Beauty Review: Hair Masks and Deep Conditioning

As I’ve mentioned before, I have quite long hair. This means that, despite the fact that my scalp can actually be a bit oily, the length of my hair must be treated considerably more gently. Think of long hair as being a bit like an antique tablecloth: it takes approximately two months to grow an inch, on average, so that by the time hair is a foot long, the ends are two years old. My hair is probably close to two feet long by now, and I have been growing it for the last four years. Now hair is something we take for granted. It grows, matures, and falls out. It’s like a disposable thing. But with long hair, we have this delicate thing that has been around for year. So treating it like an antique lace table cloth isn’t a bad way to think about it (Full disclosure: this was a sentiment I first learned on The Long Hair Community when I joined about eight years ago).

And so, despite the fact that my hair is straight, normal, and relatively resilient under normal conditions, I rely on deep conditioners and hair masks as part of my regular hair routine, rather than using less potent formulations. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’ve taken to washing my hair in one step to reduce hair fall in the shower, and the technique relies on finding quite thick formulations of both shampoo and conditioner. Because my favorite shampoo for this method is currently Deciem’s HiF Intensive Detox, which is a clarifying cleanser, I find that I need an extra-rich conditioner to protect my length from the cleansing power of the shampoo.

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Enter Klorane’s hair masks. I’ve been intrigued by Klorane every since I stepped foot into a pharmacie in Bordeaux on holiday and saw the beautiful display. They just seemed so natural, elegant, and French, without being overly chic or expensive like Phyto. But I never managed to try them. Then, when I started frequenting Sephora’s online site, I started eyeing them again. Sadly, the shampoos all seem to have sulfate surfactants in them, which my hair seems to dislike. So I let it fall by the wayside again. Finally, I managed to get a jar of the Mask with Desert Date into my cart, thinking it would be fun to try out. I was in a “Let’s try to be French” phase of my beauty philosophy and it appealed to that.

When I got the mask and opened it up, I was pleasantly surprised. Despite the fact that I generally dislike sweet scents for beauty products, this had a lightly confectionery scent that I still found pleasant. It helps that it’s fairly light and nondistinct (i.e., not explicitly vanilla or spice or anything recognizable, just lightly sweet and warm). It has a rich, thick, creamy consistency, almost like soft caramel frosting, and clings to my hair. I generally either wash my scalp or apply shampoo to the scalp as part of the one-step method, and then coat my length with conditioner and pin it up in a bun for a few minutes while I wash the rest of me. Then I rinse. It rinses cleanly, but leaves a nice slip, despite not having any silicones. I find that I can sometimes get away without using a leave-in creme or oil after washing, too.

After the success of the mask, I wanted to try the Conditioning Balm with Desert Date because it has very similar ingredients but costs 1/3 less than the mask. Plus, it’s in a tube, which solves the one problem I have with the mask: the jar packaging is difficult to maneuver in the shower if one wants to avoid getting water in the jar. I ordered both to compare them and have found the Conditioning Balm a worthy replacement. It is just as thick, if not a bit thicker. Indeed, I sometimes find it difficult to squeeze out of the tube. But I manage and am rewarded with the same softness and manageability.

One caveat: if you are used to using conditioners with silicones and the uncanny smoothness they impart, this conditioner may be a shock to your system. Because I wash my hair gently, I like to avoid silicones, as they can build up and make my hair oily or lank looking. So I’ve gotten used to the texture of my hair without them (although I will indulge occasionally when I’m going to wear my hair down). But at first, your hair may seem more tangled or rough because you are used to the texture when smoothed down. So if you require silicones to keep your hair manageable, this is probably not for you. And, of course, check the ingredients for your particular sensitivities. It does have a couple ingredients that I know might make my skin break out, so I make sure to wash my back after rinsing the conditioner to avoid spots on my back, but I haven’t seen a problem with hairline spots since I started using this.

The bottom line is that this is my favorite conditioner right now. If I didn’t still have a few others to finish up, I would use it exclusively, price be damned.

NB: I bought these products with my own money and have not been provided any incentive to review them. All opinions are my own.

