Archive | February, 2015

Lee Stafford Hair Growth Line: A Review

13 Feb

You guys. I have the slowest-growing hair in the history of the world. I know they say that hair grows an average of half an inch a month, but I think my hair grows that much about every three months. You think I’m kidding? I chopped my hair off to chin length after my wedding in 2009. I started growing it out when I was pregnant with T though, in the interest of making ponytails. And this is how long it got by the time he was born.

BACKUP 1240

Yeah. Approximately one inch, and that was with hormones. Determined, I continued to grow it out. Right before T’s second birthday, it was like dis.

64

So that’s at best, what, 3 inches? In almost two years. By the half inch formula, my hair should’ve been like a foot longer, even with regular trims. (I do have a consolation prize–my nails grow super fast. Nothing like having to trim your toenails every two weeks because they’re pressing against the toe of your shoe. #beauty)

The Challenge

When I was little all I asked for in life was “princess hair.”

Specifically, this.

But because — sigh– my hair is rather fine, it’s never gotten much longer than collarbone length. Longer than that and it tends to get straggly. And that’s unacceptable by princess any normal standards.

A few months ago, I decided to go for it though. Just let it get as long as God can grow it. (OK, maybe not quite. There is such a thing as too long.) But maybe to bra strap length, not to get graphic *snort*.  I mean, why not? Eventually I’ll be too old to rock long hair, at least not without it being a terrifying surprise when I turn around.

I’d already switched to salon brand shampoos a year ago, after hearing from a few too many sources that drug store brands cause waxy build-up. But I figure slow-ass growing hair of this caliber needs a little something extra. So to help me in my mission, I turned to – where else? – Pinterest, and that’s where I came across the Lee Stafford line of growth products.

Salon Brand?

Lee Stafford is a UK celebrity hairdresser who sort of looks like he should be choreographing a group piece on So You Think You Can Dance but instead has his own product line. They sell it at Boots which basically the British equivalent of a Duane Reed, but I got sucked in by the tag line “for hair that never grows past a certain length” (once I got past the sociopathic capitalization, at any rate). I don’t know, maybe in the UK they don’t allow wax in their products. You never know.

Literally.

The bottle arrived with no ingredient list. I guess the labeling requirements are different across the pond? I couldn’t even find the ingredients on the internet, although I did search only briefly, and then really only for sulfates (since my hair is colored).

The retail price for these products is in the $14-16 range per bottle. So, not all that cheap, but by no means top dollar as far as hair products go. I paid $50* at Amazon and got all this.

 

*of my own sweet, sweet, hard-earned cash, as you should know by now.

There’s a shampoo and a conditioner, and a protein mask that you’re supposed to use between the shampoo and conditioner. I read somewhere that it’s really important to use conditioner of some kind after the protein treatment, otherwise it will eat your hair or something. I don’t know about all that, but I will say that I would never be able to get a comb through my locks after the growth treatment without the help of conditioner. The last item is a milky leave-in spray.

Application and Usage

The biggest complaint in the Amazon reviews was that it smelled bad. I don’t think I would have given the smell a second thought if I hadn’t read that though–it was perhaps a little stronger than other shampoo scents, but by no means did I find it gross or weird.

The protein growth treatment got used up the fastest. You’re supposed to use an egg-sized amount, and even that didn’t spread very far. Eventually I got a clue and starting using it, as well as the leave-in spray, on just my roots (the instructions say to apply all over, but come on, from whence does new hair come out?). The conditioner ran out before the shampoo because I was applying it all over instead of just on my ends like I normally would (I was scared of the protein treatment). The conditioner wasn’t particularly creamy–it was on the lightweight side if anything. I usually had to use an extra product post-shower to help detangle. #finehairproblems

I still have at least half of the bottle of leave-in treatment left. So my review is based on complete use of three out of four products.

Does it work?

The part we all care about, right? So here’s the BEFORE shot, taken at the beginning of October.

Hair Before 2 fix

This is my hair at the end of my last bottle of shampoo and conditioner (it was Joico, if you care). Please do not judge my toothpaste splatters.

…And this is the after, taken at the end of January (approximately 3 months later).

Hair After 2

At first glance, pretty great results I’d say.

Hair After 3

It looks like we went from clavicle length to armpit length. But wait…

Hair Before After Side

Compared side by side, is there really that much of a difference? I mean, clearly there is new length here, in my bangs if nowhere else. But is it more than would naturally occur in three months without a trim? Hmm. Maybe, maybe not.

Pros:

I think the biggest thing this product has going for it is that I wouldn’t have been able to get it this long and still have it look nice. Anytime I’ve tried to get my hair longer than it is in the before shot, I’ve had to cut it because the ends have gotten so tangly and dry and gross that I can’t even comb my hair, much less make it look cute.  It’s now the middle of February and I still don’t feel like anything except my bangs needs a trim (and that’s just because I like shorter bangs).

