Feb 27, 2015

EASY Updo for Natural Hair (Zero Skill Required) -- Great for Transitioners, Too!

EASY Updo for Natural Hair (Zero Skill Required) -- Great for Transitioners, Too!

I asked a while back on Instagram if you guys were interested in my easy updo tutorial, and the answer was YES! So here it is, in all it's splendor (lol).

To replicate my easy updo all you need is a moisturizer of choice, oil to seal, an edge tamer (optional), a soft bristle brush, scrunchies, and a few bobby pins. Oh, and some sub-par twisting and rolling skills.

Tools/Products Used:

1. TGIN Butter Cream Daily Moisturizer
2. Eden BodyWorks Coconut Shea Control Edge Glaze
3. Clips (to section hair)
4. Soft bristle brush (smooth edges)
5. Scrunchies
6. Bobby Pins

That's it! You can complete this look in 5 minutes or less! This style is perfect for on-the-go protective styling, and can be done on natural or transitioning hair!

Thank you for watching! Don't forget to like this video, comment, subscribe, and share with a curlfriend!

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Disclaimer: I was not paid to promote any of the products in this video. All products featured and mentioned were purchased with my own money.

Feb 26, 2015

Curl Care 101: Flat Ironing Natural Hair without Heat Damage

Curl Care 101: Flat Ironing Natural Hair without Heat Damage

This is it -- the final article! Curl Care 101 has been really fun for me on my end -- I love an opportunity to cut through the crap and get straight to the point. Hopefully, you all feel the same way and have gained something valuable in the process.

Today's topic is one I have touched on several times throughout the history of my blog -- heat styling. Some curly and natural hair "gurus" will tell you that you should never, ever straighten your hair. To them I declare the swerve. Although I transitioned from severe heat damage, I do still like to straighten my hair on occasion. If anything, having terrible (and I mean terrible) heat damage has taught me what not to do when it comes to protecting my hair from the wrath of the blow dryer and flat iron.  

Just for fun, here's my heat damage for ya:

Curl Care 101: Flat Ironing Natural Hair without Heat Damage
July 2013 - 1 year and 4 months in!
Now that you're done laughing at me, let's talk basics of heat straightening. At minimum (and I mean minimum) you'll need 3 things: a shampoo, a deep conditioner, and a heat protectant. See? Bare minimum. Here's why:

The Basics (Bare Minimum)

You do yourself no favors by co-washing prior to flat ironing or blow-drying your hair. Although conditioners and co-washes are great cleansers for natural/textured based styling, they leave buildup and oils behind on the hair that can really do a number on a flat ironing job. Have you ever flat-ironed a dirty piece of hair before, or a section of hair that had entirely too much product on it? I bet your iron sizzled, smoked, and you had gunk on the perimeter of the plates. I mean, I've never tried it, but I had a friend who did and umm....she said that's what happened. Yeah. But on a more serious note, shampoo is a necessary step to cleanse the hair and scalp, remove buildup, and prepare the hair to receive the deep conditioner, which is your first line of defense against heat damage. I highly recommend TGIN Moisture Rich Sulfate-Free Shampoo and Lawrence Ray Concepts Complete Cleanse Shampoo for this.

Deep Conditioner
As I mentioned previously, a good deep conditioning is your first line of defense against heat damage. Deep conditioning is an absolutely pivotal step that cannot be missed. Just in case you missed it, do not skip deep conditioning. Not only will deep conditioning soften and smooth hair, it will also impart and help the hair retain moisture that will be critical later on. Blow drying (if you choose) and flat ironing are drying to the hair, so your best bet is to get ahead of the curve with a great deep conditioner. I'll talk a little bit later about what ingredients to look for in a good deep conditioner prior to using heat. Two heavy-hitters I will always recommend are Hydratherma Naturals Amino Plus Protein Deep Conditioning Treatment and Eva NYC Therapy Session Hair Mask.

Heat Protection
Whether it be a spray, serum, balm, lotion, or cream, having some form of heat protection prior to hot plates coming into direct contact with your hair is an absolute must. Double that if you blow dry beforehand. As you'll learn a little bit later, heat protectants are specifically formulated to perform a few critical functions that reduce the likleihood of damage. It's important to note that no product can guarantee heat damage prevention, but they can deliver protection to reduce the potential for damage. Here's a list of solid heat protectants that won't break the bank.

My Regimen

Curl Care 101: Flat Ironing Natural Hair without Heat Damage

Like I mentioned previously, these 3 types of products represent the absolute bare minimum. But if you know me (and I think most of you do pretty well), I don't do anything concerning products at the bare minimum. In fact, I am completely guilty of doing the absolute most when it comes to heat protection. I like to be quadruple sure that I'm doing the absolute best I can to prevent heat damage. So the night before I plan to straighten, I pre-poo with a hydrating regular or deep conditioner (something like TGIN Honey Miracle Hair Mask or ApHogee Curlific Texture Treatment) to soften my hair, prep for detangling, and begin the process of installing as much moisture as possible. The morning of, I shampoo twice (once with TGIN Moisture Rich Sulfate-Free Shampoo, and the second time with LRC Complete Cleanse Shampoo), and then deep condition with Eva NYC Therapy Session Hair Mask or Hydratherma Naturals Amino Plus Protein Deep Conditioning Treatment.

After deep conditioning, I do one of two things -- grab a heat protecting spray and foam (likely from ApHogee -- like their Keratin Green Tea Restructurizer Spray and Style & Wrap Foam Mousse) and roller set my hair to begin stretching it, or I apply a clear cellophane (like Ion Color Brilliance in clear). With either option, I'm under the dryer for 30-45 minutes. Why do I cellophane? We'll get to that in a second. After removing the rollers or rinsing the cellophane, I apply a blowout cream or spray (like LRC Shake & Go) and finish off with a silicone-based serum (like Garnier Frizz Defy Marvelous Oil). Finally, I begin blow drying. 

