Hey everyone! I hope you enjoyed my Zero Waste Grooming: Oral Care blog last week! Update on that, I received my Bite toothpaste bits, and they’re awesome! They foam A LOT – like, way more than normal toothpaste – and they leave your teeth pretty clean feeling. Definitely give them a try if you’re as excited as I am about toothpaste tablets!
This week I’m going to talk about Zero Waste Grooming with regards to Hair Care. Now mind you, I have naturally ridiculously thick, curly, coarse Mediterranean hair which overwhelms my frame, so I’ve actually had a pixie cut for the last eleven years. Within that time, I have of course attempted to grow my hair out, thinking to myself “Oh, my hair couldn’t have been as bad as I remember it.” Incorrect. It’s like wearing a sweater on your head during the summer; the frizz is astronomical with any humidity; the thickness of my hair just balloons out so I look like a mushroom; and on top of which, it’s pitch black, so it’s like a big, opaque block coming right at you. Think of all this, but also anywhere I grow body hair as well. I have a lot of hair, and I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to hide that fact. So with that said, onto a few things for grooming your hair, zero/low-waste style:
My hair is so awful that I got to the point where waxists wouldn’t touch me anymore. “Your hair is too thick and you get too many ingrowns; I’m scarring you more than I’m helping you at this point.” That’s what they said to me. I had spent my life from age ten to thirty shaving, waxing, depilating, tweezing, and sugaring at least twice a week to the point that my skin and follicles were exhausted. They couldn’t take it anymore, and honestly, neither could I. I couldn’t wear a dress or skirt without shaving immediately before putting it on, and I would have stubble as soon as a breeze hit my legs. I couldn’t wear any sort of swimsuit because the ingrown hairs, stubble, and razor burn would go a third of the way down my thighs. I’m actually permanently scarred in my groin area from ingrown hairs due to waxing. My armpits developed a permanent darkness due to shaving so much and having a lot of melanin in my skin (olive and black skin gets darker the more you shave). It was a nightmare. On top of which, I get razor burn any time a blade touches my skin. So I would constantly be itching like crazy all over my body due to razor burn and thick-ass hair growing back. Finally, I said “f*ck you, hair, I’m getting you permanently taken off.”
I had heard that laser only reduces your hair, not permanently removes it, but at this point I was desperate. Turns out, my hair type is the perfect candidate for laser, and I spent a year removing every last hair from my lower legs (my thighs have tattoos and my hair is too thin, so laser can’t be used), underarms, and groin area. Aside from a few stragglers left behind that grow at random times, the laser actually permanently removed my hair, and I could not be happier.
The whole point of this story was to talk about razors, and I divulge because I think it’s pertinent to understand that I don’t actually use one…but I am incredibly familiar with them! However, my boyfriend uses them, and so I’ll talk about his zero waste efforts.
For his first birthday as my boyfriend, I bought Michael a straight razor after multiple hints of “Hey, I want a straight razor.” He loved it. It gave a really nice, clean shave, he could sharpen it after every use, and it was zero waste. The problem is that you can’t bring it on an airplane. So when he flew across the country to meet me for three months, he had to leave it in Vegas where it ultimately got thrown away. An expensive zero waste item that ultimately turns wasteful if you fly a lot and don’t want to check your bag all the time. If you’re a man who rarely travels, or has a specific travel razor, I highly suggest a straight razor. It’s a beautiful gift from a partner (or to yourself!), it’s a mindful experience when you shave and use the strop, it gives the closest shave, and it’s completely zero waste.
So during the time that Michael was with me for those three months after leaving his straight razor, he purchased a bag of disposable razors so he could shave. I was astounded at how much waste those razors were. I had with me some trimmers because I was shaving the sides of my head at the time, and I had him use them to get rid of the long hairs on his face. He went two months having stubble on his face, but he wasn’t throwing away a disposable razor every week. If you’re a man who doesn’t like a clean shave, or who only shaves occasionally and has to shave really long hair, get yourself some trimmers and use them first before shaving. It keeps your razor sharp for longer by cutting the hairs shorter, and it’s also a good tool for touch-ups in between clean shaving. Also, for women with finer hair, trimmers will work great for you at getting rid of thin hairs on your body without having to shave constantly.
Now that we’ve lived in Salem for a year, Michael has a safety razor. They’re cheap, the blades are recyclable, and there’s no plastic used. They work for both men and women, so if you have a partner you only need one razor between the two of you, and if you’re single, it doesn’t matter what sex you are, because it works equally as well! You can travel with it on the plane as long as you take the blade out, and replacement blades can be purchased easily at any drugstore or even Target for less than $10. If you check your bag on a flight, you can bring the blades with you.
Ultimately, my suggestion for going zero waste – if you can afford it – is to do laser hair removal. It really doesn’t hurt much at all, and it’s so worth it in the end. Never having to shave again is one of the best gifts you can give to yourself. Or, you can say “f*ck it” and just grow all your hair out, because in the end, is worrying about body hair really worth all the hassle?
