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Contrary to what some believe, I don’t have great hair. I have a great hairstylist, and have lived by the wise words my mom gave me decades ago, “you never scrimp on hair and shoes.” My hair has always been a “problem.” It’s flat, the natural color is a shade of dirty dishwater, and as a child, it was super hard to manage. I’d get these huge knots, which my mom would refer to as rats’ nests, at the nape of my neck that would need to be painstakingly worked out, and I still cringe when I think about getting my combed out after a bath. As a kid, when we would go skiing every winter, my mom would put me in French braids so I didn’t come home looking like a Neanderthal. My hair is a combination of oily and dry, meaning that my scalp gets oily very quickly, but the hair itself can often get dried out looking, especially if I try to grow it past my shoulders.

At this point in my life, I’ve learned to make peace with my hair. I have been coloring or highlighting it since I was 14. For years I was blonde, went brunette for a brief period, and finally settled on red in my early 20s. I call my red hair correcting God’s mistake. We have lots of redheads in my family, including my grandmother, my uncle, along with some other extended family members, so the gene is there, it just forgot about me. Most people assume I am a natural redhead. Although, my mom told me some red would show up in my natural hair when I was little. I think that’s a stretch. I really have no idea what my hair color is now, but if my roots are any indicator, it’s not attractive. I was definitely not one of the women who considered going grey during the pandemic.

But, enough with my complaining, I have hair. With work, I can make it look good, and over the years, I’ve learned how to make it look decent. The hairstyle I have now, which is a blunt bob, is not only a hairstyle I like, but it’s basically my hair’s set point, it’s just where my hair wants to go with the least amount of effort. Admittedly, I don’t like fussing too long with the styling portion of hair care. I call it hair ADD. After about 5 minutes, I’m done. I don’t like to use a lot of styling products if any at all, so what I like about my hairstyle is it looks like I tried a lot harder than I actually do. As with most things, we learn how to make the best of what we’ve been given and care for it the best we can.


My hair prior to it changing. The photo on the left is what it looked like when I didn’t blow it dry, smooth and straight.

So, I was plodding along with easy hair that took minutes to style and even looked halfway decent if I didn’t blow it dry, and then one day, my hair literally went south. It sounds crazy, but it really did happen overnight. It was the weekend in October my husband, Frank, and I went to Boston to see my niece at college. I noticed that my hair got frizzy and unmanageable. It literally felt like straw and looked like cotton candy. The ends were as fragile as cobwebs and no matter what I tried, I couldn’t get it smooth. The more I brushed it, the frizzier my hair became. It had no movement, and I decided to not wash my hair for the rest of the trip despite the fact that I washed it the day before we left. I tried conditioning it during my trip which produced negligible results. In desperation, I even texted my hairstylist a photo the weekend I was away to get her feedback. My hair had only just been colored when the photo was taken which is usually when my hair is at its smoothest, shiniest and easiest to manage because the cuticles of hair are usually at their flattest.

The state of my hair at it’s worst. Photos taken on my trip and shortly after I returned.
Photos of my hair taken while I was away.
A close-up of my suddenly dry, damaged hair.

Having unbelievably straight hair, achieving perfect straightness was never my issue; all it would take was a good flat brush and some blow drying, and even when I let it air dry, my hair would dry pretty much straight. Now, it seemed, the more I tried to smooth out my hair the worse it got. If I didn’t blow dry my hair, my smooth straight bob looked like Rosanne Rosanna Danna’s, played by Gilda Radner on SNL. Instead of washing my hair every two to three days, when it was at its worst, I didn’t wash it for a week.

When I went for a cut and color, my hairstylist remarked on the change and how much harder it was to smooth out my strands. She asked me if perhaps I had a change in medication. Nothing on that front had changed. Nothing had changed at all, actually. The two possibilities we concluded were either that my suddenly breakable, frizzy hair had been caused by hormones or the fact that the texture and quality of my hair were changing due to an increase in grey. Because my natural color is such a flat, dull brown where the grey can practically get lost, and the fact that I color it every six weeks, it’s almost impossible to really track how much grey I have. I had a follow-up appointment with my endocrinologist shortly after and while she could surmise that hormones could be playing a part in the texture and quality of my hair, there really wasn’t much she could do.

Hormones are funny at this age. As women, we often see hormonal change as sort of a cliff dive once we stop menstruating, which happened early for me when I was 45. But, as I have learned from both my endocrinologist and my gynecologist, hormonal changes are not so clear-cut. Hormones fluctuate as the menopausal years draw near. Could it be that my hormones were throwing my hair out of whack? Likely. Could the change have been caused by an increase in grey hair? Quite possibly. Could my change could also be attributed to pre-diabetes, which I was diagnosed with late last year? According to some research, maybe. We’ll see if being on Metformin, which I recently started, does anything to help my frizz and breakage.



