Sunday, July 29, 2012

Keratin Treatments

Greetings Readers!  As a natural hair and scalp specialist I feel it is my responsibility to speak about issues that are relevant in the industry.  My goal here is to clarify the difference between keratin treatments vs. keratin.

Recently, keratin treatments have flooded the market and I felt I should utilize this forum to discuss this new trend.  Let's start with at the beginning, shall we?  First of all, what is Keratin?

Keratin is the KEY structural component of hair, nails and skin. Keratin is formed by keranocytes. It is a fibrous protein structure of hair. Polypeptide chains are arranged and held together by polypeptide bonding.   It is made up of amino acids and it varies in degrees of hardness. Hooves are made of keratin and so is skin. The way it is structured make skin virtually waterproof. Most of the keratin we see is actually dead, however if properly cared for by eating foods that promote elasticity and keeping the external layer moisturized it can protect new keratin forming underneath.  It also contains  cysteine disulfide, and forms disulfide bridges that create a helix shape making the bonds very strong.  Sulfur atoms bond across each other from across the helix creating a fibrous matrix or something like a net.
Keratin is what makes hair strong.

So, what is a keratin treatment? A keratin treatment is a process of temporarily straightening the hair by sealing a liquid keratin solution with heat or a thermal styling tool. The treatment lasts about 10-12 weeks.

The primary purpose of a keratin treatment is to repair damaged hair by infusing a keratin formula with the hair. The treatment increases elasticity, decreases frizz and increases shine. The treatment also temporarily straightens the hair.

I've done a lot of research in preparation for this blog post.  There is so much information on this subject. There are very many keratin treatments on the market.  A lot of companies promote their product saying that it is Formaldehyde free. Some products claim to have keratin and protein when in fact keratin is a protein. Words like "innovative technology" and "smoothing therapy".  It is promoted to protect the hair and be safer than permanent straightening.

Are there adverse effects to keratin treatments?

Because most keratin treatments have Formaldehyde, a carcinogen,
the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that Brazilian Blowouts, also called Brazilian Keratin Treatment, BKT, Brazilian Blowout, Escova Progressiva, Keratin Cure or Keratin Straightening can cause health problems such as eye disorders, nervous system disorders,nausea, rash or even permanent hair loss. Even if they do not contain formaldehyde, they contain some form of aldehyde, acting as a preservative for the product and relaxes the hair follicle.

So, there is indeed a difference between keratin and keratin treatments. 

I have personally used Coppolla Keratin Comlpex on my daughters' hair with no adverse effects. It is an at home simple serum I put in their hair as a heat protectant.  It is not the same treatment done in salons by professional, licenced hairstylists.  It is a one step treatment to be applied prior to blow drying.  My daughters are exploring other styling options besides natural hair styles and I embrace that.  When their hair is wet, it returns to its natural, curly state.

There is soooo much information I could go on and on....and on. I posted this for the purposes of enlightenment, not to bash any one for choosing this styling option.  Knowledge is indeed power and I believe anything you choose to do with your body should be done from an educated point of view.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Does Stress Contribute To Hair Loss?

  • Alopecia areata. A variety of factors are thought to cause alopecia areata, possibly including severe stress. With alopecia areata, white blood cells attack the hair follicle, stopping hair growth and making hair fall out.
  • Telogen effluvium. In this condition, emotional or physical stress pushes large numbers of growing hairs into a resting phase. Within a few months, the affected hairs may fall out suddenly when simply combing or washing your hair.
  • Trichotillomania. Trichotillomania (trik-oh-til-oh-MAY-nee-uh) is an irresistible urge to pull out hair from your scalp, eyebrows or other areas of your body. Hair pulling can be a way of dealing with negative or uncomfortable feelings, such as stress, anxiety, tension, loneliness, fatigue or frustration

  • The Oxford dictionary defines stress as "a demand upon physical or mental energy.' However, stress, as most people see it, is an above average demand of our energy. This demand is usually very hard to deal with. Stress puts demands on people to perform well above their capacity. This demand is very difficult to maintain without some form of relief. Despite the negative perception, stress is an everyday occurrence that affects most people at some point in their life. Following are other definitions of stress:

    Mayo Clinic:
    Indeed, stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior. Being able to recognize common stress symptoms can give you a jump on managing them. Stress that's left unchecked can contribute to health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

    Stress is a term that is commonly used today but has become increasingly difficult to define. It shares, to some extent, common meanings in both the biological and psychological sciences. Stress typically describes a negative concept that can have an impact on one’s mental and physical well-being, but it is unclear what exactly defines stress and whether or not stress is a cause, an effect, or the process connecting the two. With organisms as complex as humans, stress can take on entirely concrete or abstract meanings with highly subjective qualities, satisfying definitions of both cause and effect in ways that can be both tangible and intangible.

    So let's deal with the tangible. In the tangible, tactile world, YES, stress can contribute to hair loss.  Stress can also contribute to other health issues such as weight loss or weight gain, insomnia, aches and pain such as migraines or nervous twitches.

    So, what do we do? Since the hair is a barometer for what is going on with you and your health, your body simply gives you clues that you are out of balance and that is a good thing.  Life gets so hectic and busy that we forget to take care of ourselves.  So we must re-member to stop and pay attention to our most precious commodity, ourselves.

    I've fallen victim to that myself.  I take care of my clients, and my children, and my friends until I am spent. This is the thing. If I don't STOP and take care of me, I will have nothing else to give. At those times, I find my solace.  I have to go down my checklist.  Have I eaten something nutritious? Have I stretched? Have I gotten at least 6 solid hours of sleep this week?  What am I meditating on? Am I focused on things I have no control over, or do I meditate on creating the life I want to live? Have I found a reason to laugh today?

    What is your solace?  Sometimes just breathing in slow, deep breaths and exhaling slowly helps. You may want to do something as simple as look around you and notice things you have not noticed.  Pay attention to the sun setting or notice the harmony of color in flowers and plants that tend to grow together.

    I don't want to advocate things tied too closely to religion. That's not every body's thing.  Meditating and praying are great though.  Writing journals is cathartic. Getting a nice rest, and massage or taking a long drive is great but everyone can't afford to treat themselves to a spa day.  Everyone can afford to breathe. 

    My advice in these times when no matter how much you do, there isn't enough time in the day is to drink water, rest, appreciate, and breathe, breathe.......b r e a t h e