Three months of backpacking in Asia has completely transformed my hair. Something I never expected to happen! And it’s all down to kicking my ‘Heat Appliance Habit’.
Before The Challenge
As a child I had wavy/curly hair, which I hated. I felt like I was cursed. Growing up in the ninties and the naughties, I wanted nothing but long sleek straight hair like Alicia Silverstone (I was obsessed with Clueless). So I began straightening my hair all the time, and soon enough my wish came true and I had long sleek straight hair on a daily basis. As I got into my twenties, I did a u-turn and decided I wanted big thick wavy hair – which I once had – think Brigitte Bardot. But darn it I had straightened my hair so much my natural waves were nothing but whimpy kinks. Not to mention my hair was completely lacking any sort of volume or life. So I began using hair tongs, GHD’s and heated rollers to achieve the look.
I had a vague idea of the damage this was doing but at the time I didn’t really care, so I continued to damage my hair with not only heat, but hair dye too – my previous blog posts prove I’m no stranger to L’Oreal bleaching kits. Jump forward to March 2013, and I had straightened it, curled it, dyed it, bleached it, tonged it, ironed it, and done whatever else you can imagine to it. The result was semi-straight, semi-wavy, frizzy, lifeless, damaged hair. Once straightened, it just looked lifeless, but if left to dry natural it was just too frizzy.
I was due to leave for Asia soon, where I imagined my hair would only get frizzier in the heat. I was using frizz ease before I left which was actually helping a lot in terms of maintaining the frizziness and dryness (check out my Frizz Ease blog post here). But unfortunately the bottles were too big to pack in my rucksack, so I ended up taking a variety of travel sized shampoos. I was dreading my hair getting even more out of control in Asia’s heat, so I packed a mini hair dryer and a set of BaByliss Travel hair Straighteners. I had to be able to straighten my hair whilst I was away! However the travel ones ended up being useless to me (read my BaByliss Travel Straighteners review here). These particular straighteners were no good as they are not made for my hair type. The hair dryer I packed is actually a brilliant travel hair dryer (the Vidal Sassoon Travel Hair Dryer, a bargain, retailing at less than £12 – click here to buy) however it was far too hot to turn that thing on. The last thing you want to do when your in South East Asia’s sweltering heat is blast hot air onto your head. So I sort of accidentally not-on-purpose ended up doing the ‘No Heat Hair challenge’, and I’m so glad I did. I never would have imagined that this challenge could replenish my hair so much.
I’ve gone nearly 4 months without scorching my hair, bar one night in Bangkok when I borrowed someone’s straighteners and attempted the impossible – due to the humidity it just frizzed up, and so I gave up. It was then I realised that there was no point in trying to achieve poker straight hair. I would have to embrace the frizzy locks. As for blow drying, the last time I successfully blow dried my hair was in China on the 11th of April. This is the date I’m counting my Challenge from.
As frustrating as it was at the time to be dealing with frizzy hair in hot weather, having no heat being applied to my hair has, in the long run, done wonders for it. I had no idea how controllable my hair was about to get. Let me take you on a journey of my hair without heat …
1 – 5 Weeks without Heat
My hair was fairly long, and back In London I rarely tied it up. As mentioned above, I normally straightened Monday to Friday and so I wore it down nearly everyday. But for the first 6 weeks of SEA I could not wear my hair down. I had it tied up every single day. With my hair already damaged, and it being far too hot to use the hair dryer, I was leaving my hair to dry naturally. But the end result was not pretty. It was dry, coarse and tatty, and in humid weather it’s not comfortable to have that sort of hair sticking to your neck and shoulders. It was clammy, sticky, and to my surprise it was drying quite curly, so it became routine to wash my hair, let it dry, then stick it in a bun or a pony tail – not my favorite look.
6 – 10 Weeks without Heat
Half way through my trip, I noticed that the frizziness of my hair had began to calm down. Was this due to lack of straightening? I was getting to a stage where I could wash my hair, leave it to dry naturally, and I could finally then leave it down. I no longer felt like I was drowning in coarse frizzy hair. Don’t get me wrong, I still tied it up a lot because I was in hot weather. But it was nice to finally be able to go out in the evening and leave my hair down, or do something with my hair as appose to a bun. My hair was beginning to form a natural curl and wave again, just like it had when I was a child.
11-14 Weeks without Heat
By the end of my time in Asia I had become completely able to wear my hair loose on a daily basis without worrying about frizz or tatts. My hair had become softer, waiver and bouncier, and I firmly believe this is due to the lack of burning plates sizzling my hair, or hot air from a hair dryer. The only problem I had now was that the ends of my hair were so brittle – pretty much dead actually – due to all the bleaching I did last year. There isn’t really anything you can do for bleach-damage, apart from get rid of it. Snip Snip…
NOW – 16 Weeks without Heat
Arriving in Australia for a fresh start and a new chapter of my travelling journey, it seemed appropriate to get my hair cut. I’ve had my hair short a few times, but I am definitely a long haired girl and would never let anyone chop all my hair off. But doing the ‘No Heat Hair Challenge’ and having my hair revert back to the way it was when I was a child has made me appreciate my wavy locks so much more. So why not get a lot of it cut off? I can have a fresh start with a new wavy look. And duh, hair grows. So I walked into the first hairdressers I found in Brisbane and asked her to cut it. A lot of it. And that she did. Now I love it.
Long, short, it doesn’t matter, ultimately my hair is healthy again, something it hasn’t been in a long time. Thanks to fasting on the heat appliances, my hair is softer, shinier, waivier, and has a lot less frizz. Due to having the dead hair chopped off, my hair has alot more life and volume too. If I stick to the challenge – which I plan to -it will grow it out in a healthier condition. I’ll keep you up to date on my progress with pictures.
If you have damaged hair, I urge you to attempt the ‘No Heat Hair Challenge’ and find out the potential your hair has. Do it.
And just to add…
Now that I’m all ‘No Heat/Au Natural’ that’s not to say I don’t condone the use of heat appliances or hair dye. In my instance I completely over-did it, which is why my hair was the way it was. There is no doubt in my mind I will once again, dye my hair in the future (and of course blog about it) and at some point maybe even use heat appliances again. The point of this challenge is to get my hair back to being healthy, which it hasn’t been in a long time, so that I can once again style my hair how I wish, without worrying it’s going to suddenly fall out, haha!