Black Hair Care Tips and Frequently Asked Questions
How does a permanent relaxer work?
Are no lye relaxers better for my hair and scalp?
What are natural relaxers? Do they work? Are they really natural?
What do I look for in a stylist to put in my relaxer?
Can I take a relaxer out of my hair? Can I make my permed hair natural again?
What are the fundamentals of black hair care?
How do I deep condition my hair?
How often should I wash my African-American hair?
How do I maintain my natural hair?
Why does natural hair look dull? Why does relaxed hair look shinier?
How do I maintain relaxer or permed hair?
Which oils should I use (are there oils I should avoid)?
Should I wear my hair relaxed or should I consider going natural?
How do I make the transition from relaxed hair back to natural hair?
What is a good hair style while I'm making the transition to natural hair?
Is there a pill to fix my hair problems?
Is there anything that will make my hair grow really fast and really long?
How do I take care of my African-American child's hair?
Should I use "natural" products instead of products with "chemicals" in them?
What is Shea Butter? What are the benefits of using Shea Butter?
How can I regrow lost hair?
What ingredients should I avoid?
How African-African American Hair or Black Hair is Structured
It's important to keep in mind that there aren't two types of hair, black hair and everybody else's. There is a broad spectrum of hair types. Especially since most peopel in the United States who identify as "black" are from a mixed racial background, African American hair and bi-racial people's hair varies tremendously. Even on one personsl head of hair there can be many different hair types with straight hair on the sides, thicker hair at the crown and curly hair at the back (asn an example). When Brian was a boy with an afro, this variation drove his barber crazy. The results of this wide range of hair types, even among closely related family members is there is no one solution for the care of all black people's hair. We have two daughters and they each have a slightly different hair care routine.
Because African-American hair tends to be more coarse and to be thicker you might be tempted to think it's "tougher" than Caucasian hair and can handle more stress or abuse. It might surprise you to learn that in reality African hair (especially if treated like European hair) is usually more fragile than Caucasian hair. It usually lacks the elasticity of Caucasian hair and therefore breaks more easily. If the hair is washed too often and with the wrong products, the natural oils will be diminished. Because of the kinkiness of the hair, combs and brushes can get caught in the hair, breaking it at all of those twists and turns. For these reasons, we suggest using products made especially for our hair, whenever possible. Today, there is a wide range of excellent products made specifically for the needs of African American or Textured hair.
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The major parts of a human hair are:
Cuticle: The cuticle is the shell or the outer layer of the hair. The cuticle is composed of layers of scales. Those scales are interwoven with the cells of the inner root sheath. This firmly locks the hair in the follicle. made up of layers of scales which interlock with the cells of the hair's inner root sheath to firmly anchor it in the follicle. The cuticle is a relativeoly thin layer. The cuticle is also colorless. But, in black hair, the cuticle layer is often two times the thickness of Caucasian hair. This is where the major difference between African-American and other hair is found. Most conditioners attempt to work on the cuticle layer. Differences in the cuticle layer will make the hair appear smoother and shiner or rougher and more dull.
Cortex: The cortex is the middle layer of a human hair. The cortex is comprised of cells which are tightly attached wrapped around one another. These bands provide the hair shaft with elasticity and strength and are very receptive to chemicals. The cortex is also where the color of the hair is found. As a result, the cortex can easily be changed for good or for bad by products like dyes and chemical relaxers.
Melanin: Melanin is found in the cortex of the hair shaft. Melanins is the material that provides the color to people's hair and to their skin. The more melanin that is present, the darker the hair or skin.
Follicle: The follicle is the structure in which the hair is formed. The hair fits into the follicle kind of like a foot goes into a sock. Follicles are made of many elements including carbon, hydrogen and oxygen (the basic building blocks of life). To have healthy follicles, it's vitally important to get good nutrition. You can't build a house without raw materials. And, you can't built a healthy hair shaft without the basic building blocks. Healthy amounts of certain nutrients can greatly influence the appearance or your hair and skin. Hair growth supplements can be extremely beneficial in improving the appearance of your hair. No amount of product put on your hair can make up for having weak hair to begin with.
