Pittsburgh Curly

A Curly Girl in da ‘Burgh

My Cheap Cure for the Winter Hair Blahs

Posted by pittsburghcurly on February 23, 2009

Lustrasilk Shea Butter

Lustrasilk Shea Butter

In an earlier post, I described how low winter dew points  can affect curl pattern. I then followed it up with pictures to show what I meant.

Last month, I was reading Colorado Curly’s blog and saw that she was liking Lustrasilk. I had also seen mention of it over on Curl Talk (the naturallycurly.com message boards) but things were scattered a bit. I started a thread  asking how people used it and got a wide variety of replies from a rinse out conditioner, a deep treatment alone, a base for a homemade deep treatment, to a leave-in conditioner. I liked seeing how versatile this product could be when other curlies put their minds to it.

I had been hoping to use it as sort of a curl cream, so that’s what I did. After my usual detangling and conditioning routine, I used some Lustrasilk Shea Butter Cholesterol Plus that I picked up at Sally’s for a mere $2.49. I combed some in as a leave-in and then scrunched some in the way I would a gel or a curl cream. This gave me back curl and volume that I never, ever, expected to see in this cold, dry winter. For some reason, I tested this product on a night where I was supposed to go out and meet some new people. Luckily it did work well. 🙂 Could you imagine meeting 15-20 new people with product failure hair?!

The product feels like a light face cream, and smells sort of like mango. It emulsified easily in my hands and was easy to apply to my hair. Later washing was no problem, and it caused no residual buildup that would require the use of a sulfate.

Anyway, here’s a pic of my hair on Lustrasilk.

My winter hair on Lustrasilk

My winter hair on Lustrasilk

I’ve been playing with it for the last month to see how I can tweak it. I am finding that it plays well with Curl Junkie’s Curl Rehab Curl Moisturizing Deep Treatment. I use the Curl Junkie as a leave-in and the Lustrasilk as a curl cream. The Lustrasilk works well alone, but my hair isn’t a touchable as it is when layered with the Curl Junkie. The Lustrasilk can build up and feel producty on me if I overdo it, and the Curl Junkie holds this back for me.

We did have a warm couple of days here and there, and the Lustrasilk did not perform so well for me once the dew points got into the mid 30s. This product is definitely limited to very low dew points for me. On the upside, Lustrasilk is cheap, and I don’t have to order it online. If I don’t use it all up this winter, I can recycle it by using it as shaving lotion so it won’t go to waste.

If you’re having some dry weather blahs, this product is worth a shot, especially at this price. One word of caution. Not all Sally’s carry this, although they can order it in for you. If you read the Curl Talk thread I linked, you’ll see all about that. Also, there is an Olive Oil version that seems to work well for some. Both version are appropriate for those who avoid silicones and sulfates, and they are also protein free for those who avoid protein.


Posted in product review, Weather and hair | Tagged: , , | 10 Comments »

Design Your Own Dream Product

Posted by pittsburghcurly on February 22, 2009

If someone came up with a new hair product, what would it be? What would it do for you? Moisture? Definition? Frizz control? Curl elongation?

Tiffany, of  Live Curly Live Free, wants to know what your dream product would be. Stop by her blog and check out her post. Then, send her a message and let her know what you’d love.

I’d love to see what the creative curlies can come up with! 🙂

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Texture, Porosity, and Elasticity

Posted by pittsburghcurly on February 3, 2009

boingI wanted to cover these hair properties in some way, but, someone else just did it, and she did it better than I would.

Tiffany, of Live Curly Live Free , is a professional stylist who works wonders with curly hair. She recently blogged about how texture, porosity and elasticity often have more to do with what type of routine you need than your actual curl type. I’ll post her links and add some brief thoughts.

Hair texture. This falls under coarse vs fine. Not to be confused with thick vs thin. One can have baby fine individual hairs, but have many of them so that your hair looks thick. You can also have coarse, thick individual strands, but sparsely placed – or any combination in between. Most of my head is in the range between medium and coarse. The strands towards the back/nape area are quite coarse, and I have joked that I could use them for fishing line. The hairs near my temple are somewhat fine. For me, this helps with conditioning. If the hairs near my temple get too soft, floofy, and undefined, I know that I am using too much conditioner or too rich of a conditioner. If the hairs at my nape get scratchy like a wool sweater, I know they need more moisture. Using my texture and paying attention to it is quite helpful in gauging conditioner needs.

Being on the coarse side of things also helps to explain why I dislike products with protein. Coarse hair naturally has more protein than fine hair, so using more protein on coarse hair can build up and make your hair feel dry and brittle. More on protein later. I plan on a separate post for that.

