4C Hot Oil Treatment Vs. Pre-Shampoo Treatment

Pre-shampoo treatments and hot oil treatments are pretty much the same. Hot oil treatments came out first, many decades ago, and involve heating the oil in a double burner before applying it to dry hair.

You can heat a pre- poo oil treatment, but the modern way is to drench your hair in oil then use steam to help it penetrate.

This is a more relaxing treatment with a bonus: you’re less likely to burn yourself with that hot oil.

Many thanks to Sophie O’Kelley at Vegamour for including my insight about hot oil treatments in her article on the same. Pre-shampoo treatments are optional additions for type 2 hair routines. But ohhhh they are indispensable for type 4 hair.

Why is that? Check out my natural 4C hair care guide to find out.

It’s Spring! Try a Temporary Hair Color- No Damage

A big thank you to Merrell Readman of SheFinds and M. Davis-McAfee over on Suggest for quoting me about hair dyes. Being a hair expert is part of my work at The Right Hairstyles.

Davis-McAfee’s article talks about what hair experts wish you knew about hair dye. I mentioned temporary colors, but I’d like to add that if you have dry hair, don’t use semi-permanent or permanent dye. Just don’t. Both penetrate the hair shaft and cause changes to the hair structure that dry or damaged hair might not be able to handle.

Solution? Temporary hair color that sits on top of the hair structure only.

How can I temporarily dye my hair without dying it

There are a few ways you can dye your hair without semi-permanent, demi-permanent or permanent dyes and bleach:

Henna

You can use henna. The henna market has come a long way in the past several years but is still restricted to shades of brown, red and black. Henna penetrates the cuticle layer of the hair only and dyes it. It’s still a semi-permanent color as it fades some over a six-month period, and you have the option to retouch the roots.

Your hair might feel a little dry after you use henna, but that is normally due to residual henna left on the hair. After a few washes, the dryness decreases and moisture can still get in and out of the hair shaft. Plus, henna strengthens the hair. If you’re interested, have a look at these three companies. 

Henna Color Lab

The Henna Guys

Lush

Temporary hair colors

If you want to express yourself with pastels or a rich purple, say, go for temporary hair colors. These have also evolved. They started out as temporary hair color sprays and chalks. Those are still around. But now a lot of women with natural hair are using temporary colors, which means they are non-drying. There are temporary hair color wax, gel and cream to suit your application tastes and hair texture and all are moisturizing right out of the jar. 

Does temporary hair dye damage your hair?

Temporary hair dye can damage your hair if it’s drying, like hair spray color that’s temporary and colored chalk. There are some people who can’t do with anything drying at all or their hair become brittle and snaps right off. So if you’re one of those people, check out some of the new creams, gels and waxes on offer that can have you colored up for spring without dryness.

Unlike natural henna, these temporary dyes contain chemicals. But they don’t adhere firmly to the hair cuticle, they only coat it. They wash right out in your next wash, as long as your hair isn’t too porous or dyed previously. They’re not designed to enter the hair shaft or re-color the protein inside your hair. But again, if you’ve had another dye job or your hair is overly porous due to chemical processing, a temporary hair color might actually get inside your hair and do some staining.

Can I oil my hair after I colour it (or what does aftercare look like)

You can’t oil your hair or the product will slide off. What you can do is apply gel to seal it and cause less color transfer. If the weather is hot or you work out, don’t apply the color close to your roots, or you’ll be a sweaty purple or pink mess. Sleep with a bonnet so there is no color transfer to your sheets. If it gets on your clothes, wash them immediately.

Best temporary hair color that pops on dry hair

Ready? All these work on dark hair, so there is no need for bleached hair or blonde hair before you get started. Why do I make an assumption that the better the product is packaged the more thought went into the formulation? I don’t know, and that’s probably not fair. But here we go in order of best packaging. 

