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We Need to Talk About These Hair Care Basics

Updated: Feb 20

Is hair dye bad? What connection does your shower water have to your hair health? We will be covering these questions and more.

historical victorian long hair woman
We need to talk about healthy hair care basics

As much as I love diving deep into the minutiae of historical hair care practices, and understanding these techniques has helped my own hair grow from chin to hip length, I realized that my videos have been missing an important element.

What is that? We have so far missed mentioning the most fundamental healthy hair basics. If you picture healthy hair care practices being like a pyramid, the most basic fundamental points are near the bottom of the pyramid, and as we get up the pyramid we reach the more refining factors such as finger detangling, protective styles, using oil on our hair ends for length retention, etc.

long curly dark hair green dress
It's important to understand basic hair care points in order to grow healthy hair

So I feel we have covered a whole lot of the stuff up higher on the hair care pyramid if you will, but I have sort of been assuming that everyone already knows about the basic stuff at the bottom of the pyramid. I shouldn’t have assumed that however. So with that said, this video will be about a few of the most simple fundamental hair care basics that many of you may already know, but many of you may not know and I think it’s important that you do.

The first few points I cover will be about very general hair health basics, and then at the end I will touch on a point or two that relates specifically to my own recommended historical and natural hair care practices.

So let’s jump into it.

Point #1

straightening hair
Let's face it - heat isn't good for our hair

Heat is not good for your hair.

Okay, this one is pretty basic and I think most people have an inkling that using heat is not the best idea, but it bears talking about, if only to encourage people to use heat less, and to be more discerning about it. This is definitely one of those foundational, bottom of the pyramid type points.

Because let’s face it, we all love looking back at historical women and the beautiful long hair they often had, and wondering what they did differently. We have talked about many of those things as it relates to hair washing and detangling and styling, but what about the things historical women didn’t do?

curling tongs burning hair historical
Historical people did sometimes use heat on their hair, but it was more risky and therefore likely used more rarely.

One of these things was heat on their hair. At least heat in the way modern people use it today for hair care. Of course, historical women sometimes would use heated metal tongs to curl their hair, but I would argue that this was probably more of a rarity and that heatless curl techniques were used on a more regular basis.

Typical modern people use heat on their hair a lot more, because there are heat tools marketed for so many different applications. Not to mention that electricity makes this much more accessible and convenient. Curling irons, straighteners, and blow dryers. And many modern people, due to our loss of knowledge of traditional techniques like boar bristle brushing and protective hair styles and heatless styling techniques, rely on heat on an almost daily basis to get their hair looking to be what they consider “respectable”. It’s actually kind of sad.

Our hair is really like a plant. Imagine how a plant would react to having heat applied to it in the ways we do to our hair today. Yeah - it wouldn’t last long.

Heat on our hair dries it out, damages the cuticle, makes it more prone to frizz, and can often create a sort of “addiction” to said heat tool. For example, it’s a common curly hair story for someone to grow up disliking their curls, and so begin straightening it on a daily basis. Over time, this daily application of heat damages their hair to the point where their natural hair doesn’t even look good in its natural state anymore. The curls lose their definitition and shine, and look frizzy and frazzled, so they keep straightening it, not knowing what else to do. But often, when these people skip the heat for a period of time, their hair recovers and begins to look good in its natural recovered state again.

blow drying hair
Our modern society is so dependant on heat tools that we often don't know how to care for our hair without it.

Another mention of heat has to do with the temperature of water we use to wash our hair. All of those historical women with the super long beautiful hair were likely washing their hair in a basin, which meant that they were bent over and could comfortably use lukewarm or even cool water to wash their hair, which is much better for hair health. Now a days, most of us are washing our hair in the shower, and many of us are taking pretty hot showers.

I’m not going to say you should start washing your hair in a basin to use cooler water comfortably, but just be more conscious of the amount of heat you are using in your showers and try to get comfortable using less high of temperatures if you have been.

