The Natural Haven Magazine

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THE NATURAL HAVEN Science and Natural Hair April 2011, Edition 1

HAIR BREAKAGE Blame it on you!

SIZE MATTERS Protein Conditioners

CALM DOWN Breakage happens!

STRANGE BUT TRUE Trimming for longer hair


THE SPLIT END EDITION Dealing with the great divide

Discover coconut oil today Find out how it protects your hair before and after washing. Read other users experiences and find out how best to use it. Learn the fingertip method!

Visit the science and hair blog! Image Credit: Robert Wetzlmayr (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike)

THE NATURAL HAVEN Science and Natural Hair

Published by The Natural Haven

Copyright All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Views and opinions by contributors may not represent views of the publisher. Disclaimer All information presented here is not a substitute for professional advice for example use of certain products when pregnant or in the case of allergies. About The Natural Haven I am a scientist with natural hair! I present scientific information from journals and books. My aim is to provide as much free well researched information and help women (and men!) get unbiased information on hair maintenance, growth and hair products!

CONTENTS 04 INAUGURAL ISSUE Editor’s Welcome The Basics 06 HAIR BREAKAGE Can you really be 100% break free? 08 WHY IS MY HAIR BREAKING Erm...because of you? 10 CAN YOU MEND DAMAGED HAIR? How far can conditioner take you?

The Fixes 12 SIZE MATTERS Learn the difference between Amino Acids and proteins 16 STRANGE BUT TRUE Trimming for longer hair. Get the best results. How much and How Often 18 SPLIT ENDS What happens if you can’t see them? 19 HENNA MAGIC? Can it really repair split ends?

04 | Editor’s Welcome

THE NATURAL HAVEN Special Editions April 2011-Issue 1 Is Cotton or Silk better for your hair? Join the discussion at The Natural Haven.

This is the first of a few special editions to come. I have been wondering how best to compress all the blogs that I have done over the last few years into a simple and easy to read format. This little publication is in a handbag sized magazine style. I have thoroughly enjoyed making it and I sure do hope you will love reading it. This special edition is devoted to hair breakage. Here I report and discuss at length pretty much everything that could cause split ends. Naturally it would only be half a story if I could not also highlight what you can do to help stop the damage. Anyway if this is the first you are hearing about The Natural Haven (where have you been?!). Ok, I’m just joking (not really) but I am a scientist and I am obsessed with hair. Make sure you stop by the blog and check us out some time. We are a fun bunch of people and if you are somewhat unduly fascinated by hair, you are more than welcome to join the discussion!


Blogs to Read | 05

Adoptive Mom Katie has the ultimate kid’s hair blog. Her two darlings are from Ethiopia and have very different hair textures (can I say textures?). Follow her styling adventures and her new superb Fun Friday features which is the perfect mix of silly pictures to really give your weekend a boost. Also check out her hairstyle gallery which features her creative styling on the gorgeous girls Little B and Little R!

06 | Breakage

HAIR DAMAGE really is necessary and expected

Do you worry about damaging your hair a lot? Well, relax a little, some hair damage is necessary. Necessary? Yes, I said necessary. I get a lot of emails from readers worried about damage from 1. Washing hair too much / Not washing hair enough 2. Worrying about washing hair post exercise / Not washing hair post exercise 3. Combing too much / Not combing hair enough 4. Damage from bunning hair / Damage from not bunning hair

In my opinion, hair damage is getting a little too much of the spotlight. The fact is, that in the process of preserving your hair, you will damage it. The idea is not prevent all damage but rather to minimise it. It is simply not possible to be completely damage free. Why is it not possible to be damage free? A process as simple as shaking hair in water leads to small amounts of protein being lost from the hair. (J Soc Cosmet Chem, pp 163175, 1993). Can you now think just how much more is done when you add friction from rubbing in shampoo or rubbing down conditioner or brushing?

Breakage | 07

How worried should you be about hair damage?

1. Washing - coconut oil pre wash and sectioning very curly or thick hair

You can guarantee that your hair is damage free if you are not touching or washing your hair at all and living permanently in a very dark room (sunlight too damages hair!). Can you envision this life and would you like it?

2. Drying - finger combing, air drying and t-shirt drying

It is my opinion that we need to have a healthy relationship with damage. In other words, accept that processes to care for our hair will damage our hair to some extent but this is necessary in order for us to maintain our hair in good condition. I have also discussed previously in depth how we can help minimise the damage during these processes.

Do bear in mind, we are minimising not eliminating damage!

Examples of these include:

3. Combing and Styling - tackling split ends, less tension when styling

How much washing is too much? Only you know the answer - You can see evidence of damage (physical such as more hair loss than normal, psychological such as frustration with styling time etc). Ultimately, you are the captain of the ship. Find a way to make yourself happy with your hair routine.

08 | Causes of Hair Breakage


Cause of Hair Breakage | 09

Hair breakage is a hot topic. Most of us now understand that our hair does grow at a reasonable rate and the reason why it may not gain length is because it breaks. A very common question is 'why does my hair break'

towel drying, flat ironing and stretching. The less cuticle you have, the more likely you are to get split ends and the breakage that comes along with that (J Soc Cosmet Chem, pp 155175, 1978).

