Sunday, December 30, 2012

It's Winter, Save my hair!!

With the return of "hardcore" winter, just barely begun, I can feel my hair already shriveling into a mess. The dandruff has begun. I was reading an article on Web MD about Winterizing your hair. According to Nick Chavez, celebrity stylist and QVC mainstay, the problem is two or three fold. You're combating the sun exposure that can dry out your hair (think skiing all day). Then add in the blustery winds that turn your hair into a snarly mess. And then to top it all off, you have the ice, snow, sleet conditions that makes your hair brittle and dry. And just when you think, I can escape that, there's the problem of indoor heating. Indoor heating is warm and dry, and in something I'd never heard of before, similar to being in a hairdryer all day. Which, really, is just that if you think about it. Think about what the dry heat does to your sinuses, your throat, your cold. Did we really think our hair could escape it? Another thing to think about in winter is static electricity. If you're anything like me, every time you take your jacket off, take off your scarf, etc. You hear that static sound. One of the home remedies has always been to rub a dryer sheet on your hair. Has this ever worked for you? It's never worked for me. What tricks have you found to use when winter comes?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tips for Hair Restoration

I found an article today on Hair Restoration Ideas.

As someone who suffers from hair loss, I read anything I can.  My hope that is that maybe something you read on my blog will help you.

From all the articles I have read, there seems to be some common denominators.

1. Stress.  If you suffer from stress, it's causing your hair follicles to go into "resting phase," which ultimately will cause that hair to fall out.

2.  Sickness or surgery.  I've had surgery a few times, and stress of the body from these surgeries causes my hair to fall out.  You should already be familiar that when your sick, you hair loses its luster and shine, and falls out easily.

I'm particularly reminded of this is with my 12 year old cat.  A month ago, she lost her 11 year old "sister."  Since that time, she has lost ALOT of her hair on her back.  It's from stress.  Stress also causes her to over-bathe herself, but she started steadily losing her hair when her sister died.

When I was working at a job where I was under a tremendous amount of stress.  I lost weight, and lost hair in clumps.  Alot of the loss is from stress, but it also leads into a third common denominator for hair loss.

4.  Nutrition.  If you aren't eating well, your hair becomes damaged.  If you're not eating the proper foods, you're not getting the proper vitamins, and this causes more hair to go into the resting phase and start falling out.

Notice the common threads throughout the articles?

What do you think?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Hokey suggestions to improve your hair

I was just reading an article in India Times today, where they discussed recommendations for hair care.

The first suggestion, I agree with, that you should do Hot Oil Treatments on your hair.   I used to do this religiously  They state that you should take these hot oils and put on a shower cap and leave it on for an hour, then shampoo your hair.

Once again, I digress to an earlier post of how realistic this is.  I would do it in the shower, but the oil only stayed in my hair for about 5 minutes.

Another suggestion is to rub your scalp with either garlic juice, onion juice or ginger juice; leave it on overnight and wash it thoroughly in the morning.  Again, how realistic is that?

The third suggestion is getting a scalp massage.  The thought is that massage keeps the hair follicle stimulated.

Here's one that I never heard before "Apply warm green tea (two bags brewed in one cup of water) on your scalp and leave this mixture on for an hour and then rinse."  They suggest that tea has antioxidants that will increase hair growth, but again, how realistic is to keep it on for an hour?

And the fifth suggestion is to practice meditation.  Because the biggest reasons people lose hair is stress and tension, it's believed that meditating will help reduce stress, and therefore help in keeping your hair.

This one seems hokey, but if meditation works for you, why not try it.  

Maybe you can meditate while food sits on your head for an hour?

What do you think of these suggestions?  
Have you tried any?  
Have they worked?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Realistic Haircare Recommendations

I was reading an article at Plus-Size-Tall the other day, and they were doing an interview with a stylist who runs a Plus-size salon in London.  It's a really neat idea.  I love the idea of a salon catering to us big girls.  Bigger chairs, no judgement, sounds great.

In the article, Bashar Brown gives recommendations for hair styles for each type of face, as well as home remedies to try for your hair.

One of this recommendations was:
"When washing your hair always make sure you leave the hair conditioner on for a good hour and brush the hair through whilst the conditioner is still on, that will penetrate and strengthen the hair and will prevent it from being knotted. Do this 2-3 times a week."

Sounds like a great idea, right?  But is this realistic? 

