The Max Hydration Method, Day 1 (or is it Day 2?) First Impressions [Part2]

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Here's one of the things that isn't really clear to me -- technically this is day 2 of the regimen, but because I didn't complete the clay rinse, leave-in, and styling with gel last night, today is still day 1. Either way it goes, it's a new day, and I've got some new thoughts. But before I jump into the second half of my experiences, let me share with you the 3 mains reasons I've even hopped on the Max Hydration Method Challange:

1. I fully believe in investigative bloggerism. I don't like to sit up on some social media perch and just throw information at ya'll. It has been my intention since I first wrote the article on the method, to actually try it and develop an informed opinion on the process and results. This is exactly what I'm doing.

2. I live in LA -- I've got dry air, hard water, and pollution (and traffic lol) working against me. The amount of clarifying and detoxifying involved could potentially stand to greatly improve the overall health of my hair.

3. I've got problem areas. My crown, and the front/center section of my hair are notoriously difficult and frizzy. I also have really dry ends. If the Max  Hydration Method could help rectify those, I would be eternally grateful.

Without further delay, onward with my continued thoughts about the other side of the process:

1. Clay is sprinkled from the heavens above.

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Doesn't look like much right now, but baaaaaby....
The first time I tried Bentonite/Indian Healing Clay on my hair as a transitioner, I was rushing, and had dry, powdery-feeling hair with patches that looked like I lost a fight with a bag of flour. Turns out, I mixed it wrong, and didn't rinse it out thoroughly. Since mixtressing with DIY masques, I learned that Apple Cider Vinegar yields a smoother mix than water, so I opted to make an ACV-based mix. I don't ever use olive oil (I'm not a fan of the smell), and I didn't have honey, so I made my masque with castor oil (it has similar humectant properties to honey), coconut oil, and sweet almond oil. I didn't think the clay would do much for my hair, but when I rinsed it out I almost fainted. The results from the baking soda wash? Magnify that by fifty-leven. I'm just going to drop these pictures right here, and let them do the talking:

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Freshly rinsed, product-free hair. Yassssss!

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My product-free hair looks like it has product in it. Nice.
2. Psoriasis, be gone?
Maybe it's because I recently henna'd (although my henna mixes have been less effective in the past few months), or because baking soda really works, or the clay is even more amazing, or because my hair and scalp had been covered so many times in various liquids, or any combination thereof. But somewhere between that baking soda rinse and clay, my scalp is the clearest it has been....like ever. Let me find out the Max Hydration Method also doubles as the Max Psoriasis Treatment Method....lol. I'll keep ya'll posted on this one. But see for yourselves!

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Up close and personal with my scalp....
3. I'm NOT doing this every day.
Now that I'm on the "done" side of 1 day of the method, I can honestly say there is no way in hell I'm baking soda, claying, cowashing/deep conditioning and styling my hair every day. Absolutely not. The detailed regimen states that you can go up to 3 days without restyling, and I will be exercising that option (for the time being). But those three days only count as 1 day (insert confused face here). In the method's guidelines, the wash and go is touted as being a protective style because the gel clumps the curls together, preventing tangles and knots, and because of the gel cast left behind. I am inclined to agree, with one additional fact -- with the right gel, you can leave this style alone for 3 days (maybe more, but they don't recommend it), and have hair that is protected and low-manipulation. 

4. Blessed, blessed Tresemme Naturals.
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This isn't the "Max Hydration Method Approved" Tresemme...but I'll be just fine.
Seriously, why didn't ya'll tell me Tresemme Naturals was so dope? Somebody must be held accountable for this! It has low-key become my everything overnight. I detangled and cowashed with it before my Cherry Lola. I used it to help get the last bits of clay loosened from my hair and scalp (I guess you could consider that a light cowash),and reapplied it (diluted with shower water to rinse it about halfway out) as my leave-in. I bought 4 bottles at Target because when you buy 4, you get a $5 gift card. I might go buy 4 more, because this conditioner really is everything I need it to be. It doesn't have tons of slip, but it has enough. It works, because somewhere between the baking soda rinse and clay, my rough ends got smoothed out (imagine that!) which made keeping my hair detangled infinitely easier. I'm in love....and it has me looking for receipts to return unopened bottles of conditioner, deep conditioner, and leave-in to Sally's, so I can make room for Treseme. #productjunkieonabudget

5. This s#!t better work. Wait, is it working? Oh s#!t, it's working.
I went from exasperated with the infinite number of steps to completely floored in under 24 hours. As I sit here typing this, my hair is completely dry -- but it looks just like it did when it was wet. Normally my hair does a 180 on me when it's all dry -- especially in those janky areas. Pinke Cube and Miss Dee Kay might be on to something here. Just ask my sister @anikkibrown -- I kept raving about my hair and looking in the mirror as we rode around town this morning/afternoon. I was genuinely shocked at how smooth my ends are. How frizz-free and clumped my curls are, even after whipping around in the wind (windows down). I am in complete shock and awe.

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This hair is COMPLETELY. DRY.
I expected more shrinkage, but my curls (especially the back half of my hair that's looser anyway), seems to be slightly elongated. I'm currently banding the front in a scarf pineapple for a little more stretch, but I am completely surprised at the results -- especially since this is only day 1. I'll definitely upload date night pictures to Instagram tonight -- so be on the lookout for that.

