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emmadilemma
February 10th, 2016, 06:21 PM
Hello there! I have several questions and I'm looking for all of your opinions and advice you have to offer, I'm a total newbie and for the last few months I've been
winging it when it comes to moving away from sulfates, silicones, parabens, etc. My hair is anywhere from a 2b/c/ii/iii to a 3a/3b/f/m/iii depending on the products i've used and how I've treated my hair over a period of the last couple weeks. I decided to change my hair care when I got sick and tired of the frizz that halos my hair and that happens when I part my hair down the middle and it sits on the sides of my neck, just so frizzy and undefined. I started out by cutting off my dead ends and doing a 'dusting' of my hair, then I ordered some solid bar shampoo and conditioner from etsy. All of the ingredients in the shampoo were organic oils and good things for your hair, but it also had lye in it. It didnt bother me because lye is in each and every soap, otherwise its not soap. I used for the entire month of January and loved it but recently I've been kind of freaking out because the corner of my forehead where I get lots of baby hairs almost looked like a bald spot. The other side with baby hair didnt look thinned out and I'm finding it hard to remember if that corner always looked that thin. But now I'm scared of hair loss. So I'm going to use it for the rest of february and take a look at the before pictures I just took today and see if it really is thinning out. I'm only 20 so hair loss is really scaring me. I have a plan for if it is thinning out my hair, I'm going to give the no-poo method a shot, except with bentonite clay, apple cider vinegar, raw honey and filtered water and see if that does me any good. Anyway, sorry for the long and boring backstory, but I would love any advice and any opinions anyone would like to tell me! Oh also hello, my name is Emma. :)

Robi-Bird
February 10th, 2016, 08:20 PM
Hi Emma and welcome, I'm sorry your hair is giving you grief.

Soap is naturally alkali at a ph on average of 9-10. As such it can be very harsh on hair which prefers balanced ph, around 4.5 to 5.5. Some people's hair do well with it with or without acid rinses. The idea of the acid rinse being to neutralize the high ph from the soap. The thing is if you pour, say vinegar into a lye solution, the effect is... Well, ignore the myth of pouring vinegar on a lye burn it a very bad idea. Like I said, some people do well with soap instead of shampoo but other people have their hair dried out, some suffer breakage. The baby hairs you see could be a coincidence or they could be breakage, and they could be unrelated to the soap.

The first thing I'll say is soap is NEVER conditioning... NEVER. It's one of those scientific realities, like gravity. The lye solution chemically alters the fats, olive oil, coconut oil, etc and turn them into something else, fat salts and their properties are absolutely different from what they were as oils. A balanced bar is ideally not drying but depending on your skin what might be a nice cleansing bar for me could be very drying for you. This is another place where people use acid rinses or oils. Neither of which is really a conditioner. A conditioner requires cationic ingredients, again, chemisty. That says, coating the shaft in oil, thus lubricating it, etc has it's value and some people's hair do not need conditioner.

We sometimes have to look at our hair, our skin, whatever and consider if one's morals or ideologies are actually what our hair or skin want. You may not want silicones or sulfates, your hair might. You may like soap for washing (I use it for my skin), but your hair might hate it. You may want the NW/SO or CO or gentler or simply different shampoo formulas.

Unfortunately, the only way to find out is to dry and to see how your hair reacts over a period of time. Are you sure that spots wasn't preexisting? Could you be itching it unconsciously because of some unrelated irritation? If you have any concerns that it could be related to your health, my advice would be to see a doctor.

school of fish
February 10th, 2016, 09:39 PM
Speaking to the subject of lye, what Robi-Bird said is absolutely correct, that lye undergoes a chemical reaction with the oils/fats (called saponification) to create soap - true soap that is, not the translucent variety. As you rightly said, no soap without lye - however after saponification takes place the lye is no longer present *as such*, it's been transformed. Not dissimilar to yeast in bread :) Still, just as yeast is listed as a bread ingredient, lye is listed as soap ingredient - because they make up part of the raw materials needed to create the end product although they no longer behave as in their original form. In soap, the caustic property of the lye is neutralized which is why we don't get lye burns when we use it, although soap is indeed an alkaline substance. Certainly it wouldn't be the lye causing any possible thinning in your hair - if there was unsaponified lye in that bar your skin would tell you immediately!

Speaking to the question of non- silicone/sulphate/paraben/etc haircare, once again I agree with Robi-Bird as well as many other wise souls on this forum who have concluded that sometimes we want one type of care but our hair has other ideas :) Many of us, myself included, have conceeded that the hair wins out ;) For me personally, my skin LOVES natural vegetable oils but my hair HATES them! It wants clear sulphate shampoos and thick conditioners with light silicones, against my natural preferences, haha!! It took much experimentation, one-change-at-a-time trial and error, and an acceptance of what my hair will and won't tolerate to finally find the routine and products that make it happy - a two-year process for me :) It was worth it though.

