How To Keep Natural Hair Moisturized

I think the single biggest misconception among those with kinky hair texture is that oil is a  moisturizer. But many feel the need to add excessive amounts of oils to the hair and scalp because black skin produces less sebum (aka oil) right? Wrong! Consider this myth busted.  The reason afro-textured hair tends to be dry is because the sebum has to travel the length of the hair to coat the strands. The kinkier the hair, the more difficulty the sebum has traveling down the hair, therefore the more dry or dull the hair looks.  There are of course exceptions to every rule and there are some who produce more or less oil than average, but this is in reference to healthy scalp function.

Hair needs moisture to maintain good health and elasticity. What is the ultimate moisturizer?  WATER!  This makes  water-based products and of course water itself the best things to use to achieve the greatest moisture benefit!  The hair optimally should be nourished and treated daily with water, even if it’s just a refreshing spritz.  The molecular structure  of water allows it to penetrate the hair shaft, moisturizing the hair. Oil molecules are too large to penetrate the hair shaft and therefore sit on the strands acting as a barrier.  This serves an extreamly useful and beneficial purpose for the hair, but moisturizing is not one of them.  With that being said, here is an exception…

Moisturizing Oil?

Coconut oil is It is also one of the few oils that penetrates the hair shaft. Studies have confirmed that the ability of coconut oil to penetrate the hair shaft is likely due to its low molecular weight and straight linear chains. These characteristics coupled with its high affinity (or attraction) to hair proteins cause the coconut oil to penetrate the hair shaft.

It is easy to see how the ability to penetrate the hair shaft and the high affinity to proteins makes coconut oil so beneficial for the hair. Not only does the high affinity to proteins help it penetrate the hair shaft, but it also discourages protein loss and reduces the occurrence of hygral fatigue. Studies conducted in India confirm that when compared to mineral oil and sunflower oil, “coconut oil was the only oil found to reduce the protein loss remarkably for both undamaged and damaged hair when used as a pre-wash and post-wash grooming product.” Another study suggests that coconut oil reduces the ability of the hair shaft to swell and thereby reduces the likelihood of hygral fatigue. Hygral fatigue is caused when the hair swells and constricts due to the absorption and loss of water. This makes coconut oil a most excellent oil to pre-poo with.  (Pre-pooing- A treatment applied prior to cleansing. It usually consists of oils and applied a few hours before cleansing or the night before the cleansing. This is usually performed to help the hair maintain necessary moisture during a cleansing  process.)  

Determine Hair Porosity

Our hair is naturally porous ( Having minute holes through which liquid or air may pass).  This means just as quickly as we fill our tresses with moisture it can escape.  The cuticle is the outer layer of the hair, it’s made up of scale like cells that look similar to shingles on a roof.  These “shingles” can be raised or tightly compact which determines the level of the hairs porosity.  Determining your hair’s porosity is very important, because it will largely effect how you moisturize and retain moisture for your hair.

  • Low Porosity

Low Porosity

Low– po is when the cuticle of the hair shaft is tightly compact.  This type of hair is more difficult to moisturize, as the compact nature of the cuticle does not allow moisture to easily enter or leave the hair shaft.  You will notice your hair takes longer to get thoroughly wet, and both water and product tends to just sit on top of the hair as opposed to entering it.  To moisturize this type of hair heat is actually a good thing.  Now hold up! Put down the blow dryer and back away from the flat iron!  I mean we are usually taught to use cool to cold water when washing and conditioning hair to seal the cuticle and add shine, but for low-po hair you should cleanse and condition with warm water. The warm water will help to temporarily lift the cuticle allowing moisture to enter the hair shaft more easily.  After cleansing and conditioning you can rinse with cool water or acv to close cuticle.  You will also benefit from using a hooded dryer or heat cap when deep conditioning.

