What I Learned About my Hair After Neglecting it for 2.5 Months
My departure from the haircare industry, temporary or permanent as it may be, has resulted in an abrupt halt in just about all of my standard beauty routines. I did get my brows waxed a few weeks ago because I just couldn’t take it anymore. But as it’s no longer my job to be cute, I’ve abandoned regular washings, styling, and even dry shampoo (CAN YOU BELIEVE?) over the past few months as I accept this transitional and seemingly low maintenance point in my life.
Yesterday was my first hair appointment since the week I lost my job, and it honestly snuck up on me. We had rescheduled a few times, which was totally fine since I didn’t really have a pressing reason to be there in the first place. I’ve been bleaching my hair for over a decade. I don’t mind a more rooted look. I actually think I prefer it. So when it was the morning of my appointment, I panicked because I couldn’t remember the last time I'd washed my hair (maybe a week and a half ago?), and I definitely hadn’t brushed it in a few days. Y’all. I couldn’t even find my hairbrush. That’s the kind of situation we’re in over here. So I worked through it with a round brush and resigned to showing up to my appointment a little extra greasy and embarrassed.
I sat down in the chair, and my stylist, Carly Rae (who I’ve been in a longer relationship with than my own husband JSYK), was incredibly gracious and understanding and let me know it was totally okay that I showed up looking like a bridge troll. I apologized profusely. To my surprise, despite an entire season of neglect, she said my hair was actually in really great shape and had even grown a good bit! WTF?
Here is what I think I did right:
I did not heat style my hair. At all. In my previous life, I was always diligent about using a thermal protectant. I would try to give my hair a break in the warmer months and let my hair air dry, but if I was in a hurry, that wasn’t an option. And I would typically curl my hair the day I washed it and touch it up as necessary throughout the week. I’ve maybe blow-dried my hair once in the past few months. I haven’t curled it or even styled it beyond my tired (typo and I’m leaving it) and true messy bun.
I didn’t pull my hair back too tight. Even though my hair was in a messy bun the majority of the past few months as I diligently worked on project after project around the house, I kind of haphazardly tossed it on top of my head, to the point I would have to fix it a few times throughout the day. If you pull your hair too tightly into a bun, pony, or any style, you are pretty much guaranteeing breakage at your hair line and at the place where you are securing your hair. By using no tangle or no crease hair ties and fastening my hair in a loose style, I minimized breakage by not “strangling" my hair. Keep it loose, fam!
I brushed my hair. Okay, this is going to sound like a no-brainer, but do you know how many of my friends complain about how tangly their hair is, and when I ask them how often they brush their hair, they say, “Never." And not to call you out, but they’re usually moms. Moms, listen to me: you deserve just as much care and attention as your little ones. Take 30 seconds out of your chaos-filled day and brush your hair. #MOMBRUSHYOURHAIR I use a nylon pin and boar bristle brush, and it helps to detangle while also distributing the natural oils from my scalp to the mid-lengths and ends of my hair. Deep conditioning treatments are cool, but also work with what you’ve got! I’ve brushed my hair semi-regularly, and I religiously do it before washing it. FYI: your hair is most vulnerable when it’s wet. Take an extra moment to brush it.
I only washed my hair every 10-14 days. Some of you are completely grossed out, and some of you are like “AND?” (and you’re my kind of people 😂). Not sure if this is a universal principle, but when my hair isn’t flat on my scalp, my scalp doesn’t get oily as quickly. So putting it in a loose bun prevented the need to wash it as frequently, and because I wasn’t styling my hair as often *cough* at all *cough*, I was able to extend time between shampoos because there wasn’t product build-up on my hair. Which brings me to my next point...
I gave up on dry shampoo. I mean, it took losing my job to do it, but I’ve used dry shampoo fewer times than I can count on one hand in the last few months, which is honestly kind of mind-blowing to me. I don’t want to admit how much I would use on a regular basis. I had cut back a little bit, but I pretty much gave it up over the past few months because I didn’t need it anymore. Who am I trying to look cute for? The dogs? #sorryjustin Dry shampoo, like any other product, eventually builds up on the scalp and hair and can clog pores, which can result in hair loss or lack of growth. Carly was shocked at how much my hair had grown. I didn’t really notice because my hair has been up for the past few months. But when she cut it yesterday, I legitimately couldn’t tell and made her cut even more. And bonus! I’m saving money on hair products (and all my cosmetic products, really!) because I’m not using them as often.
So despite what I considered generally poor care of my tresses, they were healthier, stronger, and longer than I had anticipated. It’s good to know that after working in the haircare industry for 6 years, my subconscious will take over in even the worst of times.
I don’t know how much longer I’ll be in "the sunken place.” I think it’s natural to let things slip as I try to recalibrate and find my new normal. I’m doing a few things to facilitate my bare bones beauty routine as I forge this new path:
I cut another 4 inches off my hair. This felt different than the other times I chopped my hair because I went through a really painful breakup or had a major life shift. Right now, I just need my hair to be easier to manage — even though I’m not really doing anything with it. Cutting it seemed to be the answer. I think I had convinced myself I would have to cut it for neglecting it so long, so I was already prepared to do it. But it was nice to be able to make that decision on my own terms. Less hair = less work, and currently, that’s an equation I can get behind!
I’m using a silk pillowcase again. This was purchased at the start of the winter season to maintain my hair’s health throughout the cooler months (and if you’re the type that likes to plan ahead, you can read my post on how to update your winter beauty regimen here!). I pretty much quit using it when the temps started rising, but I switched back because restless sleeping has wreaked havoc on the hair on the back of my head, and using this pillowcase will help. There are plenty of brands out there, but I’ve purchased 2 from Marshall’s for around $7 that have worked amazingly!
So here we are now:
My hair really does feel healthier, shinier, and happier. And I’m hoping I will, too, really soon <3