Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Coffee brought me back!

It has been a long time since I read about something new when it comes to hair, well new to me anyway. Today I saw a new thread on LHC Hair Growth Experiments Worked- 2.5" growth last month which caught my eye and I decided to read it. It in I found an article: Coffee Hair Growth Benefits. Between reading the two... well lets just say I have coffee on my scalp as I am typing this. Here is the low down: use coffee or caffeine on your scalp for at least 2 minutes, once a week and your hair growth will increase by 46%. I will work my way through  Official Caffeine Rinse Thread! today and probably add to this entry as I go.

I also added a paragraph to my How to grow your hair faster and/or thicker. entry: "Coffee/Caffeine stimulates blood flow to the roots and blocks "the effects of a chemical known as DHT which damages hair follicles and is thought to cause Male Pattern Baldness". It is said to increase growth by 46% and the life cycle of the hair (how long a single strand stays attached to your head before naturally shedding) by 33%-40% (an increase in life of the strand implies longer terminal length and less shedding). These effects are likely caused by caffeine, so caffeinated teas or caffeine tablets can also be used. Note that these effects refer to application on the scalp NOT drinking or ingesting it. It can be used as a rinse or in shampoo/conditioner. Applications needs to be at least 2 minutes long (for absorption) before rinsing/washing out and the effects should last about a week before needing reapplication. Coffee has a strong possibility of darkening the hair, especially if applied to light colored hair (blond, silver, light brown) so a good option if you want to avoid hair darkening would be caffeine pills. Also read  Official Caffeine Rinse Thread! for more information. Note that dilution is VERY important: one 100 mg caffeine pill diluted in 10 liters of water or one table spoon of pre-made coffee to one cup of water is the desired concentration."

Notes from the Caffeine thread:
- best used on clean hair
- coffee will temporary stain light colored hair (until it is washed out by 1-2 shampooing
- leave on for 15-30 minutes for optimal benefits
- do not use before bed time for it still works as a stimulant and will prevent sleep
- white, green, or oolong teas will not stain and thus are especially suggested for light hair
- may dry out your hair so its best to use before conditioning
- caffeine left on the scalp for too long can have the opposite effect and slow down growing, do NOT exceed 30 min and do NOT apply more than once a week
- drinking it wont have the same effect, it takes about 60 cups a day to near the same effect as applying it on your scalp; side note DO NOT drink that many cups of coffee a day
- may cause head aches, dizziness, and other such effects associated with caffeine to those sensitive to caffeine, or if you already consume a lot of caffeine you may overdose and get the head aches and dizziness
- oils and conditioners may not be a good way to get it delivered to the scalp because they can clog the pores and caffeine needs to have access to open pores
- when using caffeine pills they must be VERY diluted to avoid caffeine overdoes, one 100 mg caffeine pill dissolved in 10 liters of water is the optimal concentration; or one table spoon of pre-made coffee diluted in one cup of water

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My hair favorites.

I recently had my 3 year LHC anniversary. It made me reflect on the things I learned since I found that site and what I found most useful.
The things I love most which I discovered through LHC:
- T-Gel shampoo which cleared out my dandruff so now my scalp is never itchy and miserable
- Coconut Oil pre-wash treatment which keeps my length from being dry
- Neelibhringadi Ayurvedic Hair Oil to prevent my hair from shedding too much
- henna to feed my addiction to coloring hair without damaging it
- sulfate-free shampoo to keep my scalp happy in stead of greasy like it was with SLS shampoo
- microfiber towel to make air drying much faster
- updos: new and wonderful updos to impress my family and friends lol
- rare self-trims which saved me money and allowed me to actually gain length
- scrunchies to replace my hair ties and prevent all the damage I was causing
- satin pillow case so I can wake up with hair that isnt tangly and doesn't make me look like I just ran through the woods for a few miles with my hair down
- bone wide tooth combs and detangling from the ends up: this alone made it so I never break my hairs. Between my tender scalp, the brush and detangling from the roots down it was a nightmare, it seriously made me not want long hair and it was the number one reason I had a pixie cut for 10 years straight (I wish it was a joke, but it's sadly true). This is the most important thing I learned at LHC and I am forever grateful for it.
Originally (when I joined LHC) my hair goal was waist length. Now I'm so close I can't believe it. Of course, I changed my goal to classic shortly after joining, I just didn't want to consider that my final goal because it seemed too far away (6 years) and it was discouraging to think about reaching it. Now, however, I am quite happy with my length, I no longer measure it every week or several times a week and I've settled into an easy routine that I consider benign neglect and that keeps my hair very happy. I pretty much ignore my hair most of the time, and no longer obsess over it. And if all goes well I should reach classic length in 2 years or less, which is much faster than I originally estimated (thanks to some tricks I learned along the way which increased my growth rate). That is now a goal I can live with.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Healthy bottle blond hair.