  • Normal Porosity

Normal Porosity

No- po hair is when the cuticle is compact and permits moisture to pass through the hair shaft into the cortex as necessary, but does not allow too much moisture to penetrate the cortex. This hair type is pretty easy to moisturize and keep moisturized, and should stay moisturized with regular cleansing and conditioning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • High Porosity

High Porosity

Hi-po hair has a cuticle with wide spaces in between the cuticle and the shaft.  High porosity hair is a sign of damage secondary to chemicals (including color),  heat, or rough manipulation.  Although your hair may feel dry it is capable of absorbing A LOT of water, due to the large openings in the cuticle.  Generally the more porous the hair the more moisture it tends to absorbs.  Since our aim is to moisturize, this seems good, but more is not always better- sometimes it’s just more; and too much moisture creates a whole new set of problems.  Like over drying, high porosity hair absorbs more water when wet – but also looses more as it dries.  Hi-po hair can also stretch beyond a healthy limit due to the increased weight of  hair when full of water, this constant stretching of the hair causes it to become weaker and more prone to breakage.  For hi-po hair minimizing if not eliminating heat is a good idea and consider dry finger detangling with oil as opposed to detangling with a brush or comb while hair is wet and more fragile.

 

 

 

 

Porosity Test

After hair is cleansed and free from any and all products, place a strand in a glass of room temp water.  Normal to low porosity strands will float. High porosity hair will sink to the bottom of the glass from absorbing loads of water and becoming too heavy to float.

 

Why Oil Is Also Important

Since our hair is naturally porous, after we get the moisture in there- how do we keep it?  Here’s where oil is the the most important. It sits on the hair shaft since the molecules are too large to enter it, coating the hair and sealing in moisture.  Oils also lubricate our strands making the hairs slide over each other more easily reducing tangles and friction.  It is important to use the oil to seal already moisturized hair. If you use oils without  moisturizing before , the oil will seal the moisture out of the hair strand and lead to a coated feel and eventual dryness. Build up from heavy oils is one of the main culprits in a scenario where we feel like no matter what we do, our hair is still dry!  You may have to remove current build up first, and then the moisture can get in.

Keeping your hair properly moisturized will minimize breakage keeping hair strong and healthy for maximum length retention. Even if long and strong is not your goal, I’m sure beautiful hair is.

References:

http://journal.scconline.org/pdf/cc2005/cc056n05/p00283-p00295.pdf

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15224783

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What’s In My Spray Bottle

Image   I think almost all naturals have a spray bottle, some even carry a mini one for their bags, and fill it with all sorts a nurturing goodies to be sprayed on their lovey locks at will. I am no exception, I have many of them, I’ve learned to love and appreciate this useful tool in my natural hair arsenal! I often get asked what I use in my spray bottle, so here it goes…

My Spray Bottle

Distilled Water –  Distilled water is pure with no additives or trace minerals, distilled water should be used as opposed to regular old tap water due to the high mineral content of hard water. This results in deposits on your hair. Buildup of calcium and magnesium on the hair shaft can cause hair to feel rough, dry and damaged; the opposite of what we want for our hair.

 

Aloe Juice–  Aloe vera juice, with its excellent moisturizing properties can serve as a natural conditioner to deeply moisturize the hair strands. So, if you are struggling with dry, damaged and unmanageably frizzy hair, then aloe vera juice is your friend!   The enzymes found in aloe vera gel and juice act as a hair growth stimulator. So, you can use aloe vera to promote hair growth. It can also help to control dandruff.

 

Agave Nectar for vegans or Honey for those who are not – I add a bit of agave nectar if I feel my hair is dryer than normal or especially frizzy, not only helps with dryness and frizz, but add shine.  I add this only if I feel I need it.

 

Lavender Essential Oil –  It is a good treatment for dandruff and itching, helpful in controlling hair breakage and improving hair growth.  Daily massage with lavender oil has proven to help significant re-growth (click link for recipe for lavender oil hair growth solution) https://hippiechicchick.wordpress.com/2012/07/24/lavender-oil-and-hair-growth/.  Oh and it smells fantastic!

 

Rosemary Essential Oil –  Rosemary oil stimulates the hair follicles, and healthy scalp means hair can grow longer and stronger.

