Friday, July 12, 2013

Short hair still needs conditioner!

There is an epidemic of hair cutting going on around me right now, and it's freaking me out! Okay, I admit I have issues - the idea of a hair cut just sends shivers through me to the point that I can't watch movies with hair cutting or head shaving in it (ick!) - but I encourage you to really think through something that's going to remove years of growth in a few minutes! (And why does every person I know who has cut their hair short think their hair grows faster than normal? Almost every last one has said this to me!) Okay, back to the topic...

Short haired people - those with slightly over the shoulder or high length hair - still need conditioner. In fact, you probably need it more than those of us with waist length hair. What's your daily routine? I wash my hair every second or third day and let it air dry. A lot of my short haired people wash every day, style with heat by straightening or drying, and use a lot of colours, permanent and temporary. You have to treat your hair with love to prevent it looking like straw!

There are three main ways we damage our hair - subjecting it to too much friction or too much tension or changing the chemistry of our hair.

Mechanical damage, like blow drying, curling, and straightening, are all really quick ways to damage your hair. You're breaking chemical bonds in your hair and could be removing the water inside your hair strand leaving it dry and brittle.

Chemically processed hair - that which has been dyed, bleached, permed, or straightened - is affected more by grooming damage than virgin hair, meaning there's more impact on your hair when you dry, straighten, or curl it, and it can even break off at the weak points. Processed hair tends to be more hydrophilic than virgin hair, so it wants to attract water. This is normally a good thing - water equals moisture - but this can lead to the cuticles lifting, which causes more mechanical damage. We know conditioning is a huge part of keeping our hair in good condition, but when our hair is hydrophilic our lovely oils, silicones, and conditioning agents aren't attracted to our hair and won't stay there as they're looking for a hydrophobic surface. So it's harder to repair the damage we've caused!

And don't think that using henna or temporary dyes helps you avoid dye damage. In fact, they might be a little worse because they swell the hair strand by depositing colour on the strand, instead of in the strand, and this increases friction! 

How does conditioner work to minimize damage? Cationic quaternary compounds increase the lubricity, static control, and combability (is that a word?) of your hair. It's always a good thing to have extra moisturization in your hair, increasing the water content on the hair fibre. By increasing the lubricity, you're reducing the force required to comb your hair, meaning fewer breakages and less static electricity on the surface. As well, by using something that coats your hair strand, you're keeping the precious water from inside from boiling out when you use something like a curling or straigthening iron. It makes hair more supple and able to withstand these constant assaults against it.

Our goal is to have hair in good condition, meaning hair that is easy to comb (relatively speaking), it's free of fly-aways, and it's lustrous and manageable, meaning it feels nice to the touch and generally does what you want it to do. The easiest way to do this is to condition condition condition!

What conditioners should you use? I have more conditioner recipes than you could imagine in the hair care section of the blog, and there will be one you are sure to like. You don't need something heavy - a leave in conditioner will do for some - and you don't necessarily need something containing tons of oils. Oh heck, join me tomorrow as well take a look at some good daily conditioners!


Mychelle said...

Say it loud sister! I, too, have an epidemic of hair cutting going on around me and that short hair needs love and nurturing! I hear the same thing about faster growth. It doesn't grow any faster they just notice the growth more. I have very long hair and who notices a half an inch when it's down your back, kwim? Fun observation: I have a damaged spot where I was burned with a flat iron last year (like your drimmel spot) and its kind of fun to measure my hair growth by it. It's grown almost exactly half an inch per month, like almost all of us.

Carol said...

I remember when I was trying to grow my hair long, all these people kept telling me to get it trimmed regularly, "it will grow faster". Humph, all I got was short hair. I just stopped going to the hair dresser. Now I finally have long hair. I do like to get it trimmed every now and again. All the hair dressers love my hair and ask what I do. I laugh on the inside because I don't "do" anything, just let it grow, wash and condition it. They all look at me funny when I used to tell them I don't wash my hair every day. As if I'm being gross of something.

I keep wanting to make one of your conditioners, but alas, other things pop up when I make my supply run. I will get to it one day. :) LOL

Tara said...

I am SOOO regretting cutting all my hair off earlier this year! I was getting a little tired of it always getting caught in my purse strap, always getting it yanked by something, etc. It DOES grow in better however when you cut off a damaged spot, like you mentioned. But now I am back to growing it again, and I never get trims more often than twice a year!

Tina said...

I have been reading your blog for a little while now and just made my first conditioner with BTMS and a little oil from a recipe I found and adapted. So now my Q is - what is the big difference between a cream and a hair conditioner? Seems to me they are much a like? I know you dont have my recipe, but in generel terms?
I saw you also had a very basic recipe with just BTMS and water and started wondering cause wth a few oils (low content) and a bit of glycerine the ingredients are close to those of a lotion?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Tina! I responded to your comment in this Monday Wonderings post. Short answer - not much difference at all!