The Four Seasons in the Hair Growth Cycle

 

When I think of the different phases of hair growth, I often liken it to the four seasons we experience with Mother Nature: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter.

Stage 1: Spring Season—Anagen Phase

During the anagen or spring phase, we experience hair growth, and just like the spring season, it’s the most euphoric time because everything is in full bloom and life abounds.

The root of the hair divides rapidly and grows about 1 cm every 28 days until it begins to enter the next season that is referred to as the catagen phase.

Stage 2: Summer Season—Catagen Phase

When I think of the catagen phase, I naturally think of summer. The catagen phase lasts about 2-3 weeks. And just like summer, things tend to dry up.

If plants and tree aren’t getting enough nourishment, they can start to whither and die. Similarly, some of our hair strands will be cut off from their blood supply and will become club hair or dead hair and enter into the telogen phase.

Stage 3: Fall Season—Catagen Phase

In keeping with my analogy, the telogen phase is like the fall season or the resting season. The warm sun of summer is replaced with colder, dry weather. Plants and trees don’t have enough energy (from the sun) to keep growing so they begin to rest and shed their flowers and leaves.

Similarly, in the telogen phase, which lasts about 3 months, some hair follicles are in a resting phase. The hair follicle will shrink because they no longer need blood to grow. These resting follicles are keratin rich, dead hair that will form an anchor on the actual hair shaft as they prepare to enter into the exogen phase and shed off.

Stage 4: Winter Season—Exogen Phase

The exogen phase is like old man winter. Plant life becomes very bare. Similarly, in the exogen phase, all of the dead hair from the club hair or telogen phase will shed because new hair follicles are forming beneath the shrunken follicles of the club hair and forcing them to fall off or shed. During this phase, you’ll typically shed about 50 to 100 hairs per day. But don’t despair, again, new hair follicles have formed underneath and a burst of new hair growth will abound in the spring.

How To Choose A Good Conditioner To Increase Hydration

Conditioners are vital to the hydration of hair. Some are better than others. This article will discuss how they work and what to look for in the ingredients list.

What Is A Conditioner And How Does It Work?

Conditioners are a hybrid form of oil and water. The technical terminology is emulsification of oils/ butters and water. The result is either a cream or lotion with droplets of oil dispersed in a water matrix AKA oil in water emulsion. They are important because they bring moisture (water) to the hair shaft along with a sealant (oil), which is needed to trap water in the hair cortex to reduce evaporation.  

The third critical ingredient to add to the conditioner is a humectant. Humectants have the capacity to bind water in the product and slow down evaporation. Typical humectants are Glycerin, Sodium PCA, and Sodium Lactate and each of them have a different capacity to bind moisture.

Table 1

Water Holding Capacity of Common Cosmetic Moisturizers
Hyaluronic Acid 388
Sodium Lactate 84
Sodium PCA 60
Glycerin 40
Sorbitol 21

 

It’s the combination of the conditioner’s emulsion and humectant properties that will actually drive hydration in the hair. 

What do I look for ingredients list of a conditioner?

  1. You want to see oils and butters present in the formulation. Mango Butter, Coconut Oil , Palm Oil are great emollients for trapping moisture into the hair shaft.   I would expect them to be within the first 5-6 ingredients.
  2. You want to see the humectant within the first 7 ingredients on the list. See Table 1.

Moisture Tip:  If the product has too much water and very little oils/butters and humectants, it will not add moisture to your hair.

You can’t give what you don’t have and the same holds true for hair conditioners. If they don’t have oils/butters and humectants, your hair can’t receive them. Period!

Skin Tip: Hair and Skin chemistry is very similar. If you want to test a hair conditioner apply it to your skin. If it feels watery and drying on the skin, it will most likely perform the same way on your the hair.

Breaking Down pH And How It Effects Hair Dryness

What Exactly Is pH And Why Do I Need To Be Concerned About It?

pH is the measurement of hydrogen ions present in a water-based solution.  It ranges from 0 (very acidic) to 14 (very basic).   For a frame of reference, distilled water has a pH of 7 and is therefore, neutral.   Furthermore, apple cider vinegar has a pH of 2 and is very acidic, while sodium hydroxide, AKA “creamy crack” has a pH of 13 and is very basic. And, the pH of your natural, untreated hair is 5 – 5.5.

 

The pH of your hair products can raise or lower the cuticles on the hair shaft. For example, when you apply a relaxer to your hair, the pH will be13 and will fully raise the hair cuticle. Conversely, if you use an apple cider vinegar rinse, you will lower/ tighten the hair cuticle, which is why it’s great for high porosity hair.

But before I go any further, I want to discuss products formulated with oils and butters that do not have any water. In a nutshell, 100% oil based products do not have a pH level.

pH Fact About Oil: Oil does not have a pH because it doesn’t have any hydrogen ions present due to the absence of water. Therefore, oil products that are anhydrous will NEVER have a pH number associated with it.

 

How Does pH Effect Dry Hair?

So, if the hair cuticle is in a raised state (pH>5.5), the cortex is exposed, and moisture will rapidly evaporate from the hair and cause dryness and shrinkage. Excessive dryness due to raised cuticles will eventually lead to breakage.

