Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Stagnation or circulation? Which do you prefer? Does a flowing river not support and create growth and abundance more than a retention pond? I'm using this analogy to help you realize the importance of flow and circulation. More importantly, circulation to the scalp. Anytime circulation slows, in any environment, you restrict possible the life-giving source that supports further growth. I've posted several times on the benefits of increased stimulation. Today, I'm here to present to you the newest addition to my hair team.

My new scalp massager....

This thing is amazing. Even with a heap of new growth, this massager is sturdy enough to reach into the deepest parts of my hair all the way down to the scalp. Not only that, I also love the fact that I can massage away to my heart's content without even the hint of fear of damaging my hair. It's so gentle, yet so firm, yet so effective.

Scalp massages are important because it encourages increased blood flow directly to the follicles. Because the scalp is an extremity, increased blood flow to that area doesn't occur naturally unless you take direct action to do so. Tension and stress of the every day also works to restrict the muscles. Even the scalp is impacted by tension. Tension is restrictive. We need to do whatever we can to encourage free flowing movement of blood flow right where we need it most.

Enough talking. I actually created a video praising the magnificence of my massager.

Roll 'em!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

You may have heard this before, oils seal not moisturize. Use oils to keep in what you've put on the hair. The idea of using oil as a sealer made sense to me. When I applied oils on my skin, it would create a protective barrier far superior to that of my lotion alone. Everything clicked in my mind when I rationalized this logic. That is-until one day the internet told me that coconut oil had the ability to actually penetrate the strands.

What! How could that be?! If an oil actually had the ability to penetrate the hair strand, that would change everything. That would mean the oil could possibility work to benefit the hair while inside the strand. Which would make the oil more than just a sealer. It would now also become a strengthener and a nourisher. "Well," I thought, "before you get too excited missy, remember that you heard it on the crazy internet." "Oils penetrating the hair could be a pack of lies generated out of the evil hearts of malicious liars."

I didn't know who to believe. That is until I found proof! Yes, proof! I actually found the results of the published 2005 study titled the Investigation of penetration abilities of various oils into the human hair fibers. In this study, various types of oils were applied to hair samples in order to observe and measure "the capillary adhesion resulting from the penetration of oil into the fiber." So what they did was measure the thickness of the oil film on the hair strand after some time elapsed. They also did the same observation with the use of heat on the strand.

 The theory was that the thickness of the oil film on the hair would diminish with time and heat as the oil was absorbed into the hair. Those oils that left a film thicker than a certain amount, actually masked the hair as it remained on the surface. During the study, a measurement tool was also used to view the hair's surface. Strands with the "non-absorbing" oils would appear to have a thicker film covering and masking the scale structure of the hair for extending periods of time even with the use of heat (blow dryer). Basically, this would mean the oil was just idly sitting there.

The oils used in this particular study were coconut oil, sunflower seed oil, mineral oil, sesame, rice brand, mustard, and olive oil. Scientists measure the "capillary adhesion," or amount of penetration of mineral, coconut, and sunflower with the use of heat. The higher the adhesion, the less the oil was able to penetrate the strand. It's no surprise that absorption levels of mineral oil was pretty much non-existent, even with the use of heat. The study found that coconut oil treated hair (with heat) looked close to untreated hair after 24 hours. That speaks to the high absorption rate of the oil. To further prove this theory, a second assessment was made on the hair fibers by studying the interior of the hair fiber with a specialized tool. Mineral oil was not detected in the hair's cross section. Coconut oil, however, "was found to penetrate partially or completely."

