Monthly Archives: August 2013

Super Easy, Minimalist Braid-out

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I was going through my phone to delete some pics (I’m too embarrassed to admit how many pics I have and how many are selfies … but, let’s just say, too many :P), and came across this braid-out that I never posted here. The things that make this braid out notable for me are that I achieved it with minimal products and styling!!

Two Pocahontas-style braided ponytails have become my go to “style” since I started working out daily for my 365 Days of Fitness.

Told ya!

After pre-pooing, washing, detangling, and deep conditioning, I want to spend as little time styling my hair as possible. In addition, I like to keep my hair off my face and neck during my morning workouts. This keeps me cooler and prevents my hair from getting too sweaty (I sweat in my head, so my hair almost always gets wet to some extent. This is even with good sweatbands, which really just keep the sweat on my face from seeping into my front hairline). Finally, the style has been great for hot summer weekends. Throw on a hat or headband and I’m out the door!

Anywho, all this to say, I’ve been rocking these braids and the resultant braid-outs all summer. But, I was pleasantly surprised when I got the really great braid-out from the two braids and only two products!! These products are also regulars in my rotation: Kinky Curly Knot Today (KCKT) Leave-in Conditioner and my Jamaican Black Castor Oil (JBCO) mix, which includes a little EVOO and a few EOs (can’t even remember what I threw in there). After washing:

  • Blotted hair with a tee-shirt so that it was damp, not dripping wet.
  • Applied enough KCKT to finger detangle hair in four sections, then combed through the sections with a shower brush to smooth the hair.
  • Parted hair down the middle with fingers and made a braid on each side, starting the bases of the braids behind my ears.
  • Applied a little JBCO mix to seal the last few inches of hair.

I wore my hair in the braids overnight, tying the top down with satin scarf. Then, I left the braids in for at least one full day (it usually takes one day to totally dry), and when I released the following day …. voilà.

2braid_braidout91082645_10201835697951901_1497702319_nAnd that’s all I have to say about that.

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Do you have a super easy, minimal products and tools required, go-to style? Spill so that others can benefit from your cleverness ;)!! And if it’s dual purpose, even better!!

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Aloe Vera Gel Braid-Out

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Okay y’all. I didn’t expect to be doing a hair post this week. But, I got such awesome braid-out results from my wash day this weekend, I just had to share!!! This may be my new regimen if it consistently delivers the super soft, light, defined, and shiny results that I got this time!!

But first, let’s talk about the state of my hair going into this. Dry. Crunchy. Undefined. Bushy (the bad kind, not the good kind). So, I knew I needed to do some rehab first. Therefore, I pre-pooed with an old fave combo that I seemed to have forgotten to use for a while (O_o) … Vatika Oil and Aubrey conditioner!! This time, I used Aubrey Honeysuckle Rose (HSR) conditioner as I was in need of some serious moisture versus the protein shot that Aubrey GPB would deliver. I usually mix the oil and conditioner together prior to applying. But, the HSR was an afterthought, so I ended up layering it over the Vatika Oil (I lightly finger detangled and then twisted my hair into 4 sections) and then applied my JBCO/EVOO/EO mix to my scalp.

prepoo_813Looked and felt better IMMEDIATELY.

I donned a plastic cap and my thermal heat turban for about an hour. Then, I left the plastic cap on and did some chores before hitting the shower about 3 hours or so later, I guess.

Now onto the dirt!!

WASHING and CONDITIONING

  • Shampooed with DevaCare No Poo. Rinsed.
  • Applied Joico K-Pak Revitaluxe Restorative Treatment (Gifted and then purchased. Review coming soon. Preview? LOVE at first sight!!). I smoothed it down length of hair and left it on for about 5-10 minutes. Rinsed.
  • Applied Herbal Essences Hello Hydration (HE HH) to finish detangling, first with fingers, then with the Ouidad Double Detangler. Rinsed.
  • Applied Sally’s GVP Matrix Biolage Conditioning Balm (I forgot how good this stuff is to my hair!!).
  • Donned plastic cap and thermal heat turban for about 30 minutes.
  • Cooled (10-15 min) and sealed with diluted HE HH.

Next up, styling.  So, I was perusing YouTube videos over the weekend and came across this one about an amazing, soft hold braid-out with aloe vera gel.

via VeggieCurlDeelite

This is the thing, waaaay back in the day, I used this gel for WnGs with ho-hum results. It didn’t provide much hold or definition as far as I can recall. But, I have a huge bottle of it under my sink, because I usually mix it with my face lotion in the summer to reduce the oil slick down the middle of my face. So, I decided to break it out and give VeggieCurlDeelite’s (VCD)  braid-out a go with some of my old … and new … faves!!

