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How To Grow Natural Healthy Hair {&Keep It That Way}

My hair has been a topic discussion in my life for as long as I can remember. Seriously, I remember moments dating back all the way to 5th grade (1995 party) where kids would discuss my hair and the amount of it. There's a lot. I lost a lot of hair in 8th grade thanks to acutane (pimple party)--- but thats a whole other story (but since we're bringing it up: I do not recommend that stuff to anyone!). Anyway, a lot of my hair fell out, but years went by and it slowly rebuilt itself (thanks body!). I cut my hair really short after giving birth--- and I don't regret it, but I wouldn't do that again since it just doesn't suit my round face. You live you learn, moving on....

So about the natural stuff: Growing up I was a pantene girl (yep.). A grade school friend used it and I liked the smell so I asked my mom to buy it. And I stuck to it for forever until finally about 6 or 8 years ago (talk about commitment!) after I became vegan. I finally started looking more into what I put in and on my body and I slowly started making the switch to more vegan and natural products. To this day it's still a bit of a learning experiment, but a mostly fun one. When I moved into this new house almost two years ago (how does the time go so fast?!) it was a huge shock how disgusting my hair became with a water change (soft to hard water). I've adapted over the past two years, I tried no-poo, but eventually passed on that---  but overtime I've finally found a method that works. The switch has not only made my hair look better but actually made it even thicker-- I'm not sure how one manages to create even thicker hair, but boom: more hair.

I'm not a hair expert by any means--- and I'm totally well aware that everyones hair is very different-- as well as everyone's water (which makes a huge difference!), but some of these things are general enough to help anyone and everyone :) And well, I'm asked about my hair, no lie, probably at least once a day (yes, it is real), so it's probably about time I wrote about what I do to maintain my hair in the most natural way I can.


keepin' natural and keepin' it balanced
I'm not against dyes, shampoos, and whatever else--- I mean, I wouldn't necessarily recommend them (though I've been intrigued to jump on a pink or red hair trend, it looks so fun), but to each their own, in my world. That being said, our bodies are designed to work certain ways and when we start messing around with our bodies inside and outside-- by adding (or extracting) natural things--- well, things can get weird. Playing with hormones, chemicals, and whatever else, even a little bit can throw everything off or create a product addiction of sorts. Using shampoos to strip your hair of oil doesn't make your hair less oily, in the long run it actually creates more oil. Constantly stripping your hair of its natural oil, causes your body to make more oil to overcompensate for oil loss. Same with your face. Companies are making a killing off all of us thinking that face oil stripping washes are going to fix our problems. Naturally, our bodies are all different, and the best thing you can do for the outside of your body is take care of the inside. Be cautious and aware of what you put in and take off--- your hair wants natural oil and your body wants balance and not to be tugged or repressed by added hormones. 

be nice to it, but not too nice. 
Be gentle brushing--- and don't brush it often. I personally only comb it out of the shower--- or after my long scenic drives in a convertible, of course (I'm never in convertibles). Use heating tools only when necessary. I never do, only because I'm in Florida. But if I were up north, I would all spring, fall, and winter long. Brr. If you can skip the heating tools, wonderful! Also: don't be too nice--- over brushing and over touching isn't the solution, you're going to end up with extra oils on your hair. 

no-poo and yes poo.
No poo was fine. And if done right, it's not gross--- but personally I just couldn't fall in love with the baking soda shampoo thing. If I had less hair, maybe, but too work enough baking soda in my amount of hair--- it seemed impossible-- and then to get it all out? Forget it. So no-poo, while I do believe in the power of it, didn't fit for me. However--- one thing no-poo is incredibly good for--- or skipping washes in general, is that it trains your hair to need less washes. The less you use, the less you need. So if no-poo isn't your thing, cool, but try less-poo (if thats not a term, then I'm coining it now). Take a week (or longer) where you won't care what your hair look like and go as long as you can without a wash, then go from there. Skip washes and products when you can. I wash my hair about once a week--- depending on what I'm doing. Sweatier days and weeks require more washes.

hard water?
Hard water can be hard--- err--- difficult to deal with. It took me about a straight year of absolutely disgusting hair to figure it out. One thing that has been really helpful are these demineralizer packs. The instructions say to use one pack a week. Well, I only wash my hair once a week, so I use maybe two packs a month-- maybe even less. The matching shampoo and conditioner work well too, but aren't required if you use vinegar -----> (read on)

shampoo
Prior to hard water I used pureology super smooth. It seems pricey, but it's super concentrated, so in the end it actually saves money. (It takes A LOT of shampoo and conditioner to saturate this hair). Welp, I received a comment recently that even though pureology is vegan it's owned by a larger company that isn't. That seems to be the unfortunate norm with just about everything these days. If possible, I do support companies that are true all the way through--  but at the same time, I don't stop going to the grocery store, or buying grocery store brands because they sell or produce meat, you know?  I demand the good stuff and create less (zero) demand for the stuff I don't want or believe in.  If we're buying the good stuff, and stop buying the bad stuff, then companies don't need to continue making the things we don't buy, right? Right. Simple rule: do what you can, when you can. Lately I tend to use whatever shampoo is in the shower--- which always seems to be a rotation of three bottles that last for-ev-er. When I forget to restock this set, then I just end up buying and trying whatever is on sale at whole foods that I haven't tried yet. So now you know: this set is good---- or Pureology works well, is sort of vegan, sorta not, in the end: you decide.


