Low Porosity Friend V2: Slippery Elm

It’s been a while since I’ve added some new lo-po friends to my list of products. That’s mainly because, when I find a good thing, I stick with it. However, I do like to experiment from time to time. Recently, I’ve found a couple of ingredients that do that my hair loves. I’ll discuss one today.

If you’ve followed my blog from the beginning, you know that I absolutely love Kinky Curly Knot Today. Recently, I started to think to myself, what is it about this leave-in that makes my hair so soft, my curls so defined and detangling a breeze. Light bulb: check the ingredient list. That’s when I became curious about experimenting with some of the ingredients on the list to see if I could use them on my hair in their pure form. One of the ingredients, high on the list is slippery elm and man am I happy I did. 

Let me set the scene. My hair has been in a slump lately. It looked dry and rough and all kinds of bad. I decided to have a spa night. I pre-conditioned my dry hair with Shea Moisture Deep Conditioning Mask, let it marinate, while I chased the little one around. Note: this stuff works horribly on my hair wet and it’s no wonder, shea butter, while it’s a wonderful sealer for my skin, it does nothing for my hair. Why do I keep trying to convince myself to use it!! Any way, I used it as a pre-poo hoping for better results. It was ok, I guess. I shampooed my hair with the conditioner on my ends. Then followed up by detangling with slippery elm and adding in conditioner to moisturize my hair, letting it sit a few minutes then rinsing. Um, can I just say, my curls were clumped and so juicy. I did a twist out and my hair felt so good the next day. I actually did a happy dance!!

 

So here are the deets on the process and the benefits of slippery elm.

Slippery elm is found in Central and Eastern US and Eastern Canada. The inner bark of this tree has medicinal properties and it’s used to treat many superficial and internal problems.

Slippery Elm Detangler Recipe

slippery elm bark - Steve Gorton/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

-2 TBSP slippery elm bark + -1.5 – 2 cups hot water

Pour water into a container, mix in slippery elm bark until dissolved. Let sit until water cools.

The slippery elm will form mucilage, voila your detangler.

I imagine if you  could use a tea cloth to strain the particle, but I didn’t and it wasn’t a problem.

Add your favorite conditioner while the slippery elm is in your hair.

Why slippery elm for lo-po hair?

  • I don’t know what the PH of slippery elm is, but research shows that it has an alkalizing effect and is often used to help with acid reflex. Remember for lo-po hair alkaline products are typically beneficial in helping open up the cuticle and moisturize the hair.
  • The mucilage that the elm releases makes detangling a breeze. The strands clump and are weighed down, which helps the fingers and comb glide through your curls. My hair shrinks up easily and is typically really light weight. This tends to result in lots of tangling and long detangling sessions. Not with slippery elm, it takes me 5 – 10 minutes.
  • It promotes growth (bra strap length, here we come)
  • Makes your hair soft and smooth (lord knows I need it with all this new hair growth returning after postpartum shedding, I literally hair a halo.)
  • Heals damaged hair

Need I say more. Have you ever tried slippery elm?

 

5 Easy Tips for Creating a Healthy Hair Regimen

1. Don’t go product-gaga

With more and more women wearing their hair in its natural state, there are a lot more products available on the market for diverse textures. I know it can be tempting not to scoop up every product we see when perusing the hair aisle or the internet. However, if you’re newly natural or just looking for an effective routine, I suggest not giving in to this urge. Buy 1 (2 at the most) product (s) to try on your hair and give your hair a few weeks to see how it responds. If we use too many products at once, it’s difficult to know what works and what doesn’t work for our hair.

2. Ask a friend or seek out the internet

Not sure what products work for you? Find a friend with similar hair texture and more importantly porosity and ask for recommendations. Or ask a stranger, sometimes I see someone with great, healthy hair and wonder how they achieved it. It never hurts to simply ask. I always find starting with a compliment and then asking always helps break the ice. Alternatively, you can find tips from bloggers and vloggers. The internet is a huge resource.

3. Don’t break the bank

Try not to spend too much on products, when developing a regimen. Find some solid affordable products that work. You can always pamper yourself on special occasions (holidays, birthdays, etc.) and try out some higher end products. In addition, if you have an inexpensive product, you can always make it fancy by adding special oils or honey and giving yourself a conditioning treatment.

4. Be gentle with your hair and walk away from the comb when you’re frustrated

When I first went natural and reached an awkward stage (coughs: major mullet), my hair was sometimes more difficult to detangle. I’d get so frustrated I noticed I was a bit rougher in my movements with the comb and as a result breakage would ensue. Actually, this was even more so the case when I was transitioning from straight to curly hair. So, try not to style your hair when you’re tired or just take a break if you need.

And finally…

5. Make a schedule

Pick out the days you want to wash and condition your hair. Think about the styles you’d like to try and how long they will carry you through the week. If you’re in the TWA (teeny-weeny afro) stage or have short hair, you’ll probably wash or wet your hair more than once per week. Once I was able to pull my hair back, this changed my schedule and gave me more flexibility. However, a schedule still benefited me greatly and kept me from getting to lazy with my hair.

….This is not a step, but more words of advice. Enjoy your hair at all stages. When I cut all my hair off, I was so concerned about length. I wish I had just enjoyed that moment longer, because length will come, when it comes. I’d always wanted to do something drastic like cut my hair really short and once I cut it, I spent all my time wanting it longer. Now I enjoy the stage I’m at, because I’ve noticed, although with longer hair you can easily just bun it, you also have longer washer sessions (wonk, wonk, wonk). So do you and love what you do at each stage (same applies to life in general).

