Thursday, July 30, 2009

Photo: limpciano

Some of you have experienced've revamped your hair routine, you have what you would consider to be pretty healthy hair, but for some reason, you just can't seem to realize (or retain) any length. Believe me, I know how incredibly frustrating it is to continue down a path which seemingly has no reward. We all know that a hair journey requires a great deal of patience but after a year of going on a journey, you'd expect to be a lot farther ahead then when you first started.


We'll today, I'm here to talk about those frustrations and how we can work together to find those pinhole leaks in your hair routine and stop the bleeding once and for all.

I use the pinhole leak analogy because we should all know by now that our hair grows pretty consistently every month. For those of you who aren't seeing the fruit of a year's worth of hair growing, you can safely assume that something is happening-daily-weekly-monthly, that's chipping away at all the wonderful growth you've been experiencing. I should know, I'm in the same boat.

For this reason I've been really scrutinizing every hair move I make in order to self-identify what I'm doing wrong.

*Either I am not doing something I should be doing.

*Or I'm doing something I shouldn't be doing.

*Or I'm doing something ineffectively

I've narrowed it down to these three statements for the sake of keeping this process simple. As you transition from having mere interest in your hair care to becoming a student of the hair of healthy hair, you need to equip yourself with tools. For me, one of my greatest tools has become my all important hair journal. With this journal I've been able to internalize and express the fears, frustrations, joys, and successes related to my hair care. I've had many of aha moments simply by documenting my journey one step at a time. I encourage you to read my post on creating an effective hair journal if you haven't done so already.

As you look at your hair routine holistically, you should first identify the major buckets of hair care. For a lot of us it's the wash routine, daily/weekly styling, relaxing, nutrition, and the nightly routine. I would say that most of what we do with our hair does have something to do with one of these five areas. Your job now, as a healthy hair apprentice, is study the fine art of perfecting each one of these areas.

No, you cannot, nor should you, try to master all of these areas at once. Doing so will only heighten your frustration levels. In order to master each portion of the hair care routine, you must first pick an opponent, focus on it intensely, and dedicate all of your mental capacities to eliminating any inefficiencies that secretly hide within your routine. Are you struggling to maintain moisture levels? you have a target. Now you live and breathe increasing moisture until your hair has no choice but to react. You contemplate day and night on how to inject more moisture into your routine if only just a little. You know that a little more moisture every day will eventually lead to hair that is more elastic. Elastic hair leads to less breakage, less breakage leads to healthy hair.

In my experience, the more I focus in one specific area, the more opportunities are revealed to me that I couldn't see before. I heard a proverb once that said "the man that chases 100 rabbits catches none." I love this saying because it's so applicable to everything we do....even our hair care routine. I'm not saying that you totally neglect one area of your routine while focusing on another. Doing so is like squeezing one end of a water balloon (all the water travels to the other end of the balloon and we receive no benefit). If there are several areas of opportunities, work on both.....but focus on one.

When I say focus, I mean that you should be working on eliminating the issue. Your goal should be to comfortably exclaim that you have no issues with [fill in the blank] because you have overcome. You are now the conqueror. This year for me has revolved around one single-minded theme- find the enemy and eliminate it! Yes sometimes I feel as if I am playing a game of whack-a-mole as I focus in on my intended target. But when I look at my progress as a whole, I am content. Content with the fact that I have made progress on this journey. Every step along the way is (and was) not in vain. I take comfort in the fact that, even though I have a long journey ahead, I am not standing in the place where I first started.

I hope you take comfort in that fact also.

Be well, my friends.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

How did I get so lucky? I feel like I've struck gold with my recent hair product finds. You guys all know that the only thing I've been talking about lately is Asience. Well today I decided to make a quick visit to my local Ulta beauty store just to enjoy the sights. So there I am browsing and touching and smelling and sampling when, lo and behold, I find myself right in front of a tube of Burt Bee's Avocado Pre-Shampoo treatment.

I stood there still for a few moments, quickly trying to retreive all the memory stores I have of other people's review of this product. Every thing I've heard about this treatment has been extremely positive. Add that to the fact that there was only one tube of it on the shelf. I had no other choice but to snatch it.....that was my only option (you guys understand). I could not allow myself to walk away from a product which could possibly revolutionize the results of my pre-poo treatments as I know it. Don't get me wrong, there was a millisecond where I asked myself if it was worth paying money for a pre-poo treatment when I had tons of conditioners I could use for the same purpose at home. But before I had a chance to finish that thought, I was already making my way up to the register (Burt's Bees in hand).

