Something I’ve been feeling good about lately: It only took about twenty years, but at 27.5 of age, I’ve finally, finally figured out what to do with my hair! It sounds so simple. Yet “good hair” is something that has eluded my grasp for an embarrassingly long amount of time. I wasn’t one of those cool girls who had good hair in their teens (so crazy precocious!). I have so many horror stories and hair bloopers from teens right up to age 25: age 17 when I cut my own bangs for the first time, to when I got a perm right before college (don’t laugh), to when I dyed my hair auburn and turned all my towels pink, to that truly crazy time when I thought a pixie a la Emma Watson would look good on me. It was a good thing I was already in a relationship when I did that because I never felt so un-pretty in my entire life.
What I didn’t understand through this hair-soul-searching period was that there are 4 elements to getting your dream hair and all of them have to work in tandem. But once you have this harmonious 4-part system going, it becomes second nature and you can basically relax and just worry about your skin and makeup!!
1. Cut: Finding the cut that suits your style and face shape is so crucial. For instance, since I have slightly wavy -t0-straight hair that is also really thick, and a full, heart-shaped face, I look better with long layers and side-swept bangs. No straight-across bangs or blunt cuts for me. Sigh. If you have oval-shaped face, lucky you–you can get away with anything! Square faces look great with graduated layers that soften the jaw line (think Jen Aniston). Shoulder-length or longer is the best bet for most women. And I don’t think there is an age when you have to cut your hair short–so retro! Rock long hair at any age, ladies.
2. Color: I wrote this past spring about finding a (relatively) natural permanent hair color option at an Aveda salon. I really think experimenting with “you but better” hair color can do wonders. My natural black hair can make me look severe–I look a bit softer and more lively with dark chocolate brown hair. Of course, stick to your natural color if you’re in love with it!
3. Wash and condition: Find the wash and condition routine that works for your hair type. For coarse, thick hair, washing less frequently works better. I shampoo and condition my hair once every 3 days (yes, while working out almost everyday). In between days I put my hair in a bun and keep it out of the water while I shower. This way you avoid stripping your hair of its natural oils. I also use deep treatment once a week, and at least once every other week I rinse my hair with white vinegar to get rid of shampoo residue and add shine.
Note: If you have a very oily scalp, you may have to wash your hair more frequently.
4. Styling: I alternate between air dry and blow dry, depending on my schedule. Unlike in my high school days, I don’t obsess over getting that perfect blow dry using a round brush–of course that’s nice when I go to the salon, but for everyday it’s a bit too much effort for me. And it looks cooler and more contemporary to blow dry to about 95% and then letting your hair texture take over slightly, giving a more natural, tousled look. I also use a curling iron about once a week, which gets better 2nd and 3rd day (my shampoo day!).
So without further ado, here are my secret and super effective cruelty free hair products to achieve dreamy hair!
(Clockwise from top left)
1. Remington “magic wand” curling iron 1 1/2″ ($68 on Amazon) : My sister bought this to do her own hair for her rehearsal dinner, and then gave it to me afterwards–and it is simply the best curling iron I’ve ever used. I can’t stress enough how important it is to get a tapered iron without the clasp–and this thing gets super hot and stays there. I can curl my entire head of super thick hair in 15 minutes which is incredible. Two really important things to remember: 1) hold the curling iron *upside down* and wrap the hair around it from thick side to skinny side; 2) curl the layers around your face in toward your face, rather than out. This creates for a more classic look, which I prefer. Then the rest of the hair I curl mostly outward, but with some curling in, to make it look more natural. Let your hair cool completely and then very gently finger comb through for that lived-in look.
2. Alba Botanica Hawaiian Conditioner (about $10 at natural stores): All Alba products are vegan friendly and cruelty free–and this conditioner smells so luscious and coconut-y. It is formulated without parabens, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulfate, and contains a lot of yummy sounding vegetable and fruit oils.
3. Phyto Creme de jour hydration brillance: Phyto is a French hair product company that is cruelty free and uses mostly plant-derived ingredients. I use this styling cream on the ends of my hair and bangs to smooth things over. It feels non greasy and keeps your hair ever so slightly shiny and polished looking, but still very natural looking. You need that movement with your hair!
4. Aveda Damage Remedy Intensive Restructuring Treatment ($35): I got this before my college 5th reunion last spring in a state of panic because my hair felt so rough and therefore, unkempt. I saw almost an immediate improvement after using this. I don’t typically spend so much money on hair treatment but it is worth the money.
5. Aveda Brilliant Shampoo ($19): This is a good everyday shampoo for normal hair. My hair feels soft and shiny without any residue–light, yet moisturized. It smells fairly clean and pine-y like herbs.
6. Tek wooden handmade brush (about 20 Euro): When I forgot to pack my brush on a trip to Paris, my boyfriend went to the local supermarket and picked up this beautiful posh brush in my favorite color! (Major brownie points). Anyway, this brush changed the way I view brushes–you can really feel your scalp being massaged and your hair oil traveling from roots to ends. Your hair will thank you!
I think Tek and Widu might be sister companies or something–if you can’t find Tek brush in the U.S. try Widu. (Read the Widu review written by Mary).
7. Emi Jay Hair Ties ($3 each): Yes I do know it’s overpriced. But I totally caved and bought one of these at Pure Barre, and it is so super cute tied at the end of a Katniss braid. That is all.
Okay, let’s talk hair! Have you found your hair happy place? What are some cruelty free hair products you can’t live without? Let me know!
Also in cruelty free beauty: My Vegan Makeup Bag Essentials
Photo: Peaceful Dumpling