Beauty, Fashion, Travel, Fitness, Wellness and Lifestyle Blog | Emtalks

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

How My Hair Destroyed My Confidence & How I Managed To Grow Incredibly Damaged Hair

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Most of you may know my hair story, many of you will not. When I was 15, I was hair extension obsessed. I've tried them all, clip ins, celebrity bonded extensions, cold bonded, keratin - you name it, I've tried them. For years, I was the queen of extensions. I've always loved the idea of having super long hair, as long as it could possibly be. I wore extensions religiously for at least 4 years. I'd sleep in them. I wouldn't be seen without them. They were my protection. They covered up my lack of confidence (I've always disliked my face) and yeh, I guess extensions acted as a shield for that. Hair extensions were a genuine addiction and one which seriously came back to bite me and destroy my hair but mainly, my confidence. Years on, I finally feel happier and like my confidence is coming back. Let's discuss how my hair destroyed my confidence, how I've built that back up and obviously, my top products for strengthening and fixing damaged hair.
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Dress / Sunglasses / Nails - Nails Inc, Berkeley Street / Tan - St Tropez Mist 

Before I start, I just want to say, this is in no way sponsored. It's real talk, about my hair journey. Since I started Emtalks, I've focused on hair a lot as it's really important to me. So you can understand my hair journey a little bit more, it went a little like this:

-> Bleach hair every 4 weeks (yup, my hairdresser told me that I needed it bleached every 4 weeks to keep it bright white)
-> Whack a damaging toner over the top to get that white look 
-> Then put those horrible extensions in. People forever tell me that clip in extensions aren't damaging but they are. Trust me. They're weighted so they pull at your scalp and eventually, leave bald patches.

I continued the above for a long time. Way too long. We trust hair dressers though and I was torn between hair health and long hair, it was a vicious cycle. I wanted long, luscious hair but growing hair takes time and I wanted it there and then so opted for damaging extensions.

So what happened to my hair over those years? My hair was incredibly weak, particularly at the roots where my extensions had snapped my hair off (those really safe clip on extensions by the way, if you're wondering which actually, are not safe and ruined my hair). So what did I do? Desperate for long hair, I went to a 'celebrity' hairdresser for bonded hair extensions. I trust people in the hair industry or should I say, I used to. These bonded extensions were left in my hair way too long, went completely matted and the hairdresser was unavailable to help me get them out. I'm not blaming anyone here, if anyone is to blame, it's me for getting extensions - again. This resulted in a lovely local hairdresser having to come and help as I sat and cried in my lounge. She used acetone and GHD's to burn the bonds from my hair. She specialised in extensions and said she has never come across ones that don't just slide out of the hair like these ones. I was left with bald patches, knots and weak, damaged hair. I went to another hair dresser who tried to salvage my hair. I was told that I'd give my hair reactive alopecia, that is, my hair had decided it went through so much stress that it decided not to grow anymore. My hair had given up on me. I kept moving hair dressers, I was told that my last hairdresser had been leaving parts of my hair and had completely weakened my hair shaft at the back because she hadn't been cutting it well enough. Brilliant. The worst thing? I had been going to 'good' hair dressers, expensive ones. I soon learnt from my mistakes and took things into my own hands. I did my research. 

Hair Growth Advice:

The piece of advice that stuck with me forever when it comes to hair growth and hair strength is this: 'treat your hair like a piece of silk'. So I did just that. No hair bands which will snap the hair, no heat, sleep with the hair tied up, get regular trims (this petrified me more than anything), treat your scalp like a bed of flowers - nourish the 'soil' and it will grow beautiful flowers. 

The road to recovery was a long one. I'm still paying for it now. I stand here today, almost 5 years after and it's only now, that I feel I have hair and confidence. My hair has forgiven me. Slowly but surely. I took action and I left my hair for a full year. I didn't use any heat. I only used strengthening products and I tied it up every day. I felt so ugly. I felt humiliated, around my friends who all had naturally luscious, beautiful hair. I had to sit with mine, wrapped up in a frizzy bun, the little hair I did have. Why was I not blessed with long locks? A question I'd ask myself every day, then I realised, hair extensions, too much heat and too much bleach had destroyed what may have been a perfectly lovely head of hair.

