Tag Archives: product ingredients

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?

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Hair Scarves, Shea Moisture Yucca & Aloe Thickening Growth Milk and A Rookie Mistake

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Good morning sunshines ;). Hope you all enjoyed your weekends!! I had a good, long one!! Took Friday off from work to clean house … but fudged around online, watched some videos, wrote some posts and played with my hair instead. Saturday morning, I did most of the much needed housecleaning and then had lunch with the Sci-Five, minus one permanent and two auxiliary members ;). And Sunday, ran a couple quick errands, did some laundry, had a heart-to-heart with a friend and chilled some more :).

Fun with Hair Scarves
Anywho, on to what you’re really here for … hair. *lol* On Friday, in the midst of perusing the hair sites and test driving that Janelle Monae inspired updo, I came across this video tutorial by Naptural85, “10 Ways to Tie a Silk Hair Scarf”:

Since I wasn’t too sure about “Shelli Monae” *lol*, I had no plans to wear it out and about. So, I fell back on my old standby, a high bun. However, this time, I made it with a Goody Ouchless elastic and a few bobby pins (*gasp* no banana clip?!?! IKR?). On Saturday morning, remembering the scarf video I’d just watched the prior day, I decided to “dress up” the bun. But … ummm … yeah. I wasn’t able to pull off any of the styles I tried … The Gypsy Knot (realize now that I didn’t do it correctly) … The Twist Knot … The Criss Cross. All no gos. So, I ended up just tying the scarf at the back and kept it moving! But, I’ll be revisiting some of these soon. Although Whitney touted these as summer scarf styles, I don’t see why they wouldn’t work into the fall!

Shea Moisture Haul & A Review of Yucca & Aloe Thickening Growth Milk
In other news, if you follow my FB page, you know that I hit the Shea Moisture BOGO sale at CVS last week and picked up three products from the Yucca & Baobab line. I have been wanting to try this line for over a year!! “Thicken?!?!”  “Volumize?!?!” I resisted for a looooong time … but it was on now!! I hightailed my way to a local CVS and, after scouring the hair product aisles a few times to no avail, was about to give up and accept that I wasn’t in an area that catered to a SheaMoisture clientele. Then … insert *angels singing* there it was!! Shea Moisture!! And, what’s this?!?! They have the Yucca & Baobab (and Aloe?) line too!! “This is meant to be, because these are the very last bottles of Thickening Growth Milk and Anti-Breakage Mask on the shelf!!” They had a few bottles of the shampoo and a scattering of the Coconut & Hibiscus and Raw Shea products. So, I snagged up the last bottle of Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner to round out my “Get One Free.”

Welp. On Saturday, before making my bun, I tried the Thickening Growth Milk. I smoothed it down my hair from roots to tips in sections. Then, I applied Wild Growth Hair Oil Light to seal. I placed my hair in the bun seen far above. On Sunday afternoon, when I released the bun to pre-poo … let’s just say my hair was just as crunchy as it wanted to be … like KFC extra crispy recipe. Okay, LOL!!  I’m being a little dramatic, but it was greasy and dry like an over-cooked chicken breast and that is not a feeling that I’m used to or like ;)!

So, what’s this about a rookie mistake you ask? Ummmm … yeah … well, you see … what had happened was … I got so caught up in the name of the product … “THICKENING!!! … and it’s claim, ” THIN, FINE HAIR … Thicken, Volumize … ” … I didn’t read the ingredients. DOH!!

Ingredients:
Deionized Water, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Cocos Nucifera Oil (Coconut), Mangifera Indica (Mango) Seed Butter, Simmondsia Chinensis Seed Oil (Jojoba), Olea Europaea Oil (Olive), Vegetable Glycerin, Persea Gratissima Oil (Avocado), Triticum Vulgare Oil (Wheatgerm), Grapeseed Oil, Sorbitol Esters, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Cetyl Esters, Yucca Filamentosa Extract, Vegetable Protein, Adansonia Digitata Extract (Baobab), Panthenol (Vitamin B-5), Rosemary Extract, Bamboo Extract, Tocopherol (Vitamin E)

So, what are the second and third ingredients? Shea butter and coconut oil, respectively. And, guess what else? It also contains vegetable protein. So, what’s up with the first two ingredients? Well, my hair LOVES coconut oil as a pre-poo. But it DOES not seem to like it much in leave-in products or to seal … KFC. Shea butter is another mixed bag for me. It works pretty well when I mix it with Eco gel to smooth and hold my edges. But, again, my hair does not like it to seal. It just sits on top of my hair, weighing it down and making it dull and ashy-looking!

And then there’s the protein. Now, don’t get me wrong! I have a whole new appreciation for protein and don’t avoid it like the plague as I did for most of 2010-2011. I LOVE what protein has done for my hair. It’s stronger, curlier and has better elasticity due to the treatments that I’ve incorporated into my regimen, which are (and this is the key) always followed with moisturizing conditioners (instant, deep and/or leave-ins). However, that being said, I find that many moisturizers/stylers with protein also leave my hair with a dry, brittle feeling. And, this is not uncommon according to the following post by my fellow blogging friend Michelle (note: this is the article that turned me around and taught me how to properly use protein):

via Radiant Brown Beauty

If you apply a leave in or other “surface” treating product with protein in it, your hair is prone to feeling hard and brittle.  The brittle, hard hair is then susceptible to additional hair breakage –defeating the purpose of using protein in the first place.

And…wait for it…It-Will-Stay-That-Way causing you to have what you think is ”protein sensitivity” until you wash and use a moisturizing conditioner to resoften it. That’s because the application of the products containing protein (other than a deep conditioner)  sits right on top of your hair shaft.

I’ll add one further note to that. In order for protein to fill in the “gaps” in the cuticle and provide the maximum benefit, it has to be small enough to do so, otherwise it just sits on the surface of the hair. Protein that has been broken into smaller segments is called hydrolyzed/hydrolysed (check out this post by JC of Natural Haven for more on that, Size Matters: Protein Conditioning). That vegetable protein in the Thickening Growth Milk? Hydrolyzed? Not so much.

So, the Shea Moisture Yucca & Aloe Thickening Growth Milk has two ingredients that don’t work well for me in stylers/moisturizers, coconut oil and shea butter. It also contains a non-hydrolyzed protein that may or may not have had anything to do with the crispy, crunchy aftermath given that it was so low down on the list … but it was something about which I should have been aware.

All that being said … yeah, I’m gonna need to take a look at the ingredients in the other two products and make a decision about whether or not I’m going to use them or just return the whole Shea Moisture Yucca kit and caboodle!! I hope that by sharing, you can learn from my rookie mistake ;). And … if you’re new to this … here’s the … *imagine this flashing*

Tip of the Day

Pay attention to the first 5-6 ingredients in products that you use, those that work well and those that don’t. These ingredients are of the highest content in the product. Understanding the key ingredients that your hair likes and dislikes, as well as when and where it likes them, can save you a lot of grief, money and time ;)!

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 What ingredients have you learned to avoid? Which ones do you embrace?