What's In Your Shampoo?

 

They say "don't judge a book by its cover," and a similar thing applies to hair products. Don't judge a shampoo (or conditioner or gel, etc.) by its bottle. Fancy labels and high price tags don't necessarily translate to good products. What DOES matter is what's in those products, so the most important part of the label? It's not the brand or the sparkly letters or the miracle promises. What matters is the stuff in tiny type -- the list of ingredients.

And that's why professional salon products especially formulated for curly hair are often the best, since they have the ingredients you need and avoid the ones you don't. But the stuff you find at the local drugstores? They can be great, too, if you know what you're looking for.

The rule of thumb for bouncy curls: No sulfates, which is a type of surfactant, aka detergent.

Sulfates
A surfactant—sometimes referred to as a detergent—is a substance that, when dissolved in water, gives a product the ability to remove dirt from surfaces such as the human skin, textiles, and other solids. There are several types of surfactants, from harsh to mild, and sulfates are in the most harsh class. Common sulfates as found on hair product ingredient bottles include:
  • Alkylbenzene Sulfonate
  • Ammonium Laureth or Lauryl Sulfate
  • Ammonium or Sodium Xylenesulfonate
  • Dioctyl Sodium Sulfosuccinate
  • Ethyl PEG-15 Cocamine Sulfate
  • Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate
  • Sodium Cocoyl Sarcosinate
  • Sodium Laureth, Myreth or Lauryl Sulfate
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate
  • TEA-Dodecylbenzenesulfonate
Milder surfactants—less drying and recommended in lieu of sulfates — include:
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine
  • Coco Betaine
  • Cocoamphoacetate
  • Cocoamphodipropionate
  • Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate or Cocoamphodipropionate
  • Lauroamphoacetate
  • Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate
Now, makes sense that we wouldn't want harsh detergents messing with our curls, right? Next week we'll talk about proteins! Meanwhile, you can learn more in the Live Curly Live Free e-book, Unlocking the Secrets Behind the World of Beautiful Curly Hair.

Curly Hair 101- Revisiting the Basics

by Tiffany Anderson of Live Curly Live Free

Over 65% of the world's population has curly hair, yet many girls with curls chemically straighten and/or damage their hair with blow-dryers and flat irons rather than wear their natural curls. Why? Because they are sick and tired of struggling with dry, unmanageable frizz day after day, tired of bad haircuts from stylists who don't know how to properly handle curly hair, and tired of spending large sums on money on products that promise perfect curls, but only let them down time and time again. No more dealing with their "problem hair," they vow, so they resort to straightening it―only to end up damaging it further. It's a vicious, never-ending cycle.

Curly hair in and of itself really isn't the problem, however. The vast majority of curly hair problems are due to improper haircuts, bad styling products and ineffective styling techniques. As impossible as it may sound, when you have the right cut, use the right type of products, utilize the proper styling techniques, and understand the basics of curly hair, your curls will seem to magically change from frumpy, out-of-control frizz to healthy, defined curls almost immediately.

 Let's start putting this together to understand how it all works by first focusing on a few hair basics:

What is Hair? 

Hair is actually a nonliving fiber made from a protein called keratin. Keratin, in turn, is made up of long chains of amino acids created from what are known as the COHNS elements: carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen and sulfur. These chains are linked together end to end like beads and are also cross-linked together by what are known as side bonds. These bonds are responsible for the strength and elasticity of the hair strand of which they are a part.

Each hair strand is made up of three parts: the cuticle, the cortex and the medulla. The medulla is the innermost layer of the hair; however, not everyone has one and it is most commonly found only in thick, coarse hair. Since the medulla is considered unimportant when it comes to hair services, we'll only be paying attention to the cuticle and the cortex.

The Cuticle 

The cuticle is the outer layer of hair. It is not one solid layer, but instead is made of individual scales that lay against one another just like roof tiles. The cuticle of a healthy hair strand will lie flat and protect the inside of the hair shaft against damage, as well as keep moisture in your hair where it belongs. Learning how to keep the cuticle of your hair shut is one of the most important things you can do to keep your hair healthy, moisturized and frizz-free.

The Cortex 

The cortex is the middle layer of the hair shaft (for many, it is also the innermost layer of hair for those who don't have a medulla). The cortex itself is responsible for approximately 90 percent of your hair's total weight; additionally, the natural color of your hair is determined within the cortex by a pigment known as melanin. The permanent chemical changes that take place in your hair due to permanent haircolor, texturizing, perming, straightening or relaxing take place within the cortex.

The pH Scale – What It Is and Why It Is Critical to Curly Hair Care 

The pH scale is what we use to determine the acidity or alkalinity of a substance. The scale ranges in value from 0 to 14, with 0 being the most acidic and 14 being the most alkaline:


 Pure water carries a pH of 7 or “neutral,” so anything below 7 on the scale is considered acidic and anything above 7 is considered alkaline. So why is that critical for curly hair? Remember when I said learning to shut your cuticle is one of the most important things you can do to keep moisture inside your hair shaft and help to keep the frizz at bay? Acidic solutions are what shut the cuticle and keep the hair from damage, while alkaline solutions open the cuticle to let anything invade the cortex. That's why choosing the right products and learning how to use them properly makes all the difference in the health and appearance of your curls.

Here's an example. Your hair ranges between 4.5 and 5.5 on the pH scale. Technically, that means even the act of putting pure water on your hair is damaging all by itself because water is naturally more alkaline than hair. That's why you hear so much talk about “acid-balanced” shampoos and conditioners, or why rinsing with apple cider vinegar (pH value 3) or lemon juice (pH value 2) can be so effective. Acid-balanced solutions, when used while cleansing your hair, bring your hair back into balance and shut that cuticle back down!

While the difference between 5 and 7 might not seem like a big deal at first glance, it is important to note the pH scale is what is called a “logarithmic” scale: each change in number means a tenfold change in pH. So, according to the scale, lemon juice at a pH of 2 is actually 10 times more acidic than vinegar at a pH of 3. And that means water is actually 100 times more alkaline than hair. Looked at in that way, it all of a sudden becomes a very big deal indeed. Understanding how pH works and how you can manipulate it to your advantage will help you in keeping your curls healthy and frizz-free.

What is Hair Texture?

Simply put, your hair texture is determined by the diameter of the hair strand itself. Fine hair has the smallest diameter, coarse hair has the largest, and medium texture is somewhere in between. Your hair texture plays one of the most important roles in how you should care for your curls, not only through daily maintenance, but also when considering any chemical services such as haircolor or texturizing. Let's take a closer look at the different types of hair texture:

Fine Hair 

Fine hair can appear very limp or flyaway and does not hold a style well. It frequently seems dry, when in fact it is quite often over-moisturized. It is very easy to over-process and is quickly damaged by chemical services if great care is not taken. Products with a lot of humectants and emollients should be avoided in favor of those with protein, which acts as a strengthener and gives fine hair the strength and structure that Mother Nature did not.

Medium Hair 

Medium hair is what is considered “normal” hair, meaning it has a mid-range texture. It does not require any special considerations for chemical services and usually processes normally. Undamaged hair with a medium texture can generally support products with a wide range of ingredients, although it is usually advisable for those with a medium texture to avoid protein in penetrating products, i.e., conditioners, deep treatments, etc.

Coarse Hair 

Coarse hair is much thicker and stronger than fine or medium hair, but typically does not bend and cannot hold a style well. It is also often dry and brittle, due to an overabundance of protein. Coarse hair is much harder to process and is often very resistant to chemical services. Products with a lot of protein should be avoided in favor of those with humectants and emollients, as protein adds strength to an already abundantly strong hair strand and can cause a dry, hard, "broom straw" effect.

