Thursday, November 12, 2009

Battling Breakage

Controlling breakage is the single most important concept to master in hair care because no matter how fast your hair is growing and no matter how many concoctions you put on your head, you'll never be able to enjoy your length if your hair is breaking off faster than you can say "Dominican blowout".

So here are some pointers based on my experience, research, and knowledge on black hair, as to why our hair is really breaking and what you can do to stop it.

1. Over processed hair strands:
You are either keeping your relaxers in too long, using too strong of a relaxer, or are not properly neutralizing your relaxed hair when you shampoo out.
skip the "Super" perm (under processed is better than over processed)
You shouldn't be relaxing in increments less than 8 weeks. (10 wks in my opinion)
If possible i highly recommend learning to self-relax (it's way cheaper and you can control the timing), or speak up at the salon.
When you're washing out your relaxer, the proper protocol is to lather and rinse 3 times; make sure the last time you leave the lather in for 5 minutes to neutralize the relaxer in the inner cortex of the hair strands. Then DEEP condition to restore what the relaxer took away.
Stretch your relaxers to avoid overlapping and scalp irritation. Another trick I learned is to coat your tresses and with grease or a heavy pomade before heading to the salon. It may annoy you stylist but your hair will thank you

2. Your hair is dry
This problem is most common: in many cases you can tell your hair is dry just by looking at it, but for more concrete evidence do a wet strand test (Take a wet strand of your hair that came out in the shower and pull it gently, if it breaks without stretching, your hair is dry. Properly moisturized hair will stretch slightly before recoiling. So many black women avoid moisture like the plague to avoid messing up their "do's" but they pay the price in dry brittle hair
Moisturize your hair DAILY with a small amount of water based moisturizer (water in one of the first 3 ingredients listed) and seal with a small amount of oil, paying close attention to your ends. Naturals can just use water as a moisturizer.
Deep condition you hair once a week. When you're moisture levels go up you can get lazy and do it every other week.
Put down the flat iron- heat styling is the fastest way to lose moisture in your hair
Avoid shampoos with sulfates, silicones, alcohols, and detergents. I recommend co-washing at least once a week in the beginning.
Water is your friend. Drink 6-8 glasses a day (or at least try)

3. Over manipulation
You're combing your hair too frequently
You're using damaging styling tools (fine tooth combs, hard brushes, elastic hair bands)
You're constantly using direct heat (blow dryers, flat irons, hot combs, curling irons)
You're putting too much product
Only use a wide tooth seamless comb to detangle
never brush wet hair
Always wear a silk scarf or bonnet to bed to avoid unnecessary detangling
naturals make sure you separate your hair into at least 4 sections when you detangle
go easy on the product. Less is more. You shouldn't see it sitting all greasy on the strands
Baby your ends.
Avoid fine tooth combs

Lack of protein
Whether its lack of protein in your diet or hair regimen you can tell your hair is lacking protein by doing a wet stand test (take a wet strand of hair and pull gently if it stretches and stretches without bouncing back you need protein.
try and eat 50g of protein a day
start with a light protein treatment (Organic Root Stimulator Hair Mayo, an egg, or Aphogee 2 min) since everyone's hair doesn't respond well to harsh amounts of protein. If that isn't enough you can try something harder (Nexxus emergencee, Aphogee 2 step reconstructor)

Other Tips

The term "dead hair" is misleading. Technically all hair is dead, but when we hear the words "Dead ends" it makes us want to grab for the scissors. Not so fast, most damage done to hair can be repaired with some deep conditioning and TLC. And unlearn the myth that trimming hair makes it grow faster. if that were true many of us would have hair down to the floor by now. Trimming is to make sure that split hair don't unravel up the shaft and cause more damage. Learn how to properly dust your hair and you can avoid trimming completely. and split ends can be temporarily remedied by a hot oil treatment long enough for some new growth to roll in.

Don't follow every hair trend. I've been a "Long hair connoisseur" for some time, and I’ve seen every hair fad come and go from fabric softener to horse lotion. Before you jump on a hair bandwagon, get your regimen straight FIRST. because nothing else matters if you can't retain your length.

Keep It Simple Sistah: your regimen doesn't have to be super complex. stick to the 3c's ( you will be fine. Simpler is better, trust me! especially in the beginning. you don't want to overwhelm yourself and then give up before you even try.

Get educated- Do your research on products and hair practices. Visit websites such as which is jam packed with information on hair care. The have a $7 membership fee to post in the forum (which explains why everyone on these is really passionate about hair care, and not just passing through.) but it costs NOTHING to just lurk around the message boards and soak up the info.

The stylist is NOT always right.

Don't become a product junkie. Over time you will learn what your hair likes, but in the meantime be informed when buying your hair products. Know what you need before you walk into the store so the shiny labels don't beguile you to the point where you’re picking up every item in the store. KNOW what ingredients you should be avoiding (mineral oil, petroleum, silicone, sulfate, etc)

Spread the knowledge! In most cases it takes just weeks to get healthy hair, and months (maybe a year or two) to get the length you desire. Every girl deserves to have long beautiful hair. So, tell your friends what you know, and let's shatter the myth that black girls can't have long hair.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Follow the Money: Why you should buy Black

As many of you already know, the Koreans profit 80% of the $9 billion dollar (and growing) industry that is black hair care. If you didn't know that, then you also may not know that African Americans only count for about 5% of the market that was created for us and by us. African American Beauty Suppliers find it very difficult to get a hold in this industry because of:

1. The discrimination that goes on with Korean manufacturers and distributors who hold the monopoly. Korean manufacturers will not sell products to Black owned wholesalers or retailers, and when they do it's at sky high prices. In that same right, Korean retailers don’t buy from Black manufacturers.

2. The rising number of Korean bootleggers manufacturing low quality knock-off products such as Blue Magic, Hair food, and Dax (lanolin with food coloring) for pennies and selling it to you after 400% inflation.

3. The ever growing "CHI" scam (passing off cheap low quality flat irons for various authentic ceramic brand names). Purchasing them for $1.00 each and selling it to you for $30 or more.

4. Manufacturing shaved Yak hair and selling them as "natural" or "human" hair.

It's highway robbery. In my research of Black hair care, I have found that some of the best quality products are made in African American laboratories. However, Korean establishments will not purchase them nor sell them in their stores. So you never see them, or get access to them. Instead you have thousands of young black females walking around with Vaseline and Yak ass hair on their heads thinking they're following good hair practices.

Now, don’t think our anger is misplaced. We certainly don’t blame the Koreans for beating us at our own game, but enough is enough.

The nine billion dollars we put into their pockets every year gets spent in their establishments, and the tax goes into their communities.

And we wonder why our schools can't get enough textbooks or qualified teachers.

We wonder why playgrounds take years to be constructed in our neighborhoods.

We don't spend enough money in our communities.

We have to take back our industry, and this is where you ladies come in. The Koreans may control 80% of the business. But WE control the Money. Buy black owned beauty products from black beauty supply stores. Change the flow of exchange from $9 billion dollars into the Koreans pockets and put it into the hands of Black business owners who live in our communities.

For more information on how where to find black beauty supply stores in your area, visit