Archive for February, 2010

February 28, 2010

Sharing…

It’s always fun to treat yourself to something homemade no matter if it’s warm, gooey & straight out of the oven or something shared with a friend. This weekend I made use of what little time I had in between shuffling to and from the library to make another oil blend for hair/scalp/body. Typically I find that I’m always in stock of all the supplies I’d need to make an ideal blend, though choosing which specific oils to fuse with different herbs always leaves me a bit lost.

I had no formula, except the want of something a bit romantic in scent and light, nothing heavy to clog the pores. I doubt I’ve mentioned on here before…but aside from the seductive smell of all things chocolate, I am a fiend for anything lavender scented. Feed me lavender vanilla anytime during the year, and I’m a sucker! The blend instantly brings a smile to my face, and I’ve been in love since my Mum bought home a lavender oil rub from Origins many years ago.

When my Mum did come for visit last holiday, I made her a shea-butter based lavender butter that was quite similar to her Origins collection, but this go-round, I was in the mood for using up my oil stash. Rather than making an oil blend targeting my scalp, I opted for a little wiggle room & had some fun playing around with Jasmine Flowers which has such a beautifully delicate fragrance.  Last year I treated myself to Anita Grant’s Coconut & Rosewood Dry Oil Spray, a lovely light oil spray with rose buds infused throughout. Versatile enough to use as an after bath/hair/body oil, I was anxious to try my hand at something similar.

Lavender is aromatic perennial evergreen shrub. Its woody stems bear lavender or purple flowers from late spring to early autumn, although there are varieties with blossoms of white or pink. Lavender is native to the Mediterranean, but now cultivated in cool-winter, dry-summer areas in Europe and the Western United States. The use of Lavender goes back thousands of years, with the first recorded uses by the Egyptians during the mummification process. Both the Greeks and the Romans had many uses for it, the most popular being for bathing, cooking, as an ingredient in perfume, healing wounds, and as an insect repellent. Discorides wrote that taken internally, lavender would help with indigestion and sore throats, and externally to clean wounds and burns. Lavender was used as an after-bath perfume by the Romans, who gave the herb its name from the Latin lavare, to wash.

What I Used:

I love to use glass jars to store and mix the infusion, because no lie-I want to see the fruits of my labor…no matter how small or big;-). And for the sake of all things pretty…it looks nice simmering on my windowsill for what will be the next 3-4 wks before I opt to use. For the past two days I have been perpetually sniffing the jar! The smell of infused lavender is ridiculously enticing…you really do just want to lather it all over and take a long luxurious bath. The lavender mixed with the alluring jasmine flowers is…

*pausing to sniff the jar..

…it’s heaven. You must try it! The oils I used are fast penetrating, and sink into the skin almost immediately leaving behind a long lasting aroma.

Coltsfoot Herb Benefits:

  • Organic Coltsfoot is a medicated herb with an abundance of natural plant sulfur, silicic and amino acids.
  • Organic Coltsfoot helps to heal dandruff, reduce scalp build up and is purported to strengthen the hair shaft adding sheen and elasticity.
  • Organic Coltsfoot also helps to regulate over productive sebaceous (sebum) glands whilst increasing elasticity of the skin & scalp. Coltsfoot stimulates collagen production which makes it excellent for an herbal hair spritz or final hair rinse infusion.

My love for all things lavender also stems from it’s versatility. Whether it’s winter/spring/summer…it’s always appropriate & welcomed into any skin regimen. It’s a light enough scent to stand on it’s own, or mixed with mint, Ylang Ylang, Patchouli or my long time favorite Vanilla! Next up, I hope to share & mix up another blend using rose buds & petals, Hibiscus Flower, Chamomile, and perhaps an Almond Cookie devotion from another one of my favorite scents!

*For more great mixes & inspiration check out one of my fav mixtress gurus, Amina of Coup de Couer fame. Great places to check out herbs/essential oil & to purchase online:

Mountain Rose Herbs

From Nature With Love

Anita Grant

Texas Natural Supply

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February 26, 2010

Qhemet Biologics Amla & Olive Heavy Cream

One of the first natural hair products I wanted to get my PJ hands on while dealing with post-traumatic heat damage was the Qhemet Biologics line of hair creams. The consensus all around was nothing but positive, from the super popular Burdock Root Butter Cream to the moisture infused Amla & Olive Heavy Cream. Pretty much you couldn’t go wrong if your hair’s claim to fame is as a fine-haired natural or a thick manned gal. Their #1 seller, Amla & Olive Heavy Cream, was my first pick when deciding to try the line and two weeks ago, after playing tango with one of their local distributors here in BK, then finally deciding to purchase during a Black Friday moment, I was able to sample.

Black Friday does seem like a distant memory,  yet what keeps it still fresh in my mind is the oh so beautiful shipping situation after placing an order. A lot has simmered down since last November, namely my frustrations – so I won’t go into sordid details- though if you’ve heard the whispers & possible rumors around slow turnarounds…consider them…then sit back, relax.

I used the Amla & Olive Heavy Cream to two-strand twist a few weeks ago, needed to put the hair in a two week minimum protective style, which meant either a butter based cream or something that packed a punch, similar to an old favorite Darcy’s Madagascar Vanilla Styling Creme.

Product Description:

Our nourishingly rich blend of old world oils, organic herbs and natural humectants leaves coarse, dry and brittle hair extra soft, healthy and supple!

Key Ingredients: Our ultra thick cream contains Amla, Brahmi and African Aloe, premium Afro-Indian botanicals used for thousands of years to nourish the scalp and strengthen and condition hair. MSM sulfur nurtures follicles and encourages healthy hair growth, Mediterranean Olive Oil delivers emollience and lubricity and African Castor Oil delivers sheen, incredible softness and possesses hair growth and hair thickening properties.

Does not contain mineral oil, lanolin, proteins, silicones, artificial fragrances, dyes or parabens.

The consistency of the creme is supremely dense, spreads easily & thankfully all you need is a smidge to carry you through a good twisting session. I frankly underestimated the moisture packed into the heavy creme and leaned more on the heavy handed end. I went a good 3-4 days a bit afraid to touch my hair because to the touch, I’d have oily fingertips. Not an altogether fresh look.  Though, even with oily tips, my hair lathered in the best kinds of oils – both castor & olive – are two of the first ingredients. The creme is an oil/aloe/water/glycerin blend with a few emulsifiers to give it the necessary slip, allowing it to spread easily. No butters to speak of in the formula, which for long period protective styles I find my hair likes a lot better.

It’s been two weeks, two solid weeks of pintucking, up-do’s, headbanding, ponytails, hairclipping against the winter temps of NYC, and the twists are ridiculously still moisturized and softer than I’ve ever felt my hair. I’m playing it down a bit, honestly each day that passed with the twists in, I did a strand test to determine if more moisture was needed. Usually, I’d spritz a bit of herbal spray, or dip into my KBB hair cream stash to boost up the shine & moisture. Frankly, I needed none of it. The Amla & Olive Cream left my hair touchably soft for two solid weeks.

There was the usual suspect, namely fuzzy frizz after a week, but nothing exaggerated. There were days I went out without my head protected, sans hat & lived to still have moisturized twists. Because of the density of the cream,  I doubt I’d use it for anything more than twisting or lightly moisturizing mid-week.

Also used as a:

  • Soothing and regenerative scalp butter
  • Post-shampoo conditioner
  • Overnight Deep Treatment
  • Moisturizing daily leave-in
  • Replenishing body butter

I’d love to try this as an overnight DC, no doubt my hair would wake up softer than my best pre-poo treatment. I’m learning my hair thrives off of Castor Oil, really sealing and maintaining moisture when it craves it, though moderation is also important. I love the way the Amla Cream left my hair, soft & manageable, though it’s undeniably heavy. My twists were a bit ‘droopy’ for a few days before perking up and poufing up a few days ago. I’m not a huge fan of twists that hang without the benefit of movement. Granted I was a bit heavy handed, but after finishing up this jar I’d love to sample the Burdock Root Butter Cream, a much lighter alternative that works just as well to combat dryness.

The price is right (8oz $16), and will inevitably last a good while. Definite keeper in the rotation.

Anybody tried the Burdock Root Butter Cream? Would love to know your thoughts before purchasing;-)

February 22, 2010

Understanding Natural Hair

I do not think the wonder and natural discovery of African American hair will ever quiet down. Last year, with the premier of Chris Rock’s Good Hair film, and really just a quick uptake in the natural hair community over the past few years – it certainly looks more like the very beginnings of an on going movement to better understanding.

I do not believe natural hair is a trend. I do not believe that if it is not talked about, or the media decides it is no longer en vogue that it is no longer important or relevant. It’s easy to slip into the argument, ‘hair is just hair’…though highly textured/African hair deserves a much higher honor and it’s due respect.

The documentary, A Journey to Understanding by O.M. Ajayi explores the history of African American textured hair. If you have the time, show some love by pressing play or bookmark & share. Click here for a sneak peak.

Also by Ajayi, Hair: A Conversation

link via Investigate.Conversate

February 17, 2010

Liberty of London for Target

Wait…is it possible to get this excited over patterns and prints?! What say you?

I’m new to the Liberty of London family, but I’ll be darned! Their latest collaboration with Target has got me swoooooning! I.want.everything.

My last Ikea haul means nothing to me now. Bring on Spring-ish colors, paisley prints, & floral patterns named Lucy.

via Oh Joy!

February 16, 2010

Pin-Tucked Twist

Alright, long weekend’s over. I get it. Time to move on.

They always seem to come & go so quickly though. I plan my days out…almost down to a tee in order to fit in overdue quality time with fam, laundry catchup, book reading catchup – homework etc. I dunno…I’ll be completely honest, in no particular order did I get to anything on my list:-(. Yah. Here’s to being more spontaneous, less annal retentive, and just using common sense.

I waited until the last minute to start on the hair because a trip to Ikea became a sudden priority;-)! Started early Monday morning without a pre-poo, but shampooed the scalp with Aubrey Organics HoneySuckle Rose Shampoo, co-washed the hair with Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle conditioner. Deep Conditioned with Aubrey Organics GPB Balancing conditioner (*milk protein condish) for 45 min under cap.

Rinsed, then quickly started on the twists. Compared to last week, I wanted to make them a bit smaller to leave more room for styling. To style used two newbies

from Qhemet Biolgics. As a leave-in, the Cocoa Tree Detangling Ghee under the Amla & Olive Heavy Creme (*emphasis on heavy!).

Twisting took much too long, upwards of 4 1/2 hours! Okay, granted I was taking food breaks, mood breaks and movie breaks, but er…that’s a bit too long for me. As time rolled on, I finished around 3 in the afternoon, ate a late lunch and huffed & puffed my way to a late class. Was it…is it worth it?!

Yeeeaaah. I love my twists. I enjoy not having to moisturize and twist the hair each night to prevent snarls and knots. I enjoy playing with each one, tucking one behind my ear, while the rest play by themselves. I enjoy putting them up, pinning them down and securing ’em in a pony when it’s just the corner store that calls.

Last week I had good intentions to style the twists in some fanciful way, but only managed one look. No sense taking redundancy pics, so this week I pinned til my heart contented. The goal is to pin & tuck in a precarious way so that I can achieve the lowest of the low when it comes to manipulation. Get up & go hair while still making it all look effortless. I pinned a section of hair to the side (*in this case the right side), secured with an elastic and pinned remaining ponytail into a bun. The right side was rolled and pinned midway/across the back while the front was pinned up in a faux pompadour-esque using a goodly pin I’d purchased a while back. The style does look much better in person, but the pics are still good.

No touchie for a good week. I mean it. I was actually quite happy I could pull the twists over to one side without too much trouble. My hair has seen some growth over the past few weeks, and it’s sort of caught me off guard. No plans to cut or trim anytime soon, but….down the line I’d love to get a nice shaped fro or bang? Never had much in the way of bangs since going natural…that’d be sweet;-).

*reviews on Qhemet to come

By the by…THIS movie is worth the Netflix allotted slot in your queue. Dig it.

February 14, 2010

Flower Girls

These paintings are something beautiful to me. The artist is Margaret Bowland.

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February 9, 2010

L’il More Love

They’re calling for 8 – 13 inches worth of snow for the East Coast tonight into Wednesday. I live much too close to work to phone in with a snow day apology for the bosses, so I’m a bit miffed the city’s preppin for a shut down & city wide alert, while I’m hunkering down with some homework for class tomorrow night.

Miffed.

But alas, if the days were warmer and the streets were toned with the sun’s heat I’m sure I’ll have something else to complain about. Riiiight.

So! If you were snow-wrecked at home, how would you spend your days?

  • I’d make sure to download go out and buy this puppy. I….have no words. She’s that good. Own it. Love It.
  • I’d consider it a lucky day, finding this woman & her beautiful vocals. *(Ummm… free download)
  • I haven’t purchased….this…yet. Don’t have a reason. Except to say I bought this instead cuz….I’m a softee
  • This has been on heavy rotation for the past two weeks & will continue as such until I finish putting that book over there and attending to the laundry over…there.
  • I’d make sure to luv this dude a l’il more. *(too good)
  • This came today & I’m a kid again! Much needed after taking a trip to Ohio & meeting Lizzie.

I’m longing for Spring & warmer temps more than I should these days. Lately I’ve been torn between pinning for those illustrious perfect leather strapped boots & sizing up finds for upcoming spring dress purchases. Videos like this certainly do not make these decisions easy, but nonetheless it should at the very least put a smile on your face;-)!

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February 8, 2010

Twisting Motion

For sure, the one thing that can make many a natural haired femme run towards any form of protective style is a dipped temperature below thirty degrees. This week I jetted.  It’s fair to say that we are smack dab in the middle of Winter, and I’ve only managed to pull off less than a handful of protective styles.

Last week was a half-attempt with the rollerset. I set the hair, and freely pinned up-dos for the good part of the week. Hair was handled minimally, and re-moisturized periodically only when dry.

This week was a return to the twists, and me thinks one of my first allies in hair styles is here to stay…at least for a while. These days I’m a fan of what makes sense & what can realistically fit into my work/school schedule. Twists do that & then some.

Last night I got a head start in washing & DC’ing while watching a bit of television (*VH1 Doc/Soul Train was on! Who watched!?). No pre-poo, instead shampoo’d in the shower with Aubrey Organics Honey Suckle Rose Shampoo , lightly rinsed then followed up with Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner. Massaged the Tea Tree Conditioner well throughout the hair, leaving in for 2-3 minutes before rinsing. DC this week was the remainder of the JessiCurl Too Shea Moisturizing Conditioner. A rarity, but detangled & left the conditioner in overnight.

In the a.m. woke up super-armed & committed to twisting into a protective style. Product of choice was a go-to, Darcy’s Botanicals Daily leave-in under their Madagascar Vanilla Styling Creme. I rely on these products for twists because with proper maintenance each night, the twists are effectively moisturized for a solid week – week and a half without adding other product. The creme does not leave behind a filmy residue & if I’m not as heavy handed as I’m known to be when styling, there’s not much of a greasy factor which helps keep the bedsheets quite happy;-).

I do hope to keep the style in for at the very least a week – two if I’m striving for greatness being lazy.

But even with the twists in, I’m setting some goals. I am challenging myself to not simply wake up & go with this style as I’ve done in the past – but to give myself a leg up by offering a bit more variety in how I either pin, tuck, pull back the style. I have countless headbands, feather clips, jeweled clips I can use to accessorize the heck out of this style, and I’m aiming to rock it out.

It’d be great if I could take a pic each day to document these goals….right? *I’m making a ‘yeah right face’ that you can’t see—>but goals are goals & I’m on it;-).

*Update on Giveaway: I love doing contests/giveaways, BUT…the only drawback seems to be the non-communicado that follows. A winner was chosen a few weeks ago, contacted but has yet to respond. If no response arrives in my inbox (backtocurly@gmail.com) by end this week, I will draw a random name from the entries. THANKS a BUNCH to *all who did send in your contributions! Your words made the days all the more sweet;-).

February 6, 2010

Shanty Roller-Set

Over the past two weeks or so , I’ve managed to make a beautiful mess out of…stuff.

It’s getting to the point where the obligation to apologize for not blogging is resembling a crooked crutch I’m leaning on much too much. When did I last blog about my hair?

….

I’ll get the hang of it. Eventually. It’s all about organizing the ‘real’ and whatever else goes on ‘up there.’ My head’s been preoccupied with a flurry of syllabus’, due dates, group projects, new responsibilities at full-time job, remodeling this humble abode…figuring out a new budget loved lifestyle that befits a grad student.

Works in progress.  Such is life eh? But I suck still because while I’m filling the page with excuses, last week before the head hit for a doze, I kind of wanted to talk about my first attempt at roller-setting. Twas my first attempt & it was a good experience in that I was mindful in taking notes for the future.

Instead of going over wash/condition routines I need to pinpoint tips I might want to incorporate into future roller-set attempts.

  • Sectioning hair is VERY important

I took the willy nilly approach into setting the hair simply because I had every intention of putting the set in an up-do protective style for the coming week. Not the best approach because effectively parting the hair before it’ s dry and set in rollers, helps the curls to lay in a more proportioned manner rather than having one curl meet east & the other meet west. My outcome was fair, but it certainly lacked uniformity.

  • I ran out of rollers. Thinking you have enough rollers to set the hair as opposed to KNOWING you have enough are worlds apart when it gets down to standing in front of the mirror.

The rollers I’d purchased the day before, three packs of six. I had eighteen medium length/width rollers that I’d intended to roll the back portion of hair, while using longer/thinner rods to set the front. Not a bad idea, though the outcome wasn’t what I’d expected. The back of the hair once dried left me with nice bouncy ringlets, while the front was…not. It looked haphazard and not well put togehter. It’s best to keep the rollers within the same family in terms of length/width so outcomes aren’t as drastically different.

  • Styling/Setting products are just as important as types of rollers used

I used KBB hair milk as a leave-in, with Afroveda’s Curly Custard.  Speaking only for my hair, these two products are best used to two-strand twist, flat twist, braid etc., but…eh…, not particularly fancy for a roller-set. Proper roller setting requires the hair to lay smooth, not raised(?), which has always been a problem for my hair because of the few different textures that run throughout. My hair runs on the fuzzy side even on a good day, always has. Only product that could help keep the swelling down has been some added gel (which I’m adamant in NOT using) & a setting lotion.

I’m researching different products best used for roller-setting, which is a bit tricky – last time a roller set was done on my hair was during my relaxed days & setting lotions/products used then have ingredients my hair has grown unaccustomed to over the years.

I’ll definitely try the style again, overall the change in routines was well worth it. I did not do much in terms of styling for the rest of the week. I pinned the hair up quite often, and refreshed the hair with a bit of KBB hair butter & Jane Carter Revitalizing Spray when it turned a bit dry. This week (likely tonight) I’ll wash/DC the hair & resume my regular twisting schedule because homework beckons.

Still debating on doing an Amla treatment…Bentonite? I need a lil sumthin to treat my hair, these colder temps are not forgiving.

February 1, 2010

Natural Legacy: Black History Month

The New International Civil Rights Center Museum

Today marks the first day of Black History Month & while I do want to update and post about the goings on related to all things hair & product, my heart wants so desperately to share something entirely different…if only for today.

Black History Month is a time that I hold dear for reasons – too numerous to count. Author & blogger Lori L. Tharps has a great post up today mapping out a great & easy strategy to enjoying the rest of this month, which has me especially giddy with anticipation because I am certainly not the only one.

I can’t be the only one who enjoys the influx of culture and historical lessons all smashed up for us to ingest in 28 short days.  You have the Times today devoting a piece to the newly christened International Civil Rights Center Museum in Greensboro, N.C., and so many other outlets taking part to commemorate such an important mark in history.

Personally, I do feel it is a celebration, and not one made of  traditional markings of hats, balloons & presents.  The rewards granted towards all people of color are felt each and every day, I feel it each time I walk into work – get on a plan to see my parents – on Nov 2008 when I woke up at 5 a.m. to make a quiet, distinctive walk with neighbors to the voting hall.

It’s that feeling…that is so very welcomed and embraced each time this year.

~~~~

A truly beautiful piece in the Washington Post yesterday had me near tears. A mother of two remarks on the rituals of combing her daughter’s hair.

Soon now, these days will be gone from me. As I settle myself on the couch, my 11-year-old daughter, Savannah, brings me her hair basket: comb, water bottle, hair grease, barrettes. She plants herself on the floor, squarely between my knees, and I begin my work. There’s the everyday hair-doing, but wash day takes more time, and slowly I separate the thick, kinky tangle growing from her head. I rub in a dollop of grease — Kemi Oyl or root stimulator lotion, but mostly just dark blue Ultra Sheen (I like the standards) — to make the hair obedient, and part it into sections, clipping each firmly to her head.

My hands are slower and gentler now than they were when she was younger and I was younger, with a career to chase, and an older daughter who had her own head of hair for me to do, and another baby yet to come.

Sometimes, if I was pressed for time, I could get by with a few surface brush strokes and a liberal application of gel to make the girls passably presentable, but it took 20 minutes of work to make them look special. Twenty minutes to make them feel pretty so that neighbors would comment on the straightness of their parts. Twenty minutes to be reassured that I’d sent my children into the world making clear that they were valued and loved. Twenty minutes. Every day. Minimum. Apiece. For me to feel assuaged that if one day, please, God, no, they suddenly disappeared, I could persuade the 24-hour cable networks that my girls really were worthy enough to be news– because, after all, black mothers can’t recall a time where missing black women and children got national media attention.

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