.... and actually thought it was a good idea? Yeah, me too. About five years ago I suddenly decided that I need to have bleach blonde hair - or else... terrible things would happen. But back then, I had no idea how bleach works and what it does to your hair, neither was I aware of the difference of a simple hair dye and the blue-colored powder monster. Ever since I started bleaching my hair, it went from healthy to damaged and from shiny to dull - but most of all it went from long to ultra short.
<strong>2005 - 15 yrs - long, red hair - no tattoos... and sporting a vintage Dior box-shaped purse which was hand me down/gift from my ballet teacher. Seeing this picture actually makes me wonder what ever happened to this bag... did my Mom give it away? Did I accidently throw it out?
</strong>Although I reached my goal of having blonde hair, I was pretty upset because I've never had short hair in my life ever before. And although it was nice to have something different than the usual, I got sick of it after just a few weeks. As the years went on, and I kept on bleaching, nothing ever grew back. My hair stayed short, damaged and boring. I tried extensions for a few months but knew deep inside that the only thing I could do now is take action and stop damaging my hair more and more every month.
I got my last 'blondie tune up' in April 2010, because I wanted to look cute for my wedding but after that I called it a night. In the last 10 months not one single drop of bleach has touched my hair, and I only dyed it twice. And suprise, surprise - IT'S GROWING! I decided to dedicate a post to this topic and share my favorite tips with the community, because I am sure that I am not alone in this.
April 2010 - Oh Long Hair, Where Art Thou?
Where to Start
First of all, go to your bathroom and check your hair products and tools. Decide, if you need them for your new adventure. Say good bye to 'Ultra Strong Hair Spray', 'Hair Glue' or other sticky products. If you want you hair to become shiny and healthy you have to get rid of everything that tangles and glues it. Also, lock away that flat iron you love so much. Heat is one of the things that can damage your hair enormously, even if you do use heat protection products. Just like in the real world, in order for you - or in this case your hair - to relax, you have to eliminate all stress factors.
Without using hair products I will have a Bad Hair Day every day!
No, you won't! I tried out lots and lots of hair products and found a few that might not exactly heal your hair, but at least they're not damaging it either.
Aussie 'Mega' Hairspray
My personal favorite is the Aussie 'Mega' hair spray with flexible hold, but really you can use any flex hold hair spray. It holds your hair together without tangeling it and giving it a glued look. The best part is that at the end of the day, or night, you will not have to fight with your head and brutally brush through your hair.
Aussie 'Mega' Flexible Hold Hair Spray - approx $4
Osis 'Dust It' by Schwarzkopf
This little grem is a real lifesaver! 'Dust It' is a powder that you simply apply to your hair and without teasing, you can achieve a very cute, volouminous hair style. Another plus point is that it almost works like a dry shampoo. I am one of those people who have to wash their hair every day, or else I have a grease bomb on my head, but using DI really helped me. I usually can go a second day without washing my hair. The only con to this product is that it is descibed as a mattifying powder and (believe it or not) mattifies your hair - so you might want to use a bit of shine spray.
<strong>Osis 'Dust it' by Schwarzkopf - approx. $10
What else can I do?
Olive Oil Treatment
Olive oil works wonders for you hair. Although this procedure can get messy, it is definitely worth trying. I recommend doing this on the weekend or when you have a day off! If you don't have it already, go out and buy some Extra Virgin Olive Oil. You can get it at pretty much every supermarket, and even places like Wal-Mart. Then, put some olive oil in a bowl and brush your hair. Take a small part of hair, dip your finger tips in the bowl and massage in the EVOO from ends to roots. Do this until your hair is completely covered in EVOO and put a towel around your head, to keep it warm and let the oil do it's magic. Leave it in for a half an hour and then procede to wash your hair. I recommend using shampoo only, since your hair is already conditioned from the EVOO and you don't really need conditioner anymore. It might take a few rounds of shampooing to get all the oil out, so don't worry about 'overdoing' it.
Not brushing wet hair
We all heared this tip at least once in our lives and still most of us do it: we brush our hair right when we get out of the shower. Unlucky for us, this is really not what our damaged hair needs! Try 'brushing' your hair with your fingers when it's wet to get it in shape.
Don't use a hair dryer... Unless you really need to!
This was the hardest part for me, to be honest. Having short hair means you have to blow dry it in shape or it will look weird... or is that just me? So to avoid blow drying, I made a habit of showering and washing my hair before I go to bed. This way it can air dry. Of course, I know many people need their morning showers but if you can manage to keep your hair dry during those you're good to go. Although we might not notice it, hair dryers are a big stress factors for our hair. We expose our head to a lot of heat which makes the hair dry and papery. Try washing your hair the night before, let it air dry and blow dry it with cold air the next morning. Cold air is not half as damaging than hot ait! If you usually straighten your hair with an iron, this might be something to look into, too. Irons, like blow dryers are not the best tool if you want to keep your hair healthy. So if you get a round brush and use the cold air on your dryer, you will definitely make less damage and your hair will thank you by growing.
