Thursday, October 31, 2013

HAPPY ENDINGS: Sealing your ends for ultimate length retention

Life has been pretty darn good ever since I learned of Yayha's technique of applying additional protein products to the ends of our hair.  I've seen a noticeable improvement in the number of the small broken hairs that I used to be plagued with.  I didn't think things could get any better....until now.

Somehow, I stumbled upon another technique that also fortifies our ends and I'm excited to share it with you today.  This technique, my friends, is known as "sealing the ends." 

 
 
Here's how it would work.  You moisturize your hair as you normally would.  Perhaps you are employing the L.C.O. method where you start with a liquid, then your moisturizer followed by some oil to seal in the moisture.  But wait!  You're not done yet.  Finally you go back and apply another layer of oil to the ends, sealing them with even more moisture trapping goodness. 
 
Which oil should I use?
Preferably, when you are sealing your ends, you might want to reach for something that's a bit heavier in consistency than what you normally use on the rest of your hair.  I've experimented for the past several days using my Unpetroleum Jelly, which basically consists of castor oil, coconut oil, beeswax and vitamin E.  It has a thick consistency like Vaseline so I "diluted it" by mixing a little coconut oil into the mix and applied it to the last 3 inches of my hair. 
 
I also experimented with just plain coconut oil and pure vitamin E.  So far, I really like how the vitamin E feels in my hair.  As the weather conditions get harsher, I may experiment with even richer products like castor oil or pure shea butter.  This idea reminds me that I need to whip up another batch of my "Mega Omega" oil blend which I know my ends will love.
 
If some of you are concerned with walking around with greasy, oil ends, may I suggest to you to try this method at night if you want to experiment with heavier oils.  This gives the product ample time to absorb into the strand overnight.  It's been a few days since I've been utilizing this method and so far so good.  Depending on how your hair responds, you may only need to do this every few days. Or perhaps nightly, if you normally wear your hair out.  Maybe you find that you only need to seal once a week if you are constantly protective styling.  Your hair will tell you what to do. 
 
 I have a new found sense of confidence in the health of my ends.   First I learned a way to make them stronger, now this method for keeping them moist.  The timing couldn't be more perfect since drier air is fast approaching.  I should also mention that this method has been long revered by naturals to keep their ends in tip top shape.  Add this to the list of lessons we've learned.  I will keep my eyes and ears open for any other tips on creating amazingly healthy ends and post them as a part of this series. 
 
Do you have any special tips to keep your ends in tip top shape?
 
 


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

My Instagram.

As you all know, I've posted many a times about golden nuggets I found while stalking others on Instagram.  Some of you have asked about my Instagram account so I've finally opened my page. 


 
Feel free to follow me. 


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Shou Wu Chih: The Chinese Secret to Healthy Hair?

Last week I suddenly had cravings for those little sea weed sheet snacks and decided to head to the Asian grocer for some treats.  Normally, I grab my stuff and head out but this time, something prompted me to go over to the customer service section where they keep all of the Asian medicinal herbs and potions.  My eyes landed on a bottle filled with dark brew.  The name sounded really familiar so I did a quick search on my phone and found out why.
It turns out that this Shou Wu Chih tonic has roots derived from Fo Ti  & Shou Wu.  I learned of these herbs years ago and their remarkable quality to reverse grey hairs (in Chinese, Shou Wu means "black haired").  Technically, Shou Wu Chih is an herbal "energy drink" which is said to help cleanse the blood and improve overall health.  One of the side effects of this cleansing is a return of the hair's natural color.

I've seen Fo Ti in pill form at my local vitamin store in the hair supplement section but I prefer to receive my nutrition via liquid for optimal absorption.  My morning smoothies have done wonders for my hair, skin, nails because the nutritious liquid doesn't have to go through the normal digestion  process as ingested solids.  I read several accounts online of folks who used this tonic.  Some rave about the reduction in grey hairs, others say that they've seen overall appearance of healthier hair and an increase in regrowth.  Others tout the benefits of increased mood levels. Then there are those who said they didn't experience any changes.

The instructions say to mix with hot water or tea so I decided to add a little to my bamboo tea. The tonic has a strong scent that reminds me of those little vials of ginko biloba.  The flavor diluted pretty well and it gave my bamboo tea a bit of zing!  I try this out for a while and see if I notice any difference to my mood and energy.  Hopefully that stumbled upon some ancient Chinese secret that will keep my hair eternally youthful.

        
Monday, October 28, 2013

Motivation Monday: The Art of Self Discipline

Seems like I'm always trying to fit a new habit into my routine.  Sometimes it works, sometimes not.  A few weeks ago, instead building a new habit, I thought I would try eliminating an old one.  The habit I would be going after, is one that I've had for years.

Whenever I go into a grocery store or gas station, I always grab a bag of chips on my way out.  It's just something small that I reward myself with on a regular basis.  When I decided to go gluten free last year, I had to give up so many types of snacks.  I felt so grateful that chips were still on my "can eat" list that I indulged a little more than usual.  Over time, the frequency of me grabbing a small bag of chips increased.  Soon it became an unconscious habit.  I craved a bag of chips every time I walked to the check out line even though I wasn't hungry when I first walked in the store.  The behavior had taken over me.

