Monday, 28 July 2014

Bad Ingredients Label: Kinky Curly Knot Today

So, you must know by now that I really dislike it when products are badly labelled. This is most common in the natural hair industry with small start ups who are keen to keep their ingredients as a trade secret. However, I am actually mightily surprised that a company as large as Kinky Curly is up to some  trickery creative labelling.

This is the ingredients label on Kinky Curly Knot Today

Organic mango fruit extract, organic slippery elm, organic marshmallow root, organic lemon grass, cetyl alcohol, behentrimonium methosulfate, citric acid, phenoxyethanol and natural fragrances   Q1. Where is the water?  If you have read previous instalments on the law of product labelling, you will have heard me harp on about why water should almost always be the first ingredient in a hair shampoo or hair conditioner. I am very perplexed as to how this apparently water based moisturiser has no water, when water can often constitute 80% or more in such a product and should be the first listed ingredient.     Q2. What if you (Jc) are wrong and this product is just concentrated and has little water?  Honestly, you should hope that I am right and the water has been omitted. Why? Cetyl alcohol and behentrimonium methosulfate are solid pellets that need to be dissolved. If that list as printed is correct then this is not a water based conditioner but an alcohol rich one with phenoxyethanol as the only possible solvent on the list (To be clear, I think that water has been omitted and phenoxyethanol is a preservative).  Q3: But the Kinky Curly Website says their products do not contain alcohol or silicones 
 Sorry, this statement is not truthful - phenoxyethanol which is declared on the label IS an alcohol. Perfectly legitimate as a preservative  and sometimes used as a solvent but most definitely an alcohol.    Q4. But it has so many organic and natural ingredients  I don't think so (my opinion). I am totally against listings of herbal extracts in water at the top of the list. This is often because only small amounts are used (do note that if large amounts were used, the colour of the product would end up more along a brown or green colour - similar to the colour of bark/leaf). This product is white so my theory is that those herbal extracts have a very minor role on the hair but a major role on you as the consumer.   Q5: So what really is in the bottle?  In my honest opinion, I sincerely doubt that we have the full ingredient list. I am fairly certain that water has been omitted and additionally, I also think that oil may also have been omitted from this list.  Here is the breakdown of the declared ingredients:

What is it?
How much would typically be found in a hair product?
Organic mango fruit extract, organic slippery elm, organic marshmallow root, organic lemon grass, Herbal Extract (Normally drop a few herbs in water or oil or alcohol as the solvent, wait for a few minutes/hours, sieve out the herbs, use the water to make the product) Generally less than 1%
Cetyl alcohol Emollient (softens hair), Thickener (makes conditioner more gloopy instead of it being overly liquid)Around 5%
Behentrimonium methosulfateSurfactant (Smooths down cuticle, reduces static, softens hair) Around 5%
citric acid, phenoxyethanol Both act as preservatives - citric acid is a weak fruit derived acid  that stops products going rancid, also adjusts pH slightly and phenoxyethanol is an alcohol which can also be a solvent. Depends on the formula - can be effective from as little as 0.1% but sometimes much more is added to improve shelf life or kill more microbes
Natural fragrances Could really be anything! Manufacturers are not required to define what the fragrance is Should not be much (under 1%) but can be e.g when some manufacturers use fragrance to disguise other ingredients

So if you total up the percentages of expected amounts of the declared products - you get to around 12%. If you even decide to be generous and make it 20 or even 30%....what is the undeclared 70-80%?

The thing I fail to understand is that kinky curly knot today is by all accounts a very much loved product by many naturals, why does the manufacturer feel inclined to have a very poor and even possibly misleading label?

Saturday, 12 July 2014

What do you want to see next on the blog?

Given the success of the last set of posts which were basically your is another ask the reader set!

The last series of microscope pictures brought out a lot of ideas for future experiments. So far I have

1. Retest on hubby's hair (white/caucasian)
2. Apply silicone serum to hair and see if cleansers remove it
3. Test on scalp cleansing
4. Test with HH (silicone containing conditioner), shampoo bars, castile soap, oat/bean water, soapnuts

What do you want to see most or do you have more test conditions to suggest?

Friday, 11 July 2014

Alicisms : A Week in Review

I have seen many blog round ups in my time but Alice's Weekend Photo is by far the best. I think with its eclectic mix of hair, music and other interests, it just keeps springing up new discoveries. This is a totally stolen idea although with permission! I am calling my series Alicisms in honour of where the ingenuity started.