Your approach sounds like a good one, sticking with the bar long enough to make a comparison. If there is thinning it may not be product-related at all, but just part of a seasonal shed cycle or even just a thinner spot that was always there but somehow flew under your radar until you started paying attention ;) I'm certainly thinner in that part of the hairline (more so now on my right side after a particular pair of sunglasses I wore this summer decided it liked to take my baby temple hairs with it as a souvenir...). Process of elimination goes with the territory of learning what your hair wants, so change only one thing at a time so you can effectively track your hits and misses. Give each change enough time to give it a fair chance, but don't beat a dead horse - I find a week or two is plenty for me. Think too about your brushing/combing/preening/styling/etc habits in case there may be some mechanical damage occuring somehow. Ask questions along the way, and have fun getting to know your hair :)

And welcome to LHC ;)

school of fish
February 10th, 2016, 09:53 PM
One more addition to my treatise above ;)

Try searching here for threads on peoples' sulphate-free routines and preferences, and look in particular for members who have a similar hairtype to yours. We're all totally unique in what each of us needs, but similarities in hairtype (curly/straight/fine/thick/etc) and in particular hair behaviour (tangly/slippy/grippy/build-up-prone/stretchy/snappy/fragile/bullet-proof/what-have-you) can help guide your search. Seeing patterns amongst 'hair-twins' can help streamline the information overload, and give you clues about avoiding pitfalls and solving problems. I and many others get better results finding LHC threads by googling instead of using the search function here - just be sure to include 'long hair community' as part of your keywords. Good luck!

AutobotsAttack
February 11th, 2016, 02:36 AM
I'd say ditch the lye for sure as others have mentioned. If you wish to remain sulfate free there are many more options for shampoo bars without the lye, or you can try cowashing although your scalp may need to get used to it at first, and get one without cones or parabens. You can also do ACV rinses as replacement for shampoos, and it helps naturally return your hair to its original PH and it's a good antimicrobial agent and fungus remover too. Or lot for baking soda diluted with water, but do be careful because baking soda has a higher PH of about 8 or 9. There are also good sulfate free shampoos that are brand names like Shea Moisture or Johnson and Johnson. Just try and look around. Ulta and Amazon have really good shampoos.

luxurioushair
February 11th, 2016, 01:41 PM
I have no idea about this stuff either and couldn't be bothered, I use whatever shampoo or conditioner and it makes no difference to me whatsoever

mermaid lullaby
February 11th, 2016, 02:06 PM
Um...I wouldn't use baking soda at all, here's something I learned here

Baking soda is adhesive, so it would make the hair strands swell up because of the ph levels. Also, baking soda is like gritty sand to our tresses, it will strip the follicles until the hair strand is bare. Follicles are what keeps our hair soft and stay moisturized, they look like shingles on a roof. If, there are not enough follicles (or roof shingles), our hair becomes dry and splits.

I'm sorry I corrected someone. If I sound mean, you can play fetch with a puppy! :puppykisses:

Obsidian
February 11th, 2016, 02:19 PM
I have similar hair and used shampoo bars for two years. They were great, my hair liked them ok and my scalp loved them, then suddenly the damage caught up with me and my hair started breaking off in 1" chunks. I ended up cutting it all off last June and stopped using shampoo bars completely.
I did use sulfate free for quite a few months, L'Oreal evercurl is my favorite but recently switched back to sulfates after my scalp went crazy and I'm constantly oily. The oil is getting under control and I will go back to the L'Oreal soon.

I can't use tradition conditioner due to skin issues on my scalp but I do really like Johnson's tangle free leave in conditioner. It has cones but is fairly lightweight and it smooth out my fizz and defines the curls. I also really like straight argan oil applied lightly to the ends of damp hair.

When trying new products/methods, only use one at a time. If you switch everything and you have problems, you won't know what caused it. I would stay far away from baking soda and clay. As mentioned, the soda is alkaline and will damage your hair after time, just like a shampoo bar. Clay I have never used on my hair but OMG, it dries my skin out something terrible and I can't imagine rubbing a gritty clay in your hair would be good for it.

