Category Archives: Natural Hair Basics

Trimming Natural Hair and Length Retention

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I straightened my hair about two weeks ago (see that post here). Although I “search and destroy” regularly, my ends were desperately in need of a trim as it had been 10 months since my last professional one. So, the Monday morning after straightening my hair, I reached out to my stylist Tameeka (aka Jaded Tresses) to see if she would be in her NJ location that night. I was hoping that she might be able to slip me in between her other appointments.

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Well, it turned out that it was her son’s birthday and she wasn’t working that night. I was totally bummed, but understood. However, later that day, Tameeka texted me that she was going to Sam’s Club in Edison and couldn’t come to NJ in good conscious without trying to hook me up.  So, she asked if I could meet her at the salon later! Y’all … I was on YouTube trying to figure out how to self-trim when I got the text (and, she suspected that is what I would do)!! LOL!! I was ecstatic that I wouldn’t have to take on that task myself!!

So, I met Tameeka at the salon in South Orange, NJ, where she usually works Monday nights. And, in like 5 minutes flat, she cleaned up my ends and made me a very happy lady.

Left: Prior to trim; Right: After trim

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My hair felt sooooo much better after that trim!!  The thing that I love about Tameeka is that she really listens, understands, and respects my length goals and that when I say that all I want is a small trim, that is what she does. I’m sure other stylist would have tried to chop several inches off of my hair due to the thinner perimeter and would claim that my ends are not healthy, but that has NEVER been an issue with Tameeka. She never says, “Oh, you should take more off” or “your ends are unhealthy” or “It would look better like … .” No, she respects that I know MY hair and really evaluates the condition, and not just the aesthetics, of hair to determine what it needs. And, she has never taken off more than an inch when I have requested a trim only. A non-scissor happy stylist? That’s priceless for me y’all.

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TRIMMING NATURAL HAIR

Anywho, since we’re talking about trimming, I figured I’d take this opportunity to discuss my thoughts on a couple of questions that I’ve seen related to trimming natural hair and trimming in general.

1.  Do naturals need a blunt perimeter/even cut/ends?

In my opinion, if you wear your hair in a curly state the majority of the time, no. I don’t trim, cut my hair to keep my ends even. I trim to eliminate damaged ends that are excessively weathered, knotted and/or split. I do this with regular search and destroy (S&D) missions (usually on wash day) and a professional trim every 6-12 months. I trim in this way because, if I don’t, the damaged ends will inevitably cause collateral damage (i.e. more splits, knots, and weathering), because the “bad” hair snags on healthy adjacent strands and causes friction to the cuticle.

Another reason I don’t worry about a totally blunt/even perimeter is because hair tends to grow at different rates. The front and lower back half of my hair grow a lot faster than my crown. So, I accept that my hair does not grow out evenly or into a blunt shape. What I do try to do is keep the longest layer not too much longer than my shorter crown. When I get trims, I ask Tameeka to trim more off of the longest layer and less off of the shorter layers, to gradually thicken my perimeter. Since I wear my hair in updos and twist or braid and curls the vast majority of the time, my irregular curl pattern and length differences are disguised.

2.  Does trimming the hair stunt or encourage growth?

It does neither. Hair grows from the scalp and is dead the minute it “sprouts” from the scalp. Trimming eliminates weathered, thinned, split and knotted ends. It makes the hair appear healthier, neater, and more aesthetically pleasing to some. It helps reduce and prevent the continuous cycle of splits and breakage. However, it doesn’t encourage growth. Some may call it semantics. However, I want to state for the record that what trimming actually does is help prevent continued breakage, which impacts length retention and can make it seem like the hair is not growing. By trimming damaged ends, the hair will be better able to retain the length that grows, which some see as “encouraging growth.”

That being said, if you constantly trim and hair grows at an average of 1/2 an inch a month, you may trim off all or most of the growth, which will make it seem as if your hair isn’t growing. For example, if your hairs grows an average of a 1/2″ a month, and you get a 1″ trim every 3 months, you are only retaining a 1/2″ of growth instead of 1-1/2″. If your ends are healthy and well-maintained, that is totally unnecessary. This is why some may think that trimming stunts growth. But again, it’s not the growth, it’s the retention that is being impacted by trimming.

So, in conclusion, trimming (or not trimming) impacts length retention, not growth, depending on how it is used. And that’s all I have to say about that.

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How do you trim? How often do you trim?

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Growing Long Hair: Diet, Exercise and Vitamins

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I have been asked about the whether diet, exercise, and/or vitamins help hair grow a few times and have seen it posted in some form or the other a lot lately. So, I figured I’d share my thoughts on the subject. I’m not saying I’m an expert, but these are my observations based on the things I’ve learned about hair through reading lots of hair blogs, watching lots of videos, and/or observing through my own experiences.

