Beach Beauty

I realized over the weekend, while lounging on the beach under a beating sun, that I should remind y’all to keep your hair hydrated during the summer! We equate winter with harmful drying conditions, but it’s just as likely to happen in the summer when you’re swimming in the pool or ocean and getting lots of sun exposure.

While you should continue the weekly oil or deep conditioning treatments in any case, another handy trick is to bring a bottle of special super-hydrating treatment with you to the beach. What I like is to get one of those little travel-size bottles, and I mix up a combination of quality daily conditioner, deep conditioner, and some hair oil. You want to have something that’s thin enough in consistency that it will not make your hair look all chunky and gross. You also don’t want to use more than necessary.

I slick a dime-sized amount on my long but fine hair, mostly at the ends, before I go into the water so that it is saturated and won’t absorb as much pool or ocean water. When you get out of the water and are back on your towel or chaise, put enough in the palm of your hand to be able to evenly coat both hands with a thin sheen of it. Wipe that through your hair from top to bottom. Always apply product in this way — going the other direction, or even side-to-side, will ruffle the hair’s cuticle and cause it to frizz and break.

If you don’t use too much, it should soak in by the time your hair has dried. If you do use too much, it’s ok, you will just have that beachy-wet look a bit longer. Wash it when you get home either way, since salt and chemicals will still be on the hair.

My recipe:

* 1 Tablespoon Moroccan Oil

* 1 Tablespoon One Condition

* 1 Tablespoon Heaven in Hair

* 2 Drops essential oil of your choice (I like sage or cedar)

Shake it up and enjoy! Depending upon how much you’ll need, adjust amounts accordingly.

That’s a Wrap!

Click image to enlarge. That guy sticking up in the middle is the Freedom Tower, lit up with some patriotic red white and blue!

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a swanky hair blogger party hosted by Ojon in the penthouse of The Standard in New York City’s East Village. In addition to some excellent cocktails and a stellar view (at right), I learned so much more about curl textures very different than my own — my new-found knowledge will soon be cultivated into some interesting posts — and I immediately had to share an awesome product that I will be trying as soon as it arrives in the mail.

While speaking to a lovely woman from Essence.com about the perils of properly deep-conditioning at home, I mentioned how sad I am that I can’t fit my portable hood dryer into my Brooklyn apartment. She told me about the Hair Therapy Wrap, which essentially does the same thing as hooded dryers:

Courtesy amazon.com

You apply the deep conditioner or oil treatment, her favorite was Curl Junkie’s Curl Rehab, and microwave this thick towel-like cap until it’s nice and steamy. Then you put it on over your greased-up hair and leave it as long as you want. The thickness and something about the material retains heat really well, which is why it’s better than a regular old towel. Also, it won’t slip off as easily.

I’ll write another update once I’ve tried it myself, but I have high hopes! What a great solution to an often-messy problem.

Full Disclosure: Product Substitutions

I’d love to tell you that I just stick to buying these 8 products, but the truth is that I still have some of that experimental energy that I had long before I started my curly transformation. In other words, I don’t try every product I see on the shelves that promises sleek, shiny, frizz-free hair, although I am tempted. No, my better-educated self turns every product right around to look at ingredients before even considering trying something new.

As I’ve mentioned on the Products page, hair likes to shake up the routine. If you use the exact same things the same way every day, your hair will start to lose some of its luster and it will get very monotonous and boring. Using varying amounts of a product, or experimenting with different application techniques can help, but if you take a total break from those products for about a month, you’ll notice that your hair is happier when you return to using them. That’s why I usually have at least one alternative to every product I use regularly. Below is a list of some of those substitutions, and how I like to keep things interesting.

1) Conditioner: This work horse may contribute the most crucial element to your hair’s health and appearance. Too much and it may look greasy, too little and it looks and feels dry and becomes more prone to breakage. When I want to take a break from Devachan’s One Condition, I use Ouidad’s Balancing Rinse conditioner. I’ll use it for maybe a week before switching back to One Condition, because it does eventually leave my hair feeling a bit less moisturized than I’d like. It’s a thinner formula so that may contribute to it. I also like Argan Oil conditioner, but wouldn’t use it more often than once a month or so.

2) Styling Gel: There are so many ways to take a break from gel. You can use only one gel for slightly less hold and control, instead of using one in the shower pre-towel-drying and one as a finishing gel immediately after towel-drying. You can use different finishing gels, although I always like to keep Devachan’s Angell as my base. I love Ouidad’s Climate Control, but surprisingly I couldn’t stand Curl Quencher on my hair. I’d suggest going to their site, they have it set up a lot like naturallycurly.com now and you can shop by curl type. I also like Devachan’s Volumizing Foam when I want a much less contained look, and I substitute this for finishing gel, while still using the Angell base.

