Is Your Hair Hungry
What Is Your Hair Hungry For?
One glance at your split ends will reveal how much your hair has been through – dyes, bleaches, blow dryers, screaming hot irons. But it’s not the ends you should be worried about – it’s the roots. They tell the truth about how well you eat. Read on for seven nutrients that nourish your hair from the inside out. Plus, test your hairstyle IQ with our quiz...
It doesn’t matter how many hair-care products you use or how much you paid for that tiny bottle of miracle hair-repair serum. They can’t do anything because your hair is already dead.
It’s what’s on the end of your fork that can really make a difference starting at the root.
As new hair is manufactured at the shaft, it either forms strong and healthy, thanks to good dietary nutrition, or weak and brittle due to a poor diet.
Once hair is visible from the scalp, it’s beyond help. Improving your diet is the only way to grow strong, resilient hair that looks, feels and is truly healthy.
The average person’s hair grows only 1/2 to 1-1/2 inches a month, which means it can take a good 6-12 months to start seeing the positive effects of a nutritious diet.
Take heart: The same diet that can improve your hair can also do wonders for your health, which is a benefit you’ll notice right away.
Here are 7 nutrients your hair needs:
Hair is made up primarily of keratin, a hardened protein. Without enough dietary protein, hair will grow slower and strands will be weaker. So a healthy mane depends on your main course.
However, not all proteins are created equal. Animal proteins, such as meat, eggs and dairy, contain all of the essential amino acids that the body can’t make on its own and form what's known as a complete protein.
Non-animal proteins found in grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds are incomplete.
Fortunately, combining certain incomplete proteins will give you all the essential amino acids in one meal. Here are examples of foods that complement each other to make a complete protein:
· Grains + dairy: yogurt topped with granola, oatmeal with milk ?
· Seeds + legumes: hummus (chickpeas and sesame paste), trail mix ?
· Grains + legumes: rice and beans, peanut butter on whole wheat bread ?
· Grains + seeds: sesame bagel ?
· Legumes + dairy: chili topped with sour cream, bean and cheese burrito ?
· Seeds + dairy: sunflower seeds on cottage cheese
Eating a diet rich in omega-3, an essential fatty acid, nourishes and moisturizes dry, brittle hair and may relieve a dry, itchy scalp that’s prone to dandruff, psoriasis or eczema.
The best sources of dietary omega-3 are fatty fish, flaxseeds and some varieties of nuts. Herring has the most omega-3 per serving, followed by mackerel, salmon, trout, and tuna.
One-quarter cup of flaxseeds contains about seven grams of omega-3s – but that’s a lot of seeds to munch on. A much easier way to get omega-3 from flax is to supplement your diet with flaxseed oil.
One teaspoon provides 2.5 grams of omega-3 – more than a 4-ounce serving of herring can provide.
Swallow a spoonful, or add flaxseed oil to homemade vinaigrette.
Walnuts and soybeans are also good sources of omega-3 fatty acids and make for a great protein-rich snack anytime.
Found in hemoglobin, the protein that forms red blood cells, iron plays a starring role in oxygen delivery to all the body’s cells, including hair. Not eating enough of this mineral can cause iron-deficiency anemia, which can contribute to hair loss.
Here’s where your diet can pull double duty: Eat iron-rich proteins. Heme iron in animal protein is more easily absorbed than non-heme iron, which is found in plant proteins like lentils, beans and tofu.
But what if you’re a vegetarian?
If you rely on plant foods for iron, combine them with a vitamin C-rich food to promote absorption.
Some prime examples:
· Bell peppers with lentils?
· Broccoli with tofu stir-fry
· Stewed tomatoes with beans?
· Orange juice with iron-fortified cereals, such as Total or Special K
4. Vitamin C
Not only does this nutrient help maximize iron absorption, vitamin C is also necessary for collagen production. This fibrous protein is found in all kinds of connective tissue, as well as skin and hair, and provides structural integrity, strength and resilience.
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables – especially citrus and dark leafy greens, such as kale, Brussels sprouts and spinach – will supply your body with plenty of vitamin C.
5. B-Complex Vitamins
B vitamins, especially folate, biotin and vitamins B6 and B12, are important for healthy hair growth. A vitamin B deficiency can lead to excessive hair loss, slow growth and weak, brittle strands.
In fact, if hair loss is due to a lack of biotin, eating foods rich in this B vitamin will fix the problem.
Why folate and not folic acid?
Either will do. The difference is simply that folate is found in foods, while folic acid is the synthetic (man-made) version you’ll find in supplements and fortified foods.
Good sources of B vitamins include:
· Folate: avocados, asparagus, artichokes, beets, oranges, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, fresh peas, soybeans, chickpeas, lentils, turkey?
