Revisiting my To Do List: Following up on my product reviews!

Happy Thanksgiving!  In honor of the holiday, here is a veritable buffet of product and technique reviews!  Don't get the 'itis"!

My routine is posted on another page, but it's as follows: Pre-poo, co-wash twice or poo & co-wash at beginning of month, deep condition, clarify at end of month. I only use shampoo once a month and I only clarify (with ACV-see review below) once a month, unless it's been a really product-filled month and I want to make sure it's build-up free or to give a product a fair shot. 

Coconut milk/coconut cream :
I combined the review, because they are such similar products.  I would probably use milk for finer hair and cream for thicker hair, but both of these make pretty good deep conditioning treatments.  They're a little messy and you will probably want to pour this through your hair over the tub.  I used standard soup can-sized cans  which I picked up from Walmart for about $1.50.  I have also purchased coconut cream from a local international grocery store for $1.75.  I co-washed and thoroughly rinsed my hair.  After squeezing most of the water out of my hair, I applied the can of coconut milk or cream to my hair, squeezing it through.  After I thoroughly saturated my hair, I covered my hair with two plastic caps (you can also use a hat or a hot towel or you can skip that part, as the heat from your head naturally opens your hair cuticles up).  After leaving the milk/cream in my hair for an hour, I rinsed my hair with cold water.  My hair smelled nice, felt stronger, and retained it's softness.  Coconut is a leading ingredient in many shampoos and conditioners and is often added in whole or part to products to add protein to them. My hair does not require frequent protein treatments, but I did not observe any protein sensitivity or brittleness.  Enjoy!

PhytoMoisture hair mask
I picked this up at a local Ollie's Outlet store and tried it on a whim.  I LOVED the scent (orange cream) and felt that it did a decent job of moisturizing my hair, but not necessarily better than any other product or concoction I've liked.  I believe I paid about $6-7 for my jar, but it regularly sells for about $30.  I would purchase this again on sale or at a discount store, but I wouldn't pay $30 for it.

DevaCurl B'Leave-In 
Ick! This stuff made my hair dry as all get out.  I really wanted to like it, because my favorite blogger Curly Nikki raves about one of the company's other products, Set It FreeUnfortunately, this was no love match.  I tried it on freshly co-washed hair, old  hair, and clarified hair to no avail. I applied it over my hair with another conditioner in my hair (which I always do anyway) as recommended by the company, as it's supposed to be more of a curl enhancer than a true leave-in and I swear it ATE the Aussie Moist up! The company suggests to use it in combination with another conditioning product and I used I got this product at Ollie's Wholesale Outlet for about $3 and it regularly sells for about $18.  I wouldn't even pay the $3 again. 

Dry hair product distribution (supposed to enhance curl pattern for 4A/B)
This is a great idea!  Most of the time, I follow the routine described at the top, but this is great if you want to extend the life of your twist out or other set or if you have stretched your hair.  I used this product on an old twist out.  I have applied shea butter, conditioner, and olive oil EcoStyler gel to my dry hair and have noticed more enhanced curl pattern.  I always like my hair to be extremely moisturized, so I do not use any heat styling with the exception of my bi-annual trims (my stylist clarifies, deep conditions, blows out, and silk wraps my hair in order to trim it). 

Cinnamon/Honey hair lightener/highlighter
 I have used this recipe to slightly lighten my dark brown hair.  I am not interested in actual blondeness or what I like to call "Black people blonde" (natural honey or wheat-colored hair), but I tried it for a little warmth in my hair, since my hair is so dark that it's almost black. I have used this recipe three times and noticed that my hair was about a shade lighter (still plenty dark, but a warmer brown color).  Do not try this recipe thinking that you will get instant results.  Depending on how dark your hair is to start with, your hair will lift about a 1/2 shade with each application.  There are many recipes on YouTube and Google, but the recipe I used required 1/4 cup of cinnamon, one cup of a moisturizing conditioner (I used Suave's Almond and Shea Butter conditioner) and 2 TBS of honey.  Mix well, and allow to sit for about an hour before applying.  Apply to damp hair and squeeze through to make sure all hair is coated.  Cover with plastic caps and allow to release for one full day.  I put the mixture in my hair, cover it with the caps, and then  put on a hat (allowing a few inches to show for style.  Everywhere I went, people loved the smell (like fresh gingersnaps) and were excited to see the outcome.  Message me for more info on this method. 

Apple Cider vinegar rinse
 I use a water bottle filled about 3/4 with water and then top off with ACV.  This is a multi-purpose rinse.  It clarifies your hair, removing product build-up, cleanses the scalp, and enhances shine and curl pattern/definition.  ***This will not actually change your curl pattern, but will give you a more prounounced version of whatever you have.  For example, my 4A/4B hair clumps better to produce more defined coils and mini-ringlets. ***

Castile soap shampoo
I like to use Almond scented Dr. Bronner's castile soap that I purchased sample sizes of for 99 cents each.  I use a water bottle that is mostly full of water and add a capful of soap to it.  Shake it up and you have instant shampoo!  It has no sulfates or silicones and is gentle on curly/coily/kinky hair.

