Thursday, November 19, 2009

More on Innovative Approaches to Hair Care: Ochres, non toxic natural stains

This post has been updated 01/01/2014, links only.

There are natural clays that have staining abilities and staying power as pigments. One of these is ochre, which comes in a variety of colours. The pigment is from iron oxides, which are considered to be non-toxic. Iron oxides are used in many cosmetics, including shampoos, conditioners and conventional hair dyes, as well as being used in make-up. There are cautions about inhaling iron oxide dust.

Cosmetic grade iron oxides or cosmetic grade ochres could be used in a paste form with water to deepen the stain and a small amount of a semi-drying oil added, or in a liquid form, (the powder soaked in water to release stain) strained and then applied to hair. Drying oils are used with iron oxides for painting and other applications to make them more resilient. Drying oils can be problematic for hair though, making it difficult to manage and tangle, stressing it, if they are used often and can be hard to remove from the hair without clarifying.

How permanent are such stains? That depends in part on the tap water one uses. Hair can absorb both iron and copper from water and cosmetic products and the stains from either (copper can stain hair green) can be hard to remove. They are not just on the surface of the hair. Do not attempt to use a peroxide containing dye to cover them as peroxide reacts with iron and copper, to create free radicals that cause hair damage.

Coconut and argan oils can chelate iron and copper. I suggest trying a heavy oiling with coconut oil, with argan oil added on top of it and left on the hair for a good while to try to remove the stains from either before buying a product on the market specifically to do that, which may be harsh on the hair. Do not have too much product, such as conditioner, styling aids, or residue on the hair, prior to the oiling.

The Himba tribe women of Namibia Africa, use a mixture of red ochre, goat fat and herbs to cover their hair and bodies to give themselves a much prized red colour and protect themselves from the ravages of the sun. Iron oxides offer UV protection. That does not mean, without an SPF rating, that they should be used in place of a sunscreen with one.

As with anything untried, patch test beforehand and strand test to see shade results. Strand testing can be done most easily on clean, shed hair. The shed hair can be taped at the top end, to create a hair swatch. Testing this way allows you to not only see colour results but judge hair condition too, without risk. You can experiment with timing and washing the hair to see how well the stain takes.

Ochres and iron oxides can be options for natural hair colour stains. Both need to be cosmetic grade for safety reasons concerning purity related to heavy metal content. Comparison shop. Ask vendors questions if you have any concerns and ask for an MSDS sheet.


Iron Oxide Safety

Brown Ochre

Himba Woman

Suncreen Update

Pigments used in Tattooing

See Also

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Part 4 of 4 on Innovative Approaches to Hair Care: Honey Lightening

Updated July 27, 2014
This is the last of the 5 Honey threads ("latest" referred to below) I started. The explanations and some of the research that are included with the recipes below was done by me in 2008 and earlier. Beware of other versions of the recipes below online and elsewhere. Although I have been credited, compensated for my work, errors still remain. Raw honey is not necessary! Raw honey is not a factor for successful results. I have been dealing with a number of errors via email lately. There have not been needed replies given by others about how and why honey lightening can work when detailed questions about it have been asked because no research was done, other than skimming over some of the explanations I provided. Nothing was ever called a "honey lightening booster" until I coined the phrase after research I did on honey lightening recipe additives. 

Successful honey lightening can be achieved without it being complicated. You need: a pure honey (there are some types to avoid) and pasteurized is just fine to use, water with a low to no mineral content (distilled water is easiest for that but some tap waters can work well), and the right proportion of water to honey which can be varied because it is about pH. The honey lightening boosters can enhance results considerably. It can get complicated with honey fraud, type, and water choice. No external heat is needed. UV damages hair while lightening it. UV is not a factor in honey lightening either. 

There are pictures of honey lightening results with the new recipes and method I created posted to view. Some may have been lost (they are old by now). I do not take credit for application techniques or hair coverings used. Those vary and are about ease of application and helping to keep the hair wet during the treatment, which I have explained is very important.

