Saving my Hair

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I just returned from a holiday in Delhi, where I met a bunch of friends who I hadn’t seen in over three years.

“WOW,” I said to Prita. “How is your hair looking so good?”

“Oh, thanks!” Giggle, giggle. Naturally she refused to share her secrets with me.

“What have you been doing?”

“Nothing much,” giggle giggle.

“Which shampoo do you use?”

“I don’t know, this and that, whatever is lying in my bathroom,” giggle. “I’ve been oiling my hair… LOVE your shirt!” change of topic.

Fine.

So I returned to Bangalore with a new-found sense of purpose: to turn my straw into silk.

I have a wild, curly mane, and as anyone with a wild curly mane knows, getting it straight involves the use of a blowdryer, iron and tons of styling product.

NO MORE trying to get it straight all the time. I’ve decided to go curly until my hair texture improves. Straight hair does look  better than my curls, but then again, hair looks better than no hair. So, NO MORE straightening unless I have a party to go to. Dinner with friends does NOT qualify as a party. Party = 50+ people.

I have also switched to a tourmaline hair iron, which is apparently far gentler than a ceramic one. I bought Corioliss City Style from amazon.in http://www.amazon.in/Corioliss-Style-Tourmaline-Ceramic-Straightener/dp/B00ECVHU42/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1385099568&sr=8-2&keywords=hair+iron+tourmaline

It feels amazingly gentle on my hair, and straightens it well. I don’t use the highest heat setting.

I’ve been using L’Oreal Excellence to conceal my greys, but this has definitely caused damage to my hair. It is a permanent hair colour, so it has ammonia. I’ve switched over to L’Oreal’s Castings, which is a temporary hair colour with a non-ammonia formula. The only issue with this is I need to wash my hair the day before, apply no product and then colour my hair the next day. This calls for a degree of planning which I lack. Compared to that, L’Oreal Excellence can be applied directly on filthy, product laden hair. Naturally more convenient. It also conceals grey better. But I’ve decided that from now on no switching back to permanent hair colours. I’m sticking with the termporary ones, never mind the lower coverage. My hair will just look highlighted. I’m not opting for the non-ammonia permanent ones because apparently the alternative chemicals are just as toxic as ammonia, and have not been researched well enough to judge their overall impact on health.

I’ve read rave reviews about Aveda’s Damage Restructuring Shampoo and Conditioner, which is going to be my next purchase. I had used an Aveda shampoo once before, and my hair quality improved tremendously. I’m going back to it.

The cheapest hair serum I have found? Baby Oil from Johnson and Johnson! No, seriously. It’s super-light, kills frizz and leaves hair with a slight shine, but make sure you use a tiny amount.

I’m going to work on getting my curls to shine, so I look good with curly hair too. This involves:

Shampooing no more than twice a week, preferably just once a week, using a very, very gentle shampoo.

Wetting it everyday, and applying leave-in conditioner to damp hair.

Scrunching it.

Applying baby oil to kill frizz.

No heat. Light use of hair iron on the front top-half of my hair.

Within a couple of weeks of doing this my hair has already started feeling less like straw. I think the biggest difference was made by switching to a temporary hair colour from a permanent one. We colour our hair to look young, but what ages us is the texture of our hair, so until we come across a permanent hair colour that actually makes hair look good in real life and not just in  ads, I suggest we stick to temporary solutions.

Here’s hoping all our BAD HAIR DAYS will soon be behind us!

Hair Fall Woes :-(

Most of us have been through it. We tug a brush through our hair, and look at it in horror when we see more hair entangled in it than on our heads! Not a pretty sight.

Various factors cause hairfall. Chemical treatments are a notorious cause. Straighten or perm your hair, and you’re sure to see it fall out with greater rapidity than ever before. You need to pay special attention to your hair after any chemical treatment, because after this it is extremely dry and brittle. Hair needs to be conditioned after every wash without fail, and make it a point to use leave-in conditioners regularly. Oil hair once a week before washing, leave oil on for no more than an hour, and shampoo off. Try to steam your hair when you’ve applied oil, to help it penetrate the strands.