I've found basic care to be the best. Gentle shampoo, a light weight condition and a oil for ends is more then enough for daily use. Too much "loving care" makes my hair extra frizzy and unmanageable. A good clarifying shampoo every couple of weeks is also a good idea, especially if you use cones/oils.

luxurioushair
February 11th, 2016, 02:54 PM
Um...I wouldn't use baking soda at all, here's something I learned here

Baking soda is adhesive, so it would make the hair strands swell up because of the ph levels. Also, baking soda is like gritty sand to our tresses, it will strip the follicles until the hair strand is bare. Follicles are what keeps our hair soft and stay moisturized, they look like shingles on a roof. If, there are not enough follicles (or roof shingles), our hair becomes dry and splits.

I'm sorry I corrected someone. If I sound mean, you can play fetch with a puppy! :puppykisses:

Don't you mean cuticles, not follicles

MicheleZ
February 11th, 2016, 03:20 PM
Scratch - you are probably right lol

Nique1202
February 11th, 2016, 03:40 PM
Um...I wouldn't use baking soda at all, here's something I learned here

Baking soda is adhesive, so it would make the hair strands swell up because of the ph levels. Also, baking soda is like gritty sand to our tresses, it will strip the follicles until the hair strand is bare. Follicles are what keeps our hair soft and stay moisturized, they look like shingles on a roof. If, there are not enough follicles (or roof shingles), our hair becomes dry and splits.

I'm sorry I corrected someone. If I sound mean, you can play fetch with a puppy! :puppykisses:

I think you mean abrasive (like sandpaper), not adhesive (like glue), and I wouldn't say that it makes hair "swell" because of the pH. What happens is that the cuticle (the "roof shingles" in your example) gets raised by high pH values like in baking soda or standard (lye) soaps. Baking soda not only lifts the cuticle, but its grittiness also wears it down like sandpaper as you rub it in. That abrasiveness may remove a lot of buildup, but it also wears down your hair's protective cuticle layer, causing damage that gets worse the more you use it. That's why baking soda is considered a bad move around here most of the time, and why a lot of people quit using baking soda for washing after a while when the damage starts to become visible.

emmadilemma, I wonder if your "frizzy halo" of hair that was bothering you is just natural new growth? EVERYONE has some level of flyaway hairs that are too short to obey gravity, that's the normal growth cycle of hair. When one hair sheds, it starts growing in new from the top, and until it gets long enough to have some weight to it it's gonna grow straight out when it's clean because that's the direction it's growing out of the follicle. You can slick them down with a drop of oil or extra conditioner if they really bother you, but I promise everyone has them and they're nothing to be worried about.

Using soap on your scalp, well, there's a reason we switched from soap to shampoos a few decades ago: shampoos work, and are much gentler on the scalp and the hair than soap is. Unless you have a specific allergy to them there's nothing wrong with sulfates (as long as you don't let your length get too dry), silicones (they help protect from damage and add slip so detangling isn't such a hassle for lots of us), or parabens (they're just preservatives, and they're used in such tiny amounts in shampoos and conditioners that they're nowhere NEAR the levels that have been found to be less safe in lab rat tests which aren't even directly translatable to humans).

As for thinning hair, sometimes if there's buildup on the hair because it hasn't been properly cleansed in a while (which can happen if you're using something that's high in oils and plant extracts and low in sulfates) it can make the hair clump together in spots and make it look or feel like it's thinning when it's really not. If shampoo was working for you before (other than the new growth bothering you) I would honestly recommend going back to that routine for a while and see if it improves at all.

lapushka
February 11th, 2016, 03:53 PM
I'd switch over to a "regular" no-sulfate shampoo, if I were you. If you feel your hair is thinning, it's enough to be sure to switch up your routine. I would, if I were you. Also, there might be a chance that your hair doesn't like going sulfate-free. My hair didn't like it - one bit, and my seborrheic dermatitis (SD) didn't like it either. My scalp flared-up like no other, same with CO-washing.

Also, how's your general health? Do you have regular bloodwork done? If not, I would get some blood drawn to see if you have no shortages in minerals/vitamins and to be sure everything checks out.

KittyBird
February 11th, 2016, 04:39 PM
What Lapushka wrote. :)
I washed my hair with shampoo bars and acv rinses and loved it, until about a year had passed and my hair became brittle, dry and snapped if I just looked at it wrong. I went back to using regular sulfate shampoos and coney conditioner, which helped a lot with the dryness and breakage, but my hair still felt gross and ratty, especially at the ends. After a while I switched to sulfate-free shampoos, which made my hair and scalp much happier. I ended up doing a big chop, from almost classic to waist/hip, and though my hair feels better, it's not like it was before the shampoo bars. I know they work well for many others, but for me it was a total disaster.

