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Glossary

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  • Acid mantle: The acid mantle is the layer of combined sweat and sebum on the skin that protects the skin and hair from outside contaminants such as bacteria and viruses. It covers the hair shaft and gives the hair a pH of between 4.5 and 5.5.

  • Acid perm: Avoid. An acid perm is a type of chemical treatment that is used to create soft, natural curls and waves in straight hair. It contains a form of glyceryl monothyioglycylate acid as the reducing agent. The treatment consists of breaking down the disulfide bonds of the hair to reform the hair strand into the desired shape. Acid perms come in a pH range between 4.5 to 7 and are considered to be one of the milder perms available on the market.

  • Acidic: Acidic is a term used to describe substances that have a pH value less than 7.

  • Air-drying: Recommended. Air-drying refers to a styling technique that dries the hair without the use of any heat. It is the easiest and safest way to dry the hair, but also takes the longest.

  • Alkaline: Alkaline, or basic, is a term used to describe substances that have a pH value greater than 7.

  • Alkaline relaxer: Avoid. An alkaline relaxer is a type of chemical treatment that is used to straighten curly and kinky hair. It contains either ammonium thioglycolate or sodium hydroxide (lye) as the reducing agent. The process consists of breaking down the disulfide bonds of the hair to reform the hair strand into the desired shape. Alkaline relaxers are also referred to as lye relaxers.



  • Alopecia: Alopecia is the medical term for hair loss, which can take several forms from slight thinning to complete baldness.

  • Alopecia areata: Alopecia areata is a temporary hair loss condition that is characterized by round patches of hair loss that are about the size of a quarter. The cause of this disorder is not known, but it is believed to involve the immune system. When alopecia areata affects the whole scalp, it is called alopecia totalis. When it spreads to other parts of the body, it is called alopecia universalis.

  • Alpha-linolenic acid: Recommended. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is one of the essential Omega-3 fatty acids that are found in skin cells. ALA helps lubricate the scalp to make the hair shiny and hydrated. It can be found in oily fishes such as mackerel, sardines, salmon, and halibut, as well as oysters, bread, cereal, nuts, and seeds.

  • Amino acids: Recommended. Amino acids make up the building blocks of protein. One important amino acid, called cysteine, is a vital component that makes up the protein, keratin, that gives the hair its strength and resilience.

  • Ammonium laureth sulfate: Caution. Ammonium laureth sulfate (ALES), also known as ammonium lauryl ether sulfate, is a surfactant and a sulfate that is commonly found in shampoo. It emulsifies oils and suspends any dirt found on the scalp and hair. ALES is a modified version of ammonium lauryl sulfate (ALE), which is harsher and more drying. Although it is milder than ALE, it should be avoided whenever possible.

  • Ammonium lauryl ether sulfate: Caution. See ammonium laureth sulfate.

  • Ammonium lauryl sulfate: Avoid. Ammonium lauryl sulfate (ALE) is a surfactant and a sulfate that is often found in shampoo. It emulsifies oils and suspends any dirt found on the scalp and hair. Although it can be derived from coconuts, it is in no way natural and is considered very harsh and drying.



  • Ammonium thioglycolate: Avoid. Ammonium thioglycolate is the reducing agent found in alkaline perms and relaxers. It breaks down the disulfide bonds of the hair to reform the hair strand into the desired shape.

  • Amodimethicone: Caution. Amodimethicone is a silicone that is not water-soluble, but is one of the more easily removed silicones with the help of a mild shampoo or cleansing conditioner.

  • Anagen effluvium: Anagen effluvium is a temporary hair loss condition that is caused by chemotherapy. Chemotherapy causes actively growing hairs to stop growing and the hair to fall out. Once treatment has stopped, the hair will grow back soon after.

  • Anagen phase: The anagen phase is one of the three distinct phases in the hair follicle growth cycle. It is considered the growth phase and can last between two and six years. At any given time, ninety percent of the hair is in this phase and actively growing.

  • Androgenetic alopecia: Androgenetic alopecia, also known as pattern baldness, is a permanent hair loss disorder that can occur in both men and women. In women, the condition is known as female pattern baldness. It is hereditary and triggered by an unknown genetic component that scientists have yet to identify.

  • Antichlor: Recommended. An antichlor is a substance found in shampoo for swimmers that is used to remove chlorine and chlorine odor from the hair. Some examples are sodium bisulfite, potassium bisulfite, sodium metabisulfite, and sodium thiosulfate.

  • Apple cider vinegar: Recommended. Apple cider vinegar (also known as ACV) is an all-natural, holistic solution for removing product buildup from the hair. Due to its acidity, it also works as a detangler, imparting smoothness and shine to the lengths of the hair.

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  • Bantu knots: Bantu knots can be both a hairstyle and a method for curling the hair. Small sections of hair are parted and then twirled until the hair is curled around itself into a knot. Some women wear it like this, but it can later be taken out to reveal a pretty, springy curl.

  • Base color: When coloring the hair, base color is the shade that gives the hair color its overall characteristic. Base color determines the depth and tone of the final result of the desired hair color.

  • Basic: Basic, or alkaline, is a term used to describe substances that have a pH value greater than 7.

  • Beeswax: Caution. Beeswax is a natural wax produced by bees. It is regularly used in hair care and skin care products to replace the use of petrochemicals (such as petroleum jelly). Use of beeswax in hair care regimens should usually be avoided, except when used to lock the hair, due to being extremely difficult to remove.

  • Behenoxy dimethicone: Recommended. Behenoxy dimethicone is a water-soluble silicone typically found in hair care products. It does not buildup on the hair, and therefore, is easily washed out with the use of mild surfactants.

  • Beta-carotene: Recommended. Beta-carotene is an anti-oxidant precursor to vitamin A. When eaten, the body converts beta-carotene into Vitamin A to encourage the growth of both hair cells and hair regrowth. Beta-carotene can be found in apricots, chives, onions, plums, spinach, kale, carrots, peas, and sweet potatoes, to name a few.

  • BKT: Caution. See Brazilian Keratin Treatment.



  • Bonding: Avoid. Bonding is a temporary weaving technique that is used to create quick hairstyles. The hairstyle consists of gluing a weft of hair to a clean scalp. This weaving technique is usually extremely dangerous because it causes hair loss from the glue bonding to the hair, instead of the scalp. In addition, the glue used can cause allergic reactions that can also result in hair loss if not treated.

  • Brazilian Keratin Treatment: Caution. Brazilian Keratin Treatment, also known as BKT, is a treatment that temporarily loosens the tightness of curls, reduces frizz, and makes the hair easier and faster to style. It is a much better alternative to chemical straighteners, relaxers, and texturizers, but it can be damaging nonetheless. Some versions contain formaldehyde while others contain milder derivatives of formaldehyde. Safer options are available that are completely formaldehyde-free.