Hair Musings: Multi-Masking Technique for Washing Long Hair

A couple months ago, I wrote a review for some of the Hair is Fabric line from Deciem. In it, I mentioned that, despite the cleansing conditioners ultimately not working out for me, I felt like I was shedding/losing less hair in the shower when I used them. I’m almost certain that the main reason for this is the fact that they are a single-step product, so I only have to apply product and rinse my hair once, rather than twice. Because I have long, thick hair, I shed great clumps of hair every time I wash it, even though I’m not actually losing hair in an abnormal way. Anything I can do to minimize hair fall is not only easier on my peace of mind, but kinder to Fiancé when he uses the shower after me and I’ve forgotten to clean out the drain.

But I mentioned that the HIF cleansing conditioners were not the right fit for my particular hair. And that got me thinking: if my scalp and length require different things from products, why would I think that a single product could treat both of them? Of course, my normal washing routine is to shampoo my scalp and then condition my length. But I really try to keep shampoo mostly off my length and conditioner off my scalp. So what if I used them at the same time, like the HIF product, but with two different products?

It’s a bit like multi-masking for your face: If you have an oily T-zone and dry cheeks, you use a clay mask on the oily bits and a hydrating mask on the dry bits. Everyone is happy. So lately, I’ve been experimenting with applying shampoo on my scalp, a thick conditioner on my length, both at the same time, and then twisting it up and letting it sit while I finish my shower and rinsing both out at the same time. I actually find that I like the HIF Intensive Detox for the scalp portion of this because it’s a thick, concentrated formula that doesn’t drip down my length as I’m applying it, but I apply a rich conditioning mask like my current favorite Klorane Mask with Desert Date to my length before letting it sit. That way, I don’t have to worry about conditioner getting on my scalp when I pin it up and making my shed worse, and the conditioner will protect the length from the bits of scalp cleanser that might run down the length when I rinse.

A note on technique: Because I find it difficult to access some parts of my scalp when washing normally, I have a particular way of applying shampoo to my scalp. First, I apply a little to my hairline. Then, I flip my head upside down to apply shampoo to the rest of my scalp. My hair falls away from the scalp, leaving the inner parts a bit more accessible. Then, I flip back up, rinse my hands, gently squeeze some of the excess moisture from my length, and apply conditioner to the length (from the ears down). Then, I twist the whole thing up and secure it with an acrylic hair fork and let it sit while I wash the rest of me.

I find that when I rinse, my scalp feels clean and calm, my length feels moisturized and slick, and I still lose less hair than when I do it in two steps. I even tried skipping my usual leave-in treatment this weekend and found that my ends stayed nice and soft.

Another benefit is that rinsing my hair actually takes the most time of any part of my hair routine in the shower. I have a lot of thick hair and I need to rinse it carefully and for a long time to ensure I haven’t missed a pocket of shampoo and conditioner. By rinsing only once, I’m effectively cutting this time in half. And with as much hair as I have, anything that cuts down on my wash time is a plus.

So I’m intrigued with this and will continue experimenting. I want to see if different kinds of shampoo are better or worse. Right now, my main issue is that regular shampoo tends to drip away from my scalp, and regular conditioner isn’t thick enough to cling to the ends and withstand the shampoo running down. But I also worry about clashing scents. But for now, the idea is promising.

My Go-To Hair Care Routine

For those of you who read my review of Deciem’s Hair is Fabric line last week, check back to see an update. The short version is that I’m probably not going to keep using them. But I thought I’d share a bit of what I have been using for a while and does work well for my hair.

So, to briefly recap my hair background: I have very long, thick, straight hair. My scalp hates conditioner, but my length needs nourishment and moisture. So I’m pretty well stuck with a 2-step process of wash+condition. But then, that’s what many of us do anyway, so it’s not terribly tedious. I have learned some tricks from my years on long hair care forums, as well as by trial and error (so much error).

