A Crunchy Girl’s Guide to Curly Hair: My Story
I’m excited to be participating in the Go Green & Save Green Series with several other green bloggers this week! We’ll be talking about different areas of green and natural living, showing you how to go green while saving money at the same time! Be sure to check out the great links at the end of this post! Today’s topic is Personal Care Products and DIY Beauty.
Alternative Title: How I Stopped Washing and Combing My Hair and Finally Accepted My Curly Hair
At the beginning of the year, one of my Green and Crunchy Goals was to cut out the crazy chemicals from my hair care routine. I have such crazy curly hair, though, that I was scared to try anything new. I’ve done a bit of research, tried a few products, and finally figured out what I’m happy with.
My Hair Through the Years
(You can click on this picture to make it bigger so you can fully appreciate the greatness of my 6th grade picture.)
Here are my school pictures from Kindergarten through 11th grade. I’ll give some commentary on my hair.
Kindegarten and 1st grade—You can see that there’s some natural curl there. And aren’t I just as cute as a button?
2nd grade—My mom braided my hair while it was wet the night before the pictures. I slept with the braids in and then when she took them out in the morning, my hair looked like the picture above. I liked it at the time.
3rd grade and 4th grade—Natural curl is still there, although its just wavy. I wonder if it would have been curly if I hadn’t combed it and let it dry naturally. Also, I’m not sure why I look so sour. I was a rather serious child.
5th grade—Still wavy. And I’m smiling finally.
6th grade—Oh my word. This has to be my favorite school picture because its the worst one. Look at those eyebrows! And I absolutely refused to smile. Don’t ask me why. Anyway, as you can see, there’s some curl in my hair. Maybe that’s why I wasn’t smiling–I was having trouble coming to terms with my increasingly curly hair.
7th grade—That’s better. I’m smiling, even though I’m wearing some sort of crocheted vest. I loved that outfit. And my hair seems to be getting curlier.
8th grade—Woah. There is definitely more curl. I think my hair takes up as much room in the picture as my face does.
9th grade through the end of high school—I met my new best friend, the hair straightener, sometime between 8th and 9th grade. I distinctly remember the day I realized my hair was curly. I put it up in a pony tail while it was wet the summer before 8th grade and my pony tail was really curly when it dried. I was amazed. And then I started straightening it every day. Hair care routine: wash, condition, towel dry, put on some thermal protector stuff, then dry with a normal hair dryer, then further dry it with a hair dryer with a brush attached to it, then use the straightener. It took a long time, it was HOT, my hair was fried, and if it rained, all that work was for naught.
Here are a couple more, just for fun.
Coming to Terms With my Hair
A few years ago I discovered the book Curly Girl by Lorraine Massey and it rocked my world. She describes what makes hair curly, how to take care of curly hair, how curly hair should be cut (NOT like straight hair is cut!), and even gives recipes for homemade natural hair care.
She says you should take care of curly hair the way you would take care of a nice cashmere sweater. No harsh chemicals (such a sodium lauryl sulfate or laureth sulfate, which are in most shampoos), no heat, and NO hairbrush. Her most radical suggestion: stop washing your hair with shampoo. This is the lady that coined the term “no poo” for going shampoo-free.
What?! Stop Washing My Hair?
Yes, you read that right. If you have curly hair, stop washing it with shampoo. Instead, wash it with water and conditioner. You simply comb the conditioner through your hair, concentrating on the ends. To cleanse your scalp, massage the conditioner into the roots of your hair. Voila! The shampoo strips its hair of its natural oils and completely dries it out. I stopped using shampoo in February and my hair is clean, doesn’t smell or look greasy, and actually looks shiny and healthy. (Side note: My mom has a super sensitive nose and my hair passed her sniff test. If she can’t smell it, it doesn’t smell.)Not only is it better for your hair, but it takes less time since you are completely taking a step out of the normal showering routine. It can also be cheaper since you don’t have to buy shampoo anymore.
As a word of warning, as with any major change to a beauty routine, it does take your body a few weeks to adjust to not producing as much oil. (It doesn’t need to produce as much since you aren’t stripping your hair of its natural oils every day.) I did a mini-step in between switching from washing every day to going no poo. I started using castille soap on my hair instead of shampoo. That got rid of the excess oil, but didn’t completely strip my hair of its natural oils. After that, I stopped using any type of soap on a regular basis and didn’t have trouble with oily hair. You’ll have to figure out what works for your hair. :)
There are lots more suggestions for taking care of curly hair in her book, including how to style curly hair, what kind of conditioner to buy (she’ll tell you what ingredients to avoid), and even a tongue in cheek look at curls through the ages. I highly recommend this book!
My Curly Hair Care Routine — Now Without Crazy Chemicals!
At the beginning of the year I was using chemical laden shampoo, conditioner, mousse, and curl cream. This was the last area of my personal care routine that I hadn’t found a way to using harsh and unhealthy products.
What I use now:
Conditioner: Shea Moisture Curl and Style Conditioning Milk — Its organic and there are very few crazy chemicals in it. I realize that some of you may think that $10 is a lot to pay for such a small amount of conditioner, and I agree with you. However, I’m willing to pay a bit more because its a natural and organic product. (And because it works!) One bottle lasts me 5 weeks. I figure $2 a week isn’t too bad for a product I’m happy with.
Styling: Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie — Also organic and very few crazy chemicals. This stuff will last you a long time because a little bit will go a LONG way. (When you first use it, use less than you think you’ll need. First time I tried it, my hair looked greasy from using too much product.) This product saves me money since I was using two or three styling products every day (and going through some of them pretty quickly.)
A couple times a month I will use some Dr. Bronner’s Castille Soap on my hair if I feel like it need a little bit of clarifying. Dr. Bronner’s doesn’t have any of the harsh chemicals in it, so it won’t strip my hair of all of its natural oils.
All of these products are available at Target. (You can find the Shea Moisture products in the “ethnic” hair care section.)
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments section!
Check Out These Other Great Posts in the Go Green & Save Green Series:
Nicole at Simple Organic — My Beauty Routine and a DIY Body Butter Recipe