I've had a rollercoaster relationship with my hair over the years, it tends to follow a pattern of me loving my hair super long and growing it out as much as I can before it turns and goes very dead on the ends until I end up chopping about 5/6 inches off and having it collarbone length and repeating the cycle pretty much yearly. I used to be much worse at getting my hair cut but now I like to try and go two to three times per year, I've never coloured my hair and although I toy with the idea I know my hair is much healthier and less maintenance because I stick to my natural colour.
I've picked up lots of little habits for caring for my hair over the years but its not something I've ever really blogged about before so I thought I'd put together a haircare edit all about the kinds of products I like to use, tips for styling and caring for my hair as well as some bad hair day tips and a few science-y haircare bits to bare in mind as well. I'll do more focused haircare edits for how to grow your hair, risks to take, ways to control curls ect. I always love getting feedback on my posts so if there's something you'd like to know more about I'm happy to put my thoughts together in a post. For today however lets just jump into the basics.
As I've mentioned my hair type is pretty long, very thick, and it has a natural curl/wave to it. If I don't blow dry my hair I do get quite unruly curls and some frizz which I'm not a fan of so although I know its naughty I am a big fan of my hairdryer and don't see myself embracing my natural hair anytime soon. With my hair being as thick as it is I pretty much always get layers cut in to get rid of some of the weight but I also think it gives my hair some nice shape at the back and it works with my natural curls/waves really well. I try and stick to the same haircare routine for a few months at a time, or change it up as the seasons change just to try and give my hair time to feel the benefit.
Some of my haircare product basics include...
- Shampoo and Conditioner - I tend to spend a little more money on my shampoo and conditioner, purely because I am a fan of washing my hair almost daily so if I'm going to be using these products that regularly then it's worth investing in something thats going to be better for my hair. In terms of product type I like a volumising or shine formula and I always buy matching shampoo and conditioner, I feel like they were developed to work best together so why not use them as they were intended. Another bonus of buying products in a bigger size is that they often come with pumps that dispense the perfect amount of product so you don't need to worry about going through product too quickly or wasting any, when I started using the pumps I was surprised as how little shampoo I actually needed, try halving the amount you use and see how your hair feels and I think you'll be surprised.
- Post wash styling product - A huge mistake often made is thinking your hair can take multiple hair products and they'll work as they're meant to. There's only so much your hair can take before it'll just look greasy and weighed down. When I'm out the shower and my hair is wet that's when I use a smoothing cream or a shine balm to lock in moisture, focusing on an oil or cream based product and where I can I like to buy styling products that have built in heat protection so I don't have to use another separate product. If I'm going on a night out and I plan on curling my hair then I'll use a volumising mousse but this is on very rare occasions . In the summer if I'm trying to keep my routine low maintenance I love a spray in conditioning spray, the Aussie one in particular is a long term favourite.
- Post blow dry - Again keeping it quite simple so my hair doesn't feel crunchy or greasy, the most I'll ever use is a texture spray or a shine mist to hold my hairs texture. However day to day I normally just wash and go for ease.
Day to Day haircare tips...
- Don't be afraid to really work your shampoo right down to the root of your scalp to make sure you get a lifted clean feeling. With long hair I never condition any higher than my ears to make sure my hair feels cleaner for longer.
- If you're going to use dry shampoo I recommend applying it the night before, don't brush it through but sleep with your hair in a low bun or a plait to maximise on natural looking texture. This just means the product will have longer to soak up any excess oil in your hair and it'll mean you're fresh and ready to go when you wake up the next morning.
- When blowdrying your own hair point the air from scalp to tip for a glossier smoother finish, this makes sure all your follicles on each hair are smoothed in the right direction.
- However a good tip if you're planning to curl your hair or if you just want maximum texture and volume is to either blow dry your hair with your head upside down or turning the hairdryer the other way round so the air is pointing up from tip to root, this will mean your hair follicles don't dry as smooth and each strand will have more surface area to *grip* the curl and it'll hold for longer. Again, this tip isn't good for your hairs condition long term but for big nights out and events it's a handy way to hold style without having to use a tonne of product.
