Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Borage Oil for Hair Growth

aka Star Flower

Yesterday, an FB friend Andrea Smith shared that she watched an episode of  Dr. Oz were he talked about a vitamin supplement called Borage Oil that helps to retain moisture in the hair by coating it.  I'd never heard of it and it struck my interest after reading some the benefits listed below:

1. Especially good for improving inflammatory problems in the body.
2. Reduces pain and stiffness to those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
3. Helps ease symptoms of PMS like tender breasts, mood swings, and cramping.
4. Promotes healthy circulation.
5. Reduces impotence in Men.
6. Improves health of hair, skin, and nails. *
7. Relieves symptoms of eczema, acne, and psoriasis.
8. May help reduce symptoms associated with ADHD.

What I learned about Borage Oil...
Borage, (pronounced Bor-raj) Borage oil is oil from the seed of the borago officinalis plant. Borage oil contains very high amounts of  *gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which is an omega-6 essential fatty acid or  EFA. EFA's are found found mostly in plant based oils such as borrage seed oil, evening primrose oil which is known for treating PMS and  various other female related issues, and black currant oil.  Some may know omega-3 and 6 fatty acids are essential in promoting healthy hair, skin and in nail growth. The GLA content in Borage Oil is in the range of 16%-27% which is the highest level of GLA found in any specialty oil.

In terms of hair health and growth, Borage oil has been noted to treat inflamed hair follicles known as  folliculitis.   This is a disease caused from unsanitary conditions like sitting in or wetting your hair in bacteria infected hot tubs.  Borage oil can be taken daily to treat this problem by ingesting one  500mg capsule.

The GLA in Borage oil also is noted for treating dry scalp and dandruff issues.  Apparently, the oil has great water retaining properties which of course means that the hair is able to stay moisturized for longer periods of time.  Studies showed by ingesting 500mg two times a day for two months dry scalp and dandruff issues were improved, however encouraged to continue to take one capsule a day to maintain its benefits.

One hair issue I stay mindful of in my own healthy hair journey is thinning.  I'm always interested in natural ways to keep hair fall in check. I was happy to learn by ingesting 500 mg per day, it will increase the chances of new and healthier hair growth in addition to stopping any further hair loss. It is commonly used to treat female/male pattern baldness.

Borage oil may be used internally and externally on the hair.  To use topically borage oil can be mixed with other herbs such as rosemary oil, one of my favorites, and used as a conditioning treatment.  For best results, apply the oil treatment to the scalp for at least an hour before rinsing.

As with most natural treatments there are precautions that need to be taken into consideration.  From the articles I read about Borage oil most of them were written within the last year pertaining to hair growth, although the primary factor for its benefits stem from the high GLA content (omega 6 fatty acids) which have been known to be beneficial to hair skin and nails for decades.  Nevertheless there were some alarming warnings I felt compelled to share. 

 Side Effects: Stomach upset, stomach pain, yellowing eyes and skin, dark urine. If you have any of the following health problems, consult your doctor before using this product: liver conditions. Borage oil may contain chemicals called pyrrolizidine alkaloids. These chemicals may cause organ (e.g., liver) damage.  Read more [medicinenet.com]

 Borage should not be taken blindly, because the herb hasn't been approved by the FDA for treating any medical condition. Talk with your doctor if you're pregnant or nursing. There are no common side effects to borage, but seek medical attention if you experience an allergic reaction of any sort (including a tight chest, breathing difficulties, swelling, itching or a rash).  Read more: [e-how.com]

Borage seed oil is POSSIBLY SAFE for most adults and children as long as it is free of dangerous chemicals called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs). Borage plant parts including the leaf, flower, and seed can contain PAs. PAs can damage the liver or cause CANCER, especially when used in high doses or for a long time. Only use products that are certified and labeled PA-free. It’s important to avoid borage products that might contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs). PAs are a risk to the mother because they can cause serious liver disease and might cause cancer. PAs are also a risk to the infant because they might cause birth defects and they can pass into breast milk. Researchers aren’t even sure if borage products that are certified PA-free are safe during pregnancy and breast-feeding. It’s best to stay safe and avoid using borage.

Bleeding disorders: There is some concern that borage seed oil might prolong bleeding time and increase the risk of bruising and bleeding. If you have a bleeding disorder, use borage with caution.

