InstaCompare? No thanks. Friendship please.

iDisclamer: The only science involved in this post came from the developers of apple that created this iPad and of the creators of the internet, the rest is just my opinion not as an MD or a scientist but as a “Curly Girl”, reader discretion advised.

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Weird disclaimer is it not? Still, I am trying to make a point and I will get there.

I officially joined the Natural Hair Community in March 2016, with my 1st Curly Community fan page post, and my 1st hair instagram account, later on in april the Hair Lab was born.

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I never saw another curly girl IG, or blog or web page until last year after I had cut off all my chemically straightened hair. Why? My 1st contact did not cause a good impression and I left. In 2013 or so I googled about curly hair and the first impression was mostly of a competitive, divided, toxic & overall negative environment, my sources where limited to the USA; but that was my turning point of thinking OK I know medicine, I have the books the journals let’s do this on my own terms, I do not need that negativity in my life. You know what? it was great; it gave me time to understand the anger and decide that to each their own and that there are so many different subsets of Natural Hair Communities not only one.

I never googled about hair outside of google scholar since then until 2016. I did my transition alone and yes I made many mistakes and no I do not know how to braid my hair, yet.

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Finger curling pre hair blog vs post hair blog lol 

Find your Element

I clearly did not belong in the community of the 1st encounter I had, I now understand where they come from though and I empathize with some, but it was not my element as Sir Ken Robinson puts it, now I Have found my hair element the part of the community that helps me grow.

I belong here in what I call the “curly community”, the name is irrelevant but I avoid using certain terms to avoid controversy. I may or may not write about it in the future; but for now about my lovely curly community.

Our community is inspirational, professional in our own individual way it includes hairdressers, students, doctors, restaurateurs, journalists, photographers, models, engineers, moms you name the profession and we can find it, off course bloggers and vlogers too. In this group “our clique” we are responsible in the way we share our journey, we promote self-love and growth instead of comparison charts and above all we strive to be positive, humble and real.

We always cheer for each other no matter if it is something big or small, we genuinely wish the others success, we do not compete we grow together.

Today I can say This hair journey has given me more than hydrated locks, it has given me women and friends I admire from afar and who are great role models for the younger girls out there looking for powerful, positive female role models.

We do not compare each other, we support each other and learn together, we are friends.

Thank you for your friendship my (curl) friends.

Are you a Product Junkie?

 

Winter Holy Grail

11 Useful Tips for the Curly Girl Product Junkie

  1. Set up a monthly budget for haircare products according to your income and stick to it. Once I noticed I was spending too much money in products I found this to be the most useful intervention. My monthly budget is 100 Euros per month, if there is a particular product or hair tool that is more expensive than that then I wait until the beggining of the next month to make the purchase. Set a stablished amount and stick to it.
  2. Don’t impulsive buy when you visit the drugstore. Some products might be on sale or very cheap, but it is better to read about it first. Buy according to your hair needs, know your curls, for instance you might be protein sensitive and see a great protein treatment is on sale, but it is not the right product for you so it will only sit on your shelf.
  3. Trade products that did not work for you with friends and family, you both might benefit from the deal.
  4. Keep a list of your stock of products and buy first the type of product that is running out. I keep a shelf for styling and finishing products for example so that I can see if the balance is tilting more towards oils (my guilty pleasure) or leave in conditioner (my favorite product) while I am running low on curl definers or stylers before purchasing a new oil I check if there is not another product that I actually need.
  5. Don’t be too hard on yourself, if all of the above failed do your very best to keep your hard earned coin together while not feeling guilty about a few moments of product junkism weakness, revisit your goals and strategy and repeat.
  6. Donate barely used products to charity and quantify how much money it is you are giving and consider a fund for donations instead of excessive shelf products.
  7. Shop online in a store with a rewards program or on a beauty supplier and ask for free samples of products you might want to try in the future or join a products subscription box service and keep within budget while still trying new things!
  8. Be alert for the sales of your holy grails and stock up and then adjust the subsequent months budget.
  9. Review your product cabinet when the seasons change, it might be some products that did not work in summer work for winter and viceversa. Try them in a different season and if it is a no no then kiss them goodbye.
  10. If all else fails reset and go back to your holy grails until you find a way to sort out your product junkie cabinet( at least that is what I am doing just now, getting rid of all my products in order to return to a few holy grails that were just perfect for my hair & skin)
  11. Have fun!

