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Blog

Cold showers and how to enjoy them.

tl;dr Easy does it.

In my post If we don’t urgently change our way of life, we jeopardize life itself I wrote about how some things seem like an ordeal, but when you do them they’re surprisingly, deeply rewarding. Well cold showers are like that too!…

 

So yeah, the first step is to appreciate that a cold shower is one of the most wonderful experiences you can have. Irrespective of all the rewards they bring, they just make you feel absolutely great! If you haven’t enjoyed cold showers before, I’m happy to be introducing this technique to you it’s basically just taking things slow and acclimatising. It’s also worth bearing in mind the extreme level of exhilaration you experience will wear off after the first few times, so enjoy them while they last!

I’m confident using this technique will mean that you don’t find yourself gasping for air and blaspheming in a squeaky voice, as I did the first time I tried to take a cold shower, in the only way I thought possible: Jumping straight under, or a quick bit at the end, ie the shock method. If you do find yourself gasping for air using this technique, I’d suggest that you try reducing the water pressure and don’t feel the need to rush. It usually takes me about 6 minutes to reach my back and in total this takes me about 10 minutes. Initially it was more like 15. 

 

The first thing I do is to prepare for getting out. Always start at the end!

I have found I don’t need moisturiser after, and cold showers are absolutely the best way of getting clean. I took a hot shower recently for the first time in ages! I felt like I used to feel getting out of a hot bath, kinda clammy. Not 100% clean, and when I sniffed my armpits I could smell the fresh perspiration like I always used to. Now I’m surprised to say I think I actually prefer cold showers.

 

Once I’m ready to get out, the second thing I do is get in! I take the shower head off the wall and turn the cold tap on very slowly. More than just a trickle but just low enough for it to start spraying. 

I start alternating between washing my hands and feet, and work the lather up my limbs towards my torso. Early-on I splash my face, neck and back with a little fresh water and then get plenty of soap in all my hairy places to work its magic while I get on with the rest of my body. I sometimes notice the warmth my hands are experiencing, rather than the cold my body is feeling. I continue soaping towards my torso and eventually up my neck to my face and hair, as usual. I’ll turn the tap off once my whole body is wet hang up the shower head in its wall holder and carry on washing. This would be when I’d shampoo my hair however I use alternatives. Once I’m done its time for the cold rinse.

I turn the water on again slightly higher pressure now and it feel less cold this time. I kinda wiggle gently into the stream over about 30 seconds starting with my face and shoulders then rinse my hair by leaning forward so the water doesn’t go down my back. Then finally my back, which is the hardest part for me. I can imagine it might be the face or hair for other people.

I’ll stand there under the shower for maybe a minute or two more and finish rinsing. It’s at this point I could probably increase the water pressure but I don’t because I am restricted by the size of my water tanks on my boat. I wonder what another 5mins under there would feel like…

Once I’m done I just stand there dripping dry. Almost immediately l start to feel this wave of warmth and exhilaration come over me. It’s indescribable but you’ll have heard people talk about it no doubt. For hours afterwards I continue to feel great.

I can literally see myselfhhaving cold showers for the rest of my life! 

Have you ever tried a cold shower? Have you tried this technique? Do you have any questions? Let me know! 

Categories
Blog Hair

“If we don’t urgently change our way of life, we jeopardize life itself.” – Antonio Guterres UN secretary general

What do calls for rapid and deep change mean to you?

To me they sound ominous. But are they?

A couple of things happened recently which meant I needed to do something that – were I to tell you – would sound very unpleasant. However actually doing those things was beyond pleasant; they were rewarding, enriching even!

My point is this: I know it sounds like using Wild Sweet William* (Soapwort) to wash your hair instead of shampoo would be a bit of an ordeal, but in reality it was a fantastic experience.

To hopefully illustrate this, I made a video of myself and used the opportunity to do a little bit of science experiment! I had quite a drastic haircut halfway through the first part of the experiment, therefore I am going to restart it now that variable has changed! So, if only for posterity’s sake I’ll be uploading a video of me washing my hair with Wild Sweet William here soon.

I am going to be growing my first crop this year! More on that another time…

Categories
Blog Photos

A photo from each month of the last year of the teens

January

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February

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March

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April

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May

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June

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July

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August

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September

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October

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November

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December

December

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Categories
Blog Hair

Environmental impacts of hairdressing

Since coming across the idea of Ikigai, and for a while before that, I’ve been meaning to write about my environmental values as a hairdresser. Often, when I talk to people about the environmental impact of hair, they say: “Oh yeah it’s everything and everywhere isn’t it.” (It being the wanton destruction of the planet.) Just like The Good Place tells us, the impacts we have on the world around us run deep, and are highly interwoven.

The fast fashion industry is coming under heavy scrutiny recently, however it appears to me that the beauty industry’s environmental impacts are mysteriously immune. Clearly I’ve got lots to write about here. To set the ball rolling in this first post, I’m going to write quite broadly about about three aspects of haircare. In increasing order of their associated environmental issues, these are: cutting, maintenance, and colouring.

