Sunday, March 29, 2009

Be a smarter curly

Although it is true that I am no scientist, I do have a healthy respect for research. And as long as a person has access to the Internet, it amazes me that they would prefer to post a question to a discussion board before or instead of doing a little prowling around the Web to find some answers.

I see this laziness at quite a lot, and I don't mind telling you that it irks the crap out of me. We all have questions. Curiosity is good. But get off your ass and poke around the Internet (even do a search on the very same discussion board you're posting to, for crying out loud) to see if the answer is already out there before posting a question that's been posed by several dozen people before you.

Bring something to the table, is all I'm asking. Next time you have a question, do some research and if that doesn't fully answer your question -- or better still, if it raises further questions -- then post a question to the discussion boards and see if you can't elevate a mundane, common inquiry into something that a wider range of people could benefit from.

I posted this thread to last week. It promptly died. Why? My theory is that most of the folks there would rather just talk about products. They wear they PJism (that's Product Junkie-ism, for those of you who aren't in the know) like a badge of honor, and while that's often fun (who doesn't love trying new products?), I feel that if we don't evolve beyond that stage of willy-nilly product experimentation, we never get any smarter. How can we outsmart the beauty industry if we don't try to educate ourselves?

So, how about I post the list of sites I frequent to learn more about ingredients and chemicals? If you have sites to add, by all means, please leave a comment with your favorite link.

Wikipedia. It's my first stop for any undecipherable, unpronounceable ingredient. It almost always gives me a good basic understanding of what an ingredient does, and sometimes will offer links I can follow to learn more.

Cosmetics Info. This site is great. It tells you what it is, whether it's safe, and how and why it's used in products.

Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary. This compendium of ingredients, compiled by beauty expert Paula Begoun (author of Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me), is comprehensive yet boils things down to their essence.

The Beauty Brains. Though not a glossary or dictionary or encyclopedia, the breadth of no-nonsense information on this site is impressive. Using the search function on even the most seemingly esoteric word often yields useful results. I love this site and refer to it often.

Naturally Curly ingredient list. This article lists some of the most commonly found ingredients in hair products. The headings may or may not be helpful to you in some cases, but if you just need to know whether something is an emollient or a silicone, this could be a handy page to consult. (This site has quite a library of ingredient information on it, but navigating your way through it and finding paths to it can be frustrating. Their internal search function is not reliable but sometimes you can find what you're looking for by typing "naturally curly" and the ingredient in question into Google.)

CurlChemist articles. Tonya, aka Curl Chemist at, has written some informative articles that the site hasn't gotten around to formally archiving yet. I highly recommend her articles if you want to know how something works in a chemical formulation.

So, that's a start. What sites do you use to look things up?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Congratulations Sarah S!

She's the lucky winner of the Curls Like Us towel giveaway I announced last week.

I'll bet she will love them. Hope she posts a comment here to let us know!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Deva addresses the 'cone

At Naturally Curly, a representative from Deva has disclosed that the reason Deva has used amodimethicone lo these many years is because it couldn't find "a botanical replacement." Effective 2009, however, all conditioning products put out by the company will be 'cone-free.

Nice. Good news. I'd like to be happy, but there's something just not right about this situation. I couldn't address my misgivings on the discussion boards because I don't want to be the voice of negativity there, but I don't mind telling you here, at my blog, that I am suspicious of this sudden visibility of Deva. They have been untouchable and rather uncommunicative for years. And now, without warning, they are chatting up the curly community. Call me a curmudgeon, but it feels disingenuous. (Yes, I know that sounds strange from me, given my plea to Lorraine to open up about why she puts silicones in her conditioners. But I don't know... I just find this unprecedented transparency uncharacteristic and therefore, odd.)