I'm not sure about most of you, but I barely have enough time to wash my hair, let alone poof dry it like the stylists do.  Then you want me to walk around with conditioner in my hair for an hour?  I have a hard enough time with the conditioners that say to leave in for 5 minutes.

Part of the problem is that in order to have good, beautiful hair, you need to invest in it.  Invest in time, energy, and money.  For most of us, all three are in short supply.  If I was Kim Kardashian and nothing better to do all day than to talk about my feet looking funny or picking out an outfit to wear to go clubbing that night, I may have the extra hour three times a week to do this.

The big thing is these are pie in the sky recommendations we get from stylists in the magazines.  They're not real world recommendations.

I did however appreciate the home remedies he gave.  Something that won't cost me a fortune.  And recommending that we should use the grocery store intensive shampoos because they're cheaper.  FINALLY a stylist says we can use the cheap stuff, as opposed to the expensive salon shampoos.

What beauty tips have you seen that you think are totally unrealistic?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Is hair dead or alive?

That's a question I've gone back and forth on my whole life.  I remember being told in school that hair is not really alive, it's dead cells making it's way out of the follicle.  Which goes along with the theory that police, examiners, etc will use a few strands of freshly pulled hair to run tests to see if there had been drug use in the last 6 months (something they can't get from blood alone).

But if you ready beauty magazines, where they tell you tons of ideas to make your hair beautiful, you tend to believe that maybe the hair is really alive.

Dr, Zoe D. Draelos, MD, FAAD, consulting professor at Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, N.C. spoke at last year's 69th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology (Academy).

In that speech, he stated that hair is not living, and despite what beauty product makers would like you to believe, it can not heal itself once it is damaged.  Dr. Draelos explained that "For this reason, once the hair is damaged it cannot heal itself except through new hair growth at the scalp. Women need to understand that the very things that they do to hair to make it appear beautiful, such as using hair dyes, perms and products that straighten the hair, will eventually end up damaging the hair’s structure and ultimately affect its appearance.”

Hair, while dead, has a layer of fat on the outside of the cuticle, making the hair shiny and pretty. Chemical treatments, such as perms, colors, and yes Chlorine can strip that cuticle of the lipids, and cause dried-out, frizzy hair.

The biggest thing to combat damaged hair, as I mentioned the other day, is MOISTURIZE!  You need to use shampoo that will add as much moisture to the hair as possible to minimize the damage and stop creating even more damage to your hair.

Dr. Draelos suggests looking for products containing dimethicone. Dimethicone been shown to decrease static electricity, increase shine and improve manageability.  It may not magically fix it, but if you're looking at a few different products and one lists Dimethicone, why not try that one to see if there's a difference to your hair.

Another cause of damaged hair is one I'm personally guilty of, heat damage.  I must admit when the Remington Wet to Straight came out, I was the first on the bandwagon.  It was great.  It's a flat-iron, but as you run it through your hair, it actually dries and straightens at the same time.  Most flat-irons flatten, but you're left with scalding hot wet hair at the end.

Dr. Draelos suggests that  damage "occurs when the water in the hair, which makes the hair flexible, gets heated and turns into steam. Hair bubbles then occur on the hair shaft, creating a loss of cuticle."  He also warns that "Hair damaged by heat cannot be repaired, as the affected hair will need to be cut off and allowed to regrow as healthy hair."


So, for once and for all, hair is already dead, BUT you can damage it further and cause hair loss if you don't protect it.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

It's Fall, make my hair beautiful!

As fall approaches, it's time to think about getting our hair back into shape.  Time to get rid of the damage you did at the pool and in the sun.

Remember from an earlier post, that it takes 3-4 months for you to lose your hair during the "resting" phase.  Which means, up until Christmas time, your hair is still getting rid of damaged hair, and that STILL may not be the hair that is ready to fall out.

As soon as summer and chlorine are out of your daily activities, it's best to start trying to fix the damage that has been done.

A big suggestion that I have seen in a few different places has been to switch your regular shampoo with clarifying shampoo for about a month.  It will take that long to break down and get rid of the chlorine build-up that occurred over the summer.  Generally it's a good idea to use clarifying shampoo at least once a month if you use alot of products in your hair, just to strip it down and give your hair a chance to breathe.

While using the clarifying shampoo, you want to take the opportunity to do deep conditioning.  For the last few months, all the moisture has been eeked out of your hair through the disinfectants of chlorine, through chlorinated hair sitting out in the sun and baking all day, etc.  Find a good product, and the suggestion is to go the salon route to get your hands on something that really does deep conditioning instead of the minor work that most over the counter "deep conditioners" do.  You should use this with the clarifying shampoo for a week or two, until you can feel the moisture coming back in your hair.

