Saturday, March 3, 2012

The secrets to long healthy hair

Once upon a time as a young girl I used to have long healthy hair. I never dyed it and had it trimmed regularly. I loved my hair.

Then one day when I was 16 I decided it would be a good time to start highlighting my once untouched locks. I liked the way the highlights accented my blonde hair and kept it up for a year and half.

One day I woke up and felt my hair thinking, "Why does it feel like straw? If I don't curl it everyday, it looks like a broom." I went to the salon to get some layers in my hair. The stylist took one look at my parched hair and replied, "Honey, I am not giving you layers. Your hair is damaged badly. It will just keep breaking up the hair shaft if I do that."

What happened to my once healthy long hair? What had I done wrong?

My freshman year of college my best friend and roommate and I both decided to chop off our long locks. I mean, seriously chopped it off. We're talking from elbow length hair to pixie. We got some fun remarks after that, let me tell you! Let's just say one particular boy who paid quite a bit of attention to us basically never spoke to us again (right after he gave us a lecture that a woman's hair is her glory and we'd just chopped it all off.) It's a long story, but we decided to cut our hair together because we felt that we received too much of our identity from it. We felt it was a symbol of us finding our true identity in Father's Son, instead of our outward appearance. It was glorious, and yet I bawled my eyes out.

The remainder of my freshman year and my sophomore year at college I hardly did anything with my hair. It was too short to do any of the cool hairstyles I was used to, plus my schedule was insane and sleep meant more to me than a beautiful hairstyle. I tried to scrunch it, and mostly put it in two tiny pigtails. I tried pinning it back in different styles as it started growing out. Anyone who has grown out their hair knows "this stage". You just want to chop it all off again, but you have to press through this ugly stage to grow it out! I basically never curled or straightened it for those two years, and it was super silky and healthy.

My junior year I moved to Cambodia for a 9 month internship. It was mostly 80-100 degrees F with 90 % humidity that whole time, so I said "bye-bye" to makeup and hairstyling :) (Life in the tropics, what do you expect?) I took care to do conditioning treatments as much as possible there to keep my hair safe from the sun-rays and had it trimmed a few times.

When I returned to America the end of that year, my hair had grown back to my elbows and was super healthy (and way blonde from the tropical sun). I knew I needed a new game plan to keep my hair healthy and long this time.

Since my senior year of college, I've kept up this "new and improved" hair routine that enables me to have long layered hair, and yet still keep it healthy. I'll share it with you now :)

  1. I don't curl/straighten my hair everyday. Max 3 times a week. I try braiding my hair or scrunching it to give my hair a heat-break throughout the week.
  2. I don't wash my hair every day.
  3. I always use leave-in conditioner after every single shower.
  4. I often buy hair mask treatments that are left on for about 3 minutes in the shower then rinsed.
  5. At night after a shower I often coat my hair in leave-in conditioner or coconut oil, then braid it. I wash it out in the morning.
  6. When I get my hair trimmed, I make sure to tell my stylist that I hardly want anything cut off, just the split ends. 
  7. I do not dye or highlight my hair. My hair is weird because in the summer the sun naturally highlights my hair, but in the winter the roots grow out a dirty blonde shade. So my secret is about twice or three times a month in the winter I spray Sun-In on my roots only then blow-dry (this is how Sun-In works). It lightens up my roots so that my hair doesn't look two-toned. This way I am not highlighting my whole head over and over all year long.

This is what has worked for me! If you are trying to grow out your hair, I wish you best of luck. Don't give up. Be patient and keep working at it. Eventually it will pay off. Like I mentioned earlier, it took me three years to grow my hair back out completely after a drastic chop. It was worth it!

My damaged highlighted hair freshman year

My roommate getting her hair chopped!

My roommate's short pixie cut! (This was a birthday surprise, in case you were wondering.)

I'm on the bottom left. This is at a college event where you can see my hair in the ugly stage (two small pigtail braids- yuck!)

I'm on the left. You can see my hair pinned up during the ugly stage.

On the far left in the red and purple Indian outfit you can see my hair grown out after my internship (all that blonde was completely from the tropical sun).

I love long hair, and I never want to chop it that short again!

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