Saturday, December 28, 2013

Flat Iron Attempt #1

As a follow-up to my last post on avoiding heat damage, I finally took the plunge and flat ironed my hair.   Here is what I did.

  1. First I did an overnight deep conditioning treatment with moisturizing and protein deep conditioner.  I mixed Darcy’s Botanicals Deep Conditioning Mask, Curl Junkie Repair Me!, honey, grapeseed oil, and avocado oil.  My hair felt wonderful and strong when I rinsed it out.
  1. I cleansed my hair with co-wash (She Scent It Blueberry Co-wash), and then detangled with another moisturizing protein conditioner (Hairveda Acai Berry Phyto Conditioner).
  1. Then, I applied more protein as a leave-in (Aphogee Keratin & Green Tea Restructurizer) and heat protectant (Carol’s Daughter Chocolat Blow Drying Cream and Grapeseed Oil).
  1. I airdried for several hours so that my hair was not soaking wet, then blowdried on the medium setting using a modified version of the tension method.  I first tried to use a comb attachment, but it was rough on my ends, so I immediately stopped.
  1. Finally, I flat ironed at 300 degrees with more heat protectant (IC Fantasia Heat Protectant spray in the pink bottle).  Then I banded my flat ironed hair.
If I had it to do again, I would use Curlformers to dry my hair first.  Blowdrying was unnecessary, took a lot of time, and didn’t get my hair that straight.  However, I doubt I will be flat ironing my hair that often.  I did not get it that straight because I used such a low setting, but I did not want to go any higher and risk heat damage.  At the end of the day, if I really want a bone straight look, I can always wear a wig.

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Avoiding Heat Damage

Hey, HHJs!  Since I went natural, I have had a fear of heat damage.  As a result, I avoided heat straightening my hair altogether.   However, this summer I figured that my fear was silly and that I simply needed to get over it.  It has taken me a good 6 months, but I am finally straightening my hair.

As with anything else, I immediately started to research the best tips to prevent heat damage.  Here is some of what I already knew from healthy hair journey and what I’ve learned:

  1. Moisturize and your hair before applying any heat.  This may seem counterintuitive because water reverts straightened hair, but it is important to keep the hair moisturized because using heat will evaporate water from your cuticle.  When too much moisture evaporates from the hair or if the moisture evaporates too quickly, it can cause the hair to become brittle and crack.  Moisture also helps absorb and dissipate heat through the hair.  Thus, a good moisturizing conditioner is important.
  1. Strengthen your hair before applying heat.  Use protein to reinforce your hair strands.  Heat damage comes from a loss of structural integrity to the hair strand, which is made up of protein. 
  1. Make sure your hair is thoroughly clean before applying heat.  You would not want to bake in any dirt that is sitting on your hair.  Also, clean hair heats more slowly than dirty hair.
  1. Buy Reputable Heat Tools.  It is good to be frugal, but don’t be so cheap that you burn all of your hair off in the process.  Your flat iron should have a temperature gauge on it so that you can adjust it to the proper setting.  Your blow dryer should have multiple settings, including low and cool.

  1. Use heat tools on the lowest setting possible.  If your hair is unhealthy you should not be using heat; but, even if it is healthy, you have to be careful.  Healthy hair normally burns at about 450 degrees, but damage and scorching can occur at lower temperatures.  This risk is increased if you have fine strands.  JC of The Natural Haven has an interesting article on what happens to the hair at various temperatures.  Based on her article, the hair's structure begins to change at 320-347 degrees, well before burning.
  1. Minimize the amount of heat used.  If possible, do not use a blow dryer and a flat iron.  Rather, airdry first, then use a flat iron.  Blow dryers “flash dry” the hair, which can make the hair dry, brittle and more prone to cracking.  Doubling up on heat also increases the risk of heat damage.  Also, limit the amount of passes that you do with the flat iron and try not to keep the flat iron on your hair for more than 3-4 seconds.  I’m sure you’ve seen the Youtube video of the girl, who did not know this lesson (if not, here it is).
  1. Use heat protectant.  Christina of The Mane Objective has an article with a good list of heat protectant ingredients.  Beauty Brains also talks about what to look for in a heat protectant for blow drying vs. a heat protectant for flat ironing. For blow drying, look for glycerin and propylene glycol because they slow water evaporation, and hydrolyzed wheat protein polysiloxane copolymer (a protein-silicone hybrid) because it decreases the risk of cracking.  For flat ironing, look for conditioners that can penetrate the hair strand, like cetrimonium chloride.

  2. Take Your Time.  Thoroughly detangle beforehand, which will make straightening easier and it will ensure that you do not rip your strands if using a comb attachment.  Make sure your hair is dry before using the flat iron so that you do not boil your strands from the inside.  
What tips do you have for healthy heat styling and avoiding heat damage?

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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Holy Grail Hair Tool: Hercules Sagemann Magic Star Rake Comb

Hey, HHJs!  I'm not sure if people normally designate hair tools as a holy grail items, but I don't care.  My Hercules Sagemann magic star rake combs are now two of mine.  As I previously posted, I bought these lovely combs during my Black Friday buying frenzy.  I had an eye on them for awhile because I kept hearing great things about them, however, I was skeptical.  I have had many a wide tooth comb in my years, and all of them snagged my hair, even if just minimally, because some of my strands are fine.  I didn't see a point to buying an even more expensive comb that would probably do the same.    But, my product junkie addiction got the best of me when the rake comb set went on sale this year, and I'm glad I did.