I mean, here's a company that sprung up shortly after Lorraine Massey published her book. With no explanation or apology, it sold conditioners containing the very same ingredient Curly Girl advised us to avoid. The company also made shampoos, and although Deva was very keen on shouting from the rooftops about the absence of sulfates in those shampoos, it was odd that they had shampoos at all, if the advice in the book was to hold true. (Well, I take that back. The book says wavy-haired people might need the occasional shampoo. Were the shampoos, then, directed at wavies? Doesn't seem that way.)

My next beef: Why put out a product in the first place that doesn't conform to your very public philosophy? Why not wait until you *can* find the "botanical replacement"? Could they not wait because maybe there was too much money to be made in the interim? I was among the people who bought a bunch of Deva products the moment I learned Massey had created a line of them. I assumed, as surely many other unsuspecting curlies did, that the conditioner would not have silicones, given who its inventor was. But alas, the 'cones were there -- and just happened to have needed the "low poo" to remove them. Convenient, no?

And lastly, why the extended silence? Did the questioning on the part of the curly community just finally become too loud to ignore? Perhaps it was our incessant haranguing that eventually made it impossible for Deva to keep selling us a product that contradicted its founder's beliefs about acceptable hair product ingredients. If so, good for the curly community! It pays to be tenacious.

I will try to take Deva at its word and accept this new, friendly, unsiliconed face it wants to present to the world. But I'm watching you, Deva. I'm watching you.

[Added one day later: Naturally Curly, adding to the suspicious nature of all of this, removed that post and instead quoted the representative in a different post. I have updated the link above -- look for Gretchen's post on page two of that thread.]

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Win a Curls Like Us towel!

You've heard about these towels. They are all the rage on the boards at Naturally Curly! And they are soooo much prettier to hang in your bathroom than a old t-shirt (which is what's been recommended to curlies in the past by persons who shall remain nameless but who have written a best selling book).

And now ... you could win a set of these fabulous towels just by posting a comment to this post. (You can even just say "gimme" if that's how you really feel.)

Need convincing that these towels are pretty cool? Well, for one thing, you could read Pittsburgh Curly's review about them. Or you could read the Spotlight article Naturally Curly did on them a few months ago. And here are the features and benefits, as per the company:

* The smooth texture wicks away just the right amount of water and sets curls, without introducing frizz
* The ergonomical, tubular shape of the Curl Cloth™ makes it easy to rotate during use
* The brown color does not become discolored by residual hair dye
* Includes a convenient loop for hanging
* Makes your favorite curl-friendly styling products work better
* Sets curls and encourages “Curl Clustering™” for improved definition while reducing separation
* Unlike terry cloth, they do not introduce frizz or cause split ends and breakage
* Great, earth-friendly alternative to using paper towel

And hey, have I mentioned you can win a set of two by simply posting a comment here? I will pick a winner at random on Saturday, March 28. I'll notify that winner, post who won here on this blog, and then Curls Like Us will be in touch with that person to send them the towels.

Good luck!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Weird Product Wednesday: Biosilk Rock Hard Gelee

There's a tendency among products to overstate their properties: creamy, rich, glossy, light, refreshing, and so on. We buy these products hoping they will be and do what the label says but we always know that they will probably fall short of their promises.

When Biosilk tells you that its gel is rock hard, however, you may believe them. This product stiffens faster than a corpse on CSI. You can read about Jaime's experience or that of A Girl and Her Curl, but now I'm going to give you the skinny on this crazy product we affectionately refer to as BRHG (Biosilk Rock Hard Gelee).

Yes, it's a little pricier than most of the other gels at the drugstore, but note that it is in the drugstore nonetheless, so it's still in the ballpark of affordability. I find that it's usually $8 or $9 most places I've seen it. Yes, L.A. Looks gels are cheaper but they can't keep Dorothy Gale's pigtails in place during a tornado like BRHG can.

I know what you're thinking. "Sheesh, I don't need that much hold!" Uh huh. Sing it sister. Then talk to me again after you get caught in a windstorm or a sudden rain shower. Who you gonna call then, huh?

In my experience, using BRHG straight is overkill. You don't need this kind of hold unless you're headed for the drive-thru car wash in a convertible. But if you're currently using a gel -- or the much-revered Kinky Curly Curling Custard -- that isn't quite delivering what you need in terms of hold, guess what? You can add of wee bit of BRHG and voila! you get improved performance from your tired old gel.

Here are a couple of ways I use it:

* Three parts Kinky Curly Curling Custard to one part BRHG. For me, it is the perfect combo. I get softness and clumps from the KCCC, and frizz control and smoothness from the BRHG. And scrunch-out is just crunchy enough to let you know that you'll have decent hold. (I promise to post a photo of my hair with this combo soon. There are days I can't believe it's really my hair, it looks so good.)

* Three parts TheraNeem Leaf and Aloe Gel (or just regular aloe vera gel) to one part BRHG over an application of Boots curl creme. Wow. This is another reliable combo for me. Boots delivers the clumps, the aloe vera offsets the tiny bit of alcohol in the Boots, and the BRHG holds it all together. In warmer weather, this combo is surprisingly great.

But there's no reason you couldn't mix this with a host of other products, such as:

* Dilute it with conditioner (probably something along the lines of something from the Suave Naturals line but hey, use your imagination!) and scrunch it into wet hair.

* Mix it with Aubrey Organics Mandarin Magic Ginkgo Leaf and Ginseng Root Hair Moisturizing Jelly (that just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?). Kathymack recently mentioned that she mixes AOMM with lots of different products and I suspect that BRHG would be an absolutely perfect addition. That whole clumps + hold formula, you know?

BRHG is a product that's easy to overdo. It begs to be cut or diluted with something else because it is just too powerful on its own. Unless you've got some thick, unruly hair, you might want to find ways to lessen the hold that BRHG provides.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Hair rituals

From Simon Cowell's hair ritual to Aaryn Belfer's tale of combing her daughter's hair, to Photographer Brenna K. Murphy's attempt to evoke her mother's memory by playing with her own hair, one thing becomes clear: hair is more than a means of keeping our heads warm.

We gather in the name of hair as an excuse for social interaction. We commit to certain regimens to give ourselves a sense of order and even control. And as far back as Samson, we have equated our hair or some aspect of it (length, color, curl, shine) to some quality about ourselves (strength, confidence, fashion sense, desirability) that we either want to minimize or highlight.

Obviously, a single blog post could never address this topic adequately, but I was recently struck by how incredibly willing, even eager, so many of us are to adopt a very defined procedure for doing our hair. Take a look at any of the descriptions provided by the women I featured in the Cold-Weather Hair Care series, and you'll see what I mean.

We love our hair. And even when we hate it, it's only because we want to love it but can't find a way. The ritual, we often think, is the way.

All hail the ritual!

On one of the curly discussion forums, I once saw a post about how one curly swore that if she scrunched product into her hair with no less (and no more) than eight pulses per section, she got better curls. She could have said five and she could have said 103 -- people would still have jumped on the advice and immediately tried it the next time they washed their hair. (And yes, I did try it. I never said I was immune to the lure of the ritual. Eight did not prove to be a magic number.)

More recently, a long thread at informed all interested parties that by bending forward to apply and rinse product, better curls and clumps were formed. The thread became a fascinating glimpse into the quest for exactly the right procedure to achieve the often-elusive goal of clumping. Women were willing to get water up their noses and endure back pain if it meant their hair would look great. Questions about precisely how much conditioner and what brand came up often. Experiments were launched and results reported. More questions ensued until finally everybody in search of a ritual had tested this one. Some adopted it, others undoubtedly moved on to find a more successful one. (I tried this one, too. And you know what? It worked quite well! And so far, I've managed to avoid swallowing any water.)

The most common hair ritual, though, is the deep treatment. Some of the homemade potions are a real testament to the desire to make this experience special. Coconut milk and Lustrasilk, egg and honey and mayonnaise, cassia and yogurt -- you name it, and somebody has thought to combine it for a unique concoction all their own. Women set aside time for this act and often combine it with a relaxing bath or a manicure or maybe a great movie. The deep treatment for hair is part of a woman's "me" time, it seems. Even aside from the fact that they have to wear something profoundly silly on their heads to undergo the treatment, they prefer to be alone while the beautification happens. One can only assume, then, that the soul as well as the hair is getting the attention it needs.

I started to think about my own hair rituals and realized I have several. (I know you're stunned.) The scrunching technique is one but here are some others:

- Every morning while I wait for my hair to dry, I wear my robe belted and off the shoulders. This does nothing to keep me warm (and believe me, my house is cold) but it keeps my curls away from the microfiber collar of my robe. My boyfriend thinks it's sexy but to me, it's what must be done in order not to disturb my curl formation. I do this regardless of how cold I am.

- Every four weeks, I go to the salon to get my hair colored. I don't like the smell of hair color and I don't like shelling out money to keep my gray out of sight. But I think I do like sitting in the salon, drinking tea, and reading trashy magazines that I never in a million years would otherwise read. And I like catching up with my stylist, who I sincerely enjoy.

- I diffuse my hair holding the dryer in the same eight locations on my head. I never deviate from this. I must think it works.

What are your rituals and why do you think you observe them?

Monday, March 9, 2009

The curl doctor is in!

Sometimes it feels like the beauty industry is intent on keeping us in the dark so that we'll keep blindly buying products, hoping for the one that delivers that long-awaited beauty. StruttsWife of (or Tiffany, creator of Live Curly, Live Free) has been one of the posters at the forums to provide real information -- the science behind the beauty. She's helped hundreds, maybe even thousands of us who frequent that site, to understand what hair is, how it reacts to things like weather and chemical treatments, and how to figure out what our hair wants. She is generous with her time and her knowledge, and I am personally eternally grateful for all that I've learned from her. And today, she is here to answer your questions. Well, actually, she answered my questions but you'll benefit from her answers too, I feel certain. I'm so jazzed that she agreed to this interview! (And no, the photo does not depict Tiffany. It is what I imagine a curl doctor to look like in Jillipoo Fantasyland.)

Tiffany, you've written a lot lately about texture and porosity (and only slightly less about elasticity and density). You've even started an excellent thread over at to help people get a handle on these concepts, so I will try to stay away from questions that'll just make you repeat what you've already said.

1. For porous or damaged hair, protein is often prescribed. But there seems to be a lot of confusion about different types and forms of protein. There's keratin, eggs, silk protein, reconstructors, and probably more that I don't even know about. Some are called "light" protein treatments while others are "intensive." What's the difference in terms of the effect on the hair? Is it true that some protein has molecules small enough to penetrate the hair and be more effective? If so, what kind of protein is that?

Your hair's condition and texture is a great baseline to determine how much protein you need. If you want to add protein simply because you have a fine texture and you need the extra support, a light protein treatment is fine. If, however, you have damage from sun, chlorine or chemical processes, a heavier protein recontruction will then be necessary for any real effectiveness.

Any protein that is animal-based or that has the prefix "hydrolyzed" in front of it is a stronger protein; those such as natural "wheat" or "soy" are the proteins that are lighter. "Keratin" is the natural protein from which your hair is made.

Proteins with smaller molecules are not necessarily more effective than those with larger molecules. While it's true smaller molecules can penetrate into the cortex--or inner layer of the hair--more easily, this really only becomes a consideration when you are effecting a chemical change in the hair, such as with color or texturizing. Proteins with larger molecules may take a slightly longer time to penetrate into the cortex, but they will be just as effective as those with smaller molecules once they get in there.

2. What do you think of clear or colored rinses such as Sebastian's Colourshines or Jazzings to help control porosity and preserve color treatments? Should they be used often or just after you color? How long do they last? Or would a protein treatment be just as good, or possibly better? Or are these products just another form of protein? Does lemon juice, citric acid, or vinegar accomplish the same thing?

I love color glazes and use them often in my own color work. They add a beautiful dimension to permanent color: for example, in the winter, I apply a clear glaze over my dark espresso color which gives my hair enormous depth and shine; in warmer weather, I like to mix a bit of a burgundy cherry color with the clear for a more "summery" look. However, you can't always automatically assume a glaze will help to control porosity; quite the contrary.

Glazes are mainly semi- or demi-permanent color treatments with a clear or tinted result. They are different from permanent color in that they only stain the outside of the cuticle, whereas permanent color actually results in a chemical change inside the cortex. Glazes can help to prevent permanent color from fading since they add another level of "defense" on top of the hair shaft and normally last anywhere from six to 12 weeks, depending on the type of glaze used.

Unless there is some type of protein in the glaze, however, it will not help to reconstruct the hair in any way; and, frankly, I believe it is much more effective to apply a glaze, wait 24 hours, and then do a separate protein treatment. Lemon juice, citric acid, and vinegar are different in that their function is to shut down the cuticle, whereas protein treatments actually penetrate into the hair shaft and fill in any "holes" left in the cortex by damage or chemical processing.

3. It's clear that you are trying to teach people about the principles and characteristics of hair so that people can start to make connections between ingredient behavior and hair characteristics. (Using myself as an example, using glycerin on my porous hair is inviting more moisture into hair that already doesn't know when to stop drinking. So, I limit my glycerin use.) But people like quick and easy answers, so let's give them some quick fixes...

For example, if your hair is porous, what should you use?

Always, always base your product selections on your hair's texture and condition rather than on its porosity: protein-based for fine hair, humectant- and emollient-based for coarse hair (medium texture hair can usually support a wide range of product ingredients).

If your hair is not porous, however, you need to open up your cuticle before you apply your conditioner for it to be the most effective. Warm liquids and alkaline solutions (such as baking soda scrubs) are what open the hair shaft, so rinse your hair for a full minute with very warm water before you apply your conditioner. Then follow with a cool rinse to close the cuticle back down.

If your hair is porous, your hair shaft is already open, so you can apply your conditioner then follow with a cool rinse to help shut the cuticle back down. Any product that is "pH-balanced" or "acid-balanced" will also help to keep your cuticle shut; ACV or lemon juice rinses are also a good idea in moderation, provided you remember these are acids and can damage your hair further if not used wisely.

Coarse hair can feel smoother if you use:
... anything with a healthy humectant or emollient base, and a lot of it. Coarse hair has so much protein in it naturally, applying any product with protein on top of it can spell disaster--resulting in a strawlike, wicked dry mess. And I find a very common problem among my coarse-haired clients is that they have a tendency to skimp on product. Coarse hair needs to be saturated, and saturated often, with very moisturizing ingredients to keep dryness at bay.

4. In your opinion, what's the biggest curly hair ripoff on the market today? (Can be a product or a philosophy or both)

That your wave pattern has anything to do with how you should care for your curly hair. It makes me crazy to see people buy into the philosophy of "my hair is classified as spiral ringlets, therefore I should use products X and Y in my maintenance routine." That is so misleading!

It is your hair properties that help you to determine how to care for your curly hair properly. That's basic trichology, good hair science, and it holds up against any of those so-called "curl classification" systems.

5. What do you think of deep treatments? Are they necessary for all hair types? Is there ever a point at which they are no longer necessary? What about those new, expensive steam treatments for hair?

Deep treatments can be a great part of your maintenance routine, depending on your hair's individual needs. Because I color, I do a deep treatment twice per month--once 24 hours after I color, another at the midway point between colorings (at about three weeks), which helps to keep my hair healthy and in great shape. If you do any kind of a chemical process, a monthly or bi-monthly deep treatment can be a good idea.

People with fine hair, however, should be extremely careful since their hair typically needs more protein, not more moisturizers. I seldom recommend routine deep treatments for any of my fine-haired clients, unless it's an initial series of treatments because she is severely dehydrated. An "as needed" protein pack is usually far more effective here.

I don't think there is a point deep treatments are no longer necessary for most people, but I believe there can come a time where they no longer need to be routine. If you don't chemically process and if your hair is healthy, you can do a deep treatment at arbitrary times just when you feel a little extra moisture is needed--such as if the weather becomes extremely dry, if you've been sick, etc.

The jury is still out on those steam treatments; frankly, I've yet to see where paying $$$ at a salon is more effective than what you can do for yourself at home. Boil a pot of water, remove it from the heat, lean over the pot and hold a towel over your conditioner-saturated head to capture the steam for 5-10 minutes--you'll steam your hair and give yourself a great facial at the same time (throw some mint or rosemary leaves in there for a little aromatherapy while you're at it!).

6. Closing the cuticle has come up recently as an important step in preserving color treated hair. Acidic products help do this, and several curlies were conjecturing about the good effects of vinegar rinses, citric acid, and acidifying products. What is an acidifying product? Aside from looking for products that are labeled "for color-treated hair," how can a curly spot such an item on a store shelf? What ingredients might an interested curly look for?

Closing the cuticle is definitely important, not only for preserving hair color, but for the overall health of hair in general!

An acidifying product is one that lowers the pH of the hair and brings it back into an appropriately balanced range. Just because a product is labeled "for color-treated hair", however, does not necessarily mean it is acidifying. Look for citric acid (organic) or phosphoric acid (inorganic) on the product label as an indication acidifying product ingredients have been included in the formulation. Conversely, be cautious with products that include TEA (Triethanolamine) or DEA (Diethanolamine), which are both alkalizing agents and will raise the pH of the product.

You can also "balance" your own conditioner by adding a small drop of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice for each tablespoon of conditioner (do not premix, as the solution can go rancid even if the product already contains preservatives). Don't go overboard---you want to lower the pH of the product to an appropriate range, not make it so acidic that it begins to dry the hair shaft.

Thank you so much, Tiffany! It's been fabulous having you here today (even if you don't look like that guy with the stethoscope).

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Enough with the Pantene bashing already!

(Nice little trip down Memory Lane, no?)

Before I begin, let me say that I do not work for Pantene. I don't derive any benefit from saying nice things about them. But I really get tired of curlies dissing the entire line of products when, in fact, some of the products are actually CG and do work pretty well.

(And I don't mean to single out Pantene here, because lots of companies make some products that you might like and others that you wouldn't. Take Suave, for instance. The only conditioners you'd want to use if you're CG are from the "naturals" line -- the others contain silicones. Does that mean all of Suave is bad (or good)? No. Read labels and experiment before making remarks like "Pantene is bad" or "Suave is good.")

So, let's look at Pantene. They are owned by Procter & Gamble, who also own other hair brands: Aussie, Head & Shoulders, Herbal Essences, Infusium 23, and Clairol Hair Color. You can bet that ingredients, testing procedures, and even product formulations cross some lines -- such "sharing" just makes sense, business-wise. P&G is a huge company with a huge research budget. In fact, discoveries they make and products they develop are frequently the basis on which smaller companies create their own products.

Pantene has a somewhat interesting history, by the way. The line was developed shortly after World War II and based its marketing on the "healing" qualities of Panthenol. (Panthenol had originally been created and used to treat burn victims during the war.) Pantene's products don't actually have enough Panthenol to heal, per se, but Panthenol basically coats the hair and makes it feel smooth without leaving it greasy. It binds well to hair and has humectant qualities. All good things when you're trying to make a hair product that yields shine and manageability to the user.

Pantene offers shampoos, conditioners, and stylers. I've heard some people (who apparently are incapable of reading an ingredient list) say that Pantene products have wax in them and that the wax coats your hair. How do these ridiculous rumors get started? My guess is that some misinformed stylist told a client not to buy Pantene so they would instead spend twice as much on some salon-sanctioned Matrix product, but maybe I'm projecting. Here, for instance, is the ingredient list for Pantene's Moisturizing Hydrator Rinse:

Water/Eau, Stearyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Chloride, Cetyl Alcohol, Bis-Aminopropryl Dimethicone, Panthenol, Panthenyl Ethyl Ether, Lysine HCI, Methyl Tyrosinate HCI, Histidine, Fragrance/Parfum, Disodium Edta, Benzyl Alcohol, Sodium Hydroxide, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone

See any wax there? Of course you don't. You do see Bis-Aminopropryl Dimethicone, which for CGers is a no-no, but does that make this product "bad?" No. It only makes it something you prefer not to use because of your decision to ban silicones from your hair. Other people may, in fact, like what this product does for them. Note also that it is not so terribly different from many conditioners on the market. (And Bis-Aminopropryl Dimethicone is one of the mildest silicones there is. Many find it can be co-washed out, but if your hair is the type that hangs onto it, it can be shampooed out with milder cocomidopropyl betaine shampoos -- you don't absolutely need a sulfate shampoo.)

And take a look at the ingredient list for the Pantene Pro-V Style Curl Defining Scrunching Gel that xcptnl said she uses:

Water , PVP , Laureth-23 , VP/Dimethylaminoethylmethacrylate Copolymer , Panthenol , Panthenyl Ethyl Ether , Triisopropanolamine Carbomer , DMDM Hydantoin , PEG-12 Dimethicone , Methylparaben , Propylparaben , Disodium EDTA , Fragrance

Not a single thing there that should send you running for the hills, individual tolerances for Panthenol and parabens notwithstanding. (PEG before a cone means that it is water-soluble, by the way.)

I tend to avoid Pantene, but that's because my hair-care preferences don't align with most of the product line. Just because I am not a fan of silicones doesn't mean that the company makes an inferior product. And thanks to xcptnl, I am going to try that gel...

Friday, March 6, 2009

Cold weather hair care, day seven

My final guest in this series is none other than Botticelli Babe, owner of breathtaking curls and creator of products straight from her kitchen. I changed the name of my blog when it was clear that this lady was developing quite a following, thanks to her products. And now she's here to divulge her cold-weather hair care secrets to you. Settle in and get comfortable, though. Botticelli Babe has a lot to say!

"Hello, my fellow curlies! First I gotta say, I'm so honored to have been asked by the Jillipoo to write a little bit for her blog. How fabulous is that?!

"I live in east central Minnesota, where we've had just about the coldest winter in the last ten years. Wanna know how I've managed all winter long? Did I DT (deep treat) every week? No. In fact, I think I may have only done two DTs since the snow fell. Did I load on the leave-in conditioner? No. I don't even use one – I hate the way they make my hair feel, all gummy and coated. Did I buy a ton of expensive product and use three things in the shower and four things out of the shower just to get manageable hair for one day? No. In fact, my routine is now down to three simple (and actually very inexpensive) things.

"I wash my hair every two to three days, and I haven't gotten greasy roots in months – even if I stretch it for another day or two because I'm feeling lazy or sick. I wash with one of a few different things. I have been using the same South of France Acai Pomegranate body bar since late August, I think. I use it for my hair and my body, too, and it still has lasted this long. It's a triple milled 8.8 ounce bar, and it's super hard because of the triple milling process. They last FOREVER. They make all kinds of yummy scents, too. Because of the super hardness of the bar, they don't leave a waxy, coated feeling at all, like a lot of bar soaps can do to your hair. They smell great, cleanse gently, and rinse clean. I haven't done a vinegar rinse in months.

"Other things I like for washing my hair would be my low-poo options, like the South of France body washes (Hey – read the label! Who cares what they call it, as long as it has the right ingredients!), Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat shampoo, Giovanni Smooth as Silk shampoo (it does have amodimethicone, so I don't use it often), and a slew of other handmade bars that I can't recall the names of right now.

