I haven’t made a scientific study of it, but I think that my shiny hair has replaced my long nails as the number-one thing people are most likely to compliment me on or ask about in the comments--which, thank you, guys. Both things are a labour of love, and knowing that the work I put into them is noticed and appreciated makes me feel like sunshine is coming out of my face.
But back to my hair. A lot of you guys have asked what I use to get it so shiny and healthy-looking, so I have put together a big ol’ compendium of products and secret tricks for you! Are you excited? You should be.
I’m fairly sure that 99% of my hair awesomeness is how it’s made. It’s really thick and wavy, and it’s pretty shiny no matter what I do to it. It’s also fairly coarse in texture; my dad calls my hair a horse’s mane, and that’s pretty dead-on. This also means it’s super-strong, rarely tangles, deals with bleach like a champ, and loves heat styling. It takes a lot to make my hair unhappy.
If left to its own devices, this is what it looks like:
I used to really hate on my hair a lot, but I've grown to like it now. It can't be tamed! Just like yours truly!
That said, I still envy my brother a little because his hair is perfect. Chestnut brown, smooth and shiny in that shampoo commercial way, always falls perfectly and curls under at the ends like he’s just had the world’s most expensive blowout. Sigh.
2. WASHING & CONDITIONING
I wash my hair only twice a week, because it doesn’t need it any more than that. In between, when I get sweaty from workouts, I just rinse it with cool water in the shower and everything’s fine.
If I use any one shampoo for a long time, my hair gets “used to" it and starts overproducing oil like crazy. To prevent this, I alternate between a couple of shampoos so that my head doesn’t get complacent. These are the two currently in rotation:
I bought the Organix Renewing Moroccan Argan Oil Shampoo because their leave-in treatment refreshed my hair AND my spirits after my last breakup, and this shampoo is equally fabulous. Really nice and moisturising. The smell is kind of thick, and I really can’t tell if I like it or not, but it doesn’t linger. I can deal with it.
The L’Oreal Everpure was last seen in my shampoo bleach article, and has been doing extra duty lately because I remembered how much I like it. It always leaves my hair feeling super clean but not dried-out. This is another one that I can’t decide if I like the smell of it or not, but it’s very “fresh” and not perfume-y so, again, I can deal with it.
The last shampoo I use, which is not pictured because I don’t have any at the moment, is good ol’ Head & Shoulders. I know, WHAT? But for real. I don’t have dandruff, but my scalp does get kind of dry in the extreme Chicago weather. A blob of this on my head followed by either of my other shampoos every other week, and that problem is taken care of. I buy the travel-size bottles, because I have limited space, and they don’t take up much room in my shower.
The conditioners I use are these dudes:
The Organix Keratin Oil Conditioner (in the red bottle) is my new favourite thing. I LOVE everything about it, including--and hold on to your butts when I say this--the way it smells. It’s the best conditioner I’ve used so far, and the fact that it doesn’t cost a zillion dollars is the greatest.
The Organix Anti-Breakage Keratin Oil 3 Minute Miraculous Recovery--aka the stuff in the tube--was a random purchase after I dropped my Ojon in the shower and the bottle spilt and everything got washed down the drain. MISS U, EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE BUT WORTH IT CONDITIONER. Anyway, this 3 Minute Miraculous Recovery is meant to be some mega-deep moisturising treatment, but I mix it in with normal conditioner, slop it on every time I wash my hair (leaving the roots alone--I always imagine holding my hair in a ponytail and the part in the pony is the only part I condition), throw it up into a shower cap and leave it to sit while I shave my legs or exfoliate or something. And now you know what I do while I deep condition. After about five minutes, I rinse it out.
I do this twice a week, every week. Even though my hair is never exactly “soft,” it does feel nicer with frequent deep-conditioning.
One last thing: before I get out of the shower, I turn the water as cool as I can stand it and rinse my hair one last time. This is meant to make your hair shinier, plus it feels really nice on hot days.
(Also, when my hair was purple, rinsing in cold water was the only thing that stopped it from transferring EVERYWHERE. Just something for all my unnaturally dyed ladies out there. It helps.)
3. POST-WASH PART I
I have sort of a dorky confession: I love those “As seen on TV” things, and so does my mum. This means we sometimes waste our dollars, but occasionally we stumble upon a really awesome product. And this is it.
Turbie Twists first came out when I was a teenager and had waist-length, sun-bleached hair. Up until that point, wet hair got wrapped up in a regular towel on top of my head, which was REALLY BLOODY HEAVY and uncomfortable. My mum saw these on TV and ordered them for me immediately. They came in a pack of three: pink, purple and white, and they changed my life. I had the purple one up until last year, when I realised they were still for sale online, so I bought some more.
They. Are. AMAZING.
All I do is get out of the shower, flip my head upside down, put the Turbie Twist on my head, then twist it around and pop the end through the elastic. Done, I go about my business, no matter how much hair I have piled up in there.
