View Full Version : Troubleshooting Hair Problems

August 25th, 2013, 08:21 PM
Hello all!

I've searched through the forums to shed light on how to manage my hair in all of its, erm, uniqueness, yet all the info is a little overwhelming and a bit contradictory once I try to synthesize it all together, so I decided just to post about it to see if anyone would have more distilled advice for me. It may be a long post, so bear with me!

In a nutshell, what I am struggling with in terms of my hair boils down to this:

1. Dandruff
2. Oily/itchy scalp
3. Frizz
4. Troubles associated with high volume and high hair density (i.e. VERY fluffy hair)
5. Roughness

All of these issues have been addressed many times, it seems, on the forums. But since it's ALL combined on my head, it makes it more frustrating! I'll tell you more details of my hair journey so far and what I've noticed from various products. Back last September, I decided to stop using sulphates and cones, and shortly thereafter stopped using the hair dryer. For many years, I used clarifying oil control sulphates every other day to combat my inherited oily scalp and then would blow dry the heck out of it afterwards because my hair is so thick that it takes FOREVER to dry. With the blow dryer, sometimes it took about an hour to dry, and if I let it dry naturally, it can take about a half a day, pending humidity, to be completely dry! I also used the blow dryer because I don't like spending more time than I already do on my hair and wanted to be more like "wash and go," and my natural curl is a bit unpredictable (I'm pretty sure I'm a solid 2B, although it seems to vary in different spots on my head), so to have *some* straightness associated with blowing my hair out made me less worried about the condition of my wurls throughout the day. But, of course, it always made it huge and poofy.... and I'm sure that the high amounts of heat have damaged it a little bit as well. Obviously, this routine didn't bode well for my hair! I didn't always use conditioner (always coney) either, which I know exacerbated it... :blush:

In an effort to make my hair healthier, I did my research and stopped using sulphates and cones, and stopped using the hair dryer, and started to dry and deal with my natural curl. I first used Shea Moisture Curl and Shine Shampoo, because it was what I could easily find that was sulphate- and paraben-free within my budget. It certainly helped with the frizz and volume, at least somewhat, but it was too moisturizing in that eventually it felt like I had a helmet of oil on my head at all times, and it looked quite funky. And, my dandruff emerged with a vengeance! It was much worse than when I had used sulphates, and my head grew to be mighty itchy. I began to experiment with the whole baking soda/ACV routine, and maybe I didn't do it long enough, but.... my hair became TERRIBLE. It couldn't wash any of the sebum out at all, not even with increased BS, and even with goodly amounts of ACV, it made my hair super tangly, dry, and my dandruff became NUTS! It was flaking and itching like mad everywhere! I put up with it for about a month maybe, but enough was enough. So, then I used Aubrey Organics Green Tea Clarifying shampoo for a while, and I still experienced problems. It, like all the other options I tried, almost never could wash the sebum out entirely (perhaps because it was so gentle?), so while the very top layer of my head looked clean, underneath it looked wet due to continuous oil buildup. I'm pretty sure it wasn't just the normal transitioning phase when switching to non-SLS shampoo because I had been using sulphate-free shampoos for several months by then. I was using a lot of it and massaging my scalp all over for a few minutes at a time ever time I washed my hair, so I couldnt quite understand why it still had oily parts. It made it quite dry and tangly and rough, so my wurls looked quite frizzy. I know that non-SLS shampoos don't strip your hair, but I doubt that they just let copious amounts of sebum build up on your scalp either. I was using an ACV rinse as my conditioner along with it, which may have been a mistake because I wasn't adding in additional moisture, but I was poor and didn't have money for conditioner. I also tried a couple of 'poo bars in that time period, but that was a disaster as well.... it left my hair gummy and looking like I hadn't washed it in weeks, and it took a few clarifying sessions to get my hair looking normal again.