Surgery: Borage might increase the risk of bleeding during and after surgery. Stop taking borage at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Read more [webMD.com]

In conclusion , after reading the above cautions I will not be taking this supplement internally and would opt for the topical usage to see if I noticed a difference first before ingesting.  I'm not breastfeeding nor do I have liver problems however, better safe than sorry. Borage oil for hair growth is more for treating female/male patterned baldness, dry scalp/dandruff issues, a to stop thinning issues. It will  not grow hair any faster than its normal rate.  Due to it's moisture retaining benefits, with afro textured hair being dry by nature, the hair would gain length automatically from the added moisture if proper hair handling is practiced as well as consistent caring for the hair.  I think it's worth a try.

Below are a  couple of links on where Borage Seed Oil can be purchased online:


Friday, October 14, 2011

Product Preservatives Extracts vs. Essentials...Is There a Difference?

Caring for my hair naturally has proven time and again to be a constant learning lesson for me.  I recently posted an article on How-To Liquefy Black Soap.  I had a more than sweet and helpful reader comment named Shelly. She informed me that she researched and found that adding water to any product will serve as  a breeding ground for bacteria in your homemade products unless a preservative is added.  Many of you especially those who sell products (I hope :o) and more savvy do-it-yourself  Naturalistas probably already knew this.   I didn't give it a second thought.  I had heard adding Vitamin E to homemade products served as a natural preservative watching YouTube vlogger naptural85s' how to make flax seed gel video.  When I make flax seed gel, I use it all so there is really no need for me to store it in the fridge more than a few days although I do use rosemary essential oil in the mix.  The only long term product I store would be the liquefied black soap and after much research on natural preservation of homemade products, I'll be adding a preservative.

One of the points Shelly mentioned were how none of the blogs and vloggs shes come across mention anything about the importance of using a preservative agent in homemade products. Even though they appear to have healthy skin and hair the potential hazard of contamination to me, outweighs that it appears to be safe since others aren't reporting any adverse health effects. 
The Importance of Preservatives

If you are formulating something that contains water, milk, hydrosols or other aqueous liquids, you will have to preserve the product or use it within 3-4 days refrigerated. It simply is not optional. Water provides a medium for harmful bacteria, mold, yeast and fungi to grow over time. If used, a contaminated product could cause severe health problems, blindness and even death. Your product must be adequately preserved to prevent contamination and microbial growth. [From Nature With Love]

According to this same source above there is really no "natural" preservative. At least not that would allow your product to have the same type of shelf life and protection from bacteria found in products that use commerical or synthetic preservatives.   The most harmful bacteria that natural products get is called pseudomonas. Psduedomonas: a genus of gram-negative rod-shaped motile bacteria including some that produce a greenish fluorescent water-soluble pigment and some that are saprophytes or plant or animal pathogens[Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online]. Natural preservatives cannot protect products from this form of bacteria unless it is used is very concentrated doses.  There are other ways however to help aid in reducing the need to use harmful synthetic preservatives.

