May 14, 2014

Herbal Essences Touchably Smooth

In the market for a new shampoo and conditioner, I decided to try out Herbal Essences Touchably Smooth collection. I figured, having curly hair, a "smoothing" collection would be good for calming down any frizz and keeping curls neat.

Overall, this is not a bad shampoo or conditioner. The scent is pleasant, the product is pink. The shampoo is a fairly standard formula, probably a little too heavy for someone with an oily scalp but good if you're a little dry. When I use dandruff shampoo I like to do the second wash with this product to keep my scalp from getting too dry. Within the Herbal Essences line, though, I have to say I think their basic Hello Hydration does a better job, and I certainly have products I like better outside of their brand.

As for the conditioner, I found it much too light. I ended up with a lot of split ends--now, I have been growing my hair out and I tend to get split ends past a certain length so I won't blame it on the conditioner per se, but I certainly get better protection and hydration from other products.

What I really found funny was the marketing of this product though. Maybe they've changed the packaging since I bought it, but the bottles I have look like the ones on the picture above and claim to make your hair smooth. If you look at their website, you'll see the bottles say "straightening", not "smoothing". I did actually find that it was a lot harder to style my hair curly and it seemed to be getting straighter and straighter. I ran out of the conditioner and bought a new one for curly hair and my hair seems to slowly be getting curlier again.

I would really be interested to know what ingredients are in this product that make your hair straighter. As a hairstylist, I've worked with keratin smoothing treatments and done chemical straightening procedures. Since these treatments rose to popularity I have seen keratin shampoo/conditioner combinations come out that claim to slowly smooth your hair out over time. But this product doesn't contain keratin, and since my hair has bounced back, I'm wondering if perhaps it's some sort of chemical that temporarily gets in the way of the bond arrangement in the hair.

Bottom line: If you are actually looking to make your hair a bit straighter, I would recommend this product. However, if you're just looking for smoothness, try something else.

May 08, 2014

Product Review: Biore Charcoal

Quite a while ago I was sent a free sample of two new products from Biore: the Deep Pore Charcoal Cleanser and Self Heating One Minute Mask. I was pretty excited to try them out. According to their website, charcoal draws impurities out from the skin and cleans better than a normal cleanser.

I started out with the face cleanser, which was a somewhat unappetizing colour due to the charcoal. I didn't notice much of a difference in texture or lather from my regular cleanser. However, it did leave me with some tingling.

After cleansing I moved onto the mask. I like masks. I know they're not particularly necessary for your everyday skincare routine, and that a good cleanser and moisturizer are quite sufficient. But they're still fun once in a while and I especially looked forward to this one because I was imagining the stereotypical "woman in a mud mask" from movies and I figured having charcoal smeared all over my face would be pretty close. This mask wasn't just disappointing though, it was alarming. I experienced the same cooling and tingling as with the cleanser, but much more strongly. Combined with the self heating of the mask, I had rather intense hot and cold going on at the same time on my face to the extent that I felt like my face was burning. I couldn't even keep it on the full minute. After rinsing it off I still felt like my face was burning for a while, but at least my face looked fine, no noticeable redness.

After checking out the ingredient list and Paula Begoun's complaints about the brand, I'm going to take a guess and say it was the menthol...a skin irritant. I really wouldn't recommend either of these products. Biore says they give a "deep clean you can see" and especially with a mask I would have expected at least sort of a glow, but I didn't see any difference from normal. Their claim to leave skin "tingly-smooth" is about true, but for me the tingle was more like burning.

The Apprentice is Back

University has been keeping me busy the past few years with little free time to spend blogging. However, I have finished all of my classes for my final year and am looking forward to my graduation in June. This leaves me with a lot of free time on my hands, although I'm spending a lot of it searching for a job. You can expect to see me posting a bit more often now!

December 29, 2011

Hair That Rocks: Down to the Core of it All

When one thinks of the connection between rock and hair, the first thing to come to mind may be the glam rock hair bands of the eighties (see Figure 1). With a little more information, this idea may be discarded faster than David Lee Roth's shag. The parallel drawn here refers to actual rocks: sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic.

Figure 1: Twisted Sister, a typical Hair Band of the eighties (ebcak, 2008).

