Sunday, September 7, 2008

Hydrate your hair with the nourishing qualities of steam

Heat.

Your hair's greatest enemy or your hair's best friend?

It all depends on the form the heat comes in and the method we use that heat. We all know that direct, high heat is a no-no to those of us who are in the process of creating healthy hair. High temperatures work to open the cuticle layers of the hair thereby making it susceptible to the damaging elements and, of course, dryness. As you may remember, the cuticle layer of the hair are structured in a similar way to shingles on a roof. Excessive direct heat basically leads to permanent damage to the cuticle layer. A damaged cuticle layer only leads to one result-damaged hair.

Now steam, on the other hand, works to help you intensify the moisture levels of the hair. How? By opening the cuticle to allow the deep conditioner to further penetrate. That, my friend is only one benefit of using steam in the conditioning process.
Steam, because it consists of tiny droplets of liquid water, works with your conditioner to dramatically increase your hair's moisture. When you use the power of steam while deep conditioning, you are encouraging both the nourishing properties of the conditioner and the hydrating qualities of water, to penetrate deep inside the hair shaft.

Previously, I used the "plastic cap under the dryer method" to help enhance the value of my deep conditioner. It wasn't until I found out that there were professional steamers on the market that I become unsatisfied with my practice. In my unending quest for hair perfection, I immediately realized that steam would be more beneficial to my hair than heat alone.

In an effort to curb my hair related spending, along with the need to manage the amount of space I use for hair related purposes, I decided that, for now, purchasing a professional steamer was not an option.

I spent several days wondering how I can harness the wonderful benefits of a professional steamer while using the tools that I already have at home. My answer came in the form of my Revlon steam setter and my Conair home steam facial treatment. Both of these machines could produce enough steam to help my conditioner to fully penetrate my hair. The problem I had to overcome was how I was going to "trap" the heat so it would be concentrated in one area (similar to the professional version which keeps the steam circulating within the hood). The answer to my dilemma came to me in the form of a large plastic drawer from my Rubbermaid storage caddy.

So what I did was place both of my steam machines on a table, filled them with distilled water, and positioned them close together so the steam was a bit more concentrated in one area. I then grabbed my Rubbermaid drawer and held it above my head as if it were a dryer hood (I did not use a plastic cap by the way, I allowed my hair to hang loose). The steam rose up and into my hood creating a mini sauna for both my skin and hair. I sat allowing the steam to work its magic for 20-30 minutes. At the end of the treatment, my skin glowed and my hair was poofy from all of the moisture that it absorbed.

After using this method, I completely understand why someone would shell out over $100 to achieve the super-moisturizing results on a consistent basis. My hair felt and looked incredible. Maybe someday I may give in and purchase a professional steamer but, for now, this method seemed to work well for me. If you are going to create your own home made steam treatment, please be mindful of the temperature of the water you use. I did not use boiling hot water from the stove for fear of scalding myself. The machines I used created steam that was a comfortable temperature. I did not have any safety concerns throughout the entire process. Make sure safety is your primary concern before you start to experiment.

Once you introduce steam into your weekly routine, you will never go back. Best of luck to you and your beautiful head of hair.

***After writing this post I stumbled upon a salon's site offering a mist treatment (which they claim offer better penetration because the particles are smaller than steam). They mentioned that they end their "hot mist" treatment with a cool mist to close the cuticle and trap the product inside the hair shaft producing longer results. I think I may try this next time by sitting under my dryer on the cool setting after my steam treatment.
  1. A friend of mine was telling me about using a steamer while conditioning the hair. She said that they sell them in a beauty store in Mt. Vernon, NY. I haven't been able to look into it, but I will try to get more details. If I find one that's affordable and easy to store I will let you know.

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  2. Thanks for stopping by and leaving comments on my blog. Your hair is beautiful and I only hope to get great hair like yours and thanks for sharing your knowledge.

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  3. I have this on my wish list. What you did was clever. Have your ever tried the steam method with the towel and going under the dryer?

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  4. Hi Sunshyne!
    I have wraped a hot towel around my head in the past. But I found that the towel lost steam much too quickly. I would have to keep warming it up again and again.

    I figured that using real steam (instead of hot towel) was the next phase in hair perfection. So I figured out a way to do it.

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  5. So what do you do after you use the steamer on relaxed hair because it will need the dry heat to dry?

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