Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Low Porosity Hair

When thinking about hair porosity, I think of hair as a sponge. Porous hair (high pH level) is like a sponge with large holes, taking in a lot of moisture. Low porosity hair is like a sponge in a plastic bag. It's hard for liquid to penetrate it, but if held under water, eventually the sponge absorbs the liquid. Porosity is mainly controlled by how 'tightly' closed the cuticles on your hair are. The cuticles close in acidic conditions, and open more in basic conditions.

Symptoms of Low Porosity Hair:

* Hair floats when you do the strand test (put a clean strand of hair in a cup of water and see if it floats or sinks)
* Hair takes a while to get wet
* Hair takes long to dry
* Water and oil just sit on the hair
* Hard to moisturize (aka your hair stays dry)
* Hair is sensitive to protein
* Relaxers don't "take"

If any of this applies to you, you may have hair with low porosity! My hair definitely has trouble retaining moisture, takes a while to dry sometimes, and floats when I put it in water. I realized a couple of months ago that my hair had low porosity because treating my hair with low pH levels wasn't working.

Ways to manage lo-po hair:

Use warm water to rinse. It is recommended that we rinse conditioner out with cold water to seal the cuticle, but since low-porosity hair already has a closed cuticle, you don't want to seal it anymore.

Stay away from acidic shampoos and conditioners. For a while I was using Roux Porosity Control, but eventually I noticed that it either did nothing for my hair, or it made it hard. My hair can take apple cider vinegar (ACV) sometimes, but not a lot and not often. I've been using Organic Root Stimulator Aloe-Rid Shampoo, which I love. It clarifies my hair, opens my cuticles enough to accept a deep condition, and makes my hair soft.

Steaming. The hot steam will open up the cuticles, which is why so many low-porosity heads love steaming. I don't have a steamer, so I do the "DIY" method, which is applying conditioner, then a plastic cap, then a very hot wet towel, then another plastic cap, then another hot towel, then another plastic cap. Then I sit under the dryer for at least 15 minutes.

Use moisture-rich products. It is said that this hair type is least resistant to damage through styling and grooming, but it's really important to keep it moisturized. Be careful with the protein! My hair doesn't seem to be too sensitive to protein, so I try to incorporate a light protein in my hair for every wash, whether it's the pre-poo, deep condition, or leave-in conditioner. It's even more important for low-porosity hair to have a good moisture/protein balance. I'm still on a the hunt to find a good moisturizer. My hair is also sensitive to too much oil, so I have to be very light-handed when applying oils.

DC with heat. This is important. It's even more important to deep condition for a substantial amount of time. If I can, I'll leave in my conditioner over night, or for hours while I do housework/run errands/go to the gym.
Edit: I realized the hard way that I have to deep condition with heat.  Working out or keeping the conditioner in for a long period of time doesn't work for me.

Baggy the hair. This is basically bullying your hair to accept moisture. Because my hair is fine, baggying for a long time turns my hair into mush and makes it even more fragile. So, I usually baggy for about 2 hours at a time and that's it. I apply a little moisturizer and then put on a plastic cap for a couple of hours. I've only been doing this for a couple of weeks, about 3 days a week, but I can already tell a difference in my moisture level.

Heat before relaxing to open the cuticle. I don't have a problem with relaxers straightening my hair, but many women will flat iron or blow dry their hair before relaxing to open up the cuticles so that the relaxer takes a shorter time to straighten the roots.

Use alkaline products with a high pH (above 6, or so). Baking soda rinse - baking soda is alkaline.

Apply a semi-permanent color. Semi-permanent color lifts the cuticle
I am not sure if my hair always had a low pH level, or if it came with having a child or just getting older.

I'm determined to keep my hair moist, thick and healthy, so I will continue to try new products, techniques and tools!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Can't Do My Own Hair?!?!

Last week I went to a Dominican salon for a rollerset. I really like how my hair came out. Lately I feel like I can't do my own hair anymore! My hair doesn't come out as smooth as I want it and my ends are never as healthy-looking when I do it. It's like I have a different head of hair when I get it done. When I get it done at the salon, my hair is easier to maintain and it accepts products better. I don't know if it's because my hair is longer, that I don't have a good hooded dryer, or that I'm not using the right products/rollers, but I need to figure out how to create a nice style myself soon. I don't want to go to the salon every week because I hate going to the salon. It seems like a huge drain on my precious time. Fortunately, the place I go for rollersets gets me in and out, but I'm still not trying to be in there on a weekly basis.

