Embracing your natural hair comes with ups, downs, mishaps, and an unheard of amount of money being spent on products. With the rising number of women going natural comes the opportunity for companies to market their “curl” lines that don’t work or contain harmful ingredients! I recently stumbled across Fortify’d Naturals which is a cruelty free, certified vegan, and non-toxic natural hair brand founded by Tracy Goulbourne. Like myself, Tracy was left unsatisfied by the products on the market and decided to use her background in nursing and cosmetology to create products that focus on True Hydration Technology. I had the opportunity to ask Tracy G, who serves as CEO and Head Mixtress, a few questions about hair care and she dropped some gems.
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Tracy: I’m a NYC native, former Financial Analyst and mother of two. I started going to school for nursing and I eventually ended up having to stop because I couldn’t find anyone to care for my children anymore. I ended up being stuck in another state because I decided to go to school out of state. I guess by accident, I went natural only because where I lived, there was no one there who was able to care for my hair. I found so many issues with my hair at that point. It began to fall out, I couldn’t keep it moist, and my scalp was irritated. I basically utilized what I had learned in school, I also took a year off to study on my own, that’s how I ended up here formulating products. Initially, it was for my own hair, it was never intended to sell.
Erica: What made you so passionate about hair care?
Tracy: When I first went natural I did as most naturals do; I watched YouTube videos and bought the products that all the bloggers raved about. At the time I wasn’t aware that YouTubers were paid to produce content, but I ended up losing my hair because none of the products actually worked as they said. At the time I lived in a place where going to the hair salon wasn’t an option (a predominantly white neighborhood) so I found myself becoming very depressed because my hair had fallen out so bad and it caused me to be very insecure.I decided at that time that I would utilize my studies to produce products that actually worked so that other women wouldn’t feel the hurt and disappointment I did.
Erica: What are the biggest myths/ misconceptions you have heard about “ethnic” hair?
Tracy: That biotin makes hair grow (it actually strengthens the follicle) and that clipping your ends make hair grow (hair is dead so clipping ends only stops hair from continuing to split, not grow), just to name a couple.
Erica: What exactly is True Hydration Technology?
Tracy: True Hydration Technology is the process of using very carefully selected ingredients with molecules that are small enough to actually penetrate the hair strand. There are other natural ingredients used to coat the hair strand and lock the moisture in to ensure no fail hydration without product build up. In addition, we use ingredients that stimulate hair growth, reduce shedding, regulate sebum production, significantly reduce breakage for length retention, reduce scalp irritation and combat hard water to prevent calcium deposits from adhering to your strands which can prevent product penetration.
Erica: What is the difference between moisturizing and hydrating?
Tracy: When it comes to ingredients, a moisturizing ingredient is film forming and designed to seal the strand to lock in water (water evaporates and can’t be trapped btw). A Hydrating ingredient penetrates the hair strand instead of resting on the top of it.
Erica: Can your hair be too hydrated?
Tracy: Yes, your hair can be too hydrated and you can definitely experience hygral fatigue. A Hydrating product must be balanced properly with moisturizing ingredients that will not suffocate the strand like shea butter or cocoa butter.
Erica: Are breakage and shedding unavoidable?
Tracy: Breakage is bound to happen from time to time during styling manipulation but excessive breakage can definitely be avoided. Shedding is a part of hairs growth process so it can’t be avoided but the phase can definitely be shortened.
Erica: Does oil affect moisture from getting into hair follicles?
Tracy: There are oils that penetrate the strand and are Hydrating oils and there are oils that seal which are moisturizing oils. It depends on how many carbon atoms make up its molecular structure.
Erica: Does washing hair less help retain moisture?
Tracy: Not washing hair often will help you retain moisture (film forming property) but will hurt you in other ways. One being that your scalp has fungus on it and an overgrowth will cause scalp issues and result in slower growth. Secondly, the more you apply a film forming product to your hair, you’re only suffocating your hair and scalp. A buildup of film forming ingredients is one of the main reasons for dry hair….because product can not adequately penetrate the strand. Also, because the scalp is being suffocated, hair grows at a slower rate or may appear to be stunted as a result.
Erica: Can you deep condition too much?
Tracy: Washing and conditioning should be done no more than weekly, around every 7-10 days. Hair is at its weakest when wet and can break but your scalp also needs to maintain a balance and over washing/conditioning disrupts that balance.
Erica: Is rinsing with cold water more effective?
Tracy: Rinsing hair with cold water closes the cuticle and can help to reduce frizz. Some textures will have frizz whether they rinse with cold water or not, so it depends on texture.
Erica: Why are sulfates and parabens bad for your hair?
Tracy: Sulfates can strip the strand and parabens can be cancerous.
Erica: How often should ends be trimmed?
Tracy: In hair school you’re taught that ends should be trimmed at least quarterly but if your ends are healthy it’s ok not to clip everything. You can just search and do a little dusting of the ends just to get rid of whatever damage ends you do have.
Erica: Do you recommend Fortify’d Naturals products for women who are not natural?
Tracy: Yes, women who are not natural can use Fortifyd Naturals products but may need to use less than those who are natural and a little already goes a long way even for naturals.