View Full Version : Hair Musings and Theories

August 19th, 2008, 04:30 AM
I've been sitting here trying to figure out what, if anything, has changed for me hairwise since coming to LHC. I also have a few questions and thoughts on some of what I see posted about as it pertains to hair...

On my changes: I've quit coloring, and after a last cut to remove old dye, I've also quit cutting, except for trimming the bangs occasionally (I don't look good without them). I've gotten interested in the more unusual of the hair accessories, made lots of friends, and love LHC. My hair? Despite no longer coloring, it still does not usually look super nice, or if it does, only for a short while. I have gone from shampooing and conditioning twice a week to only once a week as my hair really doesn't need it more than that. My hair does feel softer though. Oh yes, I do also try more shampoos and conditioners than just the cheap ones now.

On "Benign Neglect": Rather an oxymoron of a method of hair maintenance to my mind, and if you think about it. But does any of us really practice that here? I admit it is a term that does rather bug me for some odd reason. I think that whatever method we use to care for our hair, we do not really neglect it, I don't think. Shampooing and conditioning, trims, updo's - even simple ones - coloring, henna'ing...none of this constitutes neglect. Neglect is never washing it, never detangling - no matter the method - never coloring, cutting, perming, styling...and can you picture what you'd have? Oy!

And I was just reading a thread from a member who CO's and was wondering about scalp odors. I know that I can smell my own hair after a couple of days, especially if I've added oils to it, or if I've been outside doing something and sweating in the process. Even as a kid, I knew that if I could smell my hair, it was time to wash it. Now this is not a slam on that poster at all. I know that often times people cannot smell themselves (I have a very sharp sense of smell). I'm just wondering though, if you can smell your scalp, or if others can smell it, if there isn't a way to get rid of that odor without shampooing? In her case, she doesn't use shampoo but once a month; the rest of the time is CO'ing, I think. Anyway she got me thinking and I guess I would just have to break down and use shampoo at that point. Hopefully someone else will have an idea that works better for her though; I know we're all different.

So...my hair really doesn't look better now than it did before, though I do know it is at least healthier. It is wild and unruly and frizzy and I hope that it settles down as it lengthens.

Has any LHC members seen drastic changes with a change in their care routine? I haven't really; it looks much the same except it is now gray on top and in front...:confused:

August 19th, 2008, 04:54 AM
Well, I moved from shampoo only to CWC and near daily oilings, to discover that "straw" was not an unavoidable state :) My hair is pretty strong so I wouldn't call the change drastic, but I have softer hair more often now. (mind you I started the oiling before joining LHC, at Anlbe's advice.)

August 19th, 2008, 05:05 AM
I oil occasionally too. It does tame my hair for a short while, but it just ends up feeling dirty and the frizz is back the next day. I often wonder what I'm doing wrong?!

August 19th, 2008, 05:12 AM
Hmmnnn, where to start....

I think the benign neglect thing is a good point, but, i don't think it's meant to be taken literally. I think the idea is to just not stress about it, along a similar line of "the watched pot never boils" that if you just keep to a basic routine, keep it up and other than the necessary cleansing and detangling don't pay it much attention then you will seem to grow faster. Also i think that alot of people are tempted to try everything at once which means they can't work out what consistantly works or doesn't, so by sticking to one routine at a time it helps them judge if it's worth continuing with or not.

On CO washing, i know it can be hard to believe, but it really does clean the hair and scalp, so unless you are only applying the conditioner to the lengths and not the scalp then there's no reason for sebum to remain to cause an odour. I can heavily (and i mean REALLY heavily) oil my hair then remove it all just by conditioner only washing, even castor oil comes out with a good CO wash, you just have to spend time massaging it into your scalp and gently on the length to help loosen up dried oil, dirt and skin thats ready to shed, and leave it on a while before rinsing it off. Though my sebum is a bit dry so i do need to oil my scalp to soften the sebum so that it's removed with the wash.

As for your hair condition.....do you dry your hair with heat? Wear it up most of the time? Do treatments to improve shine/condition? These things can make a huge difference, maybe it just needs a bit more of a boost to what it has at the moment. Most members with amazing looking hair seem to do some form of special treatment to enhance their hair so maybe adding one in to your routine every so often will give you the added "ooomph" you are looking for? Also do you use any kind of leave in? Now my hair is all virgin it looks fine if i just wash it and let it dry...if a bit puffy in places because it's fine so not that weighed down, but i put a light bit of oil in which gives it that added smoothness and shine and makes it behave a bit better.

