I love what the natural hair movement has done for us in terms of empowerment and self-validation, entrepreneurship and inspiration. Future generations of women with natural hair now have an industry of products made for us, and a bounty of information offering advice and insight on handling our hair texture. We have ignited an online revolution and transformed the mainstream standard of beauty.
I love the natural hair community and I love so many natural hair blogs. But one of the things I don’t love, is the misinformation and negativity, and the criticism of others for their choices that can exist within our space. It does concern me that some in the natural hair communities seem to value the opinion of amateurs over hair care professionals. It can create a kind of confusion in the community. When most people are sharing the techniques that work for them, then how do you truly know what will work for you? What if the techniques that every blogger and vlogger are raving about, turns out to be detrimental to the health of your hair? How do you really know you’re following a sensible hair regimen, if it isn’t rooted in hair science and acquired education?
Hair photo via Shutterstock
Recently I noticed natural hair professionals complaining about this on Twitter, but in a much more informed way. So I wanted to share that voice of experience, and reach out to someone who can critique from a place of knowledge and love.
Meet Camille E. Reed, the creator of Noire Design Concepts salon in Silver Spring, MD. She’s a genius with natural hair and an expert in hair color. She is licensed, she is professional, and she is frustrated with some of the misinformation that’s proliferating on the internet.
Camille sees it on an ongoing basis – the women who come into her salon with hair damage resulting from following bad advice they found from an unprofessional source. She’s here to debunk what she sees as the top 5 hair blogger falsehoods. Take it away, Camille!
“Hi everyone, my name is Camille E. Reed. I am an educator, licensed cosmetologist and natural hair stylist of 14 years and also the owner of Noire Salon in Silver Spring, MD. During the course of my career, I have estimated that around 17,000-26,000 heads of hair have sat underneath my hands and have been scrupulously tended by them. So it’s a bit startling to hear some of the natural hair bloggers spreading misinformation about hair care. I am sure they meant no harm. However, what most stylist and pros know cannot be Googled or passed down as second-hand information, without a great deal of both practical wisdom and a keen understanding of cosmetic chemistry. Here I am going to assist many of you back on to the right path. My concern is that some of this misinformation will cause your strands to behave in a way that causes your home hair care to become troublesome, over time. There have been terms that the hair bloggers are using or have created, that are neither scientifically sound or are what professionals use (and have been using) since the onset of Modern Cosmetology in the 19th and early 20th century.
This is where bloggers and vloggers are instructing readers and subscribers to forgo using shampoo and “wash” their hair with conditioner.
The problem with this method is that it promotes the misuse of product. Within Cosmetic chemistry, certain products have certain roles. The shampoo, with either its surfactants or saponins, opens up the hair cuticle in an alkaline state to release dust, dirt, lipids (fats) and other products from the strand. The cleaners are molecularly attracted to these items and adhere. Water comes in as a solvent and removes both the shampoo and residue. Conditioners come in at an acidic state to relax the cuticle and bring pH balance back to the skin. Commercial conditioners (the ones people are using for these co-washes) contain an additional number of mild chemical sealants to add a bit more protection to the hair strand. It is designed to mimic the natural fat that comes from our scalp, called Sebum (also slightly acidic).
Misuse of conditioner leaves several layers of film on the strands that, after a few months, will start to retard the cuticle from opening properly to allow the strand to swell with water. The result is a low-porosity strand that becomes increasingly fragile and starts to break.
The good thing for ladies in this current hair care market is that companies are making sulfate free shampoos and organic shampoos that contain saponins (natural, non chemical cleansers) that will get your hair clean WITHOUT over-stripping. Understand that all of these other methodologies need to be carefully scrutinized and compared to actual cosmetic science before they are co-opted.
2. Dusting (aka trims):
I see more bloggers and vloggers instructing young ladies not to cut or trim their hair, showing off what they deem to be fabulously long hair without having been cut in multiple months or years.
The ends of your hair are the oldest and weakest part of your hair fiber. Yes, hair is a fiber and like most fibers, it has a shelf life. The ends are nearing the end of their shelf life and no amount of product will revive or repair fiber that is old and weather or style beaten. It just simply needs to be removed in small, but regular increments throughout the year.
I stick to the rule that 6 micro trims (read ¼” to ½”) every two months, will leave you with more than enough healthy hair to work with, especially since most healthy women average about an inch of growth in an 8 week time period.
A trim is not something easily done at home. Take the leap, do the research, find a pro. If you can’t find one in your area, contact me @Noireboss1 on Twitter and I will help you! I have pro friends all over the country that are ready and willing to help.
3. Permanent Hair Color at Home:
I have been a licensed Cosmetologist for several years. The more that I learn about color, the more I realize how dangerous these chemicals can be in the wrong hands. Here, chemicals are being re-arranged and keratin (the chemical protein that makes up the hair) is being affected. There are some kinds of color that can be done safely at home, such as semi permanent or water-based rinses. I see the worst compound damage occur when sisters are trying to blonde or bleach blonde themselves at home. Going blonder removes protein from the hair. Most natural sandy colored and blondes have very sparse, fragile hair. Structurally it is not very strong. So imagine this, if your natural color is a very dark brown…lifting 4-6 (or more) levels is going to severely weaken your hair!
Save yourself the heartache of watching your hair break and deteriorate. Call a pro! Make sure said pro is a licensed professional with color experience (and images to prove it!).
p.s. Coloring your hair also means you must change your shampoos to being sulfate free. Even if it’s “all natural.”
4. The Green House Effect (aka Deep Conditioning w/Cap)
This term really tickles me because most professionals call this a “deep conditioning treatment with a cap.” That’s all this is. No magic. Heat opens the cuticles slightly. If your conditioner contains some organic oils or other materials that the fiber can absorb…then this is wonderful. Otherwise, if your conditioning product isn’t doing its job in 20 minutes, then it is a cheaply made conditioner and a huge waste of your time.
5. Shampooing Once a Week:
I have gotten a ton of new clients in 2012, and their chief complaint is that “my hair is dry!” I will then ask them about their routine; what they are using and how frequent their shampoo & conditioner rhythm is. Most ladies are simply washing too frequently.
Commercial shampoos contain surfactants (chemically designed cleansers) that are designed to attach to dust and oil molecules and then be removed by water. There are glands in your skin that respond to this rhythm by producing a lipid (fat) called Sebum (pH of 4.5). In a healthy head of hair, the glands take about 3-5 days to reproduce this sebum at a rate that will not only calm the skin, but condition the hair closest to your scalp (within a half-inch or so). If you are washing every 7 days, you are telling those glands to increase the supply of this lipid to your scalp and skin. Some people’s scalp responds accordingly, mainly those who are using more organic shampoos that are created with saponins (natural, non lab created cleansers).
However, those who are using chemical detergents (yes, even of the sulfate free variety) will still end up stripping away too much of the Sebum before it has a chance to adequately calm the skin and hair. What I have found is irritated and itchy scalps, flare ups for my eczema clients, and overly dry ends for everyone! Rinse your hair as often as you want, but save the actual use of chemical shampoo for every 10 days or so. You will see vitality and suppleness return to your strands right away.”
Have you followed any of this advice and had adverse effects before? Do you prefer to get your hair done by a licensed professional, or do you do your hair yourself and follow the advice of bloggers and online experts? Tell me what you’re going through!