Sebaceous/Sudoniferous Glands: Also on your scalp are the sebaceous (oil) and sudoriferous (sweat) glands. The oil glands periodically open and close to release a waxy oil called sebum into the hair follicle and onto the scalp. Jojoba oil is something in nature that naturally and effectively imitates natural sebum. The sudoriferous or sweat glands contain many small structures. These sweat glands produce substances which dry on the skin. These include salts, acids and bacteria. If these are not removed from the scalp, they can help cause problems including itching and dandruff. This accounts for some of the scalp issues people have when first starting to lock their hair when they are not washing the scalp routinely and effectively.
OK boys and girls, get ready for a very quick review of your high school chemistry. Don't worry. We'll keep it very short and it won't hurt a bit. This is important to know when you're looking at those "natural" relaxers on the market.
How reactive or dangerous certain chemical are can be measured on pH scale. It doesn't matter what pH stand for. The pH scale goes from 0-14. Water is right in the middle of the scale with a pH of 7. Water is considered neutral as it is neither acidic or basic (alkaline). Solutions with a very high pH are referred to as being alkaline, caustic or basic. Solutions with a very low pH are called acidic. The further the pH is from the neutral 7 (either high or low), the more powerful the solution is in terms of reacting. Think of reacting in this case of burning or of breaking something down. The pH scale is a logarithmic scale. A logarithmic scale is a way of measuring things where a whole number difference is a lot more thn on a normal (linear) scale. A solution that has pH of 8 is ten times more alkaline than a solution that is ph 7. Something with a pH of 5 is 100 times more acidic than a pH 7. That's it. Lesson over. You can close your notebooks now.
Most boxed relaxers or the ones your beautician uses have a high pH (very near the top of the scale). In other words, they are caustic. Most relaxers work in the same way a drain opener you'd buy at your local hardware store. Relaxers break the hair down. Of course, this is done in a controlled fashion when done by a licensed professional. But, it's important to know that permanent relaxers work because they break the bonds that actually give strength to the hair. This causes the hair to straighten. Those bonds will never be repaired (the new growth will have new bonds). Therefore, relaxed hair is, by definition, weaker than natural hair. Relaxers also can tend to deplete the hair of sebum (the oil your scalp secretes). If you mix that with heat (think a daily curling iron) you you could really end up damaging your hair severely. That's why it is extremely important to be cautious when putting in relaxers. And, while you might wanto think of relaxed hair as carefree wash and go hair, it's important to be diligent about maintaining relaxed hair.
It might sounds as if we are somehow against perms. That is not the case. It's quite possible to do more damage to your natural hair if you decide you want to try to wear it straight all the time and are hitting it with a lot of heat to get it that way. If straight hair is very important to you, a relaxer might be the way to go. We do recommend making sure you have used a good relaxer and we strongly suggest having it put in by a professional. Just know that your hair will be weaker than it would be if it were natural and plan to maitain it properly.
We have been asked several times why we don't sell permanents and we've been asked to recommend a particular perm. Because we think relaxers should be applied by a professional, it conflicts with that belief to sell them on our website. Relaxers should only be applied to the new growth. Relaxers have to be neutralized properly or the chemical process that breaks those bonds in your hair can go on much longer than you planned. A home perm kit in the wrong hands is dangerous to your hair and scalp.
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How about natural relaxers?
Ah there it is again. That word "natural". We love it. Natural is good. And, we hate it. The word is so abused and overused as to be almost meaningless. There are so many companies now taking advantage of the thirst for natural products . Now there are companies putting products on the market that they're calling "natural relaxers". As of the writing of this document, after 9 years of research, we haven't found a single product we think most of our customers would consider to be "natural" that will permanently alter the texture of your hair. But, you might want to keep reading because what is natural is debatable.
