Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Over the past month, I've been trying my darndest to increase my water intake. Namely, I've focused on a goal of drinking as much to a gallon a day as possible. After reading about the water regimens of beauties such as Gabrielle Union, Beyonce, Adriana Lima, Brooke Bailey, Jessica White, etc., I decided that I must take this on, even for a short while, to see if I notice any external differences. 

After purchasing my 56 oz water bottle, I went to work.  Knowing that drinking two full bottles would nearly equal 1 gallon, I set that as my goal.  I also allowed myself some leeway if I didn't meet the 2 bottle requirement.  The next day I simply would start again.  Day after day, I faithfully drank my water.  I did it first thing in the morning and throughout the day hoping that I would reap the benefits from my diligent practice.

A few weeks past and soon I began to notice differences.  The first and most notable is that I haven't had one single breakout since early January.  My skin is completely clear.  Most importantly, my skin seems to be much more forgiving of my transgressions that in the past.  I've eaten ice cream, fried foods, operated on little sleep, been stressed out, skipped my Lady Dee daily skin care routine a couple of times and nothing.....not one pimple.  This is pretty much unheard of for me.  I ran out of my fermented cod liver oil right around the time that I started drinking more water without experiencing any negative side effects.   Next week, I'm headed back to see Lady Dee for a chemical peel.  So having zero breakouts is ideal.  Once the scarring is reduced/eliminated, and if I can remain breakout free, my skin will be one step closer to becoming flawless.

Improved skin is the greatest benefit but it didn't stop there.  My scalp, nails, and feet were the other beneficiaries of my new habit.  For months, I've been consuming my hair, skin and nails supplements without seeing much difference in the longevity of my nails. Sure they would grow then suddenly I would notice splitting and chipping.  The dryness overtook them.  When my water intake was consistent, the growth occurred without any obstacles. 

That's when I realized that all the usual signs of dryness had pretty much disappeared from my entire body.  The soles of my feet were no longer dry.  I still maintained my routine of scrubbing them daily which keeps dead skin from accumulating. They still tend to get dry (especially during the winter months) but as my water intake consistently went up, my dryness went down conversely. 

Where else do I experience dryness?  From my scalp of course! When I consistently drank up, the flakiness I normally experienced improved greatly.  My new growth is also really nice and feels hydrated. Not sure if that's from the increased water intake or from the yummy steaming sessions with my MicroMist

I started this new habit in late December.  Then as time went by my water intake went down significantly.  Guess what happened next?  My nails began chipping/breaking again and my scalp started producing tiny flakes as before.  So know I'm back in action which is why I purchased another Bobble for refilling my water bottle when I'm on the go.  This is after I realized that when I'm at home, I have no problem drinking almost a gallon a day but when I'm out and about, it's a completely different story.  The Bobble allows me to filter my water refills from soda machines and drinking fountains (as a last resort).  Knowing the benefits I experienced those few short weeks has convinced me never to go back to where I was before.  I tell you that it is NOT easy to maintain this habit.  Even if I drank sufficiently yesterday, I still can become dehydrated today.  It's like manna from heaven, we have to seek it daily. 

If my story wasn't enough to inspire you, I leave you with one final message that will hopefully covince you to drink up.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Each and every time I want to accomplish something, it seems as if I have to overcome a slew of limiting thoughts that are working against me.  A few weeks ago, I was having a conversation with my brother when he challenged me to do something that was outside of my comfort zone.  Instantly, I began to spew a bunch of reasons and excuses that would keep me from taking new action. My brother called me out on what I was doing and all of the sudden  I was left with a realization that would forever change my thinking.

When he asked me to eliminate all my excuses, I was left with nothing to hide behind.  There were no alternatives other than saying yes to the challenge at hand.   Looking back on that day, I'm glad I chose to say yes because I've experienced so many benefits as a result of that decision.   I only wish I could always operate in a state where I am free of reasons not to do something.  This is also known as being "unreasonable." Meaning having no reason to stop us.  I read a book once called "The Flinch". In it the author talks about the natural reflex reaction of that we all have. In nature, flinching is a way to protect ourselves from immediate danger. For example, we flinch and instinctively shut our eyes when an object is thrown at us or when we hear a loud sound.

 Here's the definition:



Make a quick, nervous movement of the face or body as an instinctive reaction to fear or pain.

Flinching is meant to protect us from harm but, in modern times, we sometimes "flinch" unnecessarily at the thought of entering a new experience or stepping outside of our comfort zone. As the definition states, it's a reaction to something we fear.

Every time someone challenges us to do something and we quickly come up with reasons not to do it, we're flinching.  If someone looks at a price tag of something they want and immediately says "that's way too expensive!' They're flinching.  It's pretty much a reflex (usually a negative one) that we do as a way of "protecting" us from new experiences.  But really, this type of reaction is not protection at all. We may think it is, but really, it's the exact opposite.

Then there are other times when we give excuses for our actions (or inaction).  For example, someone might ask, "why didn't you go to the gym today Nadege?"  Then I could say, "because I to take care of some errands that I was behind on," or  "because I didn't wake up early enough," or "I just didn't have the energy this morning."  The list is endless.  I could come up with 100 reasons why I didn't work out today and all of them are 100% valid.  But what if I chose to operate from a place of not allowing any reason or excuse to keep me from going (being un-reasonable) ? What if I said to myself, "I'm going to the gym today," and didn't allow anything else to get in my way?

If only it were that easy, right?  Seems like our minds are constantly delving out excuses for us not to do something.  The worst part is that we actually listen.  I've tried overcoming those limiting voices a multitude of times to little or no avail.  Trying to overcome the voices has proved to be darn near impossible.  But I'm here to say that I may have one technique.  That helps me overcome the struggle.

I found overcoming the limiting voices becomes easier when I do the following:

  • Stay present to the fact that excuses will show up and it's my job not to give them merit.  When I want to do something, and I come up with reasons not to do it, I take a moment to realize that I'm flinching.  Once I'm aware of what's actually happening, the value of my reasons immediately go down and I'm left with all the reasons why I should move forward in action.
  • Another thing I do that is absolutely CRUCIAL to overcoming limiting thoughts is practicing quiet mediation on a regular basis.
For the past week or so, I've recommenced a daily mediation practice. Having done this in the past, I know that consistent meditation gives me the ability to quiet the voices that are always working against me.  I simply sit still every morning for anywhere from 10-45 minutes just focusing on my breathing. The experience itself feels pointless as it is darn near impossible to sit still while avoiding listening to your thoughts.  I usually walk away from the experience feeling like I accomplished nothing.  Then, as the days go by, I realize that I suddenly can do simple tasks without all the random thoughts popping in and out of my head. When I want to do something like workout, the excuses are gone.  I operate from a place of possibility. When an idea comes into my mind, it's not accompanied by a million reasons why I shouldn't or couldn't do it.  Suddenly, I'm operating with little resistance. Operating from a place of little to no resistance is optimal and should always be our intention. I think back to every goals I wanted to achieve and ask myself, "is the resistance I experience internal or external?"  99.5% of the time it's internal.  There's actually nothing stopping me from getting what I want but me!  Knowing this gives me even more incentive to keep practicing mindfulness meditation and seeing my excuses for what they really are.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Do you remember when, in another post, I mentioned the possibility of someday owning an in-home sauna?  That day hasn't arrived (yet) but while researching the options I discovered that most personal, in-home saunas use infrared technology to create heat.  Infrared is very different from traditional heat because of its deep penetrating qualities. It warms our bodies from the inside out.  This helps to increase stimulation and detoxification.  Most believe that infrared technology is far superior to traditional heating methods.  After learning this, I kept this little tidbit of info in the back of my mind for future reference.

Fast forward a month or two and I receive an email from a reader who I've been corresponding with for quite a while.  She introduced me to a "flat iron" called the Feather Flat. She talked about how well the iron performed at creating straight, silky, bouncy hair.  I researched the merits of this iron far and wide and came up with the personal conclusion that I didn't want to risk burning my hair using an iron that is heated using a stove.  All was not lost.  My appetite for a superior iron led me deeper into my search. Finally, I stumbled upon a new technology that could be the best thing that happened to the flat iron since steam.

This flat iron, ladies, incorporates infrared technology which could mean great things for those who use heat.  According to this site, infrared heat differs from traditional heat in that operates using longer wavelengths which will enable a deeper penetration.   Take a look at what KQC has to say about how infrared impacts that hair.

| KQC’s X-Heat Technology uses the longer wavelength from Far Infrared technology to generate deep penetrating heat. This penetrates directly into the cortex of hair cuticles, heating from the inside out. It creates an effect that relaxes and softens hair. The hair is heated evenly, giving a gentle fast styling in half the time thereby reducing heat exposure. Water molecules on the surface of the hair break apart into smaller droplets and get absorbed into the hair. Moisture is then locked within the cuticles to give a protective barrier to reduce chemical and bacteria build-up. |

I'm a little skeptical about whether heating the hair from the inside out is a good thing.  On the other hand, every time I use a heating tool, the bulk of the heat is directly solely on the cuticle layer (which is the most fragile part of the hair strand).  In the case of the infrared sauna, this inverted heating technique provides tons of positive health benefits.  Those who've tried infrared irons and shared their experiences/reviews have nothing but great feedback.  I'm excited by the fact that the cuticle layer is better protected using infrared irons because the primary heating method isn't directed solely at the cuticle layer.  I'm a sucker for technology so I am hereby granting space on my "currently craving" list for an infrared iron.   I checked out a few online which range in price from around $70.00 to $250.00.  Some of the higher end irons have glass plates instead of ceramic or titanium.  If I'm going to purchase yet another iron (I think I have 4 now), I might as well invest in one that will make the most positive impact.

I feel somewhat compelled to explain why I own so many flat irons.  Simply put, this plethora of straightening tools is the result of my quest for healthier options for my hair.  First is was the SEDU iron (which I still love), then I got one with titanium plates at a hair show (titanium plates are supposed to stay smoother over time vs. ceramic). Then I bought a tiny one for travel (which I never use).  Finally, I purchased a steam flat iron (which is my current iron of choice).  Although I have plenty, I'll always make room if another option comes up that better protects my hair during the straightening process.

I realize that I haven't done a proper introduction and review of my steam iron so that's next on my list.  Is anyone else as curious about infrared flat irons as I am?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

I know I really need to get back to eating healthy again.   Creating the ideal environment for my body interally is important to me and my beauty journey.  I don't want my body leeching away valuable minerals and nutrients in order to correct pH issues I created through lousy eating choices. 

One of the first things I did when I decided to get balanced  was to purchase some powerful leafy greens.  I think my first introduction to kale was when I started juicing it a while ago.  Prior to that, I never eaten kale (raw or cooked).  After realizing that juicing kale didn't make my juice bitter, I figured that it must be edibible in raw form (like spinach).  I was right.  But unlike spinach, kale is much heartier leaf.  The thickness of the leaf is actually a good thing because it makes for a satisfying salad that actually fills you up because it's loaded with fiber.  Today, I'd like to share with you a simple kale salad recipe that I am in love with.  Enjoy.

-Curly Kale
- Ripe Hass Avocado
-Organic Cherry Tomatoes
-Red Onion
-Lemon and/or Apple Cider Vinegar
-Green Apple (optional)
-Pink salt to taste
-Crumbled cheese (optional)

I first start out by tearing the kale into smaller bite sized pieces.  Bite sizes is important because of the toughness of the leaf.  Place the leaves in a bowl then squeeze the juice of the fresh lemon or apple cider vinegar over the leaves.  This is super important because the acid of the lemon/acv helps soften the kale leaf.  Once you've added some of the juice, massage the kale with your hands making sure to distribute the juice evenly. 

Then add all the remaining ingredients together and you have a wonderful salad that is hearty enough for a meal.  Feel free to add any of your favorite salad toppings like almonds, cucumber, etc.  My goal is to have at least 1 green food a day and graduallly increase that over time.  If this kale salad isn't your thing, I urge you to try making kale chips which are an amazing snack.  I could eat kale chips all day long.  I make them by simply adding (dry) curly kale that has been torn into medium/large size pieces on a flat cookie sheet. Then I sprinkle with pink salt and olive oil.  Bake on a low temp (below 350) for a few minutes until the kale are crispy.  Make sure they don't burn.  I'm getting hungry just thinking about them.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The last few weeks has been non-stop for me.  Long days of traveling usually means little sleep, poor eating habits, and higher stress levels.  From my past experience I'm aware that this usually has an effect on my body that goes way beyond just feeling tired.

The more devastating outcome is that my body's pH level begins to shift in the wrong.  I know this from testing my pH using strips made for this purpose.  As suspected, my lack of vigilance around taking care of myself created a less than ideal environment for my body.  The body, in a healthy state, is alkaline.  When stress, low quality foods and other unhealthy habits come into play, our pH moves from being alkaline to acidic.  This throws the body out of balance which can be devastating if left unchecked for extended periods of time.

While researching for this post, I learned that the sebum produced by our scalp has an acidic pH.  This helps keep the scalp balanced which prevents scalp flare-ups, the growth of fungus and other non desirables.  When the body's pH starts to shift in the wrong direction, the scalp suffers.  I read somewhere that an acidic environment causes red blood cells to clump together which slows down their transportation and limits the amount of nutrients and oxygen they're able to bring to our cells.  I talk about massage and stimulation all the time to bring blood flow to the scalp, but what value is that if the blood isn't balanced and healthy enough to transport those nutrients?

Now that I aware of this, I'm obligated to take action to correct this issue.  This means that I must take deliberate steps to maintain proper pH levels even especially when life gets crazy. Some of the things I will be doing to promote a healthier internal pH balance includes:
  • Enjoying a glass warm lemon water on a daily basis.
  • Juicing!
  • Eating a green salad at least one meal a day.  
  • Drink plenty of water with pink salt (when our bodies are acidic, the body tries to buffer/protect itself by absorbing calcium in our bones as an acid buffer).  Pink salt adds valuable minerals to our water and helps bring pH levels back in balance.
  • Pray and meditate to manage and eliminate stress!
I believe in a holistic approach to our hair care journey.  It's not just about buying up hair products. More importantly, we have to create the most ideal environment for our bodies and our hair.  Before I would let the hustle of daily life get in my way of putting the most important thing first.  Now I'm working on being purposeful with taking care of my body, my scalp and my hair.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Every Sunday evening I have a similar experience. As the day starts to come to an end, I start to feel a deep sense of anxiety around the upcoming week.  Thoughts flood my mind about the many actions I didn't get to complete over the weekend. Then I think about all the work, phone calls and hecticness that awaits me in the week ahead.  There's nothing I dread more.  Yesterday, I chose to do something different.  Instead of going to straight to bed, I decided to treat myself to a spa facial.  

This is actually one of my New Year's Resolutions.  This year I intend to create rituals that support my goals and desired outcomes.    The first of these rituals will be the weekly spa day.  Actually, I planned to do the facial much earlier in the weekend but things got in the way and it was postponed until the evening.  Everything happens with reason and I'm so glad that this experience was done at the end of the day because it created the perfect transition into the new week.

Items pictured above are as follows:
1. Bamboo Tea w/Lemon (internal detox)
2. PMD (Personal Microderm Abrasion)
3. Aromatherapy candle
4. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
5. Vitamin C Serum
6. Lip Scrub (exfoliation)
7. Aztec Clay Mask
8. Fresh Facial Cleanser (sensitive)
9. Olive Oil
10. Facial Steamer
So here's how it went down. I decided that instead of a normal facial, I would create an "experience."  The first step was to light my favorite candle and warm  up a cup of bamboo tea with lemon.  Next, I put in a meditation music CD and turned on my facial steamer.  Next, I applied some of the olive oil to my face and performed a 10 minute facial cleansing massage.  Without rinsing, and while my pores were still open, I applied the Aztec clay mask which was mixed with ACV.  After application, the next thing to do was wait.....

Then I thought, this would be a perfect time to enjoy a healthy meal or catch up on some of the magazines that I hadn't had a chance to read.  Sitting in my chair, while sipping on lemon tea and eating a green salad was a COMPLETELY different experience than my normal Sundays.  I felt such a calming peace.  With no trace of anxiety in sight, I thought about all the ways I could maximize this experience.  Perhaps I could use this time to meditate, write down my goals for the week, catch up on a good book, or place a phone call to reconnect with a friend.  The possibilities were endless. 

This morning, I woke up refreshed with glowing skin.  I'm so inspired by this experience that I decided to make it a mandatory weekly event.  For the sake of my sanity, I need to stay consistent.  Not only that, I will create daily morning and nightly routines that represent a little slice of what I experienced yesterday.  This goes way beyond a simple beauty ritual, it's more of a growth ritual with beauty benefits.

p.s.  I opted not to use the Personal Microderm Abrasion machine because I didn't want to over strip my skin.  This leaves an opportunity to do a mid-week facial routine using the PMD.  I can not wait to create a morning routine that produces the same (or greater) level of serenity and focus as this.  When I do, I'll certainly share. 

Do you have weekly or daily routine?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

This weekend I was fortunate enough to attend the Neiman Marcus Project Beauty event.  The festivities included brief presentations singing the praises of beauty brands while the attendees sipped on wine and sparkling water.

The after the beauty product showcase, we were all encouraged to stop by the makeup counters for fabulous makeovers and free samples.

I was much more interested in people watching than purchasing product.  The commitment I made to myself (with regards to hair and beauty items) is to buy what I need, not what I want.  As of right now, I don't need anything so instead of buying, I feasted my eyes on the fabulousness of others.

(curly haired beauties)

The one thing that I did want were these perfect pair of Christian Louboutin pumps.  I tried them on a few weeks earlier but I wasn't truly sold until I saw them sported by one of the Project Beauty Models.  These beauties have officially made it to my currently craving list.

The only brand that caught my attention during the beauty show was Kielh's.  I purchased a product a while back but didn't quite remember the proper way to use it so I headed to counter to have my questions answered. 

While there, the helpful lady at the counter named Laura gladly answered all my questions and even provided me some free samples.  But it was what she shared with me that was the highlight of my day.  We chatted about my intention to seek out a higher SPF sunscreen following my conversation with Courtney.    Laura tested Kiehl's SPF 50 formula on my hand.  It absorbed so easily without a trace of white residue.  I instantly became fond of it.  

Laura then mentioned that sunscreen is a daily must especially on cloudy days.  Confused, I asked Laura to  explain more.  She shared that during their Kiel's training, they were instructed that UV-B Rays were sometimes more concentrated at higher levels when clouds were present than in clear skies.  I looked into this theory further and learned that greater UV rays on cloudy days is a phenomena called cloud enhancement.  Immediately my view of using sunscreen changed. Before, I would hold myself to less rigid standards when I realized that the suns rays weren't as prevalent.  Now, I made the decision to use sunscreen every day, rain or shine.

I also got to thinking about increased sun protection for my hair as well.  You might remember my post on how UV rays break down the natural lipid layer of our hair.  Because of this, I picked up some products with MEA-18 to combat the damage.  I focused on using MEA-18 products during the summer months but not so much when the temperature drops.   Now, I'll include products with MEA throughout the year as a means of consistent protection.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

It's been way too long since we've had a giveaway around here.  Today I'd like to feature a conditioner from Mizani's Supreme Oil Line.

Take a look at the product description:
|"Moisturize and replenish dry, damaged and color-treated hair with  this ultralight conditioner.  Formulated with a unique blend of penetrating Avocado, Olive and Jojoba oils and rich in nourishing fatty acids, hair condition is improved, feeling soft and silky."  

