Addiction #2 - My Hair
Yes. I am addicted to my hair. Some of you haven't seen it in its glory. This is a sad thing, which you should remedy as soon as possible. =P ::cough:: Yeah, I love my hair. I haven't always, but it's ::snorgle:: grown on me... ::falls into fit of childish giggles::
It's curly. Very, very curly, the cause of which is attributed to only one thing -
He had an afro, as I'm sure you noticed. This is where my curly hair comes from, NOT from my mother, as most suppose. You see, her hair is merely wavy, which is a different hair follicle entirely. I have my father's hair follicles.
What's that? You don't know much about follicles?
::rubs hands together:: Oh, goodie goodie goodie GOODIE!
Let me teach you.
The amount of curl in someone's hair is decided by the follicle (basically the root in the scalp), and the shaft (the hair outside of the scalp). The follicles of curly hair are hooked at the end. The more hooked the follicle, the curlier the hair. Straight hair has absolutely no hook in the follicle. This is why some people will have curly parts, straight parts, wavy parts on different layers of their hair - individual hairs aren't perfect copies of each other, they're all unique. The lucky people have fairly uniform follicles, and don't have to deal with constant changes in their hair's texture.
So curly hair is biologically different than straight hair. It's usually much drier, and often coarser, than straight hair. The reason for this dryness is the curliness itself - you see, your scalp secretes oil through sebaceous glands, and the oil travels down the hair shaft. It's much harder for the oil to run down a curly shaft of hair than a straight shaft of hair. Just about the only good thing about this is that curly hair is less likely to have split ends. Otherwise, the dryness is a complete pain in the neck.
But there are ways to combat dryness, which I have learned through trial and error.
(This is where the straight-haired people begin to yawn and fidget, if they have not already fallen asleep while I waxed geekily poetic. Buckle up or grab your pillow, 'cuz I'm just getting started.)
1) Cut your shampoo use down to once or twice a week. Shampoo, though essential for cleaning your hair every once in a while, can be very harmful the bottom 3/4 of curly hair, because it strips the hair of any natural oils that might have meandered their way down the curly shaft. Curly haired people (CHP) should stick to shampooing the top of their heads, and letting whatever shampoo happens to pass the rest of their hair on the way down during rinsing be enough.
2) CONDITION! CONDITION! CONDITION! CHP need to CONDITION. Every day. Do not skip a day. Believe me, your hair will revenge itself by misbehaving at social events if you deny it conditioning. I'm going to give you the routine I use every day, because it works quite splendidly, and my hair hasn't EVER been on better terms with me than it is now.
- Before you get in shower, fill a sink with ice cold water and leave it there. You will be using it when you get out.
- Wet your hair as quickly as possible, and don't stay under the flow. Especially if you have bad city water. The less water you get in your hair, the less the chlorine and other icky chemicals stay in your hair. If you don't have the resources to get ahold of a water purifier for your shower, I would suggest using bottled water once a week to give your hair a break from the chemicals. Sounds a little extreme, but your hair will thank you. Mine takes on a whole different life when presented with bottled spring water.
- Slather the conditioner on. You know that half-dollar amount in the palm of your hand that they recommend in magazines? Forget that. Use as much conditioner as you need to get all through your hair, from the scalp to the ends. It should feel like wet seaweed. It will look like too much if you've been a conditioner minimalist in the past, but you'll get used to it, and the results are fabulous.
- Comb your hair while it's full of conditioner. It shouldn't pull as much as if you were to comb it dry (which I DO NOT EVER RECOMMENT FOR CHPs!!!! Do not comb your curly hair dry! Just. Say. NO.) This step is especially important if you follow my shampoo-once-a-week tip. Be careful when combing on your scalp, as you can damage the skin up there, which is made up of skin quite similar to the skin on your face and neck - in other words, delicate skin.
- Leave the combed and conditioned hair alone, with the conditioner still in it, until you're ready to get out of the shower. Get all other shower business done before you exit the shower. Right before you step out, gather your hair at the nape of your neck and hold it to one side. On the opposite side, rinse ONLY YOUR SCALP , leaving the rest of your hair full of conditioner. Do the same for the other side of your scalp.
- Get out of the shower, go straight to the sink of ice cold water, hang your head upside down and plunge your hair into the water - gently. Leave it there for a few seconds, I'd recommend around 6. Try to get as much of your hair in the cold water as you can stand - the dedicated (yours truly) take a glass of the ice cold water and just douse the back of the head where you're unable to dunk it. Sounds tortuous? Maybe, but it doesn't take long to get used to, and the results are FANTASTIC. Why, you ask? It has to do with the hair shaft again. Curly hair is naturally very porous, and it will absorb whatever you put on it when it's warm. That's why you leave the conditioner on your hair while in the hot shower - the conditioner seeps into the shaft and the shaft swells to its full curly glory. The cold water does exactly the opposite of the hot water - the shaft's cuticles (think of them as pores) seal, and the shaft is all but impervious to humidity --- that means MUCH LESS FRIZZ. The hair is essentially locked into shape. Notice I didn't say the STYLE is locked into shape. It's just the individual hairs. I'm afraid products are the only things that will lock a style into place.
- Get your hair out of the sink, while still hanging upside down over it, and gently squeeze some of the excess water out of it. Take a towel, and - again, gently - squeeze your hair just a little bit to get a few more excess droplets out. You're not drying your hair here, you're preparing it for the last drying step. Which is... ::drumroll::... paper towels! That's right. I want you to kill some trees. The reason I use paper towels is simple: less friction = less frizz. The paper towel will suck all that moisture out of your hair with one or two gentle squeezes, while a towel requires you to rub at your hair to get the excess water out. Roll out about 4 squares of towel, fold them in half, and make a tube around your hair (if your hair is longish, you will need two of the 4-square tubes). Squeeze gently. Repeat if your hair is still dripping.
- Now you're going to have to use products, so your hair doesn't blow up into a balloon. Unless you like your hair like that, or if your hair happens to be softer and thinner than mine (likely). I like to use DEPsport, strength 11, with electrolytes. It works miracles. My hair is really shiny and happy and behaved when I use DEPsport. I think it likes the electrolytes.