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STYLING

  • Sectioned hair into four and worked section by section.
  • Applied about a marble-sized amount of Kinky Curly Knot Today Leave-in Conditioner, smoothing and finger combing it through the length of hair.
  • Smoothed about a marble-sized amount of Curl Prep Sweet Buttah (gifted) down section of hair.
  • Smoothed and finger-combed a marble-sized amount (or maybe even a little more) Fruit of the Earth Aloe Vera Gel down the section, ensuring hair coated (the gel seemed to add slip and aid detangling too!).
  • Placed front two sections of hair in 2 braids on each side and back section in 3 braids on each side for a total of 10 braids.
  • Lightly applied a little virgin coconut oil (VCO) to ends (last 3-4 inches) and rolled on small grey perm rods covered in end paper (I set my ends not only to curl them, but to keep them smooth, discourage knots, and to “lock in” the moisture).

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I tied my head down with a hair net to allow air flow, then hit the sack on an EboniCurls satin pillowcase. But, with only 5 hours and an a.m. workout, my hair did not dry in time for work on Monday morning. So, I just removed the rollers, pulled the braids into a low ponytail, and  threw on a headband to get out the door. I didn’t release my hair from the braids until Tuesday morning. But it was worth the wait!!

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Y’all … VCD was NOT kidding!!!! My hair was sooooo soft and silky!! I was suffering from some serious Hands-in-Hair (HIH) Syndrome!! I told at least three friends touch it, so that they could marvel over how soft it was ;)!! LOL!!! So yeah, this AVG combo looks like a keeper (I think that the DC might have had something to do with it too). Now, how it’ll hold up overnight and after daily, sweaty a.m. workouts? That remains to be seen. But, you know, I’m not expecting miracles. I may be in bun by the end of day 2. But, as long as it is still soft and moisturized, that’s okay with me!!

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Have/do you use Aloe Vera Gel to style your hair? If so, what brand do you use, how do you use it (with what other products) and how does it work for you (hold, definition, feel, appearance)?

Herbal Essences Hello Hydration v. TRESemmé Naturals

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In the left corner, weighing in at 33.8 ounces, we have the champ, Herbal Essences Hello Hydration (HE HH) Conditioner. And in the right corner, we have the contender, weighing in at 25 ounces, TRESemmé Naturals Nourishing Moisture Conditioner.

And …

HE HH is STILL the undisputed DETANGLING champion!!!!

Yeah … Picked up the TRESemmé at Ulta a couple of weeks ago. So many ladies seem to love and swear by it, I wanted to see how it compared to my holy grail … my love … HEHH. Welp, after applying the TRESemmé, my hair felt a little slick. But, it just wasn’t as slippery as HE HH. When I applied some of the latter, different story. I was singing in my head in the shower …

“Nothing compares, nothing compares, to youuuuuuuuu !!”

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Okay … caveat. I was told on IG that this “black label” TN is the NEW formula and it does “NOT compare” (see what I did there? 😉 lol!) to the old formula. So, if I can get my hands on the former version of the product, I might have to give it a go. The thing is … why fall in love with a discontinued formula?!?! “Touch me in the morning and just walk away!” Grrrrrr Arrrrrghhh!!

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What conditioner “gives you life” when detangling?

365 Days of Fitness – The Halfway Point!!

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Yup!! This morning’s Strong Curves workout marked day 183 and the halfway point of my 365 Days of Fitness!! This is when the going gets tough and the tough get going (to work)!! Time to make my breakthrough. For the last decade, I have started falling off after 6 months of exercising regularly and eating well.  And, this year, I am committed to breaking that pattern!! My new mantra is: “If you’re tired of starting over again, stop quitting.” I will also be reminding myself, “It’s a LOT easier to STAY in shape than it is to GET BACK INTO shape.” Because, at 41 years of age, it’s definitely getting even harder!! The ol’ joints just aren’t what they used to be!!!

On another note, I picked up a Polar FT4 heart rate monitor watch from Amazon about a month ago and am really liking it!! I purchased it after reading many positive reviews about it from my curlfriends on IG!! I’ll have to do a review soon. But, quickly, you wear a chest strap and then input your height, weight, and sex into the “watch” to get a more accurate reading for calories burned during your workout. And, you can monitor whether you are training inside or outside of your optimal heart rate zone.

Finally, here are a couple progress pics from the beginning of my challenge to now. The first one speaks for itself.

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Next up is a collage of pics that show where I was in August 2011 and wanted to get back to when I started this is a 28 Day Challenge back in February. The middle picture was essentially my starting point when I weighed 148.5 pounds. And, the last pic is Day 172 seen above, where I am down about 23 pounds. I actually weigh more in the August 2013 pic than I do in the August 2011 pic, but think I look more muscular. So, I’m cool with that!!

Progression

This last pic is from a night out last Friday. I looked like a lumpy sausage stuffed badly in its casing when I purchased this dress last November after seeing Folake of Style Pantry rocking it here! So, it hung in the closet until last week, when I was looking for another dress and stumbled across it. Let’s just say, I was pretty dang pleased when I saw how it fits now (I know, it doesn’t look like it, but I was!!! LOL!! :)). #WINNING

Ellidresscollage(The dress is from Elli, but is no longer available. Sorry!!)

And, just because … this cracked me up when I saw it, because I hop out of bed around 5:30 am every weekday morning, give Wei a kiss, and then hit the basement for my workout (well, after a leisurely cup of coffee). So, I could relate. LOL!!

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For a daily dose of 365 Days of Fitness (plus hair, food, and random acts of nerdiness), follow me on Instagram and/or Facebook!!

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Have you been on a roller coaster ride with your health and fitness? What have you done or are you doing to “stop the madness?”

 

Nail Fabulosity

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Okay, I am not a nail polish person. I loved the gel polishes a few years back … until they thoroughly destroyed my nails for MONTHS due to the chiseling required to remove the polish. And as it relates to regular polish, I have several complaints.  One, I have no interest in waiting for nail polish to dry. So, two, I usually mess at least one nail up before it does. And three, even if I don’t, it starts chipping and peeling in less than 24 hours. And, four, I am not reapplying another layer of polish a day, because it goes back to waiting for it to dry.  So, why then did I break down on Tuesday and got a mani with my normal monthly summer pedi? Well, ecause it’s only $25 for both on Mon-Wed at my normal spot and I really liked my Minions yellow nails that I did for the Warrior Dash!! Well, my issues were proven. I dinged a nail slightly once I got home and it wasn’t totally dried hard. And, by the next morning … nails chipping and peeling already. And today? Wrecked!! Grrrrrr Arrrggghh!!

Anywho, all this to say, I posted a pic of my nails and got some advice on things to do to get nail polish to stick. Gelous Nail Gel from Sally’s as a base coat, bringing my own polish since they use thinner in the bottles at the salon, and/or using a gel top coat sealed with the UV light.

With those potential solutions in hand when I saw my girl Rece, of A Hair Story, post about her new nail polish line, Nail Fabulosity, and then saw her thermal nail polishes … my ambivalence about nail polish waned. I sooooo want to try these!!! To learn more about Nail Fabulosity and Rece’s formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), toluen, formaldehyde resin, and camphor free polishes, and learn where you can buy them, check out her post above!!

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Oh, and check out this review of the Nail Fabulosity thermal polish, Butterfly Kisses (a pink/purple), by my other curlfriend, Michelle of Radiant Brown Beauty.

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Have you tried thermal nail polishes? What’s the verdict?

A Hair Story...

What’s been consuming my time?

Nail Fabulosity!

A little over a month ago, I started my own line of nail polishes called Nail Fabulosity. I am currently selling on Etsy at NailFabulosity.Etsy.com. I create unique hand blended nail polishes that are 5-free and cruelty free.

5-free means that they’re free of the toxins formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), toluene, formaldehyde resin and camphor.

Cruelty free means they’re never tested on animals.

Some polishes are glitter polishes, some are thermal and change color based on temperature (my personal favorite) and some are holographic nail polishes.

I create custom order nail polishes if you have something special in mind.

I create custom orders as favors for events such as baby showers, bridal showers and birthdays. So if you know the bride to be is a pink girl, I will create a lovely, unique pink polish as favors for her bridal shower.

Please…

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Shea Decadence Kinks Review

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This review is sooooooo overdue. You see, I started using some products from the Shea Decadence Kinks line back in April and have continued to use them since. You might have even noticed that I’ve mentioned Shea Decadence a few times in posts over the last couple of months and kept promising a review of some new products that I was using. But … yeah … my penchant for procrastination, evening ennui, and inability to focus have had me putting this one off for far too long.

But, I’m finally getting it together to share my thoughts on this delicious collection of products with you. So, back in April (ugh!) , Sharron, Natural in London and creator of Shea Decadence (check out her hairstory and lovely mane here), sent me several products from her Kinks line:

(Visit the Shea Decadence Etsy shop to purchase in the US.)

Shea Decadence has this to say about the Kinks hair range:

Afro hair is the most fragile hair type in the world and should be treated as such. Our hair needs a balance of moisture and protein to be healthy and grow and most importantly a clean and healthy scalp. Kinks focus is on providing natural black hair care products free from unnecessary chemicals that damage or inhibit the growth of healthy hair.

Our Range is formulated with ingredients proven to help moisturise ‘YOUR’ Kinky hair and nourish the scalp. We only use natural or natural-derived ingredients. Every single ingredient plays a function towards enriching your hair; therefore none of our products contain Parabens, SLS, Petroleum,  Mineral oil or any other harsh chemicals.

Although our range is formulated with kinky, curly, coils in mind, other hair types will benefit. For instance, our Hair Oils and Hair Butters can be used on all hair types as a hot oil treatment  or deep conditioning treatment.

So, what do I think of Kinks? First, the common elements.

PACKAGING

When the box arrived and I broke it open, I was immediately impressed by the way these product were packaged!! They were in quality plastic bottles and metal tins with cute, convenient, and functional pumps. Wei even remarked upon the pump on the Latte … “That’s a win.” These bottles will definitely be repurposed once empty!! The labeling is glossy, professional, and firmly secured to the containers. I used these products consistently for a good month/month and a half, and have learned that the packaging/labels holds up to wet, conditioner-laden, and/or “producty” hands, with no deterioration in the print, slippage, or dissolution of the labels.

Now for the individual product reviews.

Jamaican Black Castor & Nilotica Conditioning Shampoo

Ingredients: Aqua, Sodium cocoyl isethionate, Aloe vera gel, Disodium cocoampho-diacetate, Coco Glucoside & Glyceryl oleate, Ricinus Communis (Jamaican Black castor oil) Vitellaria Nilotica (Shea butter), Glycerin, Honeyquat, Cetrimonium chloride, Guar conditioning gum, Silk amino acids, Phenoxyethanol & Caprylyl glycol and Essential oils. 

Several of the Shea Decadence products are made with one of my holy grail products, Jamaican Black Castor Oil (JBCO). So, it is no surprise that I love this shampoo. It has this invigorating minty fresh smell to it, a light consisteny and a little goes a long way. I use about 3-4 pumps for each quadrant of my head and it provides a very nice, rich lather that feels refreshing and effectively cleanses my scalp without stripping my hair of moisture.

Cocoa Frappuccino Moisture Plus Leave-in Conditioner

Ingredients: Aqua (infused with Marshmallow root), Theobroma Cacao Organic Black (Cocoa butter), Butyrospermum parkii Organic (Shea butter), Cocos nucifera (Coconut oil), Prunus dulcis (Almond oil), Ricinus communis (Jamaican Black Castor  oil),  Behentrimonium methosulfate and Cetearyl alcohol, Cetyl Alcohol, Wheat protein, Panthenol, Fragrance, Phenoxyethanol (and) Caprylyl Glycol (and) Chlorphenesin Guar conditioning gum & Silk amino acids.

This leave-in conditioner has a creamy and thick consistency, but is not heavy when applied to hair. It DOES smell like a cocoa frappuccino (or, at least what I think they smell like … don’t drink ’em) and is very tasty to the nose buds! LOL!! The leave-in glides on the hair easily, absorbs quickly, and did a good job of keeping my hair moisturized for several days.

Hair Latte Conditioning Hair Milk

Ingredients: Aqua (infused with chamomile), Vegetable Glycerine,  Castor oil, Sweet Almond oil, Behentrimonium methosulfate (and) Cetearyl alcohol,  Panthenol, Hydrolysed Lupine seed extract, glucanolactone and Sodium benzoate, Fragrance oil, Phenoxyethanol and Caprylyl glycol and Chlorphenesin, Guar gum & Silk amino acids.

The Latte comes in my favorite packaging: a spray bottle pump. It also smells like what it’s called, a cocoa latte. The consistency is thinner (hence the spray bottle), like a heavy cream, and this product is used to re-moisturize hair, as needed. I used it maybe once or twice between washes when my hair started to feel a little dry or crunchy after removing twists and wearing it down for a couple of days.

Mocha Latte Scalp Nourisher

Ingredients: Ricinus communis (Jamaican black castor oil), Coffea arabica Seed Oil (and) Hydrogenated vegetable Oil (Coffee Butter), Theobroma cacao (Organic Cocoa butter), Emu oil, Olea Europaea (Olive oil) & Tocopherol (Vitamin E).

OMGee! I LOVE this stuff!! It smells like chocolatey maple syrup to me, has this creamy and smooth whipped consistency, and just melts into my scalp, leaving it feeling nourished, without a greasy or heavy feel.

Sweet Marmalade Pomade

Ingredients: Organic Cocoa Butter, Kukui Nut Butter, Macadamia Nut Butter, Organic Sunflower Oil infused with Vanilla Pods, Organic Castor Oil, Carrot Seed extract, Cetyl Alcohol, Vit E, Sweet Orange Essential Oil.

OMGee! I LOVE this stuff too!! LOL!! Seriously, this pomade smells absolutely DELECTABLE, like sweet nectarines. It reminds me of the Carol’s Daughter Honey Hair Mimosa, if you’ve ever tried that. But, the marmalade pomade is lighter in consistency and is used on the hair (not scalp) to provide shine. And shine it does!! When I apply a little of this to my hair, it immediately imparts such a sheen to my hair it’s RIDIC!! LOVE, LOVE!!

HOW I USED THEM:

I used this product line consistently for about a month/month and a half. A typical wash day went like this:

  1. Pre-poo and finger detangle with Vatika Oil.
  2. Wash with Shea Decadence Conditioning Shampoo.
  3. Condition/detangle with Herbal Essences Hello Hydration (HEHH).
  4. Deep condition with Darcy’s Botanicals Pumpkin Seed Conditioner or Shea Moisture Raw Shea Deep Treatment Masque.
  5. Cool and seal with diluted HEHH.
  6. Apply Shea Decadence Leave-in Conditioner to hair.
  7. Apply Shea Decadence Scalp Nourisher to scalp.
  8. Twist hair (sometimes with another product, usually ORS Lock & Twist Gel).
  9. Seal ends with Shea Decadence Sweet Marmalade Pomade.

I would usually wear my hair in a twisted updo for a few days (workout and work friendly hairdo), a twist-out for a day or two, then a bun for the rest of the week until the next wash day. And here’s what it looked like.

And that’s that. The Shea Decadence line is a very nice, quality product. My fave products are definitely the shampoo and the pomade, with the scalp balm coming in at a close second. Everything smells delish and works very well and I continue to use all of the products, though not all together like I did for the first month or so (c’mon … y’all know I’m a confessed PJ). So, would I recommend this line? DEFINITELY!! If I was going to grade the products as a group, they would definitely get a solid:

A

So, check out Shea Decandence Kinks if you have been in search of a collection of products that work well together, are natural, nourish the hair, smell great, and provide the hair with lasting moisture!! I don’t think you’ll be disappointed and you’ll be supporting a small, black, woman-owned business!! #WINNING!! Oh!! I almost forgot to mention this! Shea Decadence has a line of body products too!!! I tried the Solid Butter Body Scrub Bars … those things are AMAZE-a-BALLS!! They are so decadently luxurious and moisturizing, it’s crazy. LOVE ’em!! So, if you’re a body product junky and like clever and creative product design, check that out as well!!

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Have you tried the Shea Decadence products? If so, what do you think of them?

Warrior Dash 2013 (Morristown, NJ)

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Now that I’ve woken up from my much-needed recovery nap 😉 …

The Opening Scene

It was a rainy and unseasonably cool morning as we drove to the parking lot site at 7:15 am for our day of reckoning. As the shuttle (i.e. school bus) transported us up long, winding, wooded hills, our sense of anticipation rose. We arrived 20 minutes or so later to see work friends waiting for others and we joined the group. The last of the crew arrived and we headed over to the tents to get our packets and hand over the waivers that essentially absolved the event organizers of any fault in the death, dismemberment, or disabilities (regardless of level of neglect) that might result from the dangerous mission on which we were all about to embark. We grinned in the face of death!

Then we herded into a holding area to wait 15 minutes for the next wave to begin. We cheered on the prior group as they threw up their Warrior Horns and were released through the gates of HELL (fire was literally shooting up on top of the start line).  Shortly thereafter … it was our turn. With a shout  of … “5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1” … WE ROARED AND WERE OFF!!! Jogging right into this massive, nearly vertical hill immediately in front of us, which kicked many a butt … but, we made it.  We survived the Warrior Dash (you can check out some of the obstacles that we faced here)!!

I’ll let the pics (and some captions ;)) tell the rest of the story.

That was a pretty dang cool way to get Day 167 of 365 Days of Fitness done ;). The muscles will need that hot yoga tomorrow!! Felt a Charlie horse almost kick in a few moments ago when I bent my legs up to take off my socks!!! Ate a banana with the quickness!! None of that!!

#thatisall