Thursday, October 14, 2010

Open letter to my readers: How do I create healthy hair while living overseas?



One of the most amazing aspects of producing content on the internet is the connection I get to make with people all over the world. Most recently, I received a question from via a youtube viewer from Germany. This person, who I'll refer to as "Katie" seemed to be in a place where she really truly wanted to create a healthy head of hair. She's right around ear length and wanted to achieve healthy bra-strap length hair. The only thing holding her back, she thought, were the lack of available quality products we here in the states are so lucky to get a hold of.




Instead of responding via private message, I thought I'd share some tips to creating healthy hair even if quality hair products are not readily available here for everyone to see. Prior to writing this post, I aked myself, "if I couldn't just whip out my debit card and purchase pre-poo treatments, intensive deep conditioners, or nourishing oils any time I wished, what would I do?



TECHNIQUE


My first thought was that if I couldn't rely on products to save the day, I'd focus on my technique and on mastering the basics. Although I didn't ask her about her relaxing routine. My very first piece of advice would be to try to stretch out the time between relaxers. Start small by waiting just a few weeks longer than normal each time you relax. Once you get the hang of it, try to extend your stretch a little longer the next time. This will result in less over-processing which will help promote retention long-term.



The next thing I'd incorporate into my regimen a scalp massage on a regular basis. There's nothing like a good scalp massage to create a relaxing night not to mention the insanely huge benefits your hair and scalp will receive. I can tell you, Katie, from personal experience that scalp massages absolutely effect the rate of hair growth. There are parts of my hair that I routine massage even without thinking. What I realized is those areas always create thicker, longer, new growth than the rest of my hair. Just the practice of massaging alone, even without any hair products whatsover, will positively impact your hair.


Although protective styling ain't my thing, if I were on a mission to create lengthy hair without the help of amazing products, I'd bun, braid, etc 95% of the time. Even before I knew what protective styling was, I knew that everytime I'd wear sinthetic braids, my hair would seem to "grow" faster than normal. Truth is, my hair didn't grow faster, I just experienced less breakage while my hair was protected under the braids. By the way, I wasn't one of those people who wore braids for months at a time. Because of my hands in hair disease, the longest I would allow braids to remain in my hair was 6-7 weeks tops. If I could benefit from wearing braids for such a short amount of time, why not try this or other protective styles and see how your hair progresses?



Next on the list of techniques would be tools I used for grooming and styling. You should seek out the biggest/widest tooth comb you can find and only use this comb when styling. No small tooth combs allowed......ever. If your hair isn't fortunate enough to experience high quality products, it may not be strong enough to withstand the stress of using a small toothed comb. I also want you to go in your bathroom drawer, locate your curling iron (if you have one) and throw it away. If you don't want to let it go just yet, I want you to let a friend or relative store the iron for you until a later time. Until you start seeing some significant progress, you are not allowed to use any sort of heat styling tool on your hair. Excessive heat equals dryness and breakage. It's not something your hair needs right now. Trust me.



Instead of heat, I want you to consider other means of curling your ends. Check out videos of the pin-curl method of creating curls. It works pretty well.



All though Germany may not have many beauty supply stores around, my guess is that you probably can get a hold of supplements that support the health of your hair. Make sure to look for nutrional superfoods that give both you and your hair a ton of benefits. First see if you can find some hair, skin and nails vitamins. If not, go for a multi-vitamin in liquid form. Liquid vitamins are superb because they go right to the blood stream and begin feeding the body instantly. Therefore, your body absorbs more nutrients per dose. This is one of those things where you won't see immediate results. It's important to stay consistent 'cause that's when good things start to happen.



Now let's talk about products. Although pickins are slim in your area, you should try to avoid or replace any unproductive products from your regimen. Specifically, I'm talking about hair grease. See if you can replace commercial hair grease (loaded with petroleum or mineral oil) with oils like coconut oil jojoba oil etc. See if you can locate a natural food store in your area and stock up on any natural oils they carry. If you absolutely can't find natural oils locally, do a search online and pay a little extra for shipping if you have to. Once you have those oils in your possession, you can take the other steps in your routine to the next level. Now you have a healthy hair ingredient you can add to your deep conditioners and your pre-p00. You can also use the oil as part of your night-time treatment and dap on a little during the day as your hair needs it. Even without commercial grade hair products, you can still seek out natural ingredients you can incorporate into your hair routine. Eggs, honey, coconut milk are just a few of the readily available ingredients you can mix with your current conditioners to make them even more powerful. Simple things like popping vitamin e capsules into your conditioner can make a big difference.

Lastly, my friend, I leave you with these three important phrases to remember as you travel in your hair journey: be patient, stay consistent, and always improve.
  1. Great advice as always! The scalp massage is the one thing I have difficulty remembering to do...argh!!

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  2. I moved to Switzerland 3 months ago and had to learn how to adapt with the products at my disposal.

    I actually make my own shampoo using sulfate-free baby shampoo as a base and three different herbs like rosemary, basil, and wheat germ. Since there are MANY herbs that will benefit your hair, you can use what you think will work for you. Welda Baby & Kind Calendula Waschlotion & Shampoo is the base I use - which I buy from Germany (I live on the border of Switzerland and Germany). My shampoo formula is:

    *1 cup (8oz) of distilled, rain, or rose water
    *1/4 cup of herbs
    *3/4 cup (3oz) of baby shampoo
    *1 tsp jojoba oil
    *25 drops of essential oil(s)
    Bring water to boil. Add herbs, cover, and simmer for 15-20mins. Strain and let cool. In a clean bottle, slowly stir baby shampoo, essential oil(s), jojoba oil, and herb water.
    **As a strainer, I use stockings. I'll cover my bowl with a piece of stocking, pour the herb water over it, and wring out the rest of the water out of the herbs.

    As for conditioners, I'm still playing with different brands. Many salons in Germany sell Paul Mitchell - which is a great brand, but Schwarzkopf and Redkin products are pretty good, also. More than likely, I will "make" my own conditioner using the same formula as my shampoo.

    Anywhoo, I hope this helps!

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