Product Combinations: A Lesson in pH Balance (2)

Hey Beauts!

Welcome back to the concluding part of our pH balance lesson! If you are not sure what this is about, you can read the first part here.

Let’s get right into it, shall we?

It seems like a no-brainer that a typical wash day should comprise: cleansing-conditioning-deep conditioning. But there are reasons for this, one of which is pH balance.

Shampoos & Cleansing Agents

Let’s begin from when we step into the shower to wash our hair. The rush of warm water that we rinse off with initially raises our cuticles (as I mentioned yesterday. Remember that? hot water raises, cold water closes). Then in comes the shampoo or cleansing agent. Now, depending on the pH of the shampoo that we use, we could either be opening the cuticle further, or closing it. I have read a bunch of articles on this (and you should too, if you have some time), but basically, a lot of water absorption into the core of your hair shaft happens when your cuticles are raised. The more basic your soap (i.e. the higher the pH number, the more open/raised your cuticle is, the more water is absorbed.

Liquid Shampoos versus Shampoo Bars

Shampoo bars tend to have a higher pH number than liquid shampoos. This is because:

i) Shampoo bars have a lot less water

ii) Shampoo bars are essentially soap. Soap is mostly either sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide. And remember yesterday, we said that the more hydroxide (OH-), the more basic the solution, the higher the pH number.

Experts on this topic say that a superb soap maker can try hard to get the pH of soap to be as low as 8, but anything lower than that and the bar ceases to be a bar and resembles mud.

Side Note: the pH of relaxer is above 10! And we know what relaxer does to our hair.

Anyway, the reason why many teachers of this topic recommend shampoos that are of lower pH (i.e. liquid shampoo) is because those tend to cause less frizz when used. But remember, we DO NOT use shampoos in isolation. Whatever form of shampoo you choose to use, remember what it is doing to your cuticle and remember that when you leave the shower to dry your hair, you want your hair back to its natural state (a closed cuticle) and you want moisture locked in (which again can only happen with a closed cuticle).

So what do we do?

Conditioners & Deep Conditioners

Hair conditioners and deep conditioners are typically of a lower pH (more acidic) than shampoos. This is because they work to close those erstwhile open cuticles, thus sealing in the moisture.

Household Ingredients

All the kitchen chemists in the house, say “aye”!

DIYs are fun, right? And they can be cheaper than buying ready made products. However, to mix ingredients in a pH balanced manner, it is necessary to know the various pH of what we use and this should drive how we use them.

Apple Cider Vinegar: You probably guessed it. This has a low pH (acidic). The Bragg’s brand of ACV has a pH of 3.075. Depending on how much you dilute it, and how pure the water you dilute it with is, the pH of what eventually goes into your hair can be higher than this number. So as is the nature of acidic solutions, you should expect that ACV rinses close the cuticle.

Baking Soda: This has a basic pH of about 8.3. So concurrent with what we have been discussing, a baking soda rinse will open your cuticle.

Interestingly though, I was looking at the instructions for the maximum hydration method, and the first step in the process is to clarify with either a baking soda rinse or an apple cider vinegar rinse. Hmmm…

Aloe Vera Juice: Depending on the brand, its pH can be anywhere from 3.4 – 4.5. Acidic again.

Bentonite Clay: This has a relatively high basicity of 8.3 – 9.7. Does it make sense now why we would usually use AVJ as the mixing agent? The AVJ works to reduce the pH of the resulting mixture, bringing it to a pH that is healthier for a hair rinse.

Yogurt: Plain yogurt has a pH of 4. Yup, acidic. And I guess the taste gives it away already.

Lemon juice: Pure lemon juice is really acidic, with a pH of 2.

So after all this information and numbers, what then?!

Personally, I think having this information at the back of my mind will help me rationalise my hair care process.

1) Always remember that your hair is happiest between a pH of 4.5 and 5.5.

2) The pH of your shampoo will usually be higher than that of your conditioners (if you are working with store bought products). Obia thinks that this means we should try to stick to a line of products since it is more or less guaranteed that the pH number of a given product line will work to achieve pH balance. However, if you’re interested, you can look up the pH of different brands of shampoos, conditioners, and leave-in conditioners as provided by TheNaturalHaven (bless her for doing the work).

3) If you’re an aspiring mixtress, having the pH numbers of your raw materials can help you decide the progression in which resulting mixes should be used for optimum results.

