going granola: hair

Twelve days ago, I changed up my beauty routine a bit with the use of some common pantry items. I liked the idea of the products being healthier for my body, and I was also hoping they would give this tired mama a much-needed refreshed look. When I started, I assumed I’d use these items daily. But nearly two weeks into my new routine, I’m finding out that each product requires a different timetable to work best for my body. Fast forward a month from now, and I may have a different take on how often to use these products, but here are my initial thoughts concerning granola hair care.

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Before, I alluded to a bad cut and color, and the toll that postpartum hormones are taking on my hair health. The cut and color are fairly easily fixed, and I plan to get a new cut and start phasing out the highlights soon. I got highlights at 8 months pregnant on a whim during the early summer, because let’s face it, there is only so much you can change about your body when you’re pregnant 🙂 Though I liked them at the time, I worried I would come to regret the highlights later. Those worries came true a few months ago when I wished I could have my ‘virgin’ hair back (as the stylists call it). It seems the highlights have only gotten lighter and lighter since the initial treatment, and anyone who knows me knows I have such dark features I would not look good as a blond.

One thing I can’t change at will is the postpartum aftershock on my hair. The tiny baby hairs will eventually grow back out, and the postpartum hair loss is finally waning. Once I get a decent cut, I’ll start wearing my hair down more to avoid unnecessary breakage, and I’ve started parting my hair to the opposite side to help hide the broken hair at my normal part. As Beau gets older and spaces out his feedings and we get back on track with only one night feeding, I think that will help with the hormones as well. Though who knows, my hair may not get closer to normal until I stop nursing him, and if that’s the case, I just have to remember that this is such a short season in life.

But back to the ‘experiment’…twelve days ago, I was prepared to wash my hair with baking soda for a full two weeks before reevaluating this new found routine. The first two days, I made a paste with the baking soda in my hand, then massaged it into my scalp and rinsed. On the third day, I used a squirt bottle with a 3:1 ratio of water to baking soda and a 4:1 ratio of water to apple cider vinegar (ACV) as a conditioner.

Going into this experiment, I read several articles and blog posts raving about the benefits of ‘no poo.’ But admittedly, what I failed to do was read evidence of ‘no poo’ dissenters. A friend from high school who is currently in beauty school alerted me that the pH level of your scalp is substantially lower than that of baking soda, so over time washing with baking so would likely be damaging. She pointed me to an article that explained it a little more in detail. And though this never crossed my mind, apparently baking soda can lighten the color of your hair if you dye it, and going blonder is the last thing I want.

The three days I used baking soda to wash my hair disguised my baby hairs so that my hair laid flat in a pony tail, which was great since I wear it this way often, especially to hide the bad cut and growing out highlights. But unfortunately, I couldn’t wear my hair down as it was too flat, and it also got oilier quicker. People who love using baking soda as shampoo say that it took them at least two weeks for their hair to even out, and many rinse with ACV afterwards to help balance out the pH level.

Call me scared, but after only three days into the baking soda trial, I decided to call it quits because I didn’t want to damage my hair more. I know some people swear by the ‘no poo’ method, and that’s cool, I just don’t think it’s for me. It might have worked out fine in the end, but I wasn’t willing to chance it at this point. That said, I do plan to wash with it about once a month or so. I think it’s great for getting rid of any build up from products. I generally only use product about once or twice a week, and it’s either hairspray to hold those short hairs near my face in a ponytail, or a lightweight volumizer spray by Aveda for when I wear my hair down.

As for the ACV conditioner, I also don’t think it’s an everyday thing, but I plan to use it about once a week. I know it’s touted for detangling hair, as well as making it soft and smooth.

Even though I’m not using pantry items as much as I anticipated, I’m making some other hair routine changes that I think will pay off in the long run. Growing up, ‘Cousin Beth’ (actually my mom’s cousin who often goes to the beach with our family) always told me to use a comb when I got out of the shower or pool instead of a brush. Now that my hair isn’t as strong as it used to be, I definitely understand the importance of using a wide tooth comb. I try to use my brush at a minimum, mainly for smoothing my hair when putting it in a pony tail. I flip my hair over to dry it and have started using only my fingers while drying.

Back to the ‘growing up’ stories…we always made fun of my mom for watering everything down when we were kids, such as the cherry Koolaid. Now that I’m a mom, I totally understand diluting the sugary drink. And though the Koolaid has been out of her house for years, one thing she still dilutes is her shampoo, which used to really annoy me when I’d come home and shower. But, I now realize that diluted is actually better for my hair, especially since I have fine hair that tends to get oily by the end of the day. So after I quit daily baking soda shampoo, I decided to water down my current shampoo at a 1:1 ratio. Right now, I’m using Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo and Conditioner but am looking for some that score well at www.ewg.org. Can anyone recommend a favorite natural shampoo?

I’ve also heard from several women that honey can act as a shampoo and coconut oil can be a great deep conditioner. I have yet to try these but will keep them on my list of possibilities.

Nearly two weeks after this hair care experiment began, I must say that my hair is getting back to it’s old self (minus the cut and color). I’m not sure if it’s attributed to any certain thing, or, more likely, a mixture of everything that’s changed lately:

  • 7 months postpartum (this was when my hair stopped falling out after James Michael’s birth)
  • short baking soda use removed build up
  • periodic ACV rinsing helped to restore hair health and control dandruff
  • combing has helped protected against extra breakage
  • diluted shampoo has reduced stripping of natural oils

Once I get a new cut and color (and start phasing out the highlights), I’ll be back on the road to hair health. I’m thinking about getting a cut similar to this one I had back in *gasp* 2005. Plus, going short again will give me more body and get me closer to getting back to my natural color.


Next up: My experience using coconut oil as a makeup remover, cleanser and moisturizer...