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Scheherazade in Blue Jeans
freelance alchemist
20th-Jul-2011 12:51 pm

My hair.

Backstory for new readers: Every so often I get Really Sick and lose ~40-60 pounds very abruptly, and half my hair falls out. Not exaggerating - it's half. It does grow back in; it takes about three years for it to be as thick as it was before, though, and in the meantime, I am frustrated by the fact that my hair is too short and too thin. I don't feel like myself unless it's very thick and most of the way down my back. Last weight crash was in the summer of '09, so currently it's still way too short, but it's at a thickness that doesn't feel alien to me. Other data: my hair is growing in lighter in color and curlier this time.

So what's driving me up the wall: I love the curl. I do. But being as it's curlier than it's ever been... what I've got going on right now are tight, thick ringlets, and I'm frustrated because my hair feels like it's not getting any longer, just denser. The ringlets aren't getting past my shoulders; they're spiralling back up into themselves. When I actually pull individual ringlets down, there's another 4-5" of hair there. Just densely curled.

I want my length back! And I am uncertain if there's anything I can do to encourage that. I don't want to straighten my hair, I'd just like the curls to please descend already. I swear. I look like a grownup when I have short hair. :P

EDIT: My current hair-care routine: Aquage volumizing shampoo + conditioner (because my hair is not yet as thick as I want it to be). Squeeze the excess water out, scrunch gently with a towel, scrunch in a little Aquage curl defining creme. Air-dry.
(Deleted comment)
20th-Jul-2011 09:52 pm (UTC)
My hair is also less curly when I let it dry in a braid (which is how I let it dry for the con). Drying by itself, my hair does determined heavy corkscrew ringlets. Braided, it does smaller wavy ringlets, far more relaxed.
20th-Jul-2011 05:26 pm (UTC)
Maybe using a smoothing serum or heavier conditioner on just the ends (what you'd put in a ponytail)? That might make it more loose...

I understand your hair issues..I used to have thick, wavy hair down to my butt. Then my thyroid conked out and there went my tresses. I have an angled cut now, right at chin length. Looks cute, but I miss my hair.

20th-Jul-2011 06:20 pm (UTC)
Curly Girl. Read the book, follow the science, don't bother with their named products (which came about years after the book was first published).

You might also put it in two braids at night. Braids normally kink hair, but I think they encourage curly hair to stay in longer curls when undone. That suggestion may also be in the book. My friend J. started following CG instructions and went from perpetually-just-below-shoulder curly hair to as-long-as-she-wanted curly hair. On the other hand, my S-i-L ended up with a scalp infection, but that was because she'd put it up wet in a turban and wear the turban all day.
20th-Jul-2011 06:23 pm (UTC)
Oh how I love inter-library loan. Thanks!
20th-Jul-2011 06:21 pm (UTC)
Another curlyhead here.

Heavier conditioner may help.

A trick I got from Curlygirl is finger-combing it when it's wet and putting in some duckbill clips to help it to "set" in the fashion you want. In my case, I use the clips to "set" curls on the crown of my head to keep it from being pulled flat (I use 4-6, with lots of hair in between).

In your case, you'd probably be putting them near the ends to help pull your hair longer.
20th-Jul-2011 06:55 pm (UTC)
my hair is super thick and curly. my secret to avoid fluff and keep the curl is to twist it into finger-thick ropes when wet, then let dry, then ruffle it around a bit so i don't look too much like shirley temple. ymmv, but this might avoid the double-kink problem you're describing. letting it dry with clips on the ends is another good idea.
20th-Jul-2011 06:46 pm (UTC)
Every curly head is so very different that experimentation is always the name of the game. I've been a curly my entire life and still have to learn new stuff everytime its texture changes. One thing I can tell you, the whole not seeming to get length at all cause its growing in circles, comes with a rather magical bonus. One day, you'll magically have an extra 4 inches out of nowhere, cause the curl eventually succumbs to the weight of your length. It's like getting whole new hair overnight.
20th-Jul-2011 06:47 pm (UTC)
20th-Jul-2011 07:44 pm (UTC)
My hair did that! A very long time ago. I had ringlets, when I was little, but my hair's so long it's just wavy now.

(And I keep it braided all the time because it takes about five seconds to tangle horribly when it's down.)
20th-Jul-2011 07:38 pm (UTC)
Hmm... I take a biotin vitamin every day to make my hair grow faster and longer, but has to be in super therapeutic amounts, like 1,000 mcg (1 mg). It does work (for me, at least). So it's just a suggestion.
I get mine here: http://www.swansonvitamins.com/NWF027/ItemDetail?n=0

Edited at 2011-07-20 07:39 pm (UTC)
20th-Jul-2011 07:42 pm (UTC)
My husband uses a hair serum to keep the fuzz and curls as much in check as he can. It's also summer, so you get a lot more curl and frizz in hot weather. Have you tried washing your hair and then braiding it before bed? When you wake up it should be deliciously wavy, but drying in a braid should get you more length.

