The Best Hair Tool for Curly Hair!

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The Hair Lab

Have you tried a Hair Diffuser to dry your hair?

If the answer is no you must! Yesterday I finally tried one and OMG! I loved it.

How to use

  1. Style hair as usual
  2. Dry with a microfiber towel or air dry until hair is not dripping wet
  3. Flip your head upside down and gently place curls on the diffuser attachment
  4. Always use low/medium heat or cool air to diffuse (Do not use high heat it will cause frizz and Damage the Diffuser)
  5. Dry the roots fully to minimize frizz
  6. Pick the roots and shake for more volume.

I absolutely love drying my hair using the diffuser attachment, it controls frizz, increases curl definition to another level, makes the wash and go last longer and if you have low porosity hair like me and workout a lot and need to wash your hair at night for some reason this is definitively a must have in your curly hair care cabinet!

Here a video on how to use a diffuser Curlyhair Routine

Silicone Free Challenge for Natural Hair

As you all know I am a naturalista that uses sulphates and soluble silicones after determining they are safe and effective products for me that are as long as the mix of ingredients is not overly drying and they are pH balanced. That being said I love a challenge here and there.

I checked my product cabinet, and to my surprise I have more products with silicone than not so I sorted the products to see what I had to work with. Yes I wrote cabinet in the previous sentence OMG I have a “cabinet”, when I had keratin blow outs or relaxers or creamy crack on my hair I simply used shampoo, deep conditioner and a rinse out conditioner that also functioned as a leave in, Oh!the simple times LOL.

My product cabinet is now divided in products with silicone and without silicone so I decided to simply use only the products that were silicone free as part of my challenge. I also purchased a few new silicone free products and was actually amazed.

My original intent was to also co-wash during the entirety of the challenge but I had to stop at the 2 week point mark because of product build up and reintroduced anionic surfactants such as coco-sulphate and sulfosuccinates and my hair was still very hydrated towards the end of the challenge, the key to that I think is the pre-poo.

The results

After a week of unmanageable frizz my hair started to show more curl definition and so far product build up was not an issue. After that while it looked great my scalp was not feeling fresh and I was getting more tangles than usual so I switched back to shampooing on an “as needed basis” for last 2 weeks of the challenge.

Some products I used during the challenge were Devacurl One Condition Decadence line, Cantu (Co-wash and Leave in), Curls Blueberry Bliss Leave in conditioner. In terms of price Cantu is the cheapest, in terms of final results I preferred Decadence plus Blueberry Bliss; but all products I used made my hair feel happy :). I will start writing product reviews sometime next month once I have a little more free time.

Tips for a successful Co wash. My Silicone free Challenge experience

  1. Shampoo or clarify with a Deep cleanser before starting the Challenge
  2. Be 100% sure the products you are using do not contain any form of silicone
  3. Shampoo if you get product or dirt build up
  4. Do it with an actual co-wash product, that way you can experience the maximum benefit and if you like it you can then either change to a regular conditioner with similar ingredients or stay with the co-wash.

 

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The Hair Lab: Week 4 Silicone Free Challenge

Respect to all bloggers out there!

I never imagined I would start a blog, but since I already was working in academic writing content creation and editing I thought why not document my hair journey and add a few sciency ideas along the way.

I am currently editing a botany book and realized academic writing could not be more different from blogging and while both tasks are challenging,  I find blogging harder than academic writing in some aspects specially the topic selection and content creation for blogs.

When presented with a task in academic writing, you can either document your own results, write the results of your group or create a manuscript for a third party. Editing jobs are even better because a raw version of the material is already available and depending on the request you have more or less involvement in the structure of the final product. All these tasks have in common a set of guidelines, a predetermined topic and a structure that should be followed; it might seem like a difficult endeavor to comply with all those requirements but at the end of the day it makes the job clear.

Blogging on the other hand is completely free and unguided, so what do you follow to create content? Creativity is definitively central, but how do you cultivate it?

I have so many questions that I have not been able to write anymore entries to The Hair Lab, it is a Hair blog in theory, but sometimes I feel like writing about other things for instance The floating Piers installation by Christo in Lake Iseo, Italy  because I just don’t know what to write about hair that has not already been covered.

