Archive for the ‘Hair Care’ Category

How To Get the Most Out of Your Shower

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

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Showers are a balancing act, especially when you wear extensions. You need to shower frequently enough to keep your hair clean and in good condition, but not so frequently as to strip your hair of its natural oils. But that’s not even the half of it—once you’re there, it only gets more complicated. So how can you conquer your showers so that your hair ends up looking as fabulous as possible? Here, we offer you some tips for getting the most out of your wash time.

Plan ahead.
Step one of mastering your shower routine is establishing a rough schedule. This schedule will take the guesswork out of your hair care process, making it easier to manage your hair in the long run. It doesn’t need to be strict, but it should be personalized, depending on a number of things including your hair texture, scalp oiliness, extension method, exercise schedule, and general preferences. We recommend that hair extension wearers shower no more than twice a week, especially if you’re using I-Link or Tape-In extensions. But if your hair is particularly oily, naturally fine and straight, and/or you have a grueling exercise regimen, you might need an extra shower here and there. It helps to know how you like your hair to feel—ideally clean, hydrated, and bouncy with a hint of shine—and to maintain your hair so that it feels and looks its best on your second or third day post-wash. A little trial and error may be necessary to arrive at the perfect routine, but the time and energy will be worth it when your “good hair day” hair is your everyday hair.

Try a pre-treatment.
Pre-shower treatments, or pre-shampoo treatments, are designed to give you a head start on the hair maintenance process by prepping your hair with the equivalent of a moisture-filled appetizer. This enables your go-to shampoo to do its job better, while preventing it from stripping the hair dry of moisture. We also recommend brushing your hair with the Hair Extension Brush pre-shower to untangle any existing knots. This will allow the products that you use in the shower to move easily down the hair shaft for total distribution.

Set the right temperature.
Warm showers feel oh-so-nice, but they can wreak havoc on your hair. That’s because hot water lifts the cuticle of your hair, making it vulnerable to tangling and breakage. Cold water seals the cuticle of your hair, keeping the nutrients and conditioning agents you add to it safe inside the shaft. It also makes for a beautiful, shiny mane once your shower is complete. If you absolutely can’t stand cold showers (which, by the way, boast a number of other benefits), wash just your body with warm water, and reserve cold or lukewarm water for your hair, rinsing with a shot of cold water at the end.

Use the right products.
Picking the right products for your hair type and condition is so vital for healthy locks. We’ve talked about this curation process in other posts, so here we’ll just reiterate the basics: professional quality products are almost always the best bet for hair extensions, and sulfates in hair care products should be avoided at all costs. Here’s the breakdown: professional hair products reap professional results. That’s why your post-salon day hair is inexplicably smoother and more modelesque than your hair on any other day. Boutique products can also be good, particularly if they come from companies with a commitment to natural ingredients. Remember, always read the label on your products! And if you find the terms “sodium lauryl sulfate,” “ammonium laureth sulfate,” “myreth sulfate,” or any other kind of sulfate, don’t use it. While sulfates are certainly good at removing buildup from the scalp, they are generally too aggressive for hair extensions, stripping the hair of its natural oils to the point of impaired hydration and even breakage. Not great for a sustainably healthy look.

Clean and condition the right places.
The rule here is pretty simple: shampoo only at the roots, condition only from the midshaft down (focusing on the ends). Applying shampoo to the lengths of your hair will dry them out, and applying conditioner to the roots of your hair will make them appear greasy, and potentially cause hair extension slippage. If you are used to using a co-wash or cleansing conditioner, we recommend that you pre-wash your roots with a water and apple cider vinegar mix and save the cleansing conditioner for the areas south of the extension bonds. Just in case!

Employ best practices.
Best practices include: washing your hair in only one direction, not scrunching your hair or rubbing it between your hands as you wash it, treating your hair gently at all times, letting conditioner sit and absorb into your hair for 5-10 minutes before rinsing, combing through wet hair with just your fingers, etc. Best practices may vary slightly depending on your products, so consult the label and familiarize yourself with the manufacturer’s recommended process.

