Mixtress Musings |imho|

Hair Science 101...Part 2 :-Strands

This is the hair zone most of us obsess over!

Thankfully, it’s an easy structure to understand, there are no magical, secret mysteries and it's way stronger than you may think.

There are three main layers to your hair strands:-

    • Medulla – core of loose cells & air spaces
    • Cortex – tightly packed keratinized cells, which give hair structure, strength, flexibility, curl, etc.
    • Cuticle- a single protective outer layer of scale like cells that overlap a lot. Affected by heat, moisture, acidity, etc.

 

 

Side point-hair colour is affected by eumelanin (a form of melanin) found in the cortex and air in the medulla (especially for gray hair)-that’s why dying usually involves forcing chemicals past the cuticle which may damage it.

 

 

Hair fibres are approximately 91% protein; proteins are made up of long chains of amino acids. The most common hair protein by far is Keratin while Cystine is the most popular amino acid.

These amino acid chains are held together by three types of bonds: Hydrogen, Salt and Disulfide bonds.

  • Hydrogen bonds are a physical type of bond affected by water and heat (wet sets and thermal styling)
  • Salt bonds are also physical and affected by pH (acid/alkaline)
  • Disulfide bonds are different- they’re strong chemical bonds, affected by chemical treatments like relaxers, etc.
Healthy hair is strong! An individual strand is stronger than an aluminum fibre of the same thickness and has a wrap round structure kind of like wire cables. An average healthy head of hair can lift over 12 tonnes of weight! Your neck is a different story though so don’t attempt.

With all these bonds, you can understand just how elastic hair is. At its maximum: wet, healthy hair can be stretched 40% to 50% of its length without breaking. Wetting also swells and softens the cuticle though, which may make it easier to damage while combing. So like with just about everything else, a little care and balance when dealing with wet hair is all you need. De ting real strong!

There are other helpful properties to know when dealing with hair: Density, Texture, Porosity and Curl Pattern.

 

Hair texture is due to the cross sectional shape of the strand! Relatively, straight hair is round, wavy hair is oval and kinky hair is flat.

 

Next stop...growth cycles and why your hair may never reach bra length *gasp*…no need to panic ;)

 

I'd love to hear your tips or questions so feel free to say hi.

 Keep it .SIMPLE.NATURAL2.HEALTHY.

 

*Mixtress Musings is based on personal research, thoughts and the experiences of myself, friends and clients. I am not a medically certified trichologist or chemist, hence the |imho*|

 


Hair 101...Part 1: Follicles

One of the joys of being a mammal is that we all get to be cute and furry! Well, technically. We actually grow three types of hair in our lifetime; the type that gets the most attention is Terminal Hair-scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, armpits, etc.

For our purposes, terminal hair has two main zones:

  • the part we can see: Shaft
  • And the parts we can’t: Follicle. Made up of: the hair bulb, root, muscle (that makes hair stand on end), blood capillaries to feed the hair, oil glands to moisturize it, nerve receptors, etc., etc., etc.
Hair shaft emerging from the follicleHair shaft anchored in the follicle on normal scalp.

 

 

Did you know? By week 22 of pregnancy, all our follicles are already formed! We don’t generate any additional ones as we grow, so if you find your hair isn’t as ‘thick’ as it was when you were younger…that’s normal! You have the same amount of follicles, but now- as we say in Trini- yuh head big.

 

Even though we care about the shaft the most, all the drama happens below the surface. The living part of the hair is at the very base of the follicle-inside the scalp, where growth comes from! Tiny blood vessels feed the hair cells; that’s why diet, exercise and all that good stuff matter the most when it comes to healthy hair.

 

Did you Know? Your hair can grow a maximum of about 6 inches per year, E.V.E.R.Y.B.O.D.Y’s hair. True, growth differs based on ethnic background, age, etc. but it generally does not cross 6 inches per year, ½ inch per month, 0.44 mm per day. RETAINING that length is a whole other story and that’s all about how you treat the shaft, we go talk ‘bout dat jus’ now.

 

How does hair grow? This is known as the Anagen phase-Cells slightly above the middle of the follicle:

  • divide and transform into hair cells
  • combine with keratin ( a fibre like protein that protects and provides structure)
  • then die.

Yup. The cells die, why? They’re being pushed up, out and away from the capillaries and tissue that fed them. But don’t cry; now it becomes part of the shaft! All happy and keratinized, still dead though.

 

Did you know? Living hair cells divide/grow faster than any other in the body, every 23 to 72 hours! Still, only a maximum of about 6 inches per year people (just be grateful those cells aren’t in your nose or ears).

 

Another important part of the follicle is the sebaceous (oil) gland. This produces sebum which conditions the hair and skin, keeps them from becoming dry, brittle and cracked. As we brush or comb our hair, sebum gets distributed along the shaft. Curly hair struggles with dryness partly because:

 1) curls and kinks make it hard for sebum to move along the shaft and

2) we usually don’t brush regularly, so distribution is limited.

That’s one of the reasons curly hair <3 oils, we need sebum back up!

 

Did you know? Lanolin is basically sheep sebum.

