Sunday, 31 July 2011

Quick Tip: Natural Shedding vs Breakage

You are positive that hair is coming out of your head, but you are unsure if the hair you see is a result of normal shedding or breakage. To tell the difference, look for a white bulb.  A naturally shed hair will have a white bulb attached. A broken hair will not have a bulb attached.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Soap Box Special: Protective Styling

I'll let you know now that I don't care for protective styling. If you are interested in length retention, apparently protective styling is the way to go. I'm not completely convinced on that, but if you choose to protective style, below are some information that may help you do it effectively.

What constitutes as protective styling?

I only have two requirements for protective styling. If a style does not satisfy the following requirements, I don't consider it a protective style.

  1.  Protect your individual hair strands from damage
  2.  Allow you to maintain your hair's health

Is every style a protective style?

Based on how I define protective styling, most styles are not protective.There are many styles that protect your individual hair strands (like updos which keep your individual hairs from rubbing against your collar), but fail to allow much access to give your hair what it needs( like regular washing and moisturizing) and vice versa.

How long should I keep a protective style?

It depends on the style and your preference, but  I think that your protective style should be able to be taken down on a nightly(or at most a weekly) basis so you can moisturize and seal. The way I look at it is that is does no good to keep your hair tied up if it prevents essential care. Even the best protective style has a peak and there comes a point when it must be redone.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Basics: Hard Water and Your Hair

What is hard water? defines hard water as water that contains large amounts of dissolved minerals (specifically calcium and magnesium).

Is hard water dangerous?

 Hard water is not dangerous to drink or use, but it can cause household  problems if not addressed.

What are some side effects of hard water?
  • Soap scum
  • Food can  look and taste differently (compared to soft water)
  • Prematurely rusted and clogged pipes
  • Dry skin 
  • Discoloration of  white clothes

How does hard water affect the hair?

        Hard water can leave layers of calcium and magnesium on  your hair and scalp and can leave them feeling: dry, brittle, hard, dull, brassy, heavy, lifeless, flaky and nasty. I found that when I washed my hair in a place with hard water or used hard water in my moisturizing leave-in, no matter how hard I tried, my hair felt dry and I found lots of little broken hairs that were not there before. 

How can I find out  if I have hard water?

There are several ways to determine if you have hard water.
  •  The easiest way and cheapest way  is to call your water provider and ask if you have hard water or not.  
  • You can also buy a water testing kit. 
  • You can try looking at hard water maps and see if you region has a lot of hard water. Below is an example of a hard water map
 [Map of water hardness across the U.S.]
  • Or, you can just look at your pipes and shower and see if you have a lot of soap scum. 

How do I remove hard water buildup from my hair?

        If you have hard water, it is best to remove the buildup it can cause on your hair with a synthetic detergent( primarily one with sulfates). Although I would not normally recommend using sulfate because they can be too stripping, sulfates are effective at removing hard water buildup. Unlike soaps, which can combine with the hard water and produce soap scum, synthetic detergents clean the hair well.
        When I was staying with a friend with hard water, I found that clarifying my hair once a month with a clarifying shampoo (containing a sulfate), helped to bring my hair back to life. Don't overdo it with the sulfate shampooing and you should be fine.

How to prevent hard water buildup on  my hair?

         If you have hard water and are not planning on buying a water filter system, the best you can do is limit exposure to the water as much as possible. When mixing your leave-in, try to use filtered/bottled water in lieu of tap water. Or, if you like to spritz your hair with water, try using filtered/bottled water instead.

Any final words?

        Although having hard water is not the end of the world, a large majority of people in the US have hard water, it can affect the way your hair looks and the way your hair products work. It can cause you to believe that you have protein overload (a lot of the symptoms are similar) , make a product that may work for your hair (if you had soft water) not work, or make your favorite product stop working.
         If you are constantly feeling that your hair is dry and brittle and keeps breaking and you have done everything you can imagine- such as: remove your protein, change products, change shampoo, change conditioner, alter your leave-in recipe, cowash more frequently, and etc.- and nothing seems to work, chances are you have hard water. 


Saturday, 2 July 2011

Quick Tips: Oils & Butters

Below are the pros and cons of commonly used butters and oils.    

Shea Butter: 


Pro: This very thick butter is great for sealing hair in harsher months. If your hair requires heavier products, this is a remarkable  butter to try.
Con: There is a slight nutty smell. Not a butter to be heavy-handed with because it may cause build-up. It can freeze in the colder months and you may have to melt it. You may have to mix it with another oil or butter to make it softer.
Overall: To get the best benefit from this butter, don't be heavy-handed and add some essential oils if you don't like the smell. Great for colder weather.

Olive Oil: 

Pro: This oil is a good in-between oil; it is not too heavy and not extremely light. You can find good quality, inexpensive olive oil at almost any grocery store.
Con: I'm not a big fan of olives:P
Overall: This is a great oil if you like convenience and don't like paying a lot for your hair oils. Great for autumn weather

Grape seed Oil:

Pro: Extremely light oil. Perfect for those who don't like a lot of oil on their hair. Very easy to find at grocery stores or health food stores. No strong odor.
Con: Very, very light oil. It may be a little too thin if you have thick hair.
Overall: Decent oil. Great for thin hair and warmer weather.

Coconut Oil:

Pro: I wrote an entire post about this oil. This is a light oil with a pleasant coconut smell (I like the smell of coconut). Very low melting point making it easy to apply to hair. Can be solid or liquid depending on your preference
Con: Very low melting point. At any temperature below 75 degrees Fahrenheit, it solidifies and melts very easily at 75 degrees and higher. Because this oil is very light, it is easy to overdo it. Some people report that it freezes on their hair in the winter time (I have not experienced this myself, but it's something to look out for)
Overall: My oil of choice! It is a light oil so don't go crazy with it. Because it freezes and melts easily, I think this oil is a great year-round oil

Avocado Oil:

Pro: Very light oil. Low odor. Good for sealing.
Con:  Not many cons except you may have to go to a heath food store or shop online to get it.
Overall: Another good oil. However,  I wouldn't reach for it at the store mainly because it didn't wow me too much.

Castor Oil:

Pro: Very thick oil. Excellent if you have very thick hair.
Con: Very thick oil. You may have to dilute it with a thinner oil to make it not as heavy.
Overall: Great if you have thick hair. Also great if you like heavy oils and like the thickness of shea butter, but don't like the smell or the idea of having to melt your shea butter. Wonderful for colder months

Jojoba Oil:

Pro:  Light and very much like the consistency of hair's natural sebum. Great for mixing with other oils and Shea butter.
Con: One of the more expensive oils.
Overall: I really liked this oil, but for my lifestyle, I didn't like how expensive it can be. Excellent for year-round use