The hair does not have to be covered during a honey lightening treatment but it does need to be kept wet with the treatment, for the entire time it is on the hair. Covering the hair can be the best way to achieve that. Innovations in those areas and more by other LHC members, I recognized and credited and there is a post I wrote about them alone, to assist others looking for ideas.

All of my blog posts, forum posts and online articles - are copyright protected. 

Update February 16, 2013
The peroxide value of spices can be found here, with that of cardamom being the highest of those listed, except for black pepper, which is more of an irritant and is not recommended because of that, for honey lightening recipes.

One of the most often asked about topics is red tones and honey lightening. Here is the thread post on what can cause red tones to appear in hair colour, when any kind of lightening is done. It is not included in the information below. It is about the amount and type of natural, or added pigment in hair, as well as other factors, that can affect hair lightening and colouring results.

None of the ingredients in the recipes below have been reported to add a red tone to hair, even ground cinnamon, which has been mistakenly thought to do so by some people. Following a honey lightening treatment with cassia, often incorrectly referred to as neutral henna, or an apple cider vinegar rinse can add a red tone to hair colour. Both have been reported to do so, unrelated to honey lightening.

Honey lightening can be an alternative to lightening hair colour (virgin and colour-treated, all shades from black on up), with conventional peroxide and bleach. It has not been reported to damage hair, even after multiple treatments over extended periods of time. Honey slowly releases peroxide on dilution with a liquid that contains water. Honey was reported to lighten hair colour on The Long Hair Community Boards before the Honey threads were started, to figure out how it worked and why it worked for some people and not others.    ______________________________________________________________________

The following recipes and method I designed are based on my having analyzed accredited research I read. Patch test any ingredient not previously used on the scalp or skin.

1. The new dilution is 4 times the amount of water to honey, calculated by weight. It is now the recommended dilution to be used for honey lightening. The minimum amount of honey to be used is 10 grams. 10 grams of honey would need 40 grams of distilled water. 2 tablespoons (1/8 cup or 1.5 oz) honey needs 6 oz distilled water or 3/4 cup US (1/2 cup Metric), or 12 tablespoons distilled water. You can convert to ml, oz, tablespoons or cups. Here is a link on honey conversions. Another way to use the new dilution is to just use tablespoons, 1 tablespoon of honey to 6 tablespoons distilled water, 2 to 12 etc. It works out to be the same as calculating by weight.

According to reports posted in the latest Honey thread, better results have been achieved with the new dilution in 1 hour, than with repeated treatments using other dilution ratios. Different honeys produce different levels of peroxide. Here is the Successful Honeys List. If one cannot be found, try a dark coloured honey blend (raw or pasteurized, both have been reported to work equally well). Dark coloured blends were reported in research, to have higher peroxide levels than lighter coloured blends. A dark coloured, single source honey, does not necessarily have a high peroxide value - it depends on the plant source.

2. Distilled water is recommended to be used for honey lightening in place of tap water. It is a better choice, for getting the best results from a honey lightening recipe because of its pH (7) and hydrogen peroxide can decompose in contact with certain minerals. Some tap waters are the exception and have been reported to be fine for honey lightening. More information on distilled water can be found in here.

3. Honey lightening boosters are ingredients that add extra peroxide to the recipes. These are ground cardamom, ground cinnamon, coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil. Spices may be irritating, so follow the "less is more" approach with the new dilution. Start with 1 tablespoon after patch testing; suggested maximum 2 tablespoons. Mix spices into a recipe, after the honey is added, for a smoother liquid. Oils can be difficult to wash out of the hair; suggested amount 1 tablespoon. None of the peroxide containing ingredients in the honey lightening recipes, including the honey and ground cinnamon, has been reported to add colour to the hair. Here is more information on cinnamon and cardamom. Here is information on coumarin.

4. No external heat should be used with honey lightening. Do not use a blow dryer or sunlight. None of the recipe ingredients should be heated at any time. Heat (except body heat) can destroy hydrogen peroxide by decomposing it to water and oxygen. The peroxide produced by honey is not stabilized the way conventional peroxide is and is much more delicate because of that. It depends on the degree of heat and the amount of time that it is applied to it. Pasteurization does not destroy the enzyme in honey (glucose oxidase) that generates the peroxide.