shampoo rules
So maybe you decided you're not going to give up shampooing, fine, I get it. So if you're dead set on buying shampoo then here are some good things to look for and avoid:
buy: cruelty-free brands with the bunny logo
avoid: SLS, sulfites, parabens.
do: shampoo as little as possible (or skipping completely if you can!) and avoid bad ingredients and  you're on the right track. Next step? Consider vinegar as conditioner.

vinegar
Mmmmm salad. So I mentioned this in my natural bathroom tour post, but yes, I totally use vinegar in my hair--- and LOVE it. Vinegar has been a life saver with hard water. But hard or soft water, vinegar is a wonderful replacement conditioner in hair. In a jar next to the shower, I have a mixture of 1 part apple cider vinegar to about anywhere between 5 to 8 parts water. But Alex basically dumped the extra vinegar we had in the fridge into my jar leaving me with about 90% vinegar, the rest water, and I didn't die--- neither did my hair--- so ratios don't matter that much. Honestly, I would use straight vinegar, but it seems unnecessary. Also: Using filtered water is best, but you can obviously just use shower water as well. Twist and dip the end of your hair in the vinegar and pour a small amount over the rest (and under the rest) of your hair. Tada that's it. No need to rinse out!  As I mentioned, you will smell like a salad, but once your hair dries completely, the smell is completely gone. Hooray vinegar! Want to use store bought condition sometimes? Stick with the same shampoo rules: avoid the bad stuff and buy cruelty free as often as you can :)

vitamins
It's no secret that vitamins add to your body, well vitamins (or healthy eating in general) is good for you hair! I'll be totally honest here and say that I don't take vitamins nearly enough. I pretty much forget until my kid asks me for her gummy bears-- then I take mine too. A daily vitamin is a great start (I take THESE) and adding some b12 (especially if you're vegan) is helpful too (I take THESE). It's not a secret whatsoever that my favorite food is pizza---- I could and would eat it everyday--- but at the same time, keeping it all balanced with tons of nutrient rich foods is key. I feel like it's fading now, but there has always the big misconception that vegans will be low in iron, protein, and whatever else--- but its so untrue--- or can be untrue--- it depends if you're eating properly of if you're  actually just a french-fryatarian. I had blood work done a few months ago. The results? Super blood! Eat your veggies, legumes, and nuts. Take your vitamins. Watch your hair flourish too. Promise.

fat, yum.
I don't think I ever mentioned it here, but I got asked to be a private chef last year. Awesome, right? Then I was told that cooking oils, even olive oil, was a no no on their menu. Not awesome. I get it, oils are fatty-- there are a lot of calories in oils--- but oils (good fats) are also incredibly good for your body. Things like olive oil, coconut oil, nut butters (and nuts in general), and avocados are good! Good fats give you energy, help you absorb vitamins, and affect your hormones (bad fats affect these too, but in a bad way of course). But this isn't a nutrition post (I switched out of that major in college FAST), so I'm not saying you need to skip french fries (I wouldn't) but replacing bad fats for good fats is a great idea to plump up and shine out that hair, naturally.

Have more tips on how you manage your hair naturally? I'd love to hear (and try) them, as I'm sure others would too!  Have color treated hair, curly hair, or just completely different hair? Awesome,  others do too. Please share! Have you done a post on natural hair care? Feel free to link it back for others :) Hair-sharing is caring.  

*photos by the amazing hannah mayo. If you're local (or even if you're not), check her out! 
**my kid has pretty decent hair too, when she's not being a ragamuffin. &it's long as can be-- past her butt. Maybe time for a trim though, yah? 

46 comments:

  1. Loving these tips! I have super long hair too (although not nearly as thick), so I'm always looking for tips to take care of it. I already follow a bunch of these pieces of advice, but my favorite trick is how much deep conditioner can help revive hair, even split ends. My deep conditioner days are always my best hair days!

