Ten Tips for People with Crazy Delicate Hair (or, My Stupid Hair and How I Deal with It)

Hello, humans.

My hair is stupid.

Well, it’s not horrific, just spoiled.

Most people can dye their hair, use excessive hair sprays, or use crappy shampoos. Me? If my hair so much as smells a hint of such products, it will basically die of shame and break off. Think of the plant Esmé poisoned in the beginning of The Emperor’s New Groove. That’s my hair.

If I go to the Beach, it breaks off. If I swim in the pool, it breaks off. No 2-in-1 body washes for me, nooooo sir. Curling irons? Think again sister. I can’t use a darn blowdryer without it crisping up like a damn brick of ramen. I can’t even brush it too hard or it stretches and curls like a rubber band about to snap, and when it’s really bad it actually gets almost transparent at the tips. When I do manage to comb it out decently, it’s either so thin it lays flat like a sheet or is only wavy on one side. The last time I got my hair trimmed, the stylist complimented me on my bayolage highlights, but noticed an excess of split ends.

“I don’t have highlights;” I explained. “that’s all damage. I used to dye it red, but it always returned to this color after a few months or so, plus it kept breaking off, so I stopped. I actually haven’t touched it in about a year or two, except for trimming the ends myself.”

She sucked in her breath.

“Yeah, we’re gonna have to cut quite a bit of this…”

I shrugged philosophically. “Just do what you gotta do. If you can leave it as long as you can, then great, but I get it if you have to really go for it, as there’s just so much damage.”

She did a great job, and kept it longer than I thought she would be able to. Still, we cut off a good four inches. I now have a ‘lob’. 💇

She also gave me a bit of advice as to what to do to keep my hair from getting any stupider, and I thought I might share some of her tips as well as my own, if you have the same problems.

1) Avoid heat styling.

This will just continue to cook already cooked hair. Try to curl your hair with loose overnight curlers or rolls, and let it air dry rather than ruffling it with a towel or blowdrying it.

2) Don’t brush it when it’s wet.

When your hair is saturated it stretches out to the longest length it can get to. If you brush it when it’s in this state, it will just snap as it can’t stretch any further. If you are combing it out to get it to straighten a bit, then do so very carefully.

3) Try to comb it, rather than brush it, when possible.

…or at least initially, before you style it.

4) Shampoo the roots, condition the tips.

Shampooing the ends will make them too dry, and conditioner on the roots will make them too oily.

5) Hydrate your hair before swimming.

Before swimming in the pool, saturate your hair with water, then put oil in it to seal in the moisture and prevent it from soaking up the chlorine. I use coconut oil for this, as it’s cheaper than wasting all that argon oil for a single swim (the non-organic coconut oil is usually a dollar at…well, the Dollar Store). For salt water, if you are hesitant to use fragrant oil in water for fear of sharks (it sounds silly but they can smell really well!) at least saturate it with water, and braid it loosely before swimming.

6) Wear a hat in heavy sun.

As an alternative, you can just braid in a scarf with your french-rolled pigtails, and tie up the ends of your pigtails in the back with the scarf ends for a boho look that protects your hair. 👸

7) Oil the ends of your hair in the morning, before bed, and after every shower.

I use morrocan argon oil for this. Don’t apply oil any closer to your roots than ponytail distance. If it can’t fit into a pony tail, avoid the area.

8) Loosely braid your hair every night.

The important thing here is the word ‘loosely’. Doing so keeps the hair from tangle-causing friction, but allows it to move freely and not become damaged from too much restriction.

9) While we’re at it, don’t wear bands in your hair too tightly.

Same for buns and braids, as they all can pull out hair from the roots and it might not grow back properly.

10) Big tooth combs and wide bristle paddle brushes are your friends.

That mane of stuff on your head: Don’t brush it like a barbarian attacking a wolverine, take a lock of hair, gently comb out the end, then the rest of it. Move on to the next lock, and repeat until your hair is relatively tangle-free enough to actually run the brush through it a few times. Boom.

11) BONUS TIP: Read your labels!

Avoid products that feature more than one or two words like ‘alcohol’, ‘peroxide’, or ‘sodium’ on the labels. There are a few exceptions, but in general, these will cook your hair so darn fast, even if they temporarily hide the symptoms. Hairsprays, gels, and dyes are best avoided unless absolutely necessary, even if they say that they are ‘natural’ or ‘gentle’. If you have to use something to tame that wild mane, then try to use as little as possible, or use a little oil to tame frizzies and flyaways. If you, like me, like a little color in you hair sometimes, then use hair chalk and oil rather than hairspray to lock it in; the oil is gentler, and enhances the color of the chalk much better anyway. Just don’t use too much.

What do YOU think? Is your hair crazy thin and persnickety, like mine? Or are you lucky enough to have thick hair that can take some abuse? What are YOUR tips to keeping your hair awesome?

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