Gemini Naturals Get Hued

Gemini carries 13 colors and a Curl Awaken Primer, that is a lightweight leave-in conditioner with an aloe vera base. Each color contains aloe vera, avocado oil, glycerin and castor oil. The dyes are gel-based, so there might be a little crunch after it dries, but that fades. It vegan, can be applied to wet or dry hair. The company says you can use a gel or jojoba oil to seal the color, but it starts to fade after three days. They are all vibrant colors. 

Check them out:

As I Am Curl Colors

As I Am also has 13 colors added to their original line of haircare products. These are gel colors also and give medium hold and good definition. The formulas are boosted with black castor oil and ceramides. These colors improve moisture levels by 83%. 

Check them out:

Curl Fit

Curl Fit are gel colors that the brand says works well to cover even jet black hair. There are 13 shades. (What?) It contains beeswax, which can make it look a little chalky if you don’t use regular gel over it. It also has glycerin, jojoba oil and castor oil. If you have straight hair instead of textured hair, the brand recommends you try the colors for highlighting instead of an all over ‘do.

Check them out:

ORS Curls Unleashed Color Blast

Curls Unleashed Color Blast comes in 21 colors, and they have a try on feature on their website so you can get an idea how the colors will look on your skin tone. The colors are hair waxes and contain beeswax and glycerin. At $10 for 6 oz., they are also the cheapest on this list.

Check them out:

Crown Paint Colors Hair Shadows

There are over 80 shades, neon, metallic…take your pic! The brand says these are not waxes or gels but creams. They contains cocoa butter and shea butter. Crown Paint Hair Shadows work best on hair that’s already light, so you will need two coats to get a vibrant color. If you blow dry your hair, the shades will not come off on your fingers afterwards.

Check them out:

Mysteek Naturals Color Pop

Mysteek has 12 different colors to their hair waxes and the recipe is super simple — beeswax, petroleum jelly and pigment. It’s kid-safe. The color is vibrant even on dark hair and there’s no need to blow dry to set the color as it only sticks to the hair. It’s recommended with this color and most of the colors on this list to use a hair bonnet at night to keep it from staining  your bedding.

Check them out:

DIY your own temporary hair color

Looking at the ingredients of all these, it didn’t look like rocket science to do a DIY. So I mixed a little pastry color powder in a curl pudding. Did it dye? Yes, but it was too dark. A lighter color probably shows up better on dark hair.

The next surprising thing is that it didn’t feel dry at all. It’s an edible color, so maybe that’s why. It gave the pudding a lighter texture that transfers to the hair, making it softer. 

Enjoy your new temporary hair color, however you decide to do it. And let me know how it goes!

Why are pH balancing shampoos important for your hair and scalp?

A big thanks to Emily Beyda at Vegamour for quoting me on the importance of using a pH balanced shampoo: “pH makes a big difference when it comes to closing the hair cuticle. Heat from a warm water shampoo is going to open the cuticle, but you need it closed to minimize frizz and keep the hair moisturized.” She quoted me as part of my work with The Right Hairstyles.

What non-pH balanced shampoo can do to hair cuticles

There are a few other reasons why pH is important when it comes to shampoo formulas and hair products in general, so I wanted to elaborate on that and show more ways shampoo pH can affect the hair. Research published in the International Journal of Trichology talks about how alkaline shampoos increase friction between hair fibers and how these electrostatic charges could lead to cuticle damage, tangling and hair breakage. Frizz is only the immediate concern that shows up when using high-alkaline shampoos for cleansing. But what high pH shampoo can lead to is actually something more serious: damaged hair.

The study goes on to say that less than 40% of shampoos in the consumer market are considered pH-balanced shampoos. That’s downright frightening. Of the shampoos you might find in a hair salon, 70% fall into the ideal range of ph level for hair, between 4.5 and 5.5.