First of all, I’ve said my scalp hates conditioner. It also hates sulfates (my entire body does), castor oil, and anything with a high pH. I used to try to wash my hair with soap. That did not go well. My length loves deeply moisturizing oils and doesn’t need much in the way of silicones to keep it tangle-free. But my skin doesn’t get along with coconut oil, shea butter, or olive oil, so I try to avoid these in my conditioners in order to prevent body breakouts.

I tend to wear my hair up or back every day. I try to alternate between a bun and a braid so that I don’t end up with tension spots, but also because sometimes putting my hair up in a bun is enough to start a headache, which will invariably turn into a migraine for me. My hair is about down to my mid-back and bothers me when I wear it down. It also likes to get caught in things and occasionally attacks passers-by.

So on to the products. For the past few months, I have been using and loving the Skylake Herbal Cool Shampoo and the Skylake Silk Cocoon Conditioner, both from a Korean brand, and both available at Mishibox, which is practically in my backyard, so shipping is quick. I’m not thrilled by the scent of the conditioner, as the jasmine is augmented with much ylang ylang, which isn’t my favorite. But for now, it leaves my hair gorgeous and doesn’t irritate my scalp.

I wash by first washing my scalp with shampoo, rinsing, and then putting conditioner just on the length of my hair (about from the ears down). Then, I put my hair up with an acrylic hair fork and do the rest of my shower. Maybe on the weekend, I’ll give it extra time while I shave my legs. Then, rinse, give it a quick blot with a towel, and twist up in my Aquis Lisse turban towel. I’ve started washing my hair at night, usually either right before or right after dinner, so I can leave my hair up while I do skin care, and then let my hair loose to dry for an hour or so before bed. Then, I either put it up in a loose scrunchie bun or a braid before bed.

I do sometimes oil my hair, though lately I’ve been lazy about that. I love my NightBlooming custom oil blend (which became the Frostfall Flowers monthly oil blend). It’s a blend of nourishing base oils, plus fragrant floral oils, and a little vetiver and frankincense to keep things interesting. But more often than not, I just use a bit of Japanese camellia oil. Three drops of oil worked through the ends is all I need. And on barre class days, I’ll use a little Klorane dry shampoo to soak up sweat before going to work.

And that’s it. Lately, I’ve been getting the itch to cut my hair shorter, and I’ve also been considering going fragrance-free in my hair products, as I’ve developed a bit of a patch of eczema on one ear. So far, the Skylake products don’t seem to irritate it, but I don’t rightly remember when it popped up, so who knows? But that’s my basic hair care routine.

NB: I have not been offered any freebies or incentives to discuss any of the products mentioned, nor are any of the links affiliate.

Beauty First Impression: Deciem’s Hair is Fabric (HIF) one-step hair cleansing conditioners

This is going to be a bit of an odd beauty review post, as I usually test a beauty product for a bit longer before writing a review, but hair products fall in a bit of a grey area with that. Personally, I tend to know if I’m going to like a hair product or not within the first couple of times I use it. Sometimes something happens and I realize I don’t actually like something so much, or I won’t pay attention and not realize I like it for a while, but the first impression is generally where my opinion stays. So. First impressions.

Deciem’s HIF brand is a line of one-step cleansing conditioners intended to mimic the gentle treatment of dry cleaning, but for your hair. Now, as a person with very long hair, I’ve completely absorbed the advice to “treat your hair like an antique lace table cloth.” I mean, the ends of my hair are around 3-4 years old and cannot be repaired if damaged. So I went into this intrigued and appreciative of the idea. But still apprehensive because my scalp loathes having conditioner on it and traditional co-washing has never been a success for me. But HIF products actually use foaming agents to cleanse, so I was curious if they would work.

So first a bit about my hair. I have very thick, very dark, pretty long hair. It’s about to my mid-back right now, with mostly blunt ends. It has a very slight wave to it naturally, but it goes stick straight if I blow dry it (without even brushing) and it will hold a wave if I keep it in a bun or braid for a while. My scalp is pretty balanced, but does get greasy a couple days after washing, and my ends will get a bit dry solely because they are so long and natural oils don’t tend to travel down that far. My typical hair routine is a very cleansing shampoo applied just to the scalp and a nourishing condition applied just to the lengths and ends, followed with a few drops of oil on the very end after I’ve towel-dried it. I tend to lose a fair amount of hair when I wash, which is about three times per week. I use handmade, seamless combs from an Etsy vendor as my primary method of detangling.