In my plight of hair removal, the first thing I did when I was eighteen years old was get electrolysis on my eyebrows. My natural eyebrows look like a giant caterpillar going from my temples across my forehead. I used to pluck Every. Single. Day, along with getting waxed every week and a half. I was so tired of having my eyebrows messed up constantly by different estheticians, and ripping out chunks of hair with tweezers just to get them to a thickness that could be shaped. So electrolysis was my eighteenth birthday present from my dad. It took a long time to remove the hair. Generally about fifteen to twenty sessions of them electrocuting each individual hair follicle and removing the hair. My eyebrows were thinned down to two separate entities that were still thick enough to where I could shape them to my liking (and this was in the early 2000’s – thank the cosmos I didn’t get them super thin like the trend was at the time!). So I do in fact use tweezers, and I love Tweezerman Point Tweezers. They are metal with a sharp point that are super precise for even the smallest of hairs (albeit, you may have to get used to using pointed tweezers), and Michael loves them for getting out ingrown hairs on his face as well. Not only are they awesome tweezers, but Tweezerman offers free sharpening of any of their tweezers, and if they can’t be sharpened, they send you a coupon for half off your next order. They will last you years and years (I’ve had mine for three years and am about to send them out for their first sharpening), and can be fully recycled at the end of their life cycle. These tweezers are $36 on Tweezerman’s website.
Because I have short hair, I don’t actually need a comb or a brush. However, when I was growing my hair out, I just used a wide toothed comb that I’ve had – no joke – since I was twenty years old. That’s almost fifteen years. The comb is plastic and beat up, but it still works, and I’m definitely not going to throw it away just to get a wooden one so my bathroom looks zero waste. After all, the most zero waste thing of all is reusing, reducing, and recycling. If your brush or comb is working for you, don’t trash it just because you judge yourself for having plastic. The fact that you aren’t throwing it away is more zero waste than purchasing a new zero waste product.
Hair products are interesting because they come in some of the most wasteful packaging imaginable. And the worst part is that you have no idea if a styling product will work for your hair, so you end up collecting product upon product that take up room under your sink and never get used. When you finally decide to Konmari everything, into the trashcan go plastic tubes, jars, aerosol cans, and random bottles. In a perfect world, stores would let you try out the hair product first, and then use compostable or recyclable packaging materials.
When I had long hair, I was guilty of using gels and curl creams in cheap plastic tubes and jars, only because nothing else worked for my hair! But there are a few things I can suggest (especially for men or my pixie-haired brethren):
Herbivore Sea Mist is a pretty good sea salt spray. I love sea salt sprays. They’re actually awesome for any type of hair, you just have to know which one to get. I’m not going to say this is my favorite sea salt spray, because it’s not, but I think it would work really well for straighter, longer hair. It also comes in a glass bottle and is 100% natural, which is amazing for hair care products! You can get this product on Herbivore’s website for $20.
My FAVORITE hair pomade is Bumble & Bumble Sumotech. This pomade has an amazing hold, gives texture, and smells like lemongrass and leather. It’s also free of phthalates, parabens, mineral oils, and formaldehyde, and is leaping bunny certified cruelty free. Unfortunately, this product does come in a thick, plastic jar, but the jar can be recycled if you live in an area that recycles plastic, or you can reuse the jar for something else (it’s sturdy). Sorry that this isn’t a zero waste option, but to me, the benefit of cruelty free outweighs a tiny, reusable jar. You can buy Sumotech on Bumble & Bumble’s website for $29, and it lasts months.
Another pomade I like is surprisingly Axe Messy Look: Flexible Paste. Is it natural? Oh my, no. But it comes in a metal tin that is 100% recyclable, and the paste is really, really good for both thick hair, and hair that needs strong hold (I used it when I had both a Fauxhawk and a Mohawk). It’s also a really good option if you need a hair styling product quickly but want to stick to low waste, because you can get it at any drugstore for less than $10.
The last thing I’m going to talk about are conditioning treatments for your hair that are completely zero waste. Do you have any oils in your house? Avocado, olive, almond, Argan, apricot, coconut, and castor are all amazing oils for a nourishing hair treatment, and you don’t have to buy a single thing that you don’t already have. They work better than most hair masks, and you can put 1-2 drops of essential oils in it for added benefits. Some suggestions are rosemary, peppermint, spearmint, lavender, and tea tree. Rub the carrier oils into your scalp and to the ends of your hair, and let it sit for an hour, up to twelve hours. Jamaican Black Castor oil will grow new hair, by the way. I never noticed it growing my current hair longer, but it definitely sprouted new hairs along my hairline, which was not my intention. So if you have fine hair, try some Jamaican Black Castor oil!
Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you all next week!
All my best,