Highlight Timelapse

So I’ve started to record and make little timelapses of the hair processes I do on the day to day at work! Here’s one of my first ones with highlights!

I used Davine’s A New Color Lightener, at a 10 and 20 volume and toned with Mask with Vibrachrom with 9/11 (10g) and 10/12 (23g), if you want specifics feel free to contact me. 🙂

 

A Brief History of Colorful Hair

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As the trend of creating sunsets and vibrant abstract art on your head has slowly begun to fade, I was a bit reminiscent of the movement, and how as a teen, looking “like a parrot had shit on my head” (as my dad so lovingly told me when I was 13) was part of my identity. It reminded me of an article a friend and client had sent me not long before coloring their own hair.

The refinery29 piece focused heavily on celebrity use and the psychology of colorful hair. How blue had become the “ultimate beauty middle finger…” To start with just the first paragraph- they list the obsession with blue hair coming with Clementine’s character in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” 

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Clementine

and how teens saw themselves in her- starting the trend, and while this did play a part in setting the stage for the Manic Pixie Dream Girl’s of Zach Braff’s dreams, it was not the starting point nor the only inspiration put into the celebrity dome or into Millennials’ minds to start coloring their hair as of late. Of course this article also focused specifically on the color blue, where as I’m going to look at colorful hair overall.

 

According to the article, the last two years have been seeing a large increase in women coloring their hair blue, which while true, has a much longer and richer history than the article went into and honestly includes not just the color blue. However I did feel that they did quite a comprehensive job of the history that blue had in society-

The history of the color blue begins as one that is demure and humble. According to Anne Varichon, an anthropologist specializing in the field of color and author of Colors: What They Mean And How To Make Them, blue held no real significance until the Middle Ages, when the color came to be associated with the Virgin Mary and was then eagerly adopted by the monied upper class as a signifier of wealth.

Since those early days, blue has gone through a multitude of iterations and associations, but the big turning point for the color’s modern representation was the creation of jeans in the middle of the 19th century. “It created an association between blue and work. But in the 1930s, jeans became synonymous with leisure and; in 1960, rebellion, with the hippie movement; and finally, youth, leading the color blue to become more and more significant,” says Varichon.

Because of how commonplace the color became, it evolved from a hue of decadence to one of conformity. “Today, the color blue, which has become consensual color: The color of the flags of international organizations and the one that any person who does not wish to be noticed wears — since, indeed, everyone wears it.” But Varichon notes that this conventional color gets decidedly unconventional when seen on the lips or hair.

(Megan McIntyre, November 14th, 2015)

This article while really interesting, left me feeling like there was a gap in the information about the history of colorful hair. I also felt when I looked up other articles that throughout there was a surprising lack of acknowledgement for the role that women of color played in the trend, I mean, how could you forget moment’s like Lil Kim’s VMAS wig? Here’s to history- and specifically how we came to this point where having “unicorn hair” is more widely acceptable.

It’s generally accepted that coloring hair began with the Egyptians, they would use henna, tumeric, red ochre, and a slew of other plant derived dyes to color their hair. Synthetic dyes and eventually color was invented in 1907 by Eugène Schueller- who founded L’Oreal. As it evolved through the ages bright colors made their first real debut with the punk movement in the 70s.

The Sex Pistols, who evolved in dismal early seventies Britain, debuted the signature 

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Johnny Rotten aka John Lyndon

bright colored punk hair when they brought on front man John Lyndon, who was described by Jones as “[Coming] in with green hair… I liked his look. He had his ‘I Hate Pink Floyd’ T-shirt on, and it was held together with safety pins” (Lydon, John, Rotten, p. 74.)

The Sex Pistols later hit the world stage debuting Lyndon’s signature colored hair- which changed frequently. And while they didn’t produce much music, they impacted a whole generation and changed the course of both music and hair trends without even knowing it. Along with Lyndon was Jordon (Pamela Rooke- held largely responsible for essentially creating the London Punk look) who sported a platinum blonde bouffant, and Soo Catwoman who’s avant garde and shamelessly amazing do’ was often times colored bright shades with the “ears” of her remaining hair that signature contrasting black. At the time, these looks were not accepted by anyone who was not apart of the emerging punk scene. As said by Jordan herself- “I commuted for about two years. I had some real bad dos on the train. I had tourists trying to pay me for my

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Jordan in front of portrait of herself by Simon Barker

photo…worse than that, mothers saying that I’m upsetting their children and debauching them and how dare I get on a train looking like that.” (Colegrave & Sullivan, Punk: A Life Apart, Cassell & Co, 2004, p.127.)

