A lot of people tell me that I have really good hair and ask what ‘special’ things I do for it. The answer is- Nothing. I don’t do anything ‘special’ for my hair. I just don’t take it for granted.
My blog isn’t a fashion and beauty blog and I’m not attempting to position myself as a beauty guru. This post is just one of its kind because I thought I’d share the thing I get asked about often and this is my gratitude for all those compliments. I thought the best way to do this post was to list products and tools that I use, the hair-care routine that I follow, and Dos and Don’ts in my opinion.
Let’s start with some info about my hair. As you can see in the images on the left, I have long hair that falls until about two inches above my waistband. The texture is mostly fine but not too fine. It’s dark brown in color- root to tip. My hair is slightly wavy (In the pictures it looks quite wavy because I slept in braids the previous night). My hair is cut in steps and layers, which has been my standard cut for years. Another thing you should know is that my Mother used to get my hair shaved every year. Yes, EVERY YEAR. We used to go to Tirupati once a year and my Mother would “donate” my hair there. This stopped when I was in class 6. Some people say I have good hair because I shaved it so many times. I’m not sure I agree.
One of things we often overlook about our hair is that it’s not always about the products you use and hair-care routine you follow. The quality and texture of your hair is vastly dependent on your genetics, climatic conditions, quality of bath water, and food. It’s best if you understand these factors and tailor your actions accordingly instead of fighting against it. For example, proteins, which are abundant in fish, are important for hair growth. As a bengali, I consume more fish on weekly basis than the average Indian, thereby consuming a lot more protein. If you notice, Malayalis and Bengalis generally have long and thick hair which is attributed to their high consumption of fish (Since they’re located by the sea). I have also noticed that the quality of your hair will change every time you cut it; courtesy my Mother’s habit of getting my hair shaved.
Let’s move on to what I do for my hair. I want to point out that this is what I do for my hair; it’s in no way a prescription for what you should do for your hair. Remember that your hair is different than mine and has different needs.
Oiling & Brushing
The two things that I swear by are regular oiling and proper brushing of hair. Even if nothing else, these two things are what you should take away from this post. Ask any Indian and they will have all kinds of childhood stories to narrate which involve oiling their hair. I’m no different. When I was a child and was in my mother’s control, she would oil my hair every three days. You would never find my hair without oil. Oh the memory!
I use two kinds of oils- Coconut oil (Nariyal) and Almond oil (Badam). Most often I blend the two, heat it, and then apply it to my hair. I blend it in the proportion of 3:1 (Coconut:Almond). Occasionally I add two drops of an essential oil such as Lavender. I don’t know the individual benefits of each oil but I like both oils. I use more of coconut oil because I find that it’s lighter than almond oil hence easier application. Also, I use 100% pure Coconut Oil and Almond Oil. Every two weeks I get a head massage at my salon. Head massage stimulates the blood circulation in the scalp and that makes your hair grow faster. Also, the salon ladies do a much better job of oiling my hair than I do. Think of it as deep conditioning. I pay ~Rs.250/- for this. They use a blend of a couple of oils. There’s another blend for Rs.350/- in which they add Aromatherapy oils to the regular blend. I’ve never gotten that done. Different salons have different blends and packages. I know that this can range anywhere between Rs.99/- to Rs.1,000/- (Local independent salons).
Two years back is when I consciously started taking care of my hair. At that point I made one crucial change that made a MASSIVE difference to my hair. I was experiencing a fair amount of hair fall and that was quite distressing. So I started to brush my hair differently. Generally, we brush our hair from top to bottom, i.e., start from the root/scalp and make one stroke until the tips. I stopped doing that and starting brushing in sections from bottom to top. Basically, I take a small section using my hand at the bottom, brush that, then take a larger section on top of the first section and brush that, and continue until the scalp. It takes me three sections to cover my hair and at the end I make a long stroke from root to tip. The logic behind this is simple. You hair is loosely knotted in various sections of your hair. When you start from the top, you are sweeping all the knots from the top and as they slide their way down, the knots get tighter, collect more knots, and stop sliding at some point. At this point you will keep yanking at it till it loosens or breaks, and most often it breaks. This leads to hair fall when you brush. On the other hand, when you start in sections from the bottom, there are fewer knots to deal with and a short distance for it to slide. And when you work on the higher section, you have already taken out the knots at the bottom so the knots in the higher section slide out easily.