So far, I'm impressed. I'm convinced that for me at least, the keys are the baking soda and clay steps. I'll be rocking this wash and go until Sunday or Monday, then starting all over! For those that are curious, this wash and go is with the Tresemme Naturals Nourishing Moisture Conditioner as a leave-in (partially rinsed out), sealed with coconut oil, and styled with the new reformulated Camille Rose Naturals Curl Maker. 

Be sure to follow me on Instagram @maneobjective for more pics and updates!

Did you miss part 1 of my experience with the Max Hydration Method? Click here to catch up!

The Max Hydration Method: Day 1 First Impressions [Part 1]

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The "baking soda rinse is running down my face" face....lol
 
It's 11:00pm on Thursday night.

As I write this blog post, I am sitting at the foot of my bed hair slathered in Ouidad 12-Minute Intensive Repair Deep Treatment (is this a MHM-approved product? We'll get in to it soon). I'm not gonna lie to ya'll -- I'm a little overwhelmed by the overzealousness of the Max Hydration Method Challenge already -- and it's only day 1. I apologize if this post is a little erratic. I was trying to figure out how to share my experience with the Max Hydration Method on day 1, but all I could do was type out my thoughts as I experienced them:

1. It's simple...yet complicated.
Even though I wrote the article breaking the Max Hydration Method down...I still had to go back again, again, and again to maxhydrationmethod.com to double fact-check what I thought I knew. There are some steps to me that are normal (like applying a leave-in and gel), and others are a little unclear (deep conditioning overnight = cowashing?). So I did what to me, made sense:
  • cowash and air dry (the hair is supposed to be dry for the Cherry Lola Treatment)
  • Cherry Lola Treatment
  • baking soda rinse/clarify (I just added baking soda to my conditioner)
  • deep condition overnight (which I'm doing as I type this)
This seems pretty straightforward and like it wouldn't monopolize an entire evening, but it did, kinda. Which brings me to point #2.... 

2. This s#!t is time consuming.
Whenever conversations about the Max Hydration Method come up, comments like "doing too much", "seems like too much work", and "I don't have time to wash my hair every day" are common. Ladies, I hear ya. Maybe it's because so much of this is DIY, or maybe my regimen is just really, really lazy and riddled with product. Either way it goes, I spent a lot more time on my hair than normal, especially not to have any style to show for it just yet. Maybe I just have the day 1 blues, because I had to do the Cherry Lola Treatment as the first step, which required me to cowash my hair and let it air dry for a few hours (I followed the instructions and recipe of OG Cherry Lola herself). After waiting for it to air dry, I had to apply it and then let it sit for another hour and a half. And after rinsing, clarify with my baking soda/conditioner/water concoction (I added water because I refused to hop in and out of the shower to do each step), and leave it in for 15 minutes before rinsing. And then, deep condition -- which is where we are now. Tomorrow, it's the clay rinse for another 15 minutes at least, THEN I get to add my leave-in and style.*faints slightly*

3. My hair doesn't like food.
Speaking of Cherry Lola, I had high hopes for the frothy DIY mix. Every single person I've ever googled in life that tried the CLT has loved it, raving about getting amazing results like super soft hair, shiny hair, student loan forgiveness, de-frizzed hair, elongated curls, and gas for 89 cents a gallon. I followed Cherry Lola's instructions to a TEE, down right to letting the concoction sit and rise for about 15 minutes. The Max Hydration Method calls for the Cherry Lola Caramel Treatment, but cites that the original Cherry Lola Treatment can be used as well. I opted out of the hybridized treatment because I was not buying molasses, honey, or fooling with banana. All I have in my pantry is agave, and I need that for my coffee (grin). The last time I put banana in my hair, I was pulling chunks out for days. #nothankyou

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But back to this Cherry Lola Thing. I was expecting a miracle, and got...nothing. My hair looked no different than it does following a rinse-out conditioner. Maybe my hair isn't used to juices and berries, or maybe, just maaaaybe, it doesn't like food. I don't put food in my hair regularly (save for oils and ACV), and every time I call myself using foodstuffs for hair products, I end up with disaster. Some of ya'll may remember the Oat Flour Tragedy of 2012. Maybe I'll revisit the treatment (I have enough yogurt for one more) in a week after my hair is accustomed to the lack of cones and whatnot (more on this later).

4. Baking Soda = Total Win! 

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I was introduced to the concept of incorporating baking soda into conditioners to clarify via my visit to Devachan Salon. To lift my product buildup, dirt, cones, and even help control my scalp flaking, DevaCurl No Poo and Baking Soda were mixed and used to vigorously scrub my hair. I remembered liking the results, but like the true PJ I am, forgot all about actually applying the method at home. So hats off, Max Hydration Method -- this step is probably the highlight of the regimen. In all honesty, my hair looked more amazing after the baking soda clarifying wash than it did after the Cherry Lola Treatment. My curls popped after rinsing my mix out. For those that are curious, I took a bottle of Shea Moisture African Black Soap Conditioner (it was like 1/3 full and I wanted something with a pump), combined the rest of my watered-down Tresemme Naturals Conditioner that I detangled/cowashed with before the Cherry Lola Treatment, added approximately 2 tablespoons of baking soda, and water. I shook it up, and ended up with a runny conditioner that seemed to soak right into my strands and de-frizz them.