Hair conditioner and harsh shampoos

Using hair conditioner after shampooing with an alkaline solution can decrease some of the electrical charge on the hair fiber surface. A leave-in conditioner works even better in this scenario because presumably it has more time to do its job. But who wants to sort out a matted mane after the hair washing routine in the conditioner phase? Many of us have come to expect a great deal of hard tangles after shampooing, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

An active ingredient that can make alkaline shampoos less irritating

Cationic ingredients added to the shampoo can also help make the alkaline solution less damaging, the Journal says. This is why many shampoos that are made for curly hair contain cationic agents like behentrimonium methosulfate, behentrimonium chloride and cetrimonium chloride. Curly and afro hair have twists and turns, so their tangles are not the same as straight hair tangles. Cationic actives ease the friction from the electrostatic charges between the hair strands that’s caused by the alkalinity of the shampoo. This way the hair detangles easier and isn’t as matted by the time you reach for a conditioner.

Alkaline shampoos and scalp disorders

Photo by Cottonbro via Pexels

pH balancing can help protect the scalp from fungal infections like seborrheic dermatitis, more commonly called dandruff. Shampoo that has a pH above 5.5 can cause scalp irritations and an imbalancing of the scalp. This is part of the reason why so many women with straight hair also have excessively oily hair. Maybe it’s also the reason why those with curly, afro hair have dry scalps. Who knows. 

Alkaline chemical treatments and pH levels

Extremely alkaline products, apart from shampoo, also play a role here. It probably won’t matter much if your shampoo has a pH of 6 if your hair pH level (thehairroutine.com) looks like this:

  • bleached hair (pH 10-11)
  • color-treated hair (pH 7-10.5) relaxed hair (pH 11-13)
  • permed hair (pH 8-9)
  • hair to which you’ve applied baking soda (pH 8)  

A shampoo with a low pH of 4 might help chemically-processed hair, though… a little.

Examples of pH-balancing shampoos

pH balancing shampoos hydrate hair strands by trapping moisture inside the hair shaft. They therefore encourage healthy hair growth by discouraging breakage due to brittleness. Most product labels do not reveal the pH, but the company is required to list it on their material safety data sheets. Camelia Smith at Salon Worthy Hair did an extensive amount of research into what shampoos have pH balancing. Here are some of the popular brand shampoos that feature themselves on her list by virtue of caring about hair health and pH levels in their formulas.

  • AG
  • Acure
  • Alterna
  • Davines
  • Fekkai
  • Joico
  • Olaplex
  • Paul Mitchell
  • GK Hair pH+

Naturally, the list isn’t exhaustive because there are thousands of shampoo brands. Every product produced by these companies isn’t ph-balanced or low pH, only most. Olaplex, in particular is used to help prevent damage from chemical processing like bleaching, so it isn’t surprising that the brand is pH balanced.

How a volumizing shampoo works on the hair shaft

There are times when a high pH or alkaline solution works well as a hair-volumizing shampoo. That’s for those whose tresses are fine and limp. For them, alkaline shampoos cause the hair cuticle to lift so they can have more volume. Still it’s a less than ideal situation for the hair cuticle to be opened by alkaline ingredients. For all hair types, alkaline shampoos can result in poor results with continued use. 

Should you trash your non pH-balanced shampoo?

There are a few things you can try if you want to use the last of an alkaline shampoo and not waste money. If you must use alkaline products, don’t try detangling immediately after using one. Instead, apply hair conditioner and let it sit before detangling with the product in your hair. This will help, but if your hair already has stiff tangles, there will probably still be breakage.

An acidic solution can neutralize the effect of an alkaline shampoo

Probably the best way to neutralize the alkaline level of your shampoo is with an acid like apple cider vinegar. An apple cider vinegar rinse, when used in a solution of 1:3, is an excellent detangler and can also help keep the scalp healthy. It’s cleansing and clarifying, removes excess sebum and can be used as a natural shampoo substitute. Pour it through your tresses and leave it in for a few minutes before rinsing thoroughly. Then use conditioner and detangle with the product still in your hair.