My very scientific answer is......because you broke it.

3. Stretching Hair

Why is breakage your fault? With the exception of medical conditions, hair is NOT inherently fragile. It can withstand plenty of force but each pulling or grabbing motion gradually weakens the strand. Therefore hair breakage arises when sufficient damage has been done to stop the hair’s ability to withstand the force. 1. Force During Combing Combing is the top reason for hair breakage as using a comb can cause hair to tangle (J Soc Cosmet Chem, pp 21-43, 1984). Tangling causes more force to be applied to the comb which causes the hair to snap. The solution that many of us employ is combing when hair is wet and has conditioner on it. However this is a double edged sword as although the hair is easier to comb it is also weaker than when dry. Hair must be treated much more gently whenever it is wet. 2. Not taking Care of Your Hair Cuticle Your hair cuticle is the first line of defence. It is NOT responsible for the strength of your hair but it is a shield for the cortex which is responsible for strength (J Soc Cosmet Chem, pp 59-67, 1991). It can be damaged by several processes including combing,

I recently made an observation that hair when stretched appeared to straighten up and revert back to curly when water was applied. I therefore went on a hunt to understand what happens when we stretch hair. Stretching is actually quite similar to straightening. Cracks can form in the hair and the surface of the hair (cuticle) is affected (J Soc Cosmet Chem, pp 21-43, 1984). Stuff that isn't your fault If your hair has a large number of kinks (mine does), the kink represents an area of weakness. This is as opposed to hair that is curly but not kinky. This does not mean you get a pass though. If your goal is to gain length then you must be even more gentle to preserve the hair. What to do and look out for 1. Pain when combing. 2. Tiny little curls (usually less than quarter of an inch). 3. Snapping noise. 4. Don't comb through tangles. 5. Minimise handling of hair (i.e comb it only to detangle, stop playing with it after styling). 6. When stretching hair, watch out for it actually becoming straight. Keep some curl in it. The correct question to ask is 'What did I do to break my hair?'

10 | Repairing Damaged Hair


Nicole asks, ‘Can heat damaged hair be nurtured back to health? Some parts of my coily tresses have begun to straighten. I think the last flat iron I received was too hot. Certain areas of my hair just don’t feel the same. Is this reversible?' Is heat damage reversible?

Repairing Damaged Hair | 11

I hate to say it to you Nicole but unfortunately, the answer is no, it is not reversible. If you have soaked your hair in water and the curl has not returned, unfortunately, it is not coming back. You do have to soak your hair in water to get it back to its original moisture level. If you use very high heat unfortunately the protein in the hair can literally melt.

Really just hair conditioner?

Melting hair!

2. Fatty alcohols such as stearyl alcohol and surfactants such as behentrimonium chloride can adsorb (meaning temporarily stick) onto hair and patch up the cuticle.

Tests on wool (Adv Exp Med Biol, pp 329344, 1977) which is made up from the same protein as hair (keratin) show that at 160-175 degrees Celsius (320-347F), hair already begins to deform permanently. However it can still return to a similar appearance when wetted. Above these temperatures, hair actually begins to melt meaning that the hair can never regain its original texture. This does not just apply to curly hair either, it applies to all hair subjected to the heat including wavy or straight hair. Can any other type of damage be fixed? Not really and not permanently (Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, pp 263-286, 1987). For natural hair, damage is usually in three main forms: 1. Washing and combing will cause damage to the cuticle. Naturally the more gentle you are, the less damage you do. 2. Bleaching or permanently colouring your hair will lift or break part of the cuticle. 3. Weathering - the older your hair, the less cuticle layers it has, the more damaged it will be. Your main way to repair this damage is with conditioner.

Conditioner contains a variety of agents which are particularly attracted to areas of damage. For example 1.Silicones are particularly temporarily fixing split ends.



However, all of these ingredients will wash out eventually. The only remedy for damaged hair is to cut off the damage and let the hair regrow.

012 | Protein Conditioners

Size MATTERS Get the best from protein conditioning

Protein Conditioners | 13

What are they?

Is all protein equal

Protein conditioners are marketed as an answer to damaged breaking hair. This is often directed at chemically treated hair (relaxed or permed) and to bleached or colour treated hair.

A common homemade and ‘all natural’ alternative that is often seen in DIY hair masks is eggs. Mayonnaise which also contains eggs is another alternative.

However, non colour treated natural hair is usually left out the picture as it is regarded as undamaged hair. In truth all hair looses protein over time mainly through tiny chips and breaking of the cuticle. Natural hair although free from chemically induced damaged is likely to suffer from towel drying and combing damage and in this case some protein could help alleviate breakage.

However, eggs are a little bit of a red herring. Yes, the egg white is packed full of protein but when it comes to hair and repairing damage, the size of the protein really really matters. Filling the hole Size matters because in order to patch up the cuticle as is required, the protein needs to be of a suitable size such that it can fit into the gap.

