My Best Hair Ever: My Hair Journey & Routine
Hello my friend!
Today I wanted to share some hair care tips! On my most recent Instagram grid post, I received a ton of requests for hair tips. I'm not interested in making a video for YouTube about this topic because there are SO many better creators who speak on this subject, but I did feel comfortable writing a blog post on this topic, so here we go!
Now, I began my journey to proper hair health around three and a half years ago.
Having grown up with relatively nice hair, I was completely unaware of the fact that just because you have nice hair currently, it doesn't mean you will have nice hair forever. Despite having thick, healthy waist-length hair in middle school, I fell prey to the 2000's trend of overheating, overcoloring, and over cutting my hair, all without ever attempting anything to mitigate the deadly effects. I was MUCH too comfortable with the smell of bleach, and I was even LESS comfortable with the concept of hair masks or hair care.
After years of hair dye, I didn't even know what my natural color was anymore. Every time I had any sort of darker blonde root come in, I scurried to the nearest drug store to pick up a light ash blonde hair kit to cover up and lighten up. But now, my hair sins were coming home to haunt me, as the lightening and bleaching had damaged my hair to such an extent that it was quite literally breaking off at the ends.
I'll never forget going in to see my hairdresser after two years of struggling with dry and broken hair. I showed up, my dry ratty hair tangled in an elastic-bound low bun, ready to humbly accept any and all help. I sheepishly removed the hair elastic while tearfully repenting of my hair sins, and begging for help to just get my hair HEALTHY again.
She calmly and sweetly walked me through general hair protection tips, performed a cut, and sold me some of the best keratin treatments and hair oils the salon had to offer. We did a hair mask, I promised to never damage it again, and I left feeling somewhat hopeful, but very aware that I had just begun a very long journey.
My main problem was going to be trying to salvage the damaged ends as the top part of my hair grew out. While I could have just done a big chop, I knew that short hair wasn't the most flattering style on me, so I began the arduous task of growing out the entire top half of my hair.
For months after, I dutifully performed my hair care, all the while bemoaning the short layers I found sprinkled around my head. I would be watching a film with my husband, mindlessly fingering through my hair, only to realize that the top half of my hair only reached the nape of my neck. From years of 2000's style layering, I had ended up with half my hair being a completely different length than the rest. And yes, it was enough to make a grown woman cry LOL.
But layering aside, the dryness was almost UNSPEAKABLE. I'll never forget laying in bed with my husband and hearing him quietly ask if I could move my hair away from his face because it was making his skin itch.
Oooooh the shame. Strawlike hair is NOT what you want your man to be running his fingers through...
My original goal was to grow out my hair, but that quickly morphed into a determination to simply grow out my layers, while trimming the bottom half until everything was the same length. This is surprisingly more difficult than you would imagine.
The top layer of hair receives the most damage: from hats, pillowcases, hairdryers, hairstyles, the wind, the sun, and countless other ways. And if you have delicate hair like mine, it makes it even more difficult to grow. I would constantly feel my hair breaking off at the ends, losing inch after inch of progress, even after months of care.
This was a dark time in my hair journey, but I knew that time would be the ultimate healing balm to my hair. I knew that if I was following all the rules, avoiding all my old mistakes, and simply waiting, that my hair would one day return to health.
And it did.
While my method of attack has changed a lot since beginning my journey, I would say that the most helpful thing I ever did was to start researching hair care, hair types, and different ways to grow out your hair. I of course did this on YouTube, but I also regularly read through different subreddits and forums to learn what I could about hair care.
The following routine is what I have been doing for the past six months, and what has yielded the best results. My top layer, which used to only reach the nape of my neck now reaches my breast, and I am SO happy. It has completely doubled in length, even with all of the breakage, meaning my growth has been good.
Before I began all of this, one of the best things I did was finding out my hair type. There are a few different elements that make your hair the way it is.
Firstly, it's important to know your curl pattern, your hair density, and the density of each individual hair. There are also factors such as your ethnicity, your hairline, and even your hair color which all affect the way your hair behaves, not to mention your diet, and how much or how little you've damaged your hair. And finally, we must remember too that scalp health is of extreme importance when trying to grow our hair out, and cannot be overlooked.
In total, virgin hair with no hair dye and little heat damage will respond MUCH differently to a hair growth routine than severely colored hair. But if you find yourself in the latter camp, it does not mean you will not be able to grow out your hair: you are just on a longer journey than others.
So using me as an example, I've identified my hair type as being unpigmented with a straight 1B/C curl pattern, fine individual strands, and a medium to thick amount of hair. It is also still damaged from about the bottom third down from lightening, and I have a propensity for dryness and flakes on my scalp.
I'm letting you know all of this because even though I'll be walking through my hair routine with you, it may or may not be helpful depending on how similar your hair type/hair history is to mine.
If I am not anywhere close to your hair type or history, I still encourage you to read this post as I offer some basic tips but also do your own research. It's surprisingly simple to figure out where you fall in the world of hair: you just have to do a little research.
I'm going to put a bullet point list of basic things and principles I applied before describing it in detail below.
- Oiling it before washing
- Scalp health management with shampoo & anti-inflammatory products
- Scalp health by using a scrubber to stimulate growth
- Protecting it from damage by using cotton/bamboo hair towels
- Using hair clips instead of ponytail holders to protect it
- Stop dying it
- Light trims at the bottom of the hair
- Stop touching it
- Wash regularly
- Use sealants and protectants from heat
- Detangle regularly
- Avoid damage from the elements
- Sleep in a protective style
- Change my diet
- Use a cleansing shampoo
- Use an extremely hydrating conditioner
- Be patient
So here is my complete hair routine!