In New York where the punk scene flourished, sisters Tish and Snooky Bellomo started their own business and opened up Manic Panic in 1977- a boutique in the East Village serving out both vintage fashion and punk clothes designed by Tish. After performing in the scene for awhile and introducing both fans and friends to wild colors in hair through their own hair, they began to sell the dye out of their store- making it one of the first consumer available products to create the bright rainbow hair colors so intertwined in the punk community.

Tina Turner

Enter the 80’s, as punk gets watered down into glam metal and pop music, the rebellion of crazy hair hit a peak. Artists like Cyndi Lauper came out to play with bright orange hair and her signature yellow streak- she became a beacon for women trying to break the bonds of the conservative image. Tina Turner also surged, changing the look from the perfectly groomed and smooth do’s of the Supreme’s to bright highlights and hair that reached the heavens. If there was ever someone to describe the big hair and energy of the 80s, it was Turner.

As the 90’s rolled in, punk went into hiding, and the signature abrasively bright colors became more common. As many underground movements go from nothing to the celebrities choice fashion, as did punk. Kurt Cobain appeared with his ripe tomato hair, and the term grunge became a household term. I think it’s important to note here, that while the punk movement moved from a scene that no one “respectable” wanted anything to do with, too a look surrounded by consumerism, it became more common place for teens of this era to branch out of their expected norms and into more creative outlets. Many of their parents had been through the punk era in the

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Lil Kim at the 1999 VMAS

70s, and kids took note- still to this day there are people coloring their hair with kool aid. Manic Panic was worn by models on runways, celebrities, and before we knew it hair moved from big and permed to flat and straight. Lil Kim stepped out at the VMAS with her vibrantly purple wig and T-Boz’s signature blonde do’ kept everyone’s eyes on them, while Claire Danes appeared with her bob and signature red hair that became the uniform of indie girls everywhere.

 

As waif and natural became more and more popular so did the birth of the scene kids. Made popular through myspace, the skunk tail colors of horizontal stripes and big goofy layered hair made a comeback in an interesting meld of 90s and 80s looks. It involved stick straight hair teased into a rats nest akin to Amy Winehouse, with the cut being so layered, the bottom half would become thin and maybe 1/4 of the size of the top. The look wouldn’t be complete without some kind of bow or other accessory donning the top of head- just in case the size of the hair isn’t noticed. This was the early 2000’s version of a punk movement- disgruntled, angsty teens rebelling with heavy inspiration from 80’s.

The company Hot Topic made a large profit off of this- and still do. They carried clip in bright extensions for those who didn’t want to go the full route of coloring their 

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“Myspace Scene Kid”

hair- wether that was due to parents not allowing them too, being scared to do itthemselves, or just loving the idea of being able to change the color every day without damaging their hair. They also picked up lines like Manic Panic and Arctic Fox which became a staple for any kid doing their hair at home.

For a minute the trend of colored hair faded into the background as the ombre came into popularity in the late 2000s. An easy way for women strapped for cash to have a beautiful look but little to no maintenance, dip dying became an easy DIY and a common practice amongst women in their 20s-30s. However not much long afterward Nicki Minaj graced our lives with her signature absurdly beautiful and bright wigs. From pink to blue to every color and style you could think 

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Nicki Minaj in her Super Bass video

of it, and not far behind was Rihanna with her perfectly on fire red locks. The resurgence of bright colors on women of color hadn’t been seen in pop culture since Lil Kim and it was impossible to ignore. While the trend had taken a slope downward, having these two powerhouses in the entertainment industry represent the ability for natural hair girls to wear whatever color they wanted was sounexpected that it shot the trend to popularity, and even the media didn’t quite know what to do with it.

So here we are in 2017, with sunset hair and mermaid hair falling into the back burner and balayage who’s presence had been building and growing since 2010 finally taking over as one of the most requested color services we do. Of course being

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Sarah Helwig // Hair color by Pamela Vigil

 from the Bay Area we are never short on beautiful colorful haired heads, and it’s becoming widely more accepted in the workplace to have colorful hair. I don’t 
personally think the colors have gone out of fashion, though you’ll notice with celebrities like Katy Perry and Halsey chopping off their hair the platinum blonde pixie has made a large comeback as well. But all of these styles are and trends can be traced back to one thing- the need/want to visibly rebel. So with that I leave you- keep rebelling, keep “giving the ultimate beauty middle finger” and do whatever makes you happy.

Galaxy Hair For Dummies: A Crash Course

You’re friend’s friend who’s instagram you follow just posted a picture of her new hair and it’s every shade of purple and blue blended together into a perfect amalgam that sparks that little engine in your heart bringing forward all those longing and envious feelings to the forefront of your mind. You switch over to pinterest real quick to stop the wave *WANT* but you’re bombarded with picture after picture of flawless pinks and pastel purples, casual greens that fade into deep yellows, and you decide then and there- it’s time. You’ve never colored your hair before, or maybe you have but only those box dyes you’ve found at CVS (we’ll get to that later) but you’ve never done anything like this before, and you have no idea what it entails or where to find someone who does this and CAN you do it at home?