· Biotin: cauliflower, carrots, bananas, cereals, yeast, soy flour, liver, salmon
· Vitamin B6: white potato skins, garbanzo beans, bananas, lentils, beef, pork, chicken, salmon
· Vitamin B12: beef, lamb, veal, liver, clams, oysters, fish, milk, egg yolks, cottage cheese
6. Zinc and Copper
Both of these minerals are important to healthy hair.
Zinc is essential for the growth and repair of tissues throughout the body, including hair. A zinc deficiency can lead to slow growth, hair loss and dandruff.
Copper is a component of melanin, the pigment found in hair and skin. Deficiency of this mineral may contribute to premature graying.
Zinc and copper compete for absorption during digestion and should be taken together to maintain mineral balance within the body.
Foods rich in zinc include animal proteins, shellfish, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, and wheat germ.
Copper is found primarily in liver and oysters – two foods most of us don’t eat on a regular basis. More common food sources of copper include artichokes, avocados, bananas, garlic, legumes, mushrooms, nuts and seeds, potatoes, prunes, radishes, soybeans, tomatoes, and whole grains.
The human body needs at least 8 glasses of water a day. Think of your hair as another body organ, the lack of water can affect the moisture level in your hair.
5 Winter Hair Care Tips
Different seasons require different hair care techniques to maintain healthy hair. While you might wear your hair out much more often in the summer and rely on carefree styles when it's warm outside, your hair care routine will change during winter if you want to maintain healthy locks. Here are some winter hair care tips that will keep your tresses in great shape so that when spring rolls around, your hair will be ready to face warm weather in good health.If you experience breakage in one or two specific areas of your hair, it might have nothing to do with how you care for it, but what you wear on it. Wool hats and scarves can rub against and pull on delicate black hair, breaking it off at the nape of your neck (where the scarf might sit) or at the crown of your head. You need a hat and scarf if you live in a snowy climate, but the trick is wearing them the right way to avoid damage. Try sewing a satin or silk lining inside your wool cap. If you're not crafty enough to do this, ask a friend or family member who is. Before wrapping that wool scarf around your neck, make sure your hair is out of the way, either through a protective style or already secured beneath your properly lined hat.
2. Deep Condition More Often
Heated homes and work spaces can dry out your hair, so combat this dryness with extra deep conditioning. Look for humectant products which hold in moisture and use a good deep conditioner about once a week.
3. Wet Less Often
It's no fun leaving the house on a frosty morning with wet or damp hair. If you live in a freezing climate, your hair may actually freeze and break if you step outside with wet hair. Even if a wash n' go was your go-to style in the spring and summer, winter requires less shampooing and daily wetting. You should still shampoo and condition about once a week, but since you aren't swimming often, you don't need to wet and/or conditioner wash as much.
4. Use Heat Even Less
Indoor heating is going to suck some of the moisture from your hair. Don't help it along with flat irons, blow dryers and curling irons. Winter is an ideal season to practice setting techniques like wet sets (completely dry before you head out the door), pin curls and wraps, none of which require heat to style your hair.
5. Rethink Protective Styling
While wearing protective styles is always a good idea for keeping hair ends up and out of the way, they work especially well in winter for protecting your hair from harsh weather. Snow, sleet and heat won't be able to damage your hair as much when you keep it styled in buns, topknots, braids, twists and French rolls.
Lye or No-Lye
Lye or No Lye Relaxers?
This article will focus on the major differences between lye and no-lye relaxers and how to decide which formula is right for you.
General lye and no-lye relaxer information
As a whole, relaxer formulations have pHs that range from 10-14. The higher the pH of the chemical relaxer, the greater the formula's ability to swell and lift the hair's cuticle. The more the shaft swells, the more damage the cuticle endures. Relaxer pH also increases as the relaxer formula strength grows from sensitive scalp, to mild, to regular, to super. In general, as the strength of the relaxer formula increases, the pH increases, the degree of cuticle swelling increases, and cuticle lifting increases as well.
There are four basic types of relaxers out on the market today. These four types include:
Lye formulas which can either be base relaxers or "no base" relaxers
No-Lye formulas, which can either, be mix or "no mix" relaxer formulas.
Lye relaxers have naturally higher pHs than no-lye relaxers, and this is the reason why these stronger formulas are generally only available to professional stylists.
What is the Chemical Difference?
The differences between lye and no-lye relaxer formulas result from the chemical compounds responsible for the straightening action. For lye relaxers, this compound is sodium hydroxide. In no-lye relaxers, this compound can either be guanidine, lithium, or potassium hydroxide. Though, no-lye relaxers claim to have no traces of lye (or "caustic soda"), this statement is not entirely true as the guanidine, lithium, and potassium hydroxides are in the same metal hydroxide family as sodium hydroxide.
