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jillipoo 09-14-2008 12:07 PM

All about emollients
Hey, everyone. I've just posted to my blog a brief but informative interview with our very own Curl Chemist, Tonya McKay!

Check it out here:

She took the time to answer my questions about emollients and there's some good stuff there....

Thanks again, Tonya!

wavycurly40+ 09-14-2008 12:17 PM

Hey, thanks! I always kinda wondered what those buggers were...... (emollients, I mean).

I THOUGHT those fatty alcohols had some benefit.... they do leave my hair feeling soft but not heavy, as the oils can. But I like using both.

QuirkyYogini 09-14-2008 12:40 PM

That was interesting! Thanks for the info! I do have to wonder about what she said about oils and heat damage. I know some have said that they use oil as a heat protectant, and I'm wondering which oils can protect and which oils cause damage. Hmm....

jeamaria 09-14-2008 03:01 PM

That was interesting; I'm having a look at your empty conditioners article, too.

tulipan 09-14-2008 03:06 PM

It's funny, because my computer was broken, and I lost all of my favourites. Yesterday I was trying to remember: what was the adress of THIS blog, who was the owner of it...? And today I found this thread:D

Great article!

DEL2C 05-06-2009 08:44 PM

After reading about Normal and Porous heads in Tiffany's book needing Emollients in their hair products, I found this! Now I understand why my hair responds so well to coconut oil and shea butter :thumbup:

jillipoo 05-06-2009 09:57 PM

Aw, Del, thank you! I'm so glad the post was helpful to you!

RozettaStone 05-06-2009 11:10 PM

Jillipoo, I guess I'm still confused by your questions, and why you feel the COs with fatty alcohols are "empty." I'm all for natural products with fewer chemicals, but my understanding was that those fatty alcohols are good and moisturizing, and that oils alone cannot moisturize your hair -- they can only seal in moisture that's there. Am I getting this wrong still?

I've been using lots of oils and oil-rich COs for about two years now, and while my hair like oils and butters and sucks them up easily, it wasn't responding in any dramatic way. Yes, it had improved a lot from no longer shampooing/using cones, but I didn't see or feel any great benefit from any of the COs I'd used, and I've used a lot of the CG favorites here. Something like AOHR will barely go through my hair and leaves it feeling tangly and rough. Roger Craig CO, which people rave about, did zero for my hair. Activate, B&B Pom Peach, Deva, Jessicurl -- all about the same. No matter what CO I used, my hair always felt dry even in the shower; no CO made it slippery or wet or "seaweedy" feeling, not at all. I couldn't mist it or scrunch in aloe or anything to refresh it because it wouldl just frizz horribly.
But with my first use of the GVP conditioning balm/biolage, which is full of fatty alcohols, BAM! My hair was greatly improved. It is wet and slippery in the shower even well after I turn off the water, it detangles easily now, it "squishes" nicely when I'm distributing product, it is suddenly soft and shiny, it no longer frizzes when I try to refresh it, etc. So I think it's just a matter of what your hair needs -- mine seems to need these emollients badly, and without them, it really didn't seem to matter what else I used on my hair. Now that it's in better shape, I think I'll be able to get more mileage out of my gels or get the benefits from other products that wouldn't work for me before. I'm about to start adding KCCC to my regimen, so I'm looking forward to seeing what that can do for me now.

jillipoo 05-06-2009 11:20 PM

Thanks for asking this, RozettaStone. It gives me a chance to explain. :)

Emollients to me had always been just "blah" ingredients. They made my hair soft but they didn't seem to do anything beyond that and so I considered them "empty."

Of course, at the time, I didn't realize that I felt this way because my fine, porous hair craved protein and mere emollients were never going to deliver that "oomph" that my hair needed!

So, no, there is nothing wrong with emollients or fatty acids. If you read Tiffany's blog post on hair texture, you'll see that emollients are fantastic for thick/coarse hair. And while every conditioner should have some, finer-haired curlies like me didn't need them in abundance or need conditioners that were only emollients.

Unfortunately, I didn't know any of this when I wrote that post.

So, with your new-found love of fatty alcohols, is it safe to say that your hair is on the coarse/thick side?

RozettaStone 05-07-2009 12:05 AM

Jillipoo, thanks for the reply. I think you were probably clear the first time, but I still get so confused sometimes about all the different product ingredients and factors that affect our hair, yikes! All I know is, my hair is loving that CO, which seems to be distinguished by its fatty alcohols. I still use the oils, and I've recently done a protein DT with heat and a couple of moisture DTs with oils, and my hair liked them, too.

As for my hair quality, I'm still not sure what I've got! And I've read Tiffany's great posts about porosity, texture, etc. I'm getting my hair cut next week (eek!) by a new stylist (eek!!!), so maybe I'll ask her how she would view my hair.

I don't think I have coarse hair. The underlayer is silky and seems quite fine to me -- this layer barely has any wave. That's how all my hair was when I was young. Then the top layer, which is the wavy part, is somewhat coarser, but I still think it's probaby in the average range. However, I believe it is more porous. I can feel little "catches" on it when I run my fingers up it, while the bottom layer hairs feel very smooth. The top layer has for many years been dryer, the color for years has been lighter as if a bit fried from the sun or??, and for many years, it's been the part that looked damaged. Since going CG, it has looked much better, and it became curlier. Since using the GVP, it's been looking much, much healthier and is softer and less frizzy. I'd been told in the past that my hair was porous.
I think I've finally found things that work pretty well for my hair, but I do wish I knew more about the texture. It would really be helpful just to know medium, fine, or coarse, porous or not. But I think the answer will be that I'm a little of this, a little of that -- so how do you deal with it if part of your hair needs protein and the other hates it, etc.??

jillipoo 05-07-2009 12:16 AM

Isn't it weird how something we wear on our heads every day can be the source of such mystery and confusion?

You might be a mix of different textures -- I don't think that's unheard of. Hopefully, a good stylist can tell you what kind of hair you have so you can finally know for sure. I hope that person is knowledgeable and that you get the answers you seek.

In the meantime, though, if you've found products that work for you, maybe you don't need to stress too much about figuring out your hair's attributes, and instead just go with what works?

DEL2C 05-07-2009 04:24 PM

A very wise curly shared this with me

emollients are not really all that separate from proteins, humectants, and oils -- all of those things can be emollients. An emollient is simply whatever provides protection/smoothness/softness. So, that means there are different types of emollients, such as oils, humectants, silicones, fatty alcohols, esters, etc. The nature of your hair seems to determine which of these emollient forms will do best for you. For instance, jojoba oil might work beautifully for one person but fatty alcohols might be better for another. Texture and porosity determine which emollients will be right for any given head

I'm a coarse/normal-high porous head. My emollients are going to come from Shea butters, coconut oil, olive oil,fatty alcohols which are in my condish, honey, glycerin, even a little protein here & there like Panthenol and Silk which don't seem to bother me.....

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