Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ceramides: My hair will never be the same again



So I've been on a bit of a ceramide binge ever since I first posted on the benefits. While I still haven't gotten my hands on Biolage Cera-Repair (yet), I've done alright with my choices so far. But before I talk about the products I purchased, I must provide this disclaimer:


*Although the blog author has (for, ah, scientific reasons) purchased a plethora of ceramide containing products, she does not condone such reckless hair junkie-like behavior*

Now that we got that out of the way, let's get back to business. You may remember when I posted this chart representing the holy trinity of healthy hair.



Each attribute is equally crucial to wonderful hair. Without moisture, the hair is brittle and breaks easily. Without strength, the hair becomes weak and prone to breakage. Without elasticity the hair can not withstand manipulation which eventually leads to breakage. If either are missing, the hair suffers dearly. I've spent several posts talking up moisture but I think it's finally time to talk about the last piece of the healthy hair puzzle.

As you might recall, we've already covered the role of ceramides in hair care. We're always talking about the cuticle layer. We say things like "make sure you rinse with cold water to help seal the cuticle layer" or "you should rinse with apple cider vinegar to close the cuticles." You guys would be surprised about how thin the cuticle layer is compared the to rest of the hair strand. Not only that, the cuticle get's chipped away with even simple actions like combing the hair. The minute the cuticle layer is compromised your hair strand is in trouble. The cortex is exposed, and the next thing you know, you've got a split end or worse yet, breakage. Ceramides are the first line of protection against the gradual chipping away of the cuticle that leads to hair troubles. By helping to"glue" the scales on the cuticle together, ceramides helps keep the hair strand strong and elastic.

So let's talk about the products I purchased. Immediately upon hearing the good news of ceramides, I got me some Biolage fortifying conditioner and leave-in from their Fortetherapie line. According to their website, the product line is intended to strengthen damaged hair while building resistance against future breakage. Soon there after, I decided go back for more and pick up the Intensive Strengthening Mask.

Over the next couple of days, weeks, who knows. I picked up a couple of other ceramide rich goodies. Among some of my purchases was Cera-Fix (which was relatively inexpensive), Sedal's S.O.S ceramidas, La Bomba deep treatment, and Silicon Mix's pearl protein leave-in conditioner. Not to mention the fact that I just happened to have some ceramide containing wheat germ and hemp seed oil laying around. All though I'm knee deep in ceramide products, I still won't rest until Cera-Repair joins the rest of the team.

So what's been my experience so far? I purposely waited several weeks to talk about my experience because I wanted to really see if any difference would be made beyond the first wash or two. First off, my hair does look better. Is my hair mind-blowingly, Pantene commercial gorgeous? Eh. I would describe the appearance of my hair as healthier looking overall but, maybe because it's been several weeks and I'm already used to it, I don't know if the change was that drastic. Maybe it was that drastic, who knows.

Now Imma tell you all what has got me sprung on ceramides. I've has this insane fear of over manipulating my hair for the longest. Even though I've got some crazy thick hair, it's never really been that strong. It tends to break even if I look at it wrong. What makes it worse is that my hair doesn't respond that well to protein. Because of that I'd have to add a little protein conditioner, instead of doing routine protein treatments, to every wash to make sure my hair gets what it needs. Let me tell you, ever since I've been on this ceramide kick, the breakage has slowed down considerably. When I touch, play with, or manipulate my hair, I'm not scared of the repercussions. Mind you, we should all use extreme caution while manipulating but, for real, this same head of hair wouldn't have responded the same way to my man-handling several months back. Last night, I had my hair down and my husband, who's extremely heavy handed, was all in my hair massaging it like someone who was massaging a knot out of someone's back. Normally, I'd jump up like a scared cat, scold him for his lack of regard for my tresses, and give him the side eye for the rest of the night. Not this time. I did give him some feedback when he was becoming too reckless with my hair, but all in all, it was o.k.
That, thanks to a couple of my ceramide leave in products.

Not too long ago there was some discussion on LHCF about the role of ceramides and if they could possible take the place of proteins. This because the ladies who used it consistently noticed that they no longer needed protein deep conditioning as often as they required in times past. The conclusion was that ceramides are not to function as protein but instead holds a unique role by helping to support the hair and protecting it from protein loss. To be completely honest, I've forgone both my "protein" conditioners and my "moisturizing" conditioners during this experiment. This was a temporary shift to ensure that my observed results occurred mainly with the help of my ceramide filled friends. Next wash, I'll go back to my normal conditioners but they'll be mixed in with a little something extra (*wink*).

So in conclusion I'll say this, ceramides have to be a part of your regimen one way or another to help fight against damage. Sure, you can moisturize and deep condition with protein, but if the third piece of the puzzle isn't there to keep it all together, you might be fighting a losing battle.