Let's begin with discussing what a chemical relaxer is. Lye could be considered to be a natural product. If you burn wood and mix it with water, wait long enough and then boil the water out, you'll end up with lye (potassium hydroxide), this is very similar to the lye used in relaxers (calcium hydroxide). Most people however, would not call lye natural because it is so caustic. It'll eat a hole in your skin and burn all of your hair off if not handled properly. So, if I made up a relaxer out of this type of lye, would you consider it "natural"? Would you want to apply it at home?
We won't speak about specific products. But, more than one of these "natural relaxers" has been pulled from the market after complaints about the dangers of them. Others won't divulge their ingredient or use terms we can't understand. Their application instructions and claims for what their products do seem way too similar to the way chemical perms work for our comfort. After doing years of research, we haven't found one that claims to permanently (or temporarily) straighten hair that we are willing to sell to our customers.
We have found a product that makes the hair softer, more mangeable and loosens the curl pattern- temporarily, that we can highly recommend. That product is the Natural-Laxer MIXTM from Baka Beauty Products. Don't let "laxer" in the name fool you. We think there are two reasons why natural relaxers have gotten a bad rap. The truly natural, gentle one do not straighten hair. When clients call us looking for a natural product to straighten their hair, we do not recommend Natural-Laxer MIX (unless they are willing to flat iron or press their hair). The "natural relaxers" that do straighten hair are often just as chemically reactive as the "chemical" products they're supposed to be replacing.
The natural relaxer we sell is an all herbal hair treatment. It is kind of an herbal texturizer. It is not a straightener. You simply are not going to get kinky black hair to become bone straight in an "all natural" way. What our products does is gradually allow the natural curl pattern to relax. This causes the hair to be less kinky and somewhat straighter. It also makes the hair softer. Some interesting side effects of this relaxer is that you end up with less tangles, less breakage and the hair is actually strengthened and encouraged to grow by the relaxer. The relaxer also helps prevent reversion of pressed hair. The relaxer works with a cumulative effect. After the first application or two, the differences will be subtle, but noticeable. Over time, the relaxer makes the hair softer and softer. This is an excellent treatment for damaged permed hair, an aid in transition from perms to natural hair or a conditioner/detangler for natural hair.
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Here is what you should look:
Before your stylist begins:Back to top
- Your stylist should inspect your hair and scalp before she begins to put in the relaxer. If your hair is weak or your scalp has any cuts, scrapes or sores, she should not do the perm. Of course, you should do this yourself before you go to the shop. But, a professional stylist will take the time and care to do this herself. A relaxer put on hair that is already damaged might be just enough to cause it to completely break off. Chemicals applied to open areas on the scalp can be extremely painful and cause serious damage.
- If it's your first time with this particular relaxer, your stylist should check for a possible allergic reaction. And she should test the perm on a strand of your hair
- Your stylist should get to know your hair type and recommend a relaxer that is well-suited for your type of hair. Not all relaxers are the same. Some are more reactive (stronger) than others. Some of the things she should consdier are whether you have virgin hair or if you're just in for a touch up. She should look at whether your hair is fine or coarse. And, she should consider other chemical treatments- especially coloring.
- She should protect your body and clothes by covering you with a cape or a towel
- She should protect your scalp with a jelly or thick cream. She should especially protect your hair line, and your ears which will almost certainly get the perm on them.
Once she begins:
- This is really important. Applying a perm is not something your stylist should do while she's doing several other things. Once she starts putting on the chemicals, she should pay attention to your head. She should not be distracted by phone calls, other clients or going out to lunch (don't laugh, it happens). Your stylist should work quickly and efficiently to avoid over-relaxing your hair or burning your skin.
