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Please visit me there and stay tuned for new adventures in the world of natural hair and all that good stuff!

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I’m in love with a Shampoo Bar…

WARNING: This is going to be a long review.  It can’t be helped.

The title of my post is pretty self-explanatory.  For those who read my review on Curl Junkie, you will remember me saying that I had two pieces missing which were needed to complete my picture of great hair.  The Curl Junkie review addressed the first problem, which was that I needed styling products that worked for me.  The other missing piece to the picture boiled down to one very basic item: shampoo.  For quite some time now, I’ve been using whatever suited my fancy to wash my hair.  It’s been a rotation between a SLS-free shampoo, a cheap bottle of Suave, and Dr. Bronner’s.  Did my hair like this regimen?  Not really.  It wasn’t too fussy about it (ie. it wasn’t stripped or damaged as a result) but I believe that one of the reasons it was able to tolerate this madness was because it didn’t have the extra stress of having to contend with heat.  I really wanted something gentle that would work, and so I set out looking for that special shampoo by reading reviews galore.

Enter Chagrin Valley Soaps.

I put in my order and received it in 2 days.  I had heard about how good the shipping was, and I was nothing less than impressed.  Ida has quite a selection on the website, and I was very tempted to order the full-size bars.  I ordered the samples (which are generously portioned) and am happy that I did because I was able to give everything a decent try and really find out what worked for me.  I ordered the following shampoo bars: The Ayurvedic Bar, Olive & Babassu, Babassu & Marshmallow, Neem & Tea Tree and the Nettle bar.  I also ordered a couple of soaps (the honey butter bar and the Chamomile & Calendula bar).  A little information about the products: They are ALL NATURAL.  I have to stress that Ida’s products are as far from commercial as one could possibly get.  Everything is unscented, or smells herbal because of (obviously) the use of herbs and essential oils.  I have no problem with this, in fact, I love it.  However, if you’re one of those people who doesn’t care for a strong herbal scent while showering or you want to smell like cotton candy, this may not be for you.

The first shampoo I tried was the Ayurvedic Bar.  I was most excited about trying this one because of its ingredients.  It is full of things that I know my hair likes: Amla, Hibiscus, Castor bean oil and a few things I had never heard of like Bhringraj, which is supposed to act like a ‘multi-vitamin’ for hair (according to the website).  Using the shampoo bar was a different experience, I have to admit.  It didn’t produce a big lather for me, but I washed my hair with it 3 times and took my time rubbing and working my hair and scalp anyway.  After I rinsed my hair of the 3rd wash, it felt a bit waxy, but I was prepared and had my Apple Cider Vinegar diluted in water and proceeded to use it as a rinse to restore my hair’s acid mantle.  It worked well.  My hair and scalp did feel clean, but also different.  It wasn’t waxy or stripped or anything like that, so I have to assume that my hair probably needed to acclimate to the product.

The results of the Ayurvedic Bar were okay as far as my hair look and feel.  I really didn’t give the shampoo bar much thought until three or four days later.  I had left my hair out with its curls the day that I washed it, and had forgotten to oil my scalp that night and onward.  A few nights later, I had parted my hair expecting to see the flakes that were always present when I didn’t baby my scalp but found nothing.  I really didn’t want to get excited, so I kept on parting my hair and looking for flakes but my entire scalp was clean.  The Ayurvedic Bar is a definite keeper for me because of this.

The second bar I tried was the Olive & Babassu.  I wasn’t going to order this sample at first, but quite a few people recommended it when I was watching and reading reviews.  I liked it.  It has a creamy lather and is very mild.  Perfect to use on a child since it is unscented and moisturizing.

The Babassu & Marshmallow shampoo bar is my favorite, hands down.  I had read from some one that marshmallow root helps define the curl pattern and I have to say that it definitely did.  This shampoo bar is moisturizing and creamy.  My hair felt silky and my curls popped before even applying any product to them.  I found that this shampoo bar produced the same result when I used it on the kids’ hair. I’m going to be ordering a big bar of this.