As mentioned earlier, other oils were also analyzed during this study. Unfortunately, the other oils tested did not demonstrate the high level of penetrability of coconut oil. Some of the oils partially penetrated through the cuticle layer but the scientists weren't able to determine if the penetration went down into the hair's cortex. The general consensus of the study was that monounsaturated oils penetrate or "diffuse" into the hair much more effectively than polyunsaturate oils.
I, for one, am excited about seeing this for myself in black and white. I've used coconut oil forever. You could see me using it during my pre-poo steam treatment video. It's even an ingredient in Gleau. Now that we've discussed, what I want each one of you to do is scour your hair product closest looking for anything with the word mineral oil on it. If you happen to find such a product, I'd like for you to immediately chuck it into the nearest trash can and never look back.

That's an order!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

2010 is fast approaching. With only a couple weeks left in the year, I knew that I'd had to take the opportunity, now, to set my hair intentions for the year to come. I believe setting intentions is a powerful way of guiding the outcomes we experience in life. Without clear intentions, we are leaving our results to environment and chance. There's no way I'm letting chance be the decider on what happens to my hair.

So here we go.....

First I'l start by taking a look back. This past year was the year I was introduced to many staples. Some of them now include: Burt's Bee's Avocado pre-poo. 2009 was also the year that I experimented with little known products such as the Asience product line. Last but not least, my most favorite addition in 2009 was the purchase of my beloved facial steamer which I now use weekly when I pre-poo and deep condition. This past year was also the year I began creating online videos and product giveaways on my blog.

So now we're at a place where it's time to look forward. My focus now is geared towards the days and months ahead. I'd like to take both my hair, this site, and my youtube channel, to the next level. I've heard that one should always dream big, that way even if the biggest goals aren't reached, you are likely to still end up a lot further than if you dreamed small.

Let's start dreaming big shall we?

For the past two years, I've used this blog as a means to share my thoughts and ideas about creating healthy hair. Moreso, this blog, for me, has been a tool I've used to address my own hair issues and find solutions to the hair dilemmas I was experiencing. This year will be no different. My greatest hair desires still remain. I still wish to elevate strength and moisture levels of the hair. My topics of discussion will continue to revolve around these topics. Recently, I've had random thoughts popping into my mind about increasing elasticity levels in the hair. Moisture, strength, and elasticity are the holy trinity of healthy hair so I'll be seeking out ways to promote these three qualities with every action I take. Not only that, I'll also want to focus on eradicating the actions, products, and methods that work against achieving the big three.

The dilemma we face, as women who subject our hair to chemical processes, is having hair which is robbed of moisture, strength and elasticity every time we undergo a chemical process. Don't get me wrong, chemicals aren't the only culprit but it's certainly a viable enemy. So of course I'll make it my mission this year to find out the little known secrets of supporting the development of the "big three."

On a more personal level, the intentions for my hair health are as follows:

* Rehabilitation- I talked a little in my deep conditioning post about treating areas of damage with a more effective deep conditioning method. In 2009, I identified some real opportunity areas in my hair where the length and health isn't evenly distributed. In other words, I've got some damage. Actually the areas aren't as damaged now as they were when I first identified them. But now, I'm in intensive repair mode. This year will be the year when those areas are brought back (length and strength) levels of the healthiest parts of my hair.

* Thickness-More often than not, my ends are exposed to the open air. Manipulation is also a major detractor in my routine. As a result, I feel I'm sacrificing much needed thickness especially on the ends of my hair. So my objective this year will be to promote retention and health from root to tip (focusing on tip). How will I do this, I'm not sure yet. There's obviously something amiss in what I'm doing now which causes my current results. So this year I'll closely scrutinize what I do day to day to find solutions to this issue.

*Elasticity-I would love to create a documented systematic process that is proven to increase elasticity in each individual strand of hair. I'm not sure what that looks like yet but I salivate at the thought of making this possible. Look out for more posts on this topic to come.

*Moisturizing-I'd like to compile a powerful moisturizer that could incorporate into my routine. This moisturizer would work hand in hand with the oil blend I now use to create hair that is absolutely fabulous.

