About 3 years ago, I was feeling down and, on a whim, decided that I couldn’t go another minute without blonde highlights.
Have you ever done that, or am I the only crazy one? Yes, I now know not to make drastic hair color decisions on a whim, but at the time, it seemed reasonable and something I couldn’t live without. I ended up going to a “walk-in” salon across the street from my home and not my usual hair colorist – big mistake. I left there blonder than ever. 3 months later, I was paying the price for that whim decision. All the hair highlighted (the entire top of my head) had begun to break off at different lengths – mainly around where I clip it or pull it back. I was devastated. My hair had always been thick and able to take tons of abuse over the years. I didn’t understand what was happening or why. I truly didn’t appreciate how lucky I was to have thick long hair all those years. As much as I wish I didn’t care about it, it really affected me.
I’ve always admired women who can shave their heads and feel confident or those who can wear any style and not care. Talk about #hairgoals. I wish I felt that way about my hair. My hair has always been my security blanket. Growing up, I was a bit of a wallflower. I wasn’t popular in school and struggled with acne and my weight. Kids teased me, and I had terrible self-esteem. But people always told me what pretty hair I had. For many years it was the only part of my body that gave me confidence. I grew attached to it, and even when I got older and more secure in who I was, I still wanted my hair to be long.
When this hair disaster happened to me, it came at a time when I was filming a lot of content online. I was being asked to do interviews, film cooking shows, yoga videos, and be more “visible” than ever before. It was a good learning lesson for me, like all tragedies are, to realize that I am not my hair. Long, short, or broken into a million pieces, life with or without my hair goes on, and I’m still worthy and valuable. Also … no one cares about my hair except me.
I knew it would take a very long time to grow it back to the length it was, but I figured I wasn’t ready for a shaved head no matter how much searching I had done. Over the next 3 years, I researched everything I could on growing hair and reducing breakage. I went to many different hair “specialists.” Most claimed they knew how to help, but none helped me grow my hair. They recommended products and told me I needed to cut my hair every 3-4 weeks. I listened to them for a while, but my hair kept breaking and getting shorter (due to the many haircuts and products that didn’t work), and I was feeling desperate and broke. After trying their methods, I did what anyone does… I consulted the internet. 🙂
After trying almost everything the internet told me, the following helped me grow my hair. Now, it should be said that everyone is different, and what works for me may not work for you, but I believe that most of these things are pretty simple and can help you if you suffer from damaged, dry, or broken hair. I am not paid or sponsored by any of these companies. Unless stated, I bought all these products with my own money. If they sell their products on Amazon, I will include a direct link to them on my Amazon Recommends page, or you can click directly on the hyperlink to take you there.
1. I stopped touching my hair.
I used to be obsessed with always running my fingers through my hair, twisting it around my fingers, or re-positioning my ponytail throughout the day, but this is what leads damaged hair to break off! If your hair is already damaged, messing with it will only cause it more stress, not to mention all the oils on your hands cause your hair to become dirtier and oil, makings you need to wash it more. Someone told me to pretend my hair(s) are made of thin strands of gold every time I touch it. That image helped me a lot!
2. I stopped brushing my hair.
I only brush my hair when I first wash it and blow dry it, making sure to use a wet brush. After that, it is an absolute “no-no” to brush my hair. Also, If your hairbrush has hair in it, the oil from that hair can transfer to your clean hair and make it oilier. And, again, this makes you have to wash your hair more. Your hair is also the weakest when wet, so using a wet brush or a pick will only help stop the breakage.
3. I stopped washing it so much.
I do believe this is key. I am now trying to go as long as my scalp will let me go, which is about 14 days. I realize that many of you can’t go 14 days without washing your hair, but if you can go an extra day or two, do it! Over time, your scalp will stop producing so much oil and stop being itchy and painful. Shampooing strips your natural oils so your scalp produces more oil to replace them. Once your scalp realizes you aren’t going to strip it with shampoo so often, it will adjust the oil production accordingly. I suggest trying to go one more day without washing every wash cycle. Your hair will thank you – I promise.