- After blowdrying your hair, when the hair is ideally still warm, twist your hair at the nape of your neck until it twists in on itself to form a bun. Wear it like this until you get wherever you're going and then let it down, you'll be left with natural waves and it's a quick way to look like you've spent ages curling your hair.
- A hairbrush with vents through it will let your hair dry much quicker.
- If you're going to towel dry your hair before you blow dry it then to keep your hair as strong as possible, try squeezing the water out rather than rough drying it, and if you can help it don't twist your hair up into a towel either. When your hair is wet it's at it's weakest so it needs to be treated with care to avoid breakage and split ends. Always reach for a wide toothed comb instead of a brush when your hair is wet, it'll do the same job with knots but your hair will thank you for less breakage.
- If you've got any fly aways or baby hairs you want to smooth, try spraying hairspray on an un-used tooth brush and smoothing the hairs down, spraying directly will leave your hair crunchy.
- The best hairspray (and I know this from YEARS of dance exams and dance concerts) is L'Oreal Elnett, it brushes right out after you're done and holds hair like nothing else. The smell for me is so nostalgic of when I was younger because it's all my mum would use on us for all our performances and it always held though hours of sweat.
- I rarely bother with shop bought hair masks, purely because I've yet to find one that isnt just a pot of conditioner with double the price tag, for a moisture hit I'd recommend coconut oil or another hair oil like Argan Oil or Morrocan Oil on your ends only or putting conditioner through your hair and leaving it overnight before you wash your hair in the morning.
Haircare ingredients to look out for
- Keratin - Keratin is the very fibrous protein that our hair is made out of, so when you see products marketed with Keratin you can expect stronger and healthier hair benefits. By adding Keratin to your haircare routine you'll be reinforcing your hairs natural protein structure which will help combat signs of damage from everyday pollution and heat styling. You don't need to spend a lot of money to get the benefits of Keratin, brands like Tresemme and Garnier have shampoo and conditioner ranges with added Keratin.
- Zinc - This is an ingredient to look for to combat certain hair concerns like hair loss or an irritated scalp, the benefits are that it balances the effect of hormones on your hair, keeps your scalp calm and healthy and nourishes hair root to tip. Again the best way of adding this into your routine if you think you need it is through your shampoo and conditioner.
- Sea Salt - Might seem random and completely counteractive but having raw rock salt or sea salt in your shampoo is a gentle and natural way of clarifying your hair and giving amazing lift at the root. The 'BIG' shampoo from Lush is a great example of this, I wouldn't recommend this as part of your everyday routine but I like to use it as a pre-night out treat or if I'm in need of a good hair day, it leaves my hair feeling lighter and super clean but with amazing volume, if you have long, thick hair like mine you'll know thats quite a hard result to get.
- Biotin or Vitamin H/B - These ingredients are absolutely essential if you're trying to grow out your hair. When your hair is getting enough biotin it will immediately stimulate growth. We know our hair is made up of Keratin, but our hair protein is also made up of amino acids which are the product of the cell enzyme in your hair and biotin! Another great way of getting Vitamin H/B into your routine is to take a daily supplement or vitamin, I take a daily all-in-one vitamin from Centrum that has my daily allowance of everything we need including Vitamin H and B!
- Sulphates - Ok so if you've watched Queer Eye (and if you haven't then drop everything and go do that right now!) then you'll know how much Hair Queen Jonathon Van Ness preaches about going sulphate free with your shampoo, I'll explain why. Sulphates are the detergent in your shampoo that makes it lather and bubble, but sulphates are also found in household cleaning products *I know*. Sulphates dry out your hair and scalp, they dramatically increase colour fading and hair loss. Personally I've tried non-sulphate shampoos and I just can't go without the lather, but if you haven't tried going sulphate free then I'd 100% recommend you give it a go! However if like me you can't get along with it then make sure you're maximising your haircare routine to counteract the effects of sulphates, maybe add a Keratin rich hair mask to your routine once a week, or cut down on heat styling or maybe look into adding an oil or leaving in conditioner to make sure your hair stays in top condition.