Here we go!

1. Etsy - I spend an extraordinary probably verging on a little too much time on etsy. The gem today comes from Sharp Tooth Studio (love that name) and is a mini banner telling you it is ok to be 'weird'.....and it really is.
2. Hair blog feature of the week- Check out the girls at  Kurly Kichana with a feature of  Nicola Okero, a Mauritian based Kenyan model who has a stunning head of natural hair. So far the natural hair is her calling card and no one has asked her to change it.
3. Tweet of the week -  I am not a fan of love and hip hop but I pretty much know all that is going on in the program because of the sheer number of comments on my twitter timeline. This particular one from Elle of Quest for Perfect Curl had me in stitches.
4. Song of the week - The song of the week is a mellow tune from Kenya (again, you say........yes again!). Just a band define themselves as a nerdy electro-pop African band. I cannot think of a video that has ever featured such happy people......enjoy Probably for Lovers from the album Sorry for the Delay.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

#teamnatural is for everyone

If you don't already know the story you have been living under a rock. However, if you don't here is the bite sized version. A white reader featured on curly nikki, some black readers raise hell saying she should never have been featured and the piece was a mockery, ebony mag writer says #naturalhair spaces should be kept free of white people, 1 BGLH writer essentially agrees explaining why exclusivity is not racism, I as another BGLH writer disagree and say all people should be welcome because the principle of excluding a race is exactly what apartheid supports.

On BGLH the vocal majority was and is clearly for exclusion. I dance to the beat of my own drum and there is a small yet clear voice who do agree with me that we should not exclude anyone. Having the loudest voice does not mean it is the most applicable, most intelligent or makes the most sense. It just means x number of people agree with you while y either disagree or have no opinion either way.

Some regular cross readers have left many comments on my own blog that I have chosen not to publish, not because they are not publication worthy but because they are being left on posts that have nothing to do with the subject. I am therefore creating this post for the purpose of those who feel that they want to comment on the issue.

Honestly in my view, this issue has been beaten to a pulp! Why are we subscribing to the Dubya mentality of, 'You are either with us or against us?' The truth is much more genteel.... Everyone is entitled to their opinion. We can agree to disagree.

So if you have something to say, say it, if you are bored already, go check out some older posts :)

Monday, 7 July 2014

4c Hair: How much detangling do you really need to do?

If you have 4c hair and have chosen a exclusive dry finger detangling method, you will know that it is very easy to end up spending hours on your hair. I was therefore intrigued when I found this video of the Long 4c Case Study alumni Jennifer and I had to verify if this level of detangling is all she does.

Here is the video showing Jennifer's (@bootyfurl on twitter) simple under 10 minute detangling process:

I think I may try this less involved method for general detangling especially when I am not intending to do major styling. I would still keep my standard more involved detangling for when I want to create multiple parts e.g for own hair braids. My method is virtually identical to Long 4c Case Study alumni Chery818

So would you try the short approach or would you be worried that your hair may end up matted?

Friday, 4 July 2014

Max Hydration Method: Can you get 4c hair to have clumped curls/ringlets?

The max hydration method (mhm) makes a big bold promise of getting type 4c hair to get its natural coils into clumped up curls. Are you curious? I love scrutinising things so here is my analysis of the method.

What is the max hydration method?

The author of the method Pinke Cube sent me some notes on the method. She is active on black hair media so do go there if you want more details. Here is a video of an mhm afficionado Ms.Dee Kay explaining part of the method in a few soundbites; there are different versions of the method, she is explaining what is regarded as a routine for a regular user.

What other versions of the method exist?

I am going to be lazy here and tell you to click on the previous link to black hair media. I also believe an e-book will soon be available with further details. The one major addition that I can say is that a modified Cherry Lola treatment is recommended for beginners. If you do not know what that it is.

Does the max hydration method work?

There is evidence that the method works although the group number is small (about 10)  - testimonial page. There is a lot of emphasis that for success, this method has to be done regularly and consistently - repeated daily/ every 2-3 days. Additionally a curly girl route is recommended with elimination of products containing sulfates and silicones and users saying that using a standard shampoo/conditioner does not replicate the results.

Should I be concerned about the high pH of the baking soda/ Will it relax my hair?

