Friday, May 20, 2016

To Dye or Not to Dye (And With What?)

To Dye or Not to Dye (And With What?)
Barbara Brant-Williams, Your Grooming Guru

I’ve been coloring my hair since 1972. It was probably the week I entered Beauty School. They couldn’t wait to get a hold of me… Bleach frosting (yes, that is what it was called then…) through a plastic cap with a crochet needle (ouch!) and then, to top it off, a shag haircut! I still have pictures and no, they won’t be posted on Face Book.  And I’ve had red hair (many, many, shades!)  since my sister wanted my hair to be all one color for her wedding in 1973, but that’s a story for another day.
Back in the 70’s Clairol had the best red colors for hair. They also used Red Dye #2, which was removed from the market in 1976 due to FDA Testing that showed it was causing cancer. As today, there was lots of controversy on this decision, because , of course, the tests that we hear about are the same as today, where huge amounts of a product is fed to rats over a period of time and then they get sick. However there was and is a lot of data that shows toxicity that we aren’t privy to.  That was a huge finding in the beauty business, since Red Dye#2 was widely used in cosmetics as well as hair color and a LOT of foods. The red dyes as well as the other pigments used in hair color today, have been tested more and especially in organic colors, are sourced often from natural plants, herbs and fruits, and are much safer.
So how many women used this ingredient unknowingly and suffered the results? Hard to determine, but believe me, many hairdressers (or beauticians, as we were called then) had heart palpitations when they had to change their color formulas to get the same rich reds without the offensive red dye ingredient. We also know lots of ingredients on our planet and in our lives are toxic, but sometimes we just don’t know, or in many cases, aren’t willing to know. Or aren’t willing to change. Those of you reading Natural Awakenings and other holistic publications are the more conscientious people who are interested and making efforts to be more aware of your choices.
Just as the world continues to go green, and we are more aware of our environment, recycle and eat more locally grown and organic food, the products we use on our skin, face and hair are getting more and more attention and ingredients like ammonia and resorcinol in hair color are being looked at like the red dye of the 60’s. But good news, there are better options now.  And for all the women who have heard all the cons of coloring your hair when pregnant, you do have better choices and options for on the scalp hair color. Also, if you can’t take the risk of getting coloring chemicals into your blood stream, there is always the choice of using highlighting techniques that keep all of the color off the scalp.
Now, If you are choose to color your hair at home, reading the labels can be daunting. It all sounds like a chemistry experiment, but if you are one who has been tested and knows what ingredient you are allergic to, you may know if the ingredient is present, but I would call the company or email them off their website just to make sure. Also, in all color directions, there is a section where the manufacturer tells you to do a “Patch Test”. This requires mixing a small amount of the color with the included developer and putting it on the skin, normally behind your ear, or in the crook of your elbow, and leaving it for 24 hours.
Please! I know it’s a pain, but take the time to DO THIS!  Just think….if you are allergic, the only area that will be affected is that small area of skin, not your whole head or in some extreme cases, body.
 I would use coloring products from my Natural Food market as a first choice. Be very careful when using regular box color and look for anything that sounds like a lead based ingredient. We’ve taken lead out of paint, but not out of some hair coloring products (and cosmetics). Along with being toxic, it can be damaging  ( like, no kidding, melt off the hair damaging) if used in conjunction with other chemicals on the hair. The most offensive of these products seem to be for men. Speaking of which, for our men, there are a newer plethora of products targeting your dollars.  Please don’t be shy, let a professional color your hair. Please. We have ways of making you look 5-10 years younger without looking like you color your hair!
For a long time and mostly back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, Henna was being used by salons and people at home. The actual henna plant, the Lawsonia Alba (Root) or Lawsonia Inemis (leaves) processes as one color, a very burnt orange.    While doing research for this article I came across the 1st full disclosure of ingredients in henna products that I have ever seen. It’s a company called Coastal Classic Creations out of California. Their Henna product shows that it’s many different herbs, plants, leaves, barks and roots that create the varied colors in a Henna line.  And Looks to be exceptionally pure and toxic free. Henna can be beautiful and conditioning when done right, but It can also deposit unevenly on the hair shaft, and after repeated use, the coloring effect is, well, uneven.  Unfortunately henna is also a very messy application and requires a lot of old towels whether you do it at home or get it done in a salon.
Color can create looks from as natural as possible, to the most forward fashion statement, using every color on the spectrum on one head of hair. For those of you who aren’t sure about using color as a part of your total look, I can tell you, using it can make you look refreshed and certainly younger! Years ago, I saw Nora Ephron, while appearing on the Oprah show on an episode about being ageless, look right into the camera and say, “Women, color your hair!” You’ll be doing a service to your community!”
 Now, if you are already a highlight queen and maybe need a gentle alternative to those crunchy white blonde pieces, there are options and techniques that treat your hair with more TLC.

As for me, I continue to play with my color formula, but now use nontoxic colors, since I would like to know that I’m doing my very best to protect myself. Believe me, as long as I have anything to say about it, this girl will be a grey free redhead! 

Friday, December 11, 2015

YGG's Foodie Blog Coming Soon to a Screen Near YOU!

Sneak Preview...

BBW’s BBQ Beauty Blog Introduction

It’s almost 2 years ago. January 2014. I’m driving up I-26W to wherever… I travel that way frequently, and as we do while driving, I am often thinking about other things. I notice I’m looking at the billboards.. They do catch my eye…I remember and start to sing the 70’s song, “Signs, signs, everywhere are signs, messing up scenery, breaking my mind. Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the si...igns?…”

They get a bad rap, billboards do…I actually find them somewhat interesting, and tell me stuff I wouldn’t know about. Especially that one fateful day that I see in big colorful letters and pictures from SC Tourism, the “SC BBQ Trail Map”…What was that? Trail map? BBQ?

So I get home and I, of course, Google it. And there it is. The BBQ Trail map. An advertisement from our state’s tourism office showing maps of all the regions of South Carolina. With what looks like hundreds of little green pop up balloons crowded all over the main map. It’s talking about traveling the state and visiting BBQ joints.…Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit, I love that idea! Who knew? Upon inspecting the main map closer up, they list 168 BBQ places! From the corporate chains, to the small family restaurant that’s only open on the weekend, spread out and separated by region and listed by number, making the task at hand much easier to read.

Now, I started liking BBQ when in my 20’s and while in the Army. My boyfriend took me to a place, which last time I checked, is still in business, Kings BBQ in Petersburg, VA.

Now, growing up, I’d had pork roast, but nothing like this... Remember, this is before The Great Food Explosion… The Food Network, and Google and “Foodies” and food magazines, etc. When you said BBQ in the northeast, they meant firing up the grill and cooking up hamburger, hotdog, chicken, or maybe, on a good day, a chuck steak.

Well, Billy (yes his real name... a true southerner) orders for me...While we wait I’m taking in and loving the atmosphere. The waitresses were mostly older, had on crisp, white uniforms with the little aprons in the front and the little white cap on their head. This was “out” of restaurant fashion by then, but not long enough to become “kitschy”.

And the place was brightly lit, clean, with lots of round dining tables, like we had in our 50”s kitchen…and with several wooden pig signs all over.

What comes out is a plate with a pile of chopped meat with 3 veggie sides. (I’m salivating thinking of it!) It was, by far, one of the most amazing things I had ever, and I mean EVER put in my mouth….

Succulent, smoky, chewy but tender, brown and crunchy bits meaty and fatty and the same time. Just incredible… the veggies were all good, but I just wanted to bury my face in the pork.

The BBQ was available chopped, on a plate, in a sandwich, by the lb to go….I visited King’s on several return visits to Petersburg to see the boy friend, or while driving back to NJ to see the family, and since it was right off I-95, I couldn’t miss it.. I had people bring me that bbq if they were going or coming that way…so if you are traveling I-95 north or south, please, do let me know!

So now this map and the possibilities are peaking my interest.. I tell my friend, Linda Mayo Perez Williams (she’s another transplant from parts north and south on the east coast) all about it and she says, “Let’s go!” to which I replied, “When?”

So that’s what this Blog is about. I’m a holistic hairdresser and consultant by trade, Your Grooming Guru, to be exact, and I love to eat, cook and try funky out of the way places. So Linda and I have decided that over the next 5 years, we will be the best part of Thelma and Louise and hit as many of these BBQ huts and homes as we can.. And explore our land as we go! Hang on for the tasty tour!

Our 1st trip…. was in February 2014 to Hemmingway, SC to Scott’s BBQ. I had heard of Scott’s in an article telling about his family and famous bbq catering to all the rich folks at a fundraiser in Palmetto Bluff. Seems Like Rodney Scott is quite the networker and entrepreneur…He seems to know all the top chefs in Chucktown and surrounding areas and his bbq has gotten rave reviews. If you are a foodie, no doubt, you’ve heard of him. Lately, even more famous with Anthony Bourdain’s latest episode of “Parts Unknown”. So, Linda’s all about it and right then had some free travel time. So we made sure Scott’s is open on Wednesday, (which sometimes is a slow day for me) and we and our GPS’s get on the road.

Now, this trip was after that wind and rain storm that had closed schools all around Charleston. Northerner’s (and Charlestonians, in this case) laugh about stuff like that, just because it seems so silly to over react…

Well, driving up through Georgetown and then through all the small towns up towards the PeeDee region, we were taken aback.. it looked like a bulldozer had gone up the middle of the road and plowed a path.. that many trees were down everywhere…it was far more devastating than we knew…

Then there were Cotton fields.. Miles and miles of cotton fields.

As you will see these trips started for bbq, but became getting to know our state….

So Hemmingway is small, rural and poor.. Very poor. Lots of land and farms and trailers…

And then at the intersection of Route 261 and Cow Head Road (yes I’m serious) is Scott’s (or Ott’s as the blown off sign now said) Variety Store…like a country general store with folks hanging around outside, to the Vienna sausages and paper towels and Chef Boyardee on the shelves to the ordering window for the bbq. Manned by mostly family, 2 ladies took your order and put your plate together.. They didn’t care that we were tourists or that we traveled 2 hours to eat there, they just wanted to know how and what you wanted to eat.

So, having been on the road, I have to pee. Where’s the restroom, I ask. “Around the side and up the stairs” I’m told. So I go on the search for the bathroom. I see the stairs, and at the top a torn up plywood door with a lock on it...That can’t be it, I said fairly loudly to myself…so I continue on to the back of the building.. I see the pit house and someone tending the fire..Lots of good smell and I’m hungry…but I have to pee.

I go back inside and ask again, “ I can’t find it…where’s the bathroom? With a bit of an exasperated tone, and the lady at the counter answered in kind, “Around the corner and up the stairs!”

So around the corner and up the rickety stairs I climb. I get to the top, the lock is indeed open, and there is a short hallway to a single stall bathroom.. When telling this story, before, I’ve called this place a piece of Americana …actually a frightening bit of falling down construction that, fixed up, would look completely out of place..

The BBQ was good. A little dry, but ok. The Collards and Mac and cheese were as home cooked as they could get. But the best thing ever? The Cracklin’s. Not the skin’s, I’m told, but the pig rind…crunchy on the outside and soft and melt in your mouth delightful pieces of fat heaven! I bought 3 bags to bring home.

An experience and worth the drive? You bet.

But there’s more!

We finish lunch, with Linda getting a take home platter for her husband Jimmy, take pictures of the inside and outside of Scott’s, then get into the car…It’s still early, so I had another adventure in mind. Another foodie client of mine had told me about a place in Salters, SC. Country hams, she said…best ever. She didn’t know the name of the place, but like I said, we have GPS. So I put in Salters… it looks to be about 30 minutes away…

I can’t quite remember the roads we took to get there, but at some point we were on SC hwy 521. We had driven through lots of country farm land and found a little town. Not much there, but some “over the river and through the woods” kind of houses. Don’t quite know where folks out there buy groceries, but wherever, it’s a drive.

So we see a gas station with, get this, an ESSO sign… wow, my Western Pennsylvania childhood flashes in my mind! So we decide to stop there and ask where the place with the hams would be. As we pull up closer, don’t you know, I see hams! Lots of hams, hanging in the window…This is it! Then we see the sign, Cooper’s Country store. It’s been there since 1937.


It’s pretty much a gas station and general store, lots of hunting and fishing gear, lots of seemingly necessary odds and ends. And in the back, the meat counter. Seems they have BBQ as well, which, of course, we’ll need to go back for..

I got some center cut ham slices and a lb of bacon. Oh my…the bacon…I don’t know what they do to it and am glad I’m not a complete purist, (I’m normally a grass fed, antibiotic fee, humanely raised kind of person) cause in this case, I don’t care…it’s the best bacon I’ve EVER eaten, bar none. It’s kind of kind the quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie…I’ve had Benton’s bacon, Craig Diehl’s bacon, Smoked, twisted and turned bacon…this stuff is the bacon of the God’s.

As I’m writing this, I’m planning a trip back there with a friend who loves country ham. Whatever. I’m getting some more of that bacon. Luckily, they do ship! And I’ll try the BBQ!

And we head home…a fun adventurous day, lots of miles and discoveries, full of previously unseen sites and tastes and BBQ! Thelma and Louise, only better!

Next episode,

Woffords BBQ in Bishopville SC (and Pearl Fryer’s Gardens!)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

This is a pretty complete article about the truth about hair color.

I know you love your hairdresser, but If he or she isn't using nontoxic color, you may want to urge them to do so..If they can't or work for someone who won't switch, (which I did for a number of years) give me a call.
The Facts About Organic Hair Dyes
There are numerous women and men who choose to dye their hair for their own reasons. The truth is, most hair dyes are damaging to your hair and even your body. There has been a lot of hype about organic hair dyes. We are here to straighten out some of the facts for you.

The most important thing you will learn from this post is there is no such thing as organic hair dye. At least not in the sense we would like to believe. Some companies use the word “organic” as a marketing technique to increase sales. These brands will often describe the harsh effects of synthetic chemicals found in almost all hair dyes in attempt to scare buyers into choosing their product over another. They omit that their product also contains them. However, there are hair dyes made with natural ingredients. Choose a product that doesn’t contain harsh ingredients, such as ammonia, peroxide, coal tar, lead, toluene, resorcinol, and PPDs. Now that being said, there is new research and more choices with international companies, that do very creative dye delivering methods that are organic, biodynamic, gluten free and vegan. 
PPDs (para-phenylenediamines), a chemical found in most hair dyes, is widely thought to be carcinogenic. Most hair dyes that claim to be organic do not contain this chemical. Some hair dyes contain PTD (para-toluenediamine), an alternative to PPD. It has only been on the market for a short time, therefore its effects have not been studied.
Henna is one of the only known natural dyes, but its results are often unpredictable or undesirable. In most cases, the hair color comes out much more orange than anticipated. This is because henna comes from the root of the Lawsonia Alba plant..the color of which is, you guessed it, orange red..there is no such thing as neutral, brown, black or blond henna..that may be a plant based mixture, but not true henna. Look at the color of the henna painting done on the hands of Indian Women for special events..that is the color of henna. Period.
Even people that use the same natural dye products over and over may have varying results with each application. There are also vegetable dyes that produce even fewer consistent results. However, natural dyes can leave hair looking healthier and shinier than before dyeing if you find one that works well with your hair.
Natural dyes do not penetrate the hair shaft. As a result, their color does not last as long as synthetic dyes, which do penetrate the hair shaft. Synthetic dyes produce the best results in most cases. The only issue is the chemicals used are often harsh on your hair and scalp. 
The best hair dye for you depends on your hair type and sensitivity level. Anyone can develop sensitivity to any material, natural or synthetic. Always do a skin test prior to dyeing your hair. It is best to avoid certain chemicals that are harsh on your hair, but if you want to use them, go for it. After all, it’s your hair.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Hair Loss –Not Just A Genetic Predisposition

What’s a king without a crown?  In certain mythologies, If a king or queen was stripped of their crown, then the true symbol for authority is lost. The crown of man or woman is their hair, and hair loss is one reality that millions of men and women out there are dealing with today. Balding is sometimes a natural aging process that is carried out by our bodies as we grow older, and the body uses it’s resources to feed major organs and body functions more and more, leaving less energy for  production of hair. The rate of hair loss, however, differs for each individual. Some people still have a decent amount of hair in their old age, some people start losing it in early adulthood.
But nonetheless, hair loss is really a thing to be dealt with. Not just from a cosmetic or looks viewpoint, but as a symptom of other issues at work in the body. Sometimes it can be stopped, or at least slowed down, but only if the symptoms are addressed and dealt with. There are several major causes of hair loss. Here are some of them:
Hormonal problems (The Big One)
For men, Androgenic Alopecia, or Male Pattern Baldness is known to be genetic. It’s also hormonal. Excess testosterone can become rancid and turn into dihydrotestosterone, a waxy substance that envelope the hair follicles and cuts them off from nutrition. This condition was once recently thought to be a fait accompli, but not so much anymore. When the genetic factors are present, parents should take their male children to a holistic practitioner at puberty. Excess facial acne is also a sign of impending hair loss.
Many people lose hair due to problems that are related to hormonal imbalance. For example, when there is an imbalance of female or male hormones (estrogen and androgen) as well as thyroid, and adrenal hormones, there is a strong possibility that hair loss will occur. I see this very frequently in my practice and ask if my client has had their hormones checked. Most often, not yet, is the answer.  Fortunately, there are treatments out there that can fix problems with regards to hormonal imbalance. My opinion would be to consult a nutritionist, or a doctor who understands natural hormone therapy. There are many practitioners who can lead you in the proper direction for hormone balance.
Also, there are many newer and excellent products to use topically on the hair and scalp to slow down hair loss and possibly stimulate the hair follicles to produce hair again. Do some research!
 Another example is hair loss that is connected with pregnancy. Mothers can attest to the fact that hair loss is quite intense a few months after delivery. This is because there high levels of hormones during pregnancy which cause hair to fall. The good news is that after this stage is through, the normal hair-growth-cycle resumes.
Some people experience high levels of “shedding” in different seasons. As we age, though, the regrowth from those shedding episodes slows. So, if you are seeing excess hair in the drain or in your combs or brushes, take note. More than 50 hairs per day is excessive.
Major surgeries or illnesses
The body experiences stress during major surgeries (body trauma) and this makes hair fall out. Stress is one of the key suspects for hair loss. Stress (Hormones again!) weakens the foundations of one’s hair follicles and this causes hair to fall out. This is also true when one has been sick with a major illness. Hair loss due to these reasons may be only temporary and once healed the hair may grow back.
Hair loss due to medication
There are medicines out there that maybe helpful in treating certain kinds of illnesses but are detrimental to one’s hair. Some medicines have side effects such as hair loss. Medicines which are used to treat cancer (those used in chemotherapy), those that are anti-coagulants and those which suppress depression can lead to hair loss. Some weight loss medications and birth control pills can also lead to hair loss, and even certain fat soluble vitamins, such as vitamin A, if too much is taken.
Some basic prevention:
1. Eat right, and include organic foods as much as possible. Clean protein sources. No tortured meat. An imbalanced diet adds up to the threat of hair loss. Once again, consult a nutritionist and have some testing done. Consult the Environmental Working group for more research.
2. Maintain good hygiene. This is self-explanatory.
3. Consult your doctor when taking medicine. Make sure one drug doesn’t undo another drug’s potency.
4. Be cautious and aware of product use on the hair and scalp. Organic and clean is best. Consult a professional when using hair coloring or other chemicals.
5. Avoid hairdos such as braids and cornrows. They stretch the scalp and may lead to bald spots.

There is no generic treatment for hair loss because each situation is different from another, but being proactive, you will find some answers and get some help and advice.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Time to get Happy Hair from the Beach to the Holidays!

Minty iced and warm baby blonds to yummy caramel highlights to deeper chocolate chestnut browns, and of course, all the gamut of luscious reds, give us so many options for getting your hair color back in shape from all the summer salt, chlorine and sun! Treat your hair like the accessory that it is! Hair color should be fun and a change to look forward to! Hair styles are mostly easy and low maintenance. From a perfected pixie to long renaissance waves; with the right product and application you can protect your hair and get the look you want. As you may know, I’m a big fan of organic hair and skin and body care. Why use something chemical on your all natural hair and body? If you have questions about what to use, give me a call. Keeping those tresses shiny and healthy is a must. Of course, proper deep conditioning is a must… clean hair, apply a protein and moisture balanced conditioner, and…go exercise, play, swim, sleep…the longer you can leave it in your hair, the better. Then rinse well, apply protective styling products and fix up! Whether you are a towel dry, gel and go kind of person, or one who doesn’t mind spending a little more time on your hair, remember, when stepping out, whether to work or to a fab party make sure your hair is as gorgeous as your dress! If you don’t know what to do, remember, that is what your hairdresser is for! Treat yourself and get a professional style, up-do, or braid…you’ll be the hit of the party! Curls, Curls, Curls! Their Baaack!! From loose and natural to set with a purpose, bouncy moveable sexy curls are worth taking the time to do. If you don’t have natural curl, yes we still do perms! And not your 80’s version! Now if you have excessively curly or frizzy hair that needs taming, come see me! I have several that I use that won’t make your eyes burn or your breathing shallow! There have been many new developments in keratin smoothing treatments that are actually very good for your hair. The process takes anywhere from 2-4 hours with an application of preserved keratin (the protein that hair and skin is made up of) and has some requirements for after care. This treatment has changed lives! rom 2-4 hours with an application of preserved keratin (the protein that hair and skin is made up of) and has some requirements for after care. This treatment has changed lives!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Don't miss Barbara's article in Natural Awakenings on Page 15!