 To determine your texture: hold a single strand up to the light.
  • Does the hair strand look delicate, a bit insubstantial, somewhat translucent, and seem almost as if it's "barely there"? If any of these characteristics fit, the hair texture is most likely fine.
  • Does the hair strand look thick, wiry, and sturdy? Does it seem substantial and strong, with a very definitive presence and a distinctive lack of suppleness? If so, the hair texture is most likely coarse.
  • Does the hair strand seem somewhat solid, but not overly thick? Does it have some substance to it, but is still fairly supple? If so, the hair texture is most likely medium.
Please remember it is quite possible to have hair of varying textures all over your head―texture isn't always a "one size fits all" kind of hair property!

There is one exception to the rule and that's for hair that's been lightened or bleached. When you put bleach on your hair, you blow holes in the cortex that look just like potholes. It doesn't matter how “healthy” your hair feels after your lightening service―that only means you've been what we call properly “reconstructed.”

Every time you get lightened, you need to have a protein reconstruction treatment to fill in those holes, no matter what your hair texture. If you have coarse hair, however, one good reconstruction immediately after the service will probably do the trick, considering you naturally manufacture an overabundance of protein within your hair shaft anyway. Those with fine hair should consider a series of treatments to keep their hair healthy.

What is Hair Porosity?

Porosity refers to the ability of your hair to absorb moisture and is determined by the state the cuticle of your hair is in. Porosity is a critically important factor in determining curly hair care since moisture is what shapes and defines our curls. If you don't know your hair's porosity, you won't be able to make the best product and maintenance routine choices to maximize the amount of moisture your curls retain. The existing "curl classification systems" never seem to mention porosity in their categorization process. Odd, considering lack of moisture is one of the biggest causes of frizz, the demon of Curly World.

There are three different classifications of porosity:

Low Porosity

Low porosity is when the cuticle of the hair shaft is too compact and does not permit moisture to enter or leave the hair shaft. Hair with low porosity is much more difficult to process, is resistant to chemical services, and has a tendency to repel product rather than absorb it.

Normal Porosity

With normal porosity, the cuticle is compact and inhibits moisture from leaving or entering the hair shaft; however, it allows for normal processing when a chemical service is performed and will readily absorb and retain product properly formulated for this hair type.

High Porosity

Hair with high porosity, also known as “overly porous” hair, has an open cuticle that both absorbs and releases moisture easily. Overly porous hair processes very quickly and can be easily damaged if extreme care is not taken when a chemical service is performed. Although overly porous hair absorbs product quickly, it is often dry as the open cuticle does not allow for product retention within the hair shaft.

To determine your own hair's porosity, grasp a hair strand firmly between your fingers. Slide the thumb and index finger of your other hand from end to scalp (opposite direction as for texture test). If your fingers "catch" going up the strand, or feel like they are ruffling up the hair strand, your hair is overly porous. If it is smooth, you have normal porosity. If your fingers move very fast up the hair strand and it feels exceptionally slick, you have low porosity.

Why Hair Texture and Porosity are the Keys to Understanding Your Curls

This is where the so-called "curl classification systems" can be problematic. If Type 2 is supposed to mean fine, wavy hair, what happens if you have wavy hair with a coarse texture and high porosity? Or you have tight corkscrew curls often wrongly categorized as coarse, but your hair is baby-fine (as are many with curly hair) with really low porosity?

If you have wavy hair and follow the routines and use the products normally suggested for this curl type, but your hair is actually coarse and overly porous, you are going to end up with hair like straw–plus, you won't be addressing the problem of your high porosity, which blows product out of the hair shaft anyway.

If your corkscrew curls are fine and you load them up with the humectants and emollients often recommended for this hair type, your hair will end up a limp, stringy mess, assuming you can get the product into your hair in the first place. It just doesn't work that way.

Taking into account the deets above, what's your hair's profile? What products work best for you? 

Curly Hair Product Ingredient Guide



So, how do you actually identify sulfates and non-water soluble silicones on product labels? The list of formal ingredient names below will help you to stay on track and avoid purchasing products that are not suitable for optimal curly hair health.

Please note that professional salon products especially formulated for curly hair will always give the best results; however, drugstore products containing no sulfates or non-water soluble silicones are always preferable to any product brand containing those ingredients.

My clients will tell you I am not in the least bit concerned about what "brand" you use. I care more that you commit to following the no-sulfate, no non-water soluble silicones guidelines than I do about what brand you buy, so always feel free to experiment and use the products that are best for you and your particular curls. I still experiment with different products myself, as I suspect almost every girl with curls will do for the rest of her life!

Sulfates

A surfactant—sometimes referred to as a detergent—is a substance that, when dissolved in water, gives a product the ability to remove dirt from surfaces such as the human skin, textiles, and other solids. There are several different types of surfactants, ranging from harsh to mild, with sulfates belonging to the class that is the most harsh.

Common sulfates as found on hair product ingredient bottles include:
  • Alkylbenzene Sulfonate
  • Ammonium Laureth or Lauryl Sulfate
  • Ammonium or Sodium Xylenesulfonate
  • Dioctyl Sodium Sulfosuccinate
  • Ethyl PEG-15 Cocamine Sulfate
  • Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate
  • Sodium Cocoyl Sarcosinate
  • Sodium Laureth, Myreth, or Lauryl Sulfate
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate
  • TEA-Dodecylbenzenesulfonate
Some milder surfactants—less drying and recommended in lieu of sulfates—include:
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine
  • Coco Betaine
  • Cocoamphoacetate
  • Cocoamphodipropionate
  • Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate or Cocoamphodipropionate
  • Lauroamphoacetate
  • Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate

Silicones

Silicones generally end in -cone, -conol, -col, or -xane and are found in many hair products. If any silicone name has the abbreviation "PEG" or "PPG" in front of it, however, it is water-soluble and will not build up.

Silicones that are not soluble in water, will consistently build up on the hair and will require a surfactant-based shampoo to remove include:
  • Cetearyl Methicone
  • Cetyl Dimethicone
  • Dimethicone
  • Dimethiconol
  • Stearyl Dimethicone
Silicones that are not soluble in water, but whose chemical properties allow it to repel further deposit, helping to prevent buildup (although they will still lock moisture out of the hair and require a surfactant to remove):
  • Amodimethicone
  • Cyclomethicone/Cyclopentasiloxane
  • Trimethylsilylamodimethicone
A note about amodimethicone: if you do an Internet search on amodimethicone, you will find quite a few sites that list amodimethicone as a silicone that is "slightly" soluble in water as long as two additional ingredients are included in the formulation:

Amodimethicone (and) Trideceth-12 (and) Cetrimonium Chloride (as a mixture in the bottle)

The assumption has always been that the inclusion of Trideceth-12 (a nonionic surfactant) and cetrimonium chloride (a cationic surfactant) render the amodimethicone, non-water soluble on its own, slightly soluble in water and it could be considered okay to use. Turns out that has been a completely incorrect assumption. What the Trideceth-12 and cetrimonium chloride do is render the amodimethicone dispersible in water. Once the amodimethicone is deposited onto the hair shaft and dries to a film, however, it is not water-soluble, will prevent moisture from getting into the hair shaft and will require a surfactant to remove.

Silicones that are slightly soluble in water, but can possibly build up on some types of curly hair over time, include:
  • Behenoxy Dimethicone
  • Stearoxy Dimethicone
Silicones that are soluble in water and can generally be considered safe to use (in addition to those listed with "PEG" or "PPG" in front of them) include:
  • Dimethicone Copolyol
  • Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein Hydroxypropyl Polysiloxane
  • Lauryl Methicone Copolyol
Proteins

An additional note about proteins: some curly hair types, especially those with a coarse hair texture, are also sensitive to proteins, which can cause some curly hair to become dry and brittle. They are best avoided if any adverse effects are noted.