Okay, so on to the conditioners. I started by purchasing two of the formulas — Intensive Detox and Straight Hair Support –but later purchased two more — Hydration Support and Growth Support. I have varying opinions of the individual formulas, but my primary general impression is that the line is probably aimed more towards people with shorter hair than I have. But since I’m considering cutting my hair after I get married, that’s not a dealbreaker. And of course, there are exceptions.

Intensive Detox: First, I tried the Intensive Detox formula because it was Sunday and I hadn’t washed my hair all weekend. It’s an interesting formula. It’s a very thick gel that goes milky when mixed with water and lathers up nicely. It’s quite concentrated so I found the best way to apply it was to put little blobs in my hands, lather them with added water, and apply to a section of my scalp. It took maybe 3 sections to get my whole scalp, and then another blob lathered and applied to the length. I wound it into a bun with an acrylic fork and let it do its thing while I did the rest of my shower. Then, rinse and see what we have. First of all, the scent is decidedly invigorating. I found when it dripped, it stung my eyes a bit. But it’s not a bad scent, just kind of minty-herbal. Second, I definitely lost quite a bit less hair than usual. I wonder if it’s because I only applied and rinsed once, though. Finally, in the shower, I noticed that after rinsing my hair actually did feel conditioned, which was surprising. That said, after my hair dried, I’m not sure it looked as smooth as when I condition it separately. But it wasn’t bad, and it looked just as nice as usual when kept in a braid or bun.

Straight Hair Support: This one is definitely the stinker of the bunch. And I mean that literally. In the tube, it had a light “clean” scent, but as soon as I applied it (using the same technique as above), it blossomed into a heavy, Axe-body-spray-like scent that I do not enjoy. It persists as long as your hair is the least bit damp, which made it all the worse that I used it to wash my hair in the morning and didn’t have a chance to dry it completely before putting it up. Ugh. It’s a creamy consistency, but I don’t find it much more conditioning than the Detox formula. At least the scent faded to the generic “clean” scent once I let my hair dry completely. But, no, I will not be repurchasing this one.

Hydration Support: This one has my favorite scent. It’s a very light, unisex, clean scent that lingers in an enjoyable way without getting stronger when mixed with water. While this formula isn’t supposed to foam at all, I found I got a bit of lather from it while applying it. My hair felt the most conditioned after using this one and I didn’t see any scalp irritation or increased hair fall from it. Indeed, like with the others, I seem to lose less hair when using this. I would probably be a perfectly happy camper to alternate between this one and the Detox formula, which is particularly fortuitous because they are the least expensive of the line. That said…

Growth Support: It irritates me to no end that this formula has left my hair the nicest of any of the four I tried because it is also the most expensive. Like the Detox, this is a gel formula, and I applied it much the same way. I actually gave this plenty of time to sit on my hair because I shaved my legs while it was “activating.” It smells a bit like chai and TweedCat decided that my wet hair smelled like something she should try to eat. It’s not terrible, but not my preferred hair scent. But it fades pretty quickly in dry hair. But oh my goodness, my hair is shiny and soft this morning. I woke up and was so entranced by the softness of my braid tassel that I made Fiancé feel it. So nice.

So there you have my first impressions of the Deciem HIF cleansing conditioners. I will definitely be repurchasing the Intensive Detox and the Hydration Support, and I will consider repurchasing the Growth Support if I continue to like it so much after using it for a few weeks. Have any of you tried this line? I’d be curious to hear your experiences.

Update: I have since realized that these cleansing conditioners do not condition my long hair sufficiently, and may actually be exacerbating a small patch of eczema on one ear, so I’m definitely not going to repurchase. I may use them once in a while between my normal hair care routine, though, particularly the Hydration Support, but for now, I’m encouraging Fiancé to help me use them up.

