October 5, 2010

Some Q & A

I have been a little lax on my blogging. My apologies. No excuse. 

Now, on with the show.

I have a couple things planned today, mostly based around products and product usage. I will be answering some questions that pertain to that subject, so away we go!!!

" Is it true that you should change your shampoo/conditioner every so often, to avoid build-up? 
- Tess Chappell, Edmonton, Alberta.  
This is always an interesting question to answer because part of the answer is yes and part of the answer is no.

It is recommended that you change your shampoo/conditioner every so often but not because of it causing build-up. If you have a good shampoo/conditioner ( in the future called s&c )that is right for your hair, you are rinsing properly and there are no added salts, waxes and such in your product, build up should never be an issue with your s&c. However, just like the rest of your body, your hair needs certain things at different time. Think about it in terms of a car. You are driving a long and suddenly it starts making a sound, you see that the 'change oil' light is on. This means that your car needs oil, so you go out, get some oil and put it in your car. The next day you are driving and you see the 'low fuel' light. You stop at the nearest gas station and put gas in your car because that is what it needs at that time. You wouldn't put oil in your car every time there is an issue with it because it doesn't always need oil.

It is the same with your hair. Sometimes, after a colour for instance, your hair may need protein and re-hydration because colour can pull the moisture out of your hair; However, after a time, your hair needs will change because it has been repaired/your colour has grown out/etc...Your hair may not need extra protein and re-hydration, it may instead need a great cleansing shampoo and a light conditioner to get rid of tangles. This is why it may sometimes feel like there is a build up on your hair and why people feel that their s&c are no longer working. So, yes, it is good to change your s&c periodically based on your hair's needs.

" What is a good way to tame fly-away hair? My hair is so fine, it kind of sticks up all over the place! I don't like to use a lot of product, but is there something I can use to help? "
- Amanda Mullins, Edmonton, Alberta.

This is a problem that is quite common with finer haired people and many people in dryer climates, like Alberta! Unlike people with coarser hair who can use almost any product on the market without their hair being weighed down and looking greasy, fine hair with flyaways presents two problems.
1. Keeping the hair from fluffing up all over.
2. Not weighing the hair down, making it look greasy.

Luckily there are a bunch of solutions to solve problem #1 without causing problem #2.


The first thing to look at, especially if you do not like using a lot of product, is your s&c. A lot of s&c's for fine hair actually encourage the hair to puff up because that is what many fine haired clients are wanting. This is great if you are going to be styling your hair on a regular basis and using other products, but if you are not, then this now becomes an issue. If product is not your thing, I suggest staying away from the volumizing and thickening s&c's ( Unless your hair is thinning, in which case you should be using products designed specifically for that, if that is a concern ) If your hair is coloured, you want to go with a light s&c for colour treated hair, but be careful you are not getting anything that has super conditioning in it as that will weigh the hair down and make it flat and greasy. Most professional s&c's are formulated to be safe for colour treated hair. A particular product I recommend in this case would be the Alojoba s&c from Bumble and Bumble. This combination has the great properties of aloe and jojoba, both great for repairing the hair without being too heavy.

If you have a s&c that you love already and just want a simple styling product to help combat flyaway hair or if you want to combat them on the days that you do not wash your hair, then there are a couple options. In this case, I always recommend sprays as opposed to creams or serums. Why? you may ask. It is not that the product would not work well, in fact they work great! It is because many people, myself included at times, tend to over use products, especially products that are put into the hands first. Saying a tiny drop will do only works for the first week or so and then we forget and go back to the much larger drop of product in our hands. Sprays also tend to distribute more evenly throughout the hair so you don't end up with a clump of product in the front of your hair and none in the back.

So, what products work for this? Light hairsprays ( and I mean light!! ), spray waxes ( but used sparingly ) and dry shampoos. I love the Does It All hairspray from B&B ( yes, I love my B&B )
It has a great light hold and also works well with your heat styling tools if you decide you want to curl your hair. Multi-use products = win. A dry shampoo is also an option in this case, especially if you are a wash every second or third day person. Dry shampoos help soak up any excess oils in the hair and scalp, helping the hair feel clean without stripping anything away, it is also nice because it adds some grit and weight to the hair without greasiness, keeping those flyaways in check. 