A good diet, adequate nutrients, hydration, and exercise are foundations for healthy hair and growth. But, many mistake lack of length retention for lack of growth. Unless there is some underlying condition, hair is always growing. If hair is growing elsewhere on your body, it’s growing. And it’s pretty easy to know your growth rate if you relaxed/relax or color/colored your hair. However much new growth you had 4-8 weeks post relaxer/color will tell you your growth rate. The problem often is that the growth is lost to breakage (i.e. the hair is not retaining length).

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So, the assumption is that the hair isn’t growing when, in fact, it is. So, the focus needs to change from growth to retention. All that being said, hair is dead once the strand “erupts” from the scalp. So retention is about preserving dead cells. Eating a healthy, well-rounded diet and exercising helps build stronger hair IN the scalp. Stronger and healthier live cells inside mean stronger and healthier dead cells outside. And the latter will be better able to retain length with the right protective/retention practices for you.

And those are my thoughts in a nutshell!! Yes, a good diet, exercise, and adequate nutrients play a part in growing healthy hair, but if that hair isn’t retained, you won’t see longer tresses. So, you have to make certain to take care of both ends, literally ;), to see results if long hair is your goal. To learn more about what I do to “grow” my hair long, check out my post, How I Retain Length.

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What have you found helps you grow healthy, strong hair that retains length?

PSA: Saving Your Strands

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ponytail2(I know some of you want my T-shirt ;). Sorry, it was a limited edition!)
#CalvinandHobbesForever!!

Hey guys! Just popping on here really quickly to share a little length retention tip that may seem like “duhhhhh” to some. But, was something that really just hit me a couple of years ago.

Okay, so … what had happened was … I had my hair secured with two Goody Ouchless ponytail elastics for, like, a week. I had not done anything with my hair all week, except put some gel on the edges to make it look presentable. So, when I was finally taking out the elastics to pre-poo, this happened …

tangledwebNo bueno!

Now, my first instinct was to pull and tug on the hair to try to free it. But, after a minute, I realized that was not working too well. Then, I thought, “I’m going to have to cut my hair off of this!” But, then, I immediately thought, “STOP!!! Are you stupid?!? Doesn’t it make so much more sense to cut the ELASTIC?!?” I mean, really!! Lose 50 cents instead of losing months of growth? #soundslikeaplantome

After I cut the elastic, I was able to slide it out of my hair and then detangle the knotted hair. Funny thing is, a similar thing happened to me a couple of years ago. My hair got wrapped around a neck button at the back of my shirt and I couldn’t get it free. Someone was helping me free it and finally gave up saying, “I think we have to cut your hair.” I was like, “Uh, no. Cut the button off the thread. The button can be sewn back on, my hair can’t!”

#usingmynoggin

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What “common sense” hair strategies have you learned to use to protect your strands?

Dry TnC with Small Perm Rods

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I was going to call this, “Curly ‘Fro: Take Two” (see “take one” here). However, this time it reeeeeally looked nothing like a ‘fro and turned out very similar to my old Twist n’ Curl (TnC) … so, yeah.

Anywho, as you know, last week I attended the CurlyNikki Curl Power Event. I decided that I wanted to try a hybrid of the MahoganyCurls and PGneiicey methods of creating a curly ‘fro.

I hit Sally’s on Tuesday night for more perm rods. My intent originally was to get more grey rods as I thought that I might not have enough. Instead, when I got to Sally’s, I saw the slightly larger pink ones and decided to get those as I wanted bigger hair than I achieved the last time. And, get this, the perm rods were on sale 2 for $3!!!!

CF_permrodsThe rods on the right are shorter, although the labeling is no different.
I got the shorter ones for my front as they only had 3 bags of the longer rods.

Once I got home, I got to work:

  • Started with dry hair that had been in twists for a day and a twist-out for a day.
  • Finger detangled dry hair in about 10 sections with my coconut oil whip. Y’all … this part took FOREVER, mostly because of my nape area which has been knotting and tangling badly :(. Once I detangled each section, I twisted it.
  • Starting from the back and moving forward, I applied a dab of Shea Moisture Raw Shea Restorative Conditioner and a dab of Eco Styler Olive Oil Gel to a small sections.

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  • Then, I twisted to about halfway down the length of my hair and set the whole length on a perm rod wrapped in end paper (the end paper prevents my hair from snagging and tearing out when the rods are removed).

All set and concerned ... "Please don't let me look like Soul Glo!!!"CF7CF10

  • I used a total of 28 rods, so only 2 1/3 bags of rods, to set my hair and it took THREE HOURS!! Ughhhh!!

As y’all know, as I was applying the product, my hair was looking soooo stringy. I had a flashback on CurlyNikki’s WnG experience with it. Remember that? If not, see here. F’reals … I was definitely afraid that I would end up looking like Randy Watson!!

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Fortunately, all was right with the world when I removed the rollers and released the twists the next day :). So, here is the tale in pics and the final results.

(Click pics to enlarge and read full captions.)

