I Can’t Stop the Itchiness: When your scalp just won’t cooperate

Thanks for stopping by for another post, we welcome you warmly and hope you enjoy today’s read!

Today’s post is dedicated to the naturals who have to do double duty– caring for and maintaining their hair while also treating a skin or scalp condition. While there are many scalp conditions that can make growing and caring for your natural hair a bit more difficult, the focus of this post will be on a condition called Seborrhoeic Dermatitis (or SD).

What is Seborrhoeic Dermatitis (SD)?

Seborrhoeic Dermatitis is known to affect the areas of the body where sebum (your skin’s natural oil) is released, such as the folds of the nose, eyebrows, behind the ears, chin, scalp, genital area, etc. SD commonly manifests itself in the form of patches of dry, flaky, scaly skin that can range from super-dry to incredibly oily. The affected area can be very itchy, tender, swollen, bruised, and sensitive to external stimuli. There are many triggers that may cause SD to flare up, including stress, extremely dry or humid weather, excessive sweating, ingestion of certain foods, contact with common allergens (pollen, dust, pet fur, etc).

Treatment:

Currently, there is no permanent solution to SD.  The best thing to do if you suspect or know that you have this condition is to get referred to a good dermatologist to find out the severity of your individual case (severity varies between each individual); from there, s/he can prescribe you with medicated ointments, creams, shampoos to help you get the condition under control and to better manage it.

However, if you’d prefer to get an over-the-counter remedy, there are many options available to you.

Here’s a list of shampoos that can be used to help with your SD:

  1. Head and Shoulders Anti-dandrufff Anti-SD Shampoo: Active ingredient- 1% Selenium sulfide
  2. T-Gel: Active ingredient- 0.5% Coal tar
  3. Nizoral: Active ingredient: 2%  Ketoconazale

In general, all of these shampoos are used to help relieve itchiness, lift and remove flakes, soothe the scalp, and reduce inflammation of the affected area.

Now I’m sure you’re all asking the same question: What’s gonna happen to my hair? The truth is,  yes, all of these shampoos will dry out your hair to a certain degree; moreover, it is recommended that you use these shampoos frequently to keep the condition under control (a naturalistas nightmare!) However, don’t fret, as there is a work-around  that will keep your scalp happy, while also allowing your natural hair to thrive!

Here’s what you need to do on wash day:

  1. Wet your hair and apply your conditioner before your shampoo– this will help minimize the drying effect of the medicated shampoo on your hair.

2. Take your medicated shampoo, rub it between your hands, and then massage into your scalp- just focus on getting the scalp.

3. Let the shampoo sit for several minutes to ensure that it penetrates your scalp.

4. Wash out the shampoo and conditioner.

5. Follow-up with a deep conditioning masque or treatment.

6. Apply your leave-in conditioner and then seal your hair with whichever oil you prefer.

7. Cover your head with a plastic shower cap or bag for 15 to 30 minutes.

8. Uncover your head and style your hair, as desired.

On a final note, it’s important to be diligent and consistent when treating your scalp. Keep in mind that not every solution works for everyone across the board; so, yes, there will be a little trial-and-error involved in the process of finding the right SD regimen for you.

Finally, don’t despair about the shampoo completely drying out your hair- it’s okay- as long as you focus on the scalp while washing and ensure that you replace the moisture in your hair, as instructed above.

Getting your scalp condition under control is essential to your hair’s overall health and longevity- your hair’s home is your scalp– it can only be as healthy as your scalp is! So here’s to healthier scalps and optimal natural hair growth!

Do you struggle to maintain your hair health due to SD or a similar skin/scalp condition? Let us know your story, techniques, and remedies in the comments!

 

 

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Aloe Vera Juice Recipe

Hey everyone, here’s a quick recipe to make your own aloe vera juice!

Although this recipe is directed towards the use of aloe vera juice in the hair, it must be noted that this green miracle plant, also known as Aloe Barbadensis, Aloe Indica, and Aloe Barbados, has been used for generations around the globe. The popularity of the aloe vera plant stems from its great medicinal qualities, as well as its potential to be utilized to replenish and rejuvenate damaged and dead cells. The aloe vera plant has so many natural benefits that it is not uncommon for it and its extracts to be used in cosmetics, hair products, lotions, body butters, and even beverages for consumption.

Using aloe vera juice in your hair will help to soften and moisturize your strands, acting as a humectant that will draw water from the air into your hair. The juice will also work to reduce irritation and itchiness on the scalp when applied directly to the scalp, as aloe vera juice possesses anti-inflammatory properties. To find out more about the history and various uses for the aloe vera plant, please click here.

***Warning: When preparing to use any new product, whether homemade or store-bought, you should perform a 24-hour skin test to see if any allergic reaction sets in. To perform this test for aloe vera, cut a small piece of the plant, and then cut that piece in half to expose the gel/sap. Next, take the sap side of the stalk segment and rub it on a small section of your inner forearm. Allow it to sit for a minimum of 4 hours to a maximum of 24 hours and monitor for any reaction.