014 | Protein Conditioners

What are the different sizes? Amino acids: the little guys Proteins are made up from single units known as amino acids. There are about 20 naturally occuring amino acids. Proteins: the big guys In order to form a protein several hundred to several thousand amino acids have to be linked together. Hydrolysed Proteins: not little not large Hydrolysed (also hydrolyzed) proteins are proteins which have been broken up into smaller fragments but not into the amino acids (i.e bigger than an amino acid but much smaller than a protein). This process is done with enzymes or acids.

So why are hydrolysed proteins the correct size? This is because to be useful, the protein has to adsorb (yep with a D) to hair. Adsorb means the protein sticks to and forms temporary bonds with the hair. Very large protein simply can't form these bonds reliably. Amino acids on the other hand tend to be very soluble in water so you can expect that you will remove majority of whatever you put on once you rinse your hair. With damaged hair, very small hydrolysed protein (known as peptide fragments) can also be absorbed - yes this can penetrate through to the cortex and be deposited in the hair shaft (Journal of Cosmetic Science, pp 69-87, 1993).

Protein Conditioners | 15

Final notes Just before moving on, let me just say that even hydrolysed protein has an ideal size for use. For hydrolysed collagen protein for example, this is a molecular weight of 2000 (Book reference - Conditioning agents for hair and skin By Randy Schueller, Perry Romanowski). For hydrolysed wheat protein this is around 5000-10000 ( Book reference - Principles of Polymer Science and Technology in Cosmetics and Personal Care By Errol Desmond Goddard, James V. Gruber).

The problem is that I have not seen a single protein conditioner actually state the molecular weight. However hydrolysed protein on the bottle is at least an indication that the size of the protein could be useful. As far as the egg story goes, the egg white/egg albumin has a molecular weight of approximately 33000- 40000 (The Journal of Biological Chemistry, pp 189-193, 1939). Unfortunately, I can't find a reference for hydrolysed egg albumin size but I would strongly suspect that the protein directly from the egg itself would not be useful as it is far too large.

16 | Trimming


Trimming could allow your hair to attain a longer length. Does that sound strange, perhaps even counter-productive?

First we must recall that the cuticle is not just one layer, it has 5 to 7 layers on average when emerging from the scalp.

Well it actually is true! My fellow lab rats discovered that hair will grow until it reaches a critical length when it appears to grow slowly or not at all (Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, pg 155-75, 1978).

As the hair grows from scalp to tip, the damage to the cuticle increases because the hair at the tip is older and has been subjected to more torture (combing,wetting, drying, roller setting, heat setting........etc).

To understand why this happens, I will start by explaining why hair starts to taper (meaning the strand becomes thinner as it gets farther away from the scalp).

As each of these layers peel off, less of the cuticle is left behind. Cutting the tip of the hair (i.e oldest hair) off may be an excellent way to possibly trigger a new longer length.

Trimming | 17

So why trim hair if you want longer hair? When the cuticle layer (outside covering of the hair) is thinned down, it no longer offers as much protection to the internal cortex. The hair at the end therefore becomes a split end hot spot (see the diagram).

After the first trim, you can choose to let the hair grow and trim as little or as much as you like. If you are interested in getting to a new longer length then logically, you have to trim less than your hair grows. If you work on the half an inch a month growth rate, then cutting half an inch every 3 to 4 months may be logical.

How much hair should be trimmed? A: The first trim depends on damage. All thinning ends ideally should be cut off, this could be an inch or it could be 5 inches. Naturally it is a very personal decision if the hair cut could result in a significant appearance change which you may not be comfortable with, you can choose to be more conservative and just do several small chops. How often should hair be trimmed?

How do I know my hair has been trimmed enough? A: I can only give a subjective answer to this question. I would say that after a trim, if you notice many split ends soon after, say 2 weeks later, then you probably did not trim enough. If you trimmed enough, your hair should not split as much or as often as before (at least this is my theory!)

18 | Self Help: Trimming

Finding Split Ends

If you are unable to see split ends (or even if since hair does not grow at the same speed. It you are), your hair will still indicate to you is very possible to have much longer hair at the whether it is damaged or not. back than the front or vice versa. There is a simple heat free method to 'see' split ends. This involves braiding hair in small-ish sections (around a square inch or so) and then checking to see if the ends taper or not A few notes on the process 1. Tension: You should braid with approximately the same tension. Don't increase the tension as you go along or you may get a false result.

3.Styling: If your hair has been cut into layers or weighted (thinned out in sections), this method is not useful for you unless you are growing out the layers and would be happy to loose the longer lengths.

4. Long hair: Hair around the 12-18 inch mark and longer has a tendency to taper not because of split ends but rather because of normal wear. You can still use the method above but must make your own judgement call 2. Sections: Small sections are necessary on how much you wish to cut

Henna | 19

Quick Fire Questions Can Henna Repair Split Ends? Henna contains the chemical lawsone which binds to the outer surface of hair. Lawsone is the reason why henna can dye hair. Lawsone is a very tiny particle and it is deposited onto the surface of hair. It is not large enough to fill cracks or voids in the hair. So unfortunately when it comes to split ends the only permanent remedy is a pair of sharp scissors!

THE NATURAL HAVEN Science and Natural Hair April 2011, Edition 1


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