Baking soda dissolved in water has a pH of around 8/9 and certainly while I do recommend that the mild acid to neutral range (5-7) is better, pH on its own is not sufficient to relax hair and hair is pretty resistant to change within the pH 4-9 range - (jog your memory)

Do baking soda or ACV actually clarify?

If you are a high/heavy oil user then the likely answer is no. I base my answer on my previous mini study of baking soda/ACV cleansing. If you are only lightly oiling on occasion and washing your hair daily as required in this method then maybe the result is different.

Can this method damage my hair?

I am generally not for daily washing of hair as it introduces a lot handling wear and tear to hair. Additionally there is one study that has linked prolonged hair wetness to damaging the inner cuticle cement that holds the cuticle layers together. However, many people are able to daily wash and still continuously grow long hair, so you have to analyse the long term effects for yourself.

Each cuticle is made up of several layers
Each cuticle layer is 'glued' with a fat layer/cuticle cement in yellow

Does hair really get more hydrated than normal with the max hydration method?

There is no study done to show the level of water in the hair before and after the max hydration method. Ultimately though, hair has a limited amount of water that it can accept and it will generally reach this limit within 15 minutes of immersion in water. I do not believe that hair gets more hydrated, but what I think is possible is that the moisture levels in hair are not allowed to drop far down and balance out with humidity. The hair is almost constantly surrounded by water with a regular washing cycle combined with the use of a leave in conditioner and gel layer to further prevent moisture loss between the cycles.

Are there any downsides?

If you are lazy like I am, this method is not for you. You have to be ready to spend quite a bit of time washing your hair and if necessary overnight conditioning, steaming and the baggy method can come into play. I do not have the will to sit with conditioner on my head for more than 10 minutes, so count me out. However if playing with your hair for hours is your thing......this method will give you satisfaction.

What about shrinkage and long hair, will it still work?

This method requires you to embrace your shrinkage fully. This is generally true for curl enhancing methods. I have not seen anyone with particularly long hair use the method, so I cannot tell you how well it works for long 4c naturals. Here is Pinke's own video, she has longer hair than Ms. Dee Kay

Here is another video from Protective Princess who was suggested as a long 4c natural by Pinke, she discusses in depth on shrinkage, knotting, tangling and curl clumping.

So will you be trying the max hydration method?

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Can you wash your hair with Baking Soda or Apple Cider Vinegar? : A scientific experiment!

So you may recall the last experiments on cowashing and rhassoul/bentonite clay washing which led many of you to ask, why not do it with baking soda and apple cider vinegar (ACV)? Well here are the results!

The Experiment
I used my own shed hair and imaged it:
-on its own without any washing (oily hair sample)
- washed with shampoo only (2 minute water rinse, 2 minute shampoo wash, 2 minute water rinse and air dried for 4 hours)
-washed with baking soda dissolved in water only ( 2 minute water rinse, 2 minute baking soda (pre-mixed with water), 2 minute water rinse and air dried for 4 hours)
-washed with apple cider vinegar only ( 2 minute water rinse, 2 minute apple cider vinegar wash, 2 minute water rinse and air dried for 4 hours)

The Results

1. The Controls - Oily Hair and Shampooed Hair

This paragraph is a bit of self plagiarism (yes you can plagiarise yourself)  - As before - I redid these two controls for this experiment because you always have to have a baseline of what the hair looks like prior to washing and what it looks like with a proper wash. You can therefore judge the baking soda and ACV in context of dirty and clean hair.
Oily Unwashed Natural Hair

Clean Shampooed Natural Hair

2. Baking Soda Wash

I was actually stunned by this. It really did not clean at all. I kind of expected it to somewhat but it really was just a greasy mess. I even decided to soak it in the baking soda mix for 10 minutes and try again but the result was exactly the same

Baking soda wash on natural hair - Still Oily

 3. Apple Cider Vinegar Wash

If you thought the baking soda wash was bad, well meet the ACV wash. I think the hair actually looked oilier after washing than before. Once more I soaked it for 10 minutes to give it a chance and the result was just a bit better.

ACV wash - Can you believe this oil coated hair is washed?

ACV washed hair - 10 minutes - Still oily but less so.

Additional notes:
Running warm water was used for all washes. In each wash or rinse,  hair was rubbed gently to simulate normal hair washing. Shampoo - Herbal Essences Dazzling Shine Shampoo.

Please do note that under the microscope we can see oil layers but we do not see small deposits such as build up or 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.