Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year (in Advance) & 1in3 Ends!

Twistout from the summer.
Hi, ladies.  Tomorrow is not only the beginning of the New Year but the end of our 1in3 Challenge!  (For challenge guidelines, read this post.)

So, how was the 3-month challenge?  I've taken down my box braids and detangled but haven't washed or done anything else with my hair yet.  (I plan to straighten it this coming weekend and wear it in jumbo twists for the month of January.)  Overall, the challenge went well!  I retained all my growth with the box braid extensions.  

Will there be a 3in6 Challenge in 2013?  If you read my Hair Goals post, you probably gathered that there might not be one.  I can say for certain that there won't be one in the first half of the year.  However, I might start another one in July, depending on what I'm doing with my hair at that point.  This coming year will be a completely different journey for my hair than previous years as a natural.  I will be straightening more frequently (for ease and to enjoy my hair at its length).  I may or may not protective style as much either (more so a mix of jumbo twists and braid-outs).  My regimen is going to change drastically as well; I plan to follow something along the lines of this one I posted, with the addition of an overnight coconut oil pre-poo followed by comb detangling on dry hair prior to washing.  

So, ladies ... How did the challenge go for you?  Any progress or lessons learned?  What are you doing with your hair in 2013?

Think positive.  Plan well.  Start small.  Keep on going.  Don't stay down.  Dust yourself off.  Move forward.  Don't look back. :o)


"Soul" Food Mondays || The Quality of Life

"Your health is your wealth.  Don't let life's stresses be so hard on you that it wrecks your temple: your body.  Guard and protect your health.  It's the quality of life that counts in the end, not the longevity of life." ~ Sophia A. Nelson

Learn to "live" before it's too late.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Protective Style Lookbook || Two Funky Twist Styles in One Video

By popular demand, this is a series showcasing various protective hair styles.  Protective styling does not have to be boring. :o)

Style #1. (See below video for Styles #1 and #2.)

Model: Laila

Style description: Two different updos from a combination of twists, flat twists, and loose hair.

Difficulty level: 3/5

Friday, December 21, 2012

2013 Plans for My Hair, Body, and Soul || Part II

Alright, so last time I talked about my "Hair Plans" for 2013.  Now it's time to talk about my "Body Plans" for the New Year ...


Turn my smoothie kick into a daily routine.  So, if you've been following my "healthy eating" posts, then you probably know that I've been on a smoothie kick for a few months now.  Well, for the New Year, I want to make it my daily routine - like brushing, showering, sleeping - a daily routine.  Right now, I drink one several times a week in the mornings, and it's usually a green one (kale, banana, almond milk, ice, peanut butter, and sometimes, blueberries).

Take better care of my skin. I'm still young, but I'm not getting any younger.  I want to maintain my youthful skin, so this is the time to do it.  My current skin routine is okay but could be a lot better.  I want to find a more quality anti-aging creme and also wear sunscreen more regularly.  "Black don't crack" early but it will eventually.  Now is the time to slow down the process.  I also plan to incorporate more antioxidants into my diet (via tea drinking and possibly ginkgo biloba supplements as well).

That's it?  Yep, that's it!  I'm already a health nut, so there's not much more to add.

Mixology || Organic Lip Balm and Lip Scrub Set

Makes a great Holiday gift set!

Recipe originator: Fran (HeyFranHey on Youtube)

Ingredients (all organic):
cocoa butter
shea butter
castor oil
extra virgin coconut oil

Ingredients (all organic):
dark brown sugar
jojoba oil

Instructions: See the video below ...

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

(Liebster Award) A "Darling" Nominee

Thank you Random Nesha for nominating me for the Liebster Award!!!
(Liebster means darling or favorite in German)

 How the Liebster Award works ...

1. Each person must post 11 random things about themselves.
2. Answer the 11 questions that the tagger set for you.
3. Choose 11 bloggers who you would like to give the award too.
4. Create 11 questions for the bloggers you have tagged with the award to answer.

1. What do you enjoy about blogging?
Sharing ... whether it is sharing information, sharing a story, or sharing a small (just a small) part of my world.

2. What guilty pleasure makes your day go right?
Hmm.  This is a tough one.  It varies with the "season" of my life.  Right now, I'd say catching up on "Once Upon a Time" while eating banana nut bread.

