Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Strength of Hair

One of the most interesting things about being a hairstylist is the large number of customers who have so much misinformation about hair.
Ewe, damaged hair!

Prior to becoming a hair stylist, I worked in the social service field. I could see the connection between this new phenomenon called "the internet" and the inquiry of hair care. It was as if every woman was on a personal quest to find out about the behind the scenes of hair. They wanted to know what is going and what is not going on in the hair salon. So to that point, it was in social work that I learned just how little information customers were getting about their own hair in spite of paying hundreds of dollars for months and for many years to have their hair cared for and styled.
The agency I worked for would on occasionally pay for hair styles to use them as incentives for positive reinforcement for clients. So while they were being motivated to grow via an occasional hair style, some of that was done in vane because many walked away with just that; a hair style. During that time many women revealed much disappointment in their salon experience by way of the conversation being focused on the stylist, social issues and gossip. The disclosed just how little hair care and care of their own hair was being discussed.This type of service was unfortunate. Those services were truly being paid for with the intent to promote a positive image of self. Many walked away feeling as if their incentive was purely for the financial gain for the stylist as they got a hair style for the moment.

While I no longer work in the field of of social service, as a hair stylist, I still see the conflict women have with their hair and their image. The struggle is real for those with textured hair trying desperately and consistently to find solutions to the challenges of caring for textured hair. 

Rather it is wash and wear, twist out, corn rows, press and curl, silk press, weaves, roller sets, braids, bantu knots, locks, coils, hair cuts, hair color, bald heads and everything in between; the challenge of how to achieve and maintain remains a very frustrating enigma. What is a girl or guy to do? How could it be, that I've spent hundreds of dollars on hair care products and salon visits and I am still not satisfied with my hair? 

The answer lies in the anatomy of each strand of hair. When people think of their hair or touch it, they often associate the head of hair as a bulk versus each individual strand. I feel in my heart that taking people on simple visual  journey of their unique fiber (regardless the texture) can help make the daunting tasks of hair care not daunting! Notice,I did not write easy or quick. Caring for textured hair is not quick or easy. Caring for textured hair is routine. It requires a regimen. Once you get into your regimen, it becomes habitual; not necessarily easy. The more you fight the reality of the regimen your unique fiber requires, the more daunting the task of hair care and hair styling will indeed be. 

To make hair care and hair styling compliment your lifestyle; take the time to get a clear understanding and knowing that hair care is something you must do for your hair on a daily basis.. From there pick a day(s), time(s), and commit to it. Hair care and grooming is very similar to oral care, fabric care and body care. If you don't do it in a timely fashion with the right products, right tools and the right technique; bad teeth, bad breath, faded clothes, bad skin and body odor is the result. So while you may tire of personal, oral hygiene routine, you do it. Ultimately, you get in the habit or routine of  managing them all. You understand what it takes in its entirety and what is required to preserve the life and appearance of them all.

This is a result of the wrong comb, products
and hair styling techniques.
Understanding the hair on your head is simple requires the same thought processes and acceptance that a routine is a must. To help you get your hair care routine mojo going below outlines a few VISUAL guided facts about hair and scalp that will give you a clear depiction of exactly what is going on top of that head of your!

Drum roll please:
  • Know that the scalp is a microbial habitat that needs to be cleansed once to twice a week.
  • See each strand of hair for what it's worth. One of many! 
  • Each strand of hair has multiple cuticle layers that look like shingles on a roof.
  • The objective in hair care is to keep those layers in tact.
  • Keeping those layers in tact protects the cortex.
  • The cortex where hair gets its the strength.
  • The cuticle and cortex is strengthened by using the right products, styling tools and right technique.
  • Wide tooth combs scrape, tear and compromise the outer cuticle layer; thus further compromising the cortex layer.
  • Using water to style hair causes the outer cuticle layer to swell, buckle and snap. This too further exposes the cortex layer.
  • Applying conditioners and synthetic oils to the scalp will clog the mouth of the follicle. 
  • The mouth of the follicle is the tiny whole each hair grows from.
  • When the mouth of follicle is clogged, hair growth becomes compromised rapidly.
There is much hype about the outer layer of hair as it relates to the cuticle. While cuticle care is vital to hair care, remember the color of hair and the true strength of hair lies in the cortex layer. And in hair care, the goal is to protect that cortex layer of the hair to ensure great curls, braids, color, weave, textures, waves, fros, kinks and everything in between. 

Seeming as color and strength are pretty much the primary goal or concern of many when it comes to the appearance and performance of hair, I hope this helps.

Do not make hair care difficult. Keep it simple. Find a routine that suits what your hair fiber calls for and stick to it until it changes. When the texture of your changes, change your regimen. The texture of your hair will change as you age. 

