Thursday, February 04, 2016

**REVIEW(s)** KeraCare, Marc Anthony, and SheaMoisture

No matter what type of hair we have - kinky, curly, coily, straight, fine, thick, short, or long - we know how frustrating it can be to find products that suit our individual hair care needs.

Speaking for myself, I get to try a lot of products in exchange for doing these reviews, but I also go out hunting on my own sometimes. And I also bag something... One day, I spent a gift card on 8 different hair care products from a local store. Curling creams, styling gels, polishers, conditioners... I ended up taking every last one of them back. Not one of them worked. 

By the way, my name is Trudy, and I am a product junkie.


Naturals be like:
Credit to Elle & Necie at Natural Hair Daily

That might be a bit harsh, actually. I'm not the kind to just try different products out of a bad habit. I just have trouble finding things that work, so I have to do the buy-and-return thing. Often. And, believe me, I have no trouble returning a product that doesn't work for me. (This is why I am starting to be way more careful about ordering things online if I don't already know the brand. More on that later.)

This review is for 3 different products I have recently tried. I have a few different goals when I'm looking at hair products. Since my hair is coarse and damaged, and I wear it relaxer-free, I have problems with moisture retention and breakage. For styling, I like having a gel or curl cream for twisting my hair at night (either bantu-style twists or corn-row twists), so that I have more curl definition during the day. Finally, I like good cleansing and rinse-out conditioners. I will alternate fully shampooing my hair with just massaging in then rinsing out a good conditioner, which is called "co-washing" the hair.

natural hair problems.. funny but true:
Credit to Natural Hair Problems

So far, I have a good shampoo that works well to clean my hair without stripping it. I use J,R. Liggett Moisturizing Shampoo Bar. The only thing I don't like about it is that, if any gets in my eyes, it burns like hellfire. I'd love to find a bar that works as well and doesn't have that kind of effect on the eyes. For conditioning, I have a few different favorites. I like Aussie Moist 3-Minute Miracle Moist for deep conditioning after a shampoo. For co-washing, I use Aussie Moist 7-in-1 conditioner. For deep conditioning with heat, I prefer Elasta QP Ultra Hydration or Cream Cholesteral (by Proclaim) because they are both extremely affordable and effective. The QP comes in such a huge size that I rarely have to stock up. With the Proclaim, I add water and shake the container to thin it out because less works better, plus this gives me a higher yeild of product.

With the cleaning and conditioning covered, what I still needed was somthing to use as 1) a daily leave-in conditioner and, 2) a moisturizing, non-sticky, non-greasy feeling cream for doing my twists. I was hoping for products that would be both affordable and effective, but I was willing to pay more depending on quality.

Recently, I tried out 3 products and am only unhappy with one. Let me back up and say that I am extremely happy with 2 of the products and supremely unhappy with 1 product. (On top of being unhappy with it, I'm irritated at the process required to return it. But, again, more on that in a moment.)

Let's start with the positive.

I found a wonderful daily leave-in conditioner that works even on my dangerously dry hair. It's this one by KeraCare:


The photo from the BeautyClicks page is better than mine...

 
I love this stuff. It's light, but very, very moisturizing. I only have to use the smallest amount. What I like to do is apply it to the roots of my hair just before I take down my twists. Once I have the twists down, I apply a little more of the KeraCare to any dry spots.

The thing is, KeraCare products are not cheap. This 4oz bottle is around $16. OUCH!!! But - and here is what it took me a minute to figure out - in the long run, it is much cheaper than a higher priced 16oz product I tried. And that is the one product that I loathe...


That right there is from SheaMoisture. Let me say now that SheaMoisture is one of those brands that seems to get a lot of undeserved (IMO) positive hype. Anytime I read something about natural hair, I hear "SheaMoisture is the stuff!" Bullcrap. I think the brand just has great marketing.