You will still have some hair fall; don’t expect otherwise. I’ve heard that 100 hair strands shed everyday. So there will be some shedding but not the kind that will make you cry. I don’t brush my hair 10 times a day; I brush it only once, i.e., before I go to bed. My hair doesn’t get crazy which is why I don’t need to brush it often. And I like a slight messy look.
Brush and Comb
I use two regular tools- a paddle Brush and a wide-toothed Comb. Both of these I got in local markets like Ratnadeep. I use the brush everyday and the comb only after I shampoo my hair. I have found that by keeping my tools clean I am also keeping my hair cleaner for longer and also shiny. If you have dirt on your tools, it will get transferred onto your hair and that defeats the whole point of washing your hair. I clean my brush and comb thoroughly with baby shampoo and a toothbrush every two weeks, and then air dry it. On an everyday basis I just avoid hair build up. Makes the washing easier.
My hair care routine is super simple. I oil my hair a few hours or a night before shampooing. I shampoo my hair with regular, warm bath water. If I have oiled my hair really well, I skip the conditioner. Although, in winters I use conditioner regardless of the oil since my hair gets really dry. I air dry my hair and once it’s slightly dry, I run my wide-toothed comb through it. Occasionally I apply a little serum to my semi-wet hair. On the days when I don’t oil my hair (Due to lack of time or pure laziness), I use a hair mask in the shower.
This is the schedule I follow:
- Shampoo- Every 3 days
- Oil- A few hours before shampooing
- Head massage- Every two weeks
- Hair trim- Once every 3-4 months
- Hair cut- Once a year
Apart from that, I brush my hair once a day before I go to bed. I brush my hair and tie it in a loose braid. If I want wavy hair the next day, I tie my hair in two tight braids and go to sleep. If I’m at home, my hair is tied in a braid. If I’m out, I do different kinds of hair styles.
Like I said, I don’t do anything special for my hair. I just give it some TLC.
Dos and Don’ts
These are the Dos and Dont’s I follow based on the quality of my hair. Your list of Dos and Don’ts should be tailored to your hair quality.
- Oil hair regularly. I generally oil my hair a few hours before I wash my hair and I concentrate the oil on my scalp.
- Brush my hair every night and tie it in a loose braid. Brushing the right way is also crucial.
- Get a head massage every two weeks. Stimulating the blood circulation in the scalp goes a long way for hair growth.
- Trim hair every 3-4 months. Having split ends stalls your hair growth, takes away nutrients, and looks bad.
- Keep my tools clean. I don’t let hair build up on my brushes and combs and I clean them with baby shampoo once a fortnight.
- Don’t shampoo my hair everyday. It sucks the nutrition out of your hair. And my hair is too long to go through this everyday.
- Don’t apply heat. Very rarely do I use the dryer, curling iron or straightening iron. Only once in a while do I go to the salon to style my hair if there’s an occasion.
- Don’t not brush my hair at least once a day. Especially brush it wrong. I hate when people at the salon start brushing my hair in one stroke from top to bottom.
- Don’t undergo chemical treatments such as coloring, getting highlights, perming, smoothing, etc. I’d much rather have naturally gorgeous hair for a long time than have interesting hair for a short period and deal with balding later.
- Don’t use dirty brushes and combs.
- Don’t share your tools. You never know what kind of things you’re transferring onto your hair and others’ by sharing tools.
- Don’t use hair spray, mousse, etc., very often. In case I do, I use the light-hold variation and that too sparsely.
In conclusion, I love my hair and have put some effort into growing it in a healthy way. I believe that my hair is like my crown and it needs to shine. One time a hair dresser cut my hair shorter than what I wanted and I started crying! It was actually just 1 inche shorter but that’s how attached I am to my hair. My hair is totally tailored to my face and body structure and so is it’s care. Your needs and focus might be different and that means what you do for your hair also has to be different.
As I sign off, here’s a list of places I shop from or go to for my hair needs:
Stores/Salons I go to
Regular Salon– Sharon Beauty Parlor, Begumpet
Salon where I get my major hair cuts– B:Blunt, Banjara Hills
Salon I go to for styling for an occasion– Lakme, Somajiguda
Stores I buy my products from-
- Brush & Comb – Ratnadeep, Somajiguda
- Shampoo, Conditioner, Hair mask, Almond Oil – Auchan, Somajiguda; Health&Glow, Somajiguda
- Coconut Oil – AOC Canteen*
- Hair Dryer, Straightening Iron – Health&Glow
- Curling Iron – Walmart, Davenport, U.S.A
*AOC Canteen is the retail store for Military Personnel. My Father is an ex-IAF officer which is why we have access to it.