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27 Sep '16

Achieving Perfect Curls & Keeping Them Beautiful

Steps to Gorgeous Curly Hair

Gorgeous Curly Blonde Hair ISA Professional

I remember I used to resent my curly hair when I was younger and I knew many friends who went through the same thing. We all had to deal with the ever dreaded frizz that would occur on a daily basis, especially with the humid weather that surrounded us all year long. Who with curly hair didn’t go through the ordeal of having your mother or grandma insist on going through your hair with a, *gasp* brush! Not one of these new amazing straightening brushes either; no heat, no warm bristles just pure tug and pull.

Your relatives couldn’t let you leave the house without using some instrument to comb your hair and you would have to deal with your poof ball for the rest of the day, constantly wetting it to try to tame it. Obviously they meant well, but this was before everyone had internet access, the tool we now use to research and educate ourselves on pretty much any topic in the world. The internet helped me figure out exactly what to do to make my curls work for me, not against me. Being finally able to appreciate my curls was a great feeling; I finally knew what to do and use and it’s just routine now. If you still haven’t found out what works for your hair, or just want to pick up a new tip, read on to find different ways to get the best out of your curly locks! 

Co-Washing Is Your New Best Friend 

Deep Conditioner ISA Professional

Co-washing means to skip shampoo completely and just condition to get the most moisture into your hair follicles. By doing this, your curls will look and feel healthier; I tried it and absolutely love the results! I prefer to use a shampoo once in a while but you can be part of the no-shampoo (no-poo) community if you feel like your hair is extremely dry. If you do decide to sometimes use shampoo, keep in mind that sulfates are curly hair’s worst enemy. Make sure your hair products are 100% sulfate free, since sulfates are harsh and can leave curly hair feeling and looking dry.

Use a Wide Tooth Comb (NOT Brush) and A T-Shirt On Wet Hair

Gorgeous Curly Har with Volume ISA Professional

With curly hair, the best way to de-tangle and style it, is when it’s very wet. A great way to ensure you don’t forget to do this is to always use a wide tooth comb in the shower, with conditioner still in your hair. Rinse off the conditioner when you’re done and use a T-shirt to dry it off, instead of a towel. A T-shirt is not as rough as a towel and will reduce frizz considerably. Stay away from brushes because they break curly hair easily and will produce more frizz. Instead, use a wide tooth comb and start from the bottom, the tips, then work your way up to the roots. This also reduces the breakage that can damage curls so much.  

Always Use A Diffuser With Your Blow Dryer

Beautiful Curls ISA Professional

Curly hair is easily damaged if the proper steps aren’t taken when using a blow dryer. While you may love the way your hair looks after a blow out, you should avoid using a blow dryer daily. Instead, pick the day you want your hair to look its best and use dry shampoo in between blow outs to protect your hair. Diffusers are a must have when using a blow dryer! They help distribute the hot air evenly through your hair instead of letting it blow in a direct stream. Just twist small strands of your hair with your fingers and place the diffuser on your hair. It's a good idea to leave the tips for last, since these dry quicker than the rest of the hair.

Lastly, don’t forget to use heat protection before using any heat styling tool, it will save you a lot of grief and haircuts in the future!

22 Aug '16

Cutting Your Hair is an Act of Courage

Haircuts and the Courage to Get Them

Never underestimate the self affirming power of a haircut.

We are all familiar with the experience, many of us have even done it ourselves. She broke up with her boyfriend and cut her hair. She took a gap year between high school and college and cut her hair. She lost her job and cut her hair. Hair is strange. Hair has no nerves so it sends no pain signals when we cut it. But it is more a part of our self identity than many other parts of our bodies that do send pain signals at the slightest provocation. I don't ever ask myself, “am I having a good elbow day?”, but I do ask, “am I having a good hair day?”

Lady with Blonde Hair

Our Hair and Us

We have many myths and legends about hair. Hair is power: Samson lost his famous strength after Delilah cut his hair. Hair is horror: Medusa's hair made of snakes turned anyone who looked at her into stone. Hair is salvation: Rapunzel lets down her hair to allow her prince to climb up into her tower.

There are many practical reasons to cut hair. To trim split ends. To make it easier to get ready in the mornings. I have very thick coarse, mind of its own hair. For me, when it gets too long I get tension headaches. But in addition to these practical reasons to cut hair are all the emotional reasons. I have one friend who is famous for saying, “Don't cut your hair!” as soon as someone says they've had a fight with their spouse. But why are we so obsessed with not cutting hair for “the wrong reasons?”