*Styling-Even though I vehemently vowed several times never to go back to a Dominican salon, I still keep going back. Why? Because I absolutely can not deny the wonderful results of having perfectly silky hair. But it never fails, I always seem to suffer some type of set back shortly after my visit. This last visit in September was no different. In 2010, I'd like to go the entire year without visiting the salon. Now that I think about it, there is a reason why I might go back. There's this girl who attends frequently who has some bomb hair. I salivate over her tresses every time I visit. It never seems to fail that every time she steps into the salon, some admirer begins to interview her for her hair secrets. What I love about her is that she's always willing to give her hair tips. I would love to interview her on this blog next year. Either way, my focus next year is to perfect a method of creating professionally looking results from home.

I think I'll wrap up my list there for now. I'm sure many more goals/intentions will become areas of focus for me next year. Until then, I'll start marinating over these as a starting point. I'm really excited about these and everything we'll accomplish next year.

What about you? What hair intentions are you working on this for 2010?

About a year ago, a friend and I were having a conversation about our intentions for the new year. My intention was to seek out and bring together the most nourishing oils I could find, in one bottle to create one effective fusion. Yes, I am aware that technically oils don't moisturize, but I specifically looked for plant oils that have moisturizing qualities. What I mean by moisturizing qualities is the ability to effectively lubricate the hair. I wanted the oil to not sit on the hair and weight it down, I wanted the blend to help the comb glide through the hair. I wanted instant shine, but not the "I got a bunch of oil in my hair" shine. After using the oil, I wanted my hair to be more lustrous and appear healthier overall.

That was a year ago. Today I finally arrived at the place where my intention has now manifested. Ladies and gentlemen, I bring to you Gleau.

Gleau (pronounced glow) is a blend of 8 different oils each unique in their ability to impact the hair. Included among the oils is Moroccan Argan Oil, Camellia seed oil from Japan, sweet almond, two types of jojoba, two types of wheat germ, coconut and more.

I first mentioned this blend earlier this year when I talked about how I gave a sample to my mother in law to take back with her to California. Soon after, I received some emails from you asking about ingredients and such. It was then that I decided to provide some samples to you guys so I can get some much valuable feedback. My thanks to all of you who tried it and gave me your honest opinion. I was overwhelmed with the amount of positive feedback I received. So now I'm at a place where I'm ready to bring Gleau into the marketplace. For those of you who are dying to try a bottle, you can visit the website at

You can also check out the link below to read customer reviews on Amazon.com

Sunday, December 13, 2009

We're charging through the Maximum Moisture series which is a critical topic of discussion. Especially for those of us with chemically treated hair. So far my discussion has been focused mostly around the weekly wash and set. Now it's time to move on to styling and beyond. I strongly believe in using the wash and set as a major way of injecting moisture back into the hair. Most of your focus during the weekly wash should be around the intention of impacting moisture levels (as well as strength) in preparation for the week ahead. Why? Because of the simple fact that your hair will be exposed to air. Yes, the same life-giving air we live in and breathe is the mortal enemy of our hair's moisture.

My heart nearly sank years ago when I was reading Wanakee's informational hair care booklet as she articulated the dangers of constantly exposing the hair to elements. As you may know I am a self-proclaimed non-protective styler who struggles constantly to keep my hands out of my hair. I love detangling with my fingers, or examining the ends for strength, or just playing in my hair for no apparent reason whatsoever. It's a problem I've been dealing with since I was a child after notifying my mother, at the age of 10, that her hair styling services would no longer be needed because I would be doing my own hair going forward. It was then my love affair with my hair began.

I fail miserably every time I attempt to hide my hair for weeks or months at a time. I knew this was a lost cause when I got my hair braided back in high school. Back then everyone was rocking extension braids and I wanted them badly. So, like others, I paid good money to have one of the best recommended braiders work her magic on my hair. Two weeks later, the braids were removed and I was rocking my hair like nothin' happened. It's just something I'll have to live with. So, as you can imagine, dryness is the achilles heel to the health of my hair. I am still seeking ways to impact moisture levels day after day. But I'll share with you some of the steps I take today to give my hair a fighting chance.

