Sudsatorium Shampoo Review 

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So today back to one of my favourite subjects – hair, and shampoo. I will bore anyone who will listen to death about hair – hair loss, what’s good for it, what’s not, what products to use, which to avoid…(you get the picture). I’m always on the lookout for my next shampoo – a better shampoo which is easier to use, smells great, doesn’t damage my hair or scalp and ultimately doesn’t contain any chemical nasties.

I’ve been using a combo of Khadi and aloe vera for some time – or simply using aloe with honey or powders in between. Because I only need to wash my hair once a week, I get through shampoo fairly slowly. This doesn’t stop me constantly looking for something new though – and after debating trying John Masters Organic I decided to head onto Etsy and see what I could find there.

I wasn’t disappointed; there are so many gorgeous homemade beauty brands on Etsy each listing their ingredients for the hair-conscious (paranoid) consumer. I’ve used skincare bits from Etsy before, (a beautiful all-natural tanning oil from Herbanna) so I knew I was sure to find something which floated my boat. The ones I found to be very pure yet still exciting and professional looking were produced by a company called Sudsatorium. Based in Canada (sadly, many of the brands are based abroad in the states or beyond), Sudsatorium offer a huge range of shampoos and body washes packed full of natural ingredients.

I was very excited to try this product, an excitement. Which was only slightly dulled by over a month’s wait for it to arrive (more on this later!) when it finally did arrive, I used it straight away.

My choice, Brewed Awakening, is as the name suggests made with ‘freshly brewed coffee’ to give your hair a caffeine induced growth kick and to add depth and shine to brunette hair. It also contains lime juice, hemp oil and vanilla; all organic of course. There’s nothing I don’t love about the ingredients list which is a bonus as I usually find something I dislike when a product’s scent and texture is just right!

The shampoo feels just like any other just slightly more runny. It lathers minimally (no SLS!), but enough to be spread evenly on the scalp (I don’t wash the ends of my hair). I left it on for a couple of minutes with my head tipped upside down(bit of inversion method) then rinsed with cold/lukewarm water as always. I don’t use conditioner and didn’t use oil on this occasion as I wanted to get a true idea of what the shampoo was really like.

When dry my hair was so soft,  so shiny and my scalp felt great. I particularly liked this shampoo because of the base of coffee – as caffeine has been shown in studies to nourish and stimulate the hair follicle, resulting in better growth and thicker, healthier hair overall. This isn’t a shampoo specially formulated for hair loss, but if you’ve read any of my previous hair blogs you’ll know That after trying most of the products out there are researching the hair and scalp I’ve discovered the best thing for the hair and scalp is going back to basics with all-natural offerings.

Anyone worth their salt when it comes to hair will tell you that 2 weeks is hardly long enough to be able to give a proper review of a product – but these are my initial views which I’ll be sure to update you with as I continue to use the shampoo! So, what’s the overall verdict at this stage?

Pros: Beautiful product with good credentials when it comes to natural ingredients. Smells incredible before, during and after application. Leaves my hair soft and shiny and doesn’t disrupt the nice natural rhythm I’ve spent ages getting it into. The company also donate a portion of their profits to charity – so I can’t argue with the price which I feel is fair for such a good product. You don’t need a lot, so it lasts a while, especially if you dilute it with aloe vera gel. 

Cons: This shampoo took ages to make and ages to come. The manufacture and shipping took 3 weeks, then it took a further 3 weeks to arrive by what I can only assume was pigeon mail. I was not impressed with this one bit and I would advise anyone wishing to try these shampoos to order WELL in advance! I understand anything sent from Canada will take a while to come, but I wasn’t prepared for a 3 week manufacture time.

Have you tried Sudsatorium? Let me know!

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If you enjoyed my Sudsatorium Shampoo Review, you can read more here.

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Aloe Vera for Hair Loss

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If you read the blog, you’ll know by now that I’m prone to putting a lot of obscure things on my head (unless they contain chemicals, that is!). Recently I stopped using powders with water (too messy) in favour of Khadi and Morrocco Method shampoos. I only wash my hair once a week, so you can imagine how long my shampoos last! I often add Aloe Vera, coffee or Rhassoul to the Khadi shampoo to make it more potent.

In between using these ready-made poos, I like to make my own (much less messy) shampoo which works wonders for my hair and scalp. It’s easy, no fuss and cheap.

Aloe vera is said to have cleansing and purifying properties for the scalp whilst maintaining healthy, shiny hair. It’s supposed to help strengthen the strands themselves whilst soothing the follicles at the root, which can also help with hair loss. After hearing glowingly positive reviews about fresh aloe vera online, I was determined to give it a go. I’ve heard equally good things about honey, so I thought why not combine the two? They’re both gloopy and shampoo-like, plus some people had already used them together with decent results. Cheap runny honey in a squeezy bottle will do – apparently using raw wild honey causes build-up of beeswax (no thanks!)

