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

obia-curl-enhancing-custard


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

obia-curl-enhancing-custard
Fab wash & go...courtesy of Obia Curl Enhancing Custard

2. As I Am Curling Jelly

as-i-am-curling-jelly

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

wonder-curl-curl-control-styling-lotion

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

wonder-curl-curl-control-styling-lotion

Check out the other 7 on NaturallyCurly!

Army Rolls Back Regulations Against Natural Hair After Months of Backlash

As seen on Black Girl with Long Hair!

In March of this year, BGLH broke the story on the proposed U.S. Army Regulations (AR 670-1) and the subsequent disparate impact on women with natural hair in the Service.


As the issue gained traction among ladies of all backgrounds, articles, petitions, letters, and forums dedicated to calling out the discriminatory nature of the regulations emerged. The Congressional Black Caucus even got involved.

In a letter to Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Defense Secretary Chuck Hegel disclosed that the military had spent the past three months reviewing the definition of what styles are deemed acceptable.

Hegel penned,
"Each Service reviewed its hairstyle policies to ensure standards are fair and respectful while also meeting our military requirements. As a result of these reviews the Army, Navy, and Air Force determined changes were necessary to their Service grooming regulations to include additional authorized styles. These reviews were informed by a panel of military personnel of mixed demographics reflective of our diverse force."
Translation: they asked some Black people. 

All three branches have authorized two-strand twists as acceptable styles, and the Army has increased the size of what braids are deemed "acceptable". Both the Army and Air Force will removed the pointed and offensive language "matty and unkempt" from their guidelines. The Marine Corps have not quite signed off on the reversal, opting to have a working group of the Uniform Board open a survey to all Marines to provide feedback on whether the twists and locs should be allowed. A final decision will be made after the survey closes August 15th (today).

The only Service entity to approve locs as acceptable is the Coast Guard, which could be the beginning of a trend -- but at this time there is no word that the Army, Navy, Marines, or Air Force will be taking that step.

Hegel's Moonwalk reversal letter was accepted with open arms by Fudge and the Congressional Black Caucus. In a statement, Fudge shares,

"These changes recognize that traditional hairstyles worn by women of color are often necessary to meet our unique needs, and acknowledges that these hairstyles do not result in or reflect less professionalism or commitment to the high standards required to serve within our Armed Forces. With these changes, Secretary Hagel and the Department of Defense not only show that they are responsive to the individuals who serve within our military, but that he and his leadership respect them as well. The Congressional Black Caucus commends Secretary Hagel for his leadership in addressing the issue."

Although the White House petition started by Sgt. Jasmine Jacobs garnered just shy of 18,000 signatures, the outrage across social media and other avenues online was more than enough to command attention and affect change.

While I am ecstatic over our ability to collectively turn the tide regarding decisions that disproportionately impact us, the fact that it took over three months for the Department of Defense to push the legislative equivalent of Ctrl+Z is troubling. It highlights a serious lack of diversity and cultural competency in areas of decision-making for all branches of the Service. If the "mixed demographics" were at the table before AR 670-1 rolled out, AR 670-1 would have never been released the way that it was.

Yes, it is only hair.
Yes, there is a need for certain parameters around uniformity and appearance of soldiers.
No, women with natural hair are not forced to serve.

But at the end of the day, these brave women make a conscious decision to sacrifice themselves for their country. The least that could be done is to not insult them while they're doing it.

Are you satisfied with the DOD's response, or nah?

The Max Hydration Method: Is It for You?


Photo courtesy of maxhydrationmethod.com
As seen on Black Girl with Long Hair!

The Max Hydration Method (MHM for short) is, according to maxhydrationmethod.com, "a 5 step regimen that systematically increases moisture levels in the hair until Max Hydration is reached." This method, championed by Black Hair Media Forum VIP Member PinkeCube promises to turn the notion that wash and go's don't work on type 4 hair on its head. In addition to forum posts, and social media accounts dedicated to the Max Hydration Method, PinkeCube has launched a blog where everything about the method can be found -- maxhydrationmethod.com.

So what exactly is the Max Hydration Method, how does it work, and are the results for real? Let's explore.