Don’t brush hair when it’s wet, as it may break. Run a wide toothed comb or your fingers through your hair when your in the shower and have applied conditioner. This will loosen any knots, and reduce chances of breakage when you brush.

If your hair is falling a lot, lay off the blowdrying for a few weeks, until you notice a decrease in hairfall.

Colouring makes hair more prone to falling, so colour sparsely, and take extra care of your hair.

Are you eating right? Eat a diet rich in Omega 3. Nuts, fish, or Omega 3 supplements are all rich sources of Omega 3. Another great source of Omega 3 are fish oil supplements. I’d recommend New Chapter, but you could go with another brand you trust.

Some women swear by prenatal tablets. The mix of mutlivitamins in prenatal supplements often work wonders for hair and nails. And if a pregnant  woman can have those tablets, trust me, it should be safe for you! But to be extra safe, speak to your doctor before starting any supplements.

Hairfall is often a result of hormonal changes, and sometimes you may just have to wait it out and let those hormones calm down and stabilise.

Stress causes hairfall and various other health issues. Do what you can to relax, and take time out for yourself. Remember, worrying about problems will not make them better, nor will it make your problems go away. Deal with stress in whatever ways you can. One of the best ways these days is to go online, and perhaps meet others who may be in similar situations. Ask for advice, rant, rave, make yourself a margarita while you’re at it, and get that stress out of your system. Don’t forget to try meditation – a time honoured stress buster.

Root Touch-Ups

Now I know that most bottles of hair colour are sold for one time use only. Such a shame to waste all that colour! Make the most of your purchase by mixing the hair colour in the right proportion in a separate plastic container.

What is the right proportion, we often wonder. Someone once told me the proportion of cream to colourant is 2:1, but this is not necessarily standard for every bottle.  Instead, I divide the bottle and the tube into three equal proportions. This is easy to do for the cream which generally comes in a bottle. But if the colourant is in a tube, it gets a little more difficult. Remember that the bottom third portion of the tube has less cream than the top of the tube so when making the divisions keep this in mind.

Make sure you shampoo your hair the day before applying hair colour. Hair that has been unwashed for more than a day tends to be greasy, and the colour will not hold as well. My mother always shampoos her hair just before applying colour.

Don’t forget to apply Vaseline or cream close to your hairline on your forehead. Make sure no cream comes in contact with your hair.

You could use a hair colour brush for applying colour to your hair, or you could also just use your fingers – gloves on of course!  I find the sharp end of the applicator brush really useful when it comes to parting my hair before applying the colour, but you could of course just use a comb. Keep a separate comb for this purpose, or wash well after using.

I know sometimes we do feel lazy when it comes to touching up our roots, but you gotta do it! You may be tempted to rush out thinking, “Oh it doesn’t look SO bad.” It DOES! Touch your roots up regularly and you will look younger, prettier, neater and more with it. Now if you want to leave those greys untouched, that’s entirely up to you. However, if you HAVE decided to colour your hair, then do so regularly.

Hair Dyeing

I went to the neighbourhood salon a few days ago to touch up my roots – the greys were peeping out again. They mixed the colour in a proportion that was too harsh, my scalped tinged and burned slightly, and my hair has been falling since. I am now treating my hair with tender loving care, praying it recovers from the brutal onslaught soon.

Once those greys start coming, you’ve got to start dyeing your hair if you want to look young, stylish and sexy. You can still look beautiful with those greys, and in all likelihood, you will look intelligent and intellectual too, but greys do make you look older. So in the end, its all about the look you feel most comfortable with. And, you can still look intelligent without showing any grey hair, so I’m all for dyeing my locks.

