Things I've Tried: For Hair

I've been on a quest to go more natural with hair products, paying more attention to the unique qualities of my hair and what it likes.

I have fine wavy/curly hair that I dyed, straightened, under-conditioned and treated generally badly for years. After age 30, I felt my hair thinning a bit more and was worried that I was beginning to lose an unnecessary amount of strands due to damage. Along with a regular amount of scalp flakes and split-ends, I set out to explore ways to treat my hair differently. Now it's better than ever!

My favorite line of shower products is Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle. 

Wild, right? Reasons to love (shampoo, conditioner, and body wash):

  • vegan, no animal testing, lots of great natural ingredients

  • fresh scent that falls somewhere between mint and eucalyptus

  • refreshing tingling sensation, and tea tree oil helps with any dandruff

  • no parabens or laurel/laureth sulfates

  • a bottle is only $3.99!

  • lathers better than other low-poo options I've tried

  • feels pleasant, smells nice, and washes well...what else do you want?

Just look at this delightful shampoo ingredients list: water, tea tree oil, peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil, rosemary oil, nettle oil, thyme oil, birch leaf oil, chamomile, clary, lavender, coltsfoot leaf, yarrow oil, mallow, horsetail oil, soybean protein, coconut derived c12-14 olefin sulfonate (note: sulfonates are less harsh and more eco-friendly than straight up sulfates. In my opinion, what saves the TJ shampoo from being too harsh is that it's this far down on the ingredients list), cocamidopropyl betaine (natural foaming agent), tocopherol (vitamin E), trace minerals, citric acid (corn), sodium hydroxymethyglycinate (natural alternative to parabens), sea salt, grapefruit seed

Other hair improvements

- Cut it SHORT to give it a fresh start, and barely blow dried or straightened it for a year. I got in touch with my roots, if you will. The lack of damage, plus gravity, really made the curls come back into their own!

- Tried using NO SHAMPOO for a while. The theory behind "no poo" is that shampoo strips your scalp of all natural oils. Your scalp tries to make up for the sebum loss and ends up overcompensating, quickly causing a greasy head. By washing hair with a gentler alternative (people suggest baking soda and apple cider vinegar or even just water only), paired with brushing and preening any remaining natural oils toward the ends of the hair, you can achieve clean hair without the damage or dependency on daily shampooing.

The results weren't always consistent for me - I think it works better for people with thicker hair? I missed the refreshing lather and the guarantee that my hair could be made to look exactly the way I wanted at any given time. BUT after the experiment, I do feel that my hair transitioned in a very positive way. Plus, now I can shampoo my hair every 3-4 days or so without it looking bad at all! Can still rinse and finger-scritch it as much as you'd like, after workouts etc (sweat and hair sebum are different things).

- After that, I still wanted to remain more natural, with haircare that leans toward "low-poo" and AVOID DAMAGING -SULFATES and -CONES in the ingredients list. More info here. Now that I got my hair feeling so much healthier, I want to keep it that way!

- Discovered the glory of an EGG WASH as a once-a-month hair mask treatment (don't do it any more frequently, your hair can only take so much protein)! Sounds gross but it feels just like conditioner and the protein nourishes better than anything else. Most simple ingredient list ever: two egg yolks (I get rid of the whites, so they don't scramble in warm water)! Whisk em in a cup, and add a splash of water (~ a few tablespoons). Put it on dry hair in the shower, massage into scalp, clip your hair up and leave it on for 5-10 minutes while you do other shower stuff, and then rinse it out with the coolest water you can handle. Sounds crazy, but oh my god try it! Be amazed at how clean, light, and shiny your hair feels. More info here

- Bought a real BOAR BRISTLE BRUSH - helps distribute the natural oils in your hair from the roots down to the tips, leaving it shiny and smooth and extending the time between shampoos. Also helps me turn my curls into that vintage wave (see third photo below). More info here

- For hair growth, I take a BIOTIN supplement regularly (2500-5000 mcg per day is good for me, 10,000 mcg was too much and made my hair fall out more. More is not more)! I also love an occasional CASTOR OIL treatment for hair growth (I've also used it on eyebrows and eyelashes with lovely results)! More info here

- I still try to use LESS HEAT on my hair and let it do its natural thing as frequently as possible. Work with it, not against!

Everyone’s hair is different, and hair texture changes as we age. What works for me may not be great for someone who has lighter, thicker, more or less curly, or grey hair. But regardless of our hair type, I think everyone should consider haircare and read product bottles with a curious mindset: What’s in this and what does that mean for my hair? 

Maybe the answers to these questions will lead you to stop using shampoo, or maybe they'll lead you to a different product. Google has endless rabbit-holes of research you can disappear down.

Happy hair experimenting!