Oh, and this conditioner is free of parabens, mineral oil and silicones.  One of you will be randomly selected to win this 8.5 oz bottle of conditioner by just doing the following:

  1. Follow the blog
  2. Send an email to [email protected]om with the words "Mizani Conditioner Giveaway" in the title.
  3. I will select the winner using on Sunday January 27, 2013.
  4. Giveaway open to everyone over the age of 18.
Good luck everyone!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

This post is inspired by a comment shared with me on a Facebook post about how Brooke Bailey attributes her amazing skin partly to drinking a gallon water a day.  Audrey left a comment on the post that peaked my interest.  According to her, the two keys that made the most impact to her hair journey were "drinking plenty of water and brushing/stimulating her scalp."  Of course I was immediately intrigued and wanted to learn more.  She talked about how she'd heard of the benefits of brushing the scalp but stayed away from applying this practice because brushing the hair is something that is not viewed as a healthy practice for our hair.  According to Audrey (who's goal is to grow her hair long enough to donate to a Locks of Love patient), since brushing her scalp regularly "people who haven't seen her in years marvel at how thick and long her hair is when it's down."

I'm a huge proponent of scalp stimulation as a healthy growth method but I have yet looked into the merits of brushing the scalp.  So I sat down and starting to think it through.  There are definitely some pros and cons to scalp brushing our hair.  Let's discuss:

PRO:  Increased stimulation & blood flow equals a healthy scalp.
CON:  Brushing hair is the highest form of manipulation so the risk of mechanical damage & breakage is way up there.
PRO: Increased gloss to the hair as it distributes natural oils through the strands.
PRO: Feels nice.
PRO: Loosens dead skin on scalp, promoting healthier growth.

I felt compelled to try this method out for myself.  I've got a myriad of hair brushes so I had plenty of options to chose from.  My requirements were a brush a could adequately navigate through my thick hair all the way to my scalp  for proper stimulation. This brush would also have to cause as little damage as possible.  After much experimentation, I came up with four options:
Scalp Stimulation Level: HIGH
Hair Manipulation Level: MED/HIGH

Of all my traditional brushes, the Mason Pearson looks the most intimidating.  Don't let the looks fool you, this brush is unbelievably gentle.  For the purposes of scalp stimulation, this Mason Pearson brush does an excellent job.  The white bristles melt through my new growth and go directly to my scalp.  Once there, I keep the brush in place and proceed to move the brush in circular motions.  I DO NOT BRUSH MY ACTUAL HAIR for the purposes of scalp stimulation.  There are the rare times when I brush my hair with the MP brush. I do lose a hair here and there but not enough to cause a panic.   It's probably the most gentle "blow out" brush I own.
Massage Tool: Kent WoodyHog Brush
Scalp Stimulation Level: MED/HIGH
Hair Manipulation Level: LOW/MED

Although the idea of using a wooden hair brush may seem a bit uncomfortable, my experience is the exact opposite.  I bought this brush at least six months ago because the "bristles" seemed so non-threatening. I believe this is one of the only paddle brushes I own that is completely seamless.  Unfortunately, this brush was so gentle that it barely made a difference when I used it on my hair.  But, when I use as a scalp massager, the Kent is darn near perfect.  I can nestle it into my new growth and pull it out with out any concern of snagging or breakage. It's definitely gentle enough for daily scalp massages.
Scalp Stimulation Level: MED
Hair Manipulation Level: LOW

Ah yes, how could I forget the one tool made especially for massaging my scalp.  I loved this little thing so much that I even made a video about it.  My rubber scalp massager is so gentle that it pretty much causes zero breakage or tangling.  But compared to the other options on my list, the level of scalp stimulation is a bit lower.  This is expected because of the rounded tips meant to protect the scalp during the massage process.  The scalp massager is the perfect choice daily use.  It's also great for those who have damaged hair and want to be extra careful when creating blood flow to the scalp.  And best of all, it's super affordable.
Massage Tool: Tangle Teezer
Scalp Stimulation Level: HIGH
Hair Manipulation Level: LOW/MED

When the Tangle Teezer craze hit last year, I bought one as soon as I had the chance.  Turns out that this thing did nothing good for my hair.  Everytime I ran that thing through my hair I experienced breakage.  So, I stored it away neatly in a drawer in hopes that one day it would have purpose.  Well ladies, the day has finally arrived.  Just looking at this thing leaves me intimidated but, I tell you, that as a scalp massager, the Tangle Teezer is ultra-effective.  The teeth are small which allows it to easily get past my new growth.  When I begin to circulate the Teezer in small strokes, my scalp comes alive.  When I remove the Teezer out of my hair, I experience no ill effects.  Of all the options on this list, I would say that I can feel the impact of the Teezer the longest after the massage is over.

I like the fact that I have four options because I can use depending on the state of my hair. For example, if my hair is newly relaxed, I would use a gentle massager like option 2 or 3.  When the new growth is kickin', I can promote a healthy scalp with the Tangle Teezer.  Can't wait to incorporate this routine into my daily regimen.

Thanks Audrey!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Remember the post I did on the Healthy Hair Tips we can learn from Naturals? Well let's add one more technique to that list.  In the first post I wrote in length about how naturals are obsessed with maintaining high moisture levels.  Out of their obsession came a moisture creation technique that will change the game forever.

