Saturday, December 31, 2011

What a year 2011 was! I really enjoy writing posts for this blog but I must say that my favorite post (other than the features) is the end of the year wrap up post where I recap some of my learning and areas of focus throughout the year. I have to admit that I sometimes forget some of the little gems I tend to find during the course of the year. So let's take a walk down memory lane and take a look back over the highs and lows of 2011.

Who could forget the commencement of a great year with my stumble upon silica in February. I can't believe we're nearing two years since silica my first post on the benefits of silica. I plunged in with both feet when I learned of the benefits of silica to my hair, skin and nails. First I started taking silica supplements, then I graduated to Hubner's silica gel which was said to be very effective and easily assimilated into the body. The benefits I received were almost instant. My skin and nails were singing the praises of silica. This stuff instantly became part of my beauty rituals. The Law of Attraction states that we attract the things we think about the most. Is there any question as to why I was able to attract silica in the form bamboo tea in my life last year? Bamboo tea is pretty amazing. It's light, delicious and contains up to 350 mg of silica per 8 ounce cup. Luckily for us, the vendor graciously offered to partner with the blog to offer bamboo tea at a great price and many of you have taken advantage. My intention is to continue to offer the bamboo tea into 2012 since many of you have requested that "I never stop selling the tea."

A huge focus back in 2010 was on my scalp health. Plagued with shedding like you wouldn't believe, I decided that the only way to address this issue was by dealing with the root scalp. In 2010 I began to discover some solutions to what seemed like an impossible situation. In 2011, I also had some pretty powerful breakthroughs when I discussed the types of carrier oils that work best with our favorite essential oils. Possibly my favorite post of 2011 was a candid look at a 72 year old man's hair regimen and what we could learn from good 'ole Mr. Sanford. I still use his technique to this day.

In 2011 I was inspired by the beautiful ladies featured on the blog. It all started with our conversation with Ms. NJOY who reminded us that the use of our minds powerful is just as powerful to our hair journey as a healthy regimen. Pretty much all of our features were a hit but I think the most popular features to date has got to be of Pink Pearls who introduced us to the world of Kerastase. After interviewing her, one thing led to another and I was able have the wonderful MircoMist experience. Next year I hope to really capture the hair journeys of many more beautiful heads of hair because I am just as much of a hair porn fiend as you are.

Looking ahead to 2012, I am more than excited about what lays ahead. Just this week, I made available the first in a series of topic specific hair guides as resources with detailed information on how to address hair related issues such as moisture, strength, dealing with setbacks, etc. I should also mention that I'm considering evolving the blog which may include a name and design change. There's so much I want to share on the blog but I sometimes feel is if I'm a bit limited to discussing only hair related subjects. I received lots of positive comments on the posts I made on daily habits and personal growth and I feel like there's so much more to share on various other topics. Also, I do have it as a goal of mine to finally create and release a moisturizer compliment to Gleau Argan Oil Blend. What's kept me from doing so all this time is a fear that if this thing isn't absolutely flawless, I will not allow it to see the light of day. The dream of this product I've created in my mind is so perfect that I don't know if such a product could actually exist in real life.....I know that I must let my desire for perfectionism go and bring this product into existence so you guys can give me the feedback I need to make the product even better.

As far as my hair is concerned, my primary focus in 2012 will be on the health and strength of my ends. It's been a while now since I started using Affirm Fiberguard (mild) which has inadvertently led to a transition from fully relaxed hair to texlaxed. My ends are still fully relaxed straight which makes them a little thinner than I'd like them to be. This year is all about thick, healthy, ends.

New Years is my absolute favorite time of year because, with it comes the infinite number of possibilities for our lives. The are millions of paths our lives can take this year and we get to be a part of the creation process by putting intention to what we want with our written goals. So that's what I'll do today...Today I'm writing down the new and amazing experiences I would like to bring into my life in 2012.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I'm in the midst of a stretch that I hope will make it until six months. There are two main reasons why this stretch may prove to be successful. First because my new growth seems to be the most tamed it's been in a long while. I've got to go back into the archives to see what I've been doing differently over the past 3-4 months. It's working whatever it is. Secondly, I think my winter growth cycle is yielding less new growth than the summertime. I read an article abstract where hair growth was measured in caucasian males. Researchers discovered that peak growth rates in the warmer months were up to 60% higher than at winter levels.

