As far back as I can remember, I've shed a lot of hair. The oldest hairs on my head (the longest ones) are shedding before length is accumulated in the hairs left behind. My fringe area has no problem growing, and it has a much higher density compared to my nape. Due to this discrepancy, bangs grow out in a few short months, but I have never seen "bra-strap length" in the back. I suppose growth is not my issue so much as shedding.
So I set out to find some ways to reduce "hair fall."
You can tell the difference from a message board mostly populated by chicas, like Long Hair Community, and one by slightly more dudes, like Hair Loss Talk) when discussing certain things. LHC is all about coconut oil; HLT is all about getting the cheapest and easiest thing to grab, such as supermarket corn oil. (Yikes.) Somewhere in between, both agree on the effectiveness of one ingredient: caffeine.
Caffeine is a psychoactive substance that plants manufacture. I am a devotee due to its stimulating properties. Before my cup o’ joe, I am a useless grouchy beast prone to breakdowns and negative thought patterns. After, I am ready to take on the world!
Topical caffeine is surging in popularity right now, and skincare is seeing a surge in caffeinated products, especially for the eyes, where caffeine will plump up tired skin quickly.
But caffeine in hair left me scratching my noggin, especially considering the length of time in which Europeans have been using preparations containing caffeine to reduce hair fall and stimulate growth. Products on the market there right now include a pre-treatment, shampoo, conditioner, and styling foam. These products are not readily available here in the US (though you can find some on Amazon or eBay). Some brands that sell in the US do have caffeinated products, but they are pricey to the point of being daunting.
You all know what that means: DIY City. Population: Dani.
Apparently, caffeine helps with hair fall because it signals the cell cycle to remain in the resting phase it experiences before shedding. Hair sheds when it is in the telogen phase of growth, before returning to anagen phase, or growth phase.
So after a bit more research, the following criteria must be met in order to make a working, active product that will be easy to use regularly:
• Caffeine is a polar molecule and is more easily infused in aqueous solutions, so we will be using castor oil, a polar oil, to extract the caffeine.
• Coffee and tea have different benefits to the hair aside from caffeine, so to make sure we get the benefits of both, we use both!
• The finished product MUST be able to be delivered in a regular and accessible fashion.
My conclusion: a pomade!
HOW TO MAKE IT
I began with infusing the castor oil with coffee and tea. In a bain marie setup (hot water and an isolated container to heat ingredients) I infused 2 tablespoons of coffee and 1 bag each of black, green, and white teas in 2 ounces castor oil for approximately 5 hours.
This slow and low process lets all of the caffeine and antioxidants leech into the oil.
Aside from its polarity and ability to absorb caffeine, I chose castor oil for its triglycerides and fungistatic action. Most of the commercial preparations also contain some form of anti-fungal substance, and studies have not yet been able to prove why these ingredients stimulate hair growth. Some researchers claim that the antifungal balances an existing issue in the scalp, allowing hair to grow unimpeded. Others think that antifungal chemicals trigger growth on their own.
Either way, I am going the natural route for now with castor oil, especially because I use it as a grooming pomade on its own for slicked looks.
Once the 5 hours have passed, strain the oil with a coffee strainer (how appropriate) and marvel at how good it smells and how it has changed the pale yellow oil to a light amber brown.
Your ratio for pomade is as follows (calculate measurements based on the container you want to store it in, and don’t forget to aim small):
• 15% beeswax
• 20% cocoa butter
• 65% infused castor oil
Melt these babies down in a double boiler (or the same bain marie, just cleaned out) until all the beeswax is melted.
Add the following (quickly) and then give it a good 2-minute whipping with a cake beater.
Once the product is aerated and whipped up, spoon into a clean jar and save for use!
Most guidelines for using this type of product suggest a 36-hour period of caffeine saturation for optimal results. This means you need to keep a baseline of caffeine ON the actual follicles for this to work. Funny, because I need a baseline of caffeine on my brain follicles, too.
This pomade is great for styling short and/or sleek looks, and is a bit on the greasy side, which is how I likes it, because I am Italian and drink olive oil on the reg.
To use simply take a dollop and warm up in your hands by rubbing them together (this helps the product spread easier). Apply to all sides of hair that needs to be slicked or held. The best way to do this is to use your fingertips to rub it into the entire head and scalp. Hair that doesn’t have product on all sides won’t hold as well, and this also ensures a thorough application to the treatment area, which is the scalp in this case. Double duty!
If you don’t feel like DIY, fear not. There are some commercial options, though they don’t run cheap. You can consult the ever popular Davines for their Naturaltech Energizing Vitamin Activist Gel Plus. If you want to go big, there is a product called Ultrax Hair Surge, which is regarded at cult-status by reviewers.
Keep in mind, cleaning up waxy/oily projects is always a little annoying. For this, I always dump baking soda on the dirty bowls and utensils before letting soapy water fill them up for soaking. Luckily, all the ingredients in this DIY are food-safe, so you don’t have to worry about accidentally poisoning yourself with pomade residue.
I’ll be using this as a pre-poo scalp treatment and in the nape after washing. The boo will be using this as his regular styling cream.