- Touch ups are called touch ups because they are done on the new growth only. A professional will know this. But, this is a common mistake people make when putting in home perms. It's difficult to get the perm only on the new growth. But, its necessary. When I was doing home perms myself, I'd put it on from the roots all the way to the tips. It's a good thing I have pretty strong hair
- Your stylist should use a timer. Using a timer isn't the same as paying attention to it though. She needs to stay near-by. If you happen to hear the timer go off and she's not around, say something. When it comes to relaxers, it's better to leave the hair a little on the underprocessed side than to overstraighten it. Many people end up trying to put some body or curl back into the hair after they've made it bone straight with a relaxer. Remember, the straighter the hair, the more bonds you've broken and the weaker the hair.
After she's done:
- Your stylist should rinse your hair thoroughly with warm water.
- She should thoroughly wash your hair with a neutralizing shampoo. It's critcally important to use a neutralizing shampoo. The lower pH of the shampoo will stop the chemical reaction of the high pH relaxer. If this process isnt' stopped, the relaxer will continue to break down the hair after you and she thinks it has stopped.
- She should rinse your hair again.
- Before she dries your hair, your hair should be deep conditioned.
- She should handle your hair gently as she's drying and styling it.
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- Before going to bed, section off your hair and put a few plaits in it. Or, tie it back or wrap it up using a scarf. By tying your hair down you will reduce the amount of tangles you have to comb out the next morning. Less tangles=less breakage.
- Bedding is important. If you can get a satin pillow case (we sell one here), that's great. At a minimum, sleep with a satin scarf or sleep cap. The satin material is smoother than cotton and will absorb less moisture from your hair. This helps avoid the damage that the friction from cotton pillow cases can cause.
- Washing your hair too often is probably worse than not washing it often enough. How often you'll have to wash your hair will depend on how much sebum you produce, how much you sweat, your hair type, the climate where you live, etc. But, as a rule-of-thumb, wash your hair no more than once every week ro weeek and a half. Some people will need more, some will need less. Start with a week and see how that works for you.
- Comb your hair out while you've got the conditioner in it. This will help remove the tangles while your hair is slick helping the comb glide thorugh with minimal breakage.
- Oil/moisturize your scalp on a regular basis with a good natural oil. We have several including our H2G Hair Growth Serum with Emu Oil. A daily moisturizer is a good idea for a lot of people. Maybe not necessarily daily, but every couple of days.
- Deep conditioner or do a hot oil treatment monthly. Using a conditioning cap like the HydraCap will help drive the conditioner deep into the hair shaft.
- Regularly take your fingers and just give yourself a little scalp massage. This will help improve your scalp's ciruclation and oil production.
- Stay away from products with mineral oil or petroleum. These are cheap fillers used by some cosmetics companies. They give the feeling of oils that would be beneficial But, they tend to clog the pores (are comedogenic). And, they are not easily absorbed by the hair or skin. This is a case where it's best to stick with natural oils. If your mother used Vaseline® on your hair, stop. If you're using that pink stuff. Well, you might want to reconsider. Natural oils tend to cost more. But, they are most definitely worth it. Your hair and skin will thank you.
- If you exercise and sweat a lot on a regular basis, the salt out of your hair even if you don't wash it. Rinse it thoroughly with very warm water and condition it with a leave-in conditioner.
- Heat can be a killer for hair. We blast our hair regularly with temperatures that would bake a roast. Avoid excessive use of heat on your hair. This is particularly important for those women with relaxers. Do not take your hair to bone straight at the hairdressers and then have to use a lot of heat and product to get it to hold curl when you're back home. Stop short of bone straight.
- Avoid alcohol based products unless you have a need for a water-free shampoo to cleanse your scalp (for example while you're waiting for your locks to lock). Having said that, not all alcohol is bad. Ethyl and methyl alcohols are two you generally want to steer clear of.
- This is tough for some of us. Keep in mind that water is your friend. Water, inside and out is good for your hair and skin. Drink plenty of water daily. Spritzing your hair with water or water based products can help keep it hydrated.
