Sunday, August 29, 2010

You guys may remember but, not too long ago, I decided to take my journey to the next level with regards to my hair's length. Nothing would make me happier than to have low-mid back length hair. I understand, though, that I'm at somewhat of a disadvantage. Unlike others who are focused on gaining and retaining a length, I am a self-professed non-protective styler. Everyone knows that ever since the days of Wanakee, the general rule of thumb regarding healthy hair is to protect the ends from the elements.

Since I don't consistently hide my hair, I have to overcompensate with an intense weekly wash and set ritual. While my wash routine does wonders to re-create the moisture/strength balance in my hair, there are also aspects of my routine that frustrate the heck out of me. The most concerning step for me is the roller set. While I love rollersetting and the wonderful results that comes with it, I'm not at all happy with the amount of hair I lose during the process. Sometimes after a rollersetting session, I'm puzzled at the size of the ball of hair staring at me.

So this week I took some time to sit back and contemplate what I was doing wrong with regards to my roller setting practice. Better yet, I really wanted to find a better way to complete the process without experiencing as many casualties as I had in the past.

I'm happy to say to you that I've made a slight modification to my rollersetting routine the other day and the results were a huge improvement! This past week I lost 1/5 the amount of hair I normally do during the roller set and all I did was make a slight modification. So let me share with you my secret.....

For as long as I can remember, my rollersetting routine has been as follows:
1. Step out of the shower
2. Apply creamy leave-in
3. Take a section of hair.
4. Spray water/leave-in on section
5. Comb section with wide-tooth comb
6. Comb section with small tooth (if needed).
7. Roll hair
8. Repeat steps 3-7

Last week, however, things were different because I was reminded of one of the golden rules of healthy tresses:

"hair when wet can lose up to 50% of its strength."

What I realized was that I was manipulating my hair the most when it was the weakest. Once I made this realization, I immediately knew something had to change. There was no way I could continue to put my hair through such a tramatic process week after week. One thing you should know is that I have a hard time producing a decent result when air drying so that was not an option. What I decided to do instead was to shift the steps of my process to look like this:

1. Step out of the shower.
2. Apply creamy leave-in
3. Allow hair to begin to air dry under silk scarf
4. Remove scarf when hair is 70% dry.
5. Take small section of hair.
6. Comb section with wide tooth comb
7. Apply water/leave-in (to moisten the already detangled section so it can lay smooth against the roller).
8. Roll section
9. Repeat steps 5-8

So if you look at the two variations of my routine closely, you'll notice that I allow the drying process to occur before I start the heavy manipulation. For me, hair that is slightly damp is so much easier to detangle than hair that is soaking wet. By only making that small change in my routine, I was able to cut down the time it takes me to rollerset. Not too mention that I was all smiles when I checked out the amount of hair lost during the process. My sligthly damp hair withstood the combing so much easier than my hair soaking wet. I've only used this process once but I can't imagine going back to trying to detangle soaking wet's just to risky.

This slight changed produced a pretty dramatic change for me. I can imagine the thickness and length I'll preserve if I am able to continue this trend of only losing a small amount of hair each wash. I thought I'd share this little tip in case any one else is battling with excessive breakage during the roller set.

Thanks for listening.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

If you've spent some time browsing through the topics on this blog, you may already know that I am a fan of Matrix's line of Biolage products. More recently, I've fallen in love with their fortetherapie line of conditioners containing the all important ingredient, ceramide. As a person who's hair responds somewhat adversely to high-protien strengthening products, ceramides are just what the doctor ordered.

Knowing how much ceramides have benefited my hair and countless others, I've made a conscious effort to seek out products with this amazing ingredient. This new mindset has also make me look at my current product stash so I can validate how much of this valued ingredient is currently available in what I already have, including my beloved Biolage products. So I go back and review the ingredient list on my Biolage conditioner. Much to my surprise, I don't see the word "ceramide" listed anywhere amoung the ingredients.

My next course of action was to promtly locate their customer service number and inquire about the seemingly missing ingredient. On the other line, I'm greeted by a rather friendly customer service representative who tries to help answer my question. I was placed on hold as she asked several individuals how to identify ceramide in their products. Finally, the rep returns to the line and informs me that she wasn't able to receive the information required to answer my query. She then asks for my name, number, and advises me that I will receive a call-back with a resolution. The amount of time needed to obtain a response, she tells me, could range from a couple of days to a few weeks.

That was a few weeks ago. Today I'm happy to announce that I did receive my call back from Biolage with the answer to my question. The ingredient(s) in question appearing in either Biolage conditioner and Biolage Cera-Repair are: 2-oleamido and 1-3 octadecanediol. I thought this was an important piece of information to share with everyone so you can actively seek out products that may have this ingredient but not actively advertise ceramides on their labeling or in their branding message. A couple of other brands with this key ingredient are Mizani's line, some of Redken products and Softsheen's Optimum Care Anti-Breakage relaxer. For those of you who like to add a little color in your life, L'Oreal hair color creams also contan ceramides. Keratase products are another ceramide containing brand. I'm sure the list goes on.

