I don't want to get into that here - all we have is the actual words "if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her." Whatever your opinion on the interpretation, I think we can all agree that hair means a lot for a woman, and is one of her major assets as far as appearances go. I also think the Bible is pretty clear that God likes women to look feminine - and when it comes to hair, the wrong choice can make or break your feminine look. I don't want to point fingers, but I'm thinking at the moment of a young girl I know who, last I knew, lives with a baseball cap plunked on her head that has a ponytail coming out the back. Even indoors.
Now, I'm a fan of ponytails. A cute curly tail of hair bouncing in back of your head - what's not to love? And let's not forget the ease of maintenance, or the cooling effect of having your hair off your neck (a major consideration during summer time in my area of the world!) It's not the style that's a problem. It's the lack of care. The "I-know-I-have-to-have-this-stuff-because-I-can't-go-around-bald-but-I-really-don't-care-to-put-any-effort-into-taking-care-of-what-God's-given-me" kind of attitude.
We'll talk about styles in a future post, but today let's talk about the foundation of pleasant hair; cleanliness.
I have to smile when I write that because, believe it or not, it took me awhile to learn this lesson. Yes, I was one of those pre-teens running around with her snarled hair in a ponytail at the nape of her neck, straggly ends and all, crying whenever someone suggested I cut it. Ugh.
I hated baths when I was little. (Shhhh - don't tell anyone!) Baths seemed such a waste of time. Washing my hair was a long, annoying processes, starting with having the blind trust to put my head under the loud, rushing water faucet and getting soap in my eyes, and ending with spending hours and hours tossing my hair under the noisy dryer until my waist-length frizzy mop of... frizz...was dry enough to pass Mom's inspection. I must have been sent back to "dry it just a little more" a thousand times in my life. :) I would much rather have been playing.
So I grew up trying to avoid washing, drying, and brushing my hair. I just didn't care. ....Until someone suggested I cut it, that is. Then I sent up wailing protests that would have made a professional mourner envious.
Little by little, I learned. First of all, I removed some length. ...Actually, the first cut was insisted upon by my parents. At the time, I was only beginning to see the idol-like image I had of keeping my long hair, but I needed to be brave enough to see myself as worth more than just how long my hair was. After that first cut, I experimented a little more. I didn't do anything drastic, because I still wanted some length, but just removing a few inches did my attitude a world of good. I was beginning to care.
Second, I learned that I could cut the amount of time I spent on my hair if I let it air-dry. "It's healthier," I told Mom, pleased with my excuse. But when that air-dried hair got a lot less frizzy and turned into loose curls all over my head, I knew I had made a discovery. As I stared into the mirror and gently touched the damp ringlets with my fingertips, I was in awe of the beauty God made that I had been turning into frizz with my brush and dryer.
All of the sudden, I cared.
Since then, I've learned a lot about hair. I've learned that there are different types, and different ways to care for the different kinds of hair. I'm still not the expert. Ever. I have things I'd like to change about the way I care for my hair. But I'm happy with my hair itself.
Did you hear me? I, a young woman in the materialistic age, is happy with her hair. I don't want to dye it, perm it, straighten it, or do anything with it except let it be the way God made it. I'm not knocking people who don't have "natural" hair - that's not the point - but I'm just saying it's an amazing thing to be content with ones hair. It's freeing.
I think one main reason I'm content with my hair is that it is healthy. And it's simple. I don't have a lot of complicated routines and products. I am constantly experimenting with my hair care to find my favorite way to do it, but in general I like what I do. It's natural, cheap, and my hair is happy.
Would you care if I shared?
I must mention that what I do works best for my hair. The first thing you must learn is to know your own head of fur. What kind of hair do you have, and how does it respond to the way you treat it? I think most people try to make their hair be something it is not, and that is why it isn't happy. Do you have,
1) Thin and straight hair? The hair strands themselves tend to be thick and strong, resisting curl, but your hair coverage is on the thinner side. Your hair gets greasy fast if you don't wash it.
2) Wavy Hair? Your hair strands are a little thinner, and your hair is not stick straight, but not ringlets either. Holds curl really well when you use curlers.