Lightening hair (in my opinion) the harshest way to color hair and it does the most amount of damage. However if you dream of blonde hair and nothing else will make you happy, then I can help you out with a few tips. These tips will minimize the damage you do.
Before I start talking about chemical ways to lighten hair, I want to mention that there are natural, gentler ways to do this. Of course this also means it is slower and doesn't lighten much at a time, but in case anyone wants options here they are: Honey Lightening and Cinnamon. I would not recommend lemon juice, it is as bad if not worse than chemical hair dye.
The most important thing you will need is: coconut oil (extra virgin is the best one for this). I love coconut oil, it does so many awesome things and it's so cheap. Anywho, coconut oil can protect your hair against damage while bleaching. The oil must be added to your entire hair and left to sit on it for an hour (to allow it to penetrate the hair) then you bleach on top of the oiled hair, do NOT wash out the oil first. No it won't ruin the hair color and yes it will prevent a lot of the damage. Here is a very long thread about how it is used and people's experiences with it: Possible way to protect hair from conventional peroxide damage. P.S. it also works for any other chemical hair dye that uses peroxide as a developer.
Gentler unnatural alternatives to bleach are: Sun-In (which has peroxide) and Go Blonder (which also has peroxide); these should be used with coconut oil.
The second most important thing to keep in mind is roots only. Once the initial lightening was done, any future coloring should be focused on roots only. Even the instructions that come with the dye say so, but it's worth mentioning. The more you lighten the same hair (section) the more you damage it, the more it breaks, the thinner and drier your hair gets. And make sure you use coconut oil every single time you color, this isn't a once only type of thing.
Now that you can color and maintain your color with minimal damage thanks to coconut oil let's talk about the hair color itself. Lightening hair can easily cause brassy/orange tones. Fortunately for you there is an easy and non-damaging way to deal with that. In order to combat the orange you need blue, blue will make your hair take on a more ashy tone rather than brassy. For this I can think of 3 options off the top of my head (heheh): blue/violet shampoos, toners and blue manic panic. For toners you can use coconut oil if it comes with a developer, other than that here are some instructions: How to Use Hair Toner to Remove Brassiness. Shampoos are pretty self-explanatory, here is an example: NEXXUS Toning Shampoo . You can mix some blue manic panic into your conditioner to keep the brassiness out, but you have to be careful not to end up with blue hair, so its more for advanced users.
Cassia obovata is a very important way to condition, strengthen and give shine to hair. I have an extensive entry on it, but one warning: it adds golden tones to light colored hair, so if you don't want golden hair use an acidic liquid to mix it with and apply it to your hair right after its been mixed (so the dye is not released) also do not leave it on your hair longer than an hour. Alternatively you may want to avoid cassia (maybe) and use an over the counter gloss. You can find my entry on cassia here: All about cassia obovada, henna, indigo.
Other things that help with maintaining your hair as healthy and thick as possible during this process are: conditioner only washes, gentle handing, oiling, satin pillow cases, deep conditioning treatments, protein treatments, regular trims, etc. A lot of this information is here: What you need to know about growing long healthy hair.; the rest is here: FrannyG hair care.
There is also a very extensive forum thread where different people talk about their methods and how it worked out for them, if you want to read more: Bottle blonde grows long.
Keep in mind that no matter how much you take care of your hair, it is still being damaged by the process, so if you're trying to grow it out longer, expect it to be very very slow, especially if you have fine hair.
Last but not least, love your hair and your hair color. Enjoy it! :)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Hygral fatigue.