That leave-in by SheaMoisture was horrible. It was sticky going on and, after it dried, it felt slighty tacky to the touch. My hair might have been less dry, but I couldn't tell. The worst thing is that the price is crazy expensive for such lackluster results. (To be fair, a lot of folks seem to love SheaMoisture products. This is the second thing I've tried from them and I was underwhelmed both times. The other thing I tried was a small foil pack sample of some curl cream. Yuck. At least I didn't pay for that mess.)

I'm sending the SheaMoisture back (even though that means printing out a return label and praying I didn't toss the box it came in... ~sigh~)

I hate SheaMoisture so much that I don't want to spend anymore time discussing it. So, back to the positive.

The next product is one that I tried for the first time a long while back. I think I got the mostly empty bottle from a family member. There was only a little bit left and I loved it, but had to search for the bottle to get the brand name. It's Curl Envy 24-hour Moisture from the Marc Anthony Strictly Curls line.  At $7.99 for a 4.5oz bottle, this is super affordable. (Side mention: My dumb self, I thought that the singer Marc Anthony owned the line! "Tell me, baby girl, coz I need to know..."



What I love, love, love about this leave-in is that it's perfect for doing my twists at night. Before finding this, I was just spritzing my hair with water at night. That worked great for styling my hair, but it didn't really boost the moisture throughout the night and after I took down the twists. When I use this moisturizer, I have a lot less dryness in the morning. My routine now is to spritz my hair with water, add a little bit of this product, then do my twists. I can really feel the difference in the elasticity of my hair when I'm doing the twists. There so much less breakage and pulling. LOVE it. 

                                                 28 of Our Favorite Natural Hair Memes | Black Girl with Long Hair:

While I also love the KeraCare, I have to say that I think that the results are a bit similar with the Curl Envy. The KeraCare moisture lasts longer, but... At the price, I can always afford more Curl Envy.

So that's the rundown on a few products I've been trying out. I will try to come back and update this when I've used the KeraCare and Curl Envy for a longer period of time. Also, a friend of mine saw a leave-in by Dr. Miracle when she was at WalMart. She said she thought it would be something good for me to review so she picked up a bottle to give me. Isn't that sweet? Anyway, I will do a review of it when I've tested these other products for a while. 

Peace
--Free

**RE-POST** From the Archives of 2006

Image result for email
some emails really are funny
                         
(This is an OLD post - from way back on FRIDAY, JUNE 30, 2006 It was from an viral email titled  "For My Lady Blogger Buddies" and I got it from one of my sisters-in-law. It's still funny, and I needed something to post on the blog today! Enjoy...

****************************************
Okay - and the guys too. Anyone who wants to laugh. No post today, so enjoy this. It was given to me yesterday when I went to lunch with my office family. I'm surprised we weren't kicked out of the place. I'm not sure who wrote it, but YOU WILL LAUGH. (It's a little long...)

CAUTION: Be prepared to laugh out loud!

All hair removal methods have tricked women with their promises of easy, painless removal - The epilady, scissors, razors, Nair and now...the wax.

My night began as any other normal weeknight. Come home, fix dinner, play with the kids. I then had the thought that would ring painfully in my mind for the next few hours: "Maybe I should pull the waxing kit out of the medicine cabinet." So I headed to the site of my demise: the bathroom.
It was one of those "cold wax" kits. No melting a clump of hot wax, you just rub the strips together in your hand, they get warm and you peel them apart and press them to your leg (or wherever else) and you pull the hair right off. No muss, no fuss. How hard can it be? I mean, I'm not a genius, but I am mechanically inclined enough to figure this out.

(YA THINK!?!)

So I pull one of the thin strips out. Its two strips facing each other stuck together. Instead of rubbing them together, my genius kicks in so I get out the hair dryer and heat it to 1000 degrees. ("Cold wax," yeah...right!) I lay the strip across my thigh. Hold the skin around it tight and pull. It works! OK, so it wasn't the best feeling, but it wasn't too bad. I can do this! Hair removal no longer eludes me! I am She-rah, fighter of all wayward body hair and maker of smooth skin extraordinaire.