I am currently growing my aloe vera (it’s only a baby so I can’t cut it – and don’t want to!) so I bought fresh, pure organic aloe vera gel online (it’s relatively cheap and you don’t need a lot). Mine came in a sachet so get a clean jar or pot to decant it into.

To make the honey shampoo, simply squeeze equal amounts of each into the palm of your hand. You don’t need a lot – about the size of a 50p coin each. Then mix them with your finger and slop it all over your head, getting right onto the scalp and all over the roots. Don’t worry about the ends so much – my ends are never dirty now I don’t use chemicals and wash only once a week – but if yours feel a little heavy then add some more down there and massage it in.

I leave this on a bit like a mask sometimes for 5 or 10 minutes pre-shower or while I’m in the bath – or rinse straight away. Each time my hair is soft, shiny and clean – and it stays that way for the duration of the week.

You can see from this BTS that my hair is growing a lot thicker and longer – I’m positive that the no-washing no-chemicals policy is working wonders. Have you tried aloe vera for hair loss??

Black and White Author shoot 597 (2) Black and White Author shoot 531

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Khadi Review – Hair Loss

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Now, I have to be the first to admit that after a few weeks, despite fabulous results for my hair, the powdered shampoo routine was wearing a little thin. I’m also under a lot of stress at the moment and until that subsides, I know that unfortunately my hair is going to be at risk. When it started falling out again the other week I decided that a) clearly whatever shampoo I use is probably not enough at this time to save my hair and b) why not find something which was still nourishing but less hassle?

Ah, but I’d already tried that before, right? I felt like I’d already trawled Google but I did so again – and this time I used a few different terms and discovered natural brand Khadi.

Khadi hails from India and all products are SLS (Sodium Laureth Sulfate), Paraben and Silicone free. Instead they feature the exact same ingredients I’ve been using on my hair (Shikakai, Amla, Bhingraj) but in a handy liquid-gel formula which is easy to apply, wash out and doesn’t make my hair as tangled afterwards, either.

Word of warning: there’s loads of choice. I’m not good with choice and decisions because of my anxiety so it took me a few days to send off for one! I (finally) chose the Aloe Vera  shampoo – as I’ve heard fabulous things about its benefits for hair.  This shampoo also contains extracts of the Indian herbs mentioned above in addition to pure water and aloe vera.

The shampoo lathers soo well when I apply it that it makes me massively suspicious as to whether the ingredients are as they say they are (paranoid, much?) However on further inspection the bottle does only state that the ingredients listed are KEY ingredients, leading me to then panic about what I have just put on my hair.

Khadi’s website claims all products are free of chemical nasties, but I have emailed them to ask exactly what is in this particular shampoo as others simply say ‘Ingredients’ with an equally short list.

Anyhow, I’m really impressed with the smell, the texture and the cleaning power of the shampoo. As you know I only wash my hair once a week – so I’ve only used it twice now – but I’ll certainly keep you posted as to how I’m getting on.

Has anyone else tried Khadi?

 

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Soap Nut, Shikakai and Rhassoul clay shampoo for hair loss – Recovery hair

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You might have seen that recently in my hair loss quest (I lost a considerable amount of hair for the third time last year) I’ve gone all-natural in my quest to find a solution. I’m very lucky in that my hair is growing back thick and strong (although this hair is only 3-4 inches long at the moment!) but I want to maintain that growth, in addition to the health of my hair and scalp, to hopefully ensure no further hair loss takes place.

I posted about Rhassoul Clay and its benefits for the hair and scalp a few weeks back – and although I loved it as a shampoo I did feel it was a little drying and that I needed something more than just Rhassoul in the mix. On further research I discovered that a basic Indian shampoo is comprised of Soapnut and Shikakai – then often mixed with Rhassoul, Henna, Amla or other ingredients to further benefit the hair. I read a lot of good reviews online, so I decided to give it a try.

What is Soapnut (or Reetha) powder?

Soapnuts are used as a natural cleansing and conditioning agent which have been used for centuries in Indian culture for washing the hair and body. It effectively cleans the hair without stripping the scalp, restoring softness and shine. It’s great for hair loss and an unhealthy scalp because it’s all natural and contains vitamins A, D, E and K. Because of these aspects, and especially when combined with Shikakai, Soapnut helps to strengthen, lengthen and encourage regrowth of hair – keeping the scalp AND the hair happy is a powerful tool in combatting hair loss.

The powdered form is SO easy to use. Some do say they boil the nuts and make shampoo that way but honestly I don’t have the time, patience or attention span for that!!

What is Shikakai?

