Monday, 10 November 2014

learning to embrace my natural curl and growing my hair out

hey there, thanks for stopping by to read my blog.

today i want to share with you how i am learning (because i am still learning) how to embrace my natural curl and grow my hair out.

firstly my hair history... i've use hair straighteners on my hair for the last 10 years, the first half of which i actually straightened it and the second half of which i use it to curl my hair. they were GHDs but were still very damaging to my hair. any time i wanted to let my hair dry naturally it would be a very frizzy mess of curls and straight bits and ringlets and waves, it couldn't decide what it should do because it was so damaged.

then one day in may this year, when we were celebrating my husband's birthday in london with my cousin everything changed.

i had been feeling strange about how 'natural' my hair was, i talk about natural haircare and natural beauty all the time on my youtube channel, but i felt like my hair was the one area in which i wasn't really practicing what i preached.

so that weekend in london i washed my hair as normal and let it dry naturally over breakfast with my cousin. before showering i had asked her if she would help me sort my hair for the day, saying that i'd leave it to dry naturally but that 'because it would be such a mess' i could use some help putting it up. anyway, once it had dried she looked at me and told me that i'd be crazy to do anything to it, rather it looked amazing just left down. her husband and mine agreed so profoundly that i spent the day in london with my natural hair (yes, i was looking in every window and bus reflection to check it throughout the day).

the only other time i'd had an epiphany like this about my hair was when i went on a lake adventure day in a wetsuit and i knew there'd be no power socket. that was when i was dating Pete (my now husband), and it would be the first time he'd see my real hair. i had spent a long time the week leading up to it dreading him seeing 'the real me'. BUT, when he saw my natural curls he didn't laugh, he didn't joke, instead he stared. and later he told me that he dreamt that his future wife would have hair like that. awesome!

so, with these combined experiences i really felt i had the confidence to go for it. i spoke with my cousin about how i should manage at work, as i felt i looked unprofessional with my hair all in 'disarray'. she said 'wear a killer outfit and do your make-up properly, then whack a grip in the front bit' - very sound advice to which i still keep.

so i've only used heat on my hair 3 times since may. once at the hairdressers and the other two for special occasions.

i've had to have a lot of encouragement along the way to stick with it. Pete has been really amazing at boosting my self-esteem where necessary and tell me that i look beautiful when i look as though i'm faffing. particularly when i was going on my birthday meal back in july...

my family are the most lovely and awesome bunch of people i know, and i respect their opinions greatly, and on the odd occasion they'd seen my real hair they had been less than complimentary, instead they had called it 'frizzy' or 'messy' or told me to go and sort my hair out. it was with sincere trepidation that i would ever let them see my real hair for fear of their comments really shaping the way i saw myself.

so for my birthday meal i spent a lot of time preparing myself and Pete spent a lot of time encouraging me and told me that he thought i looked beautiful and that it didn't matter about anyone else's opinion. and he was right. as it happens it seems like someone had forewarned my family that i was nervous about my hair and that they should all compliment it, so they went out of their way to be nice about it - which (although it was a little disingenuous) i loved and did improve my mood a lot.

since then, they've got used to seeing my real hair and they actually like it! at my grandads 80th, he said 'i can't believe you ever straightened it'.

yes, there's a lot of emotional baggage attached to my hair, it is after all supposed to be my crowning glory, and the thing that makes me attractive to men, it's supposed to be sexy and lustrous and shiny. it's supposed to look polished and healthy.

i think i'd really reached a tipping point in May, further helped by my having found plenty of split ends, and realising that my hair was not growing out, however much i wanted it to.

so, in the pursuit of long hair and gorgeous shiny natural locks, i embarked on this crazy journey to just let my hair be. here's some things i'm doing to help my hair restore itself:

  • trimming my split ends - i bought a pair of professional hair scissors from boots, and have been using them to trim off any split ends i find. there were loads to begin with, and by removing them have noticed the shine come back to my hair, and the curls start to look more even. (be careful because trimming split ends can be really addictive!)
  • haircuts - i hadn't had my hair cut professionally in 4 years, instead i've been doing it myself and so it had lost some of it's shape. i spent a lot of money on a professional cut and it made me feel like a million dollars, so i'll probably go annually from no on.
  • shampoo and condition - every  2 days i shampoo and condition my hair. i'm currently using that Jason Biotin range, which seems to be the first natural conditioner to moisturise my hair without leaving it feeling greasy. 
  • finger combing - i do this when i get out the bath and shower, and this helps the curls to dry more evenly.
  • gently does it! - as with my face, the best way to look after your hair is to be gentle with it and respect it. instead of roughly towel drying as i used to, i just gently pat it and smooth the towel over it to get rid of excess moisture before just leaving it to dry.
  • eat well - this is something i've always done for the functioning of my own body, but it's important to remember that shiny hair is encouraged by a plant-strong, nutrient-dense diet. get as many fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds into your diet to help it grow. i don't take supplements at all, instead i just eat real food and lots of it.
  • water - again, like with your skin, your hair benefits from you drinking water, so get as much in as possible. i try to get at least 8 pints a day!
  • exercise - now this is an area i'm definitely learning in. i haven't been the best exerciser in the past, and i am constantly changing my routine because of the changing seasons. however the majority of the year i spend on my bike riding long rides in my local forest and no matter the season i am always walking everywhere, and hiking on holidays too. one thing i need to work on which will help a lot with the shine of my hair is making sure i sweat more, so i'll be working on that one in the coming months!
  • silk pillows - i have one which i don't use, but i might get it back into use to see how it goes. this should really help prevent split ends and encourage shine.
  • invisibobbles - i find sleeping with long hair very tricky, and currently pop it up using an invisibobble. it doesn't catch and stays in my hair all night. i'm not sure that it's particularly eco-friendly, but it does the job for now.
  • coconut oil - the magical wonder product that works for everything - popping this on the end once in a while will help provide moisture to your hair and is the best and only hair treatment i would ever use or recommend.
So here's my video on the subject in case you haven't already seen it:

I hope you all have a lovely day, thank you so much for reading,
Alissa ♥