Though the name might remind you of some sort of delicious dessert or sweet, the Cherry Lola Treatment is, in fact, a hair treatment whose main benefit is increased hair moisture, especially for those with low porosity hair. Given the dry nature of naturally curly hair and the difficulties many have to keep it moisturised, it’s no wonder this treatment became quite popular in the natural hair community. Still, there is a reason why I won’t do the Cherry Lola Treatment.
The rights to the Cherry Lola Treatment can be attributed to British YouTube blogger Cherry Lola that, just a scientist, named the DIY invention after herself (I guess she anticipated the treatment’s success given its popularity, right?! ‘Cause her name will be forever mentioned in the history of natural hair when it comes to moisture, even if you don’t know who she is. 😉 ).
The treatment’s history dates back to 2009, but in the past years, it seems to be mainly referenced in connection with the Maximum Hydration Method (MHM) – more on this on a future post. In itself, the Cherry Lola DIY concoction is perhaps one of easiest and simplest to make (more than the MHM) as you only need three ingredients – yoghurt, baking soda and liquid amino acids.
What Is The Cherry Lola Treatment
This “deep conditioning” treatment was put together by its creator who accidentally found that it reduced her frizz. With time she also found that it extended her hair moisture, being able to prolonged hairstyles without the need to wash or remoisturize as often. Eureka, I guess!
Today it’s used as a rich protein treatment that deeply boosts your hair with moisture, reduces frizz, prologues hairstyles and supposedly makes your curls tighter (check my DIY protein treatment). What’s not to like, right?! Well… more on that bellow.
How do you mix it?
According to the original recipe, you need to mix 400gr/14oz of organic natural yoghurt with approximately 150ml/10 tbsp. of Bragg’s Liquid Amino acids until you get a brownish cream (mix to a consistency that won’t run through your neck). Next, take 2 1/2 to 3 tbsp. of baking soda and blend it with your mixture. It will become an airy, light cream with air bubbles and it will be ready to use.
How do you apply it?
Thoroughly apply the concoction on clean, dry hair and let it sit for anywhere between 20 to 40 minutes. Once you’re done make sure to rinse well, baking soda if left on the scalp and hair can be disastrous. Follow with a conditioner and style as usual. Here’s Cherry’s video.
It’s actually an easy treatment to make. The benefits can convince anyone to do it – who doesn’t want all that?! Surely, someone crazy. – but, I have to say there’s something I don’t like about it. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know me (yeah, your crazy Cherry Lola downer) you know why.
Why I Don’t Like The Cherry Lola Treatment
The reason why I don’t like and will never do this treatment is because of the baking soda. I have talked about the use of this multi-purpose ingredient before, and the risk it poses to my beloved curls is not worth the risk.
I have talked about baking soda extensively in a previous post (Know Why Baking Soda For Hair Care Is Like Riding A Rollercoaster) and I understand why so many love this ingredient as it offers a natural and economic solution to hair care and the results can be amazing. However, the structural damage its use can cause to our curly hair makes me say – Thank you, but no thank you! Still, I’ll give you the run down on it.
The pH case…
The use of baking soda is reportedly said to make natural hair softer, cleaner, healthier, with less frizz and looser curls. However, the use of baking soda raises the pH of hair (4.5 – 5.5) to 9, which alters its acidic environment into an alkaline one.
What does this mean?
The vulnerability case…
It means your scalp and hair are no longer protected from fungi and bacteria (yes, dandruff included). Additionally, the cuticle layers of the hair are forcibly open and your hair is now also vulnerable to dryness, high porosity, split ends, breakage and inability to retain length and moisture. It’s a curly girl’s worst nightmare, you betcha! (check my post on Natural Hair And pH in more detail)
Why it can still work
There are, however, many people who use baking soda and don’t witness these changes in their hair even after years of use. They actually rave about it.
How can this be, after the glooming picture I painted?
Well, scientists put forward many hypotheses, but in a nutshell, it can depend on your hair and scalp’s own pH (it can vary among people), the texture and porosity of your hair (coarser and low porosity hair is more resistant) and your hair’s health.
Why I still won’t do it…
Now, if you ask me – Monica, would you still use baking soda given that you have low porosity hair and it probably won’t suffer any changes? – I would say – Hell, NO!
I wouldn’t risk my natural hair doing the Cherry Lola Treatment or any DIY recipe with baking soda because I can never be sure if my hair and scalp have the set of specific characteristics that would protect them from any possible damage. Even scientist can’t say it yet! Would you risk your hair?
Still, there is something I liked very much about the Cherry Lola deep protein treatment.
What I Like About The Cherry Lola Treatment
Am I leaving you confused? With all these back and forward arguments? I hope not. Just because I don’t like or am very sceptical about this deep conditioning treatment, it doesn’t mean it’s all bad. In fact, I very much like that it has liquid amino acids in it.
Amino acids are basically the smallest part of a protein molecule once it’s broken down into smaller pieces. This means they are so tiny they will easily penetrate the hair shaft to bond with the proteins in the cortex of your hair.
Why it’s so good…
Cherry Lola’s recipe calls for Bragg’s Liquid Amino which is a natural, non-fermented, non-GMO, protein concentrate that has 16 amino acids in it. The good thing about it is that it will strengthen your hair and help moisturise it as proteins delay moisture release, thus why I recommend its (liquid amino) use even for low porosity when so many are afraid to use protein (did you read my post How To Improve Hair Porosity? Go check it out!).
I know many of you reading this post may say that you’re protein sensitive, but amino acids may actually be a good choice for you as they are small enough to penetrate the cuticle layers of the hair to reach the cortex. All hair needs a “protein shot”, simply because it is vulnerable to weather conditions, manipulation, hair tools, water (yes, water too), chemical treatments, free radicals,… the list goes on.
The truth is, you need to replace, strengthen or fortify the “worn down” proteins bonds in your hair so that it can maintain its elasticity (bounce, curl tightness), strength (resilience) and ultimately its health. Lack of protein may slowly, but surely lead you down the road to dryness and hair breakage.
But, there is an even better reason to like this ingredient.
Why it’s even better…
Among Bragg’s impressive list of 16 amino acids, there are a few ones that are instrumental for your hair’s health. These are Alanine, Histidine, Phenylalanine and PCA (derivative of Glutamic acid). A study from 2007, that studied the interactions and effects between hair and amino acids reported its useful use in the hair care industry.
The study found that the use of an aqueous (liquid) solution of amino acids depends largely on the ionic interaction (electrostatic attraction) between amino acids and the hair’s pH. Some will attract better than others at certain pH levels. The tricky thing is to know this.
However, when mixing these amino acids with a conditioner (and I believe a deep conditioner, too) that has cationic (positively charged) surfactants such as behentrimonium chloride, the amino acids will penetrate and bond easily with keratin bonds inside the hair. Some of the benefits are:
- Increased hair moisture
- Increased hair strength
- Improved colour retention for dyed hair (permanent and semi-permanent)
- Thickened hair
- Improves the lipid “glue” that bonds the cuticle layers (+- 14) that protect the hair, especially in the bleached damaged hair. This “glue” is what makes dry and wet hair easier to comb. This is a good tip for those you have bleached hair or are going through a hair transition since damages to the hair cuticle is similar in both chemical treatments.
This is great news, right?
What I Will Do
After all that I’ve said so far, I’m certain I won’t be doing a Cherry Lola Treatment because of the use of baking soda in the recipe. Doing it would basically equate to my hair going on a roller coaster ride on the pH level spectrum and then play Russian roulette hoping my hair won’t come out damaged. I’ll pass this one…
Having said all of this, what I’ll take from the Cherry Lola Treatment is the use of the Bragg’s amino acids and I hope you do too. I will incorporate these into my protein treatments by mixing them with a conditioner or moisturising deep conditioner, maybe mixing a few other things (I can’t help myself, the “mixologist” in me longs to come out! 😉 ) and adding some heat (steam is better) to really kick things up a notch.