  • Butylparaben: Caution. Butylparaben is a preservative (and also a paraben) that is added to hair care products to protect them against microbial growth and undesirable chemical changes. Some believe that it causes cancer due to its ability to imitate the hormone, estrogen, in the body. However, this has been widely disproved.

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  • Calcium hydroxide: Avoid. Calcium hydroxide is one of the chemical reducing agents (along with guanidine carbonate) found in “no lye” relaxers. It breaks down the disulfide bonds of the hair to reform the hair strand into the desired shape.

  • Caprylic acid: Recommended. Caprylic acid is an essential fatty acid that is plant-derived. It is typically added to hair care products, acting as a lubricant and emollient to impart a soft, velvety feel to the hair.

  • Catagen: The catagen phase is one of the three distinct phases in the hair follicle growth cycle. It is considered the transition phase, and one to two percent of the hair on the scalp is in this stage. This catagen phase can last between two to three weeks and signals the end of active hair growth.

  • Cetyl alcohol: Recommended. Cetyl alcohol is an essential fatty alcohol that is plant-derived. It is typically added to hair care products, acting as a lubricant and emollient to impart a soft, velvety feel to the hair.



  • Chemically-treated: Avoid. Chemically-treated is a term used to describe hair that has been permanently altered by the use of chemicals in perms, relaxers, texturizers, or hair color (i.e. semi-permanent dyes, permanent dyes, or bleach).

  • Chemotherapy: See anagen effluvium.

  • Cicatricial alopecia: Cicatricial alopecia is a permanent hair loss disorder that is also known as scarring alopecia. The term is used to describe a range of disorders that causes inflammation that destroys the hair follicle and replaces it with scar tissue.

  • Citric acid: Recommended. Citric acid is an organic acid naturally found in citrus fruits. It is often added to hair care products as a preservative, a pH adjuster, a natural water softener, and a cleansing agent.

  • Clarifying shampoo: Caution. Clarifying shampoos are usually clear and contain harsh sulfates to cut through heavy product buildup. These shampoos should not be used more than four to six weeks. Anymore than this will cause the hair to become dry, brittle, and damaged.

  • Co-washing: Recommended. See conditioner-washing.

  • Cocamidopropyl betaine: Recommended. Cocamidopropyl betaine is an organic surfactant that is derived from coconut oil. Because it is considered one of the gentler surfactants, it is often found in baby shampoos.



  • Cocobetaine: Recommended. Cocobetaine is also known as cocamidopropyl betaine. It is a gentle surfactant that is naturally-derived from coconut oil and used in shampoo.

  • Color-treated: Caution. Color-treated is a term used to describe hair that has been dyed.

  • Combination scalp: A combination scalp is a scalp that is both oily and flaky, but is not caused by dandruff.

  • Condition: Condition refers to the current state of the hair. When shopping for hair care products, there will be four traditional categories - normal, dry, damaged, and oily hair.
    • Normal hair is healthy hair
    • Dry hair is dry to the touch and feels rough
    • Damaged hair is a catchall for many different hair problems: Damaged, permed, relaxed, chemically-processed, color-treated, coarse, dry, porous, sun-bleached hair, and over-styled
    • Oily hair refers to a scalp condition rather than a hair condition that causes the hair to be very oily to the touch

  • Conditioner-washing: Recommended. Conditioner-washing, also known as co-washing, is a cleansing technique that uses conditioner, instead of shampoo, to gently clean the hair and scalp. It can be used by all hair types, but should be avoided by those who intend to heat style their hair with direct heat (such as hair dryers, flat irons, and curling irons).

  • Conditioning agents: Recommended. Conditioning agents are found in hair care products and are responsible for making the hair easier to comb, softer, shinier, and silkier to the touch. Examples of conditioning agents include humectants, emollients, oils, proteins, silicones, quaternary ammonium compounds, and polymers.

  • Cool tones: When determining hair color, tone refers to the warmth or coolness of hair color. Cool tones absorb light and appear darker. In addition, they seem ashy, muted, or drab. Some examples of cool tones are blue-based reds, magentas, purples, pinks, greens, and blues.



  • Copper: Recommended. Copper is a trace element that is essential for every cellular process in the body. It works in conjunction with amino acids and vitamins to support healthy hair growth. It can be found in dark leafy greens, soybeans, squash, nuts, seeds, chocolate, oysters, and other seafood.

  • Cortex: The cortex of the hair is located between the cuticle and the medulla. It determines the hair’s strength, resilience, moisture content, and color. The cortex makes up ninety percent of the weight of the hair strand and contains long protein filaments called microfibrils and macrofibrils that extend throughout the length of the hair.

  • Curl enhancers: Recommended. Curl enhancers are a category of leave-in conditioners that encourage the natural hair texture of women with wavy, curly, and kinky hair.

  • Cuticle: The cuticle is the outermost covering of the hair strand. It looks like fish scales or overlapping tiles and provides protection to the hair shaft. There are seven to ten layers of cuticle protecting the cortex.

  • Cyclomethicone: Caution. Cyclomethicone is a silicone that is not water-soluble, but washes out easily with the use of mild cleansers.

  • Cyclopentasiloxane: Caution. Cyclopentasiloxane is a silicone that is not water-soluble, but is easily washed out of the hair with the use of mild cleansers.

  • Cysteine: Recommended. Cysteine is an amino acid found in keratin. It is made up of the elements carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and sulfur and forms the building blocks of skin and nails.

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  • Dandruff: Dandruff is a scalp condition that is characterized by an itchy scalp that flakes. A fungus called Malassezia that is naturally found on the scalp causes dandruff. Natural remedies like tea tree oil or over-the-counter dandruff shampoos can effectively treat the condition and provide relief.

  • Decyl polyglucose: Recommended. Decyl polyglucose is a mild, natural surfactant that is derived from glucose and plant-based fatty alcohols. It is found in many gentle, but effective, shampoos and cleansers.

  • Demi hair color: Caution. Demi hair color is also referred to as level 2, mid, tone-on-tone, and intermediate. It contains peroxide that helps the color penetrate the hair shaft. Demi hair color can only change the hair about a shade or two and lasts for four to six weeks (or twenty-four washings).

  • Density: Density refers to the number of hairs per square inch on the scalp, which is predetermined at birth. The average person has between one hundred thousand and one hundred fifty thousand strands of hair on their head. Density can be thin, normal, or thick.

  • Depth: In hair color, depth is the degree of lightness or darkness of the hair. Depth can be light, medium, or dark.

  • Dermal papilla: The dermal papilla is a cone-shaped protrusion at the base of the hair follicle in the dermis. Blood vessels in the dermal papilla nourish the hair follicle, bring nutrients and oxygen to the epidermis, and remove waste from the epidermal layer.

