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With the best articles on caring for natural hair, Curly Nikki is your source for inspiration and advice. Find out about the latest styles and trends today!

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    IAmNaturallyCurious has gorgeous curls and a quick and simple wash & go method that yields awesome results.  Check her out!

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    Tiffany Marie Scott shows us how she gets a curly look on her gorgeous hair-

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    by Tammy of Curly Chic

    1. Start a Hair Diary or Journal
    Writing a diary may sound a little “High School” to some but it can really be helpful in your journey. Documenting and maintaining the products you’ve used and the results they delivered will help you keep track of what your hair likes. You can set goals and log results, good and bad.
    Does your hair like oil based or water based products best? Do certain oils do nothing for your hair? This will aid in your quest for the perfect product combination.

    2. Assess your lifestyle
    Do you work out daily? If so, what time of day do you work out? How often do you shampoo? Is your evening hectic? What’s your work schedule? The answers to these questions will help you decide what hairstyles are right for you and when they are appropriate. Wash and gos might be better if you are short on time but still want to look fly. Twist outs may be the answer for you if your days are full of laundry, burping babies and running errands. The prep time may be a little longer but the results can be rocked for several days at a time.


    3. Research
    Read the blogs, talk to your hair stylist, network with others who are natural or who are headed in that direction. There is a wealth of information out on the web regarding what products to use for your hair type and when to use them, where to buy them, etc. Suggestions on hair tools to use, books on healthy hair, seminars to attend, you name it, its out there! Google is definitely your friend!

    4. Try new hairstyles
    Don’t be afraid to step outside the box and try something new. Maybe you think you only look good with hair off of your face. Try it anyway and maybe add an accessory. You may be pleasantly surprised. I always try new stuff on the weekends when I don’t have work and no evens to attend. That way if it’s a mess, no biggie! I can wash it and start over. You Tube is great for checking out how-to tutorials. Some people are very good about providing step by step instructions. Check out “My Fave YouTubers” tab for a few that I look at almost daily for inspiration.

    5. Recognize that building a regimen is mostly trial and error.
    You may end up with a ton of products in your arsenal before both you and your hair are happy! But that’s okay! Everything doesn’t work for everyone but having a regimen will get you one step closer to achieving awesome results!

    **How did you create your hair regimen?**
    Is it working out for you? How do you know when it's time for a change?

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    Re-post from Winter 2009

    T.L. asks:

    Nikki, how can I tell which products contain protein and which ones don't? I believe I'm protein sensitive because I deal with dry, brittle feeling hair after using conditioners with wheat protein, but I'm aware that other proteins may not be so obvious. What should I look out for?

    Read On for a Comprehensive List>>>

    CN Says:

    Proteins in Hair Products

    Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed casein
    Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed collagen
    Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed hair keratin
    Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed keratin
    Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed rice protein
    Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed silk
    Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed soy protein
    Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed wheat protein
    Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl silk amino acids
    Cocoyl hydrolyzed collagen
    Cocoyl hydrolyzed keratin
    Hydrolyzed keratin
    Hydrolyzed oat flour
    Hydrolyzed silk
    Hydrolyzed silk protein
    Hydrolyzed soy protein
    Hydrolyzed wheat protein
    Hydrolyzed wheat protein
    Potassium cocoyl hydrolyzed collagen
    TEA-cocoyl hydrolyzed collagen
    TEA-cocoyl hydrolyzed soy protein

    After searching for an answer to the above question, I thought of one myself. I've never seen a comprehensive list of humectants, and knowing how to successfully identify them may aid in better product choices. The following is taken from Tonya McKay-
    "Hair exposed to very dry air without protection can lose its moisture, develop an unpleasant texture and can become unruly, flyaway, and frizzy. It also can become more prone to breakage and split ends. Conversely, unprotected exposure to excessive moisture and humidity can swell the hair cortex, causing the cuticle scales on the exterior of the hair shaft to become ruffled and giving hair a coarse, unpleasant texture. Clearly, neither scenario is desirable." 
    Low Humidity 
    In extremely low-humidity conditions, such as a cold, dry winter air, there is no appreciable amount of water in the air for the humectant to attract to the surface of the hair. In this particular type of climate, the best one can hope for with most traditional humectants is for them to prevent evaporation of water from the hair into the environment. Also, under these circumstances, there is some risk of the humectant actually removing moisture from the cortex of the hair itself, creating the problem it was intended to prevent.

    That’s why in dry climates it is important to use conditioning products which rely on strong moisturizers rather than traditional humectants. However, it is interesting to note that new humectants are being developed that perform well even in low humidity (such as hydroxypropyl bis-hydroxyethyldimonium chloride and dihydroxypropyltrimonium chloride). 
    High Humidity 
    In high-humidity conditions, such as summertime in the southeastern United States or the tropics — where the relative humidity can easily reach or exceed 90 percent during the day — there is a tremendous amount of moisture in the air. This can be disastrous for curly hair. If curly hair is dry and damaged, it is very porous, and easily absorbs water from the air. In high-humidity conditions, this can cause curly hair to swell so much that cuticles are raised, making the surface of the hair very rough. These cuticles can then become entangled with cuticles of adjacent hairs and create a huge, tangled mass, which is prone to breakage. Also, curly hair swollen by excess water can lose its curl pattern, creating the dreaded summer frizz.

    Clearly, products heavy in humectants will only exacerbate problems with humidity-induced frizz. Some humectants can also develop a sticky feeling when they become saturated with water, which is certainly an undesirable characteristic for hair. Thus, in tropical and subtropical climates, it is essential to maintain well-moisturized hair that is in good condition (which will be less prone to absorbing water from the hair). But it is preferable to use products containing fewer humectants or humectants with less hygroscopic capacity."

    1,2,6 hexanetriol
    Butylene Glycol
    Dipropylene glycol
    Hexylene Glycol
    Phytantriol — enhances moisture-retention, increases absorption of vitamins, panthenol, and amino acids into hair shaft, imparts gloss
    Propylene glycol
    Sodium PCA
    Triethylene glycol
    Polyglyceryl sorbitol
    Potassium PCA
    Hydrogenated Honey
    Hyaluronic Acid
    Hexanediol beeswax
    Hexanetriol Beeswax
    Hydrolyzed Elastin
    Hydrolyzed Collagen
    Hydrolyzed Silk
    Hydrolyzed Keratin
    Capryl glycol
    Isoceteth-(3-10, 20, 30)
    Isolaureth-(3-10, 20, 30)

    taken from this article.

    Damn...I believe that we all need to go back to school and major in chemistry! The article that I took the 2 ingredient lists from is ridiculously invaluable!

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    Compiled by Tonya McKay

    This is a dynamic list; I’ll update and amend as necessary.

    CN Says:
    -Grab your favorite bottle of conditioner or styler... I'll wait. 

     -Flip it over to review the ingredients.

    -Do a 'ctrl +f'' (or control + find, or a command + f, or the like) and type in the ingredients that are too long to pronounce. You'll be amazed at which ones are emulsifiers, detergents, preservatives, etc. Cool stuff. You'll never be in the dark again!  You'll also be more prepared the next time you hit the hair care aisle.  Be especially mindful of the first 5 ingredients (the only ones that truly matter) in each of your favorite products (take note!) so you know what to look for when selecting new products.  

