Writing about a natural hair routine in the lifestyle realm feels a bit like pandering. Everyone wants a foolproof fix and so there are roughly one million blog posts convincing people that their particular brand of obsession is what will finally be the answer.
Stop washing your hair all together, spin around three times in the front of the mirror, massage a little unicorn spit into your scalp, and voila, EFFORTLESS BEAUTY, EVERY TIME.
For my part, I hope one day that I’ll be able to write a post about how I use just a single bar of soap for all of my earthly needs, but, I confess, I’m still not there.
Indeed, if I’m being honest, this habit shift’s been fifteen years in the making. When I began to buy my own shampoo in college, I went directly to the health food store and chose from among the Nature’s Gate bottles on offer. Weeks into my first experience of dorm living, I was convinced that the water in my dorm was hard, or soft, or whatever it is that turns formerly soft hair into a simultaneously dry and greasy mess. It was months before I realized that the difference between showering at my parents’ house and in my dormitory was my coveted natural shampoo, not the water. But I didn’t turn my back on my new-found commitment. In fact, I doubled down. After my freshman year, I spent the summer working on hiking trails in Vermont. I braided my short hair into tiny braids and didn’t wash it for the entirety of my time away. (You can imagine my dad’s delight when he came to drive me home from my summer adventure.) I didn’t stick with either Nature’s Gate or “no-poo,” but I have spent the last fifteen years on the so-called natural shampoo train, trying a seemingly endless series of shampoo and conditioner. I’ve gone through what feels like the entirety of the EWG Skin Deep database to find products that are free from fragrance and phthalates and sulfates and other things typically found in conventional shampoo. I’ve tried very inexpensive shampoos and very expensive shampoos. I’ve used solid shampoo bars and liquid shampoos. I’ve ransacked the kitchen and dunked my head in vinegar and olive oil and beer. I’ve smeared in baking soda pastes and avocado and coconut oil and eggs.
Before you get too excited, this post isn’t going to offer anyone a final miracle answer. But I’m hopeful that it might open up a conversation. It goes without saying, that the particulars of hair routines are, well, particular. There are a millions kinds of hair out there and what’s true for me won’t likely be true for you, but maybe this can be a space where we can offer each other some sanctimony-free advice or encouragement.
For the curious:
I’m currently using Rahua’s shampoo and conditioner. This set was a gift to me, and it’s very luxurious, smells very good, and makes my hair soft and shiny, but like the Yarok and the Cold Spring Apothecary shampoos and conditioners that I’ve also loved, it doesn’t solve the problem of single-use plastic…
Toward that end, I’m intrigued by Plaine Products. The ingredients list looks promising and their commitment to reusing their metal packaging through a subscription service is encouraging, though I wish their bottles were less branded. I’d love to know if anyone’s tried these guys.
I’ve sworn off bar shampoo no less than five times since I never seem to be able to get them to rinse (or condition) effectively, but I’m not afraid to try again and I’m intrigued by Meow Meow Tweet’s Rosemary Avocado Shampoo Bar. I know there are shampoo bar lovers out there. Any tips?
Finally, upon encouragement from a friend in the beauty world, I’ve renewed my experiments with good old apple cider vinegar, diluted this time, and in a squirt bottle to make it easier to apply. I’ve used it a few times a week for a few weeks, and I dare say it’s helping with shampoo build-up without also stripping my hair. Maybe the answer lies in the kitchen, after all? Could a combination of ACV and a shampoo bar be my natural hair care holy grail? Who’s here to tell me yes?
What else? What do you guys do?
First photo: ACV and water! Second photo: Yours truly, from yesterday’s post with Tradlands. Photo by Christine Han.
This post is sponsored by Tradlands, a favorite source for ethically made essentials for modern women.
Selvedge denim jackets, cozy flannels, organic poplins, chore coats in three colors, and just-launched chinos. Suffice to say, the folks at Tradlands have been busy this season. I took a walk around my neighborhood to show you a few of their new releases. In case you’re considering anything for yourself or someone you love, Tradlands is offering Reading My Tea Leaves readers a special discount (full details below).
The Tradlands Denim Jacket is brand new this fall. Tradlands’ take on the classic has some added length but it’s cut from the same kind of thick, 13-ounce denim that you might find in a vintage jacket of this kind and similarly, it’s been built to last. The result is a jacket that feels sturdy and substantial.
Details like custom brass donut buttons, ample pockets, and selvedge edges make it extra special.
I sometimes feel chilly in button ups in the winter, but flannel helps remedy that. I’m wearing the Canyon Flannel in Camel underneath the Tradlands’ denim jacket in these shots. Tradlands flannel shirts are as soft and warm as you’d hope for them to be, without veering into the too-bulky territory.
Next up, the Tradlands Chore Coat in natural canvas. Tradlands launched the original chore coat in the spring of 2016—one of their first departures from button ups-only—and this season it’s back in three colors.
I especially loved the monochrome look of the natural coat with matte white buttons. Like the work wear that it’s inspired by, the coat is cut from 10-ounce heavy duck canvas that will soften with wear.
Underneath the chore coat, I’m in the Organic Field Shirt in Stone. The pre-washed organic poplin felt lovely against my skin and was thin enough to tuck in without feeling bunchy.
Tradlands is offering Reading My Tea Leaves customers $25 off orders of $100 or more with the code THANKFUL25 and $50 off orders of $200 or more with the code THANKFUL50. Offers expire December 4, 2017. Tradlands customers enjoy free shipping worldwide on orders over $200.
For the curious, my jeans are several years old from Frame Denim and vintage from 9th Street. My clogs are Sandgrens and my sneaks are PF Flyers. This post is sponsored by Tradlands. All opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that support Reading My Tea Leaves.
In celebration of Native American Heritage Month and in anticipation of Thanksgiving, here’s a short list of favorite children’s books by Native authors and illustrators that we’ve been enjoying in our family lately. I’m…