Alternately, you might want to dry, while awake, without a pony tail--let the full weight of your wet hair pull everything down (instead of back) and use a leave in conditioner that doesn't encourage curls (but reduces frizz).

Finally, if you wanna get fancy, you can get a round brush and a hair dryer. Once you're out of the shower, dry your hair by wrapping around the brush and pulling it straight out gently and applying low heat--will give a little wave and should straighten the curls. Is also a pain in the neck, but it's the fastest option of the three.
20th-Jul-2011 11:27 pm (UTC)

Henna will bind to the hair's existing keratin and thicken (and strengthen!) what you've got. Curl pattern should, as a result, improve.

I won't say using the stuff on my hair for something like six years has completely changed the texture, because that's not the case, but my curl pattern kicks ass and the condition's way better, better enough that I'm starting to approach "proper" long hair (only hits my waist when it's wet, though, dammit) where that would never have been possible ten years ago. I wouldn't like to use voluminizer on this stuff now.

Besides: awesome multitoned red hair for super cheap.
21st-Jul-2011 03:31 am (UTC)
...but then I would have red hair!
21st-Jul-2011 05:26 am (UTC)
IIRC, there is color-neutral henna.
21st-Jul-2011 06:59 pm (UTC)
Technically, no. There is senna, which is another plant. This is a good alternative, though, and at the very least will provide the sort of bastard strong conditioning curly hair needs to thrive.

You can also prepare the henna paste with boiling water, which should neutralize the pigment (cook the henna) and leave you with something that doesn't dye, but does do everything else.

Other alternatives include layering or blending the henna with indigo (layer for black, blend for dark brown).
21st-Jul-2011 07:00 pm (UTC)
I had thought this was a thing you did sometimes? I understand if it isn't a thing for right now.

(Note to self: find extra $30, buy indigo, because it's either black or short the way the mind is going, and hell to the no for short.)
21st-Jul-2011 07:13 pm (UTC)
Once upon a time, but it's been...five years maybe? Four or five. It's growing in a different color now, even, so I want to see what my actual hair looks like!
21st-Jul-2011 05:26 am (UTC)
Last time that happened to me, I shaved my head.
21st-Jul-2011 05:35 am (UTC)
Lots of scrunchie/hairband things? (not the ones with the metal ends, they can cut/break your hair.

Mine was SO curly, and putting it in a ponytail with elastics every few inches took it from the top of my shoulders down to the bottom of my shoulderblades.
21st-Jul-2011 07:19 pm (UTC)
I had other thoughts.

The braid thing is accurate. I sleep in either a french braid or a long tail begun at the crown; more braids would be better, but often I don't have the patience.

Shampooing every day can upfuck shit -- hair is drier, less protected. An inexpensive conditioner on the off days as the only thing which goes in is good; you can use that to detangle with a comb designed for the purpose (I can photograph my two options) while the hair is saturated, and not spend all that much in the process.

I know that finding gluten-free conditioners can be a pain in the ass, though, especially at the budget price point. This is one of my high nerd things, though -- daughter of a chemist, only inherited the part which can read cosmetic ingredients labels without superstition -- so do feel free to ping for alternatives. For myself, I swear by Suave Professionals Almond + Shea Butter (green bottle, the dry hair iteration, mimics Aveda Dry Remedy). Lemongrass is listed amongst the fragrances, but I don't perceive any (am attuned for citrus, but not averse) - sniff in the store. A giant bottle runs $3.50 at Target, often less on sale, and will last me a couple of weeks. There are a couple of other scent alternatives in slightly different formulations, including a rosemary mint.

Serums are a touchy point. Some hair responds well to extra bonus silicones in that form and some won't even notice. If your hair does the thing where, if it's short, it stands straight up/out, a serum or shine spray may be pointless for you. (You'll hear a lot of talk of the demon -cones in any and all product, and likewise with the sulfates and betaines. Some claim the silicones dry hair out. It's very personal, and you on.)

Experiment with different shampoo formulations. Many shampoos, at every price point, use sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate, which can be too harsh and stripping. In an ideal world, I'd just be using coco betaine on my scalp, but I can't always get my hands on it. Cocoa Pink makes a great SLS-free shampoo, Princess Poo, which you can get unfragranced.

Consider straight-on oils and butters in place of serums. Coconut oil in tiny quantities (plump for the food-grade stuff in jars or order from a dedicated resource; skip the import shop bottles in the haircare section) can do for curly hair what all the purpose-built unguents will not. I should follow my own advice. Olive and grapeseed oil can also be effective, but my own hair only responds to them as pre-shampoo treatments. It's a texture thing. (I don't have a clear sense of your hair texture; it's been a while since I've seen you, and I wouldn't touch your hair without explicit permission!)

I can basically go on at two or three times more length, but won't clutter this place more. :)
21st-Jul-2011 07:31 pm (UTC)
Er. "and you on" = "and you only know by experimenting." BRAIN.
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