Pittsburgh Curly

A Curly Girl in da ‘Burgh

Archive for June, 2009

Protein vs Moisture

Posted by pittsburghcurly on June 28, 2009

balanceAnyone who has spent any time at all on hair message boards will eventually run across various thoughts about protein. Some love it, some hate it, others are confused by it.

Having hair that is on the coarse side, I have a strong dislike for most proteins. When I started trying to change how I cared for my curls, I had a long process of having too much protein and too little moisture for my hair. I lost a lot of curl, my hair became quite brittle, and parts of it would just snap right off. After A LOT of trial and error, I found that to keep a proper moisture balance in my hair, I needed very little protein and fairly frequent moisture.

But, how do you know if you need protein or moisture? Well, there is already an excellent article about that. It gives great scenarios, and it teaches you how to test your own hair to see how you are on the moisture/protein balance spectrum.

Apart from the testing there, there are a couple of other things that I use to see if I need protein or moisture.

If I am having an unusual amount of frizz on my canopy (the outermost layer of hair) I usually hit it with moisture first because my hair type tends to lack moisture more often than it lacks protein. If that doesn’t help, then I may try an ACV rinse to help seal the cuticle. If I still don’t get good results, then I know I need some protein. This usually does the trick, and the canopy frizz will then be resolved. I use protein last only because I need less of it than others do.

If only my ends are crunchy, I look at it from many angles since this one can be more complicated. The ends are the oldest parts of your hair, so they can be the most moisture starved. But, they can also be the most porous, so they could also need more protein. Also, crunchy ends can just be from buildup from products and conditioners and such. Clarifying with a cleanser or shampoo of your choice should help.

The first thing I do with crunchy ends it to give them an extra hit of moisture by leaving a rich conditioner on my ends. I usually use my Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose or Curl Junkie Curl Rehab for this.

If that doesn’t help, I may try protein.

If it persists, I use a gentle shampoo on the ends (since I don’t use daily shampoo) to get whatever buildup may be on there.

Some people also have problems with hard water, and that can give you crunchy ends that none of the treatments above will fix. For that, you need a chelating shampoo, which will contain EDTA in the ingredients list. If you get frequent hard water buildup on your hair, you may want to look into a shower filter for hard water.

Those of you with finer hair will usually need more protein than those with coarse hair. Coarse hair has its own protein already built in, so it needs less of it from products. Finer hair does not have as much protein built in, and it can benefit from the strengthening properties protein can give it. But, as with everything else, there are always exceptions, so the tests provided in the link above will help you to be more precise.

Also, weather can play a role. I need very little protein in the winter, but can take more of it in the summer.

Another common question is: “How do I know if my product has a protein?”

While the list of proteins can be lengthy, there are a few simple guidelines to help you find them

If an ingredient says protein, it’s a protein. I know it seems obvious, but people do ask. :)

If it says “amino acid” then it will act like protein on your hair. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein.

Just about any ingredient that has the word “hydrolyzed” before it will be a protein. Hydrolyzed itself does not mean protein, but hydrolyzation in conditioner world often means that a large protein has been broken down into a smaller one to make the protein more easily used by the hair. Hydrolyzed wheat, soy, and silk are common.

Plant extracts. Plants contain protein, and so do their extracts. This category is not as commonly problematic as hydrolyzed grains, but they still do bother some. One high protein treatment I have seen is essentially a long list of grass extracts!

Plant oils, when properly processed, should be protein free. Look at any nutrition label of any 100% oil. You’ll see that there is no protein. Some natural websites that sell wheat germ oil claim that wheat germ oil contains proteins. An article by the Curl Chemist addresses this.

Coconut oil. Although it does not contain protein, coconut oil has been shown to reduce protein loss in hair. For some, this acts just like having protein buildup on hair. Coconut milk contains actual protein.

Jojoba oil is technically a liquid wax and may contain small amounts of protein.

What does too much or too little protein look like?

When I had too much protein, my hair lost its curl and was dry and crunchy. Here’s a pic.

Too Much Protein

Too Much Protein

After getting rid of protein in my routine, the curl bounced back up.

Good protein/moisture balance

Good protein/moisture balance

After some time of that, I lost some curl in my roots, and the curl was just droopy overall, like this.

Needing protein

Needing protein

I found that I was able to tolerate keratin protein,  (hair is made of keratin) and it is still the only protein I can tolerate. My droopy curls perked back up after using it.

After a keratin treatment

After a keratin treatment

So, having too much or too little protein can really change the curl pattern in your hair. Learning how your hair reacts to it can be a learning process, but it becomes more automatic with time.  Keeping a proper protein/moisture balance is one of the most important issues in maintaing your curls.

