28 June 2010

slathered yourself in a good body buttah lately? ;)

like i mentioned in my first disillusionment post, being natural is incredibly hands-on. you start experimenting with shea butter, coconut oil, jojoba oil... then maybe upgrade to other butters, castor oils, essential oils, and before you know it, you've got yourself a tidy little arsenal of natural products. and trust me, you will, eventually, try making your own body butter. even before i went natural, i was trying to mix up products. my first attempt ended in a hard, dusty-feeling square of shea butter and who knows what else.

i was slightly disappointed, but at the same time, i went into that experiment blind, so didn't really know what to expect. from there, i tried a few more times, started watching youtube videos and reading the ingredients on my products from online vendors. my last attempt left me with 16 ounces of a body butter that was closer to a body tar. it hardened (though was quite the improvement over what i've affectionately termed my "newbie brick"), though did soften when i left it in the bathroom during my shower. but the consistency and scent wasn't quite was i was looking for. this was back in february, during that wicked snowstorm and i just threw out what was left of the mixture this past weekend.

but just last week, i decided to try again. a group of my friends are really into the whole natural, foodie smelling goodies (thanks to oyin's whipped pudding) and i really wanted to seem cool and hip by whipping something up for them. i was confident this time around, especially after seeing naptural85's video on her homemade treats. she mentions that the oils should be a compliment to the butters. this really resounded with me (although i can't remember if i previously doused my mixtures in oil), so i decided to try to keep the oils light.

i started by listing out all the products i had on hand and then selecting what i wanted in my butter. i think this really helped to get me organized. if i wasn't freeforming it, there would be less margin for error. here's what i used:
  • avocado butter (remember, all avocado butter is refined)
  • hemp seed butter
  • raw, unrefined shea butter
  • avocado oil
  • coconut oil
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • jamaican black castor oil
  • vitamin e oil

i used a small amount of everything this time, lest i be left with 16 ounces of gunk i wouldn't want to use or gift away. i used roughly 6 ounces of shea butter, 2-3 tablespoons of avocado butter, and a tiny spoonful of hemp seed butter (the smell on this is fairly strong, and i wanted to scent mine later, so i only used a little). i started with a single tablespoon of each of each of the oils, finishing with a teaspoon of vitamin e. from there, i began whipping and added more oils as i felt i needed.

i added my fragrance last (dulce de leche!) and continued whipping.

the result?

perfection! it wasn't exactly thick enough to be a butter (i may freeze my shea butter next time, or find a thickener to get that custardy texture i want), but it was a whipped dream. it was light and fluffy and spread beautifully without being greasy. it was scented just enough without being overpowering (although there's a a definite undertone of the unmistakable smell of shea butter, it doesn't clash). and even better yet, i had just enough to perfectly fill four 4-oz jars.

i am especially happy to report that i think i've learned the secret to keeping your shea butter smooth, soft, and fluffy. the first time i tried to whip shea, i did the melt-whip-freeze-whip-freeze-whip technique and found that the texture hardens up the next day. if you don't melt it down the first time, it'll remain how it is the day you first whipped it. i'm waiting to give another jar away, so i've been monitoring it and my butter hasn't fallen, melted, separated, or anything! i am sooo happy.

i dished them out the next day, and so far the feedback has been wonderful. i am so proud! i'm still waiting to hear from two others who i gave my butter to, but i wish i had made enough for myself. :P i'm really hoping that i'll be able to recreate this again.

i am so happy. i wish i had taken pictures for you all. next time i mix something, maybe i'll make a vid out of it - that'd be fun. :)

and before i end this post, an important note! as with anything, don't give up! i've never followed a youtube video exactly, so of course there's some variation. but i feel as though even if i did follow a recipe perfectly, mine would never come out exactly like someone else's. there's just too much variation in everything - measurements, whipping tools, temperature, and shea butter especially. so don't be disappointed if something doesn't come out perfectly. feel free to tweak and experiment as you like!

have you tried to make a body butter? how did it turn out? i would love to hear some more mixtures and recipes!

