I have three main problems when it comes to looking after my hair:
I react to most products, either the scent makes me nauseous or they sting my skin
I have very little energy to spend and don’t really want to spend it all on cosmetic stuff
I can’t go out by myself and it is unpredictable when I can go out (so appointments are difficult)
Today’s tips come from my personal learning curve about managing my hair using as few spoons of energy as possible. My hair is long, fine and brunette. These tips won’t be universal as I haven’t had to look after different types of hair (for example the haircut below probably won’t be the first choice of a spoonie man!).
Instant Haircut – in 1 cut
This has been an epiphany for me this week. You can create a long-layered haircut in just a snip of the scissors. You can do it yourself on wet or dry hair. All you need are 2 hairbands and a sharp pair of scissors. I tried it yesterday and I’m really happy with the result.
Watch this Youtube playlist to see how to do it. The first video shows a professional telling you not to do it, but also showing you how to! The 2nd is the best technique in my opinion. The 3rd has a few extra tips. The 4th is a trickier version for the same hairstyle as a comparison (which I watched first and thought would require too many spoons).
It really is one cut and comes out as symmetrical layers. I suspect I will never go to the hairdressers’ again…
From watching a few videos I observed 4 things to take into account:
Make sure the ponytail is central as otherwise it will go lobsided
If you want more pronounced layers and shorter face framing, position the ponytail as far forward as possible. If you want more subtle layers (or proportionately more off the back) move the ponytail more towards the top of your head.
Check how much you want off the front and back before you start, and don’t cut off longer than either of these.
Cut straight across, just below the lower hairband.
Tangle Free – Plait or Vinegar Rinse
The first tip I learned for spoonie hair was to keep your hair in a plait between washes. This is good for if your hair makes you too hot or you don’t have the energy to brush.
I prefer to use a vinegar rinse spray after washing to condition my hair and keep it tangle free (read more here). I have a little spray bottle and fill it half with apple cider vinegar and half with black tea (I’m trying to encourage my hair to veer away from mousy). After washing I towel dry my hair and then spray the rinse on my hair and leave in. [A similar technique is a spray bottle of salt water to make your hair wavy, this can be drying though]
If you just want to condition your hair try a small amount of olive oil or coconut oil (especially on the lower half) and leave in for a few hours.
I’ve been experimenting with creating deep conditioning, natural dyes as I have some grey and there’s no way I can tolerate standard dyes. This uses up spoons to create and I’m not always sure that the spoons saved by not reacting to chemicals is worth it.
It creates a dark brunette, natural colour (to enhance your normal shade try different natural colours eg chamomile):
- 4 tbsp of strongly brewed black tea (and/or Rooibos depending on shade)
- 1tbsp of walnut husk powder and 4tsp of lecithin dissolved in 6tsp of boiling water
- 3tsp of soapflakes or a dash of plain shampoo
- 9tbsp of base oil (eg olive, hazelnut, almond)
- optional: 12 drops carrot oil; 12 drops basil; 12 drops rosemary
- Combine in a bain marie method and heat for a while
- Use warm or cold, applying lightly to hair and leave in for 20 minutes – 4hrs
- Wash out with effective shampoo and rinse with cider vinegar rinse (see above)
I find it best not to use too much (more like you’re applying a serum) as you can be left with oily hair if the shampoo doesn’t wash out the excess oil. This amount will last me a few months
Edit April 2015: I experiment with ingredients and this is the latest version:
- 5 tbsp of strongly brewed tea with 1 Earl Grey teabag and 1 Rooibos teabag
- 1teaspoon of walnut husk powder and 4tsp of lecithin dissolved in 4tsp of boiling water
- 3tsp of soapflakes
- 9 tablespoon of olive oil
- 2 teaspoon of evening primrose
- 12 drops thyme oil;
- 12 drops basil;
- 12 drops rosemary
(if including essential oil it is useful to include one like thyme which has antifungal properties to prevent mould. I may try without walnut and soap next time?)
Shampoos are still a work in progress as I haven’t found a satisfactory method yet. There are lots of suggestions online (see here). I tried the bicarbonate of soda method (both applying dry then washing out and using as a solution) but didn’t like the effect. Some homemade shampoos use too much violent chemistry to be a good idea with brainfog! I tried a soap flake soapstew with added essential oils but it felt sort of claggy. At the moment this is my semi-homemade shampoo:
Use a bain-marie method again to heat together the following ingredients
- A small amount of strong black tea or dissolved walnut husk powder (to maintain colour, otherwise added liquid is unnecessary)
- 1 tsp or so of lecithin to combine oils and liquid (so leave out if no tea)
- 20 drops of thyme oil, 20 drops of rosemary oil (both good for hair and spoonie health)
- Sprinkling of soap powder and dash of baby shampoo
- Heat for a while
- Fill 3/4 a glass bottle with baby shampoo (as few chemical ingredients as possible)
- Pour heated mixture in to fill the bottle and mix together
- Store the rest in a glass jar.
The best way to save spoons with shampoo though is to try to tolerate not washing your hair for longer. At the moment I wash my hair twice a week. This tends to wipe me out for the rest of the day.
[Edit November 2016:
This post includes homemade shampoo which I don’t use anymore. I use Roots and Wings shampoo now (mostly organic). It costs more than I’d like, but I don’t go to the hairdressers or buy conditioner.
Instead of pfaffing over the conditioning dye, I now just use oil before washing and a hibiscus tea and vinegar rinse/spray after washing to give an auburn tint to mousy, greying hair. It sticks better with blow drying heat.
I still use the 1 cut haircut and haven’t been back to the hairdresser, yet I get more hair compliments than ever before. For my hair it is easy to create curls with this cut. With almost dry hair I split like pig tails and twist, leaving it to dry like that. This creates 2 large curls which can be separated into smaller curls or brushed out as waves. No styling products are required, though I’m also trying out homemade hairspray using sugar.
Unfortunately I can still only wash twice a week and it still wipes me out. My POTS is improving though and I can sometimes tolerate a standing shower.]