Some things feel so out of reach, it almost feels pointless to pursue them. Such as, growing out your natural hair color. I know, deep. I have had so many times where I’ve thought about it. And so many times where I have just given up. Or made a compromise of “just” adding highlights.
But of course it’s possible to grow your natural hair color. And I managed to do just that! In the photo above you’ll see my natural color. It’s pretty awesome. But also – it’s not that magical. To be totally honest, I’m sometimes dreaming of adding blonde highlights again (but I think I’ll still stick with my natural color).
How I grew out my natural hair color
I would say that three things helped me to get to my goal.
First of all, my natural color wasn’t that far off from the dyed blonde color. Okay, it was pretty off, but it was easy to make it look intentional, like a dip dye. Luckily that’s been in fashion too (haha). At first my hairdresser actually did apply a light dye all over my hair to make my roots blend in with the lengths better. So maybe dye your hair first – but get the color as close to your own color as possible.
Second – I cut my hair regularly and I made two big cuts. Cutting your hair short might seem scary, but it’s worth it, because it gives a nice kick start to the project. If going short is too scary, cut at least a few centimeters regularly. Growing your hair long is cool and all, but damaged goods are not that good, really. Get rid of your dry ends.
And finally – I started to treat my hair the curly girl way. Meaning, I stopped heat styling and started to be very gentle with my hair care and styling. I love curly hair and I was happy to welcome my natural curls – in any color. I haven’t even really thought about my hair color, just my curls. And my hair has grown without me really noticing. And curls also ‘hid’ the line between my natural color and dyed blonde. So I guess my advice would be to wear your hair curly, if possible (but don’t heat style it all the time!).
Having my natural color is pretty cool. It’s hard for me to describe the color, because it has different tones and colors in it. Which I did not anticipate. I just thought that it would be one color, all over. But it actually has natural highlights from the sun, it reflects the light making it look lighter and darker depending on the lighting. It’s also a mix of warm and cool. The top of my hair is quite warm, which leads me to think that sun makes it not only lighter, but warmer.
One of the biggest benefit of having my own hair color is how healthy my hair now is. It has a lot of shine and it doesn’t feel dry. It’s almost too sleek now, making my curls more and more like waves.
I think I’ll keep my color for now. I want to see how long I can grow it, now that I’m not dyeing it. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll add some highlights in the future. Who knows? I certainly don’t.
My tips for growing out your natural hair color
Cut it regularly. That way it looks healthier and stronger.
Get it toned/dyed with a gentle dye by your hairdresser. That helps to smooth the line between your roots and your lengths.
Use conditioners or toners to maintain the hair color. For example, my natural color is a bit ashy, but when I dyed my hair blonde, it got yellow very easily. Silver shampoo helps to make your roots match your lengths.
And if you want your hair to grow faster, you can
Eat biotin. It really helps hair growth, while also strengthening your nails and lashes. I really liked *Sugar Bear hair vitamins, because they taste like candy. I also noticed a change in my hair in just a month! Read my full post here.
Try serums, that help your hair growth. I’ve tried Hair tonic from O’Right, which contains caffeine, and I honestly feel like it helped my scalp and hair growth. I made a blog post about it here. And all in all, treating your scalp helps hair growth! Massage it and moisturize it every once in a while. I like to apply *aloe vera gel to my scalp. Aloe Vera is great for itchy scalp and dandruff. It’s soothing and hydrating and it promotes hair growth. It’s also nice, because it absorbs nicely to the skin and doesn’t leave my hair oily.
It’s been 1,5 years since I started to embrace my natural hair texture, which is wavy/curly. I’ve been following loosely the Curly Girl Method and I wanted to write down my experience (which is still continuing). I say loosely, and I mean that, because my routine is pretty simple. Treating those curls don’t have to be that complicated!