The main questions I would like to find an answer for are:

What makes a blog interesting?

How can a blog be used for educational purposes among a certain group?

Can you have a central topic on a blog and then post unrelated commentary on other subjects, or should the central topic be modified accordingly?

Well that’s it for now, if I manage to find my answers I will definitively continue blogging if not we will see. I am not sure how long I will be able to blog, but I have a great appreciation for everyone capable of creating great content in a regular manner and in such a massive media form as blogging is.

Cheers

Is “No Poo” healthy? A medical opinion

One thing that is extremely popular on the internet are mentions to the “No poo”method and products.

The methods:

1. Only water cleansing: Only water

The purest variant is to wet your hair with spring water. Advocates say that, although your hair gets greasy in the first few weeks, its appearance subsequently improves greatly because sebum production eventually regulates itself.

I have nothing to say about this except that water is not a cleansing agent and even if you never use hair products, you are exposed to pollutants, your natural oils or sebum and sweat which water does not have the ability  to cleanse.

2. Baking soda/ apple cider vinegar (ACV)

Natural is not always better. Just because it is in your pantry it does not mean it should go on your hair and skin.

Baking soda has a pH=8, ACV has a pH=2-3 one is too alcaline and the other one too acid.

The alkaline pH causes hair shaft swelling. This swelling loosens the protective cuticle predisposing the hair shaft to damage. It can also cause irritation of the scalp, hair loss and bleaching.

Don’t do it.

Even if it “looks good” a few times, it will eventually have a rebound effect and even increase the production of sebum, defeating the purpose of being a cleasing agent.

ACV is not as harmful as baking soda but still is not a good idea if you want tight curls.

3. Cleansing conditioners or cowash products and regular conditioners:

They contain cationic (positively charged) surfactants such as stearalkonium, cetrimonium, behentimonium chloride, behentrimonium methosulfate, and stearamidopropyl dimethylamine which soften the hair and stick to it (because hair has a slight negative charge), which in theory could lead to more buildup. But at the same time, they do possess some capacity to gently lift dirt and oil.

*Also another worthy molecule included in cowashes is cocamidopropyl betaine (amphoteric), but this one deserves it’s blog post.

My opinion as a medical doctor:

The no poo trend is probably not what it is hyped out to be and can be harmful, but using conditioner or cowash products to cleanse the scalp can be an aid to refresh hair in between shampoos, that can be as separated as 4 weeks depending on lifestyle and baseline dryness of hair.

In fact there is an old “guideline” from the american asociation of dermatology for afro hair care recommends washing it every 1-2 weeks, with the option to cowash you can still enjoy the benefits of cleansing your scalp and hair without drying it out more.

Natural is NOT always better.

Please don’t put baking soda and apple cider vinegar (undiluted) on your scalp and hair, it may look good at first but you will in general have problems down the road and it will take a while to solve it.

They may be in the pantry but they are not good for the hair or scalp.

Water never hurt anyone but all it can do is hydrate, it really does not clean properly.

In principle it is not harmful to only use conditioner (regular or the more expensive cowash products) and they can mildly cleanse the scalp and hair if left on and massaged in the scalp and then rinsed out as any other shampoo would be, yet eventually you should shampoo (succinates are a great alternative to sulfates, if you dont like sulfates look for this) for clarifying.

If you want to “no poo” prefer cowashing with products (I cowash sometimes because I work out regularly), either with high end cowash products, if you have big pockets or an ecofriendly condish (like the one From bodyshop) or a good ole cheap condish like Aussie and shampoo at some point.

A mix of dedicated cowash & conditioners

Is it necessary to buy a special cowash product?

Probably not, I compared a few cowash ingredients on various products and the cleansing agents are the same the difference are the specialty ingredients and the formulation (cream, foam etc) same as in any cosmetic product a part of the effective marketing, and better performance.

You dont need to buy a conditioning cleanser, but if you can afford it and want to do so you totally can.