That's when I decided to try something different....I simply made the commitment to "stop buying chips" for a specified number of days. The point of this was not to eliminate chips from my diet altogether, it was to create the opportunity to bring  back choice and self discipline into the situation.


Fast forward a couple of weeks and I now have the ability to go into any store, do my shopping, without having to unconsciously fall into an old habit loop.   Looking back at the situation now,  I realize that I didn't really want the chips all those times I reached for them.  I simply was reacting to a pattern that existed.  Our minds love to create rituals from the choices we make everyday.  If we choose to repeat an action or thought over and over again, our minds build those thoughts into our memory for easy retrieval.  It becomes part of our wiring. This is a good thing when it comes to activities like driving, brushing our teeth, etc.  It allows us to do those routine tasks without much thought.

The problem we run into comes when we make a "poor" choice over and over again.  Our minds save those repeated actions for reference. Soon, we are subconsciously taking that action without being fully present.   So how to we break the viscous cycle?

In the book, the Power of Habit, the author talks about a habit being comprised of three parts, the queue (or trigger) that sets the habit in motion, the routine (the behavior itself), and the reward which allows our brain to encode that behavior for the future. So in my case, the queue was when I walked up to the checkout out line at a store, the routine I engaged in was to grab a bag a chips.  The reward was the taste experience I received from enjoying some spicy jalapeno chips.  The author of the book points out that if you want to create a new habit (or break and old one) instead of focusing on the behavior itself, one should focus on the queue and the reward which trigger the habit.

For me, focusing on the queue was critical.  I knew that every time I walked to a check out line, my eyes started wandering around looking for the chip selection.  So instead of letting that "happen to me" I decided that when I walked up to the checkout line, I would do something different, like looking through my phone.  Suddenly, when the queues changed, my desire for chips diminished.  At first, I thought I would go through major withdrawals but once I took away the trigger, the temptation seemed to go away.  Yesterday, my husband came home with two small bags of chips. One for me and one for him.  I looked at the second bag and told him that I really didn't want it.  This doesn't mean that I'll never eat chips again.  But it does demonstrate that my former addiction habit wasn't as powerful as I thought it was.  Now I have the power to choose.

If I were going to use the same principles to create a new habit, I would really focus on the trigger and the reward.  For example, when I lay $1.00 next to my motivation jar, it becomes a queue to urge me to work out.  Once my workout is complete, I reward myself by putting a dollar in the jar.  In the Habit book, the author talks about people who used a  certain time of day as a trigger to go work out.  Once complete, those who rewarded themselves with a small piece of chocolate after working out at the same time everyday, were more likely to develop their actions into a long term habit.

I'm going to try adding the reward component to habits that I have difficulty maintaining.  Especially those habits that take a long time to see the results of my actions.  I can't wait to continue my experiment by building out routines based on conscious decision rather than circumstance.  I can't tell you how empowering it is to realize that I don't have to fall victim to my habits based on old triggers.  I simply have to connect the trigger to my action and chose a different behavior from this day forward.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The 100 Dresses Project

As a child, one of my favorite books of all time was "The Hundred Dresses."  It's about a poor girl who was made fun of because she wore the same dress to school everyday.  The young girl, however, claimed that she owned 100 dresses, all of them beautiful and unique.


I remember checking out that book over and over again fantasizing about one day having a closet of 100 dresses.  Fast forward many years later and I have a closet full of jeans and pants.  The few dresses I do own are shoved in the back of my closet, saved for rare and special occasions.

I've decided to bring back the art of wearing dresses again as a part of my regular routine.  I'm not saying that I'm never wearing pants again but I long to one day build my own collection of 100 dresses.  Here, I'm wearing a dress from Forever 21.  I was drawn to it because it was both ugly and pretty at the same time.  The pattern isn't traditionally pleasing to the eye, but that's what attracted me to it. It was tucked away in the corner, far from the trendier pieces on the main sales floor.   I paired it with a statement necklace from H&M and some rustic cuffs.

One thing about wearing dresses is that you no longer have the luxury of blending into the crowd.  Next time you go out to a non-formal event, look around and count the number of women who aren't wearing jeans/pants.  Standing out isn't a bad thing, but it requires a level of confidence and certainty to hold your head high instead of being intimidated by the increased number of stares and acknowledgments.  It helps us build the habit of not being swayed by what others think of us.  Feels good.

Look out for more posts as I build my dress collection.
Wednesday, October 23, 2013

I bought Coconut Vinegar! Here's how I will use it.

