Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Hunt For Good Leave-in And Moisturizer Ingredients

Now that I have figured out what works for me in a protein conditioner and I have a staple protein conditioner, I wanted to work on figuring out what to look for in a leave-in and cream moisturizer.  Like my protein analysis process, I put the ingredients for 6 leave-ins and moisturizers and 2 twisting butters that I know work for me into a chart, and ranked them.  I also included 3 products that I know do not work for me and 1 iffy product.  I paid particular attention to the first 5 ingredients of each product, but I listed out all of the ingredients to see if there were commonalities.  Here is what I learned:

  • Three of the twelve products I examined had water as the first ingredient.  One of the exceptions was my twisting butter, which had almond milk as the first ingredient and water as the second ingredient.  The second is my bottom ranked like, and has aloe vera gel as the second ingredient and allantoin as the fourth.  The third is a dislike that works for my hair if I cut it with an equal amount of water (thanks to someone on LHCF for suggesting this!).

  • Eight of the twelve products had BTMS (Behentrimonium Methosulfate and Cetearyl Alcohol) within the first five ingredients.  My top leave-in has it as the second ingredient, right behind water.  My top moisturizer has it as the third ingredient.  I'll do another post on BTMS after I have more info.

  • Oils were the other common ingredient in my likes, though no product had the exact same combination of oils.  Jojoba and Avocado oil showed up the most (3 likes each), and the following showed up in two likes each- castor, olive, coconut, and wheat germ.  The higher ranked likes had the oils listed further down on the list, usually after the top 5.

  • Shea butter was a top five ingredient in two of my three dislikes (the third dislike is the one I have to cut with water), and in my iffy product.  It was only in one of my likes and it was the bottom ranked like.

  • Cupuacu butter was in my iffy product and my second lowest ranked moisturizer.

Based on these observations, I am going to do some more research into the ingredients in my products to see if I can figure out other similarities.  However, in the meantime, I will look for products with water as the #1 ingredient, and with BTMS somewhere in the first five ingredients.  I will also look for jojoba or avocado oil after the first 5 ingredients.  I will likely limit my use of shea or cupuacu butter.  I would limit my use of all butters, but murumuru butter is the second ingredient in my favorite moisturizer, so butters are not automatically bad.

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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Deciphering Glycerin

Now that winter is basically here, I was trying to decide whether I want to try using my glycerin based products in the winter time.  Based on my research, I don't.  Glycerin (also called glycerol or glycerine) has two common uses in hair care -- as a lubricant and as a humectant.  For hair purposes, that means it can improve the smoothness of the hair strand; and it can draw moisture to it and slow down the rate at which water is evaporated from it.   Glycerin is water soluble, which means that it mixes well with water.

There are two reasons to be careful when using glycerin.  First, like any humectant, pure glycerin can be drying because it may pull water from the lower layers of skin onto the surface where the water can easily be evaporated into the air or rubbed off (i.e., with a hat or scarf).  It can also be sticky if you use too much.  Thus, it is important to always dilute it.  When making my own water spritz, I usually mix about 2 tablespoons of glycerin to 4 oz. of water. 

Second, the effects of glycerin can vary by the humidity in the air.  This is a sister point to the first one.  Because glycerin likes to draw water to it, in humid weather, this means that it is pulling water from the air.  This can be beneficial because it helps to moisturize your hair.  However, if you find that your hair is getting frizzy in humid weather, you may need to cut back on glycerin.  In dry / arid weather, glycerin may pull water from your hair and skin because it cannot pull it from the air.  Thus, if you are going to use glycerin in a dry climate, make sure that the glycerin-containing product also contains water.  If it does not, you could do the baggy method or take a steamy shower to infuse water into the glycerin before it hits the dry air.  You could also try using a sealant, like an oil, to keep the water from leaving your hair when it is pulled to the surface.

To determine the humidity in the air, it is best to look at the dew point, rather than the humidity.  When the weather channel mentions humidity, however, they are usually talking about “relative humidity”, which is the amount of water vapor in the air compared to what could be in the air at the current temperature.  The dew point is a specific measurement of the amount of water vapor in the air.  A dew point above 60o F is usually considered humid, and a dew point below 40o F is usually considered dry. 