So, I was very pleased, even though my hair didn’t end up being as big as I would have liked. I was really surprised at how soft of a set the Eco Styler Olive Oil gel provided!! I’ll be trying this again, but on damp hair with the smaller grey rods. But I won’t be doing that for a minute as my hair really needs a break from being worn down. The cold winter and all this friction from rubbing against my coat and clothes has been doing a number on my nape and I ain’t got time for all of that.

Oh, and as to day 2 hair? Well, I twisted it into four big twists on Wednesday night, so those Shirley Temple like curls didn’t last long. I had bigger waves … but, you know, I was feeling it!!

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Do you use Eco Styler Gel for styling? Which one is your favorite? How do you use them?

Hairscapades in Better Than Good Hair!

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2/2/13: Okay ladies! This is it!! I got a personal text from Nik asking me to get the word out! Please buy your copy (or two or three or four … I got 3) of Curly Nikki’s Better Than Good Hair BY 5 PM TODAY!!! In the publishing world, you have one week to make it in the top 20 and BTGH is so close!! So, if you can buy another copy AND/OR get family and friends to do so, TODAY IS THE DAY!!

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It’s here!!! It’s here!! Okay, my copy isn’t here. But Hairscapades follower Myeisha got her copy of Curly Nikki’s Better Than Good Hair yesterday and shared pictures of my Exercise and Natural Hair article on the Hairscapades Facebook page!!

BTGH1Woot! Woot!

OH!!! And get this!!!! Though they don’t mention any of the contributors by name, Huffington Post had this to say:

via HuffingtonPost.com

“We especially love the sections on how to maintain gorgeous hair while exercising (since that’s proving to present some major health risks) …”

That’s me!!! That’s me!!! LOL!!

Anywho, hopefully I’ll get my copy today! If you haven’t ordered yours, now is a great time to get it!! Because, you can get a $10 Shea Moisture coupon when you do the following:

  1. Buy a print copy of the book between January 29th and February 2nd on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com or at your local bookstore.
  2. Register at Shea Moisture Events Giveaway HERE.

How easy is that? And shoot, if you get the coupon, it’s like getting the book for free!! Buuuuut, you have to order and register fast as this offer is only good while supplies last!! (Full details of offer here.)

(Hmmm, I think I may need to pick up a couple more copies for the family myself! Given my PJ ways, you know that I want some Shea Moisture coupons ;).)

Hair Care Rehab and a Giveaway! *CLOSED*

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Does Your Hair Need an Intervention?
Tips for an Easy 5-Step Rehab

Between blow-drying, teasing, flat-ironing, highlighting and lowlighting— there are many ways to change what Mother Nature gave us. But whether you’re regularly straightening curls, lightening darker hair or vice/versa, there may be a price to pay for rebelling.

But most women don’t think twice about the hair habits they’ve had for years and years, says longtime hair-care advocate and health scientist Audrey Davis-Sivasothy.

“Lackluster, frazzled, overworked hair—that’s the price we pay for handling our hair like a pair of jeans. Hair is a fragile fiber that needs to be handled more like a silk blouse,” says Davis-Sivasothy, author of “Hair Care Rehab,” (www.haircarerehab.com). “Oftentimes, the style we feel the most comfortable with reinforces our bad habits. It’s a problem with all the earmarks of an addiction.”

Substances of choice include:

  • Toxic chemicals (perms, relaxers & colors)
  • Hair OCD (excessive combing, brushing & heat use)
  • Environmental lifestyle (too much exposure to sun, surf, bad air and water)
  • Nutritional/dietary (fad diets, smoking, low water consumption)

As with a drug addiction, once you’ve kicked your habit, you’ll liberate your bad hair, unlocking new dimensions of hair potential, says Davis-Sivasothy, who has also authored the popular “The Science of Black Hair” (www.blackhairscience.com).

She offers a five-step rehab for damaged hair:

  1. Chelating: Products containing oils, conditioners, serums and pomades (or minerals), which make you feel better in the short term, can build up and actually prevent your hair’s ability to hydrate. That’s why the first step in detoxing hair is the use of chelating shampoo, which is typically clear and lifts stubborn buildup from products and hard water. While many chelating shampoos are sulfate-based, there are more sulfate-free products entering the market to accommodate sensitive scalps and hair. Clarifying shampoos are a good substitute when chelating shampoos cannot be found. Moisturizing shampoo should be used for general use after detoxing is complete.
  2. Deep conditioning: After chelating, deep condition for 10 to 15 minutes. This should be done every seven to 10 days using moisturizing conditioners such as instant and cream-rinse, deep conditioners, protein treatments or leave-in conditioners. To go the extra mile, consider an apple cider vinegar rinse to close the cuticle and enhance your hair’s shine.
  3. Moisturizing: This step adds a layer of leave-on protection. You can use either leave-in conditioner or a dedicated moisturizing product, or both. For thick, dry or curly hair, this step hydrates and adds “slip.” For fine or oily hair, these products should detangle strands while encouraging volume.
  4. Sealing: This is the last major step in your hair intervention. Sealing with an oil or butter product locks in moisture and solidifies the gains of rehab. It smoothes out the cuticle and keeps hair moisturized for a longer period. Always use sealant on slightly dampened or misted hair, or pair the product with a water-based moisturizer to maximize the benefits. If you have naturally oily hair, you can skip this step.
  5. Styling protectively: Imagine wearing a favorite sweater every day; washing, drying and ironing it several times a week – it would look pretty worn out after a few years! This is exactly what happens to hair that is bleached, colored, blown dry with artificial heat, ironed, weaved and on and on. Don’t do this anymore! There are several measures you can take to preserve the health of your hair, including wearing it up more often, cleansing it cautiously, detangling strands with a large-tooth comb, protectively using blow-dryer heat, reducing chemical use and not coloring your hair more than three shades lighter or darker than your natural color. In general, be gentle. Do not pull to hard or rapidly when styling it, too; be slow and steady.