  • Dermatologist: A dermatologist is a medical professional who specializes in medical conditions dealing with the hair, nails, and skin.



  • Dermis: The dermis is located under the epidermis and is composed of three types of tissues: collagen, elastic tissue, and reticular fibers. It has two layers called the papillary and reticular layers and also contains a variety of structures intended to nourish the skin and hair such as the hair follicle, sebaceous (oil) glands, eccrine (sweat) glands, and blood vessels.

  • Developer: Caution. Developer is another name for peroxide. It is one of the main ingredients found in semi and permanent hair dyes. It lifts and removes natural hair color from the hair to make room for the incoming dye.

  • Developer volume: Developer volume describes the concentration of peroxide in hair color. The higher the volume, the harsher it is on the hair. Semi-permanent dyes usually contain about 10 to 20 volume peroxide, and permanent dyes contain about 20 to 30 volume peroxide.

  • DHT: See dihydrotestosterone.

  • Dihydrotestosterone: Dihydrotestosterone, also known as DHT, is an androgen hormone responsible for binding with receptors in the scalp follicles. In some people, it causes the hair follicles to shrink, eventually leading to hair loss.

  • Dimethicone copolyol: Recommended. Dimethicone copolyol is a water-soluble silicone that won’t build up on the hair.

  • Dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate: Recommended. Dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate is a gentle surfactant that won’t irritate the skin. Although it is a synthetic compound, it is derived from organic sulfonic acid salt.



  • Disodium EDTA: Recommended. Disodium EDTA is a chelating agent that attracts minerals away from the hair shaft to make them easier to rinse away. It is found in shampoo for swimmers and can also be used by those with hard water.

  • Disodium laureth sulfosuccinate: Recommended. Disodium laureth sulfosuccinate is a gentle surfactant that will not irritate the skin. It is a compound that is derived from organic sulfonic acid salt.

  • Disulfide bonds: Disulfide bonds are created by the sulfur component of cysteine and give hair its shape, strength, and flexibility. They are the strongest bonds in the hair and account for about one-third of the hair’s strength. In fact, disulfide bonds are so strong that it takes a chemical or extended exposure to high temperatures to modify their shape.

  • Docosahexaenoic acid: Recommended. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is one of the three Omega-3 fatty acids that cannot be produced by the body, and therefore, must come from the diet. DHA lubricates the scalp, makes the hair shiny, and encourages faster hair growth. It has even been shown to help prevent or reverse hair loss. Omega-3s can be found in oily fish such as mackerel, sardines, salmon, herring, trout, and halibut as well as oysters, bread, cereal, nuts, and seeds.

  • Double-processed: Avoid. See two-step.

  • Dry scalp: Dry scalp is a common scalp condition that is characterized by the scalp being dehydrated due to an underproduction of sebum. It is usually the result of underactive sebaceous glands (which are regulated by hormones), but other factors may cause the scalp to be dry such as overwashing the hair, not rinsing the hair well enough after shampooing and conditioning, going long periods without washing the hair, using shampoos with harsh detergents, or being exposed to arid or cold climates.

  • Dusting: Dusting is a trimming technique that involves cutting off individual split ends as they are seen instead of cutting all of the hair at once.

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  • Eicosapentaenoic acid: Recommended. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is one of the three Omega-3 fatty acids that cannot be produced by the body, and therefore, must come from the diet. It lubricates the scalp, makes the hair shiny, and encourages faster hair growth. It has even been shown to help prevent or reverse hair loss. Omega-3s can be found in oily fish such as mackerel, sardines, salmon, herring, trout, and halibut as well as oysters, bread, cereal, nuts, and seeds.

  • Elasticity: Elasticity refers to the stretch potential of the hair. A single strand of hair is only 0.02 to 0.04 millimeters thick, but can stretch to 30% of its original length. Hair that is not elastic enough snaps and damages very easily.

  • Emollients: Recommended. Emollients are found in hair care products. They soften and smooth the hair, leaving a protective barrier on the hair shaft to prevent dehydration and reduce frizz. Examples of emollients are shea better, vegetables oils, wheat germ, olive oil, walnut oil, amino acids, and aloe vera.

  • Epidermis: The epidermis is the outermost layer of the skin, and it contains four or five layers, depending on where the skin is located on the body. At the lowest level of the epidermis, new skin cells slowly migrate to the surface of the skin, where they die and eventually fall off. The main function of the epidermis is to protect the body against pathogens and to regulate the amount of water released by the body.

  • Estrogen: Avoid. Estrogens, also known as oestrogens, are hormones that carry information and instructions to all parts of the body. They regulate all of the body’s functions such as growth, metabolism, sexual function, and reproduction (to name a few). Too much can cause weight gain, depression, and even hair loss. They may be included in some hair care products that claim to grow the hair faster. Avoid using these products as they can cause premature breast and pubic hair development in young girls.

  • Ethylene glycol: Recommended. Ethylene glycol is an organic compound that is often combined with non-water-soluble silicones to make them water-soluble. Silicones with PEG in their names have been modified by ethylene glycol to become water-soluble.

  • Ethylparaben: Caution. Ethylparaben is a paraben, which is a type of preservative, that is added to hair care products to protect against microbial growth and undesirable chemical changes.



  • Eumelanin: Eumelanin is a type of melanin (or pigment) that produces hair color in the hair follicles. It can be found in shades of blonde, brown, and black hair.

  • Extensions: Avoid. Extensions are hair braided or bonded into sections of one’s own hair.

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  • Fatty acids: Recommended. Fatty acids are plant-derived.  They are both lubricants and emollients in hair care products and give the hair a soft, velvety feel without making it feel heavy.  In addition, they help combat static. Examples are caprylic acid, lauric acid, oleic acid, palmitic acid, and stearic acid.

  • Fatty alcohols: Recommended. Fatty alcohols are plant-derived.  They are both lubricants and emollients in hair care products and give the hair a soft, velvety feel without making it feel heavy.  In addition, they help combat static.  Examples are cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, triglycerides, myristyl alcohol, lauryl alcohol, and ehenyl alcohol.

  • FDA: See Food Drug Administration.

  • Film-forming ingredients: Caution. Film-forming ingredients (also referred to as holding and plasticizing agents) are typically found in hair styling products. They add volume and hold to the hair by covering the hair shaft. Too much can cause buildup and make the hair flake. Some examples of film-forming ingredients are acrylates, acrylamide, polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP), and polyvinylmethyl ether/maleic acid (PVM/MA).

  • Follicle: The follicle produces hair and is located in the dermis. The part of the hair inside the follicle (below the skin’s surface) is the hair root while the portion protruding from the head is the hair shaft. The hair bulb is at the base of the hair root, where nutrients are received and new cells are formed. Each hair follicle is connected to a sebaceous gland, nerve endings, and blood vessels.