My intention for this blog entry is to open up the world of ceramides to all of you. For some, getting their hands on professional products like Biolage may be somewhat of a challenge but perhaps you can find a pre-poo conditioner containing ceramides on your your local Target or Wal-mart shelf. Now that my eyes have been opened to this new term for "ceramide," I feel empowered. This piece of information will definitely make a positive impact on my hair care going forward. Now go, and live your lives with this newfound piece of knowledge and may your hair enjoy the wonderful fruits of your labor.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

It's that time again for another head-to-head product showdown. This time, I'm putting two products to battle against on of my hair's greatest arch enemies...tangles. A few weeks ago, I was sporting a head full of new growth that was shedding uncontrollably. Constant shedding plus low manipulation normally equals a plethora of tangled hair so I knew I had to go hard and utilize whatever I had at my disposal to detangle while minimizing the casualties.

Prior to pre-pooing, I sat down, detangling comb in hand, ready to face my knots head on. I'd like to paint a clear picture of what I was dealing with. Although I was only 3 months post, I had quite a bit of new textured hair growing in. As I shed, the coils would wrap around the straight hair creating a bundling effect. So one shed hair could wrap around several other hairs at once. I'm then left with tangled chunks of hair that I have to carefully unravel. I painted this grim image for you just so you can see what kind of detangling power my hair desperately needed.

To the left of me I had a 10 oz bottle of It's a 10 Miracle Leave-In treatment. I was first introduced to this product via an overwhelmingly positive review by Essence Beauty Editor Tia Williams. Check out what she had to say about the product.

Moments after hearing what she had to say about the product, I immediately began seeking out where I would find this "miracle in a bottle." A day later I had a 10 oz bottle that I paid around $30.00. This stuff is not cheap! My Mane 'n Tail detangler, mean while, only cost me $4.49. Let me also mention that Mane 'n Tail was readily available at my local Sally's or pretty much any beauty supply store. It's a 10, however, was a little harder to get a hold of. I had to purchase at Ulta. So if I had to compare the price and availability of both products, I would say the Mane 'n Tail definitely wins this round.

Next we'll look at what the products claim to offer us for their value. Obviously, both products claim to effectively detangle the hair. But It's a 10 alleges that it can also do the following:
  • Repairs dry, damaged hair
  • Adds shine
  • Controls frizz
  • Seals & protects hair color
  • Prevents split ends
  • Stops hair breakage
  • Creates silkiness
  • Enhances natural body
  • Heat protectant
I can't say for sure that this product can immediately deliver on each promise but I have to give it to them for attempting to create an all in one product that does more than most people normally expect from their detangler.

Finally came the moment of truth. How well does it work? To be honest with you, I wasn't impressed with either product when I first use them. Sure, they helped in the detangling process but I really wanted something that made them tangles beg for sweet mercy. When I first used Mane 'n Tail, my experience was acceptable but not remarkable encourage me to use on a regular basis for my detangling needs. Even my first experience with It's a 10 was mediocre. But looking back, I understand why I wasn't so pleased with the "miracle" product. Unlike Mane 'n Tail, It's a 10 is thick with a similar consistency to a conditioner. I'm so used to watery leave-ins that I was sorta turned off with the change in texture. The thickness of the product made it a little difficult to spray so I easily became frustrated with the whole process.

This time, I was willing to forget the past and start fresh with both products. My hair was in such a state that I couldn't afford not to reap the benefits, even if it were only minimal. So I start off my experiment by spritzing a little Mane n Tail on dry hair. Again, the moisture helped a little but I really couldn't see the extraordinary difference between using this product and a normal leave-in to detangle. Next came the It's a 10. As I sprayed the product on a tangled clump of hair, the first thing I noticed was the ease in which my detangling comb glided thru my hair. Section after section, the same result. It wasn't long before I set the Mane 'n Tail aside and proceeded to quickly (much more quickly than I expected) finish detangling my hair and moved on to the pre-poo. I could not believe how well the product worked for me! It was just as Tia described it in her video testimony.

Why did this product work so well this time and not the first? As I think back to my first experience with It's a 10 miracle leave-in versus this time, I can tell you that my hair was in two different states. The first time I used it to help roller set wet hair. Honestly, I just didn't like the texture to help create a great roller set. I'm so used to using a spray bottle with water that I felt like this product would weigh my hair down and alter my end result. Maybe next time, I'll dilute it to see how it works. On dry hair, this product worked like a dream. So for me, using it as a leave-in wasn't as promising as utilizing it as tangle eliminator! I didn't spray it all over my hair and scalp. I located tangles, sprayed the product, and combed thru with ease. I expected to spend several hours painstakingly working my hair section by section. That was not the case.

