There was a time, when my hair-dryer topped the list of my best friends. We really were inseparable, as blow-drying was the official start of my day. It is strange then, that now, even in the midst of a rather dismal fall season (which feels a lot like winter) heat never touches my hair.
The choice to put my trusted dryer to rest wasn’t entirely spontaneous. It was preceded by much contemplation. Heat is hair-kryptonite; this much is fact. Why then was I hell-bent on dragging my hair through all kinds of damage? And that too, nearly every day?
(Side note, I realise that I’m being dramatic. But, just get on this bandwagon; it’ll be fun).
As with so much that women put themselves through in the name of ‘grooming’, there was a list of reasons. And, again as is the norm, a lot of them were tied to the words of self-styled well-wishers (insert air quotes).
Also, if you’re here for haircare tips, skip to the bottom. The ensuing verbal-vomit is only for those undergoing an existential crisis. Or, the haircare equivalent of that.
Should Have Known Better Than To Cheat A Friend
Contrary to what Bollywood will have you believe, all South Asian women are not born with a thick mane of billowing black hair. Many of us have rather limp, rather wavy, and rather brown hair. But, the illusion of perfection must be adhered to. And thus begins an endless cycle of heated straighteners, hair dryers and ultimately hair fall.
What makes the cycle vicious are the careless whispers of friends, should you opt for dissent. Let’s assume that one day, you choose to let your hair air-dry, as opposed to putting it through the ringer. Now, at least ten years of blow-drying will mean that when you suddenly break the cycle, it won’t be smooth sailing. And yes; I do mean that literally. Prepare yourself for nest hair.
And who will be the first person to notice, when you post a picture in your natural element on Instagram? Well, thy so-called friend off course! In your case, it may even be a family member. The point being, that we choose to partake in obviously damaging, but societally expected practices, because of the people whose opinion matters to us. Even before glossy fashion magazines get their claws into our brains, that toxic best friend has had their say; and the damage is done.
There Will Be Frizz
But in a way, the presence of a close-knit circle of naysayers around you, is precisely why you owe your hair a break. As I move further down this twisted journey of self-care, and self-discovery, I realise how little the opinions of others matter.
Whether it is losing weight, gaining muscle, improving the condition of your hair, or gaining confidence, you start to succeed when you change your audience. This, whatever your ‘this’ is, cannot be for anyone else. You have to do it, because you want to see yourself happy. And as I realised, knowingly damaging my hair wasn’t making me happy.
And then the second thunderbolt; I wasn’t blow-drying my hair for myself.
Shampoo, Press, Get You Out Of My Hair
As someone who works two jobs, I don’t covet standing in front of the mirror for twenty minutes daily. Shocking, I know. And yet, I was doing exactly that. All throughout high school, well into university, and for many moons after that.
Approximately two months ago though, I stopped. The immediate reason was a hair-type quiz. Where I learned that to accurately identify the texture of my hair, I had to stop heating it for six months. At the time, this seemed rather drastic. Two months in, I don’t know why I was ever nervous about it.
But having taken the plunge, I am also more equipped to pick out the weeds. Words cut deep, and you have to be honest about why you do what you do.
As we begin to talk more frankly about beauty standards, I’m hoping that our conversation also becomes more nuanced. Let’s be honest. You don’t pour bleach onto your skin because it feels great. By that same logic, you don’t douse your hair in chemicals and fry it into oblivion for kicks. In either case, the health of your own self (or at least a small part of yourself) isn’t the priority.
And I guess, for me, that’s not good enough anymore.
Tips To Go Heatless…
With that dirge out of the way, let’s talk product. Which, let’s be honest, is why you came here.
Firstly, get comfortable with grease; high quality grease that is. No, you don’t have to invest in expensive hot oil treatments. A really good quality, natural oil is pretty good. My bet is on olive oil, or coconut oil. As I said, blow-drying has basically fried your hair. So the more you nourish it, the better.
Secondly, you’ll need to help your hair dry. Especially when, baby, it’s cold outside. The tried and tested ‘wrap hair in towel’ is a bit too harsh. So, I’ve taken to a rather luxuriant hair turban.
Also, if tangles are an issue for you, try this. First, invest in a good silicone free hair serum. I’m trying out a few right now, so I might post about a favourite in the future. And then, comb damp hair through with a wide tooth comb. This has allowed me to essentially operate without brushing my hair.
And there you have it. See, it isn’t rocket science. And trust me, it is also rather freeing.