Sunday, December 13, 2009

Is the CG Emperor naked?

Since going CG and visiting the discussion boards at, I've heard over and over how using the right products will bring moisture to your hair and restore its "health." Testimonial after testimonial repeat the same messages:

"My hair is not nearly as frizzy as it used to be."

"My hair curls so much more now than it did."

"My hair is so much smoother now."

I don't doubt that people are seeing a difference but I think we need to look a little more closely at what we're comparing.

Some people come to CG with very damaged hair. Maybe they've been flat-ironing for years and/or using any assortment of chemical treatments that have wreaked serious havoc on their defenseless tresses. When they start CG and give those things up, when the new hair grows in, of course it feels and behaves better. CG won't fix what's damaged but it will help the new growth look better.

But what about people whose hair was not damaged prior to CG? What can they expect? This is the point on which I'm still not clear. I want to believe the folks who sing CG's praises -- the ones who say that even without product, their hair looks and feels better. They indicate that months or years of CG care and attention (and some even say a few days or weeks) has done them so much good that even without using any product (beyond conditioner), they see a noticeable difference in their hair.

I want to be one of these people. But I have to confess that I am not.

My hair looks fabulous compared to how it looked a few years ago. I like it most days. But if I didn't use gel or curl creme or my all-time-favorite, Kinky Curly Curling Custard, I can tell you right now that my hair would look and behave exactly as it did prior to my going CG. I don't see any real improvement in its natural state.

Has anybody else had this experience or are all of you blessed with visibly better hair since going CG? Don't get me wrong: I am NOT going to stop following the CG regimen I've created for myself but my point is simply this: the conditioner has done a world of good, yes, but without the styling products, I wouldn't have clumpy curls and I would have frizz.

How about you?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Curl Junkie Giveaway!

When Marsha at Curl Junkie puts on her thinking cap, new and improved products are sure to follow. Over the past few months, she created FIVE new concoctions that already have the curly community buzzing. (I haven't tried them yet, but you can bet I will soon.) I love the way Marsha runs her business but mostly I love how her passion is reflected through product innovation. Her products are unlike any others, and I swear this woman's brain NEVER stops thinking about ingredient combinations!

In case you haven't been apprised of the new products, here are the official descriptions:

Beauticurls Daily Conditioner - a lightweight instant conditioner/detangler that is perfect for everyday use for all hair types.

Beauticurls Leave-in Conditioner - The companion to the daily conditioner, this is an emollient rich, yet lightweight, detangling, and glycerin-free leave-in.

Curl Assurance Smoothing Conditioner - Got Frizz? This is the conditioner for you. It is perfect for giving you daily moisture with just the right amount of frizz control. This will come in a 12 oz. size!

Curl Fix - Intense Hair Treatment - This is a wonderfully restoring deep treatment that is rich in proteins and amino acids to help your damaged/dry tresses. This is a well balanced treatment that does not leave your hair hard or dry. It can also be used in place of a leave-in as an all-day hair treatment. Wonderful for fine-haired curls as well!

Curls in a Bottle - Curl Styling Solution - This product is all you need to get your curls looking right. Perfect for all hair types especially fine hair, this hair styling liquid gel has a flexible, not hard, hold and due to it’s lightweight conditioners, it won’t dry out your hair. Works well with leave-ins and other styling products and adds great shine and bounce to curls! This also comes in a 12 oz. size!

So, did you just have a brain freeze when you read all that? Yeah, me too. I wanted them all and couldn't decide what to try. But you know what? Decision-making just got easier because if you post a comment and state why you love Curl Junkie, I will read them all, choose the two best comments (maybe I'll go with heartfelt, maybe wickedly amusing, maybe scientifically accurate -- there's no telling, really), and GIVE AWAY ONE CURLS IN A BOTTLE and ONE CURL FIX!

Don't let this chance slip away! You have until December 18 to tell this blog what's so great about Curl Junkie -- and possibly win some free product if your comment curls my toes.

Monday, December 7, 2009

How can a product review be useful to you?

Have you ever purchased a product because you read a good review of it? Have you ever had the same experience with it as the reviewer?

If my own experience is any guide, you answered "yes" to the first question and "hardly ever" to the second. So what does this mean? Is there something wrong with your (and my) hair? Are these product reviewers lying? Did we misunderstand the reviews?

Except for reviews that are written by shills for a given company, the answer to all of those questions is "no." But that takes us back to the original questions of why it's so rare to have the same experience with a product as somebody else.

You know why there are so many products out there? Because there's so much variation in hair! There's porosity, texture, volume, and elasticity to consider. And not only is there variation among heads but there's the mineral content of the water you use, the temperature and dew point where you live, the other products you might also be using in your hair, how badly your hair needs to be cut, your diet, your stress level, and even your hormonal activity.

A product review can only be helpful if the reviewer has a head of hair similar to yours and lives in conditions that approximate your own. What are the odds of that? I don't know. I flunked math in school because I preferred English.

I see blogs dedicated to reviewing products and to be honest, I rarely read them. They are well-intentioned and I'm sure the reviewer feels she's rendering a service, but without knowing any of the variables I listed above and without knowing how much product the reviewer used, the review is pretty worthless to me.

Reviews also can be helpful, though, if the reviewer compares the product to another product. Then you have some frame of reference, especially if you've used either product. When a reviewer has reviewed many products and can compare and contrast, you can start to get a feel for what her hair is like -- and how it differs from or is similar to yours. In my case, my hair tends to be pretty sensitive to humectants. I limit them and avoid products that have a lot of them high up on the ingredient list. If a reviewer gives a thumbs up to products that are humectant-heavy, I know that her hair is very different from mine and I won't pay too much attention to what she says because we're comparing apples and oranges. It doesn't mean she's a bad reviewer or that the product is bad (or good) -- it just means that the combination of ingredients in that product is better suited to her hair than to mine.

But wait, you might be saying. Wouldn't you be able to figure most of this out just by reading the ingredient list?

Yep. And that's why I think product reviews are of limited value. Read the ingredient labels for yourself and you'll be able to make your own determination about what will work for you. Even this method isn't foolproof obviously, because although we know what's in a product, we never know how much of each ingredient is in it. That's where experimentation comes in, and only you can do that for yourself.

If you've found a product reviewer who seems to like the same products you do, you are one lucky curly head. But for the rest of us, the only reliable way to know whether a bottle or tube or jar contains our holy grail is to read the label and/or try it ourselves.

And then, of course, you can write your own product review, if you like.