To dry or not to dry is not the question...which method is. Part 1: Blow Dry by Andrea Lemonds

It's not a matter of IF people will dry their hair, but HOW people will dry their hair. Air Dry, Hood Dry/Diffuse Dry or Blow Dry are some of the common methods. Each has its pros and cons, good or bad consequences. One source, The Science of Black Hair by Audrey Davis-Sivasothy, describes one of the methods as a "gentle breeze" and another as a "Category 5 hurricane."  Hopefully the following will help you reach your own drying conclusion.

I have heard this method referred to as "blow-frying" and likened to a "category 5 hurricane." It is Blow Drying. It works by removing water externally from the hair and then moving internally to evaporate moisture. "Blow drying depletes and removes moisture from the hair strands more violently and rapidly than [other forms of drying]. This drastic moisture loss increases the probability of splitting, cracking or peeling of the cuticle," says Audrey Davis-Sivasothy from her book The Science of Black Hair. But do not fear, there is HOPE! Done well, this method does not have to end in dehydrated hair. 

When undertaking wet hair, try to remove excess moisture using a towel first. The next step is to blow dry hair beginning with high heat/high speed drying mostly the back and sides. As the hair becomes dry, moving to a lower heat setting is best and also a lower speed setting as well. An excerpt from Philip Kingsley's book The Hair Bible reminds us of the caution needed when taking these steps: "Blow drying hair from wet to damp does no damage, but drying from damp to dry can be hazardous. Ideally, the hair should be left damp,..., it is vital to stop blow drying at the right time." In many cases, less is more, even with blow drying.

One other option for blow drying is cold drying. This is as it sounds, using the cool setting to dry hair.  Yes, it does take longer, but can cause less damage due to water leaving the hair at a slower rate. Although, the down side is that it does not make the hair look as sleek. This tends to be a more gentle form of blow drying.

 Blow drying is the method that many utilize when they are in a rush or want a certain look. It is useful, but how often is it really needed? I leave that to you.


HAIRY Health by Andrea Lemonds

I am sure you have heard the phrase 'You are what you eat', but have you heard that you are what you eat and so is your hair. Society has reiterated to us that healthy eating is good for our bodies and that includes our hair. What we put into our bodies affects every aspect of it from hair to toe.  Your health can be seen through your hair- the surface reflects what is (or is not) going on inside.  

Protein is the main building block of hair's structure which means eating good proteins is a must for hair health. Also important are healthy fats (found in oils, fish and nuts) and they help to keep the scalp in good condition, this being necessary since hair comes out of the scalp (all things working in balance to produce something good). Supplements are another way to ingest nutrients. Although with these, it can take several months before one notices the benefits, so patience is needed.

Healthy eating is something that affects lives and hair for the long-term. It is about creating good lifestyle habits that can take you through the ups and downs of this rollercoaster we call life.

(Book References: Curly Girl, The Handbook by Lorraine Massey and The Hair Bible by Philip Kingsley) 

Sick Hair...A Warning by Andrea Lemonds

My hair talks to me, not in words, but in its reaction to how I am physically, emotionally and mentally. At times hair is seen as an accessory, our identity, or a statement. But what would happen if we really listened to it (aka observed its nuances and changes throughout the seasons of life)? What would we hear? And would we take its advice?

According to Philip Kingsley via The Hair Bible, "Hair is an incredibly sensitive barometer of your body...." It can tell us of issues that are going on within us. These issues range from hormonal to stress to inadequate nutrition. Sometimes the signs do not show up until months later though and we do not connect the dots back. Although, when chemical work (i.e. color, straighteners, perms) is done on hair, it is harder to see shifts in hair for good or bad. Nevertheless, subtle changes can be seen if we know how to look for it. Hair changes throughout our lifetimes regardless.

Personal Note: A few years ago, my hair let me know that I was not doing well. I have since changed and balance is restored (...for now). I will remember that time and listen and adjust. I enjoy styling my hair in different ways, but I know now that it goes much deeper than just surface looks. It is an accompaniment and blends together the surface and the deeper depths of me.

