Category Archives: My Staples

Pre-Wash Deep Conditioning and a Braid-Out

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Okay, I am officially an Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose (AOHSR) Conditioner convert!! OH EM GEE!! On Saturday morning, I melted some Vatika oil and mixed it with AOHSR. I globbed the mix on my dry, stretched hair and smooshed it down the length, but didn’t detangle. Once I worked the conditioner through and ensured that my hair was thoroughly coated, I bunned and donned a baggie while I hopped in the shower. Then, I got dressed, removed the baggie and went about my day. That evening, I placed my hair into 6 twists and hopped in the shower to shampoo with DevaCare No Poo diluted with water (thanks to Bdanni of mightyfinenatural for this tip! It makes my DevaCare even more awesomer!!).

My hair was sooo smooth and soft and felt virtually tangle free through the length. But, after rinsing the Deva Care No Poo, I still applied HE HH to each twist, one by one.  Then, I started with the first twist and thoroughly finger detangled. Given that I hadn’t detangled at any stage prior to this, you’d think that this would have been a little tough. Not at all!! My roots were the most tangled, but I was able to get through them very easily.

Once I finished detangling and re-twisting each section, I rinsed with cold water. I exited the shower, blotted with a Curl Cloth and then applied my modified kimmaytube leave-in (1 tsp jojoba oil only) to each section and decided to braid my hair for a braid-out! I don’t think I’ve done a wet braid out since I’ve been natural, to tell you the truth! LOL! Oh, and as an afterthought, I applied Wonder Curl Butter than Love (BTL) Pudding down the length of each braid. You see, it hit me, I’d been somewhat doing the L.O.C. Method on my TnCs when I used the kimmaytube leave-in (the “L” and the “O”) and then BTL (the “C”). So I thought, what the heck? Next time, I’ll apply BTL before braiding.

 Once I finished braiding, I set the ends of each braid on big doobie pins to seal and curl. Then, I tied a satin scarf around my edges and hit the sack. I didn’t release my hair until around 2 p.m. on Sunday. As usual, my hair was still slightly damp, but actually wasn’t as wet as usual as I didn’t apply as much leave-in as I usually do. In fact, I was surprised how close to dry it was as my hair was very wet when I applied the leave-in and braided it. Anywho, when I released the braids, my hair was very defined and oh so soft. It lost some of the definition once I fluffed since it wasn’t fully dry. But, as you know though, I don’t mind sacrificing definition for big hair ;).

I re-braided Sunday night with a new acquisition and sealed with JBCO. I’ll reveal the new product with a results posts tomorrow ;). (On another note, I need to henna in the worst kind of way! I really planned to do it this weekend, but it was sooo nice out after 2 weeks of overcast skies! I just couldn’t bear to stay in to henna. But, I know what I’ll be doing this upcoming weekend!!)

Okay, now back to Aubrey Organics. Ladies, I am so sprung on this conditioner!! Mixing it with Vatika Oil and washing with diluted DevaCare No Poo seems to be a match made in heaven!! And, as I previously indicated, I love pre-pooing and deep conditioning in one fell swoop, with the bonus of being done with one round in the shower!! No going back in or having to use the kitchen sink to rinse!! In fact, I’m so sprung, that I went back to Jasmine’s November GOC update to figure out what shampoo she uses and ordered the Green Tea Clarifying Shampoo, the GPB Conditioner, the Green Tea Finishing Cream Rinse and another bottle of Honeysuckle Rose from the Aubrey website (I should have researched a little better first though, each product is about $2 cheaper on Vitamin Shoppe’s site)!! Anywho, I really want to see how the products from this line work together!! If they are anything like AO HSR, I may really give up my PJ ways y’all and retire a lot of stuff!!

Okay, let me not get ahead of myself. But, it’s been a long time since I’ve been this excited about a product!! Keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll be as blown away by the other offerings in the line!!

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 When was the last time that you were blown away by a product? What was it and why did it turn your grey skies blue ;)?

