27 December 2010

[review] christine gant babassu cream deep conditioner

ingredients:  water, behentrimonium methosulfate, cetearyl alcohol, cetyl babassuate, babassu oil, wheat amino acids, soy amino acids, arginine, serine, threonine, acetamide MEA, hydrolyzed hair keratin, panthenol, sorbitol, sodium cocoyl collagen, amino acid cocyl sarcosine, wheat germ acid, wheat germ oil, linolenic acid, linoleic acid, sulfur, polysorbate 80, oleth-80, jojoba oil, tocopheryl acetate, hydrolyzed glycosaminoglycans, dehydroacetic acid, benzyl alcohol, natural color, fragrance. 

i think i bought this in november too, so i've had enough time to think  up a review for it. let's jump right in!

- p r i c i n g -
i got a 4 ounce "sample" of this for $7.50. sample is in quotes because neither the price nor the size is really sample-like to me, but the price is great for the size. i've only used it three times now, but i have about three more uses left. the 4 ounce gives you a number of uses, which is great.

you can cop the full size 8 ounces for fifteen dollars, and a fanatic's 16 ounce for $26, which i think is great. the 16 ounce is sure to last you several months (depending on the length of your hair). and if you can catch one of their sales, you can pay even less! :)

- p a c k a g i n g - 
i love the container on this (although i think a bottle would suit it better). it comes in a simple clear jar, but the sleek silver top really sets it off for me. it gives the product a simple, fresh feel and image, that fits with their simple, lightly-colored labels. the edges are soft and the jar itself is very sturdy.

the label itself makes very clean use of its space. the company's logo is settled at the top, with the name of the product written in very clean font. i really like the rich carrot-y orange with the pale green of the image in the background. the font is slightly rounded, and ties in well with the simple imagery of the label.

- f r a g r a n c e -
there description says this conditioner has a light sugar and floral fragrance and that nails it right on the head. there's just enough natural sweetness for it to be pleasant, tempered with unoffensive, earthy florals. florals aren't really my thing, but the sugar sweetens this just enough for me. the scent is light and pleasant and shouldn't bother anyone.

- c o n s i s t e n c y -
this is a fairly thin conditioner. it slips around easily within its jar and is a little slippery to handle. for some unknown reason, since i've come home, i've just been dropping everything lately. i haven't dropped this (thank goodness), but scooping it out can lead to some drippage. it's thin enough that i would say it might be better at home in a bottle (despite how much i adore the jar).

it's a soft yellow color that makes it look teasingly like cake batter. it's very workable and spreads very easily through dampened hair. it foams up a little, which was surprising to me, but this helps it to coat each strand.

- p e r f o r m a n c e -
this really is a deep conditioner! after steaming, the slip is crazy. my curls are drunk with moisture and so soft and pliable. the shine is freaking amazing. i've noticed that this conditioner will dry in my hair if i go too long without a cap, which isn't a big deal, but as it dries, the amazing feeling in your hair dries up too, LOL.

i really like this conditioner! there's just one thing that keeps me from loving it… and that this conditioner drips unlike any other conditioner i've ever tried! under my steamer, i get minimal drippage (if any). with this, i've got water running down my face, dripping down my neck and it drives me crazy. i honestly don't know why it drips so much, i just can't figure it out. my guess is because it's so thin, and the foamy consistency of it just doesn't absorb the steam, so the water just drips down. i really don't know and that was probably a terrible guess. i would hate for the drippies to keep me from repurchasing this, but with so many other conditioners that DON'T drip, it would have to be on sale for me to pick it up again.

also, some of the ingredients i've never heard of, so i want to do a bit of research before i consider buying again.

so repurchase status on this is a maybe. i would highly recommend this however, and until i can find a spa headband big enough for my head, i probably will wait for a sale to buy again, but i definitely would repurchase!

- c u s t o m e r s e r v i c e -
i'd been eyeing christine gant products on etsy for some time, but the full sizes weren't cheap enough for me to consider committing to them. so i sent a message asking if could purchase samples. a reply took a few days, but the person was very sweet and eager to help. after that initial response, however, emails were replied to within a day. she was very helpful and so sweet.

