Saturday, October 12, 2013

Make Your Own Conditioners

Remember all those magic shampoos that promised to instantly revitalize your hair? Let me remind you once again: your hair is made of dead keratin molecules and cannot be revived from the outside. You cannot feed it or improve its structure by applying minerals or vitamins or chemicals on its surface. All you can do is to temporarily smooth and stiffen the hair shaft so it looks shiny and more manageable. By coating hair follicles in silicones, plant oils, or waxes, you can make brushing and styling easier, too.

There are several types of conditioners available today. The most popular type is a rinse-off conditioner, which is applied after the shampoo, left on to penetrate a minute or two, and then rinsed off. There are also leave-in conditioners that you apply before brushing your wet hair and you don’t rinse out. Finally, there are deep rinse-off conditioners that you apply once a week or whenever you feel your hair needs a quick fix of nutrients or a boost in shine.

Oily hair benefits most from rinse-off conditioners; dry hair needs a weekly deep hot oil treatment in addition to a moisturizing conditioner used after every wash. Colored, permed, or sun-bleached hair benefits from leave-on conditioners with essential oils, amino acids, and plant proteins. Those lucky few whose hair behaves well but whose scalp sometimes feels itchy can benefit from conditioners and rinses with aloe vera, zinc, and plant-derived silicones. By all means avoidpropylene glycol, cetrimonium chloride, mineral oil, petroleum-derived silicones, and hydrolyzed animal protein, found in practically all conventional conditioners.

Making a quick and perfectly green conditioner is extremely easy. As with face masks, you usually already have all the ingredients in your kitchen cupboard. If not, they are readily available in health food stores and online. While there are excellent, lovely scented conditioners for every possible hair dilemma, your own conditioner will come at a fraction of the price, and you can custom-tailor the blend to suit your needs.

“Any of my conditioners can be recreated at home,” says John Masters, who started blending his own shampoos and conditioners from his kitchen to use on clients in his home salon back in the 1980s. “Olive and jojoba oil make ultimate hair conditioners. Always use organic extra virgin olive oil on your hair for deep conditioning and massage. It can solve so many problems!” Another praised natural hair conditioner is avocado, rich in omega-3 oils and proteins, which you can mash and put directly on your hair. “Essential oils of lavender, rosemary, cedarwood, ylang-ylang, palmarosa, and geranium are all beneficial for the hair,” adds Masters.

Facts About Our Hair

The human hair is stronger than nylon, aluminum, or copper fiber of the same size, yet it often behaves as a fussy, ill-tempered toddler after too much chocolate. The manes of many of us seem to live lives of their own, and it’s now our turn to teach our locks the benefits of green living.

Our hair has structure similar to skin, but unlike skin, all the layers of hair follicles are dead. Outside, the hair is composed of thick, horny cells known as cuticle. These cells are made of keratin, a protein held together by amino acids, most importantly cysteine and methionine.

Keratin fibers shield medulla, an inner layer of cells containing fat granules, oxygen, and pigments. One end of the hair reaches the sky, or at least peaks some place where our hairstyle allows it; another end roots in the skin. There, a small onion-shaped hair papilla is producing new keratin cells while being continuously nourished by blood vessels.

Each follicle can only grow about twenty hairs in a person’s lifetime. Separate sebum glands running along the hair follicle provide shine and protection to the new cuticle cells of the hair. This is why it’s vitally important to feed your hair with sufficient amounts of good proteins and essential fatty acids.

The average human head has about 100,000 hair follicles, and blonds definitely have more fun, at least when it comes to hair. Scientists meticulously calculated that people with blond hair have almost 50 percent more hairs than those with red or dark hair. But, no matter what the color is, our hair, this incredible living fabric, requires much gentler handling than most couture textiles. That’s why the words “natural” and “organic” that so commonly adorn bottles and tubes of various hair treatments often mean very little. Follow this guide to truly natural hair products.