In like manner, before using a new product on your hair, you should try it out on a small section first. Results may vary, depending on your hair type and porosity. Use at your own discretion.***

DIY Aloe Vera Juice:

To prepare this mixture which will be utilized on your hair you will require a couple of items/tools:

  1. Aloe vera stalks (2 to 3 stalks)
  2. 1 and 1/2 cups of water
  3. A couple of drops of a preferred oil (ex. avocado oil works well)
  4. A spoon (to scrape the gel/sap from the inside of the aloe plant)
  5. A sharp knife
  6. A bowl
  7. A blender
  8. A strainer or cheesecloth
  9. A spray bottle

Method:

  1. Using the knife, carefully remove the barbs along the perimeter of the aloe vera stalks
  2. Take knife and carefully cut the aloe vera stalks length-wise down the middle; have bowl situated underneath to catch any gel/sap that drips from the stalks
  3. Using the spoon, scrape out the gel/sap from the inside of the plant into the bowl
  4. Transfer contents of bowl into blender; blend for 20 seconds
  5. *Optional: add scraped aloe vera stalks to blender and blend until smooth*
  6. Add water to blender, blend for 10 seconds
  7. *If aloe vera stalks were added to blender, strain*
  8. Transfer aloe vera juice to spray bottle
  9. Add a couple drops of preferred oil to spray bottle and shake
  10. Store in fridge to keep fresh
  11. When the time comes to use your aloe vera juice, remember, a little goes a long way! Shake spray bottle well, spray juice into hands, and rub throughout hair; or spray directly on to previously-sectioned hair. Afterwards, apply your regular hair care/styling products according to your personal hair regimen, and enjoy!

 Do you use aloe vera in your hair or skin care regimen? How has it worked for you?

 

Rehydrated, and it feels so good!

20160103_175408It’s been a week now since I completed the Earthtones Naturals’ 7 Day Rehydration Challenge, and I’m pleased to report that my super-hard-dry-breaking hair is now rehydrated, and it feels so good! (For more on my dry hair ordeal, click here) It’s soft and supple again, and almost back to its original state (Thanks, Susan!)

OGX Argan Oil of MoroccoMy regimen began with a pretty involved wash day (well, “pretty involved” for a lazy natural like me, lol), which consisted of:

  1. Pre-pooing my hair with coconut oil, putting on a plastic cap, and then sitting under my hooded dryer for 30 mins (since I couldn’t find my heated cap);
  2. Washing and conditioning my hair with OGX Argan Oil of Morocco Shampoo and Conditioner, (the natural-hair-friendly shampoo/conditioner that I’ve been using lately);

    Curl Condition Deep Conditioner

     

  3. Deep conditioning with Earthtones Naturals’ Curl Condition Intensive Hydrating Deep Treatment, covering my hair again with a plastic cap, and then sitting under my hooded dryer for 30 mins;
  4. Rinsing out the deep conditioner;
  5. Moisturizing my hair with Earthtones Naturals’ Curl Quench Hair Butter;

    hairbutterlarge__48514.1405342729.1280.1280_grande

    Curl Quench Moisturizer

  6. Detangling sections of my hair and plaiting them;
  7. Putting on a plastic cap again, covering it with my satin headscarf, and then heading to bed.

 

For the rest of the week, my regimen consisted of undoing my plaits in the morning, and then braiding my hair into two big French braids (my go-to protective style when I’m pressed for time).  At night, I would undo my French braids, spray sections of my hair with a mixture of water and glycerin (4 parts water + 1 part glycerin); plait those sections; put on my plastic cap; tie my headscarf over it; and off to bed I’d go.

In the morning, my hair would be moist and supple from having slept with the plastic cap on- and it managed to stay moisturized for the remainder of the day.

20160103_175208After the 7 days, my hair felt pretty much back to normal.  Mind you, I was still (and still am) experiencing some breakage, but definitely not to the same degree as I was in 2015.  My curl definition is back (during my bout of chronic dryness, no matter what I did, my hair would not keep its definition- my twist-outs/braid-outs would almost immediately frizz-out, and then get matted out of nowhere and turn into fairy-knot central).  And it has not felt this soft in months

If only I had known last year what I know now, I would have saved myself a lot of frustration and anguish (I even shed a few tears one day because I just didn’t know what to do!) Nevertheless, in retrospect, I can say I’m glad that I made those regimen mistakes in 2015 because my problems forced me to do research to try to fix them, which in turn taught me things I didn’t know before about my hair.  For instance, I discovered that I have low porosity hair, which requires some extra attention to keep it satisfied.

 

I now know that these are a few of my Type-4-low-porosity-hair’s favourite things:

  1. Hydration– my hair needs a lot of water and moisturizer!
  2. Heat– low porosity hair needs heat to help lift the cuticles and let moisture in; so my heated cap is my new best friend!
  3. Deep conditioner– the only time I used to deep condition my hair in the past was if I was experiencing serious breakage; now, I will be incorporating deep conditioning into my regular routine as a preventive measure, rather than a remedial one!

If your hair is suffering from severe dehydration like mine was, take the 7 Day Rehydration Challenge; and if you do, please don’t forget to let me know how it worked on your hair.

