Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hair Care 101

Hair: Our Crowning Glory

Women spend countless hours fussing, curling and coloring their hair. We try new products, we spend lots of money at salons and we attempt numerous styles in hopes of getting our tresses looking healthy and stylish.

 The women I know along with myself spend a lot of money on hair products that each claim to work a spectacular new miracle to replenish the damage caused by our flat irons, blow dryers and curling irons; while other women blindly go into big department stores and buy whatever is cheap and smells good.

 When it comes to hair care every woman has an individual treatment plan that works for her, but we can all use helpful tips and gain some knowledge on products we aren’t familiar with. What works on one person’s hair may not work for another. In fact the hair type on one head can be a combination of many different nationalities and textures.

 Before I go on I didn’t mean to exclude the men; men have hair concerns as well and this blog entry is a dedication to hair tips that have worked for me and may be worth trying yourself.

 Personally my hair type is a bit difficult to define and label but I will try to explain what I’m working with. I come from an ethnically mixed family that includes West Indian (Caribbean), East Indian and Irish ethnicities. So my hair isn’t quite like any other hair type I have ever encountered. My hair is naturally curly, tight curls very soft and thick. When I flat iron my hair it is half way down my back, fine strands, soft and shiny. In the curly form my hair tends to be dry but while straight for long periods of time it becomes quite oily. I have never dyed or bleached my hair. I have never used any harmful chemicals on my hair. The only tools I do use on my hair are a flat iron aprox 2-3 times per month and occasionally a curling iron a few times per year. Below are two pictures so you can see what my hair looks like.

I’m going to list some helpful hair tips for those of you who have dryness, breakage, or damaged hair. Even those who just need a little extra softness, body, bounce and shine may benefit from some of these tips.

Listed are some tools that can help you work towards rejuvenating your hair and regaining that  healthy shine we all desire.

 *Not all of these techniques or products will work for everyone, sometimes trial and error or trial and success is the only way to know what will work for you.

Hair Care tips:

 *Try to wash your hair as little as possible, 1-2 times per week:
Excessive washing can strip the natural oils from your hair leaving it dry and brittle. You can also try co-washing, or washing your hair with a hydrating conditioner instead of a shampoo.

 This rule isn’t set in stone; people who have active lifestyles and go to the gym or partake in physical activity like me may need to wash their hair more often. In this case try to do deep conditioning treatments to help seal in moisture and use a very good shampoo such as those that do not contain harsh chemicals like sulphates, parabens and waxes.

 *Limit the use of heat styling tools, or use the lowest heat setting possible to achieve your style.

 *Allow hair to air dry if you have the time rather than blow drying. If you do have to blow dry use the cool setting.        

 *Always use a heat protectant before using styling tools on your hair

 *Keep hair moisturized especially if the ends tend to be dry and split. You can use serums or oils for this.

 *Do weekly scalp massages to improve circulation to hair follicles

 *Do a deep conditioning treatment at least once per week. You can also try putting the deep conditioner on the hair, placing a plastic cap over the hair and applying heat with a blow dryer for 5-10 mins. The heat allows the hair follicles to open up and absorb the benefits of the conditioner.

 *Always do a final rinse with cold water to help seal in the benefits of the conditioner and avoid washing hair with hot water as it can be damaging

 *Use natural oils such as coconut or argon oil before you wash your hair (leave in overnight if possible) (note: make sure the coconut oil is 100% coconut oil non- hydrogenated. Coconut oil should be the ONLY ingredient listed!) I use the Organic Virgin Coconut oil.

 *sleep on a silk or satin pillow case or with a silk/satin head scarf to avoid breakage and damage while sleeping and make sure to get enough sleep. Hair tends to grow when the body is healthy and well rested.

 *Do not brush and handle your hair excessively and avoid brushing hair when wet

 *Use a boar bristle brush when brushing your hair.
I find that using this brush helps make your hair incredibly soft and helps to spread natural oils throughout the hair.

 *For tangled hair use a wide tooth comb.
It can also help to comb hair while the conditioner is in. Begin combing from the ends up and gently pick out tangles.
*If you have naturally curly hair DO NOT comb or brush your hair when it is dry, it will cause damage.

*Always use shampoos that do not strip your hair of natural oils.
One way to tell if your shampoo is doing this is by paying attention to how your hair feels after the shampoo. If hair feels brittle, fragile and rough chances are the shampoo is not good for your hair. Try a shampoo that is sulphate and paraben free.

 *Always condition after shampooing hair. Use thick creamy conditioners or deep conditioners.

 *Drink lots of water

*If your hair is dry and breaking wear protective styles as you treat it. Keeping your hair up and off of your shoulders will reduce the friction against clothing.

*Try to maintain a healthy diet that includes vegetables, fruits and protein.