5. About those approved products...
There is a limited (albeit growing) list of Max Hydration Method-approved products. I looked them over, but wasn't moved to strictly adhere. I looked over what ingredients to avoid, and I'm confident that I'll be just fine without going to buy more products (besides the Tresemme). Pinke Cube (MHM creator) doesn't strike me as a product junkie, so I doubt she's had the time or opportunity to explore all the products that are out there that could possibly be used. Or maybe she has, and that many natural hair products are jacked up. Either way it goes, I'll be deviating from the rigidity of the approved products in the following ways:
  • Polyquats, panthenol, hydrolyzed proteins: I think there may be some misinformation around the way these products are presented. Polyquats are not the same a silicones. Polyquats (polyquaternium-_____(insert number here) are cationic (positively charged) compounds that stick to the hair -- often used to condition, de-frizz, and encourage curl clumping. Polyquats target the damaged areas of hair and make them smooth -- similar to silicones. Polyquats, unlike some cones can not inhibit the uptake of water in hair. The fact that polyquats are likened to cones that cannot be completely removed, save for SLS shampoos does also not sit well with me. For that matter, the same goes for conditioning agents like behentrimonium chloride -- but nobody's complaining about that. As far as panthenol goes, there is no evidence that substantiates claims that it causes waxy buildup on the hair. Lastly, hydrolyzed proteins are an important part of my natural hair regimen. I'm not clear how proteins are bad for low porosity, type 4 natural hair -- maybe someone with that hair profile can shed some light? Either way it goes, I'm not giving them up.
  • My Tresemme Naturals isn't the same: The specific Tresemme Naturals Conditioner (Radiant Volume) does not exist in stores I've visited. I'm lucky to get the Tresemme Naturals Conditioner (Nourishing Moisture) I did get.
Needless to say, I'll be moving forward with products that fit the general profile of what I think will work best for my hair, and not impede maximum hydration. The hardest part will be going 'cone-free (some of my favorite conditioners are coney). Good thing I've got plenty of Eden BodyWorks, Camille Rose Naturals, Ouidad, and Obia to get me through! Who knows? I might even go full-on cone-free after this!

***PLEASE NOTE***
I am not an expert on the Max Hydration Method. All research and credit for developing the regimen goes to Pinke Cube, and Miss Dee Kay has done a wonderful job with videos and blog posts to lay everything out. I simply took their template and did what you're supposed to do with this natural hair thing -- I made it work for me. You can go as by-the-book as you like, or deviate based upon your preferences. Make it work for you!

I survived Cherry Lola, baking soda, and deep conditioning. Ready for the rest of my day 1 experience (or is it day 2)? Click here for Part 2!

All Growth Ain't Good Growth: Why I Stopped Doing The Mane Choice Manetabolism Challenge

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As seen on Black Girl with Long Hair!

In the beginning of 2014, I was a little length obsessed.

No, I was totally length obsessed.

Fresh off my big moderate chop, I no longer had the additional length that my heat damaged ends provided. And although I loved my new natural hair, I couldn't wait to grow it out more. So when The Mane Choice put the call out for bloggers to take their 6 month Manetabolism challenge, I took the bait. In retrospect, I realize that I bit off more than I could chew. The parameters of the challenge were simple enough -- upload a comparison/growth picture at the end of every month every 30 days for 6 months. But what happened inside of those 4 months (I didn't continue for the last 2, but more on that later) was symptomatic of me doing entirely too much.

Yes, the growth I experienced was awesome, but doing length checks drove me crazy. Having to repeatedly try to capture my hair from the same angles and areas proved to be quite a chore. Even after I caved in and created a length check t-shirt. I became length obsessed -- tugging and pulling at areas of hair to measure on an almost weekly basis, checking for any discernable growth (even though I knew better). I also became overly invested in checking up on other challenge participants' growth, and stacking it against mine (even though I knew better). I prioritized the length of my hair over the health of my hair.

Even though I knew better.

Since chopping in December, I had been battling against dry ends. Although normal healthy hair logic dictates that I cut or gradually trim them, I did everything but -- for the sake of retaining length. My refusal to trim ended up making things worse -- my detangling sessions became hellish, the ends were beginning to snap off more, and I really began to dread wash day because my hair was so much more prone to tangles and knotting. I knew the ends needed to go, but I pushed the truth aside in favor of being able to say, "look how much my hair grew!"

As I mentioned earlier, I never made it to the 6 month culminating period of the challenge. Not for any intriguing or piquant reasons, though. Honestly, the reason I stopped is actually pretty simple/boring. The Mane Choice stopped sending me vitamins. The real reason? I don't know. Their shipping during my months 3 and 4 got a little patchy due to some backorder issues. I didn't sweat it too much, because I feel like customers paying money should always take precedence over bloggers receiving goods for free.99. Months 5 and 6 never happened. I sent an email (only 1, I didn't bother sending follow up correspondences) inquiring about the rest of my bottles for the duration of the challenge, but I never got a response. I didn't sweat it too much at the time, and looking back at it now, it was a blessing in disguise.

This is not an indictment of The Mane Choice or Manetabolism vitamins. While on the challenge, I experienced more growth than typical for my hair. I really do believe the vitamins worked --you can follow all my results here. I just know now that these growth challenges -- whether it be vitamins, castor oil, inversion (are people really still doing that?), or otherwise -- are not for me. At the end of the day, they had me worried 'bout the wrong thangs.

You woried 'bout the wrong things...the wrong things (in my Kanye 808's voice)
This is not to discourage anyone from purchasing hair growth vitamins, extensively protectively styling, doing castor oil massages, or hanging off the side of your bed (seriously, is anyone still doing the inversion method?). If you are able to strike a balance between growth and overall hair health without compromise, then by all means go for it! But for those of us who can get a little, eh, one-track minded, proceed with caution. Our hair gives us warning signs when we're off track -- some experience breakage, dryness, more tangles, or even thinning. The problems pile on when we ignore those warning signs, in pursuit of longer hair. If your healthy hair journey does not prioritize the health of your hair, then take it from me -- you're on the wrong train.

Since ending my growth challenge in late May/early June, I've trimmed my hair three times -- to the tune of about 2.5 inches of dead, cripy, tangly, dry ends gone. My hair is healthier, I'm happier, detangling isn't a chore or nightmare, and my hair even looks a little thicker. I've got a little more left to trim, and I will do so diligently and in due time. Right now, I'm just really focused on being good to my hair. Taking care of it the way I know I should, taking my vitamins and supplements for overall health, and taking my behind to the gym.

And no, I haven't touched my length check shirt since.

Have you found yourself caught up in the hair growth challenge craze? 
Did it help or harm your healthy hair goals?

The 6 Best Silicone-Free Serums for Natural Hair

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As seen on Black Girl with Long Hair!

Admittedly, I never used to care too much for finishing products for my natural hair. When I rocked my flat ironed hair before transitioning, I ALWAYS had serums and sprays on deck. And they were all full of silicones, too. But for my wash and go or braidouts, I didn't really see a purpose.

Until I tried a few.

Now, I'm hooked on that final step of my regimen (once my hair is dry). Finishing serums have elevated shine, tamed frizz, improved smoothness, and in some cases helped prevent split ends. I'm sure some of you are thinking, why not just use _____(insert oil here)? And absolutely, you can. I just personally find that serums function better as a finishing product, are more lightweight, and pack a bit more punch than most oils can do alone.

The best thing about these serums now? They're ALL silicone, mineral oil, and petroleum free. Not that I'm against silicones, I find them beneficial particularly when I choose to flat iron or blow out my hair (heat protection). However, for my naturally unaltered hair, all they do is sit on top and condition or mask damage and problem areas. These serums, on the other hand, are full of ingredients that actually help heal and revitalize the hair, among numerous other benefits. They're lightweight, and perfect for all textures (including fine hair and transitioners). Check them out:

1. Deepthi Organics - Organic Verdana Leave-In Conditioning Serum
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Organic argan, jojoba, pracaxi, coconut, and other oils are combined in this lightweight mixture to help seal cuticles, enhance elasticity and shine, and smooth hair. This all-natural, nutrient packed serum works well on straight, kinky, coily, and curly hair types to help fight free-radicals and environmental damage to hair. $18, www.organicverdana.com

2. Kinky Curly - Perfectly Polished
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Blended with apricot, argan, abyssinian and wheat germ oil, this lightweight polishing serum promotes high shine and helps undo environmental damage to the hair. Ceramides within the wheat germ oil also penetrate to help ciment damaged or highly porous hair. $18, Target and www.kinky-curly.com.

3. Curls - Blissful Lengths Oil Elixir
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Formulated with soybean, coconut, kuikui, sweet almond, and other oils, this little bottle is raved about by naturals all around. It provides shiny, lightweight, smoothness for all hair types while helping to improve elasticity and reduce frizz and friction in the hair. $12, Target and Amazon.

4. Taliah Waajid Hydrating Curl Shine
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Featuring avocado, coconut, and olive oil, this lightweight spray gives hair a healthy dose of omegas, which are vital to the health, elasticity, and cimenting of the hair cuticles. If you prefer spray serums that can better evenly coat the hair, this one is for you! $8, Amazon

5. Rapunzel The Future Of Hair - Hair Silk
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A nutritious blend of olive, castor, sweet almond, safflower, and wheat germ, this silky serum is versatile enough to be used on any texture of hair -- even straight. Packed with omegas and ceramides, this nutrient rich blend helps improve elasticity, ward off breakage, and provides the hair with ceramides essential to helping repair damaged hair and correct porosity issues. $15, www.rapunzelthefutureofhair.com

6. Jojoba Oil
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If you're not feeling the fancy serums, or don't need yet another product stuffed into your already overcrowded stash, jojoba is the perfect standalone oil that can double up as a finishing serum. It is incredibly light, and a little goes a long way. The molecular composition of jojoba is incredibly similar to the sebum our scalp naturally produces, making it an oil that responds well to virtually all hair types. Find it at Trader Joe's ($8) or your local health food store.

Do you use serums in your natural hair regimen? 
Share your favorite products or DIY blends below!

I'm Today's Guest Blogger On Ouidad.com!

My hair over the years....As you can see, I used to LOVE me some blonde!

I've kept no secrets about my journey to natural hair. My blog has been a very open space where I can share the ups, downs, highs, lows, accomplishments, and failures I've had along this journey to natural hair.

That's a lot of ground to cover, given that I re-launched The Mane Objective in March of 2012. Want the abridged version? Head on over to the Ouidad Blog and check out my feature as today's Guest Blogger! I share pictures of my before, during, and after transitioning hair, as well as a synopsis of my journey. Plus, I have 5 tips for embracing your hair!

Thanks for all the love and support you guys, each and every one of you that visits the blog, follows, comments, likes, shares, and subscribes -- ya'll are so dope. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. You guys make this blogging thing so fun <3

Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Hair Masque Review

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Shea Moisture is on a mission to take all my money.

I wasn't too impressed with the Superfruit Complex line (read why), so I approached the Jamaican Black Castor Oil products with more caution (I only purchased and reviewed the Masque and Leave-In), and ended up in love. So when @killerleejones tagged me on Instagram in a picture of yet another Shea Moisture product line exclusive to Target, I wiggled in my seat with excitement like a kid ready for recess.

That new line is the Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration line, with African Rock Fig and Baobab Oil. The Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil line is exclusive to Target stores, as a part of their Made to Matter Community Commerce initiative. 10% of sales from this product line go to Community Commerce, to support women-led businesses, communities that supply ingredients for Shea Moisture Products, or to the Sofi Tucker Foundation. For more on Shea Moisture's community work, click here.

Let's get on with the review.

Ingredient List:
water, cetyl alcohol, coconut oil, behentrimonium methosulfate, shea butter, vegetable glycerin, stearyl alcohol, behentrimonium chloride, panthenol, mafura seed oil, honey, hydrolyzed rice protein, fragrance (essential oil blend), baobab seed oil, cetrimonium chloride, avocado oil, fig extract, mango seed butter, tocopherol, aloe leaf extract, caprylhydroxamic acid, caprylyl glycol, butylene glycol

Ingredient Breakdown:
  • water
  • cetyl alcohol: "fatty alcohol" -- NOT to be confused with drying alcohols such as ethyl. Acts as a lubricant, thickener, and emollient. Also give conditioner its velvety feel without making hair greasy. Is additionally used to keep product ingredients from separating.
  • coconut oil: oil high in saturated fats (which is why when cold, it is solid). One of the few known oils to penetrate the hair shaft and truly moisturize hair. Coconut oil helps to moisturize, seal, and prevent breakage.
  • behentrimonium methosulfate: gentle surfactant made from non-GMO rapeseed (canola oil), and is one of the mildest detangling ingredients out there. It doesn't cause buildup or irritation to the scalp.
  • shea butter: emollient fat from the nut of the East or West African shea nut tree used to moisturize and soften hair.
  • glycerin: vegetable-based humectant that draws moisture from the air into the hair to keep it hydrated.
Availability: As mentioned previously, the Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil line is only available at Target stores. Normally I'd say check online for availability near you, but that honestly proved to be quite useless for me. Online, one day target.com showed that the collection was NOT available at my local store -- but I saw it on the shelves. Hate to send you on a wild goose chase, but that's that product junkie life.

Affordability: $11.99 for 12oz. Standard Shea Moisture prices, and unfortunately there was no sale and I had no coupon (sigh).

Product Claim/Description: This intensely conditioning deep treatment infuses hair with a powerful dose of moisture and nutrients. Certified organic shea butter, honey, mafura and baobab oils are blended with antioxidant rich African Rock Fig to restore and lock in moisture. Smoothes and fortifies follicles for stronger, healthier frizz free hair.

Manuka Honey - Anti-inflammatory properties soothe the scalp. Helps create a moisturizing barrier.
Mafura Oil - High levels of beneficial oleic acid help replenish oils stripped from hair.
African Rock Fig - Contains antioxidant Vitamin C, which helps keep hair looking vibrant.

Performance/Delivery: Oh. My. God. Becky. Look at her hair! (don't judge me)

Ever since my lukewarm tango with the Superfruit Complex line, I've gone into Shea Moisture purchases with lowered expectations. I didn't expect the JBCO line to be as good as it was. I didn't expect it to smell like Play-Doh either, but that's another story. I wasn't expecting some miracle in a bottle from the Manuka & Mafura line either.

But I got one.

The second I opened the jar and smelled the masque, I hoped it would be everything I needed and more. The fragrance is sooooooooooooo amazing. It smells like hopes, dreams, unicorns, blooming flowers, world peace, sunshine, and reparations. I'm not kidding. The mixologist that developed this fragrance deserves a pay raise and 2 weeks paid vacation! Unless this is make-up for that JBCO madness. If you've ever smelled C.Booth lotion, the hair masque is reminiscent of the C. Booth Coconut Fig Lotion, but sweeter and a little more intense. I could just sniff this stuff all day.

I'm sniffing it right now.

Fragrance is cool and all, but what matters is how it works, right?

shea-moisture-manuka-honey-marufa-oil-hair-masqueI was coming off of a pretty irksome wash day, it seemed like none of my cleansers were cooperating with my hair. But I made it through, and figured a good deep conditioning could solve my problems. So after washing and squeezing the excess water from my hair, I applied the Manuka & Mafura masque to my hair in four sections. I applied it generously from end to root, and found that even though my hair wasn't dripping wet, the masque had more than enough slip to help me finger detangle through my hair. The consistency is creamy, but not stiff and thick. It doesn't even feel overly rich. One thing I will say about Shea Moisture is they're moving away from that stiff, super thick texture which makes for easier application and use in my opinion.

The directions say to leave it in for 5 minutes, or for a deep treatment, sit under a steamer or hooded dryer for up to 30 minutes. I felt like my hair needed to get its life, so I went under the dryer for about 25 minutes with a Sports Authority bag (I'm all out of Target ones...that bag ordinance is real) and plastic cap. The real MAGIC happened when I rinsed it out under lukewarm water -- my hair was RIDICULOUSLY, AMAZINGLY, UNBELIEVABLY, WHAT-THE-HECK-IS-GOING-ON SOFT. Like, as in I might need to re-evaluate my life soft. Super hydrated, smooth, silky, buttery -- everything you'd expect from a hydrating deep treatment and more. This masque seriously made me reconsider everything I've ever thought about deep conditioners.

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Product-free, freshly deep conditioned hair. I wish you could touch it!

And I find that to be incredibly rude.

My deep conditioning roster is already full. I thought I had that part of my stash on lock, and could move on in life without any new additions. But now, I am faced with the insufferable task of sitting down with my DC stash and figuring out who's got to go. Because this Manuka & Mafura is definitely going in.

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Shine? Check!
Drawbacks: Right now, the only potential drawback I see is the similarity in product bases for Shea Moisture's products. Line for line, the first 6 ingredients are the exact same as the JBCO hair masque. I could go into some super long diatribe about product companies and formula bases, but I'll spare you all and instead share that I would have liked to see the manuka honey, mafura oil, and fig extract higher up on the list.

Bonuses: I used to think I could assume all Shea Moisture products were curly girl friendly, but the JBCO line proved me wrong. I'm no diehard CG loyalist, I just like to know what's in my products. But all you curly gal/max hydration method followers out there will be delighted to know that the masque is silicone free. Oh, and for what it's worth -- the packaging is cute and expensive-looking.

Bottom Line: If you're looking for a deep conditioner to intensely hydrate your hair, this is the one. By far, one of the best moisturizing deep conditioners I've ever tried. Instant Must Have for 2014. Perfect for transitioners and naturals alike seeking extra moisture or looking to remedy problem areas of the hair (dryness, roughness, etc). This masque made my hair happy, and I'm sure it'll do the same for you.

Best Practices: I recommend using the Manuka & Mafura hair masque with heat for at least 15 minutes on clean hair with the excess water absorbed into an old t-shirt or towel.

Overall Product Rating: 5 stars, easily. Can I give more than 5 stars? Why am I asking about my own rating system? Fragrance, flawless. Performance, amazing. Results? Undeniable.

Have you tried any of the products from the Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil line?

My #ForeverYoung Regimen for Clear, Glowing & Healthy Skin

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I've been MAJORLY slacking on this whole August is skincare month thing.

I mean sure, I'm busy doing bloggy things and writing for BGLH and Naturally Curly -- but the real reason why it took me so long to even delve into skincare is because I realized I had no real regimen set in place. Believe it or not, the same girl who dedicates an extravagant amount of time to hair health slacks on skincare. :::hangs head in shame:::

So at the top of this month, I decided to change that. And about three weeks in, I am noticing some AMAZING changes I didn't think were possible, nor that I thought I'd even need. I've never been big on makeup (moment of honesty: I've had the same bottle of drugstore foundation for like 6 years), but I did dabble in bronzer to create an awesome sunkissed glow, and mascara. Since adopting a focused skincare regimen, I've ditched the bronzer because I don't need it. My skin just....glows. My Friday date night primping consists of.....mascara. If I feel like being bothered.

Clearer skin has afforded me the ability to become even more comfortable in my own skin and take this "natural" thing to a whole 'nother level. I haven't put on a pair of earrings in nearly two weeks, and I don't feel naked like I used to without my studs in my ears.

My skin is not without its problem areas, though. Don't think this is some over-the-moon makeover that has turned my life around (although, it kinda is lol). I still have psoriasis -- it just isn't as inflamed. I still get breakouts, but they're small in comparison to the all out hell that used to break loose on my cheeks and forehead. And if I'm honest, they're more a reflection of dietary slip-ups (sugar, fried food, alcohol) than anything. The only real area that still gets on my nerves is my chin, and right along my jawline. I have little breakouts that flared up when I accidentally took too much biotin (lol). But I've got something to fix that, that's worked before (more on that later).

Anywho, let's get started on what I'm using, why I'm using it, and what I love about it:

Morning Routine

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Cleanser: Organic Verdana Relaxing Creme Cleanser for Sensitive Skin
One thing  I've come to appreciate the most about Organic Verdana is that they don't play games with their products. There are no fillers, no crap, and the most difficult things to pronounce are the Latin names for natural oils and extracts (like Schisandra or Hippophae Rahmnoides). The Relaxing Creme Cleanser is based in organic aloe vera juice and organic sunflower seed oil. It also contains a number of organic extracts like sea buckthorn, schisandra, and rhatany that provide anti-aging, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and UV protection. I consider myself to have sensitive skin due to my psoriasis, so artificial colors, fragrances, and drying chemicals are a huge no-no. Thankfully, Organic Verdana doesn't play those games, which makes this the perfect morning face wash. It is effective without being harsh, and doesn't leave my face feeling dried out or irritated. $24 at www.organicverdana.com. Note: I was sent this product by Organic Verdana, but I was under NO obligation to include it in this blog post whatsoever. This is a classic case of "I'm still gonna buy it when the freebie runs out".

Toner/Astringent: None

Moisturizer: Organic Verdana Anti-Wrinkle Face Lotion followed by Organic Verdana Moroccan Beauty Oil
I live in LA where the air is polluted and dry. Therefore, two layers of protection are a must. To keep my skin hydrated, I apply a thin layer of Organic Verdana Anti-Wrinkle Face Lotion, followed by the Moroccan Beauty Oil. The Face Lotion is also based in organic aloe vera and sunflower seed oil, as well as myrtle extract. Myrtle extract is especially awesome because it acts as an astringent/blemish fighter, while soothing irritated/inflamed skin, and fighting wrinkles. Talk about a miracle ingredient! I lock in that hydration with the Beauty Oil, which in this review you'll see is organic argan oil, organic sweet orange essential oil, and organic niaouli essential oil. It locks in the hydration from the lotion, moisturizes, and fights free-radicals and aging while still allowing skin to breathe. Face Lotion, $26 and Beauty Oil $24. Both available at www.organicverdana.com
Note: I was sent these product by Organic Verdana, but I was under NO obligation to include it in this blog post whatsoever. This is a classic case of "I'm still gonna buy it when the freebie runs out".

Post-Gym Routine

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Yes to Blueberries Age Refresh Cleansing Facial Wipes
After sweating it out in the gym, I don't get the chance to full-on wash my face until I get home hours later at night. So to suck up the toxins and dirt I sweat out while simultaneously hydrating and moisturizing my skin, I reach for my Yes to Blueberries wipes. I actually reviewed them here. I purchase mine regularly from Target for around $6, and make it a point to find the bonus packs because there's no way I'm paying $6 for 25 towlettes. #imjustsayin

Night Routine

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Cleanser: Neutrogena Naturals Acne Cream Cleanser
This is my cleanser of choice for two reasons -- one, to really get up the grime of the day and from the gym that my sweat session might've left behind. Two, because it contains salicylic acid which is great for my psoriasis (salicylic acid fights breakouts and exfoliates psoriasis plaques). Of all the facial washes that contain salicylic acid, this is the most natural -- for a drugstore brand at least. It's rich and creamy, and I love the cool tingly feeling on my face afterward. $9 at Walgreens, Ulta, and other major retailers.

Toner/Astringent: Humphrey's Witch Hazel Astringent (or Thayer's)
Witch hazel is not only a natural astringent, it is a wrinkle, acne, puffy eyes, and enlarged pore fighting miracle. After washing in the evening, I soak a cotton ball in witch hazel and go over my skin in circular motions, and then allow the witch hazel to dry on my face. My skin isn't particularly sensitive to the witch hazel with or without alcohol (I've tried them both), so I'll bounce back and forth between Humphrey's (with alcohol) and Thayer's (without alcohol) based upon what's on the shelf at Sprouts, GNC, or Vitamin Shoppe.

Moisturizer: Organic Verdana Anti-Wrinkle Face Creme
After cleansing and toning, I apply my overnight moisturizer -- the Anti-Wrinkle Face Creme. In addition to the one-two organic aloe vera juice and organic sunflower seed oil punch that is a reoccuring base throughout the Organic Verdana facial care line, it contains alfalfa extract (hello, anti-aging) and aspen bark extract, which is a natural source of salicylic acid (acne fighting and exfoliation). I make sure to apply this evenly on my face and neck, and carefully under and around my eyes. $24 at www.organicverdana.com
Note: I was sent this product by Organic Verdana, but I was under NO obligation to include it in this blog post whatsoever. This is a classic case of "I'm still gonna buy it when the freebie runs out".

Nightly

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Apple Cider Vinegar
Remember when I said I had somethin' for those trifilin' bumps along my jawline? Apple Cider Vinegar (Braggs with Mother, of course) is it! No, I'm not putting it on my face, spraying it on my face, or rinsing my face with it. I drink it. Somehow, some way I started drinking ACV more than I put it on my hair. The end result is that my stubborn jawline breakouts are slowly fading away and giving me clearer skin. I mix (eyeballing at this point, because I've been doing it for months) about 2 tablespoons of ACV in 4oz of water and chug. Call me a weirdo, but it tastes like pickle juice. Seriously. I mean...pickle juice is made with vinegar..... If you choose to start taking your ACV orally, I recommend starting out with a more diluted solution (2 tablespoons in 8-10oz of water) until you can tolerate a stronger mix. If you've taken a hair, nail, and skin vitamin (or even a mega-dose of biotin) and it broke you out, I highly recommend giving ACV a try. Catch it for around $5 at your local health food store.

Once-Weekly (Usually Fridays)

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Store Bought or DIY Masque
Since every Friday is date night, I want to make sure I look my best. So after following either my morning or night cleansing routine, I incorporate either a store-bought or DIY masque. As far as DIY is concerned, I'll opt for my turmeric masque (tutorial here), or a blend of tumeric and bentonite clay with water or apple cider vinegar. As far as store bought masques go, I used to ride hard for Queen Helene, but I've found that for the same price (and in many cases a little cheaper), Freeman makes some amazing masques with kick-butt ingredients. My two favorites are the Charcoal & Black Sugar Facial Polishing Mask, and the Pineapple Enzyme Mask. The Charcoal & Black Sugar Mask exfoliates and draws out toxins (hello, LA pollution) while the Pineapple Enzyme Mask exfoliates, brightens skin, evens complexion, and fights acne. They're around $4 each, although I grabbed them both during Ulta's buy one, get one half-off sale. By the way, if you like that peely-face sensation of a peel-off masque (I find it to be awkwardly gratifying lol), Freeman's Pomegranate Revealing Peel-Off Mask is the way to go. It feels soooooooo good coming off.