When I started his blog in April I was not a product junkie, now I can confidently say I am a product junkie and I need to go back to keeping it simple as a new hair goal. I will try to use all the products I have or try and trade them although I have no fellow curlys in my vecinity for now.

Cheers!

Devacurl One Condition Decadence Results


Dr. L

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I wish my shelf was as tidy XD

¿Shampoó Cowash?

Esa es la gran pregunta cuando iniciamos la jornada de cabello natural, a simple vista el consenso es no use shampoo, pero un cuero cabelludo limpio y sano es la base de un cabello saludable, entonces que hacemos? Pues, aprender a usar bien nuestros productos y decidir qué nos funciona y que no por experiencia propia; eso sí, con buena información de base. El shampoo contiene agentes llamados surfactantes para cumplir con su funcion de limpieza y esta es la razon principal por la cual el cabello se reseca. La técnica correcta es  aplicar una pequeña cantidad, masajear el cuero cabelludo y no poner todo el cabello en la coronilla sino lavarlo ordenadamente solo con la espuma que va cayendo del cuero cabelludo que es lo que realmente necesitamos limpiar.

Cowash es lavarse el cabello con un acondicionador o un producto conditioning cleanser o no poo, hay muchos nombres y marcas pero lo importante es tambien utilizarlo bien si escogemos cowash debemos primero haber lavado muy bien con shampoo en el wash day anterior y partir de un cuero cabelludo limpio para ver si esto nos funciona. Es absolutamente necesario no utilizar siliconas porque los “cowash” contienen surfactantes muy debiles es decir son limpiadores suaves y no son capaces de remover todo el sebo, los productos acumulados y la contaminacion ambiental del cabello. La forma correcta usar cowash es mojar muy bien el cabello aplicar abundante cantidad y masajearlo en el cuero cabelludo distribuyendolo bien en todo el cabello, dejalo puesto varios minuto enjuaga muy bien y listo.

El Cowash es muy popular entre las naturalistas y vale la pena hacer la prueba si tu cabello tiende a estar muy reseco, entre más rizado el cabello mas tiende a ser seco.

“El cabello rizado siempre estará seco” y “usa mucho producto” son dos frases que todo peluquero experto me ha dicho y doy fe de que es totalmente cierto e incluso hay una explicación para ello, pero como este post es para las que han hecho big chop o transición reciente lo dejaré para otro escrito.

Un poco de la ciencia de todo esto y ¿Que son los surfactantes?

Los surfactantes son agentes limpiadores comerciales presentes en todo tipo de producto de limpieza desde jabones de barra hasta shampoo de linea profesional.

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Tipos de Surfactante

Hay 5 tipos de surfactantes (limpiadores o acondicionadores)

Anionico: Aporta limpieza profunda, puede resecar el cabello.

Cationico: Suaviza el cabello, casi no tiene habilidad limpiadora.

No Ionico: Limpieza más suave posible y acondicionador.

Amfoterico: Limpieza Suave, no irritante para los ojos, aporta hidratación al cabello, muy versatiles y suavizan el cabello.

Surfactante Natural: limpia muy poco, excelente espuma.

Existe la percepción de que los sulfatos son malos, pero de hecho son útiles y económicos agentes  para remover el detritus que se acumula en el cuero cabelludo; usados con buena técnica y moderación son excelentes aliados en el cuidado del cabello natural, sobretodo si tendemos a usar geles, aceites o mantecas muy pesadas.

Muchos shampoos con sulfato no resecan tanto porque también contienen acondicionadores que suavizan su efecto. Los productos con bases tales como el sodium y ammonium laureth sulfate y el sodium y ammonium lauryl sulfate son los mas baratos en su produccion por lo tanto no deben ser costosos para el consumidor final, si un producto tiene estos limpiadores de base debe ser barato.

Espero que esto te sirva para aclarar dudas y hacer mas fácil tu proxima compra de shampoo o acondicionador para cuidar tus rizos.

Más adelante te compartiré más información, para ir conociendo poco a poco lo que nuestro cabello necesita, como lo necesita y así recuperar tus rizos, ondas, rulos, crespos o tirabuzones.