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GOC Contender #48: Me!

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Y’all knew this was coming, right ;)?

Name: Shelli aka Hairscapades aka SkillsGill

Goals:

Hair
After I cut off 2 straggly inches in the back on my hair and an inch in the front (see here), I got a professional trim this past Friday. I got about an inch cut off of my longest lengths in the back and 1/2 an inch off of my shorter crown. The plan is to keep trimming the longest length every couple of months in order to keep it at the same length and in the hopes that the crown will catch up with it so I can get that full thickness waist length perimeter that I’ve been jockeying for since the CurlyNikki/Kim Coles GOC last year ;). I also want to focus on protecting and growing my ultra fine (strand thickness and density) nape hair.


Full length (L); Shorter crown (R)


Please excuse my oily, pre-pooed hair ;).

Health & Fitness
I can’t believe that I allowed myself to get back here :(. I’m up 15 lbs, to 135 guys (can you see me sucking in my gut in those side poses? *lol* ;)). Yeah, I know … absolutely ridiculous. So, my goal is to lose 10-15 lbs by the time I go on vacation to Cancun this summer so I’m back at my fighting weight of 120-125 lbs. I have a couple of months to get ‘er done.

This is the thing, I really need to find the work/home/exercise/blog balance. Over the last couple of months, my house has been an absolute mess. Paperwork piled on the buffet and kitchen table, dirty clothes falling out the hamper, clean and unfolded clothes piling out of the laundry basket, worn and discarded clothes covering every free surface except the bed, small birthday items lining the top of the couch, jewelry everywhere but the 3 jewelry cases in which it belongs … I could go on and on. It was bad.

When that happens, I get stressed and become immobilized by inertia. I’ve failed to exercise, eat well, drink enough water and have not even taken my vitamins and supplements in months. I’ve allowed the blog to dominate the majority of my free time and keep me up until midnight or later most nights, resulting in my complete exhaustion almost every day of the week. Now, y’all know I love you guys! But, this has got to stop. So, in order to ensure that I am exercising most days of the week and maintaining an orderly and clean household, my blog posts will become less frequent. I still plan on posting at least once each week day … maybe even twice on a good day. But, the 3-4 posts a day is not gonna happen (except today! LOL!). I need to slow down for the sake of my own health and well-being!! LOL!!

This is why there were no posts on Sunday or Monday. Wei and I spent almost 9 hours cleaning the house and there is still all of the laundry to do! It was major spring cleaning though and my mind heaved a sigh of relief!! I needed this to get myself mentally and physically prepared to get back on my A-game!! Yesterday was Day 1 … again!! LOL!!

Regimen:

Hair

Weekly:

  • Pre-poo and finger detangle dry hair with Vatika oil  (minimum of 30 min.).
  • Conduct Search and Destroys (S&Ds) to eliminate split ends and SSKs
  • Braid or twist pre-pooed and detangled hair in 4-8 sections.
  • Shampoo hair in braids with DevaCare No Poo.
  • Condition and finger detangle further with Herbal Essences Hello Hydration (HE HH).
  • Deep condition with heat (bonnet or winter hat) with JessiCurl Weekly DC, Darcy’s Botanical Pumpkin Seed Moisturizing Condition or Shea Moisture Raw Shea Deep Treatment Masque (minimum 1 hr)
  • Use “Cool and Seal” DC technique.
  • Blot with Curls Like Us Curl Cloth and allow hair to dry until only slightly damp.
  • Apply leave-in (modified Kimmaytube recipe).
  • WnG or TnC to stretch hair (products vary).
  • Air dry and/or bonnet dryer
  • Wear hair out for 1-2 days.
  • Protective/low manipulation style for remainder of week (buns, updos, twists, etc.)
  • Use a mild protein treatment (ApHogee 2 Minute Keratin Reconstructor), as needed (probably every other wash days).

Every 4-8 weeks:

  • Two step henna/indigo (roots only application).
  • Clarify with Terressentials Mud Wash (TMW), bentonite clay mask (working on a homemade TMW recipe!) or a diluted sulfate shampoo.
  • Do a heavy duty protein treatment (ApHogee 2 Step Protein Treatment). This is dependent on the acquisition of a hard bonnet dryer (I may hit Sally’s this week to pick up one I saw on sale for $99).
Daily (?):
  • Massage scalp with EO mix, sunflower oil (to decrease shedding – more on this soon) and/or Wild Growth Oil (I purchased the light this past weekend, but may exchange it for the original formula).

Health & Fitness
I will start the mornings right by eating breakfast and doing Abs of Steel. I will put on my gear immediately upon arriving home from work and exercise. I will not write any posts until after I work-out.

Exercise (next 6 weeks):

After completing my work-out each day, I will post on the wall of our 28 Day Workout Challenge Facebook Group. (If you need some help getting motivated, maybe my post, Motivation, will help. I sure needed a refresher!!)

Supplements (daily after dinner):

  • 1 Pre-Natal Multi-Vitamin (Vitafol-One [Rx] until it runs out, then an OTC pre-natal)
  • 1 Biotin – 2000 5000 mg (Nature’s Bounty – Super Potency)
  • 2 MSM – 2000 mg (Vitamin Shoppe)
  • 1 rounded scoop of Green Vibrance in almond milk or in a green smoothie.

Diet (daily):

  • Breakfast (btwn 6-8 am) – 1/2 c. oatmeal or cooked Grapenuts with 1/2 cup blueberries (Dole frozen/thawed) OR the aforementioned green smoothie; 1 cup of instant coffee w/2 packs of Truvia, 1 tsp agave, a little powdered skim milk or almond milk.
  • Snack (approx. 10 am) – 2% or 0% fat Greek yogurt (fruit variety – Fage or Oikos)
  • Lunch (approx 12:30-1) – Lean Cuisine (chicken/turkey/fish with rice or potatoes) w/added vegetables (spinach, broccoli or sugar snap snow peas) and a piece of fruit (apple, orange, banana, etc.).
  • Snack (approx. 5 pm) – Organic baby food (Ella’s Kitchen or HappyBaby/Tot).
  • Dinner (approx 8 pm) – Lean Cuisine (chicken, turkey or fish w/rice, potatoes, whole wheat or orzo pasta) w/added vegetables (spinach, broccoli or sugar snap snow peas); fruit on occasions.
  • 60 oz or more of water (three 20 oz bottles in a metal thermos)
  • May also incorporate Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) Shake (Nectar Strawberry Mousse) as a post-workout recovery drink.
  • In bed by 11 pm Sun-Thursday (this is crucial)!!!

Need to get back to this!!

Rewards: Finding THE BALANCE!! Oh, and to feel confident rocking the bikinis I purchased last year (and have yet to wear) on my vacation in Cancun!! Improved health and well being!! There’s nothing like feeling strong and energized!

Follow me online: Well … you know. LOL!!

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And that’s it!! If you didn’t get your entry in time to be part of the “official” line-up, don’t fret!  You can still “Play at Home” by creating your own GOC journal or blog, establishing your goals, regimen and documenting your progress!! So …

L E T ‘ S   G E T   G R O W I N G ! ! !

My Two-Step Henna Indigo Process

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It’s finally here!! The highly anticipated (by, like, two people) tutorial for my two-step henna/indigo process!! LOL! I did a treatment this Sunday and photo-documented it for this post. I explained most of my process in my Henna and Me “interview.” So, a lot of this will be a repeat of that information. However, it’ll be bulleted and accompanied with pretty pictures and a little more detail ;). First though, here are a couple of notes about modifications I’ve made to my henna treatments due to my preferences and my hair’s needs:

  • I use henna alone on the front half of my head so that my grey hair becomes fiery red highlights.
  • I do a two-step henna/indigo on the back half of my head so that that hair is black (I don’t like “highlights” in the back as I think they look less intentional and also make my hair look finer, whereas the black makes it look denser in my opinion).
  • I don’t apply henna to my nape hair as that area is almost bone straight and very fine. Henna completely obliterates any wave/curl it might have.
  • I use what CurlyNikki dubbed a Conditioning Henna Treatment. That is, I mix a full batch of henna, allow full dye release and add conditioner to make it easier to apply and rinse. This differentiates my process from a “true” henna gloss since I mix a full batch of henna and allow dye release. It is also different from a full strength henna, because I add conditioner to “dilute” the thickness of the henna. However, I’ve done full strength treatments and see no appreciable difference in the results.
  • I only apply henna to my “roots” now (the first 3-6 inches of hair) as too many applications on the same hair loosens my hair significantly. I try to get about 3 applications on “new hair.”
  • I sometimes apply henna to wet hair and sometimes to dry. These are instructions to my “dry” henna routine. The only difference with my “wet” routine is that I’ll usually have pre-pooed and lightly finger detangled my hair with Vatika oil. Then, I’ll shampoo with either diluted Ion Curls Shampoo or Deva Care No Poo.

With that, here we go!

Ingredients and Supplies

Henna Mix
200g Henna (100g Jamila or Rajasthani Twilight; 100g Dulhan)
4 tea bags of green tea
3 cups filtered or distilled water
2 Tbsp honey
1 1/2 cups Sally’s GVP Matrix Biolage Conditioning Balm

Indigo Mix
50g Indigo
Salt (a pinch)

Supplies*
Plastic or glass liquids measuring cup
Large glass jar/container (large enough to hold 3 c. of water)
Plastic or wooden spoon
Medium to large plastic or glass bowl with top
Plastic gloves
4 medium-sized plastic jaw clips
Plastic wrap
Scissors
Plastic cap
Paper towels or cotton balls
Heat wrap, winter hat or bonnet dryer (hard or soft)
Old towels and/or newspaper (to protect bathroom floor/sink)
Old and/or black tee-shirt and pants/shorts
Herbal Essences Hello Hydration (HE HH) (for henna/indigo rinsing)
Slippery and Moisturizing Deep Conditioner (JessiCurl Weekly Deep Conditioner or Darcy Botanicals Pumpkin Seed Conditioner)

*no metal containers or utensils

My Process

The Henna Mix

  • Bring 3 cups of distilled or filtered water to a boil and then brew 3-4 green tea bags. Cool to warm/room temp.
  • Pour 2 boxes of henna powder into large glass bowl and gradually stir in cooled tea with a plastic or wood spoon until the texture of a thick batter (I usually need about 2, 2 1/2 cups. I brew 3 cups of tea to make certain that I have enough).
  • Cover bowl with top (I cover the henna with plastic wrap first, sealing out most of the air, then cover with the top).
  • Allow henna to sit in a cool, dry, dark place for 12 hours for dye release.
  • After dye release, I split the henna into half, and wrap one half in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil, seal it in a freezer bag and then place it in the freezer (frozen then thawed henna has even better dye release).
  • After dye release, I mix in about 2 tbsp of honey and 3/4 c. of Sally’s GVP Matrix Biolage Conditioning Balm (I never measure these, I just eyeball it). This makes the “batter” thinner (but not drippy) and more like the consistency of Greek yogurt.

The Prep

  • Protect bathroom surfaces, including floors, sink and door, with old towels and/or newspaper.
  • Don old clothes.
  • Divide dry hair into four sections/quadrants and use round-teeth jaw clips (less snag prone) to secure the front two sections and one rear section to keep them out of the way (More sections may be necessary if you have thicker hair).
  • Don plastic gloves (unless you like orange hands and nails;).

The Henna Application

  • Finger part and apply henna thickly to first 6 inches or so of of dry* hair, section by section, starting with back sections first and then applying to front (Again, I don’t apply henna to my nape hair). Ensure hair is completely coated in henna.
  • Mix 2 tsp of remaining henna into another 3/4 c. of Sally’s GVP Conditioning Balm to make a henna gloss.
  • Apply to remaining “un-hennaed” hair (I do this as I don’t like the idea of my dry hair under heat, so I put conditioner on it to get a deep treatment. I add leftover henna if I have it).
  • Place hair on top of head, securing with round-tooth jaw clip.
  • Wrap head in plastic wrap, wrap cotton balls or paper towel around edges to catch drippies, don plastic cap.
  • Allow henna to sit for 4 hours (I apply a heat source [winter hat, heat wrap or bonnet dryer] for 2-4 hours to increase speed of dye release and enhance amount of dye uptake).
  • Fill tub with enough water to cover head, put gloves back on and dunk hair to loosen and remove majority of henna.
  • Gently rinse remaining henna from hair under faucet stream (do not try to detangle at this juncture).

The Indigo Mix**

  • Pour 50g of indigo into glass bowl and add a pinch of salt to enhance dye uptake and color retention (several shakes of the salt shaker).
  • Mix in enough lukewarm/room temp distilled/filtered water to make indigo into a thick paste (indigo is grittier than henna).
  • Put gloves back on and apply indigo to first 6 inches of back half of hair until fully covered.
  • Wrap head in plastic wrap, don plastic cap and apply heat for one hour.
  • Hop in shower and rinse henna and gently finger detangle hair with lots of HE HH (usually takes about three rinses).

**Indigo needs henna to “stick” to the hair. So, henna must be applied first and then indigo to dye hair black. The dye in indigo releases immediately and expires rapidly. So, it should only be mixed right before application and leftovers should be discarded as indigo can’t be stored once it’s been mixed. Indigo powder should be stored in a cool, dry place. Do not freeze indigo powder as it will kill the dye molecule.

The Finish

  • Apply moisturizing deep conditioner (Darcy’s Botanicals Pumpkin Seed Conditioner this time), don plastic cap and apply heat for at least one hour (I sometimes sleep in my DC overnight, but am trying to not do that as often anymore given my realization that my hair was over-conditioned).
  • Cool, seal, finger detangle and rinse (click here for my DC rinsing technique).
  • Apply leave-in and style as desired.

So, that is the very detailed blow-by-blow of my process!

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Goody So Smooth 2-in-1 Brush/Comb

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This is just a quick post to share a handy dandy little hair tool that I’ve had for several years, the Goody So Smooth 2-in-1 Brush/Comb. I unearthed it this past week by accident when I was looking for my rattail comb. I’ve been using it to smooth the edges of my pressed hair when wearing buns and ponytails and before tying it down at night (unfortunately, hand smoothing, even with product, never works too well for me). It’s a brush with one row of bristles and, within each bunch of bristles, there is a tooth comb. So, it’s like a comb nestled within a brush!

I picked this up from a Walmart several years ago and have also used it on my curly hair when I need to lightly smooth my edges. I love this brush/comb! Amazingly, it manages to smooth out the surface “hair lumps” that ruin a “sleek” look, without snagging or tearing my hair. I don’t use it to brush/comb through my entire head or try to get down to the roots when my hair is in its natural state. It really just allows me to get the surface of my hair smooth enough to look neat in a bun, ponytail or updo.

Unfortunately, Goody doesn’t make the So Smooth Brush/Comb anymore, so you can’t find it in stores. However, you know I wouldn’t tell you about this and then leave you hanging! I did a little searching and eBay has quite a few of these brushes on sale, if you’re interested. Being the hoarder that I am, I already ordered a back-up from eBay here ($7.17 w/free shipping). This seller has a “more than 10” available.

However, if you don’t get to this shop before it sells out, my search results here turned up several other listings for the handled version of this brush.

I did find one other seller of the full brush here. However, this item is for a lot of 6 brushes for $24.99. So, ya know, if you wanna hook up your friends, this may be the deal for you. Otherwise, you’ll have a lot of back-ups!

Enjoy!

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 What do you use when you want smooth edges ?

Sofn’Free Nothing But Mold & Hold Wax

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When I wear my hair in styles that call for smooth edges, like buns and updos, I had come to rely on Eco Styler Olive Oil gel mixed with Shea Butter for hold. I would emulsify the shea butter in my palm and then add an equal amount of gel, mixing the two together. Next, I would smooth my edges with the mixture and tie them down with a silk or satin scarf until I got to work. This would usually hold my edges down for the morning, but by lunch time, the flyaways would start to make their presence known. And, by the end of the work day, my edges were usually pretty fuzzy.

So, although Eco and shea butter worked okay, I was still in search of something that could hold my edges and keep them looking relatively sleek all day. Therefore, back in November, I picked up some Organic Root Stimulator (ORS) Olive Oil Edge Control Gel. I’d read some good reviews about it that indicated that it worked really well to control, hold and smooth curly, frizzy, fuzzy edges. So, when I saw it in Sally’s, I grabbed a jar.

“Haaaaaaaaated it!” LOL! Just kidding. However, I wasn’t at all impressed. It really did nothing for me and was even less effective than the Eco and shea. So, I promptly returned it to Sally’s for a full refund (this one wasn’t going under my sink to collect dust).

Then, last month, Sofn’Free sent me a box jam packed with products from their new GroHealthy line for natural hair, Sofn’Free Nothing But. Among the goodies was a nice size (8.8 0z.) jar of Mold & Hold Wax (compared to the 2.25 oz. ORS Edge Control gel). Here’s the rundown:

What they say:

Your natural hair has a mind of its own. But our Mold & Hold Wax lets you gently twist it around your little finger. Use it daily or after shampooing to create and maintain twists, locks or knots. And since it’s made from nothing but honest ingredients, there’s nothing flaky about it either.

  • Flake-free
  • Perfect for twists, locks, knots and braids
  • Infused with natural moisturizers

Ingredients
Water (Aqua), Ceteareth-20, PEG-7, Glyceryl Cocoate, Polyquaternium 46, Glycerin, Dimethicone, Polyglycery-3 Diisostearate, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, DMDM Hydantoin, Diazolidinyl Urea, Iodopropynel Butylcarbamate.

Directions
Apply to roots and twist with fingers or comb.

As evidenced by the side of the container, this product is also petrolatum, mineral oil, sulfate, paraben, colorant and phthalates (I don’t even know what that last one is!) free. However, it is not cone free. So if you are strictly CG, then you wouldn’t want to use this product as it contains dimethicone.

The Review:

The product is clear with very little scent (it has a slight smell that is almost indiscernible unless you sniff the jar and doesn’t linger). The consistency is thick, but not quite waxy. It is definitely thicker and more viscous than a heavy gel like Eco Styler or ORS Lock & Twist, but not as thick as beeswax.

I decided to try it on my edges two weeks ago when I was wearing a bunned style. I applied a very small amount, like that pictured above, to my fingertip. I emulsified it across several fingers and smoothed my edges. I then tied my hair down with a satin scarf. When I arrived at work, my edges were nicely smoothed. But, more surprisingly, at lunch and then at the end of the work day, they were still nearly frizz free!! Additionally, I didn’t experience any hardness, flakes or tackiness. I continued to use the product for the following three days with the same result.

So, the next test was on my pressed hair. I used a little bit of this every few days when my edges started to look a little fuzzier than I liked. After several applications, I still don’t have any flakes in my hair, stiffness, tackiness or the appearance of product build-up!! This is my hair Monday afternoon, after applying a little more Mold & Hold Wax to the edges and tying them down with my silk scarf while I fudged around on the computer all day.


Final Thoughts:
This Sofn’Free Nothing But Mold & Hold Wax is a keeper!!! I am sooo impressed with this stuff (probably because I didn’t expect to be)! The product is very effective for me and is free of a lot of the bad stuff. Though it contains a non-water soluble cone, I use DevaCare No Poo weekly. Since that contains coco-betaine and I also tend to “clarify” with a diluted sulfate shampoo once every 4-8 weeks, I don’t expect to have a problem with build up. Finally, the amount that I need to use to smooth my edges is so minimal and the jar is so huge, I expect that I won’t need to re-up on this for 6 months to a year! And, at only $8 a jar, even if I did, it wouldn’t break the bank! So yeah, if you are still on the hunt for an effective, reasonably priced edge control product that holds all day without stiffness, flakes, tackiness or the appearance of build up, you might want to check this one out!

Edited to Add: Right now, the Nothing But line is only available online and in select BSSs. However, the company website indicates that it will be available in Rite-Aids around the country beginning in April 2012.

(p.s. I plan on doing an “epilogue” on this product the next time I do twists! I mean, it was made for that purpose and if it holds them anything like it holds my edges, we are in business baby!!)


The Power of pH

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WnG w/Kimmaytube leave-in (July/Aug)

Tips & Tricks Number Twelve

A little while ago, someone mentioned to me that Kimmaytube did a video regarding controlling her hairstyle with pH balance. She demonstrated how she obtained curlier, more defined hair when using her pH balanced products and fluffier, bigger, less defined hair when using products with a pH closer to neutral. I wanted to share her video with all of you.

Several months ago, I noticed the difference in my hair when using Kimmaytube (KT) leave-in versus DevaCare One conditioner as well. Regardless of whether I did a WnG or a twist-out, I got fluffier, bigger hair when I used DevaCare One, which I loved. However, this also meant frizzier and less-defined hair. However, I didn’t mind because it contributed to the “bigness.” And so, I kept using DevaCare as my leave-in. Plus, it meant I could be lazy and not bother with making the KT leave-in. The piper came a’calling though y’all. You see, I think the level of frizziness was progressive and cumulative! When I looked back over my WnGs over the last few months and, specifically, at the pictures where I used DevaCare One with JessiCurl Confident Coils (JC CC) versus KT leave-in with JC CC, the appearance of the style has deteriorated.

WnG w/DevaCare One (mid-July)

WnG with DevaCare One (Aug)

WnG w/DevaCare One Conditioner (Oct)

I think that my ends may have also suffered from not receiving the cuticle closing power of the pH balanced leave-in. Therefore, I am now TOTALLY sold on pH and the KT leave-in. It has officially become one of my Holy Grails. Though I may use DevaCare One on occasion, it will be with far less frequency now and KT will definitely be my primary leave-in, for loose hair as well as for my Afro Puffy Twists.

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Have you experienced the Power of pH?

My Staples: Jamaican Black Castor Oil (JBCO)

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Tianna asks:

How many people have used Jamaican Black Castor Oil? Do you see the difference in your hair texture after using it? Does your hair shed from using it?

I was originally going to post this as a “Got Skills?” question. However, JBCO has been in my arsenal for the last year and a half. I wasn’t planning on covering it next in the “My Staples” series, because I was trying to go in wash day order, with Hello Hydration and Aussie Moist being slated for the next post. However, given Tianna’s question, figured I should take this opportunity to talk about JBCO.

Last February, when I first discovered CurlyNikki.com, I learned of the principles of moisturizing and sealing. Unbeknownst to me, I had essentially been doing that with my WnGs, using a leave-in (Infusium 23 or DevaCare One Conditioner) and applying a mix of alcohol-free gel and Carol’s Daughter Healthy Hair Butter. However, with newly discovered information about other options in hand, I decided to branch out and experiment. First, I tried shea butter, which Nikki seemed to love. As our hair types appeared similar, I thought it might work well for me. That wasn’t the case. I found that shea butter just seemed to “sit” on top of my hair and made it feel weighed down without feeling particularly soft or moisturized. Next, I decided to try virgin coconut oil (VCO) as it was lighter and I’d read a few good things about it. Well, it was definitely a lot lighter and my ends looked and felt great after applying it to my released TnC. But, by the end of the same day, my ends felt “crispy.” I thought this might have been related to an apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinse that I’d tried for the first time as well. But, after a couple more uses of VCO without an ACV rinse, I decided that it definitely did not seem to keep my hair feeling soft and moisturized. Therefore, I was still in search of a good sealant and eventually came across this post on CurlyNikki entitled, Battle of Castor Oils. The short of it was that the writer was comparing castor oils for use on her scalp as she’d suffered with eczema for years. She rated JBCO as the best.

After doing a little more research, I decided to venture into the world of JBCO. I wanted to try it on both my scalp and hair. Though I didn’t have any scalp issues, I had read that it could promote thickening of the hair at the roots and growth, both things that I desired (there was a JBCO Edges Re-Growth Challenge running on the CN Forums at the time). I also wanted to try it on my hair to seal as I’d had less then stellar results with shea butter and coconut oil. So, around July of last year, I found the Tropic Isle Living JBCO ($5.99 for 4 oz.) at a BSS that caters to a Black clientele. I was very happy to find this on the ground rather than having to order online and pay shipping!

I started using JBCO on my scalp and hair immediately. The smell has been called “smokey” and “nutty,” and I guess that I would agree. I don’t find it strong, but some do and some even find it intolerable, though it dissipates quickly in my opinion. The consistency is a little thicker than olive oil, but not as thick as regular castor oil. However, despite its viscosity, it’s not sticky, tacky or heavy once applied to hair with a light hand.

When I used it on my scalp, I experienced a lot of itching. Some commenters on the forum thread made references to this being a side effect of JBCO use on the scalp. Some stated that it could just mean that blood flow to the scalp was being stimulated, which meant the hair was going through a growth cycle. However, my scalp is never itchy and it meant to me that it was irritated. In my head, irritation leads to inflammation and scratching, which is counter to growth and can result in excessive shedding. So, I stopped using JBCO on my scalp. But now, I’m not so sure that JBCO was the culprit as I have since realized that amla may have been the source of the problem or, at least, contributed a lot to it. That being said, I may revisit using JBCO on my scalp, just to see if it itches, since I’m no longer using amla.

Now, onto using JBCO on my ends. Different story entirely. O … M … GAWH!! When I tell you that I fell in love with it from the first use, I’m not kidding! I used it on these two strand twists that I’d done and my ends felt like BUTTER! They were sooo soft, supple, smooth, sheeny and moisturized (I know, I know! Oil doesn’t moisturize! Buuuuuut, it seals in moisture and a good sealant keeps moisture in the hair leading to hair that feels moisturized! ;)).

And yeah, it’s been a wrap ever since. I not only use JBCO to seal my ends, I also use it in my Kimmaytube leave-in, add it to some of my DCs and I’ve experimented with it as a pre-poo oil for my ends. I’ve recently started mixing it with EVOO in order to get the penetrating benefits of olive oil with the sealing benefits of JBCO. Using a 50/50 ratio mix, I’m also able to extend my JBCO further and mask the overt smell of olive oil so that I don’t smell like an Italian restaurant!

As to your questions Tianna, I’m assuming that you are asking about JBCO when used on the scalp. As indicated above, I didn’t do that for long, so didn’t notice any type of difference in texture. In regard to shedding, I did experience a lot of shedding during the time I was using JBCO, but I really believe that was due to amla. So, I can’t give you any insights on that. However, there was this recent article by blogger Strawberricurls, who helped her mother regrow her edges! The woman was very nearly bald from her natural hairline to her ear due to damaging weaves and chemicals. Within 5 months, with daily application of JBCO, she completely regrew her edges!!

So now, to the “Got Skills?” part of this post! How about you guys? Anyone use JBCO? If so, how do you use it? How often? What kind of results are you getting (i.e. increased thickness, regrowth of edges, decreased shedding, improved moisture retention, etc.)? What are the pros and the cons? Spill ;)!