The technique I'm referring to is one known as the L.O.C method. L.O.C is an acronym that stands for liquid, oil, cream.  Basically, this speaks to the order in which we apply each product during the moisture and sealing process.  Winter is upon us and we can no longer rely on the basic process of moisturizing with product then sealing with oil.  We've got to take this thang to a new level.

The L.O.C method is all about layering. First we moisten our hair with a liquid (this infuses the hair with moisture), then seal the liquid in with oil, but wait, we're not finished yet... Then we add a creamy moisturizer to finish off the process.  The result is hair that's moisturized like never before.

Y'all know that I had test this experience for myself to see how my hair liked it. Turns out that I had to remix the order of application a little to get it just right.  My hair likes when I use a liquid, cream, oil (L.C.O).  I even got great results with liquid, oil, cream, oil (L.O.C.O).  For some reason, I just didn't feel comfortable with my water based moisturizer as the final step.  Habit always causes me to finish that layer with oil.  When I first started experimenting, I used a leave-in as my liquid.  Yesterday, I tried it with MSM water then applied Aveda Damage Remedy daily moisturizer and finished off with Gleau Argan oil blend.  The overall results were magic. This is a perfect routine for winter. I like the idea of using MSM water because my hair is also getting the benefits from using MSM. Some say that MSM has the ability to impact growth and help keep new growth soft.  

Who's tried this method already?  Tell me what you think?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

I've created yet another (unproven) theory that I'd like to share with you all today.  This one has to do with taking vitamins.  More importantly, when we take them.   It all goes back to a personal experience I had a while ago.  My day was so busy, I forgot to take my supplements. Before going to bed I decided to take my fish oil and call it a day.

 The next morning, my skin was so dewy and had a fabulous glow.  I asked myself "what happened?" My skin never does this when I take fish oil during the day.  Then I reflected a little about the difference that may have occurred when I took my supplement at night.

Of course we all know that our bodies go through major repair while we sleep. Our muscles are restored, waste and toxins are collected for elimination, our body is rebuilding while we rest.  It's what happens to our skin that is most interesting.  While we sleep, our body creates new cells to replace the old skin cells that are shed during waking hours.  So I asked myself, "could the fish oil I take before bed act as a tool to help aid in the creation of healthier skin?"

When we take supplements during the day, they're consumed and absorbed at a time when we have so many other things going on.  We're constantly moving around, we're digesting food, we're burning calories.  But at night, it's all about rebuilding and repair.  Perhaps if we took certain supplements before bed, it could make a positive impact on the rebuilding process.

Notice that I said certain supplements.  For instance, I wouldn't take a multi-vitamin before bed because it's recommended that we take those with a meal. B Vitamins help elevate energy levels so taking them before resting can interfere with our sleep.  At the moment, I only take a fish oil supplement before bed.  I may consider taking a lower dose biotin before bed. Since biotin is water soluble, I may be going through it pretty quickly because of my increased water intake. If I take some biotin before bed, my body can better utilize it while I rest.  Biotin is technically a B vitamin but most of us are used to taking it so the impact to our sleep might not be that severe.  I read several accounts online where some chose to take their biotin at night.  Mineral supplements can also be taken at night.  It's even said that taking minerals at night may even help you sleep better.

I'm going to experiment with this a little more until I find what works for me. Everyone is different so some can take B Vitamins at night and sleep like a baby.  I'm going to start by including a calcium supplement to my nightly regimen and keep going from there. Oh, and I'll probably create a nightly ritual of drinking a cup of bamboo tea so I can get my silica right before bed.  If it is indeed true that our bodies can get more value from taking some supplements at night time then I'm all in.

Friday, January 11, 2013

*Sighs deeply*  Once again, my hair product inventory appears to have gotten a little out of hand.  I've got all kinds of products in there, some I loved, some indifferent to, and others I've hated.  So now I ask myself "is it possible for me to identify the products I tend to buy over and over again so I can finally be at peace with letting all the others go?"

The answer is yes! All I had to do was identify the products I've used up and would be repurchased again when I ran out. So far, this process has been pretty painless.  I'd like to share a few of the ones identified.

If I were honest with myself, I would throw out pretty much all my old bottles of shampoo with the exception of these three:
  • A neutralizing shampoo (I like the one from Motions).
  • Neutrogena's Anti-Residue Clarifying shampoo (repurchased 3X). 
  • Wen Conditioning cleanser (repurchased 2X). 
I love mixing conditioners together so a bulk of my hair product possessions fall under the conditioner category.  Although I'm quick to try out new conditioning products, consistently, I repurchase mainly a few brands:

  • Kerastase Nutrithermique (repurchased 3X).
  • Keracare Humecto (repurchased countless times. Still need to get my hands on the 5 lb size).
  • Silicon Mix Protein to Perla (numerous repurchases).
  • Aveda Damage remedy (will repurchase in the future).
  • Redken Extreme Strength builder (newly added to my regimen will repurchase).
  • Suave coconut conditioner.
Strengthener/Hair Repair|
Daily Maintenance|
  • Gleau Argan Oil blend (repurchased numerous times)
Heat Protection|
When I'm gazing into my product stash this weekend, I will ask myself, "if someone took this product without me knowing, would I notice? Would I repurchase if I couldn't find it?"  If the (honest) answer is yes, then I know what I gotta do.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

I enjoyed some time off during the start of the year so decided to indulge with a spa treatment. My first instinct was to get a massage at the local Aveda salon and school but things changed when I stumbled upon a new find while vintage shopping the other day.