Cutting hair

Cutting hair has very few environmental issues involved with it, which is one of the main reasons I was attracted to it as a career (as opposed to colouring) in the first place. Hairdressing scissors are self sharpening – the hair actually polishes the steel as they’re used. Combs, which were traditionally made from bone, are now made from plastic. The only other necessaries: clips, a waterspray and a gown are all very durable, and can last many thousands of haircuts. I’d say taking into account what a dramatic change a haircut alone can make, the environmental impact per job is negligible, especially when compared to the next two aspects. Hair cuttings are of course a natural product and can be composted, however the vast majority ends up in landfill.

Maintenance

Cleaning, conditioning and styling hair, has the potential to have a very low impact too, as the nopoo movement has shown. Nopoo, NO sham-POO, in its purest form is about using only water to clean your hair until it recovers its natural self cleansing abilities. [n.b. use of word ‘chemical’ can be misleading – water is a chemical [even if its called “aqua”]]. This is not always achievable and so alternatives to commercial shampoo products, are often sought. Most of these can be found around the home, such as apple cider vinegar, bicarbonate of soda and so on. These products, owing to their extreme acidity/alkalinity, kill the bacteria which build up on the scalp and cause unwashed hair to smell bad. Using natural dry-shampoos (such as cocoa for brunettes and starch for blondes) between washes can help to reduce the visible buildup of oils. On the other hand coconut and other oils can be used to calm frizzy hair. For the sake of brevity and positivity, I’ll save the whole anti- Sodium Laureth Sulfate case and the story of foam for another time.

There’s a lot more to write about on the subject of NoPoo… but in a nutshell my advice would be to make use of a variety of plants which have been proven for millennia to be safe, effective and indeed – free. The two plants I recommend being Wild Sweet William (for greasy hair) and Nettle (for dry hair). Both of these grow in the UK as weeds and consequently can be foraged. Nettle is known for its ability to alleviate skin conditions such as eczema and its ability to give shine. Wild Sweet William’s scientific name Saponaria officinalis comes from the Latin stem ‘sapon-‘ meaning soap, it is still used to clean delicate fabrics like tapestries today in museums etc. From experience I can tell you that it is a very strong cleanser.

Colouring hair

Colouring hair, is a very big subject. Colouring today involves the use of a range of mostly synthetic chemicals,with varying degrees of toxicity – some are associated with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This is why professional hairdressers refuse to colour pregnant women’s hair.

There’s an ever increasing range of natural/organic haircare products available, all pledging their environmentally friendly credentials, such as ‘recyclable’ packaging, not having been tested on animals, carbon offsetting etc. None of these stand up to even the slightest scrutiny and in my opinion, they’re some of the most insidious examples of greenwashing.

Here’s a quick background to what got us here:

What we now know as hair colour began in the 1860s with the discovery of PPD and in 1907 Eugène Schueller (founder of L’Oréal) invented the first hair colour. Thus began the multi billion dollar industry which is now hoodwinking us on many levels into thinking we are not perfect as we are, that we can reverse the ageing process and that we *need* to colour, shave, and faff with our hair to the extent that we currently do.

To really expose the foundation on which the advertising industry has created and profited from insecurities about imperfection and aging, try searching YouTube videos of hair ads from the 1950s onward. On a connected note, there’s plenty to delve into with regards to race, gender and so on which I look forward to writing about another time. But I’m digressing, so back to hair colour…

While there are the plants I’ve already mentioned at our fingertips that we can use to clean our hair, Henna and Indigo grow further afield in tropical climates. The powdered leaves of these plants are simply mixed with water and have been used successfully to colour and condition hair for thousands of years. Organically grown henna and indigo are easy to find online, and can be used at home or taken to a sympathetic salon. They darken hair by adding pigment molecules to the hair shaft.

In order to lighten hair, pigment needs to be removed and this can be achieved by spraying citrus juice on hair on a long term basis and leaving it in. The effect is speeded up by UV from the sun. There are records of Celts bleaching their hair thousands of years ago. There’s a wealth of knowledge out there which I’ll be exploring in future posts. But that’s about it, for this article.

So yeah, that’s my basic analysis of the environmental impacts of haircare. But when you care for your hair what are you really trying to do?

On a social and individual level, whether we admit it or not, hair’s actually quite a big deal… I’ve read theories about hairdressing being the inspiration for the invention of acting, owing to the way a change in hairstyle can so dramatically alter one’s appearance. I’ve even seen it argued somewhere that, given the social complexity with which primates groom one another, hairdressing is older than humanity itself. Or perhaps even a precursor to it!

In my next post I’ll be looking back to the recent past, specifically around the early years of globalisation, modern science, etc where we find hairdressing leapt into a state of incredible creativity – perhaps its most extreme. And I’ll link that with how I propose to find satisfaction as a hairstylist, being part of this paradigm shift which civilisation is hopefully embarking on, having taken globalisation to its limits.

I look forward to reading people’s comments on this post and if there are any topics I touched on which you would like me to write more about, or any other directions you’d like me to explore, please leave a comment!