With my next wax strip I move north. After checking on the kids, I sneak back into the bathroom, for the ultimate hair fighting championship. I drop my panties and place one foot on the toilet. Using the same procedure, I apply the one strip across the right side of my bikini line, covering the right half of my "honey pot" and stretching down to the inside of my ass cheek (Yes, it was a long strip) I inhale deeply and brace myself....RRRRIIIPPP!!!!

I'm blind!!! Blinded from pain!!!!....OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!! Vision returning, I notice that I've only managed to pull off half the strip. OH NO! What have I done???!!! Another deep breath and RRIIP! P!! Everything is swirly and spotted. I think I may pass out...must stay conscious...Do I hear crashing drums??? Breathe, breathe...OK, back to normal.

I want to see my trophy - a wax covered strip, the one that has caused me so much pain, with my hairy pelt sticking to it. I want to revel in the glory that is my triumph over body hair. I hold up the strip! There's no hair on it. Where is the hair??? WHERE IS THE WAX???

Slowly I ease my head down, foot still perched on the toilet. I see the hair. The hair that should be on the strip. I touch. I am touching wax. WHAT?! I run my fingers over the most sensitive part of my body, my "man magnet". Which is now covered in cold wax and matted hair.

Then I make the next BIG mistake...remember my foot is still propped up on the toilet? I know I need to do something. So I put my foot down. My

LIFE FLASHES BEFORE ME!!!!!! I hear the slamming of a cell door. Kooter? Sealed shut! Ass?? Sealed shut! Both sealed tighter than

Fort Knox!!!

I penguin walk around the bathroom trying to figure out what to do and think to myself "Please don't let me get the urge to Shit! My head may, quite frankly, just pop off!"

What can I do to melt the wax? Hot water!! Hot water melts wax!!!

I'll run the hottest water I can stand into the bathtub, get in, immerse the wax-covered bits and the wax should melt and I can gently wipe it off, right??? WRONG!!!!!!!

I get in the tub - the water is slightly hotter than that used to torture prisoners of war or sterilize surgical equipment - I sit.

Now, the only thing worse than having your ass and nether regions glued together is having them glued together and then glued to the bottom of the tub...in scalding hot water. Which, by the way, doesn't melt cold wax.

So, now I'm stuck to the bottom of the tub as though I had cement-epoxied myself to the porcelain!!

God bless the man who had convinced me a few months ago to have a phone put in the bathroom!!!!!

I call my friend, thinking surely she has waxed before and has some secret of how to get me undone. It's a very good conversation starter -

"So girlfriend, my ass and "kitty" are glued together to the bottom of the tub!"

There is a slight pause. She doesn't know any secret tricks for removal but she does try to hide her laughter from me. She wants to know exactly where the wax is located, "Are we talking your ass and crotch?" She must be reveling in humor and wantsme to repeat it for her enjoyment.

She's laughing out loud by now...I can hear her. I give her the rundown and she suggests I call the number on the side of the box. YEAH!!!!! Right!! I should be the joke of someone else's night.

While we go through various solutions. I resort to scraping the wax off with a razor. Nothing feels better then to have your "man hole" girlie goodies covered in hot wax, glued shut, stuck to the tub in super hot water and then dry-shaving the sticky wax off!!

By now the brain is not working, dignity has taken a major hike and I'm pretty sure I'm going to need Post-Traumatic Stress counseling for this event.

My friend is still talking with me when I finally see my saving grace....the lotion they give you to remove the excess wax. What do I really have to lose at this point? I rub some on my cooch, and

OH MY GOD!!!!!!!

The scream probably woke the kids and scared the dickens out of my friend.

It's sooo painful, but I really don't care.

"IT WORKS!! It works!!"

I get a hearty congratulation from my friend and she hangs up. I successfully remove the remainder of the wax and then notice to my grief and despair....THE HAIR IS STILL THERE.......ALL OF IT!!!!!!!!!! Looking like an Osama Bin Laden gotee!

