New Conditioner!

I got some new conditioners recently, just before Christmas!  I have been so excited to try something new since my disaster with the last two products I decided to try.  I was so excited I took the box up into my bathroom and opened it right there on the sink!

I got Elucence Moisture Balancing Conditioner, Camille Rose Naturals SOYlicious Conditioner, and Bee Mine Avocado Balancing Conditioner.  Curlmart also threw in a few samples!  I love free samples, don't you?!  I get so damn excited when I open packages and see free shit!  The samples were Curly Hair Solutions Curl Keeper, and something by Twisted Sista (but it has silicone in it, so I didn't pay much attention to it).  

The Bee Mine and Camille Rose Naturals are super thick, so I can't co-wash with them.  Luckily, the Elucence is rather thin, and I don't care for the way it made my hair feel overall, so it worked out nicely to step in as a co-wash.  

I've been using the Bee Mine primarily so far, and I really like it. I thought I would like the Camille Rose Naturals better because it's thicker, but the Bee Mine ends up feeling thicker in your hair once wet than it seems in your palm.  A little goes a long way with this stuff, too!  It's a nice balance of everything I look for in a conditioner.  It's thick enough to coat everything nicely and also leave the ends feeling smooth (I have a super huge problem with tangly ends), slippery enough to detangle, and it's got protein!  So far, this is a winner winner chicken dinner.  

I've also been using the Curl Keeper pre-KCCC ever since, which has been about a week now.  I like it a lot so far.  In fact, I've already ordered a bottle from Amazon!  Nothing against Curlmart, but since I'm an Amazon Prime member, many things end up being cheaper and arriving faster from Amazon for me because of the free 2-day shipping.  It claims to be all-natural, but it has a lot of strange ingredients.  Sometimes I wonder exactly what kind of regulations are in place for product labeling...

Right now my routine is:

Co-wash with Elucence
Rinse out with Bee Mine
Pre-gel with Curl Keeper
Gel with Kinky Curly Curling Custard
t-shirt scrunch, clip roots, diffuse dry


Amazing Grass Chocolate Shake

The resident child has been sick for the past few days with a fluctuating fever.  We've been dosing her up with the usual meds (cough syrup, motrin, etc.), but the damn fever just won't quit.  I decided today to try giving her a smoothie with some Amazing Grass GREENsuperfood powder mixed in to help give her body an extra germ-fighting boost.  I didn't think she'd be too keen on the idea of consuming something with the word "grass" in the title, so I kept that ingredient a secret.  I just told her it was a chocolate milkshake.  She was none the wiser, and she loved every bite!

The best part about it is that this is almost raw, and can easily be converted to be entirely so, and is packed with antioxidants and vitamins!  To make this entirely raw, just use raw peanuts (or whatever nuts) instead of peanut butter, and raw nut milk, or even water, instead of  the milk.  The GREENsuperfood powder is labeled as raw, so you're already good to go there!

Amazing Grass Chocolate Shake

1 banana, chopped and frozen (~1 c.)
1/4 c. peanut butter
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 scoop Amazing Grass GREENsuperfood powder
milk, to desired consistency

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until creamy.  Serve immediately with a spoon or a fat straw.  
  2. Sit back and enjoy kicking some serious germ ass!  Or just enjoy...

This recipe is totally flexible and will stand up well to almost any substitution.  If you want to mask the chlorophyll ("green") flavor, just make sure you don't skimp on the cocoa powder!  Otherwise, you could use 1 cup of almost any frozen fruit, 1/4 cup of any nuts or nut butter, and whatever liquid you like!  I think coconut water (or milk) would be a nice addition.  I might try that next time...


Chocolate Chip Cookies

We baked cookies for Santa tonight!  We used my favorite chocolate chip recipe (adapted from Cook's Illustrated).  They turned out absolutely delish.  Ever since I found this recipe, I haven't used another.  It's my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe.  I did change it up a little this time around though.  I used olive oil instead of butter.  I always like to use oil when possible in recipes, and it turned out to be a really nice substitution here.  

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 c. AP flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. olive oil
1 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 c. semisweet mini chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

2. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, cream together the oil, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended.

3. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended.

4. Stir in the chocolate chips. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time (for giant cookies) or a tablespoon at a time (for smaller cookies) onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.

5. Bake larger cookies for 15 to 17 minutes, or 10 to 12 minutes for smaller ones (check your cookies before they’re done; depending on your scoop size, your baking time will vary) in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.


Curly Girl Update December 2012

It’s been forever since I’ve posted about my hair.  A lot has changed since I’ve last posted.  Let me dive right in…

It’s been about three months since I started CG and I really couldn’t be happier with my hair.  As long as I keep my moisture and protein in balance, and avoid those cheap-o products (VO5, Suave, etc.) my hair is really happy.  If you’ve read my other CG posts, you’re probably wondering about that, since I was previously using VO5 as a co-wash and loving it.  I’ll get into that later.  

Currently, I’m using Yes To Carrots Conditioner (I will be returning to One-C when this bottle is empty), Kinky Curly Curling Custard as my gel, and, as usual, I have my Lily Of The Valley Aloe Gel as a sort of leave-in.  Let me just say that I love Kinky Curly Curling Custard!  I was a little daunted by the price at first (a product in this price range is usually a spurge), but I’m realizing the product (from here on out, KCCC) is worth every penny.  I paid about $17 for 8 oz.  That seems like a lot, considering I was previously using LA Looks Sports Gel (LALSG), which runs about $3 for 20 oz.  That’s a big difference in price, but there’s also a big difference in quality.

KCCC is nothing but natural, nurturing ingredients, whereas LALSG is pretty much all chemicals.  My hair feels so soft and smooth since I started using KCCC, it’s unbelievable.  It definitely took me a while to find my balance with KCCC, so if you try it, be patient and experiment.  The product itself is really, really thick.  A little definitely goes a long way with this stuff.  I had quite a few bad hair days when I was first experimenting.  At first I used way too much and ended up looking oily and wet, and my curls were really clumpy.  I don’t really like thick clumps in my hair, so this was not good times.  Then I tried it mixed with LA Looks Sports Gel (LALSG), and that was better, but a still a little too crunchy.  {One thing I’ve noticed with crunch is that there is a fine line between happy-crunch, which can be scrunched out, and over-crunch which just ends up stringy and straggly and your hair is fucked because no amount of scrunching will undo the stringy remains of over-crunch.}  Gradually I reduced the amount of KCCC I was using, and began using it with aloe gel.   Wetting my hair with aloe as the last step seems to help the KCCC distribute.  Usually a few hard scrunches will distribute the product pretty well.  This is by no means a miracle styling combination, but for now until I discover something better, this gives me consistently decent hair days.  I, personally, would rather have consistently tolerable hair days, rather than a few awesome hair days mixed with unpredictably bad ones.  Most products give me the latter result, so I’m happy to have something that I can slap in and go and not really worry too much that my hair is going to flip out at some point and turn into a fluff ball.  KCCC also smells like vanilla frosting, which I love!  I had read that it smells that way, and I was skeptical because I don’t usually care for sweet, candy-like fragrances, but I really like this!

When I first started doing CG and frequenting the NaturallyCurly forums, I couldn’t believe the number of people I saw raving on and on about such inexpensive brands as VO5 and LA Looks.  I knew these to be cheap products made with cheap ingredients which, when I tried them in the past, made my hair thin and brittle.  I figured hundreds of curlies couldn’t be wrong, so I gave them a go with CG.  They worked for a little while, but eventually the low quality ingredients caught up with me and my hair became thin and brittle.  It was taking longer to catch up with me than I had expected, so I wasn’t sure at the time if it was the conditioner causing my hair to be this way.  I experimented with protein since I read that protein deficiency shows similar symptoms.  That didn’t work, so I began experimenting with my co-wash, which was VO5 Extra Body at the time.  I switched to Suave Naturals Tropical Coconut for a while, but my hair reacted even worse to this.  I decided to try a natural co-wash so I purchased Aubrey Organics GPB Conditioner from Amazon.  When it arrived it was a little thicker than I had anticipated, so I ended up using the GPB as my rinse-out conditioner, and the Deva Curl One Conditioner (from here on out “One-C”) as my co-wash since it was, at that time, the thinnest conditioner I had on hand.  This happened to be a rather serendipitous change of plans, because I realized that my hair loves One-C as a co-wash!  Since I realized that, I’ve started using One-C as my primary conditioner for both co-wash and rinse-out, and occasionally add some protein-rich conditioner into the mix when my hair starts to show signs of crispiness.  I do the co-wash and rinse-out all as one step, though.  I just put my normal amount of conditioner in my hair (plus a pump or two extra for the hair line), massage my scalp, finger comb, then tilt forward and scrunch.  When I’m ready to rinse, I put my head under the water and scrunch handfuls of my roots to make sure the conditioner rinses well from my scalp.  As soon as my scalp feels well rinsed, I stop.  At that point, whatever conditioner is still in my hair stays in my hair. 