On the flip side, if your hair cuticle is in a lowered state(pH<4.5), moisture adsorption is decreased. The cuticles are so tightly aligned on the hair shaft that they slow down the adsorption of moisture from the environment. It’s a small pathway for moisture to reach the cortex. Excessive dryness due to closed cuticles will eventually lead to breakage.

These problems (high and low pH) are on fleek during the winter months because of the lower humidity in conditioned air. The hot air we use to heat our homes inside during the winter months is dry and moisture will evaporate from the hair shaft.

 

So, What Can I Do To Keep My Hair Hydrated?

Ahem, well, my first suggestion is to buy CUSH Cosmetics shampoos and conditioners. And yes, it’s a shameless plug and of course, I’m biased!

Like everything in life, there is a sweet spot. Look for hair products that have a pH of 4.5 – 5.5, which is the pH of our Creme De Palme Curl Enhancing Creme.   That pH gives you the “proper” alignment of the cuticle to drive hydration. The cuticles are raised enough to allow moisture into the cortex yet closed enough to slow down evaporation.

If you have low porosity hair, you can use hair produces with slightly higher pH. Our Mango Babassu Shampoo Bar is a great shampoo to correct low porosity hair. If you have high porosity hair, you can use products with a slightly lower pH.

Tip: Use pH strips and test your hair product to understand its pH.  

Have fun and stay hydrated!

CUSH Mango Babassu Shampoo Bar: Why Customers Love It!

When we launched CUSH Cosmetics eight years ago, we introduced our Mango Babassu Shampoo Bar to customers. In fact, it was our only shampoo at that time. We were exploring different alternatives to liquid shampoo—primarily because we were looking for something different to talk about.

Fast forward eight years later and our customers are still loving and talking about how great this shampoo bar is—And here’s why!

INTENSE LATHER & GENTLE CLEANSING WITHOUT STRIPPING

“I love all Cush shampoos. But this Mango Babassu Shampoo, I love the most. I have type 4 hair, it’s natural, and I wash my hair every week.”

This is a quote from one of our satisfied customers who uses the bar weekly. The first thing you’ll notice is how gentle the Mango Babassu Shampoo Bar is, which makes it safe to use frequently. That gentle cleansing comes from the Babassu Oil that we get from Brazil’s Amazon Rainforest. We love to create a pampering, cleansing experience with “tried and true” botanicals that have been used to make soap for generations because they work…period!

Babassu Oil brings in an intense lathering experience—just like the experience you get when using a liquid shampoo, but without the SLS. However, gentle cleansing isn’t the only remarkable attribute of Babassu Oil—It’s also a rich, highly moisturizing and quickly penetrating oil that treats dry, itchy and inflamed skin. So you get both, great cleansing and nourished skin with one oil. But we didn’t want to stop there, we also wanted this bar to be conditioning and have some slip.

CONDITIONING, CREAMY MOISTURE & SLIP

“Gave my thick, long, tangle-prone hair so…. much slip!” The shine is beautiful, as well.  The ingredients are very nourishing for your scalp/hair.  I absolutely love this poo bar; it is definitely a staple.

You might be asking, “How can a bar of soap have any slip?” Well, it depends on the bar—Thankfully, not all bars are created equally! As it is with all of our products, we like to add something extra that will add a nice little pop to our formulations, which is why we added Mango Butter. I can’t emphasize enough how conditioning and moisturizing this nutrient rich butter is when used to make soap.

It’s chock-full of oleic fatty acids that provide conditioning properties and stearic fatty acids that pamper your hair with a luxurious, creamy moisturizing sensation. All of that creamy lather is what gives this bar the slip you crave in a shampoo.

The Mango Babassu Shampoo Bar is a gentle cleanser that is very conditioning and moisturizing with creamy textured slip—everything our customers love!

But, we wanted to make sure this bar would also give you the CUSH difference that some natural products lack—High performance. Simply put, CUSH products are high performance, salon quality beauty products, and this shampoo bar is delivers with great styling features for curly hair and straight hair.

SOFTENS, HYDRATES, & DEFINES CURLS

“This bar has a nice easy lather, but feels so moisturizing. It rinsed very easily and left my hair feeling clean but not stripped… and when I stepped out of the shower, very shiny and defined, soft curls. I hadn’t even DC’ed yet. This is my new staple for cleansing my hair! Love it!

 Soap has a bad reputation of being drying to both skin and hair. However, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find this to be a myth when it comes to the Mango Babassu Shampoo Bar because it’s formulated without detergents such as SLS, which you will generally find in conventional bar of soap. We used Olive Oil, Wheat Germ Oil and Castor Oil to ensure that the Mango Babassu Shampoo Bar would deliver superior hydration and some styling properties. This shampoo bar contains glycerin—a natural humectant and by-product of the saponification process. With these four ingredients, you’ll experience great detangling properties and soft, well hydrated hair. Moreover, anyone with curly hair will have the added bonus of defined curls and those of you with low porosity hair will finally enjoy moisture.

LOW POROSITY HAIR

If you suffer from low porosity hair, the Mango Babassu Shampoo Bar will gently lift your cuticles and bring in all of those amazing oils and butters to moisturize and soften your hair. Castile soap naturally drives hydration because it lowers the overall surface energy of water and allows it to travel easier through your hair and seal in the moisture that the Mango Babassu Bar brings with it.

So if you’ve tried this bar and loved it, would you please take a moment to write a review on Amazon or our website. And don’t forget to tell a friend.