Why Natural Hair is Dehydrated

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Today’s post is going to be shorter than the post two weeks ago concerning why perms are afraid of water because a) I’m not a beautician and b) it’s really that simple.

Natural hair is actually not as dry as it sometimes looks, but the reason it is typically drier than other styles is all in the hair strand.

There are, for the most part, three kinds of hair strands. There may in fact be more, but let us stick to the basics:

 
Straight – Rounded Shaft
Wavy – Oval shaft, grows in a slanted direction
Curly, Nappy – Flat or oval shaft that grows more on one side than the other creating a curve. It slants backwards folding over in a tight or loose spiral (don’t be afraid to refer to your hair as Nappy, it just means curly and is not a bad word).

 

hair strandThe human body is quite a creation. Everything about it was created to heal and renew. From the digestive system, that is purposed to clean and purify the body of its toxins and waste etc., to sleep, that is purposed to rejuvenate the body, we’re indeed magnificently made. The body actually already has everything it needs within itself to sustain itself, including hair. hair-straight-silky-and-shiny

Sebum is the naturally oily substance found in hair. It is secreted by the sebaceous glands that lubricates the hair and skin and gives some protection against bacteria. The reason straight hair appears more shiny is because it’s easier for the sebum to travel down the hair shaft. On the other hand, hair in its natural state is curlier, with bends and curves and slants that make it more difficult for the sebum to make it all the way down the hair shaft. Especially in the case of  loc’s when the hair is in a knotted like state. As a result, I tend to apply oil to the ends of my locs more so than the root, which is naturally oilier because of the sebum. Use of shampoos and conditioners that dry out the hair can also contribute to dry hair:

Natural Hair is dehydrated because the Sebum has a hard time getting past all that curl, sometimes never actually making it all the way down the hair shaft. Making natural hair often appear drier than it really is.

e56b532828496455a3982a7628774c10For dry hair, apply a mixture of Shea butter, Olive oil, Coconut Oil, or any oil of your choice, to the hair and scalp. Africa’s Best Herbal Oil is actually very good and inexpensive. You can use it by itself or add it to Shea butter. If your hair accumulates a lot of dandruff or dry flakes, add Tea Tree Oil to your Herbal Oil for a natural medicated remedy.

Fun Tip: I have had the fortunate experiences of not getting lots of lint in my locs. This is because I keep my hair oiled. There are lots of remedies to defeat the lint, but the easiest thing to do if your just starting your locs, or natural style in general, is to keep it moisturized and oiled.

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Why Perms Are Afraid of Water

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If you don’t know about the health deficiencies of the relaxer by now, then you just don’t know. Perms and relaxers have been a long time favorite of many women, but this beauty regimen comes at a high price – hair breakage, scalp irritation, stunted hair growth, and even permanent hair loss.*

That’s because Sodium Hydroxide (the government name for the perm), is a dangerous chemical that eats away at any part of the body that it contacts, including hair. It is a very strong chemical that is also known as lye and caustic soda and is found in many industrial solvents and cleaners, including flooring stripping products, brick cleaners, cements, and many others. It can also be found in certain household products including:
• Drain cleaners
• Metal polishes
• Oven cleaners

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The interesting thing about the drain cleaner, is that the Sodium Hydroxide in it helps to clear away the hair often found corked at the bottom of bathtubs and sinks (eww right). That said, let’s get to the point here shall we? What does this have to do with the hair on our head? While it’ll take quite some time to explain all of the information concerning the side effects to the perm, let us just focus on the topic at hand, why are perms so afraid of water?

relaxed-hair

 

We’ve all been there. You just got your hair lyed, dyed, and laid to the side! What the beautician just did to your hair is nothing short of amazing. But you can’t get it wet. You can’t go swimming and heaven help you when it rains!

 

 

Your hair is made up of layers. The outer layer protects the hair shaft. When the layer of protection is damaged with the use of chemical relaxers, this causes the ends of your hair to split. This damage can travel up the hair shaft and cause hair breakage, resulting in damaged uneven hair. Some say just trim the ends, but the truth is that perms and relaxers are actually quite jealous of the hair’s natural state so it promotes split ends. They dry the ends of your hair and wear down the protective layer.