Use quality products
From my exerience in working in a hair salon and going to hairdressing school (ironic, isn't it?) the best shampoo I can think of is Kerastase (by L'oreal) 'Bain de Force'. I've never had a more wonderful shampoo than this one, but unfortunately it's pretty pricey with about $33 a bottle. If you can't or simply don't want to spend this much on a shampoo, another recommendation would be Schwarzkopf's BC (BonaCure) Line for damaged hair (runs for about $10 - $15 a bottle), or if that is still too much, Aussie 'Moist' (about $4). I currently use the Aussie shampoo and it's great! As for conditioners and treatments you can look into purchasing the 3 week set of Kerastase - 'Force Intense' - which is really expensive, but also really worth it. 'Force Intense' consists of six little tubes, and it's a three week treatment. After washing your hair, you apply the tube marked 1, leave it in for about 10 minutes and apply the second one afterwards. After another 10 minutes you can rinse your hair and you are done for the week. This, you repeat the following two weeks and your hair will already have a better structure. Unfortunately, this product runs for about $60 a set, but if you search on eBay or Amazon you might be lucky and find it for around $30 - $40. A cheaper alternative is a product I recently tried: the Neutrogena Tripple Moisture Hair Treatment. After one month of using it my hair felt really soft and hand a nice shine to it. Conditioners are also an important factor of your hair care, but while the 'Bain de Force' - or really any Kerastase shampoo - offer a 2 in 1 formula and no conditioner is needed, I would always recommend using one if you use a shampoo that does not offer a 2 in 1 formula. Schwarzkopf has a great leave in spray conditioner (BC Moisture Kick, approx. $10). I had a lot of great experience with it because it does not make your hair look or feel heavy/greasy. For the cheap alternative you should check out Aussie '3 Minute Minute' - I was using it over the past month and really liked it.
Avoid dying your hair
Now, I know - this is really hard for a lot of ladies. Not dying your hair means you have to accept your natural hair color and not all of are blessed with a cute and clear natural ine. If you think you can sacrifice having a stylish hair color for a while, and have bleached or light hair in general, hit up the closest beauty supplies retailer and ask for a color chart. Compare your own hair color to the ones on the chart and pick the ones closest to your own, natural hair color. Buy the product, dye your hair one last time and leave it alone afterwards. If you have dark (brown, black) hair I would probably just let it grow out.
Cut off damaged ends
We've all been there: we go to a hair salon and tell the hair dresser 'Please only cut the ends, and not too much'. But how do we usually walk out the salon after a hair cut like that? Upset and feeling like the stylist did cut off way too much and at this point we think 'Nevvveeer again!'. Of course, you can't just not cut your hair while you grow it out. That would be way too easy, right? Some people might say the best tip is to just not cut it, but like I just said: that's not the way to go. The damage in your ends will slowly crawl up the rest of your hair and destroy it.. those sneaky little basterds. So if you don't have a hair dresser you can fully trust you can always cut your own ends. You really can't do wrong much. Simply wet your hair and brush it (this is the only time I recommend brushing your hair when it's wet!). Take your hair cutting scissors and just grab streak after streak, cutting off the ends. Since you are not giving yourself a 'real' hair cut - I doubt that is possible anyway - you don't need the best, most expensive scissors. I got mine at Wal-Mart in a hair cutting set for $20.
You might have read that some people take prenatal vitamins to boost the process of growing their hair out. I have tried it too but didn't see any difference between when I took them and when I didn't. You will find a lot of reviews on the internet of people saying how great they worked for them and how fast their hair was growing, but it really depends on your body and how it reacts to them. Since they don't do any damage it is always worth trying them!
Use a good hair brush
This is really important! You should find a good hair brush that doesn't rip out all you hair. I enjoy using my hair extensions hair brush which I got with my first set of hair extensions. Other great brushes I've tried are wooden ones, since they are really soft to your scalp and usually don't tease your hair too much.
Clip In Extensions
Up until recently I couldn't imagine wearing clip in extensions but I've come to learn that they can be really handy and look good at the same time. Unlike regular hair extensions - which against common belief DO damage your hair, even if they are done with keratin bondings - the clip ins work like regular hair clips. You can put them in or take them out whenever you want, and don't have to deal with head pains when you lay down to sleep. Clip in extensions are a great (and cheap) way of working through that phase where your hair just doesn't seem right if you leave it open, but you also don't want to wear a pony tail every day.
What do you think - pretty much work, huh? Or so it seems! But believe me, it is not half as bad.
Here's a quick summary:
* Try to avoid heat (flat iron, hair dryer)
* Don't use products that are sticky and tangle your hair
* Try to keep dying your hair to a minimum
* Use a good shampoo
And finally, a picture of my current hair lenght!
Happy Hair Growing!