Common protein ingredients include:
  • Collagen
  • Hydrolyzed Collagen Protein
  • Hydrolyzed Silk Protein
  • Hydrolyzed Soy Protein
  • Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
  • Keratin
  • Keratin Amino Acids
  • Silk Amino Acids
  • Silk Protein
  • Soy Protein
  • Wheat Amino Acids
  • Wheat Protein

The CurlWhisperer's Home Remedies


via Live Curly Live Free

While there are several fine product lines on the market for the care and maintenance of curly hair, many girls with curls are advocating a move to more natural products, including those made at home. Below are several recipes you can use if you have an adventurous spirit and would like to experiment.


Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse
There is some debate on whether or not an apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinse alone can clarify the hair; however, it is helpful to bring the hair back into balance after an alkaline solution has come into contact with the hair and will shut the cuticle back down. Repeated use of ACV rinses can be drying, so limit use to once or twice per month at most:

Combine:
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup warm water

Pour the mixture over the hair after cleansing (do not rinse out), then condition as usual. Any lingering smell will dissipate as the hair dries.


Baking Soda Clarification

With some silicone-based products, clarification must be done to remove the product that builds up over time on the hair shaft. Rather than resort to sulfate-based shampoos to remove this build-up, which can damage and dry the hair, a baking soda cleanse is preferable:

Combine:
1 tablespoon baking soda
3 tablespoons curly-friendly conditioner

Apply mixture to the scalp and massage firmly, then continue to massage the mixture down the hair shaft to the ends. Work into hair well. Rinse thoroughly with warm water and follow immediately with an apple cider vinegar rinse.

**Note: you must follow any baking soda cleanse with an apple cider vinegar rinse. Baking soda is alkaline—meaning it will raise your cuticle and open up your hair shaft. The apple cider vinegar is acidic and will close your cuticle back down. If you don't follow the cleanse with an ACV rinse, you'll be leaving your hair shaft open and setting yourself up for more frizz than you'd probably like.


Chlorine Buster

It is always a good idea to rinse your hair with plain water prior to entering any swimming pool to prevent chlorine water from penetrating into your hair shaft; however, this remedy will help reverse any chlorine damage to unprotected hair.

Combine:
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup pureed, peeled cucumber

Massage well into hair from scalp to ends, then cover with a plastic processing cap. Process for 30 minutes hour at room temperature, then cleanse hair with a non-sulfate based cleanser.


Deep Conditioning Treatment
No time for a deep conditioning treatment? Right before you go to sleep, rake a good deep moisture treatment through your slightly damp curls. Cover your hair completely with a plastic processing cap and/or a satin sleep bonnet and go to sleep (throw a towel over your pillowcase for extra protection). In the morning, rinse out the treatment, then scrunch in your styling products, style and go. VoilĂ ! A deep conditioning treatment that doesn't take hours from your day!


Essential Oil Blend for Hair Growth
Please note there is no guarantee this oil will stimulate hair growth in every individual. However, researchers from the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary in Scotland published a study of 86 individuals who used this oil for seven months and reported 44% of people in the treatment group had new hair growth compared to only 15% in the control group.

Combine:
3 drops cedarwood essential oil
3 drops lavender essential oil
3 drops lemon essential oil
3 drops rosemary essential oil
3 drops thyme essential oil
1/8 cup grapeseed oil
1/8 cup jojoba oil

Apply several drops of the mixture to areas of hair loss each night, massaging gently into the scalp for 3-5 minutes. Store oil tightly covered and keep away from heat and light.

*Contraindications: avoid rosemary essential oil when pregnant. Cautions: citrus oils are photosensitive and should not be applied prior to sun exposure.


Hair Detangler
Well-moisturized curly hair is virtually tangle-free, but this recipe can help with the tangles while you are in your re-hydration process. You can keep this in a spray bottle and spray it on in the shower to help detangle your hair while cleansing and conditioning:

Combine:
1 teaspoon aloe vera gel
1/2 teaspoon grapefruit seed extract
2 drops grapefruit essential oil
2 drops glycerin
8 ounces purified water

Mix together in a spray bottle and keep in the shower. Spray lightly to help detangle hair.

*Cautions: citrus oils are photosensitive and should not be applied prior to sun exposure.


Honey Hair Conditioner
Honey is a natural humectant that can help restore moisture to dry hair. The antibacterial properties of honey will release low levels of hydrogen peroxide and can lighten the hair, however, so be sure to warm the honey before use—heating it will negate the effects of the peroxide.

Combine:

1/2 cup honey, warmed in the microwave
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Massage well into hair from scalp to ends, then cover with a plastic processing cap. Process for 30 minutes at room temperature, then cleanse hair with a non-sulfate cleanser. For added penetration, sit under a warm (not hot) dryer for 20 minutes.


Lavender Water Hair Spray
The benefits of lavender essential oil in hair care are many—it can help to disinfect your scalp and skin and it can be very effective on lice and lice eggs or nits. In addition, the scent of lavender has been shown to help reduce headaches, depression, anxiety and emotional stress.

Combine:
1 cup purified water
1/2 tablespoon curly-friendly conditioner or coconut oil
2 drops lavender essential oil

Combine in an 8 oz. spray bottle. Spray lightly on hair to refresh throughout the day. Shake well before each use.

*Contraindications: low blood pressure, pregnancy prior to second trimester.


Oily Scalp Treatment
While most curly women suffer from dry scalp, curly men often do battle with oily hair and scalp conditions. Whether you are a girl or a guy with curls, the witch hazel in this remedy will act as an astringent and the mouthwash includes antiseptic properties to help with oil reduction.

Combine:
3 tablespoons witch hazel
3 tablespoons mouthwash

Apply with cotton pads (only to your scalp); do not rinse. Cleanse as usual.


Olive Oil Treatment

Olive oil is one of the healthiest natural ingredients for hair that is extremely dehydrated and brittle. Girls with curls who have coarse hair, who historically have the hardest time keeping moisture in their hair, can greatly benefit from the following deep treatment on a monthly or twice-a-month basis (although this treatment is beneficial for anyone with dry hair):

Warm:
1/4 cup olive oil

Massage well into hair from scalp to ends, then cover with a plastic processing cap. Process for 30 minutes at room temperature, then cleanse hair with a non-sulfate cleanser. For added penetration, sit under a warm (not hot) dryer for 20 minutes.

*Tip: you can buy a can of olive oil cooking spray (such as Pam®) and use it to spray lightly on hair for shine and frizz control. Be judicious, as you do not want to make yourself oily from using too much. Keeping the spray can at least 10 inches from your hair while spraying will also help to ensure any propellants will dissipate before reaching your hair.


Protein Pack
Some girls with curls, especially those with fine hair, have a tendency to become too over-moisturized with emollients and need additional protein treatments to restore the health of their hair. This is also helpful for lightened (bleached) hair that has not been properly reconstructed after the chemical service:

Combine:
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon mayonnaise (the full fat kind, not the reduced fat)
2 teaspoons olive oil

Massage well into hair from scalp to ends, then cover with a plastic processing cap. Process for one hour at room temperature, then cleanse hair with a non-sulfate cleanser. For added penetration, sit under a warm (not hot) dryer for 30 minutes.


What are your weekend hair plans? Any plans to try a new homemade recipe?

The Curl Whisperer on Protein: Friend or Foe?


by Tiffany of Live Curly, Live Free


It is a never-ending question on boards and web sites everywhere: does my hair need protein or not?

There seems to be a ton of debate online these days about protein and its role in hair health. Some beauty industry professionals and product manufacturers advocate lots of protein, some say protein is the devil and should always be avoided. Which of these is really true?

The world of hair science can be a bit daunting, but let's break down the information on protein needs one bit at a time to figure out how it all really works.

First of all, it is important to understand that 98% of our hair shaft is made of protein, a protein called "keratin." Those keratin protein amino acid chains are what form the structure of our hair strand; they are also what give our hair its strength. Protein in and of itself is a strengthener; for example, if you eat it, you build muscle. So it stands to reason that if you put it on your hair, it will make your hair stronger as well.

So how does that work in relation to our hair needs?

