Kitchen Chemistry // Tweaking My Clay Hair Wash Recipe + Revisiting the Caribbean

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I’ve been using clay to wash my hair for nearly three years and I love it. I went from purchasing Terressentials online to using similar ingredients to make my own and the recipes have changed many times. The mixture I use now conditions and cleans, but sometimes I don’t feel like my hair is as squeaky clean as Terressentials would make it. So this past wash day, I did a new mix modeled after the one in this video:

The recipe in TheCurlLife’s video goes as follows:

3 tbsp rhassoul clay powder
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp honey
1/2 c warm peppermint tea (or other tea infusion or coconut milk)

Mix rhassoul clay powder, oil, and honey to make a paste. Add liquid until mix reaches desired consistency.

I mixed mine using green tea since that’s what I have in the house. I have coconut milk as well, but I can’t always seem to bring myself to use a perfectly good can of coconut milk for anything other than Indian or Thai food (I’m a huge foodie, remember?). I have used coconut milk alone as a deep treatment before and loved it, but… it just tastes too good. I digress. In my clay mixture, I not only used rhassoul clay, but a tablespoon of bentonite as well and I got exactly what I was looking for; that squeaky clean, aerated scalp feeling and the soft, smooth, fluffy, product-free curls I got with Terressentials. This recipe is a keeper! I must warn you, when you mix the clay, oil, and honey together, it looks like straight doodoo. I’m just saying.

I tried the LOC method again with my Elixir, extra virgin olive oil, and flaxseed gel. This batch of flaxseed gel wasn’t my best, but it still provided a light hold, given that my hair was wet when I applied it instead of damp (flaxseed gel is water-based so it is water-soluble, for those who may not be aware). This time around, my hair faired a LOT better with the frizzing, but once again, I experienced frizzing at my ends, mostly in the front this time, though. Now I’m wondering if maybe I should trim, but I also want to make sure I didn’t let moisture escape by allowing my ends to be dripping wet as I applied product. Since I’m protective styling, I didn’t dwell on it and continued with my style, a rockabilly bun. Fast-forward to yesterday, and once again, the curls at the ends reformed themselves via the oils and humectants in my products. I just don’t know what to make of that. I guess I am letting moisture and oil drip away. Sigh. The natural hair struggles continue even after you’ve got your staples down.

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I went to the store yesterday and picked up an item I’ve experimented with during two separate periods of my journey; coconut oil. I got the Spectrum organic brand, and although I meant to grab the UNrefined jar this time for comparison purposes, Fortuna guided my hand straight to the refined. I hadn’t realized what I bought until I got home. I had half a mind to go back and ask to exchange it for the one I need, but thought I should do a little more research on the expelling process of coconut oil to see what’s so “terrible” about refined coconut oil. What I found out was a little surprising. Let me see if I can data dump this information for you.

There is no real official/legal standard for the terms extra virgin or virgin coconut oil, or even olive oil for that matter, but in the industry of olive oil in particular, there is an industry-wide accepted standard in place. Not so with coconut oil. Pretty much anyone can say their product is extra virgin or virgin whether it truly is or not, but there is an accepted standard, which varies from company to company. The real meaty portion of the info I found was that unrefined coconut oil is the most unsanitary as far as cooking because of the conditions the meat of the coconut are kept in prior to the pressing process and the fact that it is not cleaned/filtered or exposed to as high a temperature to eliminate “contaminants.” This is why unrefined oil is meant to be used at a high temperature for cooking; to sanitize it. I also discovered that not all refined oils are made alike. Some are chemically separated while others are expeller, or manually, pressed to acquire the oil. Either way, the oil is cleaned with a bleach and filtered at a high temperature to eliminate unsanitary elements and during that process, the sweet scent is lost (though, I’ve noticed an extremely subtle scent in refined coconut oil at times).

While both versions of coconut oil are nutritious, the unrefined oil retains more of its nutrients because it has not been exposed to the high temperatures to which refined oil is subjected. The real shocker is that whether the oil is refined or unrefined makes no difference where hair and skin care are concerned. You may still reap the benefits of the oil without any problems. Coconut oil is high in proteins that can help bind the proteins of the hair, closing the cuticles, strengthening the strands, and preventing breakage (sort of like an organic alternative to TRESemme Split Remedy). A little goes a long way so using too much can cause your hair to feel dry and brittle, especially if you are protein sensitive.

Coconut oil doesn’t work for all naturals, despite being a superhero popular staple product, so don’t go thinking it will work magic for you just because it worked for Susie Jane over there. Try it and find out. I have tried “extra virgin” coconut oil as well as refined. I didn’t notice much of a difference, if any. Neither softened my hair in the way everyone claims, but they do make great pre-poos and protein treatments if your goal is increased elasticity and more defined curls.

Given that I’ve revisited many products that originally didn’t seem to work for me only to find that now they work miracles, I’m to give coconut oil another shot using the LOC method and update you all with results soon. Peace & Love

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