Thursday, 13 November 2014

Can your hair recover from heat damage?

I get these questions quite often, so I am featuring this one today from blog reader D. She writes

'So I feel like I have a unique situation. I have heat damage but it's not the kind you just trim off. The stylist actually weakened and compromised the integrity of my hair. Now that it's cooler it's even harder to keep my hair moisturized. I've added more protein in my regimen and I deep condition after every wash. Other than a wash n go, every other style stretches my curls and before my next wash day I'm left with straight pieces and waves all over, at least until I can get it into a long term protective style and re-transition back to my original curly coiled kinks. I feel like there's no hope for my pattern to return. Doc is there anyway to come back from heat,weakened damaged hair? why or why not?'

I hate to break it to you but the only permanent remedy to heat damaged hair is a trim. Here is why

1. Your hair is  Dead

Once your hair emerges out into the visible area of your scalp, you are dealing with a dead fibre. It is dead because there are no active growing cells in it. The implication here is that this fibre can only ever either stay in the condition it is as it emerges or wear down over time. There are no active cells within that part that has emerged to fix any damage.

2.  High heat makes physical and irreversible changes to your hair at a molecular level

High or prolonged heat can physically and irreversibly change the natural structure of protein . Hair is made up of a protein called keratin. Keratin in hair has a natural twist in it called an alpha helix. This twist is present in all hair straight or curly. If you heat keratin to around 215-235°C ( 419-455F) the alpha helix starts to melt. This is a a physical change and it is irreversible, your hair will retain the shape of the melted keratin at a molecular level. Your hair shows you this molecular damage by not getting back into its natural curl or wave and staying straighter.

3. All damage to your hair is cumulative. 

Remember you have no growing cells in the dead part of the hair so if the cuticle is broken, it will stay broken. If you heat treat and damage the cortex, it stays damaged. Your hair conditioner and gentle treatment can help prolong the life of the damaged hair but ultimately it is damaged and the damage will continue to progress.


4. Do you have to cut it off?

If you can deal with the multiple textures and your hair is not breaking off in pieces, you can keep heat damaged hair. If the multiple textures are driving you insane, trimming is the only proven way forward.

For more - read this vintage article

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Jimmy Fallon does science

I loved this segment lead by Kevin Delaney on Jimmy Fallon. It was such fun and went very well even with the health and safety hanging by a little thread. If you didn't catch it then, here it is now!




Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Caucasian Hair Cleansing: Shikakai, Shampoo, Conditioner, Bentonite and more!

I have been promising this post for a while! This is a repeat of the microscope cleansing experiments we did with my (African) hair but using my hubby's (Caucasian) hair. Here it is!

The Experiment
I used my own shed hair and imaged it:
-on its own without any washing
- washed with one type of test cleanser only (2 minute water rinse, 2 minute test cleanser, 2 minute water rinse and air dried for 4 hours)
- the test cleansers were plain water, shampoo, conditioner, bentonite clay, shikakai, apple cider vinegar (1:1 ratio with water) and baking soda. ACV and baking soda had an extended time of 10 minutes in the cleansing phase.

The Results

1. Oily hair

My hubby shampoos his hair every 2-3 days and does not use conditioner or oil so his hair is pretty oil free. I therefore applied shea butter to his hair to create the oily surface needed for the experiment.

'Unwashed' Caucasian hair which is relatively oil free due to frequent shampoo use

Oily Caucasian hair with shea butter used for this experiment
2. Water only wash

The water only spread the oil around the hair strand but did not really clean it off.

 Oil spread over the strands in the water only wash
3. Shampoo only wash

The shampoo wash as expected gave the cleanest most oil free strands.
Shampoo cleaned Caucasian hair
4. Conditioner only wash

The conditioner wash gave mostly clean oil free hair with just tiny spots of oil visible

Hair conditioner cleansed hair - mostly clean some oil circled in white
 5. Bentonite clay wash

The clay wash resulted in a very similar result to the conditioner wash. The hair was mostly clean with some oil visible. In this case subjectively there was more oil than with the hair conditioner. I have circled some of the more obvious bulges in white

Bentonite clay cleansed hair

6. Shikakai 

Shikakai gave a somewhat clean result. Quite a bit of oil was still visible after the two minutes of cleaning.

Shikakai cleansed hair - not all visible oil is marked, just the more obvious spots

7.  Apple Cider Vinegar

The result with ACV was similar to water only washing, the oil just seemed to spread

ACV wash - oil spread over the strand, no real cleansing observed

8. Baking soda

As with ACV, baking soda also seemed to spread the oil and not really clean the oil off the hair.