An Ode to the Perfect Ballet Bun

The Perfect Ballet bun is very tight, very neat, and very controlled. It sits close to the head at the back of the skull, flowing organically from the back of the head in a way that accentuates the line of the neck and the shape of the head. It is pulled tight back, each hair neat and confined within the bun, with no stray hairs marring the line. The bun itself is coiled as flat against the head as possible to avoid unnecessary protrusion. It remains neat. It can withstand eight hours of training and rehearsal and grands battements and grands jetés. Which is to say, it can likely withstand Armageddon and remain polished and perfect.

MY perfect ballet bun is quite another story.

My perfect ballet bun happens at five thirty in the morning, after not enough sleep, no shower, and no breakfast. It happens even before my first cup of tea, which is a feat in itself, as very little happens before my first cup of tea. It walks a delicate tightrope, being tight enough not to fail structurally at a crucial moment, and yet not so tight that it gives me a headache. The subway will take care of that on its own and needs no help from my hair. It does not lie flat against my head, as my hair is too thick to coil flat. Instead, it piles up in a rough coil atop my head, leaving the back of my head unimpeded should I feel the need to lie down on my back on the mat and surrender to muscle fatigue at any time.

It is not neat and controlled, and yet it is not exactly messy, as messiness in my personal appearance just isn’t in my nature. My perfect ballet bun is vast. It contains multitudes. That’s part of why it’s so big, not just because my hair is thick enough to braid ropes and destroy elastic bands.

My ballet bun is held up with handmade, heavy-duty Amish steel. Four three-inch pins give it structural integrity. Sometimes my hair starts to reject them and then have to be nudged back in because my hair does not take kindly to discipline or interlopers. But I am the master of my hair. Sometimes.

My ballet bun withstands a 45-minute subway ride, a short walk, and a 50-minute barre class with only minimal wisping. But by the time I finish class, it shows signs of wear. It releases tendrils at the back of the neck and at my temples. And small pieces start to work their way out of the bun itself. I like to think it looks romantic and chic, but mostly it looks tired and probably a little greasy from the sweat.

But my ballet bun serves. It keeps my hair out of my face during pliés and Pilates, during aerials, and even, when it make it a bit neater, during a day of work at the office. It does accentuate the line of my neck and the grace of a body that still hasn’t completely forgot to be a dancer. And that’s why it’s my perfect ballet bun.

Custom-Blended Hair Oil from NightBlooming

Many years ago, I had quite long hair, and I spent much of my time beautifying and fussing over it. I poured over articles and researched how to wash it, condition it, pamper it, and style it. I spent rather exhorbitant amounts of money on toys to put it up most beautifully. And then, I cut most of it off and went for years with short hair. I got rid of most of my hair toys and spent very little time worrying about my hair, unless it was sticking straight up or my scalp was itchy. That said, there were some pieces I could never abandon. These came from NightBlooming.

Years ago, Melissa at NightBlooming on Etsy made the most beautiful embellished hair sticks and accessories I have ever seen. Her designs have a fantasy aesthetic, inspired by the natural world and mythologies. Wearing a NightBlooming creation makes you feel like an ethereal fairy princess goddess, and even when I had a pixie hair cut, there were sticks she made me that I just couldn’t let go.

Since then, she’s branched out and now spends much of her energy blending natural hair care products. I had tried some of her original salve and oil before cutting my hair. Indeed, her Triple Moon Anointing oil was my first foray into the world of hair oils. But she’s truly blossomed her mixology into a whole new side of her business.

Having recently returned to growing my hair long and desirous of a new hair oil, I decided to try out a new item she offers: custom-blended hair oil. I knew I wanted something that smelled amazing, but I also needed a luxurious oil. Because my skin likes lighter, high-linoleic acids, and my hair likes heavier, high-oleic acids, I had very little in my oil arsenal that was truly nice for my hair. So I had her blend me up jojoba oil fortified with argan oil, and scent it with a heady blend of florals, frankincense, and vetiver. It’s a deep, dark, old-fashioned scent, but I love it. The best part is that she offers this service for a very reasonable cost, particularly considering I probably chose all her most expensive essential oils in an expensive base oil blend.

