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The Beauty Connoisseurs

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Long, Luxurious Hair : The Enemy

Before I begin discussing "The Enemy", I'd like to give a brief and blunt recap of Part I. Simply put, a person's hair will grow only to the length that their individual growth cycle allows. There is no product or technique that will extend your unique hair growth cycle. That being said, healthy hair should be the ultimate goal. The result of improperly cared for hair is breakage. Naturally breakage abbreviates the potential length of your hair. There are several culprits which negatively affect the hair growth cycle. Included are heat, chemicals and styling products. Here's why:

The most key fact in understanding "The Enemy" is knowing that by the time the hair emerges from the scalp, it is no longer alive. Consider a fresh flower arrangement. Once the flowers are cut, they are no longer receiving a continual supply of the nutrients needed to survive. As the recipient of the flowers, we do all we can to keep the flowers in bloom for as long as possible. We clip the stems at just the right angle, put them in water, add plant food, prune the leaves, etc. Similarly, our hair needs just as much TLC.

Heat styling can be both beneficial and counter-productive. The benefits will be discussed in Part III. When heat is applied to the hair, it breaks the hydrogen bonds (water molecules) found on the cuticle layer. The cuticle layer is then opened and the hair is able to be reshaped and maintains this new shape upon cooling. When water, in liquid or steam form, is introduced, the hydrogen bonds reform and the hair returns to its natural state. Excessive use of heat causes severe damage to the cuticle layer which will eventually lose its ability to "bounce back", thus breakage results.

The majority of American women have chemically altered their hair at some point. This includes permanent waves (perms/jerry curls), relaxers and permanent color treatments. Each involves the use of strong acids or bases which just aren't pretty for anything dead or alive. I'm sure I don't need to prove that, each of those treatments will cause chemical burns on the scalp if left on too long. Damage to the cuticle layer from these processes is inevitable. In the case of permanent color treatments, the product is meant to literally strip the cuticle layer until the desired color is acheived. Sounds painful!

Styling products are not such harsh villains, but they can cause significant damage nonetheless. Typically, mousse, styling/sculpting gel, holding spray, etc contain alcohol which can be very drying to the hair. Paired with the heat from a blow dryer, curling or flat iron, the hair shaft suffers a great deal of damage apparent by split ends and breakage.

Look for Part III where I will discuss how to fight the enemy yet still enjoy the styling we love.
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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Long, Luxurious Hair: The Science

The Science is Part I of a 4 part series geared at dispelling the myths, providing the facts and suggesting techniques for optimal hair growth. The topics to be discussed later are The Enemy, The Friend and The Technique.

Fact or Fiction? Anybody can grow long hair with proper care. FICTION-- Here's why:

Each individual has a unique hair cycle which accounts for the length of their hair. A complete hair cycle consists of 3 phases: anagen, catagen and telogen. Anagen is the active growth phase of the hair cycle. The duration of the anagen phase is 3-7 years depending on the individual. In contrast, the rate of hair growth is generally the same for everyone. Hair usually grows at a rate of one centimeter a month; although there are factors that can affect the rate of growth ie season and health. The anagen phase is initiated in the follicle embedded deep in the scalp. Over time, the follicle gradually rises to the surface presenting the hair shaft.

The catagen phase is the rest period for the hair lasting approximately 2-4 weeks. During the catagen phase, the hair is no longer actively growing, however; the follicle is still moving towards the surface of the scalp. The follicle also begins to shrink in size marking its near demise.

The final phase of the hair cycle is the telogen phase. This is the period of time in which the follicle sheds mature hair. The shedding period lasts about 3-4 months. In the telogen phase, hair is either shed naturally or pulled out painlessly in the typical grooming process of shampooing, combing, brushing, etc. With the shedding of old hair, the follicle is ready to cultivate the growth of new hair; thus marking both the ending and beginning of the hair cycle. At any given time, 90% of hair on the scalp is in the anagen phase while the remaining 10% is in the telogen phase.

The anagen phase is the segment of the hair cycle that is responsible for length. Unfortunately the duration of an individual's anagen phase is genetically determined. In other words, there is no way to alter the length of one's anagen phase nor the natural length of one's hair. Hormones play a significant role in the anagen phase and provide an explanation for the variances in hair growth between men and women. Androgen, the male hormone present in both males and females, has the greatest affect on hair growth and thickness. Oestrogen, the female hormone also present in both sexes, decrease the rate of hair growth, yet extend the growth period. In pregnancy, the oestrogen levels are much higher which is why hair tends to grow longer in those 9 months. Ultimately, the balance between androgen and oestrogen in individuals regulates hair growth.
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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Personal Branding

We are all familiar with the cliche-- "First impressions are lasting impressions." It seems that today this couldn't be more true. Personal Branding is the concept of packaging yourself in a way that makes you marketable in your career, allows you to command attention when you enter a room and leads to an overall increase in self esteem. The goal is to present yourself in the manner in which you want to be perceived. For many of us, this is simply a matter of playing up existing attributes; for others its a 'fake it til you make it' undertaking.

For the purposes of this post, let's focus on the superficial packaging; the 'you' people perceive at first sight. As much as I despise it, the way you present yourself has great bearing on the opinions formed by others. Excess facial hair gives the idea that you have something to hide. A slovenly appearance indicates laziness and lack of ambition... and so on. The clothes you wear, style of your hair, your makeup routine all say something about who you are as a person or better yet how others view you.

Less considered but no less important is the fragrance you wear. It is a little known fact that smell is the sense most closely related to memory. The scent you wear can invoke thoughts, impressions and memories in others as well as in yourself. Oftentimes, people wear fragrances that are a mismatch to their personality and/or goals. For this reason, I recommend adding a custom fragrance to your personal branding package. A fragrance made to suit your unique persona can not only improve your first impressions, it can also induce confidence, self assurance and assertiveness.

Contact Envie Bath and Body to inquire about custom fragrance services. Introductory pricing applies for a limited time only!
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