Friday, 8 June 2018

Curly vs Kinky : What is the difference?

*This is a repost that was originally published on 29/05/2011*

I finally got my 3d programmer (otherwise known as hubby) to draw out some things for me! The big question is what is the difference between curly and kinky hair? Many people do not seem to distinguish between curly and kinky hair but structurally there is a rather major difference.

Now kinky hair can also be curly but curly hair is not always necessarily kinky!  (Reader question from Ehizele on why some hair is more 'breakable' will follow soon!!)

Curly hair is simply a spiral or wave while kinky hair has a torsion twist (which can be felt as a permanent crimp) where the hair strand turns around itself (see the diagram).

The torsion of kinky hair is basically the strand twisting around itself.  The simplest analogy would be the wringing of a cloth where you turn one side clockwise and the other anticlockwise.


Now kinky hair can be curly and have the same spiral turns in addition to the torsion twist. This creates the dominant type of hair seen among people of African origin - the kinky curly hair.  Going by the first analogy on a large scale think of it like wringing a sheet and then winding it around a large rod to form the curl.

Images modelled on SEM images in (PhD Thesis by Jutta Maria Quadflieg)

Friday, 13 January 2017

African Threading with Extensions

As you may know, I am not a huge proponent of extensions as a permanent style option - here is why - but I do think they are great for short term styling (i.e when you want to change it up). I found this great video on African threading, but here is the twist, with extensions! It comes from the aficionado of African threading Nadine of Girls Love Your Curls on youtube. I might do this one, just purely out of curiosity!

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Is Rice Water the answer to Hair Breakage?

Vicki asks 'Do you know anything about rice water and it's benefits to hair?'

I did some research and here is the science on rice water and hair.

Q:  What is rice water?
Place some rice in water, boil it a little bit, the starch is released into the water making the water milky. Sieve off the rice and there you have it - rice water!

Q: Is it beneficial to hair?
The scientific answer is I don't know. Unfortunately many people quote this particular journal article from The International Journal of Cosmetic Science in 2010 but they are really over-interpreting the article.

Q: What does the article say?
It is looking back to hair practices from the Heian Period in Japan. Wikipedia tells me that Heian Period is from 794-1185! It is therefore probably a study of what people said rather than an actual current study with controlled strength testing or combability tests.

Q: But I have read elsewhere that the science said that rice water increased elasticity and reduced friction when combing?
Yes, it says so in the abstract of the article, but again, please note that the article does not say that scientists carried out any actual experiments, it just says they looked at the practices of Japanese courtiers from the Heian Period. I am assuming they therefore have some type of evidence e.g written text from the period.

Q: So does that mean rice water is not useful?
No, it just means it is another word of mouth common cultural practice. For example you will find many people who will swear that castor oil rubbed into your edges will cause that hair to grow back. There is no scientific evidence for that (as in no one has done the experiment yet, not that it does not work), but there are many word of mouth (anecdotal reports) statements that people consider as evidence that it is a possible solution.

The story from Asia is that giving hair a rinse with rice water gives it strength and elasticity. This is not scientifically evidenced but if it is something you want to try, you can do so, it may or may not work.

Q: Is this therefore only a solution for Asian hair?
From the studies I have seen, hair whether of African, European or Asian origin is structurally the same. Of course we are all humans of the same species so it makes sense that hair is hair is hair. There are differences too e.g some hair is thicker, curlier, lighter or darker but ultimately, hair in general regardless of origin has the same basic structure of a cortex surrrounded by a cuticle layer. All this harping on is to say, a rice water wash on Asian hair would probably have a similar effect on African American hair for example.
The basic structure of hair (not all hair has a medulla though!)
Q: How do you use rice water
Here is a video I found, basically apply to hair, concentrate on most damaged area, leave on for around 30 minutes and proceed on to wash and condition as normal.

Image Credit: ThamKC Shutterstock

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Is this blog dead and other questions?

Q1. Is this blog dead? 

Gosh, I know I have not updated it for a while but the archives are great! I learned a lot by building this blog and I hope you do too. I even search this site myself because I can't always remember all the details, surely if I do, then you must do too!

Q2. Do you check comments?

Sorry, no I have not for a while. The comments are unpublished as I have set them for moderation. Unfortunately I get a lot of spam, so I cannot just set comments for auto-publishing

Q3. When are we getting updates!