As I was casually strolling through the aisles of my local vegan health food store, my eyes happened to look up at exactly the right moment to land upon this:


Immediately knew what it was because I just happened to write a post on coconut vinegar earlier this year.  Only difference was that my first attempt was a makeshift version. This time, I got my hands on the real thing.  Since this is a new product to me, I'm still in the learning phase.  So far, what I've gathered is how nutritious coconut vinegar is.  Not only does it contain 17 amino acids, minerals, vitamin C and B vitamins, it also has prebiotics (aka food for your digestive flora). All these nutrients are possible because the source of the vinegar is derived from the sap of the tree grown in volcanic soil.  It's said that the coconut trees go through their growth spurt in part due to the minerals collect from sea water along with the rich soil. The roots of the tree have access to this water which it delivers to the coconut blossom via it's sap. The nutritious sap is collected, fermented and used to make this amazing product.

Another piece of info I gathered from my research is that coconut vinegar isn't as acidic as ACV (apple cider vinegar). In fact, it has a nearly neutral pH.  This makes it much milder in taste and intensity to ACV.  So now that I have my hands on the "Coconut Secret," here's what I'm going to do with it.

I'm going to drink it! While I was checking out at the health food store, one of the employees mentioned how he drinks this in the morning instead of ACV. It has a much milder taste and doesn't sting like it's counterpart.  I used to muster up the courage to take a shot of ACV in the mornings but then I couldn't take it anymore and just gave up.  My husband still does it and I cringe any time I witness it.  Not only is it milder but coconut vinegar is much more nutritious than ACV.  Then I saw this video where a guy shared that he replaced him lemon water and ACV with coconut vinegar in the morning.  I'm gonna give it a shot!

I'm going to use it on my skin! Everyday I use some apple cider vinegar on a cotton ball and apply to my skin.  This is because I've battled dermatitis for over a decade and, I promise you, ACV is the ONLY thing that worked on the peeling I experience on my face.  Perhaps the ultra low pH has something to do with it.  I'd like to experiment with coconut vinegar because I'm attracted to the nutritional content.  I'm curious to see if my skin will benefit differently if it came in contact to a nutritionally rich vinegar day after day.  On the other hand, I still need the same potency I get from ACV.  Who know's, maybe the best solution is to mix the two.

I'm going to use it on my hair!  We should all know by now how beneficial apple cider vinegar is to our hair.  The low pH helps seal cuticles and promote a healthy scalp.  I read a few accounts online where ladies substituted coconut vinegar for their usual ACV and liked the results.  They claim that this is milder but still benefited the hair.  Sometimes when I use ACV, I feel like it's a bit much for my hair.  Having an alternative available really makes me happy. 

I just bought my bottle yesterday so I haven't had a chance to use it on my hair yet. But I did get a chance to taste it both raw and diluted with water.  First off, this smells and tastes nothing like coconut.  The taste is very similar to ACV but not as potent.  Doesn't burn as much when it goes down the throat.  Then I put a little bit of it on a cotton pad and wiped it all over my face.  The experience was very similar to when I use ACV.  In fact, it reminded me of when I first used apple cider vinegar as a toner.  My eyes were a little sensitive to the scent and I experienced a little tingling.  I think my skin got used to ACV because I rarely experience tingling anymore.  I hope to see additional benefits from the nutritional content of this vinegar both internally and externally.  Oh, and I can't wait to use it on my hair.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

My quest for dewy skin all year long

Even though we are only a few days into fall, I'm thinking ahead to the cooler months.  More importantly, I'm thinking about how to avoid the "downfalls" of  the cooler seasons.

We already talked about a strategy to manage seasonal shedding.  Next on my list is something really big for me.  Every winter, I seem to battle with dryness and, for the most part, I fail miserably.  This year, I'm planning ahead. The goal is to maintain healthy, dewy skin all year long.


And when I say dewy, what I mean is healthy, hydrated and glowing naturally. Yes, you can create some of that effect via makeup but what is even more special is if one can start with a blank slate that is darn near flawless.   So let's talk about how we get that....



Prior to the "Drink your Water Challenge,"  I always seemed to reduce my water intake as soon as the temperature dropped.  It got so bad at times that the skin on my hands would start peeling.  Then I'd react by drinking more water, then suddenly, the peeling would go away.  Now that I know better, my single focus this fall and winter is how to continue fighting the good fight by keeping my water intake at an acceptable level.  I was watching a video segment from a TV show where the dermatologist expert was showcasing a beauty product line claiming to hydrate the skin from the inside out.  I was like "you know what hydrates the skin inside out?........Water."  So if you don't plan to drink at least 1 liter of water a day or more, forget about looking hydrated and fresh this fall/winter.
......................................................



For some reason, every winter my body seems to crave omega 3 oils.  I'm guessing it's because my scalp & skin feels so dry that it's sending out signals for internal lubrication.  As we discussed in length in this post, fish oil contains vitamin D which we tend to get less of due to the limited sun exposure.  Oh, don't let me forget that natural fish oil also contains vitamin A which is amazing for healthy skin.  Of course this all means that I will be very regimented in my consumption of fermented cod liver oil this fall.  This stuff is superb because it's all natural and readily absorbed by the body.  Years ago, I had a major issue with dry feet all winter.  Even when I applied lotions & creams, dry feet still plagued me.  Then I started taking liquid fish oil daily and, guess what? My dry feet issues were no longer ruining my life.  I want to keep my nails strong, my skin dewy fermented cod liver oil will be a daily must for me this season.
..............................................


