27 December 2009

[review] aubrey organics honeysuckle rose

aubrey organics honeysuckle rose moisturizing conditioner
Coconut Fatty Acid Cream Base, Aloe Vera (Organic), Shea Butter (Organic), Wheat Germ Oil, Jojoba Oil (Organic), Rosa Mosqueta (Organic), Rosehip Seed Oil, Extract of Fennel, Hops, Balm Mint, Mistletoe, Camomile, Yarrow, Chrysanthemum, Angelica, Forsythia, Honeysuckle Oil, Carrot Oil, Aubrey's Preservative (Citrus Seed Extract, Vitamin A, C, E)

i received this product months ago, over the summer, from my first meetup with charzboss. i had heard nothing but raves about this conditioner on lhcf, so i was excited to try it out. i was newly natural and was so excited to try something so many women had liked. so, i was a little disappointed when i didn't love it.

anyway, i didn't buy it, so i have no clue what it goes for, but i'm under the impression it's extremely affordable. i think it's a little less than 10 dollars for 11 ounces, which is really great, especially for those who are looking to get into natural products and don't have the money or don't want to order online. the aubrey organics line is a great place to start and you can find it in many stores.

the container is simple and straightforward, but these bottle designs always make it hard to get out every last drop. so, you just mix it with some water and shake, no big deal. but - the consistency of this conditioner is so thick. it's the thickest i've ever encountered so far. what's interesting is it's thick, but light and fluffy, which was something i really enjoyed. the conditioner was even shiny. no clue what that was about, but this conditioner had sheen to it, which made it a beautiful opalescent pastel color.

i can't remember the scent well enough to describe it in detail, but i remember it was very light and subtly floral. it wasn't oppressive at all, so this would fair well with fragrance-sensitive people.

i just finished this conditioner earlier this month, so it lasts pretty much forever. i used this as a deep conditioner, so i only used it once a week, but i always used a generous amount. as for performance... i was underwhelmed. i don't feel as though it did anything amazing, but i loved the feel of it going on - smooth and creamy and a real treat. but when i rinsed, i never felt that my hair felt softer or stronger or anything of the sort. HOWEVER. i was using this as a deep conditioner, when i think it would've been better used as a co-wash. deep conditioners need to have some kind of special ingredient (quarternium or something like that, don't quote me) for it to actually penetrate the hair shaft.

i am fully willing to admit that it was user error on my part re this conditioner not giving me amazing results. but i wouldn't repurchase to give it another try. it's one product i'm just not interested in.

FTC disclaimer: This product was given to me by a friend. I was not paid for this review and I am not affiliated in any way with the company.

I've joined the TWA Growout Challenge!

LET'S get ready to ruuuuum-buuuuuuhl!

yep, it's that serious. my first challenge on longhaircareforum (and i've been a member for two years) and i'm super excited. it's perfect for me because it's a "lazy" challenge - i don't have to do anything but let my hair do what it do - grow! a lot of challenges you have to refrain from heat, protective style, or actually DO something. so this was right up my alley. basically, i'm just documenting my hair growth - something i would've done anyway, but joining a challenge just makes it seem that much more exciting, you know?

anyway, my starting pictures are in my fotki (link) and were taken on dec 14 'o9. in the challenge, i have to check in four times in 2010:
  • march 25
  • july 25
  • october 25
  • december 25
breaking it up like that is sure to make time fly. i am so excited. i know my hair will grow so much. i can't really say how much growth i'll get, but my hair grows like a weed now, so wherever i end up at the finish of the challenge will just be too much fun.

anyway, part of the challenge is to post your regimen and any changes that you may make. so, right now, here is my "regimen," as detailed as can be:
  • spritz daily with water
  • moisturize daily with avocado butter (my one true love)
  • seal with either coconut oil, hairveda's avosoya oil, hairveda's cocasta oil
  • deep condition once a week (hairveda's sitrinilliah mixed with oil or pantene's r&n mask)
  • cowash arbitrarily
  • silica supplements: 3-4 daily
and of course, any random styling in between - two-strand twists, braids, cornrows, etc. no direct heat ever (no sweat).

so, yup. there you have it. no real game plan, but i can daydream alllll day about my hair in one year. ahh~ love it! so excited!