Conditioners that work well as cowashes ingredient wise and that I have tried:

Aussie Moist, Tresseme Naturals, rainforest coconut oil by the bodyshop. The absolute on a budget condish with great smell the white rain Coconut or even better the lavender one, I cant get it in Germany but its so good.

Cleansing conditioners I have tried:

Macadamia cleansing cream.  I liked the fact that it is a foam and smells so fresh but the price of about 20 euro for a 100ml flask it’s not worth it in comparison to less than 10 euro for 400ml of aussie or 200ml of coconut rainforest for the same results.

Trying this product will be my guilty pleasure

What do the experts say about shampoo?

The Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (AEDV)

“… shampoo removes the oil produced by the sebaceous glands that traps dead scalp cells, dirt and other substances we apply, such as sprays, gels, etc. This oil or sebum must be removed periodically for reasons other than the merely aesthetic, as it is an important source of microorganisms that could induce infections.”
The Dermatolology times Dr. Zoe Diana Draelos (she has written really good scientific review papers about hair care products)

“The frequency of hair washing depends on the sebum and sweat production of the individual and the geometry of the hair. Hair that is straight will rapidly wick the sebum and sweat from the scalp while tightly kinked hair wicks very poorly. For this reason, individuals with very straight hair usually prefer to shampoo daily while individuals with kinky hair shampoo once every one to two weeks. It is likely that most Americans shampoo their hair too much, accounting for the huge sale of hair conditioners designed to replace sebum with a more cosmetically acceptable synthetic ingredient.”

Dr. Robert Dorin, a board-certified hair transplantation surgeon in New York City.

“the scalp beneath the hair needs to be regularly cleaned of oil, dried sweat, dirt and dead skin cells, Those using “no-poo” products “aren’t really cleaning their scalp,”.  “They’re not taking off the environmental impurities.”People who don’t use detergent shampoo to clean the scalp run the risk of developing fungal and bacterial infections”

Stop using too much shampoo😂😂😂

The bottomline:

Eliminating shampoo from the hair care routine is probably a bad idea, but reducing its frequency of usage (instead of eliminating it) might be beneficial and all you need to do.

Choose the right shampoo for you (even if it has sulfates a pH balanced for dry hair shampoo can be good, the mix of ingredients is more important, don’t like sulfates then use a different surfactant)

Shampoo correctly with small amonts of product also, only your scalp needs a cleansing massage, the hair just gets cleansed with the foam.

No poo in its purest form( all natural no product)is unhealthy, since it can lead to sebum, dirt, oil and environmental pollutants build up which then can lead to scalp diseases such as fungal and bacterial infections or can cause damage to the hair shaft by exposure to caustic agents such as baking soda ultimately causing breakage.

Wash day! Is your wash day too complex?

How long is your wash day?

Sometimes for the fun of it I follow all the steps I can find for my wash day and I have found that for me simple and “short” (if you can call short any curly girl full wash lol) is better.

My 45 minute wash day is a little like this:

  1. Coconut oil pre poo night before
  2. Shampoo (in 4 or less sections)
  3. Deep condition (10 mins with hot towel)
  4. DETANGLE (once with tangle teezer, wide tooth comb and finger detangle)
  5. rinse out conditioner.
  6. Styling

My 90 min wash day

  1. Overnight pre poo night
  2. Conditioner DETANGLE-1 (finger detangling + wide tooth comb)
  3. Shampoo (in 4-6 sections)
  4. Deep condition (30 mins with hair cap and blow dryer)
  5. DETANGLE-2 (with tangle teezer, wide tooth comb and finger detangle)
  6. rinse out conditioner.
  7. Styling

My 2 hr plus wash day

Hot oil treatment for 30 mins leave in it on for up to 2 hours with no heat and then add the 90 min wash day or deep condition for 2 hrs.

The crucial and most time consuming step is detangling and it should be present in all curly hair wash routine at least once. It is really not necessary to detangle more than once as long as it is super well done or the hair is not too tangled, if you wash your hair twice a week and refresh with a cowash chances are your hair will get less tangled and the need to detangle will be less. So its a matter of either doing shorter wash days more often, as long as you deep condition your hair (up to 2 times a week is is perfectly fine), this is not a problem and is actually great for refreshing from the summer time heat and activities.

