Saturday, May 11, 2013

Weekend Wonderings: Increasing the moisturizing power of a conditioner and frizzy vs. curly hair

In this post on basic conditioner recipes, Kate asks: I've been making your Basic Rinse Off Conditioner (Daily version with 4% BTMS-50, 2% Cetyl and 92.5% Water) for two months now and i like it! But I would like to know: what's your opinion about adding 5% oil and reduce water content to make the formula more moisturizing? 

You can easily add 5% oil to a conditioner recipe as the Incroquat BTMS-50 or Ritamulse BTMS-225 or other quaternary cationic compound is an emulsifier, meaning it will allow oil and water to come together and stay together in a homogenized or uniform way. The question is - do you really want to add oils to your conditioner?

We think when we have dry hair that we need more oils, but oftentimes what we need are film formers, which will trap moisture in, or humectants, which will draw water from the atmosphere to our hair and offer moisturization. Oils can be an awesome addition to a conditioner - especially something like coconut oil, which we know has an affinity for our hair proteins - and they can behave as film formers, but they aren't really moisturizers. They aren't adding moisture to your hair, only trapping in what is already there. Consider adding a hydrolyzed protein (hydrolyzed silk proteins or amino acids tends to be a good one for dry hair as is Phytokeratin, which is soy, corn, and wheat proteins) or humectant, like glycerin, propylene glycol (or another glycol), or Honeyquat, which does double duty as a humectant and a cationic polymer to condition your hair. Don't go over 6% in a rinse off conditioner or 3% in a leave-in conditioner for any of these things because you don't want the stickiness that generally accompanies these ingredients. As always, start low and work your way up to see if you like the ingredient.

If you do want to add oils, 5% is probably more than enough for most hair types. (Heck, 1% can be more than enough for oily hair types!) Add it to the heated oil phase of your product.

Related posts:
Hair care section of the blog! Lots and lots of recipes for conditioners there!

In this post on Conditioners: Humectants and frizz, Fire Fox comments: Frizzy hair is not a hair type, I assume you mean wavy/ curly. Frizz is just waves or curls that have been subjected to the wrong products or haircare techniques. I appreciate you don't mean anything by it but subtly negative comments like that help perpetuate the myth that wavy/ curly hair is always poufy or frizzy and needs hardcore 'taming' (AKA straightening) to make it pretty. Plenty of curly girls use humectants to tame pouf and frizz depending on the dew point and the porosity of their hair, also to help the hair hold moisture. Ingredients commonly found in curly hair products or used in DIY include glycerin, aloe, honey and propylene glycol.

I'm a frizzy haired girl, not a curly girl. (Frizzy hair is a hair type.) My hair hasn't been subjected to the wrong techniques or products and it isn't curly - it's frizzy. It absorbs water causing the hair shaft to swell, which causes the frizz. It isn't curly hair and I don't benefit from the suggested ways of treating that hair type. I have no idea where you arrived at the idea that I suggest any type of straightening or "taming" because I don't advocate either, although I'm not really sure what you mean by taming. I suggest using anti-frizz products to keep one's hair from being too poofy. (I have a feeling you've only ever read this post or very few posts on the blog based on a few of your assumptions. I encourage you to read further to get a sense of my writing style and philosophy.)

If a frizzy haired girl wants to use humectants, that's her choice, but they aren't advised for our hair type at all. Using these ingredients can cause damage to the hair strand that can lead to breakage. If you look at any product intended for frizz, you will see a dearth of the ingredients you mention. They are counter indicated for frizzy hair due this hair shaft swelling, which leads to increased friction and damage. Humectants are not a frizzy girl's best friend! What is suggested for frizzy hair is to keep water out using silicones like cyclomethicone or dimethicone or silicone alternatives. Take a look at any "smoothing" product, and you'll see these ingredients come up time and time again because they really work well!

Frizzy hair is not curly hair - curly hair can be frizzy, but frizzy hair isn't necessarily curly - so the suggested methods you suggest for caring for it aren't the same as what you might use for curly hair.

I admit I was upset about the statement that I was making "subtly negative comments" about frizzy hair. I need to make it very clear that I do not think the only way frizzy hair can be pretty is when it is "tamed". I honestly have no idea what this word means as I can't remember using it in a post ever, let alone about frizzy hair. I'm a bit confused about this whole comment because I am a frizzy haired girl who uses products to reduce frizz because hair that contains a lot of water can become damaged as the hair strands swell and rub against each other, and we know that friction can cause damage. (Click here for that post.) I don't straighten my hair - I tried it once and it was a lot of work for a result that lasted maybe three hours - so I'm confused about this statement as well. 