When I was 10 I took a swim class that mandated hair be put into swimming caps. My hair was so thick, and my head so big, that even though me and my mother tried for an hour the night before the first class to fit it all into the swim cap, we failed. My mother, being an eminently practical lady, brought out her old fashioned cloth cutting scissors, and cut my hair off. It had been the length of my belt, and became in an instant the length of my chin. At 10 I was more interested in writing and painting than hair, but I cried.

My mother said, “It'll grow back, it's just hair.” My mother is many things, a brilliant mathematician, a true friend, a brave bilingual storyteller, but she is not a hair stylist. I managed to fit into the swim cap, with a little reservoir tip remaining on top, and my hair looked for the next two years as if I had always just taken off a swim cap because it was chunky and flattened to my face.

Short Hair Blond Bob - ISA Professional

In my teens I had bangs. I think every 13 year old decides that bangs would be awesome, I know me and all my friends did. We even did them the “proper” way, brushing hair forward then separating out the would be bangs and rolling them into a pillar of twisted hair then cutting. We were assured by the older girls and the magazines that this would give the perfect natural look, where each hair was slightly longer or slightly shorter than the hair next to it.

At first I loved it, it was an evolution at a time when so much else was changing. If I can have breasts, then why not bangs? Because they were annoying. They shortened my already round face. They moved every time there was a breeze and brushed against my forehead and aggravated my pimples. They flipped up the wrong direction, especially on mornings when I was already late for school and couldn't find my curling iron or flat iron. When the bangs got longer they bit into my eyelashes and tried to poke my eyes out. I used hair spray, I used gel, I used sculpting putty, nothing would make them stay and heel. “Don't worry,” we said to each other, “it's hair, it'll grow back.” Doing research for this article, I looked up best celebrity bangs and almost did it again. But no, I'm not Twiggy and I am not Zooey Deschanel and I am not a girl who can pull off bangs.

My sophomore year at college I went with two friends to a salon. It was what I expected being an adult would be like, girls out in the big city getting our hair done together. Except that I got the worst blunt hair cut of my life. Worse than the one my mother gave me. One of my friends got a terrible all over orange tinge and the other had blonde highlights which were so over bleached that her newly blonde hair developed split ends and broke off. Another friend that year decided to take out her frustrations with a boy by bleaching her hair and dying it a radical color. Unfortunately, she left the bleach on too long and ended up bald. She wore head scarves and bandanas for months after that. We were good friends, we cheered her up, we commiserated, we laughed about it together long before she got over it. I said, “Don't worry, it'll grow out.”

Professional or DIY ?

Haircurt Tips ISA Professional

After that incident I took to cutting my own hair, frequently and a little at a time. It had to stay long because I wouldn't be able to cut the back otherwise! I played instead with color: platinum blonde for 18 hours until the roots began to grow, strawberry pink for 6 weeks after that, fire engine red for a year, honey, auburn, chestnut, fuschia pink.

I didn't see a professional hair stylist again until a friend introduced me to her stylist a few years later. He lives on a Caribbean island and had once cut hair at the Bergdorf Goodman salon in New York but missed home so he returned. He had cut the hair of more than one Miss Universe. In his tiny Roman temple of a kitschy salon decorated with plaster columns and cherubs holding baskets of grapes, I got an incredible hair cut that somehow made my hair beachy yet smooth, symmetrical yet voluminous. There were subtle layers on top that were shorter than the main hair, and shorter layers underneath? It was more magic than anything else. For the first time ever, I could twist all my hair into a bun on top of my head and require no bobby pins to keep it in place. It was easier to french braid and do other updos and styles after that hair cut. My hair did what I wanted it to, every day for six months. I was in hair heaven!

Of course, it grew out and I haven't been able to attain the same look again. But I am also not the girl I was when I got that hair cut. I don't have the same job. I don't live in the same country. But I still have the same hair, long and coarse and with a mind of its own.

I have a wonderful stylist now who speaks my language. When I talked about bangs last year she recommended starting slow. She gave me what we call “faux-bangs”, hair cut to the length of my bottom lip, hair that softens my jaw and looks feminine when I tie the rest of my hair back into a low braid but that doesn't annoy me or get into my eyes. When I want to dress up I will use a flat iron to straighten my hair until it looks like CGI, or curl it with the same hair straightener into tight curls that relax a day later into soft waves. It's not perfect, but it's my hair and I love it.

Hair is important. Hair is powerful. There is no bad reason to get a hair cut, because deciding to get a hair cut is an act of courage. It is a definitive choice. It's hair, it'll grow out. So have some fun with it!

What hair adventures have you had, with cut, with color, with products? Tell us in the comments below!