I believe this has something to do with the decline of overall blood circulation that occurs in our bodies when the weather cools down. You see, as the temperature drops, our body's natural protective responses encourage increased circulation and blood flow to our internal organs. As a result, our extremities are left feeling a bit deprived. Notice how your fingers and toes are the first parts of your body to get really cold? That's partly 'cause the warming blood flow is not as prevalent in your fingertips as it is in other parts of your body. Remember that our scalp is also considered somewhat of an extremity. I suspect the amount of nutrient rich blood to the hair follicle is at below optimum levels in winter months. A picture speaks louder than words. Check out this chart below taken from a study done on hair growth cycles throughout the year.

Since we have a hair journey to attend to, we can't have something as simple as cold weather slow us down. We've got to keep moving! Oh, and by the way, you know that seasonal shedding we always seem to get? I have a hunch that poor circulation to the roots may have something to do with it also. So then let's discuss some methods of promoting much needed circulation even during the winter months.

I did a video on this subject a while ago. It's a habit that I had almost forgotten about until recently. I watched the video again and was reminded of the feeling I would get when I finished a bottle of room temperature water early in the morning. It was as if I could feel the liquid traveling all throughout my body. I felt alive! Even now, whenever I feel sleepy during a mid-day meeting, I instantly swig some water and, moments later, I'm alert and my mood has changed. Water is one of the best methods of promoting internal circulation. Because our bodies are made of water, the liquid flows easily and instantly throughout our bodies. I put water first on this list simply because it's foundational to our health. You can be doing all the other stuff on the list below but if you aren't using water as your leverage, you may be fighting a loosing battle. Let's face it, as the temperature drops, drinking adequate water just isn't a priority for us. Let's get healthier by shifting our focus. So make sure you're drinking plenty of water this winter and start this habit first thing in the morning.

Next on our list is heat. I'm not talking about flat iron/curling iron type of heat. I'm thinking more of the heat that comes from our environment. In the summer time, we have a heat source warming our skin for most of our waking day. I think when heat is exposed to a certain part of our body, it responds with increased blood flow to that area. I was watching a movie once, there was a scene where a little girl removed her cast she wore after breaking her arm. Under the cast she kept wanting to scratch with her pencil and, when the cast finally came off, her arm hair was long and thick like a primate. Long after the scene change I racked my brain about the cause of the wonderful and awkward hair growth. What was it about the cast that created this result? The only answer I could come up with was the heat (and humidity) generated by the cast. The best way I could think of to create heat-promoting circulation is to visit a steam room. In a steam room, you get both heat and humidity to your entire body. If you don't have access to a steam room at your local gym or spa, make sure you are using your steamer (or hooded dryer) while deep conditioning. Another way to help promote heat is through exercise. I know that most of us want to stay all bundled up in the fetal position when it's cold out, but doing that will only promote the results we don't want. Exercise gets the heart beating which guarantees blood flow and increased circulation all over. Physical activity usually requires us to breathe more deeply which fills our body with oxygen which helps feed the hair follicle. Plus if you start exercising now, you are avoiding the dreaded winter fat storage syndrome so you will be ready for shorts and dresses in spring.
One of my circulation powerhouses is the use of cayenne pepper. I've used cayenne in my drink and I also sometimes take supplements orally. Years ago I tried using cayenne on my scalp but I accidentally got some in my eye and I decided that I would never do that again. Nothing like the feeling of getting maced your own shower. Cayenne is such a powerful circulation aid that it's said to have the ability to stop a heart attack in it's tracks. I read online that no other herb moves blood faster than cayenne. Using it can make your other supplements more effective as it helps other nutrients travel in the body faster. Cayenne is an acquired taste so you gotta work up your resistance to it a little slowly.
Finally, the mother of all circulation boosters for healthier hair growth is scalp massage. I've written post, after post, after post on scalp massage so I don't think I need to ramble, but what scalp massage does more than the other circulation-boosters I listed above is have the ability to bring blood flow directly to the hair follicles. There's no guessing if your hair will benefit from scalp massage, you know that your efforts will directly bring extra attention to your roots. And nothing but good can come out of that. Scalp massage is one of those things, like everything else I mentioned above, that must be done consistently as a habit in order to produce desired results for you. So have fun and take control of your hair growth this winter!

