So, recently I've noticed something very strange about my hair. It's not falling out.
As far back as I can remember I have had very brittle hair that breaks if you even look at it funny. And it's always falling out. I've often wondered how I've never been bald. (Well, there was that one time in 4th grade but I know that was because of using a straightener with a lye...) But even up until...a month?...ago I would have huge amounts of hair lost every time I combed through it. And suddenly--nada! A few stray hairs coming out, that's all.
It has prompted me to write a post about what I'm doing with my hair. I've been meaning to write this for some time but apparently never been motivated enough to actually do it.
First of all, it's been 4+ years since I have chemically straightened my hair. I'm not sure how much longer than 4 years. I just remember that it was 4 years ago when I could see that most of my previously straightened hair had broken off and all I had left that was straight was right on top of my head. I used that to cover up the shorter hair underneath. We had pictures taken during that time. I hate those pictures. I look ridiculous. So it was 4 years ago when I decided to cut off that last lingering long (straight) hair on top and just be curly. It was short curly because all the length had broken off with the relaxer. So my hair was about an inch or two long. That was it.
With nothing else to do with it, I wore a headband all the time. All. the. same. old. tired. time. Eventually it grew out long enough to put in a pony tail. So then I did that over and over and over again as well.
I'm not sure how long it's been. Maybe two years now since I also gave up using shampoo. It was so drying. And I'm a pretty dry person anyway. (So dry, in fact, that after seeing how my hair responded to no shampooing, I stopped using soap on my body as well--except for a few select body parts.) Instead, I just condition.
There are two conditioners that I have really loved. Probably the absolute best is Softsheen-Carson's Optimum Oil Therapy Ultimate Recover Conditioner. The conditioner and the shampoo were fabulous. If I were going to use a shampoo, it would be that one. They don't have any alcohol and you just feel how absolutely moisturizing it is. The only downside for me with this conditioner is that it's kind of thick. I also gave up brushing my hair. And so I needed a detangling conditioner where I could work through my hair with just my fingers. If I were brushing my hair, this conditioner would be great, though!
So, instead, I am using Pantene Relaxed and Natural Dry to Moisturized conditioner. This is the second best conditioner I have ever used in my life. And I have tried a lot of conditioners. It does contain alcohol, which is a bummer. But it works so well! My hair feels so soft and silky after conditioning with this. And most importantly to me it is a detangling dream. So with the first condition, I'm mostly just focusing on my scalp. I'm using the conditioner to get it nice and clean and scrub to remove any dead skin. Then I rinse and with the second application I'm using it to detangle. I comb my hair in the shower with my fingers--working out any tangles, putting a part where I want it, etc... Then I do a final rinse.
Before I leave the shower, there's one more step. I need a leave-in conditioner to help keep my curls moisturized and hold my style. I had heard rave reviews about Mixed Chicks leave-in conditioner. It's pretty expensive but if it was as good as I'd heard it was, it would be worth it. So I finally bit the bullet to give it a try. It also has no alcohol which is a plus. It was really great at holding the curls and reducing the frizz! I did find that it left my hair kind of hard and crunchy. One of my curly-headed friends said that after it dried, she just scrunched her hair and loosened it up a bit and it still worked great. I found that with my kinks and curls, de-crunchifying it meant frizzing it out. So I just left it. Which I actually didn't mind. Another benefit of Mixed Chicks was that it was absolutely NON-GREASY. No grease whatsoever.
What I did mind was that over time, I felt like my hair was drying out. I mean, obviously it was wet in the shower, and then I had this leave-in conditioner in it. But my hair still felt dry. Even when it was wet, you know? So I decided to switch back to a tried and true favorite. Optimum Oil Therapy Dry Hair Healer It's less expensive than Mixed Chicks, but still not cheap. The price for this varies quite a bit. I think from the manufacturer it costs about $4. But then you also have to pay shipping. On amazon you can sometimes find it for $1 or $2. But then shipping is like $8. So when I find a reasonable deal, I try to stock up. I love this stuff. It feels like silk in my hands when I'm applying it. It's extremely light, and there is an ever so slightly greasy residue. Like after you first apply lotion to your skin. I actually like it because I know my hair is moisturized and protected. It holds the curl and style perfectly without making the hair crunchy at all. Hair is soft and sleek to the touch.
On a sidenote: I thought that if the Dry Hair Healer was great, the Optimum Oil Therapy Hair and Scalp Quencher would be even greater! Wrong. It was like putting straight vaseline in your hair. Extremely thick. Extremely oily. And even with a brush, it's hard to work through it once you apply it to your hair.
I also tried Optimum Oil Therapy 3-in-1 moisturizer. In fact, this is currently what I'm using in place of the Dry Hair Healer as a leave-in conditioner. At first, I didn't like this product. It was too thick and goopy. But when I ran out of Dry Hair Healer and needed SOMETHING, this bottle was still mostly full. It's still thick and goopy but if I've really detangled my hair with the conditioner first, it's not prohibitively hard to apply and work through my hair with my fingers. It is a fabulous moisturizer and keeps the curls curly without any frizz. And it's a lot cheaper than the Dry Hair Healer, too. I definitely prefer the Dry Hair Healer for ease of application. But considering the difference in price, I might have to go with this one.
So that's it. Condition once for scalp care with Pantene. Rinse. Condition twice for detangling (finger combing) and hair care with Pantene. Rinse and squeeze out excess water from hair. Apply some version of Optimum Oil Therapy as a moisturizing leave in conditioner and for frizz control and holding style. I usually let my hair drip for a while longer in the shower. When I get out of the shower, if my hair is still dripping wet, I might take a towel and just blot the ends. And then that's it. I pretty much don't touch it again.
It's the best my natural kinks and curls have looked. Although I still have issues with the different textures of my hair and the spot in the back that is so fragile and perpetually short from breakage. And I even have knots in my hair. Because that's how curly it is. Each individual strand might have as many as 4 or 5 knots in it where it's curled around itself. Crazy. AND right now I desperately need a hair cut--some kind of style to all these different length locks I've got going on. But even with all that, this is the best it's been probably since I was like 5 years old. And I can tell because I no longer have gobs and gobs of hair coming out in the shower.