This is one subject I certainly know a lot about! I have spent huge amounts of time taking care of my hair and figuring out what works best for me. I hope that some of these tips are helpful for you as well. And, as always, if you have any questions about something not discussed, or posted here, feel free to post in the comments!
I have SUPER curly hair which is semi-thick and getting long. I have been trying to grow it out since September of 2011. I have not cut it since about July of 2011. I am very anxious for my hair to get down to my waist, and even longer I hope! Right now it is mid back length.
Check out my Pinterest board: Mess of Curls for hairstyle ideas.
In order of appearance.
~To Cut Or Not To Cut
~Using Heat vs. Not
~Store Bought Shampoo vs. Homemade Shampoo
(Baking Soda Shampoo and Vinegar Rinse Recipes)
~Use Of Hair Products
~To Tease Or Not To Tease
~Hair Treatments and Moisturizers
~Pulling Your Hair Up vs. Leaving It Down
~Curly Hair Tips
To Cut Or Not To Cut
I personally do not cut my hair. There are mixed reasons for this. First, I am Pentecostal and do not believe in cutting my hair. Hair is a woman's glory and she shouldn't cut it off. I am a new Pentecostal so I have not been letting my hair grow since I was born... but I have had very long hair (aka to my waist) more than a few times in my life. Second, I think that by not cutting my hair it seems to have grown a lot faster since when you go to get your hair cut a few inches are removed each visit. This means that all the new hair you have grown out is still at the roots, but the ends are cut off and therefore you're really not growing your hair very fast. So, my opinion on cutting hair is: don't cut it!
However, if you are okay with cutting your hair occasionally then go ahead. I would suggest that if you are trying to grow it out don't cut your hair very often. Try to cut it about every 3 months at the most and less if you can. The main reason for cutting it this many times is if you straighten your hair regularly, or blow dry it, and you have split ends you need to keep them trimmed off. There are many ways to help prevent as strong heat damage, but still, if you constantly use these heat tools on your hair you will have split ends and you will want to keep them trimmed to help prevent your hair from looking gross at the ends.
Using Heat vs. Not
First off: Using anything that is very hot (aka curling iron, flat iron, hair dryer) IS GOING TO DAMAGE YOUR HAIR!!! If you want to straighten your hair or use one of the other mentioned things, make sure you take care of your hair or you will end up with horrible spit ends... you will have split ends anyway, but taking care of your hair before this happens will help them not be near as bad. I straightened my hair constantly 3 years ago and I am still suffering from spit ends, though now it's possibly from other things such as stress and not so much just from having used heat on my hair so much.
~Products to Use: Condition your hair! Any conditioner that you want to use will probably be fine, just USE IT religiously! Also, once you get out of the shower put a leave in heat protector in your hair so that when you go to blow dry (if you don't air dry) your hair it will be protected. And if you plan to straighten your hair later even if you don't blow dry, then still add a leave in heat protector. This will seal your hair and protect it from the enormous amounts of heat it will experience and will also help protect against split ends. Also, if you feel like your hair is really dry get a leave in conditioner to use as well. I personally like Infusium 23: 3 Leave-In Treatment: Repair and Renew. (Later I discuss how I use this product.)
~Air drying is amazing! If you have long hair it can take hours and be a pain, but it's worth it if you have the time. If you blow dry often, give your hair a break one day when you will be home for awhile. If you air dry but plan to use heat later still had in a heat protector or leave-in conditioner, or both!
~What I Do: I always air dry my hair after I wash it. I never curl it with a curling iron (except maybe once a year when one of my friends wants to do a fancy hair style on me) and I don't straighten it because A. I don't like my hair when it's not curly; B. It takes forever to straighten; C. I don't want to make any split ends I do have worse.
Store Bought Shampoo vs. Home Made Shampoo
Between my mom and sister and I there is a constant dispute going over whether or not my baking soda wash and vinegar rinse cleans my hair enough. This idea is probably new to some of you, but just hang on and let me explain. All store bought shampoo's have lots of chemicals. These chemicals strip your hair of its natural oils and, in some cases, can dry your hair out and damage it. I am a huge fan of Pinterst and one day I ran across home made recipes for shampoo. As I looked into them I because discouraged because the recipes required ingredients I didn't have and would be difficult to find if I wanted to buy them... and then I came across baking soda shampoo (I don't remember the original name). After looking over several recipes I finally decided to give it a shot.
However, if you don't want to be brave and attempt this new baking soda shampoo idea that is okay! There are plenty of products out there to use in cleaning your hair. When I did use shampoo I loved Herbal Essences Shampoo & Conditioner both Long Term Relationship, which is specifically for long hair, and Color Me Happy, which is for color treated hair. Garnier Sleek & Shine is good also. Another one I love, and would possibly use again, is John Frieda Root Awakening Normal Hair Shampoo & Conditioner. That stuff is amazing and it has mint in it which makes your hair smell amazing! All of these products can be found at Wal-Mart.
