Help me oil my hair without... oiling my hair.
January 14, 2009 10:20 PM   Subscribe

I have very short, straight hair (pixie cut) and I find it easiest to style the day after the day I shower. I think something about the extra oil gives it more body. When I shampoo and condition, it's very soft and clean (good) but lies flat and has no shape (bad). How to address this?

I use pomade but putting it on clean hair isn't as easy as I want it to be. I'm in the midst of a cold and unforgiving Canadian winter, which also makes my hair dry. What can I do to give my hair more oil/texture the day I wash it? Do people put oil directly in their hair? Are there some conditioners that work better than others? What is the key ingredient?
posted by cranberrymonger to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (25 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Shower at night. Then, when you style it the next morning, it'll be closer to its ideal state. Added bonus: no need to blowdry.
posted by decathecting at 10:34 PM on January 14, 2009

Oh yes. I have the exact same problem. What works for me is to wash the night before and apply this after washing. It's lightweight and completely non-greasy, but eliminates the whole "flat, static-y helmet hair" thing. It makes my hair more piece-y and gives it more body. By the way, I'm also living in a very dry climate, if that helps anything. YMMV, obviously.
posted by teamparka at 10:39 PM on January 14, 2009

I have put oil directly in my hair, yes. I have curly hair, though, so it's fairly impossible for it to turn into an oilslick. YMMV.

I've used coconut oil (which is supposed to be similar in composition to natural scalp-produced oil), but coconut oil is solid unless it's summertime and you have no air conditioning, so it may not be any easier to apply than pomade. Jojoba oil is also said to be similar to scalp-produced oil, but it's expensive.
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:46 PM on January 14, 2009

Pixie cut here as well and I use Bumble + Bumble's surf spray. It's not oily but it does give hair a little bit of grime to keep it from going flat. While it is $25 (ouch), 4 sprays is efficient for that day-after look.
posted by idiotfactory at 11:33 PM on January 14, 2009

Best answer: Finishing serum, applied when your hair's dry. I've fought with pomades and gels and gunk for years and finally settled on finishing serum for this issue, and texturising paste sometimes to hold a style.

I imagine oil would work just fine, also. My hair's growing out now, but I would even use a tiny bit of Vaseline (melted between my hands) in a pinch. I think I might have resorted to sun cream once. As long as it's a miniscule amount and you rub it into your hands first, it's hard to overdo it.
posted by carbide at 12:20 AM on January 15, 2009

I'm a guy, and I went weeks without shampoo under my stylist's supervision with short hair. There's nothing wrong with it, and it makes it so you only have to use product when you wash your hair with shampoo. Just rinse it out in the shower and scrub your scalp without soap, you'll be fine and your hair will look great (and be very healthy).
posted by rhizome at 1:54 AM on January 15, 2009

Best answer: Sounds like you might want texturizing paste instead of pomade. I'm a guy (and a lazy one at that), but my hair has been in and out of the pixie-cut length before and the stuff is pretty easy to use. I've used Bed Head Hard To Get and Shu Uemura Shape Paste to do basically what you've described you want. Towel dry, apply texturizing paste, blow dry. End result: piece-y hair with a little volume that holds a style.

I can't believe I just gave haircare advice on Ask MeFi.
posted by strangecargo at 1:55 AM on January 15, 2009

Yeah, I'm with rhizome. The not-shampooing route is a good one. Well, it's definitely a cheaper one, and I think healthier. I have incredibly limp hair that never does what I want, and the second day after shampooing is always the best. Not the third or forth, but it doesn't look as lame as the day I shampoo it. I know many girls with curly hair who go long stretches without shampooing, too, so that their hair does what they want. But theirs is a more complicated routine of hair care, and I cannot profess to know what all goes into it.
posted by theefixedstars at 3:10 AM on January 15, 2009

I agree with others. You need a product, besides pomade. I think pomade weighs things down. A little mousse at the roots will give you texture you want without making it look greasy.
posted by Fairchild at 3:57 AM on January 15, 2009

Strip your hair every couple days or a week: Shampoo, then soap it up with regular soap, then pour a quart or so of diluted (maybe1/8 of the quart with the rest water) vinegar. Let it soak in, then condition. I do this whenever my hair starts acting stupid.
posted by notsnot at 4:10 AM on January 15, 2009

So I am totally a dude, and I got really uncomfortable when the chick at Sephora asked me if I had a "Beauty Insider Card" (NO! NO!). But:

Jonathan might be what you are looking for.

