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Let’s talk about my hair, okay? (A tragic tale of woe)

December 11, 2013

L-A: Forget Romeo and Juliet. For never was a story of more woe than that of me and my hair.

all the sads

For the past year or two, my hair has been the source of great concern in my life. My hair and I have never really gotten along, but we’ve mostly had a friendly detente of sorts. I’ve always thought it should have more volume and better natural colour, but my hair had other plans. It’s mostly flat and thin and went a darker shade of blonde, doesn’t want to do much, and the left and right side both flip to the left. Awesome. And since my teens, I have been a sucker for anything that says “volumizing”. It started with Herbal Essence shampoo (which smells like 18 to me. That and GAP Dream).


Just over a year ago, it went from mildly uncooperative to downright petulant and mean. My hair turned oily. I’d wash it and it would immediately need dry shampoo. Unfun.  I assume this is payback for the perms I had done in grades four and ten or all the at home hair colouring (the latter perm being the beginning of my transition from super long to short hair and I have apologized profusely to my bangs for that perm. I stand by my attempt at Angela Chaseness and all the boxes of extra blonde, ash, champagne, and whatever). And just when I discovered the magic products that will fight the oily hair (I love you Kerastase! And I love my hairdresser for hooking me up with that shizz!), I move to the land of hard water.

kristen bell can't deal

Is hard water really that bad? Well, let’s put it this way, I used to watch CLR commercials and wonder: who in god’s name would put CLR in a coffee potWhy would you ever do such a thing? It’s like asking to be killed a la Heather Chandler.


NOW I KNOW WHO DOES THAT: me. (I haven’t actually used it in my coffee pot, but I do understand. CLR and I are fighting the Battle of Lime in My Tub right now).

But you know what else could use a little CLR? My hair.

Sweet jesus, my hair. It was bad at first, but manageable. A trip to Halifax in August was a delight because the Halifax water gave my hair a break. But after four months, things had gone to a whole new level of bad. My hair never looked all that clean and worse still, by month four, there was buildup. I’ve heard of it in commercials, “is your hair lifeless, dull, full of buildup” and thought, “Clairol, you are on crack.” But this was actual, honest to goodness buildup. You could feel it. You could see it in my hairbrushes. Touching my hair would leave actual residue on my fingers. Gross.

i hate my life

So what’s a girl to do? Well, here’s what’s happened.

Fixing My Hair in Nine Overly Complicated Steps

Step One: All the Internet Searches

i googled

Because I can’t be the first.

Step Two: Apple Cider Vinegar

Upon reading Internet advice, I used Apple Cider Vinegar in my hair. My bathroom and I smelled like a delicious vinaigrette. We let this sit on my hair for ten minutes or more. It sort of helped.

Step Three: Distilled Water

Upon further Internet advice, I went for distilled water. This sounds fancy and indulgent, but is actually a pain in the ass. The 4L bottle of distilled water is awkward in the shower. The juice jug I stole from the kitchen is only moderately better. And it’s cold. Room temperature water is really frigging cold. Pouring it over my head reminds me of the house I lived in in Ghana, where there was no shower (they were more into baths)  and we’d wash our hair with a child’s plastic pail.

Step Four: Hair still has buildup, but is less gross

Hand to god. Ellie touched it after a week of the above

Step Five: Attempt to install filter in shower

Fail. Water shot out of the back of the filter and soaked the bathroom.

Step Six: Visit hairdresser in another city to reset your hair

I’ve been reluctant to find a new hairdresser, so I book appointments for any visits to Halifax. This time was a full on colour session and the mix of colour chemicals and softer water got rid of all the gunk. I refused to wash my hair the day after getting it done and my husband had to listen to me say, “it feels amazing! Feel it? Isn’t it amazing? It feels normal again! Tralalalala!”

Step Seven: Continue with the awkward distilled water

Since returning home, I’ve attempted to wash with distilled water, but that magic from my hair reset only lasted so long. It was awkward and cold and feels like a complete waste. My hair felt amazing, but it only looked so-so. The colour and cut were great, but it’s a little flatter than usual, even with product. Probably because rinsing your hair is hard with cold, buckets of water.