Shikakai strengthens the hair and cleanses just as Soapnut does – but where Soapnut (and Rhassoul especially) can cause the hair to become knotted, Shikakai combats this with detangling properties. It softens the hair whilst giving it lots of healthy volume and shine – plus it stimulates hair growth and nourishes the scalp preventing dandruff and flakiness.

Together, Soapnut, Shikakai and Rhassoul provide a perfect pH and a powerful combination of hair and scalp loving vitamins and minerals to aid in combatting hair loss. Without any moisture they can be a bit drying, so they’re really best combined in a recipe for optimum results.

How do I use it?

I mix a dessertspoon (around half a tablespoon) of Soapnut powder and Shikakai powder in an applicator bottle (you can get these from eBay for £1 or just use a plastic bowl) with about the same amount of Rhassoul (your bowl and mixing implement need to be non-metal as this reacts with Rhassoul clay) and then add a little boiling water and mix or shake until I have a foaming paste. It looks a lot like a runny, creamy shampoo consistency which is good (If you’ve tried Rhassoul on its own, you’ll know that it’s a little like cement dissolved in water – you get none of that with this!)

Then I add a few drops (I’d say around a teaspoon) of Argan Oil or Almond Oil (I use pure organic oil from Argan Liquid Gold). The shampoo does have a funky, ‘spicy’ scent but it’s nothing you don’t get used to after a while and it doesn’t linger on your hair once it’s dry. I love using essential oils in my shampoo – I usually add rosemary essential oil as it has fabulous hair-loving properties which help to repair and soothe the scalp but Cedarwood and Peppermint oils are also good and you can also use essential oils just for the scent, like Orange and Rose (I use pure Rose essential oil from Thailand – it’s TO DIE FOR!).

So, now for the application. I apply mine like a spa treatment in the bath so that when it goes everywhere (which it inevitably does!) it goes into the bath and not on the bathroom floor. Then I soak and leave it on for around half and hour then wash it off still sitting in the bath tub. I won’t lie, it’s incredibly messy. But so worth it!!

The good thing about Soapnut is that it foams and lathers up a little bit like conventional shampoo. I scoop it out with my fingers and apply to directly to my scalp, gently massaging my hair over the covered areas. I make sure my whole scalp is covered – I usually just pour the rest of the mixture over my head. I don’t bother too much about the ends of my hair, because they tend to get covered in the mixture by default and of course the ends of your hair don’t need washing as the scalp does. The Shikakai does make it quite gritty, so it’s a little like rubbing in and washing mud and gravel out of your hair (well, that’s exactly what it’s like),

The BAD NEWS about this shampoo is that it is an absolute NIGHTMARE to use and wash out if you’re used to ‘normal’ shampooing and hair washing. The GOOD NEWS is that you only have to wash your hair once a week – because your hair is returning to its natural state and is not getting greasy so quickly. Also the less you wash your hair the better it will be for the health of your hair and on improving hair loss.

I just stick my head under the shower for at least 5-10 minutes until the water runs clear and I can’t find any grit. I always find at least one little piece when my hair is dry but that’s fine as they come out easily.

Once your hair is rinsed clean, wrap it up in a warm towel and leave it to dry (don’t use heat when you’re suffering from hair loss!!). As always, don’t brush until it’s dry.

There you have it – the method seems lengthy when you first read it, but I promise that after one or two gos you will be sold as I was and won’t mind the slight hassle when you see the incredible effect it has on your hair. Go on – give it a go – and let me know how you get on!

 

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Tough Cookie is a blog for support and inspiration during recovery from Anorexia. Eating disorder recovery can be tough – but so are you!

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Natural cocoa dry shampoo for hair loss

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When I first stopped using chemical shampoos and started only washing my hair once a week to help my hair grow, I relied on dry shampoo about once a week to keep my hair looking fresh. Then I realised with horror that my ‘natural’ dry shampoo was full of chemicals too!

With that in mind, I scoured the internet for a natural alternative. A lot of these included baking powder which as we’ve already discussed is not the best thing to put on your hair. After a little while I found this recipe using cocoa – and it sounded good and simple enough to try!

All you need is:

  • A pot to store the shampoo in
  • 2 tbsp Arrowroot Powder, Cornflour or Rice Starch
  • 2 tbsp Cocoa Powder

Pop a spoonful of each into a bowl and mix them well. Then use your fingers to apply it to the roots of your hair where you feel it is needed. It’s that simple!

If you have blonde hair, you can omit the cocoa or put less in so that it doesn’t discolour your hair.

More natural recovery beauty here!

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Tough Cookie is a blog for support and inspiration during recovery from Anorexia. Eating disorder recovery can be tough – but so are you!

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A natural shampoo recipe that works – Rhassoul Clay for hair loss

You may or may not have heard of using Rhassoul (or Ghassoul) clay for hair loss – I know I hadn’t until earlier this year! I discovered it on my quest for an all-natural shampoo which was truly beneficial for my hair and fairly easy to source and use – and although it sounds mental to put mud on your hair, I really love it and wanted to share it with you here on the blog.