As an aside, I'm not sure why hair care is such a contentious issue. The meanest comments I've ever seen directed at me were about hair care. (I'm not saying this was a mean comment, but I'm not happy with the implication that I made "subtly negative comments".) People misinterpret what I say in posts about hair care all the time - the one above has many many inaccuracies - and the reason I've asked for no anonymous posts was due to the attacks upon me in the post on cleaning one's hair with baking soda. If you feel I'm wrong, approach me assuming I want to learn and want to know more. (Check out this post on how to approach me if you think I'm wrong.) The goal of this blog is to share information, and the last thing I want to do is share the wrong information!

If you have a Weekend Wondering, visit this post and share your thoughts. I check all the published comments from the past week when writing these posts, but I check there first! Join me tomorrow when we look at a few Back to Basics Weekend Wonderings!


Alexis said...

"...leading to the poofy poodle look!"

I'm going to say that those words are probably what caused the "subtly negative comments" reference. Being someone who is curly, frizzy and straight, I can definitely get the poofy poodle look in the most bizarre way!

But for some people those words are hot buttons. We know there are long histories in every nation, current or long past, where one culture demeans another, and differences in appearance seems to be the starting place with religion being a close second. What many people don't realize (or perhaps don't want to acknowledge) is that it truly goes both ways - meaning it's not necessarily the "dominant" culture that only does the demeaning.

You can tell the comment was emotionally driven. I've never read the exact word "taming" on your blog, but someone who is sensitive might consider any method that stops frizz as a form of taming, especially if he/she has been nagged to death about his/her hair being too big, which really is a matter of opinion as to whether that's a good or bad thing (assuming the hair's not being damaged).

Context is extremely important. Perhaps the person who left the comment wasn't taught that....

miss informed said...

Hi! I'm a long time reader of your blog, but this is the first time I'm commenting.

how would you define frizzy hair?
You have that very helpful diagram about hair follicle shape and curliness - what would a frizzy hair follicle look like?

i've often heard that "only curly hair can get frizzy" but i know this is not the case, as i have pretty straight hair that definitely can frizz up!

Aljonor said...

I am glad for this post because my hair is dry and I added a lot of oils with no great benefits. I recently decided to add film formers and Wow! better results. Thanks Susan I was going to ask you about that. So yes before adding oils, try form formers. I use Peg-8 and marshmallow extract and cyclomethicone. I also use polyquat 44. I am very happy with the results

Mychelle said...

Frizzy is very definitely a hair type! Curly hair benefits from humectants, frizzy hair does not. Curls and frizz are very different types, the hair behaves in different ways. Curly can be frizzy (not always) but frizzy is not always curly. Some people want their curls wild or tamed, but us frizzy-not-curly people want the hair shaft smooth, with bends or without. People are so misinformed about hair chemistry, and those are usually the people who hold so rigidly to their belief systems and become argumentative. I hope that poster and others open their minds and learn so they can become better formularies and hair advocates. I have my doubts.

AV said...

Hmmm..... Personally, I find the term "Frizzy" to be really confusing! Confusing enough that I honestly have no idea whether I have it or not! Would it be possible to have pictures of what you would consider frizzy? I think that could be really helpful for those of use who aren't sure what route to take with our hair care products! (Do I invest in humectants, silicones, neither,both?)

Reenie said...

I think part of the reason some people get upset is because it touches on undelying racial tensions about 'good' hair and 'bad' hair felt by women of African descent, whose hair, if natural and unstraightened, is often unfairly denegrated as frizzy, untamed and generally undesirable.

I suspect that's not what you meant in any way, shape or form, especially as this is not an interpretation that seems to have occured to you, but nonetheless it is an issue felt by many women.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Googlejmage search of frizzy hair!

I've never thought of frizzy hair as being a racial thing. In fact, if you take a look at the pictures above, you'll see it's really a Caucasian thing from the 80s, sometimes brought on by too much back combing, sometimes by humidity!

I know nothing about African hair types, but it would never occur to me to use the word "frizzy" to describe it! Curly, definitely, but never frizzy!

res ipsa loquitur said...

Hi Susan. Love your blog. Thank you for all the info. I am interested in shampoo and conditioner for those of us living in ultra-high humidity places plagued with FRIZZ. I (think) I have read everything you have written about tweaking formula for frizzing hair (I tried before posting). In general, it seems you post formulas and then post-script how to tweak it to be better for frizz-prone hair (get rid of the humectants, add high molecular weight proteins, etc.). I was wondering...if you have or would consider a post of formulas dedicated to products for frizzy hair (shampoo for dry frizzy, shampoo for normal frizzy, conditioner for dry frizzy, etc.) with all your insight into possible substitutions (you could use this polyquat or this other one, or this protein or this other one, etc.).

a post on the science of frizz and the various approaches to treat it (by hair type) would be so great. Thank you for considering it.


(frizzed away in New Orleans)

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Boyce. I've written at length about frizzy hair as that's my hair type. I'm not really sure how much more I could write on the topic, to be honest. Can you be more specific?
Is frizzy hair always dry hair? Just an example, but there are so many more...