    Cat
    http://oddlylovely.com

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    1. what kind of deep conditioner do you prefer?? :)

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  2. I had a friend who had the thickest, shiniest hair (this was when I was six, I think) and I remember always admiring her hair. And then one day I ask her what shampoo she used, and she said pantene!! Your post made me think of that ;) haha

    Every Day In Grace

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  3. I have basically the opposite hair as you–thin and shorter, but one way I take care of it is with coconut oil. A couple times a week, I rub it onto my hair at night, sleep and wash it in the morning. Definitely has an oily look and feel, so I would reccommend it just before washing, no one wants greasy hair. But its a great, natural deep conditioner for protecting and moisturizing hair!

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  4. I have long curly hair, and I always put a little coconut oil on my hair after I've washed it and while it's still wet. It's a tip from a girl whose mother was from, oh I forget, but somewhere with tropical beaches. All of the women there always put coconut oil on their hair to keep it glossy. She was one of the most naturally beautiful people I've ever met, and the tip stuck. I like the vinegar tip, we have notoriously hard water here, it's always such a pleasure for my hair to go on holiday to somewhere with soft water! CJ xx

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    Replies
    1. I am going to try this! The stuff I use sporadically is not natural and only barely works! Thanks for the tip!

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  5. I have just moved to Florida and the humidity is killin me and my what use to be luscious, manageable waves... use to be. Totally going to try out that vinegar trick, though! I've been needing a serious remedy for the drought that is my ends. Bet my boy will love it </3

    Allison x

    http://negative85.wordpress.com/

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  6. This post is great. I have thick hair that has felt very lifeless lately, and I was traumatized when my stylist recently called it "getting old"! The hard water tip definitely got my attention. Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. haha! yes, the getting old hair. Def. more oils will help that :)

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  7. We’ve been using EO Products for sometime now and LOVE them. Currently we’re using the lavender and aloe shampoo, body wash and bubble combo; feels and smells amazing. And the best part is they are plant based, no gunk. The giant bottle lasts forever as well.
    http://www.eoproducts.com/Products/Lavender-and-Aloe-(32oz)__636874121512.aspx

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  8. This is a really great and helpful post, thank you! Especially the tip regarding hard water. I've recently moved to London, where the water is harder than where I've lived before, and the past few months have been quite a struggle for my hair. I'll definitely try out the demineralizer packs.

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  9. These are great tips. Thank you! I can't seem to go more than two days wo a wash. I'd like to build up to three. For people who wish for thicker hair, I recommend Mighty Mane, by Poofy Organics. Poofy has a Mighty Serum, shampoo, & conditioner that does wonders with hair regrowth. Cancer patients have used it with success AND it's free of any toxic chemicals AND it's vegan :). www.poofyorganics.com/kimgillespie

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    Replies
    1. New website
      www.poofyorganics.com/livingfree

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  10. Love this post! So many helpful tips! But what I always wonder and stress about is: what do you do with your hair while you sleep? Pull it back? Leave it down? Braid?

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    Replies
    1. I plan on talking more about this later--- but mostly loose brain or wrapped up :)

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    2. I'm glad you were planning on it! My super thick curly hair always goes in a bun when I sleep but then it ruins the curls. I need another solution.

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  11. Ahhh yes, I love these posts. I've made them in the past but I've changed up my routine since and am needing to make a new one. Pureology is my fav<3<3<3 But so pricey... and worth it. Sadly, I just don't even have that extra cash to begin with. I used to work at a salon that sold it and I got all their products half off! That was amazing! I want to try the vinegar thing but I'm still afraid it might strip the color from my hair :( I take hair skin and nails vitamins along with my daily vitamin and it keeps my hair growing fast and healthy!! Also, of course, drinking as much water as possible!!!!!!!

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  12. Have you ever heard of Arbonne? All of their products are vegan and none are ever tested on animals! They are also hypoallergenic. Their shampoo RESTORED my hair after years of swimming and heating tools had completely damaged it. It smells like fruit too, because it's made from it :) Let me know if you want a sample!

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    1. I have not :) I'll look into it! Is it good for hard water?

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  13. your hair is AMAZING! love the vinegar tip!

    xxoo,
    nikki

    www.dream-in-neon.com

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  14. I just started doing No Poo on September 1 and plan to stick with it the whole month. It's day three and my hair is already starting to thicken up, lighten up (I dyed it darker this summer), and feel smoother. I'm a little intimidated, but I have you to thank for the inspiration from your no poo post! I agree about healthy fats though - they give your body what it needs to grow long and strong hair! I started eating way more trail mix and cooking with olive oil instead of PAM once I went vegan, and it helps SO MUCH.
    Awesome post!
    ~ Samantha
    samsamcherie.blogspot.com

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  15. I also have hard water trouble so this is great info. Thanks!
    Do you know why vinegar conditions? It seems so acidic that my assumption would be that it strips out oils, so I'm just curious if you know the science behind it.
    Additionally, I want to try the vinegar trick, but have pretty short hair. I think I'll try having a spray bottle with the vinegar and water mix so I can spread it through hair that's too short to dip in a jar. Just a thought for others with shorter hair. Your hair looks lovely!