What is Rhassoul clay and why is it good for hair?

Rhassoul clay is mined from beneath the Atlas Mountains in Morrocco – and has been used by Morroccan women for centuries – it was even used by Egyptians and the Romans before them!

It is incredibly rich in minerals which are vital for healthy hair growth – including Silica, Magnesium and Calcium. Vitally, it has the same PH as the hair and scalp, as opposed to mainstream shampoos which usually are highly acidic in order for them to effectively strip the scalp and ‘clean the hair’. There’s also no chemicals whatsoever as of course the clay is 100% natural. Instead of stripping the hair and causing the scalp to then produce more oil whilst the ends of the hair dry out, Rhassoul clay cleans the hair whilst allowing it to maintain its natural levels of oil. It also clarifies and detoxifies the scalp, helps to unblock pores and keeps hair soft and strong.

How do I use it?

What looks like a pot of dry cement looks difficult to use on your hair but in actual fact, it’s easy. There’s lots of different recipes for Rhassoul clay shampoo – that’s because it can be mixed with a variety of different liquids such as distilled water or mineral water, oil, coconut milk, goat’s milk and Aloe Vera gel or juice.

My basic starter ‘how to’ recipe for Rhassoul clay shampoo is below – but you can also try my Shikakai Rhassoul clay shampoo too if you find this isn’t quite your bag.

  1. Mix 1-2 tbsp Rhassoul clay with ½ cup boiling water. Make sure you use a plastic container and plastic implement to mix with – as metal reacts with the minerals in the clay.
  2. Add a few drops of essential oil (I use Rosemary, Rose or Peppermint) and 1-2 tsp Argan Oil or any other oil of choice (I use Argan Liquid Gold). Mix it all up. It will be runny, but that’s okay; some people say they use a paste but for me this is way too thick and as you will discover, when you’re used to conventional shampoo the clay can prove a little time consuming to wash out as it is!
  3. The best way to apply Rhassoul shampoo is just before you get into the shower or bath. It is a little messy to apply – I pour a little on my head at a time and massage into the hair to make sure it’s all covered. It’s weird at first because it does feel like rubbing mud and grit into your scalp but it’s a good feeling – similar to an expensive spa treatment!
  4. Make sure you rinse well to wash it out properly. I learnt this lesson the hard way. I thought I’d washed it out well and I was sitting pretty with my towel on my head waiting for my hair to dry – and then on checking it I could still feel a substantial amount of grit and mud in my hair so I went back and rinsed it again. The next day, my hair did feel clean but certain spots I’d somehow managed to miss were very dusty-feeling and when I brushed it all through my Tangle Teezer was full of Rhassoul powder! So – make sure you rinse thoroughly, preferably with the shower head right over the top of your scalp, rubbing your hair gently as you rinse, to get it all out the first time. I’m becoming a dab hand at this now – so don’t worry if you get it wrong first time too. Not many of us are used to having to rinse our hair for more than 30 seconds!
  5. You won’t get that soft, ‘squeaky clean’ feeling you usually do after washing your hair – but that’s a good thing! That feeling you get from conventional shampoo is caused by harsh chemicals having stripped your scalp, and commercial conditioners having coated your hair with silicones. Once dry the hair really is soft and feels so clean, but if you have fine or dry hair it can be very knotty and tangled (mine was!)
  6. Make sure your hair is dry as always before you brush or comb it – as doing so when it’s wet causes breakage! Pop a warm towel round your head (if you read any of my previous hair loss posts, (link) avoid the hairdryer at all costs if you’re trying to regrow your hair) and try to avoid the temptation of blasting it to see how your hair comes out. Once completely dry, I have to detangle my hair with my fingers (I always had to do this with conventional shampoo, too) then brush it through with a low-breakage brush (I use a Tangle Teezer). Hair is really soft and feels very clean – but not stripped. Perfect!
  7. See results!

If you’re not liking Rhassoul or you feel it’s a little drying, then try my shampoo recipe here. I use Rhassoul as an ingredient in this shampoo which is my main shampoo I now use every week – so you still get the benefit of it plus a load of other hair-loving ingredients.

Want to read more on hair loss? See here!

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Tough Cookie is a blog for support and inspiration during recovery from Anorexia. Eating disorder recovery can be tough – but so are you!

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Hair Loss – what to do (the update)

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I’ve covered the route for those who aren’t so bothered about the chemical aspect of cosmetics (the route I took myself initially and last year!) but I’m now keen to try a natural alternative to keep my whole body (and hair) healthy, so I wanted to compile an alternative post for those wishing to try all-natural to combat hair loss themselves.