 Preservative Free, Product Preservation
There are several things you can do to prevent the necessity of using harmful preservatives in your homemade concoctions.  Here are a few tips from the site listed above:
  •  Sterilize utensils and hands to eliminate the chance of contamination to your product.
  • Store your mixes in dark or non see-through containers to avoid the harmful effects of sunlight.
  • Store your product in an airtight container.  Air causes bacteria to form.
  • Store your product in a cool dry place. Heat can cause bacteria to form.
  • When applicable use a bottle with a pump dispenser to access use of your liquid or gel type products. Avoid placing your fingers/hands inside of the natural product  you've made.
What's the Difference?
Liquid extracts are typically used for cooking, perfumes or as a part of medicine.  Exapmles include vanilla extract,  which is often used in baking, citronella extract used as an insect repellent in lotions, and grapeseed extract used by herbalists to treat heart conditions. Essential oils are generally used for therapeutic purposes.  They may be used in aromatic difusers, in massage oils, compresses, spritzers or in therapeutic baths. Read more [LiveStrong.com]
    1.Extracts can be used internally and externally, whereas essential oils CANNOT be used internally.
    2. Essential oils are more potent and carry medicinal properties.
    3. Essential oils are used mainly for aromatherapy and therapeutic purposes.
    4.Extracts are used for cooking and in perfumes (may also be used for aromatherapy however the benefits are not as potent).
    5. Extracts are obtained through a process where a part of the plant (stem, leaves, etc) is cold pressed and most commonly soaked in alcohol to "extract" a quality or flavor from the plant.
    6. Essential oils are obtained to the distillation process. The liquid that forms from the process is called the plant "essence". It takes a large amount of plant parts to get a very small amount of oil which is why essential oils are more expensive then the extracts.
    According to Andee, a soap maker from [The Sage Forum.com], essential oils ARE extracts. An extract is defined as "through a special process being able to remove or take part of the original source" Distillation is a process to extract the volatile (readily vaporizable at a low temp) oil from a plant source. Oil soluble extracts allow the oil soluble (including essential oil) materials to be taken from a plant source. Alcohol is also used to extract constituents from a plant source. These are alcohol soluble constituents. There are also water soluble extracts, we often call them tea or teas. Rosemary Oil Extract is the rosemary plant constituents that are oil soluble (dissolvable in oil) and are removed from the rosemary plant. Not all constituents that are oil soluble are part of the essential oil. In the case of vanilla extract, the goal was to get the flavor and odor from the cured beans to be carried in alcohol and water. This extract is often added to foods. If you consider that fixed oils are sometimes called carrier oils, they are also known to be extract carriers. They carry the oil soluble constituents from the plant material to the body for treatment. Think of extracts as having the carrier and the plant product together and essential oils being only the volatile oils from a plant.  
    Synthetic Substitutes
    Although the shelf life of homemade products will not be as long as when synthetic preservatives (often carcinogens) are added there are natural ways to preserve a product.  Sometimes essential oils which are used as preservatives they can evaporate from the preparation when left uncovered.  Some EO's can cause reddening of the skin and dermatitis if strongly concentrated .  When large amounts of EO's are used for aroma therapeutic purposes like in foam baths, soaps, bath oils, and massage oils, they do not need the addition of synthetic preservatives because of the antiseptic properties of essential oils.

1.Essential oils: natural substances that are powerful preservatives, but are not extensively used to preserve cosmetic products
2. Neem oil:  anti-fungal, anti-bacterial.
3. Vitamin E: is a powerful antioxidant used in preserving oils.
4. Honey:  highly stable against microbial growth because of it’s low moisture content and water activity, low pH and anti-microbial properties.
5.Rosemary Extract: powerful antioxidant. It also helps to minimize the oxidation and of some vitamins and amino acids.
6. Grape seed xxtract:  Natural Antibiotic, Antiseptic, Disinfectant and Preservative. This is a preservative that is used by many DIY's in products that contain water.

For the above mentioned and for the intended purpose of adding a preservative to my liquefied black soap and water diluted Knot Today spritz, grape seed extract I feel, is the best choice.  However, since I don't have any grape seed extract yet, I will add rosemary essential oil to my liquefied black soap and make only 1- 8oz bottle at a time, usually lasting a week. Fortunately, my bathroom is set up in a way were my cabinet is not in the bathroom and is more like a vanity area in my master bedroom which is cool and dry so I wont be storing in the fridge. This was truly an eye opener for me...


Saturday, October 8, 2011

MoroccanOil Intense Hydrating Mask

I have been using the same deep conditioner, Organic Root Stimulator Replenishing, for a little over a year now.  I recently visited a friends home, we got to talking about hair care (the usual topic when we meet up) and she mentioned she's been using a product called Moroccan Oil Intense Hydrating Mask. I was shocked at the price she told me she paid for it, $40 for 8.5 oz,  I had a ton of  questions once I heard that.  She gave me some to try and my first thought was that it better be the bomb for $40.  One thing I've learned is an expensive price tag doesn't always mean my kynxx will love the product.  Well....I can honestly say in regards to my hair, it lived up to every penny!

This is how I wore my hair for the last 3 days.  I stretched it over the course of about 4 days by pulling it back into one plait and tucking the end, securing with a bobby pin, and sleeping with my scarf.  Boring, I know.  Its been about a month since my last bentonite treatment and I wanted to be sure my hair was clarified before I used the mask.  This way I felt nothing could alter the results if it were put on freshly clarified hair, the results would be the best the product could offer.