Let's look at a fine hair strand. When you hold up a fine hair strand, it is almost translucent and has a "barely there" kind of feel. There is not a whole lot of protein in the structure of that hair strand, so it isn't very strong. Mary Pat Mestre, the fine-haired curly who runs the hair analysis service of Live Curly Live Free, calls fine hair, "floaty hair." It is kind of limp and flyaway and does not hold a style very well; it has a tendency to "float" up into the atmosphere since there isn't a whole lot of structure or weight to anchor it down.

For fine-haired curlies then, it stands to reason that protein in their "penetrating" products, i.e., conditioners and protein packs, is a crucial part of a healthy hair routine. Since Mother Nature didn't give fine hair a whole lot of strength naturally, the added strength and support provided by protein-based products will help to anchor the hair strand down, and give it a bit more structure and texture.

Protein deprivation in fine hair can often come across as a "dry" or "unmoisturized" feeling when, in fact, it is actually fairly easy to get moisture into relatively undamaged fine hair strands. What most girls with fine-textured curls are really feeling when they feel "dry" is most often protein deprivation instead of lack of moisture. (That is why so many fine-haired curlies who use a heavy emollient-based deep treatment--which are often protein-free--to combat that dry feeling often end up feeling limp and greasy, but still dry!)

While baby-fine hair usually needs protein every single day, those with more of a fine-medium texture may find that using a protein-based conditioner once or twice a week, or even every other day, is more than enough to provide optimal structure strength and control. Adjust your amounts as needed based on how your hair "feels" that day: trust me, if you listen to it, it will let you know.

And now for our coarse-haired friends.

Coarse-haired curlies are the perfect polar opposite of their fine-haired counterparts. Hold up a strand of coarse hair and you will still see it as plain as day even if you walk across the street. It is a strong, beautiful hair texture, but it is also resistant and not very supple (have you ever tried to bend a coarse hair strand?) because coarse hair strands naturally manufacturer too much keratin protein within their own structure.

When you use a protein-based penetrating product on a coarse hair strand then, what you are actually doing is strengthening the structure of a hair strand that is already too strong naturally--resulting in what I call the "broom straw" effect. When protein penetrates within a coarse hair strand, that strand immediately becomes a hard, rigid "straw" you can almost literally snap in two.

When a coarse-haired curly sits in my chair and tells me, "I tried to go the sulfate- and silicone-free route, but it didn't work for me," I can almost guarantee she was using a shampoo or conditioner that contained a significant amount of protein in it. The avoidance of sulfates or silicones was most definitely working, but the protein penetration into the hair strand was causing the structure to become inflexible and stiff.

It is important, therefore, that those with coarse hair generally avoid protein and ensure that their conditioners and deep treatments are instead loaded with plenty of moisturizing emollients, as lack of moisture is usually the biggest challenge for coarse hair. The heavy moisture from those emollients will help to soften a coarse hair strand and make it more supple (a suppleness it does not naturally possess).

And for those in the middle of the road: the "mediums."

If there is such a thing as a "normal" texture in Curly Hair World, the medium-haired curlies are pretty much it. They aren't too weak and they aren't too strong: their texture is fairly well where it needs to be. And so, the medium-haired curly hair contingent generally wants to avoid protein in their penetrating products because there typically is no need for them to strengthen their structure. If they do, they could eventually strengthen it to the point that they will start getting that "broom straw" effect like the coarse-haired girls.

To pull it all together with respect for your own hair and make it easy for yourself, use this thought process: when you think "protein," think "strength." When you are debating if your hair needs protein or not, ask yourself: Does my hair need some added "strength" right now? Again, I cannot stress enough the importance of "listening" to your hair and following its cues.

It is also important to remember that, although the above is a great general guideline, there are always exceptions to the rule sometimes; for example, a coarse-haired girl has a lot of structural damage from repeated flat-ironing or chlorine exposure and could benefit from a good protein reconstruction. Always let the condition of your hair be your guide as well as the facts of good hair science!

CN Says:
Many gels and leave-in conditioners with hydrolyzed wheat and soy protein left me feeling stiff and brittle. I assumed I was protein sensitive and needed to avoid all protein at all cost. And that's just what I did... for years.

After a 6 month henna hiatus, I felt like my strands needed some fortifying. I read a bit about the benefits of silk protein and decided to experiment. It's a bit different than your average protein and softens while it strengthens. It adds shine, body, improves elasticity and restores moisture balance. Apparently, my hair LOVES hydrolyzed silk protein! So for those of you that are protein sensitive but still feel as if your routine is missing something, try out a different protein and re-assess!

The Curl Whisperer on Product Routines

Raena asked Tiffany:


What is the best product routine for fine 3c/4a curls?

Tiffany's response:

Great question, Raena!

First thing I want to make clear, though: there is no ONE best way to put product into your curls. That's like saying there is only one best way to get to New York from Philadelphia or only one best way to make great chili. There are more than a few best ways to accomplish all of those things: what is important is to ask yourself, "What is the best way for ME?"

There are a lot of resources on the Internet today that show how to apply product: web sites, YouTube, blogs, product manufacturer sites, forums, etc. And some of them will work for you and some of them won't. Texture, density and wave pattern play a really big role in determining your results. A girl with fine-textured, thin and wavy hair, for example, typically won't leave nearly as much water in her hair when she applies her gel as will someone with medium texture, thick and tightly spiraled curls; the extra weight of the water will most likely drag her waves down and make her go flat. Not a happy result.

That's not to say that she doesn't have choices, though. Does she want a quiet wave today? She can rake a bit of gel into her hair after a great deal of the water has been scrunched out of it, let it dry and then gently "side scrunch" to finish. More volume? She can apply mousse with a bit of gel for hold into damp hair, scrunch like mad and pop in a few clips for height. Two different routines, two different "best ways," depending on the results desired.

Our own personal best way will even change for a variety of reasons other than our look: transition from winter to summer, moving from a humid to a dry climate, the planet Jupiter is currently in Aquarius (you know we girls with curls will find any reason to mix it up :) ). I know my own routine changes in winter since there is such a drastic reduction in moisture level in the Florida winters: my quarter-sized dollop of leave-in conditioner turns into a palmful most days. However, I would be a flat, greasy, disgusting mess if I tried to do that in August when the dew points typically reach the mid- to high 70's.

The "best way" to find the "best way" is to give yourself the freedom to play and find a couple of product routines you love that work for you. Don't feel you need to hem yourself in and find one "perfect" routine or feel pressured to buy into one particular philosophy. I teach a fairly standardized product routine to my clients, depending on their hair properties, but encourage them to experiment and change it up to suit themselves. I love it when they come in for their next appointment, eager to show me things they discovered in the course of their experience as a liberated girl with curls. Believe me, I learn a lot from my clients too!

I have only one caution: if a product routine you see requires a bucketful of product to hold your curls in place, then it mostly likely isn't the best routine for you. When I am at work, I use far more product than I advise for most girls with curls, probably anywhere from 1/4 to 1/3 cup of product total for my below shoulder-length, thick, medium-textured spirals. But I lean over steamy shampoo bowls all day and flip my curls around constantly, showing my clients how to plop, scrunch, clip, rake, shake, etc. I need that extra protection for the eight to 10 hours I am at work.

I wouldn't dare to use that much product when I am regular Tiffany at home, however; it would be way too much and the routine I use doesn't demand more than a few tablespoons of leave-in and gel for great hold, even during a Florida summer. If a routine requires you to really load the product on--if you find yourself thinking, "Gee, that's a LOT of product" or "That is WAY more product than I ever use"--then ask yourself this question, "Why does that routine require that much product for great curls and great hold?"

Living life as a girl with curls is always about what works best for YOU!

**If you are interested in submitting a Question of the Week, please send it to: [email protected] with "QOTW" in the Subject line.**

**Fan Tiffany on Facebook!**

The Curl Whisperer on Humidity

Repost- -


Hot, humid days are fast approaching, so I asked The Curl Whisperer to give us her expert opinion on how to cope:

_______________________________________________

It’s no surprise to find that weather plays a huge role in how our hair behaves on any given day. What most of us don’t know, however, is that humidity has little to do with how our hair acts and responds climate-wise. Believe it or not, there are times when the humidity can reach 100% and your hair will be dry, loose and in desperate need of additional moisture.

