Monday, October 5, 2015

The Autumnal Falling of Hair

Several years ago, a study was published in the journal Dermatology measuring hair loss (shedding- hair fall) in women over the course of 6 years.

They found that in summer, there were more hairs in the telogen phase (resting, getting ready to shed) and that those hairs tend to be shed from the scalp about 100 days after the middle of summer. Just figure about 3 months after your summer solstice - the longest day of the year.

That means if you notice more hairs shedding in late September, into October or November - it's normal. For folks in the Southern Hemisphere, your autumnal shed should be around late March and into April and May. 

The hairs you shed are going to be replaced by new hairs.

Of course, this time of year comes a change in seasons for a lot of us and sometimes that also means drier air and more wind - and therefore hair that may tangle more, dehydrate more readily  and need extra conditioner or lubricants like oil and if you don't keep up with that requirement - you can have extra shedding too from the extra friction.

But if you're seeing extra hairs when you detangle and you and your scalp are otherwise healthy and the shedding goes back to normal in late November or December - you were probably just experiencing the autumnal shed.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Ideas to Avoid Being a "Product Junkie"

Buying and trying new hair products is fun. But it can take on a life of its own and consume lots of money and time and frustration as each new product does not deliver.  Or you get frustrated with your hair. Or accumulate product build-up.

People encounter a lot of challenges in trying to figure out which hair products to use. One is looking at somebody's hair you like or who seems to have everything figured out and think "If I just use what they use, mine will look like that too." WRONG! That almost never happens. Not unless that person's hair is almost exactly the same as yours in shape, width, density, color, and curl or lack thereof. You need to have their styling skills too. And their tolerance for hair styling time.

Your hair is your hair. Products can pull it together and add a nice finish or improve she shape of what is already there. But they cannot transform it completely. That's unrealistic. A finished hairstyle is a combination of several products (cleansing, conditioning, styling), that person's daily hair care, all the physical manipulation that went into creating the style. Products are just part of the equation.

Stopping the cycle of buying and trying new things that you don't really need and getting upset about it is like breaking any habit - difficult to do because buying and trying is also how you find good products. 

How do you know if you have "product overload" or are a "product junkie?"
You hide your new purchases from your family (or yourself - put them where you won't be reminded you bought them).
You feel bad about the expense or feel guilty for making the purchases, but you keep buying new ones.
Buying hair products causes you anxiety  - and thrills.
You have several products you have purchased and tried once and not used again, or used very rarely.
You have strong feelings about buying new things for your hair - feelings that you don't feel for buying tires or cookware or laundry detergent. - You develop emotional attachment to the new products (and brands) you want to try and feel anticipation about trying them. If they don't work - the let down leaves you annoyed, disillusioned. 
Your bathroom is littered with different hair products - it looks like a drugstore. You have a "product graveyard" of things you don't use but won't throw away, just in case they magically start working.
You're thinking about hair products while you are doing other tasks that require your full (or nearly full) attention.

Is this a problem? If you can afford it, if nobody is giving you grief, and you're not feeling bad about yourself or about the waste (you have friends and family to give stuff to!) and hair products are not intruding into your mind when they should not be, then it probably isn't. But if you're not respecting your budget or you worry you won't, or you aren't feeling good about the quest for the perfect product - maybe you need a different approach.

Ideas to Avoid Product Overload:

  • Learn about ingredients - read the ingredient lists from products you like and become familiar with the ingredients. Nothing demystifies those hair products like understanding what goes into them and why it's there. Use my product list by category. Or these posts about what ingredients do here and here.  If you know ingredients, you are less likely to buy things you don't need (or already have).
  • Recognize that big changes come from new hairstyles or adding or removing curls or learning a new styling technique, not from products alone.
  • Search out sample sizes and travel sizes for a lower risk investment.
  • Don't think one product can change everything. It can't. Sure, the right product can do a lot of nice things - but have realistic expectations and make realistic assessments.
  • Set a monthly budget for hair products. Or set a per-product price (or per ounce price limit). Or allow yourself only to buy a certain number of hair products per month. Or require that you deposit an equal or greater amount of money in savings for each hair product you buy. Whatever works to bring your rational and budget-minded part of your self into the decision-making process.
  • Ask yourself if the product fits into your existing routine. Are you willing to add an extra step? If not, don't buy.
  • Know that people are attracted to novelty. Do you want this just because it's new? Are you being manipulated by marketing that exploits your attraction to novelty? Are you buying this because they got a great-looking new label or packaging? Is there something really innovative about this product that makes it different from everything else you've tried?
  • Do you already have a product that is like this one? Have you tried applying that one in several different ways and combinations? If not - exhaust all options before buying new.
  • The person in that advertisement has professionally styled hair, possibly with extensions and digital photo-editing. Be realistic about what you think a product can do based on advertising.
  • Don't be fooled by the "Something-Free" label - free of silicones or sulfates or gremlins or cheese puffs. You find these even on products that never would have contained sulfates or silicones or gremlins or cheese puffs. They're just trying to sell you on what's not in the product. Something you may or may not have been trying to avoid in the first place. 
  • If a promise is too good to be true, it isn't true. If a product promises 50% stronger hair - 50% stronger than what? How was that measured? See right through that baloney. All that matters is how it works for your hair and your lifestyle and budget.
  • Ask yourself if you already have a (shampoo, conditioner, hair gel, mousse) that works reliably. 
    •  If yes, do not buy right away - wait until you run out of what you already have. 
    • If no, what is it about the one you have that does not work? Analyze what you need.
  • Has everything suddenly stopped working for your hair? Maybe you need a trim or a protein treatment or a deep conditioning treatment or a chelating treatment if you have hard water or swim often or a clarifying shampoo if you have lots of product residue in your hair. 
  • Why do you want to buy something new? Seriously. Did you have a bad week? An argument with somebody you care about? Are you feeling lonely? Tired? Bored? Stuck? Anxiety over an upcoming event? Big life changes? Something else in your life that you'd like to change but cannot? Is having a new hair product going to solve any of those problems? That sounds trite - but it is also true. It takes self-control to avoid buying it. Self control requires mental energy. So yeah - when you're tired or busy or distracted or stressed it's more difficult to avoid wanting new products. 
  • If you "fall off the wagon" and buy more than you meant to, don't let that ruin your good intentions. Find a way to make peace with the situation without punishing yourself or being unrealistic. But don't lose your resolve. 
  • If you are in the grip of, "But I really want it!" with the intensity of a 9-year old who wants a new toy that "everybody has," compromise with yourself to wait 2 weeks and try various application techniques with what you already have. If you still want it, wait 1-2 more weeks. If you still want it at that time, either buy it to get it out of your system, or employ other means of avoidance - your emotional attachment to products is strong!
  • Has the weather changed dramatically? Keep notes of what you do to deal with humidity or drizzle or dry weather so when it comes around again, you have a plan. Weather can change the products your hair responds to for better and worse.

Make the most out of "almost perfect" products.
A gel that is too stiff might need to be diluted by applying it to dripping wet hair. Or it might need to be used with plenty of leave-in conditioner to soften up and "flexibile-ize" the hold.

Try as many other application techniques as you can for an "almost perfect" product, how you apply, other products in your hair, different combinations or shampoo or conditioner and styling product, leaving in more conditioner, rinsing out more conditioner, applying products in a different order - get creative.

A leave-in that doesn't quite give the softness you're looking for can be improved by mixing with a little oil (jojoba, grapeseed, avocado) - or layering it with the oil under or over.

A conditioner that doesn't have enough slip can be mixed with a few drops of oil (when you use it).

A creamy styling product that leaves your hair looking heavy when you use it on wet hair (to style alone) might be a perfect product to use a tiny amount of on dry hair to smooth frizz and flyaways, or for shaping up multi-day hair.

Buy a protein additive for making a protein-enriched conditioner - from a cosmetics supply company or Neutral Protein Filler or just mix in some flat beer or some dissolved gelatine.

Make your own deep conditioner with conditioner + oils + aloe vera or honey or agave nectar or baby food bananas or plain yogurt and leave it on with some gentle heat.

Take a hair vacation: If you always wear your hair down - wear it up for a week to give your mind a rest. Accessorize with scarves or headbands or whatever suits your fancy and your workplace or school. If you are striving for a certain result (hello, perfectionists!) - give yourself a week to try for something less than that. Try curling your hair or wearing it straighter - whatever you usually don't do (just don't fry it, stick to lower-heat styling). Sometimes we've got to give ourselves a break to change our attitude and break the spell of the quest for the magical, mystical perfect hair product. Saying "I don't need you" for a whole week can change your reasoning from emotional to more rational. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

A Few of My Favorite Things

I realized that I don't share some of my favorite products here! Which isn't a great loss to you because I can't use many hair and skin products due to sensitive skin and being a real grouch about fragrances.