Estructura Basica y clasificación de Cabello Humano

Desde el punto de vista dermatológico (especialidad de la medicina encargada del cuidado del cabello y la piel y otros anejos cutáneos) históricamente el cabello se clasifica en 3 tipos siguiendo lineas raciales

1. Mongoloide (Asiático)
2. Caucasico
3. Negroide (africano y descendencia africana)

Aun cuando se trata de una clasificación racial, se han hecho estudios que muestran ciertas diferencias estructurales mas no así es su composición química básica.

En general el cabello africano o con su abreviatura afro tiende a ser mas elíptico, requiere menos fuerza para romperse y es de apariencia mas rizada que sus contrapartes caucasicas y mongoloides.

Para entender las diferencias entre cada tipo de cabello hay que conocer la estructura del mismo, el cual esta conformado por
1. Medula
2. Corteza
3. Cutícula

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Las dos estructuras responsables de la fortaleza del cabello son la cutícula y la medula aunque aun hay debate sobre el rol de cada una.
Estudios realizados comparando los tres tipos de cabello demuestran que la cutícula esta mas espaciada en el cabello negroide, seguido por mongoloide y caucásico en ese orden.
La cutícula asiática es de 6-8 escamas, menos en caucásico y aun menos cantidad en cabello afro, se propone que esta es una de las razones que contribuyen a mayor ruptura del cabello afro en general en especial en los puntos de torsion

Experiment #2:Carefree Hair or Naked Hair

In my first post I wrote about observation being the first step in the scientific method, well in the natural hair community is very common to use a lot of products in our hair, who does not love to discover new ways to get our hair on point? Well today’s experiment will help you do that and it’s not as pricey as you think.

In general knowing how to care for our hair comes with a lot of trial and error, but knowing some information can help us make it a more efficient and pleasant task (and as a byproduct reduce the curly hair tax every naturalista has to pay, a.k.a. The 47 Million hair product tax)

  1. Type of Shampoo
  2. Type of Conditioner
  3. Type of Weather conditions we live in
  4. Humectants
  5. Antihumectants
  6. Gels
  7. Hair cream

…and I could keep going, but the number one thing we need to know is our hair.

There are many hair properties we should take into account:

  1. Hair density
  2. Texture
  3. Curl pattern
  4. Porosity
  5. Length

…and the best way to get to know those things is seeing how our hair behaves when it’s in a clean undisturbed state, for this purpose I decide to try simply washing and conditioning my hair with basic Suave Shampoo & Conditioner.

The pros

  1. Short styling time
  2. Fast air drying
  3. Super defined curls, coils and waves

First day hair was simply amazing, it dried it a way I had not seen before and I really liked the shape, also it took very little time to be ready and it was dry after about 2 hours which for low porosity + High density hair is quite fast. I saw a lot of S patterns of curls and O patterns and an amazing curl definition.
The cons

  1. Too many tangles
  2. Dryness
  3. Longer time in next wash day (oops detangling time)

After day 2 hair it as simply downfall in the sense that the hair was very tangled, it felt somewhat dry and could not stay any longer without product so I oiled the hair in the 2 and used a hair cream to style on day 3. Left the hair undisturbed for as long as I could bear with it and washed it again after 6 days. I normally wash my hair every 3 days but was curious to see how long I could prolong the wash day.

The Conclusion

Asides from learning certain qualities about my hair such as:

  1. Hair prone to tangling
  2. Dry hair
  3. Multiple curl patterns: loose curls on the front and crown area, well defined curls on the sides and perfect coils on the nape of the neck

I also liked the aesthetics of my hair without leave on hair products.

I liked naked hair because my hair actually looked really pretty and I reduced my styling time considerably and probably will try it again but with a few modifications:

  1. Add deep conditioner to the routine (to tackle dryness)
  2. Blow dry instead of air dry (reduce the tangles)
  3. In case of tangles or excessive dryness cowash on second day hair

The reason I have 2 names for it is that after I saw the results I found a couple videos on YouTube with “naked hair” vs my “carefree” and the ideas to improve it next time came from this video in particular.

