Friday, March 9, 2012

I Don't Know What You Been Told, But I Love My Blow Dryer (Though Its Old)

I know many naturals have sworn off of heat styling, and I do go for long stretches of time without using any heat. Recently I've been impatient with drying time and I've been enjoying the look of blow dried hair. So for the past month I've been blow drying my hair after my weekly washes. AND (are you ready for this?) I haven't been using protective styling that much. As it turns out heat doesn't have to be my arch nemesis. Are there other naturalistas who would defend their blow dryers like a play cousin in the hood?

Before we were so close I was afraid of blow dryers. Like, I would cross the street and grab hold of my purse if I saw one... they scared me so much! For years blow dryers meant tired arms, lots of breakage, somewhat straight roots and crunchy frizzy ends. There is nothing attractive about any of that. But I no longer have that association with my blow dryer even though it is the same ole' dryer from high school! But the results are drastically different.

What changed? I learned about deep conditioning, diffusers/comb attachments and heat protectants. Now that I am diligent about the use of all three, I can blow dry my hair in a fraction of the time, I have much less breakage and my hair is smooth from root to tip. I deep condition my hair in twists after detangling. I finger detangle again while adding my homemade heat protectant. I prefer my comb attachment over a diffuser and separate comb, its seamless and wide-toothed and concentrates the heat on my strands for faster results with less effort. And um yes, I am using a $1.99 comb attachment from the beauty supply store!

All three things in conjunction improved the experience but I think I owe the majority of my success to my homemade heat protectant. Its worked so well for me I just had to share the recipe with you all. Click here for the full recipe and post your results if you use it.

DIY Recipe: Pia's Dry Don't Fry All-Natural Heat Protectant

raw shea and/or mango butter
extra virgin coconut oil
avocado and/or grapeseed oil
vitamin E
flax seed oil
soy lecithin

To avoid a runny mess use a 2:3 ratio of liquid oils to solid butters. 2 tablespoons (combined) avocado, grapeseed oil, vitamin E, flax seed oil, and soy lecithin with 3 tablespoons (combined) shea butter and mango butter. This fits a 4 ounce container and lasts up to 2 months (for me).

Here are the different methods I've used for mixing:
  • Lazy Method - Melting and mixing all ingredients together, then allowing to solidify. This method is my least favorite because the shea and mango butters get grainy as they cool down, creating a lumpy mixture. It can take over an hour for the butters to solidify at room temperature, about 20 minutes in the freezer. You have to keep watching the mixture otherwise you end up with something like a chocolate bar when its cold. 
  • Thorough Method - Whipping the shea and mango butter at room temperature then adding in other ingredients a little at a time. I like this method a lot, but as I don't have an electric hand mixer it is very tiresome. With an electric mixer you can whip the butter in 3 minutes. Whipping by hand can take up to 10 minutes depending on how soft your butters are. 
  •  Compromising Method - Partially melting the shea and mango butters then whipping in the other ingredients a bit at a time as it cools works best for me without an electric mixer. I speed up the cooling process by placing the mixture in the freezer in 5 minute increments. All of the ingredients blend smoothly and I achieve the creamy lotion texture I'm looking for. This usually takes me about 20-30 minutes, but I do this while deep conditioning and making my other products, so the time is not wasted on just waiting.

Kick @$$ Qualities
- Shea and mango butters are excellent deep conditioners; are loaded with vitamins that protect the hair from heat and sun damage; make a great base because of their firm textures at room temperature and interminable shelf life.

- Extra virgin coconut oil easily penetrates the hair shaft making it an excellent deep conditioner. It also adds a subtle but delicious scent!

- Avocado has an extremely high smoke point around 500º, providing excellent protection for your strands when heat styling. Avocado oil is also loaded in essential nutrients like proteins, vitamins A, D, E and B6, magnesium, copper, iron, amino acids and folic acid.

- Grapeseed oil has an extremely high smoke point around 480º, providing excellent protection for your strands when heat styling. is very light, making it an excellent carrier oil for diluting heavier and more potent oils. It helps prevent dandruff, won't cause buildup and is easily absorbed by hair strands for deep conditioning benefits.

- Vitamin E (in my unprofessional opinion) works best for sunscreen protection when applied topically. The other benefits are best achieved when ingested, by eating foods that are rich in vitamin E or taking supplements. It is a very thick viscous liquid, so I'm sure it has some (however little) emollient properties.

- Flax seed oil contains all of the vital omega-3 fatty acids, which add sheen and luster. It also increases circulation in the scalp to stimulate hair growth.

- Soy lecithin contains inositol which is rumored to be critical in hair growth (I haven't read any certified studies). In the heat protectant it is an emulsifier, adding slip that remains even after blow drying. My hair is chronically dry, so I like the light non-greasy coating it leaves. I don't have to reapply any product for 3-4 days. Use sparingly because too much would definitely cause build up.

Give it a try and let us know how it works for you. What other natural items provide heat protection?