Welcome to your “Galaxy Hair for Dummies” sort of crash course- complete with a time lapse video of the process!

Let’s start at the beginning- what the hell is going on with your hair?

It’s a weird question, and not one that people really know how to answer, or really what the question is even asking. It’s more like a feeling you get in your gut that manifests as a question in your mind, “what is going on with my hair? Can it even *be* colored like that?” We can start to answer this question with another question- have you chemically treated your hair before? That means- box dye, in a salon by a professional, highlights, grey coverage, toner, bleach, henna, so called “blonding” shampoos and sprays, relaxers, perms, permanent straightening treatments, Brazilian blow outs etc. Any and all chemical treatments to your hair are a relevant item to bring up to your hairdresser, is your hair permed? Well it sure as hell isn’t gonna be platinum blonde with pink tips then, unless you want it to break off in your hands every time you touch it.

Depending on how long your hair is will determine how many years of chemical and color history you have to cover. Hair on average grows at a rate of 1/2in per month- which means for every foot of length of hair you have that’s 2 years of hair growth. So if your hair is down to your butt and you got an ombre done 3 years ago- guess what? You gotta mention that to your hairdresser. Or that one time you thought it’d be cool to just change your color by a shade or two on whim, to see if you like it, and you just never re touched it, how long ago was it now? A year? 7 months? You should mention that. It may seem minuscule but there are contraindications in hair that a lot of clients don’t realize. For example one brand of box dye, Feria, is formulated with metallic dyes, which means that you can’t bleach it. The chemicals don’t react well and result often times in severely compromised hair and without any results (Yes, you CAN fry your dark brown hair and it’ll still be dark brown, but now the integrity of the hair is out the window and flying to someone who will take care of their hair)

If you have colored your hair before, do not despair for you can still have galaxy hair! Honestly for most clients previous color isn’t a huge problem, it’s just a matter of how much, and how your hair is doing. One option available to clients is adding Olaplaex to their service, which when added to lightener (or color) helps rebuild the hair as it’s processing, and you get a small bottle to take home that you use once a week as a treatment to continue the health and healing of your hair. But being aware of what is possible with your hair is an important aspect to these kinds of color services- lightener is heavy duty, and you have to be willing to follow through after your service to take care of it.

If you’ve never colored your hair, you’ll have to make sure to come in 2 days before your appointment (or earlier if convenient) to have a skin test done. This is a small piece of color that is placed behind the ear on the neck and left there for 48 hours to ensure there is no reaction and that you do not have an allergy to color. It may seem trivial, but that last thing you want is to have a full head of color sitting on your scalp and before you know it your skin is in such a crisis that it feels like you stuck the top of your head into the sun itself, and your hairdresser doesn’t want to hear you scream for dear life and beg to have it washed off, and with each moment that cold water is run over your scalp they discover a new scab that managed to form in the short 10 minutes you were processing.

OKAY, so you’re ready to make the appointment- how do you find someone?

Word of mouth is always good, talk to your friends, ask the lady walking down the street with the andromeda galaxy on their head where they went. The other way is to use social media and review based sites to locate someone. Instagram is a great place to locate stylists, you can search through tags such as “galaxy hair” or “bay area stylist” (or wherever you’re from!) Utilize sites like yelp and style seat to see what other people are saying about stylists, and look through their pictures. And, from a stylist to a client- if we don’t answer please leave a message! We can’t call you back if you don’t leave a name and number.

But what’s the actual process like?

Honestly it will vary person to person, based off of what needs to be done. However much of it is consistent. In order to get those colors on the hair, it has to be lightened. Different colors require a different level of lightness, such as reds only need to be lifted to a level 7 to be seen vibrantly, however any kind of pastel the hair needs to be lifted to a level 9 if not 10, and then often times toned before it will “take” any pastel colors.

This I think is where the biggest disconnect comes in with clients. There are a lot of variables that come into play when lifting hair. Often times certain previous color will only lift so much before the integrity of the hair is compromised. On top of that for natural hair, everyone has different amounts of eumelanin and pheomelanin in their hair. Pheomelanin is what’s responsible for the orange and red tones in hair, whereas eumelanin is responsible for the amount of brown and black in hair. Eumelanin also controls the level of lightness in hair- so if someone has a low concentration of eumelanin in their hair then they’ll be blonder, but if they have a higher concentration their hair will be a darker brown. When we lighten hair, we’re going into the cortex layer of the hair and decolorizing the melanin, but because pheomelanin is less chemically stable then brown eumelanin, it breaks down at a slower rate. This is why you’ll see the hair first turn red and orange when we’re lifting before it turns yellow. When clients do their hair themselves at home often times it is never lifted past this orangey stage before they toss on whatever other color they were going for, which is why often times when they fade it turns quite brassy or into shades of muddy orange. For most colors and for platinum blondes particularly, you’re going to wash out when the hair hits a pale yellow.

