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by Tiffani Greenaway of MyMommyVents.com

You've seen questions about them in the forums and pictures on the 'gram. Reality TV personalities, rappers, and models, pose with a bottle (or cup of tummy flattening tea) praise supplements that promise transformations of your hair from the inside out.


Claiming to "boost your hair's natural collagen" and help hair reach its "maximum capacity," these "specially formulated" pills say you'll have longer, thicker, shinier hair in just 3 months. But do hair vitamins actually work?

According to Medical Daily, we spend almost $176 million a year on supplements we hope will make our hair grow.

"They’re not made-up pills. Our bodies are already taking them in and they should be a part of our diet," says NYC celebrity hairstylist Devin Toth . "Taking them as supplements consistently ensures that those nutrients and vitamins travel through our bloodstream to essential organs, then to our hair follicles and cortex."

Most hair supplements contain a mix of biotin, Vitamin C, and Vitamin B3, which are all known to help hair growth--but a healthy diet that includes foods high in protein, iron, and other vitamins can also keep hair looking its best. Salmon is full Vitamin D, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids to promote hair growth and almonds can give you a boost in Vitamin E, which keeps blood flowing to your scalp and encourages hair to grow.

"One of the biggest misconceptions is that vitamins will help with these problems, but in fact, they may be linked to internal issues stemming from the thyroid or chronic anemia," says Dr. Melissa Piliang, a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic. "Multivitamins or prenatal supplements help to fill gaps found in our diets. We tend to restrict carbohydrates or fats for weight lost or replace them with juices, but vitamins contain important nutrients like biotin, zinc and B-complex that help to enhance the health of our hair."

Hair supplements may promise to help your growth, but the vitamin industry isn't regulated as strictly by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA classifies vitamins as dietary supplements, and manufacturers don't have to get the FDA's approval before those pills end up on shelves at your local beauty supply.

"While vitamin deficiencies — notably iron and vitamin D — can contribute to hair shedding, there just isn't data to support the efficacy of vitamin supplements...and people spend so much money on them," says dermatologist Marie Leger.

The bottom line? Be careful about any supplements you take. "Natural" doesn't always mean safe. People of color have been targeted by health scams in the past. According to Cariny Nunez, M.P.H., a public health advisor in the Office of Minority Health at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), states "scammers know that ethnic groups who may not speak or read English well, or who hold certain cultural beliefs, can be easy targets,” Nunez says. For example, Native Americans, Latinos, Asians and Africans may have a long tradition of turning to more herbal or so-called “natural” remedies." Take caution when combining supplements with other medicines, whether prescription or over-the-counter. (http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm466588.htm)

"Vitamins and supplements aren't miracle drugs, they simply allow your hair to reach its full potential," Toth said "[They] maximize what the body is capable of. Your hair needs certain things to reach maximum capacity … that’s what vitamins are for."

Tiffani Greenway is the wife and mom behind MyMommyVents, a New York city parenting blog. Her tips have been seen on Yahoo Parenting, Mommy Noire, and Fit Pregnancy. Find more of Tiffani's work at mymommyvents.com.

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by Mary Wolff

Chemicals and harsh ingredients in beauty products are nothing new.  We all want great hair and we use the products that we think will help make that happen. But will our hair look great years from now after using harsh chemicals?


One of the most talked about harsh chemicals are sulfates. These additives are found in all kinds of household products. When they are in dish soap, they lather and suds away food particles for clean plates. When they are in shampoo, they lather and suds away dirt for clean hair. But is that all they do? What do sulfates do to natural hair?

Obviously, hair is a more delicate substance than the dishes in the kitchen sink, so is it really safe to use sulfates on our hair? The short answer is yes. Sulfates aren’t evil, and they do serve a purpose of lathering and cleansing. In fact, they are the main component that carries dirt and oil away from the scalp to be washed away with water. While it may be safe to use sulfates in our shampoos, it may not be necessarily smart for curly girls.

Sulfates strip hair of natural moisture making it near impossible for hair to stay healthy and beautiful. For women with curly hair prone to dryness and frizz, this can be a hair disaster!  The obvious answer is to find products that are sulfate free to help your hair keep its natural moisture. However, keep in mind curlfriends, that this is a balancing act! Some natural oil is beneficial for hair in terms of moisture. It can also trap dirt closer to the scalp and lead to less volume. The trick is to get to know your own hair.  If you want to use a sulfate free shampoo, make sure you monitor oiliness. If you want to use shampoos with sulfates, make sure you use a deep conditioning treatment regularly.