Most people wash their hair, so water is more or less necessary. However every little thing that happens to your hair damages it, including water.

There is a reason why I only use coconut oil as a pre-wash treatment for my hair. I would not use any other oil. And I will share with you why I do this. I do want to tell you that coconut oil is NOT the easiest to use nor the easiest to remove from hair, but it is the only way that I know which is scientifically proven to prevent protein loss, mechanical damage and hygral fatigue caused by washing hair.

What is hygral fatigue?
"I have previously blogged about hygral fatigue which starts off when hair strands expand when wet and then contract when dry. Repeating this process several times can create damage to the hair cuticle first because it can be chipped off and then later damage to the main strand leading to split ends/breakage etc. It is not really about too much water but really just water, full stop." (Does your hair have hygral fatigue?)

Why coconut oil?
"This study has firmly established the superiority of the protective effect of coconut oil on hair damage in grooming processes when it is used as a pre-wash conditioner as compared to mineral oil and other vegetable oils such as sunflower oil. It not only has a protective effect on undamaged hair but also on chemically treated hair, UV-treated hair, and hair treated with boiling water (i.e., hair in water at 100øC for 2 hr). The ability of coconut oil to penetrate into hair cuticle and cortex seems to be responsible for this effect. Coated on the fiber surface, it can prevent or reduce the amount of water penetrating into the fiber and reduce the swelling. This, in turn, reduces the lifting of the surface cuticle and prevents it from being chipped away during wet combing. A reduction in the WRI is additional evidence of its efficacy in decreasing water absorption. The data presented in this work clearly show the superiority of coconut oil as a hair damage protectant, in the grooming of untreated or damaged hair." (Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage)

How to use coconut oil before washing your hair:
I rub a bit of coconut oil between my palms to melt it, apply it to my hair, leave it on for at least one hour, then I wash my hair.
I use Organic Extra Virgin coconut oil (Nutiva brand). As far as I know extra virgin coconut oil is the best to use because it has been cold pressed so it retains its properties.
Here is a video of how to apply oil to hair and scalp: [Hair care] Oil treatment for scalp and hair before hair washing. I link this video even though Habioku does not use coconut oil because I like how she applies oil to hair and that's how I do it also. The only exception, of course, is that coconut oil is solid, therefore it must be melted before use. I suggested rubbing a small amount of solid coconut oil between your palms. It is a safe, fast and easy way to melt it so it can be applied to hair.

In conclusion wetting your hair damages it and coconut oil will protect it. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

My hair is thicker!

Gaining thickness takes way longer than gaining length. I did not take photos for the first 2 or so years, but I did take one photo last year. And in the year that passed I gained noticeable thickness. I'm very excited to have some photographic record of it. In late 2010 I recorded my thickness to be 3 inches, in 2011 it was 2.5 inches, in 2012 it was a little over 3 inches and in 2013 it is now 3.5 inches. Gaining .5 inches in 3 years does not seem very lucrative but I am more than grateful for this. 
I was losing hair for a long time and panicked thinking I will lose all of it. I'm very happy to have found something that works. Neelibhringadi Ayurvedic Hair Oil has prevented my hair for shedding too much and castor oil has slowly made my hair thicker. It takes about 1 year for the new hairs to reach my ponytail and I do about 1 month of castor oil pre-wash treatments every year (massaged into my scalp and left on for one hour before washing). Neeli oil I use as a pre-wash treatment every time I wash my hair.
Here are the very happy pics!



In another .5 inches I will finally move into the "thick hair" category. That's where I was before my hair started to fall out. I miss it quite a bit.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Must have hair tools.