After this point in the process you either get toned or your stylist will go straight into the colors. I find this just varies stylist to stylist. I personally tend not to tone the hair for the same reason that a lot of stylists do tone hair. The purpose being to neutralize yellow tones and fill the hair so it will hold color better. Which in theory is exactly what we otta do if we want the color to come out vibrant and true to pigment. However what I’ve found personally is that this is often time consuming and not necessary to the outcome of the hair unless one was to be  wearing entirely pastels. It can do more superfluous damage to the hair and fill the hair so much that it is unable to hold the direct dye afterwards. If you’re working with opaque, neon, and/or generally heavy colors, you do not need to tone the hair. Direct dyes sit on the outside of the hair, the shaft, its it does not oxidize and therefore doesn’t actually interact with the base color of the hair as much. Now this only works to a certain extent, anything lighter, pastel will not come out vibrant, however as long as the hair has been lifted to a pale yellow it should reflect everything that is placed on top of it.

Even in the application of the color the technique will vary stylist to stylist and the outcome desired as well. Foiling will keep colors from intermingling and retain heat, so when placed under the overhead heater it really helps push that color further into the hair, so it will hold better. However if one is only doing one of two colors, or an ombre of sorts, foiling is unnecessary as well as wasteful (literally).

So how often do I wash my hair and when do I come back for my next appointment?

Questions I get everyday! We always want to know how often to wash our hair, and unfortunately there’s no magical scale that you can just input your hair into and it will tell you what to do. With hair transformations like this, the less you wash the best. The first couple of washes may turn your bathroom into a murder scene or mermaid cove, and often times you’ll find that these kinds of colors will actually fade into some beautiful pastels. Think of also everything your scalp has just gone through, that skin is raw and out in the open environment now due to that massive exfoliation. So washing right away isn’t gonna be the best for it, and you should allow your hair and scalp to rest and heal before you go back in shampooing it. Usually 3 days is a good amount of a time, I find for a lot of clients with these colors that once a week is the sweet spot.

As for regrowth, a diligent stylist will tell you to come in every 4-6 weeks to get those roots taken care of. However with these kinds of colors the results often last much longer the 4-6 weeks, and due to the nature and price of the service, most clients aren’t going to want to pay that and sit through that every 2 months. These processes can often take up to 8 hours between lifting, treatments, the color it self, a hair cut, and blow dry- and that’s assuming there’s not other things the stylist has to do with your hair, such as if they have to start the service with a color remover before even applying lightener to your hair. Generally clients come back every 4-6 months for me, and honestly with these kinds of colors I find that a perfect time frame. Because it also gives the hair enough time to heal before another large process, and for that other color to fall out, which means when you decide you want to go from being bubblegum pink to an underwater scene of blues and purples it won’t be as much of a hassle, because much of that pink will have already fallen out.

The downside to this is how long roots get. But often times due to the very nature of the hair color you can get away with it, it just becomes more “edgy”. The other issue with longer roots however is what’s known as “hot roots”. The scalp releases heat naturally which means when we apply lightener or color, there’s about a 1/2in of the hair that’s connected to the scalp that will process slightly faster, resulting in it being lighter then the other inch and a half of regrowth you have. For the most part, due to the nature of the color this isn’t issue I’ve found, except that a client’s scalp may become irritated due to that area processing faster and being ready but a stylist leaving on the lightener to wait for the rest of the hair to be at the right level. This can result in scalp burns as well as over processed hair. In this case many stylists will apply lightener off root first, and then go back in to apply to your root area to avoid the hot root issue and have an even lift through out. Depending on the desired outcome, I tend to do this.

Can I do it at home or what?

Well the true punk does their own hair, but that’s all some bullshit because plenty of punks become hairdressers because they were doing their friend’s hair in their bathroom in the 80’s. I can certainly say that I started with hair because I wanted to do my own, and that I have seen people do amazing things to their hair at home, however I’ve mostly seen battered and exhausted hair with clients wondering why it’s so dry after they’ve run lightener through it 3 times because it wasn’t long enough. To be honest I can’t tell you not to do it at home, but I can also tell you that it will likely look better and be in better condition when a hairdresser does it. And it’s more likely to come out how you want it- which is what it comes down to in the end, if you want it done right go to professional. Sure Tom from next store says he can fix that leaky pipe in the bathroom but you’re a renter and it’s probably safer to just double check with the landlord first who likely has their own handy man that will fix it and make sure there’s not an underlying larger problem. So should you risk it? Maybe Tom knows what he’s doing, maybe you won’t have to call the landlord, or maybe Tom will manage to complete destroy your shower and now you’ve gotta explain to the landlord why your bath has turned into the Bellagio fountain.

