Sunday, January 30, 2011

In my last post, I mentioned how juicing is now becoming part of my regular routine. I'm glad to hear that some of you are also interested in the art of fruit and vegetable juicing as well. I'll start by saying that I got into juicing near the end of 2010. Prior to that, I blended green smoothies with powders, almond milk, and frozen fruits. While I do believe that green smoothies are a healthy morning practice, I was floored when I found out about the possible benefits of juicing vs blending.
Don't get me wrong, blending is great! I loved the convenience of buying frozen fruits and enjoying a banana flavored smoothies first thing in the morning. Ultimately though, I was intrigued by the idea of taking in the highly nutritious goodness of the fruit and vegetables directly into my bloodstream. Plus I also felt that juicing could offer the possibilities of adding much more variety to my drink mix. Blending works really well with strawberries, bananas and other fruits but it gets kinda tricky when I tried adding spinach and other leafy greens. My blender didn't do a great job breaking up the spinach leaves in small enough pieces. So when I drank my smoothie, I had to interrupt my drinking with chewing spinach chunks. Not pleasant at all.
So then I began to research juicing and immediately was attracted to the possibilities of introducing spinach, kale, carrots, parsley, etc into my drink mix. Instead of adding powdered nutritional supplements into my smoothie, I could now enjoy the richness of vitamins and minerals directly from the source! What else excited me was the greater absorption rate of those nutrients when I juiced compared to eating the vegetable raw or blending. Because there's no digestion involved in the process, the body doesn't have to use nutrient stores to break down the food. Hence, your body gets a potent shot of super-food from the moment it enters you.
I have Jack LaLanne (RIP) juicer. I paid $99 dollars for it at Wal-Mart. My first juicer cost me around $40 but I soon returned it once I saw how little juice I was getting per fruit/vegetable. For now, I'm pretty happy with my purchase. It's really easy to use and does a pretty decent job of extracting juice from my fruit. There is clean-up involved with every use. At first I was turned off by having to take it apart and clean it each morning. I even went as far as trying to convince myself not to juice daily because "it would take to much time." Then one day I actually timed myself from start to finish with an egg timer. The entire process of pulling veggies out of the fridge, juicing, and clean-up took me only 15 minutes. From that day forward, I vowed that I could never use time as an excuse not to juice. There's no reason I should ever not juice because I couldn't dedicate 15 minutes to my well-being. Don't get me wrong, I still use other excuses. "I don't feel like" it is still a valid excuse I use (for now). Even with the excuses I still manage to juice 4-5 days a week. There's a part of me that hates the idea of throwing away wilted organic greens just because I was too lazy to juice. I use that as motivation to keep me pretty consistent for the most part.
One of the concerns most people have when they consider going into juicing is the cost. The idea of spending hundreds of dollars on a regular basis freaks most people out. I'm happy to say that, for me, juicing hasn't been as expensive as I first thought. Generally, my budget for fresh fruits and veggies is around $20-$25 week. I get my organic apples, carrots, and celery at Wal-Mart for the lowest price possible. When I'm at Publix or Target, I get organic cucumbers, beets, and kale. Recently, I've made a trip or two to Whole Foods for parsley and other hard to find organic greens. There are also times when I get "conventional" (non-organic) veggies as well. I just try to make sure more of what I'm drinking is pesticide free.
As far as recipes are concerns I don't really have them. I do have some staples I always include in my mix. Apples, celery, cucumbers, carrots, ginger, spinach and beets are pretty standard for me. Lately though, I've become a little more adventurous in my ingredient choices. I know the greatest power lies in the leafy greens. So now I go for kale leaves, parsley, red cabbage, and cilantro. I pretty much go for anything bright green or red. The sky's the limit! It's quite exciting actually, I love walking through the grocery aisle with my blackberry Googling the nutritional benefits of juicing whatever produce is currently in season.
So for those of you who are curious about getting into the practice of juicing, I say go for it! There's just so much benefit for your body at the cellular level. If cost is an issue, I suggest starting with blending green smoothies and working your way to fresh juices when funds are available. I do want to challenge you to think about whether a $20 weekly expense is possible for you. That $20 goes somewhere. Why not allocate it towards something as powerful as juicing? It's good for you.

Monday, January 24, 2011

I know it's been a little while since I last posted. The last few months or so I've had a somewhat hectic travel schedule and I'm currently getting over a wicked cold. All that aside, I've still remained diligent in my hair journey and product experimentation. I just want to take a few minutes to introduce you to some of what I've been into as of late.

Two months ago, I invested nearly $30 in this Scalp Renew product by Nioxin. I have a special place in my heart for Nioxin products because they just produce quality without all the frills of unfulfilled promises. One of the things I appreciate about Nioxin is their focus on creating a healthy scalp as an important part of the healthy hair puzzle. Unfortunately, this product did nothing for me. I have this deep seated belief that any topical scalp product must tingle or stimulate in order to produce desired results. This product, gives no tingle and, for that, I'm unhappy with it. I kinda feel bad for this product, it has to compete with the likes of my powerful essential oils that envigorate my scalp on contact. The Scalp Renew has more of a light gel consistency and cool the scalp, which is nice, but not what I'm looking for. So for now, I'm sticking to my spray bottle and stimulating oils.

I remember watching an episode of the British Based show "The Dragon's Den" where entreprenuers present their inventions and products to would-be investors. On one such episode, the Tangle Teezer was presented. I remember my eyes lighting up as the creator shared promises of tangle free hair without the fear of damage. This was due to the revolutionary design which gave Tangle Teezer's ability to work through tangles sans snags. I've had mine for nearly a month now and, to be honest, the jury's still out. Unfortunately, I purchased the wrong color. Because of how dark it is, I can't accurately assess how much hair I may or may not loose during the process. Because the teeth are so close together, it's a bit difficult for me to run a comb through it to collect the hairs like I would a hair brush. I'm thinking about going out to the get the bright pink one so I can know for sure if this thing can truly detangle my hair without any excess damage. Honestly though, I feel more comfortable using my wide tooth detangling combs for now.

Yet another stroll through my local Big Lots has paid off big time for me with these new additions to my hair belongings. So these are hand held, battery powered personal massagers. Yes, they were probably created for aching shoulders and sore backs but I, of course, immediately saw how they could be used for hair massaging purposes. What attracted me to these babies is their ability to vibrate on contact. I figured that I could save on manipulation if the product did all of the movement. Instead of moving the massager around, I could keep the massager in one place and still get increased stimulation to that area. I paid around $9 bucks for each one and they take 2 AA batteries.

Lastly, I wanted to let you guys know that I'm still juicing. Actually, I fell off the bandbawagon for a little while because of traveling and a little bit of laziness. Well since it's a brand new year, I've recommitted to the habit of regular juicing. I've also decided to man-up and graduate from fruit-filled easy to swallow mixes to ultra-powerful leafy greens blends.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Awwww yeah! It's time for another round of hair product battles! This time I'm putting two of the same products together, head to head, for some healthy hair action! You guys may remember today's contenders from my previous post on my favorite ceramides. Yes, my dears, for today's battle we are going to watch as Biolage Cera-Repair and Biolage Cera Repair Pro battle to the death (or whatever).

Enough talking, let's get to it shall we?

You guys know how excited I was when I was first introduced to Biolage Cera-Repair. I was right in the middle of my ceramide high and this product was a perfect compliment to my routine. Ever since my first taste of Cera-Repair, I've been itching to upgrade to the Pro formula. Now that I've had a chance, let me take a moment to compare the two based on my experience thus far.

I think the biggest, and most obvious, difference between the two products is the packaging. Cera-Repair Pro comes in a nifty little convenient glass bottle which makes for convenient usage. The non-pro package is a more of a plastic applicator tube which makes sense for the product's consistency. What I appreciate most about the glass bottle is that I make sure I use every drop of the product with each use. With the regular Cera-Repair, I have to cut the tube open so I can scrape out the last bit of product. Another thing I like about the glass container that it's clear which allows me the freedom available to ration out exactly what I want for pre-poo and deep conditioning. This round goes to Cera-Repair pro because of it's awesome product design.

Next, let's look at the price. As you would imagine, the price for the Cera-Repair Pro formula is a bit more than the regular. Since I can't find these products from the store I get them from Amazon. There are varying prices for the Pro formula but the lowest cost is close to $30.00 for 10 vials. The Hydra repair in the tubes goes for around $20.00 for 10 tubes. Using a little simple math tells me that each unit of the liquid pro formula cost $1 more even though you are getting the same .34 ounces of product per unit. So with that said, I don't believe that you get a full $10.00 of value by upgrading to the Professional Cera-Repair treatment. Those $10 dollars could be allocated elsewhere in your hair regimen. Perhaps a bottle of Gleau Nourishing oil....just sayin'.

Finally, let's talk about the actual product itself. When comparing the two products, the biggest, and most obvious, difference between the two is their consistency. The professional formula is liquid and similar in consistency to a watery leave-in. This makes the product ideal for mixing in with your current conditioner (which I do) or putting into a spray bottle and misting hair like a leave-in. Although the instructions say to rinse out, I chose not to because it doesn't weigh the hair down. Biolage Cera-Repair (tube) is similar to a conditioner in consistency. It's thick but not too thick. Last year I was dealing with treating specific damage areas. With the consistency of the Cera-Repair, I was easily able target certain areas of my hair based on need. Plus I loved the fact that once the product was applied, it stayed put.

The clincher for me, comes down to the results I experienced during use. Even though I so wanted the Professional version to steal my heart, I have to say that I was sorely disappointed compared to the regular formula. I don't know how to explain it but I could really tell the difference in my hair when using the regular Cera-Repair. Perhaps the Pro formula is more powerful but, for me, I see it more as a supporting product more than a major player in my routine. I just feels like the results are more subtle than my first Cera-Repair purchase. With the Cera-Repair, I wasn't mixing it into my conditioners, I applied the product separately so my hair could receive the full benefits (and I could tell the difference). My honest assessment is the thicker version works better with thicker hair.

And the winner is.......

While I love the idea of having access to a Professional strength product, my expectations were'nt met as sufficiently as they were with the at home version of the treatment. If you'd like to get your hands on the product, I invite you to opt for the winner of the battle of Cera-Repairs first then graduate to the Pro Formula if you feel the need.

'till next time!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

So I wanted to introduce you to my newest hair friend. This accessory just joined my healthy hair family yesterday after catching my eye during a recent trip to Target. I was actaully standing in the hair accessory aisle looking for another packet of the Evolution hair bands I love so much. All of the sudden I caught a glimpse of the Goody Simple Styles modern updo (thingy).
In my best attempt to describe it, this thing is essentially on large, sturdy hair pin that makes creating updo's so much easier than using conventional hair pins.

Just this past week, I made two trips to the beauty supply store to replenish my hair pin supply. First I went to Sally's to pick up the Tangle Teaser and some hair pins. I have to return those pins because when I use them on my thick hair, they open up which causes them to lose their original form, which essentially makes them useless for holding my hair in place. After that disappointment, I proceeded to my main beauty supply store for some heavy duty hair pins. Although these hair pins do their job, I was kinda over the whole hair pin thing. Every few months I'm making a trip to the store to replace hair pins that are either lost or useless because they've lost their plastic tips, or the black coating. Another disadvantage of using hair pins for me was that a simple up do or bun required several pins to keep my hair in place. I can't tell you the number of times some good Samaritan would politely let me know that I've had a hair rouge hair pin making it's way out of my bun and most likely on to the floor.

So now this Modern Updo "mega-pin" has come into my life and I'm elated. I was wearing an updo at the time of purchase and took the very first opportunity to put that thing to work. The moment I was in my car, at the Target parking lot, I began the work of removing half a dozen or so hair pins from my coif. I felt an amazing sense of relief as I removed one hair pin specifically which had been piercing my scalp for several hours. I rubbed my scalp for a few moments then moved on to the next step. In one simple motion, I was able to recreate the same hairstyle that took a handful of hair pins with just this one tool.

Best of all, it felt really comfortable in my hair. No painful stabbing. It also stayed in place really well. No slipping out once I secured it in. A thought popped into my mind as I finished recreating my up do. "Could it be possible this new toy could help reduce manipulation breakage long-term?" Think about it, when I use 50-11 hair pins to put my hair up, I'm creating multiple contact points between the piece of metal and my hair. Although hair pins are pretty safe for the most part, sometimes, depending on how careful I am at the moment, I experience a casualty, or two, as I'm removing the pins from my hair. With this new tool, there will only be a couple of contact points between my hair and the accessory. Another feature I like is the design of The Modern Updo which is more curvaceous than regular hair pins making them much more gentle on the hair overall.
In my quest for healthier ends and increased length, I realize there has to be some sort of compromise around how frequently I wear my hair up. This tool is perfect for me. Simple to use and highly functional. I hope to experiment much more in the upcoming weeks but in the meantime, I wanted to share in case anyone else there could use a break from hair pins.

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