Rock cores are long thin pieces of rock removed from beneath the Earth's surface using a hollow drill. These segments are cut through the many layers of rock laid down by past events (Plummer, 2004). When removed and laid out for examination, the newest layers are at the top, with a visible progression of events continuing down the core to the oldest layer at the base (Plummer, 2004). Likewise, hair strands are produced from the top down, in protein units with the oldest segment at the end of the hair (see Figure 2) (Beatty, 2002).

Various landmarks throughout a rock core, such as fossils, deposits, and change in rock types can be used to deduce the geological history of that point in time (Plummer, 2004). Surprisingly enough, biochemical and isotopic signatures can be read along the hair strand, giving a history of an individual's health. Chemical indicators can be used to note hormonal changes, stress levels and diet (Hill Wood-Salomon, 2011). Hair samples have even been tested from preserved specimens, finally solving mysteries such as what percentage of a population was affected by events such as water contamination (Matsumoto and Yoshinaga, 2009), or the geographic route traveled by a murder victim (Courtland, 2008). Events such as change in location can be determined by a sudden switch in isotopic concentration (drinking from a different water source, for example) in the keratin units of the hair strand (Ehleringer et al., 2008).

Figure 2: A side-by-side comparison of rock cores and hair strands (ISGS, 2010; Hair Compounds, 2010).

Rock deposits can be altered through further events such as folding and fractures, changing the accuracy of events read along a core sample (Plummer, 2004). Similarly in hair, as the age of the event in question increases, the likelihood of taking an accurate measurement of chemical ratios decreases. Hair is structurally altered and often damaged by environmental factors such as sun and wind. Hair and scalp conditions produce abnormal strands, containing different initial chemical ratios, which would give quite different results than a healthy hair (Beatty, 2002). Physical abuse occurs on a daily basis for many, through brushing, heat styling, and chemical alteration such as colouring and perming. Furthermore, data is lost when the hair is cut, removing the oldest records at the base of the hair strand (Beatty, 2002). This process is also observed in rock samples, where glacial erosion has removed one or more layers of rock, leaving a gap in the timeline of relative dating (Plummer, 2004).

Hair analysis techniques are still in discovery and developmental stages. Nevertheless, the potential applications are incredible. Many conditions which are currently tested for by drawing blood may be examined by taking a reading from a strand of hair (Hill Wood-Salomon, 2011). Depending on the length, the recorded sequence can reveal events years into the past, providing an impressive ready-made medical record (Cerling et al., 2009). Who knows what the future may hold? As they today, gone tomorrow.

Works Cited

Beatty, D., 2002. Milady’s Standard Cosmetology.

Cerling, T.E. et al., 2009. History of Animals using Isotope Records (HAIR): A 6-year dietary history of one family of African elephants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106(20), pp.8093-8100.

Courtland, R., 2008. Your history is printed in your hair : Nature News. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 26 November 2011].

ebcak, 2008. 80′s Glam Metal Rock Bands | Cool Stuff - ebcak. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 26 November 2011].

Ehleringer, J.R. et al., 2008. Hydrogen and oxygen isotope ratios in human hair are related to geography. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105(8), pp.2788 -2793.

Hair Compounds, 2010. Measuring Stress Through Hair | Hair & Compounds Blog. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 2 December 2011].

Hill Wood-Salomon, J., 2011. Science for hairstylists: the potential uses of hair samples in medicine. [personal communication] [Discussed 7 October 2011].

ISGS, 2010. ISGS - Geological Samples Library Collections. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 26 November 2011].

Matsumoto, M. and Yoshinaga, J., 2009. Isotope ratios of lead in Japanese women’s hair of the twentieth century. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 17pp.643-649.

Plummer, C., 2004. Physical geology & the environment. 1st ed. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson.

December 28, 2011

Suave Surfactants: Maintaining the Integrity of Your Shampoo

There is nothing quite like awakening to the screams of a woman (or man, for that matter) bewailing the efficacy of their shampoo. “I trusted you!” they moan, “you promised me everything, for better or for worse, wash, rinse, and repeat...”

Storming into the hairdresser's in a fury, however, is not the best approach to take. They will listen professionally to the dilemma, calm irascible nerves with a relaxing shampoo, explain that the product performs exceptionally for the price, offer a refund, and leave one feeling rather embarrassed.

