to-do with your hair, research I've done including natural remedies, and how to trim your own split ends, along with my personal hair experiences. If you’re willing to join me on my crazy do-it-yourself hair-care journey, come along, but grab a pair of good quality scissors and leave the expensive salons behind.