Common misconceptions about the care of Hair (whether natural, relaxed or transitioning)

I was speaking with a customer recently who had just taken out a style she'd had for about 3 weeks - I advised that after we shampooed she would need to get a proper deep conditioning treatment using the steamer and she was hesitant saying she'd read somewhere that 'steaming a lot' was bad for the hair.

 A few days later, I was reading somewhere where someone said something along the lines of 'steaming the hair weekly is not good as that is too much heat for the hair'. Is it really? So I thought I'd just do a quick compilation of stuff just to bring a different perspective on a number of things people believe to be true and non negotiable.

1.Steaming the hair often is bad for the hair as that is applying too much heat and can lead to damage: Direct heat which can lead to breakage prone damaged hair and  heat from a wet steam are different things. Direct heat is when heat is applied directly to the hair strands by using heat tools such as blow dryers, flat irons, curling irons, hot combs etc. The heat from the appliance literally fries the hair cuticle leading to dry brittle hair that breaks off. This is why we are advised to ALWAYS use a heat protectant before applying direct heat to your hair.

My Easter Weekend Brides!

This Easter weekend was a very special one for me - I got to style not just 1 but 2 Natural brides!!!!! I count myself truly blessed because this time last year, if someone had said I'd be doing this, I'd have laughed out loud - I had a completely different plan for myself which involved a 9 - 5 in someone else's office but somehow no matter how hard I tried, that wasn't working out and this kept coming to the fore and needless to say here I am!

 It is a lot of hard work running a business in Nigeria what with the light issues, staff that think they're doing you a favor, fuel issues and a host of other problems but the satisfaction and joy I get at the end of the day when my back hurts and my feet are throbbing; cannot be compared to anything I'd get from a 9 - 5.

Anyhoo! So this weekend I got the privilege to style two beautiful but very different brides and their differences could not be more evident as it was in their hair style choices.

Breakage Vs Shedding Part 3 (Manipulation and Improper care)

So in this final part to the Breakage Vs Shedding Series, we'll be looking at how the ways we sometimes handle our hair (over manipulating) can cause breakage. Over manipulation could take varying forms - from constantly combing, twirling and styling, to playing with and generally tugging at the hair ( What is called the 'Hand in Hair Syndrome' and I am sooo guilty of this!).

The more our fragile strands are moved about, the more they rub against one another causing friction and sometimes, locking around one another leading to knots and eventually breakage. Our hair has a low stress point breakage and this is why protective and low manipulation styling are so important. They keep the hair safely protected in a style that prevents you from constantly combing and styling the hair (things like braids, weaves, twists etc)

Improper care (which kinda also covers over manipulation) is just the wrong handling of hair - making it more susceptible to breakage. Things like combing when dry, not protecting the ends of your hair which are the oldest and therefore the most fragile, failing to cover hair with a satin/silk scarf/cap at night and thereby causing the hair to rub against the cotton pillowcase, causing friction, loss of moisture and eventually breakage.

Breakage Vs Shedding Part 2 (The Moisture/Protein Balance)

So, I'd been talking about the difference between shedding and breakage and I think I gave shedding it's fair share of attention in Part 1 so it's time for breakage to take center stage! Before I continue though it is important to stress this point:

There is no single product alone that will fight breakage! Breakage is multi faceted - therefore regardless of whatever is being touted as the latest 'anti breakage' serum/lotion/cream/potion; you need to first determine WHAT is causing your breakage before going on a spending spree, donating your money to companies for products that will not address your particular breakage issue!!! 

Okay, seeing as I've gotten that off my chest, let's proceed :)

Breakage could be caused by a number of reasons and I will start with what I think is a major one:

1. Moisture/Protein imbalance:
Our hair strands are made up of Keratin ( a fibrous structure of proteins containing several amino acids), water and lipids. The keratin structure controls the strength of the hair fiber which is why most (if not all) products targeted towards breakage contain some sort of protein. However, not all breakage is due to a lack of protein within the hair's fiber.

Breakage Vs Shedding Part 1.

When I first started my hair journey back when I was still relaxed, I didn't realize there was a difference between shedding and breakage - I classified it all as breakage and my! did I regularly have bits of long and short hairs everywhere: on the bathroom floor, on the bedroom floor, bits in the sink and in my deep conditioner/moisturizer. It was a little annoying but thankfully I soon figured it all out.

The first thing I came to realize was that not every single strand of hair that had come out of my head was due to breakage - some of it was actually shed hair. The basic rule of thumb is that if the hair that has come out is long and has a white 'bulb' on the end then it is shed hair, if it's shorter then it's hair that has broken off mid shaft or at the end of the shaft.

Our hair goes through 3 basic growth phases: Anagen (growth), Catagen (rest) and Telogen (shedding) and all 3 occur concurrently (or simultaneously), so one strand maybe in the Anagen phase while the next strand might be in a Catagen phase.

Getting the Most out of your Avocado and Banana Hair Masks.

I've had a few customers come in to get their hair done - when asked if they'd like to wash and condition their hair, they reply that they've just washed and conditioned so would like to proceed straight to styling. We sit them down, part their hair and stuck deep in the roots of their hair are loads and loads of tiny particles and stringy looking stuff! On further inquiry, it usually turns out that they've just done an avocado or banana hair mask but because it's been done wrongly, they're left with all this residue in their hair.

Bananas and avocados are a great, healthy addition to your home made recipes but to get the most out of them and not look like someone just threw a fistful of dirt in your roots, it is important to incorporate the use of a fine mesh sieve at some point before applying the mask to your hair.

Reading and Understanding the Ingredient List on your products.

When you embark on a hair journey (whether relaxed or natural) the one thing you must begin to pay attention to are the ingredients in the products that you currently use and the ones you intend to purchase. Being aware of what you are putting in your hair is key in enhancing the moisture, resilience, softness and strength of your hair which in turn leads to healthy hair that retains length. The only way you are aware is by reading the ingredient list of your product AND understanding not just the ingredients listed but the ORDER in which they are listed.

Ingredients are typically listed in descending order i.e. from highest to lowest concentration. So whatever you see listed first is the main ingredient and whatever is last is the least ingredient. You'd be amazed to know that the first 3 ingredients make up about 90% of the entire contents! Everything that comes after will take up between 1 - 3% each. Therefore, don't be fooled by the marketing gimmicks of some companies that have exotic stuff emblazoned on the cover of their product (Argan Oil! Shea Butter! Murumuru Butter!) only to have it as the 15th one in a list of 17 ingredients!