When the weather cools we sweat less.  Over time this creates a stagnancy with our skin as toxins are not released on a regular basis. We've got to help this process along by sloughing of dead skin cells on a regular basis.  Think about it. Most of our grooming during cold weather consists of slathering thick butters over dry skin.  If we keep doing this day after day, of course our skin will feel dull over time.  Dewy skin reflects light and light reflection can only occur with fresh, healthy skin.  So this fall and winter I will make good use of my Clarisonic, my body scrubs, and other exfoliators.
..............................................

I think if I'm able to take these actions consistently (especially regarding my water drinking) I will have a completely different experience than in previous winters.  Right now I'm on a good path with my skin journey and I'd like to keep it that way.




Sunday, October 20, 2013

STYLE SUNDAY: Love in Black & White

I went through this phase where every piece of clothing I purchased was black. Black shoes, black bags, everything.  Recently I made a vow to stay away from black clothes (since I already own so many items).

Now, I'm looking for ways to accessories these dark pieces in new & interesting ways.

Then I stumbled on upon these magnificent black & white animal print pumps and instantly fell in love.  They are so effortlessly chic that I can't stand it.  I'd love to have them as a part of my collection.  Instead of pairing the look with a black bag (which is something I'd normally do) I decided style them with a black and white clutch from ALDO.  A simple bracelet completes the look.
............................................................................................................
Lucy Skater Dress + Giraffe print pumps + ALDO Clutch + ASOS bracelet






Saturday, October 19, 2013

CURRENTLY CRAVING: The Riiviva Personal Microderm

I feel one of those "craving" itches coming on again.  This tends to happen whenever I stumble upon something that has one or more of the following qualities:
  • It's absolutely fabulous
  • It incorporates technology/innovation
  • It promises to solve one or more of my needs.
  • It's perfect. 
This new yummy gadget, to me, encompasses everything on the list above and more. Ladies, let me introduce you to the Riiviva Personal Microderm system.


This wonderful piece of machinery is currently on my craving list. Yes. I already have the Personal Microderm (PMD).  Why would I want another one?  First, I love the look and design of this tool.  Secondly, the Riiviva has an actual diamond tip versus the "sand paper" like tip of the PMD.  As you may know, when microderm abrasion is done by the professionals, they use machines with diamond tip to exfoliate the top layer of the skin.  So, theoretically, the Riiviva machine should perform more like a professional service than my PMD.

I also like the fact that the Riiviva system is cordless which makes it really easy to use and travel with. I saw a few before and after pics and I like what I saw. I think this perfect little gadget would do wonders for my acne scars.  Lately, I've received several compliments on how much "better" my skin looks.  While I'm very grateful to have made improvements so that others notice, I still realize that the comments are from those who've seen my skin at it's worst.  I long for the day when some random stranger, who doesn't know my skin's past, can make a comment on the appearance of my skin.....simply because.

I want this thing so badly.....I want it! I want it! I want it!


Riiviva Microdermabrasion Device - Testimonial from BeautySage on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Instagram Feature: Meet your new virtual fitness trainer

It's time for another fitness inspiration post.  This time, we're gonna do something a little different.  I'd like to focus on one Instagram inspiration in particular who is responsible for sculpting the bodies of multiple beauties.


(@officialdollycastro)

The Instragramer I'm speaking of goes by the name of @brandonoshodin.  I stumbled on his page yesterday and couldn't wait to share with all of you.  Brandon is a personal trainer who's passion is to bring his clients to peak fitness levels.  I follow several personal trainers on instragram but I instantly connected with the healthy mix of inspiration and motivation when I scrolled through his page.


This quote in particular really resonated with me.  Reminds me of a post I wrote long ago discussing our future selves.  I love Brandon's repeated message of doing it even especially when you don't feel like it.  Check out this little excerpt he posted recently.

"This is all that matters. When there is nobody around to motivate you. You're tired. You'r ebusy. The lines between it's too late at night and it's to early in the morning are blurred. You can't find the right song to motivate you or the right speech to inspire you. Will you do what you said you were going to do? Will you shrink into mediocrity or step forward into greatness. It's not about the workout it's about strengthening your will power and discipline. Our self esteem is directly tied to the promises we make to ourselves and keep. ACHIEVE GREATNESS."
If all that wonderful motivation weren't enough, he floods our timelines with images that will certainly inspire you to get fit.....Check out some of his clients.


(@jasminecalle)



(@metisha)

(@officialdollycastro)
"Every time I tell her to get up and get that workout in, she's already got it done.  That's discipline.  Workout when you want to do it, and work out when you don't want to.  As you can see, the results are worth the effort" 
                       ~@brandonoshodin speaking of Dolly Castro~

Not only does he motivate and inspire, but his page is filled to the brim with short video clips of his workouts in action.   Some of them were pretty intense. I think I burned a few extra calories just watching this video.  Thanks to him, I have even more ideas of how to utilize my resistance bands in creative ways.  Those things are perfect for creating muscle-toning resistance without having to invest in a ton of weights.  