After my hair is all blown out, I flat iron in small sections using the chase method to ensure smoothness. To get that silky straight look, I wrap my hair up as soon as it's done. This little step I borrowed from back in the day when I was in high school, and used to go to the shop to get my hair done. The second I got home from getting my hair done, I would wrap it up and sit under the hooded dryer, to help "seal in" the job. So many years later, I find myself doing the same thing. After flat ironing, I distribute a little bit more of the above mentioned serum throughout, and wrap my hair with a satin scarf. Once I am sure all my hair is completely covered, I sit under my hooded dryer for 20 - 30 minutes.

You can see my regimen at work in the video below:

I'll be doing a 2015 routine soon enough (I'm OVER those rollers), and I'll be sure to feature the results with the clear cellophane. Of course, it goes without saying (but I'ma say it anyway) that if you feel at all uncomfortable handling your own hair with heat, see a professional. LA area ladies, I definitely recommend Mr. LRC himself, Lawrence Ray Parker. I had my hair done by him in December and he did an amazing job with no heat damage. 

Curl Care 101: Flat Ironing Natural Hair without Heat Damage

Now, let's get on with those things I told you I'd explain. 

The Science of Straightening

Somewhere between the bare minimum of 3 and my overzealous use of 7+ products, there is some sound science around deciding which hair products to use when preparing to transform your hair from textured to straight. The unfortunate truth (that comes in handy 2 or 3 times a year) is that cosmetic companies spend a lot more time and energy researching ingredients for protecting hair from heat for straightening purposes. The findings in this area of study are pretty solid and well documented. If you're looking for products with a demonstrated ability to protect the hair, be on the look out for these ingredients:
  • PVP/DMAPA acrylates copolymer (oxidation reduction - slows thermal decomposition)
  • Dimethicone//Dimethiconol//Amodimethicone//PEG-12 dimethicone (buffering/reduce heat conduction)
  • Hydrolyzed wheat protein (oxidation reduction)
  • Centrimonium chloride (penetrating conditioning agent, increases tensile strength with heat)
  • Quaternium-70 (oxidation reduction)
  • Glycerin (slows water evaporation)
  • Propylene glycol (slows water evaporation)
  • Trimethylsilylamodimethicone (penetrates and binds to damaged hair)
  • Cyclopentasiloxane (buffering/reduce heat conduction)
I know, pretty much everything on this list except hydrolyzed wheat protein and glycerin look like things to avoid. But as you can see by what properties they possess, they're very necessary. Essentially, heat protectants perform 4 major functions: moisturizing, oxidation reducing, strengthening, and buffering. I can't say that one quality is more important than another, but I can most certainly help you figure out how to work all 4 properties into your straightening routine. 

Pre-Poo (optional): Use a regular or deep conditioner (water-based) with humectants and sillicones for hydration and heat protection purposes. You can use the same conditioner to pre-poo and deep condition if you like. TGIN Honey Miracle Hair Mask or ApHogee Curlific Texture Treatment are excellent options here.

Shampoo: Look for a shampoo that contains hydrolyzed proteins to strengthen while cleansing. It's also important that whatever shampoo you use cleanses your hair without making it feel stripped and fried. LRC Complete Cleanse Shampoo shines in this arena.

Deep Conditioner: Water-based deep conditioners with cetrimonium chloride, hydrolyzed protein, humectants, and silicones that lay the foundation for heat protection. The hair needs to take up as much water as possible prior to contact with the blow dryer or flat iron. Most heat damage can be prevented by simply ensuring that the hair is hydrated enough. Cetrimonium chloride is one of my favorite ingredients (dorky, I know) because it penetrates the hair, and when it comes into contact with heat (via blow dryer or flat iron) it actually improves the tensile strength of hair. Essentially, it makes your hair stronger and better able to resist breakage. Hydrolyzed proteins and humectants are important in slowing the decomposition of the hair fiber by reducing oxidative stress and helping to maintain the hair's internal hydration. Lastly, silicones help protect the hair by surrounding it with a protective layer that delays the transfer of heat. My rock, my go-to, my HG for this is Eva NYC Therapy Session Hair Mask

Cellophane & Heat Protectants: For me, cellophanes offer an additional layer of heat protection and shine. Ion's Color Brilliance contains cetrimonium chloride, hydrolyzed proteins, humectants, and silicones. Essentially, it's another layer of conditioning to help protect my hair. You don't have to take my word for it, though! Using any number of types of heat protectant without the cellophane is fine too. Sprays like Tresemme Heat Tamer Spray contains glycerin, PEG-12 dimethicone, amodimethicone, PVP, centrimonium chloride, and propylene glycol. ApHogee Keratin & Green Tea Restructurizer contains trimethylsilylamodimethicone, PVP, glycerin, and centrimonium chloride. I use silicone serums on top of sprays like these for extra protection, smoothness, humidity blocking, and shine. You don't have to have the most expensive serum in the world. A $6 bottle of Garnier something or the other will do the trick just as well as a fancy schmancy "rare exotic blend" silicone based serum. 

What Temperature Setting?

I'm sure by now, you already know about flat ironing in small sections, and not making too many passes over the same section of hair. Additionally, check out what Jc of The Natural Haven Bloom has to say about the best temperature for your flat iron to be on. I don't like to make particular heat setting recommendations, because each head of hair is different. Some of our favorite naturalistas are able to withstand temperatures in the 400s, while some barely use anything above 300. My flat irons personally sit between 390 and 413 degrees Fahrenheit depending on my straightening goal.  By the way, if your flat iron doesn't have a numeric temperature gauge -- it's time to chuck it. You need something that's going to give you a fairly accurate temperature reading in order to prevent heat damage. Low, medium, and high are not helpful at this point in the game. My super go-to and uber fabulous Long Locks Pro Hair Care Glam Iron is the best iron I've ever set to my hair.