Naked natural hair
Honestly, I decided to not follow any natural hair “must dos” because  I was starting to get tired of the excessive amount of care and time it takes and wanted a change.

I did not  expect my hair to look good enough, but to my surprise it was one of my best high volume hairstyles ever!

On my next post I will write about my next wash day and the reason why is probably better to use natural hair as a one day thing and not a full week like I tried.

Hair Experiment #1: Coconut Oil 

Coconut oil and its hability to penetrate the hair shaft in order to improve appearance and reduce hair tangling.

The original study investigated 4 oils:

  1. Coconut oil
  2. Olive oil
  3. Sunflower oil
  4. Mineral oil

Today I will try coconut oil.

What they measured was the capillary adhesion(CA) of hair fibers, while we can not measure this at home, today we follow more or less this guide for “testing the feel” of coconut oil infused hair fibers which is basically what CA measures, the hability of the oil to penetrate the hair shaft.

Who can benefit from this type oil pre treatment?

I found this quite useful when my hair had a lot of heat damage as the porosity of my hair was higher than it is now. I no longer use raw coconut oil in my routine.

Anyone doing the transition from chemical relaxers/keratin straighteners or with damage due to heat tools can benefit from this type of strengthening pre treatments.

Dyed hair also tends to have higher porosity so it will be great for you too if you have a nice balayage or other coloring process regardless of hair texture.

Commentary: In case of low porosity or fine hair I think that it might not be such a good idea since most oils and all butters will form a film and just sit on top of the hair contributing to product build up.

As with everything curly hair there is a learning curve, but knowing the science behind of what we do and why we do it can help with the decision making process.

I have not revisited the olive oil “test” but I will probably do it again as my hair is feeling a little dry after the summer fun.

Updated: September 2017

The Hair Experiment 

  1. Apply coconut oil to dry hair, this will help the oil to enter the hair cortex, finger detangle & cover with a plastic cap.
  2. Apply moderate heat for 10-20 minutes and let product sit and cool down (you can use the blow dryer in low setting, cover with warm towel or spend sometime in the sauna as part of a spa night). I used the blow dryer/ warm towel set up.
  3. Style as usual (I used the macadamia hair smooth curl step by step that I posted previously).

You could follow the same procedure with sunflower oil if you wish to try it, since in the study both oils when exposed to heat lowered even more the capillary adhesion, meaning that more oil penetrated in to the hair shaft which in turn protects it from Hygral fatigue one of the culprits of breakage.

The Same principle also applies for Olive oil but the use of heat provided no further improvements, so no need to use heat (in this case what you can do is mildly heat the olive oil in itself, it is quite pleasant and was one of my first “tests” and I loved it).

Mineral oil is ineffective in reducing capillary adhesion and that’s the reason why you will always find online advise against it, so yes I won’t use mineral oil, but this also means it can potentially be a good sealant of moisture by forming a film so it could be effective in theory to protect the hair from external aggression (sun, heat, etc) although it serves no purpose within the hair shaft in itself.

What does this mean in Practical terms?

In summary coconut oil, olive oil and sunflower oil can penetrate into the hair shaft helping to prevent breakage, strengthening the hair fiber and improving overall appearance of hair health, done in moderation (every 1-2 weeks) it might help to reduce breakage which in turn can potentially help preserving existing hair growth.

Personal Update on coconut oil 2017

My personal experience is that when my hair had heat damage it worked quite well but as it got healthier coconut oil ceased to be effective for me & even caused my hair to alter it’s curl pattern in a way I did not like, it loosed up my curls instead of giving me any of the above mentioned benefits. Also I had skin issues with coconut oil.

I still use some products that contain coconut oil in moderation but I no longer use it as an oil treatment.

Let me know if coconut oil works for you and which other oils would you like to learn about, if I can find a peer reviewed study and discuss I will try and share.

Kindly,

Dr. L. aka HairLabMD