 *Certain vitamins are geared towards healthy hair. Vitamins that contain Silica or Vitamin B such as biotin can be helpful.

 *Try to exercise regularly

*Try to avoid tying your hair up tightly, this can cause your hair to break and recede. Try and use hair bands that are easy to get out and that don’t rip the hair when you take them out. Never use things like rubber bands in your hair. BE GENTILE with your hair.

 *Try to color your hair less. Also avoid harmful chemicals like bleach, dye and relaxers all together if possible. (I have never used any dyes or chemicals on my hair)

 *Use a finishing product on your hair that won’t leave a build up but will give you a shiny finish and help with dryness

 *Trim split ends with PROFESSIONAL scissors, scissors meant for cutting hair and get regular trims.

 *When you do use heat styling tools make sure they are of good quality. Try to use 100% ceramic heat tools. Avoid using ceramic plated irons or clothing irons ect.  Try to avoid holding heating tools on the hair for a long time.

 *Protect your hair from UV rays in the summer; use a leave in conditioner, a shampoo with UV protection or a heat protectant spray.

*Use products that are geared towards your hair type, whether you have dry, oily, chemically treated or dyed hair. Using extremely nourishing conditioners on oily hair will make it oilier.

*Dry wet hair gently. Vigorous rubbing with a towel only causes more damage; gently squeeze the hair with a towel and air dry.
 Let’s talk products

 I have used too many products to even list! But one way of knowing for sure if something works on your hair is to TRY it. So let’s just say I have tried many of the products that are on the market and I’ll tell you which ones I like the most.

Shampoos and Conditioners
I have used many shampoos, from popular department store brands to brands that have all natural ingredients and brands in all price ranges.

Some of my favourite are:

 *Nexxus Humectress Deep Conditioner.
This is one of my most recent finds and I love this conditioner. It left my hair feeling revitalized, soft and silky. Many of the reviews claim that this deep conditioner helped restore badly dyed and chemically treated hair. It reportedly works wonders on people who have damage from heat styling tools and hair breakage and personally it worked very well for me. It is about $14 dollars for a relatively small jar but it is worth the money.

*Nexxus Pro Mend Shampoo and Conditioner
These products are really good at making your hair feel and look healthy and shiny. At about $14 dollars per bottle you get softer hair and less split ends and breakage.

*Macadamia Deep Repair hair mask
 I did a lot of research before I purchased this product because it cost $37.00 including tax in Toronto which is rather pricey for a small jar. It makes my hair feel soft, light & silky & you only need very little to achieve results. It also makes my hair smell very nice and is great for repairing dry, damaged hair. Most people see a difference in their hair after the first usage and it can be used in combination with the Macadamia shampoo and oil treatment for even better results. Although I like this deep conditioner I find that the Nexxus Humectress Deep Conditioner works just as well and is a fraction of the price.

*Loreal Ever Crème Intense Nourishing Shampoo - I have been searching for a sulphate free shampoo that I liked and I definitely like this one. The texture of this shampoo is so creamy that it feels more like a conditioner and it contains no harsh salts or coating waxes. It also contains Omega 3and6 and  natural botanicals.

*Mixed Chicks Deep Conditioner
I found this conditioner to be very good at making my hair softer and less dry. They sell it at beauty supply stores and outlets for about $13-$15 (and no you don’t have to have mixed hair to use this conditioner.)

*Mixed Chicks Leave in Conditioner
This product is for people who have naturally curly hair and want to wear their hair curly without the frizz and dryness. This leave in conditioner helps to tame curls and keep them in place. It says on the bottle that it is a ``curl defining formula, whether you`re Black, White, Asian, Latin, Mediterranean you`ll love the way this non- sticky light weight product leaves your hair inviting to the touch.``  It is sold at beauty supply stores and outlets for about $13

*Poya Organics Rosemary Mint Conditioner
This product is made with all natural ingredients and although the smells from the herbs are very strong and minty it makes your hair super soft and silky, you can feel the difference as soon as you put it on! It is enriched with 100% pure essential oils and botanical extracts. This product is sold by a Canadian company but you can order online at:

*Dove Damage Therapy Intensive Repair Shampoo and Conditioner
These products claim to reduce split ends up to 95% and help restore damaged hair. Although I needed more than this shampoo and conditioner to help with split ends and breakage it is a very good line of products and it smells fantastic. It is also affordable at about $6.96 per bottle and can be found almost anywhere  hair products are sold.

*Dove Nourishing Oil Care Shampoo and Conditioner
These products are great for people who need to nourish dry hair with light weight oils. This line claims to make hair shiny and soft while reducing frizz up to 80%.  I liked this shampoo and conditioner and I think it would be great for summer when humidity can make hair frizzy and a bit harder to manage. It is about $6 per bottle

*Pantene Breakage to Strength Shampoo and Conditioner Medium to Thick
This shampoo and conditioner not only smells good but it is also affordable at about $6.00 per bottle. The conditioner leaves your hair feeling nice and soft. It works to strengthen hair against damage and help prevent split ends. I’d suggest that you adhere to some of the other hair care tips listed above and use them along with this line in order to see results.