  • Follicular Degeneration Syndrome: Follicular Degeneration Syndrome is a type of scarring alopecia that used to go by the name of “hot comb” alopecia. It is most likely caused by repeatedly damaging the hair follicle due to a variety of styling techniques such as relaxers, hot combs, tight rollers, and blow-drying. This condition may be permanent if these hair styling practices are not stopped in time for the hair follicle to recover.

  • Folliculitis: Folliculitis is a scalp condition that occurs when one or more hair follicles have become inflamed due to a bacterial infection. Mild cases of folliculitis will likely go away on its own, but cases that are more severe will require taking an oral or topical antibiotic.

  • Food Drug Administration: The Food Drug Administration also goes by simply the FDA. It is a U.S. agency inside the Department of Health and Human Services that is tasked with promoting and protecting the public health in the arena of food safety, prescription and over-the-counter drugs, vaccines, medical devices, veterinary products, and cosmetics.

  • Friction: Avoid. Friction is caused by two surfaces rubbing against each other. When the hair repeatedly rubs against itself or something else, it can cause damage to the cuticle.

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  • Glyceryl monothyioglycylate: Avoid. Glyceryl monothyioglycylate is a reducing agent found in acid perms and “Thermal Hair Straightening.” It breaks the strong disulfide bonds in the hair to permanently modify the shape of the hair strand. It is considered to be one of the milder chemical solutions available on the market, and therefore, the least effective.

  • Gradual dyes: Recommended. Gradual dyes are also called progressive dyes. They contain lead acetate as the active ingredient responsible for coloring the hair. Gradual dyes coat the outside of the hair shaft or just under the cuticle. The color gradually fades out if use is stopped.

  • Grease: Avoid. Grease is a common hair care product used by black women. It contains petrochemicals and waxes (such as lanolin) that clog the hair follicles on the scalp. Regular use can lead to stunted hair growth and a greasy, flaky, and itchy scalp.



  • Guanidine carbonate: Avoid. Guanidine carbonate is a reducing agent that combines with calcium hydroxide to form guanidine hydroxide in “no lye” relaxers. It breaks the strong disulfide bonds in the hair to permanently modify the shape of the hair strand into the desired style.

  • Guanidine hydroxide: Avoid. Guanidine hydroxide is the result of guanidine hydroxide forming with calcium hydroxide. It is the main reducing agent in “no lye” relaxers. It breaks the strong disulfide bonds in the hair to permanently modify the shape of the hair strand into the desired style.

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  • Hair type: Hair type refers to the configuration or shape of each strand of your hair. There are four hair types: straight, wavy, curly, and kinky.

  • Heat protectants: Recommended. Heat protectants are a category of styling products that protect the hair from styling tools such as hair dryers, flat irons, and curling irons. They contain lots of silicones and come in a variety of mediums such as serums, gels, sprays, and lotions.

  • Heat styling: Caution. Heat styling specifically refers to a method of hair styling that involves applying direct heat to the hair to achieve a particular style. Direct heat can come in the form of hair dryers, flat irons, curling irons, etc.

  • Holding agents: Caution. See film-forming ingredients.

  • Humectants: Recommended. Humectants are ingredients found in hair care products that bind with water. They take water from the air and pull it into your hair. They also help the hair retain the water that is already inside. Some examples of humectants are glycerin, pathenol, propylene glycol, sorbital, glycerol, aloe vera, and honey.



  • Hydrogen bonds: Hydrogen bonds are in the polypeptide chains of keratin that make up hair. They are one of the most prevalent bonds in the hair, but they are also the weakest as they are easily broken by heat and moisture.

  • Hydrogen peroxide: Caution. Hydrogen peroxide, or developer, is one of the main ingredients in semi and permanent hair dyes. It lifts and removes the natural hair color to make room for the new hair color.

-I-
  • Indirect heat: Recommended. Indirect heat is heat that is three to six inches away from the hair when styling. Examples of indirect heat include drying the hair with a hair dryer (without a comb attachment) or using a hooded dryer for roller sets.

  • Iron: Recommended. Iron is an essential mineral that helps the red blood cells transports oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. It helps keep the hair follicle and root strong and healthy. Iron can be found in red meat, egg yolks, spinach, lentils, and chicken.

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  • Japanese Hair Reconditioning: Avoid. Japanese Hair Reconditioning is also referred to as “Thermal Hair Straightening” and “Thermal Hair Reconditioning.” It uses glyceryl monothyioglycylate acid as the reducing agent along with a flat iron to permanently straighten wavy, curly, and kinky hair. It is a very damaging process that can lead to severe breakage and hair loss.

-K-
  • Keratin: Keratin is a protein that is produced by your body to form the nails, hair, and skin. It is made up of long polypeptide chains of amino acids that give the hair its strength and resilience.

  • Keratin Treatments: Caution. Keratin Treatments, or BKT, is a relatively new treatment on the market that will temporarily loosen the tightness of curls, reduce frizz, and make the hair easier and faster to style. The treatment uses keratin and usually formaldehyde to reduce frizz by up to 95 percent. Formaldehyde-free versions are available, but are less effective.

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  • Lather builders: Recommended. Lather builders are added to shampoos to give them their foaming ability. Most people think that a lather means that the hair is getting clean, but this is not the case. Detergents, not lather builders, clean the hair. They are simply there to give a more luxurious experience. Some examples of lather builders are cocamide MEA and cocamidopropyl betaine.

  • Lauric acid: Recommended. Lauric acid is a fatty acid that is plant-derived. It lubricates and moisturizes the hair, making it soft and velvety to the touch.

  • Level 2: Caution. See demi hair color.

  • Locks: Locks, or dread locks, are a natural hairstyle that is the result of matted hair that has been braided or twisted with beeswax.

  • Low-manipulation: Recommended. Low-manipulation is a term used to describe styling techniques that require very little handling of the hair, use no heat, and put no tension on the hair or scalp.

  • Lye: Avoid. See sodium hydroxide.

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  • Macrofibrils: Macrofibrils are long protein filaments that extend throughout the length of the hair to form the cortex, which is the main structure of the hair.



  • Magnesium: Recommended. When ingested, magnesium is a mineral that helps keep the hair follicles strong and prevent split ends. It can be found in fish, dark leafy greens, avocados, dairy products, nuts, seeds, bananas, and whole grains. When magnesium is present in hard water, it can leave the hair feeling dry, weighted down, and dull.

  • Malassezia: See dandruff.

  • Manipulation: Manipulation refers to the handling of hair.

  • Mechanical damage: Avoid. Mechanical damage is damage that is caused by how the hair is physically handled in daily hair care routines and styling practices. Detangling, twisting, braiding, friction, and heat are all types of mechanical damage.