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    Replies
    1. yes, or carefully pour a bit over and rub! But the spray bottle sounds great!

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    2. but no, I don't know the science. I think it just breaks down the build up somehow :)

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  16. You're the second person I've heard complain about Accutane's affect on hair! I took it in high school as well and it totally ruined my hair. My hair was never super thick, but it was super curly. Now it's so thin and breakage prone. I've starting taking steps to go more natural and be kinder to my hair and eat better, etc, so hopefully it will help! Thanks for the encouragement!

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    Replies
    1. accutane ruined my hair and my mood. my depression got so bad--- clear face? great? crying everyday anyway? yep.

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  17. Thanks so much for sharing. I already use natural shampoo and condititioners but I think I'll give vinegar a go now.

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  18. I would love to know what is on your monthly shopping list! From groceries to toiletries... You should totally do that post!

    Loving these natural living posts sooooo much!!!

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    Replies
    1. I have an old old grocery list-- from when M was a baby: "ohdeardrea a vegan pantry" in google :)

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  19. Going to give these tips a try! I just can't get my hair figured out :/

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  20. Love this post! Have any tips for living healthy in general if you live in a family that is not as a healthy freak as I am. Ha, thanks!
    purelybeingher.blogspot.com

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    1. I just start filling up alex's toiletries with healthy products and not buy the bad ones ;)

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  21. Why did you switch out of the Nutrition major??

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    1. I didn't like two things. First: the math. I'm such a science girl, but once the numbers get too heavy I freak out. Second: I don't do well when things are too much like "no, this is how it's supposed to be and thats that" Like the idea that I *need* animals to grow and be strong---- I'm all for modern medicine for certain things--- but there's other ways and ideas to approach things, but I found those things were not as openly taught. If I could go back in time or make more time I'd love to take some holistic courses though!

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  22. Maybe it's only available in Canada, but LUSH has all natural ingredients and has vegan products!

    http://www.lush.ca/Shampoos/liquid-shampoos,en_CA,sc.html#prefn1=vegan&prefv1=Vegan

    They're all about saving the environment and being as natural as possible.

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    Replies
    1. I just can't ever walk into their store without a major headache. Such intense smells!

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  23. Morocco Method! Vegan and not as expensive if you only wash once a week

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  24. I use henna to.dye my hair red! Its all.natural, pretty sure its vegan, and you can get it in lots of.colors. You can get it.at whole.foods or really any health food store and instead of ruining your hair it makes it more healthy

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  25. I have to try taking vitamins for my hair again, biotin seems to really help my hair grow!
    and accutane sucks to no end!! I'm on it right now and I'm starting to see my hair fall, out it's so incredibly depressing. I'm trying to see if there are other options to stop my acne so i can go off of this party pooper drug. maybe hormonal balancing? idk but it was getting so bad and accutane seems to work for everyone. Will definitely try some of these remedies since it seems like you've been through the same thing!

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  26. Why would you not recommend accutane? On it now!! And wants ways to keep my hair healthy while on it

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  27. I tried no poo, after reading your experience with it, and it didn't work out for me either, for very different reasons. Now I'm on the quest to find a good vegan shampoo that works for me. Unfortunately I'm not having luck, but the quest continues.

    Here is my experience with it: http://www.sweetloveandginger.com/no-poo-6-weeks-in/

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  28. How do you air dry your hair? Do you tie it up in a bun? Leave it down? Add any oil or product? I'm so curious! Your hair is indeed lovely :-)

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  29. It took me years to figure out that hard water was messing my hair up.. I thought something was wrong with my hair because I would get product build up every now and then (whether I used chemical or organic shampoos and conditioners or various natural hair cleansers). And I rarely straighten or blow dry my hair or use fancy products. Each time I get the greasy hair around my nape (and occasionally the lengths) I feel so distressed.

    I am eating much healthier (been seeing a nutritionist for the past three months) and although I have seen a huge difference in my skin (goodbye acne, I'm so happy) my hair has not improved. This makes me think that the hard water is the culprit.

    My hair is suffering so much at the moment that even my organic shampoo (I cracked after a month of no poo) could not get rid of the build up that I need to use a clarifying shampoo tomorrow.

    I hope my hair normalises after the clarifier. Then I want to continue with an organic shampoo, a conditioning hair rinse and I would love to find something similar to those demineralizer packs (unfortunately Amazon does not ship to my country).

    Thank you for sharing your hair journey!!

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  30. What would you recommend for swimmers? I wear a cap, but water still seeps in most times. If I don't wash my hair after a workout, my hair smells of chlorine.

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