But here are some of my favorites. Some are, "Almost great, but at least they're fragrance-free" and some are, "Where has this been all my life?" I buy all these things on my own, so these are unsolicited raves (and realistic ones).

1) Free & Clear Hairspray.
 Just about every hairspray I've found that says "fragrance-free" on the bottle actually contains a "masking fragrance." That's just insulting. This product has NO FRAGRANCE. It also has good humidity resistance. It is just a little stiff-ish when dry but there are 2 ways to manage that. 1) Spray at a distance from your head and move the bottle while you spray - short strokes (read the bottle, follow the instructions). Use light layers to form an invisible net over your hair, don't try to wet it with spray. 2) Rub a little conditioner or pomade or hair "serum" in your palms and squeeze your hair with that once the spray is dry.
Unless you use a lot, your hair won't look immobile and you won't have flashbacks from nineteen hundred and ninety nine. Sometimes I can get it locally, sometimes not. It's a mid-price product, but if fragrance-free is a requirement for you, it's worth it.

2) Ouidad Finishing Mist Setting and Holding Spray is my all-time favorite hairspray that melts frizz, adds shine and holds with absolutely no crunch, (if you get any crunch, squeeze your hair and it will be gone); but it can be itchy. So I usually use the Free&Clear if I need hairspray to avoid fragrance and itch. Alas, because otherwise, this product is perfect. I once styled my hair at 4 AM and it was still reasonably intact by 9 PM with this spray.

3) Aquanil HC is a topical hydrocortisone lotion for eczema, skin rashes, insect stings, anything that itches or rashes. If you use anti-itch products and find that they spread as well as toothpaste, this will amaze you. It's not cheap, but it is so lightweight and fluid and easy to spread that you use very little without losing any effectiveness. It's not at all greasy or heavy. No fragrance added. It doesn't seem to interfere with lotions or creams you need to put over it. I have lots of eczema this spring and summer and I've been applying it liberally and barely made a dent in the bottle. It was a worthwhile investment.

4) Stay-On Satin Pocket Bonnet. It's not really satin - it's flexible and light. For the price, it's a great product. The outside is slippery (satiny) and the inside is fairly smooth, but not slippery. If you need the slippery side towards your hair, you'd just turn it inside out and have the added benefit of having the seams on the outside too. You can wear your hair loose under this without it getting too wrecked overnight, or in braids or twists and it's not all mashed up near your head. The best feature? This thing has ties! It can lap over your forehead and has ties in the back at the nape of your neck. It stays put for me. No circulation-crushing, hairline-hair-breaking, "one-size-fits-all" elastic to leave you with goofy lines on your forehead or pin your ears down.

5) Bass Cushion Brush, Wood Bristles: This brush is the living end. Best brush ever. I have standard issue Northern European hair. Wavy. It becomes a a fluffy wreck in some areas and smooth 1940s waves in other areas when I brush it. But when I set (curl) it and it needs to be brushed to smooth or if I want to detangle with a brush or darn it, I just want my hair brushed because it feels good - this brush is IT. I had a Denman Brush and I thought - oh, this is better than the prickly bristle brush that used to rip through my hair and break it off; this brush puts it to shame.

The bristles are smooth bamboo and well-spaced. They "give" so they don't tear through your hair thanks to the cushiony base. It doesn't hurt, it has a nice feel, and it's darn attractive. Handle the brush and your hair gently and it will last quite a while. If you have tangles or are getting resistance, use a little oil for dry hair detangling (let it sit there for a few minutes) or conditioner for wet-hair detangling.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Blogging Perils

Blog readers, occasionally bloggers check their blog statistics - how many people are reading the blog, from which sites did they come? Where in the world are they?

I research hair information and share it via this blog hoping people can benefit from it. Link to the blog if you find it helpful. Share it with people who might find it useful. Bookmark blog posts. If you don't read English, there is a Google Translate link over on the right and you can have a good laugh at how Google translates the page into whichever language you prefer.

Obviously I want people to use this information and I tell you where I get my information so you can go find it yourself and make your own conclusions if you like. If I have information which isn't common knowledge or isn't taken from dozens of "hear-say" sources, I put it in the references. I don't do in-line citations because this is an informal blog and I think they're distracting when you want to read quickly.

I say this information is free for you to use and I'm happy for you to use it. But if you reproduce it and don't say where it came from, you have stolen it because you were not the one who compiled it. In the age of the internet, plagiarism looks different. It's not uncommon to see the exact same words repeated on website after website and that isn't necessarily wrong unless the original source was never cited. If you don't say where you got it, you telling the world you created it. And that is theft - you are taking credit for the product of somebody else's work. It's illegal too, even on the internet.