  • Medulla: The medulla is the innermost layer of a single strand of hair. However, it is not present in all hair. In fact, it is more likely to be present in other parts of the body than on the head. Its purpose is unknown.

  • Melanin: Melanin is a pigment produced by the melanocytes in the cortex that give the hair its color.

  • Melanocytes: Melanocytes are pigment-producing cells that make a pigment called melanin, which gives the hair its color.



  • Methylparaben: Caution. Methylparaben is a paraben, which is a type of preservative, that is added to hair care products to protect against microbial growth and undesirable chemical changes.

  • Methylsulfonylmethane: Recommended. Methylsulfonylmethane, also known as MSM, is an organic compound that has been shown to promote healthy hair growth by lengthening the anagen (growing) phase of the hair. It can be found in seafood, meat, broccoli, cauliflower, dairy products, cabbage, onions, and leafy green vegetables.

  • Microfibrils: Microfibrils are long protein filaments that extend throughout the length of the hair to form the cortex, which is the main structure of the hair.

  • Mineral deposits: Avoid. Minerals are naturally-occurring inorganic substances that are the result of geological processes within the Earth. When large concentrations of these minerals are present in hard water, they leave the hair feeling dry, weighted down, and dull. Calcium, magnesium, cooper, iron, lead, and silica are all examples of minerals that can have adverse effects on the hair.

  • Mineral oil: Avoid. Mineral oil is a petrochemical, meaning that it is derived from petroleum. It builds up on the hair and is hard to remove. In addition, it can also clog the hair follicles on the scalp and hinder hair growth.

  • MSM: See methylsulfonylmethane.

  • Myristyl alcohol: Recommended. Myristyl alcohol is an essential fatty acid that is plant-derived. It is typically added to hair care products as a lubricant and emollient. Myristyl alcohol imparts a soft, velvety feel onto the hair without making it greasy or heavy.

-N-


  • Natural: Recommended. Natural can refer to hair care products that only have ingredients that can be found in nature. It can also refer to hair that has not been altered in any way by chemicals (i.e. relaxers, perms, texturizers, or hair color). Lastly, natural can also refer to wearing the hair in its unaltered state. For example, if the hair were curly, wearing it curly would mean wearing it naturally.

  • Neutral perm: Avoid. A neutral perm uses sodium sulfite as the reducing agent that breaks down the disulfide bonds in the hair and modifies the shape of the hair strand. Women who want to have curly hair usually use neutral perms. The process involves wrapping sections of the hair around curling rods to form and shape the new curls.

  • No heat styling: Recommended. No heat styling is another way of saying air-drying. Air-drying is the safest way to style the hair.

  • No shampoo regimen: Recommended. A “no shampoo” regimen, also known as conditioner-washing and co-washing, is a cleansing technique that uses only conditioner, instead of shampoo, to gently clean the hair. It can be used by all hair types, but should be avoided by those who intend to heat style their hair with direct heat such as hair dryers, flat irons, and curling irons.

-O-
  • Oestrogens: Avoid. See estrogen.

  • Oily scalp: An oily scalp is a scalp condition that is characterized by overactive sebaceous glands. These sebaceous glands produce an overproduction of sebum that results in hair that looks greasy and becomes dirty fast.

  • Oleic acid: Recommended. Oleic acid is a fatty acid that is plant-derived. It lubricates and moisturizes the hair, making it soft and velvety.



  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Recommended. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that cannot be produced by the body and so they must come from the diet. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are all omega-3 fatty acids that are vital to the nourishment of the hair follicles. Omega-3s can be found in oily fish such as mackerel, sardines, salmon, herring, trout, and halibut, as well as oysters, bread, cereal, nuts, and seeds.

  • Organic: Recommended. Organic refers to hair care products that only have ingredients that have been cultivated using organic farming methods. Organic ingredients are free of pesticides, toxins, artificial ingredients, preservatives, industrial solvents, radiation, and other chemicals.

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  • Palmitic acid: Recommended. Palmitic acid is a fatty acid that is plant-derived. It lubricates and moisturizes the hair, making it soft and velvety to the touch.

  • Parabens: Caution. Parabens are common preservatives used in cosmetic ingredients that end in the word “paraben.” Examples of parabens are methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben. Some studies say that parabens cause cancer, but this claim has been widely disproved.

  • Paraffin: Avoid. Paraffin is a petrochemical, which means that it is derived from petroleum. It builds up on the hair and is very hard to remove. Paraffin can also clog the hair follicles on the scalp and hinder hair growth.

  • Pattern baldness: See androgenetic alopecia.

  • Pediculosis capitas: Pediculosis capitas is the medical term for head lice, which are tiny, wingless insects that infest the scalp of mostly children between three and twelve. Anyone, however, can become infected. Head lice feed off the host’s blood and are hard to spot. It is more common to see the eggs that the females lay really close to the scalp than to see the insects themselves. Although lice infections are not serious, they are very annoying. Head lice usually spread from child to child by the sharing of combs, brushes, hats, pillows, or through school or home furnishings.



  • PEG-modified dimethicone: Recommended. PEG-modified dimethicone is a silicone that is water-soluble. It acts as a conditioning agent and a polymer to temporarily add shine to the hair, make it easier to detangle, and provide some protection against heat.

  • Permanent hair color: Caution. Permanent hair color, also called level 3, contains the highest amount of peroxide out of all the other hair dyes. It is, therefore, the most alkaline dye available on the market. It can change the hair to almost any shade desired with touchups done only on the roots.

  • Peroxide: Caution. Peroxide, also known as developer, is one of the main ingredients in semi and permanent hair dyes. It lifts and removes natural hair color to make room for dye when coloring the hair.

  • Petrochemicals: Avoid. Petrochemicals are chemicals derived from petroleum. They build up on the hair and are difficult to remove. When placed on the scalp, they can even clog the hair follicle and stunt hair growth. Paraffin, mineral oil, and petrolatum are all examples of petrochemicals.

  • Petrolatum: Avoid. Petrolatum is a petrochemical, which means it is derived from petroleum. It builds up on the hair and is hard to remove. In addition, it can also clog the hair follicles on the scalp and hinder hair growth.

  • Petroleum: Avoid. Petroleum is found under the Earth’s surface and used to make a variety of different types of fuel. Derivatives of petroleum are often used as cheap emollients in hair care products to soften and smoothe the hair. However, they can clog the hair follicle and stunt hair growth.

  • Pheomelanin: Pheomelanin is a type of melanin (or pigment) that produces hair color in the hair follicles. It is found in shades of red hair.



  • Pigment: See melanin.

