I have decided to write a series on hair, or, more specifically: I will be explaining what type of hair I have, how I care for it naturally, color it with henna, and/or how I have overcome hair-related obstacles. Most of my knowledge is from personal experience, still, I hope that it will be helpful to some.
Today, I will begin with a brief history of my hair and related experiences.
When I was a baby and toddler, I had dark brown, fine, and very thick (for a baby) hair that had a bit of a wave in it. I spent a lot of time outside as a child, and my hair lightened to a medium-light brown with some naturally sun-bleached highlights. My hair has remained fine over the years, but no longer qualifies as thick, and became quite straight. One summer during college, I did an internship at a garden center and I spent so much time outdoors that my hair became a dark blonde.* During the time that I was a biological aid with the USDA, I spent enough time outside that I always retained some of the blonde highlights (and the lighter-colored hair) of my youth.
The winter after JR and I were married (2006), I started a new desk job and was spending much less time outside. The red that had been barely noticeable in my hair as a teenager became more apparent as the blonde faded. Then I became a mother. While I know that motherhood doesn’t seem to make getting outdoors more difficult for everyone, it has for me. The blonde sun-given highlights mostly disappeared and my hair settled into a light chestnut brown. It also became more wavy again, which I like because it’s pretty easy to wear my hair straight or wavy.
After Gabriel was born, I experienced what was probably a normal amount of post-partum hair loss. It was mildly annoying, but no big deal. After Joshua was born, however, my hair was in bad shape for a long time. I use the term “bad” loosely, as my hair has traditionally been pretty healthy. I haven’t gone shampoo free at this point in time, but I use natural shampoo/conditioners when I wash it. I don’t often use styling products or heat on my hair, and I have never colored, or even highlighted, my hair using traditional means. Stylists tended to comment on how healthy my hair was, as apparently they are used to seeing hair that is damaged in some way.
Then Joshua was born. Or, to pinpoint the likely cause of my hair-troubles more accurately: I had a cesarean birth. In addition to the traditional postpartum hair loss that most women experience, my hair began breaking in weird places for what seemed to be no reason. My doctor did a blood test to be sure I was healthy, but everything came back normal. Sometime after those blood tests were run, I finally got my hair cut, and learned that hair breakage is very common in women who have had cesarean births – so common, in fact, that hair stylists can frequently identify whether a woman had a c-section (or perhaps, more accurately, underwent some form of anesthesia) by looking at her hair. It was during the phase with all of the breakage that gray hairs began showing up in noticeable places along my hairline. At twenty-seven, I wasn’t ready to have noticeably gray hairs on my head. Knowing that there are possible risks associated with chemical hair dyes, I went straight for the henna route.
Next time: My journey to henna (and other natural dyes) and how they have helped the health of my hair.
* I later learned that it was probably my habit of showering before work and going in with damp hair that lightened it so much. Sun light + wet hair (it doesn’t have to be lemon juice) will lighten hair.