~If you decide to give the Baking Soda Shampoo a try: One key note to remember is you will have to give your hair about two months to adjust to not being stripped of its natural oils. Baking soda and water do not create a foamy mixture which is also another change you will notice right away. The first few times you wash your hair you will feel like you didn't get it clean. Don't worry, this will eventually go away as your body stops producing so much oil. Your body has to readjust to making less oils since they are not being constantly stripped away. Depending on if you have a water softener or not your hair may feel fine with just this, or it may feel dry. Either way I do suggest following this hair wash with the Vinegar Rinse since it will give your hair a soft feeling (BTW white vinegar is used in home made fabric softeners!). This combination will require you letting your hair and body re-adjust. For me this took about 2 months.
~Changes I've seen in my hair since using the Baking Soda Shampoo and Vinegar Rinse: My hair feels so much cleaner! I love it. My hair also smells really nice...which is surprising since I just use baking soda, water, and vinegar to clean it. No, it does not smell/reek of vinegar. I was surprised when I figured this out. Even now with using half vinegar/half water in my bottle it doesn't smell. I have had several friends (who don't know how I clean my hair) say that it 'always smells sweet'. One huge bonus for me is my curls are SO curly! This is my favorite part about using these 'products'. (For other tips/notes on curly hair see below.)
~One final note: If you use this recipe I suggest NOT putting essential oils in either mix. I have discovered this will give your hair a super greasy look, especially during the transition period. I haven't tried any oils since my hair has passed this period but I like the way it smells without it so that works fine for me.
~Recipe for these:
I use old Bath and Body Work's bottles. One full bottle lasts me a week, sometimes more, sometimes less depending on how much I wash my hair during the week and how much of the mix I use.
Baking Soda Shampoo
1 Bath and Body Work bottle, rinsed out to where there is no soap in it!
2-4 Tablespoons of Baking Soda
Lots of water
I use a funnel to get the baking soda into the bottle, then I fill it with the faucet until it reaches the bottom of where the lid screws down.
To Use: Shake it about 3 good shakes to get the baking soda off the bottom of the bottle and out into the water part. You only need to apply this to your scalp area. I sprinkle VERY generously onto my scalp and then tilt my head under the water a few seconds, pull away from the water and use my finger tips to massage the mix into my scalp in a fairly circular motion. But if something works better for you then go for it! Make sure to rinse out very well. Also, if you feel like you need to clean the ends of your hair just collect your hair into a side pony tail and pour some stuff on it and rub it in. I practically never do this.
1 Bath and Body Work bottle, rinsed out to where there is no soap in it!
1/4 cup White or Apple Cider Vinegar (I use white)
Lots of water
Again, I use a funnel to get the vinegar in if I'm measuring it. If I'm not measuring it then I just hold the bottle over a sink (or the washer, since the white vinegar is in my laundry room) and pour however much in it as I want. Then fill the rest of the bottle with water.
I mentioned above that I do half vinegar and half water. I don't suggest you start off with this much unless you just like the smell of vinegar. I think you have to give yourself time to adjust to how strong of a smell it has before using so much.
To Use: Pour very generously on scalp. I put my hair in a side pony tail to be able to pour the vinegar on the ends easier. Let it sit in your hair for as long as you want. Most of the time I will wash my hair before I shave so that I can let the vinegar sit there longer. That's just me though. I go through the Vinegar Rinse a lot faster than the Baking Soda Shampoo. I usually use two bottles of this on a week where I wash my hair a lot, otherwise this will last me a week.
Use of Hair Products
Thankfully I no longer have to use hair gel in my hair since the curls are staying together on their own and they are not frizzy very often. When they do get frizzy I just go wash my hair and pour LOTS of vinegar rinse (see above) on it to smooth them down. This does not mean that I don't use hair products though! I have recently started using Infusium 23: 3 Leave-In Treatment: Repair and Renew. I am using it because my hair needs something more than what my home made products are giving it. Another new product I am using is Regis DesignLine Pure Results: Moisture Conditioning Treatment. This is an apply, leave in 5 minutes and rinse out product. I have nothing to share on this for the time being other than the mixture feels really soft and smooth! (This was given to me, I almost never buy hair products.) If I use a store bought conditioner I use TRESemme Curl Moisturizing for curly or wavy hair. I also like Garnier Sleek & Shine Conditioner for dry, frizzy and unmanageable hair.
~How I use Infusium 23: Repair and Renew: After a shower I will split my hair into two halves. I don't use a comb on my hair ever! Then I take a little of the mix in the palm of my hand and rub my hands together then apply from my ear to the end of my hair then to the top part of my hair on one side then repeat for the other. Also, I apply this after I wake up in the morning if my hair is super frizzy from sleeping on it. This helps tame down my hair and make my curls look smooth, feel soft, and smell good throughout the day!
To Tease or Not To Tease
I've read many people's opinions on whether or not its a good idea to tease your hair if you want to grow it out. Honestly, I tease mine all the time. I have not noticed anything bad from doing this and I try to not tease my hair and then tease it again without washing it out first. This doesn't always happen thought, but my hair seems to be doing fine. I have no clue if this helps or not with regards to growing your hair out. Sorry for not having very much on this topic!