 

Sweet Orange Oil – This essential oil has a wonderful light fragrance, and like lavender has calming and anti-stress qualities. It stimulates the scalp increasing micro-circulation, great for dehydrated scalp. Also acts as an antiseptic.

 

Jojoba Oil – According to the Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine, jojoba oil is an ideal cosmetic ingredient for products designed to moisturize and protect, due to its chemical composition and stable nature.  Jojoba is structurally similar to the sebum our skin produces naturally. The Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine explains that if your scalp is dry, jojoba oil acts as a substitute, moisturizing the hair follicle and preventing tangles and coarseness. If there is excess sebum, jojoba oil breaks down the buildup, cleaning hair, scalp and hair shaft. Jojoba oil dissolves residue buildup from hair products, as well as environmental pollutants.

 

How To Use

Give your bottle a good shake before each use ( as the oil and water will separate) and spritz hair daily or as needed to add moisture.  I use this same spray bottle mixture for twist outs along with my tried and true flax seed gel (click link for the recipe) https://hippiechicchick.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/flax-seed-oil-and-gel/ . Its is also great for those who use the LOC method.  This mixture is also great for caring for hair while in a protective style.  Contrary to popular belief (or wishful thinking) our hair still needs care while in a protective style.  My hair is currently in a braided style and I lightly spray hair twice daily with this mixture (a.m and p.m.)  When spraying in the evening before bed I apply very little of my oil mixture ( jojoba, lavender, orange, rosemary, tea tree) to scalp and braids.  I use a bottle with a long pointed tip so that oil can easily be applied to scalp and hair without over doing it.

This formula works really well for my hair, I hope it works just as well for yours!

xoxo hippiechicchick

It’s Not A Bad Dream….It’s The Braid Shop!

  Talk of  the braid shop simultaneously strikes joy and fear into the heart of many, especially naturals. We excitedly relish the thought of our new funky- fresh ultra fly hairstyle, combined with the added benefit of “protective styling” for our beloved tresses, and then the glorious fact that we don’t have to do much to maintain this beautiful all be it temporary look.  All of the pros of hair braiding seem to dreamily dance around our minds overshadowing the potentially hair and health hazardous cons.  One of the main cons being the braid shop itself.   I have personally had nothing but negative experiences every time I have gone to a braid shop.  Now once or twice sure, everyone has an off day and things don’t always run smoothly that is just a part of life; but every time?   Repeated and consistent negative experiences means there is a problem!

Now don’t get me wrong African Hair Braiding is a beautiful art form that takes skill (even talent) and has a impressive and long standing history.  I’m not talking about decades, but centuries.  The oldest known images of hair braiding are found in artifacts found in 2630 B.C.

815 B.C. Artifact housed at the Birmingham Museum of Art

Hair braiding has been one of the most enduring and long-standing  traditions in the African  and now the African-American culture.   “Cornrows or Canerows” for example have their roots (pun intended) in the early agricultural responsibilities of African slaves.    African slaves were forced to work the fields as farmers, and the Africans took the techniques they applied to the fields of their owners and applied these to their hair. They used “tools” or combs to make parts in the hair symbolic of the soil, and then fertilized their crop by oiling the scalp, and then trimmed and shaped the crop they had worked to cultivate.   This beautiful practice has been reduced, at least in my personal experiences, to “The Braid Shop”.  A place where dirty surroundings, unprofessional attitudes, and shady fluctuating  prices (literal by the minute) seem to be the norm.  And if you have “natural” hair you are often met with complaints, told your hair is too thick to deal with, charged more money, given an attitude of exasperation by your hair braider, or even told straight out ” to get a relaxer”.

Why Braid

Well style preference aside, hair braiding can help in retaining the length or the growth achieved during the period of having the braided  in the hair.  This protective style means less manipulation like brushing, combing, or heat styling and since less stress is put on our strands they have less chance to breaking.  Minimizing damage to the hair means maximizing length retention!  When hair is added to braid styles, the extra hair can act as a protectant for the hair shielding it, and when the hair is gathered together, grouping the strands, this gives them added strength and resilience.

