Minimalist Hair Care Routine

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What is “minimalist hair?” For some, it may mean shaving it all off, getting a buzzcut, or letting it do its thing. For me, it means creating a routine that makes taking care of your hair in an easy, quick, and healthy way while still looking neat and put together. Hair care for a minimalist is simple and does not have to involve cutting all of it off.

(of course, if hair styling is one of your favorite hobbies and brings you rich pleasure and fulfillment…have at it!)

I used to fuss endlessly over my hair. Growing up, I would wash my hair every day with Pantene Pro V, Nexxus, Matrix…you name it. I would blow dry it on high heat, spray it with heat protectant, iron it with a straightener or curler, spray some oil on it, and go about my day. I permed it stick straight every 2-3 years, each perm costing $100-$300. Straight perms reduce the need to style hair – my hair was so straight that it hardly needed brushing. Yet I continued to trim it, bathe it in expensive shampoos that stripped my hair of its natural oils, and blow dry it. I was so versed in hair care that when I was in college, I was the resident hair-stylist among my closest friends when formal events came around. I even knew how to create ringlets with a BaByliss Pro straightener.

When I graduated college and had fewer reasons to dress formally, occasions that prompted me to style my hair and transform my look were greatly reduced. I now realize that overprocessing my hair was a sign that I was never satisfied with my hair – there were too many things I had to do to make it look “nice” to me. Never mind what other people thought – I doubt anyone notices it from one day to the next, and as long as I’m presentable, who really cares?

I stumbled upon Alex Raye’s “Almost Exactly Blog” while researching homemade hair solutions and started following her advice on how to treat my hair like royalty. It has been over a year since I stopped blow-drying my hair, brushing my hair with nylon bristles, straightening/curling my hair with hot irons, perming my hair, layering my hair, and using silicone- and sulfate-based hair products (shampoos, conditioners, hairsprays, gels, etc.). Simplifying my hair routine has saved me a lot of time and money, but more importantly, it saved my hair from a lifetime of distress. When I stopped overprocessing my hair, some magical things happened:

  • It now takes several days for my hair to get noticeably greasy. It definitely got very greasy for a few weeks of not washing as often, but my scalp adjusted its oil production accordingly
  • I don’t have to buy shampoo as often – $$$ saved!
  • My hair is softer, shinier, and less frizzy
  • I’m not losing as many hairs
  • I don’t worry about my hair as much – I’ve accepted its naturally wavy look and I’ve grown to appreciate it in its natural state
  • It takes me less time to get ready in the mornings

I now own only a few things for my hair:

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  • A small hair wrap to pull my hair back when I’m washing my face (Muji hair turban)
  • “low ‘poo” shampoo (I use Shea Moisture– can be found at Target, CVS, Walgreens…)
  • “low ‘poo” conditioner (I use Shea Moisture – can be found at Target, CVS, Walgreens…or you can even use coconut oil!)
  • Boar bristle brush (I splurged on a Mason Pearson pocket boar bristle brush, but an authentic Bass 100% boar bristle brush from Whole Foods does the job too)
  • Plastic wide-tooth comb (any drugstore brand will do; avoid bamboo combs because they don’t hold up well)
  • Hair ties

I trim my hair at my favorite budget barber every few months to clean up the split ends, brush it gently when the oil needs to be redistributed, and wash it every 3-4 days, letting it air dry every time – in fact, I recently decluttered my hair dryer because I hadn’t touched it in over a year. I keep my hair long, but not too long or it will take forever to dry. I don’t layer it so that braiding my hair will be easy and lengths don’t stick out everywhere.

As a result, my hair has never looked or felt healthier than it does today. It feels light because it is not coated in residues from hair product. It has become one less thing for me to worry about. Fancy that!

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