You can also use a cold water rinse as your last step of washing your hair, by simply bending over and letting the water only go on your hair and scalp so you don’t get frozen. It doesn’t have to be super cold, just on the cooler side - this does a great job at sealing the hair cuticle and encouraging circulation to the scalp.

Point #2

Dyes and Other Chemical Treatments Aren’t Good for Your Hair

dyed kinky natural hair red green
Chemically changing the natural colour of our hair is not great for its long term health

I think this is another fairly no-brainer one for many people, but it bears mentioning. To go back to our plant analogy, using a chemical dye on a plant’s leaves would probably kill it. True, a plant is not an exact parallel with our hair, but it still stands to reason that if chemical hair dye would literally kill a plant, it’s probably not good for our hair or our bodies for that matter.

henna treatment hair dye
Henna is a natural, albeit messy, natural alternative to hair dye

True, certain types of dyes or other chemical treatments are worse than others, and if you are a person who is happily dying your hair, I’m not condemning you. Rather I would just like to state the facts, that even though chemical hair dye may not utterly ruin your hair, it does have a level of detrimental effect, which means we need to be discerning when we choose these options. For example, if dying your hair is absolutely non-negotiable for you, then maybe cut out the heat, so that way you are only doing the one damaging thing. Or choose a hair colour or dye type that is less damaging. Or you could even look into natural, herbal dye options - I will link one in the description that I am not sponsored by in any way, but honestly think is a great natural dye option.

It's essential to exercise caution when it comes to chemical hair straighteners, as these products may carry unforeseen risks. Certain chemical treatments used in hair straightening have been associated with adverse side effects, ranging from hair breakage and dryness to more serious health concerns. Recent studies have raised alarming questions about the potential link between some chemical straighteners and an increased risk of cancer. The presence of formaldehyde and other potentially harmful chemicals in these products has led to growing concerns among health professionals. As users, it's crucial to be informed about the possible risks involved and to carefully weigh the decision to use such products. Notably, ongoing chemical hair lawsuits against certain manufacturers highlight the urgency of addressing these concerns. Keeping abreast of the legal developments surrounding hair straighteners underscores the importance of consumer advocacy in the beauty industry, pushing for safer alternatives and greater transparency regarding potential health risks.

One more thing: many women dye their hair when they begin going grey - I am not in that position, and so have no judgement to pass on that, apart from saying that I think all hair colours, including gray and white, are beautiful, and if anything, grey hair is a sign of wisdom and insight gained through experience.

For those of you who aren’t grey yet or are on the cusp, it is worth mentioning that going grey by a certain age is not necessarily a genetic inevitability. In India for example, there are many hair treatments used there, including hair oiling and certain herbs that are believed through generational experience to delay or even prevent greying altogether. There are plenty of older Indian ladies, as well as ladies from other cultures, who still have their natural jet black hair. Even something like onion juice is know to delay graying, or even reverse it to some degree depending on how far progressed it is.

Chemical hair straighteners have long been a popular option for those seeking sleek, smooth hair. However, their widespread use has also raised concerns about potential victims. Some individuals who regularly use these products may experience hair damage, breakage, and scalp irritation. It's essential to approach chemical hair straighteners cautiously and consult a professional to minimize the risks and ensure hair health and safety.

grey hair beautiful
Many people use dye to cover grey hair. But what about embracing the natural beauty of grey hair?

Okay, on to a discussion of what type of water you use to wash your hair with.