Porosity. This is the one that I find to be the most difficult, and one I still can’t figure out quite yet. I’ll probably ask my hair guy the next time I go see him. Tiffany’s post is full of info on what to do, if you can figure out your hair. 🙂 The protein/moisture balance also comes into play here.

Elasticity. Please note Tiffany’s comments about hair that “forgot how to curl.” This is loss of elasticity in action. She has two categories. Low and normal elasticity. Low elasticity is when the hair breaks to easily or stretches too far. This can be determined by a strand test – directions on her post. For me, I use this to determine when I need a little protein. While I cannot tolerate it regularly, I do need a little now and then, and I can only seem to tolerate keratin. When my hair gets a little on the too stretchy side, I use a protein treatment, which usually returns my hair to a normal elasticity. I prefer GVP Hair Reconstructor that I purchase at Sally’s. It is the generic version of Joico’s K-Pak, but about 1/3 to 1/4 of the price.

If my hair snaps without stretching or after very little stretch, I know that need more moisture. Elasticity is a very helpful tool to me when it comes to keeping track of my moisture/protein balance in my product usage.

Along with the dew points, I use texture and elasticity a lot in determining what my hair needs. I hope to learn how to add porosity into the mix. Remember, hair isn’t static. The health and texture can change with weather, products, heat styling and chemical processes. For your best results, it pays to notice the changes in the texture, porosity, and elasticity of your hair.

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CurlMart Showing Some Love in February

Posted by pittsburghcurly on February 2, 2009

If any of you are CurlMart shoppers, they are having $7.00 flat rate shipping for US orders this month.

If you have a few Internet purchases that need stocking up, this might be a good month for it!

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I’m interrupting this irregularly scheduled blog…

Posted by pittsburghcurly on February 1, 2009

… just to say



After all, I’m a PITTSBURGH curly.

But, as this is a blog for curly hair, I will give you some curly eye candy. 🙂

Troy Polamalu

Troy Polamalu

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Product Review: Curls Like Us Curl Cloths

Posted by pittsburghcurly on January 30, 2009

Curls Like Us Curl Cloth - photo from Curls Like Us site

Curls Like Us Curl Cloth - photo from Curls Like Us site

Lately, I have been playing more with air-drying my hair to cut down on split ends from diffuser drying. While I love the volume I get from diffuser drying, and the much quicker drying time, I really wanted to work with air drying to see if it would be a viable option. Previous attempts at this resulted in horrid pyramid hair. I also think I’m a little nuts for trying this out during a colder than normal January.

I had read about the Curls Like Us Curl Cloths  some months earlier over at naturallycurly.com. While I liked the idea, and was happy to see a curly woman making a curl-friendly product, I just figured that it was like any old T-shirt, and why should I have to pay for some T-shirt material? I can just use a T-shirt.

Well, fast-forward a few months. Although I have a Curlease towel that I love to use for plopping,  the material was a bit thin for scrunching moisture out of my hair, and I was in no mood to have wet hair for five hours on a cold day. My regular T-shirts were also a bit thin, and it did look ugly having wet T-shirts lying around (no snickering! 😛 ).

I decided to bite the bullet and purchase a set. Each set comes with two towels. There was an instruction sheet included, and I also checked out the FAQ and video on the Curls Like Us site – much of the video is pretty old hat to experienced curlies, but it did help to see how to hold and rotate the towel! I figured it couldn’t be that hard. The shape reminds me of a pillowcase that is open at both ends.

You put one hand in each end, and scrunch. Pretty simple.

I must say that I was quite surprised at how much extra water came out onto the cloth. The cloth feels thicker than all of my T-shirts, so perhaps the weight of the cloth has something to do with how well it worked. My hair is between waist and hip length when wet, and I needed about a towel and a half to do the trick. The cloth is a dark brown, and I didn’t see any hair product residue on it. I also admit that I think they’re cute.  The borders have cute curly trim in various colors. They also look better hanging on the bathroom door than a wet T-shirt does! I do love how cute they are!

Best of all, I went from shower to almost dry in one hour, and totally dry in about 90 minutes! Insane! I have had times where it took me all day to air dry, so this was a great surprise. My curl pattern and formation are about what they have been lately, and the towel didn’t make me frizz. I didn’t need to plop after I used the Cloth. I just scrunched and went on about my day.

I did balk at the price at first – I paid $24 for a set of two. But, since these should last ages (I’ve had the same Curlease for about two years) the price is negligible in the long run. I actually want the other color scheme set!

So, if any of you curlies out there are curious, I’d say it’s worth a go!

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The Overnight Deep Treatment

Posted by pittsburghcurly on January 26, 2009





I had been doing a couple of 15 minute deep treatments here and here this winter, but I hadn’t done an overnight one for some reason, which seems silly.

While I’ve read that overnight deep treatments are a waste of time because hair quits absorbing after 30 minutes, I do find that overnight works well for me if I really need it. Logic be damned for once, OK?