Here is an update now lol! I am sorry that I have not updated the blog in a long while. Here is what I have been doing:

1. Taking care of my baby girl full time (seriously awake at half past 6 and right up until bedtime at half past 7, using the 2-2.5hours that she naps to clean the house, myself and make meals)
2. Working full time (most people relax and unwind between 7pm and 11pm but I am doing my job in those hours, thankfully from home!)
3. Doing #1 and #2 with no coffee! Yes we are onto year 2 of breastfeeding which means I am on decaf coffee and no wine!
4. Exhausted but happy! If I have a free moment I am sleeping! The sleep deprivation with a young child is real! I do however feel very privileged that I get to stay at home with her, all our bills are paid and hubby and I are very content!

Q4: So, when are we getting updates?

Lol! Tell me - what do you want to know about hair science, I am going to build ideas. I love questions that will involve diagrams.......ask away!

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Bentonite Clay Safety: FDA, Lead and Alikay Naturals

**Updated to add Alikay Naturals response**

I was alerted to this FDA release courtesy of a blog I follow - A Bountiful Thing. The press release from the FDA is warning consumers not to use Alikay Naturals Bentonite Me Baby Clay. The product is sold as 100% bentonite clay but FDA testing found that it contained high levels of lead.

This is quite serious as lead can poison most tissues of the human body including nerves, kidneys and the reproductive system. The effect on children is much worse with possible effects on brain development.

Ladies (and the odd gent who may be reading this), please be careful about the products you are purchasing. There is a trend of purchasing natural products as they are deemed to be safer or less toxic but please do your homework..........this may not be the only contaminated brand, it just happens to be the first one identified by the FDA.

For your safety when purchasing bentonite clay, consider buying a certified clay which will come with a breakdown of the trace elements in the clay or a food grade clay. None of these measures can guarantee a lead free product but are good measures to take.

Alikay Naturals have issued their own press release (link in the sources below) stating in brief that they consider the product safe but it should not be ingested without medical advice or used on children. They have also committed to doing their own independent tests.

Lead Poisoning -
Alikay Naturals response -

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Pregnancy, miscarriage and women's health

So, I am back on the blogging scene again. You may have seen this post - here - about my little sleep thief who I love with all my heart! I do want to, however, talk about my journey and all the many highs, lows, worries and joys.

Over the coming weeks and months, I will let you in on my story and crucially the lessons I have learned along the way, so that you become an advocate for your own health or strengthen your advocacy.

I have miscarried at 13 weeks and then again at 5weeks though the 13 week one was much more real to me. It is at the third time of asking that I now have my little girl (she's a girl for those who asked!). I have a lot to say including how I thought I was dying while complications were happening and for some reason thought I should look at the time lol.........I still don't know why the time mattered.

Anyway, if you are interested, this will be an additional topic to the blog and further but it will not be all doom and gloom. As the happy and incurable optimist that I am expect a good dose of fun as well as of course tons of science.

Friday, 20 November 2015

DIY Dandruff Treatment: Glycerin/Glycerol

Dandruff is a huge issue for many naturals and I am always looking out for new science articles on it. This DIY recipe is based on a study done in Thailand and published quite recently (Skin Med, pp 155-161, 2014).

The Recipe

DIY 10% Glycerin  Scalp Leave On Lotion

10 ml Glycerin/Glycerine
90 ml base* of your choice

*Base can be water or a leave in conditioner of your choice. For a water base add 1 drop of sunflower oil to the final mix. For a leave in conditoner base, avoid high oil containing leave ins especially if it is a natural oil - this is why


1. Shampoo your hair and condition it as you would normally.
2. Apply the DIY 10% Glycerin Scalp Leave On Lotion to the scalp, ensuring that you shake the bottle with your lotion to mix the base and glycerin well.
3. For best results, carefully part hair and focus the application directly on the scalp and not the hair.
4. Reapply the lotion to the scalp daily or at least 3 times a week

Expected Results

You should see an improvement in scaling (dry skin) on the scalp any time from the first use to within 2 weeks of applying at least 3 times per week.

The Science of the DIY 10% Glycerin Scalp Leave On Lotion

The study in Thailand was based on 274 people both male and female. The scientists chose not to go down the antifungal route that is commonly used to treat dandruff (i.e the commercial dandruff shampoos). Instead they chose to tackle the loss of scalp hydration that is seen with dandruff with a humectant (a product that draws water to itself).

You may therefore wonder if this is a permanent solution since they are treating the symptoms rather than the cause. This is a valid concern and to address this, the paper did say that after 8 weeks of following the regime, the study subjects were asked to stop and the dandruff flaking did not return in the following week (with no lotion used in that week).

For clarity, please note that the recipe above is not the exact one used in the study, there were other ingredients in the product including fatty acids and sunflower oil which were proposed as additional moisturising ingredients. If you wish, you can read the full study online - starting from pg 115!