I know this was A LOT of information to take in, but I tried to cover everything I felt it was important to know. It's better to be over-informed than under. Please please please let me know in the comments if you have any questions. Also, leave your feedback about the Curl Care 101 series overall. Let me know how I did so I can better serve you with helpful information!

If you missed any Curl Care 101 articles, click here!

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Feb 25, 2015

Curl Care 101: How to Maximize Your Natural Hair Growth and Retain Length

Curl Care 101: How to Maximize Your Natural Hair Growth and Retain Length

I know what you're thinking -- today is Wednesday! It's not time for Curl Care 101 yet! Well, yes it is :) Since I skipped the week before last, I made sure to play catch-up by dropping this here part today, and the final article of the segment will be up tomorrow (Thursday)! Today we're talking all about maximizing natural hair growth and length retention. As always, I hope you find this helpful, informative, and practically applicable!

Before I get too deep off into the subject matter, let's make an important distinction:

GROWTH: The amount or length of hair that is produced directly out of the scalp within a given time frame. Barring certain medical conditions or complications, our hair is always growing. Always. No really, like, always.

LENGTH RETENTION: The amount of hair (typically referred to in inches) that remains on the head (or is retained -- sorry, I really hate using root words in definitions #oldschool) through the various cycles and time frames of growth.

I had to get that out of the way because one of the chief complaints I hear is that "my hair won't grow". If you have a pulse and are free of very specific medical conditions (and medications), the issue isn't your hair not growing. The issue is length retention, and the lack thereof. But let me dial it back a little bit. Let's talk a little about growth first.


Now that we've established the key differences between growth and length retention, let's delve a little deeper into the biological functions of growing hair. Whether you know it or not, every single strand of hair on our head exists in one of 3 stages at any given time. Those stages are:
Anagen: This is the active growth phase, which occurs between 3 and 8 years, depending upon genetics. 85 - 90% of the hair on your head is in the anagen phase, which means that with proper care, it is entirely possible to grow a head of long, healthy hair anywhere from 18 - 48 inches. (Based upon a growth rate of 1/2 inch per month. This does not account for trims and cuts). During the anagen phase of growth, the follicle grows deeper into the skin for nourishment.
Catagen: During the catagen phase, the strand of hair has reached its terminal length. It stops growing, the follicle shrinks and the hair is broken off from its blood supply. During this 2-4 week stage, a new hair begins forming in its place in the dermis while the terminally grown hair sits in the follicle preparing for exit.
Telogen: This is what is known as the resting and final phase of hair. Anywhere from 8 - 10% of our hair is in this phase, which is where the estimated 34 - 180 shed hairs per day comes into play. Hair does not just fall out at the telogen phase, despite what it may seem like. Once the newly developed hair has grown enough, it pushes the old hair out and the anagen phase starts again. This push out produces the shed hairs that you see well, everywhere. Without proper removal (i.e. detangling), shed hairs become caught among the living (so to speak) and cause tangly, knotted, nightmares.

Curl Care 101: How to Maximize Your Natural Hair Growth and Retain Length

I'm sure you've heard the statistic before that hair grows approximately on average 1/2 an inch per month. However, given the diversity in our textures, backgrounds, diets, exercise, and external stimuli (like scalp massages), those numbers can vary greatly. Some ladies on extreme ends of the spectrum see anywhere between 1/8 of an inch to a full inch (or inch and a half) of hair growth in a calendar month. Many of us will fall somewhere in between. My hair personally grows 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch per month. You most certainly can positively impact and maximize your growth rate with any of the above mentioned mechanisms, scalp massages with Jamaican Black Castor Oil, peppermint or rosemary essential oil included. Click here to learn about how exercise, healthy food choices, reducing stress, and sleeping better can all improve your hair growth.

Faster Growth? A Note on Vitamins
Many ladies wish to accelerate their hair growth rate -- which is how JBCO challenges, and the tomfoolery known as the inversion method gained popularity. It's also why vitamins from brands like The Mane Choice and Hairfinity have taken center stage in a major way. While I do not take any specific hair growth vitamins currently (I do have a pack of Viviscal that Vitamin Shoppe sent me -- I might pop those open in March), I did take The Mane Choice Vitamins for a few months and I'd be lying if I said they didn't improve my hair growth rate. On the whole, I don't have a problem with hair growth vitamins as long as you understand the ingredients and what you're getting in to. What I do have a problem with is this "growth cult" business that has overtaken the natural hair community (I played the game for a while too, for some free vitamins --  I ain't gon' lie), that pressures women into extremes chasing behind some inches of hair. 

Curl Care 101: How to Maximize Your Natural Hair Growth and Retain Length
The Mane Choice Manetabolism label
While there's no magic bullet pill that will have you sprouting 4 inches of hair in a month (please don't fall for those screenshotted --or is it screenshat? What's the past-tense of screenshot? Lol-- to hell and extra blurry recycled ItWorks! Hair Skin & Nails pictures on Instagram). But there are certain vitamins and supplements that may give you that extra oomph you've been missing to optimize growth and follicle stimulation. Hair is primarily composed of keratin, which on a molecular level exists as a long chain of amino acids. Those amino acid chains are made up of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen and sulfur. Without delving too far into polypeptide chains (salt, hydrogen, disulfide... Christina, WHAT?!), let it just suffice to say that there are certain vitamins and supplements that are on the molecular level, beneficial to stimulating hair growth. Biotin is beneficial in not only follicular stimulation, but in strengthening the cortex of the hair (the part that is essentially keratin). MSM (Methyl Sulfonyl Methane) is an organic sulfur compound (scroll up... sulfur is a building block for hair!) that is generally used for reducing inflammation in the body's tissues, particularly joints. MSM is really cool because in addition to easing joint inflammation, it has been proven to increase hair's growth (anagen) phase. There are plenty of other beneficial vitamins and supplements, just make sure you do your research and consult your doctor before beginning any vitamin regimen. Many herbs, supplements, and vitamin combinations can have potentially dangerous interactions with prescription medications. Don't say I didn't warn you. 