Can you please tell me how hard and soft water affect the health and structure of hair and scalp (as related to hair grown/falling out)? 

- Linda Stevens, Crossfield, Alberta

I grew up most of my teenage years on an acreage just outside of Brandon, Manitoba. We had hard water. We didn't drink it but we bathed in it and washed our clothes in it and I distinctly remember my white volleyball uniform coming out yellow after washing it. So, needless to say, hard water will do the same to your hair. Blonds have a particularly hard time with hard water turning their ashy, natural blonds into golden locks. It is frustrating to be sure. The best thing to help prevent and counter act this would be a two product solution. The first being getting a toning s&/or c. These s&cs help balance out unwanted pigments in the hair, in this case, yellow, but depositing small amounts of a complimentary colour ( remember the colour theory blog? ), in this case purple. The second solution would be to once a week clarify any hard water build up with a clarifying shampoo followed by a hydrating conditioner.
To answer this question specifically though, I need to go further then the colour of hair. Hard and soft water are on opposite ends of the spectrum. On the high end you have hard water which contains a high percentage of minerals and metals ( ours had copper, hence the orange/yellow tone ) where as soft water has virtually none. They each prevent different problems to hair and scalp.

Hard water, which contains lots of minerals and metals, tend to dry our the hair and scalp and create a build up of hard minerals on the hair which generally makes it hard for any conditioning products to enter and hydrate the hair. This is also true of the scalp, where build up can clog hair follicle leading to the hair bulbs suffocating and dying, leaving your head with one less hair follicle to grow hair out of. If this happens enough, you may find yourself with very thin hair. Itchiness and flaking on the scalp is also a common issue caused by the same drying effect. Curly haired people may find that their beautiful curly hair has now become a frizzy, kinky mess and this is also due to the drying effect. The solution??? Clarifying Shampoos followed by a hydrating shampoo and intense hydrating masque.

Sunday shampoo

Quenching Masque

The reason we are using two shampoos is simple. The clarifying shampoo will remove the build up on the hair, cutting through the mineral deposits and leaving your hair clean and naked. The hydrating shampoo will add much needed moisture while still gently cleansing any left over stuff out of the hair. The masque continues the hydration but to the EXTREME!!! It adds tons of moisture to the hair, restoring what should be there in the first place. I also suggest getting your hair wet as little as possible when living with hard water as this will cut down on the amount of minerals being deposited.

And now for soft water. Soft water has the opposite effect of hard water and one would think that is a good thing, but despite what the saying generally says, you can get too much of a good thing. The biggest problem with soft water is that it makes the hair soft, lacks any minerals and doesn't cleanse or rinse the hair properly. Lets start with the soft part and why that is an issue. Hair that is too soft has very little strength and shape. It just hangs there. It will slip out of elastics and bobby pins, flop flat even after styled and generally just be lazy. It is beyond frustrating to deal with from a stylist point of view and I can only feel sympathy for people trying to work with it at home. The key with soft water and hair is the make sure you are using a very, very light s&c. Anything too moisturizing or softening will only add to the problem. You still need to cleanse the hair and close the cuticle ( which is what conditioner does ) but you don't need to add a tons of extras. Soft water can cause build up in it's own way. Because soft water does not have the minerals in it to rinse product out properly, it tends to leave a build up both on the hair and the scalp, causing similar problems to hard water. The difference being that the hair will feel incredibly soft as opposed to dry and rough. Roughing up the hair is the best way to deal with soft water when styling. Getting a regular colour or highlights will help as it damages the cuticle a little causing hair to stick together more. Another option is to use product to make the hair gritty. Dry shampoos and spray waxes are just the answer for this, even when just putting hair in a pony tail. The products will help your hair grip to whatever you are putting in it. For curly hair, a rough cream with a good hold will do the trick. Thickening sprays, light hair sprays, medium hold creams work great as well for holding hair in pins or bands and for short hair, stick with grittier pomades and clays.

At that's all she wrote, folks.

Have a great night and happy hair days.