Be sure to stop by for my next post when I recap all the learning and focus of 2011.....see you soon!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

It was over a year ago when I posted a quick blurb on the Facebook page about some flexi rods I purchased at my local Target store. I remember standing in the aisle, staring at the package, wondering if these rods were worth the over $12.00 asking price. For years I've paid around $4.00-$5.00 for flexi rods and not a penny more. The only issue I was having was that every so often, I was purchasing a new pair set of flexi rods. One thing I hate, is having to purchase the same item over and over again, because it no longer maintains it's effectiveness. So this time I decided to do something different and take the plunge.

Boy am I glad I did. Fourteen months later and these bad boys are still as firm and bendable as the day I got them! I can't tell you the number of times I've been disappointed by my results in the past when I've used faulty flexi rods that couldn't create or hold a curl. Currently, I'm in the midst of purging my clutter and unnecessary items as I move into the new year and one of the items on the chopping block are my old, worthless, flexi-rods that no longer serve their purpose. So I'm dedicating this post to my new flexi curlers because they never seem to fail me. Take a gander at this look I created today on dry hair with the help of my curlers, leave-in, and some Gleau oil. I slept overnight in the curlers, took them out this morning and voila!

The look I was going for was volume. On my side is four months of new growth plus the fact that I wore by hair in a high bun for the last couple of days. When I took my bun down, my hair was much more voluminous than if I had been wearing my hair down. I used that to my advantage.

The flexi rods have pretty much been my hair's best friend ever since the humidity died down. They help me create wearable looks without (potentially damaging) heat. They're so wonderful.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Maybe it's a bit instinctual but it seems like every winter I get this strange desire to start consistently taking omega 3 fish oils. Even though I live in the south where I can pretty much wear a light jacket for most of the winter months, I still think about arctic climates where all of the animals are filling up on cold water fish loaded with omega-3 fatty acids.

In previous posts, I've discussed using quality fish oil and even krill oil capsules in my regimen to support my omega 3 dietary requirements. Recently though, I've decided to take it up a notch and go "all liquid" with my omega 3 intake. In the past, I attempted to create a habit of consuming liquid fish oil for at least 30 days. While I was successful at this 30 day challenge, it did translate into a long-term habit. Looking back, I think I set myself up for failure in the long run.

I say this because I purchased a lower quality liquid fish oil from a super-retailer. The cod liver oil was a thick "creamy" liquid opaque in color with a harsh lemon flavor covering the even harsher fish taste. It was not pleasant. This time, I've decided to change my strategy so I can ensure my success in this new daily habit creation attempt. For one, I've decided to upgrade the quality of my liquid cod liver oil. Since I was already taking in Nordic Naturals supplements I was aware of their high quality. The supplements don't give you that fishy burping side effect one may find with lower quality oils. I've heard that fishy burps maybe due to consuming rancid fish oil.

So off I went to Vitamin Shoppe in hopes of coming back with a liquid cod liver oil supplement that I could actually consume on a daily basis (long-term). I picked up a bottle of Nordic Naturals and was on my way. Fast forward two and a half weeks later and I must say that I'm pretty proud of how consistent I've been in taking a spoon full of the lightly flavored lemon fish oil each morning. I attribute my success to how wonderfully light and palatable this stuff is. Sure, in the end, I'm still taking in a spoonful of oil but let me tell you, I can see myself taking this on a regular basis much more consistently than in the past.

In the past, I felt like I was setting myself up for failure before because I wasn't really enjoying the experience. This time around I'm shifting my mindset around the whole "liquid fish oil" thing by creating it as a pleasant experience in my mind vs. a negative one. So now, just prior to consuming the oil, I take a brief moment to reflect on the benefits I'll receive from taking this action and I might silently say to myself "I have flawless, glowing, skin and healthy, shiny hair." Then, right after I've taken the oil, instead of gagging and making faces of disgust, I smile, look in the mirror, and reaffirm the benefits I am receiving. This changes the entire experience to a pleasant one that I don't mind repeating on a daily basis. I've even purchased a second bottle, though I still have half a bottle left, so I can ensure I continue this practice without the possibility of using that fact that I've run out as an excuse to break my routine.