5. Store your honey, ground spices and oils away from heat, light and moisture, at room temperature, in a cupboard, preferably. Opened oils can be refrigerated.

6. No ingredients that contain vitamin C, (except ground cardamom, which has the highest peroxide value for a spice and a low vitamin C level), should be used in the recipes. Hydrogen peroxide oxidizes vitamin C and is depleted in doing so. Some honeys naturally contain higher levels of vitamin C. Avoid using Anzer, buckwheat, chestnut, linden flower, locust flower, mint, or thyme honeys. Most honeys contain very low levels. Here is a list of the Vitamin C content of selected ingredients.

7. Jarrah honey from Australia is known for its very high peroxide value and is a good choice for honey lightening. Information on Jarrah honey and current suppliers can be found here.

8. Conditioner is not recommended to be included in honey lightening recipes. Hair conditioners are too acidic for most honeys and the spices, (it can reduce the optimal pH needed for a honey to produce peroxide), can contain ingredients that interfere with honey lightening and their water content (most conditioners are 70-90% water), if used as part of the new dilution, can effectively reduce the amount of water needed. The same applies to coconut cream and milk (they contain minerals, are acidic and contain Vitamin C, as well as not enough water). You can use conditioner to wash out a honey lightening treatment, instead of using shampoo or just rinse a treatment out. If there is honey residue, shampoo is recommended and has been reported to easily resolve the problem, better than a vinegar rinse or extra water rinsing.

9. The honey lightening recipes can be applied with a tint or blush brush for more control of placement.

10. Mix the honey lightening recipe, at room temperature and let the recipe sit for 1 hour, also at room temperature, to let the honey produce peroxide or use it right away and the honey will produce peroxide while on the hair.The hair should be freshly washed or rinsed first, if there is aloe gel on the hair (aloe gel contains Vitamin C), a Vitamin C containing leave-in treatment, heavy conditioner, a large amount of oil (a large amount of some types of oil will act as a barrier to the water), or styling products on the hair. If there is a lot of residue on the hair, it should be clarified first. If not, a honey lightening treatment can also be applied to wet or dry, unwashed hair. Apply the treatment with a tint, blush or basting brush, spray or squirt bottle. Pin the hair up, cover the hair with plastic and keep the treatment on the hair for about 1 hour. The hair must be kept completely wet with the treatment both before being covered and the time that the treatment is on the hair. Wearing a swim cap is recommended. Also recommended, is to use saran wrap under a lycra swim cap. It does not squeeze out too much water and the treatment does not drip as much with this method. Honey lightening innovations by LHC members.

11. Honey lightening has not been reported to damage hair even with continuous use. What has been reported occasionally is "crunchy" or dry hair. That is a honey residue result and can easily be resolved by shampooing or using a vinegar rinse. Some honeys leave fewer to no discernible residues than others. There is research to support honey lightening not being damaging. The flavonoids mentioned here are all found in honey, the peroxide boosters, ground cinnamon, ground cardamom and extra virgin olive oil. Gallic acid and its esters are found in coconut oil. Gallic acid esters were also found to protect cells from hydrogen peroxide damage. In honey lightening, these natural phytochemicals are in place while the peroxide is being produced. The flavonoids chelate the iron and copper that generate the damaging free radicals when hydrogen peroxide reacts with hair. This research led to using one of the honey lightening recipe ingredients as a pre-treatment before conventional chemical dye and lightening. See Part 1 of this series.

12. This is a Pictures Post of some past and current honey lightening results.

Part 3 of 4 on Innovative Approaches to Hair Care: Catnip, as a hair treatment and conditioner, can prevent split ends and stain hair a natural looking, light blonde colour

The following is based on my - Updated November 18, 2012, over 7 years of experimentation with and use of catnip tea, as my only consistent (I experimented with conventional hair conditioner in short spurts) hair colour and conditioner. My hair has gone from being fragile and full of split ends and breakage to being much stronger, with no split ends and minimal breakage. My hairline has filled in somewhat since I started using it, my hair looks much thicker and my hair growth, which was always good is even better. Catnip is described on some websites, as a herb for "hair growth and shine" on lists of herbs and their cosmetic uses, or for "growth" or "shine" on other websites and such lists.