Sounds like a huge contradiction, doesn’t it? But for optimum curl behavior, the humidity is the last piece of weather information we need to make informed choices about our curl maintenance routine. Believe it or not, it’s not about the humidity--it's actually all about the dew point.

The dew point is, simply put, the temperature to which the air must be cooled in order for it to reach total moisture saturation and any additional moisture must “leak” out of the air. Unlike humidity, it is the true measure of the amount of moisture in the air. For example: if the current air temperature is 69°F and the dew point is 57°F, condensation (and dew) will form if the air temperature is cooled down to 57°F because the air is then saturated with moisture and can't hold any more.

And that's when the relative humidity reaches 100%. Just because the relative humidity is 100%, however, doesn't automatically mean you'll have a bad hair day. That humidity figure isn't an indication of how much moisture is in the air--how high the dew point is. The higher the dew point, the more moisture is in the air; conversely, the lower the dew point, the less moisture is in the air, because cold air cannot hold as much moisture as warm air can.

Think of it this way. Imagine a one-cup measure and a 10-gallon jug in front of you. Fill the one-cup measure completely to the top with water, then fill the 10-gallon jug about two-thirds of the way full. Now, the one-cup measure represents 100% humidity because the cup can't hold any more moisture. But so what? If the air temperature is 38°F and the dew point is 38°F, there isn't a lot of moisture in the air. The fact that the humidity is 100% doesn't mean a thing because the cup just doesn't hold that much water in the first place.

Now, the jug is a different story. Let's say the air temperature is 86°F and the dew point is 72°F, relative humidity is 62%. Your first reaction on seeing the 62% humidity might be, "Hmmm, it's not too humid today." I guarantee you if you walk outdoors, however, you are going to feel like you ran right into a wall of wet, humid air. The air is just laden with moisture because the jug is capable of holding so much more of it, and that 72°F dew point tells us so.

What does this mean for us curly girls? It means once you start paying attention to the dew point instead of the relative humidity and observe how your hair reacts during low and high dew point days, you will then start to understand and anticipate how your hair will behave on any given day--and then you will instinctively know how to adjust your curl maintenance routine and product application accordingly.

Which is exactly where every naturally glamorous curly girl wants to be, I think :)

Tiffany Anderson
http://www.livecurlylivefree.com/

If you have a question for Tiffany, shoot me an email at [email protected], using "Tiffany" as the subject line. We'll pick one question per week.

More info on humidity and humectants-- http://www.curlynikki.com/2009/06/curl-whisperer-on-humectants-and.html

The Curl Whisperer on Naked Hair


Relax...the article is still going to be rated 'G', so no worries about sharing it with the kids :)

What, exactly, do I mean by 'naked hair'? When I talk about 'naked hair' to my clients, what I am referring to is hair sans any kind of product: no conditioner, no gel, no curl cream, no pomade, no oil, no nothing. Just your own glorious hair strands, as bare and pristine as the day you were born, and nothing else.

I often have the 'naked hair' conversation with my clients during the course of a client consultation for one reason in particular: there are many girls with curls who are still using products with ingredients I don't consider to be curly-friendly, such as sulfates and non-water soluble silicones. And when I mention my concerns about some of these products to a client, the reaction I sometimes get is, "But I just love how these products make my hair feel! It's so smooth and super shiny."

My next question to my client, then, is, "So how does your 'naked hair' feel? You know, your hair when you don't have any product in it?"

Without exception, the response I receive is, "Oh, it's just terrible. It feels dry and tangled and it's really bad. I can barely get a comb through it in the shower and if I let it dry without any product, it's all frizzy and it's just like straw."

I bet. And I can tell you there is a reason for that.

What we sometimes don't realize (and what product manufacturers certainly don't tell us) is that products loaded with curly-unfriendly ingredients--the products that make your hair feel so 'good'--are also the products that make it feel so 'bad.' When you put a product that is not manufactured for optimal curly hair health onto your strands, the ingredients in it are going to start causing issues like breakage, splitting and dehydration, and you are going to start feeling dry, tangled and unmanageable. The 'good' feeling you get from that product is because the product is disguising the very issues it is causing. It creates a dependency in you that leads you to believe that very product is necessary for your hair health and well-being because, well let's face it, your hair could never be that smooth, healthy and silky without it, now would it?

Wrong, wrong, wrong!

If a product is good for your hair, it will never, ever cause your 'naked hair' to feel anything but moisturized, healthy and strong. A product that is good for your hair will not cause dehydration and frizz, it will not cause you to be tangled and unmanageable, and it will certainly never contribute to hair breakage and hair loss. If your 'naked hair' can't and won't feel good on its own when you are using a particular product, then that product has absolutely no business being in your hair. My 'naked hair' is silky, shiny and strong because I use products with healthy, curly-friendly ingredients that deserve to be in my hair, not products that will destroy the foundation of hair health I have worked so hard to create over the past eight years.

Your 'naked hair' deserves no less either.


Check out the Curl Whisperer's site, HERE.
Submit your hair questions to the Curl Whisperer, by emailing [email protected] Be sure to use 'Curl Whisperer' as the subject line!

The Curl Whisperer on Deep Treatments


Last week, we talked about protein treatments for fine-haired girls with curls: this week, we are taking a look at deep treatments.

Typically, most people refer to "deep treatments" when they are referring to hair preparations that contain heavy moisturizers and emollients, and that usually do not include proteins in their formulations. However, it is important that you check product labels as more and more manufacturers are blurring the lines between "protein treatments" and "deep treatments." A deep treatment chock full of protein will do more harm than good for certain types of hair. For now, when I refer to deep treatments, I am referring to any type of deep conditioning treatment that does not contain protein.

Like protein treatments, deep treatments can be a great part of your maintenance routine, depending on your hair's individual needs. If you have coarse hair and should avoid protein, or if you are medium-textured and need to watch your protein/emollient balance, deep treatments are a good way to restore moisture to your hair when daily conditioning is not doing the trick. Because I color, I do a deep treatment twice per month--once 24 hours after I color, another at the midway point between colorings (at about three weeks), which helps to keep my hair healthy and in great shape. If you do any kind of a chemical process, a monthly or bi-monthly deep treatment can be a good idea.

People with fine hair, however, should be extremely careful since their hair typically needs more protein, not more moisturizers. I seldom recommend deep treatments for any fine-haired client, unless it's an initial series of treatments because she is severely dehydrated and I need to get some moisture back into her hair before we can move forward with restoring her hair health (even protein won't penetrate into fine hair if it is brittle and totally devoid of moisture).

Some individuals have asked me if there is a point when deep treatments (or protein treatments, for that matter) are no longer necessary for maintaining good hair health. I don't think there is a point deep treatments are no longer necessary for most people, since even our very natural environment can dry out our hair, but I believe there can come a time where they no longer need to be routine. If you don't chemically process and if your hair is healthy, you can do a deep treatment at arbitrary times just when you feel a little extra moisture is needed--such as if the weather becomes extremely dry, if you've been sick, etc.

Some salons are now offering expensive steam treatments, claiming the moist air infusion used is more effective than dry heat penetration. The drawback is that they are expensive and can run you anywhere from $50 - $100. In my opinion, the jury is still out on those steam treatments; frankly, I've yet to see where paying $$$ at a salon is more effective than what you can do for yourself at home. Boil a pot of water, remove it from the heat, lean over the pot and hold a towel over your conditioner-saturated head to capture the steam for 5-10 minutes--you'll steam your hair and give yourself a great facial at the same time (throw some mint or rosemary leaves in there for a little aromatherapy while you're at it!).