My personal philosophy over the past several months has evolved to that of the "collateral benefit" -- taking vitamins and supplements that benefit both my hair and body. If I've got to take these smelly things (let's keep it real here 99.8% of all vitamins have an odor from the pits of hell), they might as well do more than help my hair grow. If you're interested in details about my specific vitamin regimen, let me know in the comments and I'll do a separate post -- this one is getting long already and I haven't even touched on length retention. But to sum this thing on up, I do believe vitamins are helpful to supplement (ha, see what I did there?) a holistically healthy hair regimen. They are one piece of the puzzle, not the main focus. A healthy diet, exercise, drinking water, stress reduction, and a solid haircare regimen will transform your hair more than a pill in a bottle ever can. It doesn't sound sexy, but the truth rarely ever is.

I think this goes without saying but, before somebody tries to sue or blame me: I am not a nutritionist, doctor, nurse, or other licensed healthcare professional. Do not place anything you see in this article or on maneobjective.com in higher regard than the advice of your doctor. 

Length Retention

Now that you understand the mechanics of what's coming out of your scalp, let's rap a little bit about how to keep it there. As I mentioned earlier in this piece, the majority of perceived growth issues are actually length retention issues as a result of breakage. Luckily, solving issues of length retention (in my opinion) come down to 3 key things: developing a solid haircare regimen, learning how to handle your hair, and maintaining a regular trim schedule. Why those 3 things? Let's dig a little deeper.

Developing a Healthy Hair Care Regimen
We went into great detail during this segment of Curl Care 101, but I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to have a regimen that works for your hair in place. This means figuring out pre-pooing and detangling, cleansing, deep conditioning, moisturizing regularly, and more. Natural hair needs hydration and moisture, and your regimen should be reinforcing that at every stage. Once you've got the foundation of a great hair care regimen going, your hair will respond positively by breaking and splitting less -- which leads to greater length retention.

Handle With Care
Although our hair is strong in general, textured hair is structurally weaker. Each bend (curl, zig-zag, wave, or otherwise) in your strand of hair represents a weak point that is prone to snapping and breaking. Knowing this, it is of the utmost importance that textured hair be treated gently and with great care. Yanking, pulling, tugging, and hurriedly rushing combs, brushes, and even fingers through textured tresses is a huge no-no. Whether it be to detangle or style, take your time and do it the right way. 

Curl Care 101: How to Maximize Your Natural Hair Growth and Retain Length

Regular Trims
Even with the most delicate and intentional care, our hair will still inevitably suffer some breakage, splitting, and weathering at the ends. That's just life. What I encourage you to do is take the time out to get a trim (professionally) or trim your ends at home regularly. Holding on to split, damaged, broken and uneven ends will do your hair and styling more harm than good.  Some ladies trim annually, others trim at the change of each new season. The later is recommended by most professional stylists, but I've come to understand that ladies who avoid heat use, are diligent about their regimens, and don't utilize hair color can go much longer between trims, and that's totally fine. Those of us who like to flat iron every 4-6 months or dabble in hair dye should definitely lean more toward the seasonal timeline. It seems counter-intuitive to trim to retain length, but when you consider the negative impact of damaged hair on your otherwise healthy hair, it makes perfect sense. The standard trim amount is 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch, which is like...nothing. If you have an average growth rate of 1/2 an inch per month and trim seasonally, you've gained 1 1/2 inches of new growth, trimmed away 1/4, and retained 1 1/4. In a year's time, that's only 1 inch of hair gone (provided you practice healthy hair regimen-ing and gentle hair handling). 

Of course with trimming, I advise listening to your hair and enlisting the help of a professional when necessary. You can trim more or less frequently, take off more or less hair, and trim on blown out, straight, or natural textured hair, depending upon your styling goals and hair needs.

Well ladies, that about wraps it up for the topics of growth and length retention. If you have any specific questions on the topic, drop 'em in the comments below! See you guys Thursday with the last installment of Curl Care 101 -- we'll be talking about safely using heat to switch up your style from time to time!

If you missed any Curl Care 101 articles, click here!

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Feb 24, 2015

Uh Oh, We Have a Problem: Zendaya Coleman Insulted Over Faux Locs // Black Twitter Outraged Over Shea Moisture's Use of White Children in Ads

Uh Oh, We Have a Problem: Zendaya Coleman Insulted Over Faux Locs // Black Twitter Outraged Over Shea Moisture's Use of White Children in Ads

I know, this isn't the norm for me. But I wrote them up for BGLH, might as well share here too!

Actress Zendaya Coleman stunned at the Oscars on Sunday, walking the red carpet in a white, floor-length gown and faux locs. Coleman unmistakably made her mark on the increasing trend of actresses rocking natural do's on the red carpet, and it was embraced with open arms....by everyone except E!'s Fashion Police co-host Giuilana Rancic. According to the Fashion Police Oscars special Monday night co-host, Coleman "smells like patchouli oils....and weed."

I promise, you can't make this stuff up.

While Rancic and her other co-hosts laughed it off, social media and online publications went into an uproar over the distastefully ignorant comment, and Giuilana got a well-deserved e-dragging.

Here are some of the top responses via Twitter:

"What I don't understand is that Kylie Jenner's locs were considered stylish and edgy but when Zendaya does it she smells like weed how rude"

"PAUSE. I need white ppl to not talk about Black hair that they obviously don't understand. @Zendaya is flawless. Chill. #fashionpolice"

"Your racist and xenophobic statement about Zendaya's hair wasn't funny. Try being interesting, for once. Make it a goal +Giuliana Rancic"

Coleman herself released a well articulated, thoughtful, and educational response to Rancic's rude commentary via social media:

Uh Oh, We Have a Problem: Zendaya Coleman Insulted Over Faux Locs // Black Twitter Outraged Over Shea Moisture's Use of White Children in Ads

In true foot-in-mouth form, Rancic has backpeddled and offered a cookie-cutter apology via Twitter (that suggests she hadn't even read Zendaya's response):

"Dear @Zendaya, I'm sorry I offended you and others. I was referring to a bohemian chic look. Had nothing to do with race and NEVER would!!!"