  • Plant oils: Recommended. Plant oils are found in hair care products. They soften and smooth the hair and leave a protective barrier on the hair shaft to prevent dehydration and reduce frizz. Examples of plant oils include shea butter, vegetables oils, olive oil, walnut oil, almond oil, and grapeseed oil.

  • Plasticizing agents: Caution. See film-forming ingredients.

  • Polymers: Caution. Polymers are included in hair care products because of their ability to bind with the hair and resist being rinsed off. Hair is negatively charged while polymers have a positively charged backbone. This characteristic allows polymers to create a protective coating around your hair, making it appear smoother and shinier. Applying too much will cause build-up and make the hair feel weighed down. Film-formers and silicones are examples of polymers.

  • Polypeptide chains: Polypeptide chains are links of amino acids that are held together to form the protein, keratin.

  • Porosity: Porosity is the ability of the hair to absorb water. Hair that has a high-porosity easily lets water in, but loses it just as fast. This results in hair that is dry, brittle, and prone to damage.  Hair that has a low porosity doesn't easily let water in at all.  Water will bead on the surface of low-porosity hair.  This also can result to hair that is dry.

  • Preservatives: Recommended. Preservatives are added to hair care products to protect against microbial growth and undesirable chemical changes.



  • Progressive dyes: Recommended. See gradual dyes.

  • Propylparaben: Caution. Propylparaben is a paraben, which is a type of preservative, that is added to hair care products to protect against microbial growth and undesirable chemical changes.

  • Protective styling: Recommended. Protective styling is a term used to describe hairstyles that require very little handling of the hair, use no heat, and put no tension on the hair or scalp. Buns, puffs, ponytails, and wigs are all examples of protective hairstyles.

  • Protein treatments: Caution. Protein treatments are deep penetrating treatments that can temporarily repair damaged hair. They contain high percentages of protein, often keratin, to fill in gaps and holes in damaged hair. People with healthy hair should avoid using protein treatments since they can cause the hair to become stiff, dry, and therefore, break off.

  • Proteins: Recommended. Proteins are made up of amino acids. When added to hair care products, proteins are conditioning agents that coat the hair shaft and protect it. They coat the outside of the hair and temporarily fill in any gaps in the cuticle. Examples of proteins that are conditioning agents are wheat, wheat germ, soy protein, collagen, elastin, and amino acids. In terms of diet, protein is one of the main food groups needed to maintain overall health and nutrition. Proteins play a vital role in every function of the body such as: being the building blocks of hair, nails, connective tissue, tendons and ligaments; transporting oxygen throughout the body; stimulating chemical reactions throughout the entire body; and much, much more. Proteins can be found in meat, eggs, dairy, seafood, beans, soy products, nuts, and seeds.

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  • Quaternary ammonium compounds: Recommended. Quaternary ammonium compounds, also known as quats, are a set of ingredients that are strongly attracted to the hair. Quats have a unique molecular shape that allows for one end to grab the hair and the other to stick out. This unique property enables other quats to create a chain to provide a temporary surface that makes for easy combing and brushing. Polyquaternium, cocamidopropyl betaine, dimethyldioctadecylammonium chloride, cetrimonium chloride, stearalkonium chloride, and cetrimonium bromide are all examples of quats that are great for the hair.

  • Quats: Recommended. See quaternary ammonium compounds.

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  • Reducing agents: Avoid. Reducing agents are chemicals in permanent hair straighteners, relaxers, perms, and texturizers that break the strong disulfide bonds in the hair. These agents permanently modify and reform the hair strand into the desired shape.

  • Relaxer: Avoid. A relaxer is a chemical treatment that straightens curly and kinky hair. Relaxers use a reducing agent such as ammonium thioglycolate, sodium hydroxide, or guanidine hydroxide to break the strong disulfide bonds in the hair. When this occurs, the reducing agent permanently modifies the hair to make it straight, a process that is extremely damaging to the hair.

  • Ringworm: See tinea capitas.

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  • Scalp psoriasis: Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that can occur anywhere on the body, but it is often present on the scalp. It affects the life cycle of the skin cells by making the skin shed its cells too quickly. This results in scaly patches that cause intense itching. Severe cases of scalp psoriasis can lead to hair loss.

  • Scarring alopecia: See cicatricial alopecia.

  • SD alcohol: Caution. SD alcohol is an ingredient often added to hair sprays and styling gels to lock a hairstyle into place and keep it from falling limp. The alcohol contained in styling products can be harmful to women with already damaged hair as it can cause damaged hair to become even drier and eventually break off. Women with healthy hair can get away with using minimal amounts of SD alcohol if used properly. SD alcohol should be used sparingly, never with heat, and only in hair spray as a finishing touch for a hairstyle.

  • Sebaceous glands: Sebaceous glands are connected to each hair follicle and produce a substance called sebum (or oil), which is controlled by hormones. Sebum conditions the hair, makes it shiny, and acts a barrier against foreign matter.



  • Seborrheic dermatitis: Seborrheic dermatitis is a scalp condition that is characterized by a flaky, oily scalp with pronounced redness, inflammation, and itching. Cradle cap is the term used when seborrheic dermatitis affects the scalp of infants. Seborrheic dermatitis is triggered by a combination of excess oil production on the scalp and a presence of Malassezia fungi. Symptoms include itching, soreness, redness, inflammation, greasy skin, and in extreme cases, hair loss.

  • Sebum: Sebum, or oil, is produced by sebaceous glands that are located in the scalp and at the base of the hair follicle. It acts as a barrier against foreign matter such as bacteria and viruses. In addition to acting as a barrier, sebum naturally conditions and lubricates the hair strand to make the hair look shiny and healthy.

  • Selenium: Recommended. Selenium is a trace element that helps in processes that use proteins and hormones to encourage more hair growth when ingested. It can be found in nuts, seeds, seafood, garlic, eggs, whole grains, beef, pork, and chicken. Selenium also helps prevent dandruff caused by the fungus called Malassezia when added to dandruff shampoos as the active ingredient.

  • Semi-permanent color: Recommended. Semi-permanent color, also called level 1, can penetrate the hair shaft, despite containing no peroxide. The color washes out, but can last for four to eight weeks (or six to twelve washings), depending on the harshness of shampoo used and the frequency of washings.

  • Shingling: Recommended. Shingling is a natural hair styling technique for curly and kinky hair that requires saturating sections of the hair with a leave-in conditioner to enhance the hair’s natural texture and lengthen curls.

  • Silicones: Caution. Silicones are conditioning agents and polymers that temporarily add shine to the hair and make it easier to detangle. They have an incredible ability to cling to the hair and can be either water-soluble or non-water-soluble. In addition to conditioning the hair, they also protect the hair from damage when heat styling. Whenever possible, water-soluble silicones should be used to prevent product buildup and keep the hair from becoming greasy.

  • Single-processed color: Caution. See single-step hair color.