Alot of websites will extole the virtues of "getting a new hair color for the fall."  While some people do change up the color of their hair depending on season, doing so now is not an ideal time.  If your hair is damaged from the summer, don't damage it further by color treating it!

One suggestion that I believe is a good one is to get a hair cut.  It's not to say go out and get a radical hair cut for the fall season.  Most times you'd like your hair longer in the fall and winter anyway to help keep you warm.  But going in and getting an inch or two cut off, the chance to get rid of the ends that are the most damaged will help your hair in the long-run.  You may need to trim more depending on split ends and damage, but you and your stylist can come up with an idea that will work.  The main objective is to get the dying, damaged hair off your head, so it doesn't keep sucking moisture out of your hair and damaging and breaking the rest of your hair.

And as I said, all of this will not "magically" give you beautiful hair.  You're only losing 10% of your hair during the next 3-4 months, and it may not be the most damaged of hair.  But using clarifying shampoo at least once a month and deep conditioning at least once a month will help your hair repair itself until the damaged hair falls out.

BUT the suggestion is to go heavy on the clarifying and deep conditioning for about a month to give your hair a sporting chance.  I'd throw the haircut half-way through the month, to give your new ends a chance to soak up that moisture-y goodness for a few weeks.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Why does my hair look terrible in the summer?

The quick and dirty answer is chlorine from pools.

I spent the summer at alot of pools this year.  One pool was great, but the other pools turned my hair into dry, sticky, itchy messes.

Chlorine is basically a disinfectant.  The busier the pool, the more exposed it is, the more chemicals they put in it to keep it clean and pretty so we'll go swimming in it.  But disinfectants are used to break down and remove dirt, oil, and bacteria.   Our hair has dirt and naturally is oily to protect it from damage.  See the problem?

In addition to the chlorine problems with hair, sometimes it's our hair itself that is predisposed to be damaged by chlorine. Color Treated Hair, Chemically Treated Hair, Dry Hair, Thin or Fine Hair, and Previously Damaged Hair are more susceptible to hair damage from chlorine.

According to Kendra Aahus, at, there are a few suggestions to help protect your hair from chlorine damage.

1. "Saturate Your Hair with Water. Before you enter the pool, rinse your hair with clean tap water to saturate your hair. Have you ever noticed that a sponge will only absorb so much water, and once it's full the water just runs off? Your hair is similar to a sponge. If you saturate your hair with clean tap water, your hair will be less likely to absorb as much of the chlorinated water in the pool."

2.  " Shampoo. Shampooing your hair immediately after chlorine exposure is the best way to remove the bulk of the chlorine and stop the damage it may be causing to your hair. A clarifying shampoo treatment is another way to keep chlorine build-up at bay."

I found last summer the only thing that made my hair not turn into straw was immediately washing it.  For me, it wasn't just the straw factor, but my hair would itch so bad, I couldn't stand it.

I'll definitely be trying #1 next summer!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The basics of hair loss

One of the biggest problems for me is my hair.  It's baby-fine, and any chemicals at all cause it to weigh down and look ten times worse.

I just heard something very interesting today.  The normal cycle for hair growth is 2 to 3 years.  Not months, years.  It's said that hair grows approximately 1 centimeter a month.  As a mom who has to get the boys' hair cut every month or they turn into Shaggy from Scooby Doo, I find that hard to believe.

At any given time, only 90 percent of your hair is growing and 10% is just hanging out in a "resting" phase.  After about three or four months, the resting hair falls out and new hair starts growing.

According to, this explains why typically three to four months after surgery, people are warned their hair will fall out in great quantities.  What also causes hair to fall out?  Stress and hormonal problems.

In the past, I've experienced hair loss after surgery, so this was always expected.  I also went through a period of time that my life was so stressful, I was losing hair in clumps.  While it always seemed to happen about a month out, losing your hair can continue for 3-4 months!

Have you noticed around the time you're pregnant and for a few months thereafter you're losing hair?  That's due to the hormone changes in your body.

And something I had never even thought about affects hair loss.  Medication. Did you know that daily aspirin you take could cause hair loss?  What about Vitamin A or anti-depressants.  It's something you might certainly want to discuss with your doctor if you notice after being put on a new medication that for the next 3-4 months, you're losing more hair than normal.

What can be done about it?  We'll talk about that in another blog post.