Denman brush detangling (love, love, love)
I have a Denman brush and a Goody Denman-style brush.  I love my Goody "Denman" because the teeth are wider spaced.  I have modified my Denman slightly by removing every other row of teeth (easy to do, just slide the rubber base out, open it up, and pull the teeth tracks out) and use it for detangling when my hair has been in a twist out for a while and after washing, still has the twist out "look".  


Protective Styles:Twists, Buns, and Tucks! Oh, my!

Double-strand/Two-strand twist updo
Double-strand/Two-strand twists
Rolled, tucked, and pinned
Double buns
Low bun
Rolled, tucked, fanned, and pinned
Finger rolled, tucked, pinned updo
Janaelle Monet's famous natural pompadour
Finger coils
French braids

These are a few of my favorite protective styles.  Protective styles are important in the colder months to protect your hair from the elements (literally, Earth (dirt), Wind, and Fire (the heat we use to keep us warm can dry out our hair).  Also, the air is drier during the fall and winter months, and the clothes we wear are often dangerous for our hair (wool, in particular).  Protective styles encourage moisture and length retention, as well as promote hair growth by preventing lost strands and discouraging split ends. 

I love my twists, which is why I featured them two ways here, but I also want other options for protecting my hair until the weather warms up again.  A lot of naturals feel that protective styles are boring, but I think these styles are perfect for protecting your hair and looking cute at the same time.  I have several parties and other events coming up and will probably get a chance to test out more than a few of these styles.  I can honestly say that I've tried every style shown here with the exception of the French braids, double buns, and the Janelle monet pompadour.  I will probably be giving the French braids a whirl next weekend when I re-style my hair.  Happy styling!


Product Review: Deva Curl Leave-in

So, I tried this product and I really, really wanted to like it, for two reasons.  One, I can always use a good moisturizer and two, my favorite blogger, CurlyNikki loves this product line (she likes DevaCurl Set It Free).  I used it with less than stellar results.  I tried it a variety of ways in the name of science and a fair shake.  I used it on freshly co-washed hair, between styling sessions, and on freshly co-washed and clarified (with apple cider vinegar) hair.  The results were the same each time: dry, crunchy hair.  Sorry!

Product Review: Castor Oil Hair Treatment

I have been using this as a pre-poo treatment and also as a light sealant when I mist my hair w/conditioner and water in between styling sessions.  Here's what I have to say;

As a pre-poo treatment:
It softens and makes detangling easier in my opinion (I have thick 4A/4B hair that is about shoulder-length) and the softness remains after washing my hair.  I have noticed no residue following washing sessions--I pre-poo w/a cap for several hours, co-wash twice (or shampoo and then co-wash which I do once a month), then deep condition for at least 30 minutes.  Then apple cider vinegar rinse (1/2 bottled water, 1/2 ACV).  Then I add my leave-in conditioner of choice and seal (since it's fall now, I'm sealing w/plain castor oil or a handful of the above pictured product).  Then I twist it all up.  Days later, my hair maintains it's sheen, softness, and finger-combability.  (My whole routine, including twisting, takes about 1.5 to 2 hrs actively--with the pre-poo and the deep conditioner, most of the time is spent mult-tasking w/a plastic cap and a cute hat).

As a refresher:
This is my quick fix when my hair looks a little raggedy and I don't have time and/or energy for the whole wash/twist routine and I still want to look cute and like someone loves me (Hi, Ma!).  It works well for managing frizziness and making sure that my hair stays soft and squishy (I'm not as heavy-handed as I used to be, but I like my hair to maintain it's moisture for 3-4 days between refreshing sessions and this product lasts until I re-style).  Using this as a refresher, I have noticed a tiny bit of product build-up, which was remedied by refreshing only once before stylng again.  I just mist my hair and then smooth a half-handful of this over and through my hair, concentrating on any dry spots.  I then re-twist my hair in larger twists than the original style and that's it! 

As a sealant:
I love my plain castor oil; however, one advantage of this product is that it contains several other good products

Ingredients: Hollywood Beauty Oil Complex , Mink Oil , Sweet Almond Oil , Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E) , Jojoba Oil , Paraffin Oil , Safflower Oil) , Lanolin , Cocoa Butter , Propylparaben*** , Fragrance

***Caution: contains a paraben which some studies have linked to breast cancer; however, research remains inconclusive as to whether the same levels of parabens exist in healthy breast tissue.  If you are concerned about the existence of the paraben in this product, you could create a mix with some of the other oils and yield many of the same benefits.  Castor oils, sweet almond oil, vitamin E, jojoba oil, safflower oil, and cocoa butter can be purchased at most drug stores, Walmart (ick), beauty supply stores, and health food stores for low to moderate prices.  I have purchased castor oil and vitamin E oil from Walmart for about $4-5 a bottle and sweet almond oil from the health food store for about $4 a bottle.  I have also purchased 100% cocoa butter from Walmart for $1 and have seen safflower oil in the cooking section for about $5 for a large bottle.  You can add the essential oil fragrance of your choice to this mix.

Reunited and It Feels So GOOD!

I have been on an extended absence from my blog for a number of reasons--a new job, a second job, old-fashioned exhaustion, HOUSEWORK, and of course, changing my clothes over from one season to the next.  In short, I was having a life attack, but I'm back now!!  I missed you, my little blog!