I guess what I'm really getting at here is that to some people, it may seem trivial - big wow, your hair didn't grow and you had bald patches. But for me, a young girl 'at that age' where everyone was trying to impress, I sat there feeling inadequate and ugly. I know that looks and hair do not define someone, some of the most beautiful people in the world do not have hair and beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but, even though I know that, I still felt pretty crappy.

So where are we now? A few years later, about 15 hair dressers later. I finally found 'the one'. The salon I actually trust with my life. I religiously visit them and religiously rave about them. I walked into Sassoon Salon (Leeds) but I have also visited their London stores, over a year ago now. My Mum knew how much my hair was getting me down and she explained that Sassoon are the best in the business. They go through rigorous training and are known for their hair expertise. I sat down, a bag of nerves as I told them my hair story and one year later? I finally feel like we're getting there.

Yup, my hair isn't the length I want it to be yet but I actually have hair now. We started from complete scratch with nothing. I used to have tiny strands and now, I have thick, neat hair which seems like it wants to grow so you may be looking at my hair and thinking 'um Em, it isn't even long' but it is healthy and strong now and that means it's got the perfect foundations to hopefully, grow. I check in with Lee (my hairdresser) and he says my hair is doing really well. We talk about it like it's a real person. I make sure I book myself in for regular cuts (they're so important, otherwise you're just growing out dead ends and it'll grow long but it'll be weak) and I have the most amazing treatments there everytime I go to restore my hair with protein and goodness. It really is all about strong foundations with hair growth; chop it off, start fresh and care for your blooming hair because I sure wish I did this earlier.

I'm happy now that I have finally met my hair dresser match with the team at Sassoon. I've visited so many of them and they are all so knowledgable. I cannot explain. As a complete hair snob/obsessive I find it so interesting chatting to them about hair.

Stay tuned because I'm praying my baby grows even longer when Christmas time comes. Who knows, maybe soon she'll forgive me enough and have a growth spurt right down to my bum. A girl can dream. I cannot thank Lee/Louise & Valencia enough for looking after me so well at Sassoon. They've nurtured my hair, taught me so much and I owe my now, healthy hair to them.

 I've used pretty much every hair product under the sun so here's a quick list of my top / ultimate hair products for strength/length/growing the hair:

- Coconut Oil - Don't underestimate coconut oil. I put this in and sleep in it then wash it out. If you don't have time, simply put it on the hair for thirty mins before showering then wash it out. I lather it all over my dry hair. I use this one by Vita Coco  and this one by Lucy Bee

- Kiehl's Amino Acid - Kiehl's Amino Acid shampoo is amazing as it's natural and has coconut oil inside it. 

- Redken's Extreme Range -  Redken's extreme range is absolutely incredible for weak/damaged hair. It's protein enriched to help restore damaged hair too. Read up on this stuff as it's insane. 

- Aveda Damage Repair - Aveda have long been one of my favourite brands and their damage repair range is truly wonderful. Using natural plants, quinoa and more - you can seriously trust this for repairing the hair.

- Kerastaste L'Incroyable Blowdry -  This is the perfect after wash product, it gives the smoothest blow dry but works with your hair to continue heat protecting it so you don't need to worry about heat damaging your hair. It's a revolutionary product and one I wouldn't style my hair without now.

- Moroccan Oil - My favourite (particularly when abroad) for putting through the ends of my hair before blow drying.

- Phytoplage -  Another brand massively worth checking out when it comes to hair repair, particularly in the sunshine.

- GHD Advanced Split Hair Repair - I switch between this and Moroccan oil, this is really reasonably priced for such a brilliant brand.  

You can read my blog post about building body confidence here if you're interested in the confidence topic. Thanks to Oscar for the photos! 

As I said on my little things that uplift me post, nothing makes me feel better than having fresh hair and I seriously felt amazing on these photos now I have that strong hair. 

So there we have it, do leave a comment below if you've had any hair issues or, let me know if you have any hair growth tips and tricks or use any great products!

Lots of love, Em x

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