I have a "Creative Commons" copyright for this blog (click this link if you want to know what that means for this blog), and I often put copyright labels on photos. I even put copyright notices within the text. It's not as though I'm not aware of this problem. In fact, that same Creative Commons notice (top right of the page) has a copy-and-paste citation for this blog "Based on a work at so it couldn't be easier to show where you got the information.

I found this blog creating hits on my blog via links between posts. Imagine my surprise to find - my blog! Only with a different title. And with ads! In other words - somebody swiped my blog and they actually have the gall to try to profit from it. I'm really annoyed. If somebody wants to translate a post from my blog in another language, all they need to do is leave a comment on a post asking me about that. I read blog comments before posting them so I can delete the spam - so I see all the comments.

If I were merely reporting other people's research, that would be one thing. But I actually cobble together information from multiple sources and add in my own understanding of biology and chemistry and comments and observations I have read people make about their hair and those I have made myself - to fill in the gaps. Sometimes I hypothesize. I share recipes. This blog is an original creation. Please acknowledge that and refer to this blog if you use information from here - including the recipes. A link and mention the blog name is adequate.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

New (May 2015) Update to Penetrating Hair Oils Post - Charts!

This is the link to the original post.

I have added a chart, with some updated sorting of oils to make it easier to figure out which oils work for your hair and if you have some you like, maybe to help you predict other oils which may work also.

I hope people find this helpful - it's one of the more popular posts on the blog.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Medicated Shampoos, Conditioners, Co-washes and Treatments For Itchy Scalp, Dry Scalp, Seborrheic Dermatitis (List)

Below is a list of medicated shampoos and conditioners for troubled scalps, sorted by product type and active ingredients. If you have dry scalp - see the end of this post for ideas (scroll to the end).

Many of these shampoos have herbal ingredients which can either soothe, irritate (or do absolutely nothing). Proteins may soothe a dry scalp, but can also be irritating for some people.
Essential oils like tea tree, rosemary, thyme, sage, (neem oil is going in small letters because it's so stinky) can be antifungal if used in adequate concentrations. But they can also cause sensitivity reactions or allergic reactions.
Sometimes detergents in dandruff shampoos can irritate already-irritated skin, however, there are some detergent-free options in this post and there are medicated conditioners at the bottom of the page for people whose skin or hair does not tolerate detergents. You can wash your hair and scalp with medicated conditioners.
Not everybody with itching will have flakes, not everybody with flakes will have itching. Some people get painful or itchy bumps instead - but the treatments are usually the same.
If you're not getting relief from any of these treatments, you may be reacting badly to fragrances, preservatives or some other ingredient in hair products. Or you may be dehydrating your scalp too much - see the final paragraph after the list.
And if you're trying lots of medicated shampoos and conditioners and topical treatments with no relief, please see a doctor or dermatologist if that is an option available to you. They can prescribe medications that may be more effective.

Lets talk about rotating treatments! If you are a frequent customer in the itchy or flaky or bumpy, scaling, patchy scalp department, there is a good chance you need to have 2 or 3 different medications that work on standby. Why? Because the fungus (Malasezzia) that is strongly implicated in scaling and flaking and itchy, unhappy scalps has many different variations, if not true sub-species, then like sub-species. For example, you might use a zinc pyrithione shampoo and it works now, but it may not work as well later on. It's possible that some fungi on your scalp that were causing the itch and inflammation were not affected by that medication - or they developed some resistance to it. Each medication has a slightly different method of "attacking" fungi and some methods work better on some fungi than others. So if that happens, you need a different medication to control these fungi the next time around. Some fungi will be controlled with zinc pyrithione, others will be controlled with ketoconazole or selenium sulfide. Sometimes sulfur will get the job done and sometimes salicylic acid (with or without sulfur) works best.
Some people need to rotate between different outbreaks or flare-ups. Some people need to rotate every time they wash their hair. It's not fun, but it helps.

If you need to use medicated shampoo often and your scalp is not oily, or all the shampooing dries skin and hair - consider using a medicated conditioner as a "shampoo" - it won't lather but it might provide some relief. If you have dry or curly hair - you might love it.

