Beware the Kitchmatologist!

Hair Care

Hair Care (Photo credit: howzey)

What’s a Kitchmatologist?

There are many people all over the country that practice hair (like how I dressed that up?) out of their kitchen as nothing more than a way to make money. Let’s start off by saying that at its core there is nothing wrong with letting an experienced friend style your hair. There are also stylists that work in salons that refuse to attend any shows, don’t get more than the required continuing education credits who pose just as much of a threat to your hair health.

Ok, Where did this come from?

I took off yesterday to read around the WordPress community and see what’s the current buzz. I happened upon Hair Carer’s blog, which is pretty cool, and remembered a conversation that a hair school instructor held with me a while back. A hair license is not proof positive of anything other than a person sitting through requirements. Professionalism revolves around how seriously one invests in constantly learning and growing. Her term for people who didn’t take that time is, Kitchmatologist.

What’s the big deal?

You should be able to engage in intelligent dialogue regarding hair with whomever you entrust to aid in your hair’s health. The questions that you ask of Ooohmyhair.com, you should be able to get a well thought out answer from behind the chair as well. If that is not the case, and you feel like you’re never able to maintain a look/feel between visits, leave. I know that seems harsh but if your doctor never answered questions about your body’s health you’d be uncomfortable I’m sure. Your hair is not only your crown, but beyond the aesthetics, as we always discuss, your scalp is a gateway. The product additives that we’ve discussed previously in, Clean Curls 101:Poo Basics, and What’s the Deal with Shea? , the harm that they can potentially cause to your health happens through absorption into the scalp. You want to know the methods and philosophy your hair professional may hold since they have so much access.

Now What?

Prior to your next appointment (Dads on duty, this goes for you too), write down at least three new questions to ask your hair care professional. There is nothing wrong with them not having the answer immediately, but they should be willing to research and return with something helpful. It’s not a test of whether or not they know everything, that’s impossible, it’s a test of whether or not they care to keep you informed. If not, you may have identified a Kitchmatologist…. Run!

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Clean Curls 101- Poo Basics

English: The hair care aisle of a supermarket ...

English: The hair care aisle of a supermarket in North America. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What does it matter?

First, the purpose of cleansing is to remove build-up and allow the hair to breathe and absorb nutrients essential for healthy growth. Cleansing also allows the hair to return to a stable pH balance and in doing so reduce opportunities for breakage. The frequency of cleansing should coincide with the amount of build-up present. If styling with products that contain waxes, heavy oils or holding agents the hair needs to return to a stable pH in no longer than two weeks.

Where do I start?

Prior to selecting a cleansing method determine the current state of your hair. If to the touch your hair feels delicate (you just removed long-term braids, used a styling product that had a drying properties, etc.) you should use a hydrating shampoo. If your hair feels oily in a bad way, you should seek a gentle clarifying shampoo followed by a cream conditioner. Try to avoid products that contain parabens, EDTA, as stated in the What’s the Deal with Shea? post. My product suggestion is Onesta, their products are free of most of the harsh chemicals and additives found in many shampoos.

In another post we’ll discuss the actual method options for cleansing (there’s more available than wash rinse repeat). For now, the traditional way that most learn to shampoo is what we’ll reference to give some quick tips:

  • Excessively rigorous manipulations are not necessary
  • Use the pad of your fingers and not your nails
  • Move from scalp to ends to avoid tangling (the opposite of how you comb to de-tangle)
  • Avoid combing wet hair unless using a wide-toothed comb
  • Once hair is clean separate hair into at least four sections and keep the ends that you’re not immediately working on tucked away in a twist and secure the twists with a clip until you’re ready to work. (Great if you’re styling from wet hair)

We know that last one may be a bit much for Dads on duty for the first time (think four ponytails but twist the hair down into buns, not too tight, let the clips hold them).

It may seem like things you already know, but this is where lots of damage takes place and extra work created by not giving this step the attention it deserves.Remember that shampoo is not your only option in cleansing. As always ask questions when things stop making sense.

Enjoy!

What’s The Deal with Shea Butter?

Vitellaria paradoxa (shea tree, karité), easte...

Vitellaria paradoxa (shea tree, karité), eastern Burkina Faso (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Everyone tells you to use Shea Butter… Why?

Vitamins A, E and F are present in shea butter. A and E help nourish the scalp, while the fatty acids found in F both protect and revitalize the hair. This product protects against split ends, weather damage and keeps the hair shiny and smooth.