Baking soda wash - hair remained oily 
Additional notes:
Running warm water was used for all washes. In each wash or rinse,  hair was rubbed gently to simulate normal hair washing. Hair conditioner - Tresemme Naturals Conditioner, Shampoo - Herbal Essences Dazzling Shine Shampoo, Bentonite Clay - Detox people, Shikakai - Hesh, Sainsbury's, ACV - Sainsbury's, Baking Soda - Dr. Oetker.

Please do note that under the microscope we can see oil layers but we do not see small deposits on hair e.g hair conditioner deposits (well you actually could see them with specialised instruments but not with my microscope!). Strictly speaking this experiment will answer the question, how well will washing method X remove oil from hair.

Shikakai from the Supermarket!

Well well, look what I found in Sainsbury's ( a UK supermarket)! Yes your eyes do not deceive you, shikakai being sold in Sainsbury's! It was one of the products in the unfortunate aisle as I call it (where they put stuff close to sell by date or damaged products)......and it is something I had wanted to experiment with! I will be doing a shikakai cleansing test today on some shed hair with some microscope results!


Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Were the CWK Girls Straight Plates a Scam?

I have read your concerns about the CWK Straight Plates. Specific questions that you asked included

1. Why were contradictory details being given out?
In CWK Update 17 on July 16th 2014, the moulds (molds) were reported as done and sample plates were produced. However, a few weeks later in CWK Update 21  on August 23rd 2014, the information was that the prototype mould needed to be modified and further testing would be necessary

Images from CWK Straight Plates Facebook - From Update 17/18

 2. Why were shipping details requested if the plates were not fully tested, made and ready for shipping?
Prior to update 21 on August 23rd where the information about mould issues was given, shipping details for investors to claim their rewards were requested by CWK on August 6th 2014. Why ask for shipping details if the plates were not ready for shipping?

3. Why was the CWKgirls  own website shop still operational after the  CWK Update 24 on Oct 22nd 2014 with the ability for potential customers to purchase items?

CWK Update 24 on Oct 22nd stated that due to someone else claiming to have a patent on a device that sounded like CWK straight plates, the CWK straight plate production would be stopped. However the website CWKgirls.com had a live shop with the ability to purchase items.


The story

I have tried my level best to get Kelechi Bradley the inventor of the CWK straight plates on the record to answer these questions but she has not responded to any of my requests for an interview. She did however respond to the email where I told her that the shop was still operational and that she needed to urgently close it. Her email stated that it would be closed over the weekend (weekend ending Sunday26th Oct). I was then alerted to the fact that the shop was still operational on Tuesday 28th by a blog reader and I wrote again to Kelechi and stated to her that as her shop was still open and there was no chance of anyone getting a product, I felt obligated to inform my readers that she may be running a scam afterall. After this email, the shop was finally disabled with Kelechi giving me assurances that she is processing refunds and over 150 have been done (529 backers in total for the kickstarter plus others on her own website).

So was it a scam?

I am on the fence. I  can see why certain decisions and lack of action can give it the appearance of a scam but I really do want to give Kelechi the benefit of the doubt as importantly she has promised full refunds for every backer. Indeed if we all get refunds, it cannot be a scam as we all got our money back!

I think the project has suffered badly reputation wise because of a lack of experience in manufacturing, business, law and PR e.g

1. In manufacturing, it is common to have a working prototype that does not do well as a finished product. The updates should have clearly indicated that the products were in a test phase rather than reflect excitement that a product is near completion.

2. Shipping details should never have been requested until products were in hand. For a customer, requesting shipping details means that the product is ready to be sent. It was not the case in this instance as mould testing was not complete and it is just bad business to dangle carrots in the form of 'Give us your address, we are ready to ship.'

3. Backers were never made aware of patent issues until the final email. If you are not a backer, the information is that someone else has produced a patent application number which was filed two or so months before Kelechi's own application. This patent is said to relate to:

'a device for the treatment of a tress of hair including two plates containing multiple apertures, joined on one side by a spine and secured by plurality of interlocking tines containing grooves with the function of providing an adjustable hold on a tress of hair, so as to allow wet hair to dry in an elongated state when held between two plates'

I think there is reasonable cause for the CWK team to want to see this patent in full. It is not clear if this has been done. A search of the US patents office does not bring up this patent (you can search by patent application date or wording) and therefore there is reason to doubt whether the patent exists. The terms and date of filing of Kelechi's own patent have not been made public so once more, nothing more to go on.