Of all the ceramide product's I recently purchased, one seems to stand out as my favorite. I decided that it deserves, and will get, it's own review post.

'till next time.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

One for me and one for you!


A couple of posts ago, I was telling you all about having to return a lackluster hair product. The good news is that I finally managed to get what I originally was looking for when I first visited my local Ulta store. The nice cashier girl took me directly to the Burt's Bees section after telling me how much she loves the Avocado Pre-poo butter. According to her, she treats her hair to it all the time! (Her hair was type 1 and color treated by the way). Of course I picked up two tubes of it so I can give one away. You know I'm always thinking of you whenever I pick up some Burt's Bees. I always get a bunch of people who tell me they aren't able to find this product locally so I'm really excited about this!

One of you will receive a brand new tube of the Avocado Pre-Poo butter. All you have to do is send me an email to relaxedhairhealth@gmail.com and put Burt's Bee's or Giveaway in the title. I'll be announcing the randomly selected winner on March 1, 2010. If you've already sent me an email to the address listed during the past giveaways, you're already entered.


Good luck everyone!!!
Saturday, February 13, 2010

Steam Deep Conditioning Video

I didn't expect it but I got quite a few comments from my steam pre-poo video. In that video, I parted the hair section by section while in front of my facial steamer. A couple people mentioned that it looked rather labor intensive. While I do agree that doing it section by section does take a lot of time and effort, it also has it's benefits.

Well now it's time to reveal how I used the same facial steamer, along with my hooded dryer, and converted it into a replica of an honest to goodness hair steamer.

You guys might remember another post from the good 'ole days when I tried, desperately to create my own version of a steamer with my caruso kit and a plastic bin. Well those days are no longer because I've now graduated from this to this:



Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Creme of Nature Conditioner Review


I'm both proud and thankful for this humble little blog known as Relaxed Hair Health. This forum has provided me the opportunity to public challenge myself with regards to my healthy hair rituals. Most importantly, this blog has also allowed me to connect with others who've also learned with me along the way. Which is why I was both honored and excited about being contacted by a major hair care company that offering a paid opportunity to do what I love to do best, talk about my hair experience.

Before I move forward, I want to make it extremely clear that as a part of my review, I was given complete freedom to be totally honest about my experience-no matter the result. With that said, let me tell you more about who they are and why I was willing to try out their products. The brand I'm referring to is Creme of Nature. I'll start off by giving you a little background about my experiences with Cream of Nature (or CON as it's affectionately called on the hair boards). Their shampoo and conditioner was a staple in my regimen for years. Even my mom used their products religiously. Somehow, I found myself moving to other products as a result of the unquenchable "product junkie" habit I began to develop around that time. Now that my habit has somewhat subsided, I figured now would be a good time to go back to an old friend.

Cream of Nature generously offered to reimburse my cost of buying the products for review. For the first time in my life I could splurge on products I wanted without even the hint of guilt. So off I went to the largest beauty supply store in town. The beauty supply store is now situated in what was once a Publix supermarket, a large and very well known chain in our area. This place is aisle upon aisle of hair product heaven. I try, for the most part to stay out of there for fear of blowing my budget. This time, however, I knew this was the place to be simply because they would house the largest selection of Cream of Nature products to choose from. After several minutes of walking up and down the aisles, I had to summon a young lady for a little help. I couldn't find the CON bottles anywhere. When she finally took me down the same aisle I just walked moments before, I knew why I had so much trouble. Creme of Nature completely redesigned their look. Not only that, they now boasted of including ingredients we discuss alot about here on this blog- natural plant oils.

So there I am standing in front of multiple CON bottles. Last time I remember, they didn't have so much variety to choose from. Even though I probably had free reign on any product I wanted. I only went after the products I needed. I like to consider myself a conditioner connoisseur so I immediately gravitated to their Moisture Extreme conditioner and their Nourishing and Strengthening treatment. Oh, and I also grabbed the Red Clover and Aloe Daily Breakage Relief, for good measure.

The next day, I prepared my hair for the wash as I customarily do with a steam pre-poo treatment. As with any (and every) product I review on this blog, I used the product alone without the use of additional oils, butters, or even other conditioners. That way, I can get a true feel of the product's effectiveness without any extra additives. Lucky for me though, these conditioners already contained natural ingredients such as orange oil, grapefruit seed extract, coconut oil, shea butter, jojoba oil and more. You should also be aware that the product also contains some silicones similar to the ones you find in shine serums.