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About Audrey Davis-Sivasothy
Audrey Davis-Sivasothy is a Houston-based freelance writer, publisher and longtime, healthy hair care advocate and enthusiast. Sivasothy holds a degree in health science and has written extensively on the science of caring for hair at home.

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GIVEAWAY

Now the author behind The Science of Black Hair is back with her newest book, Hair Care Rehab: The Ultimate Hair Repair and Reconditioning Manual!

And, guess what? Yes! That’s what!! I’m giving away a copy!!! LOL!!

To enter for your chance to win your very own copy of Hair Care Rehab, simply tell us why your hair needs an intervention in the comments below!

Deadline for entry: Tuesday, December 18th. 

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*No purchase necessary. A winner will be selected at random the week following the close of the giveaway. In accepting the prize, the winner acknowledges that Hairscapades.com may not be held liable for any loss, damages or injury associated with accepting or using this prize. This contest is subject to all federal, provincial and municipal laws. Contest open to Continental U.S. residents only. One entry per person. Claiming of prizes requires an e-mail response to hairscapades@gmail.com from the winner within 5 days of being notified of winning. Failure to respond shall mean that the winner forfeits the prize and an alternate winner will be selected.

SKILLS NOTES: Product Ingredients

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So, I was thinking about how overwhelming it can be when you first discover the online natural hair web-iverse. There is sooooo much information out there and some of it is very technical, while other is anecdotal. And, while the education can be enlightening, it can also cause more issues than remaining ignorant!! Been there …  done that. LOL!! However, I do believe there is a “sweet spot.”  You know … that point where you’ve read enough, watched enough and tried enough to make informed decisions about what products, techniques and regimens will work for you and also know enough to figure out on which ones you should take a pass? *Singing* “Walk on byyyyyyyy.”

Well, all that being said, it may take some time to reach your very own personal “sweet spot.” Shoot, it took me a year plus! LOL! But, I thought that I might be able to help some reach their spot more quickly and navigate some of the ins and outs of natural hair by providing some fundamentals in a simple format, as well as links to additional information for those desiring more details. And thus, the idea for Skills Notes was born ;). (Yup, Skills Notes. Hairscapades was too long and Skills has been my nickname since college. ;))

So, with that, welcome to the first installment of SKILLS NOTES!

PRODUCT INGREDIENTS

SULFATES: Cleansing agents found in many shampoos. Traditional sulfates can be harsh and strip hair of necessary moisture and oils. However, there are now many cleansers on the market that are sulfate-free and/or formulated with mild sulfates. WHO NEEDS TO KNOW: Those who are following the Curly Girl (CG) method, the Tightly Curly Method (TCM) and/or those with dryness issues. WHY: These individuals should avoid harsh sulfates and seek sulfate-free or mild sulfate alternatives.

For more information on sulfates and the alternatives, check out these articles:
Naturallycurly.com: Which Sulfates Are Safer Than the Others?
CurlyNikki.com: What’s in Your Shampoo

SILICONES: Conditioning agents used in shampoos, conditioners, stylers, serums and glosssers that provide slip and shine. Most ingredients ending in “cone,” “col,” “conol” or “zane” are silicones. There are four basic categories of silicones: water-soluble, slightly water-soluble, non water-soluble but repels build-up, non water-soluble and build-up prone. Non water-soluble silicones can eventually prevent the hair from absorbing sufficient water/moisture to remain hydrated, which can cause dry hair.

WHO NEEDS TO KNOW: Those who are following the CG Method or the TCM and/or conditioner only regimens. WHY: These individuals should either avoid non-water soluble silicones, use mild sulfate or sulfate-free shampoos that remove silicones or incorporate a “clarifying” sulfate shampoo into their regimen as needed. 