  1. Supplements and diet – make sure you’re taking Biotin (1000mcg) every day for your hair (if you are at a safe weight and are okay health-wise to do so). I swear by this and always have done, plus it isn’t something which you will need to worry about harming your scalp! I know I don’t need to bang on about it – eating right helps too, but I know that isn’t always so easy.
  2. Use natural oils – Instead of conditioner, switch to oils. It’s a bit messy, yes, but you can buy squeezy bottles which make life easier. Even expensive conditioners contain silicones and chemicals which are less than helpful for your hair. Also take into account that any conditioner claiming to ‘aid hair loss’ is making a mistaken claim because combatting hair loss really does begin and end with the scalp. The rest of your hair is dead, so whilst combatting breakage will help your hair retain thickness and is important to the health and look of your hair, it won’t stop it from falling out at the root. I love castor oil and coconut oil. (You can read my post all about castor oil and its fabulous hair benefits here!)
  3. Invest in essential oils – Essential oils are renowned in alternative and homeopathic medicine for many health benefits, some of which are calming or uplifting effects on the mood which are added benefits to using them for your hair if it has been caused by anxiety or an eating disorder. Certain essential oils are specifically good for hair – such as Rosemary and Peppermint. Rosemary is said to maintain a healthy scalp and shiny locks, and peppermint stimulates the scalp – that’s why it is tingly when you apply it. I use a Rosemary Hair Oil every week which smells lovely and does my hair the world of good – click here for the recipe.
  4. The Inversion Method – I’ve only recently come across this – I’ve always massaged my scalp to aid hair growth but this is quite a sophisticated way of doing so which promises some pretty drastic results! I’m not sure everyone will see a few inches growth in just weeks as some internet die-hards claim, but it definitely makes sense to give it a go. I’ve been doing this for a few weeks now – my hair already grows very fast and I’ve had decent regrowth round my forehead but I’m looking to sort some of the patchiness on the back of my head so I will see how I get on with those and post an update! I use the Rosemary Oil in conjunction with the Inversion Method to make it super-potent.
  5. Natural shampoo – When you’re losing your hair, you’ll try anything. (I have!). There’s countless hair loss shampoos on the market but as with all mainstream shampoos, they’re full of chemicals and we all know how harmful they can be for your skin and hair. Whilst I saw fantastic results from Alpecin and Nioxin, I’m really starting to move more towards natural methods now I’m maintaining my hair and regrowth. Natural shampoos can be hard to come by (lots claim to be natural or Organic, but they actually just contain a few natural ingredients and are not 100% natural). If you don’t feel you can, or want to, go all-natural, then try to choose the next best thing – it will be fine if you follow the next step, which is….
  6. Don’t wash your hair as much – I wash my hair once a week only. I know there will be lots of horrified people reading this – but honestly, I haven’t had anybody notice!! What I have personally noticed (and had comments on by friends and family) is the thickness and healthy look of my hair. When you first stop washing your hair so regularly, you of course feel towards the end of the week that your hair is a little greasy or looks a bit oily at the roots. I combatted this originally by using Klorane dry shampoo in between washes – but I haven’t had to use it anywhere near as much as I thought I would need to. (Now I use a chemical-free, home-made cocoa dry shampoo – recipe here!) The reason washing your hair less aids hair loss is that it allows your scalp to maintain a natural cycle and means you are not exposing your hair and scalp to chemicals so much, which not only strip the oil from your hair (confusing your scalp into producing more, hence more washing) but you are also possibly helping your hair loss by using harsh artificial detergents. You’ll notice that the greasiness really is only in the scalp area, and that this will only last for the first couple of weeks or so whilst it adjusts to not being stripped constantly. Now, after 2 months of only washing once a week, I generally don’t need to wash my hair more than that.

Combatting hair loss can happen, and it can be easy, it just takes time and patience (a lot of it!) I know from experience that it’s easy to become obsessed with progress and how much you’re shedding etc but the best thing you can do is secure a routine, follow it religiously and keep positive until you see the results.

Fancy going all-natural? Take a look at my no-poo post here!

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PLUS: Read What Not To Do for more tips

Tough Cookie is a blog for support and inspiration during recovery from Anorexia. Eating disorder recovery can be tough – but so are you!

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Hair Loss – What NOT to do

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There are so many articles on what to do when your hair starts falling out – what products to use, what to eat, how to style it. From experience these can be a little bit mind-boggling and of course everybody has different hair types, different types of hair loss and therefore widely varying opinions on products and methodology. Here’s my run down of the top ten things NOT to do when your hair starts falling out:

  1. Don’t panic

This one comes under the category ‘easier said than done’ – I know. Stress and anxiety is a massive cause of hair loss – at best it exacerbates existing hair loss. It’s difficult not to be distraught when you start losing your hair and start obsessing over each lost strand, staring longingly at everyone else’s hair and feeling generally crap and upset. Our hair is often our comfort blanket , our crowning glory – your hair (or lack of it) can make a huge difference to how you look and ultimately, how you feel. I know that. Try your best to distract yourself from what is going on with your hair. Make a plan of action and feel assured knowing you’re doing everything you can to help your hair.