Whether sulfates are good or bad is still a matter of opinion. In the end, all hair care depends on your individual hair and how it reacts to certain factors. If you have natural excessively oily hair, sulfates should not be a problem for your hair and may actually be beneficial. If your hair tends to be dry and frizzy, consider trying a sulfate free shampoo to see if that helps you build up the necessary natural oils your hair needs. The most important part is to know your hair!

by Sabrina Perkins of SeriouslyNatural.org

Hair loss is not just a problem for men as women actually make up 40% of American hair loss sufferers according to the American Hair Loss Association. Honestly, many women are suffering in silence and this devastating problem is no more felt harder than in the African American community.


What Black Women Need To Know About Hair Loss
A study published earlier this year and presented at the American Academy of Dermatology’s 74th Annual meeting showed alarming concerns for Black women. The study showed that Black women were more prone to hair loss and even more concerning was the fact that we are less likely to seek professional help to rectify the problem.

The cause for most of the hair loss for black women is a condition called Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia (CCCA) which is a disorder that causes inflammation and destruction to the hair follicles-- it can cause scarring and even permanent hair loss. This vital and alarming information was provided by Dr. Lenzy, a Board-certified dermatologist and clinical associate at University of Connecticut, Farmington, Conn.

Dr. Lenzy, along with other experts believe hair loss is a genetic disposition among black women and they are increasing the risk of hair loss by practicing damaging hair styling techniques like braids, chemical relaxing, and wearing weaves. Out of 5,594 black women who were part of the study and survey, almost 50% reported hair loss on the crown of their head and 81.4% of those women never sought any kind of help from a physician or dermatologist.

Janeise Alexander, owner of J'Das Studio For Hair in Oakland, CA says many clients of hers experience hair follicle trauma. “Tension from braids and twists can and does cause permanent follicle damage, especially to the lanugo (baby) hair around the perimeter of the head.” She adds, “Chemicals such as relaxers and colors can also cause damage if the service isn't administered properly. Applying protection cream to the lanugo hair and scalp is a Must. Also Neutralization and plenty of rinsing will help to remove all traces of the chemical.”

What to do? How do we end the cycle?
We see the problem and we know it is not getting addressed by the individuals suffering from it, so what should be done? Of course, education is always the first out of the gate for answers as it is obvious many of the Black women dealing with hair loss are not getting help. Sure, we see videos here and there discussing some women going to salons and getting help but usually it is just covering up the problem.

These women need real solutions and while it makes sense to seek out a hairstylists, seeking medical help first ensure you know exactly what the problem is so you can properly address and rectify.

Seek help from a Dermatologist, Trichologist, or physician
Suffering in silence will not solve the problem nor will it help. Covering the hair loss or thinning hair up with wigs, weaves, or braids is not the answer either. Often that can compound the problem and make already damaged hair worse or can even negatively affect the scalp to the point of irreversible hair loss.

Seeking medical help from a dermatologist, trichologist or a physician can help determine scalp damage or illnesses that may be causing hair loss. They can also get you back on track to healthy hair and scalp.

Stop damaging your hair
These styles that are causing tension need to be stopped and I consulted with celebrity hairstylist and ambassador for Women’s ROGAINE®, Jill Crosby on hair loss.

Crosby says, “if you wear styles that require a lot of tension to achieve the looks such as tight braids, twists, weaves, or knots then hair loss due to tension is often very prevalent, especially in key areas such as hair line and nape—these styles can also contribute to added loss for someone who is already experiencing thinning or loss due to hereditary hair loss.”

She adds, “putting tension on the papilla (hair root) over time can cause loss, sometimes permanent. So if you're a woman who has thinning hair, take into consideration how much tension to use when creating the look you want. Taking it easy in this way can allow for hair to regrow.”

Know you are not alone nor need to be ashamed
This is what we need to be talking about more as black women are feeling alienated. These problems are not being addressed as often as they should with real experts explaining what the problems are and how to fix them. Most women will suffer some form of hair loss or hairs thinning in their lifetime but black women are finding it through hair styling choices which are detrimental to their hair and scalp.

You are not alone nor should you feel ashamed but rather, empowered with the information on what is going on and how to fix it. We can stop this cycle by knowing there are options for styles and treatments.

Are you suffering hair thinning or hair loss and how have you tried to fix it?