- Your hair doesn't begin at your scalp. For proper hair formation, its' important you give your hair the right nutrition so that the shaft that is formed in the follicle is health before it even appears above the surfcace or your skin. Eat a well-balanced diet with vitamins that proteins that are essential for hair and skin development. Treasured Locks offers nutritional supplements specifically designed for hair and skin health. Hair Growth Supplements
- So many of us fight our hair. Try to work with what you've got. We constantly have clients telling us they want hair just like this or that celebrity (and many of the celebrities they want to look like are sporting weaves). As much as you can, find a style that is compatible with your natural hair type and the way your hair grows. We all want to style our hair. But, the more you can go with the flow, the happier your hair and you will be.
Some tools you should have in your kit
- A great moisturizing shampoo: The good shampoos will cost more. However, the better shampoos use more gentle cleansers and are generally more concentrated. You might find they actually save you money over the course of time. But, you will find that your hair will quickly look and feel better.
- A conditioner that has a fairly low pH. A lower pH conditioner (lower than 7) will be pH balanced to slightly acidify the hair. Acidifying the hair will make it shine more and reduce tangles.
- A good deep conditioning treatment or a hot oil treatment that you like. This is really enhanced with the use of conditioning heat cap which opens up the cutilcles and drives the treament deep into the hair shft. This is especially critical for dry brittle hair that has been damaged by neglect, abuse, heat, sun and/or chemicals. We have several here: Hair Repair Products
- A leave in conditioner like our Knot No More. Knot No More is a product you can use to moisturize frequently. This is what you're going ot use on your hair after you've cleaned it and between washings. This product should provide moisture at a minimum and preferably oil and moisture.
- A comb that works for your hair type. So much damage is done by trying to drag some skinny toothed combed through naturally curly hair. The more coarse and/or thicker your hair, the more you'll need a comb with wider spaced teeth.
- A satin pillow case, a good satin or nylon scarf or cap or wrap to wear while you're sleeping.
How do I deep condition my hair?
A few natural oils to try are shea butter, jojoba oil, olive oil, emu oil, argan oil and sunflower oil. There are many others. Some of these oils are quite expensive costing upwards of $200/gallon. But, it's not necessary to use them in their pure form. We have a great selection of elixirs, oils, pomades and moisturizers that work wonderfully for every hair type and style.
It's best to put these oils on your hair when it's wet. That will hold in the moisture that is already there on the hair shaft. Using a leave-in conditioner or moisturizing cream (containing both water and oil) are useful on days when you do not wash your hair. The best type of oil or cream you use in your hair is will depend on your hair type. It will be necessary for you to experiment to find what works best for your hair. Your climate, which may change with the time of the year, will also effect how you treat your hair. You might find your hair likes some things better in the summer and others in the winter.
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How do I handle natural hair?
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Why is my natural hair so dull looking?
Wow, if only we had a dollar for every time we've been asked this question. It's a great one and one that many people are curious about. The big thing here iwe have to think about what we are expecting and we we are comparin our hair to when we call it "dull". When natural African-American hair is compared to Caucasian hair or even to permed Black hair, it will be less shiny. The reaons is because of the way the hair is actually structured. When the cells that make up the cuticle of the hair lay flat, the hair better reflects light making it smoother and shinier. Actually conditioner is great at helping with this. But, in the case of natural Black hair, the cutilcles to not lay as flat and do not reflect light as well. If you continue to try to make natural African-American hair look like Caucasian hair by adding oil or grease to it, you're going to cause problems. The best thing to do is to make your hair look the best it can look, not look like someone else's.
That is not to say that natural hair cannot look beautiful and healthy. Both of our girls are complimented on their natural hair constantly. I swell up with pride when I take them to have their hair done (occasionally) and the beautician comments on the health of their hair. People comment on how healthy their hair looks. My secret is I make sure their hair is always well hydrated and I use great natural oils on their hair- Treasured Locks products. There are so many girls and women out there with hair that is breaking off and looks just lifeless and the answer is so very simple that it's a shame. Natural African hair is beautiful. But, it does take a little work and a lot of understanding to keep it that way.
So now that the relaxer has been applied properly, here are some other tips.