When I get out of the shower, I scoop a little glob (quarter size?) out with my middle and ring fingers, rub that together in my palms, and smooth it through my hair.  With my head tilted forward, I very gently smooth the gel over my hair in sections.  I start in the back at the nape, then come to the front, then the sides, and finally rub whatever is left in my hands over the canopy.  I leave the canopy for last because it is very easy to overdo it with KCCC and I would look like a greasy mess if I overdid it in such a prominent area as the canopy.  I do the back first because it’s the area on my head most prone to dryness and breakage (so needs the most nourishment).  If your hair is different, I would suggest beginning the application wherever you need the most moisture.  After all of the custard has been applied, I scrunch everything together and finger comb a little, if necessary.  I don’t finger comb every day, but some days it’s just necessary.  Then I get out the aloe gel.  I squirt a little blob - about a dime size blob, I’d say – into my palm and scrunch it directly into a lock of curls.  I continue this throughout my head until my hair is nice and wet with aloe, and all hair has had an aloe scrunch.  Then I shake my hair around and separate any curls that need separating.  Basically any touching that I will need to to…I do that now.  If my ends have started to frizz by now, I get a tiny dab of KCCC and scrunch it into the ends. Then I scrunch with a T-shirt, and clip.  I place 3 clips down the center of my head, and 1 clip to either side (5 clips total).  I just pinch a clump of curls at the root, then loop the curl around a little and clip it all together.  Looping the hair up and including it in the clip keeps the clip from falling parallel to the scalp, which is something I was initially having problems with.  After that, I do my makeup, then remove the clips and blow dry.  Usually that’s about 15 minutes clipped. 

As long as my protein and moisture is well balanced and adequate, this routine really works for me.  Where that is concerned, my new conditioners are a little disappointing, but I’m starting to suspect that has more to do with protein deficiency than any real lack on the conditioners’ part.  I’m eternally on the hunt for a perfect conditioner which doesn’t break the bank, so although I was pleased with One-C, when it came time to re-up I tried to find something a little cheaper.  This time around I decided to try Aubrey Organics White Camellia Conditioner and Yes To Cucumber Color Care Conditioner.   There is a lot of slip in both products, for sure, but they are just not thick enough.  I want something thick like Pantene Pro-V, but haven’t found anything in the natural, CG friendly world that fits the bill and doesn’t cost $3 million per oz.  I do like the way the Yes to Cucumbers smells.  It’s really nice and light.  The Aubrey Organics White Camellia, however, smells disgusting.  It smells very strongly of lemons, but not refreshing lemons.  It smells like awful fake lemon fragrance.  It reminds me of mopping solution.  I do not want to smell like mopping solution while I shower.  Gross.  Its conditioning properties leave something to be desired, as well.  It was very watery.  I will probably finish the bottle, but not buy again.  I’m not sure if I will buy Yes To Cucumbers again, but I don’t hate it.  Combined with a little squirt of the GVP Reconstructor, the Yes To Carrots felt really nice and my hair turned out really smooth and bouncy.  We’ll see how healthy my hair is after the bottles of GVP Hair Reconstructor and Yes To Cucumbers are finished.