I'll feature some of my other favorite trainers in future posts.  But for now, I'd like to thank Brandon for giving us a burst of inspiration and keeping us focused on our goals.  

*I'd also like to thank him for the occasional pic of him flashing his well sculpted abs*


(@brandonoshodin)




Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What a vitamin D deficiency is doing to your hair!

Every year, after the summer season has passed, I have this unexplainable desire to consume more fish oils and stand out in the sun.  I can't say for sure, but I think it has to do with a craving to increase my vitamin D levels.

I'm sure you are familiar with this, but our bodies are unable to produce vitamin D on its own.  So it relies on natural sunlight to help synthesis the creation of this necessary vitamin.  We can also get vitamin D through our food but, based on what I've read, people rarely get enough vitamin D through eating alone.  It's also important to note that people of color have a natural sun protection factor through the melanin of our skin which blocks some of the vitamin D from forming.  Those of us who are diligent about wearing sunscreen are potentially inhibiting vitamin D production even more.  Less hours of sunlight coupled with dark skin and inadequate diet all work together to create a potential deficiency situation (those who live in colder climates should pay special attention).

Without adequate amounts of vitamin D we can start to experience symptoms like depression, feeling tired/weak, inability to lose weight, chronic pain, and even cancer.  But what really caught my attention was the link between vitamin D and our hair.  After browsing online, I found a few discussions where women who had vitamin D deficiencies noticed a huge improvement in the growth and health of their hair after proper supplementation.  In some cases, active hair loss was attributed to lack of vitamin D.  Could that be another factor in seasonal shedding?  Some of us who are "slow growers" may consider looking into their vitamin D levels as, low vitamin D levels can impact our hair growth rate.  I was shocked to hear an account, on one of the forums, where the person claims a woman with severe vitamin D deficiency hadn't gotten a hair cut in over 5 years.

(My modest cod liver oil collection)

What's critical to mention in all of this, is how important it is to have your vitamin D levels checked by a qualified physician so you can be prescribed the right amount of supplementation.  I will be very conscious of this potential problem as I head into the fall/winter months.  Some of the things I plan on doing include rotating gym visits with actual walks/workouts outdoors.  There were a few days when I worked from home consecutively. One thing I noticed is how quickly my mood levels dropped.  After taking a brisk 2 mile walk outside for a couple of days, my energy shifted for the better and I felt like myself again. Along with the outdoor activities, I will be consistent with my fermented cod liver oil consumption which boasts of containing between 2000-4000IU of vitamin D per teaspoon.  What I appreciate about fermented cod liver oil is how it is a natural (readily absorbable) form of vitamin D.

I have to do more research on this topic including understanding the various types of vitamin D. But in the mean time, I will do what I know. I will also make a conscious effort to consume vitamin D foods including leafy greens, eggs, sardines, etc.  I'm excited to learn about the connection of vitamin D to a successful hair (& health) journey.  By the way, this doesn't mean that I'll be foregoing sunscreen.  I will still wear it daily on my face and hands for anti aging purposes.  But, what I will do, is wear shorts more when I walk instead of full length pants.

Here's to healthy hair growth all year long!


**Please consult with your doctor regarding the proper amount of vitamin D usage to avoid risk of toxicity.**


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Makeup Show Round Up

I'm grateful for the opportunity to have attend the MakeUp Show earlier this month.  Since this was my second year in attending, I did a better job of controlling my urges and picking up only what I thought I needed.

Although I consider myself a novice, I've amassed quite a modest collection.  I love the possibilities of creating beautiful looks with a few brush strokes coupled with the right technique.  My favorite part of the Makeup Show was being around all the gifted makeup artists and industry experts.  Most of all, I relished the opportunity to pick up some new goodies to add to my collection.

(Makeup Forever Professional)

(NARS)

(KA'OIR Cosmetics)

(Keisha KA'OIR)

Now time for the mini haul:

(Picked up some Crown brushes)

Since my eyelids are hooded, I needed to grab various brushes that would give me adequate control when applying shadows.  


(Makeup Forever HD Foundation) 

(Makeup Forever lipsticks and liquid concealers)


 My favorite find at the Makeup Show was this Gleam body shimmer.  I can't tell you how long I've been on the look out for product that gave me an all over bronzy glow.  Gleam rubs on like a light-weight lotion leaving behind tiny sparkles and a smooth glow.  Best of all, it comes in various shades for all skin tones.  I picked up the Deep Gold which, the lady told me, is the same color Brandy wore when she appeared on Dancing with the Stars.  I love this stuff.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Inphenom Mist: I think I found my new favorite leave-in

With all the commotion lately about my Kanechom conditioners, I forgotten about some Inphenom product purchases I also made around the same time.  Just before I stumbled upon Kanechom, I purchased a deep conditioning treatment and a leave-in mist from Inphenom.  Still haven't used the deep conditioner yet because I keep reaching for Kanechom each wash day.  But, finally, I remembered the mist after conveniently running out of my Biolage Daily Leave in Tonic.