- It's best to dry your gradually. Use a little heat as possible. When I had my perm I would allow a couple of hours for washing my hair. I would wash it and just towel dry it, making sure to blot it rather than rubbing vigorously. I wouuld then apply a hair and scalp oil. The next step was a couple of hours to just watch TV or relax around the house letting the air dry it. Then and only then, after my hair had gone from wet to just damp, I would blow dry it the rest of the way and begin the process of conditioning and styling.
- Wet your hair frequently. Spraying it with water or rinsing it while you are showering works. Doing this a couple of times a week gives your hair the chance to absorb some moisture.
- In adddition to wetting your hair with water, use a leave-in conditioner or another moisturizing products. This is really important for relaxed hair which tends to need to have more oil added than does natural hair.
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- When you to go have your perm applied have your stylist check to see if your ends need to be trimmed. Damaged split ends can split further up the hair shaft causing more damge and tangled hair. You may be reluctant to have your hair "trimmed" thinking you're losing length. But, the opposite can be true. Trying to hold onto damaged ends can actually cause your hair to break and you'll end up with shorter hair than if you trimmed. If your hair has been damaged on the ends, let the damaged hair go in order to protect the still healthy hair.
- You'll need to determine how often you need a touch up. Some people will need to go back as soon as 4-6 weeks. Some people only get a relaxer every three months or even less. Two months is probably pretty typical.
Permed Hair (alsso known as Relaxed)
- Pretty much the standard in most of the United States
- Permed hair styles easily
- Relaxers are hard on African-American hair. They work by weakening the bonds in the cortex and therefore, weaken the hair.
- In spite of the appeal of "wash and go" hair, actually requires pretty diligent care to maintain a healthy head of hair.
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- Closest to what our body was designed to have
- Some wear certain styles because of religion. Dreadlocks for example. Some wear those styles to make a a political statement. Be aware you might have to fight this misperception.
- Has actually caused some people to lose their jobs. There was a man terminated for wearing locks and, this was upheld in court. We have heard of a woman fired for wearing two strand twists.
- Wearing natural hair may demand that you be willing to stand up for yourself in order to deal with the looks you'll get and the comments people will make.
- Generally natural hair is better for the health and strength of the hair. An exception would be the woman who wears her hair "natural" but straight all the time and inflicts major heat damage on it.
- Natural hair is easier to keep healthy than permed hair.
- Natural hair is often harder to style than permed hair. Some women complain of not enough styling options. Styling options are opened up though if you're wiling to straighten the hair (with heat).
How do I transition from relaxed to natural hair?
There is not a product that will "remove" a relaxer. Some women decide they are just going to try to stop getting perms and keep their same style as long as possible. If you decide to do that, be aware that you are probably going to see a significant amount of breaking of the hair a couple of months into the process. SuperNatural Curl Tamer is a great product if you want to maintain the length of your hair whiletransitioning. The use of the product will not guarantee no breakage. But, SuperNatural Curl Tamer will reduce the amount of breakage you will see. Basically, there are three healthy ways to transition from relaxed to natural hair:
- Trim (cut) the permed hair- At some point you're going to have to cut that relaxed hair. Some women decide to just get it over with. The amount of new growth you have will be the biggest factor in how many styling options you are presented with once you've done the "big chop". Many women will rock a TWA (teeny-weeny afro) for a few months. Two-strands twists can be done on hair as short as just over an inch (depending on your skill).
- You can wear braids- Many women go this route and it's not a bad one. I did it. You can have hair added to your natural hair until your hair grows out to a length you feel comfortable with. I did both braids and weaves while transitioning. I actually did that after doing the Big Chop. I just didn't like the TWA on me.