What Kind of Shower Water Are You Using?

shower hair health water
The quality of our shower water is an oft-overlooked but important point to consider for long-term hair health

Most of us here in North America, at least in towns and cities, have chlorinated water coming out of our taps and showers. We all know that chlorine is not good to ingest, and not good for our skin. It’s there to kill germs, but there is literally no one who believes it is something we should be ingesting after it has served that purpose - which is why many or most people (I hope) are using some kind of filter for their drinking water to remove the chlorine. If you are not, please start now. My family uses and loves our Big Berkey water filter which removes chlorine, fluoride, and other environmental toxins. But what about the water we use for our showers? This is something most of us are overlooking, but let me tell you why this is a mistake.

chlorine water chloramine dead fish
Chlorine (and chloramines) aren't great for our hair or overall health

As I mentioned on my organic skin care and makeup routine video, our skin is our largest organ, and what we put on our skin ends up in our bodies. It stands to reason that if we are showering in hot or warm chlorinated water that opens our pores, you can bet this is ending up in our body. Not to mention the chloramines that are released in a gas form into the air, which are actually even more serious of a health threat. It’s one reason I steer clear of chlorinated pools, personally.

Apart from these general health reasons to be filtering chlorine out of our shower water, it is not great for our hair and scalp health. Chlorine is toxic, which is why it is used to kill bacteria. Even when it’s diluted in our drinking water, added up over time the exposure to chlorine for our hair and scalp can lead to issues like hair brittleness, breakage, and hair loss.

The good news: it’s a relatively easy fix to remove chlorine out of our shower water. My family uses a shower filter which easily hooks up to our shower head, and uses a charcoal filter to remove chlorine as well as excess minerals - so this can help if you have very hard water.

shower filter carbon
Shower filters are an inexpensive and simple solution to dramatically reduce the chlorine in your shower water

A good shower filter will last several months depending on how often you and your family are taking showers, and it shouldn’t mess up the shower water pressure at all. I grew up with well water so this wasn’t an issue for me until moving to a city as an adult, but since then, we have almost always used a shower filter. It’s a quick way to eliminate one possibility for hair and scalp damage.

One more brief note about hard water - if your water is extremely hard, this also isn’t the greatest for your hair and cause mineral buildup on your scalp and hair strands. It can also make washing your hair more difficult, especially if you are using more natural methods like clay washes. If you do have hard water, the shower filter will help, though if it’s extremely hard and causing you issues despite a shower filter, you may want to look into getting a water softener for your house’s water. Apple cider vinegar rinses become even more essential if you are dealing with hard water. If you have been trying the clay washes and vinegar rinses as a means of cleansing your hair and it has just not been working for you at all, check the hardness of your water because this is an important factor.

Point #4

The Importance of pH Balance

pH scale
Our hair has a naturally acidic pH

Okay, so now let’s talk about pH. I would consider this a pretty fundamental hair care point, and it’s something that many people don’t know about. Everything has an optimal pH, meaning a certain balance between being acidic or alkaline, at which it is most healthy and true to nature. Our hair’s optimal pH is to be slightly acidic. This is why I recommend ACV rinses so highly. Not only is diluted ACV a gentle and effective way to cleanse the hair, but most of all it balances the hair’s ph with it’s slight acidity. What does this mean, practically speaking? It means your hair will be shinier, smoother, softer, and less prone to tangles after an ACV rinse.

apple cider vinegar water hair rinse glass
I use and recommend ACV hair rinses to balance hair's pH

One caveat to this though - whenever we are dealing with vinegar, it is very important to dilute it enough, as too strong of a vinegar solution can make your hair feel so clarified that it backfires. So start with a less is more approach, and use a very diluted ACV rinse made with mostly water. You can always dial this up if your hair needs it - like if your hair feels tacky from the clay, or still feels a bit oily, you are safe to use a slightly stronger concentration of the ACV rinse.

I hope you all found this video wildly helpful! If you did, give it a like, leave your comments below, and consider sending me a super thanks or virtually buying me a coffee. I really appreciate it and your support enables me to keep producing helpful hair care content for you!

See you on the next video!

If you found this information wildly helpful and informative and would like to thank me, consider "buying me a coffee" through one of the buttons throughout this article. Thanks! I appreciate it so much! Click here for the full list of sewing products I recommend. Click here for the full list of hair-care products I recommend. Click here for the full list of makeup and skincare products I recommend. I have personally used all of these products and can wholeheartedly recommend them to you. It also helps support this blog if you purchase anything through one of those links because I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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