So what's in it for me? One of my intentions is to promote a healthy scalp. More specifically, I'm hoping the omega 3 nourish and lubricate my hair follicles by impacting my dry, itchy scalp. Usually by now, my scalp is a dry, flaky mess but I must say that I've seen some improvement as of late. The amount of shedding I experience is much less than I would normally get this time of year. I know that the full extent of fish oil benefits will only multiply when I continue this habit long-term. Of course I'd like to create hair that is more resistant to breakage due to the increase (or adequate) levels of lipids in the strand. My battle against dry hair is always first priority for me and this habit sets the foundation for battling dry tresses.

For those of you who know you've been slacking a little in supplementing your diet with omega 3s, this is your opportunity to get it right this time with a quality fish oil. Commence this habit today and 3 months from now you will be glad you did. Here's to starting the new year off with beautiful skin and healthier hair!

For those of you who are information nerds, like me, here are a couple of vids describing Nordic Natural's high standards in creating the cod live oil.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

I've been through many fads and phases during this wonderful hair journey of mine. Over the years I've amassed numerous products and techniques. Some have stayed with me, some a long gone. Although it seems like I've tried just about everything, there are some things I admit I've never tried.

The Long Term Stretch is a powerful pathway to healthier hair for those of us who relax. If you didn't know already, stretching helps preserve health and thickness by reducing the amount of time we have to touch up a year. By minimizing the number of times were are relaxing, we are promoting the integrity of the strands and reducing breakage in the long run. Those who are successful at the long term stretch reap bountiful benefits of gloriously thick hair. Sounds wonderful right? So why haven't I stretched for 6 months or longer? Well in order to stretch successfully, one must overcome the hidden dangers along the way. It's kinda like playing a video game with multiple levels where the "bad guys" get stronger at each level. The "bad guys" of long term stretching include tangles, shedding, and breakage cause by the battling textures. In a couple of weeks, I'll be four months into my stretch. Based on my past experience, four months tends to be my limit. I desperately want to last to six months because I know that once I've done it once or twice, it could become the norm for me. I just have to make sure the reward is greater than the risks. Thanks to the increase moisture levels I've been experiencing from my new deep conditioner, I finally feel as if a six month stretch could actually be possible.

I'm almost ashamed to say that I've never experimented with henna on my hair. This is partially because I heard that quality henna makes all the difference in the results and some women with relaxed hair experienced dryness following application. I remember having dry hair after a tea rinse some time ago. Once that happened, I gave up tea rinses just as quickly as I started. My hair is always searching for moisture so henna was not all that appealing for me to look into much further. Since I first heard of henna, many pioneers have worked to improve the process and end results by adding oils and other goodies to the mix. Now that I have steamers and more powerful moisture creating/promoting products, I can let my henna guard down and actually try it. Of course I'll post a review once I get to experimenting.

I'll never forget the day, several years ago, when a Dominican stylist recommended a keratin treatment to me as I was getting my hair done. After doing a quick search online, I learned that this process would add much needed keratin to my chemically processed hair. Overcome with excitement I posted about my desire to have this process done asap. Then someone posted a comment about the potential dangers of this process because of the use of formaldehyde. After further research I learned of the possible cancer risks associate with this ingredient. Since then, there have been advances in formulation and there are now brands on the market that claim to be formaldehyde free. Luckily for us, the whole keratin treatment phase has created a whole new genre of keratin containing, over the counter, products. It's a 10 Keratin Miracle Leave-In plus Keratin is one of my faves. I've also fallen in love with Coppola Keratin product as well. So ultimately, I haven't felt the need to have this service done. If I ever feel the need to infuse strength into my strands with a heat source, I think I will purchase the Fibre Architecte from Kerastase.

I have to confess and let you know that I had weave sewed in when I was like 19. Back then "wet and wavy" hair was the shiznit. A friend of mine knew this girl who was a "professional dancer" and could install a full head of hair in no time. If memory serves me right, she braided the hair but glued in the tracks versus sewing it in. Peer pressure got the best of me so I caved. Soon I was walking around with a pack & a half of wet and wavy. Let me tell you that I felt like my whole life had changed when I had my new hair. Guys were hollerin' and I got so many compliments from girls on how great "my hair" looked. All was right with the world....that is until it was time to remove it. I don't remember all the details, but what I do remember was having cutting out a partial braid in order to remove the track that was glued to my cornrow instead of my scalp. You should have seen the look on my face when I saw my own braid in my hand. I was mortified. From that day on, I've sworn off all forms of extensions with the exception of synthetic braided hair.

It's kind of sad that I've had this aversion to weaves ever since this once incident because proper use of weaves/wigs can really help protect the hair. How many women have made huge progress on their hair journey from the use of weaves in their protective styling? Nowadays I've seen weaves that look amazing. Girls are even able to pull their extensions into ponytails. It's incredible how natural looking some of these installs look. Honestly, I would love to get a professional (not street professional) install especially in the summer time when humidity and my hair go into all out war against each other.

What I'd like to do is become more open minded to these four things that I've avoided for so long. Or at the very least, I'd like to find alternatives that provide similar benefits without the negative side effects.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

So you all know by now that Kerastase products are all I can think about at the moment. After my first review post, I was contacted by miss EbonyPrincess asking whether the version of Kerastase products available at Sally's were any good. I didn't even know that Sally's carried a Kerastase alternative. Come to find they do have a line out created by Naturelle called Kera Pro!

I figured that now is a good to see if I could find another product that could work as effectively as my darling Nutri-Thermique at a fraction of the price. So of course I made a trip to my local Sally's to see if I could get my hands on the product. I thought to myself "even if the Kera Pro isn't exactly like the Nutri-Thermique, as long as it's 75% as effective, I can at least use it to help stretch my Kerastase". I must have paced the store 5 or 6 times before I found the Kera Pro. For some reason I thought it would be packaged like the traditional black and white bottles containing "generic versions" of professional products. Finally I summoned the help of an employee who helped me identify the product once I gave her the name. Within moments I had the product in hand. I glanced at the price and realized that for the price of one 6.8 oz jar of Kerastase was equal in price to about five jars of the Kera Pro.

As part of my review, I'd like to compare the ingredients. "But what had happened was" that Kerastase doesn't actually list the ingredients on the jar but on on the product box the Thermique comes in. Unfortunately, I threw away the Kerastase box shortly after I ripped it open to reveal the contents. Luckily for me, the ingredients were available online. One thing I notice immediately when comparing the two is that Kera Pro actually contain some natural ingredients. Coconut and safflower seed oil to be exact. Kera Pro also has both Hydrolyzed Keratin and Hydrolyzed rice protein. Kerastase contains only Wheat Protein.

What I can say for sure is that the products vary greatly in appearance. The Kera Pro is a solid white conditioner, while the Nutri-Thermique has sort of a beige buttery hue. Another thing that jumps out at me as I check out both products is that the Nutri-Thermque has a glisteny look to it. The Kera Pro looks much more matte than its counterpart. When I pick up both jars and tilt them on their side. The Nutri-Thermique starts to "run" to one side of the jar. The Kera Pro remains completely still. I interpret this as the Nutri-Thermique has a more of a watery texture than the Pro. When I scoop both products with my fingers. The Nutri-Thermique is obviously more creamy. As I rub my fingers together, I feel like the Kera Pro feels like a dry, heavy, lotion more so than a conditioner (the consistency is similar to a body butter). I dunno, it just doesn't scream "moisturizing" when I touch it.

(when I did a finger test, the Kerastase began to slowly travel down my fingers, the Kera Pro remained in place)

The real test, however, comes when the rubber meets the road and the product is applied to my hair. Believe it or not, even though the Kera Pro doesn't look or feel as moisturizing as the Nutri-Thermique, when I massage into my dry hair, it feels almost as moisturizing as the Nutri-Thermique. How can that be? Honestly, I don't know how to explain it. I just don't. Because of its heavier texture, the Kera Pro does take a little more work to massage it into the strand. The Thermique seems to settle into the hair much easier. But once in, I can barely notice the difference between the two, with the exception that Kera Pro is a bit heavier and can leave a white residue if not worked in all the way. But as far as how moisturizing the product feels on the strand, Kera Pro holds its own.

Since our first conversation, EbonyPrincess sent me an email sharing her experience after purchasing the KeraPro shampoo and elixir. Her experience with the products gave her "amazing results." Ebony was gracious enough to give us a detailed account of her experience.

Shampoo - I normally am a die-hard fan for sulfate free shampoos and cleansers, and although I bought the Kerapro shampoo for dry to very dry hair I was skeptical. However, it did feel moisturizing but clean. And if I adopt the Kerapro regimen completely I do think sulfates are necessary because the serum contains a fair amount of cones. One wash got my hair very clean and I do think it is gentle enough to use weekly.

Conditioner - The directions say to apply for five minutes, no mention of using heat. To do a fair review, I tried it with heat, without heat, for five minutes and for longer. It definitely is effective in as little as five to ten minutes but should be used with heat to gain full benefits. Without heat it felt like it coated the hair whereas when I conditioned with my heating cap it felt like it penetrated the strands and made my hair feel soft and moisturized long after it dried.

Elixir - Slightly superior to the other serums I've used, gives the same smooth coating effect but is not as heavy as some of the other -cone laden serums.

All of the products contain both protein (hydrolyzed keratin & rice protein) and ceramides in the way of safflower oil. I lost very little hair while rollersetting and despite them being a little heavy on the protein side, my hair felt VERY soft and moisturized which still has me a little perplexed. However, my results have been amazing and I can't wait to try the conditioner with my new steamer which is on its way (another item I literally couldn't wait to get because of your reviews!).

So there you have it! Ebony sounds like she's one happy camper. My final assessment of the product is that it's definitely worth trying since KeraPro is modeled after such a superior line. I will continue to purchase Kerastase products since I now have a taste for it that will never subside...but I am also elated that there's an alternative for times when I run out and can't afford to drop $60.00 plus on a conditioner (it sounds worse when I see it in writing). I'm grateful that KeraPro is available to us and I'm thankful that Ebony was proactive in giving good feedback so we could try it for ourselves.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 24, 2011

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

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

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

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

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

Take a look at this quick video featuring Kelly Rowland.

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

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

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

He created his success.

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Ya'll remember the feature I did with Pink Pearls? Well I couldn't help but to notice that pretty much her entire regimen consisted of Kerastase products. After posting the feature, my curiosity got the best of me and I immediately went on the hunt for at least one product from the Kerastase line just to see what all the commotion is about.

I visited a local high-end salon and asked the stylist to help me identify which product would best work for me. She recommended products from the relax line but I insisted that I wanted an intense moisturizing conditioner over anything else. In the end, I left the salon with this:

The Nutrithermique is an ultra-moisturizing, heat activated, deep conditioner. At only 6.8 fl oz, I didn't get much product for the $40.00 I invested. This was especially concerning for me because I'm quite possibly the most heavy handed person I know. Especially when it comes to deep conditioner. I've been known to use an entire bottle of cheapie conditioner in one pre-poo session.

Now that I've had three opportunities to use this product, I must say that this is THEE most moisturizing deep conditioner I own. It's even more powerful than my Aveda Dry Remedy line which fell way below my expectations. The Nutri-Thermique has become an instant staple for me. The product itself is thick like any self-respecting deep conditioner but what makes it special is how it instantly transforms to a watery-moisturizer the moment it touches the strand. My hair feels damp with just a tiny amount. Because it's so powerful, I actually use much less product than expected. I apply small amounts of it to individual sections then overlap it with one of my other "moisturizing" conditioners.

Because my experience was so great, I decided to go back for more by experimenting with other Kerastase products. So far, I've picked up the Voile Nuit, a night time treatment that I absolutely adore! It's a restoring water-based moisturizer spray containing natural oils and ceramides. I'm in love with how fine the mist is. Even when I run out of this product, I'll use the bottle to house my Biolage Leave in tonic. Or maybe even my ACV/H2O blend..... Oh, and did I mention how much I love the Viole Nuit?