  • Single-step hair color: Caution. Single-step color, also known as single-processed color, is applied to the entire head and left on for approximately 20 to 45 minutes. Most at-home boxed hair dyes are single-step coloring processes. Single-step color should only be used on healthy hair.

  • Sodium chloride: Caution. Sodium chloride, also known as salt, is a common ingredient added to hair care products as a thickener. Products that contain lots of sodium chloride (like sea salt spray) can dry the hair and scalp out, similar to swimming in the ocean. Therefore, women with dry or damaged hair, Brazilian Keratin Treatments or color-treated hair should avoid sodium chloride.

  • Sodium cocyl isethionate: Recommended. Sodium cocyl isethionate, also known as sodium isethionate, is a plant-based surfactant that is derived from the fatty acids in coconut oil and isoethionic acid. It degreases, emulsifies oils and fats, and suspends dirt found on the scalp and hair.

  • Sodium hydroxide: Avoid. Sodium hydroxide, also known as lye, is the chemical reducing agent found in relaxers. It breaks the disulfide bonds of the hair to permanently modify the shape of the hair strand into the desired style.

  • Sodium isethionate: Recommended. See sodium cocyl isethionate.

  • Sodium laureth sulfate: Avoid. Sodium laureth sulfate, or sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES), is a sulfate that is a modified version of the surfactant sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). However, it is milder and not as drying. SLES contains more fatty acids that SLS and can be derived from coconut. It degreases, emulsifies oils and fats, and suspends dirt found on the scalp and hair. Although it is gentler than its harsher counterpart, it should be avoided whenever possible.

  • Sodium lauryl ether sulfate: Avoid. See sodium laureth sulfate.



  • Sodium lauryl lactylate: Recommended. Sodium lauryl lactylate, also known as SLL, is a sodium salt from the fatty acid lauric acid. It can be derived from natural sources such as coconut oil, palm oil, and the natural sugar found in milk from cows and goats. However, this compound is not found naturally in nature. It has many uses. In hair care products, it can be used as an emulsifier, and in higher concentrations, as a surfactant. As a surfactant, it degreases, emulsifies oils and fats, and suspends dirt found on the scalp and hair.

  • Sodium lauryl sulfate: Avoid. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is a sulfate that is a very harsh surfactant that will dry the hair out. It strips the hair of its natural oils, as well as, hair color if the hair has been color-treated.

  • Sodium lauryl sulfoacetate: Recommended. Sodium lauryl sulfoacetate, also known as SLSA, is a plant-based surfactant that is derived from coconut and palm oils and is of 100% natural origin. It degreases, emulsifies oils and fats, and suspends dirt found on the scalp and hair.

  • Sodium sulfite: Avoid. Sodium sulfite is an inorganic sulfur-based salt used in neutral perms and other hair straightening chemical treatments as a reducing agent. As a reducing agent, it breaks the strong disulfide bonds in the hair to modify the shape of the hair strand to achieve the desired effect.

  • Sodium thisulfate: Caution. Sodium thisulfate is a crystalline substance that has a couple of uses in hair care products. First, it can be used as a reducing agent in hair straighteners. In this capacity, it breaks the disulfide bonds in the hair to modify the shape of the hair strand to achieve the desired effect. It can also be used as a key ingredient in shampoos for swimmers. As an antichlor, it removes chlorine and chlorine odor from the hair.

  • Static electricity: Avoid. Static electricity happens whenever two unlike surfaces rub together and transfer electrons from one surface to the other (i.e. shoes moving across carpet or hands running through hair). The strands of the hair will repel against each other and make the hair temporarily uncontrollable.

  • Stearic acid: Recommended. Stearic acid is a fatty acid that is plant-derived. It lubricates and moisturizes the hair, making it soft and velvety to the touch.



  • Stearoxy dimethicone: Caution. Stearoxy dimethicone is a slightly water-soluble silicone typically found in hair care products. It is easily washed out of the hair with mild surfactants.

  • Stearyl alcohol: Recommended. Cetyl alcohol is an essential fatty acid that is plant-derived and typically added to hair care products. It is a lubricant and emollient that helps to impart a soft, velvety feel onto the hair without making it greasy or feel heavy.

  • Sulfates: Avoid. Sulfates are considered the main ingredient in shampoos. They refer to a class of surfactants that are derived from the salts of sulfuric acid. An easy way to spot sulfates on an ingredient label, is to look for ingredients with the word “sulfate” in them. Sulfates are particularly drying and harsh and can result in dry, roughed up hair.

  • Surface-active agents: Recommended. See surfactants.

  • Surfactants: Recommended. Surfactant is an abbreviated word for surface-active agent. Surface-active agents are detergents that degrease, emulsify oils and fats, and suspend dirt, allowing them to be washed away without leaving any residue. Sulfates are a class of surfactants that are harsh and drying and should be avoided by all hair types whenever possible.

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  • Telogen: Telogen is one of the three distinct phases in the hair follicle growth cycle. It is the final phase of the hair follicle cycle in which the root of the hair makes its way to the surface and is shed. Ten to fourteen percent of follicles in the scalp are in this phase.

  • Telogen effluvium: Telogen effluvium is a temporary form of hair loss that occurs when there is a change in the hair’s normal growth cycle. The hair follicles that are in the growing phase are suddenly signaled to stop growing hair and prematurely enter the resting phase where the hair is soon shed. A range of factors can trigger this condition from chronic illness (diabetes, scleroderma, hemochromatosis, and syphilis) to severe infection (especially when a high fever is present) and psychological stress.



  • Temporary hair color: Recommended. Temporary hair color or dyes are food colors that coat the outside of the hair shaft. Some permanently stain the hair, but they don’t penetrate the hair shaft. Therefore, they aren’t alkaline and don’t contain any peroxide.

  • Terminal hair: Terminal hair is the hair that is grown in place of vellus hair (the fine hair that children have) after puberty hits. It’s thick, coarse, resilient, and holds its shape well.

  • Texture: Texture is a term that refers to the diameter or thickness of an individual strand of hair. The thinner the individual hair strands are, the gentler they must be handled to prevent damage. Texture can be fine, medium, or coarse. A person can even have a combination of all three on different parts of the head.

  • Texturizers: Avoid. Texturizers loosen the natural curl slightly by using a chemical reducing agent (such as ammonium thioglycolate, sodium hydroxide, guanidine hydroxide, etc.) to break the strong disulfide bonds in the hair to permanently modify the shape of the hair strand. Texturizers are extremely damaging to the hair, and in extreme cases, can cause hair loss.

  • Thermal hair reconditioning: Avoid. Thermal hair reconditioning is also referred to as “Japanese Hair Reconditioning” and “Thermal Hair Straightening.” It uses glyceryl monothyioglycylate acid as the reducing agent along with a flat iron to permanently straighten wavy, curly, and kinky hair. It is very damaging to their hair and can result in hair loss in extreme cases.