 
Twice a Week (Usually Wednesdays and Sundays)

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Steam with Q-Redew
Twice a week, before cleansing I like to really open up my pores and loosen sebum and buildup on my skin before washing. Back in the day I used to hold my face over a sink full of hot water, or place a microwave warmed towel over my face for as long as I could stand it. Both are two totally viable option if you don't have a Q-Redew, but I just find that the handheld steamer is perfect for this (with the obvious precaution of avoiding your eyes...that's just bad for business). I typically steam my face for about 45 seconds to 1 minute, moving the Q-Redew around my face in a circular motion and down my nose. I generally steam Wednesday nights, and Sunday mornings. More on the Q-Redew here in my review. Visit www.qredew.com for info on purchasing!

This may seem like a bit much to some folks, but I've never been one for simple. I mean, have you SEEN my product stash? I'm just sayin. But for me, it works -- exceptionally well. See for yourself: #nomakeup #nofilter #noflash #justnaturalsunlight #theseproductswork #illstopwiththehashtagsnow

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I'm just tryna be like Pharrell, minus the hat.

What beauty goodies do you use for your #foreveryoung facial routine?

Detoxing, Understanding Limitations and More: Learn to Love Your Hair in 5 Steps


The journey to natural hair for some of us is emotional, wrought with frustration, overrun with failed products, and sometimes, downright traumatic.

Social media doesn't make it any easier, either -- with Instagram accounts dedicated to incredibly gorgeous manes, and YouTube tutorials that promise results you'll never be able to replicate. But all hope is not lost -- don't throw in the towel on your natural hair journey just yet. In five easy steps (just stay with me for a moment), you'll be able to turn your attitude and perspective toward your natural hair right around!

Step 1: Social Media Detox
Don't get me wrong -- I love social media just as much as the next person. Actually, probably a little too much (follow me on Instagram to help fuel my habit). But every once in a while, I'll totally log out. Not only does it give me a certain amount of freedom, but it allows me to disconnect from the images of other women's beauty that I am constantly being fed. Don't get me wrong -- I LOVE celebrating the beauty of other women, regardless of hair texture, length, skin color, or size. But there is something incredibly self-affirming about stepping away from looking at others to focus on myself. No, I don't have the length of Hey Fran Hey, the gorgeous uniformity of  curls that Melshary has, or the jaw-dropping volume of Mahogany Curls. But guess what? That's okay. And the more time I spend focusing on understanding and appreciating my hair as-is (instead of fawning over theirs), the more accepting I become of my natural hair. This is not to say that I don't follow, subscribe, and support all these ladies -- because they're all dope for various reasons. But my appreciation of their hair can't outweigh my appreciation of my own.

Ready for steps 2, 3, 4, and 5? Head on over to NaturallyCurly.com to continue the journey to loving your hair!

Flavor God GIVEAWAY -- Just Because!!! [CLOSED]

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Earlier this week, I was juiced to share with you all on Instagram that I had finally received my Flavor God seasonings. I say finally because there were a few screw-ups with shipping (thank you, USPS). But Flavor God creator Chris Wallace was beyond amazing and accomodating, and got everything straightened out for me in record time. I got my shipment of Everything Seasoning and Garlic Lover's Seasoning on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, something awesome happened -- I got a second order in the mail.

I contacted Chris, attempting to do the honest thing and send the duplicate order back. He insisted that I keep them, and share them among friends and family. So I am -- my Mane Objective friends and family! That's right -- one of ya'll will win the Everything and Garlic Lovers seasoning duo from me!

The Rules:

Simply comment on THIS post with why you'd like to try Flavor God seasonings. Contest begins NOW and ends Sunday, August 17th at 11:59pm PST! A winner will be chosen randomly on Monday! You can enter up to TWICE per day to improve your chances of winning!!!!

Good luck everyone!!!!

Don't Want Crunchy Curls? Try These 10 Curl Definers

Wash & go with As I Am Curling Jelly


Repeat after me: crispy curls are not cute curls.

Although I'm typically unbothered by the gel cast left behind by some of the stronger gels we naturalistas love (like EcoStyler), there is something to be said for achieving touchably soft curls on day 1.

With these 10 curl definers, you'll be able to get great definition without stiffness and that "ramen noodle look" everyone despises. Be warned: you'll develop serious hand-in-hair syndrome!

1. Obia Curl Enhancing Custard

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I have yet to meet a naturalista who doesn't love Obia's Curl Enhancing Custard. It's thick and multi-purpose, yet dries without leaving hair crisp and crunchy. Enriched with olive, grapeseed, and argan oils, this custard nourishes, moisturizes, and protects while enhancing curls, kinks, and coils. $15, www.obianaturalhair.com

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Fab wash & go...courtesy of Obia Curl Enhancing Custard

2. As I Am Curling Jelly

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For a soft hold that won't weigh down finer textures of hair (regardless of type), As I Am Curling Jelly is definitely the way to go. Moisture, definition, and touchably soft hair are definitely on the menu, thanks to aloe vera, beet root, and glycerin. This jelly definitely works best for those who are in low-humidity areas. $22 (16oz jar), Sally Beauty Supply

3. Wonder Curl Curl Control Styling Lotion

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In case you haven't read my full-on rave (which you can find here), Wonder Curl's Curl Control Styling Lotion is amazingness in a bottle. It delivers consistent, touchable, frizz-free, crunchless results across the board for all hair types thanks to aloe vera and witch hazel. $14, www.wondercurl.com

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Check out the other 7 on NaturallyCurly!

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