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The Beauty Connoisseurs

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hair, Hair and More Hair!

Wednesday evening, I gave a speech entitled "Hair, Hair and More Hair!" at my Toastmasters International club. I covered a lot in that 9min 30sec speech that I have not yet covered here... so, here it goes. :-)

I've always been completely fascinated and intrigued by hair. My mom has maintained her cosmetology license for nearly 30 years, so I grew up a tad more knowledgeable and obsessive about my hair than many other little girls. In addition to working on a hair care line in the lab, I recently decided to make a drastic change in the way that I manage my hair. Enter even more obsessive behavior O_O. As the glam girl in me was reading about various hair textures and styles and treatments, the scientist in me peeked in to ask a few questions. A scientist that has questions cannot rest until they have answers, so you can probably guess how my "research" grew wings.

How does hair get it's texture?

The texture of any one person's hair depends on the shape and size of the hair follicle. There are 4 general shapes of a hair follicle which happen to correlate perfectly with Andre Walker's hair types philosophy. A hair follicle is like a tiny tube that guides the hair to the surface of the scalp. A round hair follicle yields straight hair. The more oval the hair follicle, the more curly the hair it yields.

Similarly, the thickness of hair is dependent on the size of the hair follicle. Large follicles produce thick strands of hair while smaller follicles produce thin strands of hair.

What I really wanted to know was the real science behind hair texture. I was interested in why hair texture differs across and within ethnic groups. Could it be genetic? Hormonal? Due to human adaptation/evolution? Apparently, the type of hair your parents have definitely determines the type of hair you end up with, whether that is straight, wavy or curly. Just last year, a study showed that variants of a particular gene determine how curly your hair will be. Scientists still aren't clear exactly which variants play a part or how they work.

The fact that some people have hair that changes textures throughout their lifetime hints that hormonal changes may be at work. There are even cases of caucasian people with thick, coarse hair like that of African and African American people. It's a rare occurrence, but it happens often enough to have a name-- "Wooly Hair Syndrome". Imagine that.

While I'm slightly disappointed that all of my questions were not answered, the research is well on it's way. I look forward to finding out what factors are at work in determining our hair texture. I hear that the research is being pushed because the findings are a gold mine. There may be a pill developed that could change your hair texture from straight to curly and back straight. My curiosity didn't take me to that train of thought (that's bordering on mad scientist territory imo), nevertheless, I find it all muy interesante...

So, what's your hair texture? Does it change from time to time?

Here's to the Glam Life!
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Thursday, November 11, 2010

So Dry, So Unfortunate

It's that time of year again when my skin starts going absolutely nuts. About 3 or 4 years ago, the skin on my hands became really dry and chapped. It was so bad that my finger tips could snag soft material and if I rubbed my hands together you could hear it... clearly. O_O It was devastating for a gal like me, but I tried to ignore it. After all, I was taking 2 lab courses in school and working part time in an industrial lab as well. I thought it came with the territory. But now that I'm done with school and I'm not working with harsh chemicals, I still find myself with the ever dreaded, severely dry skin.

Normally in the fall and winter months, the biting winds and blistering cold take the blame for the dry skin epidemic. However, thus far I have only had to wear a coat twice, so it was time to dig a little deeper...

pH Makes the World Go Round...

The pH of normal skin is mildly acidic ranging between 4 and 6.5. A good moisturizer will not only contain key moisturizing and nourishing ingredients, but it will also have a pH in the range of normal skin. Using products that are too acidic (pH less than 4) or too basic (alkaline, pH greater than 7) can cause irritation and dry skin. Some products will indicate the pH on the label, but don't count on it. If you really want to know if your dry skin troubles are due to the products you're using, pick up some pH paper from your local craft store and see for yourself. Unfortunately, most soaps and cleansers have a pH much higher than 6.5. So daily bathing can be an uphill battle. Dare I recommend skipping a full body lather and only "hit the hot spots" once or twice throughout the week? It's a bold proposition, but desperate times...

What if your products are not to blame?

I'm almost running out of things to blame for my dry skin dismay... it's not the weather (directly) nor is it the pH of my topical cosmetics. However, pH is not just an external factor. Your internal fluids have a pH as well. Aha! Maybe we're on to something. An internal pH that is too acidic or too basic can have a negative effect on your body in many ways, one of which is dry skin. The fact that I always have dry skin, but it worsens in the fall/winter peaks my scientific interest. I plan to take a deeper look into my eating habits and how they differ in the warm months vs the cold months... stay tuned for an update from my mini research project.

Meanwhile, what have you discovered are your dry skin triggers? What are your cures? All the dry skin Glam Girls want to know!

Here's to the Glam Life!
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