After using my Hair Bean in place of a regular brush for a week now, all I can say is: WOW. I am REALLY glad I tried this brush! There are several other similar brushes out there like the Tangle Teaser and this one and a few different versions from Michel Mercier. Obviously the Hair Bean is lower end and so is its price point. I have not tried the others but there are many reviews on youtube comparing these "detangling" brushes and many of them are done by long haired people.
Here's what I have observed this week: At certain points throughout the average week before I switched brushes I always knew to expect more visually obvious breakage between oilings (I use olive oil once or twice a week). I often sit in a sunny window and dust my ends for breakage with good quality hair scissors and it seemed that, with my pre-Hair Bean regime that I would see new breakage no. matter. what. And that was really frustrating. Well, all week I have been scouring my hair for the usual splits and honestly, I am having a hard time finding them! I definitely have a lot of damage to my hair because it is always dry and fragile. I never use heat or styling products, I just have a genetic predisposition to easily damaged hair (as does my mom).
I don't baby my hair as much as I should. After years of trying to do all the right things to get as much length out of my hair as possible I gave up in frustration. Of course I still like having the healthiest hair I could, but given that I saw new breakage daily no matter how many times I oiled it, no matter how sparingly I used shampoo I figured there was just no fighting the genetic component so I focused on keeping the length I did have as healthy as I could given the amount of time I had to spend on it/myself.
So, I can't tell you how stoked I am to find that much of the new breakage I used to see on a daily brasis was caused by the pulling and snapping of using a regular brush. When I oil my hair, my damaged ends stay "glued" together for a day or two after I wash it. Eventually, after a few brushings I could see the pre-existing damage "unfold" from the folicle as the brush distrupted the glueing effect of the oil residue. The Hair Bean doesn't do that. It just detangles. That's it. No pulling, I have not broken a single hair by pulling with this brush. It's a LOT easier to clean out than a regular brush too and, as I mentioned in my last post it really helps shed pillow lint out of your hair (jersey or flannel pillow cases + recently washed hair = lintapalooza) and it just falls off the brush instead of getting all wrapped around the bristles.
My friend Justice over at Cutting Out Counting Calories turned me on to this woman's youtube channel which has been a fun way to indulge my inner hair nerd (as well as my inner corset nerd!). She has hairstyle tutorials, hair care tips, rants about how weird people can be about long hair and other interesting stuff.
All of that said, now that I feel like I can possibly get the upper hand on my breakage, I am going to make some changes to my hair care regimen. In the above link Lucy talks about why using hair products which contain silicones (or 'cones) works for her and I am of the same school of thought. Some long hairs say 'cones are really bad for their hair and others say they can improve hair health and texture. I have gone 'cone free in the past and my hair was even dryer than before. Like using oil, 'cones seal the hair, and they can either seal IN moisture, or seal it out. Many heat-buffering products contain silicone because they seal/protect the hair shaft (keeping the little flakie bits on the outside of the shaft flat instead of letting them stick out like a pinecone, which is basically what breakage is under a microscope) without causing a "cooking" effect like oil would. So, I am going to continue using 'cone containing products and leave-in "conditioners"/protectors like Organic Root Stimulator's line. This can be really helpful on windy days, btw.
I AM going to switch to a sulfate free shampoo and conditioner though. I live outside a small town of 15,000 people and we have NO specialty beauty or health food stores so my options are limited to drug stores and Wal Mart. If anyone has any suggestions of inexpensive products that do not contain sulfates, I'd be really appreciative if posted your recommendations in the comments!