Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Water Drinking Challenge Continues.


It's been a couple weeks since we officially kicked off the "Drink your [effin] water challenge!"  How are you doing so far?  I've had some ups and downs myself but, no matter what, I'm committed to maintaining this new habit.  I'm still reaping the befits of clear skin, healthier nails, manageable new growth, and soft skin all over.  These results alone are enough to keep me going but what's been most inspiring are the comments and messages I receive from you about the benefits you are experiencing throughout all of this.

I think of my water drinking as a way of cleansing my internal body.  Every day I wash my face, I take a shower, I brush my teeth, etc.  I use water on a daily basis to wash my external self.  Why not do a proper cleansing internally using water as well?  For every external benefit I'm experiencing, I know that my cells are twice as happy.

This journey of drinking more water was inspired by a post I wrote on the commonly shared beauty habit of Beyonce, Gabrielle Union, and Adriana Lima of drinking 1 gallon of water a day. Then I began a personal water drinking challenge and was floored by how much I benefited from this simple action.

Recently, while checking out some YouTube videos, I stumbled upon this:


Chilli, a woman who's 41 years old and still looks as good as women half her age, attributes her perfect skin to three things, discipline, LOTS OF WATER, and exfoliation.  I'm going to assume, for the sake of argument that by discipline, she's referring to her eating and exercise habits.  We already know what she means by "lots of water."  And in order to have that baby smooth skin, we have to consistently exfoliate.  This will be my next area of focus.  After receiving my first skin peel, I'm completely sold on how much proper exfoliation is key to an overall healthy glow.  Maybe we'll talk about this more in detail in another post.  But for now, let's add Chilli to our list of water-drinking inspirations and keep moving forward.

How are you doing on this challenge?


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Green Smoothies: The Perfect Morning Ritual

I have to be honest and share with everyone that I've been too lazy to juice my vegetables lately. Sometimes I think of the work involved and choose to grab something quicker instead. But then I got to thinking about how much juicing benefited my skin, hair and energy levels. That's when I decided to substitute juicing for something just as nutritious and good for me.

So I reached deep in my cabinet and retrieved the personal blender I've had for years.  This thing is so convenient, it's crazy.  Just add the ingredients and minutes later, you're enjoying your smoothie.


One benefit of smoothies is that I get the benefits of the entire fruit (or vegetable) which means lots of fiber. Smoothies also give me the opportunity to save time by using frozen substitutes if I don't have any fresh ingredients on hand.


Here's where the good stuff happens.  Because I'm blending everything in together, I take the opportunity to sneak in some super foods such as powdered greens, silica, msm powder, liquid vitamins, flaxseed oil, etc.  There's not end to how far we can go.


Clean up is a snap and the smoothie satisfies like a meal.  Best of all, I know that I've done something wonderful for myself first thing in the morning.  This doesn't mean that I've given up juicing but it's nice to have an alternative that still supports my overall health and beauty goals.  Are any of you into drinking green smoothies?


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The simple idea that revolutionized my pre-poo experience

In the past, I would choose between oil or conditioner whenever I would pre-poo.  For those days when my hair was feeling overly dry, I'd reach for my favorite moisturizing conditioner.  On the other hand, if breakage was more of a concern or, if my hair felt like it needed a little more nourishment, oil would be my pre-poo product of choice.

Lately, there have been a few occasions where, due to schedule constraints, I've had to the extend time between washes.  When wash day arrived, my hair felt like it needed to receive the benefits of both oil and conditioner.  So I began a process that mirrored a daily moisturizing and sealing routine.  On dry hair, I would apply my moisturizing conditioner, then layer it with one of my favorite plant oils, sealing the moisture in.
This process worked so well for me that I've decided to make it permanent (for now).  Most recently, I had another one of those overdue wash days.  My hair was feeling like it needed an intensive "pick-me-up" so I decided to pre-poo with my WEN 613 layered with some yummy avocado oil.  Normally, when I deal with oils during pre-poo, I'm very generous in the application which causes me to get oil everywhere.  This time would be no different if it weren't for the bright idea inspired by my 613 bottle.

You see, the handy, dandy pump that comes on the WEN bottle make it easy for me to select the exact amount of product I need to use on each section of hair.  What if I could to the same with my avocado oil?   So I went scouring through my cabinets for a conditioner with a pump the size that would fit my oil bottle.  It only took 2 tries for me to reach success.  Moments later, I was neatly pumping oil  instead of picking up the bottle and pouring it into my hand, hoping that I hadn't misjudged how much oil I needed.  I could chose large or small pumps.  It was all so convenient.

Just wanted to share this neat tip in case someone out there might want to try it for themselves.  Each wash day, my intention is to make improvements to the process that create the best outcome for me & my hair.  If I couldn't find a pump to fit my oil bottle, I would have settled for one of these alternatives.

  • I'd use a pop-top cap. The kind the pops up on one side when I push down on it.
  • Finding an empty conditioner or lotion bottle with a pump and pouring my oil into it.  
Once the idea came, I had to make it work one way or another.  This saves me a time (since I don't have to pick up and put down my bottle of oil after each section) and hassle (it's a much neater alternative to the way I was doing it before).