08 Aug '16

How to Choose The Best Shampoo And Wash Your Hair Healthy

Choosing The Right Shampoo for Healthier Hair

Woman Choosing Her Shampoo and Conditioner- ISA Professional

While it may seem like a simple topic to talk about, there are many that do not consider the ingredients or consistency when choosing their shampoo or conditioner. Maybe you think that all shampoos and conditioners provide the same results, but that is not true. All of us should be better researched on what makes a high quality shampoo or conditioner and even though it sounds a bit overwhelming, believe me, it's worth knowing about. In addition to knowing what to look out for in your washing products, there are also ways of improving your washing techniques. From cutting down on product use (which also helps you save money and is great for the environment), to knowing where and when to apply the product on your hair, you will find everything you need to know in this article. Now, let's speed up our hair washing routine while protecting our health and achieving shiny, gorgeous hair together!

How To Choose A High Quality Shampoo 

     To do this correctly, you should start by looking for products with natural ingredients and higher degree of viscosity. The viscosity of a liquid is the consistency. The thinner it is, the faster it flows out of the bottle. The slower it flows out of the bottle, the higher the viscosity. Lower viscosity products have a higher water content by volume; higher viscosity products tend to have more of the active ingredients you need for cleansing your hair successfully.

Open Shampoo Bottle- ISA Professional

Natural Ingredients? 3 To Avoid In Shampoos

     The word "natural" is broad and can be easily misunderstood when it comes to personal care products for your hair. Many companies use this kind of buzzword to give you a false sense of security. There seems to be an ever growing need for products with words like natural, organic and chemical free. Although it may sound difficult to know which products are actually natural, there are certain ingredients you should avoid altogether; below are the usual suspects that you should stay away from:

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS)

     Chief among these is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS), a surfectant that is used in many cleaning products, from shampoo to soap to dish soap. It is a skin irritant and may be contaminated with potentially toxic manufacturing impurities such as 1,4-dioxane.


     The name of this one sounds innocent enough, fragrance sounds like it should just be something that smells nice. Beware, fragrance is a catch all term that can encompass a large range of chemicals. There can be a undisclosed mixture of scent chemicals and fragrance dispersing ingredients such as diethyl phthalate. These can cause lung and skin irritation, as well as potentially damage the reproductive system.


      This is an antibacterial and preservative which can persist in the environment and may be associated with endocrine (hormonal) toxicity.

     A trick to telling shampoo and hair wash quality is by the size of the nozzle. Most shampoo comes in a flip top bottle with a nozzle built in. The larger nozzles tend to come on products with less active ingredients. The larger nozzle makes you more likely to squeeze out more shampoo. I'm sure you've experienced this, and once it's already in your palm you feel like it would be unhygienic to return it to the bottle and a waste to throw it down the drain, so you put it in your hair and end up using too much shampoo. This is not only a waste of money but also of time because it will take you longer to wash the shampoo residue out of your hair. Additionally, because you used too much shampoo and over cleansed the scalp, you will then need to overuse conditioner in order to replenish the lost moisture, leading to more wasted money and over use of product.

Best Method for Washing

Woman Shampooing Her Hair- ISA Professional

      Once you have chosen a good shampoo or hair wash, the method to washing your hair is simple.

     First, thoroughly wet your hair with warm water. Second, dampen your hands. Third, squeeze the shampoo or hair wash onto the palm of one hand. A dime sized portion should be sufficient for short hair, a quarter sized portion for medium/shoulder length hair, two quarter sized portions for longer hair. Before you apply the shampoo or hair wash, first rub the palms of your hands together to create a lather from the shampoo and the water already on your hands. Then, apply to your hair starting at the top of your head. Then insert your fingers until the tips of your fingers touch your scalp and massage the shampoo or hair wash outwards toward your forehead. Then place your fingers back on top of your head with the tips touching your scalp and massage the shampoo back towards the nape of your neck and tips of your hair. This way, the shampoo or hair wash will stay in contact with each part of your hair for the optimal amount of time: longest on the parts of the head that produce the oils, and shortest on the tips of the hair which are the driest and most easily damaged.

     After you have washed your hair, and given yourself a relaxing head massage in the process, rinse your hair. As a general rule of thumb, you should rinse you hair for three to five times as long as it took you to wash it. You should count this time from when the shampoo or hair wash first touched your hair to when you began to rinse it. If it took you 2 minutes to wash, then it should take you 6 to 10 minutes to rinse it all out. Stand directly under the stream of water and occasionally sweep your hair with your hand, but do not brush when wet as brushing wet hair can damage it.

