Taming Thick Hair

How do you describe your hair? Mine has always been ‘thick’, ‘heavy’ and ‘angry’. As a child (nickname: Hair Bear, see above) my big puff of curls constantly made me cry. All those knots after swimming (despite the “no tears” tangle spray) and even worse was the nit comb during a Sunday bath. My mum had a small, fine and sharp silver comb that chewed its way through every strand in search of tiny beasts, as the bath water got colder and colder. I never did get nits…

As a teenager, I took charge of my own hair maintenance – including an ill-advised bob that bulged in all the wrong places and a red semi-permanent dye that took forever to fade. In my early twenties I decided just to ignore my hair problems – brushing only when necessary, and skulking into a cheap hairdresser once every 6 months. Meanwhile, my hair shed layers across the flat and my boyfriend casually worried about how much might pile up in his stomach…

Eventually, I matured and accepted defeat. I now pay twice as much for a good hairdresser, and go twice as often. The result is, thankfully, better hair. Also a few easy and practical taming tips:

Invest in a good oil (I use Moroccan Oil)

I’ve mentioned this in previous posts, but Moroccan Oil is amazing. My (good) hairdresser put me on to this. It’s now very mainstream, but just in case you aren’t familiar and these problems are hitting home – it really is a saviour for unruly hair. Squeeze a small amount into your palm and rub it through wet hair before drying. It smooths, defrizzes, and I’ve found that dragging it through your hair with your hands is a good way to loosen tangles without brushing. If your hair is like mine, brushing makes it go poofy (ever since my teenager years, I’ve dreaded poofy – it’s a giveaway that you can’t style it). If I need to tame my hair between washes – which are every 2-3 days – I use another small amount of the oil. The brand have a wide range of hair and body products now, but the original treatment oil is enough for me. And no, I promise it won’t make your hair look greasy.

Stick to a consistent product routine

Like most people with thick hair, I am prone to dandruff. My main tips for this are: make sure you are scrubbing right down at the scalp with your shampoo, invest in a good anti-dandruff shampoo (rather than a cheap and harsh one!) and stick to it. Don’t use lots of different products on your hair because it will just end up very dry. I’ve been using Kerstase Specifique Bain Anti-Pelliculaire for years, and follow it with Ogx Shea Soft & Smooth conditioner – alternating with each hair wash which product I leave in for a few minutes. Then I apply Moroccan Oil after a towel dry. That’s it. I know it’s tempting to search about for the miracle product but when you find something that seems to be ok (i.e. dandruff levels are low) the best thing you can do is stick to it. You wouldn’t overload your face with constantly changing products (hopefully) so treat your hair the same way.

Dry your hair naturally or with a cold air hairdryer

My hair looks so much better when the curls can take their own time drying. But life is busy, and nobody wants to sit around soggy in winter. So I discovered that I could speed up this process by reducing the temperature on my hairdryer. It takes a little bit longer but the results are SO much better. If your hair looks frazzled, or you’re sick of trying to master the blow out, then definitely give this a go. In my experience, it looks like you’ve made more effort than you have!

Brush tactically.

Until very recently, I only brushed my hair before washing – using a heavy duty paddle brush. If it needs a bit of smoothing out between washes, I’d maybe use a round headed brush on the roots – avoiding the ends so the curls don’t frizz out into bushes. But lately I’ve been experimenting with brushing after washing and before applying the Moroccan oil mentioned above… So far, this seems to be making my hair healthier. Previously, I bought into a half-remembered rule that you ‘shouldn’t brush your hair wet, it’ll break and damage’. But since changing it up, my hair definitely feels sleeker and (I think) it’s shedding slightly less through the day. The best point for my hair is often a day or two after washing, when it has lost a bit of its bounce and it’s more malleable. There are loads of benefits to this hair type that I take for granted, and longer between washes is definitely a big one.

Having thick hair is like wearing a cat on your head – the kind that malts all over the furniture. There are definitely other tricks to tame and befriend it. But at 27, I now feel like I might be ready to like my hair… Any more help would be appreciated though.