Hair – that organ we know so little of and treat so thanklessly…
(you can scroll down to the 12 tips and 13 facts if you are in a hurry – I know our society loves it when people hurry up, so I understand)
I don’t remember exactly how it all started, but one day I bumped into the videos of this lovely genuine lady, Tina Jones. To her, hair care was the ultimate form of being good to yourself. And I found that she was right. Thank you, Tina!
I started taking Radical Care of my hair almost 8 weeks ago. My point is that there must be more to ‘hair’, its role, its care and its beauty.
My hair history : I have a lot of fine dark chestnut-brown wavy hair. It is easy, not greasy nor dandruffy, and yet, as a child, I was never allowed really long hair. The longest I had was once in my thirties: down to the middle of my back (it was rather pretty!) As a teenage punkette, I dyed it all kinds of colors and treated it horribly: I cut it, poured coca cola (or glue!) on it when I was out of gel, and bleached it till it turned into straw. Punk life was the ultimate expression of self-hatred (we thought we hated ‘others’ or ‘society’), and hair had an important role in making our fury look razor sharp. Later, while I slowly slid out of punk, I started giving my hair henna treatments. It looked warm, healthy and mysterious, and this went on for about 20 years. Just last week, an Afghan girl told me henna may accelerate greying. I do have a couple of grey hairs, and have been in a love/hate relationship with them for years, like an ongoing struggle between embracing the whitish neon luminosity of wisdom and resisting being seen as ‘old’ while not feeling ‘old’ at all. My hair… my struggle. Dear hair, let’s make peace now.
With this peace on my mind, I went to see a holistic hair dresser in Brussels. (If you wish to improve your relationship with your hair, hence with yourself, I can recommend him.) He started the treatment by analyzing my hair; speaking for 20 minutes about my health as well as my personality. He also explained how every single hair is connected to micro nerves near our brain. While cutting, he turned each hair follicle around with his special technique. At that point, I wept huge hot tears. It was very painful, and I said: “Now I understand why Sikhs never cut their hair. Hair is such an emotional thing!” “Yes, it is”, said Mr Sébastien. It felt as though each hair had a memory, an emotion attached to it. (At that very moment, I secretly decided to never get my hair cut again.) He finalized the ‘do’ with a second cutting technique that gave some emotional relief. I also learned that each zone of hair on our head corresponds with a period in life, going from the past (in the back of the neck) to the future (towards the forehead). And I figured out: hair is like an organ!
Every culture or spiritual tradition has their belief about hair. Some think that after the age of procreation, a woman is no longer entitled to carry long manes, as hair would be a sign of fertility and exposing long hair an invitation to procreate. (Maybe that is why in so many cultures, women cover their hair?) One old friend used to say: “Hair is the algae of our thoughts”, like thoughts made visible. When you think of it, isn’t hair one of the most versatile and poetic things we carry with us? Soft, distinguished and yet like a connection with our instinctual animal memory? Remember the bible story of Samson, and how he lost his power after his hair got cut…
There must be a growing awareness of our capillary values, as not long ago I came across this text about American Indians who joined the army. The soldiers were sleeping in tents when a group of people attacked the sleepers. The American Indians, who had very long hair, defended themselves the best. They were vigilant even in their sleep. Later in the study, their hair got cut, and they failed the same test – it appeared that with their long hair they had lost a kind of ‘antennae’, a sixth sense that made them such good warriors. (Apparently, these ‘antennae’ are able to come back after three years of growth, if during that time there is no aggressive intervention such as cutting or chemical treatments).
When I consider all this, and I discover how much pleasure true hair care gives me, I wonder why in our society people are encouraged to treat it so badly? We buy paraben filled shampoo, hair dressers use chemicals and boiling hot water, they comb and brush wet hair aggressively, cut it without affection and blow dry while burning and breaking our hair – which forces us to cut it again soon after. Why do we collectively agree with this kind of treatment?
So what have I been doing these last 2 months? First, I massage the ends of my hair with a bit of cold pressed coconut oil once or twice daily. Twice a week I give all of my hair a deep oil treatment, mixing a tea-spoon of coconut oil with a few drops of neem oil. The deep treatment stays on overnight, and it works wonders ! My hair grows about 2cm per month (the average is 1,25 cm). The morning after a heavy oiling I wash it, and on that day it is at its softest, shiny and lustrous. I also made a natural leave in conditioner of aloe vera gel, which I spray on my wet hair after washing. This prevents tangling (no need for combing!) and gives the curls and waves a nice shape. For washing (every 3 days), I use an organic shampoo. My hair falls out less, and a lot of new hair is growing: there are plenty of ‘baby hairs’ sticking out on the top of my head !
I have tried a few other products such as Hersh Kalpi Tone (a very nice herbal mask, but it makes my hair look greenish due to the remainders of chemical coloring), Ancient Formulae Castor Oil (very softening, but a bit too chemical) and pure castor oil (made my hair like straw again). To me, nothing tops the simple coconut+neem treatments. If you wish to experiment, do try out different oils and products to find what works best for you. There are plenty of video tutorials, especially from Indian and African women.
This radical hair care that respects, nourishes and stimulates the health of my hair, is a form of self-care I have only just discovered, and it leaves me in awe with delight ! It is an enjoyable thing to do as it gives me a moment to connect with myself. I really look forward to these daily ‘spa moments’, massaging my scalp and hair, and feeling my freshly washed hair dancing freely.
My Hair Salon: coconut oil, neem oil and a wooden comb
My 12 hair care tips :
– wash your hair 2x/week or every 3 days
– do 2 washings: first time to wash out remainders of oil
– do not comb your hair when wet, as wet hair is more fragile
– instead of brushing to untangle, use a natural conditioner and ‘finger comb’
– do not fold your hair up in a towel to dry as you may break it, let it hang down
– when hair is dry, comb with a non static (wooden) comb
– be careful not to break your hair while attaching it, only use soft materials, no metal pins
– if you wish to grow longer hair, treat ends with coconut oil daily
– give your hair a deep oil treatment twice a week with the oil that suits your hair best
– for heavy oiling, start with massaging scalp for better blood circulation up to 30 minutes
– massage your scalp daily, best before sleep to induce relaxation
– cuddle your hair, it is there for you and needs your attention !
13 other things I learned about hair:
– hair grows faster in summer, thanks to the Vitamin D
– hair plays a major role in metabolizing Vitamin D for our body
– in many spiritual traditions, hair is left long by women and men
– we lose between 20 and 100 hairs daily
– the average the life span of one hair is 2-6 years (can be longer if treated well)
– chemical hair coloring may temporarily stop hair from growing
– hair attains its perfect length when never cut, and it will not grow longer
– proteins and biotin encourage hair growth
– cutting hair costs extra protein, as the hair will use up more protein to grow back
– hair loss and early greying can be slowed with coconut/neem/castor oil
– Ayurveda offers natural food remedies against greying and hair loss
– combing hair in all directions promotes blood circulation for optimal health
– ‘bangs’ cover forehead, thus preventing the porous bones from being infused with light which may have an influence on brain activity (is that why bangs give this ‘innocent’ look?)