Want to learn more? Check out these articles:
NaturallyCurly.com: The Real Scoop on Silicones (silicones explained)
NaturallyCurly.com: What’s the Scoop on Silicones (chart with recommended cleansing agents by cone)

PROTEINS: Protein is used in many conditioners to reinforce and strengthen the hair structure, especially when hair is damaged or weakened by chemicals (i.e. permanent colors and/or chemical relaxers and perms). Protein treatments should be followed by moisturizing conditioners to restore elasticity or the hair may become brittle and feel dry. “Protein sensitivity” is a term used for hair that responds negatively to protein, either because the hair has sufficient protein or becomes brittle despite post-treatment moisturizing conditioners.

WHO NEEDS TO KNOW: Everyone ;). WHY: Ensuring that hair is strong and moisturized aids in appearance and reduces breakage that can impede length retention goals.

For a listing of proteins as well as tons of other useful information, check out this link:
CurlyNikki.com: Curls 101 FAQs

GLYCERIN: Humectant found in many products that is used to attract water into the hair shaft.

WHO NEEDS TO KNOW: Those with porous and frizz-prone hair, those with low porosity hair and those with dry hair. WHY: In humid climates (i.e. high dew points), glycerin can cause high porosity hair to frizz and tangle. For those with dry or low porosity hair that is hard to moisturize, glycerin can help draw water from the environment into the hair and help reduce/eliminate dryness. Many curl activators contain glycerin in order to aid hair in moisture retention and some naturals/curlies have found success with these type of products.

For a list of common humectants, see the CurlyNikki.com: Curls 101 FAQs link above.

ALCOHOLS: There are two basic categories of alcohols used in hair products: short chain drying alcohols (bad) and long chain “fatty” alcohols (good). Short chain drying alcohols evaporate quickly, so they are used in products to decrease the time it takes hair to dry. In contrast, long chain “fatty” alcohols are lubricating, moisturizing and “film-forming” in order to lock in moisture.

WHO NEEDS TO KNOW: Everyone. WHY: Short-chain drying alcohols should be avoided whereas long-chain fatty alcohols are fine and can be sought out for their moisturizing properties.

Drying alcohols: SD alcohol, SD alcohol 40, Alcohol denatured, Propanol, Propyl alcohol, Isopropyl alcohol

Fatty alcohols: Behenyl alcohol, Cetearyl alcohol, Cetyl alcohol, Isocetyl alcohol, Isostearyl alcohol, Lauryl alcohol, Myristyl alcohol, Stearyl alcohol, C30-50 Alcohols, Lanolin alcohol

MINERAL OIL: Mineral oil is used in products as an emollient, to seal in moisture, block humidity and enhance clumping/curl formation. It is non-water soluble. Mineral oil does not penetrate into the hair shaft to moisturize on its own. It simply aids in sealing in water/moisture. Mineral oil has gotten a bad rap, because it is often used in products with other ingredients (like petrolatum and lanolin), which are sticky and/or greasy. These combination of ingredients can cause build-up on the hair and scalp, as well as attract dust, dirt and lint from the environment. Some naturals avoid mineral oil at all costs, but it does have benefits. Cosmetic grade mineral oil can be light and non-sticky.

WHO NEEDS TO KNOW: Those who follow co-wash only/shampoo free regimens and those with scalp issues. WHY: Products with mineral oil combined with petrolatum, lanolin and some vegetable oils can be sticky, greasy and build-up on the hair and clog the pores of the scalp. Therefore, they require a cleansing agents to remove.  

Want to learn more about mineral oil and how it stacks up against coconut oil? Find more information here:
NaturallyCurly.com: Using Mineral Oil for Hair
NaturallyCurly.com: Mineral Oil vs. Coconut Oil – Which is Better?

PETROLATUM: Petrolatum is used in products to seal in water, provide a barrier against heat and chemicals and add sheen to the hair. It is non-water soluble. Petrolatum is sticky, which can attract dust, dirt and lint from the environment. It can cause build-up on the hair and clog the pores of the scalp. Petrolatum is found in many traditional hair “greases.”

WHO NEEDS TO KNOW: Those who follow co-wash only/shampoo free regimens and those with scalp issues. WHY: Products with petrolatum, lanolin and some vegetable oils can be sticky, greasy and build-up on the hair and clog the pores of the scalp. Therefore, it requires a cleansing agent to remove.

PARABENS: Preservatives used to extend the shelf life of products by protecting against a wide range of microorganisms. The most common parabens found in cosmetic products are methylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben. WHO NEEDS TO KNOW: Those who want to use all-natural and/or organic products exclusively. Those who want to avoid this preservative due to concerns about toxicity and studies that indicated that parabens disrupts hormones and were detected in breast tumors. WHY: Self-explanatory ;).

For more information about the FDA’s position on parabens and the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) assessment and recommendations, check out these articles:
FDA.gov/Product and Ingredients Safety: Parabens
EWG.com: Parabens and Skin Deep Database
SafeProducts.org: Parabens

And that’s it for the first edition of SKILLS NOTES, Product Ingredients!