A for customer service! :)

overall, i have only had positive experiences with christine gant products and would most definitely purchase from them again.

tc 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 December 2010

my first twistout! (pics!)

hey curlies!

so after my weekly steam tonight, i didn't want to just do NOTHING to my hair has usual, so i decided to try twists!

i moisturized with oyin's new hair dew (LOVE this stuff!). as i sectioned off my hair, i sealed each bit with their burnt sugar pomade and got to twisting.

here's how the twists came out!

as you can see, my ends got huge and puffy. i'm in need of a trim, but unwilling to let the length (and maybe the color) go at this moment. i'll probably trim around my birthday, after about two-three more months of growth.

my plan is to keep these twists in as long as possible (provided i don't leave the house, LOL). if i have to leave the house to go somewhere important, i'll do a twist out. but if it's to the store or something, i'll probably just tuck them under a scarf and hat.

i wanted to be able to wear these out, but i don't like them enough for that purpose, haha. but each twist is moisturized and so fat and juicy! my hair feels amazingly soft and i can't wait for my first twist out!

also, a tiny bit of hair porn for ya. ;)

i was cleaning out my camera's memory and found these! i'm sure i have some kind of styler in my hair, although i can't remember what. :P izzy was gorgeous at this length!

[review] nbdcosmectis miracle moisture (curl, twist, and loc creme)

ingredients: distilled water, tucuma butter, sodium pca, sodium lactate, lactic acid, collagen, urea, amino acids, behentromonium methosulfate, ceteryl alcohol, monoi de tahiti oil, meadowfoam seed oil, vitamin complex, stearic acid, germall and fragrance.

i first purchased a sample size of this back in november, when i was beginning my search for a water-based moisturizer. i found this on easy and it sounded like a good product, so i went ahead and picked this up. i've been working with it since then and i'm finally ready to do a good review on it. :) so let's go!

i bought 2 ounces of this for $5.50, which was very agreeable. you can purchase the full 4 ounce size of this for only ten dollars. i think these are excellent price points because i've been using generous dollops of my sample size for weeks now and i have a little less than half remaining. i imagine the full size would last for quite some time!

this cream comes in a simple blue jar. the color is fairly noteworthy, as i haven't received too many blue jars, lol. but it doesn't really fit for me. i'm not too sure why. the dark blue of this seems a bit more herbal, or medicinal.  the label is handmade, with the name of the product written on it (i think this is only for sample sizes, however!).  there's not too much information on it other than the website address and company name. i do like the little column of logos to the left, but the images are so small they're virtually useless.

packaging could be reworked to be a bit more aesthetically pleasing, but it is quite functional and shouldn't present too many problems for anyone.

immediately, the fragrance on this caught my attention! there was very little mention of the scent in the product listing on etsy, so it came as quite a surprise. it is unlike anything i've ever smelled before. this is definitely a summer scent! it reminds me a bit of fruit punch - fun, loud, fruity. there is a definite berry undertone, but there is something that tempers it juuuust right. 

i love this! the scent lasts all day and i could catch a whiff every time that i turned my head or the wind blew. yummy! those who are sensitive to strong fragrances might opt for an unscented version, it could be a bit tiring at times.

the consistency of this is a standard, in my opinion, but no less enjoyable! it isn't very thick. it's one of the thinner products i've tried, but it has just enough weight to it. the consistency makes this go a very long way. a generous finger tip should cover most of your head. the consistency gives this product a definite plus for me.

the performance on this was nice. i wasn't amazed, nor was i blown away, but neither was i disappointed at all. this is advertised as a styling cream, and i was primarily searching for a moisturizer. this did offer my curls a degree of definition and left them very soft and pliable. drying time was nice on this too.

however, the hold wasn't enough for me to consider using as a styler. and the moisture wasn't great enough for me to continue using as a moisturizer, especially as my hair gets longer.

i am on the fence about this product. i am going to keep working with it, for sure, since i have so much left. but i'm not too sure if this would ever be a repurchase. i enjoyed using it and everything agrees with me on this product, but it just wasn't amazing enough for me.

.customer service.
customer service from nbdcosmetics was quick and friendly. i was kept updated as to the status of my order and all my questions were answered promptly and politely. :)

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. :)

19 December 2010

new format to product reviews -- section labels & *new* section!

i'm on a roll today! lazy sundays are always good for blogging (it's like the steam just gets my fingers going!). :) unlike my last post, this one will be quick!

i'm going to add labels to the different components of my product reviews. i know i can load a post with lots of information, and i wanted to make them more easily accessible. they'll be separated into (and not necessarily in this order):
  • pricing
  • label/bottle/packaging
  • scent
  • performance
  • customer service
i'll also be "reviewing" the company on their customer service (shipping times, reply to emails, how they pack my box, etc). customer service can make or break your experience, and i know it is of a lot of importance to me as well, so i figured i should include it in my reviews, just to let you guys know what you're getting into. :)

on a more technical note, blogspot has been giving me really weird formatting lately, font and spacing wise, so i'll be on the lookout for a new layout while i'm out of school!

just a few quick updates!