As I walked closer to the two large Romanesque statues guarding the entrance of this salon and spa, something told me to take a moment to review the menu of services to see if a spontaneous massage or facial was in my near future.  Much to my surprise, the list of services available included things such as relaxers, two-strand twists, sew-ins, afro blow-outs, etc.  I was puzzled to find a salon that offered such a wide range of services that catered to women of color in that part of town.   At this point I had no choice but to walk in. 

The small space was quaint and inviting.  When I walked in there were several clients receiving services and a few waiting for their turn.  I chatted with the guy who greeted me and told him of my interest in receiving a facial treatment.  He walked over to a young African American male stylist with great skin and friendly disposition and exchanged a few words.  The stylists summoned me to him.  We conversated for a few minutes about what type of service I desired.  I inquired about a facial peel to remove my acne scars.  He immediately asked me about the level of sunscreen I was using.  I replied SPF 30.  He shared that SPF 30 wasn't sufficient enough for me.  I immediately flash backed to an interview I read where Gabrielle Union disclosed that she wore SPF 110 (*mental note, get a higher grade sunscreen*).  I told him that I previously had services done at a Spa in Beverly Hills by the name of Lady Dees. He knew exactly who I was talking about.  This immediately put me at ease.  At one point in the conversation, I put my hand to my face and was immediately reprimanded for doing so.  He took a closer look at my skin and said that I didn't need a peel.  "Is this guy serious?" I thought to myself.   He proceeded to suggest I do a facial instead.  Reluctantly, I heeded to his advice and scheduled time to meet with him.  "What's your name?" I asked him.  "Courtney," he replied...."I'm the owner."  We wrapped up our conversation and, as I left the salon, I replayed the part about Courtney saying that I didn't need a peel.  I had no make up on at the time so I'm sure he didn't miss the dark marks on my face. Why would he miss this opportunity to offer me a more lucrative service?

I returned hours later for my appointment.  Everyone else had gone home since it was technically a holiday.  Courtney stayed behind to service me.  Over the course of the facial, he and I spoke in length about great skin.  Courtney shared his age with me and I nearly fell out of my spa chair.  He is a living testament to the results that great skin care creates.  Like Lady Dee, he also recommends a cold rinse/ice cube after washing.  His philosophy centered around keeping it simple.  He offered to sell me no products.  He provided detailed instructions on how to properly use my Clarisonic. When I inquired about the mask he applied on my face, he replied that it was his personal creation and making money from the sale of the mask wasn't important to him.

 Courtney then noticed something about me. He sensed that the view I had of my skin seemed not based on reality.  I told him about all purchases I made to clear my issues.  He remarked that my skin was not the same as it was "before" and that I still viewed myself as having horrible issues.  The guy actually said that I have "good skin."  I cringed when he said those words.  He noticed my reaction and continued to counsel me on my mental blocks around having good skin.  I listened quietly and let it all sink in.  When the visit was over, wished each other a happy holiday as I voiced my intention to return.

Courtney taught me a valuable lesson that day.  I was reminded of how often we create a certain opinion or view about ourselves then latch on to that perception forever.  In my mind, I was still the girl with bad skin, even if that wasn't a reality.  When my thinking says "bad skin," my actions will be aligned with my thinking. It's a vicious cycle.  Then I started reflecting on the other areas in my life where I hold on to an old label I created for myself, long ago, that no longer holds true.   What if I were to begin to identify myself in a new way.  How would that impact my actions?  Would it cause me to look, think and act in a new way in accordance to my new view of myself?  I'm so grateful for the lesson that Courtney taught me that day.  Not only did he make my skin glow, he opened up my mind to new possibilities.

Thank you Courtney. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

I don't normally expose this much flesh but today is a special occasion. The reason why I'm being a little less modest than usual is because I wanted to share with you the progress I've made with my lower back.  Yes. My lower back.  You see, it all started when I learned of an exercise that had the potential to develop the lower back in a way that promoted the natural "S" shape of our silhouettes.

 (excuse the goose bumps, it was chilli today).

This exercise is done on a simple machine that I barely paid attention to during my previous visits to the gym.  That is, until I heard someone mention that she did these exercises to help create an overall toned waistline and help create that ultra-feminine curve in her lower back.  So I said to myself, "what the heck, I'll try it!"  Fast forward a few weeks and I can already see a noticeable improvement.  Now I'm even more motivated to keep this practice going.  Summer bodies are made in the winter.  That's why I'm working slowly, yet surely on my physique so there is nothing to be concerned about come summer.  