A common misconception is that braided hair requires no care, untrue!  Hair and scalp should be kept clean and moisturized.  This will optimize the benefits of this brief vacation for your hair and from your hair.

Dangers For You and Your Hair

A common side effect of tight braids is traction alopecia,  a hair loss condition caused by damage to the dermal papilla and hair follicle by constant pulling or tension over a long period. It often occurs in persons who wears tight braids, especially “cornrows” that lead to high tension, pulling and breakage of hair.  Traction alopecia at the nape or hairline aka “edges” is usually reversible, however when this condition occurs in the center area of the scalp it is usually not.

Hair that has been damaged, newly chemically processed, or weak and brittle is not  recommended for braiding. We often braid hair to hide damage strands, but the added tension and stress on hair that is already in a weakened condition can do more harm than good.

If unclean hair combs, clips, etc. are used on your scalp there is risk of infection.  This risk is even greater if the skin on the scalp becomes compromised or damaged during the braiding process. Infection occurring in the skin could lead scarring of the scalp and permanent hair loss!  We opt for tighter braids to longer preserve our hairstyle and stretch our dollar, but the discomfort and damage tight braids can cause is not worth the extra week or two you get to keep your style.

Back To The Braid Shop

My latest trip to the braid shop was unfortunately no different from the ones before.  I called ahead and was very specific as to the style I wanted, and asked the time frame which it would take.  When I asked her how much it would cost to have my hair braided her response was, ” How much do you usually pay?”.  I kid you not, and this should have been my red flag to call a different shop.  I told her I had not had this style done before, to which she said  “ok” and then quoted me their price, I scheduled my appointment.  I showed up the next morning, 15 hours after I made the appointment, and as I walked in the shop and sat down I was told it was going to cost more money.  When I asked why I was told that she misunderstood what I wanted when we spoke over the phone, and the price she quoted me was for a style that would take 20 min, the style I wanted was going to take an hour.  I then reminded her that when I asked her for the time frame to braid the style I inquired about over the phone she told me it would take an hour, but if the price was now going  up I was not longer interested in getting my hair braided.  I was then told that she would make an exception because I was a new customer and I could pay the price originally quoted to me over the phone.  As the hair braider began to work she asked me to change the style I asked for ( I asked for 5 fat cornrows, one in the center and two on each side), she asked me to do 6 rows 3 on each side.  I politely declined, and she said, “no problem” and began braiding.  After my hair was half completed I was informed that she would have to do 6 rows instead of 5 because my hair was thick.  I said no, and asked her if what I asked for was impossible to do, her reply ” no, but it’s more work, and it’s the same thing”, I said it is not the same thing it changes the style I want and the placement of my part- not a fan of center parts- the hair braider then begrudgingly took down a portion of my hair to re-braid my hair in the style I originally asked her for.  After she was done my braids were uneven in size, not uniform in direction, and did not look like the work of a professional African hair braider.  I realize I could have had her take it all down and redo it, but 1) if she did such a poor job the first time, why would the second time be any better and 2) my “tender-head” could not have taken another session.  So in short me making her repeat her work would have hurt me more than it would have hurt her…and therefore was not an option.

My “professional” braids

As you can see, my braids are not done very well, I could have done this myself…and I can’t braid.  In expressing my frustrations to others I have learned, and sadly so, that my string of bad experiences with braid shops is common.  I have not been to every braid shop on the planet so I cannot say they are  all bad, not only is that unfair but I’m sure untrue.  A braid shop with consistent prices,   clean environment, professional attitude, and cares about the health of your hair as much as their bottom dollar- MUST exist! At the very least,  I can dream…

xoxo hippiechicchick

References:

Me:)

History of Hair Braiding

Traction Alopecia, Emedicine.com, Basil M Hantash, MD, PhD, Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH, Updated February 2005

Is Your Diet Limiting Your Hair Growth?