Yet another case of racism guised as good-natured rib tickling commentary.


Shea Moisture usually trends on social media because of their infamous BOGO Free sales that cycle through stores like CVS, Walgreens, Target, and Ulta. This time around, the brand has come under the scrutiny of "Black Twitter", the social media machine. On February 23rd, Shea Moisture posted this photo and caption to their Twitter account only:

Uh Oh, We Have a Problem: Zendaya Coleman Insulted Over Faux Locs // Black Twitter Outraged Over Shea Moisture's Use of White Children in Ads

"We have a problem..." @SheaMoisture via Twitter

Shea Moisture's social media management has since removed the photo, but the response outrage still remains:

"#SheaMoisture don't exclude the black child. White companies lost business behind these kinds of marketing campaigns."

"Yeah like I'm sorry who is there target market? I'm just wondering here."

"The sharp shift in marketing is jarring."

"They are dead wrong for this sh*t"

In response to the uproar, Shea Moisture released this statement via Twitter this morning:
We came across an image of a little girl with a puzzled expression that we imagine our #SheaFamily has when they run out of product, so we shared it with you. No ad. No agenda. As a certified minority-owned business, we are so proud of our heritage, our community and how far we've come — from a village market in Sierra Leone, to the streets of Harlem, to retailers throughout the U.S. With your support, we've been able to bring change, diversity and variety to retail. We hope you continue to join us in celebrating how the versatility of our products can help people everywhere.
Some followers were a little more forgiving, supporting the brand's decision to expand their marketing base:

"Post whatever you want. Increase your market share. Most of us get it and wouldn't ever dare question GROWTH."

Meanwhile others still forged ahead with an alternate perspective:

"That little girl has a market that caters to her every whim via tv and print. Market to the demographic you serve, thanks."

Shea Moisture's products have been a pillar in the natural hair community, with many citing their effectiveness on our uniquely textured hair. The brand's decision to select Janell Stewart (Kinky Curly Coily Me) and Jessica Lewis (Mahogany Curls) as their brand ambassadors comforted many naturalistas, as it re-affirmed Shea Moisture's values and primary market. Most importantly, it demonstrated that they were paying attention during the whole Carol's Daughter debacle. Their posts on Twitter represent a stark contrast to the aforementioned. It is worth mentioning that the ads are essentially focused wholly on Twitter, and are largely absent from Facebook and Instagram.

What do you think about Giuliana Rancic's comments on Zendaya Coleman's hair?

Have you seen the Shea Moisture ads on Twitter recently? How do you feel about the new dynamics of their Twitter marketing?

Buyer Beware: Your Salon Products Might Be Fake (How to Spot Gray Market Products)

Buyer Beware: Your Salon Products Might Be Fake (How to Spot Gray Market Products)

As seen on Black Girl with Long Hair. This article is a joint piece crafted by myself and Elle of Quest for the Perfect Curl.

When salon brands state their products aren’t guaranteed to be authentic unless purchased from an authorized retailer, I thought that they were simply placing emphasis on their exclusivity and turning us off to getting those products at a discount. To be honest, I didn’t care. I don’t buy products from random eBay sellers, so it never occurred to me to be worried if my products were authentic or not.
Hair Care Product Diversion
However, Redken describes diversion as the following: “Diversion is when products are sold in “unauthorized” places. For example, all genuine Redken products are sold exclusively in salons. But you might come across a few bottles in your local supermarket, drugstore, online or at a discounter. Salon professional products you find outside of a salon are considered to be “diverted.””
Buyer Beware: Your Salon Products Might Be Fake (How to Spot Gray Market Products)

Most major online retailers, chain pharmacies, big box, and grocery stores are not authorized to carry salon products, period. I know, it seems like they would be legit (especially stores like Target), but they're not. In fact, many of these companies practice the act of diversion to get around the whole "unauthorized" thing. They purchase salon products (think Paul Mitchell, Redken, Big Sexy Hair, Matrix, Kenra, Mizani) from a legitimate distributor, then store the products in a warehouse for years until the products expire and the bar codes cannot be tracked. 
 Once the products have "disappeared" from the books of the distributor, the products have new barcode labels slapped on them, are re-bottled (in packaging that looks only marginally different from the original), diluted, blended with alcohol, and any number of unregulated and potentially harmful practices. Once the products hit the store shelves, they are either greatly reduced to move quickly, or inflated in price to make it worth the retailer's while to go through the process of diversion. Sometimes, retailers will sell the diverted product directly as-is --easily told by the outdated packaging (like this TIGI Catwalk product I spotted at Target):

Buyer Beware: Your Salon Products Might Be Fake (How to Spot Gray Market Products)
BRUH....TIGI Catwalk Curls Rock Amplifier has been in a black pump tube since 2013... The proof is right here.
Diversion in the Online Marketplace
You may or may not be familiar with an online retailer named, “Stock N’ Go.” I was excited to see this site because they sell every salon and drugstore hair product (hello, Ecostyler, and even Jane Carter) you would ever want at a heavily discounted price, depending on the quantity you purchase. And when I say heavily discounted, I mean 50% off or more. For instance, the Tigi Catwalk Oatmeal and Honey is available for $8.78 (opposed to $15-$20). And even though I question whether this conditioner still exists, that price is pretty darn tempting. But at the same time, it’s probably not worth getting old or watered down products. (For the record, Lavish Curls isn’t even on the Curls website anymore.)

The Real Problem with Gray Market Products
Beside the fact that diversion is inherently shady and unregulated, it poses a real risk to consumers. Products are formulated with specific preservatives, and even the strongest ones can only hold up for so long (especially in extreme temperatures that occur in some warehouses). Of particular concern are products that contain formaldehyde releasing (or donor) preservatives, that are designed to release over time. The longer they sit, the more they release, and the more potentially toxic they become. And for those products that don't contain the stronger preservatives, the ingredients in them will expire and render the product essentially ineffective. Gray market products are a literal waste of your time and hard earned money.

Buyer Beware: Your Salon Products Might Be Fake (How to Spot Gray Market Products)
Go down 6 lines and read the text in bold.
What You Can Do
So, what does this mean for us as consumers? Essentially, #staywoke. Be informed. I'm not saying you have to locate the nearest Paul Mitchell or Aveda salon and purchase exclusively from them, but that's one way to guarantee the veracity of your products. If you have a favorite salon product that you purchased from the salon or an authorized retailer, commit what it looks, feels, and smells like to memory. That way, if you find yourself purchasing it somewhere else, you can check what you know against what's on the shelf. Stores that also have salons like Ulta are authorized retailers, and also have online disclosures about their supply chain transparency.

I didn't realize how prevalent gray market practices were among big box stores and smaller beauty supply stores, until I was browsing in Target and stumbled upon these products:

Buyer Beware: Your Salon Products Might Be Fake (How to Spot Gray Market Products)
Gray Market Paul Mitchell
Have you come across any gray market products or used them before? What was your experience? Share this article with a friend or family member so they won't make the same mistake!

Feb 23, 2015

Fight Frizz with the 3 B's (and Have More Good Hair Days)

Fight Frizz with the 3 B's (and Have More Good Hair Days)

What if I told you that there was a way to practically eliminate disrespectful frizz from your hair? You know, the type of frizz that won't allow your hair to be great? I'm not talking about that cute day 3/4 frizz where your hair is still defined but frizzy enough for some extra oomph and volume, I mean day 1 frizz that makes you want to wash your hair and start all over again.

That frizz there? I think it's met its match.

But first, a little backstory:

If you've been following the blog or my social media, then you know I love the wash and go year-round. I could go into a long and drawn out explanation about loving my hair and whatnot, but I'll just be honest: it's the easiest way to care for my hair while still being completely lazy. In other words, I invest the bulk of my wash day time in cleansing, detangling, and conditioning my hair. Slapping in some leave-ins and styling product runs me all of about 15 minutes -- 20 if I take my time. After that I'm done, unless I decide to diffuse hours later.

Fight Frizz with the 3 B's (and Have More Good Hair Days)
Before I discovered the 3 B's: my hair was cute, but the frizz was causing major tangle drama.
Even though my wash day regimen runs like clockwork now, my wash and go's are always a wild card. I can use the same cocktail of products the same exact way three different times and get three different results. Of course the weather plays a role, as do the products I use leading up to styling time. But over the past few months, I've really been trying to be more selective in my regimen and product choices, so that I am able to more concretely identify practices and ingredients that do and don't work for my hair. I've reached some pretty exciting revelations that I'm sure none of you care about (lol), and uncovered some findings that I think you all may find beneficial -- like the 3 B's of Fighting Frizz.

Frizz is basically your hair's way of reaching out to the atmosphere for a little hydration love, and that's exactly why your hair is so smooth and lacks the fuzz factor when it's wet in the shower. Like I mentioned previously, some frizz is cute, other frizz, not so much. The kind of frizz I was dealing with caused major tangles and led to my wash and go's not lasting as long. But with a few simple regimen and product tweaks, my curls are smooth like they never left.

So what exactly are the 3 B's? Allow me to share.

Bentonite Clay
Fight Frizz with the 3 B's (and Have More Good Hair Days)

Who saw this coming? I'm sure you did. Ever since my experimentation with the Max Hydration Method, I've been on bentonite clay something tough. While doing the MHM, I found that the mask with bentonite clay was the game changer for me. After I was done with the MHM, I kept the clay and parlayed that into my mud rinse recipe. I mud rinse weekly after cleansing my hair but before deep conditioning, and my hair is much better for it. Bentonite clay has given my hair great shine, improved curl clumping, better definition, and less frizz.

A lot of blogs and websites (mine included) share anecdotal evidence of the benefits of bentonite clay, but there is very little (and by little I mean a few loose strings that can be haphazardly tied together) science to substantiate or even help make sense of the wonders of bentonite clay. I've done some online digging, and here's my best quasi-educated guess as to why bentonite clay works for the hair:
Bentonite clay is composed of several minerals from the earth (silica, aluminum, iron, sodium, magnesium, etc.), the most prominent of which is silica, present in concentrations of over 60%. I'm no scientist here so don't quote me on this one, but some protein complexes in our hair contain glycosaminoglycans, which are composed of silica amongst other things, and are essential to healthy hair. With silica as a building block for healthy hair, bones, skin, and nails, when used on hair, bentonite clay provides the hair with a boost of health and youth-restoring minerals that counteracts signs of damage in the hair (dull strands, frizz, roughness, etc.). Again, don't take this as fact -- simply a partially educated guess on my behalf. Anybody wanna enlist the help of Sista Scientist or Jc to work with me on this one?
Science aside, you can definitely count on bentonite clay to fight frizz and give you some serious curl poppage. Get my bentonite clay mud rinse recipe here!

Fight Frizz with the 3 B's (and Have More Good Hair Days)
2 of the 3 B's in action
This ingredient is a lot less scary than it sounds, believe me. I first stumbled upon it while cruising the ingredient lists of a few products in my arsenal, and it stuck out to me because I honestly didn't know what it was. So what exactly is betaine, and how is it going to help your frizz get its life? Allow me to explain:
Betaine is actually an amino acid, which can also be referred to trimethylglicine or glycine betaine. It acts as a humectant and anti-irritant in hair and cosmetic products. Betaine molecules are prone to hydrogen bonding, which allows them to retain water and impart hydration and moisture. When paired with glycerin, betaine nullifies the "stickiness" often associated with glycerin, making product application smoother and less tacky. Betaine also possesses what is known as a "silkening effect", possessing the ability to "smooth over" areas of damage (or wrinkles) on the hair and skin, giving both a much smoother appearance.
Even better, betaine is derived from sugar beets, and is considered "natural". In fact, your hair already contains some betaine, and is believed to function within the hair in a protective capacity, in times of high heat, environmental stress, and humidity. In studies, hair treated with betaine exhibited increased strength, and less resistance to fracture (damage). Even better, betaine can be deposited into the hair via topical product application, which means products like shampoos and conditioners can impart the hair with betaine that will remain in and on the strands after the product is rinsed away.

So what does this mean for the frizz factor? Because betaine smooths the hair, You can count on halo frizz (that frizz near the roots of your hair that tends to give zero effs) reduction, as well as an intervention for mid-shaft and end frizz/poofiness. Will you use a betaine-containing product and wake up with all your hair problems solved tomorrow? Not quite. But will you see improvement over time? Yes. I assumed betaine would be a more popular ingredient in natural hair products, but so far I've only been able to uncover and test it out in Be Kekoa Be Clean Cleansing Conditioner, As I Am Smoothing Gel, and Infusium 23 Repair & Renew Leave-In Treatment.

Brrrrr! (Cold Water)
Okay, so I cheated on this last one for the sake of alliteration and a cool title, but cold (cool or even tepid is okay, nobody deserves ice cold water rinses) water works wonders on the frizz factor in hair. I wasn't really a believer in this fact for a while, out of sheer desire to not be inconvenienced. Who wants to end their nice warm shower with a blast of cool water on the hair? As it turns out, this easy and free to do trick helps your hair out in more ways than one:
Proteins in the hair respond to water temperatures. When the hair is rinsed with cool water, it helps to close and lay the cuticles down flat, which counteracts frizz and that "rough" strand feeling. Because the cuticles are flat and compacted, hair more readily retains hydration (stays moisturized) and is shinier. 
Okay, so maybe a few seconds of cold water is worth the inconvenience. I've been rinsing my hair with cool water in the shower after cleansing and deep conditioning, and I can definitely say that I see improvement in my hair. It's worth it to note that cold water rinses may not be the best idea for low porosity hair, since low-po hair already has tightly compacted cuticles. Cold water rinses very well may exacerbate the situation. Any low porosity ladies care to shed some light on this in the comment section?

After working with the 3 B's on my hair, I can definitely say that my frizzy problems have definitely subsided -- and my hair is responding better during styling. Even the rainy day (LA actually got some real rain y'all) yesterday, my curls were practically #unbothered:

Fight Frizz with the 3 B's (and Have More Good Hair Days)

Which of the 3 B's will you be looking to incorporate into your regimen?

Feb 20, 2015

Review: Amika Nourishing Mask with Sea Buckthorn Berry (Obliphica)

Review: Amika Nourishing Mask with Sea Buckthorn Berry (Obliphica)

Yassss, another deep conditioner review!

If you guys recall, in January I had the privilege of attending ISSE 2015 Long Beach, aka beauty junkie paradise. You can read all about my experience here, but if you're not about that click life, I'll just share that there were two brands I was really excited about -- Amika and Zotos Professional. While at the Amika booth, I got suckered in by my product junkie tendencies, inability to turn down a sale, and love of freebies, and ended up dropping $60 for a 5 product bundle and free (but empty) jet set beauty bag.

I was totally here for this sale. yes, $60 was a lot to drop at once, but when I googled their products and realized the Nourishing Mask retails for $40 alone, I scooped up the max (they said I could only have 2...grr) and was already winning, without the addition of the conditioners and smoothing balm I added in. So, was the Nourishing Mask worth the $60 bundle? Keep reading to find out...

Availability: As I mentioned previously, I picked up the Nourishing Mask from the Amika booth at ISSE Long Beach. I haven't seen it on any shelves, although they have store locator here. Online, oddly enough, it isn't listed on their website. I only see it on Birchbox and Amazon.

Affordability: Here's where things get a little sticky. At the $40 regular retail price, the 16.9oz jar is definitely pricey. but still a better value for some others who give you a fraction of the product at the same price. But, considering that I paid $12 for a $40 product, I definitely feel like for me in this isolated incident, it was affordable. If they're at ISSE Long Beach next year, I'll buy 2 more (lol). Birchbox also carries a $28 8.5oz jar, if that seems more budget-friendly for ya.

Review: Amika Nourishing Mask with Sea Buckthorn Berry (Obliphica)

Ingredient List: Water, Cetyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Jojoba Seed Oil, Panthenol, Behentrimonium Chloride, Dimethicone, Propylene Glycol, Sea Buckthorn Seed Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Cetrimonium Chloride, Isopropyl Alcohol, Fragrance, Ascorbic Acid, Citric Acid, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Limonene, Hydroxycitronellal, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde

If this ingredient list looks at all familiar to you...just hold on to your hat. I'll be with you in a moment.

Top Ingredients 411: 
  • Cetyl & Cetearyl Alcohol: Considered "fatty alcohols" -- NOT to be confused with drying alcohols such as ethyl. Both cetearyl and cetyl alcohol are lubricants, thickeners, and emollients. They give conditioner its velvety feel without making hair greasy. Also used to keep product ingredients from separating.
  • Jojoba Seed Oil: Emollient that coats the hair shaft (its molecular structure prevents it from penetrating the cuticle) and aids in providing slip and protection. Also known for being closest in composition to the natural sebum our scalps produce, that coat and nourish the hair.
  • Panthenol: Vitamin B5, known for quick absorption into hair and providing moisture control.
  • Behentrimonium Chloride: Quaternary ammonium compound and close cousin of cetrimonium chloride. Also penetrates the hair, conditions, and acts as an anti-static and anti-microbial agent.
  • Dimethicone: Popular cosmetic silicone that works by coating the hair in a thin, semi-permeable or waterproof layer that reduces the porosity of hair, and makes it less likely to absorb humidity (great for straightening and smoothing hair). It reduces moisture loss within the hair, and lubricates the surface of the hair and makes it easier to comb (slip and less tangled). Dimethicone has all of these benefits, while being lightweight and not causing buildup.
Product Claim/Description: Intense conditioning and repair for all hair types. The Nourishing Mask intensely conditions and repairs hair. The natural ingredients in the mask penetrate the surface of the hair to get to the root, sealing split ends, improving shine, elasticity and nourishment. Safe for color treated hair. Free of parabens, sulfates, and artificial colors. 