Don’t linger.
Nobody needs a 30-minute long shower, not even if they’re washing their hair and shaving their legs in the same session. Using up too much water is bad for the environment and bad for your hair extensions, which need to return to dry ASAP to avoid matting, mold, or slippage. We get that showers can be relaxing, but if you really need a dose of watery relaxation, please opt for a bath, and wear your hair up in a protective style to keep it dry. When it comes to washing your hair, as soon as you’ve finished the shower (a.k.a. rinsed with cold water), gently wring out the water so your hair isn’t dripping wet, step out of the tub, and wrap the hair in a microfiber towel or cotton shirt to expedite the drying process.

Follow up.
Once most of the excess water has been removed from your hair, apply a heat protectant to your roots and shoot a hair dryer at it until it’s fully dry (a modest heat setting will do). For extra smooth hair, add a leave-in conditioner from the midshaft down, combing through any tangles with your fingers or a wide-tooth comb. The lengths of your hair should be left to air dry. Pro tip: once your hair is 2/3rds dry, tie it into a braid, bun, or twist to curl it overnight—or throughout the day, as the case may be. Heatless styling is the best kind of styling for any hair type, and post-shower is the best time to do it.

Troubleshoot.
In-between washes, correct any damage as it springs up with a good dry shampoo, leave-in conditioner, or scalp treatment, depending on your needs. Troubleshooting spot treatments are a great way to cut down on showers while keeping your hair looking and feeling great. They’ll also extend the life of your hair extensions in the long run!

What is your shower routine, and how does it leave your hair and hair extensions feeling? Let us know in the comments below!

 

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Summer Clip-In Care

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

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Every season has its own quirks and distinctions, and the same thing goes for seasonal hair care. In the winter you try to lock-in moisture. In the summer you try to fight frizz and sweat. But did you know that there are even differences between seasonal hair care regimens for permanent vs. removable hair extensions? While all hair extension wearers should protect their hair from heat, sun, sweat, dry or dusty air, and swimming water, the ways in which you accomplish these things may differ between permanent vs. removable methods. So here’s our advice for you Clip-In wearers out there, so you can enjoy long, beautiful, newly-out-of-the-box quality hair all summer long.

Know how to wear your Clip-Ins summer-style.
Summer Clip-In use involves paying extra attention to the clips and ends of your extensions; clips because they’re more prone to slipping in sweaty hair, and ends because they’re more prone to drying in summer weather. For some extra grip, consider spraying the roots of your natural hair with dry shampoo or texturizing spray, then twisting the hair before clipping the extension to it. For smooth, well-moisturized ends, apply leave-in conditioner and a heat protectant from the midshaft down, then wear your hair up in a protective style. For bonus points, add a hat!

Know how to store.
We always recommend hanging your (dry!) extensions when storing them. It keeps the hair smooth and organized, and just generally more presentable than when stuffing them into a box. But, if you are hanging your extensions in the summer, make sure you cover them with a case or static-free fabric to avoid friction and frizz. Otherwise, stack the extensions on top of each other, twist or braid the length of the hair, and tuck it back into the original packaging in a loop. Store the hair in a cool, dry place for maximum defense.

Know when to wear and when to store.
The beauty of Clip-In hair extensions is that you can install them and remove them whenever and wherever you like. That means that, instead of having to take several precautions to defend your extensions from chlorine discoloration or sun-related bond damage, you can just remove the extensions before you find yourself in a hair-compromising situation. We routinely recommend that you avoid tanning, swimming, exercising, or sleeping with Clip-In hair extensions in place. During the summer, we also recommend that you avoid sunbathing with them on, as colored hair is more susceptible to heat damage. When you’re not wearing your hair extensions, take advantage of the opportunity to give them some revitalizing treatments. Deep-conditioning masks, leave-in conditioners, and hot-oil treatments can all work their magic without getting in the way of your summer exploits. But remember the rule of thumb: no sulfate products, and no products near the clips of the extensions.

Do you wear Donna Bella Clip-In hair extensions? We’d love to see your summer hair photos! Submit yours to our Instagram, Facebook, and/or Twitter social media pages for a change to be featured. And, if you have any stories or questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below!