The "even better" growth, may be from the definite reduction of breakage I have experienced giving that appearance. My hairline filling in "somewhat", may be from the lack of other products weighing my hair down in that area. That makes more sense to me. I do know that overall, my hair does look much thicker. That is from no longer having the weight on my hair from the conventional conditioning products I used to use, and catnip not adding weight to my hair.
Catnip cannot affect split ends that already exist (except condition and stain them). Those can be cut off for the best relief of them. Catnip tea used as a treatment, in my experience, prevents split ends from forming, even when there has been breakage.

Catnip, Nepeta cataria, or common catnip (it is a different species than catmint), has many helpful properties for hair and scalp. It is non toxic, naturally acidic, may be antibacterial, anitiviral and anifungal, contains oils, and is soothing to skin. It is known as a specific for scalp irritation. It is not recommended to be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Catnip has been used to help treat infant colic. For any uses regarding infants or babies, please consult your doctor.

At higher concentrations (less diluted), catnip is astringent but not overly drying.

It can be used as a skin wash and is not irritating to eyes. It can remove sebum and certain "oil" or moisturizing lotions like silicone based sunblock and even washable mascara.

It can also be used as a dry skin treatment. I use leftover catnip from my hair treatment. I gently exfoliate my facial skin with my hands after washing it with catnip. I then apply more catnip to my skin and let it dry, leaving it on for 1 hour and rinse it off. The result is soft, smooth skin that feels wonderful and dry skin lines have either been reduced or are not visible.

Catnip can be used as a shampoo on its own on mildly oily hair but is best used in rotation with an alternate cleanser, as catnip is not a strong enough cleanser on its own, to deal with leave-in hair products (including oils) or remove product build-up or residue. Catnip used as a shampoo and then more catnip applied afterward to condition, does not offer the same split end protection (as catnip does following conventional shampoo), for me. The hair is also prone to knotting. Catnip "shampoo" leaves behind some oils and conditioning properties, enough to prevent more catnip from being absorbed into the hair, as much as it can be.

I have found catnip is best used unadulterated (nothing added to it), on hair that does not have a *coating on it from another product that prevents the catnip from having direct access to the hair. Some conventional shampoos and conditioners can contain waxy ingredients and oils and some plants can contain things like mucilage and resins. All of these things can coat hair and *build-up, enough not to allow catnip to access and penetrate the hair as much as it can or stain it. When used following a shampoo that does not build-up, catnip will cover grey or white hair with a light yellow stain, that is between warm and ash and contains no red or brown (it is not gold). Catnip stain or dye, is not permanent and will wash out. Not all of the stain will wash out with one shampoo but it will completely wash out over a short period of time, if it is not reapplied.

My definitions: *coating: anything left behind by a product that does not allow direct access to the hair by another, or more of the same, product. * build-up: any coating that cannot be removed by a regular conventional shampoo in one use.

Catnip tea does not build-up on my hair. Enough of it is easily removed with a mild shampoo each time, to allow more catnip to be absorbed by the hair.

With catnip, less is more. 1 level teaspoon to just under 300 ml (10.144 fluid oz US) of boiled water, covered and steepd to cool (or longer), is an excellent dilution and moisturizing enough for both sensitive skin and dry hair. Some of the oils in catnip are volatile. To help preserve these, never boil catnip and always cover it when steeping catnip tea. Tap the condensation from the underside of the cover (I use a small saucer), back into the container used to steep it in (a mug will do), when the tea has cooled and before straining. I strain the tea into a large ceramic creamer for easier pouring and then strain it again into a freshly washed out plastic shampoo bottle. If I do not use the catnip tea right away, it is stored in the fridge.

Even though I wash all items used to prepare my catnip infusion after each use, I sterilize my mug, saucer, stainless steel tea strainer and Pyrex measuring cup with boiled water just before I prepare a new batch. I prepare a new batch once a week. Leftover catnip to be used on my skin stays in the fridge between uses. I have never had catnip go off, with my method of preparation and use.