    Anionic Surfactants
    Detergency, foaming:
    Alkylbenzene sulfonates
    Ammonium laureth sulfate: can be drying to the hair
    Ammonium lauryl sulfate: can be very drying to the hair
    Ammonium Xylenesulfonate
    Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate
    Sodium cocoyl sarcosinate
    Sodium laureth sulfate: can be drying to the hair
    Sodium lauryl sulfate: can be especially drying to the hair
    Sodium lauryl sulfoacetate
    Sodium myreth sulfate
    Sodium Xylenesulfonate
    Ethyl PEG-15 cocamine sulfate
    Dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate

    Amphoteric Surfactants
    Used to provide mild cleansing, as well as some aid in foaming:
    Cocamidopropyl betaine
    Coco betaine
    Disodium cocoamphodiacetate
    Disodium cocoamphodipropionate
    Sodium cocoyl isethionate

    Open to View Full List>>>

    Cationic Surfactants
    Quaternary Ammonium compounds:used to provide conditioning, some detergency, emulsion stabilization:
    Behentrimonium chloride
    Behentrimonium methosulfate (gentler)
    Benzalkonium chloride
    Cetrimonium chloride
    Cinnamidopropyltrimonium chloride
    Cocotrimonium chloride
    Dicetyldimonium chloride
    Dicocodimonium chloride
    Dihydrogenated tallow dimethylammonium chloride
    Hydrogenated Palm Trimethylammonium chloride
    Laurtrimonium chloride
    Quaternium-18 Bentonite
    Quaternium-18 Hectonite
    Stearalkonium chloride
    Tallowtrimonium chloride
    Tricetyldimonium chloride

    Nonionic Surfactants
    Used for gentle cleansing and for emulsion stabilization:
    Decyl glucoside
    Laureth-10 (lauryl ether 10)
    PEG-10 Sorbitan Laurate
    Polysorbate- (20, 21, 40, 60, 61, 65, 80, 81)
    PPG-1 Trideceth-6
    Steareth- (2, 10, 15, 20)
    C11-21 Pareth- (number between 3 and 30, the higher the number, the more water soluble and higher the hydrophilic portion)
    C12-20 Acid PEG-8 Ester

    Larger surfactants used to stabilize emulsions (droplets of oils in water):
    Caprylic/capric/diglyceryl succinate
    C10-15 Pareth-(2,4,6,8) Phosphate
    C14-16 Glycol Palmitate
    C18-20 Glycol Isostearate
    Cocamidopropyl lauryl ether
    DIPA-hydrogenated cocoate
    Dipentaerythrityl hydroxystearate
    Dipentaerythrityl hydroxyisostearate
    Dipentaerythrityl hexacaprate/caprylate
    Palm kernel glycerides

    Butyl paraben
    Diazolidinyl urea
    DMDM Hydantoin
    Ethyl paraben
    Imidazolidinyl Urea
    Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate
    Isobutyl paraben
    Methyl paraben
    Propyl paraben
    Sodium benzoate

    Aluminum stearates/isostearates/myristates/laurates/palmitates — any mixture thereof
    Glycol distearate
    Hydrogenated castor oil
    Hydrogenated castor oil hydroxystearate
    Hydrogenated castor oil isostearate
    Hydrogenated castor oil stearate
    Hydrogenated castor PEG-8 esters
    PEG150 distearate

    Naturally derived polymers
    Used for thickening of the product:
    Carboxymethyl hydroxyethyl cellulose
    Carboxymethyl hydroxypropyl guar
    Ethyl cellulose
    Hydroxybutyl methylcellulose
    Lauryl Polyglucose

    Attract water to the hair to keep the moisture content high:
    1,2,6 hexanetriol
    Dipropylene glycol
    Hexylene Glycol
    Phytantriol — enhances moisture-retention, increases absorption of vitamins, panthenol, and amino acids into hair shaft, imparts gloss
    Propylene glycol
    Sodium PCA
    Triethylene glycol
    Polyglyceryl sorbitol
    Potassium PCA
    Hydrogenated Honey
    Hyaluronic Acid
    Hexanediol beeswax
    Hexanetriol Beeswax
    Hydrolyzed Elastin
    Hydrolyzed Collagen
    Hydrolyzed Silk
    Hydrolyzed Keratin
    Capryl glycol
    Isoceteth-(3-10, 20, 30)
    Isolaureth-(3-10, 20, 30)

    Cationic Polymers
    Positively charged polymers that provide silkening and smoothing effects by adhering to the surface of the hair due to the hair’s overall negative charge:
    Guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride

    Used to add shine and gloss to hair, decrease combing friction and tangling, provide conditioning, and act as anti-humectants:
    Amodimethicone not soluble in water by itself
    Amodimethicone (and) Trideceth-12 (and) Cetrimonium
    Chloride mixture that is soluble in water in the bottle
    Behenoxy Dimethicone Sparingly soluble in water
    Cetearyl methicone not soluble in water
    Cetyl Dimethicone not soluble in water
    Cyclomethicone not soluble in water
    Cyclopentasiloxane not soluble in water
    Dimethicone not soluble in water
    Dimethicone Copolyol water soluble
    Dimethicone copolyol water soluble
    Dimethiconol not soluble in water
    Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein Hydroxypropyl Polysiloxane – water soluble
    Stearoxy Dimethicone Sparingly soluble in water
    Stearyl Dimethicone not soluble in water
    Trimethylsilylamodimethicone not soluble in water
    Lauryl methicone copolyol water soluble

    Organic oils
    Emollient effects, conditioning:
    Mineral oil

    Humectants, conditioners:
    Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed casein
    Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed collagen
    Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed hair keratin
    Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed keratin
    Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed rice protein
    Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed silk
    Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed soy protein
    Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed wheat protein
    Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl silk amino acids
    Cocoyl hydrolyzed collagen
    Cocoyl hydrolyzed keratin
    Hydrolyzed keratin
    Hydrolyzed oat flour
    Hydrolyzed silk
    Hydrolyzed silk protein
    Hydrolyzed soy protein
    Hydrolyzed wheat protein
    Hydrolyzed wheat protein
    Potassium cocoyl hydrolyzed collagen
    TEA-cocoyl hydrolyzed collagen
    TEA-cocoyl hydrolyzed soy protein

    Retinol, Retinyl palmitate (Vitamin A)
    Tocopherol acetate (Vitamin E)

    Emollient Esters
    Provide conditioning to the hair and give a soft, smooth feel:
    Butyl myristate
    Butyl stearate
    C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate
    Caprylic/capric triglyceride
    Cetyl octanoate
    Cetyl stearate
    Cetearyl stearate
    Decyl oleate
    Dimethyl Lauramine Isostearate
    Glyceryl Stearate
    Glyceryl adipate
    Glyceryl arachidate
    Glyceryl arachidonate
    Glyceryl behenate
    Glyceryl caprate
    Glyceryl caprylate
    Glyceryl caprylate / caprate
    Glyceryl citrate / lactate / linoleate / oleate
    Glyceryl cocoate
    Glyceryl Diarachidate
    Glyceryl Dibehenate
    Glyceryl Dierucate
    Glyceryl Dihydroxystearate
    Glyceryl Diisopalmitate
    Glyceryl Diisostearate
    Glyceryl Dilaurate
    Glyceryl Dilinoleate
    Glyceryl Dimyristate
    Glyceryl Dioleate
    Glyceryl Dipalmitate
    Glyceryl Dipalmitoleate
    Glyceryl Diricinoleate
    Glyceryl Distearate
    Glyceryl Erucate
    Glycol stearate
    Isocetyl stearate
    Isopropyl Myristate
    Isopropyl palmitate
    Isopropyl stearate
    Isostearyl stearate
    Octyl palmitate
    Octyl stearate
    Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate
    Sorbitan benzoate
    Sorbitan caprylate
    Sorbitan isostearate
    Sorbitan laurate
    Sorbitan Tristearate
    Stearyl stearate
    Tocopheryl linoleate

    Emulsifying agents / emulsion stabilisers / surfactants / viscosity controlling agents:
    Acetamide MEA
    Cocamide DEA
    Cocamide MEA
    Lactamide MEA
    Lauramide DEA
    Lauramide DEA & Propylene Glycol
    Lauramide MEA
    Lecithinamide DEA
    Linoleamide DEA
    Linoleamide MEA
    Linoleamide MIPA
    Myristamide DEA
    Myristamide MEA
    Myristamide MIPA
    Oleamide DEA
    Oleamide DEA
    Oleamide MEA
    Oleamide MIPA
    Soyamide DEA
    Stearamide MEA

