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08 January 2011 @ 10:48 pm
A Hair Story.  
Tonight, I'm telling a story.  A hair story.  I think most of you have probably seen my posts about LUSH Henna, and know I've been making some hair changes.  Well, those changes continue.  Last week, I henna'd my hair for a third time, and finally I am happy with it.  I also discovered, through a friend, a site called naturallycurly.com.  I hadn't seen this friend in a really long time, and was amazed at her shorter, curlier hairstyle.  I commented on how much I liked her knew cut, and she stated it wasn't actually a cut, just a different hair regime.  

Well, you know me.  I had to know more.  She told me about the above website, and then graciously let me try her new cleanser (NOT a shampoo, more on that later) and conditioner.  I loved my hair after, and so I've spent the past couple of days doing more research into this, and changing my own hair regime.  

Which is where the story comes in.  I'm going to put this behind an LJ cut, because it will be long-ish, and include pictures.  

It's true, right?  We girls always think some other girl has hair prettier than ours.  We spend hours and hours, and more money than we would ever admit at salons and stores, to make our hair what we want it to be.  Well, this is a story about a girl like that.

Once upon a time, when Rhien was a little girl, she had honey blond curls.  She hated/loved her curls, but adored her blond hair. (This picture is not the best lighting or focus, but it's one of the few I have that actually show my childhood curls off.)

As I grew up, the color of my hair darkened, into what I thought of first as "dishwater blond", and eventually "mousy brown".  Boring.  I waffled back and forth about my curls, alternating between straightening techniques, to perming it even curlier. But I never learned to love the brown.  Fear of harsh chemicals kept from bleaching it for a long time, but eventually, my lackluster brunette locks pushed me into attempting highlights.  For the next several years, I continued going blonder and blonder, until:

Yes.  Most pictures of me are in costume.  I hate my picture being taken, but costuming is one of the few times I decide it's okay.  Don't you love my attempt at a piratey sneer?

Look at that.  Well, to be fair, I deliberately made no attempt to do anything with my hair that morning, under the idea that pirate hair should look bedraggled at the very least.  What it looks like is straw!  Dry, straight, burned within an inch of its poor life!  

That was almost three years ago.  I was starting to think I needed to go back to my natural color, to give my hair a break.  But I didn't.  I just couldn't let go of the blond.  Then, a couple of years later, I lost my job.  Ooops, no more $$$ to splurge at the salon!  We all know coloring at a salon is anything but cheap!  So, looking for alternatives, I finally took the plunge with LUSH henna.  Brunette with red highlights sounded pretty enough to tempt me into finally giving up the blond.

It took me a couple of henna attempts to darken that bleached blond color.  You remember:

That was after the second henna.  Let's talk about that for a moment.  Look at how fluffy and frizzy my hair is there.  That's because that picture was taken after washing, and then curling, and then eventually the curls become...well, frizz.  I'm sure many, many other girls are familiar with the process.  

If you visit naturallycurly.com, you will very likely discover the existence of a book.  This book.  There are a handful of others with similar information.  The gist is this: we curly or wavy haired girls often spend much of our lives trying to straighten our hair.  And when we're not doing that, we try to restore the curls we used to have by all sorts of chemicals, irons, hot rollers, and what have you. Why restore, you might wonder?  What happened to those curls?  Well, shampoos and conditioners very commonly use silicone to make hair shiny and smooth.  Especially when it's for color treated hair.  My hair tangled all the time.  It was dry, and I thought heavy conditioning was the only thing to do after all that bleaching.  I was so, so wrong.

I wasn't really conditioning my hair.  The silicone build up was weighing my hair down, pulling my curl out and making it seem limp and thin.  The silicone was also preventing my hair from absorbing any actual good moisture, but not preventing it from absorbing water that would make it frizz!  No wonder I had so many bad hair days.  

You see, according to this book, there are actual proper ways to treat and care for curly hair, vs. straight hair.  Shampoos have harsh detergents in addition to the previously mentioned silicone. We've been trained to think of lather as good, when in fact, lather is an indication of harsh ingredients that strip our hair of the natural oils that would normally protect it.  Also, washing our hair every day is not actually good for it.  Note I said washing: it's perfectly okay to wet it every day, and even condition it every day with the right conditioner.  But cleansing it everyday, even with a silicone and detergent free cleanser, is often too much.  