So I recklessly shave it off. Heck, I'm numb by now. Nothing hurts. I could have amputated my own leg at this point.

Next week I'm going to try hair color.....

Now that's funny ........ Notttttttttt.
****************************************
Hope this made your day (or night) a bit nicer. Smiles can do that.

Peace
--Free

Thursday, January 28, 2016

You Hearda Yerba?

I'm a coffee fanatic. Love my java. I probably drink too much, but I usually back off when I start feeling my blood flowing through my body.

A long while back, I noticed something new in the coffee/tea section of the local health food store. Of course, once you spot something new, you start seeing it everywhere. That's they way it was with this tea:

Image result for yerba mate
Yerba Mate tea
                                           
Tea is another favorite of mine - green tea, black tea, chamomile and honey, Chai and, sometimes, even lemon tea (so I can add a little whisky for, uh, medicinal purposes)... When I saw the Yerba Mate (especially this particular brand) at the local Carrs/Safeway store, I decided to check it out online first. I actually asked some friends about it, but no one I knew had tried it yet.

This is what I learned about Yerba Mate in general:

  • It's a traditional South American beverage.
  • It's a tea (I thought it was coffee at first)
  • It comes from a plant in the Holly family (not Buddy, just a plant)
  • It's supposed to have various health benefits, but...
  • ... frequent and prolonged intake is associated with some cancers
On the one hand, I was thinking: Well, damnit! On the other hand, I guess it's like anything that tastes or feels good: it's all about control and moderation. From what I had read here about the taste, I didn't think I was going to be overdoing it.

Coffee is my main squeeze, so I decided to just flirt a little with Yerba Mate. I picked this one because of the labelling:



I went over to the Guayaki site to learn more, and there's quite a nice (and very idealist kind of) story behind the brand and its founders.



For me, the taste was going to be the main thing. At first. Then I realized that, just as I do with lots of other healthy stuff, I could probably just add the Yerba to my coffee. That's what I do with coconut oil, tumeric, nutmeg, and cinnamon. With the Yerba Mate, I steep a bag of the tea dang near overnight, then I just add a little to my coffee throughout the day. Coffee masks the taste of just about anything, so I couldn't tell what Yerba tasted like on its own until last night.

When I drink a hot cup of the Yerba, I mix in some of my Almond Joy creamer. The taste, in my opinion, is like a nutty-flavored coffee. Maybe I'm doing the brewing wrong, but it's actually weaker than a rich black tea. If the flavor of Yerba is icky, my creamer must mask that. I like it. I still prefer adding it to my coffee.

What I figured out from looking at the Guayaki site is that I can get the Yerba in different packaging: cans, bags, bottles, loose leaf, and even in energy shots. For now, I'm okay with the tea bags.

As far as how this tea makes me feel, I have to say that the energy I get is much the same as from coffee (maybe a blonde roast coffee), but there are laxative effects. It's decent stuff, and I'll probably be drinking it off an on (you know, to keep down any risks to health).

Last thing to mention is that I noticed lots of info about using Yerba Mate for weight loss. From what I have read so far, that is a minimal thing and, like most other plans, depends a lot on a person's overall diet and exercise regimen.

Raising my cup of Yerba (and coffee) to you.

Peace
--Free

UPDATE:

I've been drinking the tea (a bag in my coffee) a couple times a day for the past week. What I notice at this point is I do feel more focus, but my energy level is still about the same (kind of low). I also notice the mild laxative effect of the tea. The biggest effect that the tea is having is on my appetite. I'm not a big eater anyway (just lots of soups and maybe a flatbread/turkey sandwhich for lunch), but I now have to remind myself to eat. Since this is not a bad thing, in my opinion, I've just added more kale and other greens to my diet and cut back some on the soups. Another thing that I need to do is keep up my water intake. The Yerba seems to satisfy my cravings for anything I normally ingest. I will try to update again later on what weight loss benefits (if any) I experience.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

**REVIEW** Jane Carter Solution Revitalizing Leave-in Conditioner (UPDATED)

I picked this up because it was on sale at Target. I got one bottle for $8.00 and (for some weird pricing reason), another bottle for around $4.60. They were both supposed to be $8.00, and the clerk didn't know why the same item on "Clearance" would ring up differently. I just considered it a good buy.