    Emulsifiers and conditioning agents:
    Behentamidopropyl Dimethylamine
    Cocamidopropyl Dimethylamine
    Isostearamidopropyl Dimethylamine
    Lauramidopropyl Dimethylamine
    Myristamidopropyl Dimethylamine
    Oleamidopropyl Dimethylamine
    Palmitamidopropyl Dimethylamine
    Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine
    Tallamidopropyl Dimethylamine

    Used in very small amounts:
    Ascorbic acid
    Citric acid
    Sodium hydroxide

    Often used to enhance thickness (viscosity) of the product:
    Calcium chloride
    Magnesium chloride
    Magnesium sulfate: has been found to add volume to hair, used to enhance curls
    Potassium chloride
    Potassium glycol sulfate
    Sodium Chloride

    Fatty Alcohols
    Provide emollient effect, lubricity, emulsion stabilization:
    Behenyl alcohol
    Cetearyl alcohol
    Cetyl alcohol
    Isocetyl alcohol
    Isostearyl alcohol
    Lauryl alcohol
    Myristyl alcohol
    Stearyl alcohol
    C30-50 Alcohols
    Lanolin alcohol

    UV Filters/sunscreens
    Benzophenone-2, ( or 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
    Benzyl salicylate
    Benzylidene camphor sulfonic acid
    Ethyl cinnamate
    Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate (octyl methoxycinnamate)
    Octoxynol-40, -20
    Octyl methoxycinnamate
    Octyl Salicylate
    Phenyl ketone
    PEG-25 PABA
    Polyacrylamidomethyl benzylidene camphor

    Natural Oils
    Provide emolliency, conditioning, add shine:
    Coconut oil
    Jojoba oil
    Olive oil
    Palm Oil
    Safflower Oil
    Sesame seed oil
    Shea butter
    Sweet almond oil
    Wheat germ oil

    Amine Oxides
    Used to help disperse dyes in product
    Cocamine oxide
    Lauramine oxide

    Chelating agents
    Used in small amounts to react with metal ions present in the product or in the water, in order to improve stability or performance of the product:
    Diiospropyl oxalate
    Disodium EDTA
    Disodium EDTA-copper
    Oxalic acid
    Potassium or sodium citrate
    Sodium oxalate
    Tetrasodium EDTA
    Trisodium EDTA
    Trisodium HEDTA

    Fatty Acids
    Used as emulsifying agents, emulsion stabilizers:
    Arichidonic acid
    Capric Acid
    Coconut Fatty Acid
    Lauric acid
    Linoleic acid
    Linolenic acid
    Myristic Acid
    Palmitic acid
    Pantothenic acid
    Stearic acid
    Caproic acid
    Capryleth-(4,6,9) carboxylic acid
    Isostearic acid

    Anti-Microbials/ Antibacterial

    PEG-Modified materials
    Used as emulsifiers, surfactants, humectants, and to make non-wter soluble molecules more water soluble (There are thousands of these approved for use):
    PEG-150 Pentaerythirtyl Tetrastearate
    PEG- 2, -3, -4, -6, -8, -12, -20, -32, -50, -150, -175 Distearate – also used to thicken the product
    PEG-10 castor oil
    PEG-10 cocamine
    PEG-10 cocoate
    PEG-10 coconut oil esters
    PEG-10 glyceryl oleate
    PEG-10 glyceryl pibsa tallate
    PEG-10 glyceryl stearate
    PEG-10 hydrogenated lanolin
    PEG-10 hydrogenated tallow amine
    PEG-10 isolauryl thioether
    PEG-10 isostearate
    PEG-10 lanolate
    PEG-10 lanolin
    PEG-10 laurate
    PEG-10 oleate
    PEG-10 olive glycerides
    PEG-10 polyglyceryl-2 laurate
    PEG-10 propylene glycol
    PEG-10 sorbitan laurate
    PEG-10 soya sterol
    PEG-10 soyamine
    PEG-10 stearamine
    PEG-10 stearate
    PEG-10 stearyl benzonium chloride
    PEG-10 tallate
    PEG-10 tallow aminopropylamine
    PEG-100 castor oil
    PEG-100 hydrogenated castor oil
    PEG-100 lanolin
    PEG-100 stearate
    PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, PEG-60..etc.
    PEG-55 Propylene glycol Distearate

    Miscellaneous Polymers
    There are many, and they are used for a variety of purposes:
    Carbomer: Polymer used to provide thickening
    Dodecanedioic acid/cetearyl alcohol/glycol copolymer: Polymer used to provide thickening
    Hydrogenated C6-14 olefin polymers: Polymer used to form films on hair surface in hair styling products
    Hydrogenated ethylene/propylene/styrene copolymer: Polymer used to form films on hair surface in hair styling products
    Polyacrylic acid: Polymer used to provide thickening, emulsification, binding, and film forming on hair
    Polymethyl methacrylate: Polymer used to form films on hair surface in hair styling products
    Polyvinyl acetate: Polymer used to form films on hair surface in hair styling products
    Polyvinyl alcohol: Polymer used to form films on hair surface in hair styling products
    PPG: Polymer used to provide thickening and to stabilize emulsions
    PPG-25-Laureth-25: Polymer used to provide thickening and to stabilize emulsions
    PPG-5 Pentaerithrityl ether: Polymer used to provide thickening and to stabilize emulsions
    PPG-75-PEG-300-hexylene glycol: Polymer used to provide thickening
    PVP (Polyvinylpyrrolidone): Polymer used to provide thickening
    PVP/VA (polyvinylpyrrolidone/vinyl acetate copolymer): Polymer used to provide thickening
    Sodium carbomer: Polymer used to provide thickening
    TEA-carbomer: Polymer used to provide thickening
    Poloxamer (100-407): Polymers used as emulsifiers (emulsion stabilizers) and surfactants (detergents)
    Poloxamine (followed by a number): Polymers used as emulsifiers (emulsion stabilizers) and surfactants (detergents)
    Polyacrylamidomethylpropane sulfonic acid: Polymer used to form films on hair surface in hair styling products
    Polyethylene terephthalate: Polymer used to form films on hair surface in hair styling products

    Anti-static agents
    Reduce static charge build-up and fly-away hair:
    Apricotamidopropyl Ethyldimonium Ethosulfate
    Apricotamidopropyl Ethyldimonium Lactate
    Cocamidopropyl Ethyldimonium Ethosulfate
    Cocamidopropyl Ethyldimonium Lactate
    Lauramidopropyl Ethyldimonium Ethosulfate
    Lauramidopropyl Ethyldimonium Lactate
    Linoleamidopropyl Ethyldimonium Ethosulfate
    Linoleamidopropyl Ethyldimonium Lactate
    Myristamidopropyl Ethyldimonium Ethosulfate
    Myristamidopropyl Ethyldimonium Lactate
    Oleamidopropyl Ethyldimonium Ethosulfate
    Oleamidopropyl Ethyldimonium Lactate
    Stearamidopropyl Ethyldimonium Ethosulfate
    Stearamidopropyl Ethyldimonium Lactate

    Used a solvent, can be drying to the hair:
    SD alcohol 40
    Witch hazel

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    by Nicole Hollis of Hair Liberty

    There are times when you need your hair to look like perfection. Maybe you have an exciting date or a big meeting at work. You take the time to put every strand in its proper place, but within minutes of going outside, the best twist out ever or the most polished blow out turns into an undefined mess. That's because humidity in the environment brings excess moisture to your hair. The humidity may be from rain, or because you live in Texas or Florida, or because you're sweatin' out your hurr in a hot club. Wherever the excess moisture comes from, it's usually not enough to make your hair look wet, just enough to swell your strands and make your hair poof out. So frustrating!

    Unlike many other hair care problems, the strategies for fighting frizz are more about product than technique. To protect your hair from humidity, you have to seal like your life (okay the life of your hairstyle) depends on it. Here are the must haves:

    Frizz Fighter #1: A protein conditioner/treatment

    Rinse out products that contain hydrolyzed protein temporarily patch up some of the cuticle holes in porous hair. If African American hair doesn't get additional protein regularly, it will frizz out very quickly no matter what you do. Make sure to use a strengthening product at least once every 2 weeks. Salon quality protein conditioners will leave your hair smooth and strong, not stiff.