You can follow Janeise Alexander on IG here: cosmetologist_janeise

by Tiffani Greenaway of MyMommyVents.com

Walk into your local beauty supply store, and you'll find tons of products that promise longer, stronger, healthier hair. From castor to monoi oil, cleansing conditioners to conditioning repair creams, the choices are endless. But as you scrutinize the labels looking for parabens and cones, you may still be damaging your hair--and much more.

Do you know what's really in your products? "All natural" might not always mean what you think. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) analyzed over 1,000 products marketed to black women--and found that 1 in 12 contained chemicals that can be hazardous to your health.

You know the dangers of relaxers and texturizers--ingredients like lye and sodium hydroxide can have lasting effects--baldness, growths in the uterus, and premature birth and low birth weight in pregnant women. Sales of relaxers have dropped almost 40% in the last eight years as women transition, big chop, and begin embracing their natural curls. And while relaxer sales have dipped, more and more "natural" hair products are making an appearance on store shelves. The sales of shampoos, conditioners, and styling products marketed to maintaining our natural kinks, curls, and waves have gone up by 27%.

But just because it's marketed to women with natural hair, that doesn't mean the ingredients in your favorite curl creme are all natural. The EWGs' report found that many of the gels, lotions, and butters we product junkies stock up on contain parabens, estrogen, and hormone disruptors like resorcinol.

Black people make up about 13% of the U.S. population, but black dollars account for 22% of the $42 billion spent on personal care products each year. That means that we buy and use more potentially harmful products--products that can result in allergies, tumors, diminished fertility, and even skin cancer.

The next time you stock up on edge control, look on the label for:

Parabens. Exposure to methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, isopropylparaben have been associated with diminished fertility, lowered thyroid hormone levels, and other reproductive problems.

Retinyl palmitate. Government tests show that this antioxidant ingredient can cause the growth of skin tumors and lesions on sun-exposed skin--and it isn't just in your hair products. The EWG's report found that almost 2/3rds of concealers and more than 30% of foundations marketed to Black women contained retinyl palmitate.

Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives. Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives are ingredients meant to preserve cosmetics by releasing small amounts of formaldehyde over time. The concentration of formaldehyde released is small, but it's a strong skin sensitizer and allergen. It's also used in funeral homes.

Methylisothiazolinone. The use of this potent allergen and sensitizer has been restricted in Europe, Canada and Japan, but the EWG found it in 118 of the products it tested.

Fragrance . The EWG warns that "fragrance" can mean anything--it isn't one specific ingredient, “but a mixture of unknown chemicals hidden by a vague, umbrella term. “Fragrance” can encompass any number of more than 3,000 ingredients, all of which are kept hidden from the public."

Some fragrance mixtures include ingredients linked to hormone disruption, skin sensitizers, and allergens.

Before you go to the beauty supply store, check EWG's Skin Deep® database. Its "Hair Products for Black Women" catergory features more than 500 products that don't contain hazardous or questionable ingredients. Shop safe.

Tiffani Greenway is the wife and mom behind MyMommyVents, a New York city parenting blog. Her tips have been seen on Yahoo Parenting, Mommy Noire, and Fit Pregnancy. Find more of Tiffani's work at mymommyvents.com.

Hair typing is the easy way to determine what type of curls you have. Although it is obvious enough that natural hair varies in texture, hair typing is a system that makes it easy to point out what category your strands fall in. Hair typing is a big thing in natural hair and while the verdict is out on whether it truly figures it all out for you, many still subscribe to it in aiding in hair product purchases and how to care for one's own curls.


There is more than just one hair typing system and while many may favor one over all the others, all bring some very vital information to the table. I've listed a few that you should get to know and you can then figure out which best suits your hair's needs.

Andre Walker Hair Typing System
Photo courtesy of Andrewalkerhair.com

In his book, Andre Talks Hair!, Andre Walker divides hair into these categories: type 1- straight hair, type 2- wavy hair, type 3- curly hair and type 4- kinky hair. Each of these categories also have sub-categories that divide them into different segments depending on texture and curl pattern. This is probably the most popular hair typing system that most naturals gravitate to.

Photo courtesy of Naturallycurly.com

This is Naturallycurly.com's adaptation of the Andre Walker method and many are very familiar with this and find it quite helpful.

LOIS Hair Typing System

This typing system determines hair type depending on its pattern, strand size and texture. If your hair falls in right angles with no obvious curve, it is considered an L. If your hair forms tight curls resembling an O, it is considered as O. If your hair has no bend and lies flat on the head, it is considered an I. If your hair has S shaped curls, it is considered an S.

You can find out more about hair typing (and the rest of this article) on my other blog Natural Hair For Beginners.