It took her about a day to blend the oil, and another couple days for it to ship. Immediately upon seeing the package in the mail, I tore into it and opened the oil. It smelled heavenly. I rubbed one drop on my hand and kept sniffing it until the scent dissipated in an hour or so. The next time I wet my hair, I applied three drops to the ends. It absorbs nicely and locks in all that lovely moisture from the water, but doesn’t leave my hair feeling oily. I can also use a bit more if I want to pre-treat my hair before bed when I’m going to wash it the next day. I find using a bit of oil on the ends of my hair makes them feel silkier and I don’t feel the need to trim as often.

For those who are worried about blending their own oil, NightBlooming offers a monthly oil blend that she designs for specific hair needs. She keeps the blend notes around so customers can just order a monthly blend instead of dreaming up their own blend and worrying that it won’t be what they want. She’s also lovely to interact with, if you want advice about growing long, beautiful hair. She’s been growing her hair for a long time and it’s truly lovely. I highly recommend giving her shop a look.

I also ordered a packet of herbal conditioning powder, based on the herb Zizyphus Spina Christi, with aloe, nettles, and wheatgrass added in for strength. It’s supposed to be a fortifying hair treatment, similar to henna, but without any color stain. Despite the dark color of my natural hair, I’ve started avoiding things that color because I have enough silver strands that they get dingy otherwise. I plan on having a lovely “hair spa” day some coming weekend to try it out!

A Brief Life Update

I’m still here, I promise. And things are still happening.

Sadly, my gardens are not doing so well. A combination of vacation and busy weekends left us with little time to weed. One of our azaleas seems to be dying, and most of my herb garden has been re-conquered by weeds. The basil and parsley are making an heroic effort to fight back, and the sage is doing admirably, but I’ve lost the rosemary. In an odd twist, some weeds grew in my potted peppermint plant and seems to have completely killed it. Killing mint is a new one for me! But I was able to harvest some parsley for a pantry bean soup a couple weeks ago, and some sage for a sage-and-garlic-rubbed pork roast. But my visions of herbed bounty has been tempered somewhat by my natural dislike of actual garden work.

I’ve started walking much more, in addition to my newfound swimming practice. I’m feeling healthier, though also tired. But I’ve discovered that a weekend walk to the local herb store is the perfect distance to tire me out without being too onerous. And buying a few ounces of herbs is a rather cheap shopping trip.

Boyfriend and I also put up another batch of mead this weekend. We chose to use a local apiary’s honey because it comes in bigger jars, but we kept the same recipe as before otherwise. We made a 5-gallon batch! So hopefully it turns out well and next summer we will have lots of honeyed bounty to share with our friends.

I’m experimenting with my hair care again. I’m trying to become more natural, after deciding to grow my hair out longer. My hair is finally long enough to wear up most of the time, without resorting to sad, floppy ponytails, so I’ve rejoined the Long Hair Community in which I participated for a couple years before my divorce. While going through my old journals, I discovered that I had luck in the past with soap-based washing. Since I’ve recently moved to a homemade facial cleanser made with Dr. Bronner’s soap, oil, and honey, I’ve decided to try using the rest of the soap I’ve bought to wash my hair. It’s a simple process: just unscented soap to wash, rinse quite well, and then rinse with diluted apple cider vinegar to rebalance my hair, and rinse the whole thing again. A little oil or tallow balm on the ends of my hair keeps them soft. And I can use aloe vera when my hair feels a bit dry. So far so good.

But… I have some new surprises on the horizon. I don’t want to give too much away, but stay tuned next week for a very vintage hobby post, hopefully. I’m also going to the local renaissance festival this coming weekend, which is a lot of fun, and progressing with my aerial silks. So that will probably be posted as well in the coming weeks.

A Busy Weekend and a Busy Monday

Sunday morning, we woke up and realized that our front garden bed was woefully neglected. We hadn’t weeded in weeks and the weeds were almost as tall as the azaleas. So that we didn’t get too much sun, I suggested we go out and weed in the early morning. The front of the house is shaded until about 9:30 a.m., so we had plenty of time to pull most of the worst offenders in the weed department. We’ll have to get out a couple of weeks in a row before fall to keep things under control and then put down more mulch as the weather cools. We also gave them a bit of water since it was drier than usual last week and they were looking crispy.

