Allergies and your hair

Spring brings more than pretty flowers! Read on for another easy way to combat seasonal allergies.

Hello, friends! Those readers who are currently experiencing springtime may notice that the allergens are in abundance, and have been for a few weeks already. Warmer weather earlier in the season (and in some cases, an almost non-existent winter) has created the perfect storm for a heavy-hitting allergy season. Aside from the usual <obvious> ways to avoid constantly red eyes, runny noses, and itchy skin, may I also remind you that your hair is a huge attractant for almost everything airborne?

We know that dirt is attracted to and sticks to our hair, partly because we add products and partly because that’s what hair is actually supposed to do, so the same is obviously true of pollens. Because of this, I’m trying to at least wet down my hair every night before my head hits the pillow, and it seems to be helping so far. While it’s not ideal for most curly girls to wash right before bed (air-drying becomes a bit of a problem) it’s not a bad idea to at least rinse your hair off, and then you can do the full routine in the morning. It’s also a perfect excuse to use oil and protein treatments more often, since you usually want those to sit on your hair overnight anyway!

If you are going to bed with wet hair I suggest wrapping it in a microfiber hair towel, and by the time it falls off in the middle of the night your hair should be mostly dry. Added bonus: Something about going to sleep with a soft towel snug around my head makes me feel like I’m at a spa or something. Try tying your hair on top of your head first if you don’t want it to come loose and get matted around your neck while you toss and turn. Then enjoy a nice, clean, sneeze-free night!

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Sleeping Beauty

As we all know, a perfectly coiffed mane straight out of the shower doesn’t usually look as shiny and frizz-free on day two. I’ve already mentioned the wonders of reactivating your styling products by¬†lightly running (or spritzing) some water through your hair in the morning, but still, a lot of factors go into whether this is an acceptable way to revitalize your ‘do from the day (or two) before. Here are the best ways I’ve found to make your hair last a day (or three) without a wash, and still look reasonably presentable.

1) First is managing expectations. Your hair will not be as perfectly corkscrewed and orderly as it was on day one, but that’s ok. We all know by now that if your hair is relatively healthy, it will look great even with a little more bounce and body. Most of us lose body after the first wash, I know I do, so there are ways to fluff it up. On humid days, it will look a bit messier when you wake up. It’s ok, embrace it. You have curly hair!

2) By now you probably know how much gel and conditioner to put into your hair. If you find that it seems extra greasy or oily or just kind of stringy on day two when you awaken, try using less. I find that the less product I use initially, the less perfect my hair will look right after showering. Day two, however, it looks healthy and free, and not as weighed-down by product.

Betcha didn't think you'd be using this guy again, did you?

3) When you go to sleep, take a soft, but tight enough, scrunchy. Turn your head upside down and pile your hair on top of your head, and wrap the scrunchy around once. If your hair is really thin or short, you may need to wrap the scrunchy twice, which is fine. Another option is to cut off the end of a sleeve from a shirt you’re throwing out or don’t care about (and that still has some elasticity left) and use that as a scrunchy. You can wrap that as many times as you want. The point of a soft material is that there is nothing to grab and pull out individual hairs, and the width of the band matches your curl patterns better than a thin, harsh elastic. The idea of piling your hair on your head is that the canopy, or top layer of your hair, ends up being cradled in the middle and it receives less friction. Also, the hair will have more of a north-south, rather than just southerly, direction when you wake up the next morning (read: less droopage).

4) Use silk or satin pillow cases. I can’t stress this one enough. When I sleep on anything other than a silk or satin pillow case, my hair looks twice or three times as bad the next morning. They are sweatier, but that’s the sacrifice we must make. Another option is to try a satin sleeping cap, but if you have a significant other that you sleep with every night and aren’t 80 years old, I wouldn’t recommend it. Either way, still pile your hair up with the scrunchy.

5) When you wake up the next morning your hair may look fabulous as is, or it may be too frizzy and disheveled. If the latter, wet with your fingers, pulling water lightly through your hair in a downward direction. Curl a few sections that have gotten out of whack by just twisting it with your fingers. The less contact the better. Avoid adding more gel or product, every time I’ve done this I’ve regretted it. Usually the rule of thumb is, if you find you need more product, it’s time for a wash and re-set.

6) For longer-haireds, I find it preferable to just lay on the pillow and pull my hair up over my head when I’m going to sleep. I learned this trick when I straightened my hair more in the past, and it does wonders then, too. Using elastics with straight hair causes the dreaded dent, but just piling it up over your head behind the pillow is great. The problem is, every time I toss and turn I have to make sure my hair is staying up! As soon as it comes down to my shoulders it gets completely knotted, sweaty, and ratty. Another option, if you don’t mind a slightly different style the next day, is to braid it. Loose braids aren’t harmful and are very effective at keeping hair relatively neat. You’ll lose your curls, but when you wet your hair the next morning it may take a pretty cool shape. Also, sleeping with a braid feels sort of medieval, and that’s rad.

Note: If your hair is shorter, the elastic may slip off easily. Try gently fastening it in place with those mini claw clips. If you can’t tell, I use these for almost everything, including putting my hair up during the day. Do not use bobby pins. When you use bobby pins, expect that you’ll completely frizz out any hair that crosses their paths when you pull them out. Bobby pins do have their place, don’t get me wrong, but only with a ‘do where you know you’ll be washing your hair the next day.