Sunday, May 29, 2011

I was on Youtube the other day waiting for my video to load when all of the sudden an ad comes on with several women talking about a new relaxer system from Soft Sheen Carson. I rarely look at box relaxers on the store shelves so this product may not be all that new after all. What really struck me was how loud the message of a "new relaxer system with a low pH that doesn't dry out the hair or promote breakage."

Their whole thing was that a lower pH means less damage to the hair. Which in turn could mean more shine and healthier hair overall. Just so you know, I haven't tried this relaxer and this isn't meant to be an endorsement in any way. I have no idea if this relaxer kit actually lives up to its claims. I was very excited, however, about the meaning of this commercial. To me, this marks the beginning of a new era in relaxed hair care. For decades, women blindly relaxed their hair and suffered incredibly at the hands of damage from these products. Now the focus on healthier hair, along with the choice by thousands of women to sport natural hair, have forced product manufacturers take notice and respond accordingly.

In order to stay in business, companies will have to compete to create the healthiest possible straightening system or quickly become obsolete. I'm enjoying the fact that relaxer manufactures are leveraging the online hair renaissance and learning about the healthy hair care needs of women with textured hair. I think progress will be slow but it'll take just one brand to break out with a new (safe) technology and soon that will soon become the standard. I'm looking forward to the day when relaxers have the power to infuse fatty acids, proteins and ceramides into the strand immediately after the straightening process. Wouldn't it be awesome to have a relaxer that fills in the damaged areas of the strand (while the cuticle layer is lifted) so the hair is actually stronger and healthier after the process and beyond? I will keep my eyes and ears open for new relaxer formulations that will change the game as we know it. I'm not just talking about adding plant oils I'm talking about a new "smart" relaxer system that will take our hair care to the next level.

Sigh, a girl can dream.....

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

As mentioned in my last post, I've really struggled in the past to maintain certain habits and routines that are necessary to create the results I want. I gone through the cycle enough times to realize that I'm playing a losing game. So today I'm focused on making some mindset shifts contrary to my traditional way of thinking. The first thing I was doing wrong was not directly associating the necessary actions and the desired results as a duel package. So instead of believing that regular exercise IS what creates and maintains a healthy body, I acted as if exercising would get me there but wasn't necessary once I got to a certain level. Kinda like when the space shuttle releases those jet boosters once it reaches a set altitude.

Now realize how much I need those so-called jet boosters, the actions that propel me directly to my goals, and I need them with me the entire time. For example, if in 6 months from now, I knew I would be appearing on a popular television show in front of millions of people, my daily habits and routines would be so different from what they are today. I'd know exactly what to do to create a tone body, skin like Meagan Good, and I'd focus with intensity on retention and the health of my hair. So the question is, why aren't I consistently doing these things today? Especially since I already know exactly what I need to do.

I think the answer to this question can be found by analyzing my mindset. It really boils down to how I view the actions that I know I need to take. Subconsciously, I've categorized them as extras that I do above and beyond what is part of my "normal" actions. These actions, in my mind, are "goal-actions" because I only associate them with achieving a goal. Because of this way of thinking, my goal-actions take on a new meaning. In my mind, they become something I have to do, like a burden or a chore, which makes it somewhat justifiable to skip a day here and there or stop doing them altogther once the goal has been reached. So now I'm creating a new way of thinking where the actions I should take aren't directly associated with an end result. Sure, I'm aware that doing something on a regular basis creates a result, but I want to shift my thinking from "I'm doing this to get that." This way of thinking is a bit dangerous because I can easily stop "doing this" once I get that or if I percieve that "doing this isn't getting that."

During the real estate boom of a few years ago, people would build these beautiful mini-mansions all over town. As the economy turned, many of these beautiful homes remained vacant. As time went on, some of these luxuary homes remained in prestine condition while other vacant houses started to look like haunted mansions. What's the difference? One house is consistently maintained while the other wasn't. Even though I wasn't a witness to it, I knew that the gorgeous vacant home with perfectly trimmed hedges, thick green grass and sparkling windows was kept up on a regular basis. There was no complacency around consistency, it was an absolute must.

So I want to begin thinking about my goal-actions like how I think about eating or showering. These are daily musts that don't require much thought. I don't have to talk myself into taking a shower every day. I don't have to motivate myself into eating. It's just something that always gets done. I realize that eating is a life/death kinda thing and my not fall into the same category as scalp massages but I think there's a way to shift my thinking so all my desired goal-actions start to become as necessary as eating. Now let's talk about some practical ways to make this real.

When we think about something as basic as eating, there's no denying that we all do a good job of eating on a regular basis. Not just because if we don't do it, we die. It's because we're programmed to do it regularly, even if we aren't hungry. If we know we need to eat, we do it. Even if we have to multitask while watching tv or driving. And if we skip a meal or two, it's a big deal! The thing about eating is that a built in reminder mechanism alerts us when we haven't done it. The longer we avoid the reminder, the louder it gets. If there's a habit that you really want to maintain, it's highly recommended that you create an effective reminder system. One that can get you into action. Maybe that means creating task reminder in your phone or maybe it means joining with an accountability partner.

I really like a system created by Jerry Seinfeld years ago called "don't break the chain." Basically. Jerry would put a big red X on the calender for each day that he wrote stand-up material. Soon he started to creat a chain of red Xs and his focus shifted to maintaining the chain for as long as possible throughout the year. There's actually a website you can visit to track your own "don't break the chain" progress online. Another thing you can do is pair your desired actions up with something you already do on a consistent basis. For example, drinking water every time you put on lotion, moisturizer, or lipgloss. Or you can do some floor exercises every time you watch your favorite show. One thing I've done is pair scalp massages (something I want to do consistently) with tying my hair up at night (something I do daily without fail). So far, that combination works beautifully for me. By combining the two, I take away the "30-day challenge" aspect away from my scalp massages. It's now just something I do every day.

My end goal is to enjoy the long-term benefits of consistently taking the right actions. I think of it as a game that I can "rig" to make sure I win. Rigging is setting up the little sure fail strategies that set you up for success. For example, when I know I wanna get up and work out, I put my cell phone in the other room inside of my running shoes. So I'm forced to physically leave my bed to turn off the alarm and I have to actually touch my sneakers to turn off the alarm.

Finally, I'm no longer gonna be so hard on myself if I miss a day or two here and there. By getting upset for missing a day, I'd subconsciously categorize myself as a failure which would create hesitation of starting and failing once again. Then it became easier to not start rather than face the feeling of not making my personal commitment. Now I will only operate in the present. So what if I didn't apply my night cream last night? I'll just do it big deal. Now is all that matters anyway. I'm no longer bashing myself for something that happened in the past. Getting upset about not working out yesterday is like getting upset for not eating breakfast yesterday, it makes no sense to fret when you can just eat now.

Once again, thank you ladies for allowing me to spew my thoughts so freely. Hopefully some of this will be helpful to you.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

This hair journey thing has been quite amazing. There's so much to learn about the structure and health of our hair. So many new products and techniques experience. So many bandwagons to jump on and 30-day challenges to join. With all that said, there's still one critical aspect of the hair journey you and I must master in order to see desireable results.

That one thing, my friends, is a little thing I like to call consistency. What I mean by the art of consistency is the ability to continuously execute until desirable results are achieved and beyond. Basically, it's about not stopping before you experience results or even right after the firstfruits of results are starting to appear. Consistency becomes real when we persist even after we've achieved what we desired.

I have struggled to remain consistent in many areas of my life. So many times I get excited about creating a new habit and work fervously to see results. Once the results are there, I get complacent and soon my progress begins to wain. A former co-worker was once telling me about his brother who suffered from several mental disorders. He went on to describe the struggles of his brother who dealt with the fear that his own family wanted to kill him. During this conversation, my co-worker said something that really impacted me. He mentioned that his brother would often stop taking his much needed medicine because he would start to feel normal. Because he was no longer experiencing the paranoid thoughts, he'd get complacent and would fail to take the medicine that gave him those results. Soon after he adjusted his dosage, regression came quickly and he was back to his unusual ways.

My response to my co-worker's comment was that we are all like his brother. We decide to join a gym or start and exercise program and work diligently until we see results. Once we're comfortable with were we are, we decide we no longer need to maintain the routine that got us there. Before we know it, the pounds begin to slowly creep back and we find ourselves right back to where we first began. Lately I've been very aware of my lack of consistency in several areas of my life. Too often I allow the madness of the day to pull me away from the routines that I say are so important to me. Then the results I try to avoid soon resurface and I'm back to working overtime trying to change things again.

I'm through with this never ending cycle. I've decided that consistently enjoying the results is much more important to me than the struggle to get there. I think I've had it backwards the whole time. Before it was all about beginning a challenge and planning out what it would take to get there. There was a certain excitement that came with trying to achieve a goal that really empowered me. After a few weeks or so of doing the same thing over again, the whole idea of maintaining my newfound commitment(s) became less sexy and soon I found myself backsliding.

I get it now! I've bought into the quote that says "certain things must be so other things can be." If I want perfectly clear skin, then there are certain things that I must do! If I want a toned, fit body, there are certain things I must do. If I want long, flowing, healthy hair, certain things must be! Today I give up my resistance to consistently doing what must be done in order to achieve the results I desire. Today I am present to the fact that results don't magically appear out of the sky. Results are what I experience because of what I do (or fail to do) on a consistent basis.

Ok. So now that I've made that clear, I've got to figure out how to make it real. I'll brainstorm some strategies in my next post. How many of you started a new habit and made it stick? I'd love to hear more about it. Leave a comment.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I've decided to embark on a 30 day challenge which I hope will develop into a lifelong habit. My inspiration to begin this challenge stems from a previous post I wrote where I shared the amazing benefits of scalp massages using eucalyptus oil. In the study, women who massaged their scalp regulary with a solution of eucalyptus oil daily experienced a doubling in the amounts natural ceramide levels occuring in their new growth.

There's a lot riding on this for me. Because of my history of shedding and massive dandruff, I have to make sure this becomes a lifelong habit. It also seems that many of you have also been inspired to make a positive impact on your scalp health as well. After my post on the $2.00 scalp solution, I received lots of emails and notes asking about which carrier oils to use creating your essential oils mix. The real answer is that you can pretty much use any carrier oil you wish. But if you're like me and you always want to take whatever you do to the next level, then you gonna wanna hear what I say next......

Like I mentioned before, you can pretty much any natural oil to dilute your essentail oil but why not go for oils that truly benefit scalp? Imagine how much more impact you can have on your scalp if you combine eucalyptus' ceramide producing power with plant oils that are specifically beneficial to the scalp. With that said, let's run down the list of some of the most scalp friendly carrier oil options to compliment your daily scalp massage routine.

Coconut oil-"The healer"

For those of us who are looking to create a healthier scalp while incorporating essentail oils into your daily practice, coconut oil is for you. Not only is this oil light and penetrating. It also boasts of some powerful anti bacterial and anti fungal properties. To those of us with dandruff, this is a big deal. One of the contributors to dandruff is the presence of a fungus living on the scalp. By using some coconut oil in your carrier oil/essential oil mix, you are not only creating healthier hair from increased circulation, you may actually be treating your dandruff with a fungus fighting agent. I have sebhorric dermatitis which sometimes manifests itself as severe flaking and peeling along the hairline. One way I treat this symptom is with a dap of apple cider vinegar on a cotton ball. Another really effective method for me is to rub some coconut oil directly on the affected area. Coconut oil, above any other carrier oil I've used, really makes a difference with my scalp.

Castor oil-"The hair thickener"

One of the greatest benefits to regular scalp massages is thicker, more luscious hair based on the increased blood flow to the follicles. If you want to take thicker, fuller hair to the next level, you need castor oil on your side. While getting my eyebrows threaded, I was given the recommendation to apply castor oil on my eyebrows to help fill in sparse areas. When I searched online for how to grow fuller, longer lashes, my answer came in the form of castor oil. Regular massage with castor oil and eucalyptus together can give you some major growth benefits. Especially for those of you who want to thicken hairlines. If growth and thickness is what you're looking for, then consider picking up some castor oil.

Jojoba oil -"The nourisher"

Ah yes, good ol' jojoba oil. This oils is the most perfect compliment to your essential oils because of it's composition which is most like the natural, healthy oils our scalp produces. If you are looking for a light compliment to your eucalyptus oil, jojoba is a great choice. It acts as a natural, non-greasy scalp moisturizer. Jojoba oil is also said to help dissolve sebum that blocks our pores. By loosening the sebum blockage, we create a healthier enviroment where the scalp can breathe and new, healthier, hairs can grow.

Emu oil-"The penetrator"

Let me first start by putting it out there that emu is an animal, not a plant. So by using emu oil, you are applying an animal based product on your skin and hair. Before you get grossed out and write emu oil off, let me tell you why this oil is a serious contender as one of the healthiest all scalp oils. What makes this oil unique and absolutely incredible is its ability to deeply penetrate the skin. Not only does the emu oil penetrate the skin but it takes whatever ingredient you're mixing with emu into the skin with it. I've read online where someone stated they mixed emu oil with msm (at their medical practice) to help the msm penetrate for a more effective pain treatment. This could mean is that the essentail oil used with emu on the scalp can be carried down as far as 7 layers deep. In the increased ceramide study, the eucalyptus oil only really made an impact on the the hair growing in from the scalp, not the length of the shaft. This leads me to believe the real impact of eucalyptus occurs during the formation process. Can you imagine how much more potent the eucalyptus oil becomes when it's penetrated down even further? Oh and one more thing, in an independent study, emu oil was found to stimulate the growth phase of the hair follicle in lab animals. Growth stimulation, and deeper penetration. Does it get any better than this?

So have fun with experimenting with one or all of these oils. And remember, you only need a small amount of essential oil to make your mix powerful.

Friday, May 13, 2011

There I was, minding my own business the other day, when I received the following text message:

You could imagine how pleasantly surprised I was to receive such a glowing review so I immediately responded back to find out more. I did what anyone in my position would do....I send her a reply text and requested photographic evidence. Minutes later we were having an actual phone conversation and she proceeded to tell me how excited she was about the loveliness levels of her hair. When she visited the beauty store, she intented to buy Biolage’s Cera Repair after reading my battle post but couldn’t find it (cera repair is sold only online). Instead she picked up the Intensive Strengthening masque which also contains ceramides. She also read my review of It’s a 10 Leave-in and was also on a mission to pick it up but noticed the Keratin version of the same product and opted to upgrade.

I’ve got to preface the rest of my post by mentioning that this individual is not your typical “hair fanatic” like the rest of us. I’m sure she not a member of any of the hair boards and probably doesn’t read any hair blogs. Truth is, she probably only browsed through my blog because we’ve known each other personally for years.

With that said, I tried to be cautious when asking for pictures to share on the blog ‘cause I know that not everyone is comfortable with that kind of thing. Surprisingly she quickly agreed. Not only did she share some pics with us but she also talked a little about what she did to achieve that amazing result.

So without further adieu, here is what she described to me via email:

Hey Nadege,

Round 2...same Great Results! Almost no hair shedding...not only does my hair feel and look incredibly soft and silky, this deep conditioning regimen is also really strengthening my hair, too. I've attached pics, but trust me when I say, my hair looks so much better in person - I just wish I were a better photographer so I could really showcase what these products are doing for my hair. Personally, I think any good conditioning products may do as long as you leave it on your hair for at least 30 mins, but here's an overview of what I used:

While showering I used:
Dove Nutrive Therapy Shampoo - washed and rinsed twice; 3 mins

After showering, I applied:
It's a 10 Miracle Leave-In Plus Keratin - lightly sprayed all over hair and massaged through hair and scalp.
Matrix Biolage Intensive Strengthening Masque - massaged all over hair after applying the It's a 10 product. Placed a plastic cap on head and heated hair w/blow dryer for 3-5mins (will skip this step next time to see if results change)
Let the product sit on hair for another 45mins (this is the most important step I think)
Rinsed hair with luke warm water first, then finished rinsing w/cold water
Blow dryed hair, and applied a little Biosilk before using a flat iron to style....
And Voila - the soft and silky feel of my hair was about 90% comparable to when I go to professional salons! Once I master blowing and flat ironing, you guys aren't going to be able to tell me nothin' :o)

Thanks for the ceramide recommendation. Keep up the blog - it's working miracles...I'm living proof!