Sunday, February 24, 2013

Style Sunday: The Finishing Touches

 Guess Sandal| Nars Nails| Rose Gold Studs| They're Real Mascara| FlowerBomb| Sugar Lip Balm| Balenciaga Clutch|


My wardrobe is in desperate need of an overall.  That day will come but until then, I'm thinking of ways to perfect my look without having to go out and buy a bunch of new clothes.

In the end, I want to look polished and put together by strategically using accessories and finishing touches to maximize impact.  Here's what I'm lusting.

~The Fiercest Heel~
01. Guess Dabby Sandal-  Before investing in new clothes, I'd love to grab a pair of well made heels that are both eye catching and wearable at the same time. I'm loving this one made by Guess which has sexy & stylish written all over them.

~Nailing it!~
02.  Nars Nail Color- The one thing all well put together women have in common is that their nails are always on point. Since I tend to wear lots of neutrals and blacks, I let myself experiment with bright nail colors.  Whenever I do, there's a 95% chance that someone notices and pays a compliment.

~Sexy Studs~
03.  Michael Kors Rose Gold Studs- I just can't get over how cute these earrings are.  They're understated yet classic.  I need these in my life.

~Longest Lashes~
05. Benefit "They're Real" Mascara- Probably my favorite mascara of all time.  Whenever I ask a sales person at Ulta or Sephora which is they're favorite mascara, the answer is always the same.  I've gone through several tubes of this and I have a brand new one on standby so I never go without.  On days when I want to look natural, and not bother with eye shadow, a few coats of this mascara does the trick.

~FlowerBomb~
6. Viktor & Rolf FLowerbomb- One of my favorite scents of the moment.  I don't wear a ton of perfume so I like to wear scents that I adore since I'm probably the only person smelling it.  Perfume, to me, is like a reminder that I want to present myself as confident, sexy and perfectly put together.  This scent does all of that and more.

~Softest Lips~
06. Fresh Sugar Lip Balm-Lipstick is not part of my daily routine.  For a long time, I was on the hunt for a natural lip balm that conditioned the lip, making them look soft and healthy.  Once I found this Sugar Balm, my search was over.  It doesn't hurt that this perfect lip treatment also provides SPF coverage.  I have several of these lip balms and I love each one of the them.  They're perfect for those of us who don't want to sport shiny gloss or bold color but still want to create amazing looking lips.

~The Perfect Clutch~
07.  Balenciaga Envelope Clutch- I love big bags.  Lately though, I realize that sometimes, less is more.  A smaller, fabulous, clutch can make more of an impact to my overall look than a huge shoulder bag.  Then I saw this Balenciaga bag in grey and fell in love.  I like the idea of using a different color in place of the usual "black bag."   The search has officially begun for a cute statement clutch, that can go with anything, to add to my collection.


Friday, February 22, 2013

The Lady Dee Skin Peel Expierience

I finally did it.  After years (and I mean years) of desiring to create the skin of my dreams, I finally took the chance and went for a skin peel done at Lady Dee's spa.
This post will serve as a diary of events from the day of my initial experience until now.  I must preface this post by saying that I could have done this months ago but somehow I let my fear and complacency take control of my decision making.  Fear caused me to think of the worst possible outcome that could happen instead of allowing me to image how wonderful my skin could look afterwards.  Because I seen some improvement in my skin, after following her regimen and drinking lots of water, I fell complacent and didn't push myself to achieve levels that I never before experienced.  I take this as lesson to never allow fear and complacency to dictate my decisions going forward.

On to the experience.....


Day 1: "Yeah you have that glow."
After sliding my credit card through the parking meter, I knew there would be no chickening out like last time.  I looked up at the sky, which was mostly cloudy, and thought to myself, "this is a perfect day for a skin peel."  Sitting in the waiting area only caused my anxiety to grow. Thoughts ran through my mind of my skin being severely burned or some other terrible outcome that I hadn't yet imagined.  The receptionist took me to the back and asked me to lay on the spa bed, leaving my shoulders exposed.

Lady Dee walks in, peeks at my face and instantly recognizes me.  "Long time no see!" she exclaimed. Then she pays me several compliments on my hair saying how much she loved it.    We chit chat for a moment before she starts asking me a series of questions.  "Are you drinking your water?" she asks. I feel confident responding knowing that I've really been focusing on that area.  Lady Dee takes a closer look at my skin and advises me to be careful with my cell phone around the cheek area after noticing two small breakouts.  Before turning on the facial steamer, she looks at me and asks....."are you ready for that glow?

The experience itself wasn't as bad as I imaged.  She applied the peel/mask allowed it to dry, then added another layer.  This process went on for about 7 or 8 times (paying special attention to my cheek area where most of the discolorations lived.  During that time, she regaled me of stories of having worked with celebrities such as the Williams sisters, Stevie Wonder, and even Elizabeth Taylor.  What I love the most about this woman is how special she makes me feel even though her blessed hands have graced some of the most beautiful women in the world.  You could image how humbled I was to know that she's taken care of Halle Berry's flawless face.  According to Lady Dee, she treats my face as if it were her face and the night before she prayed over myself and the list of her other clients who were to visit her for the day.  That made me feel so good.

Later that evening, I stopped by a natural health food store and struck up conversation with one of the owners.  After sharing with her that I just left a skin care service she stated, "yeah you have that glow."