20 December 2009

oh, & i forgot to mention...

that i was five months natural, like, a week ago. lol. whoops! i know i'm always quick to come here and update when another month has passed, but with finals, styling, and christmas, i guess i just got caught up. but trust & believe that i didn't forget!

so i've been five months and some days natural now and the journey has been so fun. there are times when i do get impatient (more on that below), but i always come back to loving my hair and being amazed at how much it's grown. five months doesn't seem like a very long time, but when i look back to the pictures i took the day of and after my BC, i can't help but go "aww, my fro was so cute and tiny then!" and then i look at my hair now and say, "wow, not so tiny, but still just as cute."

five months gets me excited for six months, which is half an entire year. half a year then gets me excited for a whole year and i can't even picture what my hair will look like then. will it still be big? will it hang? what will my texture look like then? in being natural, you'll find that your hair has just as much personality and mood swings as you do, and it will always find ways to surprise you. so this journey has been so much fun, filled with surprises and (very mild) frustration and adjustments and has just been all kinds of wonderful.

while i'm enjoying my length now, i can't help but get a little impatient for when my hair is longer. and i don't mean long as in my goal length, i mean long as in maybe shoulder length or the length at which i can get it into a puff. i cannot wait for the styles. i want to cornrow and twist and braid and bun. i want to rock a puff one day, flat twists the next, and maybe a braidout after that. i want to pull my hair back with a band, or accessorize with a cute trinket, or pin it up into a curly frohawk. and of course there are the days where i'll just let it be free - it's own little funky curly fro. i want to bantu knot and flexi rod and finger coil all day long.

i can spend hours watching youtube vids, clicking through pictures for style inspiration, reading tutorials, shopping for accessories... i know my hair is long enough now for me to do a few styles, but it won't be easy. but i figure i should practice now so when my hair is longer, i'll have my technique on lock. but watching other people style their hair... i get to live vicariously, you know? and that's good enough for me at the moment. lol.

naturally yours,

16 December 2009

i have discovered the secret... two day hair!

yes, it is that important that it had to be bolded! i never really understood second day hair in relation to twa's. for me, it was always, rewet, moisturize, and fluff. and of course, my hair never looked as good as wash day. as my teeny weeny afro grew from half an inch to three, i soon became acquainted with the lumpy fro:

there wasn't really anything wrong to it, for me, other than the typical annoyance of not having a uniform circle. i wasn't a fan of picking it out (which i have yet to do, despite the urging of my boyfriend) because i wasn't a fan of detangling. when i saw mahoganycurls method on youtube (link here), i thought "awesome, now if only my hair was long enough to shake." and i'm pretty sure her texture is much looser than mine and that allows her to literally shake-n-go. lucky.

anyway, one of my favorite styles that i can fashion on my twa is a shingle. i've shingled in earnest two times now and i loved both results. the second time i shingled was just yesterday, with afroveda's pur whipped gelly (review soon) and i was loving the results:

to my dismay, i didn't go out that day, so no one got to appreciate the beauty that was my perfectly sculpted afro. so, i went to sleep and when i woke up, i was greeted by a miracle that only happens in a natural's wet dreams...

the curls that were so perfectly defined by the gel yesterday were still there today! still shiny and defined, just mashed down. so, i took my spray bottle and lightly damped my hair. i was rushing, but very gently kind of massaged and pulled the curls with my fingers and they sprang back to life! even better than when i first shingled yesterday!

so all day, i've been walking around in my pink scarf and my fly silver earrings just feeling myself. i feel like i just discovered some kind of massive secret to natural-dom. and it feels awesome. and as if that secret wasn't enough, it just gets better... if you use a moisturizing gel, you won't have to constantly remoisturize everyday! which is great, because already i'm nervous about running out of avocado butter when i still have the better half of my jar to go (i love this stuff just this much).

so, even though this is a "secret," i can't help but share. i have a feeling second-day hair is one of those things that remain a secret for each naturalista until she really experiments and learns her hair. but still, one natural's secret is another natural's suggestion!

10 December 2009

[review] caramocal joy: thickums castor cream, shea-co smoothing custard, vitamin e pudding

i'm sorry to say that this will be a visually unappealing review, as there are no pictures on the website (link) and the jars aren't that pretty to be taking pictures of, so i hope you guys don't mind bearing with me. even though i'm fitting three products into one review, this should be short & sweet.

i heard about this company through a poster on lhcf (again) and decided to order because they were having a christmas sale. i was happy to find out that the company offered smaller sizes at affordable prices and even had free shipping over twenty dollars. i think i ordered on a tuesday or wednesday and got my goodies saturday - so really good turn around. but take that with a grain of salt, because i live about 15 minutes away from where the products are made.

thickums castor cream
castor oil, shea butter, jojoba oil, almond oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, glycerin.

i'll start with my first impression of this: they may have issues with quality control. i got one scented and that was whipped very well - it came very thick, heavy, and creamy. i also got an unscented one, but this was not as clean as the other one. it was whipped, but it wasn't as smooth or creamy. i don't really mind, but this is a problem that needs to be worked out.

the scented version i ordered was vanilla buttercream, but it was more like a cheap, garish imitation and almost too sweet.

i used this on my scalp one night before going to sleep. it was weird, because even going on, i didn't feel as though it would do anything amazing to my hair. i went to sleep, in fact, and when i woke up my hair didn't feel moisturized at all, and this was coupled with the shea-co smoothing custard.

would i repurchase? no.

shea-co smoothing custard
shea butter, coconut oil, jojoba oil, avocado oil, glycerin.

i used this twice, and very thoroughly. i applied it as though i were shingling. now, since this had shea butter in it and was a heavy, thick cream i was sure i'd like it. i was sad to report that i felt no great moisture being imparted.

it smells like a better version of shea butter, but then turned a bit bitter, almost like the scent had a bite to it. it was a thick consistency with a bit of "wetness" to it, which i've never experienced before.

would i repurchase? no.

vitamin e pudding
grapseed oil, almond oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, vegetable oil, glycerin.

i was the most excited about this when i first purchased. it was an oil/liquid, however, and not of a pudding consistency at all, so it would've been better suited for a bottle than a jar. i really liked the smell of this one: light, sweet, subtly fruity, and warm almost like vanilla. however, after several days, the sweet scent stopped being so enjoyable. not that it's bad at all, but i just got tired of it.

i used this on my hair as a sealant several times and i feel as though it just sat there instead of really absorbing.

would i repurchase? no.

final thoughts. i've never been so underwhelmed by a product line. the website needs pictures, the packaging needs improving, and the scents most definitely need tweaking. there's little variety to these products and the ingredients are so simple, anyone could mix them up in their own home. but what's really weird is that these are all good hair care ingredients, but none of the products agreed with me or my hair. i will say that the owner may need to rethink adding glycerine to everything. i know that is an ingredient with a lot varied results for a lot of people, and i know it has some kind of reaction in the winter. i think it's a humectant, which you want to avoid in the dry winter air.

despite this, customer service was excellent! i sent a few emails and would have a response just a few hours later. a definite plus.

i am not affiliated in any way with caramocal joy. i was not paid for this review and all items were purchased with my own funds.

my gel twists!

alright, so finally, some pictures of my hair! i haven't been as diligent as i should be when it comes to taking pictures of my hair specifically, but i figured that i'm in enough pictures that i can look back on my journey to see my progress. :]

anyway, i received my afroveda PUR whipped gelly maybe two weeks ago and decided to try it out that very same night (i will do a proper review once i've played around with it some more). this was completely on a whim, as i was bored and i just wanted my hair to smell like delicious vanilla cake. so, i figured that since i had some gel, why not do gel twists? i'll try my best to walk you through the process...

i sectioned off a row of hair and completely soaked it with my handy-dandy water bottle. from there, i smoothed on a sufficient about of the gelly, making sure to focus on my dry ends. from that section of hair, i then parted a very small section of hair and then twisted it around my fingers, gently tugging the hair in the direction i wanted it to try (downwards). i did this throughout my head. i made straight rows throughout my head, but the sections weren't necessarily even, but they don't have to be. this is one of those styles where things don't have to be perfect. :]

this was my first time doing this style on my own. a friend did comb coils (same thing, but with a comb) earlier this month and they were nice, but i definitely prefer finger coils. they're softer, curlier, and just look cuter to me.

i did the front the night i got my gelly (too lazy to finish the back). but this picture is from the day after, after being slept on and smushed under my hood all day.

and here is a picture of the back, taken the same night of me actually doing it. see the difference?

it was fun and easy, if a little time consuming. i learned the hard way to finish your entire head in one night so you don't look crazy. anyway, if any of you would like a picture tutorial, i would be more than pleased to do one and post it up in my fotki. :]

it's not your hair, it's you.

in my natural hair care journey, i am learning important things. one of the most important lessons, i think, is the kind where people can tell you cautionary stories, but until you experience it for your hardheaded-self, the lesson just won't stick. so one thing i've learned these past few weeks is:

your hair is never wrong. if something ain't right, it's not your hair, it's YOU.