Lemon juice is very drying, so unless you have oily hair, it isn’t ideal to use after shampooing. Coffee has an acidic pH level and the caffeine in it is great for hair growth, but it’s better when restricted to scalp use because coffee residue can also cause friction between the hair fibers, even though it’s an acidic solution.

Basically, ditch the alkaline shampoo as soon as you can and find a low pH or pH-balanced shampoo. Pass this article along, if you can, because the more people that understand ph levels in shampoo, the more the haircare industry is likely to cater to our needs.

Here’s How to Grow Back Your Hair Naturally After Pandemic-Related Hair Loss

Make products? Here’s a writing sample that conveys important information without sounding like an encyclopedia.*
Male androgenic alopecia… but honestly it all goes pretty much the same in the follicle death process. Keep reading. Photo via Univ. of Melbourne Dept. of Medicine

People start losing hair for many reasons, but these days there’s a lot of talk these days about people having hair loss from stress. Yes, Pure D. Stress. Sometimes there’s a background cause like medication, an autoimmune disorder, covid-19, hormonal changes, or Stress’s ugly cousin named Trauma. All of these things can cause premature aging, but who wants to lose hair on top of that?

Stress Hair Loss From the Follicles

Whatever type of hair loss you’re enduring, your scalp went through pretty much the same process to get there. It concerns the little pore-like structures on your head that hold your hair in place – the hair follicles. You might be dealing with traction alopecia or are getting little bald spots from playing with one or two spots in your hair. So here, your hair follicles met Pure D. Stress because of your yanking on them, loudly proclaimed they weren’t going to take it anymore and went to sleep.

The only problem is that while your follicles are in this sleep state, your hair falls out. It’s actually normal that about a hundred hair follicles go into the inactive sleep, or telogen, phase and eventually shed hair. What’s not normal is for two or three hundred to go into telogen at the same time and cause more hair loss than usual. That’s not mechanical stress like when you’re pulling on your hair follicles. Hair loss all over is usually emotional stress – what a lot of us have been dealing with this past year sitting at home alone, or with kids that use you as their entertainment, or with a loved one you can’t stand.

This kind of diffuse hair loss can also be related to trauma from losing family members – not because your follicles dropped strands from pulling your edges back too tight. 

Hair Loss Cycles

Whatever the reason, we need to get your hair follicles kicking again. Get ’em out of bed and doing jumping jacks, or whatever it takes, to produce hair again.

Hair follicles work in cycles. So a follicle will grow new hair, hold on to it for a time, go to sleep and shed it. If you are losing hair, they are holding on to it for a shorter time and going to bed early.

Unfortunately, if they sleep for too long, they can die and can never grow hair again.

Harsh Styling Means Hair Loss, and Sometimes Follicle Death

There are clinical names for hair follicles going from sleeping to dead, like androgenetic alopecia, frontal fibrosing alopecia and central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia. Those last three are forms of hair loss that disproportionately affect women due to strenuous styling practices like:

  1. Repeated tight pulling of the hairline or crown with extensions or weave, and
  2. Years of hair relaxers, perms or hair dyes depositing corrosive chemicals into the hair follicles, and
  3. Extreme heat on the scalp from flat irons and blow dryers.

Some of us engage in all three practices at once… right?

As a warning sign the scalp sheds hair to let you know that what you’re doing is just too much. If you don’t put a stop to it, the hair follicles of the scalp can become inflamed. You won’t see the inflammation, but it keeps the hair from growing at a normal pace, sheds what is there and eventually scars – after which no hair will grow. Yes. Disaster!

Hair Loss Is (Usually Pretty) Gradual

The good news is that, like most other forms of alopecia, the process is pretty gradual – unless your hair is literally coming out in clumps because of chemo or a traumatic episode. Because most types of alopecia boil down to the same problem, inactive hair follicles, the solution is also pretty much the same, too: putting and keeping as many hair follicles as possible in the growth phase. So let’s get to the good news.

