The world's trusted guide to sustainable and ethical fashion

The world's trusted guide to sustainable and ethical fashion

How I Fake Good Hair, Sans Chemicals

At my old job, we had this fabulous executive assistant. I mean, she was the shit–just kind of woman you need to be at the front desk and greet visitors, plus call employees on their dumb B.S. when they need it. Every day she would show up in a killer outfit, and we would have a fit over each other, comparing notes on fashion trends, gossiping, what have you. The point is: I respect her a lot.

Anyway, one day after I’ve walked to work and I’m waiting by the elevator, she comes in behind me and says, “I didn’t realize that was you! I was walking behind you and thinking, ‘That girl has really good hair.'”

Well, this was a great compliment. Because I actually don’t have good hair. I wish I had a picture of me on hand from age 12 to show you, when my thick, coarse, frizzy locks created a mushroom-shaped topper for my head. It was horrendous. In high school I got up at 4:45 a.m. so I had enough time to take a shower and blow dry my hair (45 minutes) and then get to the bus stop for the 6:40 a.m. bus. The bathroom got so hot, I always did this naked with the window open (the blow drying, not showing up to the bus stop). If it was humid outside, all my hard work would be out the window anyway.

I’ve tried Japanese-style hair straightening, Keratin treatments, serums and everything else. Now, I have ten years’ accumulated wisdom on how to tame this mane, plus do it efficiently, and make it last until I hit the shower again. And it doesn’t require a single chemical, toxin or questionable ingredient. And yes, I have beautifully healthy hair. Here are my tools:

1. A Great Haircut

Well, obviously, but it’s even more important when you have thick, thick, thick hair like mine. Now, when I go to the hair salon–SoHo Organics–I ask Brian to do a little thinning underneath. This involves cutting large chunks of hair out. Mushroom tamed, somewhat.


2. A Tee Shirt

Aggressively drying your hair with a towel can rough up the follicles in your hair, causing breakage and more frizz. I wrap my wet hair in a t-shirt for smoother, healthier strands.


The best hair dryer


2. A Powerful Hairdryer

Do you understand the difference a good hair dryer makes? Hot air is not all made equal. But I didn’t know that until I bought this Sedu Revolution 4000i hair dryer two years ago. Just holding it, you realize the difference. Even though it’s on the small side, it’s got heft, encased inside a high-quality body. This cuts my drying time by a third! When I visited a girlfriend last year and she lent me her little plastic Conair (or whatever it was) I almost screamed from frustration, while she hung out, trying to be polite but bored as hell.

large hog bristle brush


3. A Boar Bristle Brush

Whenever someone sees this Monster Vent brush, they’re shocked. No wonder, it’s five inches in diameter, with boar and nylon bristles set into a wooden, vented frame. I was first turned onto this thing by a family friend who has insanely kinky, coarse hair, and I love it. Though it is on the pricier side–$23–and it’s made in China, I’ve had mine for ten years now and it’s still going. Consider it a worthwhile investment.

best hair straightener4. A Powerful Hair Straightener

Hair straighteners are not just for straightening. By the time I’m done with my hair dryer and brush, my hair falls in a gently curve to my shoulders. But I always finish with a quick run through from this straightener, because it seals the hair and protects it from frizzing up in the humidity. I can open the windows of a car in summertime and know I’ll arrive to my destination with a gently-tousled look, instead of a a shock of frizz.

argan oil

5. Argan Oil

Finally, I smooth a little bit of nourishing argan oil on my strands, which combats frizz and gives it shine. Just make sure it’s from Kahina Giving Beauty–which supports women in Africa–and not the copycats.

Now it’s your turn: What do you use on your hair? 


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