Metodo LOC: Leave in conditioner, aceite y crema de peinar.

Mi opinion: Rara vez hago cowash porque tengo mejores resultados con el shampoo, utilizo todo tipo de shampoo pero prefiero los que tienen coco-sulfato, olein-sulfonatos y sulfosuccinatos porque limpian profundamente sin resecar mucho y lo hago 1 o 2 veces por semana. Solo hago cowash cuando no tengo mucho tiempo disponible. Es importante usar shampoo de la forma correcta o sea siempre prepoo y acondicionador profundo o al menos un acondicionador con aclarado dejado puesto 5 minutos.

Cuentáme qué más te gustaria aprender en este laboratorio del cabello! Comenta o escribeme 

The Hair Lab MD

Special ingredients! What are they? Should you care?

“New hydrating ultra moisture honey, olive, coconut, argan Madness Shampoo and Conditioner”

Gosh I would love to try a product made out of those 4 ingredients exclusively, if you know about it please let me know.

Shampoos and conditioners have all sorts of chemical components (yes, all natural brands are also created using chemistry) that make or break a product, but what really matters is the base ingredients, how they mix together, the molecule size, how big or small an ingredient is can determine how it will be absorbed in the scalp and hair shaft and off course the pH, a pH balanced shampoo is so much better for the hair than a natural alkaline “cleansing agent”.

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Source: Google Scholar

Special ingredients are what each cosmetic product has as a unique individual characteristic, and also a powerful marketing tool.  They can improve the quality of the product to another level; but they can also increase the price either because they are rare ingredients, they are costly to produce or because it is a hype and it sells well.

How to invest wisely? How to know the difference, quality vs hype? The simple answer is with science.

The base of every product is more or less the same, so once you have found a mix of base ingredients that work for you usually ( for simplicity lets say the first 5 ingredients) you can look for add on special ingredients.

Lets try it with shampoo, because we have this great info-graphic available. If we have a good base of detergent, conditioners, sequestering agents and thickeners we are highly likely to get good results regardless of it having or not the most precious golden oil from a beautiful country, off course if its a good product and has the special additive it will be an even better product.

A good add on special ingredient, with a good base will certainly increase the quality of the product, and is worth the price tag; but a good add on with a bad base means money wasted in developing the product and by the final consumer.

A good base for curly hair in terms of shampoo has only 1 detergent if you see 2 types of deep cleaning agents in a “moisturising shampoo” do not buy it, it will dry the hair out and eventually will make you believe that all shampoo is bad for curly hair when the problem was a bad mix.  Always use pH balanced shampoos, any shampoo with a pH above 5,5 will highly likely irritate and dry out the scalp. I am aware we can not check the pH of products on the hair care aisle but some state it in the label and we have no choice but to believe.

Special ingredients should be high on the list if the product claims to be made exclusively or mainly out of that ingredient, but if the product only states that it contains the ingredient and you like the first ingredients lets say 5-10 and then see a special additive you would like to try that is also fine.

The idea is to shop wisely and to not fall for misconceptions or marketing tactics either in favour or against certain products.

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My favourite Special ingredient: Argan oil  Source: pinterest

 

I feel no shame and neither should you!       And a letter to my Mother

The Hair Lab Doctor

I thought very hard about writing this post, because it is very personal and also because it is not politically correct and adresses the sensitive topic of race.

It seems like nowadays we live in a culture of shame and today I will adress the shame of having “pelo malo” in Panama that is the phrase people in my country, use when referring to afro hair, which translates to bad hair.

I think it is just a form of casual racism and blackness denial that shames panamanians, even if they have light skin with mildly wavy hair, into frying their hair with flat irons and altering its natural curl pattern permanently with Relaxers and keratin treatments.

Today I feel no shame and never will again about who I am and how my hair looks, my multicultural heritage and my life choices, I used to be ashamed of my hair like a lot of women and girls with afro hair (without being aware of it) but today I say NO MORE.

When I was little I saw the most glorious set of hair on a beauty peagant and it was curly & big like mine is today thanks to the love and tips of many wonderful beautybloggers and vloggers. Back then mine was brittle and it hurt to detangle. My mom did not know how to do my hair because, I Got my curly fro from my dad so that was new territory for my beautiful, adorable & sweet mother. The information was not out there for moms of mixed babies. She loved my curls but I did not, until now.