The exercise I'm speaking of is called hyper-extension or back extension and can done on a machine that looks like this.  Another option would be to do the extensions on a stability ball.  You can even do it with no equipment at all.   I read somewhere that doing this would really tone the stubborn lower back area while also working the top of the glutes and the core muscles. Speaking of glutes, I've been putting in work with my squats to tone and lift. This exercise compliments my results beautifully.  

  It's just an all around great exercise and I'm loving the results.  Since I haven't been doing it for that long, the changes I'm noticing are subtle, but believe me, they're real.  My next move will be to pair this with the Tiffany Rothe waist workout which is absolutely amazing to trim the lower waist. Her workout also targets my lower back in a wonderful, wonderful way.  For those of you interested in crafting magnificent waistlines, here's your chance.  Who's up for it?


Monday, January 7, 2013

A couple years ago seasonal shedding nearly ruined me.  There was a point in time when that's all I wrote about because I was so plagued by it.  I attribute a couple of my past set backs to complications related to excessive shedding.  Fast forward to today and I can honestly say that I'm confident in the strategies I use to combat shedding at the first signs.  My intention is to list as many options for you as possible because I understand that one size may not fit all when it comes to shedding.  As you continue to read the post, notice that many of my suggestions have a similar bond, they deal with the scalp directly.  And in doing so they have a greater likelihood of actually being effective.

One of the most popular methods talked about for minimizing shedding has got to be tea rinses.  This pretty much involves applying various teas to the hair and scalp to moisturize, strengthen, and (most importantly) eliminate shedding. Many swear by this method.  I won't go into length on the process here because I have a detailed post on the topic that you can read as a reference.


Have you noticed that drinking a lot of water has be coming up a lot lately in my posts?  Here's the thing, normally, this time of year means that my scalp is dry and itchy.  Undoubtedly, this will lead to excessive shedding.  The scalp just isn't healthy if it's dehydrated.  So, on the one hand, you have dry skin cells surrounding the scalp, on the other hand, the amount of nourishment to the hair follicles is diminished because dehydrated cells are less able to absorb nutrients from the blood stream.  Put this all together and you have a recipe for hair fallout.  When I kicked up my water intake this winter, everything started going right.  My scalp is healthier with very little flaking, and shedding is at normal levels.  All is right with the world.


When the temperature drops, our body's natural instinct is to direct blood flow to our internal organs to keep them warm.  The result of this is less blood flow to our extremities, hence the cold hands and feet.  Our scalp also suffers from this phenomena and (I believe)  this relates to increased shedding during the cooler months.  When I experience too much shedding and I want to nip it in the bud, I implement the Sanford Bennett method of scalp massage. Works like a charm for me every time. I love this technique because the exercise aggressively invigorates blood flow directly to my scalp.   When I do this consistently, I don't have to worry about overzealous shedding.


If any of you ladies are dealing with dermatitis of the scalp, I suggest you check out my posts on using essential oils and apple cider vinegar to manage some of the symptoms.  Really bad dandruff leads to hair loss, especially in the winter time.  I've seen it happen in my own journey. If you are dealing with severe dandruff issues, addressing it should be a first priority in your regimen. 


Do you remember how in the post about the Skin Care Regimen created a by Celebrity Expert, we were asked to finish off our facial cleansing routine by sealing our pores with an ice cube?  Well, on a related note, I wrote about how taking cold showers (or rinsing the hair will cool/cold water) can not only help seal the cuticle layer of the hair, but also help bring blood flow to the scalp (as our bodies attempt to warm that area) and close the pores that surround the hair follicle.  The results are shinier hair and minimized shedding.


Another option that some ladies swear by when it comes to shedding is garlic conditioner.  I've tried garlic conditioner myself and, although I didn't have much of a shedding issue at the time, I used it as a deep conditioner and really liked the product.   I'll be completely honest and tell you that when I did use it, my shedding didn't slow down but looking back, I think about how I wasn't doing the other things on this list to deal with internal factors related to the shedding. I thought that a hair product was the cure-all.  Now I know to take a more holistic approach so I can deal with the shedding on multiple levels.


I believe that boosting vitamin intake is ultra beneficial in fighting the war against shedding.  When you're taking supplements that support the growth of healthy hair, you are giving yourself an edge over shedding.  Some supplements to look out for are omega 3 oils, biotin, and MSM which is said to help lengthen the "life span" of the hair strand. 

To this day, the post that has received the most comments over every thing I've ever written is the nail rubbing post. People seem to think the idea is crazy enough to try and, once they've tried, they are compelled to return and share the good news.  I've been told by countless of you that when you rub your nails, you can begin to feel stimulation in your scalp.  For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, the process is as simple as it sounds. Just rubbing the nails together to stimulate the scalp through reflexology.  What I like about this method is I can do it anywhere.  I don't have to wait until wash day to rub my nails.  I can stimulate my scalp whenever I feel like it and no one in the room knows that I'm creating healthier hair when I rub my nails together.  It's our little secret.

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