The Active Ingredients: Look for the listed concentration. If concentration is not listed on the bottle - be wary, but it might still work.
  • Zinc pyrithione: Antifungal, may reduce scaling, may relieve inflammation. Effective at 1%, also effective at 0.5%, response may be slower than 1% (or not).
  • Tar: Slows proliferation of skin cells. Skin cells proliferate too quickly with dandruff - so you end up with scaling and flaking. Effective as 0.5% active tar.
  • Salicylic acid: Anti-scaling (remove scales and reduce flaking), can be anti-inflammatory and anti-septic. Effective at 1% to 1.5% and greater, sensitive skin may need 0.5% to avoid irritation. This exfoliates, so it may help with bumpy cysts if your scalp tolerates it.
  • Selenium sulfide: Antifungal, effective at 1%
  • Sulfur: Mild antifungal and antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, mild exfoliant. Effective at 2%
  • Ketoconazole: Antifungal. Effective at 1%, 2% is the most-effective, prescription dose (non-prescription outside the USA).
  • Tea tree oil: Anti-fungal, anti-septic when the concentration is adequate.
  • Rosemary oil, thyme oil, cedar oils: Anti-fungal, anti-septic, may promote healing.
  • Hydrocortisone: Inflammation is a critical part of the itchy-flaky scalp issue. Hydrocortisone reduces inflammation and relieves itching. Effective at 1%.
  • Piroctone Olamine: Antifungal, Effective at 1% (unless I find otherwise)

Note: This is organized by active ingredients. Also indicated are: Sulfate-free, silicones. Sulfates ("sulfate detergents," a class of anionic detergents) and silicone emollients/detanglers are not necessarily bad for itchy or scaly scalps, but some people avoid them so I'm just trying to help you narrow the field. "Sulfate-free" shampoos are not necessarily milder or non-drying. 

Medicated Shampoos

  • Denorex Maximum Strength: Tar 1.8%, Sulfate-free
  • Mill Creek Dandruff Control Shampoo:  Tar 0.5%
  • Neutrogena T-Gel: Tar 0.5%

Tea Tree
  • Aubrey Organics, Scalp Rescue Shampoo, Tea Tree & Primrose: Tea tree oil, concentration unspecified: Sulfate Free
  • Jason Normalizing Tea Tree Scalp Normalizing Shampoo: Tea tree oil, concentration unspecified
  • Nature's Gate Tea Tree Calming Shampoo: Tea tree oil, concentration unspecified: Sulfate Free

Zinc Pyrithione
  • AG Control Anti-Dandruff Shampoo : Zinc Pyrithione 2%
  • Aveeno Nourish + Dandruff Control: Zinc Pyrithione 1%, contains silicones
  • Avlon KeraCare Dry & Itchy Scalp Moisturizing Shampoo: Zinc Pyrithione 1%
  • Clear Scalp Therapy shampoo: Zinc Pyrithione 1%, contains silicones
  • Derma Zinc Shampoo: Zinc Pyrithione 2%
  • DHS Zinc Shampoo: Zinc Pyrithione 2%, sulfate-free
  • DS Laboratories Danderene High Performance Anti-Dandruff Shampoo: Zinc Pyrithione 2%: Sulfate Free
  • Dr. Miracle's Cleanse & Condition 2-in-1 Dandruff Shampoo: Zinc Pyrithione 1%
  • Head and Shoulders Shampoos: Zinc Pyrithione 1%, contains silicones
  • Jason Dandruff Relief 2-in-1 Shampoo+Conditioner:  Zinc Pyrithione (concentration unspecified)
  • Kenra Dandruff Shampoo :Zinc Pyrithione 1.9%
  • Mane N Tail Daily Control Anti-Dandruff shampoo: Zinc Pyrithione 1%
  • Matrix Scalptherapie Antidandruff Shampoo:  Zinc Pyrithione (concentration unspecified) contains silicones
  • Neutrogena Daily Control 2-in-1: Zinc Pyrithione 1%, water-insoluble silicone, water-soluble silicone+wheat protein
  • Nioxin Scalp Recovery Cleanser: Zinc Pyrithione 1%, contains silicones
  • Noble Formula ZInc Shampoo: Zinc Pyrithione 2%, fragrance-free
  • Redken Scalp Relief Shampoo: Zinc Pyrithione (concentration unspecified)
  • Suave Dandruff Solutions Anti Dandruff Shampoo Coconut and Shea Butter: Zinc Pyrithione, contains silicones
  • Suave Dandruff Solutions Anti Dandruff Shampoo Mint and Eucalyptus: Zinc Pyrithione,  contains silicones
  • Suave Professionals Men 2-in-1 Classic Clean Anti-Dandruff: Pyrithione 1%, contains silicones
  • Zincon: Zinc Pyrithione 1% sulfate-free