Healthy, imperfect curls
A lot of people start the method thinking they will achieve beautiful, defined perfect curls. People with wavy hair might think they get tighter, ‘better’ curls. Me included! My hair is mostly wavy, but I also get corkscrews every now and then. It’s a mixture of different kinds of curls and waves. But that’s okay. I love my waves. I’ve learned, that with curly hair it doesn’t necessarily get better, as in, you’ll have perfect curls once you stick with it. In my case, the curl definition varies. My hair and my curls have their own mind. But that’s okay. I let them be that way – some day they are tighter and some day looser. And all in all, my hair looks a million times better now than it did, when I treated it, well, wrong.
Another reason of starting the curly girl method is in hopes to getting healthier softer hair. That I can agree with and that most likely will happen. It’s inevitable. Once you stop heat-styling your hair and use gentle moisturizing products, obviously your hair will benefit from that. And after being on the method for this long, I can honestly say that my hair has never been in this good shape. I’ve actually managed to grow my own natural hair color back!
How I went from straight to curly – my curl progress
I had read a lot about naturally curly hair and at some point I realized that I had always treated my hair wrong. I thought that natural curls were a bad thing, something you need to tame and smooth. So I did just that. With smoothing silicone-based products I could get my hair to become pretty silky straight. But still I wondered – why did my hair always become this awful mess when I brushed it?
Photos of my hair before I started to learn about curly hair:
As you can see, my hair used to be somewhat straight. And brushed. And that’s why it looked so, well, all over the place. It was straight, there were some waves, it was puffy (thanks to brushing it) and it looked dry (because it was). I always felt like my hair just wasn’t ‘sitting’ right.
My hair in the beginning of trying to treat my curls the right way (AKA The Curly Girl Method):
My curly hair progress
After buying my first silicone-free products from amazon and starting my journey, I was ecstatic. I could not believe I didn’t need my heat stylers to get curly hair! Now that I think of it, the first weeks and months were the best. I was like a little child in a candy store, so excited to have found this great thing, that I already had, within my hair.
I still feel like that, but now I’m more used to it. My natural waves feel like a natural part of me. Having my hair straight feels foreign – I look like a completely different person. Come to think of it, I’ve always preferred my hair curly rather than straight.
During this 1,5 years I’ve learned some things through trial and error. When I look at the first photos of my hair, I want to cringe a little (but just a little!). In the beginning I wanted my curls to be as defined as possible and I went a bit overboard with a curl styling cream. My hair looked shiny – and a bit wet. And obviously it felt like that as well. If I put a lot of things in my hair, I feel it. My hair becomes dirty easier. But when I put the minimum amount of products – or even nothing at all – my hair looks airy and fresh and lovely.
Nowadays I prefer the airy, voluminous look. I like having definition, but I don’t want my hair to be that shiny. That way my hair feels clean and it stays clean longer.
Curly Girl Method Simplified – following the rules loosely
I’ve been following the method loosely. I’ve done the basics. I feel like there are so many rules and things going into naturally curly hair, it’s kind of a rabbit hole. There were all these things like the ingredients, hair porosity, curl types and techniques. I decided, that I will just do the basics and go through the journey through trial and error. Once I had the basics down, I also wanted to share them, because I wanted to make the routine as easy and simple as possible for others as well. That’s why I wrote the beginner friendly post: Naturally curly and wavy hair 101 – Naturally curly hair routine.
Here’s what I’ve done right according to CG-method:
Not brushing my hair Pretty much never. If I do, I do it in the shower. Life without a brush has been refreshing! I did a whole post about it: I haven’t brushed my hair in a year.
Not using silicones Well, I already realized that they make my hair straight.
Drying my hair with a microfibre towel by squeezing and scrunching the water out Not towel-drying and massaging my hair between the towel like I used to.
Applying my leave-in products by scrunching Never stroking or brushing through the product – that disrupts my curl definition.
Using a mild, moisturizing shampoo
Letting my hair air dry
Drying my hair with diffuser Diffuser gives me great results, but it takes time so I still prefer air-drying.
Sleeping with a pineapple (my hair tied in a high loose ponytail to protect the curls)
My curls using Schwarzkopf Mad About Waves products. The curl cream I used contains silicones.