My beloved mother had thin, fine, high density,wavy hair due to her caucasian, asian, and native american heritage. My mom loved everything black, she loved my hair so much and thought it was beautiful. I wish she could be here to be silly about it with me,she was so funny, but I know she is still watching over me. The point is we are not just a skin color or a hairtype, we are people and people of the same country and culture who should be united not divided by old hatreds and long standing privileges.


As much as my mom and my dad loved everything black the country in which I grew up, I feel, lives in black denial. The gold standard of beauty over there is caucasian and only 6% is in fact caucasian. Panama is a mix race country but somehow there is shame in embracing the part of our nation that came from Africa. I call that The denial of the Black Panama.

Back to the beauty queen with amazing curls? Well it turns out that with deep conditioner, finger curling,air diffusing and good hair care, today I get to see how my hair really is like I and that is the true model of the beauty peagant for me. Off course my hair is shorter and we look nothing alike. I am that beauty queen because I have the courage to walk out there and be as myself as I can possibly be with No apologies and so are you.

The irony of all of this, is that I now know I had the curls I coveted for so long secretly hidden under my flat ironed hair all along, if only the information to care for my hair had been available when I was a child.

I am not ashamed to write a personal story, I am not ashamed of remembering my mom as sweet as she was. She beat cancer even if she died, because every single day after her surgery she went out and did something amazing for others.

Dear mom today I realized I can be the beautyqueen I had always wanted to be and that you already knew I was. Sorry for not being there to save you. I was always away seeing the world and now your piece of the world is forever lost but not forgotten, never forgotten, your legacies stay behind, and I will work hard to move forward and keep changing the world through Education and science.

Dear Mother you were always silent about your accomplishments while others bragged loudly. I will tell the world how amazing you were. Love you my ever so gracious mother.

See you when the stars fall again.

With Love Your Daughter

My mom and my auntie, always doing good deeds

 

A product Junkie Rehab: The Cantu case

Hello Again Curl Friends. I had the idea of write this a detective story but I utterly failed so it will be factual.

Lately the Hair Lab is conducting financial planning experiments, aka trying to control the full blown Product Junkie in order to not go bankrupt.

Today I will share with you: The Cantu Case.

This is the 1st brand all curlies want, because everyone loves it. I only heard of it 3 years after the beggining of my journey. So I imported from the US and spent a lot of money on a relatively cheap product.  I had it imported because I thought it was hard to find it here in Germany so imagine how disappointing it  was when it did not work for me as a Leave-in for wash and go (my basic style) so I left it on the “products I hate” shelf, but somehow it felt wrong since this is top on curly girl product love, also the smell is just too pungent for me. 

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The Hair Lab: Twist out with Cantu

I still wanted to love it so I tried it again as a styling cream for a wash and go and my hair looked amazing for 1 day, then used it again for a wash and go, it was not good at all and I just gave up for about 3 weeks.

I started using it as an overnight prewash detangler and it worked wonders in making my wash days faster because of how detangled and soft my hair was the next morning.

A few months ago I was finally able to get good results with Cantu Shea Butter Leave in Conditioning Cream for my wash and go.

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The Hair Lab: Wash & Go Preliminary Result

Things I did different:

  1. I Used less product.
  2. Applied only in the sections of my hair that do not curl well and finger coiled (this product is great for finger coiling because of the slip and quick definition it gives)
  3. Tried my best to overlook the smell lol.
  4. Used it as a stand alone product, I did not used the LOC method.
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Finger curling only the upper layer of the hair

After it was 80% dry I lifted with a wide tooth comb and an afro pik and shook my head a LOT

My latest test included using 2 cantu products as follows:

  1. Conditioning cowash
  2. Cantu beauty leave in conditioning CREAM: the cream part is important to note as cream my low porosity high density, fine-medium very curly afro hair can not stand it, it is too heavy. Instead I used it as a very rich rinse out conditioner using the squish and condish method, this also deals with the scent issue.
  3. I oiled the hair with a coconut oi blend from the body shop
  4. I used Jane carte solution revitalizing conditioner as the only leave in product to heat protect.
  5. I used the diffuser in medium heat low speed and was ready in 15 minutes.