Enter the Curly Girl Method, designed to care for those hair types that have natural curl or wave, and make the most of them.  There are many products, both expensive and on a budget, that are Curly Girl friendly.  I was personally AMAZED at the difference one day makes, and apparently the longer you follow the method, the better your curls look and get!  Here is what I have been doing for the past few days:

I chose to use the same paraben-sulfate-silicone free cleanser (NOT a shampoo, which have harsh detergents!) that my friend let me borrow.  It's also the same brand created by the author of the above book.  DevaCurl No-Poo (meaning no-shampoo).  Prior to this, I was already only washing my hair every couple of days.  Now, I plan to use No-Poo about once a week.  

I know, blasphemy, right?  But have no fear.  This does NOT mean your head must be dirty the rest of the week.  You see, conditioner contains enough cleansing agent to work as a very mild cleanser on it's own.  Gently massaging it into your scalp with small, circular motions will loosen anything built up on your scalp and then rinse it away.  If you want to do this every day, you can.  I use DevaCurl One Conditioner.  It, like its cleanser counterpart, is paraben-sulfate-silicone free.

~ So, once a week, I gently work the No-Poo onto my scalp and through my hair, and then rinse.  It doesn't lather at all, but I could still tell it was worked into my hair, which felt clean after rinsing.  Following this, I work the conditioner through my hair with my fingers, also massaging my scalp.  The rest of the week, I simply skip the shampoo step.  

~ After the conditioner is in my hair, I let it sit while I do the rest of my shower routine.  This takes a few minutes.  Then, I DO NOT RINSE the conditioner from my hair.  Instead, I cup my hands and splash this collection of water over my head and hair three or so times.  With my hair still dripping, I use an old, soft T-shirt (NOT a towel!!) and with my head bent over, gently "scrunch" my hair, squeezing excess water and conditioner out through the T-shirt.  "Scrunching" is cupping the strands of hair in your palms and lifting them toward your scalp, then squeezing gently.  Do this all over your head until your hair is no longer dripping.  Then towel the rest of yourself off as normal, without touching your hair. (The fibers of towels are harsh to your precious curls, and promote frizz!)

~ Next comes another counter-intuitive approach - do NOT comb or brush your hair.  EVER.  Seriously.  If you can, finger-comb your locks post shower.  If you can't yet (eventually you will), use a hair pic with the LARGEST gap between teeth you can find.  Mine has half an inch.  Only get the tangles out, and then leave it.

~ Next, apply a styling cream or gel.  Joico Curl Definer, for example.  Or DevaCurl Angell.  Whatever you use, make sure it is silicone-sulfate-paraben free.  What's the point of going through all of that if you're just going to dump all that stuff on your hair again?  I have found Joico to give me curl definition without making my hair 'crunchy'.  I like it quite a bit.  Anyway, apply the styling agent of your choice by "scrunching" it into your hair once again.  Then, let your hair dry.  If you MUST use a blow dryer (I never do), use a defuser.  Regular blow drying will DESTROY all that hard work you just went through.  A defuser will preserve your curls.  

And here is my hair now, after trying this regime for three days:

I should also mention, this was taken tonight, approximately nine hours after my shower, after running around in the rain for most of the day.  (Grocery store, Target, movies).  So while yes, these is a little frizz, I cannot even describe to you how limp and drab my hair would have been after this sort of day before.

I did nothing else to my hair except what was described above.  It is soft, wavy-curly, had actual body, and was not destroyed by repeated ducking through the rain. (Also, I LOVE LOVE LOVE my color now.  This third LUSH treatment really made it perfect.  Dark enough to blend with my real color, but with gorgeous red highlights, especially out under the sun.)

I really hope that three or six months from now, those curls will be more defined.  You should see some of the transformations that happen.  Seriously, amazing curls.  Without using an iron, chemicals, or rollers.  But even if this is as curly as my hair gets, I'm still pleased.  And my hair feels healthier than it's been in years...decades, in fact.  

One more thing I'm going to add to my regime is Argan oil.  It's the new rage across the hair care world.  Except salons and salon stores are pushing it under the "exclusive" brands such as Agadir and MoroccanOil.  If you look at the actual ingredients list of these, you'll find Argan oil is number four or five on the list, behind several different silicones, etc.  