Salicylic acid
  • Avalon Organics Medicated Anti-Dandruff Shampoo: Salicylic acid 2%, 
  • Denorex Extra Strength: Salicylic acid 3%, sulfate-free
  • Giovanni Don't Be Flaky Soothing Anti-Dandruff Shampoo: 2% Salicylic acid: Sulfate Free
  • Home Health Everclean Shampoo: 1.8% Salicylic acid, available in scented and unscented
  • Jason Dandruff Relief Shampoo: Sulfur 2%, Salicylic Acid 2%: Sulfate free
  • Mineral Fusion Anti-Dandruff Shampoo: 2% Salicylic acid: Sulfate Free
  • Neutrogena T-Sal: Salicylic acid 3%, sulfate-free
  • Pure & Basic Anti-Dandruff Shampoo Tea Tree and Rosemary: 2% Salicylic acid, sulfate-free, water-soluble silicone
  • Sebex Shampoo (generic for Sebulex): Salicylic acid 2%, Sulfur 2% 
  • Shea Moisture African Black Soap Deep Cleansing Shampoo: Salicylic acid, concentration unknown, also tea tree oil. Sulfate Free (this contains soap which may or may not leave some residue if you have hard water)
  • Thicker, Fuller Hair Dandruff Sulfate-Free Shampoo: 1.8% Salicylic Acid: Sulfate Free

  • Jason Dandruff Relief Shampoo: Sulfur 2%, Salicylic Acid 2%: Sulfate free
  • Sulfur 8 shampoo: Sulfur
  • Sebex Shampoo (generic for Sebulex): Salicylic acid 2%, Sulfur 2%

  • Nizoral: Ketoconazole 1%, sulfate free
  • Regenepure: Ketoconazole 1%, sulfate-free, not suitable for vegetarians
  • Boots Anti-Dandruff Ketoconazole shampoo: Ketoconazole 2% - this is a UK brand

Selenium sulfide

  • Head And Shoulders Clinical Strength: Selenium sulfide 1%, silicone
  • Selsun Blue Medicated Dandruff Shampoo: Selenium sulfide 1%

  • Dr. Marder's Total Relief Shampoo: 1% Hydrocortisone, Sulfate-free
    • See the "Spray, liquids, gels and DIY list below for more treatments with hydrocortisone
Piroctone Olamine
  • Alpecin Dandruff Killer Shampoo, also contains salicylic acid and zinc pyrithione
  • Pilfood Dandruff Shampoo 
  • SebaMed Anti Dandruff Shampoo 
  • Hegor Shampoo for Persistent Dandruff (European brand): Piroctone Olamine and Pyrithione zinc

Medicated Conditioners and Co-washes: 
  • Avalon Organics Medicated Anti-Dandruff Conditioner: Salicylic acid 2%
  • Avlon KeraCare Dry & Itchy Scalp Moisturizing Conditioner: Zinc Pyrithione 1%, Contains silicone
  • Dr. Marder's Total Relief Conditioner: Zinc Pyrithione 1%contains an "evaporating" silicone - less likely to build up on hair
  • Giovanni Don't Be Flaky Nourishing Conditioner: Salicylic acid 2%
  • Head and Shoulders Conditioners - not "2-in-1 shampoo plus conditioner," that is shampoo (Itchy Scalp Care, Classic Clean, Damage Rescue, Green apple, Instant Relief): Zinc Pyrithione 0.5%contains silicones
  • Head and Shoulders Moisture Care Co-Wash: Zinc Pyrithione 0.5% Contains silicone
  • Jason Normalizing Tea Tree Conditioner: Tea tree oil, concentration unspecified
  • Mane N Tail Daily Control Anti-Dandruff Conditioner:  Zinc Pyrithionecontains silicone
  • Nature's Gate Tea Tree Calming Conditioner: Tea tree oil, concentration unspecified
  • Suave Scalp Solutions Anti-Dandruff conditioner Coconut and Shea butter: Zinc Pyrithione, contains silicone
  • Sulfur 8 Medicated Light and Original formula hair/Scalp conditioner: 2% sulfur - this is not a creamy hair conditioner, it is petrolatum-based
  • Shea Moisture African Black Soap Purification Masque: Salicylic acid, concentration unspecified, also neem and tea tree oil, concentration unspecified
  • Shea Moisture African Black Soap Balancing Conditioner: Salicylic acid, concentration unspecified, tea tree oil, concentration unspecified
  • Yes To Carrots Scalp Relief Conditioner: Tea tree oil, concentration unspecified, Salicylic acid, concentration unspecified 

