Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Experiments with oils

For the last year or so I have been doing a number of experiments using various oils, mostly on my hair, but also my skin. This journey was initiated by a fortunate accident. I happened to have what I found out was a migraine when one of my sisters was able to observe. I had no idea why I was so sick, just knew that I sometimes got like that, aches in my upper back and neck that moved into a nasty headache. Later light sensitivity and then eventually throwing up. This sister had been diagnosed with migraines some time before and asked if I had. I was completely confused, since that never occurred to me. She said that the progression was pretty classic and gave me some suggestions on how to manage it. What a revelation! It wasn't something that "just happened" sometimes, it was a progression that I could recognize and sometimes manage.

For years I had not worn my long hair up on my head very often for fear that it was a trigger for causing my 'neck aches'. Well, it might affect a migraine, but wouldn't cause it, so I started to research more ways to wear my hair. What fun!

In my search I found the Long Hair Community where I found instructions and links to many ways to wear hair as well as lots of information on having healthier hair. Over the past year and a half or so I have been slowly trying techniques and recipes gleaned from this site. I have been doing this slowly because it can take several weeks to really know the results of a particular experiment. Over time I have stopped using hair products that contain silicone compounds and have instead used various natural oils, either alone or in blends.

Everyone is different, so something that works for one person may or may not work for someone else. The only way to know is to try it and see, and especially to try it over time to see whether the results are consistent. For example, early on I tried a technique called Conditioner Only (CO) washing. This is using conditioners as cleansers as well as conditioner, usually by using 2 different conditioners, a lighter one for cleaning, rinse well, then use another application of the same or other conditioner as usual. When I first tried this I did not get good results. However, months later, after changing to non-silicone products it worked well and is now part of my normal weekly routine.

I have had good luck with coconut oil, Shea butter and others. There are a couple of blends I particularly like that I get on Etsy, Beldaran's Hair Oil and Panacea by Night Blooming. Beldaran's shop is currently not stocked. Night Blooming has several formulations of Panacea as well as Hair Anointing Oil which is also quite nice.

In addition to using oils as leave ins, deep and overnight treatments I have been quietly participating in experimenting with oil shampoos. The huge thread is here. I have not contributed to the thread because it is so big, but the results others were getting intrigued me, so I have been trying formulations of my own.

Along the way I realized that the store bought lotions I was using on my hands and skin kept getting into my hair. I decided that if I put something on my hands it better be something I was willing to have in my hair. So I started to use Shea butter, coconut oil and various other oil blends on my hands and skin. This has worked quite well overall.

My skin, like my hair, tends to be very dry. As is common in winter my hands have gotten extremely dry. Applying oils has only helped to some degree. Using Panacea very carefully has been quite successful, and has the added advantage of smelling lovely.

The same trip that my sister recognized I have migraines we happened to be out shopping and tried a Dead Sea Salt scrub, which has been in the back of my mind since then. Today I finally decided to do some research to learn more about such scrubs. As a result of that research I made a small batch of coconut oil and sugar scrub, since sugar was said to be gentler than salt. I plan to try this when washing my hands for a while to see if this helps make my hands softer and smoother.

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