3. Who is your hair influence?
It is a tie between Sera252 and Kemi21.  They are two kinky, long-haired naturals who indirectly inspired me to transition years ago.

4. Do you have kids?
Does my cat (she's six years old) count as one? *smiles*

5. What do you want to be when you grow up?
Working on my engineering doctorate so that I can be a professor at a university.

6. What's your favorite fruit?
I honestly don't have one, but if I had to choose, it would be strawberries.

7. What's your favorite vacation spot?
Tulum, Mexico.  It's near Cancun, but less touristy and more gorgeous (in my opinion).

8. What charity would you like to contribute to?
Any that benefits the poor or disadvantaged children.

9. What would you like to see change about the world?
Self-absorption.  I would like to see more empathy in the world.

10. What's your favorite season?
Summer all the way.  I get cold easily, so warm weather is what I love.

11. If you could go on a date with any person in the world, who would it be?
Michelle Obama.  (No homo.)  I think a conversation with her over dinner would be very enriching and worthwhile.  Maya Angelou would be a close second.

My Nominees
1. The Natural Haven
2. Ok Dani
3. Sofull Sista
4. Just Grow Already!
5. Keep It Simple Sista
6. Finally Natural!
7. Glamazini (I'll try to notify her since she's a celebrity. *smiles*)
8. Lilia's Healthbook
9. Living Joyfully
10. Natural Selection
11. Confessions of a Blog Vixen

Nominated Questionaire (the same great questions as above)
1. What do you enjoy about blogging?
2. What guilty pleasure makes your day go right?
3. Who is your hair influence?
4. Do you have kids?
5. What do you want to be when you grow up?
6. What's your favorite fruit?
7. What's your favorite vacation spot?
8. What charity would you like to contribute to?
9. What would you like to see change about the world?
10. What's your favorite season?
11. If you could go on a date with any person in the world, who would it be?

Monday, December 17, 2012

"Soul" Food Mondays || Love Covers and Heals

"Let LOVE be your life's compass.  You can let "like" leave you at times, but never, ever let LOVE leave your heart.  Love covers and it heals.  Keep love buried at the front of your heart and all things are possible." ~ Sophia A. Nelson

Love covers and it heals.  Hate eats at the soul.  Let go of hate, but also greed, jealousy, resentment, self-absorption, and all things void of love.  Let love be your life's compass ...

Topic of the Day || Dry Hair

Here are some previous posts addressing "dry hair":

1. Reader's Question: More on Moisture ... Dry Ends
2. No Poo Review: Baking Soda with Conditioner
3. Chapt. 6: Moisture, Moisture, Moisture
4. Oh Honey, Honey ... Deep Conditioner Recipes
5. Winterize Your Conditioner!

For more, check out the labels "Dry Hair" and "Moisture".

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Protective Style Lookbook || Vintage Updo on Stretched Hair

By popular demand, this is a series showcasing various protective hair styles.  Protective styling does not have to be boring. :o)

Model: MsVaughn

Style description: Updo incorporating side flat twists into a vintage roll.  Pinned side bang.

Difficulty level: 2/5


Healthy Eating || Bananas and Lowering Blood Pressure

Lately my blood pressure has been lower than usual, which isn't a bad thing at all in this case.  The systolic pressure normally ranges between 101 and 110 while the diastolic pressure between 65 and 80.  However, my two most recent tests were 91/60 and 93/57. I don't recall my blood pressure ever being this low ... at least not in recent years.

So, I thought to myself, "What have I been doing differently?"  And then it occurred to me, "Well, I've been eating a lot of bananas [in smoothies].  Could that be it?"  Then I went to the internet, did some digging, and learned that there are dozens of references to the high potassium in bananas helping to lower blood pressure.  Here are a couple of abstracts worth reading:



DISCLAIMER: Please speak with your doctor before changing your diet.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

2013 Plans for My Hair, Body, and Soul || Part I

(Left) Stretched puff in 2009. (Right) Braid-out on flat-ironed hair in mid-2012.

This year flew by sooo fast!  With a new year quickly approaching, it's that time (again) to map out some plans.  Here I go:


Show more length.  I'm officially going the heat route because I want to enjoy my length more.  February will make it five years that I've been natural, and a huge majority of that time, my hair has looked shoulder-length (and sometimes, neck-length) because of major shrinkage.  I didn't have a problem with that, but I'm just ready to enjoy (and show) my length now.  From January through February, I will wear box braid extensions again.  Then from February through December, I plan to heat style monthly (or bi-monthly) and wear a mix of jumbo twists and braidout updos.  This will obviously impact the running of my usual 3in6 Challenge ... more on this later.

Maintenance over length.  Up until now, I've been focused on growing my hair to it's maximum length potential.  After grazing waist-length for some time, I believe that I'm approaching (or have reached) my terminal length.  Also, after almost five years of being natural, I've grown less obsessed with length.  That being said, I'm going into this heat routine knowing that length retention and heat usage may not mix well.  So, 2013 will be more about maintaining the length that I do have.  If I can also add to my length, that will be great, but it is not my priority.

Maintaining my kinks.  I want to make it clear that I am not going into this heat routine with the intention of changing my coil pattern.  I love my "kinks" and still want to wear them from time to time next year.  The challenge will be using heat without altering my pattern too much.  

To be continued ....

Do you have any hair plans or resolutions for the New Year?

Mixology || Baking Soda and Avocado Shampoo Recipe for Dry Hair

Looking for a simple, homemade natural shampoo that is cleansing but non-drying?  Check out this recipe:

baking soda
distilled water


  1. Skin an avocado, remove the pit and mash it in a bowl;
  2. Add 2 teaspoons of baking soda;
  3. Add 1/4 cup of hot distilled water; and
  4. Mix the ingredients into a paste and massage the homemade moisturizing shampoo into your hair and scalp.
  5. (Optional) You may or may not want to follow up with an apple cider vinegar rinse for pH balance.

Remember to refrigerate the unused mixture. To customize this or any of the other recipes, add a few drops of essential oil for a pleasant scent. Popular oils include lavender, sandalwood, jasmine and rosemary.

For more moisturizing shampoos, check out Suite101: Shampoo Recipes for Dry Hair and Scalp.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Considering Heat Usage? Heat Training?

In this video, Longhairdontcare2011 illustrates her coil pattern change after years of "responsible" heat usage:

NOTE: Longhairdontcare2011 does not intentionally use heat to change her coil pattern.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

HILARIOUS Hair Tutorial || Throw-It-On Method

It gets funnier and funnier as the video progresses ... :-)

Healthy Eating || Becoming a Tea Drinker

I've never been a tea drinker (and, I mean never), but in mid-October, I decided to get to work on some tea I purchased under hypnosis.  (Okay, maybe I wasn't under hypnosis, but I was under something I guess.)  The tea is actually really good quality and tastes exquisite relative to your average store-bought tea.  However, what I also like about it are the health benefits.  For me, the biggest one I am noticing within myself is the stress reduction.

Below is an excerpt of the article on WebMD.  Full article: TEA TYPES AND THEIR HEALTH BENEFITS

  • Green tea: Made with steamed tea leaves, it has a high concentration of EGCG and has been widely studied. Green tea’s antioxidants may interfere with the growth of bladder, breast, lung, stomach, pancreatic, and colorectal cancers; prevent clogging of the arteries, burn fat, counteract oxidative stress on the brain, reduce risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, reduce risk of stroke, and improve cholesterol levels.
  • Black tea: Made with fermented tea leaves, black tea has the highest caffeine content and forms the basis for flavored teas like chai, along with some instant teas. Studies have shown that black tea may protect lungs from damage caused by exposure to cigarette smoke. It also may reduce the risk of stroke.
  • White tea: Uncured and unfermented. One study showed that white tea has the most potent anticancer properties compared to more processed teas.
  • Oolong tea: In an animal study, those given antioxidants from oolong tea were found to have lower bad cholesterol levels. One variety of oolong, Wuyi, is heavily marketed as a weight loss supplement, but science hasn’t backed the claims.
  • Pu-erh tea: Made from fermented and aged leaves. Considered a black tea, its leaves are pressed into cakes. One animal study showed that animals given pu-erh had less weight gain and reduced LDL cholesterol.

Another article (excerpt below): TEA BENEFITS

Studies of humans, animals, and petri-dish experiments show that tea is high beneficial to our health. Research suggests that regular tea drinkers -- people who drink two cups or more a day -- have less heart disease and stroke, lower total and LDL cholesterol, and recover from heart attacks faster. There's also evidence that tea may help fight ovarian and breast cancers.
Tea also helps soothe stress and keep us relaxed. One British study found that people who drank black tea were able to de-stress faster than those who drank a fake tea substitute. The tea drinkers had lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

1in3: Two Months Down!

Hi, ladies!  Yesterday, we started our final month of the 1in3 challenge!  (For challenge guidelines, read this post.)

So, how was November?  I'm still in box braids and fine with that!  I had planned to take them down this weekend, but life won't allow me.  Perhaps in mid December.  

The braid extensions are holding up pretty well.  (See box braid regimen description here.)  When I do take them down, I plan to switch to my usual twists for the remainder of the month.  Other than the external, I'm still going hard on my smoothies and have also incorporated teas (for relaxation and antioxidants).  (Check these posts for smoothie recipes and a later post about my new tea habit.)    

How was your November?  Any challenges/lessons?  What are you doing this month?

Finish the journey strong.  Even if you've fallen, don't stay down ... Get back up, and finish it with all you've got! :o)

Friday, November 30, 2012

"Soul" Food on a Friday? || Reflection on Your Journey and Self

I couldn't resist holding onto these jewels until "Soul" Food Mondays.  Here are two quotes worth absorbing over the weekend to come ...

“Each of us has the right and the responsibility to assess the roads which lie ahead, and those over which we have traveled, and if the future road looms ominous or unpromising, and the roads back uninviting, then we need to gather our resolve and, carrying only the necessary baggage, step off that road into another direction. If the new choice is also unpalatable, without embarrassment, we must be ready to change that as well.” ~ MAYA ANGELOU

"If you do not conquer self, you will be conquered by self." ~NAPOLEON HILL

Oldies, But Goodies

1. DIY Hair Care: What Ingredients and When?
2. Underrated || Safflower Oil for Hair and Skin
3. Twist Series: Loose Twists Tutorial
4. Simple, Healthy Recipes for a Busy Schedule
5. Twist Series: Mini Twists & Micro Twists 101

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Protective Style Lookbook || Faux French Braid on Minitwists

By popular demand, this is a series showcasing various protective hair styles.  Protective styling does not have to be boring. :o)

Model: MsTanish

Style description: Marley/kinky hair braided into mini twists for a long, luxurious french braid.

Difficulty level: 3/5


Monday, November 26, 2012

"Soul" Food Mondays || Listen to That Whisper

"I say the universe speaks to us, always, first in whispers. And a whisper in your life usually feels like 'hmm, that's odd.' Or, 'hmm, that doesn't make any sense.' Or, 'hmm, is that right?' It's that subtle. And if you don't pay attention to the whisper, it gets louder and louder and louder. I say it's like getting thumped upside the head. If you don't pay attention to that, it's like getting a brick upside your head. You don't pay attention to that—the brick wall falls down. That is the pattern that I see in my life and so many other people's lives. And so, I ask people, 'What are the whispers? What's whispering to you now?'" ~ Oprah 

Are you sensitive to hearing the whispers in your life?  If not, mark it as one of your resolutions for 2013.   Better yet, start now.  Learn to let the whispers speak to you.  Take heed when you hear them.  Don't wait until they become so loud that it becomes too late.  What's whispering to you now?

Related quote:
Learn to let your intuition—gut instinct—tell you when the food, the relationship, the job isn’t good for you (and conversely, when what you’re doing is just right).  ~Oprah

Mixology || Slippery Elm Leave-In

Recipe for a moisture-infused, lubricating homemade leave-in ...

2 oz slippery elm bark
5 tsps aloe vera juice
2 tsps organic, unrefined coconut oil
2 tsps organic castor oil
3 tbs your favorite conditioner

For the full recipe (including instructions), check out Slippery Elm Leave-In By Lola Zabeth.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Minimal-Damage Heat Regimen for Healthy Hair

So you are interested in using heat -- be it blow-drying or flat-ironing -- but you are terrified of destroying your healthy hair.  Too many horror stories about split ends and permanently straight strands resulting from heat usage.  Fear of losing the progress you worked so long to achieve.

The truth of the matter is that heat usage does not have to be so scary as long as you know your hair and know its limits.  Additionally, a high-moisture, high-strength, moderate-heat routine is necessary to minimize damage.  The regimen below is a good starting point for those who are ready to incorporate heat styling into their hair care.  However, if you can answer yes to any of the following questions, then I encourage you leave heat usage alone for now: Is your hair currently damaged?  Is your hair brittle or weak?  Is your hair newly colored or bleached?


Wash with a moisturizing shampoo.
With a heat-styling regimen, it is really important to maintain moisturized strands, even during the washing process.  Use of a drying shampoo will translate into more effort spent afterwards restoring moisture to your hair.  On the other hand, use of a moisturizing shampoo will help to lightly condition and moisturize your hair during the washing process.  Shampoos like these usually contain mild (rather than harsh) cleansing agents AND light conditioning ingredients.
Recommendations:  Elucence Moisture Benefits Shampoo, Creme of Nature Argan Oil Moisture and Shine Shampoo

Deep condition with a moisturizing protein conditioner.
Following up with a deep protein conditioner is essential to reinforce the hair shaft for manipulation and heat usage.  However, for those who are protein sensitive or have issues with protein-moisture balance, finding the right deep protein conditioner can be a challenge.  A great option is to try a deep conditioner with the dual role of strengthening (protein) and moisturizing.  Such conditioners will generally contain a hydrolyzed protein (e.g., keratin, collagen) for reinforcement and humectants (e.g, glycerin) for moisture retention.
Recommendations: Organic Root Stimulator Replenishing Pak

Quick condition with a silicone-based conditioner (optional).
This step is ideal for those who desire strands that are more manageable (e.g., easier combing, less tangly) and smoother for heat styling.  Also, if your hair is too hard after the above deep conditioning step, this quick condition will help to soften it.
Recommendations: Most Tresemme and Pantene conditioners

Moisturize with a light water-based product and then seal. (No humectants.)
This is your final moisturizing step prior to applying heat to your hair.  You can simply apply a good oil/butter-based sealant to your damp, conditioned hair or after applying a light water-based moisturizer.  Avoid products with humectants in order to delay reversion and frizz.  Also, avoid overly heavy products which can contribute to buildup.
Moisture recommendations: water, Oyin Hair Dew, KBB's Super Silky Leave-In Conditioner
Sealant recommendations: homemade whipped butter, Oyin Whipped Butter


Airdry in big braids.
Air dry your hair as opposed to blow drying to minimize your heat usage.  Doing so in big braids will stretch the hair better than twists though it will also take longer.

Apply a silicone-based heat protectant.
A good heat protectant will usually contain silicones, such as dimethicone or cyclomethicone, which are the most effective at inhibiting damage.  Applying a heat protectant is necessary to reduce the rate at which heat travels through the hair.  Be sure to apply a sufficient amount and section by section.
Recommendations: Carol's Daughter Macademia, Proclaim Glossing Polish Color and Heat Protection, CHI Silk Infusion

Flat iron using a moderate temperature and no more than two passes.
Read this post on "The Natural Haven" for information on the temperature profile for human hair.  If you do use a setting above 300 degrees F, try not to go above 350 F.  Also, invest in a quality flat iron so that little effort (including minimal passes) is required to achieve the look for which you are aiming.  Also, find one with a temperature dial so that you can control the heat level.


Apply a silicone-based heat protectant.
A good heat protectant will usually contain silicones, such as dimethicone or cyclomethicone, which are the most effective at inhibiting damage.  Applying a heat protectant is necessary to reduce the rate at which heat travels through the hair.  Be sure to apply a sufficient amount and section by section.
Recommendations: Carol's Daughter Macademia, Proclaim Glossing Polish Color and Heat Protection, CHI Silk Infusion

Blow dry using the tension method (no combs or brushes).
Read more (and view tutorials) about it in this earlier post.  Also, it is less damaging to blow dry on damp hair rather than sopping wet hair.  Investing in one with a diffuser is ideal to evenly distribute the heat across your hair.


Alternate between your heat-styling routine and no-heat styles.
Wear your straight hair for 2-3 weeks and then air dried no-heat styles (e.g., twists, buns, braids, roller set) the rest of the time.  Whether you choose to wear heat-styled looks twice a year or twelve times a year is up to you and your preference.  However, the lower your frequency of heat usage, the better your hair will fair in the long run.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

REVIEW #17: Paul Mitchell Curls Leave-In and Cream-Gel

If you are interested in purchasing either of these products, check out Paul Mitchell Curls.

Though I was given these products to review, I am providing my honest experience with the brand.

Paul Mitchell Curls Full Circle Leave-In Treatment

Purpose: This lightweight, do it all formula hydrates, detangles, tames frizz and helps protect against damage.

Number of trials: multiple

How I used it:
1. For detangling: Applied to damp hair, Finger-combed the product through strands.
2. For taming frizz: Applied to damp hair, Tied scarf for up to one hour, Removed scarf.
3. For hydrating: Applied to damp hair.

Ingredients: Water (Eau, Aqua), Cetearyl Alcohol, Cyclopentasiloxane, Propylene Glycol, Behentrimonium Chloride, Glyceryl Stearate, Behenyl Alcohol, Palmitic Acid, Stearic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Lecithin, Lauryl Alcohol, Fragrance (Parfum), Citral, Geraniol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Limonene, Myristyl Alcohol, Panthenol, Cetyl Alcohol, Methylisothiazolinone, Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Butylene Glycol

Review: This product is good at detangling; I personally tried it on stretched hair that had not been combed (but had been braided) for about six weeks.  Application of the leave-in followed by a run-thru with my fingers did the trick on a section of hair.  This product also leaves the hair feeling smooth and tames frizzies for a few days (two days on my hair).  The Paul Mitchell Curls Full Circle Leave-In Treatment is your basic leave-in conditioner; it is a good product but did not impress me moisture-wise.  I rate this product 3/5.

PROS: good at detangling, leaves hair feeling smooth, tames frizzies (up to 2 days for me), lightweight
CONS: moisture is not long-lasting

Paul Mitchell Curls Ultimate Wave Beachy Texture Cream-Gel

Purpose: This humidity-resistant cream-gel formula, separates and adds loads of texture to create perfectly imperfect frizz-free styles.

Number of trials: multiple

How I used it (generously):
1. On damp hair.  Finger-combed.
2. On wet hair.  Finger-combed.
3. On wet hair with the Leave-In Treatment.  Finger-combed.

Ingredients: Water (Eau, Aqua), Polyurethane-14, AMP-Acrylates Copolymer, PVP, Carbomer, Aminomethyl Propanediol, Hydrolyzed Keratin, Trametes Versicolor Extract, PEG-12 Dimethicone, Polyquaternium-59, Butylene Glycol, Wheat Amino Acids, Tetrasodium EDTA, DMDM Hydantoin,Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Fragrance (Parfum), Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Geraniol, Alpha- Isomethyl Ionone, Hydroxycitronellal, Limonene, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde

Review:  This Cream-Gel gave good coil/curl separation to the 4ab section of my hair. (The 4b/bc section did not respond well, but that is to be expected considering the wayward kinks).  It seemed to work better after a re-application days later (see below photos).  The coil/curl separation was more enhanced and I probably could have achieved the same result during the first application but with more gel and finger combing.  There were no visible buildup issues (such as crustiness) which was good and is probably why the product is termed a "cream-gel" and not simply a gel. I got a maximum of second day hair with this Cream-Gel; day two hair was a bit stiff but application of the Leave-In Treatment re-softened it.  I can see myself wearing a summer wash-n-go (which I haven't done for years) with the Paul Mitchell Curls Ultimate Wave Beachy Texture Cream-Gel. I rate this product 4/5. 

PROS: good coil/curl separation, no "gel" crustiness especially after re-application, revived with application of Leave-In Treatment
CONS: slight stiffness on second day hair

If you are interested in purchasing either of these products, check out Paul Mitchell Curls.

These products are ideal for those who:
- have curls or coils (both products for Type 3a/b/c; the Leave-In for Type 4a)
- have fine strands (the Leave-In is lightweight)
- desire to use one line of products (the Cream-Gel and Leave-In work very well together)

1st application of Cream-Gel.   Note slight definition on 4a/b strands.  
This is probably because I didn't use enough gel and do enough finger combing.
2nd application (days later) of Cream-Gel.   Note enhanced definition on 4a/b strands.  
Close-up of 2nd application.

How to Have a Healthy Turkey Day

{Image Source}

By Stephanie of Infinite Life Fitness

Tis the season to fill your belly!

The key is to fill your belly with the right food! The national “fill your belly” holiday is upon us. I hear so many people wish (and some who do not) that they had NOT eaten as much as they did during the holiday. For those who are on a new health and fitness journey, being consistent with your healthy eating and fitness routine is KEY to reaching your goals.

Key tips for this year’s feast:
  • Ask what people are bringing. If they are making a high calorie/fat dish either pass it on when you see it OR ask them to make a few substitutes to make it a healthier dish. 
  • Do not be afraid to measure out your portion sizes. If you are afraid to do it in front of your family do it in the kitchen and bring your plate out to the table. They goal is to make sure you are eating enough NOT too much. It is hard to look at your plate and say “yes that is a cup full of veggies”. Do not be afraid to grab a measuring cup and scoop out the right serving size! 
  • When worse comes to worse, double up on the veggies! If you are worried about your plate looking “too bare” compared to those around you try doubling up on the green veggies! You can never go wrong with having more veggies as opposed to more creamy cheese potatoes, or 4 dinner rolls. 
  • Try to make a healthy dish and bring it along with you. I do this EVERY year with my family. And I usually will not tell them it was healthy, low fat and low calorie until they have eaten it all! Nothing makes your feel better than seeing your friends and family rave about a healthy dish. Just because it is healthy does not mean it is not tasty! 
  • Water, Water, Water! Do not forget to drink your water! It is ok to have egg nog, wine, or other fruit drinks…but those drinks pack a TON of calories. Would you rather drink your calories or enjoy a piece of pie? 

Everyone’s FAVORITE part of turkey day? Well…it should be spending time with your friends and family…bbbuuuut we all know it is the dessert tray!

Do not be afraid to eat dessert! BUT do not forget to get a double or triple serving of your grandma’s famous pie. Yes it is good…and yes it will make you happy…but you have to remember that you have a goal to reach in a certain amount of time so do not let one HUGE piece of pie render that success! 

Ok…so you did have that extra piece of pie…or you already know that you will have that pie. Try working out BEFORE you meet the family for dinner and try to plan a late night walk or jog. Doing activities before and after such meals is a great plan and it will help you feel less guilty about indulging on the holiday treats.

Need some suggestions for some healthy desserts…try looking at these sites:

Pumpkin Pie
Chocolate Doughnuts
Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches

I hope these holiday tips were helpful! Have a WONDERFUL, SAFE, and HEALTHY Thanksgiving!

This is Stephanie from Infinite Life Fitness. Please feel free to stop by my blog anytime for more health and fitness tips!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Skin Care || Combatting Dry Skin This Winter

There is no need to go shopping for new moisturizers and cleansers.  Here are four quick tips for combatting dry skin this winter.

1. Honey and brown sugar cleanser.
Maybe the facial cleanser that worked so well for you in the summer feels drying this fall and upcoming winter?  Well, try using a mixture of honey and brown sugar to cleanse your face instead.  Pure honey is a natural humectant with antibacterial properties [1].  Brown sugar aids with exfoliation due to its texture.  This combination will not feel as stripping as your cleanser

2. Add jojoba oil (or grapeseed or safflower) to a moisturizer.
Maybe your current facial moisturizer isn't cutting it for the cold weather?  Try adding jojoba oil or using it a substitute.  This oil is light enough to not leave a greasy layer and feel on your skin but it can get the job done in terms of moisture retention.  Another option is to add grapeseed oil[2] or safflower oil, which are also fairly light and moisture retentive.  NOTE: Safflower oil will not clog the pores while jojoba oil and grapeseed oil are moderately low when it comes to clogging[3].

3. Whipped shea-aloe body butter in place of your lotion.
Is your skin still dry or even ashy after using lotion?  Then try mixing your own body butter for the cold weather.  A simple mixture can consist of 50% aloe vera gel and 50% shea butter.  Aloe vera is great for replenishing moisture to the skin while shea butter softens and seals in the moisture.  If you want something a little heavier, add one or more of your favorites oils (about 10-20% of the final mixture).

4. Glycerin may be useful - 30:70 glycerin-water spritz.
There is a big misconception that glycerin is counter-effective (by sucking moisture away from your skin/hair) in cold weather.  (For more on the science behind glycerin, check out this post on "The Natural Haven").  Glycerin is just simply more useful in the presence of water, which could be why it is more effective in humid weather for many individuals.  (If it does not work well for you during cold weather, it is not because it is "sucking moisture away" from your skin/hair.  It could be that it is just not as effective due to the drier weather.)  
If you are not a fan of whipped butters on your body, then try making a mixture of 30% glycerin and 70% water and spritzing it your body.  (Feel free to adjust the ratio to your desired consistency.)  Follow up with your current body lotion, if necessary.  This spritz can also be applied to your face; follow up with your current moisturizer, if necessary.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Mixology || Shea Butter and Hibiscus Deep Treatment

Recipe originator: Laila (FusionofCultures on Youtube).