Catnip can be applied to hair a number of ways: on wet or dry hair, before or after shampooing, left in or rinsed out, over conditioner or not.

However, catnip tea is most effective for me, following shampoo, with no conditioner residue (if conditioner has been used frequently, there will be some left behind after shampooing) as a treatment on hair that has had the excess water gently squeezed out of it (the shampoo used, one that does not cause build-up or contain a coating that can interfere with catnip's accessibilty to the hair, like mucilage), bagged (covered with plastic) and timed on the hair for 1 hour and then rinsed out.

Covering grey or white hair with catnip can be done most effectively, by first steeping catnip tea longer than just cooled to room temperature, to deepen the colour. All other directions remain the same, including the 1 hour timing. The only other additions are: 1. when removing the bag or other plastic covering, let the hair cool down a bit before rinsing off the catnip 2. add more catnip to the greyest areas at this time before the hair cools down completely and the cuticles are still slightly open from body heat 3. only rinse with tepid to cool, not warm or hot water.

Catnip can be purchased in a number of forms; leaves only, buds only (unopened catnip flowers) and a combination of both, referred to as leaves and flowers. It is best to purchase leaves and flowers. The buds (flowers) contain more oils and the leaves and stalks more tannins (the yellow stain from catnip is a tannin), and the best place to purchase catnip is a pet store or pet section of a larger store, where organic (if possible) pet catnip can be found. It is fresher and better quality than health food store or bulk catnip.

Catnip tea does not retain the odour that drives cats wild, once it is brewed.

Growing catnip: the video  Harvest the flower buds before they open or form darkened seeds.

I have steeped catnip for different hours. I prefer 4.75 hours as my steeping time, for both colouring and conditioning. Over 5 hours gave me too much moisture and caused knotting. I no longer get any knotting, not even one "fairy knot". Catnip releases more of something that coats the hair differently to what is released in an infusion steeped at under 5 hours for me, aside from what is absorbed into the hair, during a plastic wrapped, hour long treatment.

Observations: It still yields a light yellow colour, no brown or red but it looks darker in my white bone china mug and covers my grey or white hair better than brewing catnip for less time.

The conditioning effects are better for me. I have not altered or increased my treatment time of 1 hour or my method of application.

Split ends, white dots and more, explained by The Trichological Society, in Britain

Why some people have more fragile hair than others because of genetics

Part 2 of 4 on Innovative Approaches to Hair Care: Swimming and Hair

Swimming pool disinfectant chemicals can bleach hair and chlorine damages hair.

Applying a protective product to hair before swimming is often advised to help reduce chlorine and sea water damage to hair. However, a good argument against this is if the hair gets wet with any unabsorbed oil or product on it, a less than desirable swimming pool water is going to be the result. Conditioners applied to the hair are water soluble and many of the ingredients can be rinsed away, other than ones that cause unwanted build-up. I also think that the oceans are polluted enough as it is.

There are alternatives to the pre-treatment of hair before swimming: a proper swim cap the right size, properly worn, that can keep the hair dry and protected and rinsing hair immediately after swimming to neutralize chlorine, or remove sea water and its minerals.

Fresh water can be used to rinse the hair or certain acidic rinses. However, these are not necessarily the best answers either. Fresh water cannot neutralize chlorine. It can just remove what has not been absorbed by hair. While citric and ascorbic acid rinses can neutralize chlorine, there is some question about the "cure" being worse than the problem. Strong acids that need to be used diluted to neutralize chlorine can react with chlorine and turn into chlorine gas and while the amount of chlorine gas produced may be small, it won't do your hair any good.

What can be used?

The safest, cheapest, easiest thing to buy and use to rinse the hair with just after swimming in a pool or sea water, and requires no mixing, guessing, or experimenting with for a good dilution, is club soda.

Club soda although acidic is a weak acid and more importantly, it is buffered to stay stable at its pH, a very hair friendly pH 5. Other carbonated waters by comparison are much more acidic and not hair friendly at all by virtue of that fact. The pH of most carbonated waters and soft drinks is about pH 2.3, the equivalent of undiluted vinegar. Anything with a pH below 3.5 can be damaging to hair, depending on the amount used and frequency of use.

