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?