I use the shampoos by Desert Essences, and I also use tons of cones (coney conditioner, coney leave-in and coney serum). I find that the shampoo cleans my hair really well, because for some reason I'm not plagued by build up. Macadamia Natural Oil rejuvenating shampoo is also great.

hairandtherian
February 11th, 2016, 11:28 PM
FYI to a previous poster neutral Ph is 7. A pH of 5 is acidic. That may be what hair prefers, that I don't know, but it's not neutral pH. :)

And a finished cured soap would not have active lye in it that would react with hair, vinegar etc.. There may very well be other reasons not to use shampoo bars, like it just not working well for one's hair or scalp, but active lye is not one of them.

emmadilemma
February 12th, 2016, 12:36 AM
You all are so nice and lovely. I wasnt really sure what to expect but you're all very informative and helpful and nice about everything. Thank you guys :cheer:
Part of me is kind of freaking out, like I just want to run back to sulfates and avoid trial and error, but so many people have such beautiful results from getting away from sulfates and I really wanted to be one of those people xD I'm also wondering if my hair is just more inclined to sulfates because from memory, going sulfate free to more natural and organic products take your hair to its more natural state and my natural state is just kind of fine and so frizzy. I don't even use heat, not hot water or otherwise! I havent since October and I wrap my hair in a silk wrap at night xD Has anyone who has hair similar to mine had good results going sulfate free? Is PH really that important to hair care?

Obsidian
February 12th, 2016, 10:07 AM
Yes, PH is important to hair. A high PH will lift the cuticle and eventually permanently damage it. The cuticle can actually get completly worn away and you need it, thats what makes your hair strong and healthy. Damaged cuticle=weak brittle hair that dries out easily.

I don't think sulfate free/natural takes your hair to a more "natural state" if anything, I found going sulfate free to weigh my hair down more and made it oilier faster. If your hair likes sulfates, then by all means, use them.
Any chance you can get a picture of your frizz? It could be you need more moisture. It would be helpful to know what products you do use, maybe there is a ingredient your hair doesn't like. I can't use anything with coconut oil, makes my frizzy and dry. Protein is also a issue but its ok in small quantities in shampoo. Natural products are the devil for my hair, it likes chemicals and cones.

Techmouse
February 12th, 2016, 07:09 PM
One company that makes pretty good sulphate free products is Carol's Daughter. I use their Black Vanilla line, along with a few other products from some of their other lines, and my hair loves them.

lapushka
February 13th, 2016, 04:55 PM
FYI to a previous poster neutral Ph is 7. A pH of 5 is acidic. That may be what hair prefers, that I don't know, but it's not neutral pH. :)

And a finished cured soap would not have active lye in it that would react with hair, vinegar etc.. There may very well be other reasons not to use shampoo bars, like it just not working well for one's hair or scalp, but active lye is not one of them.

Hair likes a pH between 4 & 5. That is a *fact*. Water is 7. Alkaline stuff like baking soda is 8, so very alkaline (for what the scalp & hair needs) and ACV is about 2/3.

meteor
February 13th, 2016, 06:23 PM
Welcome aboard, Emmadilemma! :cheer: You've already received some excellent advice here :) , and I don't have much to add. I just wanted to add another vote for Desert Essence shampoos as SLS-free products worth checking out. I agree with KittyBird, I find them very cleansing even over the heaviest cones.

Unless your scalp reacts to sulfates, there is usually no reason to avoid them - if anything, they are gentle but effective surfactants when they are in a properly formulated cleansing product. Baking soda is both alkaline and abrasive - pretty damaging and not suitable for regular hair (or skin!) cleansing. It's not even very effective at cleansing, according to this experiment (pictures of hair taken under microscope after different alternative cleansing methods): http://www.thenaturalhavenbloom.com/2014/07/can-you-wash-your-hair-with-baking-soda.html; http://www.thenaturalhavenbloom.com/2015/05/hair-science-how-well-do-mild-cleansers.html

As for silicones, I can't find anything about silicones that's damaging to hair, at least not in the research I've seen. If anything, they add great slip, shine, combability and occlusive protection. They normally help reduce frizz, so I'd recommend them for that issue you mentioned, as well. I think, if your hair likes them and doesn't get hard-to-remove build-up from them, there is really no reason to avoid them. :) Also, not all silicones are created equal: some build up faster than others. Here is a good silicone solubility list that should help: http://science-yhairblog.blogspot.ca/2014/04/silicone-ingredient-solubility-list.html

If you do want to stay strictly cone-free, you could use oils (natural oils and/or mineral oil) to help you out instead, for example, in pre-poo treatments, LOC (liquid + oil + cream), oil rinses, added to conditioner, lightly brushed on ends every few days, etc...