August 19th, 2008, 05:19 AM
coconut oil = i can actually comb my hair without hearing *SNAP*!
that was the most noticable.
Also, not dyeing with chemicals= GIANT new growth everywhere exactly the length starting from when i stopped dyeing.

August 19th, 2008, 05:28 AM
ChloeDharma, I do not dry with heat, do not wear it up most of the time, and have tried CO'ing. I found it really didn't seem any different with that than it did with shampoo and conditioner. Admittedly, I'm probably a bit old school when it comes to feeling the need to shampoo and condition. I think my texture is just what it is though. Using heat is the only thing that does tame it, but I don't go there very often. Too lazy, I guess! LOL

Anyway, I hope this post didn't sound critical. I was just kind of thinking aloud, I guess...

August 19th, 2008, 05:56 AM
Helllllooooo, Autumnleaves! :waving: I agree with ChloeDharma that "benign neglect" is not a term meant to be taken literally, although I confess that it's not a term I would use to describe my own routine.

I have been COing for over 2 years now, and I only use shampoo once in a blue moon to clarify before a deep moisture treatment.

My scalp feels just as clean to me as it did back in the S&C days, and I never have any untoward odour to my scalp. However, I still CO every other day. I've never been able to and no longer want to go any longer than that between washing.

I am a great believer in the pre-wash deep oiling. It's done wonders for me.

And yet I realize that you and I have completely different hairtypes, so obviously what works for me, may not work for you. I still colour my hair; you have gone au naturel!

I think the biggest thing I have learned at LHC is that every single head of hair on this board responds differently to different things. Even people with seemingly the same hair type will have differences in how their scalp works, some people have a higher natural acidity, et cetera.

I really don't know where I'm going with this rambling post, my dear. :) I guess I'm just saying that whatever works for you, do it. Whatever doesn't work--well--ditch it.

Like you, it seems I'm just musing aloud. Love your posts. :blossom:

August 19th, 2008, 06:07 AM
Your post didn't sound too critical at all, at least not to me. It's good to stop and think about things once in a while :)

Well personally I experienced a big change in my hair after joining: I had straight hair before LHC and it became wavy very soon after coming here and changing my hair care routine. Also I have gained thickness. My hair was in pretty good shape when I joined, so I haven't seen anything dramatic apart from those things. :)

I'm in the same line of thought like CloeDarma about the term benign neglect. I think it's meant for new members alike, who are so inthusiastic and bursting curiosity and frustration to get their hair long NOW. I think of is as a gentle reminder, that hair takes its time, and also reminder that it's not necessarily effective to spend tons of money on salon treatments and newest produsts; that little goes a long way and often basic products/ treatments do a good job. Reminder to stop stressing about your hair; love it but not obsess over it :) That's how I see it.

August 19th, 2008, 06:42 AM
For me, so far anyway, the biggest thing I've learned since I arrived here is that I'm not in it alone. The support I get here gives me the determination to continue toward my goals and not be swayed by outside (evil) influences that would have me conform and cut my hair.

As for benign neglect, it got me from pixie to knee length once and I'm sure it'll happen again. After a few months here trying different things and learning a bunch, I may have finally settled into a routine that essentially takes no thought. I was every 3 days to a week depending, condition, and wear it up. Oddly, it's much the same routine that got me to knee once before. I just think about it now :)

August 19th, 2008, 06:52 AM
AutumnLeaves, i certainly didn't think you sounded critical, just took it as you expressing a healthy curiosity, and ones that i would have too.
I can understand that need for suds.....i used to be quite like that, but then i really needed the added cleaning powers because i used to use alot of styling products on my hair. CO doesn't work for everyone, in fact, other than healthy eating (whichever form that takes) i don't think theres really anything that works for 100% of people, although i know many people find transitioning to CO takes an adjustment period. I personally didn't but my hair was so fried when i started that no matter what i did it felt totally stripped and just sucked up all the oil i could put on it.
If oils dont help your hair, it might be that light leave in oiling isn't for you but a prewash heavy oiling would help? Or maybe trying different oils....lots of people need to play with them experimenting with different ones until they find the one their hair responds to. Of course, maybe no oil is the way for you....have you tried daily misting to increase moisture maybe with a bit of aloe gel? I understand curly hair can be more prone to dryness so maybe that with damp bunning might help?
Then of course there's the DT suggestion.....loads of variety there to play with :p
Wearing your hair up more might help too.