    Product recommendations

    Curlisto Deep Therapy Masque
    Joico Moisture Recovery Conditioner for Dry Hair
    Nexxus Emergencee Strengthening Polymeric Reconstructor
    Ouidad 12 Minute Deep Treatment


    Frizz Fighter #2: A polyquaternium styling product with hold

    Usually, products with "hold" leave natural hair sticky or crunchy and of course that's not good. Natural African American curls do best with mousses and gels made with holding ingredients called polyquaterniums. If you prefer all natural products that might sound like an ingredient category to avoid, but chances are you've used them before. Polyquaterniums are found in lotions, creams, shampoos, conditioners, mousses, and gels. They condition the hair by wrapping each strand in a protective film that leaves it soft, shiny, and easier to comb. There are many different types of polyquats, each with a different number. A good holding product for natural hair contains polyquaternium 4 and/or polyquaternium 11. Those specific polyquaterniums are excellent at keeping humidity from ruining your style.

    Polyquaternium products should not be sticky, but they can make your hair feel crunchy when it dries. Don't worry, you can get rid of that stiffness if you "scrunch out the crunch". Here's how you do it: Once your hair is dry, apply a small dab of oil or a silicone serum to your palms and gather your hair like you're about to put it in a ponytail. As you run your hands over your coils, you'll loosen up the top layer of the styling product so that your hair can be fluffy and have more movement. Keep scrunching and smoothing until your hair is soft but still defined. It takes less than a minute to "scrunch out the crunch", but it makes the difference between soft and stiff hair. And more importantly, your wash n' go or twist out should be able to last through an important event or long day.

    Product recommendations

    Curls Gel-les'c Curl Serum/Gel
    Nexxus Gorgeous Curls Curl Enhancing Foam Styler
    Pantene Curly Hair Series Curl Defining Mousse

    Frizz Fighter #3: Hairspray

    Hairspray is the original humidity blocker. As long as you hold the can the instructed 12 inches away, you'll cover your hair with extra strong humidity protection. The major problem with hairspray is that it causes your strands to stick together and it really doesn't leave the hair touchably soft (no matter what the commercials say). When using hairspray to protect your style, be disciplined and don't touch your hair after it's done. Running your fingers through hairsprayed hair will cause breakage. Therefore, you should only use hairspray when you need extra assurance that your hair will hold up (first day at work, weddings, promotional events, etc.). Also, unlike polyquaternium products, hairspray doesn't rinse out or mix with water. You have to shampoo it out, so only use hairspray if you can wash your hair within the following 2 days.

    Product recommendations

    L'Oreal Elnett Satin Hairspray
    Sebastian Shaper Plus Hairspray

    Frizz Fighter #4: Living Proof Products

    Living Proof is a company started by a group of accomplished scientists who worked with beauty experts to create products that combat frustrating hair problems like frizz. Yes, seriously! One of the founders even teaches at MIT.

    Their "No Frizz" Styling Cream promises to lock out humidity while leaving your curls both defined and soft. They also have a new styling spray called "Straight" that protects your hair from heat and keeps it incredibly soft and straight until the next wash (it really works). Living Proof products live up to their claims as long as you follow the instructions and use enough to thoroughly coat your hair. Unfortunately, the products are very expensive (a 2 oz sample costs $15) and you really will need to use a lot to get the intended results. Because of the price, they're not a great solution for everyday, but think of Living Proof products as your secret weapon.

    Product recommendations

    No Frizz Wave, Curl Styling Cream
    No Frizz Wave, Curl Styling Treatment
    Straight Styling Hairspray

    The inherent porosity of African American hair makes fighting humidity very difficult, especially if you have fine hair, which doesn't like to hold its shape anyway. Good hair care techniques and a consistent regimen of shampooing, oil treatments, and trims will give you the best foundation for long lasting styles. After that, the secret to success is careful product selection and thorough application. Sorry product junkies, time for another trip to the beauty supply!

    Hair Liberty is a comprehensive resource for African American hair care information. We sort through the latest hair care advice and compare hundred of products to find the most accurate recommendations for our readers. Visithairliberty.orgto learn about your hair and how to achieve your hair goals. And be sure to Like the Hair Liberty Facebook page for extra tips and info!

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    by Tammy Goodson of CurlyChic

    So it’s officially summer people! Although my air conditioner has been pumping nonstop for almost a month now and the shorts and maxis have already made their debut, the calendar says today is the official kick off. While many naturals are turning to Havana twists and box braids for refuge this season, others are total rebels and prefer to let their hair run wild and free. It is important to remember that the way you cared for your tresses during the Spring will probably not suffice if you live in a climate where relative humidity is in full effect. If you find yourself wondering why you’ve done everything right and your hair still falls prey to the big bag humidity wolf, start by checking the ingredients on whatever product you are using; if you see glycerin, step away from the product during humid weather conditions. To be fair, some people do fine with glycerin no matter what the dew point but this is a good place to start if you are having issues.


    My hair thrives during the winter months with glycerin laced products but during the summer, womp womp. Glycerin is a humectant and the purpose of a humectant is to draw moisture out of the air into your hair, which is what you don’t want when the temperature and humidity scales are off the charts. Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air and adding a humectant to the mix will only pull that moisture and dampness to your hair, causing it to immediately frizz up leaving you with less than desirable results.

    While glycerin is an awesome combative measure against breakage and the moisturizing properties are off the charts, save it for the cooler months when humidity is not king. It is worth noting that some products contain smaller amounts of glycerin as they are listed as the 9th or 10th on the ingredient list and therefore, will not have the same affect.

    How does your hair respond to glycerin? Do you use it all year round?

    Sharing hairstories and life experiences from a curl’s perspective. Find Tammy at her blog, Curlychics, on Twitter, and Facebook.

    CN Says:
    Read more about humectancts, humidity and dew points, here!

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    by Alicia James of

    My oh my how things have changed...

    I have been completely natural for over four and a half years and both my hair and regimen have gone through so many different changes.  I've changed too.


    For the first six months after my big chop, I would only do a wash and go. Honestly I had no other ideas on what to do with my newly natural hair.

    The last six months of my first year I decided to wear sew in weaves. I continued to wear extensions until I was about fifteen months natural.

    When I decided to stop wearing my weaves I was really close to relaxing my natural hair again. I had no information on being natural, I was frustrated, and I was just giving up. It all changed when I found Youtube and all of the amazing blogs. I decided to research and learn about my natural hair.

    I started to really experiment with my hair in the second year. During this time I wore many different hairstyles to include- twist outs, braid outs, bantu knot outs, updos and half updos.  I was finally having fun with my natural hair!

    Once I got closer to my third year, I really wanted to focus on having healthy and longer hair. So, I decided to start my healthy hair growth journey. Most of my third year I wore two strand twists. I would twist my natural hair and leave it in for about 3-4 weeks, wash deep condition, and repeat. I retained lots of length during my third and fourth year. I think it was because I had a really strict, low manipulation regimen. It worked for me at the time and gave me the results I was looking for.

    My fourth year anniversary I reached my length goal of waist length. It was really exciting for me. I was someone who never had long hair. My hair always grew to my shoulders and then broke off. I never thought it was possible.

    Now that I am approaching my fifth year I am feeling freer than free. I honestly feel so much, much better than the moment I did my big chop. I feel like I have gotten to a point where I don’t feel like my hair defines me as a person. I am not afraid to experiment, I do what I want to do with my hair. I have a regimen where I use minimal heat.  I switch up my hairstyles and I just have nothing but fun with my hair.  Maybe in the future I’ll add a pop of color with henna. You never know!

    Throughout my journey so many things have changed. Not only has my hair changed, I've changed! The journey never ends!

    How has your routine and feelings about your hair changed over time? 