- SisterlocksTM- SisterLocks can be started with one and one half inches of new growth at the scalp. They are similar to dread locks but with a look more like micro braids or very small twists. They leave you with many styling options. For more information (including pictures) go to http://www.sisterlocks.com
- Look at Natural Hair Transitioning Styles-We have a whole page of natural hair transitioning styles. A client sent us this tip "I wanted to send you another natural hair transitioning option for women who don't know what to do. When I was growing out of my relaxer, I did this. As my roots grew out, I would wet my hair adding oil to it and braiding it while it was still wet. (actually a product like Black Earth's Crinkles & Curls or Treasured Locks Pomade and Gel would work for this). After it dried, I would remove the braids and my hair was left wavy and with a great deal of texture. This helped cover up the different in texture between the roots and the permed ends. I did this until I felt I was ready to remove the relaxed hair and wear my little 'fro." (thanks, Sheena!)
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There are ways to make sure your body achieves its maximum growth rate for your hair. There are medications that will make your hair grow thicker and fuller. For men, there is Minoxidil (also known as Rogaine®) and Propecia®. For women, there is Rogaine. There are also supplements that can help with making your hair grow faster (see the link above for our Hair Growth Supplements). If your hair is damaged, you are not getting the best possible nutrition or if there is a scalp condition that has not been treated, there are ways to alleviate these problems getting you back to normal hair growth.
If your hair is breakng off (which is not the same as the natural shedding of hair), it may appear that your hair is not growing. Most people who think their hair is not growing are actually mistaken. The hair is growing. It's just breaking off as fast or faster than it is growting. Simply by stopping the breakage, your hair will get longer, naturally. Before you spend a lot of time or effort on trying to improve your growth rate, be sure you're doing all of the things to stop any breakage you may be experiencing.
Our Treasured Locks H2G Hair Growth Serum is a great product that can help with hair growth, naturally. It doesn't contain any drugs or chemicals. It is simply a blend of Emu Oil, Shea Butter Oil and other plant oils, along with Essential Oils that have been clinically shown to improve circulation, provide moisture, reduce inflammation and help hair grow to its fullest potential. See our Hair Growth Supplements for more information.
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I recommend that you keep away from relaxers for a long as possible. Children's more sensitive skin is more susceptible with problems from the harsh chemicals. perms for as long as possible. Children have more sensitive skin than adults. Also, children aren't usually great at sitting for long periods of time. That can cause the stylist to rush or maybe even skin steps causing problems. My stylist told me the story of a three year old girl she was trying to give a perm. Once the perm was in, the child decided she was ready to leave. The stylist had to literally wrestle the child to rinse the perm out of her hair. When we started Treasured Locks my older daughter was about five. She's going to be a sohphomore in high school this year. She has very thick and coarse hair. Her hair is still natural and she likes it that way. I did a lot of research on the best way to care for it (one of the things that motivated me to open this store). Caring for her hair is is not any more difficult to than if she had a perm. I use Natural-Laxer MIX on it occasionally. Sometimes she has it braided. That and just using the basic tips above have made caring for her natural a breeze. Since I got serious about her hair routine, she has less breakage and tangles than she used to and we love the way her hair looks natural.
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Should I use only "natural" products?
So, once you define what natural is. Is natural always better? We are of belief that God put many wonderful things on this planet for our use. And, usually, the more natural, the better. We'd say that almost all of othe time, the less refined or chemically engineered a product is the better it is. But, we also believe that human beings are extremely clever and that we have the ability to improve on some things and create others.
All things being equal, we like to use more natural products. Even when our engineers try to duplicate what nature has already done, we end up not able to recreate the delicate trace substances. For example, take a multivitamin is not as good as eating fresh fruit. It's good. But, not as good. But, all natural cosmetics will be less stable on the shelf, their appearance might not be as appealing and they are often more expensive. Shampoos might be thinner or cloudier or separate. Natural shampoos usually will not lather as well and some people don't like that. The decision is yours and you'll need to make it in on a product-by-product basis.