Just recently, within the last several weeks, I decided to air dry. No, I'm not talking about the normal air dry where you use no styling methods to dry the hair. I'm talking about air drying my roller sets. Setting my hair on rollers is pretty much a part of my weekly routine. This past month, I experimented with "normal" air drying where the hair isn't dried on a roller or with a styling tool. I failed miserably at this attempt because I had two things working against me:

1. I am three months post.
2. I'm shedding like a dog.

Put those two together and, for me, you have a recipe for insane tangles. So I decided after a few weeks of trying, that I'd have to roller set no matter how much new growth I had. I thought about sitting under a hooded dryer on maximum heat which didn't sit right with me. Fall is upon us and the amount of moisture in the air is minimal. Drying every ounce of liquid from my hair with hot air was no longer appealing. So last week I air dried my roller set, which I haven't done in a very long time. There's certainly great benefit in air drying. I'm now combining the moisture preserving aspect of air drying with the styling options available with roller setting.

Ok, so what do I do to maintain moisture after the style is achieved?

I've had two experiences that I'd like to share with you today.

In scenario 1, I wash, condition, roller set, and style. What's important to notate in this scenario is after I've finished styling, I take advantage of my fresh hair do by wearing my hair down for a majority of the day. What happens by night fall? My fabulous curls start to drop and I begin to see signs of frizziness and lackluster.

In scenario 2, I wash, condition, roller set, and style. What's important to notate in this scenario is after I've finished styling, I tie down with a silk scarf. Again, I'm not a fan of hiding my hair but I can not deny the power of preserving moisture with a silk scarf especially after the wash and set. This is the perfect opportunity to seal in and protect all of your hard work.

I've lived both scenarios and I'm committed to only living out scenario 2 from this day forward. Every little bit counts. There's another daily habit that I've just implemented to help with moisture but I feel like I'd make a bigger impact if I explain it via video. It's nothing major but it's worth mentioning. Perhaps someone will benefit from it. I'll be working on that video shortly for official release.

Until then, I should also mention that I rarely use moisturizers. Even though I know it's a necessity for the health of the hair. I am in no way condoning the elimination of moisturizers from your routine. If your hair is thriving with the help of moisturizers, the last thing you want to do is remove that step from your regimen. That could be disastrous. For me, it was more about looking for other ways to moisturize aside from just the help of product. There is one product I use, it's a blend of oils that combined in varying quantities. My goal, when I blended these oils was to create a formula that would help promote softness and shine on a daily basis. I also wanted to act like a moisturizer on the hair. What I mean by that is that the oil would not only make the hair look good, but it would also make it feel just as good. That was probably six months or so and I've been using it ever since. Just one product.

I'll wrap up this post for now but I will say that there's so much more on this topic that I'd like to discuss. I don't think we can ever exhaust this topic. By the way, if you've got some great moisturizing tips you'd like to share. Or even if you've got a bomb moisturizer you'd like to recommend. Leave a comment.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Deep conditioning, ah yes, the holy grail of our hair care practices. Deep conditioning is where we enlist the powers of our fave product(s) to bring about glorious results. The strength of your hair for the week to come relies on how well your deep conditioner was able to get the job done. Because of the crucial nature of this process, we need to make sure we get this step right.

In order for this to be a well rounded discussion, I feel that we need to first cover the basics of deep conditioning. Let's talk fundamentals:

First you'll need.....a deep conditioner. Notice that every conditioner is not a deep conditioner. What you're looking for is a conditioner specifically designed to work even more instensely with increased time/heat. Take a look at the back of your current conditioning product, is it instructing you to rinse a minute or two after application? If so, then your product not working deep enough. Damage to the hair can occur deep below the surface layers so your product needs to get at least that deep. What you're looking for as you inspect your product label is the requirement that the product remain in the hair for more than 2 minutes. Anything 2 minutes or less is not likely going to have a dramatic impact on the hair.

