Friday, September 7, 2012

DIY Hair Care: What Ingredients and When?

When it comes to hair care, it is vital (yes, vital) to know how certain ingredients work on our strands.  Having this knowledge reduces the "trial and error" involved in both building and adjusting a hair care regimen.

Below is a quick guide for the more popular, natural ingredients (with the exception of a couple) involved in DIY hair care.  Do keep in mind that what works for most individuals may (or may not) work for you.

When you want to take advantage of the humidity:
Glycerin, honey
Why: Humectants (moisture retention).
How to use: Add to a moisturizer or a leave-in.

When you want an oil-based sealant:
Soybean oil, grapeseed oil, castor oil, avocado oil
Why: These oils can reduce moisture loss.
How to use: Use separately or add some to your moisturizer.

When you want a light sealant:
Jojoba oil, grapeseed oil
Why: Light compared to other oils (jojoba being the lighter of the two).
How to use: Use separately or add some to your moisturizer.

When you want a heavy sealant:
Olive oil, shea butter (melted)
Why: Olive oil is one of the heavier oils.  Many butters (such as shea) contain fatty acids like oils but are heavier than oils.
How to use: Use separately or add some to your moisturizer.

When your scalp is itchy:
Tea tree essential oil, aloe vera juice
Why: Some find either of these substances to be soothing to the skin.
How to use: (Tea tree) Use a few drops with water or a carrier oil.  (Aloe vera) Use straight or mix with water. NOTE: If you are pregnant or have a health condition, please consult your doctor before using essential oils.

When your scalp is dry:
Jojoba oil, aloe vera juice
Why: Jojoba oil is a light oil (non-heavy).  Aloe vera juice is light, moisturizing, and soothing to the skin.
How to use: (Jojoba) Massage a few drops into the scalp.  (Aloe vera) Use straight or mix with water.

When you want a moisturizing or softening oil:
Grapeseed oil, safflower oil, castor oil
Why: These oils tend to leave the hair feeling soft and moist.
How to use: Use separately or add some to your moisturizer.

When you want a moisturizing or softening non-oil:
Glycerin, aloe vera gel/juice, rosewater, honey, water
Why: Glycerin and honey are humectants (good for moisture retention).  Aloe vera gel/juice and rosewater are moisturizing.  Water is the best natural form of hydration.
How to use: Use separately, add to your moisturizer, or mix one (or more) ingredients to create a moisturizing spritz.  NOTE: Adding water, aloe vera juice, or rosewater to a whipped butter can create an environment for bacterial and/or fungal growth.

When you want shine or sheen:
Castor oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, apple cider vinegar
Why: Castor oil has been shown to impart sheen (see earlier post).  Coconut oil and avocado oil are ones that many women swear by.  Due to its pH level, apple cider vinegar may help to flatten the cuticles, thus allowing for more shine or sheen.
How to use: (Castor, coconut, avocado) Use separately or add some to your moisturizer. (Apple cider vinegar) Use as a post-wash rinse with cold water for 5 minutes.

When your shampoo is drying:
Coconut oil, olive oil
Why: Moisturizing and lubricating.
How to use: Pre-poo with any of the above oils or add to shampoo.

When your shampoo is not cleansing enough:
Baking soda
Why: Easily lifts oils and dirt.
How to use: Mix a little with your shampoo. (Be sure to follow up with an apple cider vinegar rinse.)

When you want more slip in your conditioner:
Shea butter (melted), coconut oil, olive oil
Why: Lubricating.
How to use: Add some to your conditioner.

When you want a more moisturizing conditioner:
Glycerin, honey, shea butter (melted)
Why: (glycerin, honey) moisture retention; (shea butter) emollient.
How to use: Add some to your conditioner.

When you want a more strengthening conditioner:
Coconut oil, hydrolyzed protein (e.g. keratin, collagen), egg
Why: Coconut oil has been shown to penetrate the hair and reduce keratin loss (abstract).  Hydrolyzed protein penetrates the hair and provides reinforcement by replacing lost keratin.  The egg contains protein (though too big to penetrate our strands) and is an ingredient that some women swear by.  For maximum strengthening, go for conditioners containing hydrolyzed protein.
How to use: (Coconut oil) Best used as a pre-poo to minimize breakage, but may also use post-wash.  (Egg) Add to your conditioner.  (Hydrolyzed protein) Find a commercial conditioner with this ingredient.

When you want more hold and definition:
Shea butter, mango butter, beeswax, aloe vera gel, flaxseed gel
How to use: Add some to your moisturizer or use separately.  (Mango provides more hold than shea butter.)

When you want a lighter, less oil-based whipped butter (e.g., warm weather):
Aloe vera gel, jojoba oil
Why: moisturizing, but light
How to use: Mix a 1:1 shea butter and aloe vera gel mixture (or a variation of this recipe).

When you want a heavier, more oil-based whipped butter (e.g., cold weather):
Olive oil, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, safflower oil, castor oil
Why: moisturizing and sealing
How to use: Mix a 1:1 or 2:1 shea butter and oil(s) mixture.

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1 comment:

  1. What a wicked post - full of useful information, thanks very much for taking the time!

    ReplyDelete