Friday, January 18, 2013

Off Topic: I LOVE my Neti Pot!

Please forgive my indulging in an off topic post for a minute.
I had recently subscribed to one of those daily freebie sites, and lucked into a free Neti Pot from Neilmed on Facebook.
I often get sinus pressure and sinus headaches, and I had been looking into better ways to deal with it, because OTC sinus medications and Tylonal just really didn't do much to help.
Using the Neti Pot for the first couple of times was awkward. Saline running into your throat while your trying to breathe is an odd, and gross, feeling. I soon got the hang of it, though, and was rinsing my sinus cavities like a pro. I had terrible pressure and a sinus headache that has lasted for 4 days when I first used the Neti Pot. It was like a miracle sent from heaven! Pressure and headache instantly gone! I was in love.
I have had the flu for the last week or so, finally feeling much better today. At the first sign of respiratory symptoms, I started using the Neti pot 3 times a day. I have been on immune suppressants for years for treatment of autoimmune disorders, and usually respiratory symptoms hang around and start evolve into ear infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia. Not this time! I kept up rinsing my sinuses 3 times a day for 2 days, and by the 3rd day, my stuffy nose and cough were almost completely gone! I still had other flu symptoms like a fever and achyness, but they were much more tolerable with out struggling for air!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Refreshing faded color between hair coloring

As a continuation of my last post, I thought I would share some tips on how to refresh hair color between hair coloring. I just recently went back to my actual natural color (but still coloring to cover grey!) after having been a number of different shades of red. As some of you may know, red is a very hard color to keep. I developed a few tricks to refresh my color so it would stick around until my next coloring. My favorite product for this is Ion Color Brilliance Semi-Permanent Hair Color found at Sally Beauty Supply stores. The semi-permanent name is a bit misleading, IMHO, however. There is no developer. It is a temporary color, that they say qualifies as semi IF you use heat. However, even then, it's still not a semi IMO! It's pretty much just straight pigment that will temporarily stain the hair. Heat opens the cuticle so it penetrates deeper into the hair shaft, causing it to take, and last, a little better. I found one bottle lasted me a while, because I didn't use it according to the instructions. Instead, I would add some to my weekly gelatin protein treatments, or if I decided to skip those, I would add it to some condish and leave it on for an hour or so. When adding it to my protein treatment, I would add enough to turn the gelatin a deep brownish red. I never really measured. It would work best if I used the blow dry version of the protein treatment, but it worked fine with out blow drying. When I added it to condish, I would do a 50-50 mix, wrap in plastic and use my dryer on low for 10 minutes or so then just leave it on for another 50 minutes. One treatment would last around a week for me. I wash my hair every 2-3 days, so if you wash more often, it will fade quicker. You can also add a little to your shampoo/co-wash and/or condish every time you wash to help prevent fading. It works pretty much like those shampoos and conditioners that have added pigment to prevent fading.
I had meant to get around to trying out the Ion Color Brilliance Brights in red to see if that added more of a punch since my hair is dark and I think it would have blended nicely, but decided to go back to dark brown for winter before I had the chance. I do plan to try it out the next time I go red though.
Food coloring works too, but it takes a good eye for color to get it the exact color you want, and works best for refreshing red. Beet juice and cranberry juice are also good for temporarily giving reds some extra oomph.
Triple strength coffee is good for brown. As is strong black tea. And I have heard chamomile is good for blonde, though I have zero experience with being blonde.
To use these types of refreshers (coffee, teas, juices) you hang your head back over a large bowl, pour the liquid through your hair, wait a minute or two, and repeat using the liquid that was collected in the bowl. It's easiest to just use two large bowls to pour the liquids over your hair, instead of pouring the liquid from a bowl back into a smaller container, than replacing the bowl to collect the liquid again. At any rate, you will repeat pouring the liquid over your hair anywhere from 5-10 times. And let it dry in your hair if you can, even using a little heat to help it penetrate the hair shaft.
You can also try these refreshers on non-color treated hair to give some added dimension without using chemicals. You can even mix-and-match if you like, using cranberry or beet juice to give brown or blonde hair a reddish tint, or darkening blonde hair with coffee, or even adding a bit of light highlights to brown hair with chamomile (light brown hair, I don't think it will work very well for darker hair).
These are my favorite techniques, though I have tried the refresher masks/glosses and other such products made for refreshing color. They work just fine, but I found that the Ion Semi works just the same, is cheaper, comes in a variety of colors, and you can adjust the intensity.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

How I prepare for hair color

I have dyed my hair at home for years. I easily get bored with my color and feel a need to change it up, but I don't have the moolah to go get it done at the salon! One thing I have learned over the years is that if you color regularly, you need to prepare your hair for even color absorption. Virgin hair can also benefit, but most likely will take more evenly than regularly colored hair.
At least one day before I plan to color, and preferably longer, I do the following steps to prepare my hair for coloring.
The first thing I do is clarify my hair with sulfate shampoo that contains EDTA and/or citric acid. This removes all manner of build up, including stylers, mineral deposits, and also (this important) lifts some of the left over color from your previous coloring. The reason that's important is because you need to make room for the strands to accept NEW color.
After clarifying, I do a protein treatment. Protein fills in any holes (porosity) in the hair shaft. This also helps the color absorb evenly. I use this recipe for Science-y Hair Blog's gelatin protein treatment. I love this PT because it's cheap, easy, customizable, and it WORKS. Of course, if you aren't the mad scientist type who enjoys cooking up hair concoctions in your kitchen, there are many store bought options. Some options from Sally Beauty Supply are Ion Effective care (mild protein conditioner), Ion Re-constructor (protein treatment conditioner), aPhogee 2-step (strong protein treatment, comparable to the gelatin PT), Joico K-Pak. There are also botique type treatments available online from Spiral Solutions, Curl Junkie, and Jessie Curl (maybe more, I'm not sure..).
I follow this with a moisturizing deep treatment. I prefer to play mad scientist again and mix up my own DT with Generic Value Products (Sally's knock off brand) Conditioning Balm with some honey and coconut oil. I leave that in for at least 20 minutes with 10 minutes of heat, 10 minutes of cool down time. Sometimes longer if I just don't feel like washing it out. I have left DT's in over night, but I let my hair down to DRY because leaving it wet leaves it in a stretched state and prone to breakage.

Don't color the day you wash. Your natural oils will protect your scalp from irritation, so it's best to color on day old (or longer, I have insanely dry skin, so it takes my scalp at least 2 days to build up enough oil to properly protect my scalp).

It's so much easier to spend a couple of hours preparing for your color, than it is to try and fix uneven color once you dye your hair! In some cases, you can't fix it at home and will have to shell out the dough to go to a salon so a pro can fix it.
One last thing, at home coloring works best if you stick within 2 shades of your natural color. This is particularly true if you're going lighter. Darker is less tricky than lighter! So unless you are experienced in going lighter, please don't try to go platinum on your own.