In an attempt to establish a new me in 2013, I’ve cut off all of my hair. Or, not quite all of it, but it’s the shortest it’s ever been and I am desperately trying to look like Mia Wallace (post-OD?) which might not be the healthiest aspiration for a recovery druggie. But it’s happening. God, Uma looks so hot in Pulp Fiction. I wish I was her.
I am Jewish, which for me means that I have really curly, unmanageable frizz hair alongside a penchant for Curb Your Enthusiasm. This means that short, straight, sleek hair a la Uma is a fucking awful idea in drizzly British winter, I should be going more for Hermione Granger before she uses that magic de-frizzing potion. FYI, when I cut my hair off, I seem to have lost my identity and so am packing this with pop culture references.
I’ve spent my life conflating sexuality with hair that covers your tits like The Little Mermaid or the cover of a lads mag, because I can harp on about feminism and subversion all day long but my realities are strongly rooted in the obvious.
Now that I’ve decided to be a power woman, I’m trying to go chic rather that tarty (my innate choice) and affirm my self through ways other than just playing with my straggly tresses. This means I need new hair products.
If you read my article a few months ago, you’ll know my hair-loss bulimia sob story – puking everywhere for years means that I have only recently had enough hair to style into any sort of shape, because it was dropping out of my scalp in handfuls and the strands I had left were frazzled to fuck by straighteners.
I am on the straight and narrow, ish, with my food but I am still taking about five million supplements. For my hair, this includes biotin and B complex. I have also entered the world of expensive shampoos. I PROMISE I do not get a cheque from Aveda, but when I went to the salon in London for my birthday in July and my darling mother bought me a small fortune’s worth of shampoo, it basically changed my life (read: hair anxiety).
Using hair products outside of whatever I could get on discount at Savers on Stoke Newington High Street was a revelation. I started using shampoos and conditioners without chemical sulphates, foaming agents and parabens and it made a vast, vast difference to the volume and health of my hair.
It was like I had spent years obsessing over what moisturiser to use or whatever and completely ignored haircare because I was in such shame around what was such a physically obvious manifestation of a painfully internal eating disorder.
I didn't want to go to the hairdresser because I was embarrassed and I didn't want to have to explain why my hair was so shitty. I didn't want to acknowledge that puking all over the shop and taking tons of drugs actually had a physical impact on my wellbeing. Call it vanity or what you will, but it's always been easier for me to recognise the physical implications of my addictions over the mental ones and I just wasn't ready to.
However, luckily for you guys, now I am. And I am currently using two shampoo and conditioner combos, because I can’t decide which one I like best. Firstly is Aveda’s Smooth Infusion range, which actively defends against humidity and protects against heat styling.
This DOES include a babassu surfactant as a foaming agent, but it is an organically derived sulfate and what matters most to me is that I don’t get build-up with it and it doesn’t contain parabens. The sulfate means it foams more than their damage remedy shampoo but still offers a really thorough cleansing. I end up with shiny, manageable hair which is all I’m worried about in the end, and the lack of parabens means I’m not going to get shampoo-related cancer.
If you want something completely sulfate-free, I also use Bumble & Bumble Straight shampoo and conditioner which smells amazing and, also, works, on the premise of loosening your hair’s natural curves.
It is heat-activated so works best with a blow-dry, and is light enough to use every day. It might seem expensive but I've realised that cheap shampoo is a bit of a false economy because I only need the smallest amount of this stuff for it to work like a handful of cheap shit. It also apparently uses a blend of gemstone technology, which sounds like a bit of a farce, but whatever, glamorous.
After washing and conditioning, I’m using Ojon’s Super Sleek Blowout Perfector (£21.50) which works on restoring the hair with keratin and Ojon oil (which I love, I recommend their Rare Blend Oil, too).
This works on taming my halo of flyaway hair and make it shiny, shiny, shiny without feeling like a product when it is dry. There is nothing I hate more than my hair feeling weighed down, and this doesn’t do that, so we’re cool.
Finally, I use Davines MOMO Moisturising Anti-Frizz Protective Fluid and apparently so does Victoria Beckham. If that doesn’t sell me, I don’t know what will. This is the final step in consolidating a sufficient barrier between my hair and the inevitable London rain.
It uses Rhizobian gum to add body, which I am a big fan of (the sort of questions that plague me: ‘can my hair have body and sleekness???’) and grapefruit seed to protect against pollution and frizz. Sounds good to me. You only need the tiniest bit on towel-dried hair, but I also put it in the ends of my hair on days when I don’t wash it.
Then, I blow-dry my hair using a rounded brush (I avoid metal brushes, because they singe the fuck out it) and finish off with straighteners on the ends. Bumble & Bumble have some rad blow-drying guides on their website if you need tips - I just try and copy what my amazing hairdresser does but I always sort of forget. I'd try and do one for you, but I am terrified of video tutorials, so go to them, they know what they're on about.
The amazing thing about using hair products, for me, is that it actually takes significantly less time to style my hair so I can be done in under 10 minutes post-shower which, for me, isn’t bad at all.
It also means that my straightening lasts – seriously, whatever can keep my hair in some sort of manageable shape through the drizzle is my savior at the moment. Because when it frizzes up, it gets even shorter, and I’m not ready for that.
So… do you like my new hair? I’m still kind of freaking out about it. I keep forgetting and then catching myself in any shiny surface and having a bit of a panic. What do you use to protect against the rain? Did you freak out the first time you had short(ish) hair? Do you love Mia Wallace and Ariel, too?
I am also talking about this shit on Twitter @oliviasinger