Since I roller set on wash days, it's important for me to have a leave-in on hand at all times.  My go to leave in for years was the Biolage brand for its moisturizing qualities.  After my hair analysis consultation, I was encouraged to seek out a strengthening leave-in to help treat some of the mild lifting of my cuticle layer.  I didn't want to automatically default to a product with proteins since I'm doing regular protein treatments now.  The last thing I want is to overload my hair with protein.

Then I stumbled upon the Inphenom mist and was immediately sold.  Take a look at the product description and you'll know why:

"Inphenom Mist re-supplies the CMC to the hair while blow styling every day.  Nano-Micro CMC penetrates into the lipid layers and the CMC Amino mix (made of 11 kinds of Amino Acids) penetrates into the moisture layer to hydrate the hair."  

In case you are wondering what the CMC is, let me remind you.  CMC stands for the Cell Membrane Complex.  This is the layer where our ceramides reside. When we relax, color our hair, etc, we impact the integrity of the CMC and our cuticle layer.  This amazing mist claims to have the ability to positively improve the actual structure of our hair.  Even if the claims of "amino acid penetration to the CMC layer" isn't completely true, I'm still super impressed by the fact that they even talk like that!  To me, this speaks to a company who really has a desire to create truly healthy hair.....and I admire that (wipes tear from right eye).

The product description is what made me purchase but what makes me love the Inphenom mist is its packaging.  Not because it's all sleek & fancy looking. More importantly, this bottle has the ability to product the finest mist I've ever experienced.  I dunno why, but I have this thing for ultra fine mist.


Makes me feel like, with every spray, thousands of hair strands are being impacted.  Even when I've used up all the contents, I will save this bottle for future use.  I have lots of ideas. For one, I'm going use it to mist my hair with water whenever I perform the LOC method. My only qualm is that I wish the bottle came in a larger size but, now that I think about it, because of the coverage I get with each mist, this bottle will last me longer than I anticipate.  I can also alternate with Biolage on days when I do protein treatments and Inphemon on the other wash days.

So far, I've only experienced this once.  My roller set came out straighter than usual and my hair feels reinforced.  What I also love about this product is that it can be used to support the hair in the case of heat usage.  Since I had such a great experience with this mist, perhaps I can try the deep conditioner I purchased but never bothered opening.  I'm hoping that I'll be just as pleasantly surprised with the conditioner as I am with the mist.






Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Why I got the Clarisonic Pro & what I love about it!

Ever since I first got a taste of the Clarisonic Pro during a recent professional facial, I knew I wanted needed this tool in my life. Something about the intense pulsations made me feel like I was experiencing something special. I proclaimed my adoration for it in an earlier post and, as we all know, it would only be a matter of time before I finally got my hands on one.

The process towards finally making my decision to purchase took a little longer than I thought.  I kept debating whether it was logical from someone who owned a perfectly functioning Clarisonic (classic) to got out and purchase another one.  Allow me to go through my thought process and reasoning with you.

Reason 1: The Cost

On the one hand, I paid around $ 225.00 for the Pro on Amazon, which may seem pretty expensive.  But, on the other hand, my original Clarisonic cost $200.00 plus tax when I bought it several years ago.  So, in essence, this better version of my Clarisonic only cost a few bucks more.  May I also add that prior to buying my old Clarisonic, I fooled around and got some $40.00 one at Bed Bath and Beyond.  I had to replace that thing a couple of times.  My Clarisonic, however, has been with me through thick and thin and still works like the first day I got it.  I appreciate the level of quality I get with this fine piece of electronic artistry. Because of that, I consider the measly $200.00 an investment in my skin rather than a cost.

(the Clarisonic Pro Package complete with all the extras)

Reason 2:  The Extras

On its own, the Pro Version of the Clarisonic was a good buy. But then I think about the added bonus of the body brush and it blows my mind.  You all know that I'm a huge fan of exfoliation and circulation. I've written on it several times.  This perfect little professional machine comes with an extension and a larger brush, that allows me to deep cleanse my shoulders and back in the shower. I suspect it can also be used on the thighs to improve circulation and ward off pesky cellulite.  I've tried it a few times in the shower and, let me tell you, this thing is just perfect.  I like that the shower setting doesn't have the timer beep so you can concentrate on certain areas for as long as you need.  Another thing I like is how easily I can convert it from my facial tool into the shower brush with just a few small adjustments.


Reason 3: The Benefits

Speaking of exfoliation and circulation, my primary motivation for saying "yes" to the pro was the intensity of the rotating brush.  On the pro-setting, the brush cleanses your face with a bit more vigor.  The reason I love that is because I believe that my skin is getting deep cleansed, while receiving a greater level of exfoliation, and (don't quote me on this) I think the Pro has the ability to stimulate collagen production creating firmer skin.  I say this because the intensity of the cleansing promotes greater blood flow to the face.  We all know that only good things can happen when our face is receiving increased blood flow.