*Dark and Lovley Healthy Gloss 5 Shampoo and Conditioner
I found that the Dark and Lovely shampoo did not strip my hair at all; in fact it made it feel softer, like I had just conditioned it. The conditioner also works well and for about $5 a bottle it’s a steal. The products are made with satin oil and helps restore the 5 signs of healthy hair:
1.Moisture 2.Shine 3.Strength  4.Softness  5.Body and offers 5x more conditioning.

*Herbal Essence Hello Hydration conditioner
This conditioner gives your hair a healthy dose of hydration and moisturizer to help combat dry damaged hair. It is infused with Orchid and coconut milk and can be found anywhere hair products are sold for about 6 dollars.

*Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Deep Conditioner
This deep conditioner sells for just over three dollars and is great at making your hair soft and shiny. I have never seen this particular product here in the Greater Toronto Area so you may have to get it when you go across the border to the US.

 *Pantene Curly Hair Series Dry to Moisturized Conditioner
If you have curly hair and you need a great detangling conditioner that leaves your curls bouncy and soft then this conditioner is great. You can find it anywhere hair products are sold for about 5 dollars.

 *Tresemme Spit Remedy Conditioner
This conditioner claims to reduce the split ends up to 80% in just 3 uses and smooth the appearance of hair. Although nothing can permanently fix the hair once it has split this conditioner claims to help reduce and prevent split ends from occurring not to mention it leaves dry hair very soft and smelling wonderful for days! You can purchase a bottle for about 6 dollars.

 *Vatika Deep Conditioner and Hot oil Treatment
This deep conditioner also works as a hot oil treatment. It is infused with henna, olive oil and almond oil for a deep repair conditioning treatment. You can purchase a tub at your local Indian grocery store in the hair product section. I do not care for the smell of this product even though it works well; it smells like very strong incense so when I wash it out I apply another conditioner just to wash out some of the smell.


*Aussie Insurance Leave in Treatment
This leave in conditioner claims to repair and restore not so healthy hair. It is a spray leave in conditioner that adds moisture to your hair before styling or extra hold for your curls and helps repair dry damaged hair. You can get it for just over 3 dollars.

 *Aveno Active Naturals Nourish+Condition Leave in Treatment
This treatment is a conditioning treatment that has been tested and proven to repair the health of damaged hair. It is safe for color treated hair and does wonders to make your hair replenished, soft and shiny. You can get it for just over 6 dollars.

 *Garnier Fructis Triple Nutrition Spray
This spray is a detangler and leave in conditioning treatment all in one. It is made with three fruit oil extracts to nourish and repair the hair. You can get it for just over 4 dollars.

*Chi Silk infusion: silk reconstructing complex, enriched with pure silk along with wheat and soy proteins that penetrate the hair strengthening and leaving the hair soft shiny and manageable.

*Chi Keratin Mist strengthening treatment- leave in strengthening treatment

*Tresemme Heat Tamer Spray- minimizes heat damage, guards against heat and friction to help keep your hair shiny and soft.

*Pure coconut oil: note –coconut oil is solid in its natural form. To melt it put some in your palm and rub your palms together allowing the friction from your hands to melt the oil. I .find that it you microwave the oil before applying it to your hair it causes your hair to become frizzy. For me the coconut oil helped with dryness, breakage and split ends.

*Argon oil

*Olive oil Heat Protectant Serumnote: I find that with the cheaper shampoos and conditioners such as Dove and Pantene you need to adhere to the hair care tips as well as do regular oil and deep conditioning treatments for best results.
  note: prices of products may vary depending on retailers and location)

Styling Tools:
*The Edge Ahead hair cutting kit -helps deal with my split ends. We all know that split ends can make your hair weak, tangled and prone to breakage so it’s important to keep them trimmed using professional scissors. This kit comes with stainless steel shears, a cutting comb, 2 hair clips and a shampoo cape, you can get it at Sally's for about $14

*Hair bands with no metal- You can find these hair ties at Walmart, they have no metal parts so they do not get caught in your hair and cause damage.

* Cortex Platinum Black Series flat iron- this flat iron has very good quality ceramic plates and doesn`t snag and break the hair as much as some other irons.

*Revlon ceramic curling iron (thin)-This curling iron was inexpensive, is easy to use and curls my hair in a short amount of time.

*Boar bristle brush


  1. Wow Erica,pretty amazing tips you got here.Cant wait to try some of these products.Thanks for sharing.


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