Some hairstylists and a hair extension company recommend club soda as a rinse after swimming in a pool to neutralize chlorine, or remove seawater mineral build-up, followed by a fresh water rinse. The carbonation is doing some of the removal after swimming in the ocean, by helping to break up the minerals.

Some interesting research on hair and water, states that "It takes 15 minutes for hair to be saturated with water" (Robbins, Chemical and Physical Behaviour of Human Hair, Springer). It has been suggested that pre-soaking hair in such a manner can prevent it from absorbing more water while swimming. If one were to use club soda instead of tap water to saturate the hair for 15 minutes before swimming in a pool, or sea water, that may be even better.

Club soda is harmless to hair and can work quite well in removing chlorine and leave the hair with no undesirable after effects. Club soda is a cost effective way to deal with chlorine and sea water swimming and their effects on hair. It is readily available just about everywhere.

More on chlorine, salt water swimming, and the effects of both on hair can be found here:
1. Clarence R. Robbins, Chemical and Physical Behavior of Human Hair
2. Garland Drake, "Hair Care at the Beach or Pool"
3. Science Toys, "Bleach"
4. How Ultraswim removes chlorine from hair
5. Science Toys, "Table Salt"
6. The Tokyo Foundation, "Sea Salt"

Friday, November 13, 2009

Part 1 of a 4 Part Series on Innovative Approaches to Hair Care: How to save money and help save your hair from damage caused by hair dye or bleach

Many of us deal with the image we present to clients and employers. For increasing numbers of men and women in today’s economy, that may mean starting over in the job market at an advanced age. For some people that may include using hair dye. Others like to colour their hair for a change or for fun.

I am going to tell you how you can save money and more, if you do use hair dye or bleach.

Almost all hair dyes that can cover grey hair and all that can lighten hair colour, contain hydrogen peroxide. A peroxide developer is used to activate hair bleach. When hydrogen peroxide is applied to hair it produces free radicals that are damaging. The result can be hair that is dry, or breaks easily, and grey coverage can be unsuccessful. The free radicals are generated primarily by the iron and copper, absorbed into hair from tap water and some hair care products.

Chelants are chemicals that occur naturally or can be synthesized, that bind metals and can be used to keep iron and copper from reacting with peroxide. Proctor and Gamble (P&G) has found that their synthesized copper chelant can minimize hair damage more than 95% and better dye uptake is achieved with it. One of the ways to use it is in a pre-treatment. Chelants can be used that way naturally and hair can be conditioned too. Both coconut and argan oils contain chelants that chelate iron and copper. Argan oil chelates more copper than iron. You just need the pure oils. They can be used separately or in combination.

At least 1 hour is recommended, to let the oils saturate the hair before dye or bleach is applied directly over them.

Access to hair
The hair should be free of any residue and conditioner.

Heavy oiling has been reported to give the best results. Update 3/4/13 - the linked information is why a heavy oiling works better. See "in a level higher" in the linked text, "[0058]".

On a forum I (updated) belonged to, there have been over 51 no damage reports so far using these oils. Heavy oiling has been reported to yield the best dye uptake, lightening and conditioning results. These oils saturate and can penetrate well clarified hair and have not been reported to interfere with hair dye uptake or lightening in any way. They have been reported separately and in combination, to increase dye uptake, colour intensity and yield great lightening results, with no hair damage from the chemical processes used on top of the oils being reported, in the overwhelming majority of cases.

Nothing can return hair to its pre-damaged state. These oils help prevent damage and can make buying products to deal with hair dye problems unnecessary. They can help save your cosmetic budget and help save your hair.

Results reported by forum member Dolly, after pre-treatment with a heavy coconut oiling: Great grey root coverage, soft shiny hair with no damage reported and intense colour that lasts, shown here after using permanent hair colour. Far right: 1 week after hair colouring with her latest pre-treatment.
Photos courtesy of Dolly

Bianca's results: A heavy coconut oil  pre-treatment before using bleach to lighten henna and then another heavy coconut oil pre-treatment before applying hair dye to adjust the colour. No hair damage was reported after the double processing.
Photo courtesy of Bianca