August 19th, 2008, 08:55 AM
Mine has grown from shoulders to classic by doing the benign neglect thing. LOL. I still have almost the exact same routine as before I joined the LHC. I still use Dove shampoo and conditioner because my experiments into cone-free were a disaster.

The only thing I do differently is occasional wet oiling on the ends with jojobal oil and misting my ends in the mornings with distilled water. :)

I'm not really here for the hair anymore. ;)

Hey You
August 19th, 2008, 09:30 AM
I think benign neglect has a lot to do with the length of my hair... it's somewhere around tail-bone length but until recently I've done very little to encourage it to grow, and it's got Sun-In on it. But I guess I did avoid some of the worst things just because I couldn't be bothered to do them - I've never used much heat because blowdrying is boring and my hair's so thick I could be flailing away with the dryer for ages and still be damp. I did use to slavishly, futilely try and curl my ends as a teenager for years before straight hair mercifully became fashionable and saved me and people started asking me how I straightened my hair! (Sorry, still gloating, my dead-straight, laughs-at-curls hair was not a good thing at all when I was a kid). And though I did use the peroxide, the natural dirty-blonde, nothing-y colour meant I could always go quite a long time before touching up the roots. Never used much in the way of hairspray or mousse etc also because I couldn't be bothered, and because it used to just sink into the void and do nothing after about five minutes. Never back-combed because again, boring and would make my arms hurt. Basically my hair just wants to hang down. So neglecting it in the sense of not doing all those time-consuming things to improve the look of it does seem to help.

August 19th, 2008, 09:53 AM
I'm new here, and I am glad to have found this place. Before coming here I had already used Henna once, and had switched to a sulfate free shampoo, and I think my conditioner is silicone free (and if it isn't its better anyway.)

Since coming here I have started Condition-shampoo-condition on my hair when I wash it, and applying a teensy bit of oil per day. I am still experimenting with the oil. I also have started taking flaxseed oil again.

Since changing my regime my hair has gotten softer and shinier, I can't really tell about length, I've gained an inch since early June but I don't know if that is good. What I appreciate most is the community of like-minded individuals. I think the important thing to remember is that different people have differing results with each treatment, and it will take time to figure out what works for you. :)

August 19th, 2008, 10:19 AM
Well I went from shampoo and conditionering with coneshampoos twice weekly, not being all that gentle, not wearing up very often to CO (cone-free) with honey and then to shampoo bars and ACV rinse. Also taking hair vits when I remember. Monistat. And also brushing gently with hair friendly brushes, combing (hair friendly combs) and finger combing. Not rubbing/wringing dry. Coconut oiling, more diverse hairtoys (friendly ones). Hmm what else... braiding at night, wearing up more often, covering in vicious wind, covering more in the sun. S&Ding but not trimming (even before I only trimmed once a year!)

Ill stop now but Im sure I could come up with more

August 19th, 2008, 10:49 AM
Gotta say that I really like the direction this thread is going. I'm getting a succinct recap of what everyone does in a one thread! Yippee!! I too came for the hair and stay for the friends.

Lady Godiva
August 19th, 2008, 10:56 AM
Benign neglect was the term I introduced back in 2001 when I heard it stated by one of the other participants with me on the "hair episode" of The Ananda Lewis Show, when four of us were invited to New York City to be guests on the show. This other woman's hair was lower-calf/ankle length, and she used that term. Since then, she has disappeared off the long-hair radar (bummer), but I was struck by the term's oxymoron nature. It's quirkiness causes people to stop and think about its meaning, because on the surface, how can any neglect actually be benign?

So, yeah, as others have stated, it's not meant to be taken literally, but it points to how accustomed westerners are to doing the opposite with their hair, and so often this stresses out people's hair. As consequence, they turn to more products and haircuts for solutions, when the irony is that the real solution usually is to stop heavy-handed manipulation and reverse the standard methods that most people take for granted and assume are good for hair. Usually once a long-haired person finally settles on a routine that works, often following a testing phase, s/he contentedly doesn't want to try much new anymore because it gets to be a drag for many. Even those who enjoy trying new products or occasionally dye their hair or curl/straighten it do so with a protective eye on maintaining health and quality first, and they weigh cause and effect to minimize possible damage.