Bases and the Blogger (a fairly *important* post)

I have to capitalize my words normally for this post, 'cause bases are srs bzness!

So not too long ago, the natural hair community online was set ablaze when Afroveda increased her prices by about 50%. Now, I'd only ever ordered from Afroveda once (as evidenced by my single review), when I first went natural, so the increases didn't really faze me much, but understandably people were up in arms. I don't recall the exact prices, so don't quote me, but I think butters went from $12 to $24, which is absolutely ridiculous.

Understandably, the curly girls of the internet world banded together to find cheaper alternatives, which lead to quite the startling discovery, which in turn sparked a full scale investigation of popular lines like Christine Gant, Hairveda, and wherever else people like to order their haircare goodies from.

The ladies over at naturallycurly discovered that Afroveda was using bases for her products anyway. 

Uhm, what?

For those of you who don't know, a base is a mixture of ingredients that you can buy wholesale (like one gallon of product for nine bucks - sweet!). From this point, you can use these bases to make your own product - adding more ingredients, color, fragrance, what have you. Or you can simply add some scented oils, stick it in a bottle, and charge what you want for it.

Which, let's be honest, is business. The problem comes in when your website states how frustrated you were of not finding anything to work on your hair, so you slave in your kitchen for days, poring over ingredients and whipping up batches until you've arrived at some holy, magical amalgamation of shea butter and coconut oil and market it as "home/handmade." That, my friends, is lying. And people usually don't enjoy being lied to, but when your lie involves their money, people get down right angry and it's completely within their rights to do so.

A simple google search of the ingredients posted on an etsy listing or product description, could potentially lead you to websites like essentialwholesale or ingredientstodiefor. And while you may not need a gallon of shea butter cream rinse leave-in, you can easily see that $9 for 128 ounces is infinitely better than $12 for 8 ounces. Shipping might tip the scales price-wise, but the bulk will always be the better deal. 

So, before I get into how this affects bloggers, I'd like to speak as a consumer (at this point in my blogging career, I am a consumer first).

I'll start with saying that I am all for supporting black businesses and putting money back into the black community. If I have it, sure, I'll pay the extra three dollars. What am I going to do with a gallon of product anyway? (Except maybe sell it to my natural classmates on campus...) 

However, if I have to endure exploitative shipping fees, a long processing time, or rude customer service, I just won't order at all. And don't lie to me. I can see how one may not exactly be too keen on broadcasting that they use bases, but don't try to pass yourself off as one of Mother Necessity's neglected children and everything on your website is made in your kitchen, with your Kitchenaid brand blender and Pyrex glass bowls, when you and I both know damn well you stuck a funnel in a bottle and poured some product in there, slapped a label on it, and hiked the price up. Just don't do it.

So where does that leave the beauty blogger? Especially those of us concerned with natural hair and the products marketed towards us?

I will be the first to admit: my product reviews don't delve too deeply into the politics of things. I enjoy writing thorough reviews, yes, from everything to the packaging to the actual performance. I like details and I like providing details. I don't provide research material on the ingredients or the companies (although I will start; more about this in the next blog post) and I'm not particularly interested.

However, there are some things that I cannot and will not ignore. I may not be a "big time" or "popular" blogger, and I've never been sent a product for review (and the way I'm going, it may stay this way ;P ). But I pride myself on being honest. What do you or I have to gain from lying? Absolutely nothing. I paid my money for these products and you guys took the time to click follow, so why would I bother lying? I haven't done it and I won't ever do it.

If I am ignorant to a product being made from a base, there's no one to really blame. However, if I review a product that I know to be made from a base, I will say so in the product review. It just feels dishonest of me to review a product, especially if it's favorable, and not reveal everything I know about it. It just doesn't sit right with me, so I won't lie to you all like that, I won't do it. 

All I can do is present all the information I have. It's up to you guys to decide what you do with it. Now, if I feel as though the company provides a great product, at a reasonable price, and good customer service, I'll encourage you to purchase it from that vendor. But it is ultimately up to the reader where they put their money.

So there's my quick two cents on this topic. :)

[review] jasmine's avocado & silk conditioner

ingredients: water, cetyl alcohol, stearamidopropyl dimethlamine, dimethicone, avocado oil, ceteryl alcohol, ceteareth-20, panthenyl ethyl ether, silk amino acids, hydrolyzed wheat protein, panthenol (vitamin B5), citric acid, DMDM hydantoin, disodium EDTA, fragrance.

i am sitting under the steamer with this on my head now, so i figured now was a good time to knock out this review. :)

i ordered a 2 oz sample size of this for $3.50, which is a great price. i was able to get two uses out of it. she also offers this in 4 oz, 8 oz, and 16 oz for $12, $16, and $24, respectively. for some reason, these prices are a little bit on the higher end of what i'd prefer to pay. while twelve dollars isn't much, i would only get 4 uses out of the jar, which isn't much, especially as my hair continues to grow.

i don't agree with these prices because i don't feel as though this conditioner is particularly original. i don't think that "jasmine" sat in her own kitchen and whipped this up. and if she used a base, there is no reason my order should take ten days to ship. none.

case in point: at this website, you can buy 4 oz of the same conditioner for $7.50, which is much more agreeable. if i were to repurchase, can you guess where i'd buy from?

i will explain more about the price in my next post, as there is a lot that goes into it, so i want to keep this post strictly as a review.

consistency of this product is very thick and seems like it would offer good slip. the color is white and i can't tell you the scent i had. when i placed my order i had only two options: scented and unscented. i chose scented, so whatever i got was up to them. the best i can describe this scent is a sweet floral. you guys know i don't usually go for florals, so this was new to me. the fragrance isn't particularly light like a floral should be, but the smell isn't distracting or at all unpleasant.

when i first used this a few weeks ago, i really liked the slip it gave me. detangling with my denman was a breeze and it left my hair soft.

as for the ingredients... i don't use heavy products, nor do any of my products contain cones. the website claims that dimethicone helps protect while heat styling, so i could see using this before a blow dry or flat iron. it is very moisturizing and heavy duty enough to use before heat styling. i could see myself using it for that purpose. but since i don't heat style, i can't really see Izzy needing any cones or any other those unnatural ingredients.

overall, i won't say that i am underwhelmed, but i just wasn't amazed at this product and i can't really put my finger on why: performance earned at least a B. i think it's because the ingredients aren't anything to write home about, coupled with the fact that i could get this cheaper, and the processing time. i don't know... i'm just not moved by this product (or the other conditioner i tried, which will be reviewed soon).

i won't be repurchasing any time soon. at least not from jasmine's.

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. :)

16 December 2010

avocado butter + castor oil = a christmas miracle (and other goodies!)

hey curlies! :)

i had a presentation on the black panthers last week, and my group decided it would be fun to dress the part as well. ;) my roommate blew out my hair into an afro so that i would better look the part of a panther woman. i washed my hair and moisturized with jasmine's shea butter cream rinse. i air-dried for maybe an hour until my roommate was ready. she sat me in a low chair in the bathroom and applied some heat protectant (sabino moisture block's original formula). armed with my denman, she alternately brushed and blew my curls out.

and what a freaking surprise!

my hair was so BIG! i am the queen of the lackadaisical style. ever since my second big chop, i became the epitome of the wash-n-go diva. i left my hair curly and went about my business. sure, i would stretch out my hair every now and again, but that was never a really good indicator my growth. so imagine my excitement when i saw this:

where did all of that hair come from?! (and you can see a tuft sticking out where i'd been pulling on it, haha!) throughout the process, my roomie was bubbling over with giggles and exclamations of "you have so much hair back here!" when i saw my hair, i was all smiles and grins! this was such a new look for me, an experience i'd never had! since i cut my hair in june 2OO9, i'd never seen my hair straight. and i'm sure that picture above doesn't showcase my "true" length, because my hair wasn't completely straight.

blow drying also clued me into how healthy my hair was. i couldn't keep my hands out of it! i know i'm due for a good trim - my ends felt a little rough, i'll admit. but my roots (and length of my natural hair color) was so incredibly soft! my hair felt amazing! it was cool to feel and to see all the hard work i've been putting into my hair. there was very little hair in the comb attachment and denman when she was done and i just can't get over how good my hair felt!

having my hair blown out also helped to reinforce my goal of growing out my hair. everyone knows, i adored my fade, and pressures from my friends to go bald again has been making it very tempting! but after seeing how much growth i have, there's no way i'm cutting it down again. i've adjusted my plan as such: i'll get another trim on spring break (to cut out my color), and i'll dye my hair again during the summer. and then i'll check my length again in the middle of fall semester.

and that's the plan. :) i will keep steaming weekly and moisturizing daily. i've also been thinking of baggying over night a few times a week, but i don't want to risk mushy hair. i've also been meaning to do a light protein treatment, just because.


anyway (long post, i know!), after i washed my hair sunday night, i was reunited with my two loves: avocado butter and jamaican black castor oil, two items that i started my HHJ with. i'm not sure why i decided to use them again (already in the shower and left my moisturizer, probably), but i'm glad i did!

when i woke up in the morning, i was in love allll over again! izzy was amazing! soft, fluffy, moisturized... the jbco gave me ridiculous shine and my curls were popping all over the place. i had a lot more shrinkage than usual, but in my experience, more shrinkage means juicier curls, so i wasn't complaining. i was feeling my hair, ya'll. lil izzy was feeling herself too, obviously! haha!

it's so nice to know that no matter what new products i experiment with, i can always come back to my tried and true staples. :)

a quick update. i hope all is well in your world. <3

05 December 2010

[review] christine gant sweet milk leave-in conditioner

ingredients: water, behentrimonium methosulfate, cetearyl alcohol, peppermint extract, horsetail extract,yucca extract, melissa extract,hydrolyzed wheat protein, panthenol, wheat germ oil, jojoba oil, vitamin e

i've been eyeing christine gant's products on etsy for a little while now and once i found out that she sold sample sizes, i went ahead and ordered! her products look very clean and professional, so i was excited to finally order. i've used up my sample, but made sure to save a tiny bit to have on hand while i type up this review. ;)

i was able to get a 2 ounce sample for $5.00, which was agreeable. you can get a full 8 oz for $12.50. and if you really love the stuff, you can purchase a 16 oz for $20. i think these are all very agreeable price points, and i love the variety of sizes.

customer service was polite. shipping was standard... it took a little more than a week to get sent out (which was noted in my invoice), and once shipped, it arrived within a few days.

while i would've loved to get my hands on that unique looking bottle in the photo above, my sample came in a simple clear bottle with a black cap. i love getting sample sizes because then i can keep the bottles to share some products with my friends, hee. what i like is that they even had a little mini label! i have gotten a lot of samples that were a simple, nondescript jar or bottle, so the label was a nice touch. one thing i really enjoyed was the font. very clean and subtly stylized. it agreed well with the minimal graphics and summery, grassy green.

the description lists the scent as a "Light Sweet Passion Fruit & Pineapple Fragrance."  i won't say i disagree, because i've never smelled passionfruit (i don't believe), but i am an absolute sucker for juicy pineapple fragrances! i'm assuming that the passionfruit is what i smell the most, with hints of pineapple at the end. i really liked this scent! very light and organically fruity without being sweet, perfect for summer. it is good for a whiff every now and then, although i will admit, using it consistently made me tired of the smell. i didn't enjoy it as much as the first time. now that it's been a week or so, the scent is back to being new and pleasant.

the consistency is very light. it wasn't as milky as the name would suggest, but still a very smooth texture. it slowly slips along the sides of my bottle to settle on the bottom. it was very different in that it kind of foams up once it's in your hair. when i first used it, i went to rinse it out because i wasn't sure if i'd rinsed all the conditioner out of my hair first, but as i used it more and more, i learned that's just how it worked. the foaming helped to distribute it throughout my hair.

this was marketed as a "detangler," and i wish i'd used it as such so i could comment on its actual detangling abilities. i was using it as a moisturizer, and i didn't like it for that purpose. it left my hair feeling very... light, and even a little stiff, which was new. it probably needed to be layered under a sealant. i did like the way it made my hair feel, but not enough to repurchase. i tried this as a moisturizer on dry hair as well and i didn't like the performance. didn't cut through my coils and springs enough to moisturize.

i can see myself revisiting this when i have longer hair, to really test out its detangling abilities. i would probably only use this as a leave-in after washing because performance falls flat as a moisturizer. and that's not necessarily a bad thing - i wasn't using it for its intended purpose, so that's not the products' fault, but this will not be a repurchase for me.

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. :)