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Contrary to popular belief, I think long hair involves less maintenance than short hair. It doesn’t require styling and I can get away with cutting it only twice a year. Growing it isn’t hard- it only needs as much attention as your skin.
Long hair is quite simple. The main reason that hair breaks and “doesn’t grow” is because it is dry. It is over-dry from products, heating and styling devices, and frequent washing.
Many shampoos and conditioners contain common drying agents such as alcohol and sodium lauryl sulfate. Chemicals in dyes and styling products can be dangerous in addition to being harsh on skin and hair. Extreme heat from hair dryers, curling irons, and straighteners damages hair. On top of that, daily washing strips away natural oils that moisturize and protect hair follicles.
I went through several sulfate-free shampoos before realizing that any sort of traditional shampoo and conditioner was going to continue to dry my hair. I then tried washing it less, but to no avail. I still had a sensitive scalp that was always on the verge of dandruff and hair that was oily at the roots and extremely dry at the ends. I tried various salon-grade smoothers, waxes, and anti-frizz serums before settling on the simplest solution of all.
To quote the architect, Miles Van Der Rohe, “less is more.” I balanced my hair by washing it every other day or less, using natural and minimalist hair products, and letting it air dry while I sleep. Gone is blow-drying and straightening it every day, gone is a cabinet full of half-used hair products, and gone is clutter in my shower. (Read about my minimalist shower habits here).
I’ve settled on using gentle bar soap as shampoo and simple citrus rinse as conditioner. After toweling my hair post-shower so that it is damp but not dripping, I add a drop of organic jojoba oil or argan oil to the bottom length. This re-adds protective and moisturizing oil that was lost by washing or absorbed through clothes, hats, and pillowcases.
Hair doesn’t have feeling, but it is a part of us that needs to be maintained. By being more mindful and gentle with it, we can make it as healthy and happy as possible.