Raw Shea is best for your hair, however I suggest a whipped version that uses olive or grape seed oil as a carrier to thin out the paste. In certain styling situations, un-whipped Shea may cause difficulty in achieving certain looks. Breaking up the paste allow you to not only stretch the product, but the consistency is a bit more manageable in my experience.

There are many products that boast intense moisture, but Shea is top of the list in overall benefits. Don’t forget, the fact that you are avoiding chemicals like parabens, methylparabens, EDTA and a host of other additives found in many over the counter products you are creating the optimal enviornment for growth without excessive breakage….or alleged cancer causing agents.

There are many products that contain a host of inorganic additives, read the labels and do a quick Google search on anything that seems out-of-place. Most of this journey is about discovery so ask questions when things stop making sense.

Still holding on to the length…

So you’re not quite ready to take the plunge and get rid of your relaxed hair. Here are somme facts about your hair to keep in mind.

Curly or Straight:

You can’t have it both ways, your hair is it’s strongest when there’s not abrupt change in texture down the shaft. This is a great time to explore the world of twist sets. If you’re not quite ready to go full curl then a blow out maintained in a wrap may be the style for you.

How to rock either one:

To achieve a set, you only need to start with well conditioned hair and a pattern in mind. Braiding or twisting the hair in a consistent pattern from scalp to ends allows you to take the stress point away from where your curls and straight ends meet. This reduces breakage and allows you to test out some look. If you decide to start with wet hair you may need some product to help the relaxed ends conform.

Note:if you’ve been getting professional relaxers that maintain a slight curl in your wet hair you won’t have as many problems as if you’ve been going for bone straight and working out of the box, it’s not likely that this set will hold up through humidity.

If you start dry, you will need a water based product to start your set. Try to avoid mineral oil, petroleum based products as they shut down the cuticle of the hair and will not assist you in holding the look.

Allow the set to dry completely and when it’s time to take it down finger comb to separate the curls/waves.

Should you chose to keep your hair straight, just remember to be mindful not to allow too much new growth to stay unstraightened. This is due to the weak spot that is created more so than appearance. I do not suggest trying to achieve this look at home as you may apply too much heat or tension to your hair. I also suggest you maintain a  Shea butter regimen

Shea Butter

Shea Butter (Photo credit: LilyBaySoap)

to keep the moisture that the heat removes.

Satin scarves will help maintain both looks at night. Retwist the set if possible to keep it fresh, and wrap your hair the same as you would in your relaxed hair days.

Enjoy!

Hope this helps you get a game plan together to keep those relaxed ends in check.

The first week after the big chop!

Lauryn Hill at Central Park

Lauryn Hill at Central Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Congratulations! You’ve taken a large step into this journey and you decided it was best to dive in head first. Depending on your curl pattern you may be experiencing straight patches and flyaway hair. If you conducted the ceremonial ritual at home, there’s a chance that you may need professional assistance soon. Some of the questions that I’ve encountered from people in this stage include:

Why doesn’t it look like an Afro?

Why isn’t it even, even though I keep chipping away at the stray pieces?

I love the curl when it’s wet, how can I keep that when it’s dry?

Answers:

This is the week of discovery. Freshly cut ends on any texture of hair need some time to settle. Increase your water intake, grab some Biotin and be patient. If you have the curl pattern that will produce a stunning Afro as pictured, this is where you pay your dues.

Try not to clip at the stray hairs, until your curl pattern starts to really reveal itself, which will probably be this time next week.Then it’s time to select an approach. The nightly care for hair that’s long enough to twist or braid includes moisturizing the hair and sectioning it off into braids to retain the moisture, the more you chip away, the more difficult that process becomes. If you’re not comfortable roughing it out, this may be a good time to get a braid style. Be mindful of the tension put on your hair. Some braid stylists, even now that natural is popular, put additional stress on the hair because it may appear to be difficult to manage. A professional will be sure to analyze your hair prior to attempting a style to be sure it is executed in a manner that does not compromise your hair health.

This is the time to observe your hair, your curl pattern is not ready to be diagnosed yet. I suggest holding off on purchasing an abundance of products until you see what you can come up with as naturally as possible. A whipped Shea butter product from a trusted Shea Processor will provide light-weight moisture which allows your hair to breathe and come into its own.

Hopefully this puts some of the first week jitters at ease. Leave comments and feel free to send questions. I’m here to help.

~Margaret Ellen