 Step Eight: Try the damn shower filter again

There is no feeling comparable to going from cold, buckets of water to a stream of hot water from a shower head. I remember this feeling from my travels in Ghana. Unfortunately, the shower filter can only do so much and after a month, I was feeling the buildup again.




Step nine: Clarifying Shampoo

I’m not eager to get back on the distilled water bandwagon becuase it’s winter and I don’t deal well with cold mornings, let alone cold water on my head in the morning (yes. I tried boiling it first. No luck thanks to build up in my kettle. I’m not kidding you when I say hard water is the worst). So on the advice of the nice lady at the Shoppers Fancy Beauty Section, I got this.

neutrogena clarifying shampoo

We’re only into week one of this weekly shampoo and after six months of dealing with hard water, I’m trying to be cautiously optimistic. Because right now? Right now my hair feels effing amazing. Almost as good as after I got it coloured in Halifax. And that was after one use (well, I washed, rinsed, repeated) of this stuff. I don’t want to get too excited, but I’ll admit I felt a little of this after washing my hair with the stuff.

coach taylor

And now I need to start thinking about getting a hairdresser in a new town.


I kind of wish I could justify the cost of a plane ticket every time I needed a hair cut. But this is a story for another day.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. December 11, 2013 1:32 pm

    Remind me: are you in TO or Waterloo? I know great hairdressers in both. Let me know if you need any help finding a new one!

    • la permalink*
      December 11, 2013 2:18 pm

      I’m in Waterloo (well, Kitchener, but it all feels the same to me. However I’m sure the folks of KW would argue otherwise), so if you know anyone – hit me up! I’m going to need to get a cut before I can get back to Halifax again.

  2. December 11, 2013 1:50 pm

    Have you tried baking soda and vinegar?

    1tbsp baking soda, mixed with 1 tbsp of water to make a paste
    1 tbsp white vinegar, mixed with 1 tbsp warm water (in a separate cup, obvs- this ain’t no science experiment)

    Work the baking soda paste into wet hair from root to tip and then let it sit or a minute or so. Then rinse that out, and then pour the vinegar/water solution over your hair, and then rinse that out.

    Resist the urge to shampoo after, if you do it right you won’t small like salad dressing.

    Style as normal. I know it sounds crazy, but it gives me the best hair days ever when I do it. According to the internets, some people do this every day in lieu of shampoo….

    • la permalink*
      December 11, 2013 2:19 pm

      I have not tried this! But I’m going to give it a go. The clarifying shampoo worked wonders, but the next day with regular shampoo, I can already feel the buildup again (not as bad, but it’s back).

  3. Dee permalink
    December 13, 2013 6:02 pm

    The water in KW is the worst but this place is the best:

    • la permalink*
      December 20, 2013 12:21 pm

      Thank you! I’ve seen ads for them. I will try them out for my first KW haircut!

  4. bluenosegardener permalink
    January 3, 2014 12:57 pm

    I had the same problem when I moved from NS to Guelph, except I my hair is thick and wavy hair and I swear I ended up with Hermione’s hair, exactly as JK Rowling describes in the first HP book. Anyway, I would encourage you to attempt the cider vinegar one more time. I used 3 tbsp vinegar diluted in 1-2 cups of water I kept in the shower (I used a plastic mixing bowl I kept on the edge of the tub), and I would pour it over my scalp at the end of the shower. Of course, this does mean I smelt faintly of vinegar until it was dry, but it’s not as potent as it sounds like your method was.

    The other thing I did was make up a little spray bottle with water, ac vinegar, a bit of jojoba oil and a drop or two of whatever essential oils I liked the best, and I would shake it up and spritz my hair with this after I got out of the shower (patchouli worked pretty good, but jasmine and lavender was also effective, if you don’t want to smell too hippy). The jojoba was especially good for the dry winters. I attempted the baking soda thing, but found it really drying to my scalp, and actually made my natural oil production go haywire. Just a caution.

    I hope this might be helpful to you. If not, good luck with whatever other methods you find!


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