As long as you recognize that protecting that cortex is what is truly responsible for the integrity of each strand of hair, then you too will KNOW the strength of your hair!

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Best Hair Moisturizer

Hands down, the number one complaint about hair is that it is too dry. All day every day, everywhere; someone is complaining about dry hair. In addition to complaining about dry hair, people also complain about the difficulty of finding the right product to remedy their dry tresses. They are in constant search for the perfect moisturizer. Oh, but the search becomes a tad bit tricky if one person's hair texture is different from the other. For example, those who have straight hair, are looking for something that will make their hair feel silky, more smooth, shine more and less likely to revert or frizz.  For those who have curly or Afro textures, they are looking for a moisturizer that will make their texture spring, coil, curl, wave while at the same time giving it some slip and actual moistness. Both hair types loathe the dry, frizzy, dull, and brittle feel to their textured hair. 

Well, guess what? The solution to dry hair, rather it is straight or textured, is NOT a topical moisturizer or moisturizing treatment of any sort! I know, sayings like, "Stawpitt Judy!" or "Whatchu talkin bout Willis,"  comes to mind, right? Yes, my wonderful hair junkies, knotty know it alls, natural knowers, textured Titans, and organic only's, moisturizers in the world of hair care ain't what they are pretending to be. Most products that claim to moisturize hair, do not. They simply coat the hair; thus making it literally dry.

But, why? How can that be? Read on before you click that mouse and search for more answers. You know the name of my blog is, "What They Don't Tell You at the Hair Salon," right? So let me tell you what they are not telling you at the hair salon. After you read this blog, you will have a clear understanding of what to do about your hair that you have been lead to believe is dry and is in need of moisture.  
Holy, smokes and gee whiz!

First, what they don't tell you at the hair salon about moisture and hair is that moisture for hair is an internal process. Properly moisturized hair only begins with a well-hydrated body. Before you purchase another bottle of moisturizing anything, I urge you to pick up a bottle of water or pour you a few cups and drink up. If you hate water, then your hair will truly be dry and no fancy moisturizer will help. 

Second, what they don't tell you at the hair salon is that each fiber of hair consists of several outer layers that comprise of what we see (hair on our heads) with the naked eye called keratin. Another term for keratin is cuticle layer.  If you were to look at each strand of hair fibers under a microscope, those fibers would resemble fish scales or shingles on a roof. The objective to hair feeling, being manageable and looking a certain way is in direct association with that very tiny microscopic keratin or those cuticle layers. Also, what they don't tell you at the hair salon is that those tiny scales or shingles must always lay flat in order for your hair (regardless the texture or
hairstyle) to feel and look nice. So, when you touch your hair and it feels brittle, gritty and frizzy, what you are actually feeling are those tiny microscopic scales that are raised. Because you are not aware that those keratin or cuticle layers are actually raised, your mind associates the feel of your hair with dryness. That is why the objective in hair care is to keep that tiny microscopic keratin or cuticle layers flat, not moist. If those layers are raised in any form, the result is hair that feels rough, gritty and brittle. Your hair will also tangle, mat and knot easily. From there, your hair will begin to snap and break. Then when you look at your shirt or in the sink or on the floor; all you will see are frayed fibers lying about. The next thing you know, you are running to the salon or beauty supply store in search of a moisturizer to stop what you think is dry hair from falling out. On the other hand, if you use products that actually 
coat and keep the hair physically damp, more breakage, musty smelling, and snapping is the result.

Third, what they don't tell you at the hair salon is that 90% of all hair care products primary ingredient is water. When water comes into contact with hair, the result is buckled, swollen cracked, gritty, brittle and rough feeling hair. Just as water damages wood, fabrics, metals or skin; it does the same to hair. Initially, when anything is immersed in water it looks and feels great. Take a moment and think about how sexy you and your hair looks when wet. Place your clothes in water; notice the colors look so rich and moist. Now place your favorite flatware in water; it too looks amazingly more vibrant in color and shiny in appearance. Now step out the water or remove those items from the water. Next, allow them to air dry. How does your skin feel? How do your hair, face, and feet feel? What about your flatware? How do they look? Now touch them. Feel free to apply oil or some sort of shining finisher in the water or on your items. Hours later, touch your body, hair, face, feet, and items again. How do they feel? Still a somewhat rough, gritty and brittle, huh? 
Feel me? Yeah, buddy, that's how they getcha.

