My tips for healthier hair!

Guys, I’m really excited about this post. I’ve had a long-standing love/hate relationship with my hair since I was really young, but I’ve come to understand my hair and have learned how to work with it over the years. I’ve had some really rough times [read: years] with the health and appearance of my hair BUT I’ve [finally!] come to realize WHY and HOW to fix those problems. Well, most of them anyways.

I’ve gotten more compliments about my hair in the past year than I have in my entire life. (Not counting my mom’s, of course…you’ll see what I mean in a bit.) I can personally see and feel the difference, my husband Tom has told me multiple times that my hair looks great (not that he didn’t before, but he can even tell that it’s gotten healthier), and friends, co-workers, and even students have been asking me about my hair. Woot!

For all you visual and auditory people, I made a video about all of this, so you can check it out!

If you’re more into reading, though, keep going!

Let’s start by (not so) briefly talking about my hair type.

I didn’t have enough hair to say so until I was about two years old [picture below shows me at the age of 2; I still enjoy donuts!]. Since then, I’ve always had fine hair and a lot of it. In case you weren’t aware, there is a difference between fine (diameter of strands of hair) and thin (amount of hairs). I don’t have thin hair, bald patches, or have to use those little clear, baby rubber bands for pony tails. I usually have to loop hair ties around my hair about 3 times (4 when they get stretched out).

Holliday 1991I also haven’t been able to get my hair super long since elementary school [picture below is from second grade]; like, it always seems like once my hair gets to a certain length, IT JUST STOPS. I understand that trimming is important to keep the ends healthy, but at that point when my hair stops, trimming it just makes it shorter, and it’s time for a trim when it reaches that gosh darn point again.

Holliday 1996

My hair has always been curly/wavy and, for a long time, I absolutely despised it. My mom always used to point out and coo over the baby-hair ringlets around my face when it was really hot and humid during the summer. And I hated it. Damn it, Mom. So when I was a teenager, I literally would try to plaster my hair to my head so that no hairs were sticking out like antennas, horns, or payas. I would use ALL the water and ALL the clips to tame my hair [picture below is my school picture from 7th grade – holy eyebrows, Batman!]. I still get some frizz when humidity is above 50% or I get sweaty, but it’s gotten a lot better.

Holliday 7th Grade

Finally, if you’ve read my blog before or are a real-life friend, then you know that I started going gray when I was 15 years old. It sucks, big time. Needless to say, I’ve been regularly coloring my hair since I was about 17 years old. Think of all the money I will have spent over my lifetime dyeing my hair…cue Debbie Downer music. I’m gonna say that if I didn’t dye my hair and was au natural, I’m probably 40% gray. At 25 years old. Vomit.

Debbie Downer face

Okay, moving on, I’ll begin with nutrition. In any post about how to get healthy hair/skin/nails/body, there should always be a focus on nutrition. To start off, I have Crohn’s and during my two flare-ups between 2010 and 2012, I was practically starving myself because I was in so much pain. Not only did I lose 10+ pounds (and literally lost my butt, which is most shocking), but I was also starving my body of essential nutrients. The quality of my hair and nails was awful – my nails had pock marks and ridges, and my hair was so blah.

Now that I’m 2+ years in remission without any flare-ups, I’ve obviously gained weight (which I’m always working to tone) but I’ve also gained healthier nails and hair. I also know that I was eating less than I should in the months leading up to my wedding – because wedding dress, duh – so I have since noticed that eating more than just yogurt and granola for practically every meal has positively affected my hair’s appearance and health. So make sure you’re eating a healthy, balanced diet so you can work on improving your hair from the inside out!

Okay, so now that we’ve covered that, let’s talk about the fact that I only wash my hair every 3 or 4 days. Back in college, I used to wash, blow dry, and heat style my hair every single morning. Since I’ve stopped that, I’ve realized just how damaging it was to my hair. Now, I still shower every single day, but on days that I don’t wash my hair, I clip it up and put on a really flattering shower cap. Cute!

I have also been showering at night instead of in the morning because this allows me to sleep in a bit, only worrying about styling my hair in the mornings versus washing, drying, and styling. This also spreads out the use of heat on my hair, allowing it to rest a bit between blow drying at night and heat styling in the mornings. More on that later…

Next, let’s talk about products I’ve been loving and how I use them.

  1. Tresemme Smooth and Silky shampoo and conditioner: This was in my Empties/Favorites post a couple months ago and I can’t stop raving about it. I shampoo like normal, lathering it up and letting it sit in my hair as I wash my body. Then, before conditioning, I squeeze out excess water from my hair. In my mind, I think that this allows the conditioner to really do its thing without getting washed away by the excess water…but that’s not scientifically proven.
  2. Macadamia Natural Oil Deep Repair Masque: Once I put on a thin coat of my Tresemme conditioner, I also apply some of this on top of it, from the scalp to the ends (but really focusing it on the ends). I let this combo sit on my hair as I shave and wash my face.
  3. It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-In Product: I’ve gone through like five bottles of this stuff (both original and the keratin one) and I love it. I spray this in my hair a few times after I let it towel dry for about 30 minutes.
  4. Tresemme Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Spray: I use this right after the It’s a 10 and then brush the two through my hair with a wide-toothed comb.
  5. Batiste Hint of Color [Dark & Deep Brown] Dry Shampoo: I use this on days that I don’t wash my hair. I spray it on my roots, let it sit for a minute or so, rub my scalp/roots with my fingers, and then brush my hair through with a brush.