 

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Your Guide to Beach Hair

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

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The beach is our favorite place to be during the summer, but it’s also a place filled with hair extension perils. Between the intense sunlight, accompanying heat, dry air, and harsh seawater, your extensions can leave a day at the beach looking ragged–or worse–showing actual signs of damage. Fortunately, there are things you can do to minimize beach hair damage that won’t get in the way of your summer fun. Here are a couple of our favorite tips to get your started:

Use UV protection. We’ve mentioned this tip before, and for good reason. Protecting your hair from the sun’s UV rays is the bare minimum for long-lasting, healthy locks. Make it your haircare starting point, regardless of the season, or find products that multi-task, like serum with UV protection included.

Pack in the leave-in conditioner. You hair needs extra moisture during the summer months to counteract sun and heat-related drying, and it needs even more to counteract salty ocean water. The key is to saturate your hair before getting into the water–especially at the ends–so that your hair has a barrier that prevents it from losing moisture or absorbing ocean water.

Wear your hair up. Once you’ve applied your leave-in conditioner, we recommend that you tie your hair up in a protective style, so the ends of your hair are not exposed to the elements. This helps to minimize the amount of hair that you’re exposing to sun, sand, surf, etc., and keeps the most vulnerable parts of your hair from excessive drying.

Cover your head. Whether it’s with a swim cap, a sunhat, or a pretty scarf, covering your hair ensures that your hair is protected to-the-max. This is especially important for hair extension-wearers, as the heat from the sun can compromise the integrity of extension bonds. It’s also important for preventing heat stroke and fatigue, as the shade over your head will keep your beautiful brain as cool as possible. Bring at least one head cover in addition to your umbrella for versatility.

Correct damage in the shower. We recommend that you shower immediately after spending time in ocean or pool water to clean your hair of the mineral buildup that accompanies it. Left unchecked, these minerals can damage the hair’s protective layer, cause hair breakage, and even alter the color of your strands. Use a sulfate-free clarifying shampoo to get the job done, then follow up with more conditioning around your midshaft and ends. If you’d like, you can even pre-emptively color correct with lavender or gold-tinted products.

Dry your roots. As an extension-wearer, you know that wet bonds are no good for hair extensions. That’s why it’s important that you dry your hair after getting it wet. Apply some heat protectant to your roots before hitting it with a blowdryer, and make sure you get your entire root and bond area sufficiently dry.

Re-condition your ends. Once again, you want to make sure your hair stays hydrated after a long day in the sun, so coat the ends in another round of leave-in conditioner so they can soak up as much moisture as possible!

If you follow these tips, we guarantee that your next-day beach hair will be as beautiful as your glowing beach-trip skin!

For more summer hair extension reading, check out the following posts:
Donna Bella’s Summer Favorites!
Overcoming Hat Hair
When in Maui…

Have a question? Leave it in the comments below!

 

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Donna Bella’s Summer Favorites!

Saturday, May 14th, 2016

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Ready to hit the sun, sand, and surf? Not without your hair-protective products, you’re not! Summer is just a month away, so now’s the time to get preparing. Here are our top picks for beautiful and healthy hair and hair extensions–all season long!

UV Protection. Always, always, always a must. We’re liking the feel of Aveda’s Sun Care Protective Hair Veil, which boasts 16 hours of water-resistant sun protection. No need to reapply throughout the day (like your sunscreen!), and no need to worry about your silky strands frizzing up. Just keep swimming without a care in the world.

Texturizing Spray. For those hat-wearing days, spritz some Living Proof Instant Texture Mist to your roots, then enjoy up to 48 hours of non-stop volume. This stuff is also great for recreating that classic beachy wave, whether you heat the beach or not.

Anti-Frizz. For you curly-types who need a little flyaway maintenance, try something like Bumble and bumble Defrizz–a frizz-fighting hair softener with a refreshingly short ingredients list. We especially love that whole “works in any weather” thing.