I ordered mine from this place, a reputable company specializing in organic beauty supplies.  They don't put anything else in their Argan oil except...the oil.  They offer inexpensive flat rate shipping, and a new 30% off coupon code in their newsletter each month.  (I also ordered a couple of other things to try.  The reviews I found have a lot of people really pleased with their products.)  

Anyway, my plan is to work just a small dab (a little apparently goes a looooooong way) through my hair before I add my styling gel.  I'll report back with my thoughts after I've tried it.  

The first day I did this, I had to use my hair pic on my hair.  I no longer have to.  It detangles easily with my fingers after my shower.  When you consider how damaged my hair was by all that bleaching, it's come a long, long way.  For the first time in my life, I'm actually really happy with my hair.  I don't wonder how to style it.  I don't wish I had someone else's hair.  And I'm no longer spending insane amounts of money at the salon every couple of months.  

So let's hear some hair stories!  Are there any other Curly Girls on my f-list?  Or anyone on a no-Poo regime?   
Current Mood: pleasedpleased
Queen of the Skiesqueenoftheskies on January 9th, 2011 06:50 am (UTC)
Your hair is BEAUTIFUL!
rhienellethrhienelleth on January 9th, 2011 07:17 am (UTC)
Thanks. :) I am certainly much happier with it now.
toastandtea on January 9th, 2011 07:03 am (UTC)
Aaaaaaahhhhhh this post is awesome. I've been pushing toward more natural treatments for my hair recently -- and finally cut my shampooing from every day to once or twice a week -- but i still haven't found the right products to use or been happy with the way my hair LOOKS (frizz is a huuuuuge problem for me). This seems like an awesome way to go. Your hair looks amazing!
rhienellethrhienelleth on January 9th, 2011 07:17 am (UTC)
Thank you! :) I've been on a more natural kick myself for awhile. There are so many benefits to it!

I really recommend at least skimming through Amazon's preview of the book if you don't buy it - there's specific info in there that helped me understand my hair better. Also, googling "curly girl method" brings up several how to's, although not always clear ones. Naturallycurly.com has all the same info, too, as well as product reviews and descriptions. Their message boards are a great place to pick up ideas for what products to try. Everyone's hair is a little different, so what works for me might not be the right combination for you, etc. (Although I think it would be a good starting point.)

Most of my frizz is gone, and I'm really hoping the Argan oil application will take care of the little bit left. Or just using this method for longer. They say it takes two weeks for your hair to really settle into it, but I'm noticing huge differences right away. Also, I am impatient. :)

Let me know how it goes! I'm always excited when other people try things I'm totally enthralled with!
a joyful girl getting loudperi_peteia on January 9th, 2011 07:18 am (UTC)
Thanks for the links!

I stopped using anything non-organic on my hair a few years ago and I'm always looking to try new products.
rhienellethrhienelleth on January 9th, 2011 07:35 am (UTC)
Sure! The No-Poo and Conditioner One are not quite all natural, but they don't have the things I'm concerned about putting on my hair, so...maybe I'll end up trying something else down the road.

However, that link to the Argan oil is dangerous! I ordered some facial cleanser and cream as well as the oil, because I've been looking at moving to more natural products there as well. I glanced at the body stuff and forced myself not to look any closer, or I'm sure I'd have ended up with one or two of those in my basket, too. Coupon code this month in january30 (saves 30%).
(Deleted comment)
rhienellethrhienelleth on January 9th, 2011 04:39 pm (UTC)
Yeah, the difference is amazing!
eretria: beautyeretria on January 9th, 2011 09:45 am (UTC)
That's just gorgeous, Rhien, both the lovely curls as well as the colour!
rhienelleth: beautyrhienelleth on January 9th, 2011 04:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Yes, I'm really pleased with the color. Unfortunmately, when my previously bleached hair grows all the way out, I don't think that same color will be achievable on my normal brunette hair. I'm still hoping to get a bit of a red sheen to it, though. And when I go more gray, THEN I'll be able to get this again. :)
Fatemafatema on January 9th, 2011 11:35 am (UTC)
Wow! Your hair looks so beautiful, color and curl.