4) At the end of the day, the goal is to have locked in as much moisture as possible, and to have strengthened hair shafts in their natural state.

And so concludes the lesson in pH balance. Have you got any questions? Or any more knowledge to share? We would love to read from you in the comment boxes! 🙂

-Mee Mee

xx.

Maximum Hydration Method: My Experience so Far

Hey beauts!

I had so many ideas for how to present this post to you. They excited me, these ideas. I was going to show you every day, with pictures, how my curls were evidently approaching maximum hydration. I was going to give you pictures to ooh and aah over of how day 1 hair was way different from day 5 hair.

But…

There was no difference. I’ll let you have a quick look before I go off on a rant.

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Day 1

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Day 3

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Day 7

There you go!

In case you missed it, there is a post on the Maximum hydration method (MHM) here.

How did I go about my MHM?

I began with the Cherry Lola Caramel treatment.

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The best way I can describe my hair after this treatment is that it felt stripped of everything. The smell of the aminos was very overpowering in the mix. At a certain point during the treatment, I began to smell ammonia coming from my hair. Ugh.

Mistake Numer Uno:

Apparently, on day 1, after the Cherry Lola Caramel (CLC) treatment, the ACV or Baking Soda rinse should NOT be done. Somehow, I skipped this part of the instructions and after my CLC treatment, I did an ACV rinse. In hair science, what I ended up doing was opening up my hair cuticles with the CLC treatment in readiness for moisture and then closing it straight back up with the ACV rinse. Bad bad bad.

After the ACV rinse, which I kept on for about 30 minutes, I co-washed with Tresemme naturals nourishing moisture conditioner. This was my first time of using this conditioner and I have to say that I quite like it. Product review in the future? I then DC’d overnight with this conditioner as well.

Now, I have a feeling that perhaps I was wrong for DC-ing with just a conditioner and not a product created specifically for use as a deep conditioner? What do you guys think?

The DC option I opted for was the overnight option. So basically, I began each day of my MHM treatment at night, close to bed time.

Come morning, I would rinse out the deep conditioning treatment and then do a bentonite clay rinse for 15minutes. From day 1 – 5, I did the clay rinse for 15 minutes. On days 6 and 7, desperate for results, I did clay rinse for up to an hour.

After rinsing out the clay, I sprayed my damp hair with a mixture of Tresemme naturals nourishing conditioner and water. I then finished with ecostyler gel.

As explained in the MHM post done previously by AB, there are certain approved products for use in the MHM treatment. I admit, before commencing on this journey, I did not do an extensive homework. I made a number of assumptions, one of which was that Ecostyler gel was definitely on the list of acceptable gels. Afterall, most people swear by Ecostyler. But alas, I was wrong.

Another assumption I made was that by day 7, my hair was definitely going to look like the ‘after’ pictures I had been seeing around hair blogosphere. Wrong! I won’t even lie, it kinda hurt. Mainly because I religiously went about this treatment, excited for results.

Will I say this was a total waste of my time and resources?

No no no. Infact, I have made a decision to stick to the MHM treatment. Why? I got results that were not physical.

– My hair felt softer each day, without any products in it.

– I experienced very minimal or no breakage. By day 2, I stopped seeing loose curls lying all over the bath tub after my hair wash.

– My hair also felt stronger.

– My dry twist outs were super-defined, without any products. This was the result that amazed me the most. Unfortunately, I have no pictures because I am yet to learn how to wear a twist out so I end up destroying it after careful unravelling.

For these reasons, I would definitely recommend the MHM treatment. AB asked me a few days ago how keen I was on ‘finding my curl definition’. I believe my reply was something like “2 out of 10”. I am happy with the way my hair looks at the moment. I was just fascinated by the results this method produced for other women. I shall continue the MHM treatment and if anything changes, I will definitely report back to you and let you know how I may have altered the regimen.

This is is from me for now.

I hope the new week was off to a brilliant start.

Be good to your hair!

– Mee Mee

xx.

 

Lazy Sunday

Hey guys!

How are things?

AB here! It’s a very lazy Sunday for me in Calabar.

Earlier today, I co-washed and finger detangled Big Betty. She’s crazy soft, and her curls are poppin’.