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So, how’d I do?? What ingredients would you add to the list of basics?

How Much Do You Know? ANSWERS!

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As promised, here are the answers to the Natural Hair Trivia Quiz I posted Monday!! How well did you do :)?

At the Meet-Up on Saturday, I wanted to get everyone actively involved in the giveaway for the Grand Prize, a Sofistafunk Skirt and Jessicurl Sampler Kit. So, I came up with a Natural Hair Trivia Game. I thought that this would be a great way to find out what our attendees knew about hair, hair products and natural hair lingo and to provide a platform for discussion and the sharing of information. In my opinion, it is very important to understand some of the science behind hair and hair products in order to make informed choices. So, I thought about all of the information that I’ve accumulated over the last two years and have found useful in helping me understand hair in general, my own hair, techniques and products. I used that information to come up with some questions.

Now, I want to share the “quiz” here for the same reasons we played it at the meet-up!! How much do you know about hair, hair products, techniques and natural hair lingo? How many questions can you answer correctly? What things are completely new to you? I’ll post the answers to all of the questions later this week!

NATURAL HAIR TRIVIA GAME

1. Translate the following abbreviations (1 pt. for each):

SSK: Single Strand Knots
WnG: Wash and Go
TnC: Twist and Curl
BC: Big Chop
EVOO: Extra Virgin Olive Oil
VCO: Virgin Coconut Oil
ACV: Apple Cider Vinegar
HIH: Hand in Hair (syndrome)
HG: Holy Grail
SLS: Sodium Laurel Sulfate
TWA: Teeny Weeny Afro
BAA: Big A@#$ Afro

Check out the Lexicon under the home tab for more abbreviations and mini-definitions.

2. Name three cones (1 pt for each).

Cones = Silicones

Non-water soluble
Cetearyl Methicone
Cetyl Dimethicone
Dimethicone
Dimethiconol
Stearyl Dimethicone

Non-water soluble but repel build-up/further deposit
Amodimethicone

Cyclomethicone/Cyclopentasiloxane
Trimethyl silylamodimethicone
Bis-aminopropyl Dimethicone

Slightly soluble in water
Behenoxy Dimethicone
Stearoxy Dimethicone

Soluble in water
Dimethicone Copolyol

Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein Hydroxypropyl Polysiloxane
Lauryl Methicone Copolyol
Cones listed with PEG or PPG in front of them

Notes:

  • This is an extensive list, but not comprehensive.
  • Not all silicones end in “cone.” They can also end in “xane” and “conol.”
  • Not all ingredients ending in “cone” are silicones. Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone are two preservatives that can be mistaken as cones. They usually appear together at the end of ingredient lists.

Bonus: Why is it important to understand cones when following a co-wash only regimen?

It is important to understand cones when co-washing only as non-water soluble cones can build up on hair with repeated use, blocking out moisture and defeating the purpose of a co-washing regimen, which is to maintain moisturized hair.

Check out this NaturallyCurly.com article for a detailed explanation on silicones: The Real Scoop on Silicones.

3. What is pineappleing?

Pineappling is wearing the hair in a high ponytail at night/for bedtime to preserve curls.

Tip: Shorter haired curlies can use multiple “pineapples” to preserve curls as demonstrated by Quest for the Perfect Curl and Chy’s Curlz.

4. What is the “greenhouse effect” as a natural hair technique?

Many use the terms “greenhouse effect” and “baggying” interchangeably to describe applying a water-based moisturizer to the ends of the hair, which are the oldest and driest, and then placing a plastic cap (i.e. baggie) over it for many hours (overnight or through the day) to promote moisture, softness and moisture retention.

However, there is a difference between the “greenhouse effect” and “baggying,” which I just learned as I was looking for a link to share on the technique!!! Different from baggying, which is intended to promote moisture to the ends/length of hair, the “greenhouse effect” is actually a technique to stimulate the scalp and promote growth! Who knew?!?

Want to learn more? Check out this post by Care4Curls for detailed explanations on baggying and the greenhouse effect and how to do both: Differences Between Baggying and the Greenhouse Effect.

5. What is the main ingredient in Vatika Oil?

Coconut oil

Learn why coconut oil based Vatika oil is one of my Staples here.

6. Generally speaking, what three layers form the structure of a strand of hair?

Cortex, medulla, cuticle

Bonus: Which layer may be missing in some hair?

Medulla

7. What do anagen, catagen and telogen describe?

The three phases of hair growth.

Bonus: Briefly define them.

  • ANAGEN: Growth phase;
  • CATAGEN: Transitional phase (hair follicle shrinks, lower part is destroyed and the dermal papilla begins to break away);
  • TELOGEN: Resting/shedding phase (hair does not grow, but stays attached to the follicle. Hair will either shed or on its own – through mechanical means, i.e. manipulation, brushing, combing, washing, styling etc. – or new hair in anagen phase will push the old one out).

