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In Which I Revel In My Geekdom (Addiction #2)

I've decided, in light of my Hazardous post below, that I need to start a series of posts on things I'm addicted to.

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 -

::cough:: Erhm, that's my dad on his 19th birthday, when he was an exchange student in France.
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.
While I'm here talking about hair, I'll share some of my favorite products...

DEPsport Endurance Styling Gel - marathon hold (11), activity proof, with electrolytes
By far the best gel I've ever used. It isn't super crunchy, and it doesn't usually leave white flakes at the end of the day (well, it has twice, but twice in a month is totally fine with me for the results it normally gives). What's better - it's pretty cheap.

Herbal Essences Hello Hydration - with Orchid and Coconut Extracts
AMAZING conditioner that I use as a weekly deep-moisturizer and replentisher. Coconut oil is the easiest natural oil for your hair to absorb - and it has as a bonus nutritious proteins that hair benefits from. Which brings me to -

Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
That's right, you can just use coconut oil straight. It will harden when just sitting around at room temperature, but if you warm it a little in the microwave it will soften up and you will be able to spread it on your hair. A very effective way to use coconut oil is by warming it, and spreading it through your hair BEFORE a shower - leave your hair dry. Then, once you've worked it through your hair (don't worry about what your hair looks like, you'll be wetting it immediately after this), wrap your hair in a hot towel and leave it there 5-15 minutes. Then proceed with your normal washing/conditioning routine. The heat and dryness makes sure your hair absorbs the maximum amount of nutrients from the oil.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
EVOO can be used in the same manner as coconut oil. It's cheaper, but I personally don't like greasiness it can give your hair. It works best, in my opinion, if you mix about two tablespoons in with a bottle of your usual conditioner.

Suave Humectant Conditioner
I was a little cautious about trying a new conditioner, after finding the lovely HerbalEssences orchid-coconut brand that I mentioned earlier, but this conditioner really DOES penetrate your hair just as well - if not better - than the HerbalEssences, leaves it softer, and it's easier to comb through than the HerbalEssences conditioner. So I switched the HerbalEssences to my weekly deep-condition, and this (cheaper!) humectant for my daily.

Herbal Essences Totally Twisted Curl Scrunching Gel
This gel... smells good. I can't say it's miles better than any other, but it smells HEAVENLY.

Suave Curl Enhancing Spray Gel
Do not use hairspray on curly hair. Use spray gel. Hairspray contains things like alcohols that suck the life and moisture and oils out of your hair. Spray gel does not - it sits on top of your hair instead of penetrating it, protecting the shaft. This is, by FAR, the ABSOLUTE BEST spray gel I've found. It won't make your head crunchy, you won't feel like you're wearing a space helmet instead of your own natural hair, and your hair will be very bouncy. You may, however, die of oxygen deprivation, because it smells rather like diesel fuel.

Herbal Essences Long Term Relationship Split-End Treatment
I like to mix-and-match my HerbalEssences products, did you notice? This leave-in conditioner smells very nice, is a shocking magenta cream. The garish color does not keep the treatment from working brilliantly, however. It's light, so it won't weigh your hair down, and you don't have to use very much. I would recommend using it right after you dunk your hair in the ice water, and right before the gel stage.

Well, this ends my loooong post indulging in my secret passion - beauty consulting. I will probably never pursue this love of mine in the real world, but my soul is soothed by blogging about it.

I can't figure out how to get my paragraph off of "centered".

Goodnight, my People.



  1. So I have very thick hair, but it's just wavy and not curly. Does that make me weird at all?

  2. Whoa. Someone actually read it... I expected everyone to roll their eyes and hit the little red "X".

    Sarah - Thank you. I tried.

    Quip - your hair is not what defines your weirdness, no... ;P
    Wavy hair is more normal than completely straight or completely curly hair, actually...
    I would say you're one of the fortunate ones. Your hair would probably curl a teeny bit more if it were grown longer (some girls would die for it, btw). ::shrug:: Just means that your hair follicles are less hooked than follicles someone like me has, and more hooked than follicles someone like Jester has. There's a good chance your hair will either straighten out more or curl more as you age (odds are usually on the curly side for wavy-haired people).

    Not that I'm suggesting growing it long. O.o

  3. Well, I skimmed most of it... And funny thing, I have long eyelashes and full lips too, so any girls who want hair could get a nice bargin on those as well.

  4. You're also tall and skinny. You might want to up the price.

  5. They'd probably take better care of it, too.

  6. I have to say that is the most intense hair care regimen I've ever heard of. But then, I take all of thirty seconds.

  7. The driest, most uninteresting post I've written - that you'd think everyone would skip over - has more comments than the rest of my posts combined...

  8. Holy cow. My goodness, this absolutely insane. Another thing down to absolute science....*Just kind of sits there dumbfounded for a while*

  9. I like absolute sciences with most things. Quiz, Grand Prix, Writing... hair.

    If it ain't the best it can be, tweak it until it is. That's what I always say.

  10. I just had a brilliant idea! Instead of waiting until you get out of your shower to rinse your hair in cold water, you could just time it so you shower after the rest of your family. Why, you ask? Well, if you time it right, your shower will start out nice and hot, and end nice and ::shivers:: cold. Guess when this idea came to me? This morning. In the shower. ::shivers again:: Think of it as the age of equality. No more shall the back of your neck be unfairly treated, but your entire ::shivers:: body shall be frozen together! ::continues shivering:: (I really don't like cold showers. =P)

  11. I actually did that for two months, before I figured out that I could just dunk my HAIR and not torture my entire BODY...
    But thanks for the... eh... thought...

  12. wow...thanks a LOT for that advice!! i was having SERIOUS hair problems, but i'm SO going to do what you suggested! Thank you so much!!
    (a friend sent me the link to this, so i could see the hair post)


  13. You're welcome "Anonymous". =P If you need any more specific help, you can email me at burningdownmyneverland[at]gmail[dot]com


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