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As shown in the picture (below), relaxers in African American hair for example, works by allowing the chemicals to break the protein bonds in the hair in order to change its shape (we’ll speak more on the different shapes of the hair strands in tomorrow’s segment), and makes course hair straight. But by breaking the bonds that give hair its strength, the hair is left weak and vulnerable (poor hair). So when water hits the already weakened hair bonds, they become like useless limp strings (not a good look). It also weakens the hair follicle, making relaxed hair more susceptible to breakage.

307988-61011-30The hair has a particular wave pattern that is held by two sets of physical side bonds and a set of chemical side bonds. The physical side bonds are not as strong, but are more numerous, while the chemical side bonds are much stronger, but there are fewer of them. Because of this, it is recommended that someone with a fresh perm wait a few days before shampooing or wetting the hair as to allow the hair time to “normalize” and fully adjust to the new wave patterns.

Perms basically change the shape and texture of the hair by use of strong chemicals. Your Perm is afraid of water because it just had surgery and needs time to heal and adjust to the new pattern.

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*Fun Fact: Today’s modern relaxer was actually invented by an African American man named Garrett Morgan (same inventor of the gas mask and traffic signal), while trying to create a product for a sewing machine shop back in 1910. He wiped his hand on a wool cloth and found that the chemical gave the cloth a smooth appearance. This must have been some kind of strong chemical to turn a cloth into a different texture.

Mama Put a Curse on Me, by Stella May

StellaMay

Mama put a curse on me

When she gave me that name

Attaching history to my skin

When she knew it had stains on it

Though her eyes were green

She acted like her skin was brown

And teleported her daughter back to slavery

What kind of name is Stella anyway?

It don’t hardly go with my skin

And mama’s either.

But she tryna be something she ain’t

And I’m just tryna be something I am

You see, there’s a stigma that comes

With the color of history

Being white

And yet being colored

Race wars always concerned these two groups of people

and there ain’t seemed to be much room for a mulatto

So you see

Mama put a curse on me

When she named me Stella

After my great-grandmother

A slave on Paul Saddlers plantation

And his daughter too

So as to escape slavery

I think I’ll just opt out this race

And considers myself white

Maybe even change my name

And pitch my tent somewhere

Beyond the Colored Line

 

Stella Book #2: Beyond The Colored Line. Now Avail.

All Natural Shea Butter Shampoo

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Yes, with a little effort you can make your very own version of Shea Butter Shampoo. Shea Butter is a natural conditioner for hair. Produced from the Shea-Karite nut tree in West and East Africa; it is a triglyceride derived mainly from stearic acid and oleic acid. It is widely used in cosmetics as a moisturizer, salve or lotion . It helps to soothe dry, itchy scalp, dandruff, locks moisture in, and protects against heat.

 

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I actually included Black Soap in my version of this ingredient but I decided to leave it out of this one for a number of reasons. Firstly, I did not like the result of how the soap felt in my hair when I got down to actually using the shampoo. Black Soap is a concentrated soap that must be diluted with oils and butter (like Shea Butter) in order to achieve the desired effect. For some it works, but for others it leaves the hair tangled, greasy, and dry. It can also make the scalp tingle because of its concentrated properties. It is, Black Soap, a very good product for hair and skin. It is good for rashes or any skin problem but personally I would like to become better informed on how to use it as a shampoo before giving information about it. For this reason, though I used it in my version, I will leave it out of this one. But, if you would like to add African Black Soap to this version there are plenty of YouTube videos available online on how to use it as a shampoo.

For this Sunday’s Recipe you will need:

Shea Butter
Aloe Vera Gel
Coconut Oil
Rosemary
Small Jar
A dark tinted bottle with a lid
Empty Shampoo Bottle
Knife

1. Melt your Shea butter: Place a couple pieces of aluminum foil on a skillet you don’t expect to really cook in again. Set stove to low heat. Place Shea Butter on foil and let it melt. (This is preferred over using the microwave). Watch it carefully; it only takes a few minutes to melt. You can also melt the coconut oil the same way if it is hardened

(Coconut oil becomes a solid above 76 F. But you can let it melt naturally just by leaving it out a day before you begin production since it’ll melt once it’s below that threshold).
3. Pour liquid Shea Butter and Coconut Oil in a bowl.

Rosemary:

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I chose to incorporate Rosemary a). because there’s a ton of it growing on the side of my house, and b). because it has been in use as an effective solution to hair loss for centuries now. It also helps in reducing hair thinning and balding. It will help in improving the circulation of the scalp and this will in turn help in hair growth. Rosemary works effectively on the hair when combined with olive oil (I also used mint).