8. How do you differentiate a broken hair from a shed one?

A shed hair will have a white bulb, which is the root, at one end of the strand.

Learn more about the hair growth phases and shedding here: Shedding … Ughhh.

9. Briefly describe porosity.

Simply stated, porosity describes how easily water can move back and forth through the cuticle layer of the hair. Porosity is impacted by how close the “scales” of the cuticle layer are to each other and how lifted they are over the cortex of the hair strand. This characteristic of the structure of the hair dictates its ability to absorb and retain moisture.

Here are a couple of great articles on porosity from CurlyNikki.com: An In Depth Look at Porosity and How to Find Your Hair Porosity.

10. What are the three values on the pH scale?

Acid, Neutral, Alkaline

11. Under what value does the natural pH of hair fall?

Acid

Bonus: What is the natural pH range of hair?

4.5 to 5.5

For more information on how pH levels affect hair, check out my post, The Power of pH.

12. What old wives cure for wounds and burns mimics the natural pH for hair and is often used in hair products or added to home mixes?

Aloe vera

13. Name 3 types of protein used in hair care products (1 pt. each).

Dimethicone Copolyol
Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein Hydroxypropyl Polysiloxane
Lauryl Methicone Copolyol
Collagen
Hydrolyzed Collagen Protein
Hydrolyzed Silk Protein
Hydrolyzed Soy Protein
Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
Keratin
Keratin Amino Acids
Silk Amino Acids
Silk Protein
Soy Protein
Wheat Amino Acids
Wheat Protein

Please note that this list is not comprehensive and that there are other protein ingredients that can be found in hair products. Check out my article, Moisture & Protein: Finding the Balance for more information on the importance of protein in a natural hair regimen.

14. All alcohols are drying. True or False? False

All alcohols are not created equally.
 There are drying alcohols and fatty alcohols. Fatty alcohols act as conditioning agents and are found in many moisturizing natural hair care products.

Fatty alcohols
Behenyl alcohol


Cetearyl alcohol

Cetyl alcohol

Isocetyl alcohol

Isostearyl alcohol

Lauryl alcohol

Myristyl alcohol

Stearyl alcohol

C30-50 Alcohols

Lanolin alcohol

“Short chain” drying alcohols to avoid
SD alcohol

SD alcohol 40
Alcohol denatured
Propanol
Propyl alcohol
Isopropyl alcohol

Source: CurlyNikki.com Curls 101 FAQs

15. Briefly describe the action/purpose of a humectant.

A humectant is a substance that promotes moisture retention.

It’s important to note, in a humid environment, a humectant will pull environmental water into the hair. In an arid environment, if there is more water in the hair than in the air, a humectant will pull water outside of the hair and move it into the drier air. A humectant works by attracting moisture to wherever there is less water.

For more information on humectants, check out this article on NaturallyCurly.com: Humidity, Humectants and Hair.

16. What common food item found in many kitchen cabinets is a humectant?

Honey

17. What does the BAQ in “BAQ Henna” abbreviate?

Body Art Quality

BAQ Henna is a pure dye composed of the dry, powdered leaves of the lawsonia inermis plant. It is the henna that is used in Mehandi tattooing and is free of chemicals, metallic salts and synthetic dyes found in many commercial henna dyes sold for hair. Find more information on BAQ Henna here and learn about the benefits of henna, as well as the pros and cons, on CurlyNikki.com: I’m a Henna Head.

18. When used after henna, what plant powder produces black results on hair?

Indigo

19. Of what Hindu traditional/alternative medicine system are henna, shikakai, amla, neem, brahmi, etc. considered a part?

Ayurvedic

Want to learn a little more about the principles behind Ayurveda and this holistic approach to hair care? Then see this post on CurlyNikki.com, Ayurvedic Hair Care: An Introduction. Check out The Ayurvedic Breakdown for specifics behind some common ayurvedic powders. Still yearning for more? There are tons of informative articles Ayurveda on CurlyNikki’s site under The Basics>Ayurveda.  

http://www.curlynikki.com/2010/11/ayurvedic-natural-hair-care.html

20. Complete the titles and authors of the following natural hair care books (1 pt. for each):

Chicoro’s Grow It!

The Science of Black Hair by Audrey Davis-Sivasothy

Curly Like Me (aka The Tightly Curly Method) by Terri LaFlesh

The Curly Girl Handbook by Lorraine Massey

(41 Total Points)

What was your final score? How many questions were you able to answer on your own? How many did you have to look-up? By the way, there is no shame in searching the web!! That’s almost the point;). There is so much information at our fingertips, if we just know where to start looking! Did you learn anything new or get inspired to dig deeper into any topic? About which topics would you like to learn more? I’m taking requests ;)!

How Much Do You Know?

