Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Shortly after I completed the feature on Miss Pink Pearls, I was excited to locate Kerastase products of my own so I conducted a zip code search online for the nearest retail location. The result that popped up was a salon located not too far from me. So of course I made my way over there to see about picking up some items. Being that it was my first time trying this product line, I requested that a stylist come out and walk me through the benefits of each to see which would best suit my hair needs.

While I waited for someone to surface, I visually browsed the inside of this swanky salon. I've seen it many times before but never had the opportunity to view the inside. As I was taking it all in, something immediately caught my eye. It was this weird looking steamer machine situated near the back of the salon. Intrigued, I immediately wanted to take a picture so I can find out more about this mysterious piece of equipment. After my brief consultation, I proceeded with my purchase. The ever observant receptionist noticed my purchase and graciously shared a special offer of a free (steam) treatment if I purchased a shampoo/conditioner combo. You guys know what happened next......

Fast forward a few weeks and I stumbled upon this salon in West Hollywood offering oxygen scalp therapy. My curiosity got the best of me so I immediately located someone who I could interview to learn about this process. While her answers were a bit veiled, what I got from her was that the Oxygen Therapy machine used technology that influenced the quality of the "oxygen." A little confused, I asked the lady, "so is this like a steamer?" A bit reluctant to use layman's terms, she eventually responded "yes."

That night, the first thing I did was research this magnificent steamer. I learned that it was a MicroMist steamer. Now, all of us by now should be familiar with steamers. We've discussed this topic many times on this blog. This steamer, my dears, is unlike all of them we've been exposed to whether via YouTube, hair forums, or whatever. The MicroMist steamer is the Bentley of the steamer world. Here's a brief summary describing it's benefits that you can check out. Basically, it uses ultrasonic technology to emit microscopic water particles that are better able to penetrate the strands. Plus this bad boy has the ability to release cool mist which we know can help seal the cuticle layer after the moisture has been infused. Immediately upon learning more about the MicroMist, I was ready to explore the option of purchasing one.....that is until I came across the price tag of $2,000. Y'all know I can get a little crazy sometimes with the hair related purchases but $2,000 is where I draw the line. Just before the tears of sorrow were about to well up from deep inside, I remembered that I had free treatment coupon from the Prive Salon.

Literally, the next chance I had, I went to book my appt. Part of the reason I agreed to a service at this Euro salon is because:
#1. The MicroMist steamer and
#2. They have a woman of color stylist on staff.
Prior to securing the appointment, I asked to have a face to face discussion with the stylist. I left the salon that day with a huge smile on my face because Marie was the most pleasant, accommodating stylist I ever met in my life. She put me completely at ease and let me know that my desires to keep my hair healthy during this process was her number one priority as well.

The day of my visit, I felt like I was part of the upper echelon. While sitting in the stylist chair, the salon's owner came by to offer clients chilled Mimosa drinks. Never had this experience in a salon before. Is this what it's normally like in these salons?

Another reason why I was excited for the service is because the salon uses Kerastase products, which means that I know the products will be effective and I could save the use of some of the products I have at home. Prior to my deep conditioning Marie broke out a jar of the Nutri-Thermique (which I've raved about). She used ample product on my thick, course hair and she took the time to part my hair in small sections during application while I sipped my Mimosa. What more can a girl ask for?
Then came the moment that I had been waiting for. It was as if cherubs where singing as she wheeled the MicoMist closer to me. The excitement I was feeling was disgustingly obvious. I couldn't wait to get started.
So she started off by loosely pinning my hair up placing the steamer over my hair. Next she secured the velvet cloth so there was no exit point for the steam. Most (I think all) other steamers I've seen have steaming coming from the hood that escapes out during the process. With the MicroMist, all of the steam stayed exactly where it needed to be.

The machine has numerous settings via a touch control panel located on the back of the machine. These settings could be customized according to the condition of the hair.

Ten minutes later, Marie popped back up and removed the hood to observe my hair. I too had a chance to take a look. Unlike when I do traditional steaming, my hair didn't feel hot. This is likely because the machine boil the water to produce steam like traditional steamers. Marie, decided to do an additional 10 minutes just to make sure my thick, textured hair could receive the full benefits. When she finally removed the steamer a second time, my first observation was how puffy my hair was. If was like each strand was swollen by the steam absorption. Instead of hanging downwards, it grew upwards. I take that as a good sign. Also, sometimes my hair drips when after my traditional steam treatment. This time, no sign of dripping. All the moisture was trapped in the strand. It was fabulous.

Marie then began the painstaking process of blow drying and flat ironing my hair. Mind you, my last relaxed was August and my hair has plenty o' texture in it from my use of mild relaxers. I think roller setting may have saved some time but she opted to use a different method. I was terrified of having my wet hair blow dried with a round brush. It was pretty bad when I had it done on dry hair at the Dominican Salon. I could only imagine how damaging doing it on wet hair would be. After voicing my concerns, Marie immediately switched to using a flat brush. Her blow dry technique was surprisingly gentle. The blow dryer was at a very comfortable temperature. No steam arose during the process. Marie was even gracious enough to provide tips on how I could get my hair straighter at home.
When each section was done, she began to flat iron my hair. Being the awesome stylist she is, she applied a small amount of Kerastase Fibre Architecte to each section prior to flat ironing and she showed me the temperature setting of the iron which was below 400 degrees. I think I actually love her.
When the service was completed, I skipped over to the receptionist desk like a school girl and paid for the experience. Then Marie and I walked over to a neighboring restaurant to order take out. While waiting for our orders, a customer complimented Marie on my hair as I walked to the restroom. The end result appeared similar to when I would go to the Dominican Salon but there were some notable differences.
First, my hair had a natural shine to it that was incredibly obvious. Secondly, it was baby soft to the touch and felt nourished and moisturized. I don't know if it was the steamer, the Kerastase products, or (most likely) the combination. But whatever it is, I liked it! My only concern is that I generally don't enjoy my hair being bone straight. But in this case I'll make an exception because it felt so incredibly healthy. My schedule prevented me from taking pics right away so I apologize to all of you for not fulfilling my duty to post fresh from the salon pics as any decent blogger would do. I believe these was taken a week after my salon experience and my hair still felt incredibly soft. As of today, I'm nearing two weeks and even still my hair is perfectly straight and my hair feels really nice.

I still wish I had my own MicroMist that I could have to use weekly. The salon experience, while great, is still more manipulation and heat that I use on a normal basis. Although I'm extremely grateful to have found Marie, I know getting my hair blow dried wet on a weekly basis will create long term results that don't align with my hair goals. I'm seriously contemplating setting up an account where I can draft a small amount of money on a regular basis so that one day, I'll have my MicroMist money sitting there waiting for me. Or perhaps, I will stumble upon a salon that is selling their equipment online due to closing or upgrading and buy the MicroMist at a fraction of the cost.
A girl can dream can't she?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I'm very thankful to everyone who has supported both the blog and Gleau Hair Care. As a token of my gratitude to you, I'd like to announce the first every Gleau discount promotion since inception. From November 25th-December 3rd, enjoy a generous 20% discount off your total order. All you need to do is enter Gleau20 when you check out!

For those of you who've always wanted to try Gleau, now here's your chance!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

This past week, I've been really present to something that I'd like to share with you today. As you may or may not know, I'm currently focusing on my fitness routine with the intention of bringing my old body back. For most of my life, I lived under the assumption that when a person enjoyed beautiful skin, a toned body, or gorgeous hair, they were naturally gifted with these fabulous results. Little did I know how wrong I was in this way of thinking.

It all became real for me when I read the fitness routine of a Victoria's Secret model prior to her runway appearance. She worked out 2 times a day for hours and went on a liquid diet a week or two before the actual event. Although her workout and diet was a little extreme, I learned that actual work was put into achieving the result she desired. My guess is that this model was a naturally thin person in general, so exercising and shifting her eating habits is a way of taking her fitness results to the next level.

Take a look at this quick video featuring Kelly Rowland.

Hideous looking wig aside, how many of us have looked at Kelly Rowland's tone figure in a bikini and thought to ourselves "I wish I looked like that." Since Kelly was a teen, she's always been on the slim side. Why would Kelly Rowland need to do 200 sit ups each night? If I looked like Kelly Rowland, would I ever do a sit up? (Could I even look like Kelly Rowland without ever doing a sit up)
Another amazing attribute of Kelly's is her gorgeous, flawless skin. I will never forget a Destiny's Child special I watched many years ago featuring the behind the scenes lives of the all-star girl group. Honestly, I can't remember hardly any of it except for one scene where Kelly was in a spa receiving a treatment. While sitting in the chair, she went on and on about how much she loves getting pampered and receiving skin treatments. Once again I ask myself, if my skin looked like Kelly's, would I feel the need to get skin treatments? One might say to themself, "she's got gorgeous skin, she doesn't need to get skin/spa treatments", but now I wonder, if her perfect skin is the result of how well she's taken care of herself for years.

Yesterday, I spent a few moments watching skin care regimen videos on YouTube. I chose which videos I would watch by selecting the thumbnail pics of the most flawless faces. Secretly, I hoped those glowing faced ladies would say something like "I don't really do much to my face, this comes naturally." Reason why I hoped to hear them say this is because it would give me an excuse to say "oh well, I wasn't born with perfect skin like her so I might as well accept my results." But instead, I listened to intricate daily and weekly regimens geared toward creating perfectly healthy skin and suddenly I was faced with the grim reality of how my inaction has lead to the results that I now experience.