Who is the Max Hydration Method for?
The Max Hydration Method is articulated as being designed for type 4, specifically low porosity 4c natural hair.

What does it do?
PinkeCube, MissDeeKay, and other proponents state that the Max Hydration Method will transform dry, frizzy, undefined hair into coils and curls that clump -- with or without product. Additionally, they claim that once your hair reaches max hydration, many of the issues that plague type 4 hair (dryness, styling, knots, length retention) will cease to occur.

Photo courtesy of maxhydrationmethod.com

What products are required, and how long does it take?
The Max Hydration Method initial period lasts for 7 consecutive days. You can stretch your re-wetting/styling to every 2-3 days, but daily is recommended for maximum results. As far as products are concerned, you'll need:
  • Cherry Lola Caramel Treatment
  • Baking Soda Rinse (baking soda + conditioner) or Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Cowashing Conditioner
  • Deep Conditioner
  • Clay Rinse (clay + honey + olive oil + water)
  • Leave-In Conditioner
  • Botanical Gel
Click here for the Cherry Lola Caramel Treatment, Baking Soda Rinse, and Clay Rinse steps and recipe. 

How do you do the Max Hydration Method?

Photo courtesy of missdeekay.com

As mentioned previously, the Max Hydration Method is aimed at being a 7 day cycle, but can be adjusted per time constraints and the needs of your hair. The method goes a little something like this:
  1. Cherry Lola Caramel Treatment or Clarify: First-timers are to complete the Cherry Lola Caramel Treatment on Day 1 instead of clarifying. After the initial treatment, you can do the Cherry Lola Caramel Treatment every 2 weeks, monthly, or however frequently your hair requires. Days 2-7 call for a baking soda or apple cider vinegar rinse every morning, where the ingredients sit on your hair for 15-60 minutes.
  2. Deep Condition Overnight: This step is optional, but recommended to facilitate increased hydration. If you skip the overnight deep conditioning session, simply condition your hair, allow it to sit for 15 minutes or so, then proceed to finger detangle your hair while rinsing it out.
  3. Clay Rinse: After rinsing and detangling, apply your clay mix thoroughly to the hair and allow it to sit for at least 15 minutes.
  4. Leave-in & Curl Definer: After rinsing the clay thoroughly, while hair is still soaking wet (preferably in the shower), the leave-in and curl definer are to be applied section-by-section from root to tip. If portions of your hair begin to dry out, simply re-wet them and move along. The Max Hydration Method allows for LCO layering of products underneath gels, but never LOC because oils are occlusive and will prevent water-based moisturizing products from penetrating and hydrating the hair.
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 daily, or every 2-3 days depending upon your hair's needs. After one Cherry Lola Caramel Treatment, the other days call for the baking soda or apple cider vinegar rinse.
Users of the Max Hydration Method are encouraged to use only approved/botanical products throughout this process. Although I am still trying to identify a consolidated list of products, the general idea is sticking as closely to the Curly Girl Method as possible (no sulfates, no cones, etc.). For starters, Miss Dee Kay outlines a list of Max Hydration Method-approved conditioners here.

Photo courtesy of missdeekay.com

 The big question: does the Max Hydration Method actually work?
From a personal standpoint, I don't know. There is a strong possibility that I will experiment with it in the coming weeks, to satisfy my own curiosity. However, there are dozens of ladies on maxhydrationmethod.com's testimony page offering visual proof of their success with the method. You can also search Instagram for the hashtag #maxhydrationmethod to find ladies who are actively participating in the Max Hydration Challenge. For an incredibly detailed breakdown of someone who has and continues to use the Max Hydration Method, visit Miss Dee Kay's blog. For a more scientific approach/breakdown, check out this post by Jc of The Natural Haven.

Photo courtesy of maxhydrationmethod.com

From the sampling of devotees to the Max Hydration Method, the results look incredibly promising. One thing to take into consideration is the amount of time, energy, and product the method requires. It is certainly not for the faint of heart.

Have any of you tried the Max Hydration Method, or will you be trying it? Share your thoughts and results below!

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