So, my pick for a superior detangling experience absolutely has to go to It's a 10 Miracle Leave-In. Yes, it's pretty expensive but, take it from someone who's suffered many a setbacks from not properly addressing tangles, this is well worth it. I should also mention that they offer smaller sizes of this product at a lower cost. Honestly, I feel that I'll have my 10 oz bottle forever using the search and destroy method versus spraying this product all over.

So ladies, I think we have a winner on our hands. It's a 10 miracle leave-in takes it! Thank you it's a 10. My hair now believes that miracles do happen!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A week or so ago, I decided that I'd do a touch up. One of the concerns I always try to address whenever I touch up, is the possible damage of the relaxer run-off to my previously relaxed hair. Normally, I apply my Preservo Serum all over my hair (including the new growth). Since my Preservo was running low, I figured I would venture out and try something new. I thought about it for a few moments before walking out the door. My goal was to return home with a low pH product that could easily counteract the high alkalinity of the relaxer. While at the beauty supply store, I did a quick search online and was introduced to a new product.
French Perm Stabilizer Plus boasts of a pH level of 2.5. Not knowing much about this product, I immediately began searching online to see what others had to say about French Perm. So there I was standing in the aisle at Sally's scrolling thru forum posts from those who've tried the product. Much of what I read was overwhelmingly positive. Some said the product was an excellent detangler. Others said the product made their hair soft and the strands smooth. Several contributors mentioned they used the product even when no chemical service was performed. That was all I needed to hear. Within moments of reading the reviews, I grabbed the product and paid. The bottle was huge! For only $7.50 or so, my hair would enjoy the benefits for quite a while.

To be quite honest with you, I was a little concerned about the acidity of the product so I decided to use a mix of Porosity Control (pH 4.5) and French Perm on my previously relaxed hair. For the first time in my life, I retouched with a mild relaxer. The application process was a breeze. Then came the moment of truth when I finally got a chance to use the French perm to neutralize. First off, I gotta tell you that this product has a really strong scent. This probably has a lot to do with the second ingredient, isopropyl alcohol. Make sure when you use this product, you ramp up your moisture products so you avoid any possible drying effects.
Scent aside, there's no denying the power of this product. I rinsed out the relaxer, applied conditioner then proceeded with the Stabilizer Plus. As soon as I rinsed out the product, my hair was ultra smooth and felt replenished. I've even gone on to add a little this product diluted in distilled water leave-in conditioner mix.

I have no facts to back this up, but my theory is that this low pH product, mixed in with a water (pH 7), probably creates a result closer to the hair's desired pH level of around 4.5. Again I haven't tested it but with results like this, I'm not even going to bother. Yesterday, I had to pick up something at the mall and all eyes were on my hair ( at least that's the way it felt). Even if no one paid attention to my hair, I still felt like a million bucks. I wore my hair in waves and, a day later, I still have soft waves that fall nicely down my shoulders. Best of all, I have no frizz, even in 100 % humidity. I can't say for sure if the results could be attributed to the Stabilizer Plus, the Affirm Fiberguard mild, or Coppola Keratin Infusion. Or if it's the combination of all three. I'm leaning more towards the French Perm because I laced the water in my Caruso steam setter with a few squirts to help lower the pH as I created the waves I wore that day. Plus, I think my hair is able to avoid excessive frizz because my cuticle layer is tightly sealed. Hopefully I've convinced you all that French Perm Stabilizer plus should be a part of your hair perfection system. At 32 ounces per bottle, you certainly get your money's worth. Bravo, French Stabilizer for giving me fabulous hair. Merci.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

If you've wandered past the Creme of Nature section in your local beauty supply store lately, you may have made a double take as soon as your eyes landed on the new additions to their product line. In case you haven't seen or heard of the new products. Creme of Nature has introduced a new ingredient. The new Argan Oil line is not only has packaging that's pleasing to the eye, it is alson the first styling line that I'm aware of with the beneficial ingredient.

I won't keep you waiting any longer, here are the products:
  • Gloss and Shine Polisher
  • Foaming Wrap Lotion
  • Replenishing Sheen Spray
  • Gloss and Shine Mist
  • Intensive Conditioning Treatment
Of the entire line, I most want to get my hands on the conditioning treatment. Too bad it only comes in packet size (for now). For those of you curious about the ingredients, most of the products also contain healthy ingredients such as honey, olive oil, aloe leaf juice, and wheat protein. You will also find silicones for additional shine and mineral oil in the conditioner.

Another good thing I should point out is even though Creme of Nature has included this exotic ingredient, they still managed to maintain a desirable price point from $1.50 for the conditioning packet to $7.15 for the shine products. These products are in stores now.

p.s. I'll be printing out the picture of the girl on the flyer with the fabulous hair and will be placing it on my vision board.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

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