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!

Getting Your Vitamin D Levels Checked is Something You Shouldn’t Ignore!

When you go to get your physical this year, don’t forget to ask your doctor to check your vitamin D levels. If you are suffering from a chronic autoimmune disease, chances are your vitamin D levels just might be next to none existent.

 

I had mine checked 3 years ago and was SHOCKED (I had been supplementing with vitamin D for 2 years) that my level was only 17-the normal range is between 30- 74 ng/ml, according to Livestrong.com.   In retrospect, I now know why my levels were so low.  Two years prior to getting my levels checked, I was only supplementing with 4oo i.u, which was recommended at that time, and I was expecting a baby.  Needless to say, the baby was taking all of the supplemental vitamin D from me.

 

After getting my lab results back, I began to do further research on vitamin D, and was greatly surprised to find that many Americans are deficient in vitamin D, especially African Americans.

 

Vitamin D Deficiency-America’s Epidemic

It turns out that one of the biggest health epidemics today is vitamin D deficiency.  In fact, it’s such a huge problem in America that everyone from integrative and conventional doctors to news outlets are reporting on the topic.  My mother has always said, if three people are telling you the same thing, you should listen to one of them.  I’m at full attention. Are you?

 

The Scoop on Vitamin D

Technically, vitamin D is not a vitamin, but rather a metabolic product called calcitriol. Calcitriol is a secosteroid hormone, which means that it is similar to a steroid and has an endocrine mechanism of action. Over 2000 of the genes in your body are regulated by vitamin D. Therefore a deficiency in this hormone has a tremendous impact on your health and has been linked to several diseases such as cancer, osteoporosis, and birth defects. In addition researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas say that there is a correlation between low serum levels of vitamin D and lupus. If you are deficient in vitamin D, let’s examine how you can restore your levels safely?

 

therefore, everyone should get their vitamin D levels checked during their annual physical. Moreover, you should request that your doctor give you the more accurate 25(OH)D blood test for the best results. What exactly is vitamin D and why is it so important?

 

Here what Dr. Oz  has to say.


 

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