Leave-In Conditioner. Your summer hair can never get enough moisture, so help yourself to this super gentle and nice-smelling Citrus & Neroli Detangler by John Masters, made of certified organic ingredients. It’s also a great regular conditioner safe for color-treated hair!

Conditioning Mask. Kick the deep-conditioning up a notch with a luxurious conditioning mask like Kérastase’s Masque Nutri-Thermique. Designed to add moisture back to sun-dried locks, it’s kind of like hitting the reset button after a long day outdoors. For a DIY remedy, try one of StyleCaster’s assorted summer hair masks. Our favorite is the avocado honey one.

What are your summer hair care picks? Have you stumbled upon any noteworthy hair mask recipes lately? Let us know in the comments below!

 

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Getting to Know the Ingredients Label – Part 2!

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

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Now that we’re all caught up on the chemicals we should be avoiding in our hair care products, let’s talk about ingredients that your hair will love! Some of these will depend on your hair type, but more than a few of them are universal favorites. So without further ado, here’s the bright side of the ingredients label.

Panthenol. Looking for moisture in the form of a good conditioning agent? This is the ingredient for you. According to EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, this little number is a variety of vitamin B5 that comes from animals or plants. Talk about keeping it natural.

Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein. Here’s an ingredient that will condition your hair and form a protective film around the follicle to retain moisture, without all the garbage side-effects and hardcore buildup.

Lauryl Glucoside. This gentle surfactant will clear the dirt off your scalp without stripping your hair bare of its natural oils, since it also has some conditioning properties. Plant-based and biodegradable, the stuff is even sold directly from naturallythinking.com.

Cetearyl Alcohol. Still want to get that lathery foam from your cleansing products? Try cetearyl alcohol, the Lush-approved emulsifier free of the allergic side-effects of propylene glycol and the cancerous associations of ethanolamines.

Hydrolyzed Keratin. Keratin, the protein that makes up your hair and skin, is great for reinforcing the strength of your natural locks and mending breakage. Hydrolyzed Keratin is even moisture-binding, so you can strengthen and hydrate your hair at once.

Polyquaternium-55. Instead of relying on isopropyl alcohol for hold, try this ingredient. It scores a healthy 1 in EWG’s database.

p-Anisic Acid. Don’t like the sound of parabens? Opt for products with this preservative, instead. It’s a naturally-occurring germ killer that also promotes a pleasant smell.

Potassium Sorbate. Speaking of naturally-occurring preservatives, have you ever heard of potassium sorbate? Also repels microbes; also adds a nice scent.

Natural oils and butters. We think it’s safe to say that if it’s okay to eat, it’s okay to put in your hair. Natural ingredients are all the rage right now (as they should be), and there are lots of homemade recipes and boutique blends out there to choose from. Some good picks include: shea butter, coconut oil, aloe vera juice, jojoba oil, castor seed oil, tea tree oil, avocado oil, and vegetable glycerin. Check out this slideshow from Refinery29 to find the best picks for your hair type.

What are your favorite hair care products? What ingredients do they use? And what ingredients work best for you? Let us know in the comments below!

 

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Getting to Know the Ingredients Label

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

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There’s a big wide world of beauty products out there, and not all of them are your friends. In the last few weeks, we’ve talked about how to find products that complement your hair type. This week, we’re telling you about some ingredients in products that don’t complement anyone, least of all extension-wearers. So here are those chemical names, decoded, so you can start getting to know those ingredients labels a bit better.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/Sodium Laureth Sulfate. You’ve definitely heard of this one before. Sulfates are the number one ingredient you should be avoiding if you’re wearing hair extensions because they dry out your hair like crazy. Ideally, though, everyone should avoid the stuff if they can help it. They strip the natural oils off of your head, preventing the healthy distribution of said oils to the lengths of your hair. NOT recommended if you want well-hydrated hair.

Isopropyl Alcohol. We’re looking at you, hairspray. Isopropyl alcohol (otherwise known as rubbing alcohol) is another ingredient that can seriously dry out hair, and it’s found in a disheartening number of products designed to keep your hair in place. In large quantities or concentrations, this ingredient can even dry hair out to the point of breaking off.