I swear these things help dry my hair faster, as well as giving me freedom to move around without straining my giraffe-like neck. So easy! So awesome! I’d be lost without them.
4. POST-WASH PART II
This is where people go “Man, this is a lot of stuff to put in your hair.” And it is, I suppose, but I find that if you do a bunch of things right when you wash your hair--so, twice a week--then you don’t have to do a whole tonne of little fiddly things on the daily. I salute you ladies who wash, dry and curl your hair every day. I’d have to wake up at 4am to get up on your level.
So when my hair is out of the Turbie, it’s still pretty wet. Before I comb it, I spray a leave-in conditioner throughout to get rid of any tangles. Even though my hair is strong, it’s still been bleached, and bleached hair + wet + knots = BREAKAGE. I’m using this Infusium 23 leave-in conditioner right now. It’s cheap as chips, you can get it almost anywhere, and it works just as well as some of the very expensive stuff I’ve used.
I also use this when I’ve teased my hair. Seriously. No matter how huge I’ve ratted my horse’s mane, a couple sprays of this stuff and it brushes right out. No damage.
After I’ve combed out my hair, I mix a quarter-sized blob of Fekkai Glossing Cream with two squirts of Paul Mitchell Gloss Drops in the palm of my hand, rub my hands together and then rub it through my hair.
One hand’s worth of product does one side of my hair, and then whatever is left over goes on my bangs. I’m not sure if either of these things really make my hair shinier, but they do take it from “corona of crazy waves, can support a beach umbrella” to “relatively soft, smooth and able to be styled.”
If I’m straightening my hair, I use a squirt of Bed Head Control Freak. A control freak who loves Control Freak--who knew?!
This stuff is a bit like a gel in consistency, and it looks sparkly in your hand, but it’s not sparkly in your hair. I’m a little upset about that sometimes. Anyway, this helps keep my hair Cher-straight and remarkably unfrizzy.
Right before I blow dry, I put some heat protecting stuff in it. This Silk Elements Heat Protection Spray came free with some stuff I bought at Sally Beauty, and it is by far the BEST that I’ve ever used.
Highly, highly recommended.
My blow-dry secret is that I suck at drying my hair. For real. My hairdryer is around seven years old, and I bought it from Target. When I dry my hair, I split it into two sections like I’m going to do a braid crown, then split each of those sections into two sections, and dry it a quarter at a time. There’s too much of it to do anything else.
I angle my blowdryer so it’s pointing down, not across, and then use my fingers as a comb to tousle and dry my hair. Sometimes I use a natural bristle round brush to do this when my hair is really long, but usually I don’t bother.
I dry my bangs with a one-inch round brush. I use the old-school kind, with the little knobby-tipped plastic bristles. I don’t use that brush for anything else, though, because once it got stuck in the back of my hair and I’ve never gotten over it.
When my hair is about 3/4 dry, I put my dryer away and let it air-dry. I just don’t have the patience to dry ALL my hair, ALL the way. My arms aren’t that strong, you know? If my hair bugs me, I twist it into a low bun and then don’t have to deal with it getting all up in my face.
As far as other tools go: My straightener is by T3 and I love it; I can do my entire head in ten minutes, and it lasts until I next wash my hair. My curling iron is your standard Hot Tools model with a two-inch barrel. It works well, but I hate the clip and I’m going to figure out how to take it off or die trying.
Like Faz, my shiny-haired sister, I think that what you put into your body shows on the outside. My diet is very healthy, by choice and also by necessity--I have a minor health issue that is kept in check with diet and exercise, and I am VERY INVESTED in not taking medication until I really need it.
This means lots of fruits, veggies and proteins, NO fried or super-processed things, and “good” fats from things like dairy (although my dairy intake is limited), olive oil, lean meats, poultry and fish. I don’t eat much meat or chicken, but that’s not on purpose; it just sort of happens.
Having a restricted diet doesn’t bother me because I can eat almost all the stuff I like anyway, and I’m not exactly weeping over having to skip mega jumbo french fries and soda, you know? Plus, I feel like my skin is nicer since I’ve started eating more “healthy” fats.
Of course, if you’re planning to make a big diet change, talk to your doctor or a dietician or an RN first. They can make sure you’re on the right track.
I also drink HEAPS of water. Like, ridiculous amounts of it. I hear that this also makes your hair healthier, but I never plan to dehydrate myself to find out if that’s true.
A lot of people also recommend biotin for healthy hair and nails. I tried it, and it didn’t do anything for my nails or noticeably change my hair. I know plenty of people who swear by it, so it might work for you. Everyone's body is different.
And that’s it: all my haircare secrets! I hope this was helpful. Next time, I’m going to show you how I straighten, curl and tease my hair...because you asked for it, and I live to help you guys.
Oh, and here’s a picture of my dog. You asked for that, too.
And now I turn it over to you: Did I answer your questions? What are your shiny hair secrets? Have you ever bought something from an informercial and it changed your life? Do you guys think I should be eating kale? A friend told me it made her hair super-nice, but I’m suspicious.