Ever since my disaster at the salon, I have sworn to touch up my roots at home. No matter how safe hair colour promises to be, I’d rather err on the side of caution and apply as little as necessary, with as light a touch as possible.

L’Oreal has come out with the INOA range of hair colour, which is ammonia-free permanent hair colour. I’m really excited about this, but unfortunately, as of now, it is only available at your beauty saloon. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before we’ll find more options in the at-home hair colour range, until then, L’Oreal Castings will do for me.

With so many options for colouring hair at home, there’s really no need to get simple touch ups at the parlour. Just do it yourself, touching up front hair regularly. Do your whole head with the help of a friend, and return the favour. Don’t rub the colour into your scalp when applying the colour; just when washing it off. It’s safer that way. Remember, health before beauty!

Kerastase Kcravings

I happen to have really curly, unruly hair, and it looks totally huge and wild. But when I blowdry it straight, the volume disappears and it looks like it’s fairly fine. Not very fine though, but I wouldn’t call it thick when it’s straightened. So when shopping for Kerastase Masquintense yesterday, I got a little confused. I was planning to pick up the one for fine hair, but the sales lady suggested I try the one for thick hair. My hair hadn’t been blowdried, so when I said No, no, my hair is really ‘fine’, she looked at the bush on my head, and then at me, as if I were crazy. I then painfully explained how my hair loses considerable volume when straightened, and she said, “Well, I’m a little confused and don’t know which one you should go for. Why don’t you try something else?”

Considering the fact that the product is so expensive and is only sold at high-end salons, one would think that the sales women should be trained in detail, so they can advise you well. I did finally heed my own advice. I picked up the Masquintense for fine hair, and applied it to towel-dried hair yesterday. My hair feels super-soft, smooth and silky. I’m hoping that with regular use, hair quality also improves. The next product I want to try is the Kerastase Resistance Ciment Thermique, which is a heat activated conditioner and strenghtens your hair when you blowdry it. Anyone’s tried it? Drop me a note, please!

When was your last haircut?

I just had the most incredible haircut today, and the first thought that crossed my mind was, why hadn’t I discovered this hairstyle years ago?

Every time I’d cut my hair, I would be moderately happy, and as the haircut grew out, I lost all incentive to go back for a repeat trim. With the result that my trips to the salon were pretty infrequent, my hair would just grow out and I’d wear it in a ponytail. I am now determined to stick to this style for a year at least, and to go for repeated trims on a regular basis.

If you are like me, and often pull back your hair into a ponytail because it looks too untidy and messy open and you couldn’t be bothered to style it, and no haircuts really make a difference, realise that time is flying by far too quickly. Maximise your full potential NOW. Change your hairstlye regularly, make frequent trips to the salon, and keep working at your hair until you find a style that says wow! Even after you’ve found it, don’t stick to the same style for years and years. As the years pass, your looks keep undergoing subtle changes. In addition, newer methods of hair cutting and styling keep cropping up, so keep experimenting, and you may find something you liked even better than the previous haircut.

Go to the most expensive parlour you can afford. Expensive parlours pay their staff well, and keep getting them trained by the best in the field. So although you may feel like a cut is a cut, well, there are cuts, and there are cuts – if you know what I mean. I wanted a simple hairstyle, and fully believed that any old hairdresser at my neighborhood salon will be able to do a good job. So around 5 years ago I went to my neighbourhood parlour. Yes, she did a good job, I was happy. Then just this morning, I took a chance with an expensive salon, decided to treat myself. What the heck, let me try it, I thought. And the cut she gave me was so wow, I just cannot get over it. I am hooked, and am never going anywhere else for a haircut. I have called up all my friends raving about my new cut, and am going out tonight to show it off. Oh, I’m so excited.

Most of us can afford to get a fabulous haircut, and for an expense that would recur once in a few months, its probably worth the investment.

So the next time you reach for your rubberband to put your hair up into a ponytail because its “so all over the place you don’t know what to do”, get a haircut. Be fabulous.