"For conditioning, I love L’oreal Vive Pro Nutri Gloss* (LVPNG for short) for medium to long hair that's wavy or curly. I condition liberally (this stuff is very thick and rich, and detangles like a dream), and brush through well with my Denman while in the shower -- wet brushing is the only way all the tangles are coming out of my thick, wild mane! So I brush my conditioner through and let it sit while I finish my shower, then rinse out completely.

"Then I heard L’Oreal might be changing the formula to include amodimethicone, so I began my search for the perfect conditioner that I knew would never change, and the only way that was going to happen was if I made it myself.

"That began my foray into homemade products. I began trying my hand at stylers first, since I had things on hand. From that was borne my Gelee, Brulee, and Humectant Hair and Body Butter, which I now sell at my Etsy shop, Botticelli Botanicals. The products are all-natural with paraben- and formaldehyde-free preservatives, and they care for curls (and all hair types!), with no silicones, no sulfates, no polymers, no polyquats, no proteins, and no alcohols. Just lots of moisture and nourishing natural hold and shine. The Butter is a single formulation, and the Brulee has one option for the customer to choose, which is the scent. The Gelee, however, is another story altogether! There are many options for the customer to choose from, ranging from adding curl enhancers and extra moisture to the level of hold and humectants the individual desires, and of COURSE, you can choose your own scent from a very large selection I have on hand. For right now, I'm only selling the Gelee, Brulee, and Butter, but I'm very hot on the heels of the perfect conditioner formula as we speak, and that could show up in my shop as soon as next week. I'll know after a couple more uses of my test batch. I also plan to include all natural sulfate- and silicone-free shampoo, and possibly even shampoo bars in the future. Keep an eye on the shop, and you'll see all of my latest news and products!

"OK, enough with the plug -- now it's time for the proof. After conditioning and rinsing completely (I can't leave conditioner in my hair or it feels gummy, plus for me it interferes with how my styler sets), I grab my wide-toothed Conair shower comb, and my trusty bottle of my own Gelee. I apply generously, and alternately smooth, rake, and scrunch until it feels like my hair can't possibly have a spot that I missed or that doesn't have enough Gelee. This stuff is really miraculous -- somehow, you absolutely cannot overdo it. I find that the more I use, the better my hair looks and feels. Oh yes -- and the Gelee doesn't just make your hair look FEELS great too! Very important to note for those who either want or need to have touchably soft hair. I just keep applying until it feels like my hair can't take any more, but not until it's swimming in it. I think it's important to note that being too stingy with the Gelee could actually backfire, and I've had at least two people admit that they should have been more generous with their initial application.

"At this point, I lean over to one side and then the other, using my Conair shower comb to make sure every last tangle is out and my clumps are all laying right before I flip my head down and scrunch with a dry flour sack towel to set my curls. I think that last part is actually one of the most important methods I've learned to really form and set my curls well. Then once I have all of the excess moisture out, I plop into a different dry flour sack towel, and I leave it at least overnight, or as long as possible and as close to dry as I can get it. I almost always have damp roots when I unplop just because my hair is so long and thick, but I just gently pixiecurl until it's as close to completely dry as possible. If it's still damp when I'm leaving to go somewhere, I'll just leave it crunchy until I get to where I'm going, and then I scrunch out the crunch (yes, my Gelee has crunch!) once I get there. I've found that the longer you can wait until scrunching out the crunch, the better.

"Anyway, I think that's it. *lol* I know it sounds long and tedious, but you have to keep in mind that my hair is long and thick and thus I have special little things I have to do that others might get away with skipping. If this past year has taught me anything, it's that the method is just as important as the product you use!

"Thanks for the soapbox, Jillipoo, and I hope this helps a few curlies out there!"

*Sorry, folks -- no link to this because the ingredient list varies from region to region. I would hate to hook you up with the amodimethicone version so I'm afraid you'll have to find this one on your own!