Sprays, Liquids, topical gels or creams and DIY treatments:
  • Biolage Anti-Dandruff Treatment (this is a spray): Piroctone Olamine
  • Derma Zinc Cream: Zinc Pyrithione 0.25%
  • Essential oil treatments, mixed into oil and left on for a little while before washing, or mixed into your favorite shampoo:
    • Mix 3-5 drops of tea tree oil or rosemary essential oil or thyme essential oil or cedar essential oil into 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of oil such as olive oil. Apply to the scalp, leave on 10-30 minutes and shampoo out. 
    • Mix 3-5 drops of tea tree oil or rosemary essential oil or thyme essential oil or cedar essential oil into 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of shampoo or conditioner and use as you normally would - allow the shampoo or conditioner to stay on your scalp for several minutes before rinsing.
    • 3-5 drops of essential oil = up to 1/16th of a teaspoon, 0.15 ml-0.25 ml
  • Miconazole nitrate creams (for the scalp is an off-label use as an anti-fungal, use at your own discretion)
  • Noble Formula Zinc cream: Zinc Pyrithione 0.25%
  • Psoriasin gel: Tar 1.25%
  • Scalpicin 2-in-1: Salicylic acid 3%
  • Scalpicin Maximum Strength: Hydrocortisone 1%
  • Selsun Blue Scalp Itch Treatment: Hydrocortisone 1%
  • Shea Moisture African Black Soap Dandruff and Dry Scalp Elixir (Spray for the scalp): Salicylic acid, concentration unspecified, tea tree oil concentration unspecified
  • Tolnaftate Creams or liquid (for the scalp is an off-label use, use at your own discretion)

DRY SCALP? Got an especially dry or itchy scalp? Scalp needs soothing? 

  • Wash only as often as you need to to keep ahead of itching. Just wetting and drying our skin creates irritation, so don't wash your hair/scalp unless it's dirty or looks bad or is getting more itchy when you don't wash it.
  • Look for balanced shampoos and conditioners. "Balanced" in a shampoo means:

  1. Look for more than 1 detergent (that makes it milder). For example, sodium lauryl sulfate + cocamidopropyl betaine or C14-16 Olefin sulfonate + cocamidopropyl betaine; any of these + decyl glucoside, or combined with Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate
  2. You probably want some conditioning ingredients like cetrimonium chloride, polyquaternium ingredients, some emollients like plant oils or glycol distearate, sucrose cocoate, PEG-cocoate or silicones to soften skin make detergent less irritating.
  3. You also want humectant ingredients which can act as anti-irritants that will help your scalp retain moisture and reduce irritation like polyquaternium-7, panthenol, sodium PCA, glycerin, hydroxypropyltrimonium honey, aloe, propanediol, glycine betaine, or allantoin.  These can be great for your hair too. 
  4. In conditioners (if you put those on your scalp), look for the same things - aside from conditioning ingredients, look for those irritation-reducing humectants to round out protection for your scalp.
  5. Try applying some oil (avocado, olive, jojoba...) to your scalp or a little fragrance-free skin lotion 10 minutes before you wash your hair. This softens the skin and protects it from the drying effects of washing. CAUTION: If you have a fungal component to your scalp troubles, oil can make it worse. Dry scalp can actually be a by-product of an "ecosystem imbalance."

If you live in a dry or windy area, protect your scalp from the wind because that can be so drying to skin - even a light scarf provides a good barrier.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

What's Cookin' - Easy Humectant Curl Defining Jelly-Cream

This is based on my Easy Humectant Curl Boosting Jelly recipe and inspired by reader comments, and by the problem some of us have with glycerin in winter or dry weather. It's a light-hold curl and wave definer. This recipe is very easy to make. 