Here’s what I’ve done wrong according to the CG-method:
Using sulfate-containing shampoos This one is tricky. I didn’t realize that I was doing this, because my shampoos were natural and the sulfate was coconut-based. Still, it can be too drying. However, recently I learned that sulfate-containing shampoos might be good to my curl type, actually.
Using silicones I know I just said that I didn’t use silicones. But I also tried using them. I wanted to see if they really, truly, are bad for curls. I actually got amazing results with a curl cream that contained silicones. But there is still the aspect of having to wash those silicones out of the hair too. Which then can be too harsh on the hair. I don’t know. I think everyone can make their own opinion on this. The post: Mad about waves – perfect products for wavy curls
Not knowing everything about the ingredients As I said, I started my journey with the basics. Now I’m ready to learn more. Apparently I should only use ingredients that are water-soluble, so that would mean avoiding ingredients like waxes. I remember using a curl cream in the beginning, that contained some wax.
Not using anything except shampoo I actually do this pretty often. I just wash my hair with either shampoo or water. I get great volume and nice curls this way, without adding conditioner or curl gels. Believe it or not! I think this works for me personally, because my hair is prone to build up and usually there is still some product leftovers even after washing my hair.
Not taking it that seriously I tend to stress about things, so I’ve tried to not stress about my hair. Sometimes I don’t feel like doing all the steps to achieve the perfect curls. Sometimes I sleep with my hair open (it feels so liberating!). And I also haven’t bought that many hair products. You can spend a lot of money towards this project, but I’ve taken it one product at a time. After I’m done with the products I’ve already bought, I can move on to another product and try something new.
Learning about hair porosity – The problem with low-porosity hair
Right now I’m interested to learn more about hair porosity. And that’s because of this revelation: apparently my hair is low porosity. That basically means it’s very prone to buildup and that watery, light products are best for me. It makes sense. It also explains why I get great results when I use aloe vera gel as my curl definer. It also explains why I could use the sulfate-containing shampoos for so long and still get good results. Low-porosity hair needs good shampoos (that really wash the hair properly), because products can build up. Another thing is that low-porosity hair doesn’t really absorb moisturizing products or oils (even though it need moisture). And that’s exactly my hair! If I put oils in my hair, it just kind of sits on top of my hair and looks oily. And hair dyes don’t really stay in my hair.
That’s a huge revelation, because a lot of the guides for curly hair suggest using low-poo products or co-washing (washing your hair with a conditioner). I think for low-porosity hair, it’s a no go. And I actually went all the way with this – I tried both the co-wash, but also no-poo. Meaning no shampoo. For a whole month I tried to wash my hair only with water, but with my curl type prone to build up, it didn’t work out. But I learned some things – and my scalp appreciated the break from shampoo, so it wasn’t all for nothing.
In the beginning my hair needed lots of moisture, but now I feel like I need less of it. Lightweight products are the key. I think in the future I also need to start washing my hair with a deep cleansing shampoo every now and then. And definitely not skipping shampoo.
Even though I’m interested in learning to treat my wavy curls the best way possible, I’ll probably break the rules in the future as well.
Today I tried washing my scalp with a CG-friendly non-sulfate-containing shampoo – and washing my hair (the lengths) with a sulfate-containing deep cleansing shampoo. And you know what? My hair could take it. It didn’t feel dry. I also tried diluting my conditioner with water and that worked amazingly. I think next time I’ll dilute it even more. I used my Briogeo Volume Conditioner. Diluting my conditioners is actually genius – that way they will last even longer in my use. My hair nowadays is in such good shape, it doesn’t really need a lot of conditioning. And right now I’m back in love with aloe vera gel as my curl styler, because it doesn’t weigh my curls down and it’s so lightweight.
So – here’s where I’m at right now. Still figuring it out. Ready to learn more. And most importantly, embracing the imperfect hair that I have. I think natural hair is beautiful. It doesn’t ‘need’ to be anything. I think the most important thing is to have fun with it and enjoy yourself and your curls. And definitely not stress about using all the right products all the right way.
Your natural curls are beautiful – just the way they are.