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!

50 Shades of Gray. And Brown.

I wish I could stop dying my hair. I really do. I mean, sometimes, it’s fun to change things up and add highlights for spring/summer or go a bit darker for fall/winter. But for me, I just go for a boring, natural brown color. Because I really only dye my hair to cover my gray roots.

It’s so disheartening when I look in the mirror and all I see are bright white hairs shimmering at the part of my hair. I know shimmering sounds fabulous, but it’s not. They only look shimmery to call attention to themselves. Attention whores.

I’m not 100% gray – maybe about 25-30% at this point. At (almost) 24 years of age, I have been dying my hair to cover grays for about 9 years. And it’s only downhill for here. Gee willikers!

It’s not just me being up close and personal with my hair, nitpicking every single strand with a magnifying mirror. Those whom I have talked to about it always tell me, “Oh, it’s not that noticeable. You probably notice it more because you know it’s there so you focus on it. I wouldn’t worry about it.”

But then, when you are talking with people, and you notice that they keep glancing at your head, you realize that it’s not just you. Or (and this one’s my favorite) when they actually point it out with an astonished, “Wow, you have white hairs!”

Yes, thank you for making my day. But I digress. Kind of. For now.

I know coloring is terrible for my hair.

I know my hair has gotten so fried and over-processed with all the colorings over the years.

I’ve tried embracing it. There are times when I’ve considered going au naturel just to save my hair from the damage. My hair is dry and pretty fine (diameter-wise, not like “damn, she’s fine!”) as it is, so all this coloring is doing nothing to help grow it out and make it healthy.

I mean, back in the 16th-18th centuries, gray powder wigs were a sign of high social rank. Although these were worn originally to cover loss of hair from disease, from shaving the head to rid oneself of lice, or to cover grays, eventually a couple kings made them cool. Here’s an interesting article about the history of donning wigs. It has no references though, so I wouldn’t use it as a source for a research paper. Go to Wikipedia instead.

Look at these studs. Dudes got some locks! And Stacy London rocks her piece of gray (yes it’s real), and she’s a celebrity!

But I hate the way I look with gray hairs. It makes me look dull and drab. And older. Not in a flattering “Hey you don’t look twelve anymore” way, either. More like “Hey, you look like a 12-year old with a 40 year old’s hair.”

And don’t even get me started on all the different hair dyes I’ve tried. I’ve used almost any brand of hair color you could imagine. Walk down the hair color aisle and I’ve probably used most of what you see. Seriously. I’ve used Clairol (Perfect 10, Natural Instincts, Nice ‘n Easy, Nice ‘n Easy root touch-up), Garnier Nutrisse Herbashine, L’Oreal (Feria, Superior Preference).

I’ve tried color depositing conditioner by Aveda – expensive, not the greatest coverage, and not nourishing at all. I use Batiste dry shampoo for dark hair – better than regular dry shampoo, which leaves white residue. I’ve gone to the salon for colorings before too – all over color as well as highlights. Blonde-ish highlights sometimes make gray hair less noticeable…until my dark brown roots grow in with gray mixed in. Gah. I. can’t. win.

This time I wanted to try something different so I used John Frieda’s Precision Foam, and I like it. I read a bunch of great reviews and wanted to try something new, so I spent the extra $3 at Target to get it. I have to say, it was so easy to apply and I made no mess whatsoever. For those that color their hair often, you know that this is amazing. I have stained plenty a floor, wall, door, and under-the-sink cupboard with those liquidy squeeze bottle dyes.

The only thing I will say against this product (for now) is the color. I did read in many of the reviews that the resulting color was much darker than the box indicated. I am so glad I got Lightest Natural Brown because it did come out on the darker side. Anything darker would have made me look gothic. It’s only day two, so I’m sure it will lighten and fade a bit once I wash my hair.

But hopefully not enough to reveal gray hairs before they grow out. Someday I’ll be able to embrace my grays. Until then, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they find a legitimate cure for gray hairs. Maybe I’ll bring back periwigs. And corsets. Fight age and obesity all at once.