  1. Don’t overbrush

Brushing your hair can be therapeutic and distracting; yet it can also become an obsessive ritual of seeing how much you have left and how much comes out when you do brush it. Some hair loss advice calls for regular brushing but experts say it is possible to over-brush your hair, and especially where hair loss is concerned over-vigorous brushing will only cause more harm than good. Use a natural bristle brush to distribute your hair’s oils evenly and minimise breakage. The same goes for washing – try not to overwash your hair even if it gets greasy and even if you are using a hair loss shampoo. This strips the oils and increases exposure to chemical nasties which do not do your scalp or hair any good. Using your hair loss shampoo twice a day won’t make any difference to your growth compared to if you were using it every other day – but it may damage your hair and have the reverse effect instead.

  1. Don’t go buying expensive shampoos

Sadly, there’s lots of people who’d like to cash in on your hair loss because they know how upset and vulnerable you are, and that most (me included!) are desperate to try anything, no matter what the cost, to get their hair back as quickly as possible. Please don’t be drawn in by anything which appears ‘too good to be true’. Equally, don’t go buying every single hair loss shampoo and product out there. They all work differently, they are different for different people, and their efficacy also depends on what sort of hair loss you have. Read reviews (you can read my post on Hair Loss Shampoos here) and make a decision on what is best for you. Give it a good month or two to see if it is working; you won’t see results in days or even a week or so no matter what anybody says. If it still isn’t working, try something new. I’ve made this mistake before and the best thing I did was eventually to buy one shampoo and conditioner and stick to that regime for over a month – that’s when I saw amazing results. Equally, I’ve tried shampoos, given them a month or two, and realised they are not working, kicked them to the curb and tried something new. Perseverance is the only way to be sure of what works and what doesn’t.

  1. You don’t have to cut it all off

When my hair fell out after my eating disorder, my hairdresser categorically told me to cut it all off. The best solution, she said, was to cut it all down to at least shoulder length and keep cutting it until it reached the length of my baby hair. That way, it could all grow at the same rate. 14 years old and recovering from an eating disorder, I was desperately clinging on to the hair I still had left. Losing it had been a shocking additional blow a few months into my recovery. There was no way I was going to cut it off.

My hair admittedly looked awful for at least a year. I lost mine from underneath, so stringy strands hung over bald patches which were gradually filled with lots of wispy baby hairs. As they grew they formed a fringe on my forehead and a fluffy ‘do beneath my old hair around the rest of my head. It wasn’t the best look, but it allowed me to keep my hair and eventually 3 years later my hair looked incredible. For a year or so I’d worn clip in extensions which helped me to feel more confident and forget about the state of my hair, and one day, I realised my hair was exactly the same without them. The baby hair had matured and was long and thick and as a whole it looked fabulous.

Since then, I’ve found some hairstyles and a few techniques you can use to help ‘mask’ hair loss whilst you are – of course temporary extensions, wigs and hair pieces are also handy. You can read about them here.

Of course if you’re brave enough to have it all cut to one length then this is good for hair health and growth and will ensure even regrowth – it is completely your decision. But know that if, like me, you are very attached to your hair, you can hold onto it!

  1. Don’t leave it unchecked medically

Hair loss is becoming more common in women especially due to the increased stress and pressure in our lives. Therefore it’s easy to put it down to stress or hormones. But there are other medical causes of hair loss which should be noted and it’s important to be vigilant for in case your hair loss is caused by an underlying health problem. If your hair loss is persistent, make an appointment with your doctor just to be sure there’s nothing else going on. They may even refer you to a trichologist for help with your hair loss.

  1. Don’t overstyle it

We all love our hairdryers, curlers, straighteners, rollers – but it goes without saying, these are NOT good for your hair, especially when it is in a weakened state. I made a conscious decision to stop using the hairdryer (unless it was an emergency – you know we all have those) and I rarely use straighteners or curlers but these were vetoed too. It may well be torture but it is worth it to help your hair to recover and alleviate the anguish that comes with seeing clumps of hair all over the floor after styling. There are lots of nifty tutorials on Pinterest for creating curls (and other hair styles) with no heat and little pulling or breakage on the hair, so if you are naturally curly embrace them and take a look online for inspiration.