Thanks for sharing your experience. Since I've been in Bangladesh, I've turned to using coconut oil in my hair before I shampoo (which I do twice a week). I don't usually need a conditioner, but if I use one, it works out. I started doing this in BD because the water is heavy and is really terrible on my hair. It was breaking and thinning quite a bit. But, I've been using it for eight or so months and I'm really happy. I predict I'll use it elsewhere, too, since it'll protect my hair overall. My hair is also fuller. :)

I was actually thinking about changing my hair up a bit with color. This is making me rethink it, though. I don't know how hair like mine (black) will take to henna either. Things to think about. :)
Vanzetti: be sure to bring provisionsvaznetti on January 9th, 2011 02:46 pm (UTC)
In my dark-brown-hair experience, henna does not have much of an effect, no matter how many hours I leave it in -- but you may be able to get something different in BD that will work on black heair.
(no subject) - rhienelleth on January 9th, 2011 04:44 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - fatema on January 9th, 2011 05:28 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Sandy Williamssandy_williams on January 9th, 2011 02:06 pm (UTC)
Interesting post! And your hair looks great. I have straight hair, so I don't need to follow the curly girl routine, but I've been trying to take better care of my hair these last few months. It's so, so oily, that I've always had to wash it every morning, even if I wash it the night before. And, of course, then I blow dry it, which is really terrible for it. I'm trying to "train" it to go every other day without washing now. It's not going great, but I thought what you said about the conditioner working instead of a shampoo was interesting. I think I might give that a try.

rhienellethrhienelleth on January 9th, 2011 04:56 pm (UTC)
See, I think using shampoo is going to hamper your efforts. That harsh detergent strips your hair, so then it overproduces oils to try and compensate (well, your scalp does). The only part of the CG routine unique to curls is the drying method, I think. I bet if you switched to something like my paraben-sulfate-silcone free cleanser and conditioner, you'd find your hair less oily. I know mine is! And yes, using just the conditioner for three or four days between cleansings I bet would work well! I know there are some really inexpensive ones out there to try (goes to look) - ah, yes. You could try something from the Suave Naturals line, apparently. Their conditioners at least - not sure, but I can't find if their shampoos are p-s-s free.

If you try it, let me know how it goes!
(no subject) - eggies_red_dres on January 9th, 2011 11:31 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - rhienelleth on January 9th, 2011 11:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - eggies_red_dres on January 9th, 2011 11:46 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Vanzettivaznetti on January 9th, 2011 02:44 pm (UTC)
I have a friend who absolutely swears by the curlygirl system. I keep thinking of trying something like it, but do need to comb my hair out, especially if I don't keep it short (my hair basically sticks to itself as it gets longer).

I really enjoyed reading your earlier posts about henn -- it reminded me of many teenaged experiments with the stuff (which has no effect on my hair -- to dark), and how nice and silky it made my hair feel!
rhienellethrhienelleth on January 9th, 2011 05:01 pm (UTC)
Hmm, yes but what's your current care routine? I convinced a friend of mine with horribly tangly (SUPER naturally curly and LONG) hair to give this a go. She has always had to "comb" her conditioner through her hair in the shower to get it to de-tangle properly. This always results in a huge ball of hair that has come out/broken off during the process. I took my products over to her house (she'd been complaining about losing her curl definition and more frizz to her hair these days) and waited while she tried it. When she was done, she said "I have to show you something!" and held out the hair pic she'd used on her hair - a few, as in maybe four or five, strands of hair clung to it. That was all that came out of her hair during her detangle experience.

She's going to try the method for a couple of weeks, and see if her tangling issues lessen. Anyway, you could try it and always see if you can wean away the comb as time goes. There's definitely a "transition" period when switching to this.
-peartreealley on January 9th, 2011 03:11 pm (UTC)
Ooooh. That looks lovely.

I have straight hair with the slightest wave (just enough to give me friz!), and now that it's down past my waist (and most of the bleached parts are gone), I've been fiddling with ways to keep it healthier. I've been washing my hair every day for decades, and been trying to get to every other day. I manage for a while, but then go back to it because my hair feels funny if I don't, because I'm so used to the squeaky-clean feel. Luckily, I don't ever blow-dry. I've been using LUSH's R&B with some luck for the friz-factor, though.