As a disclaimer, I don’t plan to check the weather channel every morning before doing my hair.  I just go based on feel.  Optimally, I would use glycerin mixed with water and styling products with glycerin high on the list in medium dew point temperatures (40o-60o).  However, because my hair is low porosity, my hair does not frizz easily in high humidity, so I’m less concerned than others might be in the summer, but I still don’t want to overdo it.  Thus, I will probably use glycerin more freely in the spring, summer and early fall; and I would avoid using glycerin-based stylers and moisturizers in late fall and all of winter, though it is still okay to use glycerin-based conditioners.  Of course, where glycerin is low on the product ingredient list, then these rules of thumb are less important.
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Product Review: Camille Rose Curlaide Moisture Butter

Name:  Camille Rose Curlaide Moisture Butter

Ingredients:  Deionized water, rice milk, behenetrimonium methosulfate and cetearyl alcohhol (BTMS), coconut oil, shea butter fruit, olive oil, green tea leaf extract, sesame seed oil, soybean oil, aloe vera leaf extract, castor seed oil, rice bran oil, macadamia seed oil, avocado oil, aloe leaf juice, silky wax, slippery elm, sorbitol, jojoba seed oil, vitamin C, vitamin E, phenoxyethanol and caprylyl glycol and sorbic acid, scent and LOVE!

Promise:  From the back of the bottle -- "Our wonderful Curlaide Moisture Butter will bathe your tresses in an aromatic, nourishing and tantalizing blend of amala oil, jojoba and honey.  Curlaide provides maximum moisture and curl definition."; From the Camille Rose website -- “Organic rice milk, green tea, jojoba, macadamia and slippery elm are infused to create this creamy blend so that your hair will feel moisturized and soft.  Minimize breakage with nourishing shea butter fruit and coconut oil.  Works great for wash n go’s, two strand twists, locks and braids.”

Consistency:  Like a thick face cream.  It reminds me of cake batter, but not runny.  

Scent:  Vanilla cake batter

Results:   I think they forgot to change the label on my jar because I don't see amala oil or honey in the ingredients list. I went on a vendor website and saw marshmallow root, green algae and amala in the ingredients list, but none of these were on my label.  It went on smooth like the almond jai, and it was not greasy.  However, I think the ingredient combination is too heavy for my hair and actually kept moisture out of it.  I tried to use it the way that I use the almond jai.  I flat twisted my hair for the week using this, and then I used daily moisture on my hair.  Unlike with the almond jai, by the end of the week, my hair was dry and frizzy.  My hair also felt a little hard like there was protein in my hair, which makes me wonder if there really is green algae in this product. It could also just be the coconut oil, which is high on the ingredient list.  This may work better on high porosity hair.

Love it or Dump it:  I'm getting rid of mine, but it could be great for others.  I'll stick to the Camille Rose Almond Jai Twisting Butter, which I love.
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Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Low Porosity Journey

The most important two things to remember for low porosity hair are that:  (1) it is really to get water or anything else into the strands because the cuticles are closed tightly; and (2) time and indirect heat are your greatest friends in getting things into the hair strand.  Keeping those two things in mind, here are just a few observations and techniques I have started to pick up on my low porosity journey:

  • I've realized that my low porosity is probably the reason that it took forever for my relaxer to process, and why my hair usually ended up overprocessed or underprocessed.
  • Even with a silicone-free regimen, I still have to shampoo because I'm prone to build-up.  Even natural products tend to sit on my hair strands.  
  • I need to give conditioner a lot of time and some heat to work.  I usually deep condition overnight or with a heat cap for a minimum of 20 minutes to give my hair time to absorb the conditioner.  Steam would also work.
  • Milky and light cream products work best.  I sometimes have to thin out products with grapeseed oil, so I always have some around.  Pure shea butter is too thick.
  • I cannot run out the door immediately after putting leave-in on my hair because the leave-in sometimes takes awhile to absorb.  I sometimes see white specks for the first 20-30 minutes.  
  • It takes forever for my hair to dry.  I've had my hair take up to 24 hours to airdry.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Product Review: Camille Rose Fresh Curl

Name:  Camille Rose Naturals Fresh Curl Revitalizing Hair Smoother

Ingredients:  Deoinized water, Castor Seed Oil, dl Panthenol, Glycerin, Avocado Oil, Sodium PCA, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Peach Quavam, Optiphen and LOVE!

Promise:  From the back of the bottle -- "Our daily styling lotion will transform dull, lifeless hair into soft, shiny and detangled curls. Infused with Panthenol to strengthen, smooth and restore cuticles and hair follicles for healthy hair growth." ;  From a vendor (Curlmart) -- "Camille Rose Naturals Fresh Curl is a daily curly reviving mist that will wake up flat droopy curls. Use it as a detangler or a daily leave-in to moisturize and nourish dry frizz hair. Your thirsty curls and coils will restored to beautifully moisturized."