Properly applied, deep treatments can do wonders in helping to both restore and maintain healthy and dazzling curls.

Submit your hair questions to the Curl Whisperer, by emailing [email protected] Be sure to use 'Curl Whisperer' as the subject line!

Check out the Curl Whisperer's site, HERE.

The Curl Whisperer on Protein Treatments

For porous or damaged hair, protein treatments are often prescribed. But sometimes there is some confusion about the different types and forms of protein. There is keratin, eggs, silk protein, re-constructors, etc. Some products are called "light" protein treatments, while others are labeled "intensive." Just what is the difference in terms of the effect on the hair? And how do you know exactly how much you need?

First of all, any protein that is animal-based or that has the prefix "hydrolyzed" in front of it is a stronger protein; those such as natural "wheat" or "soy" are the proteins that are lighter. "Keratin" is the natural protein from which your hair is made. Your hair's condition and texture is a great baseline to determine how much and what type of protein you need. If you want to add protein simply because you have a fine texture and you need the extra support, a light protein treatment is fine. If, however, you have damage from sun, chlorine or chemical processes, a heavier protein reconstruction will then be necessary for any real effectiveness.

Another question I've been asked in the past about protein treatments: is it true that some protein has molecules small enough to penetrate the hair and be more effective and, if so, what kind of protein is that?

Proteins with smaller molecules are not necessarily more effective than those with larger molecules. While it's true smaller molecules can penetrate into the cortex--or inner layer of the hair--more easily, this really only becomes a consideration when you are effecting a chemical change in the hair, such as with color or texturizing. Proteins with larger molecules may take a slightly longer time to penetrate into the cortex, but they will be just as effective as those with smaller molecules once they get in there.

It is also vitally important you pay attention to your hair's texture when deciding to do a protein treatment. Fine hair is a hair type that typically needs more protein on a regular basis since it is fragile and doesn't have the support and structure of other hair types. If you are fine-haired, incorporating a protein pack or daily light protein into your routine is a good idea.

Not so for coarse hair, however. Coarse hair has so much protein in it naturally, applying any product with protein on top of it can spell disaster--resulting in a strawlike, wicked dry mess. Protein-free deep treatments with a heavy emollient base, which we will address in a future article, are a far more effective treatment type for those with coarse hair!


Submit your hair questions to the Curl Whisperer, by emailing [email protected] Be sure to use 'Curl Whisperer' as the subject line!

Check out the Curl Whisperer's site, HERE.

The Curl Whisperer on Hair Routines


A lot of us have one...an established, rarely-varied, almost-religious hair care routine we use on a regular basis to maintain and style our curly locks. The question has been asked, however: is having a hair routine a must?

I don't think there is any "right" or "wrong" answer to that, frankly; I think that depends on you, your particular hair and your lifestyle. So let's look at the possible reasons to have or to not have one.

If you are like me, having an established hair routine means the difference between sanity and insanity in your daily life. Like many of you, I am a tremendously busy woman: I am a wife and a mother, I work in a salon about 30 hours a week, and I run Live Curly Live Free, which is an almost full-time business, on top of it all. There isn't a whole lot of additional time factored into my day and I don't particularly want to spend the precious few extra minutes I do have fussing with my hair. And, truth be known, as much as I love doing the hair of others, I have very little patience for doing my own. Having an established routine means I only have to spend 10-15 unthinking minutes a day, tops, on making my curls look the best they can be...and that suits me and my busy life just fine.

Also, I find my own particular hair responds best by having some sort of structure in how I wash, condition and apply my products. My curls seem to relax when I use a regular routine, almost as if they have made a silent pact to behave as long as I don't surprise them with anything new. I know how my hair will respond to each step in the process, regardless of weather or season, because I've used that same process so many times before. It's comfortable, familiar ground.

On the other hand, however, there is a lot to be said for changing it up. Some women tell me their curls look better if they don't fall into a set pattern: by switching their products and product application technique frequently, their hair keeps a fresh look they say they can't achieve by using the same routine consistently. Depending on what products you use, making a switch can also help you to avoid build-up issues or prevent your products from losing their effectiveness with long-term use.

Being more varied in your routine additionally leaves you more open to discovering new products or techniques that you might not have otherwise found had you settled into an unchangeable, unvaried routine. Although I stick to my usual routine whenever possible, I do a considerable amount of product and method testing and I can definitely vouch for the fact that I have found more than a few great products and techniques during one of my experiment phases.

Like everything else in our mad, crazy, wonderful world of curly hair, whether or not you have an established hair routine is a very personal choice and one only you can make for yourself. Let your naturally glamorous selves shine by always doing what YOU think is best for you and your own beautiful curls!


Submit your hair questions to the Curl Whisperer, by emailing [email protected] Be sure to use 'Curl Whisperer' as the subject line!

Check out the Curl Whisperer's site, HERE.

The Curl Whisperer on Layers vs. Blunt Cuts


When it comes to trying a new style or haircut, curlies have their reservations. No one wants to make a mistake that will cost them their beautiful locks. One of the questions I hear a lot from fellow curlies is about layering curls. Are you wondering, should I layer my curly hair? Will it work with my texture? Well, here’s my take on it.

Should I Layer My Curly Hair?  
The real question here is do you want to layer your curly hair? If the answer is yes, then do it! Curly hair is incredibly versatile in terms of styles, but some curly girls are convinced a blunt cut is the only option for their curls. I don’t know where this idea came from, but you can absolutely have a layered cut with curls. In fact, a few well-placed layers can stop hair from looking too bottom heavy or boxed. It is important that you clearly communicate with your hair stylist what you are looking for in terms of layers. If you aren’t already, you should be going to a salon or stylist that is experienced in the unique needs of curly hair. Nothing is worse than going in for a new cut or style and coming out looking and feeling your worst because the person doing your hair treated it the same as straight hair. Make sure you use a curly hair expert for the best cut!

Will It Work with My Texture? 
Layers work well with all textures, but they benefit certain textures more than others. For example, if you already have a thicker texture and loads of volume, you may not need layers. The main point of layers is to add volume and body to your hair. The texture matters less than the length when it comes to layers. Generally speaking, the longer your hair, the more layers you can add, but even short hair can benefit from a few layers.

How to Get the Best Cut 
While curly hair is best kept in layers, there are a few issues with the standard way hair is cut into layers that you need to know about first. Wet cuts are performed by a hairdresser using "degrees" or "elevation"; a 90-degree cut, for example, means a subsection of the hair is held out at a 90-degree angle from the head and the section is cut accordingly. As the hairdresser moves around the head, she/he takes a small piece of the previously cut section and joins it to the next section, thereby creating a "guide" to cut the next section, and so on.

The degree the hairdresser chooses to use determines how much of a resulting graduation (or layer) is built into the style; because curls naturally graduate themselves, however, using certain degrees, such as a 90, can result in that triangular shape. Dry cuts are much more precise and avoid a lot of the issues in standard wet layering because the hairdresser can actually see the curls themselves without distortion and can cut them as you wear them.

Because most of us do not have access to a stylist with dry cut experience, though, the following guidelines can help you to work with your stylist to achieve a layered wet cut that avoids many of the usual pitfalls:


- Tell your stylist to give you longer layers, but to keep the angle at 45 degrees and not raise you up to a 90 at any time. Reason: 90-degree angles are very tricky on curly hair and, if she doesn't know what she is doing, you could end up with the dreaded "mushroom" or "triangle" head.

- "Trim" can mean 1/4" or 1/2" or an 1". Be very, very specific about how much she should take off wet; for example, if you have an 8"-12" spring, a 1/2" trim wet can make you look 3"-4" shorter dry. So, be very specific and say, "I would like a xx" trim of my layers and no more than that anywhere since it will be shorter than I want if you do."

- If you have a thin density, it is very, very important that she NOT take the layers up too far. Thin density needs more weight, not less.

