Lush Hair Doctor

I recently came across a product called Hair Doctor from Lush whilst on my never-ending quest for all things scalp related. It is touted as the solution for dry itchy scalps and looks absolutely yummy. I was all set to buy it till I took a closer look at the ingredients list and realised that I had pretty much all of them kicking around somewhere in my house. The ingredients list for Hair Doctor is as follows:

Water (Aqua), Irish Moss Powder (Chondrus crispus), Fullers Earth, Cetearyl Alcohol, Perfume, Irish Moss Decoction (Chondrus crispus), Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (Cocos nucifera), Organic Jojoba Oil (Simmondsia chinensis), Almond Oil (Prunus dulcis), Peppermint Oil (Mentha piperita), Rosemary Absolute (Rosmarinus officinalis), Chamomile Blue Oil (Matricaria chamomilla), Soya Lecithin, Glycerine, Yeast, Red Henna (Lawsonia inermis), Lanolin, Cetrimonium Bromide, Propylene Glycol, Glyceryl Stearate & PEG 100 Stearate, *Eugenol, *Limonene, *Linalool

According to the Lush blurb, the main active ingredients in Hair Doctor are:

“Fuller’s earth, which degreases your hair and scalp, stimulating peppermint and rosemary, and chamomile to soothe sore skin”

Fullers Earth is basically Bentonite Clay which contains a load of essential healing minerals and is very efficient at drawing oils and toxins from the skin/scalp. The Peppermint, Rosemary and Chamomile do exactly what they say on the tin. However, upon taking a closer look I reckon the Irish Moss, Henna extract and Extra Virgin Coconut Oil are probably pretty powerful scalp regulators also. The remaining ingredients mainly help with conditioning and making the hair feel good. The one thing I don’t have is Cetrimonium Bromide which is a cationic quaternary compound capable of being absorbed by the hair cortex and also works as an anti-septic. I’m going to substitute it with Cetrimonium Chloride which is also a cationic quaternary compound and will provide great slip but unfortunately doesn’t have quite the same conditioning kick as the Bromide.

I’m also gonna soup up my version by using an herbal decoction rather than plain water and adding Rhassoul clay which is similar to Bentonite but less clarifying. I’m also going to add Tea Tree Oil to boost the anti-septic properties and Vitamin E just because it’s so good. Lush markets Hair Doctor as a preservative free product and something which would need to be kept in the fridge and used fairly quickly. This is fine with me as I would only ever make up a single use batch so I’m happy to keep mine preservative free also. Lastly, my product will have a thinner and smoother consistency similar to cake batter rather than the paste like consistency of Hair Doctor.

With all these things taken into consideration, my final Ingredients list looks like this:

Herbal Decoction (mint, rosemary, henna, marshmallow, neem powder, nettle, white willow bark, burdock root, coltsfoot, horsetail, blue malva, hibiscus), Irish Moss Decoction, Rhassoul Clay, Bentonite Clay, Glycerin, Almond Oil, Jojoba Oil, Virgin Coconut Oil, Cetrimonium Chloride, Vitamin E, Rosemary Oil, Tea Tree Oil

Tune in tomorrow to see how it turns out!

Moisture-Protein Balance

I’ve spoken briefly about the moisture-protein balance before, which is a really important part of preventing breakage. If you can get this part right then everything else becomes so much easier. Here are few suggestions to help you on the journey to achieving that elusive balance.

  • Firstly, check out ‘The Fine Art of Protein and Moisture Balancing for Black Hair Care’ by Audrey Sivasothy. This article really gave me a good insight into the science behind the principle and was a great starting point in learning how to maintain my balance.
  • Invest in some regular one on one time with your hair as the balance doesn’t remain static and fluctuates frequently. Sometimes on a daily basis so you constantly have to be listening to what your hair is saying. The quicker you become familiar with what your hair feels and looks like at its optimal level, the quicker you’ll be able to identify when things are off.
  • If your hair starts breaking, don’t immediately reach for your strongest protein conditioner. Investigate the breakage and try to identify what’s causing it before you start on a course of treatment. Dry brittle hair that’s snapping off needs more moisture not protein.
  • If you’ve chemically processed your hair in any way, then expect to need more protein than someone with a natural unprocessed head of hair. You have compromised the protein structure of your hair and depending on the strength and type of chemical process involved; you will need to adjust accordingly.
  • I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, read the ingredients list on your products. Many ‘moisturising’ conditioners nowadays contain some sort of protein which if your hair is protein sensitive can tip you off balance without you even being aware of it. The most popular are amino acids and hydrolysed vegetable proteins such as wheat and soy. Whilst they are quite light and mostly act on the surface of the hair, regular use can cause a build up effect which could lead to protein related breakage
  • Not all protein conditioners are made equal! There are different types of proteins which have different effects on the hair, check this article out for a breakdown. Use a light to medium protein for regular maintenance and a full on heavy intensive reconstructor for those emergency situations. Mixing up the two can have dire consequences. As a general guide when choosing a protein conditioner, light protein products have their protein ingredients lower down in the ingredients list and usually only use one or two types of protein which often take the form of a Silk Amino Acid or Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein. Stronger protein treatments usually use at least two types of protein which appear very early in the ingredients list (1st, 2nd or 3rd) and there will usually be an animal protein such as Keratin or Collagen kicking about somewhere.