I also swooped up the Nutritive Sublimateur Jour as a daily leave in moisturizer and the Ciment Thermique which is a heat activated reconstructor (also contains ceramides). I apply the Ciment to my hair during the rollerset since it's heat activated and sitting under the hair dryer is the only time I really use any heat. Most recently, I purchased Aqua-Oleum vials. I dunno but something about a hair product in vials makes it irresistible to me. The reviews on this product were highly positive so I figured I would give it a go! The sales rep at the Beauty Store where I purchased the Aqua-Oleum also gave me a nifty sprayer attachment that fits perfectly on the vial. This sprayer is worth its weight in gold 'cause I can also use it to top my Biolage Cera Repair Pro vials. Once again, the sprayer gives this ultra-fine mist that I really appreciate. Although I've amassed quite a stash of Kerastase products, I'm still on the hunt for one more item, the Oleo-Fusion. Once I get my hands on it, I will slow down I promise (two fingers crossed behind my back).

When I started writing this post, I was in the beginning of my weekly wash process. Now I've finally completed the roller set take down and I am memorized by my hair. My last relaxer was in August and usually, by this time, my hair would be fighting me every day. Right now you wouldn't believe how soft it feels and how healthy my hair looks. Even hubby came in and said "nice hair" before walking out of the room. If I got his seal of approval, I know something magical had to happen. Yeah for Kerastase!

In these pics,I did a pre-shampoo deep condition with Nutri-Thermique using heat, then washed with WEN. I used the Ciment prior to roller setting then misted individual damp sections with the Aqua-Oleum. Once dry, I rubbed a little Sublimatuer leave-in and Gleau Nourishing Argan oil blend for extra shine and softness.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

This post is a little off topic but I want to share something with you. Several weeks ago when these images of Melyssa Ford surfaced on the net, my reaction was no different than anyone else's. Her body is spectacular. That goes without saying. Even when I clicked out of the web page displaying those pics, several thoughts continued to run through my mind.

My thoughts went beyond just what has happening in those pictures at that moment. I pondered on how amazing Melyssa felt about herself because of her level of fitness and the body that was a result of it. Think about it, every time she puts on clothes, or takes them off, she's probably holding a positive internal conversation with herself. How do I know? Simply because all of us are constantly holding internal conversations whereby we make comments, good or bad, about what we are experiencing at the moment or what we experienced in the past or what we think we might experience in the future. I reckon, that her internal talk about her body is empowering. And by creating those empowering conversations, she produces positive emotions, which, in turn, help her take inspiring actions.

Then I got to thinking about myself and my lady gut. I flashed back to how I felt the other night when my husband started rubbing it in his sleep as if he were rubbing a lucky buddha. Memories of back in the day, when he used to give me props for my abs flooded my mind. That's when I decided at that my belly has to go. No more excuses. Next came the million dollar question. How?

I've decided to make a game of it. Remember as children when we would craft games out of thin air and our vast imaginations? Games relieved us of boredom and brought excitement to our day. Games made our lives fun. Let me tell you more about this new game I created.

The object of the game: To create a flat stomach, toned legs, thighs and arms.
My winning strategy: Engage in physical activity daily, adjust eating habits, improve digestion.

The Rules:
No less than 15 minutes of daily exercise in the morning. Otherwise, no shower.
An apple a day. 1.5 liters of H20 daily.
Transverse abdominal exercises.

My membership to 24 Hour Fitness.
There's a large park near my neighborhood.
Access to hotel gyms while traveling.

My travel schedule which makes difficult to plan meals, exercise regularly and promotes unhealthy eating.
Work related dinners with co-workers occurring after a long day's work.

On the weekend of December 3rd, 2011. My husband and I are planning to head down to Miami for a mini-vacay. I have every intention of having won the game by then. The last thing I want to do is walk around South Beach feeling down about myself. Not when I have a choice. And I do have a choice.
I can already see it now. The warm, low humidity air feeling divine on my skin as I stand in the Miami sun. For the first time in months, I feel spectacular. Maybe my body doesn't look exactly like Melyssa's but I feel as good a she did when on that faithful day when the above pictures were taken. By making a game out of it, I essentially change my outlook on creating my new body. In the past, I viewed making these changes as something difficult and unpleasant. Now that it's a game. I plan to have fun and I plan to win.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Who's ready for another giveaway?! I know I am. I've somehow amassed a small arsenal of products from my own giveaway winnings, companies sending me products as gifts, etc. I figured that instead of being a hair product glutton, I would share generously of my bounty. This round I'm featuring a moisturizing leave-in detangler from Mizani's professional line.

