Kitchen Chemist: Low Porosity Castile Shampoo

This morning I attempted to whip up a low porosity shampoo that has a PH above neutral. The goal is that it will  open my cuticles, clean my hair and leave it  moisturized, but not stripped. Here are some pictures of the process. I haven’t tried this shampoo yet and will report findings once I use it tonight or tomorrow. I’ll follow-up with a conditioner to get the moisture in my hair and close my cuticles (as conditioner has a naturally acidic PH).

I won’t share the recipe for now as I will be the guinea pig first and test the results. However here are the ingredients I used: distilled water, shavings of organic castile soap, black strap molasses, argan and sweet almond oil, vitamin E, essential oils. It looks like a mud wash because of the molasses. This soap has a PH of 9 (about the same PH as my rhassoul hair wash).

Look forward to reporting findings!

DIY: Moisturizing Winter Lotion Bars

Winter can be very harsh on the skin. With dry conditions, icy air and wind exposure,  it’s important that we keep our skin protected from the harsh elements.

Here are some simple ways to protect your skin:

  • Like many things in life, the key is a healthy lifestyle. Stay hydrated and eat lots of vegetables and protein. Be sure to move around and try to get in at least 20 – 30 minutes of exercise per day (this can be as simple as a stroll around the block).
  • As temperatures decrease, it’s also important that we wear warm clothes and enough protective layers to stay warm. The great thing about layers is that if you’re too hot, you can always remove some.
  • Wear sunglasses and a mild sunscreen. The winter sun reflecting off snow, can do major damage to our skin. So give your face a little TLC and apply a mild sunscreen and throw on your most fabulous pair of sunglasses.
  • Finally, moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. One of my new favorite ways to moisturize that’s low-cost, natural, and DIY is making lotion bars. The ingredients are simple and most can be found in grocery stores or online. Lotion bars are also eco-friendly, because they don’t require a container or bottle.

Moisturizing Winter Lotion Bars

Start out with a small amount and see if you like it. I used 2 ounces for each ingredient (note: 1 oz coconut, 1 oz avocado, to make 2 oz). I used my kitchen scale to weigh the ingredients. If you don’t have a scale, you simply take about 4 TBSP of each ingredient to make  1  bar. My recipe made a total of 5 bars.

  • 1/3 shea butter or other butter of choice
  • 1/3 oil (i used  coconut and avocado oils)
  • 1/3 beeswax pastilles (can be found at mountainrose.com)
  • essential oils (I used 15 drops of lavender, this is optional)
  • 5 drops of vitamin E oil (optional)
  1. Place butter, oil and wax pastilles in a double boiler, Pyrex glass measuring cup or heat-resistant glass bowl.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low. You want enough water in the pot to cover the bottom two inches of your pan, cup or bowl. Don’t heat the oils and wax directly in a pan.
  3. Place pan in the larger pan and allow ingredients to melt, stirring occasionally. Once melted,  add in your essential oils and vitamin E oil, if you wish and mix well. Pour oil into a silicon baking mold, glass dish, or a washed out milk carton. I used silicon baking molds, because it was really simple to unmold.
  4. Let the oils cool and solidify before removing them from the mold. I waited about 4 hours.
  5. After about 7 – 8 hours you should have a beautiful lotion bar that you can rub over your skin to moisturize.

How I use it:

  • Not in the shower, these should not be wet.
  • I apply the bar right after I get out of the shower on humid skin (not soaking wet). This seals in moisture and leaves my skin moisturized and radiant. The heat from your skin warms the oils and allows them to absorb into the skin.

Have you made any fun DIY recipes lately? How do you protect your skin in the winter?

Do you DIY?

Sometimes healthy shiny hair doesn’t require a trip to the store. Many times a simple trip to your cupboards or refrigerator is all you need for a nice effective do-it-yourself hair treatment. I’ll share one of my favorite DIY treatments and would love to hear from readers. If you have any DIY treatments that have worked for your low porosity hair, be sure to comment and share your recipe in the comments section.

Olive Honey Hair Mask

  • Olive Oil (or oil of choice) amount depends on hair length and thickness. I use about 1/8 c.
  • 2 TBSP of honey

Instructions:

  1. Warm olive oil on low heat for about 3-4 minutes (you don’t want it hot, just warm), mix in honey and pour this mixture into a bowl or applicator bottle.
  2. optional: mix in a small amount of your favorite conditioner
  3. Apply to freshly washed hair. Plastic cap. Sit under hooded dryer 20-30 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and condition, if needed.

This leaves my hair shiny and soft to touch.

What are your favorite DIY hair treats?

Lo-Po’s BFF I: Baking Soda

On Baking Soda and pH

In my earlier post “A Lo-Po’s BFF and Frenemy”, I discussed products that work brilliantly and terribly on my low porosity hair. To explain how I use these products and the results they yield, I thought I’d write a series discussing the items each week in detail. One item that I discovered recently that is inexpensive and readily available, is baking soda.

Baking soda is a really controversial product in the natural hair sphere. Some people think that it’s harsh, because it lifts the cuticles, which they believe does more harm than good, in the long run. Another controversy surrounding baking soda is its alkaline PH, which ranges from about 8-9. Some claim that it can alter the structure of curly hair and equate it to a straightener/relaxer.