Do you have any healthy hair regimen tips for readers? If so, would love to hear them!

Reverse Oil Rinsing: Round 3

A reader commented a few weeks ago that she tried oil rinsing and had great results the first day, but that things went downhill shortly after. Another reader made an insightful suggestion that it could be that adding oil to your hair without any moisture, makes moisturizing challenging. This comment really stuck with me. However, I couldn’t give up on oil rinsing just yet. As I said, I want to give it a few weeks to a month, before I give my opinion. Still, what this reader said made a lot of sense, so I decided to switch things up a bit and reverse the order of my oil rinsing method.

  1. Divide hair into 3 – 4 sections.
  2. Shampoo or wash hair as usual.
  3. Apply your favorite conditioner (my choice last week was Aussie Moist) – do not rinse out.
  4. Apply your favorite oil on top of the conditioner and work into your hair – do not rinse out.
  5. Deep condition (preferably with heat) for 30 minutes.
  6. Rinse out the oil and conditioner. Condition your hair a second time (it will melt in your fingers), if you’re like me, rinse about 60% – 70% of the conditioner.

Results: soft, shiny, defined coils and curls.

I’ll try this method for my next two washes and let you know how it goes. This time, I did blow-dry my hair and wear it pulled up the entire week. I blow dried so I can give myself a trim. I’m really bad at trimming my hair curly, unless I cut it while it’s in twists. I cut off 1 1/2 inches of hair, but it feels better.

Actually, I really need to wash my hair, it has been just over a week. However, I’ve been really busy, so don’t think I’ll get around to it until this weekend.

How do you trim your hair? Any tips?

Lo-po’s BFF: Rhassoul Clay Mud Wash

Rhassoul clay can be used to make an inexpensive, all natural, cleansing and conditioning hair wash. I use this as my shampoo and conditioner about 2 – 3 times per month. It makes my hair soft, tangle free, shiny and helps revive my curls and kinks. I usually apply this wash on a Sunday, when I can just take my time and not feel rushed. The great thing about this product is that a little goes a long way and you usually don’t need to follow with a conditioner.

A little information on rhassoul clay:
It’s a natural mineral clay found in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. It’s known for its cleansing properties. It has been used since the 8th century as a beauty product for skin and hair!

It is made of:

silica 58%
aluminum 2.47%
Irons 0.64%
sodium 2.3%
magnesium 25.2%
calcium 2.34%

Silica has been shown to help reduce hair loss and aid in growth, by regenerating cell growth and strengthening the connective tissue of the hair, skin and nails. Rhassoul clay is made up of more than 50% of silica! magnesium has also been shown to decrease hair loss. I’ve used rhassoul clay for almost a year now and I love the results.

How I apply and mix it:

  1. **About 5 TBSP of rhassoul clay, Mixed with about 7- 10 TBSP of water (amount will vary depending on hair’s length and thickness. You don’t want the mixture to be thick like a pancake mixture nor watery. My mixture is usually on the thinner side, so I can spread it, but it’s not runny.
  2. I then add 1-2 tsps of vinegar or aloe. I’ve tried this mixture without adding vinegar or aloe and it resulted in dry hair. So from now on this is how I mix it.
  3. (Optional) I mix in a little tea tree oil and about 1 TBSP of Brahmi or Vatika oil and mix it well.
  4. I split my hair into 4 sections, dampen it and either in the tub or leaning over the tub (it can get messy), I apply the rhassoul clay to each section. I do not rub it into the hair, but gently apply it to my hair, being sure to coat the entire section with a small amount.
  5. I detangle my hair at this point or do it after in the shower.
  6. Put on a plastic bag/cap and let it sit for 20 – 30 minutes, rinse out the clay with warm water (detangling each section if I haven’t done so already). When the water runs clear and you’ve rinsed your hair well, you’re done.
  7. Your hair should feel soft and strong. If you’d like or if your hair still feels a bit dry, you can lightly condition your ends with a moisturizing shampoo.

** Never mix clays in a metal bowl nor metal utensils.

Sources:
Wikipedia
Mountain Rose
Live Strong

I live abroad, so buy my rhassoul clay in Europe, however you can buy rhassoul clay from:
http://www.mountainroseherbs.com
It’s a one lb bag and will probably last you over a year. It costs 9 dollars, so that’s basically .16 cents a week!

I’ve also heard positive things about Anita Grant’s Mud Wash. It’s a lot costlier than buying a bag and mixing it yourself, however, if you’re not a mix-tress, it may be a better option for you.

-https://anitagrant.com/

Have you tried rhassoul clay?

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.

A Lo-Po’s BFF and Frenemy

Here are the top 5 products that work well for my low porosity hair and 5 products that leave me with a frizzy, tangled mess. Each of these methods will be discussed in detail in future blog posts:

(image from Tumblr)

Lo-Po’s BFFs (work wonders by helping me keep my hair moisturized)

1. Clarifying with baking powder diluted in water

2. Warming conditioner

3. Rhassoul Clay

4. Deep conditioning with heat

5. Warm water washes and rinses

Lo-Po’s Frenemy (thought they were good for me, but in the end did nothing for my hair)

1. Aloe vera

2. Kimmaytube leave-in

3. Cold water rinses

4. Diluted vinegar as a hair wash

5. Heavy oils and butters for sealing

What are some products that have worked for your lo-po hair? What products or techniques worked against your lo-po hair?