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    HomieLoverFriend made a comment the other day that made me look at this “natural hair movement” in a new light. As he watched me twist my hair one night, he said “It’s good that you can do your hair on your own for the most part, but your hairdresser must hate that.”

    A lightbulb went off.

    Compared to when I was relaxed, my schedule for patronizing salons has gotten less and less frequent. When I was relaxed, I wisely left complex chemical treatments to the pros, but also relied much more on the skill of my favourite stylist to keep me looking good. After I transitioned and started wearing my hair naturally, a lack of competent stylists plus a desire to learn for myself led me to do more at home. Many naturals have echoed the same motivation to become reacquainted with their own hair, and to save money that was spent more regularly at salons – but what does this mean for salons catering to natural Black hair?

    Read On and Weigh In>>>

    HLF’s comment inspired me to speak with the owners and stylists at a few salons that cater to natural – or more commonly termed “curly” – hair salons. There were some common themes. Because stylists and owners saw more and more Black women returning to their natural textures, and because they heard the complaints that traditional salons were not skilled in natural hair, they were driven to fill that niche. In doing so, they worked to create salons that were open and knowledgeable, giving an alternative to salons that saw you walk in with kinks and expected you wanted to walk out with a perm.

    The reality for many of these salons is that Black women who’ve become self-sufficient rarely frequent their salons, and usually choose to only do so for complex or special occasion styles. To avoid being too narrow in niche, many salons have branded themselves towards “curly hair” versus the specific “natural hair” label – and this has widened the net of clientele. One stylist told me “We opened this salon for Black women, but they don’t come because they can do their hair on their own now.” Another explained that women of other races make more regular hair appointments, therefore they ensure that their marketing is inclusive of all kinds of curly hair. Could I necessarily blame them? When asked what I love about wearing my hair naturally, one of my top answers is the fact that now I can do my hair on my own (for the most part). Multiply that emotion by the number of women who have also transitioned and feel similarly, and it’s clear that natural/curly hair salons might be feeling the pinch.
    Now, I’d clearly be lying if I attempted to act like I didn’t need the pros. There are simply certain things that I can’t (and likely never will) do on my own. A good stylist also knows the science of hair, and can help my hair health in a way that even the best blog post or YouTube video may not be able to. Hell, my scalp massages NEVER feel as good as when my stylist does it! Besides – I miss the community of the Black salon. I remember when I got to go to the salon with my mother, and it felt like a rite of passage. I was allowed to hear women talk about things in a way I had never heard before, saw how different women defined beauty, and learned a ton about relationships, friendship, entrepreneurship, and hair. Those regular appointments were something I looked forward to, and most times I didn’t even mind the long wait for my turn in the chair.

    What a funny conundrum. An influx of women returning to their natural texture struggle to find professionals who know how to care for their hair. They become as self-sufficient as possible with the help of other mediums. Professionals recognize this neglected consumer base and create environments to service them and their specific needs. Those professionals then realize that the self-sufficient women don’t maintain the same frequency of visits that may have been expected or assumed in the past.
    Do I have any answers? Not particularly. While I will always love the ability to care for my hair on my own, I still recognize and respect the knowledge and talent that professional stylists have. Frankly, I love the influx of “curly” hair salons cropping up around me. It’s comforting to know that when I need a professional, I’ll be able to find one who is adept at managing my hair with as much care as I do for myself. While many have had to become more inclusive than their original plans may have held, I thank them for reaching out and providing a space for those of us who want more options for our natural hair. To show my gratitude, let me go ahead and book an appointment – ain’t nothin’ like a good scalp massage.

    For natural hair wearers who transitioned – do you find that you frequent the salon less now than you did before you were natural?  What services do you go to the salon for? 

    For stylists/salon owners – do you work in a salon that caters to natural/curly hair? Has the number of women returning to natural textures affected the frequency/type of clientele you have?

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  • 06/24/13--07:46: #NaturalMoment Monday!
  • It's #NaturalMoment Mondays!

    Tweet me and tell me about those moments when you can't deny that you're a curly queen! Top tweets will be featured every Monday morning, right here on!  Be sure to use hashtag #NaturalMoment

    Last week's Best of the Best--

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    Dark Girls & Nappy Hair: Parallel Nuances of Self-Hate?
    by Shaune Walters of NappyNicole

    So unless you have been under a rock the past 48 hours, you know that OWN premiered Bill Duke’s documentary “Dark Girls” last night. Social media circuits have been inundated with comments about the film. The piece argues that there is a proclivity towards lighter skin tones, which are perceived as more attractive and desirable. I feel as though the same bias exists in the black community in terms of hair texture.

    Even though everyone and their momma is going natural, take a step back and look. How many images of kinky hair versus curly hair do you see in the mainstream media? How many times have you heard a woman say” My hair is too nappy to go natural” or “She got that good hair, she can go natural”. “Good” is to hair as “light” is to skin even in our current culture. Until 2010 you would’ve caught me referring to “good” hair as curly/wavy hair and “bad “ hair as kinky/coily hair.

    Read On and Weigh in>>>

    I can’t think of a group of people other than of those of African descent where the overwhelming majority of the female population worldwide goes to such extreme measures to change their hair texture.  When I was growing up in the 80’s, getting a relaxer was like a rite of passage –something to be excited about. I remember getting my first “kiddie perm” –a Just For Me. I felt so pretty with my bouncy silky hair. I also remember waiting to let the stylist know when it was burning my scalp because I wanted my hair to be as straight as possible. And, for the next 22 years, every 6-8 weeks I would willingly subject myself to scalp irritation and discomfort all for the love of straight hair. It sounds so utterly ludicrous to me now. But that was only 3 years ago.

    This meme summarizes a lot of natural hair journeys. Myself included. I would be remiss if I didn’t admit to coveting that type 3 hair type when I saw my coils in cotton after my big chop. I hated what I saw in the mirror and felt as though my twa was ugly. Luckily I came to my senses after a few short months.

    For the thousands who grow to accept and embrace our true texture, there are just as many, if not more, on the opposite side of the coin. There are women who are obsessed with curl definition and become upset when they realize that there is no product or technique to convert their cotton into curls. There are women who have been devastated and gone back to relaxers or heat training their hair after cutting their relaxed ends released kinks from their scalps. There are women who are natural but who cover their hair with weaves because they feel like their texture is something to be reviled instead of revered. That is a level of deep self loathing that has been passed on from generation to generation. It’s one thing to prefer to wear your hair straight, but it’s another issue all together when you feel that only way you CAN wear your hair is straight. Do you see the difference?

    Weigh in by leaving your thoughts below!

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  • 06/25/13--07:14: American African.

  • By Erickka Sy Savané of Bitches Brew Blog

    I drank the African kool-aid early.

    I must have been around ten years old when I saw Roots for the first time, but the effect on me… Kunta left me defenseless against anything that Africa was selling. In him I saw a warrior, a King. And when he held his newborn daughter Kizzy up to the sky and said, “Behold the only thing greater than yourself,” I saw a father figure that I never had.

    Read On>>>

    Years later, when I read the book in junior high, I’d stay up till the wee hours of the morning devouring those pages, dreaming about the Motherland, sometimes weeping like a baby, sometimes plotting ways to avenge Kunta, to make wrong right. I stopped eating pork, it was the least I could do. This from a girl who grew up in a family dominated by pig’s feet, hog maws, chitlins’ and skins with hot sauce.
    It would take an all black college in Ohio before Africans would become real. My God, the first time I saw one in the flesh was surreal! His name was Badu, he was from Senegal and you couldn’t tell me that he wasn’t a Prince. If you saw him dressed in his royal African garb, skin the color of night, eyes as black as coal, walking as if the sky would collapse if it weren’t for him, you would know. He taught me my first real things about Africa. No he wasn’t a Prince (come on, you sure?) and his father didn’t have four wives. I also became friends with his two buddies. My girls and I would hang out with them just because they were so damn respectful! It was a welcome contrast to the guys we were used to seeing shooting dice outside of our dorm room, drinking 40’s, in an area called “The Breezeway.” And calling me “African lover.” I guess I was supposed to be pissed but it only strengthened my determination to be friends with whoever I wanted. It also made me more aware of what I had noticed to be a divide between African Americans and Africans. Well, that would never do. If they knew what I knew, that Africans were cool as hell, they might actually become friends and even learn something. And who didn’t want to know about Africa? So I organized a ‘buddy day’ where an African student would be paired with an African American student for a few hours to hang out and get to know each other. It was going to be wonderful! Or so I thought. Buddy day came and brought with it the reality that it wasn’t that deep for either side. It consisted of me and one African girl from Cameroon who spent most of her time trying to cheer me up. “You tried,” she said a few times, and then, “I’d better go, I have homework.”

    Years would pass before I would meet an African King. This dude was handsome in an edgy sorta way, a complete free spirit, and an artist to the bone. Plus he knew a few things. On the first night we met he told me the story of Sundjata Keita, the founder of the Mandingo empire, and how the Moors almost took over Europe. That was it. We married a year later. And a few years after that I was on my first trip to Africa!

    Cote D’Ivoire Fall of 2010
    Champagne poppin’, Jay-Z blastin’ till 10am in the morning. I drank so much bubbly I was afraid I would get alcohol poisoning. Africans can party! And I jumped right in. It helped that there was enough family around to take care of our one year old daughter day or night.
    In fact, help was everywhere. I didn’t have to cook, clean or bathe my own child if I didn’t want to.
    The first time I handed my dirty clothes over to someone else to wash (by hand) I objected because, like, how could I expect someone else to do that? But I was assured that it was the girl’s job. The girl being someone who came from the village to work in the city in exchange for a place to stay and a minimum wage. I would come to see many of these workers in different homes, sometimes with families so poor they couldn’t have been making much money. On one hand I felt guilty for participating in a system that didn’t seem fair, but at the same time I was thankful for the break. I was used to busting my ass in America, but in Africa a sistah didn’t have to bust a coconut.
    Another surprising thing in Africa was eating some of the best Italian food of my entire life. The restaurant, a place my husband had been going to for years, was nothing fancy, but damn, that seafood pasta rivaled anything I’d eaten in Venice. I would have enjoyed it more had it not been for a phone call my hubby received from a friend with connections to the government, right in the middle of our entreé.

    The Presidential election was coming up in a week and things were already starting to unravel. Now had my head not been in the African cloud, I would have sensed that something was brewing when I learned the sitting President’s slogan was “On gagne ou On gagne!” translated “We win or we win!” The government was giving all foreigners two days to leave the country. My husband got off the phone and relayed the information to me, trying to sound casual, but saying in the same breath that if he couldn’t get his passport in time (that’s one of the reasons we had come to the Ivory Coast) my daughter and I would have to leave without him.


    My mind started racing. I started thinking about what he had told me of the war eight years earlier when his father was tortured, leaving him with a serious heart condition, neighbors were selling each other out, death squads kidnapped people at night, bodies were left in the street to rot in the sun. I thought about the visa guy at the Ivorian Embassy in DC, who looked at me like I was crazy when I told him that I was about to go to the Ivory Coast. “You know, the elections are coming and it’s about to get hot, right?” I smiled and acted like I knew, but the truth was I hadn’t a clue as to what that could mean. I also thought about Rwanda, Liberia and Sierra Leone and almost chucked up my food. I was scared out of my mind and crushed by the realisation that I wasn’t cut out for this. This was NOT the Africa that I had been dreaming about and nurturing since I was a kid. The one that I had been defending with all of my might every time the media tried to poison my thoughts with countless horror stories.
    I felt trapped. Between my idea of Africa and the Africa that was staring me in the face, ready to eat me alive…

    And just like that I became one of those Westerners who couldn’t wait to get the f*ck out! We stepped up our passport game, carefully crisscrossing Abidjan, going from one government building to the next, paying off everyone and their momma. I learned that in Africa too, when you want something done quickly, or at all, money is the universal language.

    It came down to the WIRE, but we were able to get it and get out. However, it was bittersweet because what would happen to the countless friends and family that were left behind to weather this current storm? People with whom I had popped bottles, broken bread, had deep conversations or in the case of my sister-in-law, Sogana, shared many walks with warm smiles because her English was worse than my broken French. What were we leaving them to endure?

    And it happened.

    The elections caused an all-out war when the sitting President wouldn’t concede to the winner. Mercenaries were recruited from Liberia, Angola and Russia. Countless people were left dead, a million fled their homes, women were beaten, stripped, assaulted, raped and fired upon with a tank during a peaceful protest, mass graves were discovered, and my husband’s father died. His heart still weak from the first war gave out. I was grateful to have met him and happy that he was able to meet his granddaughter.

    Back in America, in the comfort of my routine, I couldn’t stop thinking about Africa.
    How could something so beautiful turn so sinister? It was hard to believe that the place I had experienced was capable of all that.
    Was it the nature of war? Were my expectations too high? Was I naive?
    And then I realized I was asking the wrong questions?
    The real question was, Why couldn’t I get Africa off my mind?
    That’s when I thought about a conversation I had a few years earlier with my friend Amy, a first generation American whose parents are from Haiti. Amy went to Haiti at age 20 and discovered that she never really knew herself until then. Seeing her people in their everyday environment made her understand why she does things the way she does here in America.

    It was about a BOND.
    A bond that could never be broken.
    A bond that’s beyond space and time…

    I could never disconnect from Africa.
    Even if I wanted to.
    It’s visceral.
    It’s mystical.
    It’s something that is bigger than me.
    It’s home.

    Keep up with Erickka on Twitter!-

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    by Tonya McKay via

    One of the primary indicators of the health of your hair is its elasticity. Healthy hair has a high level of elasticity, which gives it body, bounce and curl formation. Elasticity makes it possible to style hair and also is responsible for curl retention. But what exactly does the term elasticity mean? We know it has to do with the stretchiness of our hair, and we know it is a desirable property, but it may not be entirely clear what it is.

    Also, what contributes to elasticity of hair, and how can we maintain or improve the quality in our own locks? These are important questions, and as always, much insight can be gleaned by an examination of the fundamental principles as well as the molecular structures that make up the hair.

    Read On>>>

    What Does Elasticity Mean?
    Elasticity is a term used to describe how a material responds to the application and removal of a specific type of mechanical load (pulling and/or bending). When a stress (force per unit area) is applied to a material, it stretches a certain amount beyond is original length. This deformation is dependent upon the stiffness or rigidity of the material. The ratio of applied stress to the amount of deformation/elongation that occurs is called the elastic (or Young’s) modulus.

    Rigid materials, such as iron, stretch very little with an applied force, while other materials, such as synthetic rubber, can stretch many times their original length without breaking. Dry hair can stretch to approximately 1.2 – 1.3 times its original length and still return to its dimensions, while wet hair is less rigid than dry hair and can stretch up to 1.5 times its length. Curly hair can stretch even than straight hair, as it is highly coiled in its relaxed state.

    A material is said to exhibit elastic behavior if it returns to its previous shape and size once an applied force is removed. This is called reversible deformation. Simple materials such as elemental metals typically display purely elastic behavior. These tend to stretch to a certain point and then experience sudden fracture if the stress is not removed. Materials such as these are described as being brittle.
    More complicated materials such as polymers, proteins, biomaterials and some inorganic amorphous solids exhibit elastic behavior until a certain stress is exceeded (yield strength). Beyond this point, less force is required to induce further deformation, and the material is unable to recover its size and shape once the load is removed. This phenomenon is referred to as irreversible deformation, plastic deformation, or permanent set. The applied force causes something to change inside the substance at a molecular level that causes it to become fundamentally different in its physical structure. The change can be a rearrangement of crystalline lattice structure from one type to another, shifting or slippage of molecular alignment in an amorphous or semi-crystalline material, change of protein tertiary structure, or breaking of bonds in polymeric compounds. Materials with this property are referred to as being ductile or having greater toughness than brittle substances.

    Plastic deformation is particularly relevant to the health hair and its appearance. If excessive force is used to style or comb hair, the yield strength can easily be exceeded, and the hair can no longer bounce back when it is pulled out of shape. This can adversely affect its ability to hold a style or retain curl and can result in shapeless, frizzy hair.

    Additionally, special caution should be taken with wet hair. Hair saturated with water is fragile and can stretch much more easily than when it is dry. It is very easy to exceed the yield strength when hair is wet and permanently diminish its elasticity, or even cause breakage. For this reason, it is crucial to use extreme care when handling and combing wet hair. The use of a good conditioner helps protect wet hair from plastic deformation by decreasing combing forces (less force is required to get the comb through tangles).

    What Affects Hair Elasticity?
    The interior of the hair shaft, the cortex, is the portion of the hair structure that carries the bulk of an applied load and contributes most significantly to elasticity. Although it is very important, the cuticle is only significant in this regard for its role in guarding the integrity of the inner shaft of the hair.
    The cortex is an elaborate structure of clusters of fibrils of keratin protein embedded within a matrix with high water content. The individual molecules of keratin are in the alpha-helical conformation. There are many different inter- and intramolecular interactions and bonds that occur both between amino acids on the same protein strand, amino acids on adjacent protein chains, and between proteins and water molecules within the matrix.

    Hydrogen bonds are weak physical bonds that occur between aqueous hydrogen and amino acid nitrogen and oxygen atoms. These interactions are easily formed and broken and are responsible for a large portion of the elastic behavior of hair. For this reason, it is very important to maintain a proper amount of moisture inside the hair shaft. Without adequate hydration, hydrogen bonding will be decreased, which adversely affects elasticity of hair strands.

    Salt bonds are weak physical interactions that occur between amino acids and require hair to be maintained at an optimum pH. Cystine bonds, also known as disulfide bonds, are chemical bonds which impart a high degree of elasticity to hair by providing crosslinks between different amino acids on a single protein fiber and also between protein strands. All of these various types of bonds act to hold strands of protein together and allow them to stretch just so far and to snap back into their original shape.

    Another factor that influences the elasticity of hair is its diameter. Hair of smaller diameter cannot withstand the same forces as hair of thicker diameter. Remember, stress = force per unit area, so thinner hair experiences greater stresses at the same forces. This means that those with finer hair may have more trouble with their hair losing curl, not holding styles, and developing frizz and breakage. African hair typically has the smallest diameter, with Caucasian hair having medium diameter, and Asian hair having the thickest diameter. There is no known way to overcome this, so one must take care to treat fine hair with the same care one would afford your most precious cashmere sweater.

    How to Improve Hair Elasticity
    We have learned that hair elasticity is heavily dependent upon two key factors: 1.) hydrogen bonding between water molecules and keratin strands and 2). disulfide bonds between adjacent cystine amino acid groups, both of which are dependent upon preservation of the protein structure and hydration of the cortex. The best approach to ensure excellent elasticity is to maintain an intact protein structure inside the cortex and an adequate level of hydration.

    In an ideal world, prevention of damage to the cortex protein structure is achieved by maintaining a pristine cuticle layer, avoiding high temperature treatments and processes, avoiding chemical processes such as color, permanent waves and relaxers, minimizing UV exposure, limiting hygral fatigue (excessive water exposure), and using only the most gentle mechanical forces for combing and styling. Of course, we don’t live in an ideal world, so most people will experience varying levels of degradation of the internal protein structure of their hair, accompanied by a gradual deterioration of the desirable elastic properties. Minimizing exposure to destructive processes and frequent trims helps defray damage, as does use of a good deep conditioner and gentle treatment of hair at all times.

    The use of protein treatments and protein-containing conditioners is often recommended to help improve or restore elasticity. This approach can be useful for those who do have damaged proteins in the cuticle structure or within the hair shaft. Hydrolyzed proteins in these products are in amino-acid form and lower molecular weight poly-peptide form, and can penetrate the cortex. They are retained there in subsequent washings and can contribute to hair strength and integrity to some extent, preserving the tendency for elastic, reversible deformations at low stresses. However, it is most likely that these materials act only as a patch over a hole rather than actually assimilating themselves into the protein strand and fibrillar structure. One word of caution about these types of treatments is that they can potentially contribute to brittle behavior (breakage) if used in excess or if the hair already has sufficient protein content.

    For a substance that seems mostly decorative, hair never ceases to amaze me in its complexity. The intricacies of this biopolymeric composite are simply amazing. The elastic properties of healthy hair can serve us well and allow for much versatility in our coiffure, if proper care is taken to keep hair in the best shape possible.

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    Were you a slow transitioner or a Big Chopper & why?
    I did my Big Chop in July 2011. After having severely dry scalp, I cut my hair all off and decided to start over (best decision ever!).

    Had you always embraced your texture?
    It took me about 4 months to get comfortable with my texture. My hair is a combo of Type 4B/C and managing it was a task in the beginning.

    Read On>>>

    How did family and friends react to your decision to go natural? How did they react to the new you? What was your response to them?
    My family was very supportive in my decision to go natural, especially my parents.

    Describe your hair.
    My hair is very thick and coarse.

    What's your current hair routine? How often do you wash, condition, and style? favorite products! Deets!
    I cowash my hair using Organix’s Coconut Conditioner twice a week (on Mondays and Fridays). I clarify my hair about once a month using Trader Joe’s Mint Shampoo (amazinggggg). After cowashing, I usually braid my hair and seal with conditioner and Shea butter.
    My current favorite style is a high puff!  I love products by Cantu, Kinky Curly and Shea Moisture.

    How do you maintain your hair at night?
    At night I use water, argan oil and leave-in conditioner for a seal. I twist my hair and use a satin scarf.

    How do you maintain healthy length?
    I get my hair straightened and my ends clipped every three months. This keeps my hair healthy and helps it continue to grow.

    What's the best thing about being curly?
    The best thing about being curly are I can be my natural self and still shine! Going natural helped me accept all flaws!

    Where can folks find you on the web?
    Twitter: @NaturalQueens or @IndiaAlmighty
    Instagram: @NaturalQueens or @IndiaAlmighty

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    Hola Chicas!

    For your chance to win 1 of 5 Curlformer Sets, tell me how I can better serve you! Let me know what new features/upgrades you'd like to see on, what I'm already doing great, and what could be better!

    Thanks in advance!

    *Contest closes on June 30th at 5pm EST! Stay tuned for the winners!

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    Shekia Renea is back at it!  This time, with an extra dope wash & go.  Check her out and then leave comments below sharing your current wash and go routine! 

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    The most important gift we can give our loved ones is the gift of our own happiness.

    Be the light. Be the change. A breath of fresh air. It's easier than you think. Everyone won't want to hear it, but you can influence people simply by how you live your life. Teach by example and let your life be your message. Those who don't like it will probably find a way to separate themselves from you. Let them go. Don't dim your light for anyone.


    Think of it this way. You don't go through things just so that you can learn to be strong for yourself. Resilience and growth give you a broader perspective so you can be kinder to yourself and to others.

    Don't we all need that person? The ones who understand that everything has a light and a dark side? The ones who talk us off the ledge, telling us that everything is going to be okay? The ones who sprinkle love dust on us when we need it most?

    I not only need those people in my life -- I need to be one of those people. It's almost like a religion to me. I think that Rosetta uses the term 'extreme encourager'. I used to hatefully call myself a people-pleaser, but now I know that I'm just passionate about helping people see life and all of its mysteries in a positive way. When you have something really really good, an endless supply of it, you feel compelled to share it as much as you can.

    So here are eight ways that you can sprinkle your endless supply of lovedust on the people you care about.

    Be the voice of reason. When things get tough, someone needs to keep a balanced perspective to avoid things being blown out of proportion. Yes, things can seem like they can't get any worse, but remind yourself and those around you that stormy and sunny days come and go and we need to make peace with them both.