I was left with one choice, to remap my haircare plan. Basically, I had to get to know my hair all over again. I felt like I had a stranger living on my head. Suddenly I was reading about products for dry, thinning, damaged hair where up to that point, all the knowledge I had was for thin, fine, oily hair. In a moment of desperation, while at a drugstore, I picked up It’s a 10 Haircare Miracle Leave-In Plus Keratin which is a spritz-on leave-in conditioner containing keratin that shields against heat, and environmental damage, restores and locks in moisture while replenishing lost protein. The product claims to rebuild dry, brittle, and damaged hair from the inside out. It also works as a detangler and heat-protectant spray.

Normally, I don’t buy drugstore hair products, but I was desperate and could get my hands on it quickly. It certainly didn’t seem like a total garbage product. That and taking some fish oil and biotin was my first line of defense to feel like I had some control. I think this product is great to try out, especially if you are on a budget. I definitely noticed a difference when I used it to get my frizz under control. My hairstylist cautioned me not to rely too heavily on keratin, however, because exposing your hair to too can actually give you the opposite effect and can cause your hair to become dry and brittle. Using a few sprays if you wash every two-to-three days should be fine.

My hair after using It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-In Plus Keratin. There was definitely an improvement.


I have been an Olaplex user for quite a few years, primarily using their No. 3 Hair Repair Perfector. In the past, this product, which I would use once a week, was great for repairing my hair and keeping my ends really healthy when I would curly it more often. I had fallen off using this product with regularity because it always felt like such an event to do a treatment. First, the product should be applied to wet or damp hair, and, second, you then have to keep it on for at least 10 minutes or longer, as it stops working once the hair is dry. I didn’t always have time for this, so long periods would pass before I’d find the time for such an ordeal.

Yet, I knew Olaplex’s benefits. A member of my Facebook Group, who is a hairstylist, gave the rest of our group quite an education on how these products repair hair. As per our member:

“Think of the internal structure of your hair as a ladder. The rungs are what hold the ladder sides together. In your hair, the rungs are called disulfide bonds. Any time we do anything with our hair, be it chemical, heat, manual manipulation, or tension – some of those bonds break. When too many bonds break the hair/ladder breaks. Olaplex was created to restructure those bonds. It heals the internal structure of the hair. It mitigates damage caused by heat and chemicals. Used properly and consistently Olaplex will help build a stronger ladder. That being said, there are times when there is just too much damage and a cut is the only option.

Our group member went on to explain the use of the first six products Olaplex offers, which at the time were all they had in the collection:

There are now six members in the Olaplex family, and they are numbered. Daddy is 1, and the most potent. It has the highest concentration of bis-aminopropyl dimaleate, the patented active ingredient that cross-links single sulfur hydrogen bonds into disulfide bonds. It can be used directly in chemical services by adding 1/16 to 1/8 oz to lighteners or color formulations. It can be used after neutralizing a perm, before removing the rods, to help the restructured bonds stay in their new curl formation. It can also be used as a stand-alone treatment, applied directly to the hair in 1 ounce of water. As a stand-alone treatment, it is followed with Mama, Number 2. Stand-alone treatments are excellent first steps in hair repair AND maintaining hair integrity.
Now we meet Mama, Number 2. This is the second-highest potency in a creamy suspension. It should be applied to damp hair, preferably over Number 1, for a minimum of ten minutes. Maximum efficacy is 45 minutes. Number 2 can be thought of as a restructuring masque. It should not be left on beyond treatment time and must be shampooed and conditioned out.

Big Brother is Number 3, a treatment for home use. It should be applied to (cleanish) damp hair and combed through. No need to go overboard, a little bit goes a long way. A nickel size dollop will suffice for most. It should be left on for a minimum of ten minutes, a maximum of 45 minutes. The active ingredient is only active while wet, so there really is no purpose in leaving it in overnight. Number 3 is a healing treatment, it is not a styling product, and must be shampooed and conditioned out.

This brings us to the twins! Numbers 4 & 5 are shampoo and conditioner. THESE ARE EXTREMELY CONCENTRATED PRODUCTS!!! The biggest complaint I hear is that these products weigh down the hair. If you feel that this is the case, you’re using too much. A pea size amount of each is plenty. It also needs to be rinsed VERY well, because it is so highly concentrated. I absolutely LOVE the twins! I find that they work best using a minimal amount, and leaving the conditioner on for five minutes. The hair is left feeling so silky and happy.

