Allergies and your hair

Spring brings more than pretty flowers! Read on for another easy way to combat seasonal allergies.

Hello, friends! Those readers who are currently experiencing springtime may notice that the allergens are in abundance, and have been for a few weeks already. Warmer weather earlier in the season (and in some cases, an almost non-existent winter) has created the perfect storm for a heavy-hitting allergy season. Aside from the usual <obvious> ways to avoid constantly red eyes, runny noses, and itchy skin, may I also remind you that your hair is a huge attractant for almost everything airborne?

We know that dirt is attracted to and sticks to our hair, partly because we add products and partly because that’s what hair is actually supposed to do, so the same is obviously true of pollens. Because of this, I’m trying to at least wet down my hair every night before my head hits the pillow, and it seems to be helping so far. While it’s not ideal for most curly girls to wash right before bed (air-drying becomes a bit of a problem) it’s not a bad idea to at least rinse your hair off, and then you can do the full routine in the morning. It’s also a perfect excuse to use oil and protein treatments more often, since you usually want those to sit on your hair overnight anyway!

If you are going to bed with wet hair I suggest wrapping it in a microfiber hair towel, and by the time it falls off in the middle of the night your hair should be mostly dry. Added bonus: Something about going to sleep with a soft towel snug around my head makes me feel like I’m at a spa or something. Try tying your hair on top of your head first if you don’t want it to come loose and get matted around your neck while you toss and turn. Then enjoy a nice, clean, sneeze-free night!

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Good Guide

Good morning fine friends! I’m going to take a rare foray away from hair-specific talk to inform you about one of my favorite sites that will help you with organifying and cleansifying your lives in more ways than are detailed in this blog. It’s a site called GoodGuide, and if you haven’t heard of it you should definitely take a look.

Basically it’s a place where you can search for the products in your home, or products you’re thinking about buying, that you use regularly, and you’ll get the health and environmental low-down. Toothpaste, conditioner, hand soap, baby shampoo, the works. Each is rated on a 1-10 scale based on Health factors, Environmental impact, and Society–whether the company gives back to its community.

The products I recommend on my site are healthy and hair-friendly, but if you want to try to find something a little less expensive that won’t be damaging, this is the place to start your search. I hope that sites like this one start to influence big company’s business practices so that these important keystones of corporate responsibility will become the norm one day. Have fun, and here’s to your health!

Let’s Talk Follicles

As if you’d ever need a reason to become forever devoted to maintaining your gorgeous curly mane (ha!), you may be interested to know that there is no known non-surgical way to permanently straighten your hair. Some of us have tried various techniques, and I’ve heard friends say, post-keratin/chemical straightening, that they have found that their hair has grown out much less curly. Some even turn straight, God forbid!

The truth of the matter is, your hair is curly because your hair follicle, which is grown in a tiny sac beneath your scalp, is oval-shaped. The curlier the hair, the more oval-y (?) the follicle is. Case and point, here is the cross-section of a piece of African American hair (right). This is the extreme, a wavy or loosely curly hair follicle would be much more circular.

Conversely, if you have stick-straight hair, your hair follicle is a circle. As the hair grows down your back, the shape of the follicle determines whether it spirals down or hangs straight. Take a look at this Asian hair follicle (left).

Now, the health-conscious reader may wonder to themselves as to what chemical reaction could possibly cause permanent hair relaxing, if this is indeed possible. It’s quite alarming that a hair treatment might affect the shape of the hair that grows from a fixed-shape follicle in our scalps. Other factors may also be affecting it, like any big life event that changes your body as a whole, such as aging, a major surgery or — pregnancy! This is why many of us notice that our hair changes after having kids. I say, learn to love it and always keep your hair well-hydrated with monthly if not weekly oil treatments. Dehydration is one of the biggest reasons that curly tops become unhappy with their natural locks.

It’s science, really.