What else you need to know:
Jonathan on Dirt: "Clients often ask me to style their hair to look like it does the 'day after a cut'—sexy, manageable. So I decided to create a product to achieve that look even on clean hair. And I named it Dirt. It's a clean way to get the look and feel of 'day-after a cut' hair. Play with it. Mold, chunk, separate, add texture. Have fun."
posted by Comrade_robot at 5:08 AM on January 15, 2009

I have straight hair, it's thick though, but have some of this trouble after washing, it doesn't have any shape until a day later - so I use a little bit of this hair polish - kiwi coloreflector.. my hairdresser used it @ the salon (where the markup on this stuff is like 150%). Just a touch on each finger. works pretty well - smooths hair a bit and gives it some shape - for the first time I don't have to mess with using other products (which also weigh down your hair).

also IMHO it doesn't hurt to pay for a good conditioner, shampoo doesn't matter so much, but.. something with some olive oil or coconut oil, maybe? I've used conditioners with those ingredients from Kiehl's and the Body Shop and they're good. my experience has been, if you use a cheap conditioner it weighs down hair. that includes pantene, garnier, eg the drugstore brands that are supposed to be a little bit nicer than $2 suave, but they're not really.
posted by citron at 5:46 AM on January 15, 2009

btw, you wouldn't have to use that brand of course, but some kind of polish, basically.
posted by citron at 5:48 AM on January 15, 2009

I have a pixie as well- I use Bumble & Bumble Brilliantine.

Their Surf Spray makes my hair feel chalky and like straw. So, I use the Brilliantine after I wash my hair and then I blow dry. Then to finish off I use, sparingly, the TiGi Bedhead wax stick.
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 6:52 AM on January 15, 2009

Best answer: Why wash all the natural oils out and buy products to put it back in? I'm with rhizome: quit washing it. You'll save money and time and the environment and your hair will be super healthy.

Always give yourself a vigorous scalp massage when you're in the shower, though, so things don't get gross. Just don't use shampoo.
posted by bink at 7:03 AM on January 15, 2009

I have a pixie, too. I say you only should shampoo every third day or so. If you must wash it more, wash only with conditioner. I don't like most products because they force me to wash more. Lately, I only use a tiny bit of Beyond the Zone's Wax it Up. It's not too heavy or greasy or stiff and if you skip washing a day after wearing it, it's not a disaster.

I tried to give up shampoo awhile ago, though my hair was longer. I lasted about two months, and had bad, bad dandruff. The things that people say you should put in your hair instead--sea salt, lemon juice--led to a beauty routine that was much more time consuming than just shampoo/conditioner.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:35 AM on January 15, 2009

I call this Day 2 hair.
posted by mpls2 at 7:46 AM on January 15, 2009

Exact same problem here. I use Paul Mitchell's Tea Tree wax in a tube (it's ostensibly for guys, but who cares). Smells good, and I can spike it up or smooth it down. If it starts looking weird during the day, just wet your hair again.
posted by desjardins at 7:55 AM on January 15, 2009

Google "no-poo" for good advice about hair care without shampoo & product. Seconding coconut oil for an easy bit of styling - Body Shop has a nice small tin of it, which makes it easy to carry & apply.
posted by judith at 8:11 AM on January 15, 2009

I'd also recommend going without shampoo, or at least going longer between shampoos. When my hair was short I stopped shampooing it for months. There were an unpleasant few days in the first week where it seemed oily and itchy, but that resolved itself soon, and all I had was super-obedient hair with body and no greasiness. Others have had less success with this, so apparently results depend on hair type.
posted by PatoPata at 8:38 AM on January 15, 2009

Short, choppy cut here. I shampoo around my hairline only every other day. I rinse with hot water on my "no shampoo" day. Hair looks awesome.

I'm using pomade right now to style on my shampoo day, and I like it but I think I'm going to try the paste. I also rub my hands through my hair after I've slathered lotion on other body parts. Right now I'm using Dream Cream by Lush and it's great.
posted by lootie777 at 9:48 AM on January 15, 2009

Your best bet is to stimulate the natural oils in your scalp by brushing your hair. Then it depends on your hair thickness - I make hair oils for people to use during the shower, but you can use them after. If you have dryer hair, olive oil or coconut are good because they're thick, but lighter oils are preferable if your hair tends to be oily the rest of the year. Most hairdressers I know recommend jojoba because it's very similar to the sebum your body produces already - you should be able to get a bit from New Directions, which is a Canadian natural oils supplier.
posted by medea42 at 3:33 PM on January 15, 2009

Can't stand to not shampoo but a spray wax works for me.

A good place to look up product reviews is at Makeupalley. The community there is quite good about posting their hair / skin type and how the product affects them.

I'd go there.
posted by HolyWood at 4:14 PM on January 15, 2009

I agree with the "shampoo less/never" crowd. I have short straight hair and I only shampoo it once every 7-10 days. When I do shampoo it, it looks flat and textureless for a day. On the other days, when I just rinse it and massage my scalp in the shower, it retains lots of body and texture without feeling gross.

There seems to be a homeostatic balance where frequently stripping the hair/scalp of oil increases oil production. Back when I used to shampoo every other day, my hair would get overly greasy after 2 shampoo-free days. Now it takes much, much longer.
posted by introcosm at 7:26 PM on January 15, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the help, everyone.

I tried shampooing less often/rinsing hair thoroughly on 'off-days' (as many suggested) and it worked out very well. I can't stand to go no-poo completely, though.
posted by cranberrymonger at 1:46 PM on February 17, 2009

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