The only thing I didn't like about this last salon experience is that the woman who washed my hair, washed the hell out of it. My hair really wasn't that dirty! My scalp felt sensitive when she was done. I wasn't feeling it at all. Fortunately, my hair didn't feel stripped or dry when I left the salon. Even still, I've decided that the next time I go, I'm going with conditioner already in my hair, and I'm not going to let them shampoo me more than twice.

I'm seriously considering investing in a good-quality hooded dryer. I also need to learn how to use magnetic rollers so that I can use the larger ones and shorten my drying time. I don't know how to blowdry my own hair, but I'm not that interested in learning. If I can rollerset my hair and the majority of my hair comes out smooth, I don't mind flat ironing the roots if I need to.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Product Review: Aveeno Nourish & Condition Leave In

I needed a new leave-in conditioner, and since the ingredients looked interesting, and I had a coupon, I bought the Aveeno leave-in conditioner. It retails around $8.50 at drugstores.

Product Description
Aveeno Nourish+Condition Leave-In Treatment with nourishing wheat complex deeply replenishes dry, damaged hair. Does much more than nourish and condition - it quenches the thirstiest hair with a fusion of deep conditioners and moisturizers, recharging it with healthy new life. Hair is instantly revitalized and scientific studies show that just three uses helps repair dry damaged hair. This exclusive Active Naturals formula, infused with Nourishing Wheat Complex, is designed to feed your hair - replenishing moisture as it zeroes in on the weakest part of hair - fortifying the hair shaft with protein where it needs it most.

Water, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Cetearyl Alcohol, PPG 3 Benzyl Ether Myristate, Triticum Vulgare Gluten (Wheat), Triticum Vulgare Germ Oil (Wheat), Mauritia Flexuosa Fruit Oil, Caprylyl Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Quaternium 91, Glycerin, Cetrimonium Methosulfate, Butylene Glycol, Amodimethicone, Fragrance, Propylene Glycol, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, May Contain (+/-): CItric Acid

Spray all over hair or on concentrated areas as desired. Comb through to distribute evenly. Do not rinse. For best results, use the Aveeno Nourish+Shampoo and Conditioner designed to suit your hair texture.

My Experience
I am really blown away by this product! After I rinsed out my deep conditioner, I sprayed the Aveeno in my hair from root to tip. There really isn't a scent, and the consistency is like a watery cream. To me, it's a combination between a creamy and liquid leave-in. I could immediately feel how moist my hair was, which I attribute to the second ingredient, Behentrimonium Methosulfate. Like I do with all leave-ins, I allowed it to sit in my hair for a few minutes before I de-tangled. I find this way allows the conditioner to soften my hair and make de-tangling easier. I then combed my hair with my shower comb- the comb just glided through my strands. Then I allowed my hair to airdry. I noticed that my hair took longer than usual to dry. I didn't mind this, as when my hair dries too quickly, I end up with dry, crispy ends. I also feel like this product actually penetrated my hair, which not many products do since my hair is has a low porosity level. When my hair did dry, it was moist, shiny and thick.
I did the strand test after using this product and my hair did not float! I'm wonding if this will help my low porosity issues...
I have used this leave-in twice, but have not tried rollersetting with it yet. I'll report back the next time I set my hair. I also haven't tried it yet on dry hair as a moisturizer. At least I know it definitely works for airdying, so I'll add it to my list of staples.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Henna Part 2

I henna'd again this past weekend. I still love the color and thickness results, but my hair was a little dry this time. I think I'll skip the apple cider vinegar next time, and replace the water with coconut milk. One of my co-workers recommended that I use the Shehnaaz or Godrej brand next. She said they are higher quality hennas, and their main purpose is to condition the hair. If I don't see them at one of the local Indian stores, I'll order them online. She's also going to have her friend who will be visiting her from India soon, bring me some henna from India. Can't wait!