i see it like this: all your hair can ever be is hair; it can never be anything else. your hair knows (and will not hesitate to tell you) what it wants, likes, and needs and similarly, what it hates or doesn't need, like, etc. what your hair tells you is the gospel, and there ain't no other way to look at it. now, whether or not you hear what your hair is saying depends on how much you "listen" to it. i think our hair knows us so well, that it understands that a lot of us just don't listen. so, in those cases, your hair will show you. it will mat, tangle, break, knot, frizz, feel dry until you get the picture and do something about it. whether it be your technique, lack of care, or products, if your hair isn't behaving, it's because you're doing something wrong.

i know this sounds harsh, but our hair knows what's best. after all, it wants to be strong, lush, thick and shiny too and it knows that having beautiful hair makes us happy. so it will do what it needs to do to get healthy again and make us happy again.

i'm ashamed to admit this, but i learned this lesson the hard way. for a good while now, i had been severely slacking on the deep conditioning. either not deep conditioning properly, not using a condish my hair actually liked, not conditioning long enough, or at all. as if that wasn't a big enough no-no in the first place, it was only worsened by the fact that it is now winter. i wasn't even moisturizing properly, if i remember correctly. i was depriving my poor strands so much that they pretty much said, "look, b*tch, i if you don't give me what i need, i'm gonna do THIS." my scalp was tender, i had knots and tangles, breakage, dryness and it was just awful.

so this past weekend, i decided to give my hair even more than what she asked for. i DC'ed with aubrey organics honeysuckle rose, shea butter, coconut milk and honey and i let my hair enjoy her soak for a good two hours. it has almost been a week later and my 'fro is rewarding me for my efforts: minimal tangles, perfectly shaped afro, shiny curls, soft and moisturized.

and let me tell you, it feels so good to have my hair happy again. because when your hair is happy, she looks good. and when she looks good, you feel good. and we ladies know that when our hair is on point, you can't tell us nothing.

i always thought it was strange to hear women talking about the things their hair likes, needs, etc. i couldn't help but wonder, how do they know just how much their hair likes or doesn't like anything? of all the products i tried, nothing really seemed to "wow" or amaze me. they were just stuff i put on my hair. i had no clue if my hair liked something or not.

since starting my natural journey, i've learned that the more you interact and the more attention you give to your hair, you will learn all the signs of what your hair is trying to say. moisturize it, play in it, study how your hair feels before, during, and after you use a product. take notes. before long, "talking" with your hair will become second nature. :]

[review] natural product: avocado butter!

avocado butter

i purchased a 2-piece sampler from sheanmore (link) maybe a week or so ago. the set came with 8 oz of shea butter and 8 oz of avocado butter. everyone knows that i love shea butter, and i use it for for everything: hair, body, face. but i had heard a lot of good things about avocado butter and the price was more than right, so why not try it?

well, i'm pretty sure that this was the single best purchase i've ever made in my life. and i mean that this ranks right up there with going natural - it is just that good. in all seriousness, this stuff is nothing short of amazing.

first off, the smell. i've never smelled avocados, never tasted or touched them, so the scent came as a pleasant surprise. the scent is very subtle, soft, and faint. it's very light, but still refreshing, like a breeze or fresh fruit. it is subtly and naturally sweet while being far from overbearing. each time i open the container, i can't help but to take a big, satisfying whiff.

i love the consistency. it's just thick and rich enough. it is far from hard, and almost has a pudding-like consistency. it requires no whipping, no melting, no warming between your hands, none of that. you can just smooth it on straight from the jar. the consistency of this butter is one of my favorite aspects. it's not thick, but not thin either - it has found the perfect middle ground for a buttery, smooth texture. it is far from heavy, almost fluffy but not quite, and sinks in with hardly any grease or buildup.

i have been using this butter daily since i got it in the mail last week, so i feel as though i've gotten a pretty good trial run; good enough to comment on its performance. since i have started using the avocado butter, my little afro has been the business and believe me when i say that. it's been snowing and raining, with biting cold winds here on the east coast, and not a dry strand of hair in sight. my hair has been drinking this stuff up. i am left with almost-touchable hair (i say almost because i am very heavyhanded, but i have been getting better!) that doesn't feel coated, weighed down, or greasy. my hair has been happy, fluffy, and moisturized. this stuff ended a two-week battle with stiff, tangled, dry, unhappy hair and i couldn't have been more pleased.

