We have all atleast once fantasized on having ‘perfect hair’, whether it was from a TV show or a picture from a magazine. You know, the vision they have been selling us? Shiny, bouncy, full of life, the type that drives men crazy after you flip it?
Well for me, I was 15 when it happened..when I got hooked on that one Elseve/Elvive advert featuring Laetitia Casta. I still remember the slogan to this day ‘mirror shine…cashmere touch’! Here is the video for those of you who do not know it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enregzGJs0Q
Now you must understand that at 15, with acne on my face and not much going on in the chest area (still not much going on actually), I figured I could do with some shine. Yes, like many 15 year olds, I wanted to be attractive. So it was not long before I was strolling in the supermarket’s aisles in search of this magical product. Once found, I hastily dropped the shiny pink bottles of shampoo and conditioner in my mother’s cart and could not wait to get home to wash my hair. (As if I was going to get instant results! Hah!)
As I opened the cap, and poured the mixtures onto my hair, one after the other, I was overwhelmed by that lovely (slightly chemical) scent, we find in so many products. Once done, I stepped out, all excited, waiting for the magic to happen..and it did! Except that the magic was more like a twisted dark spell, that gave me an itchy scalp…no mirror shine…no cashmere touch, no matter how long I kept using the product. Since then I, like many of you probably, have been on a quest to find the products that would give me those results! At 25, I finally found the secret and now to cut this little backstory short, let me share it with you.
Cut out the shampoo!
I know, it sounds crazy at first but trust me, you do not need commercial shampoo to have great, shiny and more importantly clean hair. A lot of shampoos are filled with sulfates (sodium laureth sulfates is usally high up on the ingredient list) and other chemicals that do nothing for your hair. SLES for example, only helps to produce foam, tricking you into thinking it’s cleaning your hair better.
What commercial shampoo tends to do is mainly stripping your hair of the beneficial oils and moisture, leaving you with a dry scalp, that could produce more sebum, giving you greasier hair as a result. Shampoo bottles also produce a lot of waste since they come in plastic bottles and we do not need that extra plastic waste filling up landfills and oceans.
So what are your options?
Opt for a hair cleanser without all the parabens and sulfates, and to make sure you follow the eco route, try a shampoo bar that’s suitable for your hair type, since they usually come in little to no packaging. Bear in mind that not using shampoo at first may feel weird to you and your hair might even feel greasier for the first couple of months…but trust me, it works. When you first stop using shampoo, it might take a little while for your hair and scalp, which used to rely on the harsh chemicals, to adapt. Eventually though, your body will start to regulate the sebum production. The results? Shiny, soft hair, that does not create excessive waste, and naturally looks beautiful for a fraction of the price you used to spend! Why say no to that?
What I use
I use the Shikakai powder from Radico to clean my hair. Shikakai has many benefits along with being a natural hair cleanser, it helps to add shine and smoothness, prevents dandruff as well as prevent dry scalp. It comes in a powder form and you just have to mix it with water to form a paste and then use it on your hair as you would use your shampoo. It will not lather, but as stated above, lather is mainly superficial and it’s not really cleaning your hair. My only issue with this particular product is that the packaging isn’t the best, since it does still produce some waste. I will be looking for alternatives, but I do believe that the shikakai powder works great and has made a big difference to my hair. You can read more about it here
What about conditioners?
I have also cut out conditioners from my routine, since they are an extra step, that causes extra waste and honestly once you realise your hair is not being stripped, you will find that you never really needed a commercial conditioner. Most conditioners also give you that smooth effect with silicones which you may find in the ingredient lists under dimethicones, cyclomethicone, amodimethicone or another derivative. Usually most of them will end in cones. The problem with silicone is that it’s a filler and is not actually beneficial to your hair in the long run. It is basically coating it to make it look nice until you wash it off…and once you wash it off, all the ‘benefits’ of that conditioner go down the drain. This artificial coating can also, with time, cause build-up and make your hair look worse. To better invest in our hair and make sure we are improving it’s condition, it’s better to nourish it, so that the shine we get is actually from the hair cuticles being healthy and properly sealed so that the light bounces off of it.
Here is what I do:
I oil my hair lightly before every hair wash. No you do not have to end up looking like a grease ball! What i’m saying here is that our moms were not so crazy when they used to put coconut oil in our hair (Let me know in the comments if you went through that).
What hair oil for what hair type/needs?
Almond oil can be used for normal, or slightly dry hair to add shine and make your hair smoother. It is not as heavy as coconut oil, and therefore will rinse out much easier.
Coconut oil can be used if you have brittle or coarser hair since it will help to smooth things over. I only use it on the ends of my hair since it can make my hair look greasy if I use too much of it.
Jojoba oil, is well loved in the hair community as it is said to mimic the natural oils produced by our bodies and therefore can be used from your scalp to your ends.
Neem oil can be used in conjunction with another carrier oil like jojoba oil on the scalp, to help with dandruff.
These are some of the common ones, and if you have fine hair, only use a couple of drops to avoid weighing your hair down. Believe it or not, oils actually help to dissolve other oils, meaning that this little oil treatment prior to your wash, will be cleaning your hair while adding in some moisture.
Now, we all love to pamper ourselves every once in a while, and though not essential, hair masks can also give you that added bounciness or boost up the shine. You can choose to make your own with some of the easy home-made hair masks recipes here.
Tropical style for smooth hair
Blend one ripe banana with some honey and add the mixture to your hair for 10 mins before washing it off
Detox for softer locks
Mix some green or white clay designed for use on the scalp/hair with some water and use it to clarify your scalp, if you feel like you have too much build-up
If you do not enjoy making your own or find it too messy, I am currently using this one by CUT by Fred, which is a vegan brand, that does not test on animals and has a list of clean ingredients. It makes my hair smell like almonds and it comes in a big jar that lasts me at least 8 months. If you would like to know where I got mine, please reach out.
Other key points!
All this is great but what will also help your hair, is drinking lots of water (the normal recommended daily amount being around 8 cups). This will help you to stay hydrated and healthy, and when your body is hydrated, it also shows in your hair and skin.
Avoid product overload
What I’ve mentioned above works really well, but using too many products on your hair like finishing creams, serums or other products that have silicones in them will actually create build-up on your hair shaft and scalp, which means it will be harder for the more simple approach to work for you
Try to avoid heat tools
It will take a little bit of time, especially if you are used to styling your hair often. But you will see that if you stay away from the straighteners and curlers, while following these other tips, soon you won’t even need them. Your hair will just naturally fall into place, and sometimes may even look like you have just had a blowout. ( Yes, I got that compliment once at the end of a work day)
You are what you eat..literally
A good healthy diet rich in the proper nutrients like biotin, protein, vitamins A and C as well as omega-3 fatty acids will really help your hair along the way.
Be gentle on your hair, to avoid snagging and breakage, but also on yourself! Remove unrealistic expectations from your goals and set out to achieve the best healthy hair for you. And learn to celebrate the small victories…because guess what.. You are actually worth it!
So there you have it, here is how I finally achieved my dream hair…the hair all those shampoo ads promised me, without even using any of them. If you would like a list of cruelty-free brands to choose your hair products from, please check out my other blog post here
Love and green vibes,