My hair has been through a lot, to say the least. On top of that, I’ve always had thin, fine, pin straight hair that is incredibly prone to damage. You would think that with such sensitive hair I’d be cautious to take extra good care of it, right? Yeah, no. I guess I’m simply too vain for that.
Instead I’ve butchered my hair for the past 12-15 or so years with every damaging treatment possible: bleach, highlights, boxed dyes, sew-in, clip-in, and glue-in (the WORST) extensions, regular drying sun exposure, straightening, countless processing and even a PERM (once, in the eighth grade…thank you, mother). It’s truly only been about a year that I’ve decided to start really taking care of my hair and treating it the way it should be treated. After more than a decade of harm and damage I know I shouldn’t expect a miracle in one year. I am ever the optimist though, so…
Anyway, a few months back I mentioned my new in depth hair-care routine. Well, I’m happy to report that I have been following that routine religiously. I’ve also added a few new products, which I will get to. I have noticed a slight difference, which is thrilling! If it’s already starting to change after a few months than I’m hoping for continuous improvements over the next few months, and so on. A couple weeks ago I was out with my parents and my mom pointed out that my hair looked longer, shinier and healthier and asked if I had been doing anything different. I was SO excited that someone else noticed!! Of course, my husband has mentioned it before but deep down inside I think he’s just being a good husband and saying what he thinks I want to hear since all I do is complain about my “shitty, dead, crap hair”. Good man. 🙂
Before I get into the added steps to my routine I wanted to go back exactly one year ago, to when I chopped nearly five inches off my only short/medium length hair in the hopes that it would magically regrow in Rapunzel style length and thickness. What, a girl can dream, right?
First, here is a shot of my hair, in all it’s dead, split ended glory, before the big chop:
The shot on the left is several months before I cut it. You can see how dry and damaged it is, even the ends surrounding my face! My hair is literally frizzled and dried up. To the right is several days before I cut it. I realized I was trying to keep some sort of “length”, but that “length” was a joke because those ends were so thin and dead they looked like they didn’t even belong! So, after my surgery last year, fueled by an anesthesia hangover and a hefty dose of Percocet I found myself brave enough to wobble into the first salon I found and mutter, “take it ALL off!!! I don’t care how much, just get rid of these dead ends!” Well, this was the result:
Fresh out of the salon. You can see my surgical bra and all the taping from my bandages! This was literally 3 or so days post surgery! It really was the ideal time for me to take that plunge because I had an immense surge of confidence from my “new set” that I didn’t care as much about my hair. But, man, it was short.
I could barely get it into a ponytail! However, the ends were so much healthier. Luckily, I could barely reach my arms over head while my girls healed so it was nearly impossible to put extensions in. Therefore, I kept my hair in its natural state, extension free, for about six weeks. The only problem was that I was still straightening it. I tried to do deep conditioning treatments and baby my hair as it regrew. I even got a trim 3 or 4 months after this cut to keep the ends healthy! This big chop was from around St. Patrick’s Day last year. By the summer months, which was after the trim, it was a bit longer but still too short for my liking. I continued to wear clip in extensions and took minimal care of it. It basically hovered around this length and hit a plateau:
That’s when I decided it was time to step up my hair-care routine. I wrote that post a few months ago and have been focusing on taking optimal care of my hair. Here is a split shot of my hair in the late summer, right before starting my new routine and a shot from several weeks ago:
My head is tilted in both pictures so it’s a fairly accurate depiction. I know it’s not much but it’s probably at least 1 1/2-2 inches of growth from just a few months! That’s a HUGE deal for me! However, it is starting to get a bit dead at the ends and I am due for a trim. It’s a necessary evil if I want to keep this momentum I’ve got going!
Now, here are the new steps I’ve added to my routine which I believe have made a drastic difference in the health of my hair:
First, some new masks and conditioners. I wash my hair twice a week: once during the week, once on the weekend. I use these guys on the weekends since they don’t leave my hair greasy and make it super shiny (great for when I go out!). I switch masks each wash so every other week I use the Mud mask and every other week I use the protein mask. I believe the Mud mask works better on my hair and sometimes I use this one a bit more often.
I picked up this guy from CVS and use it during the week. I typically use it as a leave in and wear it overnight. I’ll braid my hair after I shower with this to lock it in. I like this, but I definitely like the Aestelance products way better. I don’t think this makes much of a difference but my hair does drink up the hydration.
Last, but certainly not least are these guys which I think have made the biggest difference. First off, THE COMB. Hairstylists have been telling me for as long as I can remember to COMB my hair when it’s wet because it’s so brittle that a regular brush tears, rips and destroys it. Honestly, I could hear my brush ripping and snapping my wet hair left and right but, don’t judge, I was simply too lazy to find and use a comb. How dumb am I? Really? Using a comb on my wet hair has been a life changer. Finally, I’m brushing my hair without CRINGING!!! No more sounds of snapping and breakage!! The comb glides through and with all the conditioning I’ve been doing it really takes no time at all! It probably takes under a minute to comb out my whole head. I’m kicking myself for not doing this years ago!!
Secondly is a HEAT PROTECTANT. When I blow dry, curl or straighten my hair I put my tools on a medium-low setting but a heat protectant is necessary regardless. Yes, I’ve also skipped this step out of sheer laziness. This Tresemme protectant is so easy, though. I love the convenience of the spray bottle. It takes only seconds to cover and protect my whole head and it smells AMAZING. Once again, why didn’t I do this ages ago??
I know this is going to be a slow process and we all know I’m a LAZY girl with ZERO patience, so this is definitely not the easiest thing for me! Yet, it is so, so worth it. Even a little change is enough to motivate me to keep it up. The other day I took that selfie that’s at the top of this post and that was what made me realize that this routine is working. That laying-on-the-bed pose is one of my sister’s favorites and I’ve tried it, only to look awful because the pose highlights just how thin my hair is and how little of it I have! I was shocked when I saw this picture of my hair, which was actually only air dried! I took about twenty selfies (embarrassing confession of the day) just to make my hair looked like that and it wasn’t just the angle. It is certainly fuller, on top and throughout! Also, you can see at the top of my forehead there are a lot of “baby hairs”-that is REGROWTH! When I trained for my fitness competitions my body fat dropped considerably and I lost my menstrual cycle for an unhealthy period of time. The loss of my period caused a bad hormone fluctuation and my body was very low on estrogen which resulted in (absolutely horrifying) hair loss. I’m talking chunks in the drain every single time I took a shower and fall out of hairballs all over my bathroom floor every morning that I brushed my hair. It was most noticeable at my scalp right up by my forehead, especially on the side near my temples. There was just bare skin and it looked like I was balding. Putting my hair back was so embarrassing and I was super self-conscious. Luckily, my menstrual cycle has finally returned. It has taken a few months for my hair to come back but finally I see regrowth. That picture really captures it; I have a normal, full hairline once again! In the past, that pose really highlighted the bald spots in my hairline! I will say, although it took some time for my hair to grow back it was only a few weeks after my period returned that my hair stopped falling out in the shower. So, hooray for estrogen and a healthy body fat!! (See, skinny isn’t everything).
Hope this post has helped anyone who’s had similar hair struggles. For those of you with amazing, naturally long and thick hair–BLESS YOU!! You’ve got no idea how lucky you are!