(my hair circa 2008-ish)
So, I briefly mentioned in a past post that I had suffered from severely damaged hair, and that it was now rehabbed. I thought I’d write a whole post about what happened, why it was so traumatic, and how I fixed it.
Let me start at the beginning. I have always had long hair (with a few times in between when I would donate my hair and sport a shorter ‘do) and have always been able to wash and wear with no difficulty–see beachy long hair picture above! I rarely used a blow dryer or straightener, and only did the standard shampoo conditioner twice a week–easy peasy! Over the years, my routine was pretty much the same, mild dry scalp was my only issue.
Fast-forward to last summer when we moved. It wasn’t major, just across town, but our new location has old pipes… and hard water. I have dealt with some hard water when traveling? But never was exposed long-term so I wasn’t aware of the dangers that lurked in my pipes!
It started out with me noticing a bit more hair in my hairbrush and my hair looking dirty after only a few days. But what was worse was it started to look oily. I have never once had oily hair! I chalked it up to the new shampoo I was trying and started washing it a little more frequently and changed my products. Cue the dry (and itchy) scalp and my hair coming out in clumps (clumps!!). I full on panicked and researched and thought maybe I was just too stressed (work and life had thrown some curveballs my way!). I tried relaxing and de-stressing, and hair masks… and it still was falling flat, looking greasy, and falling out in drooooves. It finally hit me when I couldn’t brush my hair and it felt sticky (ding ding ding!!) HARD WATER makes my hair feel sticky! So I googled hard water and hair loss/damage. Every symptom under the sun was there! I cried a little and then went back to researching how to fix this. I was not about to accept my fate. Here is what I found and the step-by-step way I got my beautiful long hair back.
Steps to repairing damaged hair from hard water (on a budget!):
- get a filter for your shower! Since we are currently renting, we cannot do a pipes overhaul or instal anything like a unit water purifier or softener. I researched and read all of the reviews and found a shower head filter that lasts approximately 6 months and fits most existing shower heads. The initial set-up was $20 at Lowes and the replacement filters are $10. It installed in under 5 min and did not affect the water pressure in the slightest! I notice INSTANT results and came out of the shower feeling truly clean for the first time in months and the best part? I could run my fingers through my hair! And my hair was still coming out? but at a much reduced rate. Over the past month since we installed it my hair loss rate returned to normal and I am no longer clogging the drain (sorry K!).
- I researched different shampoos for hard water damaged hair. I wanted to be more specific than just damaged hair because hard water is unique. It strips and coats your strands and causes them to weaken and break. The hair I thought I was losing off my head was most likely just breaking off (so many fly-aways!). My scalp was also really dry and clogged and it looks like a bad low-budget dandruff commercial over here. It was probably the most embarrassing symptom of them all! I couldn’t wear black without constantly monitoring my collar. I found this charcoal cleansing shampoo, conditioner, spray combo that has really been great! I use it once week to prevent stripping my hair and swap out with more natural shampoos that are more gentle in between.
- Hair masks! I have all the makings of a great hair mask right in my kitchen. The two masks that worked the best were super simple to make. The first was the weirdest consistency–olive oil, raw egg, baking soda. I wanted it to hydrate, cleanse, and strengthen and it delivered! I slathered it on and covered it with my reusable shower cap and left it on for at least 30 min, then showered like normal. When doing hair masks I usually have to double shampoo, but try washing it once and then test it before taking the chance to wash it again. The second hair mask was more simple–avocado oil and lavender oil. This one was good at deep cleansing, moisturizing and soothing… and smelled so yummy! Feel free to Pinterest your way through your cupboards and try what works for your damaged hair needs. If you don’t have a shower cap, try wrapping you hair in plastic wrap and sealing it with a towel.
- I started a new conditioning and moisturizing routine and kept at it. I start by putting hair oil in about 5 minutes before my shower, and massaging it into my scalp. Just a few pumps so it does not weight my hair down (if I use too much, then I have to double shampoo to remove it which may cause more damage in the long run!). Then, I shampoo my hair and use conditioner. I don’t rinse the conditioner out right away and clip my hair up and out of the way until the end of my shower, where I turn the water temperature down as cold as I can stand it and rinse the conditioner out. I then do another round of conditioner just on my tips and rinse it out right away. Once out of the shower I gently squeeze as much water out of my hair and pat it dry with my normal towel. I use a terry cloth wrap towel and wrap my hair up for about 20 min to let all the water soak up without rubbing and potentially damaging my hair further. Once I unwrap my hair, I shake it out and spray it down with the Hask argan oil spray and let that soak in for a few minutes. My hair is about half dry at this point so I use the blow dryer on a low setting to finish it off. If need be I use the straightener on a low heat setting and finish with a few drops of rose oil.
- Preventative measures from the inside out! I ordered my favorite Biotin supplement–Natrol Biotin. I researched the best Biotin supplements a few years back when I started my new job and my nails were breaking from typing so much! It makes my nails grow strong, fast, and healthy while making my hair grow strong, fast, and healthy. I started taking it again about 4 weeks ago and my hair has already grown over two inches and my hair feels stronger and thicker. I also have upped my water intake which is good for my hair and skin.
6. The final step will be to go to my trusted hair stylist to get a trim! Hopefully she won’t have to take too much off to make my hair look and feel 100% healthy!
I’d say after a solid 5 weeks of rehabbing, my hair it is 95% back to what it was before the damage began. It took patience and trial and error, but it paid off! I am hoping to gradually reduce my routine just a wee bit once I feel my hair is in a better place.
Do you have a hair routine or a must-have product? Share in the comments!