Tuesday, August 31, 2010

back at BSL

i was a little hesitant to make this post at first, being that i wanted to wait until i do an official length check next month, but now that i have come to terms with the fact that life is crazy and things just happen sometimes, i can finally be excited. you guys may remember how upset i was after that cutting setback in june -- i can still clearly remember how MAD and SAD i was when i unwrapped my hair and saw it fall to a few inches shorter than it had been when i first walked into that salon. on here, i chronicled all the changes i was making to my regimen after the setback, and for the most part i have stuck to them. using the new leave-in has been wonderful, and i really love how moisturized my hair has been feeling since i started using it. it has been super easy to wet bun everyday, which is good, considering i was really afraid i would get tired of doing it after a while. i had originally planned to wet bun through september 1st, but now that i am at august 31st and still going strong, i am thinking about extending it to october 1st and just waiting to get my hair straightened for my birthday on october 13th.

in any event, what i am really excited about sharing is the fact that I AM BACK AT BSL! that's right, i don't know how in the hell i grew and retained three inches of hair since june 5th, but i did....and i am shocked beyond all belief. i did an impromptu length check the other day, and i was in such disbelief that i had my sister grab the camera so i could have proof -- if not for the blog and my friends, then for myself! i have had growth spurts in the past, such as the one i had the spring of 2009, but i have never experienced anything like this. of course i am trying to pinpoint what exactly did it, but i don't think i will ever work it out. all i know is i had a sew-in for a month, i cowashed and wore WNGs for about two weeks after that, and for the past 6 weeks, i have been wet bunning. even if i figure out the retention part of it (my ends have been constantly wet almost the whole summer), that does not explain what caused the crazy growth. something i've been eating? true, i've been eating healthier since i moved to durham, but is cutting out red meat what did this? something i've been doing to stay fit? nope, no exercise. the prayer? perhaps. whatever it was, i can only say two things: one, i am grateful, and two....i hope it keeps up!!!

Monday, August 30, 2010

twist & curl redux

saturday night, i got bored with my hair again. i've been doing really well with the wet bun challenge (yes, STILL -- can you believe it?), but i wanted to try something with the perm rods again. in the middle of cowashing, i decided to roll with a twist and curl. not only do i love the look of them, but the idea of 2nd and maybe even 3rd day hair really excited me. hey, give me a break....as a daily cowasher, that's not really something i get the liberty of doing! i then realized that curlynikki, one of my fave bloggers, uses this as a staple style, so i wanted to get some pointers from her blog before taking the plunge. after i got out of the shower, i wrapped my hair in my t-shirt and perused curlynikki until i found an entry on her TNC routine. although she does 11 twists, i decided to do less since my strands are fine. all i added to my hair was giovanni direct and my oil mix to seal. i did as she does and flat twisted the roots before smoothing the ends with my denman and setting them on white perm rods, ending up with 8 twists total. the next morning, i simply removed my satin bonnet and carefully unraveled my twists. i'm really happy with the results, and now that i am on day two, my hair still looks great. taking another tip from CN. i pineappled, or gathered my hair in a loose high ponytail, overnight to preserve the results. the only thing i need to read more on is moisturizing between cowashing -- i fear that a water-based moisturizer will ruin the whole thing, so maybe i will just use EVCO. this style is definitely something i will rock into the fall and winter. right now, i am thinking it will be a great go-to style on that last week of the month when i presume my straightened hair will be throwing in the towel, or just something to do if i get sick of non-textured hairstyles. until then, i'm having fun with these ringlets! if you like this style, see more photos in my fotki.