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When many of us natural think about hair care we often obsess over products, regimens, protective styling, as well as many other external factors- but we often over look a very basic, but very important component…our diet.  Now you may say ” I hate drinking water, live on Cheetos and Taco Bell and consume 3 litters of soda a day, and I have GORGEOUS hair long strong and down to my ankles!” Well great for you! But the fact of the matter is that this is the exception, not the rule.  The majority of us are subject to the principle of  what we put into our bodies being just as important as what we put on it.

Here’s why…

“Hair is a barometer of your overall health,” says David H. Kingsley, Ph.D., a hair and scalp expert of the British Science Corporation in New York City.  Hair growth is stimulated mainly by nutrients supplied through the blood stream.  Now although we feel our hair is crucial….your body begs to differ. In fact to your body your hair is nonessential tissue; which means when your body is dolling out the nutrients it’s given, first in line are the key organs like your heart and brain.  Your hungry hair follicles will be last in line, if they get a place in the line at all!

Healthy Scalp

Now we know that the hair on our heads is dead lifeless protein, but  the follicles on our scalp are very much alive!

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The follicles are what is growing the hair under the scalp, and they are nourished (or NOT), by the protein, essential fatty acids (help to hydrate the follicles), vitamins like biotin and B vitamins 6 and 12 (help to strengthen the cuticle), and whole grains that we consume.  “Iron is also essential because it stimulates hair turnover and replenishment,” says Neil Sadick, M.D., a New Yorkbased dermatologist. Now understand that if you were born with fine, thin hair, you’ll never have rope-thick tresses — no matter what you eat, and be wary of those who claim differently. But a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of growth-promoting protein and iron can make a difference.

The Pantry

  • Eat foods loaded with loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fats can be found flax seeds(one of the greatest natural wonders on earth in my humble opinion).  You can add flax oil to smoothies, or ground flax seeds to many of the foods you eat.  This plant-based omega-3 fat is ideal for vegetarians or vegans (like myself). For you carnivores, salmon is your friend! Full of omega-3 fatty acids,this high-quality protein source is also filled with vitamin B-12 and iron.
  •  Dark green vegetables like spinach, broccoli and Swiss chard, are excellent sources of vitamins A and C, which your body needs to produce sebum. The oily substance, secreted by your hair follicles, is the body’s natural hair conditioner. Broccoli actually packs more vitamin C than oranges! Dark green vegetables also provide iron and calcium.
  • Beans are indeed the magical fruit!  The more you eat, the more your hair grows!  Not only do they provide plentiful protein to promote hair growth, but ample iron, zinc, and biotin. While rare, biotin deficiencies can result in brittle hair.
  • Your scalp will go nuts for nuts!  Brazil nuts are one of nature’s best sources of selenium, an important mineral for the health of your scalp.  Walnuts contain alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that may help condition your hair. They are also a terrific source of zinc, as are cashews, pecans, and almonds. A zinc deficiency can lead to hair shedding, so make sure nuts are a regular on your healthy hair menu.
  • Sink your teeth into hearty whole grains, including whole-wheat bread and fortified whole-grain cereals, for a hair-healthy dose of zinc, iron, and B vitamins ( many cereals for vegans are fortified with B6 and B 12 which is essential to the health of your hair and body).

Lost Pounds Could Equal Lost Hair

If you’re tempted to drop pounds fast it could leave you with less-than-healthy hair. Low-calorie diets are often low in some of the most important nutrients for healthy hair, including omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and vitamin A. In addition to stunting hair growth and leading to dullness, super-low calorie plans may even cause hair loss.

“Crash diets can affect the hair cycle. Losing a significant amount of weight in a short amount of time can affect that normal hair rhythm. Two to three months later, you might notice a significant increase in shedding. This is a temporary problem that you recover from with a well-rounded diet.” Paradi Mirmirani, M.D

Treat your body well and your hair will definitely flourish! Oh and the rest of you will feel and look great too!