I'm not going to specifically name or recommend products in this post. We all know that not all conditioners are created equal. What I love may work just o.k for you. Because of this, I'll keep my discussions at a higher level. I will tell you that when I deep condition, I rarely rely on the strength of just one product to get the results I am seeking. Most often, you'll find me blending a variety of products each with its own specific purpose.

Although strength should be a major objective of deep conditioning, I almost always layer my need for strength within my desire for moisture. I've tried several different methods of deep conditioning only to find that, for me, I can rarely ever go wrong if I first focus on moisture. So what I do is seek out thick moistening conditioners that coat the hair heavily. I don't have the time, nor the money, to allow even a small percentage of my product to run down my back and into the shower drain. I need my product to stay where I need it the most, on my hair. So thickness is key.

Along with thickness, my deep conditioning products have to soften the hair the minute its applied. I'm not waiting all the way to the rinse step to know for sure whether the product has softened the hair. I've been disappointed one too many times by deep conditioners leaving me less than impressed after rinsing. If I can't get slip from my deep conditioner, when is it gonna happen?!

Softness, slip, and strength. How can you get this from one conditioner? If you've got a conditioner that fits this description, then more power to you. I find that I get more of the result I want when I combine several heavy hitters to make one phenomenal conditioning concoction. There is no exact recipe involved in this creation. Only the mixing of moisture heavy conditioners coupled with strengtheners to create a delightful masterpiece. Prior to selecting my favorite conditioners for the mix, I made sure to measure their pH levels with my testing strips. Adding this step makes me feel a bit more confident that I wasn't just mixing for the heck of it. My creation also landed in the desired pH range where the hair most benefited (quick tip: Porosity Control boasts of a low pH. This is perhaps the reason why this product added to conditioners makes them seem more effective somehow). The final product looks something like this: 80% moisturizing 20% strengthening. This percentage only arises out of the fact that my hair doesn't deal too well with heavy proteins. If your hair can flourish with a 50/50 mixture, then have at it! I find that if I am able to create balanced enough conditioning mixtures of strength and protein, I don't have need to set aside certain weeks where I've got to barrage my hair with an intense strength treatment because I've been overlooking that aspect of my regimen. Same goes for the moisture aspect.

Ok, so once I know that the product going on the hair is impactful, my next area of focus is in maximizing the conditioner with the application technique. Once upon a time, my conditioner application consisted of me, standing in the shower, while rubbing a single conditioner into the length of the hair. As you would imagine, there were several problems with this technique:

1. By remaining in the shower, I was unable to accurately keep track of time. I always had this false impression that more time had passed than realized. In the end, I was robbing my hair of precious and much needed repair time.

2. Another fatal flaw in my technique was my lack of attention to detail during application. I AM CERTAIN this is the reason for the areas of damage my hair suffers from today. I wasn't taking the time to gently part my hair into multiple sections before applying. I did this thing where I'd apply all over the parts of the hair that were most visible to me. The result was long thick hair in the front and sides while the hair underneath struggled to maintain strength levels. I head my head in shame when I think of it.

3. Finally, I have to also admit that when I followed this technique, I rarely did anything more special than placing a plastic cap over my head. There was no additional heat for deeper penetration. No warm towels, no sitting under the hair dryer, nada. Honestly, I don't know how I expected to have healthy chemically treated hair deep conditioning the way I did.

But now, my friends, I am in a different place. Deep conditioning is no longer executed poorly. I now put in an adequate amount of time thinking about ways to improve on what I do, even if its only a slight adjustment. No change is too small.
There will probably be a video from me in the near future discussing the virtues of deep conditioning the right way. Until then, I hope this post was helpful in your quest for moisturized hair.

I'd love to hear your comments.
. BELLEMOCHA.com Theme by STS.