Folks have commented about my hair since I’ve started blogging about sewing and modeling the garments again. Honestly, it’s kind of difficult to get the focus on the garments when there’s all this wild silver/gray/brown/blondish stuff flying around. Most like it a lot and some have curly hair that kinks out too much in the humidity, too. I hope the story of my journey helps any one who needs it.
Let’s start at the beginning: I had hair, then I lost it and now I’m trying to get it back. Here’s the backstory.
This is me at 40, in 1990. My hair is cut short on top (I had found it hopeless to try to grow it out all one length) and long in back to the middle of my back. I used nothing more than shampoo, conditioner and setting gel (it might have been dippity-do LOL) and then waited 2 or more days for it to dry. It rarely looked this tidy!
As years passed and our business demanded more travel I started having it done weekly as I couldn’t take the time to do it myself and do the traveling our business demanded. It had grown to my waist and was frankly a horrible, bushy nuisance.
I had bad reactions to most hair straighteners and colorants but Aveda didn’t seem to be so bad so I found a good Aveda stylist in town. He colored it, cut it short and pressed it straight so it was less eccentric. That worked for work. He styled me like a screen siren, let me tell you! But by the next week I was looking pretty limp.
But cancer came along in 2007 and half of it fell out. Nobody noticed it much because I had so much of it. I stayed ill and frail for a couple of years after I was declared tumor free. I looked dull and exhausted all the time.
This is Fall 2009
My hair dresser took pity on me and gave me highlights and let it grow longer
But I wanted to return to my roots, to put myself back together again and so in March I asked him to take the color out as much as possible, as long as it would not turn orange or yellow. He promised it wouldn’t but in April 2010 I looked like this:
it took 2-3 weeks of bleaching twice a week to get this. This is in May:
it broke off and fell out like I was in chemo all over again! So I just quit going back and did my own weekly hair cutting until I looked like this on Dec 31, 2010
By June 2011 I had cut off most of the yellow
The next picture was taken in Dec 2012, 1.5 years later. The chemical yellow was gone and I was washing it weekly with Sulfate-Free shampoo and setting it on rollers so I could handle it easier. Once or twice a month I’d use a blue tint shampoo that is no longer available and you can see the ultra blue in this photo
Dec 8 2012
I learned quite a bit about my hair from my salon experience: it’s very delicate, thin and fine but with thick growth, and frizzes completely in the back when I sleep with it down against the pillow. Being in the sun oxidizes it so it breaks off on its own with nothing more than a half day in the sun.
But it seemed to be thinning at a rapid pace and my scalp itched like crazy all the time. I switched shampoos but that didn’t help. My stash of blue tint stuff ran out.
I was losing all my hair AGAIN and in misery with the itching so I stopped rolling it and that really didn’t change anything. I studied all the Plopping Techniques (you’ve heard of Plopping, haven’t you? that cracked me up!) and read all the chat boards about how to handle natural curls. I was getting by but not thriving. Thank the Lord for the burst of products of the market and information on the internet, too. Sure isn’t like the first 45 years of my life!
In Spring 2013 the humidity increased with the warming temperatures and I was beginning to get dreadlocks, with the curls tangling back up the hair length. This is May 2013
and breakage from working out in the sun so little spirals were sticking out all over! I started rolling it again so it was more workable, wrapping it up if I was outside, keeping it in a french twist so it wouldn’t tangle and massaging coconut oil into my scalp. The itching stopped immediately!
These are June 2013
Southern summers are so humid fighting the dreads can take a long time to carefully comb out (wide toothed comb only!) I decided to stop using a comb and do the untangling with my fingers and coconut oil. This braid took the better part of an afternoon to do but it allowed for a good deep conditioning with coconut oil. July 2013
I learned to use the oil, slicking it through the strands of wet hair with my fingers after shampooing and got this result: much calmer hair
For the past month if I feel tangles, I slick up the stands with coconut oil on my hands and gently pull and stroke a small clump of hair until it is smooth and straightened, using my fingers and nails as a gentle comb.
Then I’ll smooth and twist the stands into a curl and move on to the next area. I only use the comb if I am going to try to put it up on my head and only after I have gotten out as many tangles as I can find.
Using this Hands On Method (pun intended) I discovered that the ends in the back were not softening with the oil treatment and I trimmed about an inch off in the areas that seemed rough as best I could. Someday I’ll find a hair dresser that I trust again and go have it professionally evened up. Someday. Not yet.
This was yesterday’s shoot (Aug 22, 2013) and you can see it’s beginning to become a bit wild in the humid wind outdoors
So I put it up on top of my head with a thickly covered band (never use a plain rubber band!) for sleeping and today I have given it a careful slicking down with coconut oil, coiling each clump into a curled strand, in prep for washing and rolling tomorrow
weather permitting. It’s not worth the time it takes to roll and sit under the hair dryer if it rains like it has for the past week. If it’s still stormy weather I’ll wash it, lightly oil it down with some setting gel added in and let it dry naturally.
The only “problem” with my method is that the coconut oil makes the hair darker, not as silvery, you can see how it is many different colors today
I tried the Moroccan Oil (Argan oil) but it seemed to give even more of a yellow tint and didn’t seem to absorb in my hair like the coconut oil does.
Hopefully I’ll be able to grow all my hair back, keep the length and survive in a humid climate.
I’ll spare you the rant about what it’s like being the only white girl around with wild curly hair in the segregated South of the 50-60’s and having to be groomed by other whites who had no respect for nor understanding of how to care for curly hair. Nope, I won’t say another word.
But I do love coconuts!