In another sense, benign neglect means just leaving your hair to do the natural thing, following its genetic code, and in the process, rediscovering its natural state and accepting that. It's ending the battle (sometimes a trap) of fighting what nature gives us, and many find that rewarding.

Also, while benign neglect promotes hair health, that usually doesn't mean doing nothing. For example, I scalp wash with SLS shampoo two-three times per week. Many think SLS is harsh, so conclude that it cannot fit into benign neglect. Not so. If I were to commit to CO washing, I would have to do that every day. For me, twice per week v. every day means the former is much kinder on my hair than the latter. All that manipulation and detangling would bring eventual damage, and my hair would be perpetually wet or damp. None of that is as benign. Still, I'm doing the minimum that works.

Hope this helps!

August 19th, 2008, 11:10 AM
Not huge differences since coming here, but differences none the less (and I was a lurker for a long time before actually joinging).

1. I came back to henna which has made my hair uber stronger and shinier.

2. I had a doh moment when i realized I should dampen my hair and then oil.

3. Another doh moment when i switched to more natural shampoos and conditioners and realized most of my "dandruff" was sensitivities to all the chemicals.

4. And with all the dilution going on (something I had periodically done before but had problems getting down to the scalp) I finally clicked to using a sprayer bottle which means I use way less shampoo and get it easily down to the scalp.

5. And CWC or oil wash and condition to protect my length.

August 19th, 2008, 03:04 PM
Yes, I realized that I was oiling when my hair was dry too. Though it did great things for the frizzies when I did that! LOL

Thanks Lady G for the explanation! You explained my thoughts on the oxymoronic nature of my initial post! I just wanted to see if LHC has brought some very obvious changes to the hair here or if like me, it was more of the same but just more fun doing it! LMAO

August 19th, 2008, 06:46 PM
AL, I was just wondering if you have ever styled your hair by finger-combing mousse or gel through it. I remember when my hair was shorter and permed, that was absolutely the easiest thing to do, and my hair would look good, with curls, very little frizz. I know your curl is natural, not a perm, but it seems the same technique should work. As far as LHC and my hair, learning to oil the ends and CWC with diluted shampoo are the bees knees of hair care for me. I barely even knew there WAS such a thing as coconut oil before reading about it here. Now I wouldn't want to be without it, although olive oil works for me, too, as long as I apply it sparingly.

August 19th, 2008, 06:48 PM
The first thing that changed since joining LHC........ I spent a LOT of money once i joined! haha!

I'm one of those weirdos where the general good stuff my hair hates hates hates. Coconut oil and me are not friends. Break outs, wirey alien hair lol, just awful.

I cut out blow drying and curling irons (i miss my curling iron), use henna instead of bleaching my hair white so I'm now a redhead, I shampoo once or twice a week and Co the rest of the time with good ol cheapie v05, and oil using carrot oil.

The result of this is i have very healthy FLAT stringy hair. Joy LOL. I'm still working on it though.

August 19th, 2008, 10:21 PM
Sherry the one thing I have learned is what I remember about my own hair. It is funny but now as I care for my hair I remember which side is thicker and which side has the slight curl. I also remember that my sides are thinner and weaker. I am learning this all over again. I have also learned useful info about more natural cleansers like Poo bars which I love. I also love jojoba oil. I think hair is very personal and this place is just a giant think tank where we all learn from each others exeriences. I love what Amoretti said though. I too feel this way although there is really much I could learn in up doos.

August 20th, 2008, 12:19 PM

Blew dry when I washed at least every other day
Ironed every day at least a little with a flat iron or curling iron or BOTH :shudder:
Lightened hair until it looked bleached blond and pulled through the ends pretty often :shudder:
Used a brush and ripped through my hair with a comb (knew no better!) :shudder:
Hardly ever deep-conditioned, knew NOTHING about no cones or oil


Stopped heat almost totally (took a while and I still diffuse or blow straight once in a while)
Used a semi-perm to get darker hair back
Started getting my roots only done at the salon
Did trims until most of the old damage was cut off
ONLY use wide tooth comb now and gently detangle
Cones very rarely (it's just better that way for me)
Coconut oil!!!! :cheese: