Tech Talk

  • Traveling This Summer?

    conair, converters and adapters, hair tool adapters, hair travel

    Summer is finally here! Making our need for our favorite styling tools increase! Will you be traveling this summer? Be sure to check out the Conair Converter and Adapter so you can bring all of your favorite styling tools with you :)

  • Don't Leave Home Without Your Hair Cast

    girl in rain, girl standing in rain, elle italia photosHave you ever done your hair in the morning and then later in the day find that the weather is really cramping your style? With this app I've been using lately, that won't ever happen to me again!

    It's called Hair Cast, and it's such a simple, useful idea. This nifty little app gives you a hair forecast or "hair cast" with helpful hints on how to wear your hair in certain weather. All you do is type in your zip code and choose Wavy, Straight, or Curly hair. Hair Cast does the rest! I could see this being really useful for traveling too; you could simply enter your destination's zip code and make sure your hair is dressed for the occasion. Never again will you be stuffing your hair under a hat to hide your fallen curls and shaking your fist at unexpected humidity.

    Hair Cast is available for iPhone, Droid, and Blackberry, and best of all it's free! If you don't have a phone that can do apps, you can still access your Hair Cast at http://www.dailyhaircast.com (or on a mobile browser at http://m.dailyhaircast.com).

  • A Cure For Baldness?

    Could we be close to a cure for baldness? Yale researchers think they might have a huge new clue.

    They have discovered that stem cells in the fatty layer of the skin may be responsible for signalling your hair follicles to grow. By expanding upon this research and figuring out how to get these cells to "talk" to dormant hair follicles, we may be able to get them to grow new hair.

    hair loss, bald, losing hair, preventing hair loss, going bald, grow new hair

  • Hair Dryer 101 with Conair

    How well do you know your hair dryer? Conair, makers of some of the best hair dryers on the planet, answers some frequently asked questions about our favorite hot air blowing friends.

    What is the difference between a professional dryer and a standard dryer? How can you tell if you are getting a dryer built for a pro?
    While many dryers have the title "professional" or "salon" in their description they may not be true professional appliances. A professional appliance has several features that allow it to withstand the stress of daily salon use. The three main features are:

    • True professional dryers have an AC motor. This type of motor has a longer life than the motors found in consumer dryers.
    • The design of the unit will usually feature a narrow barrel to help increase airflow.
    • The cords are typically heavier and longer than those found on consumer units.
    • In addition they will generally not have an ALCI plug as they normally are not used near water.

    What is the cool shot button really for?
    The cool shot is used to set the style in place at the end of drying/styling. The change to colder air temperature helps lock the style in place.

    What do I use a concentrator nozzle for?
    The nozzle attachment is used to concentrate and direct airflow, giving greater control during styling. The narrower the vent on the nozzle, the faster the airflow. Concentrator nozzles are generally used to create sleek, smooth styles. Faster, concentrated airflow dries hair fast and fights that frizz!

    What does the rear filter do?
    The rear filter will trap dust and hair, keeping it out of the dryer. To maintain optimum performance and prolong the life of the dryer, the filter should be removed and cleaned frequently. Remember a clean filter leads to a happy hair dryer.

    What is a diffuser attachment used for?
    A diffuser attachment is generally used on permed or curly hair to dry hair without removing the curl or creating frizz. They are not suitable for short hair unless they have "fingers". Volumizing diffusers have long "fingers" that help direct the heat to the roots to create extra volume. Conair suggests all diffuser attachments should be used on the low heat setting unless otherwise instructed.

    Conair hair dryers are probably some of the most recognized professional tools on the planet! Hair dryers like the Yellow Bird, Blackbird and Silver Bird are the industry standard in salons across the country, for good reason, they are long-lasting and provide professional results time and time again. Thanks Conair!

    -StraightBelle

  • StyleBell's Top 5 Favorite Flat Irons

    People love to corner me and ask me lots of flat iron questions, and I'm always happy to answer them. Being one of the lucky few who gets to test drive almost all of the hair straighteners on the market, I have acquired a lot of street cred in the hair appliance market, and with curly hair like mine, I really put every flat iron to the test.

    In the flat iron world, not all flat irons are created equally and everyone's hair straightening needs differ based on hair type and texture - yep, we've written about this before in our Flat Iron Buying Guide 101.

    But, if you really want to use the benchmark my friends use - "if this flat iron can straighten your curly mop, it can straighten mine!" - my top five flat iron picks would have to be:

    1- GHD MK4 1-inch Flat Iron - pure Ceramic power and technology - this iron gets my hair the GHD Flat Iron mk4straightest it can be and frizz is no longer an ''issue". It also creates really believable curls if you practice. It's a little pricey, but I love the bells and whistles: Dual voltage, stronger cable, auto shut off 'sleep mode'. Everyone knows I rave about the GHD MK4 iron - it's THAT good.

    2- Babyliss Pro Nano-Titanium 1-inch
    Flat Iron - state of the art technology and a super smoothing Babyliss Flat Ironsurface to kill my curls and add lots of shine - the perfect combo! The Babyliss Pro Nano Titanium is actually longer than most flat irons and you'd think it would be hard to handle, but just the opposite, it smooths faster than ever and the shine is unbeatable. Bonus: It's at a great price point and offers a killer 4 year warranty. Really, how can you go wrong? You can't.

    3- Maxiglide Flat Iron- Ok, I'll start by saying this flat iron is not for everyone. It's Maxiglide Flat Ironlarger than any flat iron you are probably used to and has these tiny detangling pins that take some getting used to. That being said, if you have thick, unruly, hard to straighten hair you know that using a flat iron will take some finesse. Once you master the Maxiglide, you'll wonder how you ever lived without it. This iron gets my thick massive mop silky. Yep, silky. (Read a review)

     

     

    4- FHI Platform 1-inch Flat Iron - Another iron on the pricier side, but I think the FHI 1 inch Platform Flat IronFHI Platform is worth every penny when you see the results. Sleek with a capital S and the Ceramic Tourmaline and Titanium Technology eliminates toxins in the hair and really brings out the shine. Style sighting: This iron has also been spotted backstage at a lot of fashion shows too.

    5- HAI Convertable 1-1/4 inch Flat Iron - My stylist loves this iron - mainly Hai Flat Iron Convertablebecause she can straighten my hair fast and I don't have to sit there forever! One of the best flat irons for transforming my hair from curly to super straight, the Hai Convertable manufacturers also just increased the warranty to 3 years - SWEET!

  • Knowing Your Hair's pH Level Makes All the Difference

    Understanding your hair's pH level is important for proper hair care. During the changing seasons our hair can sometimes take a while to adjust to the change in temperatures, but it can also take some time to adjust to the new products we are using on our hair.

    Sometimes the products we have been using on our hair for months no longer work and our hair either becomes too dry or too oily. It can sometimes be very difficult to find the right balance. But if you want to learn how to restore your hair's natural pH level, its really quite a simple process once you understand your hair. The natural oil that our hair secretes is a natural oil called sebum. Sebum maintains the moisture and balance in our hair. The hairs natural pH balance is between 4.5 and 5.5 scale. But what is most important is that we understand how to measure our hair's level of Alkaline or Acid. The scale is from 0 (strongly Acidic) to 14 (Strongly Alkaline). Having a level of 7 represents neutrality.

    In order to understand what products you should be purchasing, you need to understand what the right level is for you and your particular hair type. If you are using products that have a high pH level, than you are stripping your hair of its natural essential oil. In this case our hair becomes much too dry, making it prone to breakage and further damage.

    The key to healthy hair is to understand the needs of your hair and taking the time to know what your hair really needs.

    -Janice Johnson, founder of the Curly Hair Salon and editor of the Curly Hair Guide

    P.S. Many hair care brands state the pH levels on their products - Davines and Abba to name a couple.

  • What is Paraben Free Hair Care?

    You should consider paraben free hair care products for a few reasons. Researchers in England have recently discovered paraben in breast tumors. Research has shown that parabens act like estrogen in the female body. Since breast cancer responds to estrogen, the research makes sense.

    There are several types of paraben: Methylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Benzylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben. They are often used as preservatives in hair care and cosmetic products. When you start reading the labels, you will be amazed at how many products contain one or more parabens. If you want paraben free hair care products, you will have to get good at reading the labels on all the products you purchase.

    Once you have identified which products are paraben free, you can begin to experiment to find your favorites.  There has been a huge increase in people interested in organic and natural beauty products. Several major companies are releasing paraben free hair, skin and cosmetic products. Many reputable studies have demonstrated the negative effect of paraben and other chemicals in our bodies.

    The CDC has found evidence of over 100 toxic chemicals in the blood and urine of people from all cultures and ethnic groups. As people become better educated about the potential dangers, they go looking for safer alternatives.   

    -Janice Johnson, founder of the Curly Hair Salon and editor of the Curly Hair Guide

    P.S. If you're looking for Paraben Free Hair care, StyleBell's top five picks are: Jason Naturals, Kiss My Face, Aubrey Organics, Aveda and Yes to Carrots - available nationwide in drugstores and salons.

  • 5 Top Tools Spotted in the Salon

    I'm always on the lookout for the hair appliances the salons use - who better to attest to a styling tool's greatness other than a professional who uses it all day long? While waiting for a friend to get a quick trim the other night, I couldn't help but notice the following styling tools - call me obsessed. Here are my top five sightings (well, this week!) and my commentary of course.

    #1 - HAI Convertable 1-1/4" Ceramic Flat Iron
    Pro: Silkens and smooths all hair types - it's even on our best flat iron list!
    Con: Lower price point is misleading to consumers - they don't realize how great it is.

    #2 - Hot Tools 1-1/2" Ceramic and Titanium Spring Curling Iron - I spotted it easily by its purple barrel, though it might have been a different size - my eyes couldn't quite judge the width.
    Pro: Ceramic + Titanium technology is a great heat conductor for long-lasting curls and this is one of my personal faves.
    Con: I wish they made this curling iron in a 2" width for bigger curls. Hint, hint Babyliss.

    #3 - Babyliss Pro Carerra 2 Hair Dryer
    Pro: Well known and very popular, magazines love to write about this one.
    Con: They are sometimes hard to get because they run out of stock so fast and that's such a letdown.

    #4 - Hai Elite Rod (pictured)
    Pro: This wonderful curling wand kicks *ss and is used everywhere to create those loose celebrity curls.
    Con: It really is a professional tool. It's quite large and can be somewhat difficult to handle by yourself so if you take the plunge and buy one, be careful.

    #5 - FHI Platform 1" Ceramic Nano-Tourmaline Flat Iron
    Pro: Stylists love this because it straightens hard to straighten hair well. I see this iron in a lot of salons.
    Con: It's kinda pricey when compared to the others, you might not need this much power if your hair straightens easily.

    -CurlyBelle

  • Flat Iron Buying Guide 101

    Buying a Flat Iron shouldn’t be intimidating. These simple questions will help you narrow down your choices to set (and get) you straight. You might think it’s a good idea to buy the same iron your best friend has, but if your hair texture is different, your results may never be the same.
    Everyone asks me “Which flat iron is the best?” and I always answer, “What is your hair type?” before I answer with a specific flat iron. Unless you’ve tried it firsthand, chances are the iron you are thinking of buying might not be the best one for your hair. Let’s narrow down the choices with a few key questions.

    Which plate width?
    Determine which plate width you need – one inch does not fit all. We have a great article on selecting a plate width for your specific hair length. Not all irons come in all sizes so this can help you narrow down your selection.

    Fixed or variable temperature settings?
    Flat irons come in fixed or variable temperature settings. The type that works best for you depends on your hair’s texture and your styling needs.

    Is your hair thin, delicate, damaged or fine? Choose a flat iron with a variable temperature setting so you can control the heat and keep the iron from getting too hot.

    Is your hair thick and hard to straighten? A fixed temperature would be a good choice for you so you can crank up the heat on those pesky pieces that just won’t straighten.

    Is your hair is somewhere in between? Most likely you will be fine with either choice. My personal preference is a variable setting – I like control.

    Does it create curls?
    Most flat irons today will create curls, but (ahem) the curls are only as good as the user who creates them. Brush up on those curling techniques here.

    Which Technology?
    Ok, this is really the source of most flat iron confusion. Most flat irons on the market today have similar straightening technology, but which is best? Again, that depends on your hair type and styling needs.

    Ceramic/Ionic
    Almost all professional grade flat irons are Ceramic and Ionic these days. This technology is important in generating negative ions to smooth the hair cuticles. What you may not realize is NONE of the flat iron plates are 100% Ceramic. That’s a myth. All plates are infused with Ceramic (and/or other materials) to straighten and smooth the hair. I kid you not!

    Industry research shows that pure Ceramic plates would be too soft to get the job done, so all manufacturers (this means CHI, T3, Maxiglide, HAI – all of them!) use Ceramic along with a much stronger, heat conducting surface such as Aluminum, Titanium, etc. to straighten the hair’s cuticles. And boy do they work.

    Aluminum
    Some older, lesser quality flat irons are pure Aluminum. These irons are usually referred to as the “drugstore variety” and do not contain Ceramic. This is why you notice a huge difference when you upgrade to a pricier iron – the addition of Ceramic. What's so great about ionic activity? Click here.

    So you know what Ceramic does, but what about all of those other materials you keep hearing about? Tourmaline, Nano-Titanium, Nano Silver, Nano anything? These are additional materials used in the plates to enhance the smoothness of the plate’s surface, generate additional negative ions to smooth your hair quickly, and create a snag free glide down the strands. Here’s a breakdown:

    Nano
    This is a process where the material, say Tourmaline, is micronized into superfine particles and infused into the plate surface. Whenever you see Nano, think teeny, tiny pieces of a smoothing material infused into the plates. Nano-Ceramic, Nano-Silver, you get the idea.

    Ceramic and Nano-Ceramic
    Smaller particles of Ceramic to contribute to your smoothing process. This is good for every hair type. Most flat irons with Ceramic technology provide silky, straight results but there are a variety of price points. As for most irons I’ve tried, the pricier Ceramic irons really are better. Plus the more expensive irons usually come with additional features and benefits so be sure to look into this if you are considering a Ceramic iron. (Best Buy: ghd. See also: HAI, Paul Brown, CHI.)

    Nano-Titanium
    Super smoothing surface, great heat conduction, straightens hair up to 40% faster. Is it necessary? If your hair is hard to straighten, this is one of the best materials out there for you, newer technology but comparable to Tourmaline. If you want the latest technology you’ll like this. (Best Buy: Babyliss. See also: Hot Tools.)

    Nano-Silver
    A smooth surface that eliminates bacteria on the appliance creating a germ-free environment every time you use it. Great for a stylist, or germ-a-phobe. It straightens hair well, but do you have to have it? Probably not. (Best Buy: FHI Platform. See also: CHI Nano Silver.)

    Nano-Tourmaline
    Tourmaline is a semi-precious gemstone known for its negative ion generating and smoothing properties, and is infused into the flat iron plates. This is earlier technology than Nano-Titanium and Nano-Silver. I sometimes find that Tourmaline causes static, but still a very good material for smoothing most hair types. (Best Buys: FHI, Bed Head. See also: HAI Elite, T3.)

    Does it come with a warranty?
    The warranty is another biggie to think about. Some manufacturers will only honor a warranty if you buy the flat iron in a salon. I would consider that a fine idea if the salon in my area carried every flat iron. Truth is, they don’t. But I have noticed the irons they do carry are way more expensive than online. What gives?

    If you are buying a flat iron in a store or online, look for a flat iron that has a 1 year warranty or longer – think HAI, ghd, Babyliss. We’ve all heard the rumors about a certain flat iron that breaks after only a few months. Honestly, it does. You might want to think about it. ‘Nuff said.

    If you use a flat iron every day you want it to last. Make sure you select a flat iron guaranteed to survive your daily styling habits. If you use a flat iron sporadically, go for a less expensive Ceramic iron without all the technological bells and whistles.

    I hope you take the time to ask yourself these simple questions, the flat iron of your dreams is waiting for you!

    -StraightBelle

  • Brazilian Keratin Treatment 411

    A Brazilian Keratin hair treatment (BKT), also known as "escova progressiva", is a considerably costly salon procedure that promises to transform frizzy, dull, dry hair into silky smooth, shiny strands that last for up to 4 months. Sound too good to be true? It is. Unless you like wearing a gas mask at the salon.

    Wildly popular in all the blogs and a hot topic in those social networking forums I love to hangout in, everyone seems to be thinking about getting one. Wait! I type. Before you call your stylist to book your salon appointment, make sure you have all the info you need to make your choice. Silky hair is good, but with a Brazilian Keratin Treatment you might be getting more than you planned.

    What you and your stylist may not know is that the active ingredient in these BKT “wonder” treatments is formaldehyde, which is a dangerous chemical, especially if you breathe it in. Hence the protective equipment – face masks, gloves, ventilation fans – as a safety precaution when giving or getting a treatment. Is straight hair worth wearing a gas mask? Now THAT’S something to consider.

    According to Allure Magazine (we love them!) “some of the most popular BKT treatments contain at least ten times more formaldehyde than the .2 percent considered safe by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel. The FDA doesn’t currently regulate cosmetics, but they are investigating the safety of escova progressiva treatments.” Now, I’m no expert, and I have considered a BKT when I originally heard about them, but ten times more formaldehyde really sounds like a bad idea. Very bad. There’s no way that’s good for you.

    The best, or I should say worst part about the Allure Magazine expose? I’ll loosely paraphrase here, but the gist is: “Keratin has nothing to do with straightening. Nada. There is nothing in Keratin that will change the structure of the hair, it’s the formaldehyde that makes the treatment work. Keratin is window dressing and provides a good marketing story.” Sounds like a sham to me. And really, who wants that kind of toxic treatment?

    I’ll opt for a formaldehyde free treatment! Keratin treatments like Coppola Keratin Complex, Rejuvenol, and Global Keratin Treatments make formaldehyde free treatments which are a safer alternative to the Brazilian Straightening!  Yes there is an alternative to the nasty fumes!

    Another great tip: To help protect your hair against any dryness during the treatment our friendly hairstylist, Dave, gave us a great tip! About 1 week before your keratin treatment use the Maijan Pure Organic Argan Oil infused with Grapeseed Oil as a deep oil treatment. This will help reduce breakage and keep your hair shiny and silky!  And maybe a trip to Brazil!

    Check out our picks for the best flat irons to use when doing and maintaining your keratin treatment.

    Credits: Allure Magazine

    For more info, check out this article: Brazilian Keratin Treatment FAQ's.

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