It def is not a holy grail product for me but I feel better knowing that I can get good results with it. Not all curlies are created equal and what one person might love the other might think meh. Still I enjoyed playing around maybe next time I can use it as Leave in again just to see what happens.  

 

 

 

 

5 Errores que cometí durante la Transición

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5 errores que cometí durante la transición a cabello Natural

1. Me hacía y me hacían plancha, ojo yo amo los rizos pero tb mi look lacio, para mi todo cabello natural es bonito, dicho esto plancha en la transición es mucho riesgo de ruptura capilar y big chop obligado yo tuve suerte y con buena técnica pero el cabello es frágil en ese estado. NO NO Lo haga.

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Just say NO asi sea la super Ghd ultimo modelo NO

2. No leer blogs de cabello natural, error grave y por eso 🖕🖕🖕eso pasó. Lea blogs no sea como yo.

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3. Querer complacer a la Jefa, no diré más de esto pero mis colegas me entienden.

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Credito: Tallncurly.com

4. Hacerse alisado en las raíces para que la plancha quede mejor. ¡Cringe! Esto es consecuencia de la 3.

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5. Vivía debajo de una piedra. Nadie nace sabiendo, conecta pregunta en redes sociales todos somos humanos buscando mejorar y juntos somos mas fuertes. No seas como yo en mi transición a menos que te guste hacer todo a lo loco entonces sí lol 😹😹😹😹 no seas una isla se un archipiélago, pero créeme los vlogs y blogs ayudan. No todo es correcto pero para eso esta el señor Google.image.jpeg

 

Curly Girl Chemistry: a Mini Guide!

The curly girl mini guide to deciphering the ingredient list on haircare products, is a bit of a blogging experiment for me. The idea is to translate a little bit of journal science into everyday information readily available for all curlkind.

Today Shampoo & Surfactants

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What are all those things in the ingredient list?


This post will be about surfactants which are basically detergents which clean and/or condition the hair and scalp in some cases.

To sulfate or not to sulfate? That is the question. A very common question for curly girls. Sulfates are part of the anionic surfactant group, are deep cleansers and are the cheapest products in the haircare industry.
The answer is maybe, it depends, not too much.


In the above table you can see the 4 types of surfactants or cleansing agents found commonly in Shampoos, conditioners, nopoos or cleansing conditioners.

Deep cleansers = anionic surfactants.

They usually lather and clean the scalp very well, but they have as a negative for curly hair a drying effect so if you are curly these agents should not be used everyday, once a week seems like a good enough frequency.

One reason a shampoo can be extremely drying is that it has a mix of 2 or more deep cleansers (as a curly girl this is something I avoid completely). I saw a shampoo that was called moisturizing but had sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate of course it will dry the hair, that is a no no no for curly hair.

Sulfates are known to cause irritation in some people, specially sodium lauryl sulfate which I have excluded from my haircare but other than that one most anionic surfactants do a pretty good job without causing problems, my favorites are sulfosuccinates & sulfonates because they have a smaller molecular size, hence less chance of causing scalp and skin irritation. I find Sodium laureth Sulfate ok as it does not irritate my skin either, but a lot of peopleavoid this ingredient.

Mild Cleansers = nonionic, amphoteric or cationic surfactants.

They usually don’t lather and are either added as a conditioning agent to make deep cleansers softer.

They are commonly used as the main ingredient in no poo products and conditioners.

The best ones as stand alone agents are the nonionic ones like cetearyl alcohol or any other fatty alcohol (these are hydrating alcohols unlike denaturalized alcohol which is drying) and the amphoterics like betaines, because they do a better cleaning job than cationic or natural surfactants.

Deep cleansers remove silicones, contamination & sebum while Mild cleansers can’t remove silicones, oils or butters.

Before starting to use a cowash or no poo product always wash your hair with a shampoo of your choice to remove any trace of hair products and dirt and make sure to not exclude shampoo completely from your routine in order to keep your scalp healthy.

Another good tip for successful cowashing is to avoid all silicones, butters and oils…and if product build up appears use a deep cleanser and then follow with a good deep conditioner.

No need to be afraid of deep cleansers just use them in moderation.

I hope this mini guide helps you and if you have any questions, just ask I am happy to help!

Let me know in the comments your thoughts!

Caring for Curly Hair can become expensive , so when buying products it is important we are selective about it.

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