Good Hair (for Valentine's) Day
For as long as I can remember, my hair has been my "thing"—I'm asked all the time about my hair, what I use to wash and style it, what my "secret" is. But truthfully, for most of my 20s, my hair was one of my biggest insecurities. I was inspired to do this post when I received an Instagram DM from a girl saying she wished her hair was as beautiful as mine, and that psoriasis on her scalp prevents her from even wearing her hair down. Messages like that really stand out to me (I responded with a SparkNotes version of this blog post).
Of course, what we put out on the Internet tends to be the optimized versions of us (obviously I'm going to post a photo where my hair looks great over one where it looks crappy!), but I have issues and insecurities just like anyone. Thus, when Head & Shoulders reached out wanting to collaborate for Valentine's Day, particularly since I actually do wash with Head & Shoulders, I felt it was the perfect opportunity to really discuss this.
For most of my adult life, I've had mild genetic seborrhea of the scalp (thanks, Dad!) which has been a journey to navigate and get under control. I used to be a fanatic about washing my hair and would wash it every day for fear of flakes. On bad days, I would let my scalp dictate whether or not I wore black, or, like the girl who wrote me, whether or not I wore my hair down at all. I distinctly remember, when I was 20 and dating my first serious boyfriend, squirming uncomfortably as he'd stroke and play with my hair. I spent at least a decade of my life, from my late teens to late 20s, pretending I didn't like having my head touched at all (which isn't remotely true—I'm basically a cat and pretty much live for head massages and having my hair stroked).
Valentine's Day is all about romance, but getting romantic requires confidence. (Cliché but true!) In terms of gaining that confidence, in my older-and-wiser state, I've learned that...
1) making the time to feel like your best self is never a waste of time. There is always time for this, no excuses. This could mean a new workout or a yoga class, eating a certain way, getting a massage or a facial, or finding the right products for you.
2) nobody's perfect, and everyone has at least some sort of ailment, issue, and insecurity (if not several!), so why hold yourself to standards that are LITERALLY impossible to attain?
3) trial and error are your friend, and while you can't change your genes, you can learn how to best deal with and defy them.
With my own head of hair, I've really found my perfect system. Here are my personal tips for keeping my own hair beautiful and flake-free...
TIPS & TRICKS
This can be tricky but it really is of the utmost importance. I spent so much of my 20s washing my hair every day, but while I scrubbed away existing flakes, they inevitably came back with gusto, often before the day was even over. It was on an opera contract where I finally bit the bullet and learned to wash less; I was staying in an Airbnb with an awful shower with water that was never really warm enough and had terrible water pressure. I consciously began washing my hair less and relying on dry shampoo a bit more, and after a couple of weeks of this I realized a) my scalp was about 400% less itchy (it was no longer too dry from excess washing), and b) no one could tell my hair was dirty except me (also, after undoing the tolerance my hair had built up for every day washing, it also got less greasy less quickly).
... But Within Reason
Okay, okay, I know this sounds very finicky, but it really is counter-intuitive (and perhaps a little gross) to wash your hair too little. I think this is best expressed by celeb stylist Rita Hazan, who said (in this NY Times article), “People don’t think about their scalp as having pores, but your scalp should be treated like skin. You don’t want your pores to be clogged.” Your scalp is skin, after all, and it needs to be cleaned and moisturized like skin. I know it differs from person to person, but for me, my sweet spot is precisely twice a week, meaning I wash my hair on every 3rd or 4th day.
The Right Potion
I have been using Head & Shoulders for years. Combined with washing only twice a week, its active ingredient, pyrithione zinc, has proven the most effective for me when dealing with dandruff. It also really does leave my hair a magical mix of squeaky clean yet hydrated. (Seriously, even if I didn't have flakes, I'd still use it.) A lesser known fact is that Head & Shoulders is actually color-safe, which is majorly convenient and means I don't have to bother with specific color care products that do nothing for my scalp. My favorite is the Dry Scalp Care with Almond Oil, which smells SO good, moisturizes without residue, and leaves my hair super soft (more so than the other versions I've tried).
Less Is More
I'm talking about styling! I try to pick my battles when styling my hair as, obviously, the more you heat your hair into submission, the more you damage it. A big one for me is not blow-drying my hair if I can help it. I can really feel the difference in dryness when I blow dry a lot, so unless I'm in a time crunch and need to style my hair to go somewhere, I almost always wash at night. After shampooing and conditioning, I PAT it dry with a towel, wrap it in a microfiber hair turban while I do my nighttime skin regimen, brush it with a hyper gentle Wet Brush, blow dry just at the roots for a little lift of volume, and then sleep on it. Not only is this a major time saver in the AM, your hair will thank you in the long run. I find I have WAY less breakage when I do this, and less breakage means I can grow my hair longer.
I've dated men I felt the need to be "perfect" for. Those relationships never lasted long; I don't need the person I'm dating to notice (much less point out!) the many imperfections I'm already plenty aware of and insecure about. One of the many things I love about Andy and that make him perfect for me is that, much like he seems to love my makeup-less face, he truly couldn't care less about an errant flake or whether my hair is on day 1 or day 5. He realizes I'm human and loves me all the more for it, not in spite of it. (Single ladies who are looking: LOOK FOR THIS.) But nonetheless, it's nice to know that, on Valentine's Day (and every date night in general), I have the confidence to sport black and wear my hair down without fear.
Thanks for stopping by!
P.S. As mentioned above, this post is sponsored by Head & Shoulders but all thoughts and opinions are my own.