Propylene Glycol. Products that come out of the bottle as a foam or emulsion more likely than not contain this chemical. It’s an anti-freeze that contributes to the liquid state of a product, and opinion is divided on the relative toxicity of the chemical. In general, concentrations of propylene glycol used in cosmetics are considered safe, but we recommend that those of you with sensitive or damaged skin, eczema, or other skin conditions refrain from using products with this ingredient, as it can cause allergic reactions.

Petrolatum/Mineral Oil. These ingredients form a plastic-y film around your hair strands in order to seal in moisture, but the barrier is so effective that your hair basically can’t breathe through it. This can ultimately impair hair growth.

Ethanolamines (DEA/MEA/TEA). These guys are supposed to emulsify your products (make them foam) and help maintain a healthy pH level in your hair and scalp, but they have the unfortunate side-effect of drying your hair and skin out. More importantly, they’ve also been linked to cancer!

Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde-donors, and Parabens. We’re lumping all of these ingredients together, even though they definitely have some differences. Formaldehyde is supposed to temper the carcinogenic properties of other ingredients, formaldehyde-donors are chemicals like ureas and DMDM Hydantoin that act as preservatives in beauty products, and parabens are antimicrobial preservatives. What these guys all have in common is a potential link to cancer and immune-system problems. As much as we love beautiful hair, it’s not worth compromising your overall health to achieve it.

Fragrance. If you see “fragrance” or “perfume”/”parfum” on the label of a product, that’s basically code for “and many other chemicals we won’t list here.” Skip the ambiguity in favor of an unscented blend. If you really can’t deal without your signature hair scent, try to recreate it with essential oils.

Need help sorting out which hair (and skin) products are safe to use on your body? EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database has proven invaluable for us, and we think it can help you out, too. Try it out, and let us know what you think!

 

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Overcoming Hat Hair

Sunday, April 24th, 2016

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Warm weather’s here! And if you’ve been reading Hairline for a while now, you probably know the drill: enjoy the sunshine, but protect, protect, protect your hair extensions from it! Heat is bad for all kinds of hair, including your natural locks, but it’s especially bad for hair extensions as it can compromise extension color, dry extensions out, and even damage the bonds to the point of slippage! Not what we’d like for our spring and summer vacays. So throw on a hat when you plan to be outside for a while, and take advantage of these tips to prevent any icky hat hair scenarios, too.

Wear the right-sized hat. What? Hats come in different sizes? If this is a question you need to ask, then you’re definitely overdue for a shopping trip! Wear a hat with a touch of breathing room, meaning you can easily slip a finger or two in-between your hat and your head. For extra help, consult a hat sizing chart.

Wear a light hat. This is probably a given for hot weather, but you should be opting for lightweight hats in the spring and summer, not only to prevent your hair from being weighed down, but also to prevent sweatiness at your roots! Go for a simple straw hat, or a not-too-thick sun hat at most.

Make sure your roots are dry. Otherwise, your hair will dry flat against your head. Not ideal! You can take this drying opportunity to set your hair upside-down—that is, blow-dry it upside-down on a low heat-setting, maximizing your root volume before-hat-wearing time.

Brush your hair upside-down. While you’re at it, go ahead and brush your hair with your head down, too. Once your hat is off, you can repeat this step using your fingers.

Utilize a texturizing spray. Apply a texturizing spray to your roots while your head is down to maintain hair volume around your scalp. A dry-spray shampoo will work, too.

Grab some anti-frizz. Depending on your hat’s material, you may need to take extra measures to prevent frizz. If static electricity is a problem for you, try spritzing some anti-frizz into your hair, or rubbing a dryer sheet along the inside of your hat.

Don’t go overboard. With hair products, that is. If you do, you risk making your hair stiffen in hat hair pose. It’s not great for the extensions, either.

Change your part. This is a trick we’ve seen and used a million times. Pull your hair out of its usual part before donning your hat. Then, when you remove the hat, tousle your hair back into its usual part. For extra umph, swing your hair back and forth (head-banger style) before applying and after removing your hat.