Although I haven't yet tried this product, I picked it as a giveaway item because I remember how disgustingly painful it can be to have to deal with stubborn tangles. So let's cover the rules of the give away shall we?

  • Follow the blog!
  • Send an email to [email protected] titled "Detangle Giveaway"
  • Say a silent prayer for me that I will reach my hair length goals.
  • Rub the belly of your puppy three times counter-clockwise while saying "detangle, detangle, detangle!"
  • Ok, you don't have to do the last two but make sure to follow and send your email to enter!
p.s. This giveaway open to U.S. residents.

Winner will be announced via email on November 6, 2011. Good luck everyone!

Congrats to Tiffany, the randomly selected winner of the Giveaway!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I received a very interesting email the other day from a reader who was seeking help regarding her predicament. She recently cut her hair back from mid-back to neck length due to breakage (for the second time). The writer also mentioned that she deep conditioned regularly, doesn't use too much heat and stretches up to 16 weeks. Sounds like she's doing everything right, so what could be contributing to her breakage?

She and I are still in communication so I don't have all the information needed to help her figure out a root cause yet but her email really made me think. I too have dealt with major set backs that required mini chops. On several occasions I found myself with large sections of hair suffering greatly after reaching decent lengths. How could this happen?

Looking back, I've come to find out that most of it was my fault. In my case, it was my behaviors that lead to the loss of my progress. This revelation was one that didn't come easily. I had to really step back and analyze each and every action (and inaction) related to my hair in order to understand what was happening. My setbacks had nothing to do with the products I used (or needed).

I'll stop sounding all theoretical now and give you some real examples of what I'm actually talking about from my own experience.

Scenario 1:
"One side healthy, the other side damaged"
I was roller setting as usual admiring how thick and even each section of hair I parted. Even as I ran the small toothed comb down the lengths, there was no sign of breakage. I was in heaven. That is until I completed the right side of my hair and moved to the left. All of the sudden, I was dealing with weak, uneven hair so fragile that broken strands appeared with even the slightest touch. "What the?!".... "How did I create such damage to one side of my hair?"

That's when I sat back and silently replayed all my actions over until I could find a cause. Turns out that I my own routine created this. I'm left handed so I naturally feel comfortable using my left hand to take care of the right side of my hair. The right side received all of the care when I applied conditioner and the right side was the first side I set with rollers. By the time I got to the left side of my hair, the right hand was in charge and my patience had run out. With one side of my hair, I was thorough, meticulous and effective. The other side, I was negligent.

Scenerio 2
"What's going on back there?"
Another struggle that I've had to deal with was regarding the back of my hair. After applying consistent focus to bringing health back to the damaged section, I began to see tremendous progress to my left side. Soon, that part of my hair was no longer an issue for me. That's when I noticed the back section of my hair. Turns out that I was neglecting that area of my hair. Why? Because I am one those people that tends to wear her hair over her shoulders. The hair I see when I look in the mirror receives all of my attention. Over time, the back of my hair didn't get as much love as the rest of my strands and so of course eventually, damage began to appear.

I can also share scenarios for thinning hair, breaking ends, and so forth. What's important to focus on is the how we address the issue. It's important that we remain committed to identifying the root cause, and not simply search out products as a cure-all. Sure I could have shelled out money and got more products, but if my behaviors remained the same, progress wouldn't have been made.

The key to effectively overcoming setbacks (especially those ones that show up out of no where) is to analyze our actions. Really take a look at yourself and what you do with regards to your hair. I believe that every action produces a result. Some of those results are immediate, some long-term. Breakage and damage is a result of our past actions. So understanding and identifying those actions is critical.

So take a moment today and think about what you do that could be contributing to any set backs or current issues. If nothing comes to mind then try this exercise again when you are actively engaged in doing your hair. Take notice of everything from how you are feeling at the moment, to how much time you invest, to the techniques you are using. If you are truly present to this experience, you will learn from it and your hair will benefit.

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