For more information on Earthtones Naturals products, visit www.earthtonesnaturals.com.

What are your secrets for keeping your hair hydrated and happy?

Lessons from 2015: If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

20151127_163824As 2015 comes to a close, I’ve been taking the time to reflect on the things that went well, not so well, and overall, the many lessons that I’ve learned this year.  When it comes to my hair, specifically, though, I would say the biggest lesson I learned this year was “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”:

As you already know, I love being natural: I love the uniqueness of my hair; how big and fluffy it is; and its gravity-defying properties.  But what you may not know is that I’m a pretty lazy natural.  I mean, I wash and condition my hair regularly; get it trimmed when the ends get bad;  but compared to the extensive healthy hair regimens that I’ve heard that many other naturals undergo on a daily basis, I can’t say that I’ve ever been one to actually “take care” of my hair.

Prior to this year, my old haphazard regimen (if I could even call it that) consisted of using primarily Creme of Nature products, namely, washing and conditioning my hair with Creme of Nature Ultra Moisturizing Shampoo and their Professional Moisture Extreme Conditioner, respectively.

For styling, I would spray my hair with water and then moisturize it with Creme of Nature Argan Oil Moisturizer and shea butter before (a) setting it in two-strand twists for my twist-outs; OR (b) having my sister cornrow it for me (if I got lucky), OR (c) single-braid it with extension hair (if I really got lucky); OR (d) before I would slick on some Creme of Nature Argan Oil Gloss and Shine Polisher and give myself a blow-out.

However, after reading The Science of Black Hair by Audrey Davis-Sivasothy and then attending The Natural Hair Congress  earlier this year- and being enlightened on a number of things I’ve been doing wrong-  I decided that for the remainder of the year, I was going to make a concerted effort to take care of my hair, to optimize its health and to see whether I could maximize my length retention.

So I taking advantage of a sale at Target, while in the States, I bought myself some Cantu (sulfate-, paraben-, silicone- free) shampoo, conditioner, leave-in conditioner, and styling creme; as well as some Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Kids Extra-Moisturizing Detangler Spray; and started on my pathway to my new healthy hair regimen!

Shortly thereafter, my Mom and brother had started using coconut oil, and having heard about its miracle-working properties from numerous sources, I decided to start using it too.

I was so excited about finally treating my hair right…until it started to get hard…but I thought it was just my texture reacting to my not using products with sulfates, parabens, silicones, and all- other-things-that-are-bad-for-Black-hair, anymore.

But then it started to break…I mean, really break.  I would gently touch my hair with my finger tips, and pieces would just come off in my hands; and when I would detangle it with my Tangle Teezer or manipulate it in any way, flurries of little curly-cues would end up covering my floors (which I’m sure my husband was thrilled about).  My hair would be everywhere!

I started freaking out, and immediately stopped using the Cantu products and the Shea Moisture spray.  But it was still hard and still breaking.

I tried going back to my old chemical-filled shampoos and conditioners.  Still hard, still breaking.

Then one day, out of frustration, I Googled “natural hair dry brittle breaking”, and the first hit was an article talking about coconut oil and brittle natural hair.

Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 5.49.51 PM

The whole time during this ordeal with my hard-and-breaking hair, I was still using coconut oil (along with my favourite product of all, shea butter).

Coconut oil?! How could it be? I thought.  Coconut oil was supposed to be the oil of all oils and every naturalista’s saviour, right?!  Well, for my hair, it definitely wasn’t!

So, I stopped using both.  But my hair has been a mess, ever since! And I still wasn’t sure what exactly it was that had messed it up.

Recently, a friend of mine shared this article on Facebook: http://blackdoctor.org/470909/7-reasons-to-stop-using-coconut-oil-and-shea-butter-on-your-hair/

It was then that I realized that it was not just the coconut oil, but rather my combination of coconut oil AND shea butter that had “sealed” my fate, leaving my hair hard, dry, brittle, and filled with fairy knots!

I was this close to cutting it all off, but before doing so, I decided to speak to Dr. Susan Walker of Earthtones Naturals two weeks ago to see if she could help me fix it.  She told me that I had been using coconut oil in the wrong way- that it cannot be used to “seal” your hair and that I should have been using it as a pre-poo treatment instead- so it was no wonder that my hair was super-dry.  (And here I was thinking that you could just use coconut oil for everything- WRONG!)

It also turned out that Susan had just put together a 7-Day Rehydration Challenge for her subscribers (check it out here: 7 Day Rehydration Protocol); and for the past week, that’s what I’ve been doing: trying to re-hydrate my hair.

So far, it’s been working- my hair feels much more supple than it has in months.

Having learned this important lesson in 2015, in 2016, I will:

  • Pay attention to what my hair is telling me– if something is not working for my hair, I will STOP!
  • Do what is right for my own hair– everyone’s hair is different
  • Try new products or methods incrementally– I won’t try a whole bunch of new things all at once
  • Be diligent about taking care of my hair properly

What, if any, are the lessons you learned about your hair in 2015? What will you do differently in 2016?