Keratin

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The Tongue of the Cat

Have you ever wondered why your cat’s tongue is rough and bristly, and feels like sandpaper on your skin?

The papillae that extend from the central region of the tongue are encased by keratin, and form tiny, backward-facing barbs, which help your cat (and all cats!) scrape meat from bones, and comb detritus from fur. The Felidae are obligate carnivores, and in the wild, must get as much nutriment from each fleshy meal as possible; many wild cats have a less than 15% success rate for hunts, so getting as much as possible out of each kill is critical.

Felines also use their tongue for grooming. There are many types of grooming, but one of the primary reasons is obviously to clean themselves. As very few wild cats are the top of their local food chain (or prefer to remain as invisible as possible), obliterating any scent of a previous kill is critical. They also groom to cool off via evaporation, and during stressful situations, as a form of self-comfort or compulsion.

Did you know that your cat can’t taste sweets? Their copies of the genes that create the receptors for sugars are non-functional, and as such they can’t pick up that taste. When cats develop a habit of eating foods that we perceive as sweet, they’re after the underlying taste.

But don’t fret for your cat’s lost taste sensation! Unlike us, and most other mammals, felines can taste ATP! Yes, adenosine triphosphate, the substance that creates energy in all cells. The levels it’s present at are fairly low, even in the most blood-soaked muscles, but kitties can pick it up at miniscule amounts. When they can’t make their own kills, being able to detect the taste of ATP in foods they find is critical!

Anatomical Technology as Applied to the Domestic Cat. Burt G. Wilder and Simon H. Gage, 1886.

Cat Tongue: Science To Life

Crystallized sulfur

Known to be behind the characteristic odor of rotting eggs, sulfur is essential for all living cells. Cells make proteins that form strong chemical bonds called disulfide bridges between two adjacent sulfur atoms. These bridges give strength to our hair, outer skin, and nails. Eggs are loaded with sulfur because disulfide bridges are needed to form feathers, which explains why eggs smell on rotting. Because sulfur is easy to smell, natural gas lines–which are normally odorless–have sulfur additives to help people identify and smell a gas leak when it occurs.

Image by Dr. Edward Gafford.

Pangolins have scales made of keratin, the same protein that human nails or hairs are made of. Pangolin’s tongue can be almost as long as its body and the tongue’s sticky surface allows it to efficiently and firmly grab its food. Pangolins are insectivores and they each as much as 20,000 ants per day!  Interestingly, pangolins don’t have teeth so they crush their prey only after it is swallowed by using keratinous outgrowths in their stomachs as well as stones that they swallow to also facilitate the crushing process (actually, somewhat similar to birds).

Drawing from Zoologische Jahrbücher (1887)  

HAIR TALK: ARE YOU BALANCED!?

We go through countless products, hair salons, watch countless YouTube videos about tips on preventing hair breakage. Yet, when we look down on the floor after styling our hair, we are still sweeping up broken off hair. You may say to yourself I deep condition all the time, I trim my hair and try to stay away from heat. WHY IS MY HAIR STILL BREAKING? There needs to be a balance between moisture and protein in your hair. For instance, if you over cook a noodle, what happens when you mush it between your fingers? It breaks, if you do not cook the noodle at all its too hard and when you bend it what? BREAKS. When it has a balance of being firm yet bendable it shows elasticity and now has the proper balance between the two. ITS THE SAME THING WITH OUR HAIR! Too much moisture can cause the hair to become so soft that it breaks and too much protein can cause the hair to be so strong that it breaks. So how do we know if our hair has too protein or moisture? Hair that has too much protein tends to feel like straw and hair with too much moisture in it tends to be so soft it seems fragile. Touch your hair. Examine it. Pay attention to your hair care products. On the back of these products that you find yourself using in your hair care regimen to do you see a high level of protein (keratin) or a lot of ingredients for moisture? My natural ladies tend to have a have a higher level of protein in their hair and need more moisture. My relaxed ladies usually lack protein due to the chemicals that break the hair nutrients down and need more protein products to balance the pH levels in their hair. Buy products that contain both and alternate. Educate yourself. Get to know your hair and study what works and what does not, what it needs more of and what it needs less of and then find that BALANCE!

-Hope this was of some help!

www.thebeautyjunke.tumblr.com 

Suffering for Art

A henna tattoo is supposed to be temporary – a stain left from a chemical reaction between lawsone, from henna leaves, and keratin proteins in the skin. Orangey-brown henna dye has been used to decorate bodies since the Bronze Age and ’mehndi’, as it’s known in India and Pakistan, is still widely used as a traditional element of festivals and ceremonies. But henna has a dark side – para-phenylenediamine (PPD), a black dye, is sometimes mixed with natural henna to mimic ink tattoos but avoid the pain of needles. Unfortunately though, this young girl has had a severe allergic reaction to PPD, leaving bulbous blisters along the swirling lines of her body art. Such reactions can cause lifelong scarring as well sensitivity to medication with similar chemistry to PPD. No wonder then that PPD-infused henna is illegal, yet banning its use worldwide is proving difficult to enforce.

Written by John Ankers

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The Not-So-Blue Jay

Just to set the story straight, blue jays (Cyanocitta cristata) are not blue. They’re brown. Sort of.

To be more precise, blue jays, and other blue birds, don’t have any blue pigment in their feathers. Instead, their feathers are composed of tiny, specialized cells, generally no larger than 0.6 microns. While a feather is growing, the keratin in the cells elongates and separates from water. When the cell dies, the water evaporates, leaving the keratin in a honeycombed structure, called “barbs” in blue jays. These cells absorb red and yellow light and reflect blue light, which is what we see. The size and shape of the honeycomb creates different shades of blue.

Blues, violets and greens are all produced this way, and can be enhanced by the darker layers underneath. An iridescent shimmer is produced when larger, less homogenous spaces are found on the same feather. All of these colors are called structural colors, clearly because they aren’t produced by pigments but by the structure of the feathers. The man who discovered this type of light reflecting structure was a British physicist by the name of John Tyndall. The color of the sky, “Tyndal blue” is named for him, as the color of the sky is produced by the reflecting and scattering of light off small particles.

But the blue scattering doesn’t end with the sky. Smoke coming from motorcycles and other two-stroke engines often appears blue from reflected light. Even blue eyes are a result of the Tyndall effect. All eyes have a turbid layer in the iris. Brown eyes have melanin in that layer, but blue eyes allow light in. Part of it is then reflected and scattered, leaving baby blues.

Further Reading: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/why-are-some-feathers-blue-100492890/

Photo Courtesy of Michael Baglole: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mbaglole/

Colter

About a month ago, I went to EPIC The Salon & Day Spa for a little hair pampering. I had my hair treated with the Brazilian Keratin Blowout to help “restore” my hair back to it’s healthier state. I know, it sounds like a mouthful… I knew about Brazilian blowouts and Keratin treatments, so I’m guessing what the salon was offering was a mash-up of the two. Btw, if you’re wondering, the salon is owned by my really good friend. Her mom wanted me to try out the treatment because she’s never seen anyone with as damaged hair as I did, so I was sort of like an experiment. How could I say no to a free treatment with people I can trust 100%? 

So, what does a Brazilian Keratin Blowout do? Basically, from my own understanding, keratin is a sort of protein your hair has and loses when you undergo any damaging hair treatments such as dyeing it, bleaching it (that’s moi), getting perms, getting it straightened, etc. This blowout helps temporarily restore all that, helping your hair feel as if healthier as it was once before.

Below is a photo of my hair BEFORE the treatment, as well as my hair profile:

Basically, my hair was fried like no other. That’s what happens when you bleach your hair, and yes I’m not joking about the drying time of 6 or more hours. Once, it took a whole day. 

So, overall, the process took at least 2 hours, maybe 3 tops.

They first had to wash my hair just to clean it a bit, and then they blow dried it a wee bit to make it less damp, and then the application process began. It stank, so they made me wear a mask for the duration of it. They had to coat each and every strand, so you can see what a tedious process it was. Afterwards, I just sat there talking to my friend DK while my hair was saturated in the treatment. The next step was a little alarming for me, they straightened my hair without washing the treatment off. The smoke from the straightener and product made my eyes hurt. I endured it, all for the sake of beauty. They straighten your hair with the product in it to help seal the product in, which is why the end result is straight hair. I was made to use a special shampoo to help the treatment last longer (Php 1,000) and you’re not allowed to wet your hair for 3 whole days.

So, it’s been a month since the treatment and I can say my hair is still feeling great and heaps healthier than before! This treatment is said to last at least 3 months…

I would definitely recommend this Brazilian Keratin Blowout! It’s quite pricey, EPIC The Salon & Day Spa had a promo for the treatment for only Php 1,499 (original cost is Php 8,000) which included a haircut and a manipedi! SUCH A STEAL. I would suggest you guys check out their Facebook page once in a while because they do have ongoing promos and keep your eye out for another Brazilian Keratin Blowout Treatment promo because I’m telling you, IT’S SO WORTH IT. 

Things to take note:

1. Yes, it will make your hair straight… My bleaching has killed my curls entirely, so I’m fine with the end result of straight hair.
2. I don’t think you should get this done after getting a perm because you might lose your curls
3. If you don’t want straight hair, try looking for just a keratin treatment. I’m not sure if it will garner the same results, though.

I am definitely going to go back for more of this when the 3 months is up :-)