Wear your hair up. This is by far the best way to prevent hat hair, and it’ll keep you from toying with your strands throughout the day. Our favorite is a low-ish crown braid, which will allow your hat to sit on the braid rather than your scalp. Bonus: it’ll also keep the lengths of your hair out of the sun, preventing dryness and split-ends.

We have plenty to say on the topic of spring/summer extension upkeep. Check out our related blogs, “Sun Exposure and Hair Extensions,” and “When in Maui…” for more!

Did you try any of these tips? Let us know how it went! And feel free to share your hat-wearing extension photos with us on Facebook and Instagram!

 

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How To Balance Hair Care and Extension Care

Monday, April 18th, 2016

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Last week we set you up with some tips for parsing out your best hair care routine. This week, we’re going a step further, because hair extension care is a whole ‘nother beast. It can be difficult to juggle both your hair routine and your extension routine…unless you wear Clip-Ins and can just care for the extension hair separately. For the rest of you, though, keep reading for our advice.

Know the difference. Since your hair extensions literally came from another person’s head, you can’t expect them to behave in the same way as your hair. Keep in mind that Donna Bella hair extensions come from India, where naturally dark, straight, untreated hair is donated to temples as part of a religious practice. The hair is then subjected to gentle and effective coloring processes—and, if it’s wavy or curly hair, to additional perming procedures. So your hair extensions fall under the category of “color-treated” or “heat-treated,” and should be cared for with the appropriate products. That being said, your hair extensions are made from some of the most high-quality hair in the world, and they underwent first-rate moisturizing and protective treatments, too. So they’re likely to be less-frizzy, knotted, or generally unruly than your own hair.

Find a happy medium. Things can get tricky if your natural hair is oily and wavy while your extensions are relatively fast-drying and straight. Buying suitable products and achieving your hair care objectives becomes a lot more complicated when some of the hair on your head reacts differently, or needs totally different things, than the rest of your hair. Take a page from the cosmetics industry on this one, and see how combination-skinned women deal with their complexion issues. Oftentimes, you’ll have to look for “compromise” products: a cleanser that doesn’t over-dry your dry skin or under-clean your oily skin, or a shampoo that doesn’t over-dry your hair extensions or under-clean your natural roots. Products labeled as “gentle,” or those that target “sensitive” scalps may be a good fit.

Stay professional. While drugstore products can and will work for hair extension and natural hair maintenance, we recommend that you err on the side of professional products for top-notch, tailored solutions. Professional lines are designed to deal with tough hair and hair extension situations, because the creators behind them are experienced with professional hair procedures. Get in touch with your stylist and ask for their expert recommendations. Or, if you are a stylist, try looking at Beauty Depot—an online vendor of professional hair and beauty products across a wide range of premium brands.

Use insider tricks. The whole point of this blog is to help you guys reach your hair goals, with or without hair extensions. Logically, though, most of our advice is directed towards hair extension-wearers. So flip through some of our old posts and uncover some techniques for styling your natural locks and extensions together! It might seem like your hair has multiple-personality syndrome for a while, but it’s nothing that you can’t handle. We’re in this together!

What are your tips for reining in your hair and hair extension routines? Tell us in the comments below!

 

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Composing the Perfect Hair Care Routine

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

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You’d think that something as commonplace as hair would be easier to maintain. But the reality is, despite generations of (sometimes questionable) hand-me-down beauty insights inherited from our ancestors—like liberally applying oil to your scalp or brushing your hair 100 strokes per day—it often takes years upon years of personal trial and error to master our own hair. And what’s more? The issue can get even more complex with hair extensions in place. So how should you be taking care of your precious mane? We’re here to help you figure it out.

Step 1: Parse out your hair type.
There are lots of things that go into the makeup of your particular strands: curl pattern, hair thickness, hair density, porosity, and even terminal length, to name a few. And you can bet that a lot of these things stem from the one hand-me-down your ancestors successfully transferred to you: your genes. Whether you believe it or not, you and your biological family probably share at least a few hair traits, which means that they should be the first stop on your journey to hair care-enlightenment. Exchange tips and strategies that have worked to tame your natural frizz, or to spruce up your mutually limp locks. Even if your strands are markedly different (like, one sister has curly hair, the other stick-straight hair), you can probably help each other figure out your respective hair profiles. NaturallyCurly.com has some great resources to aid in your evaluations (yes, even for you straight-haired ladies).