Ingredients (rough estimates):
2 scoops conditioner (from your stash)
2 scoops shea butter
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp peppermint oil
1 tbsp castor oil
1 tbsp of amla
1 tbsp of hibiscus powder

Instructions: See video below ...


Friday, November 9, 2012

Protective Style Lookbook || 6 Styles for Small or Mini Twists

By popular demand, this is a series showcasing various protective hair styles.  Protective styling does not have to be boring. :o)

Model: MsTanish

Style description: High bun, beaded updos, mini twist headband, bantu knotout, etc.  (The latter styles are towards the end of the below video.)

Difficulty level: 2/5

Underrated || Lanolin or Lanolin Oil for Hair

Disclaimer: Lanolin is not recommended for use by those who have wool allergies.

Lanolin is a natural, waxy substance extracted from the wool of sheep (and, in rare cases, other wool-bearing animals).  Unfortunately, it has been labeled a "bad" ingredient in certain hair care communities, possibly because it is a barrier to water.  However, outside of this reality, lanolin can be very useful in other arenas of hair care.  If you don't know much about it, you might want to continue reading ...


1.  It seals in moisture.  Lanolin, secreted by the sebaceous glands of sheep in order to protect the skin and wool from the harsh environment.  It would then not seem unreasonable that lanolin would work well as an effective sealant on our own hair.  Though this waxy, thick substance locks out moisture (i.e., preventing water from penetrating the hair) it also locks in moisture (i.e., retains water that is already present in the hair strand).  NOTE: If you have fine strands, lanolin may feel too heavy; try the oil form (of lanolin) instead.

2. It has conditioning properties.  Lanolin can be very lubricating.  

3. It can aid in styling.  Due to the waxy consistency of lanolin, it can help to define twist outs, braid outs, and roller sets.  It can also help to smooth down any frizzies or stray hairs and add shine (or sheen).


1. Use it to seal your ends.  Depending on your hair texture and density, lanolin may or may not be too heavy for use.  If it is too heavy, try using it sparingly or opting for lanolin oil instead.

2. Use as a pre-shampoo treatment or to enhance a conditioner.  Use lanolin (or lanolin oil) alone or with other ingredients as a pre-poo treatment.  Add some melted lanolin (or add lanolin oil) to your conditioner for an enhanced conditioning treatment.

3. Use it to make a styling pomade or grease.  Lanolin can be used alone or mixed with butters and/or oils to create a pomade or grease.  Check out this previous post on a hair grease recipe using lanolin.  (The recipe creator is Lola Zabeth.)

4. Use it as an anti-humidity agent.  Because lanolin can act as a barrier between your hair and the environment, it can work well to protect your styles from being ruined by humidity.  

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hair Diary || The Many Facets of Natural

I was going through some photos to submit for a couple features when I was reminded of just how versatile natural hair is.  I pulled up an old collage of my hair back in 2009/2010.  The array of styles ranges from twistouts to coilouts to twists to more:

(Circa 2009/2010.)  From left to right, starting with the first row: 1. kinky ponytail extension,  2.  high afro puff with scarf, 3. afro puff with hairtie, 4. comb coils, 5. air dried rollerset pinned up, 6. mini twistout, 7. braidout with flower, 8. coilout, 9. air dried rollerset.

Then I decided to make a collage of my hair from this year.

(2012.)  From left to right, starting with the first row: 1. twistout,  2. flat-ironed twisted ponytail, 3. frizzy twists in high side bun, 4. flat twistout into twists ponytail, 5. twists pinned up, 6. twistout on straightened hair, 7. jumbo twists on straightened hair, 8. twistout into high bun, 9. twists rolled up into pompadour.

I will admit that I haven't been as creative as in my earlier years, but that's because, as my hair has grown, I've incorporated more protective styling.  However, it was pretty cool to see that I'm still taking advantage of the versatility of natural hair.  In a strange kind of way, these collages inspired me to stay out of the boring slump into which I was falling and continue to have fun with my hair (though, of course not as the expense of health and length).  Hopefully it inspires you too!

2012.  Hair in shrunken wet state (drenched in conditioner).  
No curl definition.  Clumping due to old twistout.


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