So is it for me?

That’s something only you can decide. A saying in the beauty industry is “sometimes the client wears the hair, and sometimes the hair wears the client.” What this is essentially saying, is that if you want a style to work for you, you’ve gotta work the style. I honestly believe that everyone can wear any style they want, as long as they want to wear it, but if you go around acting and saying it’s not you, then of course it’s not gonna look as good.

AU: Don’t take this to your stylist and tell them to follow these instructions or start telling them what to do. This is meant to help you just understand what’s going on, trust your stylist.

//Apologies for the lighting in the video, the camera was on the wrong setting.

Thank you to Joey for filming the video for us, and for Dimitri for being such a rad model and always doing something awesome with his hair!

Zero Waste Hair Care in Guatemala- Practicing What You Preach

One of the first things I observed on travels in Guatemala was the sheer magnitude with which the country struggled with litter. Single use plastics like chip bags and candy wrappers swarmed the streets with a life of their own, clogging drains and being eaten by the many street animals looking for any scrap they could find. This observation did two things for me- understanding that my choice and ability to be zero waste back home was a privilege (one that many people are not able to afford) and strengthening my resolve to stick to my ideals while in the country. There are many battles to fight, and many causes deserving of attention, but one simple one that the average person can help with, if not help change the flow of the world with, is reducing waste.

Before leaving for Guatemala I spent a week preparing my wash materials. Pulling together my favorite jars, locating needed ingredients and creating the simplest and most effective products I could. I created a bar of all purpose soap with uses from cleansing the body and washing your hair to hand washing clothes. I also worked on a hair and skin conditioner (which also worked great on sunburns!) and a separate face cleanser. The hardest part of this process was not actually creating the items, but locating the ingredients NOT in single use plastics. But determination wins over immediate satisfaction when talking about the protection of Mother Earth.

The soap-
Basically a version of Castile soap, the bars I created used a key component that many hippies may be less then excited about- lye. “A lye is a liquid obtained by leaching ashes, or a strong alkali which is highly soluble in water producing caustic basic solutions. “Lye” is commonly the alternative name of sodium hydroxide or historically potassium hydroxide.” (here) In soap lye is the ingredient that creates the lather. You can create soaps without it, but the results would differ from a traditional sodium hydroxide solid soap. Also the multi purpose use of the soap was incredibly important and it would have been pretty disappointing to arrive in Guat and find my soap wouldn’t work for washing my clothes due to not using that ingredient. Finding this without plastic was the hardest considering that the main suggestion online seems to be to order it online, and that can create its own world of waste. However lye can actually be found at your local hardware store, generally in the plumbing section. If this is the route one chooses to go it’s important to get 100% lye, and you’ll find that information directly on label. These come for the most part in small plastic containers, however I decided to make an exception here due to the fact it was a fairly easy container to reuse  with a lid, and also choose to email the company to see if I can send the container back to be refilled or recycled. Other than lye the other main ingredient I used was coconut oil, easy to locate in glass jars with metal lids, and some bulk stores even have it! Coconut oil in itself is quite cleansing, having a history of being used for many beauty and health purposes throughout the world (particularly India). It’s also nourishing packing in a heavy amount of moisture and being wonderful for absorbing other oils. (Oils attract oils)

With the coconut oil I used a double broiler like system and got it to a completely liquid form, and added in my herbs. I used lavender and rosemary respectively, the power couple of herbs for beauty purposes. Lavender is an anti fungal as well as promotes hair growth, while rosemary stimulates hair follicles resulting in hair growing longer and stronger, as well as being an excellent treatment for dry scalp.  I let this mixture sit in a low simmer for about 5 hours and what this did was pull all the oils and good stuff from the plants into the coconut oil. This circumvents the need for essential oils in the soap making process.

Creating the actual soap was fairly easy, I had some anxiety about lye, reading about how potentially dangerous it was to use due to the high temperatures it reaches, however when the simple precautionary measures are taken (wearing gloves and long sleeves) and having general common sense about your actions it turned out to be quite anticlimactic in that sense.