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Too hot? Throw That Hair Up!

Posted by pittsburghcurly on June 15, 2009

I admit it.  I’m a wimp in hot weather. Any day that is 85 or over where it is even moderately sticky makes me miserable. My pasty butt loves fall!

Oftentimes in the summer, I don’t like wearing my hair down all the time. My neck gets sweaty, and the weight and bulk of my hair just feels all-around uncomfortable. When i start feeling like this, I resort to updos. Yes, there are times when I feel lazy and I just resort to the standard curl updo of a messy ponytail or a loose messy bun. It works. It’s easy. It keeps your hair out of the way.

But, hey, we all get bored. We want a different look. We want to go out and look decent but still have the hair up.

There are many updo tutorials out there on Youtube. Some of them help, and some are baffling. Many seem to be done on straight hair that is super long. Well, my hair isn’t straight, and, in it’s natural state, ranges from armpit length to brastrap length. Not short, but hardly super long either.

I came across the book Strictly Curls: A Step-by-Step Guide to Styling Curly Hair by Nicole Siri. It’s a handy book with updos for curly hair. The directions are pretty simple to follow, and the difficulty ranges from super easy to challenging. There is still one style in the book that I just cannot master. Many of the styles are based on making various buns of different sizes in different types of arrangements. I felt something of a “duh” moment after reading it. Of course I can make buns! I never thought of making them in varying sizes or using different placements on my head. The book is spiral bound so you can lie it flat while you are following the directions, and there is an interesting section on accessories in the back of the book.

Here’s one example of an updo done with a few buns and some hair bling. It was easy to do, but looks more complicated than it actually is.

triple bun

Or, you can do an interesting arrangement with two stacked buns.

Two stacked buns

One website that I use to get updo ideas is the Dressy Tresses style gallery. Many of those are too much for me, but I also have used some of the easier ones. I really love the Chinese Bun. It’s interesting and easy to do. If you are feeling adventurous, and have long enough hair to pull it off, there is a braided version of it also. But, be aware that how these updos look on straight haired mannequins or on straight haired people in tutorials. The styles will often look quite different on your texture.

For example, here is a Chinese Bun on first day curls.

Cinese Bun 1st day hair

Here is the same style on looser, 2nd day curls.

Chinese Bun 2nd day hair

And that same style on hair that is blown straight.

Chinese Bun straight hair

So, don’t feel as if you have to obtain the same look as you see on the straight haired model. There’s nothing at all wrong with showing your natural texture in your updos.

Hopefully this will give you a few ideas to add something besides a messy ponytail to your updo arsenal.

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Now Read This

Posted by pittsburghcurly on June 14, 2009

ExtraNewspaperBoyWe often read how natural or green is better. Is it true with hair care as well? Is natural really better? is there such a thing as natural when a chemical product is given a green name?  Will adding two drops of some magic, exotic ingredient really make a difference to you hair, or is it just making you feel better?

These types of things have been rolling around in my mind. Lo and behold, No-Poo Jillipoo posted a wonderful blog entry about it. The article is quite good, and she is interested in genuine comments on how you feel about the issue.

So, stop by and have a good read!

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New Page

Posted by pittsburghcurly on June 8, 2009

I’ve updated the dew point information to give it its own page. Since it’s a heavily trafficked post, I figured it would just be easier for people to find if it had its own page.

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Fabulous New E-book for Curly Care

Posted by pittsburghcurly on June 7, 2009

Live Curly Live Free

Live Curly Live Free

I’m a big fan of Tiffany Anderson over at naturallycurly.com.

Anyone who can break curly hair care science into easy to understand terms is A-OK in my book.

When I found out that she had published an E-book during my irits-induced ignoring of the Interwebs, I had to take a look.  After reading the overview and the introduction, I decided that it would be well worth it to spend $9.95 for the book. It promised to look like a hair geek’s dream; of course I would by it.

I was pleased with the geek content, but was also happy to see that everything was delivered in an easy to understand format that non hair geeks could understand – some easily, and some with some time to digest the material. I knew that I could refer newbie curlies to the book without worrying that it would freak them out after the initial reading had sunk in.

What I found most interesting was that her recommendations for how to care for my curls and what type of products I need pretty much fell in line with what I found out on my own. But, I took a good year of trial and error (and lots of error) to get there. If I had had this book back in 2006 when I decided to really go curly, it would have saved me much time and money!

She also has a message board on her site for people to discuss and apply the results of the book, as well as to discuss any curly haired geek related issues.

I heartily recommend the book to curly newbies and those experienced with their curls alike. It has good information for everyone!

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