Something very interesting happened the very first time I used the Pro on its highest setting.  The next morning, upon looking in the mirror, I noticed that my face appeared oily.  Back in my younger days my skin tended to be oily, but as time went on, my oil production seemed to stop causing me to have somewhat dry skin.  But, whenever I experienced a deep cleansing facial, or when I received my peel from Lady Dee, suddenly oil production increased.  My theory around this is that surface layer dead skin was effectively removed, allowing my natural oil production to reappear.  In the past, only major treatments had the power to do this. Now I have the ability effectively exfoliate on a regular basis.  Imagine what that could mean for my acne scars.

It's also comforting to know that the Pro has several settings for those of us who would like a less intense experience.  For instance, I can use the Pro setting once or twice a week, when I do my in-home facials.  Or use the highest setting only my acne scars to promote increased circulation there.  The possibilities are endless. Needless to say, I'm overwhelmed with happiness about my new buddy.  I have absolutely zero regrets except of having wished I gotten it sooner.
Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Seasonal Shedding? I'm not about that life

We've got to think on our feet and stay ahead of the game when it comes to this hair journey thing.  Right now, the only thing on my mind, is how to successfully avoid the excessive seasonal shedding as much as humanly possible.  I'm not talking about your normal, everyday shedding.  No, what I speak of is the viscous, non stop shedding that takes normally place right around the end of the year.

I look back to years past when I was plagued with an incredible amount of shedding.  Because of my relaxer touch-up schedule, I normally relax at the end of the year. So year after year, I would endure battle the shedding while having a bounty of new growth.  Shedding + New Growth = Tangles (massive ones).

Not this year though.  I think I have learned some tricks to help thwart my shedding. I intend to employ these techniques whole heatedly starting now. My focuses will be simple.  It's really all about making sure my scalp is well cared for while ensuring adequate circulation to the hair follicle.

Already, I'm noticing an increase flakes and dryness in my scalp.  This is not okay.  I see it as a sign of impending danger.  So I am taking the first step in my plan to prevent excessive shedding by increasing my water intake.  It's not as hot as it used to be and I'm noticing the need to drink lots of water is subsiding.  So I have decided to become more regimented in my water drinking.  Which means going back to having clear goals around how much water I consume.  Right now, I shoot for 2 liters or more a day.  Another reason why I'm drinking lots of water is maintain proper circulation throughout my body.  I have a sneaky suspicion that our circulation isn't as high in fall/winter season as in summertime which could be a factor in the shedding.

Another reason why I'm ramping up the water intake is because I'm constantly reminded of a conversation I had with a friend.  She told me that her stylist was always able to tell when she wasn't drinking enough water based on the condition of the scalp.  Then I think about some of the experiences shared on a forum when they challenged themselves to drink more water.  Several stated that their hair began to hold moisture better, others talked improved skin benefits, etc.  We, too, shall drink our water so we can experience all of that and more!


Along with the additional water intake, I also focusing on manual stimulation/circulation as well.  For over a month, I've challenged myself to exercise my scalp daily. This could include massages, scalp brushing, and even hair pulling.  Whatever I takes to bring more blood flow, I'm with it!  Whenever I consistently exercise my scalp, my shedding decreases. So, I'm committed to keep this up throughout the rest of the year.

A couple of other things I will keep doing is stimulating the scalp with essential oils on wash days (and more frequently if necessary).  Then I also need to make sure I drink lots of bamboo tea throughout fall and winter months.  The tea contains hair healthy nutrients that help my hair and scalp tremendously. Back in my vitamin rotation is cayenne pepper which is amazing at increasing internal circulation on so many levels.

 I've already employed these strategies and so far, so good.  I look forward to completing the fall/winter season without the paralyzing fear of having to battle unnecessary shedding.  Wish me luck.


Monday, October 7, 2013

The Key to staying motivated: Knowing what drives you.

A couple of years ago, I worked with a life coach.  I've wanted to work with one for years and finally the decision to go for it.  It was an interesting experience, to say the least.  Because I was already on a personal growth journey long before my first session, much of what he told me I knew already.

There's one thing I learned about myself that really struck me.  He told me, after doing an assessment, that I was much more motivated by pain rather than pleasure.  Meaning that I'm more likely to take action to avoid pain than to move towards something good.  When I thought about it, I realized that he was completely accurate.  Whenever things are "bad" or getting bad, I will muster up everything within me to change the situation.  In essence, my actions are motivated by the fact that I want to change the current situation.

But when the situation is going "well,"  suddenly I feel less motivated to keep going. My actions begin to decline, gradually the situation turns for the worst, and soon, a burst of motivation overcomes me to create a different outcome.  It becomes a viscous cycle.  Worst of all this way of doing things keeps me from reaching higher levels of accomplishments.

For the sake of illustration, let's talk about my fitness journey.  I get all motivated because I've added a few pounds or lost muscle tone.  Then I make a decision to get back in the gym (avoiding the pain of being uncomfortable with my body & energy levels).  After a few weeks of intense training things change and I'm enjoying the results (experiencing pleasure).  Then, I miss a few days which turn into a few weeks....and soon I'm back to square one.