  1. Don’t use tight bobbles and clips

Bobbles are the worst thing for your hair. Even ones without the metal clip which can snag hairs pull on your scalp and hair follicles and can accelerate hair loss. I only wear clips or loose slides when my hair is falling out and if I really want a bobble in I use a trick Iwas shown on a shoot by my lovely best friend and renowned hairdresser Mark – attach two bobby pins one either side of your bobble – scrape your hair into a pony then slide one clip through the centre close to the scalp. Wrap the other around a few times till it’s tight then slide the other bobby pin through the centre of your pony. Home-made bungee! So much less damaging for your hair and 0-expense, 0-hassle.

  1. Don’t forget to eat (and drink) for your hair

A few of you won’t like this one and will be sick of hearing it but honestly, good skin and hair health comes from the inside. What happens on the outside of our bodies in often an indication of what’s going on inside, so if your hair is falling out, it indicates a problem whether that’s mental, physical or perhaps a deficiency somewhere. If you’re not at the stage where you feel ready to address your diet then that is understandable, however without a good diet, your hair will struggle massively to recover. The real you will care more about your hair than what an eating disorder cares about, so concentrate on that and try really hard to follow that desire rather than any other false ideals that will be in your head. I really wish I had known what to eat to help my hair all those years ago – I was recovering and I’d have eaten anything to stop it from falling out. You can read my post on food for hair here.

  1. Don’t use harsh chemicals on your hair

Most commercial shampoos, whatever they claim to do, will be full of chemicals which are less than healthy for your hair. The ‘worst’ of these is sodium laureth sulfate, which is what makes shampoos and shower gels lather nicely. Experts say it strips the scalp of natural oils and can also leave hair brittle and dry. Once you know this, you’ll know that finding a shampoo without this in it is very difficult.

  1. Don’t feel alone, embarrassed or suffer in silence

More women than you realise will be suffering from hair loss but will not have told anybody about it out of shame or embarrassment. So many will be covering it up on a daily basis and feeling bad about it alone. Don’t feel like you are alone in this – take a look online and you’ll find lots of friendly women ready to discuss hair loss with you; forums where you can share what works and what doesn’t. And of course, you have this blog J

 

Hair loss is an awful thing to experience but at least now you know what NOT to do and can concentrate on getting your hair, and yourself, back to the best health possible.

Any tips I’ve missed here? Share them!

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Tough Cookie is a blog for support and inspiration during recovery from Anorexia. Eating disorder recovery can be tough – but so are you!

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Before going ‘no-poo’ after an eating disorder – what you should know

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I do a lot of posts on the blog about hair loss, because it’s something I get asked about a lot, as many people suffer from some sort of hair loss during or after an eating disorder. Understandably – it’s devastating losing your hair and when it happens you feel like you’ll do anything to ‘fix’ it.

Having recently regrown my hair from a fairly bad bout of hair loss last Summer, (not fully regrown, just a thick 3 inch fringe of baby hairs!) and finding recently my body is struggling with the combined effects of winter and my anxiety, I have been back reading up on the negative effects of using chemicals artificial entities such as Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Silicones which are widely present in commercial shampoos and are less than good for scalp health.

I knew this before, of course – I even bought a Morocco Method shampoo which was lovely but just didn’t have the familiar old gloopy consistency I knew and loved from a shampoo. I’m not very patient and have a very short attention span, so in all honesty I gave it a couple of washes and gave up, without giving it the time I’ve heard is needed to really go for ‘no-poo’. After I gave up I completely forgot about it and went back to using expensive chemical products!

I went on holiday with my beautiful friend Faye in October. We have very similar hair types – sleek, brown, difficult to get body into (she likes it that way, I don’t!) She lives in Spain, so when she came over I hadn’t seen her for a good few months. And her hair was amazing – so amazing in fact I couldn’t stop looking at it and messing with it and asking her how she’d managed to get hair like that. This was a role reversal for us because when we met years ago at college, she always used to ask me about my hair, which at the time was so thick and long (that’s how I know it’s not how it should be now!).

She told me that because of the hot weather and not having to see anybody in Spain, she was only washing her hair once a week. For the rest of the time, it was up in a bun. She hardly ever used conditioner and attributed the massive growth, beautiful condition and thickness down to a combination of the sun and no-washing. Now I can’t magic the sun to the UK (I can’t tell you how much I wish I could!) but I did immediately cut my washing down from every other day (3-4 times a week) to just once a week. Yep it hasn’t always been pretty but my hair is getting used to it now – and dry shampoo is my saviour on any particularly dodgy in-between days!

Coupled with this revelation, my recent research had frightened me again into thinking that maybe   using chemicals on my hair (and everywhere, really) might be harming my body in more ways than I realised, and I wanted to go further to getting back my beautiful college hair.

Google ‘natural shampoo’ and you’ll find all sorts. Google ‘no poo’ and you’ll also find all sorts – but mostly you’ll find a lot of people talking about Baking Powder (or Baking Soda) and Apple Cider Vinegar. Neither of which I really fancied putting on my hair! Baking powder just sounded like it would be too harsh, and the vinegar element had me worrying I’d be walking around smelling like a bag of salt and vinegar crisps.