4. Nothing has been done to stem the bad PR- there are active discussions about how the idea was stolen (here) or indeed how the whole project was a scam (LHCF, Lipstick Alley). Right now, a great idea would be start conducting interviews and answering questions frankly so that  the team at CWK Straight Plates put out their side of the story instead of letting wild statements run free and unabated.

I do truly hope that Kelechi and her team begin to take action as I maintain that this innovation has great potential. I certainly would like to see it get to market. I don't want this to be another hair product / tool scam. I want the lessons to be learned and for the whole team to just do better! I'll let you know when I get my refund!

What is your view - scam or no scam?


Saturday, 25 October 2014

CWK Plates - Production Cancelled!

Update 25/10/2014 - Kelechi has confirmed to me that her webmaster will be disabling purchasing of the straight plates on her website over the weekend. I am still waiting for a response regarding the interview.


Original Post - 24/10/2014

Some of you have written to me about the CWK plates latest email. I am also a backer of the project so I did receive it too. In short Kelechi Bradley (the inventor) has confirmed that she will be refunding all backers and production and sale of the plates is not happening. This is related to someone contacting her advising that they have patented a similar product earlier.

I am very disappointed with the last update and I would like to get the inventor on the record about what exactly is going on. I have emailed Kelechi to get some clarification as the last update was about prototypes being approved and production ready to start.

I was also advised literally just this minute that it is possible to purchase plates from the CWK site. I will again get in touch with Kelechi about this.

Watch this space!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Curl Clumping in 4c hair : Bentonite Clay vs Hair Conditioner Take 2

After the last post on clumping curls in 4c hair, many of you wanted to see a strict conditioner only vs bentonite only set of results. I have now had the chance to repeat the experiment and this is what I did.

The Experiment
- My own hair - 7 inch segment cut from the crown area (details here). This cut is selected for this experiment as all the hair comes from the same general area and should therefore clump if it can. Hair is kinky curly with very tight coils. I am not a fan of hair typing but most would call it 4c hair.

Experiment 1 - Shampoo + Conditioner + Rinse
-Hair detangled first then shampooed (2 mins), rinsed (2 mins), conditioner applied (1 hr with heat) and  imaged before being  rinsed (2 mins) and imaged

Experiment 2 - Shampoo + Bentonite Clay + Rinse
- Hair detangled first then shampooed (2 mins), rinsed (2 mins), bentonite clay suspended in water applied (20 mins)  then imaged and one final rinse (2 mins) then imaged.

In both experiments the exact same hair swatch was used. This is because I wanted to do a direct comparison on the same hair. You therefore see the effect of using either clay or hair conditioner. Additionally all hair was shampooed to remove traces of previous products.

Results
Experiment 1 - Shampoo + Conditioner + Rinse 

I placed the images of the hair in all the key stages in the image below.  Hair conditioner for my hair (emphasis on my) does not really clump curls. It does start off the process and the hair strands get more orderly but there is no real curl clumping. The final rinse image can be expected to shrink down to the complete shrinkage state as the hair dries out.

Appearance of 4c hair from complete shrinkage, stretched and conditioned

Close- up view of the effect of hair conditioner on 4c hair - before and after rinsing

Experiment 2 - Shampoo + Bentonite Clay + Rinse 

I would normally always shampoo and condition before applying clay but I did the experiment with shampoo to cleanse followed by direct application of bentonite clay as some readers wanted to assess whether the clay on its own was actually responsible for the clumping result

Curl clumping in 4c hair induced by bentonite clay

Close- up view of the bentonite clay curl 4c clumping effect - the image to the left shows hair with clay still on it and the one to the right shows the hair with the clay rinsed out.

Please note that these are the results for MY hair. Your hair may behave differently. I also would not normally shampoo hair and then apply bentonite clay. I would always condition hair first because I find it easier to detangle with conditioner rather than with clay. These are MY preferences and you need to create rules for your own hair.

Additional Notes:
Conditioning time: In practise, I never usually use heat or condition my own hair for extended times 20- 30 mins at most, but in the interest of doing what many naturals do, I chose to apply heat and extend the conditioning time to the swatch.

Products: Herbal Essences Dazzling Shine Shampoo, Tresemme Naturals Conditioner, Bentonite Clay from Detox People