 

Balance is needed- if naturally oily hair is an issue for you, washing often with shampoo may not be the best solution. Stripping hair of sebum too often can lead to:

  • dry scalp and flaking or
  • even oilier hair as your body tries to compensate!

Using products with little or no mineral oils; shampooing less (you can rinse out sweat and some dirt with water only) and using oils like jojoba, which help regulate sebum production, are definite options.

There you have it! Hope this helps a bit, up next, drum roll…the Hair Shaft!  

I'd love to hear your tips or questions so feel free to say hi.

 Keep it .SIMPLE.NATURAL2.HEALTHY.

 

*Mixtress Musings is based on personal research, thoughts and the experiences of myself, friends and clients. I am not a medically certified trichologist or chemist, hence the |imho*|


The Mermaid Life a.k.a when naturals go swimming.

Hello happy people!

Welcome to the first HCHG blog post... Whoot, whoot! And just in time for the long weekend up ahead. But first, a disclaimer: Mixtress Musings is based on personal research, thoughts and the experiences of myself, friends and clients. I am not a medically certified trichologist or chemist, hence the |imho*|. Scene? Aight… leh we go:)

 The Mermaid Life

a.k.a when naturals go swimming

 One of the great things about living on a tropical island is that there is always a body of water nearby, be it a sun-kissed sandy beach, cool river or somebody’s pool. The downside is that there is always a body of water nearby, a sun-kissed sandy beach, cool river or somebody’s pool. And we know that natural hair + water can be a tricky combination to master. So here are a few HCHG tips to help you enjoy the aftermath of a fun day of sea, river, pool and sun!

Beach Time

First things first, there is nothing wrong with a little saltwater; in fact you can find saltwater shampoo bars and conditioners available that tout the therapeutic effects of sea salt on hair. In my experience, the problem arises when the saltwater is allowed to dry and evaporate, leaving mainly salt behind which dehydrates and can leave your curls super thirsty and frizzy. There are simple fixes though :)
  • Step 1- Seal it Out (Optional)
As mentioned, saltwater isn't bad in itself, but if you want to seal it out simply apply an oil or butter before you go swimming. Coconut oil is a terrrrible sealant, castor is a good, cheap option: essentially the heavier the oil the better. Butters like mango and shea are awesome as well. Even pomades or greases can be used (you'll be washing it out that day anyway, so don’t fuss about the mineral oil content too much).
Water-based products like conditioners or leave-ins will quickly disperse once your hair hits the water, so they offer minimal protection at best.
  • Step 2-Have fun
  • Step 3-Wash it Out
Rinse out as much salt water as you can with fresh water
  • Step 4-Keep it Damp
Apply a cheap conditioner generously; the idea is to keep your hair from drying out completely before you get home and can wash and condition as usual.

 River Lime

Here you're dealing with fresh water-not dangerous and of course less dehydrating than sea water.
  • Step 1- Seal it Out (Optional)
Seal as you would for the beach, suuuper optional.
  • Step 2-Have fun
  • Step 3- Wash it Out
It won't be absolutely necessary to wash out the water- it's fresh after all, but you can squeeze out the excess if you worry about hydral fatigue.
  • Step 4- Keep it Damp
Apply conditioner as above, do the needful when you get home.

Pool Party

Here we run into the most problems, no need to list all the negative effects chlorine and other synthetic pool chemicals can have. So the steps are simple, but a more comprehensive hair care regime is best.
  • Step 1- Seal it Out
Wear a swim cap if possible, sealing the exposed edges or the parts of your hair that always get wet even with the cap on- for me it's usually the nape and around my ears. Butters may be best, as they're easy to apply and life is hard enough as it is.
  •  Step 2- Have fun
  •  Step 3- Wash it Out
If you wore a cap and are not planning to wash your hair, rinse with your fingers the parts that got wet  and pat dry, apply whatever your fav moisturiser is. Go be happy. If your entire head got wet, rinse the pool water out as much as you can. You don't necessarily have to shampoo, as it isn't oil and dirt you're removing just the highly chlorinated water (this especially applies to those who hit the pool on a regular basis). Moisturise as usual.
  •  Step 4- Keep it Damp
If you're going to be washing your hair at home, then apply the conditioner as above.
For regular pool swimmers, deep conditioning should be a part of your routine, at least once a month. Oil steams are great as a well: jojoba oil is particularly good for repairing chemical damage and a few drops of vitamin e are a good addition to any oil you decide to use. Steaming does not have to be complicated: apply your oil generously (you can warm it in the microwave a bit), put a shower cap on and do something for an hour or a half. Shampoo and condition as usual. Sulfate free, gentle shampoos  and products that are big on moisture are healthy hair musts if pool water is a regular part of your life.
There you have it! I hope this helps make your fun in the sun a little funner. I'd love to hear your tips or questions so feel free to say hi.
Let us know how it works for you!
Keep it .SIMPLE.NATURAL2.HEALTHY.

Coming soon...

The official Happy Curls, Happy Girls' blog:

Mixtress Musings |imho|

Touches of science, tips & thoughts to help get you closer to happy, healthy hair:)