4. I found the magic conditioning treatment.
Okay, you guys… here is the real secret. After I wash my hair, I towel dry it and put Olaplex mixed with Shea Moisture all-natural conditioner. I wrap it in a plastic bag for 30 minutes and answer some emails (or write a blog) while it sits on my head. This is the magic treatment… It really does what it says and makes your broken hair whole again. I’ve been using it for 2 years, and I wouldn’t wash or condition my hair without it now.
5. I rinse with cold water.
Yep. Coldwater … I’m not sure why but it does make a difference. I’m sure there is some scientific reason behind it, but this blog is merely my experience – I’m not an expert. 🙂
6. I try to avoid heat.
After washing, I let my hair air dry to about 60% before grabbing the dryer. I also don’t use the highest heat setting. It still drys my hair just as well on medium. I then take a curling iron and run a few big curls through it on medium heat. I only do this twice a month when I wash it. The rest of the month, it is what it is.
7. I eat more plants.
Since changing my diet to plant-based, I’ve noticed a few amazing things. My hair grows faster, I no longer have tarter build-up on my teeth, my skin glows, and I don’t produce as much oil (skin or hair). Some say over-oil production is from a lack of vitamins, and when I ate a non-vegan diet, I had way more of an oily scalp, more acne, and I always had tartar build-up when I went to the dentist. I can only assume that I’m getting way more vitamins and minerals than I ever did before because I’m eating plants for my protein, carbs, and fats.
8. I changed my ponytail holder.
I found these amazing Lycra ponytail holders at Michaels Craft Store. You can also just cut up a pair of pantyhose or old leggings and use them for a rubber band. This was huge for me in preventing more breakage.
9. And then, I stopped pulling my hair back.
Now, I have to say that this was hard for me for a long time because my hair was so fried that it was super uncomfortable to wear it down. Hair was always in my face, and it was too short to tuck behind my ear, but once it grew long enough for me to tuck it behind the ear, finally, I stopped pulling it back into a pony or a bun. It was a process for me, but now I only pull it back if I’m working out.
10. MSM Power helps!
Every morning I take MSM power. It is a joint supplement, but it also helps with growing hair. I notice my hair doesn’t grow nearly as fast in months that I forget to take it! In 5 weeks, my hair normally grows about .5 inches. When I take MSM powder, it grows .75 or one full inch! It works!
11. Miracle Fruit Oil
I don’t know if this oil is a miracle, but it does seem to help with breakage. This company originally sent me their product to try, and I liked it so much that I have repurchased it twice. It smells amazing, and I’d say it’s worth the money. I have used other oils, but I find theirs is the least heavy, and it makes my hair soft and bouncy. They gave me a code that gets you 10% off BYG10
12. What about sweat?
One of the questions that everyone seems to ask me is about sweat. How do I deal with sweat when I don’t wash my hair? I think if you are getting so sweaty that your hair is wet, then you need to rinse it out; if not, wash it. When I was teaching beach yoga and sweating a lot, I’d get home and rinse it, then let it air dry. Did it look great? No. Not like it did when I first washed it, but my goal was to grow it. I didn’t care what it looked like. If it weren’t time for me to wash it, I’d wait. I did have to wash it more frequently, but I refused to wash it daily. I also always used my magic conditioning treatment. I think that does help. Now that I am inside, I don’t sweat as much when I practice, and my head doesn’t get wet. If I sweat, it is on the back of my neck (underneath), which doesn’t seem to be an issue. I do not use any dry shampoo because it messes with my body’s natural understanding of how much oil to produce.
I hope all these things help some of you out there with battling your dry, damaged, and broken hair. Please let me know! And share your hair care secrets below – sharing is caring! 🙂
Check out this Youtube video for how I wash and style my hair without breakage!