Must have tools for hair:
- detangling: wide-tooth seamless comb (either made of wood or bone, NOT plastic), or you can use finger combing, it's just as it sounds, you use your fingers to detangle your hair. With finger combing you still have to start at the ends and work your way up the length. Remember the most important thing: be gentle, you don't want to break any hairs.
- moving sebum (natural scalp oil) down the length: Boar Bristle Brush (this is how) should only be used on detangled hair or alternatively you can run your fingers down the length starting at the roots (this is called preening), you must squeeze the hairs between your fingers to move the sebum, just be gentle.
- washing  can be done many different ways: there are natural alternatives, regular shampoo (although sulfate-free is better), and conditioner only.
- conditioning: natural alternativesoils, hot oil treatments, cassia, regular conditioner, aloe vera gel (this is how) , beer, natural sebum (produced by your own scalp, with a BBB or preening), honey (this is how) , ACV (this is how), cold water rinse.
- for deep conditioning or hot oil treatments a heat cap can be used
- a shower cap is great for keeping your hair dry while showering on non-hair-wash days, keeping your hair warm while doing a deep treatment, keeping hair treatments from drying while on the hair,  or keeping hair treatments from leaking
- hair toys: are needed to keep your hair up in buns or braids with minimal damage, and also to make your hair look pretty. Some of my favorites are: flexi8, ficcare, hair sticks, hair combs, hair ties without metal , scunci .
- scalp scrubs and scritching
- a clarifying and chelating shampoo or natural alternatives

Caring for your hair tools:
- It is important to wash your hair tools: hair toys and the like pick up things from your scalp and hair so they need to be cleaned just as your hair and scalp need to be cleaned. This is especially important if you have dandruff, because you can use a medicated shampoo to get rid of it, then you use a comb or toy which still has dandruff residue on it and BAM its back. This also applies to your hands, wash your hands before  and after doing scalp massages, scritching and/or preening.
- It is also important to oil all your wooden hair tools. This protects them against water damage.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Greasy scalp and dry length - how to get rid of it

Greasy scalp and dry length are not uncommon. Many people experience this. I've talked about dry scalp before and how to avoid it, but this is another story. Greasy scalp happens when there is an overproduction of sebum in that area.
Overproduction of sebum on the scalp can happen when harsh shampoos are used to wash the hair.
- Sulfate shampoos will do this most of the time, so switching to a sulfate-free shampoo or going no shampoo can balance out the production of sebum over time.
- There is usually an adjustment period that can last a few weeks to a few months, after which the scalp should be less greasy and/or take longer to get greasy.
- For me it took a few months of using sulfate-free shampoo in order for my scalp to stop overproducing sebum. I used to get greasy scalp about 6 hours after washing, now it's more like after 5 days. It really worked for me. I also slowly spaced out my washing until I was able to wash every 5th day. Unfortunately I hit a snag because of Neeli oil, it only works if I use it every other day so I can't stretch washes anymore.
- Massaging, touching, combing or brushing the scalp also stimulates the sebaceous glands which can cause them to produce sebum. This is a good thing if done right before washing the scalp, because it encourages the sebum that has already been produced to come out and be washed off, but between washes it's not a good idea because it will make the scalp appear greasy. So it's a good idea to massage and comb the hair right before washing it, but not after. In order to avoid this between washes and still have nicely detangled hair, avoid the scalp and be gentle (do not pull) when combing/brushing the hair between washes.
Things to avoid if you have grease prone scalp:
- massaging the scalp (this includes brushing and combing the scalp) after washing or between washings
- touching the scalp
- harsh shampoos
- shampoos all together if it's really bad (conditioner only is a good option)

What about dry length?
- The length gets dry from washing it too often or using harsh shampoos. The length itself doesn't even need to be washed on a regular basis. If you don't notice build-up on the length you can just condition it and never let shampoo touch it, this is called condition-wash-condition method or CWC for short. Conditioner only washes are also a good choice for this.
- Speaking of build-up, it can make your length appear dry, so be sure to watch out for it.
- Deep conditioning treatments can also be beneficial, do it once a week or once a month or whenever you feel your length needs it. I personally like hot oil treatments with a penetrating oil and Cassia treatments, but there are deep conditioning treatments that can be bought at beauty and grocery stores as well.
- Blow drying and heat styling can also be very drying to the length (heat removes moisture from the hair too fast to be replenished).
- Pre-wash oiling can help prevent over drying it, protein loss and other such things, but only if it's done with coconut oil. This is done by applying coconut oil on the length and leaving it on for at least an hour (to overnight) before washing it out.
Things to avoid if you have dry length:
- build-up
- harsh shampoos on the length
- shampoo on the length all together
- blow drying (and other forms of heat styling)
- chemical dyes
- washing the hair without pre-wash oiling it with coconut oil