I never use any creams, however. I’ve tried so many, and recently tried Carol’s Daughter’s Hair Milk (which had great moisturizing ingredients, by the way, so it probably left my hair better off in the end) but it didn’t hold my curl at all, which meant that day 2 I already needed to wash and re-style. I like when I can go at least 3 days between washes, which means the perfect balance between not-too-dry and not-too-greasy product application.

3) Hair Treatment: I recommend using some form of hair treatment, be it oil or deep conditioner, at least once a week. You can use those little bottles of essential oils on your ends, you can use a great deep conditioner like DevaCurl’s Heaven in Hair, you can use any of the homemade treatments in Curly Girl, including a slight variation on the amazing Oil Treatment featured on my site, or you can try some great conditioning treatment that you find on your own, as long as it has the key moisturizing ingredients high on the list, and not too many that you can’t pronounce toward the bottom. As always, look for any types of oils, glycerin and glycol derivatives, aloe, and words that you understand first. If there are any ingredients you don’t understand, Google them. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can recognize them once you’ve looked them up.

4) Refreshers: Lastly, I want to be sure that I hammer home how much I love Cold Spring Apothecary’s Citrus Ginger Sea Salt Spray to revive second- and third-day hair. There are a lot of these on the market now, but you have to be sure that they have moisturizers to counteract the drying effect of sea salt. When I use only four pumps distributed throughout my hair by tossing it back and forth, it re-awakens my hair and re-defines lost curls. I only use this when I really feel that I need it, and always use it sparingly. Don’t add this to your hair if it feels like there’s already too much product in your ‘do.

The Skinny: DIY Deep Conditioning

We’ve all seen the little tubes of hot oil treatments in the hair product aisles of our favorite supply stores, but I’m sure that you’ve also noticed the squat tubs of deep conditioners that have become ever-so-popular among most hair brands over the past decade or so. They promise to add shine, restore thickness to thinning locks, tame frizz and more. Some say to leave the treatments in for 5-10 minutes, others only 3. What’s the difference and what does it all mean?!?

Last night I treated myself to a deep conditioning treatment at Devachan Salon in Soho, and I took the opportunity to grill my stylist. First of all, why is this treatment any better than my purchasing their deep conditioner and doing it at home? Here are some tips she had that will offer you the first-class treatment from your couch.

1) The deep conditioner has to get into every nook and cranny on your head, including your scalp. After thoroughly wetting hair down with warm water and then squeezing it mostly dry, the stylist recommended separating hair into sections, like you see when women are getting their hair braided, except larger sections are fine. You work it into each section thoroughly, and run a dab of it along your scalp line between sections. It helps if someone else can help you with this since you can’t see your own scalp, but you can feel it out and maybe do this in front of a mirror to help.

2) As with the oil treatment, you should then cover your head with a plastic shower cap. This holds in moisture like a mini-ecosystem, allowing any lost moisture to be re-absorbed. Put a long piece of cotton, or rolled up paper towels along the edges to hold a tight seal, and prevent any conditioner from leaking down your neck.

Revlon hooded dryer: $33

3) If you have room, and this is very important, buy a mini (haha) hooded dryer. They aren’t as expensive and ridiculous as you think, although there is a range, it’s just hard to find a place to keep it in a tiny chock-full apartment. If you want to save moolah on expensive conditioning treatments, though, I highly recommend it.

4) Lastly, it’s recommended to leave the treatment in, sitting under the dryer, for at least half an hour. It’s pretty loud so watching TV may be a challenge, but you can read magazines and just pretend you’re in some fancy salon!

When it comes to the difference between an oil treatment and a deep conditioning treatment, I think it’s one of those things where two is better than one. Both have their purpose. I’ve read that olive oil particles are too large for hair to absorb, but I know that they have a great, lasting effect on my hair when I use them. I’d say that both treatments have their place.

As for which deep conditioner brands to buy, just make sure that they have lots of moisturizing elements, such as glycerin, aloe, any kind of oils and butters; and as always these ingredients should be high up on the list. My favorite brand, of course, is Devachan’s Heaven in Hair. Most others will be comparable, though, just make sure that they don’t have alcohol (drying) or harmful sulfate and chloride ingredients. The oil treatment can be made at home. Happy conditioning!