 I have seen the brand online, but could never afford to try the items I wanted. I always wish that brands would authorize stores to stock sample packs of products. I don't think that most people who can afford it would mind paying for quality hair or other beauty things. For people with a smaller budget, it would be really nice if they (we) could at least be sure we're getting something that will work for our needs.

Anyway, I'm really glad that I did grab this product. I went over to Amazon and read reviews of at least 10 of her products, and I am now an official fan of the Jane Carter Solution brand. From what I am reading, other customers are happy with how the products match the hype. Even if I never try another one of the products, I'm happy enough with this one to rave.


First off, what I expected was that this would just be a good leave-in detangler. It is, but it does so much more.

I tested this on my dry hair just to see if it was sticky or one of those products that would make my hair feel hard or crunchy. I sprayed it on a patch of hair in front and massaged it in with my fingertips, then I went about my business for around 10 minutes because I got distracted. When I checked that part of my hair I was so amazed. (By the way, there is very little smell to the product. What's there is a pleasant and clean scent.)

On my dry hair, this worked to add instant moisture - without being greasy or sticky, It didn't harden like some products. My hair felt really soft without being damp. I didn't feel any oiliness. That was just so cool. I checked out the listed ingredients:

  • Water (Aqua), Polyquarternum 7, Aloe Baradensis (Aloe Vera) Gel, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Lawsonia Inermis (Henna) Extract, Sodium Cocoyl, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, (Caprylic Glycerides), Soyamid DEA, Fragrance, Phenoxyethanol.
Later, I will look up each of those to see what's up. In the meantime, I just wanted to see what this leave-in would be like once I washed and towel-dried my hair. Normally, I get good results if I use my J.R. Liggett moisturizing shampoo bar and some Aussie Moist conditioner. I have problems with dryness when I do just a rinse-out (to get rid of product buildup without actually shampooing).

When I put this on my blotted hair, the detangling was wonderful. My still-damp hair looks and feels very nice. There is a sheen to it and the softness is just unreal. I am really loving this product.

There are two things that I have to mention because they might have impacted my results:

  1. I still have this TMS in my hair. It's taking forever to wear it out. (I'm thinking I'm going to use a clarifying shampoo to get rid of it, as per the directions. I prefer my natural curls...) With my hair straightened like this, I expect that it's going to be softer. However, there is a lot of additional softness with the Jane Carter.
  2. This is Day 7 of using the Nature's Bounty Hair, Skin and Nails supplements. I had been seeing a difference in my skin by Day 3, and by Day 5, I wasn't brushing or combing out as much hair as usual. 
This is a great product. I can't wait to see how it does on my hair once I'm back to my curls. This might be my go-to brand from now on... 

Vegans can look for the V on assorted J.C.S. products
                     
The price of Jane Carter products is another Plus. Even non-sale items are affordable, especially when compared to brands like Miss Jessie, Aunt Jackie, and SheaMoisture. Those are just ridiculous. I recently tried a SheaMoisture product that I am very unhappy with. It was over-priced and over-hyped. I rarely return things, but I am sendin this back so that I can try more of the Jane Carter brand instead- which is more affordable anyway. Whatever I do, I'm done with SheaMoisture after this.

I'd be glad to hear from anyone who has used Jane Carter products. I understand that the line is great for all kinds of hair types and textures. 

Peace
--Free

UPDATE: I did a wash using a clarifying shampoo made with the castile soap I have (recipe here). My curls are still in limbo - sort of stringy-straight in sections, but the "natural" is slowly returning. I tested the J.C.S. leave-in on my hair after the wash. It's still good, but not as "smoothing" as it was on my hair when straighter. It was still very moisturizing but not as much as it felt like with straightened hair. I still love the product LOTS, and recommend it for hair that needs a little babying. I think that anyone who wears straight style or uses flat-irons or other heated hair appliances will love this. If you wear styles that require slicking your hair back or smoothing down the edges, it will also be great. For my curly style, I am using it close to the scalp to nourish the roots. Next up, I am reviewing a hair milk by KeraCare (a brand with other products that I love!).

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

**REVIEW** (Update. Sort of) Travalo Refillable Perfume Atomizer

I haven't been posting as much because I've been trying to work on the story collection.That little project is in the editing stage (or what I like to call Writer's Hell)...

A lot of times when I review a product, I don't always follow up with an update. Even if I love an item. Usually, I forget. Until I am, for some reason, reminded. I was reminded to update my review of this item because I had a chance to refill it at the store for the first time in a long time.

                                                 



That is my Travalo Refillable Perfume Atomizer from the local Perfumania.

Reasons that this makes a good buy:

  1. It's affordable (and cute)
  2. It's makes buying perfume affordable
  3. It's affordable (and portable)

I got one a couple years ago for my sister as a Mother's Day gift and, because I liked it so much, I got one for myself. I think I paid just about $10 for it. (I see now that there are fancier ones. I'm going to have to check those out myself!)

Mostly, I've just been filling it with perfumes that I already have around the house. The other day, I was thinking about how much I love Fahrenheit by Dior (which, yes, is for men, but I don't care). As much as I love the fragrance, I only ever buy it (and rarely) to give to my brothers for gifts. The only way I've ever been able to keep some for myself is to snag a handful of samples from nice clerks... So, I wanted some Fahrenheit, but couldn't even think about getting a bottle. Then I remembered my Travalo, which happened to be empty.

Finally, I'm getting to the best part about buying a Travalo: You pay about 10 bucks (for the "classic" one like I have), then you can refill it it at Perfumania for $10. With ANY fragrance in their store.

That might not sound like a big deal but a 1.7oz bottle of Fahrenheit costs around $55-$75.



And, no, that's not actually very expensive for a lovely scent. It's just too much for my current budget.

So, yeah. I bounced my happy behind right over to Perfumania and got my $10 refill. This will give me about 65 sprays - which is more than enough. Also, for an extra 2 bucks, the store will mix up matching scented lotion.


I can't even rant and rave enough about how great a buy this is. For one thing, you get a much better value than with those miniature fragrances (which are from $7, $10 or even $15, depending on the scent), and the Travalo sprayer is evenly measured. You get a good spray without dripping, leaking, or uneven coverage.

Anyway, I needed a little pick me up after a very depressing couple of weeks. This did the trick and didn't damage my budget. There's nothing like looking nice and smelling good to lift your spirits a bit.

By the way, I know that I'm not the only woman that wears Fahrenheit. I did a search for "compatible" or similar fragrances for women and found out that some ladies just use the original. It's not a "manly" smell. I think it has a very unisex appeal.When I wear it, I get compliments about how subtle and illusive it is. When I smell it on a man, I just think, "Wow!"

One last thing about the Travalo. I think that men need to look into getting a Travalo. The container I have might look too femme for most, but go check out those other ones that are on the Perfumania site. (Make sure to ask if your local store honors the refill policy!)

Peace
--Free

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

**Pre-REVIEW** Nature's Bounty Hair, Skin & Nails

Skin, Hair, Nails vitamins and supplements have been popular the past year. I never tried any because I 1) hate taking pills, and 2) take enough pills already. I recently changed my mind and decided to try the supplements. Because my budget (if that's what it can be called) is so tight, I had to look for a brand I trust at a reasonable price. Thank goodness for Walmart.

I chose Nature's Bounty Extra Strength Hair, Skin & Nails.