Anyway! Your hair looks gorgeous, and I'm going to have to try some these techniques ^_^
rhienellethrhienelleth on January 9th, 2011 05:05 pm (UTC)
I remember your hair! Yeah, probably not much for actual curls, but I think you might want to consider trying the conditioner-wash method (ie, washing w/conditioner instead of shampoo). My hair still feels really clean. As I write this, I haven't taken my morning shower yet. Usually, this results in greasy or getting stringy and gross hair for me, but it still feels soft and clean. Just remember to massage it over your scalp, where dirt collects, and then rinse. Most conditioners have enough actual cleanser in them to use as a mild wash for your hair in between actual washings.

Patron Saint of Pessimismwoodrunner on January 9th, 2011 04:21 pm (UTC)
Aw, gorgeous hair!

I wonder if there's a similar website for girls with straight hair? I'm like sandy_williams -- straight hair, but after a day it gets so greasy I have to wash it again.
rhienellethrhienelleth on January 9th, 2011 05:11 pm (UTC)
You should look at my reply to her - the gist being, other than the drying/scunching stuff at the end, I think you might want to try the washing/conditioning method I describe. Straight ot curly, it's a healthier way for your hair. The sulfates in most shampoos startup your hair of its natural oils, and then your overproduce oil, making it get all greasy. (I speak from the experience of having the exact same problem previously, except with wavy hair).

I used to actually feel a little better about my hair coloring it, because it felt less greasy all the time (because I'd damaged it within an inch of its life! Not the best anti-grease method.)

Anyway, there are some really inexpensive conditioners out there, to try the conditioner-wash, or no-shampoo method. If that's too drastic, try a No-poo or Low-poo shampoo (the one I link to on amazon, or here's an inexpensive one someone recc'd on the CG forums. I think if you try it you'll see a difference.
KayJayUU: feelthatkayjayuu on January 9th, 2011 05:55 pm (UTC)
I may have to give something like this a shot. I have naturally wavy hair, which usually curls when I cut it short. Only this time it hasn't curled. I don't know whether it's because I'm older, getting more gray, very low humidity or wearing winter caps every day. Or a combination. I've never done anything much to it: wash and condition every few days, usually air dry, rarely use heat in any fashion.

I hate fiddling with my hair. But I want to do something for it, I don't like the gray, it's making me look mousey and older.

I'll look into this. It sure looks great with your hair!
Eggie: effigyeggies_red_dres on January 9th, 2011 11:40 pm (UTC)
Curly girl was a great place for me to start. Strait hair made me have to try baking soda and vinegar rinses. I wash probably ever 10 days in winter and every 7 in summer, though I can rinse it in hot water daily if I could stand to let it dry.

I've not tried henna yet, but was considering it. My hair is close to your second attempt color naturally.

Overall, it reaps a much better overall condition to the hair, with far less breakage. Shedding is largely the same I find. Currently the only issues I have with it are flakes at the root, but I had those with shampoo to, so it's hardly a worse situation.
rhienellethrhienelleth on January 9th, 2011 11:49 pm (UTC)
I really recommend the LUSH hennas - not only do they come in more colors than bright flame red - NOT the one I'd use. I went with five squares of the Caca Marron (darker red or auburn) and one of the Caca Brun (brown) - but they're 'safe' henna. Nothing that should react badly with previous chemical dyes, and no harsh additives/ingredients that can cause harm to your hair or skin. If not LUSH, research carefully before buying. I found when I looked around and read reviews, not all henna is created equal.

Oh, have you tried adding a T. of brown sugar to a co-wash? I've heard that exfoliates the scalp and helps get rid of flakes. Maybe followed by a honey "mask" for moisturizing? IDK. I'm just getting into all this more natural hair care stuff. :)

Edited at 2011-01-09 11:52 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - eggies_red_dres on January 9th, 2011 11:57 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - rhienelleth on January 10th, 2011 12:00 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - rhienelleth on January 10th, 2011 12:08 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - eggies_red_dres on January 10th, 2011 06:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - rhienelleth on January 10th, 2011 08:34 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - eggies_red_dres on January 11th, 2011 05:44 am (UTC) (Expand)