- If she can, she needs to keep a solid "base" at the bottom and only start layering an inch or two up from the bottom perimeter. I hate seeing stringy or straggly ends from a cut on curly hair because the layering started too soon.

- With a wet cut on long hair, your shortest pieces should be no higher than about your chin, with the exception of your face frame.

- And RUN FOR YOUR LIFE if anyone comes near you with a razor or thinning shears!

The bottom line is if you want layers, do it. Curly hair is versatile and can rock a ton of cuts and styles. Don’t limit your curls!

Submit your hair questions to the Curl Whisperer, by emailing [email protected] Be sure to use 'Curl Whisperer' as the subject line!

Check out the Curl Whisperer's site, HERE.

The Curl Whisperer on Shine Enhancers

Oh, the elusive state of shine in the world of curly hair. Historically, we ladies with curly tresses have more issues with natural shine than our straight-haired sisters because of how our hair catches the light. Straight hair reflects light, giving it a shiny appearance; curly hair refracts, or diffuses, light, making it appear dull and drab. Consequently, girls with curls often turn to shine enhancers to add the additional shine we lack naturally. It is important, however, to understand the differences between the different types and to know how to choose the most appropriate one to ensure good hair health over the long term.

There are three main types of shine enhances: silicone serums, oil serums and glazes.

Silicone Serums
Everyone is familiar with silicone-based shine serums, which claim to smooth the hair surface and add brilliant shine. Most of these serums, however, consist of non-water soluble silicones, such as dimethicone or dimethiconol, which form an impenetrable barrier on the hair shaft. Any product ingredient which seals the hair shaft shut can be problematic and create issues in the long run. The cuticle of our hair strand is formed like roof tiles to allow penetration of moisture and oxygen into the hair shaft for a reason. Continually coating and sealing the cuticle to prevent it from performing its proper function for a long period of time is not the best route to optimum hair health in the long run.

If you are going to use a shine serum, find one that includes water-soluble silicones, such as dimethicone copolyol or PEG/PPG-manufactured silicones, whenever possible to avoid any potential issues.

Oil Serums
Many believe a safer alternative to silicone-based shine serums are oil serums, which are touted as using carrier oils such as jojoba or olive oil to deliver shine and manageability. The vast majority of these products usually also contain some level of non-water soluble silicones in addition to the oils, however, and sometimes in greater quantity than the oils themselves. Additionally, care must be taken when using any type of heat application with any oil-based product as excess heat can literally "fry" a hair shaft coated in oil.

If you would like to use oils for shine, a good approach is to buy a can of olive oil cooking spray (such as Pam®) and use it to spray lightly on your curls (for both shine and frizz control). Be judicious, as you do not want to make yourself oily from using too much. Keeping the spray can at least 10 inches from your hair while spraying will also help to ensure any propellants will dissipate before reaching your hair.

Glazes
I love clear shine glazes and use them often in my own color work. Glazes are mainly semi- or demi-permanent color treatments with a clear or tinted result. They are different from permanent color in that they only stain the outside of the cuticle, whereas permanent color actually results in a chemical change inside the cortex. Clear glazes add a beautiful dimension and give hair enormous depth and shine.

As a bonus, glazes can help to prevent permanent color from fading since they add another level of "defense" on top of the hair shaft and normally last anywhere from six to 12 weeks, depending on the type of glaze used. Glazes are my preferred method for adding long-lasting shine to hair.

Shine on!


Check out the Curl Whisperer's site, HERE.
Submit your hair questions to the Curl Whisperer, by emailing [email protected] Be sure to use 'Curl Whisperer' as the subject line!

The Curl Whisperer on Curly Kids


My daughter, Katie—the love and pride of my heart—will be five years old in December. She inherited her mommy's curls but, unlike most children of her age, will tell you all about her "pretty curls" with little prompting. And she always notices others with curly hair. "Look, Mommy," she'll say when we are out shopping and pass a woman with curly locks. "That lady has pretty curls just like you and me."

I can't describe the joy I feel at being able to give her a positive experience about her hair. So many of us grew up feeling self-conscious about our curls: sometimes with mothers or other guardians who simply didn't understand how to deal with it, sometimes with pressure to conform to some standard of "acceptable" hair that felt wrong to us deep down inside, but we unable to understand why we felt that way.

The good news is that, as we educate ourselves about how to deal with our own curly hair, the more equipped we are to pass that education along to our children. The hardest thing to remember, though, is how quickly our children sense and pick up our attitudes if we haven’t quite accepted our curls ourselves.

I had a huge reality check myself when Katie was three years old. I've learned to love my curly hair, but that doesn't mean I don't still have bad hair days or days during a Florida August where I'd trade my left arm for an afternoon of straight, shiny, frizz-free locks. One day, in the thick of the summer heat and humidity, I was fussing and complaining about how I didn't want my curls anymore when this tiny voice suddenly piped up beside me.

"Me either, Mommy."

Talk about a major smack in the face. The first thought through my mind was: what was I, a supposed curly hair expert, teaching my daughter? How could I expect her to love her hair if I didn't lead by example and show her I loved my own?

It took a while after that for Katie to understand that our curls were special and Mommy really did love her hair. Today, I don't hide my bad hair days from her, but I am very careful to make the distinction between disliking my curls and disliking how they are falling on a particular day. And she gets it, thank goodness, but I shudder to think how easily I could have instilled a hatred towards her curls in her, no matter how innocently.

One of the best presents we can give our children in any aspect of life is honesty and knowledge. I think teaching our curly kids how to love their curls while educating them on the realities of their care is a good part of the game plan. And if you are the straight-haired parent of a curly child, it is doubly important you find resources to help you understand your child’s gorgeous and special hair.

Here are a few tips on how to help your curly child understand, love and care for their beautiful, unique gift:

1) Teach them that their hair is special. I tell my daughter having curly hair is a privilege and an honor, and that means it takes a little bit more care than other kinds of hair. It is never too early to start instilling pride of ownership in them: I’ve had children as young as four or five sit in my chair who were already uncomfortable with or disliked their curls.

2) Include your child in the care maintenance routine of their hair. Of course, a child of three or four isn’t going to be able to participate as a child of eight or nine can. But it is still important for you to include them in their own hygiene routine at the level where they can participate, and talk about or show them how to properly cleanse, condition and detangle their curly locks.

3) Respect their preferences. As your child gets older, she will start to express preferences for her hair style as a natural part of her growing identity. Do your best to respect her wishes so she feels her input into her appearance is important and valued.

4) Find a curl-sensitive stylist. All the pride in the world won’t combat the damage done by an insensitive stylist who exclaims, “Oh my God, look at this hair!” in disbelief. Before you take your curly kid to a new stylist, arrange a consultation with them prior to your actual appointment to determine their attitude towards and sensitivity to curly hair. It only takes one or two thoughtless remarks to cause years of self-consciousness.

I can promise that instilling pride and self-esteem into your beautiful curly child now will save them years of heartache down the road.


Check out the Curl Whisperer's site, HERE.
Submit your hair questions to the Curl Whisperer, by emailing [email protected] Be sure to use 'Curl Whisperer' as the subject line!

The Curl Whisperer on Ethnic Hair


I get a lot of questions on whether or not I know how to handle "ethnic hair" or about the special needs of ethnic hair. And I'm here to tell you there is no such thing. Hair is hair is hair. Period.

Your hair is fine, medium or coarse. Your hair is porous, overly porous, or has low porosity. Your hair has normal elasticity or low elasticity. Your hair is thin, medium or thick. It does not matter what your ethnic background is. Fine, porous, elastic, thick hair is fine, porous, elastic, thick hair whether it is on an African-American woman, a Caucasian woman, a Native American woman, an Asian woman, a Latina woman...you get the picture.

Now, you may have a genetic predisposition to have a certain type of hair based upon your ethnic background. African-American women often have much finer hair and a much tighter wave pattern than women from other ethnic backgrounds. Asian and Native American women can be so coarse and stick-straight, cutting their hair is a huge challenge because every slice of the shears can leave a visible mark.