After that, we decided it would be nice to walk to the store to get supplies to make waffles. I had most of the ingredients already, but we were out of maple syrup and butter. I was really excited to find Kerrygold Irish butter at the supermarket, and at a surprisingly good price. So I got fancy butter and went home to make waffles. I stirred up the batter and Boyfriend took care of cooking them. Waffles with butter and syrup was the perfect post-weeding treat! We did get a little down time for a couple hours while we ate breakfast, and I used the time to start watching Series 3 of Downton Abbey on Amazon, and do a deep conditioning treatment for my hair.

I’ve decided to officially try to grow my hair out again, and to that end, I’ve re-joined the hair forum of which I was a member many years ago. There’s a few treatments that have attained near-cult status and I knew one of them worked for me, so I put together a treatment with conditioner, honey, and aloe. I managed to use the last of my Griffin Remedy conditioner, but since I don’t want to order online when we’re going away soon-ish, I’m trying a brand from the natural food store where do our normal shopping. I’ve used it in the past and always thought of it as expensive, but it’s not actually that much more expensive than Griffin. Anyway, I let my treatment sit for an hour under plastic wrap and a bandanna, and then rinsed it out. It left my hair very soft and shiny. I let it dry hanging over one arm of the sofa while Boyfriend showered, and then put it up while we went to the store to shop.

After shopping for the week, I set to work, baking muffins and putting together lunch things for the week. I found the absolute best whole-grain blueberry muffin recipe last week, which I made again this week and froze for breakfasts. They’re fabulous with a cup of tea at my desk after I’ve made my smoothie at home. I also made a chopped salad, and hard-cooked some eggs for protein. I’m finishing out my healthy July re-boot strong!

Sunday evening was nice because we took my mother out for a birthday dinner. I was able to have a cocktail and a nice meal with her at one of her favorite restaurants. We even all got dessert and coffee (except I had tea!). It was nice because the slightly larger dinner served me well the next morning because I got up to go running early. I’m experimenting with only washing my hair three days a week and adjusting my running schedule so I run on days I already plan to wash my hair. This allows me to skip showering on some days, saving water and my skin, which has started to get more dry lately. We’ll see how it goes.

After running and a full day at work, I spent my Monday evening at an audition to which I’ve been looking forward for a long time. It was very busy and lasted longer than I would have liked, but I got to read for both characters in which I’m interested, AND the director remembered me by name without prompting, even though he asked almost everyone else to remind him of their names throughout the evening. So maybe that’s a good sign. Either way, it was fun to get to read something from the script. It would be a fun show to be in because it would further indulge my vintage loves!

I managed to make it home very late and fall into bed, but not before eating some pizza Boyfriend saved for me. He really is so sweet!

My Vintage-Inspired Beauty Routine, Part 5: Hair

Of all my beauty practices, my hair is the most complex. It has involved more experimentation than even my skincare routine, and has gone through far more ups and downs. That’s to say, in addition to the quality of my hair, I’ve also run the gamut of length.

The Victorian women to whom I often turn for beauty inspiration wore their hair long and pinned up. For years, I grew my hair long, letting it get to my waist at one point, and I wore it up almost all the time. I still have an edited version of my vast collection of sticks and combs and hair toys from my very-long-haired days.

After my divorce, I got a pixie cut. I actually liked it a lot, and stayed pretty short for the next few years. But I haven’t had my hair pixie-cut for over a year now, and my hair has grown back out to a chin-length bob. So I can experiment with more hair styling, although the elaborate buns are out of the question. I occasionally set my hair in rollers, but the result is decidedly 20s due to the length. I look rather like Betty Boop.