For the past couple of months, I'd been using Nature's Gate Tea Tree and Blue Cypress Shampoo, for the itchies, oily scalp, and dandruff, along with Desert Essence Lemon and Tea Tree conditioner. Overall, it made it more moisturized than when I wasn't using conditioner (obviously), but I was still experiencing some of the same problems! I still had frizz, and my hair still felt rough like it has for years. And, I still had patches of oily hair and scalp in the deeper layers of my hair, even with massaging large amounts of the shampoo all over my scalp. It's like it wasn't able to wash some spots out. I tired cowashing with the Desert Essence too, but it just made the dandruff worse and my scalp even itchier. I've also tried oiling my hair as well to see if it could reduce the frizz--but they all aggravated the dandruff if they touched my scalp. Coconut oil also made my hair look strange, and while olive and jojoba oil sleek down my hair, it's only temporary, and the little curly frizzies pop up with a vengeance a little while later, and I swear they bring reinforcements!

I just went to my hairdresser last week, and she told me to wash out my hair with dish soap THREE TIMES because she's noticed the amount of oil left in my hair, and wanted to get it all out before she cut my hair (and then I was thinking--does she want to fry my hair??) And my dear mother noticed that I had lots of dandruff, so she made me get a dandruff shampoo from the store, which I was dreading because all dandruff shampoos I've tried were incredibly drying for my hair. I picked up some Jason's dandruff shampoo and Aubrey Organics Blue Camomile Hydrating Conditioner, and while it looked fantastic and soft and silky the first wash, the subsequent washes have left it frizzier and rougher than when I had used the Nature's Gate and Desert Essence, so much so that I just decided to brush out the waves instead of dealing with the whole finger-in-electric-socket look... although it mercifully helped the dandruff quite a bit.

After doing some research, I think my scalp has malassezia buildup. It would explain why the dandruff is worse in summer than in winter, and why it became worse after switching to non-SLS shampoos. If malassezia is exacerbated by sebum, then it would make sense that gentler non-SLS shampoos may exacerbate it. However, my hair is healthier and shinier since going the non-SLS route, so I don't necessarily want to go back, of course. From what I know, I don't have seborrheic dermatitis because I don't think I have angry red patches on my scalp or face, although my mother has it and I inherited her oily scalp and face. I have PCOS however, so even though my scalp has produced less oil from switching to non-sulphates and stretching washes, there's only so much I can do without treating the PCOS. I also read that oleic acid is essentially the perfect food for malassezia, and guess what--olive, coconut, jojoba oils and shea butter all have lots of oleic acid, and these have been in all of the products I've noticed increased the dandruff and itchies! Now I'm at a bit of a loss to find an oil or butter that can sufficiently sleek down my hair that won't be food for the dandruff. Or finding an organic conditioner that doesn't contain any oils or butters with high amounts of oleic acid. As far as the frizzies go.... it may partly be my natural hair texture that has only shone forth since I let it out behind the stage, so to speak. If you look at my hair strands closely, many of them have their own curl and wave pattern, which can explain not only the frizz but also the lack of curl definition in parts as well as the high volume and fluffiness. But, I can't help but to think that there may be other culprits too. I'm sure that I don't have enough moisture, even though I have more than in the AO Clarifying/ACV days. I once did a honey/olive oil DIY treatment, and that helped the roughness somewhat, which could point to a moisture problem. I may also have too much protein in my hair as well, because I decided to do "the test" and stretched a few hairs on my head in different places after I had washed my hair, and they all stretched about half and inch, then promptly snapped off. I don't think I have super coarse hair... but it certainly isn't fine, and I know I have some wiry coarse hairs mixed in with my medium-textured hair. And guess what? AO Green Tea Clarifying Shampoo, Nature's Gate Tea Tree and Blue Cypress shampoo, and AO Blue Camomile conditioner all have protein in them. Shea Moisture has silk protein as well, although the Shea Moisture didn't produce as much frizz as the others. But, these are all my guesses as to what could be causing the issues with my hair.

So, can anyone tell me their thoughts about how to manage my hair? I know it has lots of potential if I could find the "magic formula," so to speak. Any recommendations for products or DIY methods? Has anyone struggled with the same combo of issues that is willing to share what they did to manage them?

Many thanks! :)