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How to Take Care of Your Hair the Old-Fashioned Way

Updated on April 30, 2012


Ever wonder how the pin-up girls of the 1950s got such wonderfully shiny hair? The glamour and shine of movie star hair is derived easily by taking care of your hair the old-fashioned way. Looking back to the techniques used by our grandmothers for shiny, silky, beautiful hair eliminates the need for extra styling products and promotes a healthier scalp.

100 Strokes of the Brush before Bed

While this may be the title of a popular and controversial memoir today, its title is derived from some good old-fashioned advice from grandma. Brushing the hair for at least 100 strokes before bed using a boar bristled brush enables oils from the scalp to travel down the hair shaft, fully moisturizing the hair from roots to ends with its natural oils. This brushing also promotes hair growth by stimulating the scalp, in addition to strengthening hair via oil distribution to prevent breakage. Don’t be afraid that your hair will fall out if you brush too vigorously; if the hair is well-brushed, the fallen hairs will be those that were meant to come out. This will also prevent hair from collecting in the shower drain!

Wash Hair Less Often

Although it seems difficult to fathom today, women in the 1950s and earlier eras only washed their hair, at most, once a week. While I am not recommending that your hair should remain unwashed for this extended period, I do recommend reducing the number of times per week that hair is shampooed. Shampooing less frequently causes the scalp to produce less oil, keeping the scalp’s pH balance in check. To combat the greasiness of the scalp during the transition period, or to add volume to limp hair, try using a dry shampoo or a cornstarch-based baby powder. Dry shampoos and powders cling to the oils in the hair, absorbing the excess shine without washing away the oils, while at the same time adding incredible volume. Dry shampoo may be used up to twice after washing the hair, but may cause discomfort to the scalp if used too liberally. Even if you skip shampooing only once per week, you will begin to see the shine and health provided by allowing your hair to be deep conditioned by your own natural oils.

When Washing Hair, Use a Cheaper Shampoo

The most popular shampoo during the 1960s and 1970s was Prell, a viscous green liquid that produced copious amounts of lather. It was especially harsh to the hair, but many women (and men!) enjoyed using it because it cut through the dirt and grime effectively. Another difficult fact to fathom: prior to the invention to shampoo, women washed their hair with soap! My point is this: if you keep your hair well-moisturized, you will not need to buy expensive shampoo to keep it clean. A small amount of an inexpensive drug store shampoo will do the trick. Using a more expensive product is akin to washing money down the drain. The best shampoos are the cheapest; VO5 and Suave make great basic shampoos that won’t strip the hair completely. These also clean the hair effectively without coating it with silicones. Pantene and similar products are full of plasticizers that add artificial shine to the hair. Follow shampooing with the conditioner of your choice, preferably another relatively inexpensive product.

Use a Custom Rinse for Extra Shine

Another trick for shiny, lustrous hair is to rinse the hair using a slightly acidic substance, like lemon juice or vinegar diluted in water. When women washed their hair in sinks or basins, a few tablespoons of vinegar was a common addition to the second rinse after shampooing. This can be replicated by adding 2-3 tablespoons of white vinegar or lemon juice to a 20oz bottle of water. After shampooing and conditioning the hair in the shower, douse it with this mixture and scrub thoroughly. Rinse once again under the shower head. The hair will be slightly more moisturized and shinier than ever!

Wear a Hairstyle That Does Not Require Heat Tools

This seems like an unlikely concept for many women, but I will present it nonetheless: heat styling damages the hair beyond repair. As much as I enjoy a blow dry after a shampoo, wearing the hair in curls or allowing it to dry naturally straight will prevent it from becoming dried out. Using tools like a straightening iron require the use of a heat protectant spray—quite contrary to the spirit of this article! Embrace your natural curls if you have them, especially as they will be smooth and glorious if you follow these tips!

Final Thoughts

Just because advice is tried and true does not make it old and outdated. Revisiting these basic, common-sense tips for healthy hair from our grandmother’s era will help save money and time, and add to your overall natural beauty.

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      jennifer stewart 4 years ago

      i wash my hair only once every two week's due to my psoriasis i have no choice and i can tell you my hair is so much more healthier as for using a cheaper shampoo girls go for one that's natural don't go for one that's all flash by that i mean girls if you can't pronounce the ingredients on the bottle leave it

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