About $10 at Walmart ***
Although I paid just over $9 in-store, Walmart's online price is higher by a few dollars. This is a 1-month+ supply and just about what I pay for any other vitamins, so...

This is what I'm reading about this particular brand:

I'm not sure how well this "multivitamin supplement" is going to work for my hair, skin or nails, but since I have to take a daily vitamin, it's no big deal.

Today is Day 3 of taking the supplement. This is what my hair looked like this last night after I washed and twist/coiled it to dry:


Notice that this is the
"Extra Strength" formula

They look like pearls!


You can see the breakage

It didn't use to be this thin
in between the twists

My nails have always
been strange

These, of course, are recent photos (from November/ December 2015) of my hair in various states and styles:

Nov (moisturized)
I like this the best, BTW

Nov (dry)

Dec (flat ironed)

I really do hope that these vitamins work because I feel better when I look better. My hair isn't awful (and not nearly as damaged as it was a year ago), but I would like it to be a little less dry and fragile. Hopefully (please, God, hear my prayer), I will be going back to work this year so some extra energy would be nice also.

When I told my niece that I was starting these supplements, she mentioned that a co-worker also tried a similar product and that her results were visible within the first week. Wow. Of course, I think the co-worker is younger (around 30), so that might be a factor. I'm not looking for miracles, but...

Anyway, I wanted to post the "Before" photo so that I can do a visual update down the road.

One last thing to mention: I have already noticed that my face and lips are much softer/less dry.

Peace
--Free

Thursday, January 14, 2016

**REVIEW** Making Cosmetics

Because I prefer keeping my beauty products as natural as possible, I like scouring the Internet for affordable places to shop. I use lots of oils and butters for my skin and hair, and I like to find ingredients that give me options with my makeup.

Amazon is great for finding things that aren't available locally. I was looking for an alternative to brand name - and brand priced - "blurring" and smoothing products  (think Garnier's 5 Sec Blur and Maybelline's Pore Eraser). What I found was a cheaper and more effective product:



Price = around 6 bucks + s/h for 1.0oz
Price for 5 Sec Blur = around 17 dollars for 1.0oz (here in Alaska, but I've heard it's about $15 in Lower 48)

I mentioned Wrinkle Blur in a post from last summer. When I fell in love with that product, I was curous about where it originated. I'm glad I stumbled upon the site because I am a regular customer now.



I'll just go ahead and make a list of all the things I like about Making Cosmetics:

  • M.C. lists detailed information about every one of their products, including Description; CAS #; INCI Name; Properties (of the product); Use (ex: iin DIY formulas); Applications; Documents (recipes, Cert. of Analysis, and even more detailed info, such as Safety Data ); and then they list some commercial items that the item resembles or shares usage with.
  • Aside from all that information, they even provide the Harmonized Tariff Code for the item (in case of shipping). Anyone working in freight or supply chain logisitics will appreciate the heck out of that.
  • The site has a lot of resources for DIY cosmetic kitchenistas. You can find answers to common questions about making your own cosmetics, troubleshoot formulating issues. There is a Video Library and a formulating service, in case you are skittish or just want to have someone else do the mixing.
  • For those of you who really want to put together your own products, you can find the recipes for shampoos and conditioners, face powders, shower gels, lotions, balms, creams for different skin types, and men products.  I could swear that, at one time, there was a section for products aimed at the "ethnic" skin and hair care market. 
  • If you aren't in full DIY mode, but still want some control over your beauty products, M.C. has complete kits (for lipsticks, eyeshadows, hair masks, etc.) If you are seriously DIY, there's everything from beakers to microbial test kits.  For someone just approaching the idea of DIY beauty and skin care, there are books on basics and advanced topics.
  • Prices are outstanding. I've ordered oils and powders and I've always been able to choose a size to fit my meager budget. 
  • The customer service is top notch. I have never had a problem with anything, but I did screw up one of my orders. I contacted M.C. and they fixed my mistake pronto.
  • If you create an account, you earn points redeemable for gift certificates that can be used to purchase M.C. products on site
  • You have alternatives to just paying for expensive, OTC products that skimpy on the main ingredient and often have a ton of additives. Also, they sell quite a few things in bulk sizes. For example, I got the the M.C."Blur" from Amazon in April of last year. After using some at least twice a week (sometimes every day even, I still have 2/3 left. The store brand item goes much faster. At just about 3 times the price...
  •  My shipments have always come very quickly and protected very well. A HUGE plus for me is that M.C. doesn't try to gouge Alaska customers with crazy S&H charges. Matter of fact, they don't even charge for "handling" on domestic orders.
In my opinion, I think that more people ought to be flocking to sites like Making Cosmetics. I hear so many people of different groups who aren't always satisfied with brand products. Think I'm lying? How many times have you heard someone saying something about products like...
  • "I can never find a (foundation, lipstick, eyeshadow, blush, etc.) that (I like, is in my shade, lasts long enough, doesn't break me out, etc.)"
  • "My hair is too (thin, thick, nappy, curly, straight, dry, oily, etc) for most shampoos and/or conditioners."
  • "This is my favorite (lipstick, mascara, etc.) but it's just too expensive and doesn't last long enough."
  • "I'd like something without any/less (fragrance, chemicals,etc.)"
Then there are just those people who have researched products and know what works on their hair or skin, but stuggle to find OTC products with those things included. I experience this a lot when it comes to my natural hair. I hear all about certain ingredients that are good for my 4b/4c dry and breakage-prone hair. The problem is finding products that contain the things I need without the bad stuff - and for an affordable price.