So, Saturday night, I slathered on my Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose Conditioner, and wondered what more I could use since my ends were really dry. I remembered that I had an oil blend sitting around from last winter. Luckily, it still smelled fine – not rancid at all. While, for the most part, I detest straight oil on my hair, (it sort of just lies there and feels hard and crunchy) I do like this blend, especially if used on wet or conditioner laden hair. I used it on the last 6 inches or so of hair, where I’m the driest.


Greenride Herbals Hot Oil Treatment

Greenride Herbals Hot Oil Treatment

The blend? Greenridge Herbals Hot Oil Hair Treatment. Here’s and ingredient list.

Ingredients: Organic Golden Jojoba, Meadowfoam Oil, Wildcrafted Neem Oil, Organic Saw Palmetto Berry Extract, Organic Sage Extract, Organic Burdock Root Extract, Rosemary Extract, Certified Organic Horsetail Extract, and Essential Oil of Wildcrafted Rosemary.


I’m no fan of jojoba oil when used alone. But, this blend does work some magic on me.  After my overnight deep treatment, my ends have gone from hard and brittle to soft an supple. As long as this weather keeps up, I’ll probably need to do this weekly.


My only downside to this item is the price. It’s $16.00 for one 2oz bottle. It seems excessive! But, it does work far better than any straight oil I can get  from my pantry has ever worked on me. I also love the rosemary scent it has. So, pricey as it is, I will still keep it around for the winter.

I had gotten so used to my basic routine that I forgot about adding the helpful overnight deep treatment. I need to continuously remind myself that I need to reassess my routine with weather and seasonal changes.

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Dew points, in pictures.

Posted by pittsburghcurly on January 23, 2009

Yesterday, I wrote about how dew points can affect your curls, and what ingredients work best in high and low dew point conditions.

As a further bit of information, I thought that photos would be handy.

Notice the difference between the first pic from July and the second pic from January. The dew points in July were in the 60s. The dew points for January have ranged from below zero into the teens – very dry. That change in curl is what a change in dew point can do to curl pattern. It’s not a bad thing; it’s just climate in action! In the summer I get shorter, curlier hair, and in the winter, I a get a looser curl pattern that looks longer.

And yes, that is a a duckie shower curtain. I like duckies.



January 09

January 09

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It’s not the humidity, it’s the….. humidity

Posted by pittsburghcurly on January 23, 2009

I’ve taken this information and given it its own separate page. My views and opinions on how dew points work continue to evolve, and having all of this on its own page allows me to edit as needed.

Edited on 3/5/09 to revamp the chart for more specific winter temps.

When many curlies talk about their humidity and their hair, they often look at relative humidity. While this makes some sense in a humid summer, it really doesn’t give a clear picture. Once winter hits, it can still be 100% humidity, but your curls will not spring out like they will on a summer day that is 100% humidity.

That is because there is a difference between relative humidity and actual humidity, or how much water really is in the air.

If you want to use humidity to gauge what types of hair products you need, you need to check out your dew point.

Dew point is the temperature at which water will condense and form dew (or fog), hence the name dew point.  The catch is that the dew point cannot be higher than the air temperature. If it’s 20 degrees with 100% humidity, the dew point will be 20 or so. If it’s 90 degrees with high humidity, the dew point will often be in the 70’s.

How much water the air can hold all depends on the air temperature. Think of a cold day as a shot glass. It can only hold a little bit of water. Now, think of a hot day as a keg.  It can hold a lot more water. So, even if your cold day/shot glass is 100% full of water, it still isn’t that much water compared to a 1/4 full keg/hot day.

What most people consider a “humid” day really means a “high dew point day.” Many people start to feel uncomfortable when the dew point reaches 60 degrees, and at 70 degrees, it feels quite oppressive.

What does this mean for you and your hair? Does all of this meteorological mumbo jumbo really mean anything when it comes to how your curls behave? You betcha!

If there isn’t much moisture in the air, there is little for your hair to retain. Like your skin and sinuses, (think of those wintertime frozen boogers!) hair is often drier in the winter. The tight perky curls you had in the summer will often take a looser pattern in the winter. That’s fine, and pretty normal. It’s nothing to panic over. But, if you totally lose your curl pattern and see a bunch of flyaway static-like poofy frizz, there are things you can do.

If appropriate, get a humidifier. I have a plug-in one that I use so my nose isn’t super dry, and it seems to help with my hair too.

Conditioners. You will need richer, thicker conditioners in the winter than you did in the summer. You will probably also have to condition more often. I prefer heavier conditioners with things like shea butter. Look for conditioners made for dry hair, or those that claim to be thick and rich. I’m a big fan of Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose conditioner this time of year. Do be careful not to over-condition, but do condition enough so that your hair isn’t ending up being a static poofball.