Friday, August 20, 2010

braid and curl success

i decided to try something new on wednesday night and switch it up from the wet bun i have been rocking so much lately. i went to ocean city (MD) on tuesday with my old roomies from college, and while i had fun, i forgot to take shampoo to get all that salt water out of my hair. i always read in magazines about salt water giving you "beachy, tousled waves", but that must be a type 1 or 2 hair thing...my hair felt like STRAW! anyway, when i got home, i decided to shampoo and condition my hair. i washed with suave clarifying before doing a quick oil rinse and cowashing with HE hydralicious. when i got out of the shower, i let my hair drip dry while i got dressed, then headed to the mirror to sit and think. i'm still going wild over chisellecouture's youtube videos, and was thinking about what style i wanted to do before southerntease's braid and curl popped into my head. i usually don't like braidouts on me -- having fine hair seems to make them look limp, IMO -- but i went for it anyway. i moisturized my hair with the kimmaytube leave-in....this time it actually came out thick instead of watery, so i use less of it, it seems. i made six plaits, then stopped braiding about 3/4 of the way down. i then smoothed my ends with my modified denman and added a white perm rod to the end of each. i covered my head with a satin scarf and off to bed i went.

this morning, when i took the rollers off, i was giddy when i saw the perfect coils at the end of my braids. i was even more ecstatic when i carefully undid the braids and saw the resulting style. i pinned up one side of it, one of my favorite things to do, and put on a brightly colored shirt to represent my mood. i definitely think this style is a keeper!

Friday, August 13, 2010

my (sort of) new denman brush

i have recently become enamored with fotki-stalking again, a practice i adopted back when i first joined LHCF. the other day, i was going through some fellow type 3/4 fotkis when i discovered morenita, a beautiful curly who talks about her modified denman brush. i had heard of this before, but hadn't really been concerned with trying it, since i was sure it involved warping my beloved brush in some way that would render it useless if i didn't like the modification. i purchased a new brush last month, but left it home in virginia, so this past weekend i packed it to bring back to north carolina. i decided that since i had two brushes, why not research how to make one into this "newer" version? i followed the link posted in her fotki to a youtube tutorial and was SHOCKED at how simple it was to make the switch! after watching the video, i ran to the bathroom to grab my brush and try this out. i didn't get to use the "new" brush until the next morning, when i cowashed for my daily wet bun. i did a double take when i noticed how easily the brush slid through my hair, and needless to say i am sold! i never thought i could make a near-perfect hair tool better, but apparently it can be done -- and so easily, too! give it a try and let me know what you think.

click here to watch the tutorial.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

oil rinsing is the.....!

i decided to try something new to my hair tonight, since i have been cowashing and wet bunning consistently for a while now. i had already decided to DC my hair tonight, and somewhere between writing out my regimen for tonight and applying it, i decided to make a small tweak. i ran across a thread the other day on oil rinses, and i decided that since i have SO MUCH OIL, i would go for it. well let me put it like this: i started doing it because i wanted to use up my stash, but i will keep doing it because it makes my hair feel fantastic! here's what i did:

*DC under plastic cap with matrix biolage conditioning balm for about an hour, no heat
*rinsed with warm water
*applied oil mixture (for this go-round, i used EVOO, castor oil, and my new nutiva EVCO)
*covered hair and left on for about 15 minutes
*hopped in the shower, rinsed with HOT water
*cowashed with HE HH, detangling with fingers and shower comb
*final rinse with cold water
*t-shirt dried for a few minutes, then added kimmaytube leave-in
*set hair on satin-covered sponge rollers

i simply thought that doing an oil rinse would make my hair shiny, or maybe even define my curls. in all truthfulness, i had no idea what to expect....i was just experimenting in an attempt to use up product. what i quickly discovered is that oil rinsing made my hair so easy to detangle -- while my hair never really gets super tangled, i always have to be gentle since SSKs + fine strands leads to breakage. not only did the comb glide through my hair, but even finger combing was effortless -- my fingers ran through my hair so smoothly i almost couldn't believe it! coupled with the fact that the nutiva smells positively delicious and my hair is super shiny, i definitely think we have a keeper with this one. i only wish i had discovered it sooner!

as for the impromptu rollerset, i am not really expecting much -- i just wanted to stretch out my hair. it would be nice if i woke up and was able to fluff out a curly fro, so we will see. as long as my hair is feeling this good tomorrow, i really don't care! *grin*

beauty fix: my top ten skincare products

i know i promised to come back a little sooner with my top 10 skincare products, but i've been kinda busy lately. the move to NC and the subsequent job search have had me a little stressed lately, but i have faith that things will fall into place. my skin has taken a beating, but i'm finally at a place in my life where i have a set regimen and i can troubleshoot skin problems, sort of like what i do when i'm having a bad hair day. some of these are relatively new to my regimen, but a few i have been using for a year plus now. they are ALL repurchases in my book. unfortunately, for every product i have tried and liked, there are three more that didn't work for me. needless to say, i've experimented a LOT! i've broken them down into three categories: cleanse, treat, and moisturize. this way, i can use different combinations of products depending on what i need....or how i'm feeling.


1. desert essence thoroughly clean face wash ($8, amazon.com/the vitamin shoppe)

i first purchased this cleanser back in 2008, when i discovered the skin care boards on LHCF. it came highly recommended by user Divine Inspiration, and since i ate up pretty much everything she said at the time, i ran out and bought it. i stuck with it not only because it's 100% vegan and i am making an attempt to roll with a mostly natural/organic regimen, but because it WORKS for me. it dries up my blemishes without drying out my face, and it feels really invigorating. i used to use it on its own, but now i use it with my clarisonic and i still love it. what's more is you can get the 32 oz bottle for roughly the same price, if you buy online.

2. extra virgin olive oil (various prices, supermarkets)

the thing i love about this oil is its versatility. i've spoken about my hair's love affair with EVOO, and i was ecstatic when i learned about its benefits for the skin, too. i read a few threads on the oil cleansing method and was hooked -- i mean, getting rid of nearly every skin problem there is with something you can find in your kitchen (or in my case, the hair cabinet)? my main thing was just like most people's, getting over the fact that i assumed oil-free was the best way to go when dealing with oily skin, but i was wrong. since oil absorbs oil, it only makes sense that cleansing with oil would be so good for your skin. EVOO makes such a great base for OCM, and can readily be mixed with grapeseed oil, castor oil, sweet almond oil, or whatever you wish. in addition to being a great cleanser, it is a superb makeup remover -- so good that i no longer buy commercial makeup removers. i tried almost everything to take off my stubborn eye makeup, but nothing does it like EVOO. i always keep a bottle in my bathroom.

3. clarisonic ($149-225, sephora)

i can truly say that this is the one tool that has taken my skincare to the next level. although i have not seen some of the almost miraculous results some users claim to see, i do love and frequently use my clarisonic plus. i purchased it on ebay since they had the best price on the plus, but honestly i could have done without all the extras, such as the included cleansers and the body brush. i am glad i got the three different face brushes though, because without them, i never would have known which i needed (the gentle blue brush). while it did not fade my hyperpigmentation or completely rid my face of blackheads/whiteheads, i see a major difference in my face when i go without using it for a few days. it can be used with so many different cleansers, and it really holds a charge. i routinely go for weeks on end without setting it on the charging dock, and it always works perfectly. i love the different timers on it, as well as the different speed settings. i hope i'm never without my clarisonic!


4. stridex daily care alcohol-free acne pads ($3, CVS/walgreens)

i picked up this tip from the lovely ladies at makeupalley. they are semi-gurus on skincare on the board there, and someone once put it so plainly that if you want an effective acne-fighting medication, it shouldn't be a wash, but something that stays on your skin. i like to use products that multitask, and since i like my moisturizer to not only be that, but also a sunscreen (or a fade cream if using it at night), i decided to add this third product to my regimen. i have been through two boxes now, and i really like them. they provide me with a steady dose of salicylic acid, a beta-hydroxy acid that works great as an anti-acne medication. (why do you think it's in so many products? it WORKS.) my skin is consistently clear, except for a few stubborn hormonal pimples that get through during that time of the month. even better is the price point on these pads....they are only $3 a box, and if you look inside the flap before you get to the register, you will find a $1 off coupon that drops the price even more.

5. aztec secret indian healing clay ($7, the vitamin shoppe)

this is another great multitasking product. i purchased it back in 2008 for use on my face, and hated it for the longest time -- it may have been because i was using retin-a micro at the time, so my skin was already super sensitive. i recently revisited it, mixing it with organic ACV this time instead of water, and i liked it a lot more. it really deep cleans, getting out what my other cleansers can't: blackheads and whatever gunk happens to be clogging my pores at the time. i love the tightening feeling it produces when drying, and try to use it at least once a month, although ideally i would use it once a week. what i mean by multitasking is that you can use it as a hair paste to clarify and make your curls pop; i did a blog entry on this back a few months ago. this one pound jar has lasted me forever.

6. makeup artists' choice 40% lactic acid peels ($17.75-48.75, makeupartistschoice.com)

i purchased this at the end of 2009, hoping to find something to fade my acne scars. instead, i found a product that brightens and smooths my skin, making it look almost flawless. (now only if i could get rid of the marks, i'd have dream skin!) i used to rotate it weekly with glycolic acid peels, but they are also good alone. during weeks where i do strictly lactic peels, i do them about once every three days. they are really simple to do, and the savings are phenomenal when compared to how much they would cost at a spa or derm's office. i am currently out, but will repurchase this week -- enter code august2010 for 20% off your purchase! (ends 8/16/10)


7. grapeseed oil ($5, grocery stores) + lily of the desert aloe vera gelly ($8, the vitamin shoppe)

another great find from Divine Inspiration. i started using this once i heard that grapeseed oil contains vitamin e, and aloe vera is wonderful for healing purposes. as a recovering skin picker, i put this on to soothe my blemishes and scars, and it really does help to make them less noticeable (although unfortunately the marks never completely disappeared). i do not currently use this, but when i did use it, i loved it. i may return to it in the future.

8. eucerin everyday protection moisturizer with spf 30 ($10, walgreens and CVS)

i began using this when i was on retin-a, as i needed a soothing moisturizer with a built-in sunscreen. this moisturizer definitely handled that -- no matter how raw my skin was, it never irritated it, and the sunscreen kept my hyperpigmentation from getting darker. what's best is that this bottle lasted months! i continued to use it after i got off RAM, and as a matter of fact the only reason i stopped is because i am now using a fade cream with a built-in sunscreen. i would definitely return to this moisturizer in the future.
9. cold-pressed castor oil ($5 and up, whole foods and health stores)

i originally bought a bottle of regular drugstore castor oil for my hair, but at the time found it too heavy and greasy. (since then, i have started using it differently, and now i love it!) i also added this to my OCM mix, and found success with it like that. however, recently i have been using it as a moisturizer right after washing my face before bed. i now use the cold-pressed hexane free version from whole foods. it helps to absorb oil, and thus leaves my skin less oily. castor oil's benefits as an anti-acne treatment and as a scar treatment are also widely discussed (see here), and for that reason it has become a staple in my skincare regimen. i will soon switch to JBCO for my hair, and i may try that on my skin as well. if not, i will continue to purchase and use cold-pressed, hexane free castor oil.
10. nadinola extra strength fade cream ($5, drugstores and wal-mart)

i was highly skeptical for the longest time of using fade creams, despite the fact that my mom raved about what wonders they did for her skin when she was younger. i have heard a lot about hydroquinone and how dangerous it can be, but that was foolishly before doing my own research. from what i have determined, it is perfectly fine in small doses, and i do not plan on using it for more than three months anyway. from what i have seen in the three weeks that i have been using it, this fade cream is fading my hyperpigmentation faster than anything else i have tried. of course i took "before" pictures, and even my unofficial "after" photos show a marked difference in my skin. what's even more remarkable is that for the first two weeks i was using a jar that i have had sitting in a drawer for at least two years, so it wasn't even full strength. now that i am using a brand new jar, i am continuing to see results. i am hopeful that by my birthday, my marks will have largely disappeared. moral of the story? listen to mom next time!