After washing my hair and spraying my It’s a 10 and Heat Tamer spray, I use a round brush and my Revlon hair dryer on warm heat to smooth out my bangs/fringe – otherwise, I get some weird kinks in the front of my hair. I then flip my head over and roughly dry the rest of my hair until it’s about 50% dry. I won’t lie, my hair is unruly looking and frizzy, but luckily it’s nighttime and I don’t see anyone other than Tom.

Mornings after washing my hair, I spritz some more Heat Tamer spray before curling my hair with my Ultra Chi Flat Iron (in Sapphire Chrome – I love it!). I have perfected this process, so it literally only takes me 10 minutes to curl my hair. It’s fantastic. On second and third day hair, I can usually get away with just using dry shampoo and brushing it through – my hair still has some wave to it from the day(s) before. [Side note: Tom says he prefers my hair on the second day, probably because it’s more of a relaxed wave versus a curl and the natural oils make it shiny.] If I’ve worked out or have sweated more than usual, I’ll usually wear my hair in a ponytail on the third and/or fourth day.

Now, let’s talk about the dyeing part. During my last couple years of high school and first year or so of college, I didn’t dye my hair really frequently. Whenever I found a gray hair, I would pull it out. I know, I know, the old saying of pulling one and growing three more…but I was so embarrassed and frustrated with the fact that I was a late-teen and already had grays.

I then began to dye my entire head with box dyes from drug stores every 6-8 weeks. I’ve had light brown, dark brown, blonde highlights, red highlights, and lots of colors in between. But all of that dyeing was killing my hair. I always had split ends, it was always dry and super prone to frizz, and it felt thin and looked unhealthy. I had a couple times where I cut my hair short because that was the only way to get rid of the split ends – they were that intense and high up in my hair.

Early last year, however, I decided to try going to a salon regularly instead of using a box dye. I’ve always heard that box dyes were so unhealthy for your hair because they were pre-measured and super intense so that they could work for anyone’s hair type. Plus, I wanted to stop coloring my entire head, so when I found a salon here in Brooklyn, I asked her to simply cover my roots. I noticed my hair started feeling healthier, and the scalp massage was always amazing. She gave me highlights a couple times too, giving my hair some dimension. But that gets pricey! Plus I would get a trim every couple visits, so with the trim and coloring, it was about $200 a pop.Hair coloring Clairol Professional Ion Brilliance

After about 8 months of visiting this salon every 7ish weeks, I decided to try my hand at getting a color and developer from Sally Beauty Supply. I paid less than $10 (about the price of a box dye) for the necessary materials (including color, developer, mixing bowl, and application brush), and I couldn’t be more happy. I have now dyed my roots twice using this method and I’m so happy I took the plunge and did this because, aside from not dyeing at all, it’s much better for my hair.

Whew, I know that was a lot of information, but I’m hoping it was helpful to someone out there in the vast universe. If you have tried any of these products, let me know how they worked for you! If you know any others that you like, leave it below to help the next person!

Empties/Favorites for late 2014

For the past couple months, I’ve saved the empty containers of a few products that I’ve wanted to share. Now that I have a spare second, let’s do it so I can finally throw them away! I love watching “empties” videos on YouTube because it’s really informative of whether people enjoyed these products enough to repurchase them. So I’m hoping this post is also helpful in your quest for some of these kinds of products!

First and foremost, let’s talk about a shampoo and conditioner duo that I have repurchased several times now. Tresemme’s Expert Selection Keratin Smooth line helped my hair get through the spring and summer, and my hair grew a lot while using this combination. Now, I know experts say that hair doesn’t grow according to the products we use but how healthy our hair is and that we have a preset growth speed yada yada. So I think this duo helped my hair stay healthy and strong so that it could continue growing, while staying soft.Tresemme Keratin Smooth

It didn’t cut down frizziness totally, but then again my hair gets frizzy at the slightest sign of humidity no matter what products I use, so whatever. The packaging says that it is meant as a ‘once-a-week’ system to keep hair silky smooth, but it also notes that it is gentle enough for everyday use. I typically wash my hair every other day, so when I was using this duo, I would use both shampoo and conditioner every wash.

After my last two bottles of the Keratin Smooth ran out, I wanted to try something different. When a friend introduced me to a subscription service called Melaleuca (mel-a-loo-ca), I signed up and decided to give some of their hair and skincare items a try. You probably haven’t heard of this brand (unless you have and found my post by searching the name) because they don’t advertise like typical brands do. They get their name and reputation spread by word of mouth, through representatives (kind of like Avon or Mary Kay, minus the awkward parties) and through happy customers.