Once you soap has gone through its creation process (this is the “how-to” I used) it’s time to let it sit. Now generally you’re suppose to wrap it in some kind of wax paper for the curing, and I am lucky enough that I have a hoard of wax paper from visiting family and taking it after they use it so I can wash and reuse it instead of ending up in the trash. However if this is not available, I would go to some kind of cloth next, however the material has to be non absorbent, since the soap goes in as a liquid first before it becomes a solid bar. Before I leave it to cure I like to place a handful of extra herbs into it, (lavender and rosemary respectively) for added aesthetic and a bit of exfoliation action.

The conditioner-
Even easier to create, my hair/skin  conditioner showed to be a life saver the entire trip. From helping others in the group with massive sunburns to moisturizing and having a natural insect repellent with the lavender and tea tree present in it. The main ingredient here are once more going to be coconut oil, and this time aloe vera. A bit harder to locate not in plastic but easy to extract directly from the plant, the aloe vera gel was probably the most difficult for this process, however my favorite phrase is “first is the worst” and after watching a couple videos the extraction from plant was more fun than work. You can also find large jugs of aloe vera at your local health stores, the problem is finding them not in that annoying plastic container. Another ingredient I used here was Joboba oil, I choose this over vitamin E for a couple reasons, one being the moisture it packs in, the barrier it creates to protect against dust and other environmental contaminants,  as well as the fact that it absorbs super quickly which means that the end look is non greasy. Joboba is also a natural scalp cleanser, removing crusted sebum with it’s soil solubilising agents, as well as any air borne particles. With anti inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties it’s a perfect choice for a conditioner that will also suit any hair type.  While neither is cheap, the joboba was definitely a little easier on the wallet than the vitamin e, however both are fantastic for hair and skin. This is another product where locating it NOT in plastic is nearly impossible, but it’s one of my favorite types of bottles to reuse for travel to put small amounts of product in, or refill with my own creations and giving these away as gifts to family and friends. There is the potential to send the container back to some of the companies who produce the product, but the easiest bet is to locate an apothecary or other trades person who deals heavily in the natural remedies of the world. Finding someone who can either refill or make the product themselves is often the end all solution to locating a plastic free alternative, if not being the person that creates the item. I followed the same process with my coconut oil and herbs, and then simply mixed it all together. With the tea tree I was lucky to find in a beautiful small glass container easy for cleaning and reuse. Flower wise, it’s up to the user what your needs are, I choose lavender, chamomile, and rose petals for mine. The coconut oil being the base for the conditioner you have to keep in mind that the texture itself will change from solid to liquid depending on the temperature it is in. In Guat it tended to be quite soft and almost liquid the whole time, which I actually quite appreciated making the use very easy, especially when we needed some emergency sunburn lotions (thank god for all that aloe vera in there!)

Being, as many have joked, a dirty hippie, I think it’s important to talk about the realities of using homemade products like this to the extent that I do. Coming from California I reduce my water usage by taking less showers, and short ones at that. This has allowed my body to find its natural cleansing cycle, and allow the oils that exist on my hair and skin to balance out. With excessive cleansing comes more oil production, when you’re constantly removing these oils that your body has produced for a reason, your body can read it as a need to produce more. It takes time to get to a point where your body to regulate itself to anything- wether it’s a diet change, or product change, or even something as simple as getting up in the morning, so be patient with it, and know you will look oily for awhile. (That’s what dry shampoo is for!) This process is not for everyone, know your body and what it needs. It took years to find out the best way to deal with my acne, and as it turns out for me it’s just letting my skin do its thing and stop washing it so much. The other thing to keep in mind here is that your hair will never look or feel the way it does with natural products as it does with professional products. Remember what you see on TV and when you leave the salon is an altered state in your hair- products with ingredients like dimethicone smooth the cuticle layer of your hair down making it shinier- natural products can provide this but not in the same way or same efficiency that other products will. Particularly when I’ve talked to clients who use all natural products on their hair the main complaint is how it feels when it’s wet- stringy or kind of rough. However I think it’s important we try to consider here that this is an effect of social conditioning and beauty standards- a need to have soft silky hair. Different hair feels different from other people’s, and it’s quite common to have rougher feeling hair, or particularly if one is found chemical treatments such as color or perms. But that’s the wonderful thing about using completely natural processes for your hair- it’s broad reaching and almost any texture can do it, so long as it’s adjusted for one’s texture and personal needs. I’ve found that while my hair can feel a little funny wet, it looks and feels wonderful dry, and I have found there’s more longevity between washes. Sometimes all I do to clean my hair is rinse it, because the conditioner has a coconut oil base (and I use it as a leave in more often than in the shower) so when I rinse it out several days later I’m cleaning it without having to actually wash it. But again- my hair does not look like hair you see in L’oreal commercials, but hair in its natural state isn’t suppose to look like that. We have to realize that these products are advertising CHANGING our hair, which is okay, everyone has different needs for their hair, but don’t expect to wash your hair with coconut oil and look like Eva Longoria.