Day 2: Shine bright like a diamond
The first 24 hours after the skin peel was a bit awkward.  My face was tight all over and had an obvious shine to it.  All of the sudden my skin was producing oil like it was nobody's business.  I was instructed to leave my face alone so I pretty much dealt with it. From time to time I would blot my skin to remove the excess oil.  Years ago, I used to have oily skin. Then as time passed my skin became dryer and dryer.  A theory I have is that I had so many layers of dead skin that the oil is trapped below the surface.  I say this because any time I have a skin service done that is really exfoliating, I suddenly begin creating oil again. 

Day 3:  I want it off my face.
Three days into the peel and the oil producing has stopped.  I'm left with a feeling of tightness all over and I look like I'm wearing one of those cucumber peel off masks. My skin starts to itch under the mask and I can't (and don't want) to scratch it for fear that it might peel.  Day three also marks the beginning of my peeling which begins to emerge near my chin.

Day 4:  Looking like a wrinkly old woman
The peel has my "skin" dry and tight all over.  As the peel continues to loosen, my face becomes several shades darker and the peel gives me a "wrinkly & leathered" appearance.  The peeling becomes more noticeable. I instruct my husband to avoid looking at me directly during this ugly phase.  I can barely look at myself.

Day 5: The Day of Reckoning
Finally, the day arrives when I can remove the peel.  The removal process was painless due to the discipline I exercised in applying the recommended product on a regular basis.  The peels comes off in small pieces rather than in one single motion.  I'm anxious to see the end result.  After removing one small section where one of my largest blemishes [once] was, I realize that my skin would never be the same.

I take off a majority of the peel and immediately I realize that I'm step closer to absolutely flawless skin.  The most obvious difference was how smooth my skin had become.  The acne scars that plagued me for so long were a faint memory (they weren't totally gone but the were much less obvious than before).  Call me crazy, but even signs of fine lines had disappeared.  My skin was now bright, smooth, and much more even toned.  Everything I've ever wanted.

 (no makeup pic taken immediately after removing peel)


(with makeup pic of both sides of my face taken 1 day after peel was removed)
How did I get here?  It began with an intention. Even when my skin was at it's worst, I would say to myself "I love my healthy, glowing, skin.  When I saw images of women with the skin I wanted, I looked longingly at the image, attracting it into my reality.  One thing led to another and I learned of a place where the stars go to achieve beautiful skin.  Instead of dismissing the idea as unreachable, I took baby steps that moved me closer to what I wanted.  Even though my first experience didn't blow me away, I continued to move forward, knowing what I wanted.  Finally, I overcame my fears and took the step that got me to where I am today.

The service was $250.00 for the facial peel and an additional $60.00 (don't quote me) for the neck.  Dee shared that some celebrities come once a quarter for the peels but I don't think she'll be seeing me that often.  Now that my skin has been refreshed, I will continue to maintain her regimen and use products that further promote even toned skin (like Kojic Acid Soap).  Sunscreen is a non-negotiable and you best believe that I'll keep drinking my water.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

ACV+Coconut Water= The perfect hair rinse


Guess what I'll be doing next wash day?  I'm going to experiment with a new rinse.  Most of us have used apple cider vinegar (ACV) as a final rinse on wash days.  We do this to help seal the cuticle layer, promote shine, and address itchy scalp issues.

Most often we dilute the ACV solution with water to curb the acidity levels.  Recently, idea popped into my mind.  "What if I were to use a little coconut water and ACV as my final rinse?" Would there be any benefits?  The first thought that came up was how coconut water is loaded with nutrients such as calcium, minerals, B vitamins, and protein.  Also, unlike water which has a neutral pH of 7, coconut water was a slightly acid pH of between 4.5 and 5.2.  Oh, by the way, our hair, and sebum has a pH level of between 4.5 and 5.5. Coincidence?

When this first came into my mind, I had no idea if it could work (or provide any benefits). So I went to Google to help show me the way.  One of my searches led me to the realization that there's an actual product out there called coconut vinegar which is essentially fermented coconuts.  One person shared her experience using coconut vinegar as follows:


 |"Yes, I’ve used apple cider vinegar many a-time as a hair rinse and it clarifies the scalp so well that you actually get a squeaky clean feeling on your hair and in your follicles. I figured that vinegars are vinegars and that they’d work similarly. So, I applied about a cup and a half of coconut vinegar into dry hair, massaging it into my scalp. Then I worked any excess on my hands into my hair and down its ends. If you try this at home – one note: be careful to tip your head back while doing this. Don’t let it seep into your eyes like I did because Yowyzas! it stings. Then I let it sit as I did all my other washing up before rinsing it out of my hair (not shampooing it out).

Well, my hair felt amazing! First its great for clearing out flakes and build up. This is important for those of you with flakiness or dandruff because while you may think you need less cleaning and more moisture, its can be the opposite You need to keep your scalp as clear as possible so that the bacteria from dandruff that feeds on dead skin cells are kept at bay (trust me, its worked for many of my clients). Secondly its fantastic for softening. Coconut vinegar is packed with minerals from the coconut water or coconut sap it is derived from and contains zinc, iron, manganese, potassium, copper and magnesium. Coconut sap also possesses all nine amino acids and these proteins are a wonderful treatment for our hair."

You can imagine my delight upon reading this review. Of course I'd love to get my hand on a bottle of coconut vinegar but until then, I came up with the bright idea to experiment a little by diluting my ACV with some unsweetened coconut water (the closer to all natural, the better).  This stuff isn't cheap so I'm think that I"ll use it in a spray bottle as a leave-in prior to applying my traditional leave-in.  So it'll be more of a "pre-leave in."