Step 2. Determine your haircare objectives.
Your haircare routine will have a lot to do with your natural hair type, but it will also have a lot to do with the way that you like to wear and style your hair. Ask yourself, “What am I aiming for with my hair care routine?” and “What products/ingredients will help me arrive at that goal?” If you like to routinely curl, straighten, or color your hair, one of your objectives should definitely be to minimize/repair damage to your strands, because who doesn’t want healthy-looking hair? If your hair was recently dyed, color-maintenance will likely be one of your objectives. Similarly, if you wear hair extensions, well-blended and well-moisturized hair is a MUST! But keep in mind: hair products aren’t superheroes. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a product that enhances your curls, adds volume, prevents frizz, prevents color bleed, solves all of your problems, and matches perfectly with your hair type. In addition to mixing-and-matching products with different emphases, you’re going to have to prioritize your haircare objectives.

Step 3. Match yourself with compatible products.
If you’re not going about your beauty shopping like you would online dating, then you’re doing it wrong. You should be reading all the descriptions, looking out for relevant keywords (especially the sexy ones like “sulfate-free”), and gauging the compatibility between the product’s intentions and your haircare needs. You should be prepared to try out a few different options with a degree of regularity before making final judgments. And you should be looking for the best possible fit (within reason—see above). Remember: while a one-size-fits-all product may do the trick, it’s basically the equivalent of settling for John from next door. You can probably do better.

Step 4. Fill in the gaps.
Like they always say, what over-the-counter products can’t do for you, do for yourself. And by that we mean, you’re inevitably going to need to do more with your hair than just washing and brushing it if you’re serious about shaping up your routine. We don’t care how amazing your products are—you’re still going to wake up with bed-head now and then. Prepare for it now with the proper tools and recipes to get the job done. Again, the tactics you use will have a lot to do with your haircare objectives—the way you want your hair to turn out. While we’d be more than happy to pry those heating tools out of your fingers for good, we know that many of you value your perfectly-tailored locks above all else (including hair integrity). That’s fine, and that’s your choice (just remember to stock up on heat protectant, too!). For those of you who are a little more squeamish about hair damage, consider playing around with some new styling methods. The internet is chock full of heatless styling tutorials and DIY recipes—all you have to do is test them out and see what works for you! (Pro tip: YouTube is a great place to start looking.)

What’s your haircare story? How long did it take you to arrive at a routine that works for you? Let us know in the comments below, and check in again next week for a complete hair extension care guide!

 

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Everything You Need to Know About Split Ends

Friday, April 1st, 2016

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Let’s get a few things straight: split ends happen to everybody, regardless of their hair condition. It doesn’t matter how often you color, or brush, or even touch your hair, split ends will happen to you sooner or later (but probably sooner, if you do mess with your hair a lot). Your hair extensions aren’t immune, either. Donna Bella’s 100% Human Remy hair is—you guessed it—real human hair, which means that, over time, it’ll also develop split ends. So why does this happen, and what can you do to slow down/correct the problem? Keep reading.

Splits ends are a real hair condition. Trichoptilosis, the technical name for split ends, happens because hair naturally thins and weakens as it ages. Inevitable environmental stressors like friction and sun exposure (paired with brushing, hair treatments, and so on) gradually strip away the outer protective layer of the hair cuticle, leaving the hair raw and exposed. This makes the hair more susceptible than ever to dryness and breakage, and since the ends of your hair are the oldest, that’s where the breakage happens (a.k.a., split ends).

The main culprit is dryness. Of course, there’s more to the story than just aging hair. After all, not everyone with long hair is sporting inches and inches of split ends. The other thing to keep in mind is that the longer your hair gets, the farther away the ends will be from your scalp’s natural oils, which offer another layer of protection against environmental damage. If your hair is naturally dry or curly, it can be especially difficult for the oils from your scalp to reach the ends of your hair. And if you have hair extensions installed, you’ll need to look for another moisturizing solution altogether, seeing as they’re not even connected to your scalp (and the bonds are in the way).