Onto one of my favorite and last products- my facial cleanser and toner. The toner was simple, I took witch hazel and rose petals and put them together in a jar for a week. Witch hazel will be your natural alcohol, which after cleansing helps bring your skin back down to its natural pH and help it absorb the moisturizer you put on afterwards. Again locating it not in plastic is hard- but doable! At the very least find it in a container that can be reused for other purposes. When all else fails, find a way to reuse your things, or see if you can get them refilled! I’m sure at this point most can guess the main ingredient for my cleanser- coconut oil. This comes at a slight price, as coconut oil is a pore clogger. So for those who are acne prone it can be less then ideal, but I’ve found it to be quite effective, and less troublesome as a cleanser, but I avoid it as a moisturizer. Keeping in mind once more that oil attracts oil, it actually works as a wonderful makeup remover as well (it get’s off my Kat Von D tattoo liner, which my regular make up remover couldn’t even do with ease!) Other ingredients are aloe Vera gel, and green tea. I get my favorite tea from “Kitchen Witch Gourmet” who you can find at many of of the local art festivals here in California, as well as online. They sell their teas in beautiful glass containers that are quickly becoming some of my new favorite jars. The particular blend I used included rose petals and I added just a bit of peppermint leaves for the added freshness. This simple but effective combo has proven to really help keep my skin stay clear, awakened, and most importantly- clean.

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(My hair while in Guatemala)

Zero Waste Hair- Is it Possible?

Zero Waste is a movement that is sweeping the nation. The concept being that recycling takes too long, and that we need to severely cut down on the amount of waste we produce. Many of the commandments of zero waste include buying things unpackaged in bulk, as well as bringing your own container to groceries stores/restaurants and many other things. The list is endless, and the possibilities too. And so the question is, can we make hair zero waste?

To a certain extent- yes. You can make your own shampoo, and use only natural ingredients and put it in reusable containers. You can even carry that as far as your styling products as well. This is an option for some people but not everyone, keeping mind textures and needs for hair are different head to head.  I’ve had several clients who use only coconut oil to condition their hair and it’s the softest hair you’ll touch, but I’ve also had clients try that particular method and their hair became uncontrollably frizzy for a month. Often times these homemade concoctions result in a layer of product over the hair giving the impression of improved texture that will wash out the next shampoo without effecting the overall health of the hair positively or negatively. On the other hand not everyone needs heavy products that will change or penetrate the inner layers of the hair. I would talk to your hairdresser about your options or look for products sold in reusable containers. 

Easy switches like pomade or wax can be found in metal tins, and when all the product has been used, simply wash out the container and reuse! I have several of my old Davines wax tins holding togo homemade deep conditioners I sometimes give clients after a large process. I even spruce it up and add a drop or two of lavender or tea tree oil when appropriate.

As a stylist, I don’t normally recommend natural home remedies for most of my clients. This is due to a couple of reasons. Many of the products you will find sold in a professional setting have strange chemical names and may be frightening, but they have them in there for a reason, and the products have been tested for their particular use (see my list of brands that don’t use animal testing). Words like ammonium lauryl sulfate are scary, but they are in that product for a reason, not for kicks and giggles. On top of that, there aren’t many women in particular that I know who have completely natural hair, and unfortunately when you chemically treat your hair with any kind of frequency, the quality of the hair will generally suffer- but it doesn’t have to with proper home care. Finding products in reusable containers or at the very least recyclable containers is the easiest way to handle balancing home care with reducing waste.

In regards to getting your hair done, again it’s pretty hard to avoid the waste, but there’s a lot that can be done to reduce it. Chemically derived colors will always come in plastic tubes/containers, however talking to your stylist and letting them know what you’re about and the zero waste movement could help them find ways to reduce their own waste. Such as drying and reusing the gloves that they’ll wear to color your hair. Talk to them about thick reusable gloves, it’ll actually be cheaper for them in the long run anyways as well. I had a client whose hair I lifted, and then used direct dyes to deposit some beautiful bright colors. While I couldn’t let her keep the bleach filled foils, I did let her keep the direct dye foils used, and a couple months later when she chose to redo her color herself, she reused those same foils!

For haircuts you can talk to your stylist about having the salon compost the hair waste. Many stylists who rent are responsible for taking out trash/emptying hair bins anyways, and it could be as simple as dumping the hair into the green bin. If your stylist for some reason or another can’t compost the hair, you can bring your own bag or jar to take your hair clippings and compost them yourself. Human hair is not only good for the compost, but will also repel deer, which is great for anyone living on a farm, or near a park or reserve as deer tend to wander onto surrounding properties and can make quite a muck of things. So you’ll not only get some nitrogen rich hair in your garden, you’ll keep a pest (albeit a beautiful one) away from your petunias, and be saving the world from more waste! 

