Our Californian-born intern, Catherine (Cat) Barnes, is a sucker for all things holistic, organic and healthy. So, when she was given the chance to go to Byron Bay - the Aussie go-to town for releasing your inner hippie girl - she was excited to see the place where all three of these principles reigned. But, while the sea, sun, sand and sandalwood incense were expectedly there, she came across something she didn't even know existed... A spiritual guru, for your hair. Intrigued, and ever-ready to great beauty content, Cat couldn't pass the opportunity to pick the brain of this new age novelty and see what hair tips we might be missing with a lifetime of depriving our mane its own spiritual mentor. Here, she shares these mystic secrets (that actual ended up being really valuable hair care tips).
It's Saturday evening and I'm at a small night market full of music, food and booths with a plethora of local goods. One booth in particular is striking. The sign reads “Hair Smudging Journey”. Being from 'hippie-dippie' Cali I am very familiar with the art of smudging by burning sage - the burning of a bundle of herbs for the purposes of cleansing a space of bad energy and introducing good energy. I’ve smudged every space I’ve inhabited since I learned about the importance of clearing negative energy that can be trapped in spaces. But smudging hair? I was intrigued.
I waltz up to the booth curious about this hair ceremony and I a woman with the kindest eyes I have ever seen greets me, her name is Nicole. She describes the smudging process as a journey to cleanse one of a woman’s most powerful and unique traits - her hair. The aim of the process is to help regain power that may have been lost through mistreated hair. Hey, we've all been guilty of heat tools, colour changes, styling products... the list is long, and it takes its toll.
Nicole’s hair is in a thick bun on the top of her head, which leads to her first tip...
1. Wearing your hair in a bun on the top of your head
It apparently opens up your crown chakra which is related to spirituality. She explains that wearing your hair in this style allows your mind to open up and lead to a more peaceful understanding of your surroundings.
I realise women often put their hair in high buns during times of stress - meeting a deadline at working or studying for a test. Until now, I've never heard a prior explanation to this subconscious habit. Times of stress cause us to subconsciously seek peace and connection. Makes sense!
I immediately put my hair in a high bun. I need more peace in my life (to give you an idea, I can be so anxious, I'll flush the toilet before I’m done peeing). Perhaps this whole bun thing will help.
On the topic of hair styles, Nicole explains her second tip on the path to enlightenment and power.
2. Sleep with your hair in braids.
Braiding hair at night helps your electromagnetic field to balance out from the day. She believes that at night our hair absorbs lunar energy and braiding it helps our hair to maintain this energy thus granting us power, helping us to feel refreshed when we wake.
Yes, hello, skeptics, I get your rolling eyes, I really do. I understand this sounds very hippie. However, I now sleep with my hair in braids and I swear to you, I feel more rested than ever. Promise!
Her third tip was exciting to me as it validated my O.C.D. and clean-freak mentality.
3. It is important to wash your hair at least every two days.
Now, this goes directly against the No 'Poo movement that so many swear by (although, I have never braved it). By thoroughly massaging your hair as you cleanse it, it helps to exfoliate dead skin cells thus helping hair follicles to grow. Nicole also declares that it's beneficial to wash your hair after being upset in order to help process emotions.
I personally always look forward to taking a shower after a long day of feeling upset or angsty. It helps me to relax and unwind, so this might be why.
Relating to the third tip, she went on to describe the types of products you should use when washing your hair.
4. Wash your hair with the most natural and organic products you can find.
Since your hair is an extension of your nervous system, it can transmit a vast amount of information to the brain stem, the limbic system, and the neocortex.
Your hair sits directly on your head. (Duh). Therefore, the products you put in your hair eventually leak into the pores in your head and your blood stream. If there are toxins in the products you use, they can become detrimental to your health. In addition, many shampoos and conditioners that maintain toxic ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate and myreth sulfate can actually dry out the scalp, irritate oil glands, and actually damage hair follicles. So, although I'm not entirely convinced my shampoo is in my blood stream, I can definitely see merit in the effect synthetic ingredients can have on our skin - you only have to be a sufferer of sensitive scalp to know how damaging it can be.
Her fifth and last tip was perhaps the most empowering one for me because of the underlying message.
5. Allow your hair to grow.
Nicole states that when we allow our hair to grow, we are welcoming the maturity and the responsibility of being full-grown, fully powerful, and fully us.
Our hair is uniquely our own. No one has your exact natural colour, texture, thickness, thinness, or length. While I won't proclaim that we should all let our hair grow to our butts and never colour it again, Nicole’s inherent message is one to keep in mind - the importance of being aware of your unique beauty and not conforming to others perception of beauty. Yes, it’s cheesy (and a curious conclusion given I love to work in beauty...) but there's a difference in loving to play with (and write about) beauty and relying on it for self worth.
I start this new age hair journey unaware of where it will lead me. Though physically in the same spot, I end the journey in a completely different place, ready to embrace the power that is embedded in my unique hair. Or, at the very least, treating my hair much better than I did before.
Story by Catherine Barnes