What they are not telling you at the hair salon is that you have been trained and taught to verbally express raised keratin or cuticle layers as dry hair. And since they really want more money, they have also trained you to believe that now your hair is damaged. Damaged hair, dry hair, brittle hair, color faded hair, dry relaxed hair, dull breaking locks, frizzy cornrow braids, tangled nappy hair, dry limp hair are all synonymous raised keratin or cuticle layers. 

Now for the kicker. And just as those words are synonymous with keratin and cuticle layers, so is protein! Shocking isn't it? Say it ain't so, you declare?

Don't believe me? Click on another link and read for yourself. 

Welcome back. Quite interesting isn't it? Keratin, cuticle layers, and protein all mean the same thing. Damn semantics. Semantics are the things I do not like about the "American English" language. They play too much with them words...LOL 

You are getting sleepy...
What you have been deliberately misled to believe is dry, tangled, knotty, nappy, frizzy, dull, weak and damaged hair is actually raised keratin, cuticle or protein layers. So what raises them? Aside from water; combing, brushing, braiding, twisting, heat, locking, relaxing, coloring, and wearing fabrics on your hair that absorbs moisture like cotton, and the likes are all that contributes to raised keratin, cuticle or protein layers. Basically, whenever we do any form of grooming our hair in any hair style we can think of, we compromise those layers by raising them. From washing it to weaving it; those layers will inevitably raise.

So why are hairstylists calling it dry hair? Why are they suggesting moisturizing shampoos, conditioners, treatments and styling agents? Ignorance and money. Ahh, but you knew I was gonna type that. See, most hair stylists are simply not trained enough to understand hair. The varying hair textures and types require different types of cleansing and conditioning agents. Not all hair types require a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner. Hair care products are formulated for hair types and textures. Some textures need moisture and some do not. They are mostly trained and certified by schools and hair care companies who want their money like they want my money and yours. The manufacturers have to tap into our emotions and our association with things to get us spend our all mighty dollars with their brand. And what easier way to get our money than to tap into anything that makes you feel good, even if it doesn't work? "Holy smokes and gee whiz," that's what I said!

If all hair stylists were educated, trained and licensed to understand hair and the chemistry of these hair care products and ingredients, the eb, and flow of selling what is needed to customers would flow right along with happiness and profits.

By now you should be ready to take action and be in charge of your purchasing power. You have the right information. Now, what is your actual resolve to those raised layers that leaves hair feeling rough, tangled, nappy, brittle, gritty hair that is dull, snaps and breaks? 

Eat your way to healthy hair.
The answer is protein. "Whatchu talkin' bout Dosha?" I am well aware of people's hatred of protein. But for the record, humans are lean mean protein-making machines. Without those 23 amino acids, our building blocks to life will come crashing down. We not only need the 23 amino acid in our diet for our bodies, they are equally important in hair care. So, what you want to do is first eat your way to your protein. Then purchase products that have protein in them. The best and most effective proteins are going to be your soy, wheat, quinoa, crystal quartz, natural clays from the earth such as bentonite clay and of course keratin. The molecular weight of these ingredients is tiny enough to be absorbed into the hair via those keratin, cuticle or protein layers. Heavier protein molecules from eggs, mayonnaise, and heavy oils take longer for the hair to absorb. Manmade, hydrolyzed or synthetic proteins will suffice. There are many others, but those work best, they are easier to access and are affordable. In addition, moisture binding ingredients for those who wear their textured hair work best to keep the keratin, cuticle or protein layers sealed. For example, aloe vera gel, alpha-hydroxy acids (from fruits), egg yolk, glycerine, honey or molasses to name a few. For those who wear their hair straight or heat styled, use products that have anti-humectants in them. Anti-humectants ward off moisture and keep your straight, silk press or heat styled hair from reverting. Again, remember to drink plenty of water and eat protein rich foods. Annette Hollimon, Wholistic Practioner and Reiki Master of Forever Phoenix located in South Euclid, Ohio recommends that you drink half your weight in ounces to achieve proper hydration. She also recommends getting your protein from whole foods and fresh vegetables. 

Lastly, understand, that hair feels better and readily absorbs the benefits from any ingredient, be it natural, organic or synthetic when it is clean. Therefore, be sure your hair is clean to reap the benefits of whatever you will be using on your hair. The longer you go without cleaning your hair and using the now trending co-wash option to care for your hair, the more those layers will remain raised. The longer the layers remain raised your hair will become more compromised. Also, your hair care will be more expensive.

As for the deliberate attempt to dupe consumers on what moisturizing hair is all about, I hope you find this blog informative and helpful. Share it with your friends. Make it a part of your group discussion. Teach your children about this as well. And the next time a hair stylist or someone suggests a moisturizing treatment of any sort for your hair, tell 'em...

"Aww, dry up!"