Humectants. A boon to curls in the spring and summer, a bane to them in winter. This article by Curl Chemist Tonya McKay will give you a much better explanation of the role of  humectants and humidity than I ever could. The main thing is that you need to avoid humectants in dry weather conditions as much as possible. While someone in Boston may only have to avoid them in the winter, someone in Utah may have to avoid them most of the year.

To quote a part of the article

In extremely low-humidity conditions, such as a cold, dry winter air, there is no appreciable amount of water in the air for the humectant to attract to the surface of the hair. In this particular type of climate, the best one can hope for with most traditional humectants is for them to prevent evaporation of water from the hair into the environment. Also, under these circumstances, there is some risk of the humectant actually removing moisture from the cortex of the hair itself, creating the problem it was intended to prevent.

The main humectants one sees in hair care products are glycerin, honey, propylene glycol, and panthenol/vitamin B5. If you can avoid most of them (which can be difficult) you’ll do a lot to help keep moisture in your hair. The Aubrey conditioner mentioned above is humectant free, as are others. This is one of those annoying ingredient issues that requires lots of label reading time. Hair gels often contain humectants, which is why they work so well in the summer. You can switch to a curl cream if that works better for you, or use your gel over a leave-in conditioner to see if the conditioner will be enough of a buffer between your hair and the hemectants of the gel.

Leave-in conditioner. If you don’t use a leave-in any other time of the year, you way want to consider one in the winter. A leave-in can add an extra layer of protective moisture to your hair. Just look for one without humectants!

If you want an easy way to check you local dew point, plug in you zip code into the Weather Channels search bar on the top of their page.  The results will show you the dew point right below the pressure.

I, along with Boticelli Babe and Colorado Curly, being the hair science geeks that we are, talked about it enough that there is a simple, if theoretical, temperature chart.

  • Dew point bleow 15 – very dry. Use as much moisture and emollients as you hair can handle without overconditioning. Many will have to expect a looser curl pattern at this point. For those who like to occasionally straighten their hair, this is a good time for it since you may have less curl to fight.
  • Dew point 15-30 – Dry, add moisture and emollients. Limit or cut out humectants.
  • Between 30-40 can be iffy. Some people can tolerate more humectants. Other cannot. Very trial and error in this range.
  • Between 40-60. Prime curly range. You should get some curl without that summer frizz. Find a balance between moisture and humectants that works for you.
  • Dew point 60 and up, you’ll need less moisture (usually) and more humectants to help keep the environmental moisture out of your hair, causing that summer frizz. Even those who like moisture will not need as much of the heavy stuff as they did in the winter. This is the time for your hard hold gels. Once the dew point gets past 70, it’s pretty miserable anyway, so you may just feel better putting you hair into an updo. Alas, curly updos will have to wait for another post. 🙂

Weather and how it affects hair can seem like a daunting issue at first. But, with time, experimentation, and patience, you’ll learn exactly what to use on your hair just by looking at the dew point for the day.

Still confused? Just leave a comment, and I’ll be happy to answer.

Posted in Weather and hair | Tagged: , , | 10 Comments »

Sometimes we’re all role models

Posted by pittsburghcurly on January 20, 2009

I have a part time job that involves quite a bit of chatting with the public. You get to know some of your customers a bit, and it can be fun to chat and discuss things. I seem to have a good fan club in the 12 and under age range. Hey, I’m chatty and giving away free food and juice. Kids like that. There are some curly kids in the mix, and some of them wil mention that “My hair is like yours.” I had found it cute, but I hadn’t really put any deep thought into it.

On Christmas week, I had my hair blown out straight. I like to do it a few times a year in the winter. I like the change, and it’s interesting to see how long my hair actually is when not caught up in the shrinkage that is curly hair.

I’m at work, doing my thing, and I hear a loud cry of, “Oh Nooooooooooooooooo! Where’s your Cuuurrrrlllllsss?!”

I turn and see a young curly who is a customer at work.  She looks aghast at me; chin dropped, mouth agape. She is a precocious tween, and one who loves her delightful head of curls. We’ve chatted about curly hair before, and I enjoy her curl positive attitude.

I found it odd to be in a position where I had to explain to her that, no, I didn’t have a relaxer and that my curls would be back in a few days when I got my hair wet again.

I saw her again today, her curly head happily bouncing in to see what we had going on. She was happy to see my hair in its natural, curly, state and told me so. She said that she would have been sad if I made in permanently straight.

It was a strange moment. I really hadn’t thought that young curlies might like to see curly adults, but why not? We all want to see a part of ourselves somewhere, don’t we? So, today, I was proud to let my curls loose for all of the young curlies out there who need to see more adults wearing their curls out.

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