When it comes to hair, I try to keep it simple — beauty shouldn’t be complicated. I’ll put in extra effort for special occasions or when I feel like getting dressed up on the weekends, but I feel most beautiful and confident when it’s not overdone and I feel more authentic allowing natural beauty to shine through. That goes for hair, skin, body and soul.
Taking care of ourselves makes us feel good — it all starts with that. There is so much conflicting info out there about products, methods, and tools claiming to be the best to “care” for yourself that it can be overwhelming. We each must find what resonates and works best for us as individuals. For me, I try to balance healthy “best practices” while allowing for some exceptions in moderation. Here’s a closer look at my hair routine and my feel good philosophies:
Shampoo When My Hair Needs It
Everyone has their own hair washing routine, and balance should be a key part of it. Shampooing too much can strip hair of natural oils, triggering overproduction to make up for the loss.
I wash my hair every 5 – 7 days on average, always have. If I’ve engaged in vigorous exercise and sweat a lot, I may rinse the hair quickly without shampooing it between washes. Or if I feel I need it in between, I may use a very small amount of shampoo/cleanser on my scalp while massaging to remove salt and residues at the root.
Dry with an Aquis Towel — 10 minutes
Once my hair is washed, I’m extra careful about how I dry it. Hair is at its most vulnerable when wet, since the strands soak up water and may become mushy inside. The faster you’re able to remove water, the less your “endo-cuticle” (innermost layer of hair) will swell and the less damage you’ll do over time. And, the more gentle you are with your hair when wet, the less you will disrupt the protective outer “cuticle” layer, which is critical to maintain healthy hair.Here’s what works for me:
First 2 minutes — After rinsing my hair for the final time, and right after stepping out of the stream of water while still standing in the shower, I use my hands to gently squeeze the excess water out by pressing my hair against my head starting at the crown and working downward (lifting and moving hands, not squeegeeing my hands). Past my head, I gently squeeze the water from the length of hair, top to ends.
Then I step out of the shower and immediately grab my AQUIS towel and do effectively the same thing — dab the towel against my head starting at the top, working my way down being mindful to hold each press for a few seconds to let the towel do it’s work and draw the water out of the hair gently. I continue to press down the length, with my hair between two layers of fabric and hold for a few seconds each time.
Next 8 minutes — I wrap my hair up in the towel or turban, leaving it on when I go on to do something else for a few minutes. I’ll make a cup of tea, give our dog Shiro a few belly rubs or, if I’m in a hurry, I’ll get dressed. This gets all the heavy drippy water out of hair better than anything else, and it’s faster and more gentle than a cotton towel, T-shirt, paper-towel or any other fabric we have ever found or experimented with.
Ten minutes maximum is all it takes to get most of the heavy, drippy water out of hair. I often leave it on longer since it easily stays on and I go on to do other things. For my hair type, it never really gets too dry for styling. For curly-haired people, each will find their optimal drying type for best styling.
I’ve got the luxury of having both a towel and a turban that I usually use. I like the towel for the first pass at drying and the turban to wear around the house while doing other things. But please know that one will suffice as the water gets wicked across the towel and is able to continue to absorb at the point of contact.
Weekly Coconut Oil Treatments
I regularly use coconut oil and do a pre-wash treatment, to ensure my hair gets enough moisture and is protected from the elements. Especially in the winter (when hair gets dry and brittle), I apply it from roots to ends and often leave it in overnight before washing it out in the morning. Its small molecular structure allows it to penetrate the cuticle, making hair less thirsty and less vulnerable to environmental elements. I’ve even gone so far as to weigh my hair towel after coconut treatments versus no treatment, and tests repeatedly show that the towel is significantly lighter when I do a pre-shower oil treatment (proof that the oil keeps hair from soaking up water). Note — “water” inside a hair strand does not equate to “moisture” in the hair strand.
I always use a high quality conditioner after shampooing and also a leave-in conditioner after towel drying. For leave-in, I use about a quarter size dollop, rub it between my hands and scrunch my hair upwards from the ends to about 3/4th the way up my hair, leaving the top 6” and scalp free of the leave-in conditioner. This helps to add body and texture to my hair, especially when I let it air dry naturally (which is most of the time).
Use a Blow-Dryer Sparingly
It’s important to think of a blow dryer as a styling tool, not as a drying tool. I rarely get professional blowouts — I usually reserve them for special occasions when I’m willing to give in to some of the things that are not so ideal for hair, for the sake of the event.
I go for a more natural, beachy, a little bit messy look, which works better for me. It fits with my lifestyle; I’m not the type to have the patience and time to spend blow-drying. When I do, though, I only use the blow dryer on low heat & low to medium speed. I use a medium sized boar-haired round brush, take sections of hair at a time and wrap around the brush from the ends up to the root. I try not to “brush out” the hair, but let the hair roll as is around the brush. I hold it there for a few seconds while taking a few passes with the nozzle of the dryer at least 3” away from the hair and down the length of hair, then hold the brush with no heat for a few seconds to let the hair cool a bit on the brush to help set the wave or curl. I have a bit of a haphazard technique but tend to roll the underside up, the topside under, and the crown up for root lift and back.
I know a lot of this goes against what a hair stylist might recommend to do, since to get the effect of a blowout, one typically needs higher heat, pulling on hair, and heat protectant — but I save those for special occasions rather than my regular routine.
I kind of relate it to eating dessert — you know it’s not the best thing for you, but it tastes good and in moderation it can be enjoyable and not too harmful. Go for it, being mindful.
I try to limit my use of hot tools like flat irons or curling irons when styling my hair. And if I do, I always use the lowest temperature and try to get as many days out of it as possible. Instead of hot tools, I love experimenting with no-heat styling, which gives my hair extra volume and helps me rest easy that I’m not harming my hair. I’ll set my hair in loose buns, braids, and sometimes pin curls. Lately, I’ve even gotten into hair “plopping.”
To “plop,” I start with wet hair, bend forward and let my hair fold naturally upon itself into a hair towel or turban (essentially plopping it in), and let it dry. When I take down the towel, my natural curls are enhanced and I’ve got great texture that looks natural and a bit of root lift which adds volume. I love this technique, as do a lot of our curly haired girl friends.