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At the Meet-Up on Saturday, I wanted to get everyone actively involved in the giveaway for the Grand Prize, a Sofistafunk Skirt and Jessicurl Sampler Kit. So, I came up with a Natural Hair Trivia Game. I thought that this would be a great way to find out what our attendees knew about hair, hair products and natural hair lingo and to provide a platform for discussion and the sharing of information. In my opinion, it is very important to understand some of the science behind hair and hair products in order to make informed choices. So, I thought about all of the information that I’ve accumulated over the last two years and have found useful in helping me understand hair in general, my own hair, techniques and products. I used that information to come up with some questions.

Now, I want to share the “quiz” here for the same reasons we played it at the meet-up!! How much do you know about hair, hair products, techniques and natural hair lingo? How many questions can you answer correctly? What things are completely new to you? I’ll post the answers to all of the questions later this week!

NATURAL HAIR TRIVIA GAME

1. Translate the following abbreviations (1 pt. for each):

SSK: _______________________________________
WnG: _______________________________________
TnC: _______________________________________
BC: _______________________________________
EVOO:_______________________________________
VCO: _______________________________________
ACV: _______________________________________
HIH: _______________________________________
HG: _______________________________________
SLS: _______________________________________
TWA: _______________________________________
BAA: _______________________________________

2. Name three cones (1 pt for each).
Bonus: Why is it important to understand cones when following a co-wash only regimen?

3. What is pineappleing?

4. What is the “greenhouse effect” as a natural hair technique?

5. What is the main ingredient in Vatika Oil?

6. Generally speaking, what three layers form the structure of a strand of hair?
Bonus:  Which layer may be missing in some hair?

7. What do anagen, catagen and telogen describe?
Bonus: Briefly define them.

8. How do you differentiate a broken hair from a shed one?

9. Briefly describe porosity.

10. What are the three values on the pH scale?

11. Under what value does the natural pH of hair fall?

12. What old wives cure for wounds and burns mimics the natural pH for hair and is often used in hair products or added to home mixes?

13. Name 3 types of protein used in hair care products (1 pt. each).

14. All alcohols are drying. True or False?

15. Briefly describe the action/purpose of a humectant.

16. What common food item found in many kitchen cabinets is a humectant?

17. What does the BAQ in “BAQ Henna” abbreviate?

18. When used after henna, what plant powder produces black results on hair?

19. Of what Hindu traditional/alternative medicine system are henna, shikakai, amla, neem, brahmi, etc. considered a part?

20. Complete the titles and authors of the following natural hair care books (1 pt. for each):

_______________’s Grow It!

The _____________ of ____________ Hair by __________ Davis-Sivasothy

_____________ Like Me (aka The _______ Curly Method by Terri ______________

The _________ __________ Handbook by Lorraine ______________.

(41 Total Points)

CLICK HERE FOR THE ANSWERS.

 

Pearls of Wisdom

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A couple of months ago, I was having dinner with one of my best friends from college. She was natural all the way through school and then ended up relaxing her hair when she entered the corporate world. Last year, she returned to natural with a BC for personal reasons and has been growing it out ever since.  However, she does go to a salon to straighten every couple of weeks. So, we hadn’t hung out in almost a year and what do we start discussing first? HAIR!! LOL! She’s actually the one who turned me onto CurlyNikki.com, so this is all her fault;-)! Anywho, she let me blab on and on about hair and asked me what she should do if she wants to wear her hair curly.

Well, there is soooo much information out there, far more than there was when I went natural 11 years ago. Some things were intuitive for me (only detangling with a head loaded with conditioner), others took a little more time to figure out with trial and error (gel alone = hold but dry, crunchy hair; gel mixed w/grease or a cream styler = supple hold PLUS moisture). However, for the newly natural or those contemplating making the leap, the information overload can be very overwhelming and natural hair can seem like more effort than it is worth.

Therefore, I always try to limit the advice I give to a few key items, which are as follows:

  1. Get rid of sulfate shampoos. Co-wash (i.e. use conditioner to wash) or use sulfate-free poos.  There are tons on the market now.
  2. Wash your hair in the shower (not upside down under the sink).
  3. Detangle (carefully) with a wide tooth comb only when hair is fully saturated with water and conditioner.
  4. Deep condition at least once a month.
  5. Moisturize (with a leave-in or regular conditioner, whichever you prefer) and comb through one more time with a wide tooth comb or fingers (these steps changed my wash day detangling life).
  6. Seal moisturizer into ends with an oil or butter.

I close with, if you don’t remember anything I say, remember this. “Condition, condition, condition … did I mention CONDITION? There is no such thing as over-conditioning!” (There is, but they don’t need to know that as it is not often a problem for curly, coily and/or kinky hair.)

I’ve offered 1-5 as advice in some form or the other over the last several year. However, I added sealing in 2010 as I only learned about it last year. So, at 11 years into this thing, I’m still learning too!!

Since we are starting this GOC, I thought this post would be timely for those still seeking a regimen or needing some basics.

What words of wisdom  do  you offer to the newly natural, those interested in going natural or those who just want to improve the health and/or length of their hair?