Wisdom Highlights (aka Gray Hair) by Andrea Lemonds

At the age of 20, I found my first gray hair...I was so excited (seriously!) that I wanted to show my mother who happened to work at the university I was currently attending. And as most proud mothers would do (or maybe just mine), she just told me I was weird and laughed.  (Note: I love my mom. She accepts me...and my weirdness.)

Aging is a part of life and gray hair is just one sign among many, so here's a little light to hopefully show you a different view. It comes from The Hair Bible by Philip Kingsley: "Greying hair, like wrinkles, is associated with age,.... Contrary to popular belief, grey hair is not coarser; in fact, the chances are it will be finer, as everyone's hair gets finer with age. It may also become drier, because the oil glands likewise function less effectively as we get older, and this may  give the impression of coarseness. Also, we often pull out our first few grey hairs in an attempt to remove the signs of aging, and this constant pulling can distort the hair follicle, resulting in more crinkly hair, which gives the appearance of being coarser, too."  Hair color comes from something called melanin which also gives hair softness and suppleness. So, when we lose melanin, we are not just losing color, we are losing what gives hair its softness as well. Adding a bit more moisture to a hair routine is very helpful as we age.

As a hairstylist who colors other people's hair, I find it fascinating that we like to alter our image. Why? Are we afraid of the unknown- in this case, old age? Is it an artistic expression? Are we just following the crowd? Mentally, what makes people tick? What experiences helped to shape the way we see the world and so act accordingly? Interesting that gray hair is trending currently, but will it change our view of ourselves, society or the world?  Only time will tell. So..., do I have gray hairs? Yes. Do I color my hair? Currently, no. Have I done it in the past? Yes.  Will I do it in the future? Maybe. I have peace with my Wisdom Highlights. I view them as a reminder of experiences past that have grown me into me now. 

Child-Like Hair Routine by Andrea Lemonds

Do you remember what it was like to be a child? Carefree, Easy days, Simple contentment....and then we grow up to find life is busy, complicated and stressful. But does it have to be? Remembering those childhood hairy days, hair was easy and unbothered. Today we have every product and tool under the sun and we still are not happy with how our hair looks (especially on those humid days).

The Science of Black Hair by Audrey Davis-Sivasothy offers a good perspective for a hair routine no matter the age: "Hair ALWAYS thrives best in low-manipulation environments regardless of products used." In the sentences preceding this statement, she reminds us that as children we really did not do much with our hair and had "extremely low-manipulation hair regimens." Much changed when we came into adulthood.  It is almost like we believe it is a right of passage to be able to use products and tools no matter if they are what is best for our hair or not.

At times, a client has said to me, "I'm really lazy. I don't blow dry my hair," to which I respond, "Good, it is better to let it air dry." It seems many people have been marketed and advertised into believing things that are not really to a person's hairy benefit. I am not against products or tools (I use them as a hairstylist), but I want people to have a better understanding of 1) their hair, 2) its true needs and 3) the best hair regimen for them.  This hairy journey will go on and hopefully, one head of hair at a time, people will come to understand a good way for their hair.

Where it all began... by Andrea Lemonds

Four years ago, my hair world changed because of a book, "Curly Girl: The Handbook" by Lorraine Massey.  I have natural wavy hair and the journey this book started for me has had a lasting impact. A statistic that stood out to me from this book is that "An estimated 65 percent (possibly more) of women have curly or wavy hair." Take a moment to let that sink in...more than half of the female population on the earth has some sort of texture in their hair.  And yet we live in a smooth hair culture (at least, that is the prevailing texture I see around me).  When you truly understand what you do have, you can take care of it better (wavy, curly or straight)...and that goes for anything in life.  It's true that often we don't understand what we have until it is gone. And then we have to decide whether or not we want to climb the hill to get it back.  What is something really worth to us?  We all have our priorities.

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