Fine haired peeps, this one goes out to you.
Fine hair refers to the diameter of the strand. You can have very little fine hair, or lots of it. All of the info I am about to give would also work well with thicker hair, but with a few adaptations here and there, and larger quantities.
I am fine/straight haired, and spent most of my life wanting the complete opposite. I wore hair extensions for ten years, ten years!!
Since completely adapting my haircare regime over the last couple of years, and really experimenting a lot…I have now got it down to perfection perhaps. I now get about 4 days between each “wash” and have much fuller, livelier hair that holds a curl like it never ever could before. But it has taken some time and patience.
So I am going to share all that with you. Some of you I have already been talking to about this and you are trying things out and giving me excellent feedback too.
Most finer haired people suffer with grease too, and many cant go more than a couple of days without washing. Worth noting, however, that some people have a grease imbalance due to hormones too, which may or may not be addressed through diet. I used to wash mine in the morning and by the evening it was greasy. So I got into the typical routine of thinking “wash it more”. Shampoo actually MAKES it greasy. Sulphates (the thing that makes it lather) are extremely drying and pull ALL the moisture and natural protective oily layer from our scalp and hair. The sebaceous glands that produce our scalp oil, sebum, then go into overdrive and produce excessive amounts of it to compensate for all the stripping. Furthermore, we have been doing this our whole lives!
Stretching longer between washes is your goal! On the day its greasy and you can’t bear it, you can use some corn flour as dry shampoo (all though some people consider this cheating), try a little back brushing and some up-dos. Sleek pony tail (if it suits you) or some messy bit up and a bit down, or plaits, or try out a headscarf. You would be surprised…
However, going no-poo and shampoo cold-turkey isn’t necessarily the best option either, especially in hard water areas like Bristol. You will hear about “transitional” phases where the hair goes really heavy and waxy/dull. In my opinion, this is literally limescale building up on your hair, and this is the reason why shampoos became so aggressive in the first place. Just like if you don’t use washing up liquid on glasses and they go all smeary afterwards…we are doing the same with our hair.
Many soap-based shampoo bars are also too alkaline for the hair which can make it dull. Apple cider vinegar rinses help with this if you have an extremely natural shampoo bar that isn’t quite working for you. Some, like lush, have traditional shampoo ingredients such as SLS to create more lather
So, what is the answer? Mixing it up! There is a reason that every time you change shampoo our hair appears nicer for a while, then seems to get fed up with it and go flat again. Just like our stomachs, hair needs a variety of things, moisture and protein being some of the most important.
My routine is as follows…
1st Wash – Diluted soapnut shampoo
3/4 days later
2nd Wash – Salt water rinse
3/4 days later
3rd Wash – using one of the following: Henna, shikakai, soapnut, ginseng, rye flour…plenty of options here and I go with what I feel like. Another option would be to use an egg once or twice a month if you can!
Then I go back to my soapnut shampoo again.
You can use apple cider vinegar as a conditioner, or the oaty conditioner, or flaxseed, or a little of a more natural store bought one just through the ends.
For me, the Living Naturally soapnut shampoos have been an absolute godsend and made a huge difference. They are the gentlest I have found, they are completely natural, the top ingredients being chickweed, nettle, marshmallow, rosemary and soapnut extracts. There is a bit of decyl glucoside in there which is technically in the lathering family, however it is one of the gentlest of surfactants and is not really comparable to SLS in terms of harshness and toxicity. It is in fact so mild that it does not effect marine life and appears in many of the very expensive gentle/natural/organic shampoos out there that are sometimes far more expensive.
A bottle costs £7.50 but lasts me 6-8 months (depending on who I am “sharing” my shampoo bottle with too!)
I use a tiny bit that is diluted around every 10-14 days as a clarifying wash. Around 1/4 teaspoon to 50ml-100ml of water.
Don’t dilute the whole bottle as it will spoil. Invest in a squeezy bottle with a nozzle (as I keep saying) and dilute each time you use! I will never go back to putting it in my hand again…
Remember you can play with your dilutions, start with 50ml of water though and see how it goes. Using the squeezy bottle with nozzle to apply to the root, it makes sure you evenly cover everywhere. Massage is so important too when washing! It really helps, so be mindful and take some time, just as you would brushing your teeth.
The salt water rinse is a recent discovery. It is GREAT and gives lots of body, volume and texture, just what us fine haired people need and want!
1tsp of salt added to 100ml boiling water, then add another 100-150ml of cool water. Apply with your squeezy bottle at the roots and massage and leave in the hair for a few mins. Sometimes I add 1/2tsp of honey or 1/2 tsp of apple cider vinegar to my salty solution. Also, if your ends are dry you can put some conditioner on the ends BEFORE you to any wash at the roots and scalp. This protects hair from drying of any shampoos or the salt water.
The herbal washes are all in powdered form. I always take a heaped teaspoon, add a little water to create a paste, then whisk while slowly adding around 200 ml of water. A bit of instant coffee and ginseng powder has been lovely. Henna, shikaki and soapnut powders can be bought really cheap at indian stores or online. Some people use rye flour, much like dry shampoo it absorbs oils. Egg is a fantastic cleanser, and I usually whisk then add about 50ml of non-dairy milk to loosen and again direct through the scalp with my squeezy bottle, let sit for anything from 5-30mins. Remember to rinse out with not really hot water! You could also use rice water or aquafaba (dilute 50/50 to water). The options are endless. Some of these washes you might want to try twice if your hair is particularly greasy (but not egg).
Henna is a fab cleanser, and if mixed right before, it will not impart any colour on your hair is wouldn’t be on the hair for more than a few mins. Furthermore, henna is usually mixed several hours before ever applying to the scalp as it takes so long for the dye to release.
It is easier than you think, you just have to go into your kitchen 5 mins before you enter the bath/shower and boil the kettle and add some water to what you need!
For straight hair, to create more volume and to get a curl without heat, I suggest you try sleeping on headband curls after your washes (the salt water gives it real body!)
Do the headband curls on slightly slightly damp hair and they will last even longer, in fact until your next wash. SO many people complain to me about how their hair holds no curl at all…the reason is shampoo again, and silicones weighing the hair strands down. Curls need moisture to form properly…The longer you go without using normal shampoo and conditioner, the more you will notice that your hair stays curlier for longer. Trust me, because mine never used to hold up and now it does! Yay!
The cut also helps with the illusion of appearing fuller. Long, whispy ends are not going to do anything for you. A blunter cut can help, some very very gentle layers and over-directing too. Regular trims will also benefit as fine hair snaps easier too.
Honestly, I have never ever felt better about my hair since I stopped dying, using heat and using products. All those things cost me so much time and money too 🙁
I hope some of you find some inspiration here!
Love to you all.