15 March 2013

Ask Belle: She has 99 Problems But Her Hair Shouldn't Be One

Dear Belle

I am also struggling to maintain my hair - being half african and white, my hair is really thin but puffy and frizzy. I seem to have obtained my mother's natural thin hair, so I lack the thickness of it even though its curly. I tend to wear it up always in a bun, scraped back - this is my 24/7 style. I am terribly bored of it but terrified to let my hair go naturally. My hair seems brittle and does not really grow - it has maintained the same length above shoulder for all my life now.

I have another problem - premature grey. From the age of 18, I started developing white hair, it runs in my family so now I have half a head of white at the age of 30. I dyed it temporarily with a wash out dye and now seem to be doing it every 2-3 weeks to touch up the roots. I would really ideally like to embrace the white and maybe introduce more white to make the most of its unusual nature and just let it be. Please do you have any tips or recommendations on what to do? Also, I live in London but I do not know where is a a good hair salon for mixed race/african hair is? I would like to find somewhere that can understand the texture of the hair and help educate me on the best way to look after it. Also possibly change the colour (add more white?)

Contrary to popular belief, naturally curly hair is often quite fine and it's not uncommon for natural hair have thick individual strands but for these strands to be spaced apart to make hair appear thin.
I suggest using products that have a lot of moisture in them but that are not to thick, like hair milk, and seal in that moisture with a light oil such as jojoba oil used sparingly and most at the ends of your hair. This is just going on the little information I have on your hair.

To better understand the right products for your hair you can try doing the hair porosity test, by plucking a strand of your hair (it has to be a plucked one and not a shed hair)

"Take a couple of strands of your hair and drop them into a bowl of water.Let them sit in the bowel for about two to four minutes.Observe your hair. If you hair is floating in the water, you have low porosity. If your hair is sinking, you have high porosity" [naturallycurly.com]

You can learn about which products you can use depending on the outcome of the test here

For combating frizz, I've found the best way is to find a curl setting technique that works for you, this can be a wash and go, Twist out, Braid out, finger coiling there are so many ways to enhance and even create curls, Try not to mess with your hair too much constant fingering or brushing will create static and frizz!

I'd be wary of wearing your hair in the same style, this may cause traction alopecia aka the dreaded thinning edges from repetitive bun wearing, try to change it up a little. If you must wear your hair up try pinning it up loosely in sections to create interesting shapes like Rinny Riot below

In regards to maintaining length there are many reasons your hair may not be growing past your shoulders. If you use heat or chemical processes your hair may be growing and breaking off just as fast, check your shed hair are in fact shed hair and not breakage (shed hairs will have a little white bud on the tip)
If your hair appears healthy it may be that your hair has reached it's maximum length, hair grows in cycles and for the most part has a cut of point where growth slows.
Also check your diet, and water intake, your hair needs moisture inside and out so make sure your drinking enough and try upping your intake of healthy hair foods such as spinach and other leafy greens that are rich in Iron (which is good for hair and scalp)

Adding grey to hair is probably the second hardest process when it comes to colouring hair (the first is getting rid of red hair)
It can be done but it is a long process, that will involve bleach and lots of toner! Due to the brittle nature of your hair and the fact that you want to maximize growth I'd avoid harsh chemical processes.
Instead opt for enhancing the grey you already have and stop using the wash out colour, The only way to completely cover grey is by using a permanent colour and permanent colour always contains ammonia or an ammonia substitute.
Try using blue shampoo such as Aveda Blue Malva which enhances grey, silver and light blond hair tones making it stand out more, Make a feature of it and embrace it!
If you are adamant on adding more grey only see a well trained stylist. I can suggest Carl Fox at Aveda Covent Garden who is a colour specialist (he can advice you on whether this is even possible for your hair type)

As for salon recommendations, I get asked this question a lot, because I work in salons I usually get my hair done at my place of work and I have also collected a lot of hairdresser friends along the way that hook me up at home.

Finding a stylist that truly understands your hair is key always have a consultation days or even a week prior to when you plan to have a service.

Ask the stylist how they intend to cut your hair, any good stylist will cut curly hair dry or damp and definitely in it's natural state.

Don't show fear or nervousness, people have a natural inclination to mirror others, so being nervous will make your stylist nervous so stay calm as there is nothing worse than a jittery person with scissors!

Ask about after care! It's all very well walking out of the salon looking gorgeous but a good stylist will help you maintain the look yourself at home.

Don't feel you need to stick to an 'black' salon, many salons have stylists that can do afro or curly hair types, Call ahead and ask if they have someone who works well with curly hair.

I can only go by my own experiences, I have had wonderful cuts with Kumi at Haris Salon Brompton Road  or visit Joon at Aveda Covent Garden 

*thses are tips from my own personal experiences, seek professionally advice in regards to, colour processes


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