How Hair Growth Products Work

I don’t want you going out shopping for minoxidil, but it works. Luckily, there are natural oils that do pretty much what minoxidil does: increase the blood flow to the scalp to keep the hair follicles from going to sleep. There are other oils that work like the hair growth drug finasteride and wake up dormant hair follicles.

I linked some scientific studies below so you know natural stuff is legit, too, and can do pretty much the same things as minoxidil and finasteride. They also don’t have any side effects, are multipurpose and are cost effective. If you’re into natural hair care already, you probably have some of these in your home already. In case you don’t, I restricted the list of oils to what’s readily available.

Growing Your Hair Again

“Wake up!” It’s time for hair follicle jumping jacks.

  • Castor oil or Jamaican black castor oil – mimics the body’s natural hair growth stimulator PGE2.
  • Pumpkin seed oil – even when taken orally, it can increase hair density up to 40% for men suffering from genetic alopecia.
  • Rosemary essential oil – compares well to Minoxidil regarding the rate of growth after six months
  • Peppermint essential oil – works quickly to put more hair follicles into the growth phase.

Natural Substances That Help More Hair to Grow

Your hair follicles need certain building blocks to build hair and help it grow faster. Keratin, which makes up 96% of the hair shaft, can help – that’s if your follicles have more if it available.

Natural Hair Growth Extenders

Sounds kind of like we’re adding extensions here. We’re not! I’m talking about keeping your existing hair in for longer. Our hair follicles hold on to hair for two to six years, normally. The longer it stays, the longer your hair grows. If you’re losing hair, it’s not even lasting for the two year minimum, but falling out before that time. So we need to try to extend the time the hair remains in it’s follicles, and keep the hair follicles from falling asleep prematurely.

US Hair Growth Products

Pumpkin Hair Serum– contains pumpkin seed oil and peppermint @NatHairQueen 

Groganics Head Full of Hair Creme Hair Dress – contains castor oil and peppermint, but the star of Groganics products is pea sprout extract. Pea sprout increases the number of hairs on your head that are in the growth phase. @My_Groganics

UK Hair Growth Products

Creamy Cafe Latte Leave-In Detangle Conditioner – a rich cream that contains castor oil and coffee for to keep your follicles wide awake and functioning like they should @anitagrantllc

TLC Naturals Grow It Caffeine Stimulating Shamoo – it contains caffeine, DHT blockers adn salicylic acid, to combat inflammation.  @tlcnaturals

By Aaron Wallace product line with black seed oil @byaaronwallace

There are so many more. If you make products from some of the ingredients listed here and I missed you, just drop me a line: hairandbeautywriter@gmail.com

And whether you whip up your own or choose something that’s pre-made, I wish you a full head of hair… and less stress in your life!

*Now for my pitch: The above is a sample of my hair care research and writing. It’s written in my own personal voice, but hey, I can mimic yours if I see a sample of your writing. Let someone write for you, because you really don’t have to do Ever-Thing yourself. Need someone to take care of your blog? Drop me a line here: hairandbeautywriter@gmail.com

How to Recreate Lupita’s Hair from Black Panther

Can you get the elegant grace of Nakia’s (Lupita Nyong’o) Black Panther hair? Of course!

Naturally? 100%. And easy, too. Find out how below.

To Look Like Lupita, What Hair Type Works?

Without a doubt, Lupita has type 4c natural hair. This style was created for naps. Yea.

More than that, anyone who’s going to try pulling it off must have very thick hair. Otherwise the knots are going to be spaced further apart, and  you’ll end up with a different look.

I would guess that if you have really thick hair that ranges between 4b and 3c, this style might work out okay, but the results won’t look quite the same as Lupita.

Okay moving on.

What Hair Length Will Give Me This Black Panther Look?