Seriously, this week has been so clear to me how little effort I've been putting into getting what I say I want. It's like I think either it will happen naturally or it wasn't meant to be. Now I realize that I've been horribly mistaken. For me this reality is most obvious in the area of my physical maintenance but I could also see where this type of thinking also applies to any and every area of my life. Will Smith is likely the most highest paid African-American actor in the U.S. One could look at his acting career from the Fresh Prince days and think, "wow, he got a big break with Independence Day, he's one lucky guy." But that thinking is completely inaccurate. That man has a work ethic like you wouldn't believe.

He created his success.

So, I'm now in the creation business. One by one, I'm reviewing the goals/results I say I want and I ask myself "do I think this will magically appear for me or am I willing to put in the work to get there?" As I searched the web for inspiration, one commonality that emerged was that most folks had a daily action they took to get their results. I don't even do 200 sit ups a week, imagine how different my abs would be if I did them nightly? One thing I won't kid myself about is the fact that mastery of anything takes time. Doing anything for a couple of weeks won't create the results I want. Time is required achieve the level of mastery. It has to become a part of my life.

Even in my hair care routine I can do better. Sure, I'm willing to invest in quality products and I'm constantly tweaking my weekly deep conditioning routine to take it to the next level but I don't have a strong daily regimen to support my overall hair goals. What am I doing every day to get what I want?

More thought and planning will go into this and when I create/perfect my optimal daily hair regimen, I will certainly share.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Several weeks ago, while on a Kerastase run in L.A, I stopped the Lounge on Wilshire, a hair salon specializing in the care and treatment of healthy hair. Time constraints, combined with their ultra tight booking schedule prohibited me from securing an appointment. Fortunately for me, they we generous enough to share with me some of their wonderful techniques for creating beautiful hair.

One of the unique treatments they offer are the hair conditioning smoothies fortified with amazing ingredients made specifically to promote beautiful hair. When I checked out the vast selection of "boosters" available for the hair smoothies, I was truly inspired and I wanted to see how I could take this experience and apply to my personal routine. What really got me excited was how nutrients could be added to conditioners directly for the purpose of feeding the follicles. At first I questioned whether simply adding nutrients topically is enough to truly nourish the strand. Then I got to thinking about how permeable the strand is. In high humidity conditions, our hair absorbs water particles in the air. When we add honey, eggs, a vitamin e capsules, an avocado, etc, to our conditioner, our hair responds. Why wouldn't my hair respond to amino acids, spirulina, or other powdered nutrients?

So I immediately got to thinking about the Brewer's Yeast I picked up not too long ago at Vitamin Shoppe. Brewer's Yeast is amazing because it's jam packed with loads of amino acids. On one site I visited, they stated that lackluster, dry hair could be an indicator that the amino acid amounts in the hair may have diminished. That was all I needed to hear to start my experiment. I wanted to create a conditioner "smoothie" of my own. So I skipped over to my kitchen and picked out my jar of Brewer's Yeast along with some green "Super Food" powder I had sitting in the fridge. Minutes later I was scooping out a heaping spoon of Yeast to mix into my conditioner. I used much less of the green powder than the yeast just because I wasn't sure if it would make my hair smell weird or whatever.

The brewers yeast and green powder mixed in quite easily. I didn't use a professional mixer so the final product did have a grainy appearance. As I applied the conditioner, section by section, I couldn't feel the yeast and green powder. So although the mixture looked grainy, it actually felt smooth to the touch.

Not sure what happened but this was the first time in a long time that I only used half of my conditioner mix. Every week I always use the same plastic container to mix my conditioner. I always fill the bowl up to the same level with conditioner (and I use all of it). Sometimes I even run out and have to get more conditioner, but I've never only used half the batch. Each section felt so moisturized that I didn't feel the need to continue adding conditioner to my hair. It just felt like overkill.

Then I steamed for the first time in a couple of months then jumped in the shower to rinse. For some reason I decided to skip the wash with WEN, so after rinsing I proceeded directly to the roller set. Unsure if the amino acids would act as a protein, I opted out of using Kerastase Ciment Thermique this time. While roller setting I noticed that there were less of those small pieces of broken hair that I sometimes tend to get. Perhaps the steam treatment, or the fact that I refreshed my shower filter had something to do with it. Either way, I knew something great happened the moment I started my conditioner application.

Honestly, I don't know if adding these powerful nutrients to my conditioner is making any difference in the strength of my hair but I like how great my hair feels. This will definitely be a treat that will be a part of my regimen from now on. In fact, I plan on adding fresh wheat grass juice to my conditioner in the near future. The possibilities are endless.
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