     Bonus points for doing a finishing cold rinse!

     If you can stand the temperature change, the best final rinse for freshly washed hair is to rinse it thoroughly in water that is as cold as your tap can give you. When I'm camping, the water comes from the well and it is really cold but I smile while trying to not grit my teeth and I tough it out because it leaves my hair so smooth and shiny! The reason this works is because the warm water of the shower opens up the cuticles on the surface of your hair, which under magnification look almost like fish scales. Tricks such as rinsing off in cold water, or flat ironing with a hair straightener in the direction that the cuticles face, smooth them out and seal the cuticles so that you get healthier, stronger hair, and brilliant shine.

     If you used a quality one step hair wash then congratulations and skip to the end on how to dry your hair! If you have a two step shampoo and conditioner combo, then it is now time to apply the conditioner. Conditioner is designed to replenish to hair some of the moisture lost while shampooing and cleansing it. Conditioner can also have ingredients that will smooth, soften and make hair more manageable.

Blonde Woman With Shiny, Healthy Hair- ISA Professional

3 Top Ingredients To Avoid In Conditioners

Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)

     PEG is a small organic alcohol that is commonly used as a conditioning agent. It's a skin irritant and can cause allergic contact dermatitis (rash) as well as contact urticaria (hives).


     Dimethicone is a silicone based polymer which is used as a conditioning agent and lubricant. It makes the hair seem slicker when used in conditioner. It is classified as expected to be toxic or harmful and is an environmental toxin and can bio-accumulate in your body.


     Phenoxyethanol is a preservative and fragrance used in skin and hair products. It is highly irritant to skin, eyes, and lungs. Further, it can cause organ system toxicity.

The Truth About Conditioner

     The important thing to remember about conditioner is that most conditioner is designed predominantly for hair, so that's where you should put it. You do not need to apply it in the massaging technique to your scalp. If you have ever used argan oil on your hair you will know what I mean. Over the course of several hours, some of the oil is drawn up naturally up the hair shaft and into your roots. If you have a greasy scalp or hair that becomes naturally oily soon after washing, then apply conditioner only to the bottom 1/2 of your hair. For everyone else, applying conditioner to the bottom 3/4 of your hair is best and capillary action will take care of the rest.

     When applying conditioner, begin at the tips of your hair. Use the same amounts for conditioner as for shampoo given above. Rub the conditioner between your damp hands, then begin by rubbing the tips of your hair if you have short hair, or close your hands around the tips of your hair if you have long hair. Work your hands up toward the roots but do not apply conditioner directly on the roots.

     Because of the way that the moisturizers in conditioner work, you do not have to rinse for as long. A good rule of thumb is to rinse for the same amount of time as how long the conditioner was on. So if it took you two minutes to condition, then rinse for 2 minutes.

     Again, bonus for doing a finishing cold water rinse!

Drying Your Hair

Woman With Long, Straight, Healthy Hair- ISA Professional

     There is a myth that drying your hair naturally, without the use of a hair dryer is the best way to attain healthy hair. This is true, but with some caveats. If you live in a hot, dry, low humidity environment, with lots of sunshine and a steady breeze, and you can spend half an hour in said breeze after you wash your hair each time, gently brushing it, then yes drying your hair naturally is a great choice.

     However, if you live in the world that most of us live in, with time pressures and high humidity summer, then using a hair dryer is best. What you want is to dry your hair the fastest way possible, while using the lowest temperature that is not room temperature. On most hair dryers, this equals the low (but not cold) heat setting and the high speed setting.

     And voila! I hope you've enjoyed reading these tips on how to pick a high quality shampoo and conditioner, then using them to attain your best hair ever! Did you learn anything new? Do you have any tips or ideas to add? Tell us in the comments below.

20 Jun '15

How To Protect Your Hair From Chlorine Damage:

Avoid Pool Hair


With the high temperatures we've been feeling lately, it makes anyone want to take a dip in the pool to cool off. Some may choose to go to a public pool and some may choose to enjoy their pool at home, but if you aren't careful, there can be some serious damage to your hair. While pools have chlorine to help disinfect the water and help you not get sick, those very chemicals can also harm your hair. If you are a regular pool swimmer, there are steps to take to ensure your hair doesn't suffer. Swimming is a great workout with almost no joint impact, making it an ideal sport. Swimming will make you feel better about your health. With these tips, you won't have to worry about your hair getting damaged in the process.