I started thinking of other means of motivating myself staying motivated besides avoiding a negative outcome. After a little reflection, I remembered that I have yet another motivator aside from pain avoidance.  I'm also highly motivated by immediate results.  I will keep doing something as long as I see impact of my actions.  Then I came across this idea of rewarding yourself for every time you take an action.  Each time you do something, you see the impact of that action. The more you do it the greater the impact.  Hence, the workout jar.

I thought this was a great idea and decided to put it into practice right away.  I love this system because:
  •  The reward mechanism is very visual.  I see the impact of my past actions every time I glance at my jar. 
  • The jar helps develop my weak area which is "pleasure motivation".  I want the jar to grow, and I want to reach a certain dollar amount by the end of the year.  This is pleasure motivation at its finest.  
I have every intention of creating a similar process for other areas where I struggle to stay consistent (like drinking water, daily meditation, etc).  Maybe I use marbles instead of dollars. Maybe I'll keep using currency.  One thing I notice, after doing this for a few days, is how much I want to put a dollar in the jar.  I have no issues with having to work out for at least 30 minutes as long as I get to put a dollar in that jar.  I live for it!  

Best of all, I'm amassing a small fortune and one day, I will put that money towards something cool.  Then I will have "something cool" and a fit body.  It's a win-win.  
Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Weekly Fitness Inspo: Staying fit through the holidays

It won't be long until we notice slightly cooler  weather, now that fall is here.  Soon thoughts of layering and heavy jackets will consume us.  Not to mention the onslaught pumpkin-cinnamon flavored baked goods, and calorie laden fall beverages.  Then, slowly but surely, the extra pounds will start to creep in.  Next thing you know, we'll be starting the new year with promises of new eating habits and work out plans to get us back on track from our holiday discretions.

With all that said, I'd like to let you all know that I plan doing all I can to keep us fully motivated from now until the end of the year.  There will be no extra poundage here!  This will not happen on my watch. We shall keep ourselves motivated to keep sculpting beautiful bodies.   We're keeping our motivations high so that our actions will follow suit. 

 
@swarecapri
 
Miss "swarecapri is my shero.  Not only does she have a fabulous frame, she somehow manages to complete a vigorous run while sporting perfect hair (so not fair).  There was a time in recent past when her workouts weren't as frequent but, like all of us, she realized that it was best to get back on track.  Now that she's returned to her previous glory, she will serve as inspiration for us all!
 
@iamemeraie_
 
 
@owerashidat
 
Gosh, I remember a time when I would smile at my reflection every time she and I would meet.  You can't help but to grin from ear to ear like miss @owerashidat when you see the fruit of all of your wonderful labor manifested in the form of a gloriously toned physique.  It's the most satisfying feeling ever!

 
@myrissa_joy

@brittnebabe

This young lady has the most perfect waist ever! I can't get over how tiny it is.  Her Instragram contains a before pic in which she was sporting a bit of a "pot-belly."  This gives me hope that beautiful waists can be created!  The secret to her success is 80% diet (clean eating) and 20% fitness.  
 
Onward and forward ladies.  Let's create the healthiest version of ourselves that we can. 
Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Some thoughts on protein overload....

One of the most obvious changes to my regimen lately has been the addition of protein use at regular intervals.  I'm adore moisturizing conditioners so I primarily just stuck to what I'm most comfortable with.   But the feedback I received from my hair analysis changed all of that.  I was instructed to use a strengthening daily moisturizer plus encouraged to use a mild protein treatment bi-weekly.  Then I learned of Yahya's technique of fortifying her ends with more protein than the rest of her hair and I was immediately sold.

But then I got to thinking, "I wonder if all this newly added protein could lead to an eventual protein overload situation."  With the exception of when I once used Aphogee 2 step hard protein treatment & Keracare Sustanance, I've never experienced protein overload.  At least not that I remember.  Probably because I never really used proteins as regularly as I do now.  So I think now is a good time to educate myself so I can look out for the warning signs and act pre-emptively.

What is protein overload? Basically, it's when our hair strands contain an excess amount of protein content versus moisture.  The outcome of all this is dry, brittle hair that is prone to breakage.  Many people who experience protein overload describe their hair as feeling stiff like straw and dries easily when wet.  This experience usually occurs after doing one or more protein treatments.

The good news in all of this is that protein overload can be corrected by doing the following:

+ Deep conditioning & steaming with highly moisturizing conditioners.
+ Add a pinch of salt to your deep conditioner.
+ Do a clarifying treatment to help remove excess build up on the hair.
+ Baggy the hair after moisturizing to amp up the moisture levels.
+ A relaxer touch up can help counteract the high levels of protein in the hair.
+ Co-wash regularly to increase water levels in the hair.

I never had to think about protein overload in the past because, honestly, I wasn't doing protein treatments all that much. Now that my awareness is up, I'll make sure to do all I can to try to avoid this situation while reaping all the benefits of stronger hair.  Even if it can't be avoided, at least I know what to do bring balance back.  I'm seeing some good things happen ever since adding regular protein treatments into my regimen.  Now I just have to make sure everything stays that way.


 

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