So the first thing I do when I get back home was to get comfortable and commence to pre-poo. I squeezed a little bit of the product in my hands and rub together. All of the sudden, I feel this warming sensation which kinda frightened me to tell you the truth. I've never had a product react to me like that before. I didn't let a little heat activation action stop me from using it. The Burt's Bees Pre-poo treatment smelled heavenly. I literally smelled my hands after each dollop I used. Moving on....This stuff is thick. The only way I could describe it is like the old blue magic grease (but not). It's not as greasy as grease but it left my hair feeling like I just put grease all over it (my hair felt weighed down and really coated). So right after I finished applying I was only about 50% convinced that I made a good purchase.

Then something wonderful happened....

As time passed, my hair began to feel increasingly soft. The Pre-poo treatment had began to sink into the hair (unlike grease). I was soooo excited about what was happening. Twenty minutes later I could not wait to see what my hair would feel like as I rinsed it out. Thankfully, this product had no problem rinsing out.

Let me tell you the time I rinsed the Burt Bees Pre-Shampoo treatment, and washed with my Hair One Conditioning Cleanser, I literally began to dance in the shower. I don't mean this in a figurative way to help improve my story-telling. I mean that your girl was dancin' and shakin' in the shower while thanking God for answering all of her hair prayers. My overly-emotional reaction was a really a result of how much my hair has improved in just a short time frame with the help of Asience and, now, Burt's Bees Pre-poo treatment. I could barely control my excitement.

After my wash, I usually step out to apply my deep conditioner. This time when I stepped out, it already felt like I had applied my deep conditioner. I still used my Asience mixed with a little Humecto and let sit for half an hour. Long story short, my wash day was incredible. I am absolutely stoked about these two new products and how much they've impacted my hair in such a short period of time.

Life is good. I feel like a fat, happy, tick after getting it's fill of an unsuspecting host. I know that's a really bad analogy but what I mean to say is that I feel really satisfied right now. I can honestly say that my hair has no immediate needs at this moment. It's sitting smack dab in the middle of the moisture/strength pendulum. It looks and feels unbelievably wonderful.

Life is good.......

(check out this post where I Burt's Bees and Ojon go head to head)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

There's nothing more satisfying than realizing first hand, the almost incredible claims of a hair product. When I first posted on the Japanese originated product called Asience, I wasn't sure what the outcome would be on chemically treated African-American hair. I admit that my first stint with Asience was not as magical as I would have liked. Today, however, I'm signing a different tune 'cause my hair is the healthiest that it's looked and felt in a long while.

So what was different this time?

First off, since my hair was still feeling a just a teeny bit stiff from from my last wash, I decided to really make this wash all about moisture. I pre-pooed with Nioxin Moisture and Strength conditioner mixed with a little NTM Deep Recovery Hair Mask. After 20 minutes or so I jumped in the shower and washed with my Hair One Cleansing Conditioner. Once that was over I stepped out and prepared for my deep conditioning step. That's when I broke out the Asience conditioner and mixed with Keracare Humecto Conditioner. The two conditioners blended together felt wonderful on the hair. Still remaining cautious of protien overload, I opted to only leave the conditioner blend in for about 15 minutes. No heat.

Last but not least, for my rollerset, I made sure to solidify this moisture routine by using Salon Care's Honey and Almond conditioner as a leave-in along with some Aloe Vera juice in leiu of using plain water. 

Rollersetting was a breeze.

 The minute I started removing the rollers I knew that I done good. The hair had so much health to it. My curls fell easily to my shoulders as I removed the rollers. Next I rubbed in a little bit of my oil blend and the rest is history.

If you remember my original post on Asience, you may recall the fact that the product claims to continue to improve the look and feel of the hair with consistent use. Call me gullible but I actually believe it. Sure I had to learn the best way to use to product but I feel completely comfortable saying that it was certainly worth the trial and error required to get these results.

This product is absolutely going to be a staple for me.  My hair has seen so much benefit from it.  The strands are silkier, stronger, shinier, and..........more supple!   I'm absolutely ecstatic that Asience has come into my life.

For those of you who are information junkies like me, here is some data I found from a  press release about this product.

Asian Beauty Essence

ASIENCE is formulated with natural and nourishing ingredients to specifically treat Asian hair. It contains Pearl and Soybean Essence that work to repair damaged and brittle hair, Korean Ginseng and Camellia Oil keeps hair hydrated and nourished, while the essence of Eucalyptus protects hair from harmful effects.

• Pearl & Soybean: Nourishing protein to repair and strengthen• Korean ginseng & Camellia oil: Excellent emollients to moisturize and control frizz• Eucalyptus extract: Soothing extract to protect and seal in cuticles

Japan’s Advanced Hair Beautifying Technology

Hair damage occurs on the surface and inside. After several research studies from KAO, they came up with 2 technologies.

• For repairing inside: HBT
• For repairing outside: 18-MEA

HBT or Hair Beautifying Technology, helps regain hair’s original protein which restores the beauty and suppleness of Asian hair. This unique technology penetrates deep into the root to improve the health of hair.

18-MEA is a natural protective coat that wraps around the hair’s surface. It is easily depleted by constant exposure to chemical treatments and blow-drying. Without 18-MEA, hair becomes dull, dry and rough. With this knowledge, Kao succeeded in developing a technology that makes 18-MEA adhere to the surface of the hair, forming a film that protects the cuticle and thus improving the smoothness of the damaged surface.

As a result, hair is more manageable, doesn’t tangle easily, feels more supple with texture so smooth even water beads roll off with ease.

Healthy hair with 18-MEA(water beads without losing shape)
Damaged hair without 18-MEA(water disperses)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

As promised ladies, I will now tell of my very first Asience hair product experience.  As you can see by looking at the images, overall, I'm happy with this product.  

I received my shipment of Asience conditioner and hair repair mask last weekend.  Because I was soooo excited to try it out, I made the (poor) decision of using the conditioner for both the pre-poo and the deep conditioning step.  Little did I know, when I first made this decision, that Asience is more of a strengthening conditioner than it is a moisturizing conditioner.  

In my haste, I slathered the conditioner on prior to the wash.   Shortly thereafter I was mixing the deep conditioning mask (which is one of the thickest conditioners I've ever seen) with the regular Asience conditioner and rubbing it in section by section.  So far so good.  I do some housework while the conditioner mix does it's thing and proceed to wash out about 30 minutes later.  In the shower I rinse out the product and notice that my hair "hangs" slightly straighter than normal.  By this I mean that there appear to be fewer tangles and the hair clings to my back, moreso than usual.  

My rollerset goes pretty smoothly and I quickly realize that my hair will probably dry straighter than normal simply because the sections remain relatively frizz free as they begin to dry on their own.  An hour or so after I've been under the dryer I start to remove the rollers.  I'm beaming over with excitement as I can't wait to see the finished product.  Finally the rollers are all out and I proceed to rub my oil blend into the hair.  

What happens next totally takes me by surprise and I become completely heartbroken........My hair is stiff from protein overload.  

I'm so upset that I can't think straight.  This is the product that I've been waiting for and this is what I get?

I try to calm myself down by reminding myself that even though this is clearly NOT what I wanted to experience, my hair was still very healthy looking and reflected shine like nobody's business.  As hard as I tried, I still couldn't get over the feeling of stiffness whenever I ran my hands through my hair.  

The good news was that even though my hair felt that way, I wasn't experiencing breakage or any other adverse effects.  I just needed a way to balance the protein issue with some good 'ole fashion moisture.    That's when I decided to co-wash a day or two later with my Suave Milk and Honey and Biolage Hydrating Balm.  I also mixed in some more of the Asience conditioner because I felt pretty comfortable with the fact that the mask was probably the culprit.  

After that rollerset was completed, my hair felt much better.  It wasn't back to the moisture levels I once enjoyed but it was acceptable.  So finally I decided that it would be a good idea to break out my Caruso steam setting system and set my hair.  I figured I can benefit by adding more moisture to the hair via the steam and I can get some cute curls while I'm at it.

In the end, I'm happy with the results.  Normally with this humidity, my curls would have long fallen or frizzed up but today things are different.   My curls are defined and resilient even in the midst of the Florida summer.   My hair isn't as soft and moist as I'm used to but I can quickly adjust my regimen to revitalize the hair week after week.   I am enjoying the added strength and my hair just looks healthier all around.  Now I know to lay off the mask unless my hair is in serious need of some damage control.   I'll use the conditioner again next wash and see if I can modify my actions enough to produce both hair that is strong and hair that is soft.  Stay tuned for part two of this review.  In the mean time, here are some of the raw pieces of information that you should know about this product.  

  • The label on the product is in Japanese.  Other than the ingredients, nothing else is translated into English.  That means the instructions are not clearly stated. 
  • The product is scented with a perfumey-type scent.  Although not overbearing, some of the scent does remain on the hair.  
  • I used my pH strips to test the product before using.  Based on the results of the strip, Asience is more of an acidic product, which is better for the hair than alkaline conditioners.

After  using Asience, I did truly see a difference in my hair.  I feel like the individual strands are thicker and more resilient.  When I examine my shed hairs, they seem to shine off the natural light with the greatest of ease.  I definitely think that Asience is a keeper as long as I can successfully balance the strength with the softness.  

Stay tuned for part II!
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