Sei Bella Luxury

I purchased a haircare set from a brand called Sei Bella that is sold through Melaleuca. I tried their “luxury” line and got the volumizing shampoo, moisturizing conditioner, and the hot iron prep spray. Overall, I wasn’t impressed. I used about 3/4 of each of the shampoo and conditioner (so technically these containers aren’t empty) but didn’t see an improvement or difference in my hair. And as for the heat protectant, I’ve only used it a few times because I prefer using Tresemme’s Thermal Creations Heat Tamer for a heat protectant instead.

So about a month ago, I was in the market for a new shampoo and conditioner. I picked up Tresemme’s Smooth & Silky line and let me tell you – I AM IN LOVE. Again, the bottles aren’t empty, but once they are, I will no doubt repurchase them.I was nervous to buy it at first because Tresemme sells huge bottles of shampoo and conditioner – what if I didn’t like it? Then I’m stuck with two industrial size bottles that won’t get used up? But now that I know I love it, I’m so glad I have so much because it’ll keep my hair looking good for that much longer!Tresemme Smooth and Silky

I have gotten so many compliments on my hair since I started using it; yesterday, one of my students asked to touch my hair because it “looks so smooth and soft.” I let her touch it and she was excited that it was even softer than she expected. You’re welcome? So yeah, I’ve been weirdly happy with my hair the past few months – I’ve always had a huge beef with my hair for good reasons. Since I started getting gray hairs at 15, dying my hair every few weeks for over 7 years has made it dry and unhealthy. I’ve never gotten as many compliments in the last 24 years than I have in the past couple months, and that makes me really happy. Thanks Tresemme!

Not only that, but I’ve been getting 3 days out of my hair (except when I workout, then I only get two) which helps it stay healthier. So it makes it smooth and silky without making it oily! I have finer hair, so as soon as it starts to get a bit oily, it looks flat and scraggly. But this combination doesn’t make it that way!

Enough about hair, let’s move on to a face moisturizers. I have never had luck with skincare. My skin is super sensitive and I’ve noticed that any moisturizer with some sort of sunscreen makes me break out (whether it’s meant for sensitive skin or not). My skin is also on the normal to dry spectrum (usually more dry) so I can’t go without moisturizing or it’ll become tight and flaky. Also, I’m super pale, so I need some SPF protection. Oy vey.

In the past, I’ve tried Olay’s daily moisturizer both for normal/dry and sensitive skin types; both caused me to break out. I have also tried Cetaphil’s facial moisturizer but it also broke me out. What the heck?!

So I ordered a facial moisturizer by Sei Bella (again, carried by Melaleuca) and could not have been more pleasantly surprised. The moisturizer was the Daytime Delivery Creme with broad spectrum SPF 15 – it never broke me out, it kept my skin moisturized without making it greasy, and apparently kept my face safer from the sun. Boom. Boom. Boom. All good things.Creams

Because I had such good luck with Sei Bella’s day cream, I decided to give the night cream (technically called the night firming treatment) a shot, and yet again I was so happy with it. Since running out of the both creams, I purchased a day cream that has SPF from No7 and a night cream from Botanics and again haven’t had problems with either. Woot, finally finding good products!

How about a mascara? I tried Rimmel’s new Lash Accelerator mascara and have mixed feelings. My first tube was pretty nice, and I thought I saw an improvement in my lashes after a few days. I have pretty long lashes to begin with, but I’m always in the market for a good volumizing mascara. I liked the brush because I usually prefer plastic bristles instead of the “hair” bristles.
mascara

My beef with this mascara is that it dried out really fast – I noticed an increase in clumpiness within the first two weeks, so it became unusable within three. I’m not one of those excessive mascara wand pumpers who thinks that pumping the wand in the tube a hundred times before popping it out actually makes a difference (other than drying out the mascara faster) so it was simply the formula that was on the dry side.

How about two non-beauty products? Kind of random, but these Glade solid air fresheners in Apple Cinnamon are fantastic. I am hypersensitive to smells – as soon as I smell something that I deem as stinky, I instantly get put into a bad mood. I’m sure this is normal but I don’t think the extent to which my mood swings when I come in contact with smelly odors is.

Glade Apple Cinnamon

Needless to say, I use these in my classroom to freshen the place up (especially with some of the freshmen who still haven’t quite grasped the concept of deodorant or general hygiene. I always get compliments on how great my room smells; students and teachers alike love the smell. And, they’re really inexpensive!

Finally, I have been loving the Purely Elizabeth Pumpkin Fig granola. Oooooh goodness is it tasty. And healthy! It’s gluten free, vegan, and free of refined sugar. AND I CAN PRONOUNCE EVERY SINGLE INGREDIENT! Plus, the majority of the ingredients (a whopping 9 out of 11) are organic. I picked up 3 bags at the grocery store to stock up because I’ve been eating greek yogurt for lunch every day and wanted to make sure I had enough granola to last for awhile.

Purely Elizabeth granola

So that’s it for the past couple months for new products that I’ve enjoyed and some that I didn’t enjoy so much. I hope this was helpful in giving you new ideas of products to try or products to stay away from. If you have any recommendations or similar experiences, be sure to let me know – I’m always looking for beauty and non-beauty products to try!