Big Hair Don’t Care… At Least Not Anymore (An Apology Letter)

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Part of transitioning from my sleek straight chemically relaxed hair to my kinky coily spirals was embracing BIG HAIR. Let me just start by saying that I never liked big hair. I spent countless hours and dollars trying to tame my hair into submission, and although the Texas humidity was against me, I usually won. I relished the short Texas winters when my hair was well behaved without much effort; and when I moved to New York my hair and I both embraced the lower humidity levels and breathed a sigh of relief.

Then four years ago I decided to transition to my natural hair texture. At first there wasn’t much difference as I was having my new growth pressed to match my straight relaxed hair. My hair was a little fuller, but not big, it just had more volume. After transitioning for a year and a half I finally had my relaxed ends cut off, but continued to get my hair pressed. When I finally started wearing my hair not straight it was always in a flexi rod set, which enabled me to sport these sleek, 3b ringlets, which were full- but not really big. It was not until my second big chop in march of this year (due to heat damage, that sleekness comes at a price) that I started sporting my own coils and curls heat free. And you guessed it, I had BIG hair! I mean gravity defying, up and out, OMG what am I gonna do BIG HAIR. I am not embarrassed to admit (because I know I’m not alone) I didn’t leave my house for two weeks. I made up every excuse in the world to not go out…let’s just say I was very “ill” for awhile. My despair not only came from the sheer height and girth of my hair, but from my complete lack of knowledge of what to do with it. The chemically relaxed hair I had spent the better part of my life mastering was now gone, and what was left was this mass of unfamiliar cottony coils that seemed to have a mind of their own; and like to express themselves in a BIG way.

Initially I wore my hair in slick backed pony tails (as slick as I could manage) after months of this I began to slowly venture into twist outs and bantu knot out, then into curly fro- hawks, then into curly fros. The more I learned, the more I wanted to experiment. The more I experimented the bolder I got. The bolder I got, guess what, the bigger I wanted my hair! I began to realize that the accepting my hair for what it is (kinks, coils, curls and all) also meant accepting that natural hair is naturally BIG. When I first began my hair journey I focused on the transition of my hair, but unexpectedly my mind followed. As I began to accept my hair, this delightful acceptance extended to myself, the size of my hair (big or small) was an extension of me- and was therefore perfect as is, just because it was mine. Now I don’t mind big hair at all, in fact I rather love my big hair!

Naturals embrace your big hair, and don’t care what anyone other than you thinks about it!

 

Xoxo hippiechicchick

 

Petroleum and Mineral Oil…Are Your Hair Products Increasing Your Risk For Cancer?

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Loads of the cosmetic and hair products on the market contain mineral oil, as do many creams and lotions. Mineral oil may sound harmless, but… it’s not. This concept is especially hard to grasp for those of us who have used it for so long. From baby oil to hair grease to lip gloss- this product has surrounded us daily for most of our lives…so how can it be bad?

Mineral oil is actually a derivative of petroleum, that’s right, the same stuff you put in your car’s engine! Because it’s very viscous (slippery), and very inexpensive many products use mineral oil as the main ingredient. This despite the fact that it’s a known carcinogen!

It acts as a sealant which means it blocks your pores and does not allow your skin to breath, a natural respiration process your skin very much needs. Blocked pores can lead to acne. And, because mineral oil can create an impenetrable film on your skin, and hair it may also block the absorption of any beneficial ingredients you may apply. It can also cause the hair to become dry and brittle and prone to breakage if it is not thoroughly cleansed to ensure the chemical barrier is completely removed.

“A study, published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, found that commonly used moisturizing creams containing mineral oil are tumorigenic when applied topically to UVB-pretreated high-risk mice. What this means is that these creams and lotions can increase the rate at which skin tumors form. The study tested four common skin lotions:

  • Dermabase
  • Dermovan
  • Eucerin Original Moisturizing Cream
  • Vanicream

What these creams have in common is that they all contain mineral oil. Mice that were at high risk of developing skin cancer received a topical application of 100 mg of one of the creams once a day, five days a week for 17 weeks. The researchers concluded that the rate of tumor formation significantly increased, as did the tumor size per mouse. In fact, the number of histologically characterized tumors increased by a whopping 69 percent!” Dr. Joseph Mercola.

