It’s a truly rare occasion where I’m content with my hair… And when I am, I have a self-destructing tendency to wreck it.
2014 was the year I dabbled with ‘Japanese Hair Straightening’. (For those not in the know, this is a more concentrated version of the ’12 Week Brazilian Blowdry’.)
My first experience with a Brazilian Blowout was when I was in college and had bleached my hair Gwen Stefani platinum. Obviously my damaged tresses couldn’t handle such an ordeal, and quickly disintegrated into candy floss. But fret for me not – An easy breezy 12 week blow-dry later, and my mane was resuscitated. (Que a few months later and this Godsend treatment was taken off the market. Fucking formaldehyde banning bastards! I tried another two or three non-formaldehyde Brazilian blow-outs post-banning, but their results paled in comparison.)
Last year, a trip to Miami introduced me to Japanese Straightening. ‘Twas all the range there, but my bleached locks were no match for it’s beastly strength – My hair was straightened, I’ll give it that, but it’s texture was akin to le brillo pad. Totes devo, I returned to Dublin and booked in to Pzazz hoping they could transform my matted mane, but sure enough all they could do was chop away, and I was left with a bob. Actually, a bob is too complimentary, more a graduated bob with steps at the back circa 1995.
And so, for the last year I have been insanely kind to my hair, and I have to admit – I’m happyish with it once more. (I still hate it obviously, as I always will), but it is growing at its fastest rate in years, and it’s in relatively decent condition – for bleached, naturally dry hair.
These are my tricks of the trade…
1. I reduced the frequency in which I wash my hair.
I aim to wash my hair no more than twice weekly. Obviously this totally depends on your hair type – I have dry hair which I could probably leave for a full week if I wanted to before getting greasy roots. Washing my hair less often means less heat styling, which results in less long-term damage.
2. Use Cotton Tee-Shirts instead of Towels.
This is such an easy hack, and if your hair is naturally frizzy, it makes such a difference. After washing my hair, I simply wrap an old tee-shirt around my hair, instead of a bath towel. The soft cotton material in the tee-shirt absorbs excess moisture far better than a towel, and it’s a kazillion times less harsh on your mane.
3. Leaving Hair Masks in Overnight/As Long as Possible.
When I know I’ve time to wash it out in the morning, I’ll always sleep with an intensive hair mask on overnight. (So at least once a week for me). I literally bomb through hair conditioners and masks like no tomorrow. Over the years I’ve tested the majority of brands, both high-end and high-street, and the mask which springs to mind as I type is Lush’s ‘H’suan Wen Hua’ hair treatment. It smells rank but does an amazing job at moisturising your locks. Coconut oil is another beauty.
4. Taking Hair Supplements.
I’m a divileen for buying vitamins and giving up on them after a few days. However, due to the aforementioned graduated bob, I made a conscious decision to take a vitamin designed for hair growth every day. I went with ‘Country Life’s: Maxi Hair Plus’ which I purchased online via iherb.com. These contain all the regular nutrients, along with a high dose of biotin, which is supposedly excellent for your skin, hair and nails.
5. Regular(ish) Cuts.
To be honest, I think it’s farcical to get your hair trimmed the recommended every six weeks if you’re trying to grow it out. However, it does make sense to get the split ends dusted off as frequently as needs be, so as to avoid them diffusing up your mane. I am normally an embarrassment, and get my hair cut only (if even) when getting it highlighted (usually every four-ish months). However, in the last year I got my hair trimmed every 12 weeks, and (somewhat annoyingly)… I did definitely notice the benefits.
6. Increasing Blood Flow to the Scalp.
AKA: brushing your hair upside down. When you have time to spare, youtube “Inversion method for hair growth”. I actually did this for a week. I’m not sure if my hair grew from it, but it did definitely make my hair healthier and glossier if nothing else. At night, I’ve started to always brush my hair (with a tangle teaser) upside down, before throwing it into a topknot. By doing this, I’m basically giving myself a mini-scalp massage, which is stimulating my hair follicles. Also, I find that by doing this I get much longer between hair washes, as I’m combing out any excess hair product, and natural oil build up. Also, by pinning my hair up at night, my gruaig avoids looking (too) dishelvelled in the morning, and therefore requires less heat styling. Winning!
7. Nioxin Diaboost.
The stylist in Di Milo saw me coming with this one. But in fairness, my hair has definitely thickened up since I’ve started using this product. Nixon Diaboost is a scalp spray, (containing caffeine, panthenol, and B Vitamins), which claims to both thicken the individual strand of spray, as well as preventing breakage and thus promote hair growth. What I like about this spray is that it’s water based, so you don’t need to wash it out. I spray my scalp with it at night (when I can be arsed), massage it for a few seconds (with my head upside down!), and then pin my hair up, as per the previous point.
8. Sodium Free Shampoo.
I (had to) ditch sodium based shampoos when I got my first 12 Week Blow-dry. Sodium is used as a foaming agent in shampoos, and dissolves the keratin coating fused on the hair follicle during the hair treatment. Sans-sodium shampoos are pricey, and so once my 12 or so weeks were up post blow-dry, I returned to my regular shampoos. And the difference was cray – my hair feels so dry and brittle if don’t go sodium-free. Sulphate-free shampoos are all the rage now, but sodium-free will have it’s day, mark my words! When buying your shampoo, check the ingredients for any S.L.S (sodium lauryl sulphate), or any sodium-containing syllables, i.e.: disodium, trisodium, etc etc. If they feature in the first half of the listed ingredients I tend to avoid. Aveda shampoos are sodium free, if you want to treat yo’self.