I’m really excited for her. When we talked on the phone I couldn’t stop smiling as I visualized how amazing her hair looked. I’m so glad she reached out to me because she actually introduced me to two new amazing products. I purchased them last weekend and had a chance to test drive. I won’t say much in this post but I will tell you that I was all smiles. In a later post, I’ll recreate her process with these two products and tell you how it goes.

By the way, I love hearing about success stories so if you have a great story to tell about products you’ve tried from this blog, or even products I haven’t heard about before, feel free to send me an email, leave a comment, or post it on our fan page.

Monday, May 9, 2011

It's been a while now since I've done a giveaway so I figure that now is the perfect time. Creme of Nature has been doing big things lately. First was the release of the Argan Oil line styling products, now the line has expanded to include shampoos, conditioners, and oil moisturizing products.
The good people at Creme of Nature generously gifted me full size bottles of these amazing looking products. Instead of selfishly holding on to the products for my own personal use, I've decided to spread the love. So here's a breakdown of the products I'll be giving away to a few lucky readers. Oh, I should also mention that the products are new and unopened.

  • CON Argan Oil Treatment-Helps repair dry hair, strengthens & prevents breakage.
  • CON Strength & Shine leave in-Strengthening protein complex to protect against damage and heat styling.
  • CON Moisture and Shine Shampoo-Gently cleanses hair without harsh, moisture stripping agents (sulfate free).
  • CON Intensive Conditioning Treatment-Deeply infuses moisture, leaves the hair soft.
  • CON Oil Moisturizer-Restores Moisture, adds shine, heat protectant.

So here's how to enter. In order to participate in the giveaway, you'll need to follow the blog and send me an email to [email protected] with the "CON Giveaway" in the subject line.
I will select one winner, bi-weekly, starting on Saturday May 14th until each product is given away. There will be 5 winners total! When a winner is selected, he/she will have a choice of which product he/she would like to receive of what's available. The final winner will receive the remaining product. Winners will be selected randomly. Once you have entered the giveaway, (by following and sending the email) you are automatically entered for subsequent drawings. This means you only have to send in one email to be eligible to win in each of the five giveaways. Individuals selected as winners will be omitted from subsequent drawings from this giveaway.

*Giveaway open to U.S and Canada residents.*

Good luck to all of you! Follow and send your email now.

Friday, May 6, 2011

This past week I visited Hawaii for the first time. Normally I do a lot of writing in my posts but this time I feel it's more important to express the beauty of my short trip with pictures. I knew I was in for a treat when I saw this outside the window on the plane. Words couldn't describe how excited I was. It made the over 10 hour flight completely worth it.

Once I arrived at my resort, I was greeted by a really pleasant employee at the front desk. As he assigned my room he had a huge smile on his face. When I asked him why he was so excited, he replied because he was assigning me a room with a spectacular view.

Even before I made it to my room I had a spectacular view. This was the first glimpse of the beach I saw as I stood at the check in desk waiting to see my room.

What I really loved about being in Hawaii was being surrounded by all of the exotic plants and flowers. I've never seen so many orchids, in one place, in my life. These beautiful white flowers were hanging from the roof.

Imagine my surprise when out of nowhere a random guy walked across the lawn of the resort dressed in traditional Luau gear.

One thing I learned during my trip to Hawaii is that many of the leis are made of fresh flowers.

So once I got to my room, I understood what my front desk person was so excited about. My view was magnificent!
The next two pics are of the same image but on different camera settings. I was trying to get artistic with what I could do with the movement of water by playing around with the features on my camera.

I'm really into Koi fish so I took a ton of pics on my trip. My goal was to take a really amazing shot that I could frame and hang in my office. I almost shelled out a couple of hundred dollars for a huge Koi painting then changed my mind at the last minute. Maybe now I can have Koi picture after all.

The food in Hawaii was so amazing. The seafood seemed so fresh and best of all, I didn't feel like I gained a ton of weight while I was down there.
The reason for my visit was work related but I still had a few hours or so to go out an explore the city near the resort. I can't get over how beautiful the scenery was.

There was some major high-end shopping available on the island. I think the low sales tax makes it an attractive place to shop and save a few dollars.

I can't wait to go back.

Monday, May 2, 2011

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