Adapting Hair Styling Tools for Independence!

I remember when the doctors told me I would never be able to brush my hair on my own. As a girl, I was devastated. I mean it’s such a simple thing to do yet I couldn’t do it… at least that’s what the doctor told me. Not even a month later however, I was doing it. Who cares what the doctor said? He was basing my abilities off the textbook but not from my will power. I’m fighting for my independence and that means I’m gonna learn how to brush my hair with the muscles that can work.  

The past six years I have had multiple hair styles. With that experience, I’ve learned how to blow dry my own hair, what techniques works easiest for me, and what devices I need to accomplish my hair style for the day. Unfortunately, I’m still unable to put my hair up in a ponytail (I see that being a long-term goal) but for now I have some tips for doing the simple things.  

Brushing Your Hair

When I brush my hair, it takes some balance and core control. I’m able to lean on my armrests which gives me the leverage I need to balance. I know If I am in my manual chair, I can lean on the counter or figure out a way to balance in order to lift my arms up and brush. But the best thing you can do is finding a brush with the grip. Without hand control, a grip is nearly impossible. So, the brush with the grip gives you the friction your hand needs in order to hold the brush and detangle your hair. There are times I do drop the brush because the knots are stronger than my hand, but I keep my quad tool reacher close to me in case I need to pick it up.  

The easiest way to detangle your hair with your brush is to start at the bottom and work your way up. Really, this is a good tip for any person but for someone with hand impairments, it’s quite functional. There’s less pulling, less breaking of your hair, and smaller knots to pull your brush through and that means less opportunities to drop the brush.  

You can a brush like this at any grocery store. Mine is by Conair that I got from Kroger

The Hairdryer

I have a hard time finding hairdryers that work for me. Luckily at any beauty store and some grocery stores, you can try the hairdryer out on display. I try to find hair dryers that I can hold easily, something light and with easy buttons to manipulate. For this, I encourage you to try multiple hairdryers out to see what works best for you.  

When I blow dry my hair, it’s very similar to how I brush my hair. It takes balance and core strength but since the hairdryer is heavier than a brush, I do lean on my elbows. Sometimes I’m able to lean my head over but no matter what, blow drying my hair takes a while. One, because my hair is so thick. Two, well, that’s just because I am disabled. I always leave the hairdryer plugged in so that I don’t have to worry about plugging it in. That saves time and energy.

Try out the hairdryers at any Ulta or Target to find what best works for you! Mine is by Conair!

The Hair Straightener

The last part was the trickiest part for me to ever figure. How do I straighten my hair? Thankfully, my hair is naturally straight, so I don’t need a heavy-duty straightener, but my hair flips weird at the ends! It annoys me so much (I know – first world problems). With straighteners, I can’t clamp the plates together, and I must be cautious about burning my hands because I can’t feel temperature. It’s such a simple task but makes it nearly impossible for someone with hand impairments to do. So, I started investigating. I gotta find something, anything! Lately I’ve been noticing hair brushes that are electric and can straighten your hair unlike the normal. All you do is turn it on and brush through your hair. But the other problem is how heavy are they, how long is the cord, are the buttons easy to use, and how do I prevent my hand from burning. I’ve searched everywhere for a device that fits my needs. I tried some out at Ulta, but their products were too big, way too easy to burn my hand, and expensive. This Christmas, I received a hair straightener (thanks Mom) that I believe works best for me. It’s by Conair, and it is very small and light. There’s only one button which is very easy to use, and it has a long cord. The only problem with it was my hand sliding onto the burning plate. So, I had to make some modifications because I didn’t want to give up. My dad bought this rope that he tied around the handle. It stops my hand from sliding forward and gives me a better grip. I’ve been using it for a while now and it works great! The beginning was kind of tricky because you need to be cautious of the heat, but the more you use it, the easier it is to accomplish your task safely. Like the hairdryer, I also leave the hair straightener plugged in for easy access. If you are interested, here is the link to the straightener! And did I mention it is cheap? 

ConairConair BC11 MiniPro Hot Heated Ceramic Straightening Brush

I hope these tips help you discover more independence! Please share this with a friend!

One thought on “Adapting Hair Styling Tools for Independence!

  1. Lindsay says:

    Hi, thanks for sharing! My name is Lindsay and I am an occupational therapy student. I’m doing some research for my assistive technology class and I wanted to explore some options and lack of options for hair tools and hair styling. I’m wondering what are some potential products that you wished to be modified or adapted to be more inclusive? Thank you again!


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