There is, however, no guarantee your hair will follow a certain pattern just because you belong to a particular ethnic group. I have African-American clients with loose waves and medium texture; I have white clients with coarse hair and extremely tight coils. And that's just the way it is.

That's not to say we shouldn't take pride in ourselves and where we come from, or not seek advice from others who share the same culture as we do! But by realizing that "ethnic hair" truly doesn't exist and knowing that our particular hair type is the key to taking the best care we can of our curls...we will always have red carpet ringlets, no matter what our ethnic backgrounds.


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Submit your hair questions to the Curl Whisperer, by emailing [email protected] Be sure to use 'Curl Whisperer' as the subject line!

The Curl Whisperer on Porosity

There are a lot of myths out there about hair porosity and how it relates to curly hair care and maintenance. Let's see if we can't set some of the record straight.

Porosity is, simply put, the hair's ability to absorb and retain moisture. Porosity is a critically important factor in determining one's curly hair care. Since moisture is what defines and shapes our curls, the inability to keep moisture within the hair shaft will defeat the most valiant efforts to maximize curl potential.

If you don't know your hair's porosity, you won't be able to make the best product and maintenance routine choices to maximize the amount of moisture your curls retain. The existing "curl classification systems" never, ever mention porosity in their classification process. Since lack of moisture is one of the biggest causes of frizz, I personally find that odd in the extreme. Just one more reason I don't find those systems very helpful or informative.

Your degree of porosity is directly related to the condition of your cuticle layer. Healthy hair with a compact cuticle layer is naturally resistant to penetration. Porous hair has a raised cuticle layer that easily absorbs water, but is quick to lose moisture as well. The texture of your hair is not an indication of its porosity. Different degrees of porosity can be found in all hair textures. For example, although coarse hair normally has a low porosity and is resistant to chemical services, coarse hair can also have high porosity as the result of damage or previous chemical services.

There are three different levels of porosity:

Hair with low porosity is considered "resistant" hair. Low porosity is when the cuticle of the hair shaft is too compact and does not permit moisture to enter or leave the hair shaft. Hair with low porosity is much more difficult to process, is resistant to chemical services, and has a tendency to repel product rather than absorb it. Chemical services performed on hair with low porosity require a more alkaline solution than those on hair with high porosity, to raise the cuticle and permit uniform saturation and penetration.

Hair with average porosity is considered "normal" hair. With normal porosity, the cuticle is compact and inhibits moisture from leaving or entering the hair shaft; however, it allows for normal processing when a chemical service is performed -- according to the texture -- and will readily absorb and retain product properly formulated for this hair type.

Hair with high porosity is considered "overly porous" and is the result of previous overprocessing. Other factors that can also affect porosity include heat damage, chlorine/hard water/mineral saturation, sun damage, or use of harsh ingredients. Overly porous hair is damaged in some way, and is dry, fragile and brittle. It has an open cuticle that both absorbs and releases moisture easily; it processes very quickly and can be easily damaged even further if extreme care is not taken when a chemical service is performed. Although overly porous hair absorbs product quickly, it is often dry as the open cuticle does not allow for product retention within the hair shaft. Chemical services performed on overly porous hair require less alkaline solutions with a lower pH, which will help to prevent further overprocessing.

Porous hair accepts haircolor faster and permits darker color than less porous hair; however, although overly porous hair takes color quickly, color also fades quickly. While hair with low porosity is difficult for chemicals to penetrate and takes a longer processing time, the color will last much longer.

You can check porosity on dry hair by taking a strand of several hairs from four different areas of the head (front hairline, temple, crown and nape). Slide the thumb and index finger of your other hand down each hair strand from end to scalp. If it is smooth, you have normal porosity. If your fingers move very fast up the hair strand and it feels exceptionally slick, dense and hard, you have low porosity. If your fingers "catch" going up the strand, feel like they are ruffling up the hair strand, or if the hair strand breaks, your hair is overly porous.

Unfortunately, porosity issues stemming from irreparable hair damage CANNOT be permanently corrected. Only time can truly mend damaged hair. You can, however, create a temporary fix until the damaged part grows out by "reconstructing" the hair shaft with protein treatments. Protein fills in any holes within the cortex (inner layer of the hair) and also helps to fill in the gaps exposed by a raised cuticle.

Individuals with coarse hair, however, must be cautious: putting additional protein on coarse hair can dry it out even more. For those with a coarse texture, acidic treatments such as apple cider vinegar rinses are likely a better alternative as your hair already manufactures an overabundance of protein naturally.

(Which brings to a small derail. I know people are tired of me harping on the excessive use of shampoo bars. If, however, you have porous hair, you are not doing yourself any favors by using them. These bars are fairly alkaline and raise the cuticle, the exact opposite of what people with overly porous hair are trying to achieve. Your goal is to establish a routine and determine the most effective product use for your hair without swimming upstream in the process.)

So, what does this mean for the average girl with curls? It means you need to determine your hair texture and your hair porosity, and then think about what types of products are best suited to your particular hair type. Other factors will come into play, but these two hair properties are the most important properties to know.


** Please submit your questions for the Curl Whisperer to [email protected] Please use "Curl Whisperer" as the subject line.

For more Tiffany, The Curl Whisperer, click HERE.

The Curl Whisperer on Silicones


For our last article on product ingredients: silicones.

There are few product ingredient subjects that inspire as much debate as silicones. Silicones are polymers used used to coat the hair shaft to provide a smoothing effect. All silicones, however, are not created equal.

Many conditioners and styling products on the market, both professional and drugstore brands, contain non-water soluble silicones such as dimethicone, which lie on top of the hair, creating an impenetrable barrier into the hair shaft. They look like a quick fix for frizz since they temporarily smooth the hair shaft down and make frizz seem to disappear—but they also suck out the moisture from inside the hair, dehydrating curly locks and creating more frizz in the long run. Since they can't be rinsed away with water, they also build up on the hair shaft and generally require a surfactant (detergent)-based shampoo to remove.

Water-soluble silicones such as dimethicone copolyol, on the other hand, provide many of the same benefits but are generally considered safer to use on curly hair as they form a "breathable" film on the surface of the hair, allowing moisture to penetrate into the hair shaft. Additionally, they do not build up as non-water soluble silicones do, meaning any product containing water-soluble silicones will slide right off the hair shaft when you rinse your hair.

Some amine-functionalized silicones, such as amodimethicone, are not soluble in water, but have chemical properties allow it to repel further deposit, helping to prevent buildup although they will still lock moisture out of the hair and require a surfactant to remove, which may be an issue for those who prefer to solely do conditioner washes.

Incidentally, if you do an Internet search on amodimethicone, you will find quite a few sites (including mine, until recently) that list amodimethicone as a silicone that is "slightly" soluble in water as long as two additional ingredients are included in the formulation:

***Amodimethicone (and) trideceth-12 (and) cetrimonium chloride (as a mixture in the bottle)***

The assumption has always been that the inclusion of trideceth-12 (a nonionic surfactant) and cetrimonium chloride (a cationic surfactant) render the amodimethicone, non-water soluble on its own, slightly soluble in water and it could be considered fine for use.

Turns out that has been a completely incorrect assumption. What the trideceth-12 and cetrimonium chloride do is render the amodimethicone dispersible in water. Once the amodimethicone is deposited onto the hair shaft and dries to a film, however, it is not water-soluble, will prevent moisture from getting into the hair shaft and will require a surfactant to remove.


Tiffany has come to the end of the product ingredient classes, so next week, we will resume answering your most burning questions. Please submit your questions for the Curl Whisperer to [email protected] Please put "Curl Whisperer" in the subject line.

For more Tiffany, The Curl Whisperer, click HERE.

For other CN.com articles on Silicones, check out the links below:
To Cone or Not to Cone
Hair Tip of the Day
Another Cone Question
Can Split Ends be Fixed?
Friend or Foe?

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