On more creative solutions- there are some interesting homemade colors I’ve experimented with, including a creating a temporary color using conditioner and lipstick (post soon to come!). The other options include henna- however the catch with this option being, if you use henna, you can’t bleach or put ammonia based color on top of it. Unfortunately those chemicals do not mix, and will result in severe breakage. As this blogger found out the hard way. But aside from that, henna is a natural way to change the color of the hair, and is easier to find in less packaging. 

As far as more Zero Waste hair solutions go, http://zerowasteteacher.com/ has experience with homemade products, and I’m doing experiments myself to find out more ways to reduce waste in the salon! It’s hard constantly trying to battle the capitalist regime that has pushed easy to use, pre packaged products on us like hungry angry babies, but every little bit counts, and some of these options are as easy as just changing up what companies you support. Email your favorite hair product companies and let them know what you’d like to see- less waste!

“My Journey To Natural” By Alexis Jenkins Vigil

With a mix of black and Spanish ethnicity, my curly fro has become my trademark ever since I went natural with the Big Chop by Pamela back in 2013. It is a decision I will never regret, however the journey to natural hair was quite bumpy at times.

Like many black girls, I had relaxers put in my hair as a kid so that it was easier to maintain. I was quite tender-headed and my mom wasn’t havin’ all the screaming and crying. Although the natural hair movement was growing, I kept up the relaxers through my early twenties, only admiring natural hair from afar and never thinking that I could pull it off. The courage to go natural actually came from my then-fiancé, now husband, who wanted me to give it a try. I studied all the methods – transitioning (the breakage points where the wavy roots meet straightened hair worried me), weaves/extensions (my hair is way to thin for that, I’d go bald! And not to mention the tender-headedness again…), wigs (the good ones are expensive!), and the method that scared me the most – THE BIG CHOP (cue the suspenseful music).

 

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Well, it turned out that shortly after our wedding we would be overseas for 11 months, so we chose to chop. In my mind, since I would be around people I didn’t know, it didn’t really matter if I had the worst-case scenario of 11 months of bad hair days. Pamela did my then-relaxed hair for my wedding in Florida, and then a week later I went to California where she cut it all off. I’m not gonna lie, I was scared. I cried that morning and hid my tears so that Pamela wouldn’t get nervous, tried to suppress my trembling during the haircut, ended up loving the cut, but knocked out on the drive home from wearing myself out with all the stress. I’m telling you, my hair has never been easier to maintain than that first month after Pamela cut my hair!

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While overseas for studies, I pretty much did wash-n-go’s and co-washes for the first couple of months and then blew out my hair to sport an afro. I hadn’t gone to a hair dresser the whole time while overseas, so when my ends got a little crazy towards the end of our trip, my husband and I attempted to trim it ourselves by twisting and dusting. Our trimming attempt was terribly uneven, but it did the job. When I returned to the US, I knew it was time to get a professional trim. As every black woman knows, finding the right hairdresser is a serious decision. As kids we hear horror stories of how some hairdressers will burn your scalp and ears, or cut your hair super short if they are jealous of your length (I don’t know if that’s all true, but it’s something I can’t un-hear). Also, we are VERY weary of “pigment-challenged” hairdressers. The ONLY white hairdresser I have ever trusted my hair with was Pamela, and that’s because she’s my sister. I figured she would be very careful to not mess up her big sister’s hair, and if she did, I’d remind her that I KNOW WHERE SHE SLEEPS and then I’d forgive her of course (haha just kidding Pamela). And you can take it from me, Pamela’s definitely got talent, I would trust my hair with her again if I lived in California! However since I live in Florida, the first thing I did was ask for hairdresser recommendations from family.

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My aunt goes regularly to a hairdresser named Jan, and I asked my aunt a lot of questions like, Has she ever burned you with a curling or flat iron? Does she work with natural hair? What topics does she tend to chat with you about? Jan came highly recommended, so I gave her a try, and have been going to her ever since about every 3 months to get my hair washed, blow-dried, flat-ironed, and trimmed. The first time I saw Jan for a trim, she asked how my hair got so uneven. I told her about our self-trimming attempt overseas, and she replied, “Wow, I see you guys had fun back here!” Fortunately, she got me all cleaned up and my curls are looking healthier and healthier each visit. Now that my hair is too floppy for a blown out afro, I’ve gone back to wash-n-go’s and co-washes for the curly fro look. Overall, I am very very happy with the decision to go natural, a supportive husband throughout this whole process, and the blessing of having great hairdressers on each US coast!

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