Always Wet Your Hair And Apply Oil Before A Dip In The Pool


If you just get into the pool with dry hair, you are allowing the chemicals from the pool get absorbed quicker into your hair. This is especially bad if you have color treated or highlights since they run a risk of being turned green because of the presence of copper in pool chemicals. By wetting your hair with tap water beforehand, you allow the oxidation to happen at a slower rate, since the water is already absorbed in your hair follicles. You should also apply an oil or serum product before getting in; this will help protect your hair and color even further. I like to use 100% argan oil, which is my #1 go-to oil in both my hair and body routines. Another option is to use a swimming cap after you soak your hair in product, this is highly recommended if you are a daily pool user.


Immediately Rinse Chlorine From Hair After A Dip In The Pool


The faster you rinse the chlorine water out of your hair and body, the better. If there are no designated rinsing areas where you swim, bring a bottle of water with you. By rinsing out as much chlorine as you can with clean water, you aren't allowing the chlorine to do any further damage. If you plan to get into the pool again the same day, just keep rinsing your hair every time you get out. This keeps your hair almost chlorine free while out of the pool.


Avoid Chlorine Smells and Buildup With Specialized Shampoos


There are plenty of specialized shampoos and body washes to choose from to help you get rid of the chlorine deposits and smell in your hair. Try to use it as soon as you can. The longer you wait, the more damage can occur. These shampoos are a priority for those who plan to swim daily, since the smell of chlorine is very difficult to get rid of with just soap and water.


Deep Condition To Keep Hair Hydrated


This is true even if you aren't a daily pool swimmer. I like to deep condition once a week (twice if I went swimming), to keep my hair healthy. Afterwards, I keep it shiny and straight using my Victorya by ISA Professional flat iron, then apply argan oil to help keep the moisture at bay. Hydration is key in having healthy, shiny hair.

18 Jun '15

Comb Your Hair The Proper Way - 4 Tips To Help You

Proper Hair Combing Tips

You may think that brushing your hair is easy and doesn't require much knowledge. Think again. In order to give your hair the care it deserves, you should be aware of how you may be sabotaging it when it comes to brushing, and not even know it. Combing your hair regularly can be beneficial because it helps spread your hair's natural oils from root to tip. It also helps aid in faster hair growth by simply massaging your scalp with your brush, after you're done combing it through. Even the brush's materials have a big impact on your end results. Below are 3 tips to help you brush your hair with ease and confidence.



1. Invest In The Right Hair Brush:


You begin by choosing the right brush for your hair type. This ensures you are treating your hair with the natural or synthetic material that works best with it. For fine hair, try to go with 100% natural boar bristles as your brush material. While this may be a bit pricey, it's a well made investment. That's because the boar hair helps make your hair naturally shinier and is gentle on your fine hair, which is so prone to breaking. If you can't get boar bristles, choose a mixed material brush instead; by having some natural boar hair mixed in with a synthetic material, you get easier de-tangling with the benefits of natural shine.


For coarser and thicker hair types, go with full synthetic( like nylon) or also go with mixed materials; they make it easier to comb your hair because of their strong, sturdy bristles. For heavy de-tangling, use a wide tooth comb to help avoid breakage. Another handy tip to remember is to allow your hair to air dry before using any heat styling tools. When using a flat iron, it's best to use a paddle brush (after brushing your hair of any tangles), since it helps with getting your hair straighter, faster. I love to use my Victorya flat iron by ISA Professional in combination with my 100% boar bristle paddle brush to get the job done right.


2. DO NOT Brush Your Hair When Wet:


Brushing your hair when it's still wet is something I admit to have done in the past, but no longer. That's because brushing your wet hair will lead to serious hair damage and breakage. Your hair loses elasticity after you wash it. Brushing it while still wet will leave you with brittle, frizzy hair. If you insist on de-tangling it after washing it, use a brush made specifically to be used on wet hair.


3. Go From The Bottom, Up:


Do not make the mistake of starting at the roots when brushing your hair, this will only cause more knots and damaged locks. The trick is to be patient. Divide and conquer. Divide you hair into three even parts, and start from the tips, slowly working your way up. This helps avoid any painful tugging or breaking. If your hair is prone to knots, use a leave in conditioner or serum to help your hair be more manageable. If you rush the process, your hair will show the consequences.


4. Clean Your Brush Bi-weekly:


You should take good care of your brush so it can continue to take good care of your hair. Wash it once every two weeks (even weekly, if you want) by swirling the bristles in a bowl of warm water mixed with a couple of drops of shampoo for a couple of minutes; DO NOT soak the whole brush, just the bristles. Afterwards, run it under clean warm water, pass your fingers through to make sure it doesn't have any excess dirt, shake off excess water and lay the bristles face down on a towel to dry.


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