As of this moment, I haven't experimented first hand so look out for a follow up post later on.  I'm excited and hopefully this will bring great results.  Wish me luck.






Monday, February 18, 2013

Asian Teriyaki Salmon Recipe


This weekend I decided to try something different with dinner.  With ingredients I already had in the fridge I created a simple marinade that gave amazing flavor to a simple piece of salmon.  Putting everything together took almost no time and it tasted amazing!
.................................................................................

Here's what you need:
***Soy Sauce (in my case Gluten Free soy sauce).
***Agave Nectar (for sweetness)
***Mirin (Japanese sweetened sake)
***Salmon steak
...................................................................................

  • Season the salmon with salt and pepper.
  • Mix the liquid ingredients together to taste and add on to the raw salmon steak.
  • Marinade the salmon in "teriyaka" sauce for a minimum of 1 hour.
  • Sear salmon on a skillet until cooked through, add remainder of sauce mix on top of the salmon while cooking.  If desired, you can add sauce after the fish is plated.  
I paired the salmon with a traditional Haitian dish called djon djon rice and some fried plantains.  Next time I'll keep with the Asian theme and make some stir fried bok choy as a side.  What I like about this marinade is that it makes the perfect base to build on. I can add chili oil to make it a bit more spicy. I can also experiment with ginger, cilantro or any other flavors I fancy.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Wash Day Ritual: More than a routine.

Voluspa Citron Vert Candle | Mason Pearson Comb | Journal | Organic Coconut Oil |  Bamboo Tea | The Sprush |

I've got a confession to make. Lately the idea of spending hours on wash day pre-pooing, deep conditioning, steaming, roller setting, styling, has become a bit monotonous. That's when I realized that I was in desperate need of a little inspiration. After all, this is the most important day of the week (as far as my hair is concerned).  I should relish this day.  Instead, I'm beginning to see it as an inconvenience.

Since I'm desperately trying to avoid another setback, I know this feeling of complacency can not continue.  So I've decided to flip the script on the entire operation and change the way I look at (and do) my weekly wash routine.

I'll start by calling it a weekly ritual because the word routine has such a negative connotation to it.


rou·tine  

/ro͞oˈtēn/
Noun
A sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program: "I settled down into a routine".

I don't want to "settle down" into a routine! I want each wash day to get better and better.  I want to crave wash day.  I want to relish in it!  My weekly ritual is what supports healthy hair.  So I have to do whatever to make it an amazing experience.

So here's what I did:

// Lit up my favorite Voluspa candle(s).  Stumbled on these on my recent trip to California. With every inhalation, my spirit smiles.  My stress levels subside and I immediately feel pampered.

// Fixed me a cup of  (silica filled) bamboo tea.  There's no better time to indulge in a warm cup of delicious tea then while allowing my conditioner to do it's thang.  My hair is receiving an external treatment, my body is being fed internally.

// I dusted off my hair journal.  Confession to make: I haven't used a hair journal in a quite a long time.  When I did, my journey was somehow different. It felt like I was connected to a bigger goal instead of just taking a series separate of weekly actions.  I look forward to enjoying increased progress with the help of my handy journal.

//Time to hook the nails up.  I'm so bad at keeping up with nail polish changes.  Now, I've decided to pair a mini-manure each week with my wash ritual.

//Life gets so busy that I rarely have time to catch up on magazine subscriptions.  My ritual provides the perfect moment to indulge in the fantasy world of high fashion, beauty and style.


This is the beginning. My weekly wash ritual will continue to evolve into a special moment each week when my senses come alive and my hair is nourished. Most of all, I want to be fully present throughout the experience instead of blindly going through the same routine.  As my wash day ritual evolves, I anticipate my results to improve as well.

Can't wait. 
Friday, February 15, 2013

Black Opal Presents: The True Beauty Model Search

From time to time I'll get messages from young ladies inquiring about entering into the modeling/hair modeling world. Since I'm not an expert on this topic, I figured that I can at least add some value by sharing opportunities to generate more exposure. Black Opal sent me this press release for their upcoming model search. Keep reading to learn more.

Black Opal Model Search
Click here to enter

THE SEARCH IS BACK FOR THE NEW FACE OF BLACK OPAL
REWARDING BEAUTY THAT SHINES FROM WITHIN

NEW YORK, NY – January 28, 2013 – The search is back for the NEW face of Black Opal Cosmetics! The leading beauty authority for women of color, announces its 2013 Black Opal True Beauty Model Search. The national contest kicks-off on February 4th and online entry will run through March 4th 2013. One grand prize winner will be awarded a $10,000 educational scholarship and become the new face of the brand for 2014.

Black Opal is on the hunt for women of color that are beauty enthusiasts with educational aspirations to be the face of the brand who are courageous enough to experiment with various looks and styles that compliment their beauty routine. A TRUE BEAUTY is a confidant, self-assured, chic, stylish, modern and articulate woman whose beauty radiates from within. Her light shines bright and she takes pride in her beauty as well as her brain. If this sounds like you, then Black Opal needs to hear from you!

Applicants will be evaluated based on essays, community service involvement, educational aspiration and a photo, which represents TRUE BEAUTY.

A panel of judges from the beauty and entertainment worlds will include, singer/songwriter and VH1’s Love & Hip Hop cast member and R&B singer Olivia; Celebrity Make-up artist Frank Guyton; Noted and board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Cheryl Burgess; Celebrity Hairstylist Eric Bland; Style Network’s Chicagolicious cast member Valencia; and Celebrity Fashion Stylist Andre Austin.

We continue to raise the bar each year with the True Beauty model search,” said Maya Brown, Senior Marketing Director of Biocosmetic Research Labs. As our society is evolving, so are our standards of True Beauty. We want the best and the brightest of today’s young elite to vie for this opportunity to showcase their talents. ”

One grand prize winner will receive a $10,000 scholarship (payable directly to the school), an all-expense paid trip to New York for a fabulous photo shoot, and the opportunity to be featured in Black Opal’s 2013 marketing materials. In addition to the grand prize winner, two finalists will receive $2,500, an all-expense paid trip to New York City while seven finalists will be awarded $1,500 scholarships (payable directly to the school) as well as a chance to be featured in Black Opal promotional materials. All winners will also receive complimentary Black Opal skincare and cosmetics products.

True Beauty hopefuls, can enter to win the national contest by visiting www.BlackOpalbeauty.com/truebeautymodelsearch or via Facebook at Black Opal Beauty. Entrants must complete an entry form, upload up three recent photos of themselves (taken within 3-months) and write a short essay. No purchase necessary. For complete rules, please visit www.blackopalbeauty.com.


About BLACK OPAL
BLACK OPAL offers limitless possibilities in cosmetics and skincare to enhance the diverse beauty and address the unique needs of skin of color. With this targeted focus, BLACK OPAL has solidified its position as the most trusted beauty brand for women of color. BLACK OPAL is a global brand available in 30 countries worldwide.


BLACK OPAL products are available by visiting www.blackopalbeauty.com, Walmart, CVS/Pharmacy, Rite Aid, Duane Reade, and OTC Stores nationwide.
Thursday, February 14, 2013

Taming Tangles: The Rules of Proper Detangling

Tangles are the bain of my existence. They have cursed my hair journey for as long as I can remember, causing unimaginable harm to my precious hair goals. With every tangle-related battle I entered, I came out with a greater understanding of my enemy. And each time I re-arm myself with the strategy I need to eventually overcome this great force of evil.


 Let's understand why this enemy is so powerful:
  •  *Tangles have the ability to evolve in its more dangerous cousin also known as the "knot."
  • *In most instances when we try to deal with tangles directly, we almost always lose hair in the process.
  • *Tangles hate your hair.
Some of you know that I've invested quite a bit into the acquisition of detangling combs. As of this moment, my only comb of choice is the Mason Pearson.  To me, it out performs all the combs I own with teeth twice as wide.  I suspect it has to do with the smoothness of the comb itself.  When I touch my Mason Pearson, it feels slightly oily.  This is because the oils from my hair transfer and remain on the comb.  Years ago, I had the bright idea of spraying my combs/brushes with oil sheen to help the comb glide through my hair.  The results, however, were not as I expected as the oil sheen was too heavy for my hair.  With this comb, my dilemma is solved.  I also mentioned, once before, that this comb is "quieter" than my other options.  By quieter, I mean, that when I'm detangling using short strokes, I can hear my other combs as they move in and out of my hair. To me, a quieter comb means that my hair is under less strain compared to the others.


Combs are one thing, but sometimes they can only do so much.  When the tangles get out of control, I call in the calvary and go for the big guns.  My detangler of choice is "It's a 10 Miracle Leave In."  I bought it on a whim after seeing a rave review from Tia Williams on Essence.com.  It's a 10 Miracle Leave-In received a 4.5 stars on Amazon out of 679 reviews.  That should say something about the effectiveness of this product.

Honestly, I've never actually used It's a 10 as a leave-in, I only break it out when I'm ready to go to war against a stubborn tangle or knot.  For me, this does the trick.  I spray directly on the tangle and soon that thing is pretty much melting away (with the help of my trusty comb). Plus, as I mentioned before, the product I use tends to stay on my comb which makes it even more helpful.

Anytime I detangle, my goal is to find the rogue (shed) hair that is at the source of my headache then see if I can work it out of the knot without causing any casualties in the process. This is what I do when detangling with the goal of incurring minimal loss:
  • *Detangle in the smallest sections possible.  Try to separate the hair to where you are only dealing with the identified tangle.
  • *Use the right tool for the job.  If you need product to help detangle, make sure you have it handy.  Don't just use a comb (or your fingers), have something you can leverage to make the process easier. In my case it's the Miracle Leave in, you can also use coconut oil or other effective detangler.
  • *How much time do you have?  Detangling requires a certain amount of patience. Are you ready to invest the time into a quality detangling session?
  • *Leave it alone! Sometimes a knot gets on my nerves so bad that I just want to rip it out!  That's when I decide to retreat, regroup and try again another day.  This strategy has saved my hair numerous times.  
 The tools I discussed earlier are helpful in addressing the tangles once they exist but I also understand that it's equally important to act preemptively to avoid the creation of tangles and knots when at all possible.

Find out what's causing them:
In the past, the source of my tangles would derive from the curly texture of my new growth wrapping around the length of my hair as it shed.  When my shedding was high, I had more tangles to contend with. That's when I decided to do something every time I noticed excessive shedding.  If you haven't read my post on how to stop shedding. Please do so.

Oh, there's more.  According to this article, chemically treated hair tangles the most.  It could have something to do with the cuticle layer being "open and puffy, like velcro."  This sorta makes sense to me.  We should strive to create a smoother cuticle layer every time we treat our hair so the chance of tangling decreases.   I'll go into a little more detail on smoothing and repairing the cuticle on a future post.



Monday, February 11, 2013

Drink your water challenge!

Let's kick the week off right, shall we?  Not long ago I wrote a post declaring the benefits I experienced when I elevated my water consumption.  Soon others chimed in and expressed similar sentiments around their water drinking habits.  Over and over again I heard how you attribute your beautiful skin and healthy nails to your internal hydration levels.  Even miss Gabrielle Union herself has stated that drinking a gallon of water daily has "made a huge difference in her skin and nails, it grows!" She also shared that she doesn't have skin flare ups and because she remains so hydrated.  Then I received an email from Kim after she read my post asking if we could create a Hydration Challenge.


What a great idea!!! A challenge could help keep the focus on drinking adequate amounts of water on a daily basis.  Hopefully the Water Drinking Challenge would create the foundation of a lifelong habit.  Let's chat a little about how this will work.

  • The goal will be increase our current water intake with a goal of drinking anywhere from 2 liters to 1 gallon a day.  
  • We will focus on consistency so the act of drinking water soon becomes second nature.
  • We will set ourselves up for success so we can realize the benefits of drinking water which will cause us to continue our actions.
  • This challenge does not have a time frame (i.e. "30 Day Challenge") because the goal is to make it part of what we do from now on.
  • Everyone in the challenge should pay close attention to the benefits they are receiving as a motivator to keep the habit going.  Notice things like how your skin behaves or if your nails are getting stronger. Do you experience less dryness than before, how does your hair respond? How is your energy level? What about your weight, your digestion?  
  • We can update the progress of the water challenge on a thread I created on the discussion section of the blog.

Here are some basic strategies on how to drink more water daily:
  • Start each morning by drinking at least an 8 oz glass of water. There are several benefits to doing this.  Overnight, our bodies are working to cleanse and repair. A large glass of water in the morning helps us flush some of the toxins and waste out.  
  • Substitute your juices, sodas, etc for water.  
  • Drink healthy teas if you don't like the taste of plain water.
  • Add lemon for taste and alkalizing benefits.
  • Use a large bottle like the one below so you don't have to refill so often.  
  • Make it intentional.  Set a goal for yourself like "I'll drink this entire bottle before 2:00 pm today."
  • Pair your water drinking with other routine actions. For example, when you lotion your skin, drink water. When you moisturize your hair, drink water.  When you are watching your favorite TV show, drink up!
  • Every time you drink water think to yourself "my skin and hair is getting healthier, my body is so hydrated. I love water!"  This is a different way of thinking than saying "uh, I hate the way water tastes."
  • Track your progress. You can take pictures, or journal your water intake.  I'm glad I wrote down the benefits I received in a blog post, because when I read it again, I'm motivated to keep drinking my water.  

To keep our bodies in balance, take a multivitamin with minerals or add a pinch of pink salt to your water to keep your electrolytes up.  Water is like to foundation of any beauty ritual. We need it to help the nutrients in our blood stream to permeate the walls of our cells.  Buying a bunch of beauty products is cool but make sure you've done the basics first.  I think about how we use water every day to clean our hair, skin, clothes, bathrooms, dishes, etc. Yet some of us rarely use water to do internal cleansing.  Start to shift your thinking of water from something that's optional to a requirement.  It's a must!  

So who's ready to take on this challenge with me?  Tell me about in the discussion forum!
Sunday, February 10, 2013

Style Sunday: Textured Neutrals


01.|  Bop Bijoux Woven Cuff  02.| Joomi Lim Luxe Spike  03.| Snakeskin Clutch  04.| Bryan Atwood Bambola Pump
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For as long as I can remember, I tended to stay away from any accessories that weren't either black, silver or gold.  Lately, it seems that I'm slowly venturing out of my comfort zone into a new and wonderful place.  There's no better way to inch my way out of my normal style choices than to move into the world of neutrals.

But not your plain old run-of-the mill peach and beige. I'm talking about mixing neutrals with metals and amazing textures.  This creates beautiful statement pieces that are eye catching but not too over the top.  I can't wait to play around with these wonderful combinations to see what looks I come up with.
Saturday, February 9, 2013

Weekend Review: 5 Purchases I can't wait to share with you

Now that my regimen is more stable, I find myself craving fewer hair products. But that doesn't mean that I'm not grabbing other goodies every once in a while.  I've stumbled on some pretty nifty finds that I'd love to share with you.  So here we go.....


I first learned of Baby Face Pure Protein while I was wandering aimlessly through Amazon.com.  What caught my attention were the reviews.  People were saying that this protein product left their hair soft, shiny and healthy.  I went back in forth in my mind for several weeks before I decided to take the plunge.  My hair isn't too keen on protein but, at the same time, it can become really fragile and prone to breakage. What's a girl to do? The decision to buy came after I thought about how much I tend to go for moisturizing conditioners. "What if there were a way to make my favorite moisturizing conditioners a bit more strengthening?" That's when I decided that Babyface was a purchase worth making.  So far, I've used it once.  Because of my fear of stiff, protein hair, I used 3/4 of a capfull in my conditioner mix.  The results were great and without the feeling of protein overload.  Best of all, I see the possibility of this reducing the need for me to buy protein conditioners (which will save me money in the long run).


The next purchase actually arrived this morning so I haven't had a chance to use it yet.  It's a Japanese brand by the name of Hada Labo. Why would I buy a foreign product that I've never used? And not to mention that I can't even read the instructions. Because the reviews were great and I've had favorable experiences with hyaluronic acid (HA) serums in the past. Compared to the price I paid for HA serums at the health food store, this purchase was a steal.  Hyaluronic acid is the stuff that young, moisturized skin is made of.  This acid is a humectant that helps our skin hold water and provides the volume that makes our skin appear plump.

When I last visited Sephora, amazingly I didn't have the normal compulsion to buy a bunch of stuff I didn't need. Instead, I opted to pick up a travel size portable perfume sprayer (I'm sure they're a better name for it).  We all know that it's cost effective to buy large sizes of our favorite scents but that takes away the portability factor.  With this tiny little sprayer, (about the size of a lipstick) I can refresh during the day with any of my favorite scents at any time.



This purchase was totally on a whim.  The moment I saw the rigid white bristles of this Denman brush, I knew that I had to own in.  Thoughts were racing through my mind about how amazing this brush would be for scalp massages.  Moments after purchasing, I sat in my car opening the package.  The minute it touched my scalp I knew that things would be o.k.  I'm in love with this brush for stimulating my scalp. I don't think I'll ever use it as a brush because my hair doesn't seem to like it as much as my scalp does.  My only regret is that I didn't buy the wider version.  Scalp brushing has become my newest addiction.  The sensation is amazing and the act of massaging my scalp keeps my hands away.  The urge to play with my hair is now easily quenched with a simple stimulation session.  I feel like someone who gave up a destructive habit (like smoking) and replaced it with a healthy alternative (running).


Finally, I'd like to introduce you to my Fresh Umbrian Clay Treatment Bar.  This purchase came from a need to have a clay mask when I travel. Sometimes my skin gets congested and all my facial supplies are miles away.  The Clay Treatment bar was suggested to my by the owner of a beauty store in L.A.  The price tag threw me off but I decided to get it because I have several Fresh products and I've never been disappointed.  What I love about this product is how easy it is to use.  Unlike my Aztec Clay, it doesn't have to be mixed. Unlike my Queen Helene, this bar is gentle without over drying.  Because it's shaped like a bar of soap, I simply moisten my face and rub the bar like I would if I were washing my face with it.  Ten minutes later the clay dries and I'm ready to move on with the rest of my regimen.  Ladies, this bar makes things so convenient for me.  Using a clay mask is no longer a big deal that I save for weekends.  It's gentle enough to use daily and has helped my skin improve.

Hope you enjoyed my sharing. In the future, I'll continue to bring these brief posts on random purchases and things I love.


Friday, February 8, 2013

Creme of Nature Argan Oil Giveaway


A big congrats goes to Leisa who was randomly selected for the Mizani conditioner giveaway.  For those of you who weren't selected last time, keep entering 'cause you might be next!

Today I have a special product to share.  Creme of Nature's Argan Oil Treatment in the 3 oz bottle.  If you'd like a chance to try this product for free, simply send me an email to relaxedhairhealth@gmail.com with the words Creme of Nature in the subject line.  One of you will receive an email on Sunday February 18, 2013 letting you know that you've won!  This giveaway is open to entries in the U.S.



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INGREDIENTS:
ACyclotetrasiloxane • Cyclopentasiloxane • Dimethiconol • Dimethicone • Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil • Amodimethicone • Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate • Benzophenone-3 • BHA • Parfum (Fragrance) • Linalool • CI 26100 (Red 17) • CI 47000 (Yellow 11)
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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

My visit to Dr. Sebi in search of products for healthy skin and hair

I'm in L.A. for a few days and one of the stops on my list was Dr. Sebi's office to try some of  their products.  I first heard of Dr. Sebi after reading an online interview of Basket Ball Wive's reality star Brooke Bailey.  She talked about how she's been taking some of his herbal supplements for years.  After a quick internet search, I learned that Dr. Sebi has been linked to other celebrities such as Lisa "Left Eye" Lopez, Magic Johnson, etc.  Curiosity got the best of me because I wanted see what all the excitement was about so I decided to pay them a visit.



Dr. Sebi (pronounced "say-be")

I entered into the modest office which displayed some of the commonly purchased herbal products.  I informed the young lady at the counter that I wasn't familiar with his products and wanted to learn more about what they had to offer.  Since I wasn't very familiar with their current offerings, I asked her what she could recommend for healthy skin and hair.  Before she had a chance to answer, I complimented her on her hair which appeared extremely healthy.  After she thanked me, I asked "do you have extensions in?"  Yes, she answered, but my hair is long, I use extensions in the back so my ends can stay protected when I curl with an iron."  I asked her how long her natural hair was and she replied that it was around mid-back.  "A few months ago", she told me, "I trimmed my hair and it's already grown a few inches."  When I asked what she used on her hair, she replied that she only uses Dr. Sebi's hair food oil (which consisted of an herbal infused olive oil).  I opted not to get the oil at the time and decided to purchase some of her other recommendations instead.

 (Demonstrating her estimated hair length a few months ago prior to straightening)

 (Demonstrating her estimated hair length after her recent straightening)

(Dr. Sebi hair food oil)

The first of my purchase was Eva Salve, which is an olive oil based skin care cream which contains eucalyptus oil, and other herbs I've never heard of.  I've used it a couple times now and so far I like it.  The consistency is like more like a butter than a cream. Similar to an olive butter (but not as greasy).  It dissolves into my skin without leaving it feeling shiny or oily.  Since it's winter time, I was on the lookout for a more nourishing cream to act as a moisturizer, I feel like this will do the trick.  The only thing that I have to get used to is the tingling sensation (from the eucalyptus) I get whenever I apply.  It's like rubbing Ben Gay on my face.   The tingling sensation and the smell goes away within a few minutes.  So far, I'm really liking the product.  The young lady at the counter co-signed on the product saying that she uses twice on a daily basis.


(Eva Salve and Seamoss mix)

Next I got the Seamoss Bladderwack Mix which comes in powder form.  The container is the same size as my Aztec Clay jar.  The Seamoss powder is the same consistency as the Aztec clay except it's a little darker in color.  According to the young lady at the counter, she drinks some of this in a smoothie on a daily basis.  Brooke Bailey also claims to drink the Seamoss as well.  What attracted me was the claim that the moss contained 92 of the 102 minerals found in our body.  I have this belief that I may not be receiving enough minerals in my diet so I figured this could help.  I've tried the powder in my Special K protein shake.  I'm going to be brutally honest with you and say that this stuff tastes......not good.  It's like drinking seaweed water.  And this is coming from someone who's favorite food is sushi and snacks on plain seaweed sheets.   This powder taste so authentic. It takes a little getting used to.  I'm one of those people who will endure an ill tasting product for the benefits so I'll keep drinking this stuff even though my taste buds don't like it.  I like to think that the worse something tastes, the more potent it is.  According to the product information, this powder is also high in zinc, calcium, sulfur (great for skin and hair), vitamins A&B.

Once I run out, I'll keep repurchasing except next time I'll buy from amazon for a quarter of the price I paid.  I may even play around and mix a little bit of it into my Aztec clay next time I do a facial.  I'm glad I stopped by otherwise I wouldn't have been introduced to the seamoss. I can't wait to experience the benefits.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

My Review of the Babyliss Pro Steam Flat Iron

One of my favorite purchases from past Currently Craving posts is the Babyliss Pro Steam Flat Iron.  I had no choice but to pick it up on Amazon after reading all the wonderful reviews.  Before finding the Babyliss, I was contemplating getting a Maxiglide Iron but was a little turned off by the iron's teeth. I've used the iron about 5 or 6 times and so far I'm pleased.  Of the four flat irons I currently own, the Babyliss gets the most love.
The iron itself has a small reservoir (and a backup) that I fill with water. I've been using acid water (low pH) to help further seal the cuticle layer.  The hole to the reservoir is kinda small so I found that it's easiest to fill using an applicator bottle.




Then there are the steam settings.  No steam, low steam, or full steam.  I bought the iron for one specific thing only, the steam, so rarely does that button move from the highest setting.  I used the iron this weekend at nearly 3 months post.  This time I chose to do an experiment to see if the steaming action of the iron was really making a difference.  I straightened a couple of sections without steam to see the difference between the other sections with the steam.  There were a couple of differences, first, the number of "passes" of the iron over that section reduced from 2X to 1X.  Secondly, I didn't have to use a comb or brush (i.e. the chase method) for additional smoothing. Without the steam setting, I needed to apply additional tension to achieve straighter results.


Along with straighter hair, the steam also created softer hair.  Each section I did using steam felt a bit more moisturized.  The thing with flat irons is that they normally strip moisture from the hair.  This iron is employing ionic steam to help loosen the texture, heat to open the cuticle, then pressure from the plates to smooth the follicle.  Unlike my Caruso steamer, this iron doesn't saturate the hair with steam so there's no fear of my hair feeling wet or damp afterwards. Damp hair invites frizz. With this iron, there is no such thing.

I have absolutely, positively no regrets with this flat iron.  The only "negative" is that there are no temperature settings.  Instead, the settings are numbers ( I think 1-40). There may have been a manual that tells me what setting the numbers represent but I lost it so, for now, I just keep it at a lower number.  Next time I flat iron, I'll test the iron first with a piece of paper.  They say that hair and paper burns at the same temperature (451 degrees).  This iron goes up to 465!  So it's important to test before I use (especially if I place on a higher setting).

The temp setting thing is one drawback, the other is how soft and smooth your hair becomes after use.  This has the potential to give us a false sense of security about the dangers of using heat because steam is involved.  Truth is, I still limit the use of this iron even though it feels "healthier" on my hair than the others.  Steam or no steam, at the end of the day, it's still a flat iron and I need to respect that.  This iron is the second best hair related purchase I made in the last six months (Micromist is in first place).  Even though I love this iron dearly, I've still got my eye on a quality infrared iron as a gift for my hair in the future.

(pic taken months ago after one of my first sessions with Babyliss Pro Steam Iron. *LOW HEAT*)

p.s.  I just went back and reviewed the product video for my Babyliss Iron and learned that the iron does indeed have infrared technology! How awesome is that?!  That must be why I like it so much.



 

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