  • Thermal hair straightening: Avoid. Thermal hair straightening is also referred to as “Japanese Hair Reconditioning” and “Thermal Hair Reconditioning.” It uses glyceryl monothyioglycylate acid as the reducing agent along with a flat iron to permanently straighten wavy, curly, and kinky hair. It is very damaging to their hair and can result in hair loss in extreme cases.

  • Thickeners: Recommended. Thickeners are ingredients added to hair care products to make them creamier. They are responsible for the texture, appearance, and movement of hair care products. In addition, they increase a product’s viscosity without substantially modifying its other properties. Examples are polyethylene glycol, polyacrylic acid, and vegetable gums.



  • Thioglycolic acid: Avoid. Thioglycolic acid is a precursor to the chemical ammonium thioglycolate that is the reducing agent found in some hair relaxers. As a reducing agent, it breaks the strong disulfide bonds in the hair to reshape and reform them into the desired style.

  • Tinea capitas: Tinea capitas is a fungal infection of the scalp. It is also referred to as ringworm. A fungus called dermatophytes causes tinea capitas. It is very contagious and is spread by humans, animals, or contaminated objects. Tinea capitas can cause itching, soreness, breakage, pus-filled sores, round, scaly legions, patches with small black dots, or patches that slowly expand or enlarge.

  • Tone: Tone refers to the warmth or coolness of your hair color. Cool tones absorb light and appear darker. They may look ashy, muted, or drab. Warm tones reflect light and appear lighter. They look red, cooper, auburn, or gold.

  • Traction alopecia: Traction alopecia, also known as traumatic alopecia, is one of the leading causes of hair loss among black women. This condition is the result of pulling the hair too tightly during styling via pigtails, ponytails, braids, cornrows, and weaves. Pulling the hair this tightly weakens the hair strand and can cause thinning at the hairline or bald spots.

  • Traumatic alopecia: See traction alopecia.

  • Trichotillomania: Trichotillomania is a hair loss condition that is caused by compulsive pulling of the hair from the head, eyebrows, eyelashes, or other areas. It is a compulsive behavior that is poorly understood. Trichotillomania is thought to be used as a coping mechanism for dealing with stress. This condition can lead to permanent hair loss if the condition isn’t under control before the hair follicles become permanently damaged.

  • Triglycerides: Recommended. Triglycerides are fatty acids that are plant-derived. They lubricate and moisturize the hair, making it soft and velvety to the touch.



  • Trimethylsilylamodimethicone: Caution. Trimethylsilylamodimethicone is a slightly water-soluble silicone typically found in hair care products and can be easily washed out of the hair with mild surfactants.

  • Two-step: Avoid. Two-step, or double-processed, hair coloring first strips the hair using peroxide and then adds the color desired to the hair. This is a very damaging process, and therefore, not recommended.

-U-
  • Urea: Caution. Urea is an organic compound that is often produced synthetically. In hair care products, it can serve many functions. It can be used as a moisturizer or as a preservative. In addition, it is often added to shampoos for swimmers to assist in removing chlorine from the hair. Urea does have some side effects. It can release formaldehyde and cause allergic reactions due to irritating the skin. Diazolidinyl urea and imidazolidinyl urea are types of urea often found in hair care products.

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  • Vellus hair: Vellus hair is the fine, fluffy, and straw-like hair that children have before puberty strikes and replaces it with terminal hair.

  • Virgin hair: Virgin hair refers to hair that has not been chemically treated in any way. It hasn’t been colored or texturized.

  • Vitamin A: Recommended. Vitamin A is an antioxidant that protects the hair from free radicals and promotes sebum production when consumed. Sebum production keeps the hair well moisturized and conditioned, preventing dry hair and a flaky, itchy scalp. Vitamin A can be found in meat, dark leafy green vegetables, cherries, guavas, cantaloupe, grapefruit, and sweet potatoes.

  • Vitamin B-complex: Recommended. Vitamin B-complex includes biotin (vitamin B7), niacin (vitamin B3), cobalamin (vitamin B12), pyridoxine (vitamin B6), and folate (vitamin B9). B-complex vitamins help create red blood cells. Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen and nutrients to the scalp and hair follicles, making the hair shiny and healthy looking. B-complex vitamins can be found in leafy greens, beans, eggs, whole grains, legumes, avocados, bananas, and strawberries.



  • Vitamin C: Recommended. Vitamin C is used by the body to make collagen. Collagen is an important building block of hair fibers. In addition to this, vitamin C helps the body break down iron, which is another important building block for the hair. Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits, berries, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, guavas, bell pepper, and dark leafy greens.

  • Vitamin E: Recommended. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps prevent free radicals. It helps the body maintain a healthy scalp by aiding in the body’s ability to circulate blood to transport vital nutrients to the scalp. Vitamin E can be found in tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, avocados, nuts, pumpkin, and fish.

  • Vitamins: Recommended. Vitamins are organic compounds that are required by all living creatures as a vital nutrient. Vitamins must be obtained from the diet, as organisms cannot make them in sufficient quantities to sustain and maintain life.

-W-
  • Warm tones: When determining hair color, tone refers to the warmth or coolness of hair color. Warm tones reflect light and appear lighter. They appear red, copper, auburn, or gold.

  • Wash ‘n go: Recommended. Wash ‘n go is a name for a styling technique that involves leaving the hair in its natural state after washing and conditioning it. After the hair has been cleansed and conditioned, a light styling agent (such as a leave-in conditioner and/or gel) is applied and then the hair is left to its own devices.

  • Water-binding agents: Recommended. Water-binding agents, also known as humectants, are ingredients in hair care formulations that bind with water. They take water from the air and pull it into the hair. In addition, they also help keep the water that’s already in the hair there. Some examples of water-binding agents are glycerin, pathenol, and glycerol.

  • Water-soluble: Water-soluble is a term that is often used to refer to silicones that are easily dissolved and washed away by only the presence of water. Dimethicone copolyol, lauryl methicone copolyol and hydrolyzed wheat protein hydroxypropyl polysiloxane are all water-soluble.



  • Weaves: Caution. Weaves are wefts of hair that are sewn onto the cornrows of one’s own hair. This styling technique can be very damaging and lead to hair loss and should be avoided whenever possible.

-Z-
  • Zinc: Recommended. Zinc is a dietary mineral that is the building block for many enzymes in the body. These enzymes are responsible for many biological processes, including the production of skin cells that are important for supporting a healthy scalp. Zinc has also been shown to help alleviate the symptoms of dandruff. It can be found in red meat, seafood, fortified cereals, pumpkin seeds, spinach, beans, mushrooms, and chocolate.

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