Hair Treatments and Moisturizers
There are a lot of things all over the Internet that you can do for you hair. I have tried a lot of them. I have lots of opinions in this area! For links to homemade hair treatments/moisturizers check out the *Beauty Tips* or the *Homemade Products* page.
First off let me say: putting honey in your hair is a dumb idea! It doesn't come out easy and your hair feels funky for days afterwards.
Second: Olive oil treatments probably don't need to be done more than three or four times a month. If you do an olive oil treatment then try and do it on a day you will be home so you can put the oil in your hair, pull it up in a big loose bun and wear it around for as long as you can. Wash it before you go to bed and then in the morning wash your hair again. The reason you should wash it twice is because all that oil wont come out in one wash!
Third: The mouthwash to make your hair grow is also dumb. There is so much alcohol in that stuff that your hair will be very brittle and dry by the time it does start getting long. I'm working on an experiment which gives the same basic effect but won't damage your hair. Nothing to share on that yet!
Fourth: Your hair does need moisture to stay soft. The Vinegar Rinse is one good thing that I love to use almost daily. I'm still in the experimental stage of several other tricks. I'll be posting the results as soon as I finish them up.
Pulling Your Hair Up vs. Leaving It Down
Another controversial topic is wearing your hair up to make your hair grow. This has no back up or proof, in my opinion. The only thing that could make people think that wearing your hair up will help it grow is: your hair is up all the time so when you do let it down you see how long it is and it seems long since you never wear it down. Do keep in mind if you do the same style, such as a high ponytail, all the time then your hair WILL begin to break around that point. You definitely don't want that! So change up your hairstyle. If you need cute alternatives try searching YouTube videos or on look Pinterest!
~I personally go through stages of wearing my hair up a lot, wearing it down all time time, and a mix of both during a same period. Mostly if I am home my hair is down, when I go out (especially for church) I will fix my hair up.
Curly Hair Tips
Curly Girls please don't comb your curls!! Your hair can be so much curlier if you are not constantly messing up their natural form. I have found Vinegar Rinse to be very useful in making my curls come alive. I use it every time I wash my hair and it has literally worked miracles. One key to removing hair product from hair is a brown sugar and conditioner mix (Hair | Build-Up Remover). Since most girls with curly hair use a lot of hair products like mouse or gel build-up can be hard to get rid of and annoying, but this trick has been a lifesaver!
Rinse your hair with cool water on days you have time to sit and let your curls air dry. This gives them moisture and helps them not be as frizzy. If you don't want to use hair products, or as few as possible, this is a great trick to have knowledge of!
If you have curly hair you should also not brush it! This will make your hair frizzy and basically make you hate your hair. I have not brushed my hair in years. Now you're probably wondering how do I get knots out if I don't use a brush or comb? The easiest way is to use your fingers and work from the bottom of the knot (closest to the ends of your hair) and working up towards the top. I do this all of the time and then smooth the hair back together with my fingers or with some added conditioner or water. This has worked great for me since I was a young teenager.
Another tip is: don't use shampoo! I personally like to make up the Baking Soda Shampoo mix to clean my scalp, and to remove build up from hairspray or gel (or another hair product you might use) then you need to look at the recipe for Build-Up Remover Conditioner under *Beauty Tips*. This gets all that junk off without drying out your curls! And of course my favorite: Vinegar Rinse! :)
My first source for curly hair tips came from the book by Lorraine Massey: Curly Girl. It is so full of good information on how to better take care of your curls. It also has several good hair recipes, some of which I mentioned such as the Build-Up Remover Conditioner, which are amazing for your curls!
One of the best ways to remove dandruff is use Head and Shoulders (or the Walm-Mart off brand, it works just as good) every time you wash your hair until the dandruff is gone. Also, fill a spray bottle with water and add a few drops of Tea Tree Oil. Spray this mix on the roots of your hair and massage in. Tea Tree Oil is good for skin, and dandruff comes from your scalp.
My sister worked in a public school for awhile and the little girls/boys would always want to give her a hug whenever she came in. Unfortunately lice runs through schools quite often. And not only schools, but other public places too. The best prevention is to wash your hair with a shampoo that has lavender in it or you can add lavender essential oil to a favorite shampoo. If you do this shake the shampoo well to get it mixed around. I know I am constantly saying Vinegar Rinse, but seriously, it's good for everything hair related! Vinegar repels lice, and is therefore another good product to use in lice prevention. Finally, Tea Tree Oil. Put a few drops in a spray bottle and fill the rest with water. Spray in your hair before you go out the door.
Chlorine is terrible on hair, and most especially if you swim in a pool a lot. One good tip I have is to put about 2 Tablespoons worth of your conditioner into a spray bottle, fill the rest with water and shake well. If your hair already has moisture on it before you get in the water it will absorb much less chlorine. This is not to say you won't get chlorine in your hair, it will just be much less.
I want to post these separately so they can be found easier. Check the topic Hair Care for tips and recipes. You can also check out the page Health & Beauty for all the post related to hair care and recipes for hair care in one place without all the inbetween stuff from each post (this option is actually best if you just want to browse!).