Neem & Tea Tree is a shampoo/face/body bar.  One can use it where ever it is needed.  Neem and Tea Tree are great for skin conditions such as dandruff, acne and eczema.  I cut the sample in half and gave piece to my husband while I kept the other part to add to my black soap for my problem skin.  My husband really likes it.  He’s been using his bar as a shampoo and body bar.   It has helped clear my skin in a few problem areas, and so I do like it.

The Nettle bar was the last shampoo bar that I sampled.  By the time I got around to using this bar, I knew how to manipulate the shampoo bar properly to make it sud the way I expected it to.  This bar is supposed to be good for dry scalp and minimizing hair loss.  I found it was mildly clarifying, which I like.  I would invest in a big bar of this shampoo as I really enjoyed using it.

THE HONEY BUTTER BAR

I’m making space to address, specifically, my experience with the infamous Honey Butter Bar.  The Honey Butter Bar has a cult following among we Naturalistas.  The HB Bar is actually a soap bar, but because of its content (think lots of good butters and oils) it is also used in the place of a conditioner by quite a few women.  It didn’t work for me.  Not at all.  I did my best to give it a few chances, but I didn’t like how it made my hair feel.  I guess if it works then it works darn good, cause it has some stellar reviews as a conditioner.  I advise buying this bar as a sample if interested.  I will say that I’ve been using the piece I have left as a regular soap to bathe with and it leaves my skin incredibly smooth.

THINGS TO KNOW AND TROUBLESHOOTING

Okay, so getting a review on how well something works is all fine and good, but I think it’s even more helpful to let you know what to expect if you want to make the change to a shampoo bar.  First off, it isn’t like using a liquid shampoo. There is a slight learning curve involved with learning how to lather up the bar and to get it to sud properly for your hair.  Like anything else, the more you use it, the better you get with your technique. Keep in mind though that it will never give you the kind of lather you get with a commercial, liquid shampoo.  The shampoo bar is made of things that a beneficial to the hair and scalp with no preservatives.  Although it is very effective, it is also gentle, and so you do have to manually massage and rub your hair and scalp really good to get it clean.  It’s kind of scary that regular shampoos don’t require a lot of agitation to get your hair to feel ‘squeaky’ clean  (take that as a sign of how harsh they can be).

When using a shampoo bar, it is a good idea to give your hair and scalp a chance to make the adjustment.  If your scalp’s balance is out of whack with how much oil it produces or such, then the shampoo bar (if you’re using the right one) will most likely address and solve the problem.  There are people who have used shampoo bars and found their scalp over producing oil (because they used to use a harsh shampoo).  Sticking with it, the scalp will soon realize its oils are not being stripped and it will stop over producing.  Also, using a shampoo bar in a hard water zone will produce a waxy feel on the hair.  A good solution to this is the Apple Cider Vinegar rinse which will get rid of the waxiness.  Also, the rinse is good because it brings the hair’s acid mantle back to what it should be.  I like how my hair feels after the ACV rinse, but hate the fact that even after rinsing the rinse, I can still smell the vinegar (not sexy).  I use my regular conditioner instead since it does the same thing as an ACV rinse in regards to restoring the proper PH to the hair (and I don’t have hard water).

Finally, with the Chagrin Valley soaps, it is important to store them out of the shower/bath when you finish using them.  They are made of butters and oils, and they will melt away in a warm, humid bathroom.  Ideally, you want to keep them on a soap deck (where the water can drain) instead of a soap dish.  I recommend her soaps also, as I’ve used a couple and really like how they make our skin feel. If you’re prone to itchy, dry skin, you would be doing yourself a huge favour.

visit

http://www.chagrinvalleysoapandcraft.com

It’s Official: I am a Curl Junkie.

First and foremost, I have to apologize for my failure to upkeep this blog.  My plate has been full, very full, and in order to live somewhat of a balanced life, time and priorities must be taken into account.  I put the blog on the back burner because of this reason.  Now that I’ve addressed that, on to my mini-review!

Lately, I’ve been cruising the hair boards, blogs and vlogs, much to my own detriment (money wise).  My hair is doing great but I noticed that there were two pieces missing from the puzzle: I really, really long for curls that are bouncy, silky, full of body and low on frizz.  I can achieve it using Qhemet, but it’s not easy, nor do the results last.  QB products nourish and condition my hair (and strengthen it, too) but I’ve realized that I need actual styling products.

Well, I found out about Curl Junkie.  I watched review, after review, and I came away impressed.  I also felt a feeling that I recognized.  It was the feeling of certainty that I felt when I had made my first QB purchase.  Some where in my bones I knew this stuff was going to work for me.  I went to the website and read recommendations, but ultimately ordered the products from a different online retailer because the shipping was better.

What I ordered: I ordered the Curl Assurance Smoothing Gellie, Aloe Fix Hair Styling Gel, and Curls in a Bottle.

Curl Assurance Smoothing Gellie: I bought this because it seemed suited for my hair type, which appears to defy the hair chart cause it’s a thorough blend of 3 -4 a,b & c, thanks to my many ancestors.  It looks like a cream (or think jelly) and smells delightful.  I used it on damp hair and scrunched and it held well. Tamed the frizz just fine.  I really like this Gellie because it is kinda lightweight, but does it’s job.

Aloe Fix Hair Styling Gel: This gel will have to get its own spotlight because I really haven’t used it properly.  I used it once to smooth my hair down for my ponytail.  It worked like a charm. No build up, flakes or frizzies.  It smells good and it non-drying.  I have high hopes for this baby.

Curls in a Bottle: I wasn’t going to buy this product.  I’m glad that I did.  I’ve used curls in a bottle a few times since I got it last week.  It is very lightweight.  I can’t use this by itself.  It helps make curls pop, which is a good starting point, I think.  Two nights ago, I washed my hair and after putting my Olive & Honey Hydrating Balm in, I added the Curls in a Bottle.  My hair was still damp and my curls really developed with it in.  I decided to do bantu knots, so I combed through and added the Smoothing Gellie.  The next day I undid my twists and separated them.  They looked amazing.  I had no frizz and my hair was soft while the curl held.  It held through a romp with the hubby in the afternoon and through 26 degree weather (Celsius, cause I’m Canadian).  It held.  It wasn’t hard or tacky at all.  I’ve found my styling winners.

I also have to add that the CIAB and CASG work wonderfully in my littlest one’s hair.  Hair hair is a wild, silky, curly riot.  With these two products, her curls stay defined and frizz free without drying or damaging her hair. It’s exciting for me to see her hairstyle last and not end up the big, puff-ball it usually is at the end of the day.

I really like Curl Junkie so far and recommend visiting the website.

Yet another QB Review

Winter always means down time for my hair. When I say ‘down time’, I mean it’s hat season. Don’t expect anything too cute from me. This winter, I’ve pretty much kept my hair tamed in two styles: plaited   pig tails or double-strand twists. That’s it. The cold weather really does affect my hair, and I’ve noticed that my eldest girl (whose hair is like mine) has the same issue. Despite it all, our tresses are healthy and thriving and I’ve become even more of a Qhemet Biologics fan than I was before. A couple of months ago, I purchased the last three items from the website that I had yet to try. I don’t know why I didn’t splurge on them before, but now they are a part of my regular line up. Let;s check ’em out…

Karkady Tea Replenishing Mist-  I’m starting with the mist because it was my biggest surprise.  By now, any one who follows this blog knows that I am a HUGE QB fan.  Everything I have tried has worked well with my hair, but I just never gave the mist much thought.  I still can’t say why I bought it, but I did and boy am I hooked.  Many of us natural ladies know (or should know) that water is our friend.  Unfortunately, tap water (with all its chemicals and chlorine) is not. I don’t have to use water to dampen my hair anymore for styling.  My first time using the mist produced fabulous (yes, fabulous) results.  I washed my hair and put in my regular mix of Biologics products; however, I also spritzed my hair with the mist and worked it in really good before twisting.  The next morning, I took out my twists and found my hair so soft, silky and shiny, with gorgeous waves. I couldn’t stop touching it!  Several co-workers asked what I did to my hair.  KTRM is now a staple.

Tea Tree & Grapeseed Therapeutic Pomade- Winter isn’t only harsh on my hair and skin, it’s  hard on my scalp.  My scalp needs only half a reason to start flaking, so I really have to be diligent with how I care for it.  I started using this pomade because I was seeing those few tell-tale flakes as the weather became colder.  So far, so good.  I have to say, it isn’t my only line of defense in preventing dry scalp, but it works well and it’s light.  I would buy it again, no problem.

Castor & Moringa Softening Serum- Great, great stuff!  Castor oil, in my opinion, is one of those oils that works wonders.  If you consider that the castor bean itself is toxic and a hazard even to reap, it is amazing that the oil from such a bean is so beneficial to us.  I bought the serum to protect my hair (especially my ends) and to stop them from getting brittle.  I have to say, I got more than I bargained for. The oil  has become something I use on my children daily.  My daughter’s hands became frost-bitten (a painful condition as anyone who has experienced it knows) a short while ago due to her refusal to wear her gloves.  I began treating her hands with the serum, followed by A&D ointment twice a day.  Her hands have healed beautifully without me having to put prescription creams or the like on them.  The serum has also become what I use to protect my kids’ faces before they go out in the cold each morning.  My mother used to use Vaseline or A&D on us.  I find the serum works terrific, and protects their skin  from getting chapped without having the ‘shiny face’ my friends and I had as children.

There are, of course, other products that I still support and enjoy using.  They are currently awaiting warmer days when I can style my hair and not have to don a toque.

Magic Soap

I am a big fan of soap.  I’m into the handmade variety (as I also make it) instead of the mass-produced stuff.  If I had to choose one (and only one) reason alone for endorsing the use of real soap instead of body wash (aka detergent) I would rest my case on this simple fact: soap does not remove oil and dirt.  Such a statement sounds surprising, sure, but it is true.  The makers of various body washes would have us believe that soap strips and dries the skin while body washes are gentle and moisturizing.  They aren’t telling you that they are referring to mass-produced bars of soap which use a host of strange ingredients including beef tallow (which is one of the more harmless additions, let me say).

Like I said, soap (the real stuff) does not remove oil and dirt; it dissolves it.  For a body wash to work, it has to remove everything from the epidermis (including the natural good oils) and try to put some kind of moisture back in so your skin doesn’t feel stripped.  Soap doesn’t have to strip your skin because is breaks down impurities and dissolves them.  Your skin feels clean without feeling chapped and dry when you step out the shower.

Liquid Castile soap has become a staple in my home.  It lathers beautifully, cleanses without stripping, and a little goes a long way.  My favorite liquid Castile soap is Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Hemp Pure Castile soap.  I particularly like the Lavender and the Rose liquid soaps.  Dr. Bronner’s is made with organic ingredients and has been ever since the beginning.  The soap was organic even before it was the ‘in’ thing to do.  Recently, I started using Dr. Bronner’s soap to wash my hair instead of shampoo.  I’ve been pleased with the results.  My hair and scalp feel clean without the use of an SLS shampoo, and I get the lather I crave when washing my locks.  There are loads of uses for this soap, as any one who has ever read reviews for the product can tell you.  People use it in their dishwashers, to clean the house (it cleans the bath tub with incredible ease) and even as tooth paste, although I can’t say I’m interested in using it for that purpose.

The whole story behind the soap maker and the company (now run by his son) is an interesting read.  A lot of people say Dr. Bronner brings his own particular brand of crazy to the world, but I’m more focused on the actual product, which is great.  I will say this, it takes guts to stamp your life’s philosophy on the label of your product.

Frizz be gone!

no-frizz-hair-productsI try to stay off of sephora.com and away from the store.

I try.

Sometimes failing miserably can be a good thing.  Case in point: this summer, I found myself on the afore mentioned website to discover a new product that I had to have.

Living Proof’s No Frizz Styling Treatment is what I’m talking about.  So, how is this potion different from a silicone-based anti-frizz serum?  In the easiest of terms, this product has no silicone in it. Nada.  The inventors found that silicone weighs hair down and doesn’t penetrate the hair shaft; therefore, your hair feels heavy, and some (or most) of it still frizzes when it rains or becomes humid.  For the full story and science behind this new product and how it works, I recommend going to Sephora’s website and visiting Living Proof’s page.

Back to the review.  I visited the store the next day and received the last deluxe samples they had.  I was excited, for sure, armed with both curly and straight treatments for thick to course hair.  The instructions given to me worked like a charm, so here they are:  When your hair is still damp after washing, put in whatever conditioning treatment or leave-in that you like to use as long as it is silicone-free.  This is important.  Silicone and No Frizz do not get along at all.  Apart from that, put whatever magic potion you usually use on your damp tresses.  After adding your leave-in of choice, use a generous amount of No Frizz, making sure that you saturate each and every strand of hair.  I used the treatment for curly hair first, and was amazed at how beautiful my curls looked.  There was a little bit of crunch going on (just a lil bit), but it wasn’t an issue.  My hair did not frizz at all, which is saying a lot.  I brought my sample for straight hair to the Dominican salon where I had my hair blown out.  The stylist followed my directions in applying the No Frizz and one week later my hair was still shiny and smooth, even as I went to Jamaica.  Once on holiday, I witnessed first hand how amazing No Frizz can be when used correctly.  Through sweat and all, my hair stayed fabulously straight and smooth.  My cousin, who was also vacationing in Jamaica, bought a bottle and found the result just as good, even with relaxed hair.  I’m a big believer in the motto, “Everything ain’t for everybody” when it comes to hair and beauty, but I do think this formula is worth a try.  If you can get a sample made (or 2 or 3) from Sephora, go for it.

Natural Hair Day???

tyrabanksI was wasting time online the other day when I came across the most hilarious piece of “news” one could possibly publish.  Stop the presses: TYRA BANKS HAS DECLARED SEPT. 8TH NATURAL HAIR DAY.   Now, before we get into this, please, take a moment to digest the uppercase info.  The story in a nutshell is as follows: Season 5 for the Tyra Banks show will air on Sept. 8th.  Tyra wants to “take it to the next level” and have women (including herself) “rock what they’ve got and be proud!” (Her words, which is why I’m being a good English graduate and using the quotation marks.)  She is encouraging women to go natural with her.

I read the article and had to laugh because, well, I’m not sure why, but I do know that confusion has already spread like wildfire.  Tyra’s definition of going natural is to wear her ‘real’ hair instead of a weave.  This in itself brings up the whole debate of  what is natural.  She didn’t say she wouldn’t relax it, show her kinks & coils or anything of that nature, and there I give her some credit.  She fed her audience enough for them to grab hold and tune in, but has made no distinctions or promises.  I read some of the comments from readers after finishing the article and needless to say, some were positive, most were not.

Here’s the thing.  I’m not going to hate on Tyra, but I will give my honest opinion.  I’m sure she’s done her part in some ways to help weaken the stereotype that the fashion powers have when it comes to models that don’t look like a pasty stick figure.  Everyone has differing opinions on what natural hair is, and I’m sure that to some, my hair wouldn’t be natural enough, and that’s fine.  To me, natural hair is free of chemical processing.  I have a semi-permanent colour in my hair at the moment, and I like it.  Sometimes I get my hair pressed.  Most times I wear it the way God gave it to me: curly and wild.  I think it is possible to be natural and have extensions put in or a weave.  The major factor involved is that it may be something you may do occasionally, and is not a case of never showing your real hair.  A friend of mine went on vacation and put extensions in: she swam every day, looked gorgeous and never once worried about the humidity or fussed about how her hair looked.  To me, it’s all about using your head (no pun intended).  There are a lot of women who have hair issues who can’t live and let live.  Instead, they project their junk onto others.  Personally, I don’t believe that every woman who relaxes, wears weaves or such is ashamed of their hair.  I think it’s silly to come to this conclusion, although I’ve read this comment quite a few times on different hair blogs.  There are women like that, sure, but it can also be a case of something just working well for a person and her lifestyle.  As for Tyra…well, I don’t think she falls into the ‘natural’ category.  What can I say, I deal with my hair every day.  I am my own stylist.  Sometimes the hair cooperates, sometimes it doesn’t.  I don’t need to mark my calendar for a natural hair day since every day has been natural for the last few years.

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