The rumors are true, people!  These combs are amazing.  They literally glide through my hair.  I have yet to have a strand snag.  Based on the website, they are handmade from 100% vulcanized rubber.  This makes them sturdy, unlike some cheaper combs that I've had that bend while going through my hair.  Additionally, the magic star rake combs are free of seams and burrs, which are usually two culprits of hair snagging.  Also, the teeth are a nice width apart, which is great for going through my kinky-curly strands.

The only thing I did not like about these combs was the price.  I paid $29.95 plus shipping for the set, which is normally $33.  If I had to pick one of the two, I like the mini rake better because of its size.  It is easier to pack for travelling and it is easier to maneuver when combing my ends.  The mini rake is normally $16.95.  I prefer the jumbo rake for combing the length of my hair, however, simply because it is bigger.  It is normally $24.95.  Both the individual combs and the set are actually still on sale as of this post.

So tell me, HHJs.  Have you tried the magic star rake combs?  Do you like them?  If not, what do you use?

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Saturday, December 14, 2013

In Search of A Setting Lotion

Hey, fellow HHJs!  Today I decided to try a Curlformer experiment and I think it was a success for a number of reasons.  First, I think I now know what product to use for my Curlformer set.  Two, I think I inadvertently figured out what to use for mini twists.

Ever since I decided to transition, I've tried to use more "natural" products, which meant I also began the hunt for a new setting lotion.  I used to use Motions Foaming Wrap Lotion or KeraCare Foam Wrap Set Lotion, but I wanted to see if I could find something else.  I tried Jane Carter Wrap and Roll, but it did not work for me.  I tried gel and that did not work either.  Then, since I'm now on a no-buy, I decided to look around the hair forum for suggestions of what else I could use from my product stash.  That is when I learned that some women use nothing, and a fellow HHJ on the forum suggested that I try curling cream.

Since it is winter, I used Oyin Hair Dew all over my hair because it is my staple winter leave-in.  Then, I added Jane Carter Curl Defining Cream to the left side only.  I really like the Oyin-only side.  It dried soft, but still straight.  It also dried faster than the Jane Carter side.  It probably has no real hold, but I was only using the Curlformers today to stretch my hair .

In fairness to the Jane Carter side, not all of the hair on that side dried before I took the Curlformers out, but some did so I could still do a comparison.  Those that did were also soft and had some sheen, but they were also slightly greasy.  Those that didn't dry were damp to almost soaking wet.  It was almost as if the Jane Carter kept them from drying.  On the upside, I twisted the wet ones and learned that Jane Carter makes a nice styler for medium-sized twists.

I'll probably try the Jane Carter again at some point, when I'm willing to sit under a hooded dryer or sleep in my Curlformers, to see if I can use it for hold when I want a long-lasting set.  I may even go back to a setting lotion with man-made chemicals.  Who knows.  In the meantime, Oyin Hair Dew will get the job done.

What do you use for Curlformer sets?

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Avocado Oil

In case I have not mentioned it before, Avocado Oil is my favorite oil.  I personally think that it is underrated by the natural hair community, which frequently only talks about olive oil and coconut oil when discussing oils that penetrate the hair strand.  Avocado Oil is also easily absorbed into the hair strand and, to me, it feels like an amped up olive oil. It is high in monounsaturated fats, antioxidants like Vitamin E, and other nutrients.  While avocadoes themselves can be a source of protein, the oil is not usually a significant source of protein.  Due to its nutrients, Avocado Oil is great for deep conditioning, moisturizing, strengthening, smoothing, and creating shine.  It also has some sunscreen properties, but the SPF measured by labs varies from 4-15.

Have you tried Avocado Oil?  What do you think?

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

You Know You Are Hair Obsessed When...

Hey, HHJs!  This morning I was thinking about my hair and realized that I am hair obsessed.  Here are five clues that led me to this conclusion:

  1. I have had hour long conversations with strangers about hair

  2. My two year old told someone "no dimethicone in this house"

  3. I have made my husband feel both sides of my hair to see which product works best (see my post on the battle of the Pura Body Moisturizers).  In the old days, he would have protested to having any part in the experiment, but he has since learned to give in.

  4. I frequently check my favorite hair forum before I go to bed and when I wake up.

  5. I have a detailed inventory of my hair products and a hair journal.

I don't think being hair obsessed is necessarily a bad thing as long as you still make it to work and function in everyday society.  However, perhaps that is just my addiction talking.

What are some clues that you might be hair obsessed?  Do you think I need rehab from my hair obsession?


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Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Black Friday Aftermath: A Cautionary Tale

Hey, fellow HHJs!  I hope that you had a wonderful holiday!  I'm posting this as both a cautionary tale, and to prevent myself from doing anymore damage.  As you all know, I'm a PJ.  Black Friday is like Christmas for my hair, but not for my wallet.  Here is what I purchased this season:

Hotcombs - $33.86
($29.95 + $3.91 shipping)

- Magic Star Rake Comb set

Hot Heads - $29.95 (free shipping)
- Thermal Conditioning Cap

BonBons Cheveux Boutique - $55.75
($51 + $4.75 shipping)
- Satin drawstring bonnet
- Satin bonnet (this is a gift)

Hairveda - $55.48 (free shipping)
- Red Tea Nourishing Conditioner
- Moist Pro Conditioner
- Acai Berry Phyto
- Amla Cream Rinse
- Sitrinillah Deep Conditioner (2)