3) Curly hair? Your hair strands are, surprisingly, very soft and fine, curling all over in ringlets or loose curls when you don't artificially straighten them. Your hair coverage tends to be pretty thick, even though the individual strands are fine.
4) Super-curly hair? These are what I've heard a friend describe as "phone cord" curls - stubborn and tight. Your hair can be quite dry if you're not careful. It's also thick.
OR you could fall outside the box. These are only general guidelines. One of my sisters, for instance, is a number 1 hair type - stubbornly straight - but her hair is amazingly thick.
My own hair is closest to type 3 - curly, in loose curls, VERY thick (according to every person whose ever touched it, it's the thickest they've ever handled), but not really very fine. My strands are strong and reasonably thick. Like most curly heads, my hair can be very oily, but dry at the same time. Understanding the difference between oily and moisturized is important, here, girls, if you're a curly head. Oil lubricates. Water hydrates.
What works for me may not work for you if your hair is very different, but I find that I need to focus on 1)keeping my hair from drying out, and 2)maintaining natural oils. This means finding the delicate balance between washing my hair often enough to add moisture, but not often enough to dry it out.
Here's what works for me right now:
- Washing my hair every 3 days or so. More often than that dries it out. Less often means greasy hair.
- AIR drying, every time. My hair doesn't handle direct heat well. It doesn't look dried out, because it will get oily, but it's not moisturized, which affects the way it behaves. Took me awhile to understand the difference. I also try to protect it from the sun. I rarely wear my hair down when I'm going to be outside for an extended period of time.
- I make my own shampoo mixture. I mix about 1/2 a bottle of baby shampoo with an equal amount of water and add 2-3 tsp of tea tree oil. I shake it all up in a jar, and put it on the shelf to let the suds settle. When I'm ready to wash my hair, I pour a scant TBS of this mixture into a small container, and fill it the rest of the way with warm water. That's what I dump over my scalp in the shower, focusing on greasy spots like the nape of the neck and behind the ears. It doesn't get sudsy, but it does get my hair clean. Tea tree is GREAT for your skin and scalp health, but it does need to be diluted, so never put it on straight! Yikes.
I've found that this gentle hair cleaning is all I need to keep my hair clean without drying out completely. We modern Americans seem to have a problem with the natural oils that God put in our scalp, but the fact is our hair needs that oil. Clean hair doesn't have to mean stripped hair. A gentle cleaning that removes dirt, not beneficial oils, is all that is needed. (Straight-hair girls may need to wash more often, though. Curls "soak up" the oil better.)
Now, sometimes, my hair doesn't need to be washed - just moisturized. When that's the case, I just rinse it in water, and it springs back all curly again. I don't do that very often, though, because it tends to rinse too much of the oils out, and since I'm not conditioning when I use only water, my hair will look frizzy more often than not.
- Most importantly, I condition with THE BEST conditioner I've ever tried. It's not greasy, it's not expensive, and it doesn't weigh my hair down.
Apple Cider Vinegar.
It's all about the PH levels or something. The PH level of the vinegar balances out the hair PH and makes it oh-so-soft. And it only takes a bit. I put a few TBS in a pint-size jar, fill it the rest of the way with water, and pour that over my hair and work it through. I let it sit for a few minutes before washing it out. (You may only need a few tsp of vinegar, depending on how much hair you have, and PLEASE don't use other vinegars.)
Does it stink?
Yeah. Of course. It's the one downside. But the smell disappears as it dries. Only wet vinegar stinks. (The smell used to be a bigger problem before I realized that I didn't have to pour straight vinegar over my hair!) It's not actually that noticeable when you only use a few tsp or TBS. I can easily put up with it for a little while in order to have such soft hair. I honestly don't notice it anymore. The results are SO worth it!
Currently, I'm playing around with adding more scents into my hair care. I love citrus smells, and I'm thinking about adding essential oils into a rinse to add that scent to my hair. I've also been using some hand lotion - of all things - on my hair. As long as it doesn't contain alcohol, most hand lotion is perfectly fine to use in your hair to add a little friz-control. And it smells great! :)
There are other things we could discuss, but I think I've chattered enough for one day. Thanks for sticking with me.
Now it's your turn; how do you care for YOUR hair?