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If you're a man who has lost his hair due to the male pattern baldness, you should know that this is a natural thing and one that is not easily reversed. The exact mechanism of how this happens is not fully understood. But, it has to do with how your hair follicles react to testosterone. Most simple treatments will not work, particularly if your hair loss happened a while ago. There are two well known proven treatments. One is Finasteride (marketed as Propecia). Propecia was originally developed as a blood pressure medication. One of its side effects is it actually helps with the regrowth of hair. The other is Minoxidil. Both work in about 30-40% of cases. Both work pretty much only on thinning from the crown of the head. Minoxidil has worked, in combination with other treatments, on frontal balding. But, not often enough for the FDA to allow the manufacturer to make the claim. Both are treatments, not cures. If you stop taking the drug, the effects wear off and you lose the hair again. Both are drugs with side effects. Propecia has been reported to cause sexual dysfunction in a small number of patients. Minoxidil has been reported to cause some scalp irritation. Minoxidil must be put on the scalpe every day (twice daily is better) directly to the scalp and massaged in. Due to the hassle, cost, possible side effects and limited effectiveness of both drugs whether you take them is a personal choice. If you ever see my husband, you'll see he opted to let nature take its course.
We also sell a few cosmeceutical grade hair loss treatments from DS Laboratories. These are products that have also been shown to be effective in the treatment of hair loss.
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If you check our products, you'll find that some of the products we sell contain some of the ingredients listed here. You might ask yourself "Why?" In many cases there aren't great alternatives yet. In some cases, these ingredients aren't necessarily dangerous- especially to the general population. There are not a lot of products that do not contain at least some of these ingredients. In recent years, parabens have been getting a bad name and we've found manufacturers gradually moving away from this. A few years ago it was estimated that over 98% of cosmetic products contained some form of paraben. Paraben free alternatives are growing daily. But, if you take a look at your toothpaste or deodorant label, it's very likely they still have some form of paraben in them. People have been using parabens for decades.
In addition to the alternative products being hard to find and expensive, you may find they have a shorter shelf life. Choices are limited. While researching this topic, we ran across a website that would scare you off of the vast majority of products in the marketplace. Their list of harmful ingredients read like a glossary of every mainstream cosmetic ingredient that exists. OK. Fine. Let's look at their "What should I use instead?" page. They had very few alternatives leaving gaping holes in what you're supposed to use. Our philosophy is to avoid the most harmful of these ingredients altogether and to minimize exposure where possible. But, we continue to use a great deal of mainstream products when it comes to things like toothpaste, deodorant, etc. We feel the risks are small and the price, convenience and the fact that the products just work are important to us.
As you read the various lists, be wary of who is listing the ingredients and why. If you find you are having some of the symptoms listed on the various lists, you will want to take note. Some people are more sensitive to these ingredients than others. What may cause no reaction in one person can cause even life threatening reactions in others. If you're having any of these issues, you might want to check the ingredients on your household products. Several years ago I saw a story about a woman whose son had been having issues for years. Not minor issues, things that were actully putting his life at risk. She had been to doctor after doctor withno answers. Finally, she started keeping a journal about when his symptoms flared. To her surprise, Tuesday was his worst day. What was it about Tuesday? Well, on Monday she cleaned her house. She tossed out all of the grocery store products she had been buying and switched to all natural alternative products. Not too long after that, her son's symptoms went away. This is an extreme and rare case. But, it shows the importance of being aware.
If you're have a lot of allergies, you will probably want to really check over these lists. Your body is more reactive to foreign substances than others. So, these ingredients are more likely to cause a reaction in you. If you have children, you should be more cautious because children often are more susceptible to these ingredients. Pregnant women should be cautious.
Keep in mind that the the reactions listed to chemicals are typically the reactions of people who are highly sensitive or are exposed to highly concentrated doses. Ingredients that will cause no reaction on normal people, in concentrations found in products may cause reactions in very sensitive people or even in normal people, at high concentrations. For example, it's been reported that sodium laurel sulfate causes skin irritation. That's true. In high concentrations and when left on the skin. But, most products containing this ingredient are intended to be rinsed off. And, many manufacturers use it in low concentrations. If these ingredients are in the products you use, you want them to be near the end of the listing of the ingredients.