In my opinion, this is highly unlikely, as a relaxer, which has the chemical lye or sodium hydroxide, has a PH of 14. In order for a product to chemically alter the structure and break down the bonds of the hair, it would have to be highly alkaline, as are relaxers. Relaxers are 1,000,000 times more alkaline than water and baking soda is 100 times more alkaline. See this blog for more information on baking soda and its effect on hair. I will list some blogs and sites at the end of this post, so that you find out about some of the arguments for and against baking soda.

Here is a short definition of pH:

PH is a measure of the alkalinity or acidity of a substance. It measures the concentration of Hydrogen ions (H+) measured against the concentration of Hydroxyl ions (OH-). When a substance has more Hydrogen ions than Hydroxyl ions, a substance is considered acidic. When water has more Hydroxyl ions than Hydrogen ions, the water is considered basic or alkaline. When there are an equal amount of Hydrogen ions and Hydroxyl ions (H20), the substance (i.e. water) is considered neutral (pH 7.0) [http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/PH]

Liquids with a PH less than 7 are acidic

Liquids with a PH greater than 7 are alkaline

Water has a  PH of 7 and is neutral.

Why I use Baking Soda 

My hair is prone to build up. I have to be very careful not to be heavy-handed when applying products. I wash my hair once a week to ensure a clean, healthy scalp. Last year I used sulfate-free shampoos to wash my hair. However, these shampoos still left my hair feeling just as dry and stripped as with sulfate shampoos. After sulfate-free shampoos, I tried using the “conditioner only” or “curly girl” method to wash my hair. This left me with loads of build-up. Looking back, this was probably due to the fact that most conditioners are acidic. “Low pH conditioners […] provide the hair with positive charge and thus more hydrogen bonds between the keratin scales, giving the hair a more compact structure (wikipedia.com).”

Because conditioners are more acidic and give the hair a more compact structure, they left my already compact low porosity hair with buildup. For a high porosity hair or even a normal porosity hair, this is great! I need a slightly alkaline product or a method (e.g. warm water) that will help lift my compact cuticles and allow me to let moisture into my hair shaft.

How I use Baking Soda

As a Clarifier

If I notice heavy build-up, flaky or white residue on my scalp, I clarify with baking soda once per month. If you plan on trying baking soda rinse, it’s best to never use more than 65 grams/ app. 4 TBSP of baking soda. I use very little and it’s still really effective.

  1. I place 1 TBSP – 2 TBSP of baking soda in about 2- 4 liters of warm water and mix it well. I pour this mixture over my scalp and hair, being careful to avoid my eyes.
  2. I put on a plastic cap and allow the mixture to sit about 15-20 minutes. Before rinsing, I gently massage my scalp, to break up any debris.
  3. Next, I rinse my hair with warm water thoroughly, being sure to remove all the baking soda.
  4. Finally, I follow this with a deep conditioner, rinse* it out with lukewarm water and style.

* I don’t always completely rinse my conditioner out, sometimes only rinse out 60 – 80 percent. I liken this to a leave-in.

This process leaves my hair clean, but not stripped. After applying my conditioner, my hair is softer and detangling is much easier. Since, my conditioner has an acidic pH, this is what I use to seal my cuticles.

As a Cleansing Deep Conditioner (DC)

If I feel like my hair does not have a significant amount of buildup, but is feeling somewhat dry, I will either replace my monthly baking soda clarifier with a baking soda DC.

  1. Mix 1 -2  TBSP of baking soda in 1 C of conditioner add a few TBSP of your favorite oil.
  2. Gently apply this mixture to wet hair, don’t rub or massage it into your hair, simply coat your hair with it.
  3. Cover your hair with a plastic cap and allow the mixture to sit 30 minutes.
  4. Rinse thoroughly with warm water, apply your conditioner of preference, let it sit  a few minutes or do another deep conditioner, detangle.

I liken this to a cleansing and deep moisturizing conditioner.

There you have it. This is how I use baking soda in my regimen. It leaves me with soft, supple, clean and shiny hair. I would say, I generally use baking soda once per month. I do have other products (e.g. rhassoul clay) that I also use, so I try to switch things up.

In the next post, I’ll discuss my Lo-Po hair frenemy: Aloe vera and Aloe vera gel. As the term frenemy implies, aloe vera can give me nice results, when used correctly, however, when used incorrectly my hair is a disaster. I tend to stay away from this product, but if you like it, I hope to give you some useful tips for making it work for low porosity hair.

Further Info on Baking Soda

For your reading or viewing pleasure:

Pro Arguments

Elle Magazine

Blogger: Chy Curlz

Youtube Vlogger and Blogger: Elle/Denim Pixie

Blogger

The author of this website is very leaning more towards pro, but also presents the arguments against. He also offers an alternative to using baking soda, diluted castile soap, which I haven’t tried.

Anti Arguments

Vlogger  – Kimmay

Naturally curly, takes an anti perspective, then offers a recipe that suggests using a large amount of baking soda– confusing or what?

Website

In my opinion, you have to do you research and see what works best for you. Many vloggers and bloggers probably fall into high or normal porosity category, which is why washing their hair in aloe or diluted vinegar, works wonders.

Have you tried baking soda rinses or DCs? What were your results.