Now we come to the newest member of the family, the baby, Number 6. 6 is a styling product used to aid in smoothing the hair. It can be applied to damp hair and dried in, or used as a finishing lotion after styling. Again, a little goes a long way and a pea size is plenty. The lotion does contain silicone, so be aware that using too much can cause the hair to feel greasy.

Bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate is the patented active restructuring agent and is in every single Olaplex product. It not only maintains the integrity of your hair, but it also helps your professional color last longer. It will help your curls come back to life. However, it is ONLY a restructuring agent and does not add moisture or protein to the hair. If hair is in distress an Olaplex treatment should always be followed up with a deep conditioning treatment.”


Since then, Olaplex has introduced other products:

  • No.0, a bond-building treatment that you spray on hair and leave for 10 minutes before applying a No. 3 treatment,
  • No.4C, a weekly use clarifying shampoo,
  • No.4P, clarifying purple shampoo for blondes
  • No.7, a bonding oil that can be used for increasing shine, frizz, and flyaways, while also being a great heat protection oil,
  • No. 8, a bond-intensifying moisture mask, and
  • No. 9, bond protecting hair serum that protects, adds shine and softness, style-memory and bounce-back curls, and anti-static.
  • 4D, an upcoming dry shampoo you can pre-order


That’s a lot of products and Olaplex is hardly a cheap brand, even with No. 1 & No. 2 being salon-only products. The likelihood everyone can just go out and buy every product all at once just isn’t realistic. However, I knew that only using Olaplex No.3 and Olaplex No. 7 weren’t doing enough for me. I decided to branch out. This was a game-changer for my hair. I visited Sephora and purchased Olaplex’s Hair Repair Treatment Set which included No.0, No.3, No.4, and No.5.

My hair improved even more when I started using Olaplex products. At Christmas on the right, and at a recent event in January on the left.

Prior to using No.4 and No.5, the Bond Maintenance shampoo and conditioner, I had been using Prose Shampoo, which customizes hair care products exclusively for your particular hair needs, and I had no complaints about it but I did wonder if perhaps, inadvertently, this shampoo bears some of the blame for why my hair wasn’t cooperating. In addition, I was using Kevin Murphy’s Everlasting Color Rinse as my conditioner and, again, had no complaints. I think this rinse is pretty amazing actually. However, after using Olaplex’s shampoo No.4 and their conditioner No.5, after doing treatments with No.0 and No.3, I was floored by the change in my hair. After one use I had completely different, manageable, shiny hair I couldn’t stop touching. The difference was profound. Even my second-day hair looked cleaner, healthier, and more manageable. I still think both Prose’s and Kevin Murphy’s products are great but you would now have to pry Olaplex’s No.’s 4 & 5 out of my cold, dead hands. Following that, I also picked up No.6, their Bond Smoother, and add a touch of it (like 1/2 a pea size) to it to my wet hair with a drop of No.7 before blow drying. If I have a few flyaways after drying, I will sometimes also add a fraction of a pea-sized amount to my blown dry hair.

In terms of how much product to use, our group member’s wisdom was completely accurate, use less than you think you need or your hair will get weighed down.


As my hair was starting to heal with my Olaplex products, my assistant Rachel, who is also my second cousin, and I were chatting about haircare. Having similar hair quality, she was raving about award-winning products from Refuge Hair that were created right in Fort Collins, Colorado, Rachel’s hometown, and where she currently lives by the owner of the local hair salon, Salon Be.

Rachel raved about how Refuge’s products altered the quality of her hair and as a wonderful gesture for my birthday, she sent me their Hydrate + Balance system, which is one of three three-step haircare systems. Hydrate+Balance is formulated specifically for dry, dehydrated hair and scalp and replenishes much-needed moisture to fight static and frizz, boost shine and restore bounce. I was, of course, beyond grateful for the gift, but part of me — despite the fact that Refuge Hair won Glamour’s award for best shampoo and conditioner for frizzy hair last year — was like, “yea, yea, we’ll see.”

Refuge has a variety of different systems that are without parabens, sulfates SLS and SLES, phthalates, mineral oils, and formaldehyde, and contain less than 1% fragrance load. All their products contain natural ingredients, like white clay, various nut and seed extracts, keratin, proteins, and even caffeine. In addition to their Hydrate + Balance System, they offer:

  • Repair + Protect, which is formulated specifically for fragile, damaged, or overprocessed hair
  • Nourish + Grow system, formulated specifically for fine or thinning hair.