One way to tell whether a relaxer is a lye or no-lye formula deals with the formula's physical preparation. No lye relaxers, particularly guanidine hydroxide no lye’s will include an activator step---or a separate component to be mixed into the relaxer cream. These are the most popular no-lye formulations on the market. However, not every no-lye relaxer needs to be mixed. Lithium and potassium hydroxide relaxers are no-lye relaxers that are sold as "no mix" formulas.
Lye relaxers will never have to be mixed and will always come alone in a tub ready to apply. The absence of an activator, and the inclusion of the chemical SODIUM HYDROXIDE, lets you know that the formula is definitely a lye-based formula.
No lye relaxer formulas are best for self-relaxers or "do-it-yourselfers," people who have fine hair, children, and those with sensitive scalp conditions. They are also better for those who prefer a straighter relaxed hair turnout.
For years, no lye relaxers have received a bad reputation in the hair industry. There are two major reasons for the poor reception of no-lye relaxers formulations:
While they are generally considered easier on the scalp, they are "harder" on the hair.
Problems arise from the improper application of relaxers in general by amateur do-it-yourselfers.
The Good News about No Lye-Relaxers!
1.) They are easier on the scalp.
Because no lye relaxers are gentler on the scalp, most "sensitive scalp" relaxer formulas tend to be no-lye. These relaxers are best for individuals who prefer milder relaxer formulas and those with sensitive scalp conditions.
2.) Often produce straighter results.
If you are interested in achieving a straighter turnout, no lye relaxers are more likely to straighten the hair more completely than lye relaxers.
3.) No lye relaxers generally bear a lower pH than lye relaxers, and do not lift or swell the hair cuticle as much as lye relaxers to achieve straightening.
4.) No lye relaxers are readily available for general consumer purchase at retail outlets.
They are usually sold in "kits" with everything you will need (activator, stirring stick, base, neutralizer) for your relaxer application.
The Bad News!
1.) No-lye formulations tend to leave mineral deposits behind on the hair shaft. These mineral deposits can dull the hair and make it less able to absorb much needed moisture. Calcium deposits can make the hair brittle, dry, and prone to breakage. This dryness is perhaps the greatest complaint of individuals who use no-lye relaxers.
However, it should be mentioned that no-lye relaxing is not the only situation where mineral deposits are exposed to the hair shaft. Hard water contains high levels of minerals that can also leave the hair dull and lusterless. Chelating shampoos are formulated to remove any mineral deposits that are left on the hair by a relaxer or any type of hard water situation.
2.) More breakage of disulfide bonds.
Because no lye relaxers are able to relax the hair straighter than lye relaxers, they are usually responsible for a greater degree of disulfide bond breakage within the hair shaft. Straighter hair equals more broken cortical bonds. This excessive straightening can contribute to a limp, stick straight, lifeless look to the hair.
3.) No-lye formulas can seem to take longer to actually process the hair. Because many people understand the classic "relaxer tingle" to be their rinsing point, no lye relaxers can give users a false sense of time or security. This apparently lengthier time for processing often encourages people to leave their no lye relaxers in the hair longer than they should or would ever be possible with a lye relaxer. This unfortunately leads to severe over processing and breakage.
4.) No lye relaxer mixes are only good for one application.
After no lye relaxers are mixed, they must be used within 24 hours. Any leftover cream must be discarded. The active ingredient in most no-lye’s, Guanidine hydroxide, is not stable for long after it has been created. So, the two chemicals that you need to create it (guanidine carbonate and calcium hydroxide) are kept separate until you combine them just before use. Your mixing activates the relaxer by creating the guanidine hydroxide you need. This mixture is good for about 24 hours. This is why no-lye relaxers (particularly guanidine hydroxide) are packaged to be mixed just before use.
What Can I do?
Hair can be healthy and well maintained with a no lye relaxer if the proper precautions are followed.
1.) Protect the hair by covering the already processed hair with either conditioner or oil prior to relaxing. This will reduce bond breakage, and prevent minerals from depositing easily along the hair shaft.
2.) At the next wash following the relaxer, it is recommended that you chelate the hair to lift any minerals that may have deposited along the cuticle to reduce dryness. Clarifying Shampoo, are great chelators to try. Chelating removes the buildup that leads to relaxer dryness so the hair remains soft and receptive of moisture treatments.
3.) Select a quality relaxer brand. Not all no-lye relaxers are created equal. Trusted professional relaxer brands like Mizani and Affirm also make no-lye versions of their lye relaxer formulations available for their customers who prefer them.
If you choose the no-lye relaxer route, invest in a trusted, professional relaxer brand that is preferably either Lithium or Potassium hydroxide based to avoid mineral buildup.