I did a little more research and came across this excellent post by Kanelstrand. Basically, she found that actually, this method is not so good at all because baking powder is very acidic, even when dissolved with plenty of water. It’s especially one to avoid if you are suffering acute hair loss.

So what to do now? Well I googled natural shampoo (again) and found lots that weren’t natural and a few that were. Some of these were bars, like bars of soap – something I hadn’t thought of using since I was very much younger and had one from Lush and one from the Body Shop. These bars are 100% natural, so they shouldn’t damage your hair or scalp and also contain ingredients which should aid in combatting hair loss.

I’ve come to the conclusion personally that if you are only washing your hair once a week as I do, you’re virtually ‘no-poo’ anyway. If you can choose a shampoo which is as saintly as it possibly can be, but that you enjoy using, then at least that is better than washing your hair every day or every other day and stripping it with chemicals regularly. Korres, The Body Shop and Organix have natural, silicone and sulfate-free ranges so browse the internet and try a few to see which one is your favourite. You might already be using one! In between washes I also use Klorane sensitive natural dry shampoo – it adds loads of body, keeps hair soft and clean and is easy on the scalp and hair.

In my last post about what to do when you’re losing your hair, I talk about the best standard shampoo ranges on offer (which all contain chemicals – however some are highly effective). But if you do want to go down the all-natural route, you can read my updated ‘What to do’ post here. Let me know how you get on!

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Tough Cookie is a blog for support and inspiration during recovery from Anorexia. Eating disorder recovery can be tough – but so are you!

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Rosemary Hair Oil treatment for hair loss

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I’ve been using this treatment for a while now and I love it so much! It makes my hair lovely and soft and thick feeling – but it also washes out fairly easily which is a bonus as sometimes natural hair masks can take a few washes and leave an unpleasant residual stickiness behind. It also smells AMAZING!

People ask me a lot about hair loss so I wanted to post this recipe for everyone to try. It’s dead simple to do and absolutely worth doing, especially if you’re re-growing your hair. It’s made up of three simple ingredients:

  1. Castor Oil – If you’ve read my post on Castor Oil you’ll know I absolutely love it – I was always dubious about putting oil on my hair because it’s naturally very sleek and straight and I always want more body in it – but I have always been more than ecstatic with the way Castor Oil makes my hair look and feel.
  2. Coconut Oil – Coconut is an all-round superstar in my book – I eat a HELL of a lot of it, but I also use it for my hair. An increasing number of people use coconut oil for lots of different beauty uses – from make-up cleanser to body cream – but it’s been shown to be really good for hair growth too. That’s because it penetrates deep into the scalp and hair follicles to stimulate growth – maintains a healthy scalp and moisturises the hair to prevent breakage. If you can, source a cold-pressed, virgin organic coconut oil – Tesco do one now which is very reasonably priced too!
  3. Pure Rosemary Essential Oil – Rosemary oil is renowned for its hair-loving properties. It has antibacterial qualities which stop hair follicles from becoming clogged, can help prevent a flaky scalp – plus it has also been shown to stimulate the scalp (like peppermint and caffeine), bringing blood flow to hair follicles which can help with hair loss. It helps maintain natural shine and bounce and has been used for years in Ayurvedic medicine and Mediterranean and Indian cultures.
  4. Almond Oil – Almond Oil is absorbed really well by the hair and contains high amounts of Vitamin E. It moisturises any broken or split ends, helping to repair them and prevent breakage.

 

Method:

  • Combine 2 tsp Castor Oil and 2 tsp Almond Oil with 2 tsp Coconut Oil (Coconut Oil is solid at room temperature in the UK so you’ll need to scoop it out and measure as best you can) in a microwaveable container.
  • Pop the mixture in the microwave for about 30-40 seconds – this should warm it up enough but not too much. Make sure you test it with your finger before slopping it on your head!!
  • Add 4-6 drops pure Rosemary essential oil (plus any others!). Mix and then dip your fingers into the mixture. Keep dipping and massaging in all over your scalp.
  • I pile my hair up on top of my head and leave the oil on for 2-3 hours if I can, half an hour at the very least. Some people like to wear a warm towel to further seal in the oil but I find it works well without this hassle!
  • Rinse out well with shampoo – you may need two washes and make sure you have covered all the hair with oil on it in shampoo to ensure you don’t get any greasy strands left.

I use this every week or every two weeks if I’m feeling lazy and I really rate it. I’d love to hear about your experiences – if you try the mix let me know how you get on!

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Tough Cookie is a blog for support and inspiration during recovery from Anorexia. Eating disorder recovery can be tough – but so are you!

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