Consistency:  Very thin, like pure aloe vera gel.  It feels like water when I put it on my hair.

Scent:  Like most of their products, it smells good, like fresh baked vanilla cookies.  However, then there is  something chemically to the smell, unlike other Camille Rose products I've tried.

Results:   I bought this product because I love other Camille Rose products.  I was disappointed.  Fresh Curl did not really do anything for my hair initially, though it did seem to refresh (i.e. re-wet) my products from the day before, after I left it on for a little while.  My hair did not become shiny or detangled.

Love it or Dump it:  Dump it.
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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Protein Types

As I mentioned in my previous protein conditioner post, the science geek in me started doing research to see what types of protein are out there.  That way, I can do a more educated job of figuring out what protein conditioners are right for my hair.  Here is what I have learned so far in my research.
Proteins have different origins.  It appears that are usually either animal derived (such as milk, silk, glycoproteinplacental, natural keratincollagen, or elastin); plant derived (such blue-green algae, corn, soy, rice, oat, coconut milk, or wheat); or synthetic (such as man-made keratin or silk).  My previous post indicated that it is best to avoid animal proteins because they can coat the hair, causing build-up.  However, on further research, I don't think that is true for all animal proteins.  Instead, I agree with Natural Maven.  I think it is more important to look at where the protein is on the ingredient list, and the size of the protein.  Hydrolyzed proteins are proteins that have been broken down into smaller proteins or individual amino acids (proteins are long chains of linked amino acids).
If your hair needs a strong protein, then keratin is a good one.  Your hair, skin and nails are all made from keratin, but you will still need keratin in a protein conditioner to be hydrolyzed for it to be properly absorbed into the hair strand.  One of my favorite protein conditioners contains both hydrolyzed keratin and keratin amino acids.  However, be very careful in reading bottles when looking for keratin so that you do not accidentally pick up a straightening system, which also contains keratin.  Look for words like "reconstructor" or "conditioner".  

Blue-green algae is another source of strong protein.  For example, aphanizomenon flos aquae and spirulina are both over 50% protein.  I've personally found this protein source is too strong for my hair.

Hydrolyzed wheat and oat proteins strengthen, increase elasticity and help your hair hold on to and retain moisture.  Silk amino acids are also a great strengthener for the hair, but they are somewhat controversial because of how natural silk amino acids are obtained.

It is also important to look out for ingredients that act like a protein.  For example, while henna and coconut oil are not proteins, some people say that these products act like protein.  They bond to the hair shaft and help the hair retain proteins.  I've never tried henna, but coconut oil seems to act like a protein for my hair.  I do not use it unless it is diluted.

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Product Review: GVP Conditioning Balm

Name:  Generic Value Products Conditioning Balm

Ingredients:  Aqua/Water, Propylene Glycol, Myristyl Alcohol, Cetrimonium Chloride, Cetearyl Alcohol, Decyl Oleate, Phenoxyethanol, Parfum/Fragrance, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Hexyl Cinnamal, Rosmarinus Officinalis/Rosemary Leaf Extract, Hydrastis Canadensis/Golden Seal Extract, Fucus Vesiculosus/Bladderwack Extract, Methyl-2-Octynoate

Promise:  "Compare to Matrix Biolage Conditioning Balm"; "Repairs Dry or Damaged Hair"

Consistency:  Similar to a very thick lotion

Scent:  It doesn't really have a strong scent.  It really just smells like what you would expect a plain
conditioner to smell like.
Results:  I've never tried the Matrix version, so I cannot speak to how it compares to that.  I bought this on a whim from Sally Beauty Supply.  This is my first attempt at a more commercial product since my big chop.  Previously, I stuck to organic and all natural products.  I really liked this product.  Due to the conditioner thickness, I had to leave it on my low porosity hair strands in the shower for a few minutes before it really worked.  However, when I did that, it melted away my tangles and gave my hair a lot of slip.  I also mixed it into protein deep conditioners a couple times to give my hair a moisture boost, and it worked great.  I never tried using it on it's own for deep conditioner. 

Love it or Dump it:  Love It!  I will repurchase this once I use up more of my stash.  I'm adding it to my favorites list.
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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Puff Status!

I'm still working on my research on the different types of protein.  In the meantime, this is just a quick post to celebrate being able to put my hair into a real puff!  I was rushing to get out the door to meet friends, and I was trying to figure out a quick hairstyle that would last for two days.  I put on a headband to do an afro, and decided to keep pushing it back.  Lo and behold, PUFF!

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