Sunday, November 21, 2010

Countdown to Thanksgiving

I'm making my list and checking it twice.  We're having a few family members over on Thanksgiving which means that I have a lot on my to-do list this week.  I can't forget about my hair though.  In the past I have done curly styles for special occasions like roller sets and twist-outs.  For this Thanksgiving I'm gonna go ahead and wear it straight.  I've been participating in a couple of Growth Challenges with the ladies at K.I.S.S. and can finally take this opportunity to check my progress. 

This month I also started doing deep conditioning treatments twice a week.  This is another challenge that was started last year or the year before.   Someone on K.I.S.S. decided to get it going again.  Basically, I'm doing it for the extra moisture my hair needs during the winter months.  This week though, since I'm going to use heat on my hair, I'm probably going to make sure and do something with protein.  I have the Aphogee 2 Minute Reconstructor which works good but the ingredients include Mineral oil and silicones.  While I'm out buying my turkey and veggies for Thursday, I may just pick up the GPB conditioner by Aubrey Organics.  I have always liked their Honeysuckle Rose conditioner for when I need moisture so I'm pretty confident that this one will work for me as well.  Either way, I always like to prepare my hair with a deep treatment so that I won't end up damaging my curls when using heat.  Hopefully I can find the time for all the cooking and cleaning and still get dinner done on time.  Wish me luck!

Getting Ready for the Craft Show

Our Lavender in the Summer
My Husband is a Master Gardener and loves to grow herbs.  Our garden produces a large bounty of fresh, culinary herbs each year.  The last couple of years we have been harvesting the herbs and crafting with them.  One of my Husband's favorites is the lavender.  After drying it, he adds it to sugar and blends the mixture together with vanilla beans to make a Lavender Vanilla Sugar.  Yes, it's as good as it sounds.  The lavender we grow is so strong that when he sits down to separate it for storage, our whole house is heavy with the scent. 

Strawberry Mint Vinegar

He also learned how to make flavored vinegars and combines flavors like strawberry with mint or bluberry and sage.  All of the herbs are grown right here using organic methods.  The fruit is selected during the height of their season which gives the best flavor.  I found that the vinegar is always really good with meat when I'm in a hurry and don't have time to marinate it.  The sugar is really yummy in a warm cup of tea because the heat makes the lavender flavor bloom in your mouth...heavenly. 

For the craft show I made up new labels for the vinegars and helped him get everything ready.  I found some purple ribbon for the sugar jars which turned out really pretty.  I even typed up little cards giving suggestions on how to use the sugar and vinegars.  These items will be ready for sale in a few days in our Etsy Store, "Mimis Craft Pantry".  Here are some pictures of everything as I was getting it all ready. 
Color Coded Labels-Designed by moi :)
Lavender Vanilla Sugar

Getting Everything Ready

Friday, November 19, 2010

Choosing a Ceramic Flat Iron

My FHI Ceramic Flat Iron
When my first flat iron quit working after only one year of use, I decided that I would definitely look into buying something of better quality the next go 'round.  Little did I know that it would be 7 months before I would finally purchase a new one.  Instead of running out and replacing it right away, I decided to take my time and do some research.  One of the first things I did was start looking into styling options that didn't require the use of heat.  This started me on my Natural Hair journey which meant that the flat iron of my dreams would have to be able to straighten my natural hair texture, kinks and all.

I looked at Consumer Reports on the subject and found tons of info on the different types of flat irons.  There are a lot of heat styling tools that are ceramic now but the real question is, how ceramic are they?  It turns out that my previous joke of a flat iron was only ceramic coated which would explain the $40 USD price tag.  The material started peeling and would catch my hair.  This exposed the metal plates underneath and caused lots of breakage.  However, professional tools that used full ceramic plates were priced way more than I could afford and were very fragile.  One drop and crack goes the flat iron.  I later read that the mid-range variety ($80-$150) used plates that have multiple layers of ceramic coating and sometimes even added tourmaline. 

 It is the tourmaline that helps the iron produce more negative ions.  No, this is not chemistry class folks, we're talkin' hair here!  Apparently the more negative ions the better the heat.  Of course, using direct heat on the hair is never considered a good thing but I found out that there are different types of heat.  This information explained how some flat irons give excellent results and also cause less damage while others burn the hair to a crisp.

Of all the brands out there I finally narrowed it down to the FHI Technique G2.  I found the pink version on sale at Ulta for $79 but still see it at Target for ten dollars more.  It definitely puts my old iron to shame but the sucker gets hot so I have to be extremely careful with it.  I like that it has a beveled edge which makes it really easy to do flips and curls.  If I could do it all over again I would hold out for the FHI Platform which has a dial so you can adjust the heat setting.  Maybe one day...a girl can dream, right?  

**Check out this article for more info on choosing a quality Flat Iron**

Friday, November 12, 2010

Eco Styler Wash n' Go Trials

A few months ago I learned more about Aloe Vera and how it can help restore the natural pH balance of my hair.  This had me wondering what would happen if I added Aloe Vera juice to one of my staple products Eco Styler gel

I've been using this gel for my wash n' go styles and whenever I need to slick down my edges.  However, if I forget to apply enough moisturizing products underneath it, my hair ends up a little on the crunchy side.  So, I figured why not add aloe vera and see if that makes a difference since it will help bring the pH of the gel down (hopefully).  I don't have pH tester strips yet so I can't verify what pH I ended up with but the results were good.  The product, as always, helped define my curls.  Upon drying though; dry crunchy hair.  What gives?! 

I've been learning in the past few months that it's not just the pH that is important but also the ingredients.  This little experiment made me realize that it may be the glycerin in the product that always gives me the "Ramen Noodle effect" which is why I always need use oil and conditioner underneath.  Also, living in a dry climate where there is no humidity present can also add to the drying (not moisturizing) effect of the glycerin.  For now, I'm avoiding the Eco Styler or using it sparingly until I can figure out the combination that works for me.

Before applying the aloe/gel mix

My hair with Aloe/ Gel mixture
applied to one section

Aloe Vera for pH Balance--Spray Leave-in Recipe

After watching KimmayTube's videos on pH Balance, I realized the reason why Aloe Vera juice or gel has always been such a huge part of my regimen.  When I did my Big Chop in May of 2009, it was one of the first things I used on my hair and my family has been using it ever since.  It wasn't until I watched the videos that I actually knew how it worked.  Basically our hair's natural pH is a 4 or 4.5 on the chart which is the same value given for Aloe Vera juice or gel (different brands may vary).  Things like conditioner, shampoo and even water have a pH of 6 or 7.  This change in pH balance opens up the cuticles along the hair shaft which can result in frizzy, puffy hair.  Using the Aloe Vera is a way to bring the hair back to its' proper pH making it easier to detangle and style. 

KimmayTube is also known for her Leave-in conditioner recipe which incorporate's Aloe Vera juice as the balancing ingredient.  I've tried it and liked the results.  For me and my family though I prefer a spray leave-in that can be used daily.  For this I use the following:

Aloe Vera Spray Leave-In

1 part Aloe Vera Gel or Juice (Lily of the Desert brand)
1 part Water
5-6 drops Rosemary essential oil (natural preservative)
1 to 2 squirts Giovanni Direct Leave-In

Combine ingredients in a spray bottle and shake vigorously until conditioner dissolves.  The conditioner will continue to dissolve over the next few hours.  Use as a moisturizing leave-in or re-wetting spray.

Some of the ways I use it:

  • Set my braidouts/twistouts
  • re-wet my kids' curly hair before combing
  • detangling my husband's long hair
  • re-wetting/moisturizing my wash n' go 

Most recently I found that it works when re-activating the Kinky Curly Curling Custard on my son's hair for great 2nd day hair with the product.  I like this mix because we're getting the benefit of the Aloe and Conditioner in one easy to use spray. 

*Be sure to stop by KimmayTube's channel on YouTube to find out more about the structure of hair.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Curly Hair Products Now at Target Stores

Miss Jessie's Products
Now available at Target Stores

I was at my local Super Target picking up a few things when I found Kinky Curly, Miss Jessie's, Jane Carter Solution and Shea Moisture products on the shelves.  I honestly just stood there staring at the display in disbelief.  Girls with curls in other cities have had access to these products at their Target stores for a while.  This was not the case where I'm at.  I even looked it up online and the only place where you could find Kinky Curly products was at Whole Foods which is a little bit of a drive for me.  The Miss Jessie's was only available online which, combined with shipping**, made the cost an obstacle (actually, the price is still an obstacle but that's another!).  

Kinky Curly and Jane Carter Solutions
Natural Products for Kinky and Curly hair
now at Target Stores
I was already thinking about trying the Kinky Curly Curling Custard.  Supposedly it gives curl definition while keeping the hair soft and moisturized.  I hope this will work for my son who wants to wear his hair longer now.  The Tightly Curly Method  just isn't taming his curls the way it used to.  His hair is frizzy by the time he gets home from school.  I really don't want to get into using frizz serums and hair gel with his soft curly hair.  On top of that, my hair has been acting funny whenever I use my staple Eco Styler gel.  I use olive oil and leave-in conditioner under it but I still end up with crunchy hair that is dry by weeks' end.

With all that,  I still couldn't justify the price (and the drive) for the Kinky Curly.  At $32.00 USD for 1 large 16 oz. container of KCCC, I've been on the fence for quite some time.  However, Target has the smaller 8 oz. jars in stock for only $16 so I thought, why not give it a try?  I did a roller set last night so I won't be able to try it out for a couple of days.  Stay tuned for my upcoming Kinky Curly trials!

**FYI--Ground Shipping is now free for anyone who does not have Miss Jessie's in their local Target stores--see website for details**


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