Bentonite clay is now a staple part of my hair care regimen.  I noticed the first time I used it on my hair, my deep conditioner performed so much better.  I left it on my hair for about half an hour to 45 minutes.  I could smell the conditioner through the plastic bag my friend put it in.  Smells divine!  More on the scent later...This was the amount given to me.  She mentioned that a little goes a long way and she gets 4-5 treatments per jar. Knowing that the price became a little more reasonable.

After the clay was rinsed my hair looked horrific.  It felt soft but it didn't look it and I had zero curl definition.  It was definitely clean and product free.

I put the product on my ends first and worked my way up.  For me conditioner works best on my lenths not scalp so I put it near but not on my scalp.  The second thing that won me over was the slippage and detangling factors.  ORS doesn't give my hair half the slip of the Moroccan Oil and it doesn't detangle the thick crown section of my hair.  This treatment melted to my kynxx like butter on hot bread!  I have never used a deep conditioner that detangled better than this or smelled better!  My kynxx absolutely loved it!

Before and After...my curls felt so soft. The after photo is product free after the conditioner was washed out.  My hair was almost dry and my curls are clear and defined.  I figured my friend gave me about 2 oz.  It was the perfect amount and she was right it did go a very long way.  As soon as I put it on my hair it just slipped and slid right on through with my fingers.  If for no other reason then it's detangling factor, I'm SOLD.  I still think $40.00 is a bit much.  I could get 3-4 uses from one jar which will average out to be about $10 per treatment, not too bad.  I still have plenty of ORS so I wont be changing up just yet.  I'm extremely pleased with the results and the performance it did on my hair. 

 I styled my hair in mini twists last night.  I always wrap my twists to help them last longer and to give them stretch at the root.  When I took off my satin scarf this morning the scent was so strong. It was like I just put the Moroccan Oil on and was doing another treatment.  I was so impressed!! My twists have body and move like loose hair!  I give the MoroccanOil Intense Hydrating Mask two thumbs up..my hair adores it!!


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How to: Liquefy African Black Soap Bar

African black soap is now a staple in my home.  Soon after I began using it all the time I noticed how quickly it disintagrated in the shower even though I kept it wrapped in plastic.  I decided to get the most use of my black soap bars I'd definitely need to start liquifying and bottling it. 
Step 1: Instead of going out and buying bottles I used empty to almost empty bottles of old products I had.
Step 2: Cut or break off 1/4 lb black soap.

Step 2:  I had 2, 12 oz. bottles and one 32 oz. bottle to fill up.  I boiled about 7 cups of water.

Step 3:  While waiting for the water to come to a rolling boil, I broke off several small chunks of black soap to help the soap melt more quickly. Black soap is very easy to brake apart although you can use a grater as well.

Step 4: Pour the boiling water into the bowl of broken up soap. 
This was a pretty small bowl.  I transferred it to a larger one so I could pour all of the water into it.

Step 5: Let stand covered for 2-3 hours until soap clumps are completely dissolved into the water.
Step 6: Transfer the liquified black soap into smaller bottles.  You may use a funnel or like I do and use a small plastic cup of the liquified black soad using a steady hand to pour it into my empty bottles.
One of the many things I love about black soap is that it will never go "bad" or expire. I store the bottles underneath my bathroom cupboard with the lid tightly secured. I use the larger bottle as a refill for the smaller two.  I use it on my hair as needed, my face daily, and as a daily body wash.  This is the most cost effective beauty product I have in my regimen.

NOTE: Since writing this post, I learned I needed to add a natural preservative agent to my liquid black soap to prevent contamination and bacteria from forming.  Contaminated products can cause serious adverse health reactions.  [Read more here on natural preservatives for homemade products]

Monday, October 3, 2011

Henna Day 2/ Mineral Fusion Reveiw

There are so many different ways to mix henna. I've been using it now for so long I decided to start trying out different ones just to see if I'd notice a difference in my hair. On my last Henna Day post, I tried the henna gloss...luv'd it! This time I'll be showing how I mixed the henna w/black tea.

