Monday, August 13, 2012

Winning the Hair Wars

You may recall my discussion of hair woes surrounding a job interview way back in 2010. For my subsequent interview, I wore my hair down, blow-dried to look more or less like the picture below, which was taken just before I wrote this post.

I have to admit: it looks better than I thought it did, and it has more of a wave (although I did have it up in a bun ever since my shower this afternoon).

Over the next few days, I'm going to tell you how I've been winning the hair wars, how I've finally found a way to enjoy my hair without spending 30 minutes with a blow dryer and curling iron every morning.

Ottawa has LOTS of humidity, of the sort
that makes good soft-drink comercials.
My Hair Situation

  • My hair is (now) very healthy.
  • It doesn't go frizzy or kinky unless I abuse it.
  • It is long, so I can put it up, which gives me lots of hair options.
  • My hair is very fine, almost baby fine, and very straight.
  • It wilts in humidity. Ottawa has lots of humidity.
  • It does not hold a curl very well, even with a perm (which wreaks havoc on my hair and basically just leaves it frizzy).
  • My scalp is very dry and prone to dandruff.
  • I have no "loft" to my hair: it lies inert along my scalp unless I add mousse and blow-dry the heck out of it.
  • I am almost always hot. In the picture at the top of this post, the back of my neck was thoroughly wet, not just damp. (My hair is now up in a clip.) While this may not be about my hair, it does have an effect on my hair as it loses all curl and body when it gets humid or wet.
  • If I keep my hair short, I have to wash and style it every day, which takes at least 20 minutes. (I am not a morning person, so I resent every single one of those 20 minutes.)
First Step in Winning the Hair War

About the same time as my hair catastrophe I read my niece's blog post about going "shampoo free." As a matter of fact, this was not the first time I'd heard about not using shampoo on curly hair. The theory is that oils from the scalp do not travel down the hair shaft on curly hair as well as they do on straight hair. Thus curly hair suffers more damage and dries out. 

Coincidentally, while I was practicing my pre-retirement lady-of-leisure routine (i.e., unemployed), I had begun to wash my hair with less frequency. There didn't seem to be much reason to shampoo, blow dry, and curl my hair every day only to put it up in a clip or pony tail. 

Over a period of six months, the period between my shampoos gradually increased from every other day to once a week, which is where it is now.

July 20, 2012: Ready for the red carpet.
Sadly, those waves were gone by the time I got home
 I was just too hot and sweaty with my hair down.
Too bad.
When I had my highlights done a couple of weeks ago, I asked my fabulous hairdresser about my hair's condition. (Joanne has been doing my hair for more than a decade, including a couple of times when I visited Ottawa from Colorado.) She said it was great, in fact she'd never seen it healthier.

I told her what I'd been doing and she agreed it was working.

The question on your mind, naturally, is, "Um, doesn't it get really greasy?"

Surprisingly, no, it doesn't. I think that because I extended the time between shampoos gradually, I never really noticed any oil build-up.

What I have noticed is that I no longer have dandruff.

Once I started working again, I was worried about how my new hair routine would work with, well, work. That's what I'll cover in the next post.


  1. I have super curly hair as you know and I only wash with shampoo about once a week. Sometimes in between, when bed head takes over, I'll wet it and put a bit of conditioner in it so I can actually comb the mane and restyle it.

    I learned recently that people who have greasy hair are people that wash their hair everyday. When you constantly remove the oil, the scalp will produce more. If you don't remove it constantly, the scalp will adjust and produce less. Simple, right?

  2. I think it is the transition that is most difficult. If you go from shampooing daily to suddenly not washing for several days, the oil build-up would be pretty yucky. But doing it over six months was really easy.


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