(Beauty Report Card)

How I Rescued My Long Hair From A Dry & Sad Existence

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Aemilia Madden
Aemilia Madden hair
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I, like many people, relaxed my beauty routine over quarantine. The issue: my beauty habits were already questionable at best. My hair colorist knew she could count on me to pop into her chair maaaaybe twice a year, and the same goes for my hair stylist. I tend to wash my waist-length hair once a week (it takes hours to dry), use occasional deep conditioners or hair masks, but thanks to a straight-ish texture, I’ve gotten away with doing the least for 30 years now (and it’s something I don’t see changing any time soon). My hair is naturally dry, but my moisturizing routine was lacking.

Still, amidst the pandemic I started to find my hair going too far for even my own taste. Having gotten a cut and color in Oct. 2020 when restrictions were lifted in New York, I returned home to spend time with my family in California and promptly tossed aside my beauty routine. By April, I noticed that my hair was getting brittle and dry, every morning when I woke up, the back would be gnarled into a tangled ball. I’d spend my mornings delicately trying to finger comb my locks back into submission, showering broken strands onto the floor in front of me. Since I wasn’t sure how quickly I’d be able to get back into the salon to touch up my roots and trim the rapidly multiplying split ends, I knew I had to implement a more structured routine to save and hydrate my hair.

My hair at its most knotted. Aemilia Madden

To start, I went the tried and trusted old-school route and tried soaking my hair from root to ends with coconut oil. I’ll admit, the process was messy what with me digging my hands repeatedly into a soft and squishy jar of coconut oil, rubbing it between my fingers and massaging it into my locks, rolling chunks of hair through my hands. But, after leaving my hair to soak overnight, I was impressed with the results. My hair was softer and silkier. It had regained some of the healthy texture that I’d lost in my months of irresponsibility. But, alas, it didn’t last and I wasn’t sure how many times I could suffer the smell of coconut oil on my clothes and pillows.

So, I began to seek alternative options that might better restore my straw mop into something more mane-like. Firstly, I swapped for a new shampoo and conditioner that focused on hydration — Davines never steers me wrong. I also doubled down on Shu Uemera’s deep conditioning mask (my favorite is the now-retired Color Lustre), I was already using it once a month to tone my blonde hair, but I began to use it more frequently — once every week or two.

In part, I blame my especially dire dry-ness on the fact that I picked up surfing as a hobby during the pandemic, and the salty seawater was doing a serious number on my long hair. So, I also looked into products that would be good for combatting the salt damage. Ceremonia’s leave in conditioner and detangling spray became personal favorites for hydrating my hair post-shower. I wasn’t much for leave-in products before, but these made a big difference. Since the conditioner is a bit heavy, I suggest skipping near the roots, and focusing lower down to avoid your hair from getting a greasy, gelled-down look. Crown Affair’s mask also became a favorite part of my rotation, as did a light hair oil like Ouai’s.

In the end, I must admit that it was a visit to the salon that solidified my hair’s return to bouncy, happy health. But, armed with a vanity full of products to keep it hydrated and lively, I won’t be heading back to brittle, sticky or stringy anytime soon.

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