Thursday, January 23, 2014

Over-Conditioning: What is It and How to Fix it!

Hi curlies!

I got a great question on another blog post asking about over-conditioning.  Daphna asked
I am wondering about hair being overmoisturized. Is there any way to prevent that? And is it something only fine-haired curlies need to worry about, or can it happen to anyone, regardless of hair qualities?
 Sometimes I feel like my hair is so dry all the time that it cannot be possible to overcondition it.  But a few years ago, I started experiencing the tell tale signs of over-conditioning (or over-moisturizing) and I had to learn how to correct for it.

The Symptoms
1) Hair feels very soft. Like abnormally soft. Too soft
2) Hair feels squishy/fluffy
3) Hair is uncharacteristically limp and lifeless
4) When you perform a strand test (take a couple strands of shed hair and hold the ends with your finger tips of one hand, then lightly tug and release the ends with your other fingers), the hair simply stretches without bouncing back to its original position

The Fix
Luckily, the fix is really simple.  You need more protein.

Hair needs both protein and moisture.  Fine haired curlies need more protein than coarse haired curlies.  This is because of the structure of the individual strands of hair.  Coarse hair has something called an inner medula which fine hair lacks.  With fine hair, you have a cuticle (made up of shingle like structures) that forms the outside of the strand and an inner cortex.  With coarse hair, you also have the cuticle and cortex, but there is a third distinct layer of the hair called medulla.  With fine hair, protein will help plump up the inner structure of the hair where the medulla is missing.  With coarse hair, you need much less protein because there is already something in the center of the hair strand.  So while every curly (and really anyone with hair!) should strive to achieve a balance of protein and moisture, fine haired curlies are starting out needing more protein than coarse haired curlies, and thus fine haired curlies are more prone to pushing the moisture-protein balance too far to the moisture side.

To fix your over-moisturized hair, you should give yourself a protein treatment!  Nexxus Emergencee is great for a huge boost of protein quickly and you can find it at most drugstores or on Amazon (note: if you're looking in the drug store, it's usually packaged in a box, so look for a small, boxed product usually on the bottom shelf)

 Once you've given yourself a big boost with a protein treatment, you should consider adding in protein as part of your regular routine until you get your hair well balanced.

Protein Heavy Conditioners
  • Aphogee Two Minute Keratin Reconstructor (available at Sally's Beauty Supply or on Amazon)
  • Aubrey Organics GPB Conditioner (available at Whole Foods, some organic sections, or on Amazon) (fair warning, this conditioner is very strongly scented. It's not an unpleasant scent, but just be aware if you're sensitive to fragrance).
  • Curl Junkie Beauticurls Strengthening Hair Conditioner (available from or on Amazon)
  • It's a 10 Keratin (note: not CG; available at Ulta, many drugstores, and on Amazon)

Protein-Light Conditioners
  • Trader Joe's Nourish Spa Conditioner (available at Trader Joe's)
  • Nature's Gate Hemp Conditioner (available in various organic sections or on Amazon)
  • Vo5 Conditioners (available at many drugstores, look for the Strawberry Smoothie variety for an amazing scent!)
  • Mop Top Daily Conditioner (available on Amazon and from some specialty retailers)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Review: DevaCurl Ulta Defining Gel

Hello curlies!

I've got a review of a relatively new DevaCurl product. DevaCurl is a company that makes higher end sulfate free and silicone free products with curly hair in mind. Their founder, Lorraine Massey, wrote a really influential book on curly hair care, Curly Girl. In 2011, she followed it up with Curly Girl: The Handbook. Even though pretty much all of the info in those books can be found online, I still think they're worthwhile reads!

Anyway, so in years past, the Deva line included two gels: Deva Angel and Deva ArcAngel. Angel was the lighthold gel, and ArcAngel was a stronger hold. ArcAngel stayed ArcAngel, but Angel became DevaCurl Light Defining Gel.  Then, DevaCurl added a gel with intermediate hold in between these two.  The intermediate holding gel is the DevaCurl Ultra Defining Gel. Got all that?

I had tried Angel and ArcAngel in the past. I remember feeling that Angel did not have enough hold for me, and ArcAngel made my hair too stringy.  So with their light hold gel not being enough and their hard hold maybe being a bit too much, I thought, hey, this intermediate gel sounds pretty promising.

Front of the Bottle

Ingredients (you can click to enlarge!)

The packaging is just like almost every other DevaCurl product: green with swirls. Make sure to check that you're looking at the Ultra Defining Gel if you're interested in this level of hold in particular. It would be easy to grab the wrong bottle!

The gel is Curly Girl method friendly, meaning there are no silicones (or sulfates).  It's a water-based gel but it has a lot of glycerin, so you might want to save this for spring/summer/fall if you live in a particularly dry winter climate (dew points regularly below 20).  You can read all about why I say that here!

The important thing to note about the ingredients is that this does have a hefty amount of protein.  If you have coarse hair, you might want to be wary of this product unless you're confident that your hair likes some protein.  If you have fine hair like me though, this is nothing but good news!  Fine hair generally takes protein very well.

This gel is scented, but I find it to be a very pleasant scent and it does not linger on me.

Here is what the gel looks like.  You can really see that water base when it sits in my hand and warms up for a few seconds.  Obviously, it's a clear gel with some body to it, but it easily spreads across your hands, which is important to me because I want a gel to be able to spread easily across my wet hair strands to get even distribution.

I applied this gel using the Squish to Condish method, where I get my hair super saturated with conditioner and water, then scrunch in a gel to this sopping wet hair while still in the shower.  I found that it distributed really well. 

Here are the results.  I love the shine that this gives me.

I was really happy with how this turned out.  So were there any negatives?

My one possible complaint is that by the end of the day, I did have a tiny bit of surface frizz.  I could pretty easily smooth it down with some water/conditioner, though.  So if you're prone to your curl tightness failing throughout the day, you might want to try something with more hold.

One issue I have with this product is the claim from the Deva website that "As it dries, Ultra Defining Gel forms a moisture-protective cast to enhance curls."  I did not find this to be the case.  If I read that a product is going to form a cast over my curls, I expect a true crunchy cast that I need to scrunch to release.  This gel didn't do this to me (at least in the nickle sized amounts I've been using).  It did have a noticeable hold, but it wasn't like Kinky Curly Curling Custard level of cast-formation. So that could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your own personal preferences.

All in all, I'm happy with this gel and I'll keep it in my rotation.  Check it out on Amazon, which usually has it for around $2-4 less than in stores.