Friday, February 25, 2011

Hello, My Name is Amber

And I have curly hair.

Phew, that was tough. No really, it was because, you see, for many years my hair has been slowly going through a de-evolution. Or, rather, my understanding of it has. Stick with me because all this boring hair talk is going to get to a point.

My dad's hair (when he had some - hahahahahaha) is tight and curly just like all of his siblings. They were the whitest family on the block that could grow the baddest afros you ever did see. My mom's hair is straight and with a lot less personality but oh so much more manageable. As a kid, I thought my hair fell more to my mom's side only with a stubborn tenacity to wave and cowlick in strange directions with a mind of its own. My hair would be washed almost daily, brushed into submission or pulled back as though it was straight hair. This kind of "Eh, my hair is annoying" but still brushed straight while it was wet routine went on for years.

It wasn't until my late teens when I hacked all of my hair off that I began to realize that maybe those annoying cowlicks were maybe more like the beginning swirls of curls. My little sisters had curly hair, so why didn't I? I did have the family curls, I was just too stuck in my way of thinking that it was straight. Slowly, I began to brush less and let me hair go free and lo, my curls began to form. But I was a total noob when it came to understanding what to do for my hair and to how make it happy. It doesn't feel that much different than puzzling over how to make a garden grow. Naturally, I thought that the most expensive salon shampoos and conditioners would make my hair happy, and well, they kind of did and that's how I got along for many years.

I assumed that my hair still had a personality of its own and was still unruly, but unruly in a limp and frizzy kind of way. I'd blame the weather and I would blame the shampoos. I spent a small fortune on different salon brands that made big promises. The only difference I ever noticed was how itchy my damn scalp was and how my hair pretty much stayed the same. Then finally my daft brain made a connection - if the skin on the rest of my body is sensitive to strong soaps, why would the skin under my hair be any different? You could almost audibly hear the >ting!< of the lightbulb going off. It was then that I went on another shampoo quest: To find the perfect itchy scalp, sensitive skin, curl tamer and completely organic shampoo.

Another small fortune later, my hair is slightly happier but there I was, stuck in the same damn boat floating on a sudsy shampoo sea of disappointment. My super fine hair was still frizzy, my curls looked kind of sad and limp, but my greasy head still needed to be washed daily. All advice on the internet said to stop washing altogether but that was a scary notion for me - I did NOT want to be a greaseball and that is exactly what happens after one day of no shampooing. However, I couldn't deny the logic behind ditching shampoo for good. Most shampoos contain variations of sulfates which are fancy forms of salt. Salt dries things out, most especially hair. Most shampoos, conditioners, gels and hair creams contain variations of silicone. Silicone acts like a moisture barrier (keeping it out) and assists those sulfates in really frying hair. After reading those little tid bits from various sources I hiked it up to the bathroom to read the ingredients in my collection of organic shampoo rejects. And there they were, the naughty -ates and -cones. Oddly, most of my conditioners passed the ingredients inquisition with flying colors.

Which gets me to where I was going. I'm kicking shampoo to the curb... and sobbing like a little girl who lost her security blanket. The general consensus is that it's going to get way worse before it gets amazingly better. After years and years of being stripped of its natural oils on a daily basis, my scalp is going to run wild like an Amish teen on rumspringer. If I can endure a couple of weeks of grease and drabbiness, the internets promise that my scalp will level itself out and my hair will be moist, curly and happy. Thousands of raving converts can't be wrong. I'm also looking forward to seeing how my sensitive scalp reacts to not having anything on it to aggravate it and cause it to be dry and itchy. I know for a fact that different shampoos would do just that.

Man that was a lot of hair talk. I'm doing this grand experiment to see if I can finally have a healthy, happy head of hair, but I'm also kind of doing it for my sisters.  We don't discuss it much, but I'm pretty sure their curls drive them crazy too seeing as none of us really had anyone to teach us the curly way.

We shall see!

2 comments:

phoebe said...

you will be so glad you did it!!! I don't have curly hair not even a little bit, but I suffered like you did for too long with hair dilemas. I now only wash every few weeks and I use a tiny mixture of baking soda and a truly ate and con free shampoo. I little dab is all I need to keep the mane in check. It is so liberating. Just wait until you start making your own deodorant. It totally rocks and you will wonder what that crap is you were using for so long was. Or, at least that is how I felt!!!!

Ambrewskins said...

I've heard of homemade deodorant, but didn't really know anyone who swore by it. Do you exercise regularly? Because I run 4 to 5 days a week and get pretty sweaty...