No you don’t have to do a big chop haircut to get this style going on. This is a perfect twa style, but as long as your hair is shorter than neck length, you’re good. Looks like about 5 inches of hair worked nice in Black Panther.

Of course, the longer your hair is, the more volume your knots will have in the end. Nothing wrong there! Length can work to your advantage too if your hair is not super thick.

How To Style My Hair Like Nakia?

Did I say knots above? Yes these are very similar to bantu knots! What makes Nakia’s knots different is that they are installed closer to the scalp, instead of mounting up vertically. .At the same time, they are not kept tightly wound, but are styled somewhere in between knots and a knot-out. Sort of.

How to:

  1. Start on clean hair. Use a styler like natural gel – one that provides hold and sheen without crunch – a natural hair product like Camille Rose Naturals Aloe Whipped Butter Gel.
  2. Section off small sections and form the knots. If you look carefully, Lupita has more than 100 knots in there!
  3. While Black Panther lead stylist Camille Friend told the New York Times that she knotted the hair close to the scalp, the description in the article actually sounds a lot like small pin curls.
    Pin Curl Hairstyles For Short Hair Beautiful Pin Curls on Tapered Natural HairPin curls can be wound like flat bantu knots and secured with a hair pin, as shown above. Alternately, because 4c hair can secure itself, you can try making the knots, by twirling right at scalp level, like Camille Friend says. Then tie the knots down with a scarf to secure them while they dry. 😉
  4. If you want your style to last longer, do this on wet hair.  The PR pics from the movie show how this unique curly hairstyle transforms as the days wear on.

hairnbyutwriter hair lupita-nyongo-black-panther
Day 1 hair.

hairnbyutwriter hair lupita-nyongo-black-panther2
“Day 2” hair. We really don’t know for how many days the style was in, hence the quotations.

hairnbyutwriter hair lupita-nyongo-black-panther3
“Day 3” hair.

Suffice it to say, your hair should look like Day 1 hair when you’re done. It will fluff out on its own in subsequent days, as you can see in the pics. But if you create the fluffed out look initially, the style won’t last as long. That’s up to you.

5. Once your hair is completely dry, remove the scarf or pins. (You can use a hooded dryer to help them dry quicker.)

6. The last step is to take a pick (or tip of a (rat tail) comb, like Camille Friend) and lift the roots gently.

How to Get Nakia’s Black Panther Hair Color, Naturally!

I’m glad the stylist didn’t dye it blue, or I wouldn’t be able to help you here! I promised to deliver this style naturally, and henna can be used to get those deep mahogany highlights. How? With vinegar.

The color step is optional, and more involved, whereas the hairstyle itself is quick and easy. So I put the color routine last instead of first.

  1. Mix henna with apple cider vinegar to form a paste the consistency of mayonnaise.
  2. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for 12 hours in a warm spot.
  3. Uncover and add a few tablespoons of sugar for moisture.
  4. Beat the mixture again. It should be sticky. Let it sit for another hour for the sugar to completely dissolve. You can add essential oils at this stage to help mask the smell, if you like.
  5. Apply to hair in sections. You should have enough henna mixed that your head is completely saturated in it and is a gooey mess. 🙂
  6. Wrap your head in plastic wrap tightly, so no air is allowed in. Keep all that in your head for 12 hours.
  7. Rinse thoroughly and condition but don’t use shampoo. The color continues to develop the next day. So wait a day, then you can use a sulfate-free shampoo.

Again, all that is optional. You won’t need the color highlights to get hair like Black Panther’s Nakia. You’re going to be turning heads anyway, whether it’s mahogany, black, brown, blonde or pink.

Interesting fact? All the styles in Black Panther, including Lupita’s, are actually wigs created by Ms. Friend for the set.

Photo credits: Matt Kennedy/©Marvel Studios 2018

Want an article like this for your natural hair blog? Contact me!