Over the next 10 years, my hair went through many transformations which caused a lot of damage. As lots of young girls do, I experimented with colours and styles and lengths. I have been back and forth from peroxide blonde to blacker than black and a fair few shades in between. My natural hair is medium-thick, frizzy and a mixture of wavy and curly. The fact that its not curly or straight has meant that I have always (and most likely always will) use a lot of heat to style it and get it looking presentable.
At about the age of 19 I made the decision that I wanted to grow my natural hair firstly long, and secondly healthy. I'd been wearing clip in hair extensions since the age of 16 and was tired of them. I wanted my natural hair to be as perfect as possible. 6 years later, I'm almost there. It's taken a long time because I am unlucky to have very slow growing hair (although this does have the benefit of not having to pluck my brows or shave my legs as often as most girls!) and through trial-and-errors in my haircare routine. As I've mentioned, my hair type makes it difficult to ditch the heat styling appliances, so I never did. I'm sure my hair 'recovery' would have been fair speedier had I retired my straighteners, but that was never going to be an option for me unless I wanted to spend a year of my life looking like something between Tracy Beaker and Janice from Friends. I also continued to dye my hair throughout this period, everything from professional bleaching to at-home balayage attempts and regular semi-permanent dying. Even the professional bleaching did a lot of damage to my hair, the most recent of these being only about 18 months ago. Before we get on to the things I did to help my hair, I thought I'd post some photos to see how short and how much thinner my hair got during my teenage years.
The above photos were both taken in 2010, the blonde one whilst I was still at school and the brunette one after starting my first year of university. I thought I'd make a list of all of the things I did to help my hair as much as possible. They're not things I did religiously, or for the whole 7 years since these photos were taken, but they are things that I think helped to get my hair healthier, and are things that I continue to do now.
- Don't over wash your hair. For some people this means being able to easily go three or four days, for others it means every other day. Using dry shampoo has been a life saver for me here.
- Cut down on heat wherever possible. This is one that I would love to make more effort with, but I definitely struggle here. I try to limit the heat styling to every time I wash my hair (e.g. if I curl it after washing it, I won't restyle with heat until after I've washed it again).
- Moisturise! Just as your skin, your hair needs hydration. I use oils, serums, creams and mountains of conditioner on my hair. Looking back I think my hair started to make the most progress after I started making a conscious effort to keep it hydrated. This leads me nicely to my next point...
- Water. Drink water! Keeping yourself hydrated is vital for a healthy everything including hair and skin.
- Hair, skin & nails supplements. I take Hair, Skin & Nails supplements on and off, and sometimes biotin too.
- Brushing gently. I use my trusty tangle teezer, always. I find it to be so much more gentle on my hair than other brushes, and I'm always careful to brush the knots out the bottom and move up the shaft to avoid yanking or snapping any knots. It's especially careful to be gentle when your hair is went, as it breaks easier when wet.
- Research. I tried to do my homework as much as possible, reading other peoples hair stories or watching stories and haircare videos on YouTube. This is something I still love to do as I am by no means an expert.
- Sleeping with protected hair. I was finding my hair would be so knotty and tangled in the morning and it was causing damage to get the knots out. I started putting oil in the ends of my hair and wrapping it into a protective style to sleep, either plaiting or twisting and securing with a small hair tie at the ends. I find twisting rather than plaiting helps preserve the curls too!
These are the key points I can think of. The biggest recommendation I always see/hear is to get your hair trimmed regularly. Because my hair grows so slowly this is something I've always shied away from as it takes months to recover the length of just a teeny trim for me. I am still yet to reach the ideal length for my hair, but I am so much happier with it's overall health and thickness. Time to finish with some snaps of where my hair is at now, longer and far healthier!
I would love for you to share any tips or your own hair stories with me!
Thanks for reading, Love K. x