To avoid this situation, take the time to learn the factors that could decrease the power of the perfect shampoo.

Hard water contains dissolved ions which can interfere with the surfactants in shampoo. (Trüeb, 2007) Much like the properties observed in phosphobilipid membranes, each end of the shampoo molecule has a slight charge. One end is lipophilic, attracting oil and debris in the hair, and the other hydrophilic, attracting water to rinse away. (Beatty, 2002) The presence of cations or anions in rinsewater can interfere with either end of the molecule, often leaving the user with residue in their hair. The installation of a water softener will convert hard water to soft, removing trace ions and restoring that silky shine. (Trüeb, 2007)

Shampoos are often formulated at a pH mimicking that of hair and skin, approximately 4.5-6.5. (Beatty, 2002) Ideally, water has a neutral pH of 7. Contaminants, dissolved substances, and phenomena such as acid rain can alter the pH of water. While the shampoo formulation anticipates water neutrality, slightly more acidic or basic water can strip the acid mantle, which may lead to oil overproduction. This can result in an oily scalp and dry, frizzy hair. (Beatty, 2002) Monitoring of home water pH and investment in water filtration equipment can alleviate these issues.

Bacterial contamination has become less of an issue due to modern preservatives. It may still occur in hair products in rare cases, or in products derived directly from organic ingredients. (Olsen, 1967) Contrary to popular belief, the bathroom is not the most hygenic place to store hygiene products. Bacterial cultures can develop in open products or in those exposed to contaminants. Ingredient efficacy can decrease with microorganic growth, and also through exposure to extreme temperatures or sunlight. (Olsen, 1967) As with any chemical, store shampoo in a closed and labelled container in a dark cool area. If a change is noticed in the product, such as odour or texture, dispose of it no matter how expensive it was. Although it is rare for degraded shampoo to cause illness, an important ingredient rendered ineffective may alter the entire integrity of the product.

As observed in [a class research project], water quality and pH can directly affect one's health and well being. While shampoo efficacy is hardly as crucial a substantiate to life as avoiding toxin ingestion, keeping one's hair strong and supple creates a peace of mind.

Works Cited

Beatty, D., 2002. Milady's Standard Cosmetology. , September 9, 2002.

Olsen, S.W.,M.S., 1967. The Application of Microbiology to Cosmetic Testing. Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, March 4, 1967, no. 18, pp. 191-191-198.

Trüeb, R.M., 2007. Shampoos: Ingredients, Efficacy and Adverse Effects. Journal of the German Society of Dermatology, May 2007, vol. 5, no. 5, pp. 356-356-365.

December 27, 2011

I'm Still Alive and Cutting

How do you stay in touch with the hair and makeup world when you're no longer in it?

It doesn't hurt to have a teenage sister who stays savvy with all the Youtube makeup gurus. I'd have no idea what "Baby Lips" is were it not for scouring four stores until I finally found the pink colour for her Christmas present.

I wrote my hairdresser's final back in July and passed with flying colours. A few months later I quit my salon job of three years and started working on my honours bachelor of science.

Wait, what? Well, that really has been my plan for some time now. I love both worlds and couldn't see myself not being a hairdresser, or not being a scientist. Hopefully one day I'll find some blissful fusion of the two. Did you know hairdressing has its very own science? Trichology: the science of hair. The next few posts I'll be sharing are pieces I've written over the past term for my class blog. The idea is to take a scientific concept presented in class and expand upon it using an interdisciplinary approach. These posts will look a bit different than my usual format, however I can promise the same delightful blend of dry humour and a unique perspective.

So while I haven't been poring over Vogue while sitting at reception pricing Goldwell's latest and greatest--heck, I haven't even been wearing makeup--I still have beauty on my mind. I've even managed to keep up freelancing both with my former clientele and at the university.

P.S. I do try to keep up. I enjoy following a few blogs such as Oh So Coco.

June 15, 2011

Coco does Gaultier

Who says Canadians are limited to parkas and Sorels? Coco Rocha, a graceful and talented model hailing from the country I call home, has posted a video of her shoot for Elle magazine wearing all vintage Jean Paul Gaultier. There is a Gaultier career retrospective at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts should you happen to pass through Quebec. The video is well worth watching, although it's fairly long.

Jean Paul Gaultier Retrospective from Coco Rocha on Vimeo.