Jane Carter Solution - $23.80
(free shipping)
- Curl Defining Cream

Curlmart - $82.95
($77.95 + $5 shipping)
- Oyin Handmade Hair Dew
- Jessicurl Deep Conditioning Treatment
- My Honey Child Olive You Deep Conditioner
- As I Am Coconut CoWash Cleansing Conditioner
- Curl Junkie Curl Assurance Smoothing Lotion (2)

Pura Body Naturals - $40.05 ($30 + $10.05 shipping)
- Murumuru Moisture Milk (2)
- Sapote Hair Lotion (2)

She Scent It - $42.75 ($33.60 + $9.15 shipping)
- Blueberry Co-wash conditioner
- Banana Brulee Moisturizing Deep Conditioner
- Coco Cream Leave-in Conditioner
- Riche Moisture Masque

TOTAL - $364.59

While I don't regret any of my purchases, I went a little overboard.  These purchases take my product stash count up to 52 products and samples, though I am near the end of a number of products.   As a result, with the exception of a rollersetting product, I'm putting myself on a no-buy while I enjoy my stash.  Until I get down to 25 products or to Mother's Day (whichever is earlier), I will not be able to buy anything unless it is either the replenishment of a necessary staple (i.e., I need a cleanser and have none) or the product is on sale by at least 33% including shipping.  Anytime I get the urge, I'll look at this post.

On the upside, I won't need to buy any deep conditioners this year because I have 12 in my stash :)

What did you buy this year and what did it cost you?


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Product Review: Battle of the Pura Body Naturals Moisturizers

Hey, fellow HHJS!  In preparation for Black Friday, I have been narrowing down my purchase list.  I really wanted to purchase just one Pura Body moisturizer because I have too many products.  I wanted either the MuruMuru Moisture Milk or the Sapote Hair Lotion but I was having a hard time figuring out which one. Initially, I loved the MuruMuru because I tried it first.  Then, I tried out the Sapote over a long trip to Atlanta, and I was confused again.  To help me out, this week I used them both consistently.  I wore the MuruMuru on the left side of my head, and the Sapote on the right.  I also compared ingredients and pricing.

Price: They are both $15 for an 8 oz. bottle

Ingredients:  The ingredients are very similar in that they both start with water and have BTMS high on the list, but that is the end of the key similarities.  They have different oils/butters and other ingredients.
  • Sapote Hair Lotion:  Water, BTMS, Sapote Oil, Babassu Seed Oil, Cupuacu Butter, Brazil Nut Oil, Coconut Milk Powder, Green Tea Extract, Banana Fruit Powder, Mango Fruit Powder, Tocopherol, Phenoxyethanol, and Capryl Glycol
  • MuruMuru Moisture Milk:  Water, murumuru butter, BTMS, castor bean oil, palm oil, avocado oil, chamomile extract, vitamin E, phenoxyethanol, capryl glycol, fragrance and/or essential oil.
Promise:  The website indicates that both can be used as a leave-in or daily moisturizer, creating soft, manageable hair.  However, only the MuruMuru indicates that it can work as a detangler.  The Sapote Lotion indicates that it can be used as a body lotion.

Consistency:  They are both the consistency of body lotion, but the Sapote is slightly creamier and the MuruMuru is a little thinner and more runny.  As you can see from the picture, I put both on a conditioner lid, and the MuruMuru (on the right) immediately ran to the bottom when I tilted the lid.

Scent:  I bought both in the Tahitian Vanilla scent, and the smell is heavenly.  They both have a warm vanilla scent, but then there is another light undertone to each one.  The Sapote smells like chocolatey vanilla, which makes sense because of the cupuacu butter.  The MuruMuru has a faint citrus to the vanilla.

Results:    Neither worked great for me as a leave-in.  I use my leave-in to do any remaining detangling and neither product is a great detangler, though the MuruMuru was slightly better at detangling.  As a daily moisturizer, my hair loved both of them and I had a hard time saying, which one was better.  I even had my hubby feel each side, and he said that the MuruMuru may make my hair a little more soft, but not by much.  I thought that the Sapote made my hair a little softer, but I also thought that it wasn't by much.  Both are great moisturizers.

Outcome:  If I had to choose, I guess I would pick the Sapote, but not by much of a preference.  Ultimately, I like them both  and I am buying them both on Black Friday if they are available.
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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cold Pressed Castor Oil (Drugstore) vs Jamaican Black Castor Oil (JBCO)

Currently, if I use castor oil at all, I use Tropic Isle Living Jamaican Black Castor Oil (JBCO) because I heard JBCO is good for the hair and scalp, and because Tropic Isle is one of the few brands that I have found to be pure JBCO without any cheap fillers.  I also love that purchasing Tropic Isle's castor oil contributes to the Jamaican economy, which is where my dad is from.  However, I recently started thinking about whether I need to go through the added expense of getting JBCO or if I can just use drugstore castor oil for the same benefits.  My sister uses drugstore castor oil and loves it.

Castor oil is a vegetable oil obtained from the castor seed (aka castor bean).  You will sometimes see it referred to in an ingredients list as "Ricinus communis".   There are five types of castor oil that I've found in my research:

  1. Extra Virgin Cold-Pressed - The fresh castor seeds are pressed.  This castor oil is usually pale yellow to clear, depending on whether it was filtered to lower the iodine content.  Here is a Youtube video of castor beans being cold pressed -
  2. Refined - The fresh castor seeds are still pressed, but then they go through a refinement process.
  3. Jamaican Black Castor Oil (JBCO) - The castor seed is roasted, beaten with a mortar, boiled and then pressed.  That castor oil is usually brown to black, depending on the level of ash in the oil.
  4. Haitian Black Castor Oil (HBCO) - I did not find a ton of information on this type, but it appears to be very similar to JBCO.
  5. Chemically Extracted - In addition to all of the pressed versions, some companies use chemical solvents to extract the castor oil because it is a faster process than the press.
I have heard the myth that JBCO is black because it is unrefined and has gone through less processing than cold pressed castor oil, but that is not true unless you are comparing JBCO to refined castor oil.  The true difference between JBCO and cold-pressed castor oil is the ash content in JBCO, which comes from the roasting of the castor beans.  The reason why JBCO is or should be considered to be better is the benefits of the ash content.  The ash contains minerals, like magnesium, manganese and silica.  Thus, it is believed that the higher the ash content, the better the benefits.

What is your castor oil preference?


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Behentrimonium Methosulfate and BTMS - The Products, The Myths, The Legacy

Hey fellow HHJs (healthy hair journeyers)!  I am sorry the frequency of my postings have been a bit unpredictable lately.  I have been travelling a lot.  Over the past two weeks, I’ve only spent four nights in my own bed.  I’m so happy to finally be back home again.

As I indicated in a prior post, Behentrimonium Methosulfate appears to be a good ingredient for my leave-in conditioners and moisturizers, so I decided to do a little research. 

For any vegetarians, don’t worry.  Behentrimonium Methosulfate is derived from colza oil that is taken from the European colza plant, which is often confused with the plant used for rapeseed oil (aka Canadian oil or canola oil) because they are in the same plant family. 

Despite its oil origin, Behentrimonium Methosulfate is water soluble.  Also, although it is technically a sulfate, it is not a cleansing (aka hair stripping) sulfate.  Not all sulfates are bad.  Without getting too technical, a “sulfate” just means something is a salt of sulfuric acid.

Behentrimonium Methosulfate is usually used as an emulsifying conditioner.  It is a great conditioner because of its ability to bind to the surface of your hair and coat it, though not in a bad way.  This reduces friction, which can cause damage to the hair strand.  It also reduces static.  In my products, it is usually paired with cetearyl alcohol, but sometimes it is paired with cetyl alcohol and butylene glycol (a humectant).  For simplicity, I’m just going to call the combinations BTMS, which is how they are usually identified.  The “BTMS” is frequently followed by a number to indicate how much BTMS is actually in the combination (ex: BTMS-50 is 50% Behentrimonium Methosulfate).  The cetaryl or cetyl alcohol assists in keeping the BTMS on your hair.  Swift Craft Monkey has a great article on how this works -

As an emulsifier, BTMS is usually used to help keep a mix of oil and water (an emulsion) together.  Thus, you will usually see it in creams or lotions, which makes it great for my hair.  BTMS is also a favorite ingredient for baby products because it is extremely mild, so it is also safe to leave on your skin.  I even found an article that went so far as to call it “the mildest conditioning and detangling ingredient available.”

If you want to know of other products that contain BTMS, Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database has a list - (click products).  I discovered at least one new product from this list that I think I now want to try -- Alba Botanica Leave-in Conditioner.  Has anybody tried this?

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Liebster Award Nomination!!

I am doing the happy dance because I just found out that I was nominated for a Liebster Award by one of my favorite fellow PJs, Mia a/k/a EnExitStageLeft (

The Liebster Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers.  From what I've read, Liebster is German for sweetheart, darling, favorite, liked or loved above others, and beloved.  However, I like this award because it is less about being judged and more about spreading the love to newer blogs and bloggers.  (Thanks for the love, Mia!)   It also helps you to get to know the blogger and the blogs that they love.

11 Interesting Facts About Me
  1. I'm half Jamaican and half Cuban.  I've been to Jamaica, but I still have never been to Cuba.  I hope to go next year.
  2. Sushi and pizza are two of my favorite foods.  Whenever I have a stressful day, I love to curl up with pizza, beer and a movie.  It's great for my waistline.
  3. I did sleep research for 4 years with a Chilean rodent.
  4. I'm a science geek, but my day job does not usually involve science.  Now, it is my hobby.
  5. I'm a movie fanatic.  I love action movies (The Avengers was awesome) and comedies (Elf was hilarious the first 4 times I saw it).  Most romantic comedies are a little over the top for me, but every once in awhile I fixate on a great one (While You Were Sleeping was my favorite for about 5 years).
  6. If you couldn't tell from #4, I can repeatedly watch a movie like it was the first time each time.
  7. I lived in Italy for two months, and Florence is still one of of my favorite European cities.
  8. South Korea is currently my favorite part of Asia, but I've only been to Japan and Korea.
  9. I had a goal of travelling to at least one new country per a year.  I took a 2 year hiatus, but I hope to get back to it next year.
  10. I'm obsessive.  I like things to be in their proper place.  I even went so far as to label all of my kitchen cabinets when my husband moved in so that he would put the dishes and appliances away in the right cabinets.  He kind of ignores my labels.
  11. I love turtles.  I fell in love with them when I lived in Italy.  I have a turtle pendant and several ceramic and wood turtles around my house.

My Responses To Mia's Questions

  • Why did you start blogging?   I wanted to learn more about my hair, and I learn best from writing and researching.
  • What inspired your hair journey?  My obsessive need to better myself.  I moved away from Michigan for 3 years, and my hair was suffering because of it; so I started to do research on how to make it better.
  • How long do you keep post in draft before you post them?  It ranges from immediately to a week.  Sometimes I'll do a couple posts together and spread them out.  Sometimes I get an idea and post it immediately.
  • How do you feel about viewers asking for product recommendations?  I'm willing to share what I know with whoever asks, but it's also important to remember that not everything works for everyone.
  • How does your family/loved one feel about your blog? My hubby and my sister love it.  I don't think my parents know about it.
  • What is the best hair advice you could give someone?  Water is the best moisturizer.  Oil and butters do not moisturize.
  • If you could get free products from a company for a year, what company would you choose and why?  Curl Junkie
  • Which is better; cake or cookies?  Brownies :)  If I have to stick to the question, chocolate cake.
  • What inspires your post?  Any number of things.  The top two things are usually the ingredients list on a product or whatever my hair is going through at that moment.
  • How do you feel when products do not live up to the hype another person loves?  A little disappointed, but it give me a reason to try something new.
My Nominations

The Rules
  • Link back to the blogger who presented the award to you
  • Paste the award on your blog
  • Choose 5 blogs to pass this award to (they must have fewer than 200 followers)
  • Let the recipients know about their nomination
  • Write 11 interesting facts about you
  • Answer my 11 questions

My Questions

  1. Why did you start blogging?
  2. What inspired your hair journey?
  3. Do you have a name for your hair?
  4. What was or has been the most difficult part of your hair journey?
  5. How does your family/loved one feel about your blog?
  6. What is the best hair advice you could give someone?
  7. If you could get free products from a company for a year, what company would you choose and why?
  8. If you could nominate any 3 bloggers for a Liebster, regardless of how many followers they had, who would you nominate?
  9. Where do you find your blogging inspiration?
  10. How do you feel when products do not live up to the hype another person loves?
  11. What is the one thing you want your followers to know about you?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Product Review: Pura Body Naturals Chocolate Hair Smoothie

Price:  $14 for a 8 oz. jar

Ingredients:  Water, Aloe Vera Leaf Juice, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Cetyl Alcohol, Cupuacu Butter, Castor Seed Oil, Olive Fruit Oil, Ricinoleamido Propyltrimonium Methosulfate, Imidazolium Quat (Quaternium-87 ), Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Lecithin, Vegetable Glycerin, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Hydrolyzed Silk, Cocoa Powder, D-panthenol Phenoxyethanol, and Capryl Glycol

Promise:  From the back of the jar -- "Cupuacu and chocolate to nourish and condition dry brittle hair." ;  From the website -- "Chocolate goodness for your hair.  Great boost of vitamins and minerals for soft, nourished hair."

Consistency:  Like thin pudding or thin cake batter

Scent:  Delicious brownie batter.  I have this urge to eat it every time I put it on my hair.  (I don't, of course.)

Results:   I tried it both as an overnight deep conditioner and as a deep conditioner under a heat cap.  My hair liked it both ways.  It leaves my hair feeling strong without a protein overload.  It does not give my hair with a lot of slip, but I do not really expect that from my deep conditioners.  My hair did feel somewhat moisturized, but I noticed the strength more than the moisture.  Also, a little goes a long way.  I've used it 3 times already and I can probably get 1 more use out of the jar.  The only thing that made me a little cautious was that I didn't recognize the ingredient Imidazolium Quat.  I did a little digging and, at first, I couldn't find any information.  Then, I learned from an MSDS sheet that another name for Imidazolium Quat is Quaternium-87, which is a mild conditioner with no build-up effect, so I am ok with it. 

Love it, Like it or Dump it:  Like it.
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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Getting Ready For Black Friday 2013

I don't know about you ladies, but I am excited about Black Friday sales.  I've subscribed to my favorite vendors so that I can get emails about their sales.  I've also subscribed to forum threads for BF codes.  Here are two of my favorites on LHCF:

If you want an idea of some of the Black Friday sales from last year, Confessions of a Blog Vixen (a/k/a westNDNbeauty) has a great post on it. I've also made my wishlist, though I'm not sure I will buy everything on it, especially the deep conditioners:

  • Magic Star Jumbo Rake Comb
  • Curl Junkie Curl Assurance Smoothing Lotion
  • Purabody Murumuru Moisture Milk
  • Camille Rose Naturals Aloe Whipped Butter Gel
  • Hairveda Sitrinillah Deep Conditioner
  • My Honey Child Honey Hair Mask
  • My Honey Child Olive You Deep Conditioner
  • Jessicurl Deep Conditioning Treatment

What are you doing in preparation for Black Friday?  What is on your wishlist?


Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Hunt For Good Leave-in And Moisturizer Ingredients

Now that I have figured out what works for me in a protein conditioner and I have a staple protein conditioner, I wanted to work on figuring out what to look for in a leave-in and cream moisturizer.  Like my protein analysis process, I put the ingredients for 6 leave-ins and moisturizers and 2 twisting butters that I know work for me into a chart, and ranked them.  I also included 3 products that I know do not work for me and 1 iffy product.  I paid particular attention to the first 5 ingredients of each product, but I listed out all of the ingredients to see if there were commonalities.  Here is what I learned:

  • Three of the twelve products I examined had water as the first ingredient.  One of the exceptions was my twisting butter, which had almond milk as the first ingredient and water as the second ingredient.  The second is my bottom ranked like, and has aloe vera gel as the second ingredient and allantoin as the fourth.  The third is a dislike that works for my hair if I cut it with an equal amount of water (thanks to someone on LHCF for suggesting this!).

  • Eight of the twelve products had BTMS (Behentrimonium Methosulfate and Cetearyl Alcohol) within the first five ingredients.  My top leave-in has it as the second ingredient, right behind water.  My top moisturizer has it as the third ingredient.  I'll do another post on BTMS after I have more info.

  • Oils were the other common ingredient in my likes, though no product had the exact same combination of oils.  Jojoba and Avocado oil showed up the most (3 likes each), and the following showed up in two likes each- castor, olive, coconut, and wheat germ.  The higher ranked likes had the oils listed further down on the list, usually after the top 5.

  • Shea butter was a top five ingredient in two of my three dislikes (the third dislike is the one I have to cut with water), and in my iffy product.  It was only in one of my likes and it was the bottom ranked like.

  • Cupuacu butter was in my iffy product and my second lowest ranked moisturizer.

Based on these observations, I am going to do some more research into the ingredients in my products to see if I can figure out other similarities.  However, in the meantime, I will look for products with water as the #1 ingredient, and with BTMS somewhere in the first five ingredients.  I will also look for jojoba or avocado oil after the first 5 ingredients.  I will likely limit my use of shea or cupuacu butter.  I would limit my use of all butters, but murumuru butter is the second ingredient in my favorite moisturizer, so butters are not automatically bad.

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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Deciphering Glycerin

Now that winter is basically here, I was trying to decide whether I want to try using my glycerin based products in the winter time.  Based on my research, I don't.  Glycerin (also called glycerol or glycerine) has two common uses in hair care -- as a lubricant and as a humectant.  For hair purposes, that means it can improve the smoothness of the hair strand; and it can draw moisture to it and slow down the rate at which water is evaporated from it.   Glycerin is water soluble, which means that it mixes well with water.

There are two reasons to be careful when using glycerin.  First, like any humectant, pure glycerin can be drying because it may pull water from the lower layers of skin onto the surface where the water can easily be evaporated into the air or rubbed off (i.e., with a hat or scarf).  It can also be sticky if you use too much.  Thus, it is important to always dilute it.  When making my own water spritz, I usually mix about 2 tablespoons of glycerin to 4 oz. of water. 

Second, the effects of glycerin can vary by the humidity in the air.  This is a sister point to the first one.  Because glycerin likes to draw water to it, in humid weather, this means that it is pulling water from the air.  This can be beneficial because it helps to moisturize your hair.  However, if you find that your hair is getting frizzy in humid weather, you may need to cut back on glycerin.  In dry / arid weather, glycerin may pull water from your hair and skin because it cannot pull it from the air.  Thus, if you are going to use glycerin in a dry climate, make sure that the glycerin-containing product also contains water.  If it does not, you could do the baggy method or take a steamy shower to infuse water into the glycerin before it hits the dry air.  You could also try using a sealant, like an oil, to keep the water from leaving your hair when it is pulled to the surface.

To determine the humidity in the air, it is best to look at the dew point, rather than the humidity.  When the weather channel mentions humidity, however, they are usually talking about “relative humidity”, which is the amount of water vapor in the air compared to what could be in the air at the current temperature.  The dew point is a specific measurement of the amount of water vapor in the air.  A dew point above 60o F is usually considered humid, and a dew point below 40o F is usually considered dry. 

As a disclaimer, I don’t plan to check the weather channel every morning before doing my hair.  I just go based on feel.  Optimally, I would use glycerin mixed with water and styling products with glycerin high on the list in medium dew point temperatures (40o-60o).  However, because my hair is low porosity, my hair does not frizz easily in high humidity, so I’m less concerned than others might be in the summer, but I still don’t want to overdo it.  Thus, I will probably use glycerin more freely in the spring, summer and early fall; and I would avoid using glycerin-based stylers and moisturizers in late fall and all of winter, though it is still okay to use glycerin-based conditioners.  Of course, where glycerin is low on the product ingredient list, then these rules of thumb are less important.
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Product Review: Camille Rose Curlaide Moisture Butter

Name:  Camille Rose Curlaide Moisture Butter

Ingredients:  Deionized water, rice milk, behenetrimonium methosulfate and cetearyl alcohhol (BTMS), coconut oil, shea butter fruit, olive oil, green tea leaf extract, sesame seed oil, soybean oil, aloe vera leaf extract, castor seed oil, rice bran oil, macadamia seed oil, avocado oil, aloe leaf juice, silky wax, slippery elm, sorbitol, jojoba seed oil, vitamin C, vitamin E, phenoxyethanol and caprylyl glycol and sorbic acid, scent and LOVE!

Promise:  From the back of the bottle -- "Our wonderful Curlaide Moisture Butter will bathe your tresses in an aromatic, nourishing and tantalizing blend of amala oil, jojoba and honey.  Curlaide provides maximum moisture and curl definition."; From the Camille Rose website -- “Organic rice milk, green tea, jojoba, macadamia and slippery elm are infused to create this creamy blend so that your hair will feel moisturized and soft.  Minimize breakage with nourishing shea butter fruit and coconut oil.  Works great for wash n go’s, two strand twists, locks and braids.”

Consistency:  Like a thick face cream.  It reminds me of cake batter, but not runny.  

Scent:  Vanilla cake batter

Results:   I think they forgot to change the label on my jar because I don't see amala oil or honey in the ingredients list. I went on a vendor website and saw marshmallow root, green algae and amala in the ingredients list, but none of these were on my label.  It went on smooth like the almond jai, and it was not greasy.  However, I think the ingredient combination is too heavy for my hair and actually kept moisture out of it.  I tried to use it the way that I use the almond jai.  I flat twisted my hair for the week using this, and then I used daily moisture on my hair.  Unlike with the almond jai, by the end of the week, my hair was dry and frizzy.  My hair also felt a little hard like there was protein in my hair, which makes me wonder if there really is green algae in this product. It could also just be the coconut oil, which is high on the ingredient list.  This may work better on high porosity hair.

Love it or Dump it:  I'm getting rid of mine, but it could be great for others.  I'll stick to the Camille Rose Almond Jai Twisting Butter, which I love.
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Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Low Porosity Journey

The most important two things to remember for low porosity hair are that:  (1) it is really to get water or anything else into the strands because the cuticles are closed tightly; and (2) time and indirect heat are your greatest friends in getting things into the hair strand.  Keeping those two things in mind, here are just a few observations and techniques I have started to pick up on my low porosity journey:

  • I've realized that my low porosity is probably the reason that it took forever for my relaxer to process, and why my hair usually ended up overprocessed or underprocessed.
  • Even with a silicone-free regimen, I still have to shampoo because I'm prone to build-up.  Even natural products tend to sit on my hair strands.  
  • I need to give conditioner a lot of time and some heat to work.  I usually deep condition overnight or with a heat cap for a minimum of 20 minutes to give my hair time to absorb the conditioner.  Steam would also work.
  • Milky and light cream products work best.  I sometimes have to thin out products with grapeseed oil, so I always have some around.  Pure shea butter is too thick.
  • I cannot run out the door immediately after putting leave-in on my hair because the leave-in sometimes takes awhile to absorb.  I sometimes see white specks for the first 20-30 minutes.  
  • It takes forever for my hair to dry.  I've had my hair take up to 24 hours to airdry.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Product Review: Camille Rose Fresh Curl

Name:  Camille Rose Naturals Fresh Curl Revitalizing Hair Smoother

Ingredients:  Deoinized water, Castor Seed Oil, dl Panthenol, Glycerin, Avocado Oil, Sodium PCA, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Peach Quavam, Optiphen and LOVE!

Promise:  From the back of the bottle -- "Our daily styling lotion will transform dull, lifeless hair into soft, shiny and detangled curls. Infused with Panthenol to strengthen, smooth and restore cuticles and hair follicles for healthy hair growth." ;  From a vendor (Curlmart) -- "Camille Rose Naturals Fresh Curl is a daily curly reviving mist that will wake up flat droopy curls. Use it as a detangler or a daily leave-in to moisturize and nourish dry frizz hair. Your thirsty curls and coils will restored to beautifully moisturized."

Consistency:  Very thin, like pure aloe vera gel.  It feels like water when I put it on my hair.

Scent:  Like most of their products, it smells good, like fresh baked vanilla cookies.  However, then there is  something chemically to the smell, unlike other Camille Rose products I've tried.

Results:   I bought this product because I love other Camille Rose products.  I was disappointed.  Fresh Curl did not really do anything for my hair initially, though it did seem to refresh (i.e. re-wet) my products from the day before, after I left it on for a little while.  My hair did not become shiny or detangled.

Love it or Dump it:  Dump it.
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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Protein Types

As I mentioned in my previous protein conditioner post, the science geek in me started doing research to see what types of protein are out there.  That way, I can do a more educated job of figuring out what protein conditioners are right for my hair.  Here is what I have learned so far in my research.
Proteins have different origins.  It appears that are usually either animal derived (such as milk, silk, glycoproteinplacental, natural keratincollagen, or elastin); plant derived (such blue-green algae, corn, soy, rice, oat, coconut milk, or wheat); or synthetic (such as man-made keratin or silk).  My previous post indicated that it is best to avoid animal proteins because they can coat the hair, causing build-up.  However, on further research, I don't think that is true for all animal proteins.  Instead, I agree with Natural Maven.  I think it is more important to look at where the protein is on the ingredient list, and the size of the protein.  Hydrolyzed proteins are proteins that have been broken down into smaller proteins or individual amino acids (proteins are long chains of linked amino acids).
If your hair needs a strong protein, then keratin is a good one.  Your hair, skin and nails are all made from keratin, but you will still need keratin in a protein conditioner to be hydrolyzed for it to be properly absorbed into the hair strand.  One of my favorite protein conditioners contains both hydrolyzed keratin and keratin amino acids.  However, be very careful in reading bottles when looking for keratin so that you do not accidentally pick up a straightening system, which also contains keratin.  Look for words like "reconstructor" or "conditioner".  

Blue-green algae is another source of strong protein.  For example, aphanizomenon flos aquae and spirulina are both over 50% protein.  I've personally found this protein source is too strong for my hair.

Hydrolyzed wheat and oat proteins strengthen, increase elasticity and help your hair hold on to and retain moisture.  Silk amino acids are also a great strengthener for the hair, but they are somewhat controversial because of how natural silk amino acids are obtained.

It is also important to look out for ingredients that act like a protein.  For example, while henna and coconut oil are not proteins, some people say that these products act like protein.  They bond to the hair shaft and help the hair retain proteins.  I've never tried henna, but coconut oil seems to act like a protein for my hair.  I do not use it unless it is diluted.

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Product Review: GVP Conditioning Balm

Name:  Generic Value Products Conditioning Balm

Ingredients:  Aqua/Water, Propylene Glycol, Myristyl Alcohol, Cetrimonium Chloride, Cetearyl Alcohol, Decyl Oleate, Phenoxyethanol, Parfum/Fragrance, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Hexyl Cinnamal, Rosmarinus Officinalis/Rosemary Leaf Extract, Hydrastis Canadensis/Golden Seal Extract, Fucus Vesiculosus/Bladderwack Extract, Methyl-2-Octynoate

Promise:  "Compare to Matrix Biolage Conditioning Balm"; "Repairs Dry or Damaged Hair"

Consistency:  Similar to a very thick lotion

Scent:  It doesn't really have a strong scent.  It really just smells like what you would expect a plain
conditioner to smell like.
Results:  I've never tried the Matrix version, so I cannot speak to how it compares to that.  I bought this on a whim from Sally Beauty Supply.  This is my first attempt at a more commercial product since my big chop.  Previously, I stuck to organic and all natural products.  I really liked this product.  Due to the conditioner thickness, I had to leave it on my low porosity hair strands in the shower for a few minutes before it really worked.  However, when I did that, it melted away my tangles and gave my hair a lot of slip.  I also mixed it into protein deep conditioners a couple times to give my hair a moisture boost, and it worked great.  I never tried using it on it's own for deep conditioner. 

Love it or Dump it:  Love It!  I will repurchase this once I use up more of my stash.  I'm adding it to my favorites list.
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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Puff Status!

I'm still working on my research on the different types of protein.  In the meantime, this is just a quick post to celebrate being able to put my hair into a real puff!  I was rushing to get out the door to meet friends, and I was trying to figure out a quick hairstyle that would last for two days.  I put on a headband to do an afro, and decided to keep pushing it back.  Lo and behold, PUFF!

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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Finding A Good Protein Conditioner

Because of my low porosity hair, it was difficult to find a good protein conditioner that my hair would accept, but I need one for my finer strands and to maintain my moisture/protein balance.  At first, I tried protein conditioners that other people recommended.  Two worked (Curl Junkie Repair Me! and Aubrey Organics Island Replenishing Conditioner) and two did not (Aubrey Organics GPB and Aubrey Organics Blue Green Algae Conditioning Hair Mask).  The science geek in me decided to investigate further; so, I analyzed the ingredients from the four, along with one from my relaxed days (Aphogee 2 Minute Reconstructor), by putting the ingredients into a chart.  I looked at the similarities and differences in the top 10 ingredients, along with all of the proteins.  In doing so, I noticed that the two conditioners that worked had hydrolyzed proteins and amino acids, as did the one from my relaxed days.

Next, I went to the internet for some hearty research.  Here is some of what I've learned:

1.  People with low porosity hair should usually look for smaller proteins, like hydrolyzed rice, silk and wheat protein.  A hydrolyzed protein is a protein that has been broken down into smaller proteins or individual amino acids (proteins are long chains of linked amino acids).

2.  Stay away from oat, animal, keratin or corn proteins because they tend to be too large for use on low porosity hair.

3.   Keratin amino acids may also be great because they can penetrate the hair strand, unlike regular keratin.
I plan to keep researching, and I will probably do another post on the different types of protein that are out there.


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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Determining Your Hair Properties

As I mentioned in my last post, even if you are a product junkie, it is important to do it in a controlled way.  You have to figure out the types of products that work for your hair.  Otherwise, you will end up throwing a lot of money down the drain.  A key step in figuring out the types of products that work for your hair and how to use them is learning your hair properties.  In my opinion, there three key aspects:

1.  Hair porosity - There are a few tests to determine hair porosity. GreenBeauty has a great Youtube video on three of them.  The most popular is the water cup test. Take a clean strand (i.e., no products on it) and place it in a clear cup of room temperature water. If the strand sinks to the bottom, it is high porosity.  If it floats in the middle, it is normal.  If it continues to float on top after several minutes, it is low porosity. Low porosity hair also usually takes a long time to dry.  It also doesn't need much protein, and you really have to work to get moisture into it because the cuticles on the hair shaft like to stay closed.  You may even notice water beading on top of it.  With high porosity hair, it's easy to get moisture in, but the trick is keeping it in because the cuticles like to stay open.  My hair is a mix of low and normal porosity, so it is really hard for me to get water or anything else into my strands.  I need to use lighter products, and I have to give products time to absorb.

2.  Hair Width  - This is the thickness of each hair strand.  Fine is thinner than a piece of thread. Medium is about the same diameter as a piece of thread, and coarse is thicker than a piece of thread. Fine is usually more fragile, and cannot use "heavy" products. Fine hair tends to like protein.  Again, my hair is a mix.  Due to my hair width and porosity, I can only use lighter proteins.  Note that hair width is different from hair density.  For example, I have fine hair, but high density (meaning a lot of it).

3.  Hair Texture/Type (Curl Pattern) - Some people would disagree with me on whether this is important, particularly because so many people get hair typing wrong.  However, if used right, I think typing can be helpful, just not as much as hair texture and porosity. There are a number of hair typing systems. The most popular is the Andre Walker system. This picture and this link from are a good descriptive guide on the system.  Like the other two properties, my hair is a mix here as well.  I have pen-sized curls (3C) in my crown, frizzy masses (4B/C) around my edges from the front to my ears, and the majority of my hair is small crochet needle size or smaller curls (4A).  I usually use product consistency and styles that suit my smaller curls, but use more product and twists on the edges or hairpins to blend the textures.

On my pinterest page, I have more hair property tips that I've picked up along the way.


*This post was updated 1/1/2017 to add a sentence on hair density.

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