Also, it’s shinier. (Sigh, yes, these pictures were taken in different lighting situations but I promise, I spend enough time staring at myself in mirrors to know the effect is not a trick). I like to think that’s health shining through, but who knows. My hair definitely feels lighter and bouncier, despite its being longer (maybe) . Which leads me to…

Hair Before After Back

Cons:

The difference in length is even less distinct in the shot above. By normal growth standards it should be an inch and half longer. But my hair is a little curlier in the after shot which may have taken away from the overall length. What do you think? Maybe I should’ve put the exact same shirt on.

The resulting texture is a bit rough, making combing a little more difficult and the hair not really as smooth and soft to the touch. However, I think that may be because there were no waxes present (that’s what usually gives your hair that smooth and soft feeling–did you know that?). On the other hand, I think there may have been sulfates. Believe it or not, I actually refreshed my color about halfway between the before and after shot, and it still lightened up that much.

Caveats

I should say here that this wasn’t exactly a scientifically controlled experiment. In addition to the Lee Stafford products, I’ve also started taking a high dose of biotin. A word of caution if you’re thinking about starting a biotin regimen: be prepared for ALL your hair to get longer. Embarrassing admission–when the peach fuzz on my face started to veer into sideburns territory, I dropped back to taking that ish no more than three times a week.

I also started using a Tangle Teezer right after Christmas, and it’s been pretty life changing, even if it does take me, like, 15 more minutes to comb my hair now. Around the same time I got a free sample of the Perfect Hair Day cream from the Living Proof line, and I love it. It’s going really far toward softening my hair that extra bit.

Additionally, I wash my hair only 2-3 times a week. That’s how I was able to make these relatively small bottles last three months. I also try not to use heat styling except for on special occasions. Such as when it’s too cold to let my hair air dry.

And of course, let’s not forget I didn’t trim my hair at all. The general wisdom is that cutting your hair helps it grow, but in reality that has more to do with–again–simply keeping it from looking like garbage as it gets longer in its own sweet time. If I can achieve healthy looking hair through products instead of trims, whose to say I can’t get my bra-length hair?

Bottom Line: Would I recommend it?

Yes. If you don’t process (straighten, color, etc) your hair. I’m going to continue to use the protein growth treatment and the leave-in treatment, but I’m stopping the shampoo and conditioner in favor of the ones in this line (yeah, Blake Lively is on the Strange Rocket headed toward Planet Annoying, but you can’t deny her hair is killer). Hopefully that’s enough to save my color somewhat but still achieve the desired effect.

The thing I really liked most about this product is that it really brought out a new texture in my hair, one that was perhaps weighed down previously by those creamy conditioners I prefer. Previously I couldn’t achieve waves like that without salt spray and a curling iron (and even then usually only in fall and spring when it wasn’t raining and humidity was at a perfect 30%).

This is a decently low cost line with results that in my opinion, make it a good value. But as for myself, I might see greater results with an even more radical treatment–not cutting my hair.

 

*****UPDATE*****

It’s December 2015, a little less than a year after this post, and guess what. I made it to the bra strap!

I’ve gone all the way since April with only a dusting and the occasionally bang trim. That’s a record, folks.

Unfortunately, my hair sustained some damage during my latest show, and with the layers all grown out it was looking a little blocky and blobby. My face is rectangular with sharp angles (the worst shape) and the long hair was dragging it down, making me look older. So I had to have it cut. Here you can see the before and after.

Lee Stafford

As is the general rule in life, it looked pretty good the day of the salon appointment, even though it looked like shite every other day leading up to that. Right? I mean, what the hocky puck.

The stylist told me the bottom inch and a half was damaged beyond repair and had to go. And I have to admit, my hair does look healthier in the After shot (and my face perhaps a teeny bit more lifted?). But I did note my hair was still pretty manageable to comb through when wet, and wasn’t breaking too much, and that’s even with a few colorings. So overall, I’m rather satisfied with my experiment.

What about the products? I went through one more tub of the protein treatment, but never did order any more of the spray (it lasted quite a while). I stopped taking the biotin completely because I lost the bottle. Tangle Teezer is still the best thing since hair dryers.

The Serge Normant didn’t work out. It was too substantial for my hair, particularly as the weather got warmer. Searching for something lightweight but still sulfate and wax free, I switched to this shampoo and this conditioner. Drug store brands, to be sure, but I’m pretty happy with the results (see above).

Now that my hair is cut, I’ve actually placed another order for Lee Stafford shampoo and conditioner. I plan to alternate each wash between them and the OGX. With any luck, it won’t take another eight months to get my hair back to it’s former glory length.