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I didn’t wash in twists which wasn’t a good idea now that I think about it, because I couldn’t give my scalp a good rub. I’ll fix this next week. After washing though, I finger detangled some more with my trusty Cantu Shea Butter Leave-In Conditioning Cream and put her in 15 twists, and then massaged my scalp as best as I could, with Jamaican Black Castor Oil. I moisturised my leave-out with Cantu, sealed with JBCO and twisted it up too. I intend to leave the twists in till tomorrow.

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To co-wash, I used the Alberto Balsam Sun Kissed Raspberry Herbal Conditioner. I bought this on Wednesday at the Valuemart on Marian road, 500 naira for 400ml. I was hovering in the beauty products aisle, feeling the need to grab something. It was the cheapest and the best size value for money, plus it smelled really familiar so I just took it. It was good I did sef because I’m almost out of Hello Hydration and I didn’t want to use all my conditioner on this weave that’s over 3 times the volume of my hair.

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Supermarkets aren’t my go-to place for hair products. I’m often disappointed when I read through the ingredients, but still I hover in the hope that I’ll find something good, and nice and cheap. This time, I think I struck gold with this conditioner.

On getting home, I smelled it again, and took to Google. Alberto Balsam is an Alberto Culver brand. And so is V05. No wonder it smelled familiar! Alberto Balsam and V05 are pretty much the same product marketed under different names in different countries. So if you’re a V05 lover, when you’re running low, if this is available instead, you could get it. (and FYI, Alberto-Culver brands are Unilever brands. Unilever acquired the Alberto-Culver company a while ago)

And the ingredients? No silicones, no mineral oil, no sulfates, no parabens! Yuup.

I’ll do a proper review when I’ve got to use this some more, but for now, from this co wash, I think it’s nice. It was good to my weave and the little hair I left out as well. For 500 naira, this isn’t a bad addition, and I already know I’m going to buy at least 2 more bottles (yep, opportunistic product junkie!)

Also at Valuemart right now are cute 200ml bottles of Herbal Essences Shampoo and Conditioners, for 500 naira each. I was about to bust a move when I saw that familiar blue Hello Hydration bottle, but on getting closer, I saw it was the Moisturising Shampoo instead, not the conditioner as I’d hoped. They’ve also got Tresemme, but not Tresemme Naturals. If you’re in Calabar, you might want to stop by.

Moving forward, I’m going to be making more hair buys from supermarkets. Not huge hauls, but one interesting thing now and then. The ingredients may raise brows but all those things- can they really be all bad or all useless? What’s the worst that could happen? If my hair feels like hay after, I can always reset with my staples. And they’re relatively more affordable, so it won’t pain me so much if I buy something and it turns out to be actually skreps.

P.S. if you sent me an email, please don’t eye me lol I promise to reply all emails by the end of tomorrow. 🙂

Love,

AB,

Xx

Product Review: Organics Hair Mayonnaise

Hey guys!

Today I’m reviewing a product you’ve most likely seen before (if you live in Nigeria, that is). Organics Hair Mayonnaise isn’t hard to find. I got a tub in January at Enumex Cosmetics here in Calabar, for 800 naira.

Ingredients:

Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Paraffinum Liquidum (Mineral Oil), Dicetyldimonium Chloride, Polyquaternium-32, Lanolin Oil, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Olea Europeaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Cetyl Alcohol, DMDM Hydantoin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Phenyl Trimethicone, Parfum (Fragrance), Dimethicone PEG-8 Laureate, Origanum Vulgare (Oregano) Leaf, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot)Seed Oil, Cholesterol, Soluble Collagen, Tocopherol, Ovum (Egg Powder), Panthenol, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, CI 19140 (Yellow 5), CI 42090 (Blue 1), CI 16035 (Red 40), Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Equisetum Hiemale (Horsetail) Extract, Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Extract.

Worth noting:

  • Water is the first ingredient.
  • The alcohols on the list are the good kind. They are fatty, non-drying alcohols.
  • Silicones!!
  • This DC has humectants, Glycerin and Panthenol, they help moisturise.
  • The protein in this is way down the list, so if you’re in need of a stronger protein treatment, I think you’d have to beef this up a little, add more to it.
  • Mineral oil is listed as the third ingredient. The first five ingredients are deal breakers for me when I’m reading a product label. I don’t think I’d have ever put this product anywhere near my hair if not for the fact that my hair was steamed with this at a natural hair salon last year.

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