If 100mg per day sounds like a lot, it’s not, 100 mg is equivalent to 20 tsp. When we add up the total sum of all the products we use daily (makeup, lip stick, lip balm, lotion (most of us re apply), shampoo, conditioner, leave in, hair gel, curl cream, hair polisher, makeup remover, sun screen, soap, shower gel…the list can go on; with all of that if -we only use 20 tsp we’re fortunate.

Mineral oil has countless different names, but the same effect.

Alternate names include:

  • Adepsine oil
  • Albolene
  • Baby oil
  • Drakeol
  • Lignite oil
  • Liquid paraffin / paraffin oil
  • Mineral seal oil
  • Petrolatum
  • White oil

Safer Choices

One of the easiest ways to ensure that you’re not being exposed to potentially hazardous agents is to simply make your own personal care products, when possible, and if not read labels CAREFULLY. Some great natural moisturizers are EVOO and EVCO, these can be used for face and body. ( I personally LOVE my coconut oil) Coconut oil also is also a potent source of the beneficial fat lauric acid.

You can also find many organic skin oils and lotions these days. Just be sure to read labels and check products out before buying them to make sure you’re not being fooled by less-than-honest claims ( This not an area you want to be trusting about). A fantastic web site by the Environmental Working Group can aid you- http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ it is an excellent resource for finding and evaluating healthful personal care products, and weeding out the bad ones.

Resources:

Dr. Joseph Mercola

http://www.mercola.com/

The Journal Of Investigative Dermatology
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2630214/?tool=pubmed
Green Med Info
http://www.greenmedinfo.com/article/commonly-used-moisturizing-creams-containing-mineral-oil-are-tumorigenic-when-applied

Lavender Oil and Hair Growth


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Lavender oil has many wonderful benefits both for mind and body.  Many naturals mix their own hair tonics and various concoctions, present company included, and often include lavender oil.  Lavender oil is so popular not only because of it’s amazing sent, but because of its regenerative properties; one of which is aiding in hair growth, or even in some cases stopping hair loss.

Research

The Department of Dermatology at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary studied the effect of essential oils on  patients who suffered from hair loss caused by alopecia areata. This study was conducted in 1999 by  Scottish dermatologist Dr. Isabelle C. Hay and a team of researchers from the department of dermatology at Aberdeen.

Researchers divided the patient participants into two groups, one group was the active group the other the control group.  The study was controlled and double-blind taking place over a seven month active period and included follow ups at three months and seven months post treatment.  The treatment was broken down as follows:

  • Active Group:  massage the essential oil recipe they were given onto their scalps daily for two minutes.
  • Control Group: massage the carrier oils jojoba and grapeseed onto their scalps daily for two minutes.

Findings

At the completion of the study 19 of the 43 patient participants in the active group showed significant improvement in hair growth, with one gentleman reportedly growing a full head of hair after being bald.  In the control group 6 of the 41 patient participants showed a little improvement, but nothing significant. This study reveals that 44% of the group using the essential oils significantly improved.  The average area of hair regrowth with the essential oils was 104 square centimeters, compared with nearly zero for those using the placebo.

The Aberdeen Royal Infirmary Study Recipe

  • atlas cedarwood essential oil – 2 drops
  • thyme essential oil – 2 drops
  • rosemary essential oil – 3 drops
  • lavender essential oil – 3 drops
  • jojoba carrier oil – ½ teaspoon
  • grapeseed carrier oil – 4 teaspoons

**At the beginning of the study, and again after three and seven months, professional photographs were taken of each patient’s scalp. Changes as seen in the photographs served as the primary outcome measure.  Mapping and measuring of the bald patches was also done to determine results.

Reference:

Hay, Isabelle C., et al. Randomized Trial of Aromatherapy – Successful Treatment for Alopecia Areata.  Archives of Dermatology 1998;134:1349-135

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