As far as hair products go, this is where I feel the need to compromise quality with natural-ness. I’ve tried all sorts of totally natural and homemade hair washing techniques, including herbs, egg shampoos, soap-and-vinegar washes, and “no-‘poo,” and all left my hair pretty gross. I had resigned myself to using detergent shampoos, albeit the gentlest and most natural I could find, before I found my current shampoo and conditioner: Griffin Remedy.

glossing-shampoo3-213x358[image from griffinremedy.com]

I cannot tell you how impressed I am with this line. I first found their hand lotion because I needed a pump bottle to keep on my desk and they were one of the few without a common ingredient that irritates my skin. I also loved the vintage look of their logo, and when I looked at their website and saw they had shampoo, I was intrigued. But I was wary. Looking at the ingredients list, there was nothing on it that would suggest the product would be at all effective. It just seemed too damned natural. But I looked around, and it had a lot of surprisingly good reviews. So I bit the bullet and ordered a bottle of their Daily shampoo and conditioner from the website.

I have to say, my first week using Griffin Remedy was amazing. I had to use so much less of the shampoo than my normal natural shampoo, that I actually used too much the first time and had a hard time rinsing it all out. And does it ever lather! It was like an episode of I Love Lucy on my head when I went to lather it up the first time. After that first mishap, I learned to use a quarter-sized amount and lather it up. It leaves my hair clean and very, very silky, especially the next day. I also got the accompanying conditioner. It’s rich enough for my coarse, indestructible hair, and they both smell like oranges.

Of course, over the holidays, I had another mishap: I left my shampoo at Boyfriend’s family’s house. And since I had discovered a product  I loved, I had to order more. This time, I ordered the Glossing shampoo and conditioner (they were on sale!) and I love them, too. They have a slightly different scent, but it’s still light and natural, and the conditioner is maybe a bit richer.

I’ve taken to only washing my hair about every other day. I try to stick to three days per week, but if my scalp feels funky, I go ahead and wash it. My hair is much more unhappy with under-washing than over-washing. On in-between days, I sometimes rinse my hair with plain water to refresh it, or I’ll just don my turban to keep my hair dry while I shower.

When I wash my hair, I wet it down and then lather up with my head flipped upside-down. It’s really the only way I can access my entire scalp properly to clean it. I smooth on the conditioner upside-down, too, in order to make sure I get the whole length, but avoid the scalp. Too much conditioner on my scalp has caused itching for me. I rinse well and then rinse with cold water at the end of my shower. Then I blot up moisture and twist my hair into a handtowel, securing it behind one ear. This keeps my hair up and out of the way, and takes out more moisture.

My hair is naturally quite straight and heavy, and it is difficult to get it to curl, so I don’t generally bother. Plus, I like to shower in the morning to feel fresher, so I don’t have time to let my hair dry in rollers after a shower. Most mornings, I either blow-dry my hair with a round brush and pull the crown back into a large barrette, or else I’ll pin the top back and pull it into a ponytail. I also use side combs sometimes to pull it back into a more Victorian-style hairdo.

A note about color: I used to color my hair with henna and indigo to cover the grey, but the process is time-consuming and messy. I’ve decided to embrace my grey hairs, which do stick out rather starkly from my dark hair, although I occasionally will use a temporary tint to cover them for the stage.

When I do want to curl my hair, I use a spray bottle with a mix of rosewater and tap water to mist individual dry or mostly-dry sections, and roll it with foam rollers. I also dab on a bit of mousse. I roll it and let it set for a while, until it is totally dry. I might set the hair dryer on it for a bit. Then, I remove the rollers. This yields the aforementioned Betty Boop hairdo.

Finally, sometimes I subject my hair to excessive amounts of abuse, for me. When I was in performances for my latest show, I had to do a 60s-inspired hairstyle. This involved blow-drying my hair to make it perfectly straight and fluffy, then flipping the ends out with a curling iron, pulling back the crown and securing it, and then spraying the front to look like side-swept bangs. I then secured the whole thing with hairspray. Needless to say, after two weeks of this, my ends were pretty crispy. So in order to treat my hair, I slathered on a few teaspoons of virgin coconut oil and left that in overnight before shampooing and conditioning the next day. It more or less revived my abused hair.

So that’s my hair routine. I’ve now covered most of my basic beauty routine. there are, of course, constant updates and tweaks, so in the future I can focus on those.