Making HairWork - Naturally
Ok. Full Disclosure... I wash my hair about once a week. I remember when this was something from the days of beauty parlors and beehives, but I guess now it describes me too. I must admit, I get less weird looks these days and more "Oh, me too's." Only now we do it not to preserve some fancy do, but because quite frankly - we don't need to. When I look at why I used to wash my hair daily, it was because if i didn't my hair was an uncontrollable mess.
Now, we all have different hair types - some are fine and volume-less, others are coarse and oily. We all come different. Mine is curly. An unmistakable kind of curly that should come from some well known origin, but doesn't. Nobody else in my family has my hair which, along with doubting genetic linkage to these straight-haired normals, sparked a lot of childhood comments like "Honey, you really need to brush your hair", which never gave them the outcome they had hoped for. Like almost everyone, I followed the yellow brick road of hair care. My hair was dry and fuzzy all the time. I had to wash my hair every day that I wanted to go anywhere public, but it was the after products that created the real circus act...Conditioner, Leave-in Conditioner, both Mousse & Gel (a very specific technique), Anti Frizz Goo (brand name withheld), and Hair Spray (it was the 80's). It took 2 hours at top speed using a hair diffuser (THAT was a modern sculpture on its own). My hair was exhausting! When people would say 'I like your hair', some primal noise would blast up from deep within me as a response. And so this went on...
Seven years ago, my daughter was 10 and began developing a reaction to hair care products that culminated in what seemed like a chemical burn to her scalp. We kept washing with this and that medicated shampoo and prescription treatments. It itched & burned her and she was diagnosed with eczema, psoriasis, & chronic dandruff. Her skin sloughed off into her dark brown hair in ugly white flakes that seemed to have no end. I became so frustrated at how depressed she was getting. I was determined that she was not diseased and began researching product ingredients and allergens and the chemistry of soapmaking. I had made soap only one other time & I worked for 4 months before I had her a shampoo bar ready to try on her hair. She washed her hair and body with it and by the second washing, her skin and hair were all clear. This event sent me on a mission to explore allergen free body care as well as natural hair care (and to start my own business :)
Folks have a lot of different opinions here, but for me it means not fighting against the hair you have and eliminating toxic hair care products. The more you fight for what your hair isn't, the more products you need to achieve it. Good Hair Care is Good Health Care. Beautiful hair is is not always healthy hair, but healthy hair is always beautiful.
It should never be all about chasing products to fix your hair problem. You should start by addressing your hair and body's health and your hair problem might just work itself out. Hair is made mostly of protein and can be highly effected by many non-topical things too like hormones, diet, genetics, and medications. It can be the canary in the coal mine to some extent. It can be hard to stop chasing the wonderfixes and magic pills. Our bodies tell us all the time when they are in distress and sometimes we don't know to pay attention. Some of the most common inquiries I get are about dandruff, cradle cap or many just saying that their scalps itch. The first thing they ask me is 'Do I have something to 'treat' it?' My questions are always about finding out the cause - not how to treat it. My question is "What are you putting on your hair?", and "What are the ingredients?" Almost always, we are using products that create these problems. I won't treat your skin problems. I only offer a natural hair care solution without the most problematic chemicals.
Less products = Less toxins. By reducing the toxins that our hair is exposed to, we eliminate some of the distress that we put onto our hair, our follicles and scalp. Most commercial hair care is full of some really bad chemicals...
Used For: preservative in most hair care (shelf life is imperative to big companies)
Effects: effects hormones, causes rashes from allergic reactions, drys skin
*Silicones (anything name ending in -icone):
Used For: shampoo/Conditioner/Detangler/anti-frizz hair oils
Effects: causes hair to feel good, but dries it from the inside out, block pores
*Alcohol (glycols and chemicals that end in - yl):
Used For: preservative, quick drying products
Effects: dries out hair
Used For: ph neutralizer and emulsifier (helps to mix combination of water and oil)
Effects: makes hair brittle, causes scalp reactions/strips hair
Used For: foaming agents
Effects: strips natural oils, dries and makes hair brittle
But as consumers get wise, most hair care companies are catching on and creating clever marketing campaigns featuring Paraben-Free and Sulphate Free option, but really they just swap them out with things like:
Cocamide DEA: Modified from coconut oil
Used For: foaming agent (replacing SLS in shampoo, conditioner, and even toothpaste)
Effects: carcinogen (contributes to cancer development)
Unfortunately consumers are forced into a position of having to read and understand ingredients and find brands they can trust (and sometimes those get bought out by Clorox). My suggestions would be not to support companies that do this. A good way to do this is to jump onto the rock'n natural hair care bandwagon.
We think of shampooing as a necessary, every day thing and maybe it is for you, but not for all of us. For oily scalps, some of those harsh, drying, allergen filled, products contribute to overproduction from your scalp as it tries to combat the drying irritants. For drier hair, conserving the natural oils becomes even more important. When you can allow your hair and scalp to not conflict with your hair care products you will notice a synergy allowing a healthier and easier routine. While the reason I started down this path was for my daughter, I discovered a whole new ease for my own hair care that I may not have ventured to do otherwise. We all have different hair with different needs, but if natural hair care is something that can work for you, it's worth the effort to give it a go. My hair is still a pain, but now I love it. In some ways it defines me. I would never straighten it and when people say to me 'I like your hair', I say back to them 'Thanks. We've been through a lot!'
As my husband, my Chemist, the love of my life/pain in my ass, Yoda himself says:
Do Less. Better.
I think this applies to hair care. I know I actively work on this each day, but as we all know, getting there is the journey.