We are all in part causing some damage to our hair, in an effort to have luscious looking locks. We’ve all been fooled for a long time, I’m gonna go with forever, that healthy hair was shiny voluminous hair that swept and swooshed as we walked (can I use swoosh here?). So in order to achieve said swooshing hair (yup, I’m sticking with it), we’d put our own normal dull looking strands through heat havoc, bleach havoc and all other forms of havoc to make ourselves look like that picture perfect image of healthy hair.
But you know, and I know, that that image is hard to come by in reality without the serious use of hot tools (probably more than one), silicones & other styling products and of course, texturising spray, which is basically the new hairspray.
And once our strands can take no more of our constant day to day styling rituals, we’re in a rush to quick fix all the breakage and pool of broken strands that take up space all over your room, your pillow, your bathroom, your sink, the place where you dry your hair, your comb and randomly where you keep all your shoes. Have you ever noticed how hair gravitates towards one place in your room? It’s like they are all trying to escape you, so they migrate to a corner and meet there in their death.
So if our hair is dead, even before we damage it, is it possible to have it looking proper healthy? Well, I’m about to find out if I can repair my own deadly dull limp fine broken (but otherwise perfectly normal) hair throughout this year. Seeing as we have nothing else to do.
The Healthy Hair Illusion
Let’s get one thing straight; this is not healthy hair.
Yeah sure the visible signs of damage like split ends aren’t major, it’s got a bit of shine, it swooshes when I walk, it’s soft to the touch and I can run my hand James Dean style through my bangs and it would just resume its perfectly positioned place just on the brink of my brow.
But what you don’t know and what you can’t see is the amount of stress my hair goes through biweekly: swimming in a chlorinated pool, using a stripping shampoo to remove all the chlorine, not taking time to deep condition, the brittle ends that split up post shower when my hair is in its natural state, and ah yes! My favourite! The straightening iron, there to burn all your hair off (quite literally). But once you trim those split ends no-one will even notice that your hair’s damaged.
But after years of this torture, you’ll notice that your texture will change, you can go from corse strands to fine strands, from thick densely packed hair to low density fine hair and your hair will start to feel fragile and broken.
And with all the trims, and all the heat protectant, and all the shine, my hair felt like it was barely even on my head, it was so thin and fine I couldn’t believe I had damaged it this badly that it is unrecognisable to myself. And that’s when I decided to make some drastic changes and go natural.
The Reality of Hair without Heat Styling
Going au natural is not easy. In fact, it’s pretty hard.
Seeing your hair in its natural state without any product, and seeing all the damage is terrible. But hiding all of this behind hot tools is no better.
All your hair really needs is time; time without heat styling, time without stripping products, time to be nourished, time to be left alone, time to be tucked away, time to heal and time to repair.
And not having the patience to endure such a lengthy period of time to see the results we want, is what makes a lot of us ditch our healthy hair journeys and go back to the easier way of having our hair look healthy instead of it actually being healthy.
Make no mistake, your hair in its natural state will at first look terribly unhealthy because it’s damaged. But it will be healthier in its natural state, albeit looking like crap, than it looking cute (but fried) in heat styles all the time.
We’ve become such an image driven society that how your hair looks determine how you feel about yourself.
So don’t be surprised if at first you feel self conscious that your natural hair is showing and that it’s quite a different look than you had previously styled it. You might also feel a bit shit about yourself because it’s not curling pretty at this stage and that you can no longer hide the damage with irons that coat the hair and give it that lustrous shine. It’s completely normal to feel this way.
We place a greater value on appearance today that it can even determine whether we get a job or not.
I’m all about looking your best, but I also want to feel my best and I want to feel great in my own skin. And that includes my own hair texture, the hair I was born with, a heavy head of curls and knots, quite a mess if you’re a kid and don’t know how to manage it, but now I want to be able to manage it. But more than that, I want to be able to love it.
Read the blog post that started it all! Born Ugly – Battling Heredity ‘Flaws’ and Redefining Beauty.