The problem can be hard to spot. Again, this is particularly true for naturally coarse, curly, or dry hair, which is already more likely to fray at the ends due to frizz or curl pattern. So in addition to a visual examination of the individual strands, look out for general thinness and crunchiness at the ends. A natural taper and slight dryness is natural, but drastic thinning and/or brittle texture at the end is a sign of split ends. Another tell-tale sign is more-than-usual knotting towards the ends.

Your extensions might not be on the same page. In general, wearing extensions protects your natural hair from external damage, much like a shield, so your hair will split at a much slower pace than usual. That being said, it’s possible that your natural hair and your extension hair are splitting at a different pace, with your natural hair splitting a little bit faster than your extension hair. This is because Donna Bella extensions are made from the highest quality hair in the world, and are treated with ultra-moisturizing products during manufacturing. It can be hard to spot the splitting of your natural hair through the layers of extension hair, and even harder to trim your natural hair without needlessly losing extension length. That’s why it’s so important to keep up with your maintenance schedule.

The only real fix is a trim. While there are things you can do to minimize the appearance of split ends, the only way to cure them is to snip them off. We recommend a visit to a professional stylist for this job, especially if you are wearing extensions, as they’ll be able to spare as much length as possible. But, if that’s just not an option (or you are a professional stylist), do it yourself with real hair-trimming scissors, and cut off ¼-½ of an inch at the ends (or a full inch, if the splits are starting to travel up the hair shaft). Cut in a straight line if you have straight hair, or twist sections of hair and cut from there if your hair has some curl to it.

You should focus on prevention. The best way to deal with split ends is to adapt better hair care habits. Try some of the following updates:

  • Shower properly. Only use shampoo at the roots, and don’t do it too often, as shampoo strips the hair of its natural oils. 1-3 times per week (depending on your hair type) should be enough. Also, don’t skimp on conditioning treatments. You should apply conditioner heartily to the ends of your hair (no higher than mid-shaft), and leave it in for several minutes before rinsing with cold water (to seal the cuticle).
  • Treat wet hair with extra care. You should always baby your hair, wet or dry. But wet hair is more likely to break, so it needs some extra love after washing. Don’t towel dry your hair, because it jostles the cuticle; do use a wide-tooth comb to brush through wet hair; and don’t ever apply heat to wet hair (that includes a blow dryer). Instead, wait until it’s at least 50% dry, treat it with heat-protectant, then wait about 3 minutes before blow drying. When possible, allow it to air dry.
  • Don’t yank your brush. Firstly, don’t brush your hair too often. Secondly, use best practices when brushing: use a boar hair bristle brush on dry hair (to minimize damage and distribute natural oils throughout the hair), always brush downwards, starting at the ends of your hair and working up. When you find a knot, use your fingers to tease it apart. You don’t ever want to tear it out with a brush. That snapping sound means your hair is breaking.
  • Scale back on the heating tools and chemical dyes. These products and procedures will dry out your hair like no other, and even sometimes damage the outer layer of cuticle. If you can’t live without your straightener or curler, use the lowest heat setting possible and always use a heat protectant. If you need to dye your hair, consider a henna dye (or different-colored hair extensions).
  • Use soft hair accessories. Putting rough metal in your hair can damage your strands. Soft scrunchies, ribbons, and soft metals (like copper) are much preferred.
  • Sleep smart. Pull your hair into a loose braid before going to bed, or even utilize a silk bonnet. For extra protection, switch out your cotton pillowcases for silk ones.
  • Get fancy. Indulge in hair masks, hair oils, deep conditioning treatments, and even hair supplements like biotin for a total defense against split ends. This is recommended especially for those of your with naturally thin hair (as thin hair breaks more easily), and for those of you with extensions in place (to compensate for the lack of natural oil distribution to your extension ends).

What’s your split end story? Did you find this list helpful? Let us know in the comments below!

 

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