Monday, April 12, 2010

Is your hair being temperamental?


Have products that no longer do the job? Does it have you feeling like the guy pictured? Hopefully not. :)

The underlying issue(s) could involve the products you’re using, or it could very well be your hair.

I’ve been natural a while now, but the wonders of hair science in totality is never-ending. It amazes me how when I was relaxed, I never paid attention to ingredients, claims by companies, and whether the products really DID anything for my hair in terms of helping maintaining its health. How I never understood how my hair and the products I used fit together or rather, DIDN’T fit together, because quite frankly when it’s relaxed, you just DON’T think about these things (generally speaking). We just wanted hair that was straight and shiny.

But I digress.

Anyway, let’s discuss potential issues (and solutions):

  • What’s your routine? You can find many culprits hidden in your routine. If you are practicing a No-Poo or Low-Poo routine, you MUST make sure you’re using products that will NOT buildup on your hair, as well as having a good understanding of what this routine entails. No bandwagon jumping BEFORE doing the research! This includes eliminating (and/or limiting) products w/ non peg-modified and water insoluble silicones, mineral oil, and petrolatum (petroleum). Also, while many butters and oils are great for the hair, they’re generally NOT water soluble (unless noted). While they’re natural [emollients], they potentially have the propensity to build up over time if not removed.
Solution: If you notice the hair feeling weighed down, not taking products well(not penetrating strands), or notice your hair feeling a wee bit dry, try using a gentle shampoo to give yourself a clean slate. If you've used products that are water insoluble, you'll need to clarify. Doing a ACV rinse does not count(this only removes mineral deposits and normalizes the pH of the hair, it doesn't remove product buildup). Follow with a good moisturizing conditioner (I recommend one specifically for deep treatments w/heat), and keep styling products to a minimum. You shouldn’t have to use many products to give you the results you seek. Many may not agree with me, but I believe that if some products were really THAT great, you wouldn’t have to layer two or three others over top of them. ;) Sometimes less is more.

  • Hair porosity This can have a HUGE impact on the effectiveness of the products you’re using. Porosity is a, “…term used in the science of hair care to describe how easily water and other matter can diffuse back and forth through the cuticle layer and into or out of the cortex” (Becker, 2009). Porosity involves the hair's ability to maintain moisture and whether your hair has low, normal, and high porosity can determine what types of products can work best for you. Normal porosity has a good moisture balance and can generally handle manipulation better, but it can still become damaged. This type of porosity doesn't need a lot of protein, so usage should be moderated. When your hair has high porosity, the hair is capable of absorbing high amounts of water. While this may sound ideal, high porosity hair is the result of damage, whether from chemical processes, mistreatment, or environmental factors, (sun, cold, pollution, hard water, etc.). The lower the porosity, the more difficult it is for water or products to penetrate. This translates into higher instances of product buildup, which can cause the hair to become dry because of lack of moisture, or because of protein accumulating on the strands from deep treatments (Becker, 2009).

Solutions: For high porosity hair, use products that are chock full of moisturizers and emollients and if you live in a high heat/humidity region, use anti-humectants because:

Raised/rough cuticles + humidity+ humectants = GUARANTEED hair disaster.

For low porosity hair, deep treat with heat. Heat allows the cuticles to open and allows the product(s) to penetrate the strands more effectively.

  • What’s going on in the INSIDE? Hormonal changes, stress, health-related issues, etc. can take a toll on your hair. Even medications can take you from having healthy hair, to having hair that needs extra TLC. I’m not qualified in giving advice concerning medications or health issues/concerns, but if you feel that the medications you’re taking are having an adverse affect on your health and/or hair, seek the guidance of your doctor and/or a dermatologist to get a proper diagnosis.

Solution: (see above) - What I can recommend that is within my advising parameters is doing moisturizing deep treatments and using moisturizing products. If you’re also experiencing breakage, a low-manipulation routine is ideal. Protective styling can be a great option.

All of this is to say that there is always a cause, effect and solution, and you can figure out what’s wrong and make the necessary adjustments to your routine (unless it’s a medical issue). I know how frustrating it can be when your hair is a funk. It tends to carry over into everything else, right? But let me say that if your hair is highly damaged, no product can remedy that. Only time (optimal health and maintenance), and growth (resulting in the removal damaged hair) can do that.

The best advice I can give ultimately is to pay attention to what you’re using and what you're doing to your hair. It may seem like more work as a natural, but honestly, I think it may appear that way because we’re making concerted efforts in being knowledgeable about what we’re using on our bodies. That can never be that bad of a thing, can it?

I’ve also learned that it becomes easier when you know what works for you. I’m beyond the product junkie phase right now, although I DO love trying out new products from fabulous vendors. But I’m definitely a believer in K.I.S.S. (keep it simple silly). Yes, I switched out words. I have no plans on referring to myself or others as “stupid”. LOL! Anyway, when you know what works, you spend less time AND money on your hair. Yes, you heard correctly. More money in your pockets to buy those pair of shoes you’ve been eying, or you could be responsible and pay a bill or something. :)


Becker, T.M. (2009, August 3). CurlChemist: porosity and curly hair. Posted at

No comments: