Sunday, June 28, 2009

RIP Michael Jackson

We lost a true musical hero. There never was, neither would there ever be another like him... NEVER! He was unique, his music was captivating, his videos were simply outstanding and his style of dance - I don't even have a word that would describe it, but it certainly was out of this world. He was a pioneer and a trendsetter. I'm a huge fan of his music... then again, how many people weren't?!?! I personally don't know of any.
He's gone... but his legacy will live on for generations.
Ms. Naturesk!
Excellence in Beauty!

Nourishing your hair

Did you know that all the hair on your head that you comb and struggle so desperately to maintain is actually all dead tissue? It's actually the hair follicles from your scalp that is alive and produces hair (hair shaft). The hair shaft is really a dead cylinder of keratin. Believe it or not...

Even though the hair is dead, we must maintain it to ensure that it is healthy (even as dead as it is). What do we need to make sure the hair shaft is healthy? The hair needs moisture and necessary vitamins and minerals. Vitamins A, B, C, D, E, Minerals: Iron & Zinc and others like Biotin and Silica are great ingredients to look for in vitamins for hair.

Why is it important to take supplements specifically for your hair? The fact is, most of us do not receive the nutrients we need to maintain healthy hair from our food we eat daily. Therefore, we must supplement our diet with these vitamins & minerals. The same thing applies for healthy skin (ever wonder why more & more people have skin issues now).

Currently, I have some supplements that I use for my skin by Sanitas, called 'Complexion Clear'. Lucky for me, it also has some of the needed nutrients for my hair. In addition, I also take vitamins specifically for my hair.
If you have dandruff, one supplement you may want to add to your daily supplements is organic Flax Seed capsules. Not only is this great for a healthy heart, after a month of taking these capsules twice daily, you will have some relief from your itchy dandruff condition.
Hope you find a supplement that works for you. You will see a difference - I promise.
Ms. Naturesk
Excellence in Beauty!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tips For Effective (Basic Conditioning)

Have you ever felt like you've been conditioning and deep conditioning, but for some reason your hair is still dry or doesn't appear to be nourished? That has happened to me... until I realized how important it is to use a clarifying shampoo or vinegar rinse to remove excessive build up from the hair's shaft.

I also did provide a vinegar rinse earlier on in this blog that also serves to remove excessive build up to ensure your conditioners are able to deliver all of the nutrients to your hair & scalp. Be careful of the "cones" in conditioners... they make your hair feel so great when you do apply them and they do a great job of sealing your cuticle. However, they are notorious for leaving build up and possible scalp irritants. Here are some tips to keep in mind when you're effectively conditioning your hair:
  • Blot your hair to remove excess water before you apply your conditioner.
  • Gently massage the conditioner in your hair.
  • Use a wide toothed comb to release tangles and make hair more manageable.
  • Pay attention to the type of conditioner you have; is it a leave in or rinse out conditioner?
  • Remember to leave the conditioner for the time specified
  • If necessary, rinse it thoroughly (for rinse out conditioners). Otherwise, you'd be leaving the conditioner in your hair until it is washed the next time (for leave in conditioners).
  • Be extremely careful when detangling your hair while it's wet; avoid harsh rubbing, pulling or stretching.
  • Stay away from conditioners that have cetyl alcohol because they could dry out the hair.
  • Remember to always rinse with cool water to seal your cuticle for shiny hair.

Here are some other tricks to note:

  1. If you have severe tangling, do not start combing through from the root of your hair. Instead, start clearing the ends and work your way up. This would make the tangles closer to the root easier to comb through to the ends.

  2. If you do not use a clarifying shampoo when you wash, try not to use any hair pomade, grease or moisturizer at least 2 days prior to washing to ensure your conditioner is more effective.

Until next time... EZ conditioning!

Ms. Naturesk

Excellence in Beauty!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Know Your Ingredients - Part II

As I promised, here is our second list of harmful products you'll find in many store bought beauty products that you would like to stay away from. In reading some of these you would not believe how dangerous and toxic they are. I always wonder why are they approved for use in our perosnal products and/or food. I will have more to list in the near future... so, stay tuned.
Join me in becoming a label and ingredient expert:
Amonium Laureth Sulfate: causes skin irritation; water contaminant; could also contain the carcinogen I,4-Dioxane.
Benzyl Alcohol: strong neurotoxin; can also cause allergic reaction of the lung; may also cause itching, burning scaling hives and blistering of the skin; causes liver damage, coma and death in some animals.
Coal Tar: know human carcinogen; causes lung and urinary tract cancer; potent skin irritant. This ingredient has even been banned in most countries including Canada and the UK, but is still used in anti-dandruff shampoos in the USA.
Cocomide DEA (Ethanolamide of Coconut Acid): strong human skin toxicant and a suspected carcinogen; causes irritation of the eye, skin and lungs.
DMDM Hydantoin: contains formaldehyde; is a skin, eye and lung irritant and an environmental toxicant.
EDTA (Disodium EDTA): This is a neurotoxin that has been linked to brain damage in animals; causes liver changes, endocrine damage, fetal death and birth abnormalities in animals. It is made from formaldehyde and is actually approved for use in cosmetics and baby food (simply unbelievable).
Sodium Laureth Sulfate: know for eye and skin irritation; is a water contaminant; may also be contaminated with the carcinogen I,4-Dioxane.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: know for eye and skin irritation too; if used in toothpaste, may cause canker sores.
Talc: linked to skin & lung irritation and evcen with no asbestos, was proven to cause tissue injury and fibrosis.
Lanolin: Strong skin irritant and toxicant; linked to causing allergic reaction in the lungs.
Look for these ingredients in products that call themselves "Natural" or "Organic".
Until I bring your next list... Become a label expert!
Ms. Naturesk
Excellence in Beauty!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Do You Need To Condition Your Hair?

We've talked about cleansing and some tips to pay attention to when cleansing your hair and scalp. To have our hair looking its best, lets see if we do need to condition it or not. I don't know about you, but have you tried styling your hair without conditioning it? Isn't it difficult to manipulate? Don't you have many tangles to deal with? I know you're thinking God bless the person that invented the conditioner.
Life happens to our hair... we style, we dry, we curl, we pull, we gel, we flat iron and our hair looks great! Doesn't it? Meanwhile, the abuse caused by heat, products or rough handling lifts our cuticles, allowing necessary moisture to leave and this causes our hair to be dry, dull, brittle and become prone to knots and tangles. As this type of ill-treatment continues, the cuticles would eventually break or become frayed. That's how our hair breaks off or you end up with split ends.
We want to avoid breakage and split ends if we want to preserve and maximize our length. Not to mention, we always want our tresses to look FABULOUS! So it is absolutely necessary that we not only condition after shampooing, but as I've indicated in previous posts, we have to deep condition at least one a month (2X if your hair is much drier than the average person) and use a resonstructor (for chemically processed hair) to add strength back to the core of your hair shaft (cortex & medulla).
A good conditioner should help to:
  • Make hair manageable

  • Smooth down the cuticle

  • Seal in moisture

  • Prevent frizz

  • Add shine
If your conditioner is not doing these things for you, then ditch it and find a new one. As always, I recommend an organic conditioner. Be aware of products that advertise their products as being "Natural" when more than 50% of their ingredients are anything but natural. I also have postings on this blog called "Know Your Ingredients", become familiar with the most common offenders. I use different brands, but always read my labels to make sure that harmful chemicals are not included in my products.
More on conditioning coming...

Hair Care Tip - Water Temperature

Why is the temperature of the water important when washing and conditioning your hair?

When washing, you should wash with warm water. This helps to loosen dirt and some build up, but it also allows any excess oils to be removed easily. Clean hair without build up and oil makes your conditioner easier to penetrate. Better penetration means healthy hair.

If you have dry, itchy scalp or dandruff, stay away from water that is to warm or hot. This irritates the scalp if the water is too hot. Ensure that you're washing with warm water and rinse with cool water.

When you rinse with cool water, it allows your cuticle (outer layer) to close and lay flat. This in turn allows light to reflect off of your hair causing it to look shiny and healthy.

Never use cold water because this could cause changes of blood/veins to constrict and give you a headache.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Summer Care for dreadlocks

To answer your request on summer care for locks...

Taking care of your locks in the summer is very similar to that of hair that's not locked, with few variations especially where conditioning is concerned.
Locks are fairly easy to maintain day to day; I know every few weeks you do have the task of locking your new growth and that does take time.

During the summer months while in the sun or part-taking in summer activities, you may be required to wash more often than usual. Make sure that you use a gentle clarifying shampoo to remove any residue or build up that may settle on the scalp from sweat, salt water, or products. Or try to use a shampoo that is designed not to leave any residue behind (this is very important if you have locks).

After ensuring your locks are completely dry by either air drying or sitting under a hair dryer since blow drying will leave frizz. Follow with a light or non-oily based moisturizer created specifically for dreadlocks (like Carol's Daughter Loc Butter); there are many other.
In between washes you could clean your scalp with witch hazel or sea breeze. If you have mature locks, you probably already know that. Remember that you have to keep your scalp moisturized and nourished to maintain healthy locks and a healthy scalp. So, deep condition your hair/locks and scalp using a non-oily based hot oil treatment.
Stay away from alcohol and alcohol based products. Also look out for these ingredients in your hair products, cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, sodium laureth sulfate and sodium lauryl sulfates. They will dry out your hair and scalp and/or lead to irritation. Sulfates that are generally found in shampoos will strip your hair of it natural oils.
Locks are usually are thick and heavy and it would be a lot more comfortable if you wear your locks up and away from your neck & face to keep you cool. There are many really creative and attractive styles for locks. Many popular hair style publications do feature a section for natural hair and locks.

Ms. Naturesk

Excellence in Beauty!

Vinegar Rinse (Great for Normal or Itchy Scalp)

I've had quite a few questions about dealing with itchy scalp. I've put together a rinse that has helped me. I used it just this past weekend.

Here is the thing, the base would be the same to help with the various itchy scalp conditions, but based on what the itchy scalp condition actually is, you would need a different essential oil to treat it properly.

It's also important that I let you know that anyone can use the base to help clarify the scalp and better prepare your scalp to absorb nutrients from a deep conditioner or from your oils or pomade that you massage on your scalp. Have you felt that a product that did wonders for your hair seems not to work anymore? That's because product build up and residue blocks the absorption of the beneficial nutrients. So, if you have a healthy scalp then only use the BASE of the recipe. Use this every now and then; I'd say about once every 2-3 months.

What you need:
2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
2-3" of aloe leaf, peeled and scraped
1/4 tsp pure vitamin E oil
1 tsp baking soda (expect some foaming; a fun science project)

For Dandruff
add 3-4 drops of tea tree essential oil (helps tremendously with the itching)
and 3-4 drops of cedarwood essential oil

For Eczema
add 3-4 drops of tea tree essential oil
3-4 drops of lavender essential oil
3-4 drops of geranium essential oil
1 tbsp of andiroba oil (if you could locate)

For Psoriasis (there is no cure for this, but there is relief)
add 3-4 drops of tea tree essential oil
3-4 drops of German chamomile essential oil
1/2 tsp neem oil
1 tbsp of andiroba oil (if you could locate)

What to do:

  1. Gently massage this mixture on your scalp and leave it on for 3-5 minutes (max).
  2. Wash with a tea tree shampoo or a gentle organic shampoo.
  3. Follow with a tea tree conditioner or organic conditioner
  4. Style as desired
  5. Massage organic oil(s) to the scalp only; use one or a combination of jojoba oil, coconut oil, andiroba oil and add a few drops of the tea tree essential oil to your oil mixture.
  6. Repeat this at once a week until you see some relief. You could wash more than once a week, but do not use the vinegar rinse more than once a week
Relief is on the way...

Excellence in Beauty!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Summer care for your hair.

Some like it hot...
Some like it cold...
Many like the summer...

Summer is one of the most anticipated seasons of the year for many reasons: trips to the beach, vacation, time off from school, vacation, time to show off your fabulous summer wardrobe and body, bar-b-ques, family reunions, vacation (did I mention this already). You could probably tell I like to go on vacation.

It's just a 'feel good' time of year and what better way to feel wonderful about yourself, than to have fabulous hair through it all. So, simply prepare your hair to handle the summer weather, as your hair will be exposed to one or many of the following: the wind, the sun, salt water, chlorine, sand, dirt, smoke...

Here are some of my tips for surviving the summer:

  1. Give your hair a nice trim to get rid of any damaged, dry, over-processed split ends.
  2. Use a clarifying shampoo to remove any build up from exposure to salt or chlorinated water.
  3. Use a leave in condition prior to a trip to the beach or the pool.
  4. Moisture has to be your friend during these drier months, so, recognize when your hair needs moisture & apply.
  5. Use a moisture rich shampoo and conditioner.
  6. Deep condition at least once a week to replace essential moisture that is easily lost.
  7. Use a swim cap.
  8. Protect the ends of your hair by tucking them in as often as you could.
  9. Really, really try to stay away from blow dryers & hot curlers. I know it's almost cliche', but we all know it's important to avoid heat, much less during the hot season.
  10. Use low tension fasteners to hold your hair; if your hair is dry & your fastener is to tight, your hair will break & snap easily.
  11. Braid your own hair (avoid synthetic hair additions if you could). Braids & corn rows are still hot, not to mention, you won't have to worry about your hair everyday.
  12. If you're a hat person, wear one; they're always stylish.
  13. Try a new hair style. It's hair, it will grow back. New season, new you!

Now that you know what you should do to take care of your hair to look completely fabulous, now get your summer shopping & vacation planning moving and ENJOY every single day.

Feel free to share your summer plans or hair regimen.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Roller set today

I used my pre-shampoo butter, washed, conditioned and roller set my hair. I could not sit under the dryer for the full period because I was also cooking (you know how it is sometimes ladies). However, I did find some time eventually and sat under the dryer for about 30 minutes and the results were wonderful. In fact, I believe that I'll stick to this type of drying; why sit under the dryer for hours?

My hair was shiny and very bouncy. I personally do not like a lot of body from the scalp; so I just use a small a flat iron on a medium setting and flat iron the roots quickly. My hair lies on my scalp the way I like it and the rest is full of body.

I hope these pictures captured the shine & the curls. All I could say is, I'm enjoying my hair today. It's a great hair day :)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Green Cleansing for your hair - Shampooing

I'm sure many of you would agree that your appearance is very important. Great hair is a sure-fire way to boost your attractiveness and self confidence. We feel great when we look good & your hair contributes to your overall great look. Let's talk about cleansing your hair...

Some people wash there hair everyday, others wash 1-2X a week and if you're not washing your hair at least once a week, then you may have some other issues.

We place great emphasis on keeping our hair clean, some condition & deep condition well. Question is, what are you putting in your hair and on your scalp. Remember the scalp is one of the most absorbent parts of our body. If you're using toxic products, guess what - it's being absorbed into your body. Choosing green/organic/natural products should become a priority of yours. If you use any great natural products, feel free to share them with others reading this blog.

Typically it's the detergent and/or the preservative in your shampoo that is of concern. In most cases sodium lauryl sulfate or, the milder version, sodium laureth sulfate. Some other culprits are cocoamide diethanolamine (DEA), ammonium laureth sulfate or any ethoxylated compounds. Most shampoos also have propylene glycol, which we learned is a no-no. Look for a safer ingredient like lauryl glucoside, which is a soapy blend of coconut oil, cornstarch ad sugar & will gently cleanse without the toxins.

Some shampoos boasts having some really great ingredient (e.g. Aloe Vera), unknown to most of us, there's a fraction of a fraction of "Aloe Vera" in the mixture. So minuscule we may as well say it just had AV. because there isn't enough of the ingredient to give it full credit.

There is special information for taking care of your hair if you went swimming in a pool or at the beach. I'll have a special article on my blog to help you maintain healthy hair after you've swam. Look out for it.

How often should you shampoo?
This would depend on your hair type and the state of your hair:

  • If you have fine hair, too much shampooing can cause dryness. So, do not wash daily.

  • If you spend a lot of time in the sun or wear a lot of styling products, shampoo more frequently. Remember to use a clarifying shampoo at least once a week. Note that daily shampooing is not recommended for any hair type.

  • For Hair type 3 or 4, shampoo at least once a week. You could use a clarifying shampoo followed by a moisturizing shampoo. I will say that I do not use a clarifying shampoo weekly. Understand your hair and know what it responds well to.

Some important tips to remember when shampooing:

  • Comb through your hair with a wide teeth comb prior to shampooing.
  • Shampoo your hair in the shower. Do not lean over your tub or sink to wash; this would cause more tangles.
  • You should not comb your hair while shampooing. First, when your hair is wet it is in its weakest state; combing it will make it break easily. Second, it's much harder to get the tangles out during your shampoo.
  • If your scalp is itchy or dry use a milder organic shampoo, like a chelating shampoo.
  • If you are hair type 3 or 4, you should not rub the scalp too hard or too vigorously while cleansing; it could cause bruising, irritation or cause the hair to stretch.
  • Repeat your shampoo only of you think your hair really needs it.
  • Use my pre-shampoo recipe below for hair that's dry or dries out quickly. If your hair is not very dry, you may consider using ever other 1 or 2 shampoos.
  • Follow your shampoo with a conditioner and detangle with a wide teeth comb.

Pre-shampoo Hair butter

What you need:

  • 3 tablespoons organic virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1 tablespoon organic neem oil
  • 1 teaspoon organic spirulina extract
  • 10,000 IU Vitamin E
  • 2 drops lavender essential oil
  • 2 drops bergamot essential oil
  • 2 drops chamomile essential oil OR 3 drops of German chamomile essential oil for reoccurring itchiness or flakes on the scalp.
  • 2-3 inches of an aloe leaf
  • Measuring spoons, knife, blender & small container or bowl.

What to do:
  1. Cut the aloe leaf & scrape the inside (slimy & bitter part).
  2. Add the ingredients into a blender ( use a small blender if you have one). Blend all ingredients until it's well blended & distributed evenly.
  3. Massage the treatment onto scalp and distribute evenly along your tresses; ensure your ends are well covered with this butter if they appear or feel dry.
  4. Leave on hair for 10-15 minutes. Be careful not to let the oil get on your face. Essential oils could cause breakouts on sensitive skin.
  5. Rinse thoroughly in shower and proceed to shampoo as usual. (You will need to clean the shower after you're done because of the oil.)
  6. This is a great moisturizer and the chamomile will help if you have severe itchy/flaky scalp. Feel free to use this as often as you like for maximum effectiveness. This recipe yields enough for 1+ uses depending on the length of your hair.

I did not blow dry (YEAHHH)... instead I applied a natural blend of organic oils to my scalp & moisturized through the tip. I combed my hair into seven knots (see pic below), uncurled them & styled. The knots give a great curl patter that can yield many great styles. I like to wear my hair in a curly pony tail or pin it up like I was wearing a banana comb.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Dangerous and/or Toxic Cosmetic Ingredients (Part I)

Become an ingredient expert. I promise you that you will find at least one (or all) of these dangerous ingredients in almost all of your hair and skin care products.
Here are the first 10; I will give you more as time goes on (I promise)

Petrolatum (soft paraffin, white petrolatum, petroleum jelly) - this is derivative of petrol/ gasoline; it's a lung irritant and non-biodegradable environmental toxin.

Propylene Glycol (PG) - eye irritant and has been linked to conjunctivitis; can cause upper respiratory tract irritation. This is also found in your vehicle's anti-freeze.

Mineral Oil (liquid petrolatum) - causes blood and skin cancer formations in animals; eye and skin irritant; derived from petroleum; non-biodegradable environmental toxin.

Methylparaben - is used as a preservative in a lot of hair & skin care products. Known to be a skin & eye irritant; endocrine disruptor linked to breast cancer; environmental contaminant.

Polyparaben - in fact, and any other paraben is an irritant; also known to be a skin & eye irritant; endocrine disruptor linked to breast cancer; environmental contaminant.

Isopropyl Alcohol (SD-40) - human neurotoxin; skin, eye, and lung irritant; vapors causes drowsiness and dizziness, causes skin dehydration; may promote brown spots and premature aging of skin. This is also a derivative of petroleum.

Cetyl Alcohol - skin & eye irritant.

Ceteareth-(with any number after it) - Unsafe for use on broken skin; eye and lung irritant; contaminant with 1,4-Dioxane (found in fumigants and automotive coolant).

Dimeticone (Dimethicone) - petroleum derivative; environmental toxin. Used for it's silicone like properties especially in conditioners, but perpetrated as being safer than silicone.

Phenoxyethanol - linked to allergic contact uritica and dermatitis; endocrine disruptor and carcinogen in animals.

Create your own Herbal Shampoo (very simple)

What you need:
- Crush a few dried bay leaves
- Mix in a handful of dried chamomile flowers & 1 rosemary sprig.

What to do:
1. Place in a jug of 3 & 1/2 cups of boiling water. Strain after 2-3 minutes and mix with 1 teaspoon of your gentle shampoo.

2. Apply to your hair, massage well, then rinse.

Let's Grow!!!

Hair has three stages of growth:

1. The anagen phase - this is when the hair is actively growing, usually for 2-4 years. It varies from person to person due to a number of factors, like genetics. Our hair is at this phase for a good 93% of the time.
2. The catagen phase - also referred to as the transitions phase. The hair stops growing, but there continues to be cellular activity in the papilla (what we sometimes refer to as the root). This usually lasts for 15-20 days... about 1% of the time.
3. The telogen phase - also called the resting phase, when growth halts completely for about 90-120 days - 6% of the time. There is no additional growth at the papilla. that hair strand is forced out and the cycle begin all over again.

Some interesting facts about hair:
  • Hair grows about 12mm or 1/2 inch per month.
  • A single strand lasts up to 7 years.
  • Women have more hair than men.
  • Hair grows faster in the summer and during sleep.
  • Hair grows its fastest during ages 16-24.
  • Between the ages of 40-50 women tend to loose about 20% of their hair.

  • Hair becomes drier with age.

Black hair is different (let's face it) and we should treat it differently than non-black hair because the make up is slightly different. In most cases, our cuticle could be up to 2X thicker and this causes our hair to be closer to a type 3 or 4. Because of its kinkiness, it's more prone to drying out and thus will break easier than non-black hair. When we brush and comb, we have to deal with more tangles and more hair loss.

I'm a hair type 3b/3c and usually, I have less breakage or hair loss when my hair is straight. When I have a fresh perm or I blow dry my hair, I find I have less breakage. On the other hand I would damage the structure of my hair if I continually blow dry, flat iron or perm more frequently than every 8-10 weeks. So, for all of my followers with black hair, keep in mind that our hair is different.