As always I used my favorite brand of henna which by the way I find locally and dont have to worry about shipping costs.  I use Nupur by Gorey.  Why?  Well, for starters its much less drying on my hair then other brands I've used.  Nupur has a total of 9 ayurvedic herbs. I pay 2.99 per 150g bag and use one. After I mix it with water and additonal ingredients, I ususally have 1/2 cup remaining. My hair is about an inch past armpit length.
Ingredients included in Nupur Henna are:

Brahmi (promotes growth)
Shikakai (cleanses scalp/shines hair)
Aloe Vera (moisturizes)
Methi (conditions, revitalizes hair)
Bhringraj (makes hair luxurious)
Amla (darkens hair color, stops ecessive hair fall)
Neem (fights scalp infections/drandruff)
Hibiscus (rejuvenates hair for shine and silky hair)
Jatamanal (prevents graying of hair).   

Black Tea Henna Mix:
Step 1: Place tea bags in boiling water for 3 minutes.  I measured 2.5 cups of water prior to boil. Black Tea tightens hair roots similar to henna to keep excessive shedding in check.

Step 3: Remove from heat. Place tea in plastic bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.

Step 4: Add tea to henna and mix. 

Step 5: Add 1/2 lemon to paste and mix thoroughly. Henna release it's dye more efficiently at a slightly acidic ph of 5.5.

Remove the seeds prior to squeezing into paste with a small kitchen knife.

Step 6: Cover and let henna stand for 4-6 hours.  Henna will be lumpy. The longer you allow it to stand the smoother the consistency of the paste will be.
Very lumpy texture

Step 7:  Prepare for henna application by getting gloves, plastic ear protectors (optional) and a towel. You can apply using a hair dye application brush or gloved hands. 
Step 8:  Check henna paste to make sure the lumps are now smoothed after mixing.
Step 9:  I apply henna on wet detangled hair sectioned into quads, starting with the back ending in the front, from the root to the end of of my hair. Once my hair is completely covered I wrap it with Cling Wrap.

Step 10: Allow henna to sit for 4-6 hours and rinse until water runs clear.  You may need to use conditioner to help completely remove the henna.

Right off I noticed less of the red tone and a deeper mahogany brown tone to my hair.

Mineral Fusion Volumizing Mineral Conditioner Review
Step 10:  Apply a moisturizing conditioner* to restore moisture.

* I usually use ORS Replenishing conditioner but thought I'd try something new I found at Whole Foods, called Mineral Fusion I am stil happy with ORS I just wanted to try something else that was Vegan to see if I really saw a difference in the way my hair felt and reacted to it in comparison to the ORS.

Ingredients: Purified water, Aloe Leaf Juice, Hydrolyzed Barley Protein, Sunflower Seed Oil, Panthenol, Mineral Blend ( Malachite, Smithsonite extract), Flaxseed Oil, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Cranberry Seed Oil, Sodium Benzonate, Potassium Sorbate, Natural Aroma blend. Bottle reads: Certified Organic. 100% Vegetarian and Vegan, no animal testing, free of parabens, artificial frangrances and colors.

I like a nicely scented conditioner...this smelled good to me. Not great just good.  Very organ-icky for lack of much better word. Kind of like a green smoothie.

I loved the texture, very thick and smooth.

I put it on the ends first very generously and worked into my hair.

One of the things I noticed was it didn't provide any slippage at all. Big disappointment.  I used this conditioner to test  how well it would hydrate my strands.  I couldn't think of a better time then following up from henna.  This is a sure way to tell how well a conditioner moisturizes.  Then I read the ingredients, again.  On top of me following up from a henna treatment with lemon in it (acidic), the protein and minerals in the conditioner, it's no wonder.  ORS has protein and it instantly silkens and slips on my hair, curls pop.  There were quite a few oils though so I hoped my hair would take to this conditioner not to mention the bottle reads: Hydrating while increasing volume and thickness.  Unfortunately, my hair didn't result in feeling hydrated.  I'm not blaming the product, I just think it might make a better protein conditioner. I have half of the bottle left, which would be one more application. I'll use it as a protein conditioner when my hair needs some, probably sitting under the dryer.  Might be awhile but I'll hold on to it and revisit later.  I'm keepin' hope alive for my little $5.99 vegan conditioner ;o) 
Mineral Fusion supports the National Coalistion Against Domestic Violence. Read more Minerals On A Mission

Step 11: Style.

Two Plaits...kept it simple... ;o)