4. So next, you want to extract the oils from your herbs which means you want to start this process a couple days before you plan to make the shampoo. Of course you can just buy the essential oils you want to add but why take the fun out of it? :

a). Cut up the Rosemary leaf. Then fill a small jar about half-way with the herb depending on how much of it you want to use in your shampoo.

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b). Cover the cut herb with olive oil. Make sure that all of the herbs are covered. How much oil this will require depends on the size and shape of your jar.
c). Put the lid on the jar and shake it gently to mix the herbs and oils. Place the jar in a sunny spot and leave it for at least 48 hours. Swirl the ingredients around gently every few hours.

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d). Pour the essential oil into a dark-tinted bottle with a good stopper. Label the jar with the ingredients and the date because essential oils lose their potency after six months.

5. Now, add this oil to your mix, not all of it, just enough to use for this batch.  Also add the Aloe Vera Gel to your mixture. Aloe Vera’s natural enzymes destroy the excessive dead skin cells and fungus that leads to dandruff. While also leaving the scalps ph levels balanced and moisturized.
Mix everything together with an electric mixer, or blend it in a blender you use specifically for this purpose (obviously not the same one you make your smoothies with 🙂 ).

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Pour into your old shampoo bottle and enjoy. (Note: This is an old Shampoo bottle with my Shea Butter Shampoo in it).

Hair and the Nervous System

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I don’t know much about hair (actually, I know very little). But in 2009 I was allotted the opportunity to produce a documentary on behalf of my organization called I am NOT my Hair: Perms, Weaves, and Hot Combs. Since then, I’ve done more and more research on hair (especially after going natural the same year) and have been able to speak with sisters from all over the U.S. about their hair journey and to offer the DVD as an opportunity to cause a change in their hair health. As a result, it has become one of the most famous pieces I’ve had the chance to be a part of.

I still do not consider myself an expert on hair and I warn that I can offer very little advice in hair maintenance, however the little I do know I am willing to share. Today’s article offers a few tips to help better understand this stuff on top our head called hair. As is my custom, I’ll split it into 3 separate posts:

 
– Hair and the Nervous System – 9/11/14
– Why Perms are Afraid of Water – 9/12/14
– Why Natural hair is dehydrated – 9/13/14

Hair and the Nervous System

Firstly, let us understand the basics: Hair and the Nervous System

Receptors in human skin
I happen to live in the country, and there are a lot of bugs around our home. So sometimes I can pick up the sounds of them before they get too close because it almost sounds like there are wasps in my hair! I’m not joking, and it’s quite annoying actually, but it’s true. I’ve been natural and dred loc’d for 5 years and on the left side of my head, the hair on that side can pick up the sounds of those tiny irritating bugs. That’s because Hair is a genetic part of you; it is a hereditary extension of yourself, connected to your nervous system and actually acts as a kind of antennae.

“Hair is an extension of the nervous system, it can be correctly seen as exteriorized nerves, a type of highly-evolved ‘feelers’ or ‘antennae’ that transmit vast amounts of important information to the brainstem, the limbic system, and the neocortex. When hair is cut, receiving and sending transmissions to and from the environment are greatly hampered. This results in ‘numbing-out’.”
–  http://banoosh.com/blog/2013/07/12/hair-is-an-extension-of-the-nervous-system-why-indians-keep-their-hair-long/

Young woman with hand on head
While it’s fun to play around with our hair and to try out different styles, hair is not some miscellaneous body part of ours (which makes you think more about the role of the hair dresser). But hair and hair health are just as important as other bodily functions like skin, and nails. It’s not about the style of the hair making one more or less righteous (this is not a natural vs relaxed debate), but this is more so about hair health. How to treat our hair and what combination of hair products are more or less beneficial because balance is everything. Have you ever sat down to ponder why a piece of hair can identify who you are? Why witches use strips of hair to perform witchcraft? Or why the biblical Samson lost all of his power by letting Delilah cut off all his hair? That’s because your hair is part of you and always has been. The ancient and native peoples all knew about this link between long hair, health and spirituality. They never cut their hair voluntarily. Short hair was a universal sign of slavery, shame, or defeat; a loss of power and identity. Not that if you have short hair your a bad person or anything, but concerning how important hair has always been, people would only cut their hair in the event of captivity, for mourning purposes, or for hygiene. It is a way of blocking out the energies of the world. It is only in modern times that both men and women cut their hair short on a regular basis, changing the lengths according to trends.