Products can also be purchased individually and Refuge boasts that their products were created in a salon, not a lab, and tested by expert stylists through 1 million real client consultations. All the steps for each system are the same. First, you wash with a small amount of their super-concentrated shampoo. Your hair will feel like it’s not getting a great wash, but, trust me, it is. Following the shampoo, apply the mask and keep it on for five-to-seven minutes. In my mind, I figured it would take five to seven minutes to shave my legs and wash my body, but, apparently, I have a super horrible sense of time. After doing all the washing and shaving, I found myself counting the final minute or two while pacing around in my shower, hoping it was worth it. Following the mask, the final step is the conditioning balm which is just applied and washed right after.


My hair the day I used Refuge’s Hydrate + Balance System

I have no words for how well these products worked. Despite my hair breaking bad, my scalp can still get oily easily and products that are too heavy often weigh down my hair. This was my biggest concern when I slathered on the hair mask. For the sake of hydration, I was prepared for my hair to be a flat, lifeless mess lacking in shine and weightlessness, but, instead, it was like my hair came to life in the shiniest, softest, most manageable way. I texted Rachel a screenshot I took of myself while waiting for a Zoom meeting to start to show her how well it worked after just one use.



You can use a silk pillowcase, but I prefer a sleeping cap because it keeps my hair in place. I don’t have long enough hair that I can pull it up when my hair goes askew after a day or two, so a sleeping cap keeps my style longer. Personally, I like Lilysilk’s sleeping caps and use this style which ties around the head. Even though it’s meant for curly hair, I find it works well for my straight bob. It’s a bit tricky to put on and tie at first, but once you get it down, the cap stays on the head and you don’t have to worry about the elastic stretching out.

Whatever sleeping cap you choose, make sure that it is made of silk. People often misinterpret satin and assume it is a fabric. Satin isn’t a fabric, it’s a weave, and can be woven using a variety of fiber contents. You can have silk satin, polyester satin, there are even cotton fabrics in satin weaves. Satin weaves are incredibly smooth and silky, but you’re not getting the same benefits if you use a sleeping cap or pillowcase that’s not silk satin. Be sure to read the fabric content when buying a cap or pillowcase.



I’ve tried to move away from aerosol dry shampoo after reports came out about the use of benzene in these products has cancer-causing properties. The irony is, the art markers I used when I was at FIT getting my fashion design degree I most frequently used, and have now been discontinued, contained benzene. They were so popular to use in school because they never dried out. Seriously, 30 years later and some of those markers are still juicy. Basically, I spent years inhaling benzene so I hardly think a few sprays of dry shampoo is going to be the reason benzene potentially kills me, but I did decide to switch to Billie’s Floof dry shampoo. It’s a powder that works basically the same as using baby powder or cornstarch. I use the darker color and the only complaint I have is if you scratch your head, your nails can come away looking like you’ve been digging in the dirt. Otherwise, it’s a fabulous product.



My hairstylist turned me on to the Tangle Teazer which she uses to brush out hair after washing. The Tangle Teazer utilizes a two-tier tooth system to smoothly brush out knots with minimal damage. The short teeth will smooth the hair cuticles as you glide the brush through your hair while the longer teeth will handle all the knots.



In the shower, I use the Heeta Shampoo Brush to maximize my wash and massage my scalp. Scalp massagers also may help with hair regrowth. this product, from Heeta, is a pretty straightforward product. After lathering up your hair, use the brush to get a better scalp wash. When I use it, it reminds me a lot of the deep clean stylists are able to achieve that I don’t have the patience for every time I wash.



This is my hair now, taken five weeks past a cut and color. After months of trying to figure out how to heal my hair after it became a dried-out, fragile, frizzy mess, it’s now probably healthier than prior to my hair going rogue. I’ve stopped using the It’s a 10 product, and gave up my Prose shampoo and my Kevin Murphy conditioner. I settled on using the Olaplex Bond Maintenance shampoo and conditioner, and as far as treatments go, in addition to the tools I use, my plan is to alternate weeks between Olaplex and Refuge treatments.

Losing control of your hair is not life-ending but it is frustrating and unnerving. If your hair has suddenly become unmanageable for an inexplicable reason, I hope my journey will help you. Yet, changes in hair quality can also sometimes be due to underlying medical issues, so be sure to check with your doctor if you suspect this might be the case. I’m also not a hair stylist, just a personal stylist who went through a bout of crappy hair, so be sure to also check in with your hairstylist before taking the advice I have shared to make sure it’s the right path for you. Are you someone who struggled to overcome hair changes? Which products helped you? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.