Firstly, I wash my hair extremely regularly. I wash it a minimum of every third morning, and a maximum every other day. I began doing this after reading more about scalp health, and I can verify that my scalp feels SO much less irritated these days since adopting this routine. Many people think that it's best to wash your hair less often, but I have found that my hair has grown much healthier and is more manageable since washing it more frequently.
This video from Taylor R which goes through scalp health: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2q0J9x6YPRU&ab_channel=TaylorR
So the night before I am set to wash my hair, I put grapeseed oil through the shafts and to the ends. I do not put it on my scalp. I wipe the grapeseed oil on and brush it through, then follow that with witch hazel on my scalp to control irritability and inflammation. I used to get flakes quite regularly, but now that I apply witch hazel to my scalp, it has gotten much better.
Then, I brush my hair up into a bun and use large CLIPS to hold it in place. This is important: clips and satin scrunchies are safe for your hair, especially if it is fine or prone to breakage, whereas hair elastics or anything with a rough texture is NOT safe.
After sleeping I hop into the shower and remove the clips. I begin the wash with a cleansing wash that strips any buildup on my hair. This was an essential step for my hair journey as my hair tends to get a lot of buildup from products, hard water, and other sources, causing it to feel dirty, even after washing it.
So I use my cheap cleansing wash, then follow it up with a scalp healing cleansing wash. I wash my hair with shampoo twice, using both of these shampoos, making sure to scrub my scalp really good, getting all the areas. Then, I apply my hydrating conditioner to my entire head of hair, including my scalp. I let it sit for a while before rinsing it out and applying more only to the ends. If need be, I may shampoo again on the underneath part of my hair if it still feels like it needs a cleanse.
After finishing my shower, I run a gentle brush through my hair two times and wrap it in a cotton long sleeve shirt. It's important to avoid using rough towels or drying your hair with towels at all if you want to keep it safe from breakage! I wrap it up and push down on it to release the water. When it is 75% dry, I remove the shirt and apply my moisturizing hair cream before drying it with a brush and my hairdryer, either following the Brad Mondo blowout tutorial, or just drying it most of the way, and then applying clips to add volume.
Then I will wait a small amount of time, and remove the clips, revealing my fresh and bouncy blowout!
This blowout will last 2-3 days, but usually for 3 days. It lasts longer if I do not touch it or run my fingers through it, and only detangle it with a brush a couple of times throughout the day. I brush it out in the evening and sweep it into a clipped up bun for sleeping to avoid breakage/tangles in the night. I notice a MASSIVE difference in my hair if I fail to follow this step.
After the second day, I may have to add a little bit of dry shampoo to the oily parts and oil to the ends, but I typically stick with just brushing it out, maybe curling the ends a little, and straightening any cowlicks around my face. General maintenance is all I like to do with my hair, saving the real work for my wash/blowout routines.
Another thing I do to protect and grow out my hair is to watch out for wind damage.
Your hair can get extremely tangled and broken from a fun day out on the boat, or even from keeping the windows in your car open. I make sure that if I am going to be having the "wind blow through my hair," it is pulled back in a tight clipped bun, a braid, or it has a scarf around it to protect it. Remember, we're not necessarily fighting to grow our hair: we're fighting to prevent breakage!
As far as trimming it, I used to trim it regularly, but I actually haven't trimmed it since April to see if it would grow longer, and it has! But when I do trim it, I gather it all to the front of my body and just take a tiny smidge, only a millimeter, off the bottom with hair cutting scissors. Do not cut your hair with anything other than professional cutting scissors!
Finally, the last change I made was to pivot from a more plant and carb focused diet (bagels, salads, crackers, veggies, sandwiches) to an animal and protein-based diet. I did this for fertility reasons this past year, but I have noticed an extreme boost in my hair growth since doing this. I drink whole milk every day, eat eggs every morning, and eat at least one meal with meat once a day. I have cut out a lot of processed carbs and replaced them with protein-filled options like whole milk greek yogurt and various meats. Remember, hair is PROTEIN. It is literally made up of protein, and if you are not getting good protein, you will have a much harder time growing your hair.
In general, you could sum up my hair journey with the following sentence: I stopped dying my hair, began following a regular protection-based routine, and spent a lot of time waiting while eating protein-filled foods.
I hope this was helpful to you, or at the very least, somewhat inspiring! Our hair is all different, but I can definitely say that the gentler we are on our hair, the healthier our hair will be!
Finally, I am happy to report that as of one year ago, my husband quietly said to me that my hair doesn't make his face itch anymore. And yes, that was also enough to make a grown woman cry... tears of joy, not pain. LOL!
Here are the products I mentioned in my routine:
Grapeseed oil - https://amzn.to/2RDWCMx
Witch hazel - https://amzn.to/3iEoig9
Cleansing shampoo - https://amzn.to/33GTsNB
Healthy scalp cleansing shampoo - https://amzn.to/3kur2gx
Conditioner - https://amzn.to/3hFCDaZ
Scalp scrubber - https://amzn.to/33H4Hpb
Bamboo hair towel - https://amzn.to/2FxtQuL
Moisturizing hair cream & protectant - https://amzn.to/2EejC1D
Hair clips for a blowout - https://amzn.to/32I3y1t
Hair clips for protection - https://amzn.to/3cjup7m
Dry shampoo - https://amzn.to/2ZQqhqj
Hair oil - https://amzn.to/3kuVDuC