Is Pretty Hair Possible without Plastic? Yes, with These Styling Secrets

02/16/2011 09:24 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

by guest blogger Leah Zerbe, online editor at

It's only halfway through the month, and already's Plastic-Free February challenge has been, well, challenging. Completely opting out of using oil- and natural gas-based materials is impossible. That's why we're focusing on making positive changes where we can, particularly when we're talking single-use plastics. At, our editors and social media coordinator are each participating in the challenge for a week.

My week started on Sunday, so it included Valentine's Day celebrations. And I have to admit I got a little nervous. While I don't generally wear tons of makeup, I do like to get dressed up and go out sometimes. And I particularly like to have fun with different hairstyles, cuts, and colors. Would plastic-free week doom my tresses? Would I have to go to work looking like a bag lady with stringy, unkempt locks? When we booked a segment on NBC 10 in Philadelphia this Friday to talk about Plastic-Free February, I really panicked.... I can't represent on TV with a rat's nest atop my head!

But using hair products from plastic bottles seems to contradict the plastic-free ethos.

So for the weekend kickoff of my plastic-free week, I headed to Bella Salon in Pottsville, PA, and asked my friend and talented stylist Jess Adams-Peters to experiment on my mane. (We put her aspiring-photographer sister, Leigh Ann Adams, to the test trying to photograph the hour-long session.) My hair type is pretty boring and average. I'm not the lucky type who wakes up with silky-looking or playfully curly hair. Instead, my thinner tresses are kind of kinked and feathered at the start of the day. Sometimes, my Polish rooster even attacks me in the morning if I feed our farm's chickens before combing my hair.

But Jess worked some nontoxic, plastic-free magic. And I now feel confident that limp locks can enjoy a burst of volume and soft curls by relying on simple treatments like heat, natural gel from an aloe vera plant, and a little sea salt whipped up in the kitchen. No plastic, petrochemicals, or synthetic fragrances or colors required.

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