My Vintage-Inspired Beauty Routine, Part 5: Hair

Of all my beauty practices, my hair is the most complex. It has involved more experimentation than even my skincare routine, and has gone through far more ups and downs. That’s to say, in addition to the quality of my hair, I’ve also run the gamut of length.

The Victorian women to whom I often turn for beauty inspiration wore their hair long and pinned up. For years, I grew my hair long, letting it get to my waist at one point, and I wore it up almost all the time. I still have an edited version of my vast collection of sticks and combs and hair toys from my very-long-haired days.

After my divorce, I got a pixie cut. I actually liked it a lot, and stayed pretty short for the next few years. But I haven’t had my hair pixie-cut for over a year now, and my hair has grown back out to a chin-length bob. So I can experiment with more hair styling, although the elaborate buns are out of the question. I occasionally set my hair in rollers, but the result is decidedly 20s due to the length. I look rather like Betty Boop.

As far as hair products go, this is where I feel the need to compromise quality with natural-ness. I’ve tried all sorts of totally natural and homemade hair washing techniques, including herbs, egg shampoos, soap-and-vinegar washes, and “no-‘poo,” and all left my hair pretty gross. I had resigned myself to using detergent shampoos, albeit the gentlest and most natural I could find, before I found my current shampoo and conditioner: Griffin Remedy.

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I cannot tell you how impressed I am with this line. I first found their hand lotion because I needed a pump bottle to keep on my desk and they were one of the few without a common ingredient that irritates my skin. I also loved the vintage look of their logo, and when I looked at their website and saw they had shampoo, I was intrigued. But I was wary. Looking at the ingredients list, there was nothing on it that would suggest the product would be at all effective. It just seemed too damned natural. But I looked around, and it had a lot of surprisingly good reviews. So I bit the bullet and ordered a bottle of their Daily shampoo and conditioner from the website.

I have to say, my first week using Griffin Remedy was amazing. I had to use so much less of the shampoo than my normal natural shampoo, that I actually used too much the first time and had a hard time rinsing it all out. And does it ever lather! It was like an episode of I Love Lucy on my head when I went to lather it up the first time. After that first mishap, I learned to use a quarter-sized amount and lather it up. It leaves my hair clean and very, very silky, especially the next day. I also got the accompanying conditioner. It’s rich enough for my coarse, indestructible hair, and they both smell like oranges.

Of course, over the holidays, I had another mishap: I left my shampoo at Boyfriend’s family’s house. And since I had discovered a product  I loved, I had to order more. This time, I ordered the Glossing shampoo and conditioner (they were on sale!) and I love them, too. They have a slightly different scent, but it’s still light and natural, and the conditioner is maybe a bit richer.

I’ve taken to only washing my hair about every other day. I try to stick to three days per week, but if my scalp feels funky, I go ahead and wash it. My hair is much more unhappy with under-washing than over-washing. On in-between days, I sometimes rinse my hair with plain water to refresh it, or I’ll just don my turban to keep my hair dry while I shower.

When I wash my hair, I wet it down and then lather up with my head flipped upside-down. It’s really the only way I can access my entire scalp properly to clean it. I smooth on the conditioner upside-down, too, in order to make sure I get the whole length, but avoid the scalp. Too much conditioner on my scalp has caused itching for me. I rinse well and then rinse with cold water at the end of my shower. Then I blot up moisture and twist my hair into a handtowel, securing it behind one ear. This keeps my hair up and out of the way, and takes out more moisture.

My hair is naturally quite straight and heavy, and it is difficult to get it to curl, so I don’t generally bother. Plus, I like to shower in the morning to feel fresher, so I don’t have time to let my hair dry in rollers after a shower. Most mornings, I either blow-dry my hair with a round brush and pull the crown back into a large barrette, or else I’ll pin the top back and pull it into a ponytail. I also use side combs sometimes to pull it back into a more Victorian-style hairdo.

A note about color: I used to color my hair with henna and indigo to cover the grey, but the process is time-consuming and messy. I’ve decided to embrace my grey hairs, which do stick out rather starkly from my dark hair, although I occasionally will use a temporary tint to cover them for the stage.

When I do want to curl my hair, I use a spray bottle with a mix of rosewater and tap water to mist individual dry or mostly-dry sections, and roll it with foam rollers. I also dab on a bit of mousse. I roll it and let it set for a while, until it is totally dry. I might set the hair dryer on it for a bit. Then, I remove the rollers. This yields the aforementioned Betty Boop hairdo.

Finally, sometimes I subject my hair to excessive amounts of abuse, for me. When I was in performances for my latest show, I had to do a 60s-inspired hairstyle. This involved blow-drying my hair to make it perfectly straight and fluffy, then flipping the ends out with a curling iron, pulling back the crown and securing it, and then spraying the front to look like side-swept bangs. I then secured the whole thing with hairspray. Needless to say, after two weeks of this, my ends were pretty crispy. So in order to treat my hair, I slathered on a few teaspoons of virgin coconut oil and left that in overnight before shampooing and conditioning the next day. It more or less revived my abused hair.

So that’s my hair routine. I’ve now covered most of my basic beauty routine. there are, of course, constant updates and tweaks, so in the future I can focus on those.