What's new?
-Addition of your choice of emollient blend to make this creamy for softness and lubrication (oil+plant butter or oil+conditioner). 
-Increased acacia gum to keep the definition in waves, curls and coils. 
-Options for humectants for those who avoid glycerin.
-Adjust the amount of emollients (oils, butters, conditioners) to suit 1) your hair's needs and 2) the amount of "hold" you want (see below)

The ingredients:
-Water: Solvent, dliutent
-Xanthan gum: Creates a thick "gel," provides medium hold with humidity-resistance, may slow water loss.
-Humectant of your choice. Glycerin(e), or hydrolyzed protein, or panthenol or Hydroxypropylrtimonium honey (honeyquat) or a combination of these: Humectants bind water, boost curls, maintain hydration. NOTE: Panthenol is sold as a cosmetic additive, hydrolyzed proteins are sold as cosmetic additives but are also more widely available as products like Neutral Protein Filler and Green Beauty Products Real Protein. Hydroxypropylrtimonium honey is sold as a cosmetics additive.
-Acacia gum (gum arabic): Adds a bit of "crunch" for more hold, helps emulsify the oils. This powder is sold as a dietary soluble fiber supplement and also sold as a cosmetics ingredient.
-Emollient: Shea butter (or cocoa butter, mango butter or whichever butter you prefer) OR commercial hair conditioner
-Oil: Jojoba oil OR grapeseed oil OR any oil you prefer (avocado, olive, sweet almond, rose hip, etc.)

I use a double boiler to control the heat for this recipe. 
The gel, before adding any oils or butter blends or conditioner.
©Science-y Hair Blog 2013
The recipe:
  • 1 cup water (plus an extra tablespoon or 2 which will evaporate as you heat). 230 ml
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons xanthan gum (2% or 5g or 6.15 ml)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon acacia gum (gum arabic) - more for more hold or if you use more emollients (0.6g to 1.25g, 1.25 to 2.5 ml)
  • Shea butter and jojoba oil as your hair requires (see "How much butter blend to use" below) OR oil and commercial hair conditioner blend
  • Humectant options: 1/2 teaspoon glycerin - make this a scant half-teaspoon; more than 1/4 teaspoon, less than 1/2 teaspoon (1% or 2.5 g, or 2.5 ml)
    • Instead of glycerin: 1/2 teaspoon liquid panthenol or 1/4 teaspoon powderedpanthenol, or 1/2 teaspoon hydrolyzed protein or protein additive or 1/2 teaspoon "Honeyquat" (Hydroxypropyltrimonium honey).

1) Make the oil blend (If you are using oil and conditioner instead of butters, skip this step)
Measure out 2 parts liquid jojoba oil (or an oil of your choice) to 1 part solid shea butter. Either combine these in a bowl and place in a larger bowl of warm water to melt, or add to the heated, prepared gel to melt.

How much butter blend or conditioner/oil to use? 
  • To keep the most hold (or for silky, not-dry hair): 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon (1.25 to 2.5 ml)
  • Hair that needs extra flexibility and does not get oily-looking easily: 1 to 3 teaspoons (5 to 15 ml)
  • Hair that really loves oils and butters: 3 teaspoons to 3 tablespoons (15 to 45 ml)

2) Make the gel
Put water, xanthan gum and acacia gum the double boiler over medium to high heat. When water boils, turn it down. Whisk the ingredients well throughout the heating time. The mixture will thicken right away, but it is not finished yet. Whisk until no more xanthan gum powder is visible and the gel goes from thick and heavy to smoother, less stiff and easier to stir. Turn off heat. 

3) Add the oil/butter blend or oil and conditioner
For oil/butter blend: Add the melted oils or liquid jojoba oil and solid shea butter to the warm gel and allow it to melt as you mix. Mix well with a fork or whisk to combine oil and gel. If you like, use an immersion blender. Once well blended, remove from heat and cool to a touchable temperature.
For oil and conditioner: Add equal parts oil and conditioner to the cooled (comfortable to touch the bowl) gel and mix well

4) Add humectant
Mix the glycerin or hydrolyzed protein or panthenol or honeyquat into the cooled gel.

Scoop into a sterilized bottle and refrigerate immediately - or add preservative according to manufacturer specifications. Xanthan gum is anionic; check that preservatives are compatible with anionic ingredients.
©Science-y Hair Blog 2013
Recipe Variations (other additives and ingredient substitutes)
  • Magnesium sulfate (1/2 teaspoon) - this is a humectant and curl enhancer but it can be drying to hair.
  • Aloe. Replace up to half of the water with aloe vera juice - the edible/drinkable kind, not a pre-thickened gel.
  • If shea butter makes your hair look dull and waxy, skip the butter and use liquid oils only. 
  • Agave nectar - provides hold, especially in dry weather. Adds shine. Use 1/4 to 1 teaspoon.

Need more hold?

Mix equal parts of this curl definer with your favorite stronger-hold styling gel. It has mixed well with the gel I mixed it with, which is a basic hair gel similar to Ecostyler or LA Looks or Salon Care gels.