So, after I've washed an rinsed I begin the process of applying the conditioner. At this point, I'm feeling kinda bad for these conditioners because they've got their work cut out for them. I'm now 15 weeks into my longest stretch ever and, believe me, it ain't pretty. I start by mixing the moisture conditioner with the strengthening treatment. Immediately I'm taken back several years by the signature Creme of Nature scent I recall from days past (ah the memories). As I start applying the product to individual sections, the first thought that came to my mind was "instant slip."

I've experienced slip before as I've washed out conditioners but it doesn't often happen during application. What I appreciate most about this slippage is it allows me to divide my hair into sections for smoother conditioner application without much resistance. Once I applied the product, I fired up my steamer and let the Creme of Nature do it's thing while deep conditioning. After the final rinse I began to roller set. Lately roller setting is taking me much longer because of the incredible amount of work needed to work thru tangles and smooth out with a fine tooth comb. By the time, I carefully finished off one side of my hair, the other side was almost dry. This gave me an opportunity to scrutinize the air dried ends for a glimpse of what I could expect from the product when I removed the rollers. Based on my observation, the hair appeared a bit straighter than normal which put my mind at ease a bit about what I could possibly expect to see later on.

So after the rollers were out and I've flat ironed the roots, I take a look at my hair and, to tell you the truth, I had no idea that I'd be able to wear my hair the way it is now this many weeks post relaxer. I finished the style with my oil blend and called it a day. Kudos to Creme of Nature for working to keep my hair manageable. So far, I like what I've tried and I can't wait to see how the daily breakage relief works when used consistently. Going forward I will be including these two conditioners into my rotation. Cream of Nature, I welcome you back, old friend.
Friday, February 5, 2010

There's a first time for everything: Latest Hair Product Review



I'm a little bummed. For the first time in my life, I'll be returning a hair product. What makes it even more devastating is that this product comes from one of my favorite hair product lines. So let me take you back a couple of days when I eagerly walked into my local Ulta store, with coupon in hand, in search of some wonderful discounts on two tubes of
Burt's Bees Avocado Pre-Shampoo treatment. Lo and behold, they were all out. So I shake off my disappointment and proceed to, instead, use my $3.50 of $10.00 coupon for a new bottle of Biolage's Daily Leave-In Tonic. I must have gotten there on a busy day because they were all out of that too.

"No worries," I told myself "maybe I'll venture a little bit and try a little something new." Instead of wandering around the store I decided that I was in the right place in the Biolage section. "I wonder if they have a moisturizer", I asked myself. I looked around for a few moments before I found exactly what I was looking for Biolage Hydra Seal Leave in Creme. "Heck Yeah! This is what I'm talkin' about. So I swipe up the bottle and stroll casually to the front register. I answer the customary question about 2 issues of Instyle Magazine and I'm on my way. Two seconds after I'm told by the cashier to have a nice day, I'm rummaging through the bag for my new hair purchase and begin immediately applying to a test section of hair.

The consistency is much like a water-based conditioner. And it smells nice like other Biolage Products. I was feeling really good about my purchase for only a short time before I sensed things were going south. Moments after I applied the creamy, moist, product my hair felt just as dry (if not drier) than it was prior to application. I kinda shook it off like I had made a poor assessment and proceeded to apply the product to another small section of hair. Same thing.
I was only a few streets away from the store before I made the very difficult decision to bring the product back. I had to come to a place where I decided to return the product because I could not bear to allow another product into my already stocked closet unless I had clear intention to use it on the regular. I'm not talking about pity usage where I'm just trying to finish it in a desperate attempt to somehow feel like I hadn't wasted my money. I'm talking about using the product regularly because it adds value to my overall hair routine.

But alas this was not the case. I think this is the first time I'm taking a product back. Normally I'm thinking about how I can mix with with oils, butters, conditioners, whatever, to make the product work. This time however, I had to take a stand. Not because this product was that terrible, but because I'm not at a place in my hair journey where I only desire to implement products that make my hair better. Is that too much to ask?

No it's not too much to ask. We're all about hair perfection here so we require more of our products than in times past. I'll digress for a moment and say that this incident has in no way impacted my opinion or faith in Biolage as an amazing hair care line. In fact, I use several of their products regularly. I'm also looking to get their Ceramide treatment in the near future. I actually love Biolage. This is merely a confirmation of how serious I am about this hair thing. I need to move forward in my hair care with every product I buy and every action I take. Things like this happen all the time. It's no big deal. Lucky for me Ulta has a great exchange policy that will take care of my little issue.

So gals, the moral of the story is that we should never be complacent when it comes to our hair care. If we try something that doesn't produce results, we first have to look at ourselves and ask questions like "is there something I could have done to change the result?" If the answer is no, then we have to move on. No hard feelings. So now the search goes on for a moisturizer. I'll keep you all posted my progress.
 

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