NEW! [salon review] hiwot/salon revive in DC

my first salon review! i am excited, but sad that i won't have any real pictures of the salon to show you/to open my post.

i took a trip on the metro last saturday into DC, in desperate need of a corrective color. i'd been thinking of going blonde for the summer, but wanted to grow out my fade a little bit. so, on friday evening, my impatience got the best of me and while browsing a local beauty supply shop, i'd decided to go ahead and pick up my color now. i picked up my powdered bleach and mixing medium, and two boxes of color (simply because i couldn't chose between the two). i'd decided how hard could it be? people dyed their hair themselves all the time, so this should be a breeze.

first sign of a bad idea? a racing heart beat. as i stretched on the plastic gloves, my heart was thundering in my chest! i had never been this nervous, not even for either of my big chops. this should've been all the sign i needed to stop. but me being me, blissful in youthful ignorance, carried on. the box was opened, the formula mixed, my cautionary towel wrapped tight around my shoulders, so might as well carry on.

another sign i should've stopped? the fact that i was afraid bleach would hurt! there was a season on next top model where i girl went bleach blonde and was in actual physical pain. so, why oh why, did it seem like a good idea for me to attempt it at home?! your guess is as good as mine. i was worried about my scalp since my hair was so short, but that didn't stop me either. luckily, my scalp felt completely fine, not so much as a tingle, despite the way my heart pounded away erratically, echoing in my ears.

the instructions in the box said to do a strand/patch test first (which i never do), so i was virtually going into this blind: i wasn't sure how long to let the color process for, so i just checked the mirror often. the directions instructed that coarse/natural hair might take 30-45 minutes... cool, no problem, i had natural hair... but it had been over an hour! i knew it wouldn't get any lighter than this faint, coppery brown i had achieved (which wasn't bad, but not what i wanted), but i just left it on for thirty minutes longer... poor izzy was probably dying now that i think of it. :(

when i rinsed, it was a terrible, horrible mess! my hairline, edges, and behind my ears were still dark brown! and my color was spotty. i absolutely hated it. i looked up the number to salon revive (recommended to me by charz)and programmed it into my phone, ready to call first thing in the morning.

i woke up to a hot and balmy saturday and made an appointment for a consultation. i was a little disappointed to learn that i couldn't have a consultation and color in one visit, but i did feel better knowing i would at least be looked at by a professional. i was so grateful they had an opening! i showered and set out, hiding my face with a huge pair of (cute) sunglasses. despite the state that was my hair, i oddly didn't feel too badly about it. population was sparse on the metro and the streets and i shouldn't have been easily recognizable, so i set forward to the salon.

salon revive is situated on U street, which adds a certain gritty-stylish appeal. the inside was very clean and neatly decorated. i arrived early and was invited to sit down. i was waiting no more than five minutes when hiwot greeted me and took me to her chair. we briefly discussed my hair and tried to make plans for my second appointment. today didn't work because she was booked solid, sunday too. i had school and work all week, but thursday, my day off, seemed too far away to be walking around a hot mess. i offered an early wednesday morning, but that was her day off. it really seemed like i would have to suffer through the atrocity on my head for a little while, in which case, i wasn't sure what i would do. i couldn't go to work or school like this.

hiwot took a good look at my hair before saying, "i can't let you walk out like this," to which i readily agreed. she decided to try to at least start the process today so i wouldn't walk out looking how i came in. she mixed up the bleach and applied it to my hair, explaining that she at least wanted to reach a uniform color, focusing on my dark edges and behind my ears. despite having another client on the way, hiwot kept a close eye on me, she and her assistant always checking in on my scalp and comfort level.

her clients slowly trickled in, but she continued to make time for me when she could. she decided to apply my color now, instructing her assistant to keep an eye on me. although the assistant did much of the washing and styling in the latter half of my visit, i was far from feeling like hiwot had simply passed me off to be someone else's problem while she tended to her to scheduled appointments. she watched over the entire ordeal carefully, even going back several times to better give me a uniform color and recommending a steam, which i obviously so sorely needed.

i have to rave. this right here is excellent customer service. i was so floored and humbled and appreciative of hiwot, i really can't say enough good things about her. i had nary a complaint, which i am grateful for because it seems that so many ladies have nothing but negative things to report about their salon visits. hiwot handled me with such grace, and an ease of generosity that was so new to me. she made time in her busy schedule to see to me and she seemed genuinely interested in my progress and the state of my hair. i have gotten so many compliments on my color and it is absolutely gorgeous. i can definitely see myself going back to her in the future.

the entire salon visit was a dream and more than i could've asked for. i would recommend hiwot to anyone looking for color, but i kind of want to keep her to myself, hee hee. ;) but it goes without saying, i would recommend her in a heartbeat and look forward to visiting salon revive again.

i know you all are waiting for those pictures i keep promising and they are on their way, i promise!

27 June 2010

[review] safi haircare avocado shea hair butter

ingredients: raw shea butter, pure avocado butter, vitamin e, peach kernel oil, coconut oil, vegetable glycerin, organic aloe vera gel, sodium lactate (natural preservative), fragrance.

i'd first heard of this product on a review on youtube and it sounded absolutely delicious, so a quick google search lead me to safi haircare's etsy shop. i didn't purchase immediately however; at the time, i wasn't very eager to spend $10 on only 4 ounces of product that didn't seem to have any special ingredients. but the name and the delicious image enough sucked me in and i placed my order.

i don't remember how long arrival time took, but i do believe it was the two weeks specified on the etsy page. not too long, considering i was at school, so it was more of a pleasant surprise when i came home one weekend to find it waiting for me.

i was excited to receive this because the texture in the image above is mouthwatering, right? i have to be honest, i was disappointed when i opened the jar. i expected a thick, rich cream with a good weight to it, but smooth. instead, my jar was kind of hard... i actually had to apply pressure to get anything on my finger, which i didn't like. at the same time, i do like the thickness and the texture of it, i just wish the formulation was richer and had more spreadability. this didn't soften at all, even with the arrival of the summer. maybe i just had a "bad" batch. if this product would've had the texture, i imagined, it would've been an absolute dream. it would've been my first experience with a butter so delectable. (i need to find new way to describe consistencies, lol).

speaking of the jar, it comes in a nondescript dark brown jar. i like the size and the weight of it, but the squared edges of the top add a masculinity to the brand that isn't befitting of alexandra, the owner (who, if you haven't visited her blog, is a totally adorable chick). i did really enjoy her branding, however. the dragonfly is very unique and meshes well with the letters, which are creatively, yet simply spaced in and around the image. it gives off this very natural, earthy feel which i like.

as for the fragrance... i could do without it. i don't have the jar here with me, but safi haircare seems to be reaching for that same sugary sweet smell that mozeke is. but this scent was immediately overpowering. i have absolutely nothing against foody smells, in fact, when done correctly (like hairveda), i adore them, but foody smells need to have a theme, a main note: strawberries, coconut, orange, etc. ambiguously sweet smells are easily grating. the description of this says "buttercream," but i think there might be a little too much cream and not enough butter to temper the saccharinity of it all.

i'd used this several times when i first cut down to the fade, so i can't really comment on performance. i feel as thought this would make an excellent moisturizer (it has some of my favorite ingredients), but my displeasure with the consistency and scent kept me from reaching for it. i had high expectations for it and i'm a little disappointed in myself for not working with it more or giving it a longer run, so i still kind of have high expectations for it. and i will fully admit that this might not be as good a review as the others, but i do fully believe that my thoughts, experience, and opinions are valid. i have so many products to work through that if a product doesn't initially grab me after several earnest attempts, then it's time for me to move on. so, with that being said, this wouldn't be a repurchase, but i would encourage others to give it a go.

in the end though, i do look forward to seeing what other products alexandra will be rolling out. the branding on safi is very agreeable and makes you feel almost stylish. i think that with improvements to her jars and scents, her line will become very popular, very quickly. until then, i'm perfectly happy reading her blog and visiting her youtube.

ftc disclaimer: i am in no way affiliated with this company. i was not paid for this review and the product was purchased with my own monies. :)

26 June 2010

[review] mozeke's coconut kokum hair milk: 4-in-1 conditioner

ingredients: distilled water, vegetable wax, cocoa butter, kokum butter, all natural preservative, jojoba oil, irish moss, coconut milk powder, and fragrance.

*sigh* i just received this product yesterday and i'm already doing my review. so this must be pretty amazing stuff right? so far, YES! but let me not get too ahead of myself. this will be an evolving review as i continue to work and play with it. since this is a 4-in-1, i want to review it using it all four ways specified. so far, i have only used it as a moisturizer/leave-in.

i ordered this friday, and received it the following friday. this isn't too bad, but pales in comparison to the three day shipping i experienced the first time i ordered. but i'm sure that with the addition of new products and a growing customer base, jennifer needs a little more time and a week's turnaround isn't much to complain about.

you can get a generous 4 ounces for only six dollars, 8 oz for eleven dollars, or a fanatic's 16 oz for only twenty dollars. these are all very agreeable price points for me, given that it's an effective product.

like all her products, this comes in a simple straightforward bottle. however, what i like about this one is that it is fairly malleable, making it easy to squeeze the product out. the consistency, however, isn't that of a "milk" to me. like i mentioned in a previous review, i think such products should be thinner and more easily spreadable, but this doesn't detract from the product at all. this is a lot smoother than the mozeke avocado cream, and i prefer it a lot more. the screw cap is nice, although i think a top with a pop tab would be a lot more effective, provided that the opening is big enough to squeeze out a good amount.

the scent, however, like many of the mozeke products, edges on a little too sugary sweet. even after one use, it bordered a bit on overwhelming, especially in a steamy bathroom after a shower. i really think an unscented version of this would go over well. there is very little variation in the three products that i have tried from this line, so perhaps it's time for mozeke to start venturing into citruses, or florals, or vanillas. i would definitely try to branch off into new scents, especially when your current scents don't hit the mark.

i am so excited about this product for a number of reasons. first thing i noticed when i smoothed it through my hair is that it defined my curlies in a new way. it didn't coax each curl into a perfect spiral, but rather, clumped and tamed them beautifully. my curls look more like waves, which is new for me. my hair looks so much thicker and lush this way! and get this... frizz! de-frizzified! even after chopping again, once my hair began to grow out, i got those stick straight pieces. i was worried after the dye job because the bleach did loosen my texture, so that meant that the looser parts of my hair would become even looser, which meant more frizz. now that the moisturizer has dried, i do have a few pieces sticking up, but not nearly as much as usual.

i'll have to chime back in later, in a few hours, to see how moisturized my hair feels then. when i rinsed out the deep conditioner this morning, my hair felt so beautifully soft, so i'm eager to see if this hair milk can keep my hair feeling that way. these are also very new ingredients for me, so i'm excited to have such a great experience so far.

on the website, the description states you can use this as a leave in or rinse out conditioner, a moisturizer, and a braid/moisturizing spray. i've used it as a moisturizer. i suppose the idea behind a leave-in is that you layer a moisturizer on top of it, which i may try soon. i'll also try it as a rinse-out on my next wash and she gives a recipe for a spritzer, which i may doctor to better suit my needs.

i'm especially excited about this moisturizer because of the dye, i'm giving up the gels and stylers to focus on moisturizing. if this gives my hair the nourishment it needs, it'll be perfect, since i also love the way it clumps my coils - they look so juicy!

i would say the only thing keeping this from being a staple status moisturizer is the scent and consistency (which i can always dilute with water). but this would be a definite repurchase! so far, i am incredibly impressed by the mozeke line and look forward to trying even more products from them!

edit: after emailing jennifer, i found out that she does offer this unscented and my hair feels great! still a tad dry, so i'll seal with an oil next time, but a major improvement over how my hair was feeling before. i think i have a staple here!

ftc disclaimer: i am in no way affiliated with this company. i was not paid for this review and the product was purchased with my own monies. :)

while izzy is at the spa...

well, not quite. ;) i'm sitting with the mozeke moisture masque in my hair now, and decided what better chance than to do a quick post? i noticed i have a few new followers too (hi!), so i wanted to make this place look alive (here's the shea moisture curl and style milk review, finally up).

izzy's really been a dream lately. ever since i did a second chop almost one (two?) months ago, she's been fabulous! i have just enough hair to curl up now, so i've been lightly styling it in the mornings. there was a brief period when i co-washed with a deep conditioner almost every day (shea moisture), and i'm sure that helped get her into tip-top shape. it was because of the health of my hair that i felt confident with bleaching (although i wouldn't recommend double processing to anyone). but ever since the dye job, my hair has been unusually straw-like, so i'll be pampering her till she's back to her usually lovely self.

i finally purchased the 16 oz of the mozeke mask and i feel like a kid in a candy store. i love this stuff so much (if you haven't read my review), i just love holding it, looking at it, sniffing it, being around it. lol! i am seriously crazy for this dc. i noticed jennifer (the owner of mozeke), has added a few new items such as the hair milk and styling pomade. i decided to order a "sample" of the coconut kokum 4-n-1 hair milk (not really a sample because the 4 oz is so much!). i'm not sure if i'll work my way through her entire line, although i do plan to go through most of it. the ingredients on this hair milk seem interesting, so i'm looking forward to reviewing.

i also ordered a bottle of sebastian cellophone colors in honey blonde. from what i understand, this is like a "refresher." it does deposit color, although there's no peroxide or ammonium, which is good. i'm going to hold off on using it, however, simply because i want to get my hair back to normal before i do anything else to it. i also picked up the cutest jar of the eco styler olive oil gel and a sample jar of the miss jessie's curly pudding (for absolutely no reason). but i am giving the gels a rest because they don't moisturize and i want my hair to be able to breathe, so i'll be styling with the rest of my darcy's botanicals coiling jelly.

anyway, i know that all anyone ever really wants to see is pictures and i do have a few here. i went out with a girlfriend who just got a new camera that takes GORGEOUS pictures, so i will be sharing those as soon as she uploads them. but until then, i hope these webcam shots are enough. ;)

and here is a quick outline (mainly for me) for my upcoming posts:
  1. salon review! +my dye story/timeline
  2. hair milk review
  3. vs so sexy condish review
  4. idk. any suggestions? lol.
  5. disillusionment post (maybe)

18 June 2010

it's been so long! buuut...

summer session has started and i've also begun working full time in a museum, so blogging has been the furthest thing from my mind, but i have missed it! i haven't even been checking on the blogs i follow, but i hope to make some new posts within the next few weeks.

my hair has been growing out great - i absolutely love it at this length. i knew i wanted to keep it short for the summer, although i wasn't sure if i wanted to keep it shaven like when i first cut it. i loved the maintenance at that length, and every touch felt amazing against my scalp, but i love it at it's current length too. i do have to manipulate it a little bit in the mornings, now that it's gotten long enough to begin curling back up.

so... i also decided to go in with the color! i'm actually sitting right now with a honey blonde dye in my hair! i am so nervous, this is the most drastic thing i've ever done to my hair. i didn't want to wait to book a salon, although i might have to go in for a corrective color. i didn't get my edges properly, so they're still a little dark, while the rest has lightened nicely. but it's been processing for over an hour and it's still not as light as the box. perhaps i should've just bleached first, then did the color. the kit came with a lightener, but i don't think it's as strong as the bleach.

i feel like now is the time to really experiment with my hair. i'm young and free and can do as i please. i want to try a whole slew of blondes, reds, and browns so i know i'll be heavy into color for maybe another year or so. this is going to be a beautiful summer so i decided to start with the lightest - i'd really like to achieve a sweet, warm, honey/strawberry blonde. since that'll be the lightest, it'll make going darker easier since the color of my dark brown hair will have already been lifted.

but in other news, i finally ordered the full size of the mozeke moisturizing masque, yum! i know my hair is gonna need a lot of extra tlc, so i decided now was the perfect time to re-up. i also ordered a sample of the 4-in-1 hair milk, so i'm excited to try that.

how have things been with all of you? :)