i do need to note that avocado butter does not come unrefined. i was wary of this at first because in dealing with other butters, such as shea, we all know to avoid the refined stuff. the refinement process strips the butters of its nutrients and benefits, rendering it virtually useless. despite this fact, i still wanted to try and i'm so pleased that i did. even though the avocado butter is processed, i can honestly say that it doesn't disappoint in any aspect, whether it be the scent, consistency, or performance.

this has replaced shea butter in my hair and i'm almost ashamed to admit it. when i first BC'ed, all i ever used in my hair was shea butter and i loved it, so i never expected to find anything that could top it. to me, avocado butter is, hands down, better than shea butter, but at the same time... the two are almost completely different from one another. i will continue to use my shea, of course, for deep conditioning and my body, but i will be using avocado exclusively for my hair (i've found that it doesn't work the same wonders on my body, at least not in the winter).

i will definitely be ordering more avocado butter from shea-n-more. you get 8 oz for $8.50, which to me, is a great price for an excellent butter. only thing with butters (and not just sheanmore, but almost all companies) is that they come in a plastic container that can be a hassle to open and close everyday. i ordered several jars to transfer my butters and oils into and my avocado butter is much happier and prettier in her new home. :] lol.

in the end, i just cannot say enough good things about avocado butter and i encourage everyone to try it. i know for a fact that this stuff is my first holy grail staple. i'm not even going to ask "would i repurchase." without a doubt.

and i'm adding this new disclaimer just to be safe, as per the new FTC rules: i am not affiliated or connected in anyway with shea-n-more. i was not paid for this review and the item was purchased with my own funds.

03 December 2009

[inventory] new goodies!

i mentioned in my last inventory post that i spent a lot on online shopping. of course, i had to get some new things for my hair too. i got a few sample sizes of some hairveda products and some natural products, along with an item from afroveda.

from hairveda, i got:
cococasta oil
avosoya oil
sitrinillah deep conditioner

from afroveda, i got the PUR whipped gelly which is an instant hit. i am a gel junkie and i love this stuff so far. i can't wait to review it.

as for miscellaneous items, i got more shea butter. i've been wanting to try avocado butter for a little while though, so i got that and some more coconut oil. my last thing of coconut oil smelled terrible, so i tossed it. but i'm not sure if the oil i got this time is extra virgin, so may end up buying some more.

oh, i also purchased some funky kind of "conditioning masque" from buttersnbars.

i also ordered some containers from fromnaturewithlove to keep all my butters and whatnot in. i dislike the containers that they come in, so i need to transfer them for my sanity.

so expect reviews soon! i will be reviewing:
  • afroveda pur whipped gelly
  • avocado butter
  • coconut oil
  • hairveda sitrinillah dc
  • and whatever else i don't remember at the moment.
so look out for those. :]

hmm... to trim or not to trim?

so, for the past several blog posts, i've been toying with the idea of trimming my hair (the ends, specifically). i've been complaining about my straight, unruly, dry ends and my desire to snip snip. i've been really thinking about it as i've been playing in my hair the more they frustrate me, but a few "problems"...

do you trim a twa?
it's only beginning to grow out, so i wonder if it's too soon for a trim? i'm sure women who keep their afro's/hair low get trims, so why not...

what about my length?
my hair is about 3-4 inches all over my head, maybe two inches in some places, i don't really know. looking at pictures from when i first chopped, i'm so happy to see that my little fro is growing! :] i realize my no. 1 concern should be with health, not length, and so i should act accordingly, right?

what about a good STYLIST?
there's not a huge collection of natural stylists out there, and it seems you hear more beauty shop horror stories than fairytales, so who am i to trust my precious twa to? luckily, i have the names of three shops that have stylists that cater to natural hair (and two come with excellent recommendations). so i'll just have to go out for a consultation (not really, prolly just make a phone call) and then pick a stylist.

how do i know my ends need trimming anyway?
this is a new experience for me - getting a trim at my own volition. i typically got a trim every other touch-up or at the exclamation of my stylist ("girl! you need your ends clipped."). so i'm not familiar what healthy ends and unhealthy ends look and feel like.

but i can tell you one thing, i don't like my ends. the root and length of my hair is smooth, soft, and curls perfectly, where as my ends feel rough and frazzled, so i'm guessing it's their time to go.

but! i am excited because i know the benefits of a good trim. finally, my curly fro will stay curly and not explode into a little ball of frizz and fluff. i will have less knots, which means less breakage and wincing, thank god. my curly hair will be left to curl any way it wants without interference from my rebellious ends. and my hair will always grow back.

so, after weeks of talking and thinking about it, it's finally time! i'm going to get a trim!