Lye relaxers are the preferred formula of the salon industry. Since lye relaxers are by far the stronger of the two chemicals, most lye formulations are not available over the counter. Many stylists argue that lye relaxers are better than no-lye ones, and while there are differences that should be taken into consideration, the honest truth is that any relaxer is only as good as the person applying it and the person maintaining it afterwards.
Lye relaxers are best for individuals with coarser hair types, those who prefer professional applications at salon establishments, and those who desire a lesser degree of straightening.
Important to remember: Relaxing hair to a bone straight state permanently damages the chemical bonds that make up the hair strand. After hair is straightened to this point…the hair will become limp, lifeless, dry and will normally break off or should be trimmed.
The Good News about Lye Relaxers!
1.) Lye relaxers are generally easier on the hair. They do not leave behind dulling deposits on the hair shaft, and therefore do not interfere with the hair's ability to absorb moisture. They are more likely to leave the hair with a softer, silkier result without further treatments.
2.) Low degree of disulfide bond breakage.
In general, lye relaxers do not straighten the hair as completely as no lye relaxers. This means that the level of disulfide bond breakage from lye relaxers is less than that of no-lye relaxers. Lye relaxers are more likely to leave a level of disulfide bond breakage that still allows the hair to maintain its natural strength and elasticity.
3.) Lye Relaxers process faster than no-lye relaxers. Because they are able to lift the cuticle layers more forcefully and breech layers of base quickly, these relaxers must be applied carefully and quickly to avoid damage to the hair fiber.
4.) More for the money, if you purchase and do them yourself. Lye relaxers are good for multiple applications since the chemicals remain stable for longer periods of time but all chemicals should always be applied and maintained by a professional.
The Bad News!
1.) Unfortunately, lye relaxers are very hard on the scalp.
Because the pH of lye relaxers is so high, they are extremely corrosive and damaging to the scalp. The pH of lye relaxers can exceed 13 on 1-14 scale. This tendency to "burn" may be part of the reason why lye relaxers tend to under process the hair and have difficulty straightening.
2.) Lye relaxers lift and swell the hair cuticle more than no lye relaxers to achieve straightening increasing external damage to the fiber. Again, the higher pH of lye relaxers makes them the more aggressive chemical. Lye relaxers are able to penetrate the hair shaft faster because of the excessive pH.
3.) Lye Relaxers process faster than no-lye relaxers, which often leads to faster scalp irritation and chemical burning.
4.) In general, lye relaxers do not straighten the hair as completely as no lye relaxers. Disulfide bond breakage is reduced because the chemical's aggressiveness tends to put time constraints on the straightening process. However, while the bonds responsible for the curl/coil of the hair are left intact, other critical hair bonds are destroyed on the external layers of the hair.
For better straightening with a lye relaxer, a "base" formula relaxer should be used. These formulas are the strongest lye formulas and require the full coverage of a petroleum base to protect the client.
5.) Expensive and not readily accessible to do-it-yourselfers. A professional relaxer application with lye will cost anywhere from $35-$100 depending on your individual circumstances, and for safety, many professional lye formulas are only available to cosmetology professionals.
What can I do?
1.) You can avoid damage from using these relaxers by basing your scalp well prior to relaxing. A thick layer of petroleum base to the scalp and sensitive areas around the neck, ears, and face can prevent scalp damage from lye relaxers. Even if your lye relaxer is "no base," it is still a good idea to base the entire scalp with a coating of petroleum base.
2.) To counteract the cuticle lifting and swelling damage from lye relaxing, protein conditioning should take place immediately after the relaxer is rinsed and just before a normalizing or neutralizing shampoo is used. This will help rebuild the cuticle and return the scales to their normal orientations. This step can also be done with no-lye relaxer systems.
Both no lye and lye relaxers have downsides. Just because one form is easier on the scalp and one is easier on the hair does not mean that the one that is easier on the scalp can't damage the scalp, and the one that is easier on the hair can't damage the hair. You can end up bald and chemically burned with both types. Relaxers by their very nature damage the hair/scalp if they come in contact with it.
The question of which is better ultimately depends on the individual. Neither type is a guarantee of healthy hair, for there are just as many short, broken off heads of hair that swear by both relaxer types. Lye or no-lye, chemicals are chemicals-and if something goes wrong with either one, permanent hair and scalp damage can occur. They both have solvable issues, so really at the end of the day it depends on how you want to mitigate the problems unique to each one.
Relaxer brands both lye and no-lye must be evaluated on their own merits and personal straightening results will always have much to do with the condition of your hair and your smoothing technique.
If possible…have a professional apply your relaxers. They are trained to examine your hair and scalp and determine which chemical brand and strength is best for you as well as the appropriate process of applying these chemicals only to your new growth as overlapping product on previously processed hair will result in damaged to your hair.
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