Review: Amika Nourishing Mask with Sea Buckthorn Berry (Obliphica)

Performance/Delivery: With me and the Nourishing Mask, it was love at first deep condition. The first jar is almost empty now, and I can confidently say that after about 5 deep conditioning sessions, the Nourishing Mask gives me life! It's thick, creamy, glides onto my hair with ease, and has slip for the ages. The Mask does not have artificial colors (which I like), but it does have a slight orange-ish brown tint (that's almost undetectable, but I peeped it), due to the sea buckthorn oil. For those of you unfamiliar with pure sea buckthorn oil, it has a very, very deep amber hue with orange undertones, so it would make sense that the Nourishing Mask isn't stark white. The Mask is also strongly fragranced, a very romantic and slightly sweet perfume scent comes through the second you open the jar. It lingers slightly on the hair, but doesn't bother me because I understand why. Having used pure sea buckthorn oil (and taken Omega 7 supplements with sea buckthorn), I can attest to the fact that the pure oil smells HORRIBLE. Yes, it has some amazing properties, but it stinks to high heaven. So the fact that the Nourishing Mask is so aggressively fragranced? I'm not even mad. I'd rather not smell sea buckthorn!

Review: Amika Nourishing Mask with Sea Buckthorn Berry (Obliphica)
Freshly washed and Amika Nourishing Mask conditioned product-free hair
Now let's talk about use. Because of it's richness, it was an ideal choice for my medium-high porosity, color treated hair. I found it to be super moisturizing, softening, hydrating, smoothing, and everything I love a deep conditioner to do and be. I tested it out in the 3 minute quickie conditioning period mentioned on the jar, and I also deep conditioned with it for 20 minutes. Either way, it worked pheeeeenomenally. When I went to rinse though...that's when I got excited. You know that epic, buttery smoothness unparalleled that I get from Eva NYC Therapy Session Hair Mask? Yes, that buttery love? Amika Nourishing Mask GAVE ME THAT. No roughness, all smooth, all shine, de-frizzed for the masses smoothness! I almost did the running man in the shower, but then I realized I'd probably fall from all the slip of rinsing the Mask out. 

After my fangirl moment wore down, my obsessive product junkie wheels got to spinning. The more I looked at the Amika Nourishing Mask packaging and recounted my experiences with the mask, the more I began feeling like it was giving me Eva NYC teas. So I did what my investigative bloggerism leads me to do -- I started digging. Beyond similar packaging ideas, fonts, and product consistencies, I found out two eye-opening things:

Review: Amika Nourishing Mask with Sea Buckthorn Berry (Obliphica)
Do you see what I see?
1. The address on both Eva NYC's Therapy Session and Amika's Nourishing Mask is the same --300 Meserole St. in Brooklyn. 

2. The top 5 ingredients after water are almost identical. Like, virtually the same ingredients minus the cetrimonium chloride...but as you all know the first 5-7 ingredients after water form the base of the product. 

I was beginning to feel some type of way -- are Eva NYC and Amika owned by the same company? Is 300 Meserole some sort of business suite, factory, warehouse, laboratory, or what? Sadly, Google failed at satiating my appetite for knowledge. I don't know what any of this means - if Amika and Eva NYC are two brands owned by the same company, or if one is an offshoot of another. All I know is that I have two deep conditioners that are nearly but not totally identical in make-up and performance, from brands with similar marketing angles. The major difference is that Eva NYC Therapy Session contains Keravis protein and cetrimonium chloride (which my hair loves by the way), and Amika Nourishing Mask is protein free. 

Review: Amika Nourishing Mask with Sea Buckthorn Berry (Obliphica)

Don't get it twisted though, absolutely none of this tea takes away from the performance of the product. Stellar. On fleek, Off the charts. Amazeballs. Period. Every single expectation that I have of a deep conditioner, it exceeds. 

Drawbacks: Aside from my unanswered questions, the only other drawback is that for you ladies who follow CG or Max Hydration Method, it's not amenable to those. It does contain dimethicone (which I am completely okay with), but if cones aren't your thing, this may be something to skip.

Bonuses: Insanely cute packaging notwithstanding, a bonus is that Amika Nourishing Mask is protein free. For you ladies with protein sensitivity that still want that "my hair has new life" feeling after deep conditioning, this one will give it to ya. 

Overall Product Rating: 4 stars. It's a dope deep conditioner that delivers, and instantly improves the health of my hair. The price point combined with lack of on the ground access is a challenge for me, though.

Bottom Line: Amika Nourishing Mask works incredibly well. It delivers flawlessly, and I will happily use out the first jar and ration the second jar to last me the rest of 2015. If you're protein sensitive but want to invest in a good deep conditioner, I totally recommend the Nourishing Mask. However, if you don't have an aversion to protein and want to get a feel for the performance of the Amika Nourishing Mask, head to Ulta and grab the Eva NYC Therapy Session Hair Mask. It's normally $14.99, but on sale this week (week of 2/15/15) for $11.99 plus 20% off with the www.ulta.com coupon. 

Best Practices: Use Amika Nourishing Mask like you would any deep conditioner. It's pretty much a fail-proof product. Leave it in for 2 minutes or 20, with or without heat and it works wonders either way. You can detangle with it, or apply it to already detangled hair. This product will float whatever your deep conditioning boat is!

I hope the Amika//Eva NYC//300 Meserole crew doesn't get mad at me...but you guys know how I roll! I had to let y'all know the truth! Will you be giving the Amika Nourishing Mask a try? Let me know in the comments below!

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