    Be mindful of your body language. Just the simple act of smiling will boost not only your own mood but those around you. I'm a big advocate for hugging, too. There's nothing like a bear hug to remind you that you are loved and everything is going to be okay. Also, when someone is talking to you, take the time to look them in the eye and nod and show them that you're present and engaged and that they matter.

    Focus on the present. For many of us, it's extremely difficult to move on from the past and not worry about the future. But what about what's happening right now? When you remind others of all there is to be thankful for in the present moment, they may not want to hear it, but at least you are planting a seed that will hopefully grow within them. If the present moment is not so great, remind them that they do have people who love and care about them to help them get through it.

    Point out the silver lining. Whether we are able to see it or not, there is a reason and a season for everything. Teach your loved ones to look beyond the obvious and find the lesson. For some of us this comes more naturally than others, so use your voice to help the people you care about from focusing on all the negatives.

    Avoid extremes. We all have good and bad days. But you know how some people are like Jekyll and Hyde and you never know what attitude you're going to get? Yeah, don't be one of those people. Stay to yourself when you're feeling under the weather. Likewise, be tolerant and understanding of others when they're in a bad mood. When you can't stay to yourself, try to self-soothe through whatever outlet works for you. It also helps to feed off of the energy of people who are uplifting and give off positive vibes.

    Make observations without criticism. When people ask you for your opinion about their situation, it's important to practice honesty with compassion. Be constructive. The truth hurts enough all by itself. Yes, they want your honest perspective but most of us are already harder on ourselves than anyone else ever could be.

    Be forgiving. With relationships - romantic, family, and friendships - things go down. People don't see eye to eye. Harsh words are said. Promises are broken. Betrayal occurs. And yet holding on to all of the resulting negative feelings simply prolongs all of it. Let go. Don't play any part in keeping old grudges alive.

    Be generous without expecting anything in return. We all like to be appreciated, but some people crave it to the point where they essentially take on a victim mentality. Or they become resentful when they feel unacknowledged. When you sense this in your loved ones, remind them that the gift is in the giving.

    How do you play a positive role in the lives of your loved ones??? And how do you know when it's time to back off and let go? You can only help those who want to be helped, right?

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    Fig. 1: Undamaged hair

    Tonya McKay writes:

    As a polymer scientist with a love for biological structures, I find hair and skin to be extremely fascinating systems. Human hair is an intricate composite structure comprised of keratin proteins, lipids, polysaccharides, water and pigment particles. All of the individual components are complex and perform very specific functions. Those of us with curly hair are concerned a lot about our hair’s texture and porosity (a popular buzz word of late). These two factors are primarily based upon the structure of the cuticle — the outer layer of our hair.  

    The scanning electron microscope image in Figure 1 shows highly magnified detail of the exterior surface of a strand of human hair. The external layer is called the cuticle, and is much like bark on a tree. Both the cuticle layer and tree bark are made up of many smaller, individual pieces (called scales when referring to the cuticle) that work together as one overall unit to perform a function. The job of the cuticle is to provide protection to the hair shaft from mechanical and thermal damage, while allowing moisture in and out as needed. The cuticle structure is an amazing work of nature, because it is strong, yet flexible, and is made up of many pieces, which allows it to act as a seal to protect the inner cortex of the hair, and yet also allows it to be permeable, or porous.

    Read On>>>

    The center of the hair shaft is referred to as the cortex, and is a very complicated structure filled with many different substructures and clusters of structures made of keratin protein, lipids, and other matter. Water provides the means for the necessary hydrogen bonding between the keratin fibers to occur that is essential for the maintenance of hair strength, elasticity and integrity. Without moisture in the cortex, the hair becomes thin, frizzy, and much more prone to permanent damage and breakage. Thus, the cuticle layer performs a very important duty by protecting this delicate interior of the hair and helping it maintain the proper balance of moisture.

    Structure of the Cuticle

    The cuticle itself is a multi-laminate structure, like stacked sheets of paper, composed of fatty acids, proteins, and other cellular matter. Below is a description of each layer.
    • Epicuticle — This surface layer of the cuticle is made up of lipids and proteins and is also found on the bottom of the stacks of layers.
    • A-Layer — This layer is comprised of proteins very high (35%) in cystine, which enables the layer to be highly crosslinked. This layer gives toughness to the hair and also provides physical protection from heat and other potential threats.
    • Exocuticle — This layer has approximately 15% cystine, so it is less strong and tough than the A-Layer, but provides similar protection.
    • Endocuticle — This layer contains only 3% cystine, and so is only very lightly crosslinked. This means that this layer is the only cuticle layer to swell in the presence of water. This causes the entire cuticle to swell and lift away from the hair shaft, resulting in a ruffled cuticle that allows the passage of material both into and out of the hair.
    • Cuticular Cell membrane Complex (CMC) — This layer is made up of polysaccharides and several lipids (fatty acids). This layer acts as the glue that holds the cuticle together and holds it to the hair shaft.
    Cuticle Damage

    Fig. 2: Chemically altered hair
    A perfectly healthy hair that has not been exposed to harsh chemical processing, prolonged sunlight, or rough thermal and mechanical treatments (often called “virgin hair”) will have a cuticle layer such as the one shown in Figure 1. The individual keratin scales lie very flat, have fairly smooth edges, and overlap one another, forming a flat, tight sheath around the interior of the hair shaft. A hair in this condition is highly protected from the environment, retains the most moisture, and generally is more reflective, giving the hair shine and gloss. (This latter feature is variable, depending upon the color and the degree of curl of the hair).

    Unfortunately, most of us don’t have hair protected by such a beautiful, intact cuticle. As hair ages, it is continually exposed to sunlight, water, pollution and external mechanical forces. UV radiation from sunlight can break down some of the keratin bonds and cause deterioration of scales and cause them to lose some of their structural integrity. Mechanical forces such as combing, bruising, curling, pinning up or binding the hair can all catch the edges of cuticle scales and ruffle or raise them, creating a rough surface more prone to tangling and tearing. Rough treatment can even pull cuticles off entirely.
    Water causes the endocuticle layer to swell, which lifts the entire cuticle and creates a rough surface. This leaves hair more delicate and susceptible to tangling and damage from friction between adjacent hair strands or from mechanical forces. For this reason, wet hair should be treated very gently and conditioners must be used to reduce friction and combing forces. Hair exposed to high humidity should be protected by extra conditioning and anti-humectant products in order to avoid this effect, which can lead to very damaged summer hair. (Read an article about summer hair here.)

    Fig. 3: Damaged cuticle
    These (scary) images show strands that have had extensive damage done to the cuticle layer from chemical processes (coloring, perming, relaxing). It is evident from viewing these images that once the cuticle layer is damaged, the cortex becomes exposed and the entire hair is extremely vulnerable to virtually any threat. The best solution in these extreme cases is to have a professional stylist trim the hair.

    Next month I will discuss how the cuticle layer and our treatment of it affects porosity and what that means for our hair.


    Syed, A.N., Askar, N.A., “Structure of Hair” Powerpoint presentation,, July 3, 2008

    Robbins, C. R., Chemical and Physical Behavior of Human Hair, Spring, 4th Editions, Dec. 14, 2001

    Gray, John, “The World of Hair”, P&G Hair Care Research Center

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    It's an old upload by the lovely Amanda G but no less relevant! If you're in the mid-length stages, check these out! 

    Here's another by AuCurls Naturelle-

    Are you currently #TeamAwkwardStage?  If so, tell us below!  

    If you've 'been there done that', share what got you through.  

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    I posted this today after some "backlash" and negative emails on my hip length length check.  It's kind of a ramble but I make my point somewhere in there, LOL! Your hair CAN GROW,  just take the proper care of it. Nobody to blame but yourself if it's not having the results you want. Don't blame your hair type, being relaxed, not being mixed etc... Be consistent with the right regimen and your hair will grow as long as you want it to.

    Weigh in!

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