So there are a lot of reasons that more of us should be taking control of which ingredients we use in our beauty routine.  

I've learned a few things ever since I started going more "natural" and DIY with my skin and hair care. One thing is that consumers can save a lot of money by finding other resources. When I buy something like, for example, a "blurring" product at the store, I'm mostly paying more for marketing than I am for ingredients and formulation.  Another thing is that, I love having control over what I'm using on my hair and skin. There are so many times I've bought brand products - mainly for my hair - without understanding all the ingredients. It's nice that I have some choices with what I use. I can either keep fully natural (or, at least, non-toxic) or I can control the ingredients list.

Since I've been using basic products or just mixing up my own instead of giving my money to brand name companies, my life is the reverse of this:



Now, I'm not the most talented at DIY projects (my niece, +Gabrielle B owns that honor), but I can figure out how to take care of my skin, hair and beauty needs without major mishaps. Making Cosmetics is a huge benefit to people like me.  Go check them out.

Peace
--Free

P.S.: Nope, this is NOT a sponsored post. I received nothing from Amazon or Making Cosmetics for sharing my opinion. This was just one of those times when I had to share a good thing with the rest of you.

Monday, January 11, 2016

**REVIEW** Organic Jojoba Oil

Sometime in the next day or so, I'm going to be doing a post just on Making Cosmetics. For now, I wanted to share my newest oil from them:




That is organic Jojoba Oil (which is really a liquid wax). For the 4.2oz bottle, the price is $10.90 (+ s&h) if you order it from Making Cosmetics, or $12.00 (+ s&h) from Amazon (even Prime).

From Making Cosmetics product information page:
Description: Organic pure liquid wax (not an oil as such) derived from the seeds of a plant (simmondsia chinensis) growing in the Sonora desert in the USA, composed of different liquid wax esters similar to human sebaceous, based on fatty acids & fatty alcohols (no triglycerides), cold-pressed, insoluble in water. Clear oily tan liquid, no or faint odor. 
INCI Name: Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) seed oil 
Properties: Precious moisturizer and emollient. Prevents transdermal water loss and retains moisture. Good lubricant without leaving a greasy film on the skin as it penetrates into the skin. Regular application can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

I've heard lots about Jojoba Oil being the closest to human sebum, but I know that some people dispute that. All I really care about is whether or not the oil will be something safe for my skin and hair. My skin already love is and I wish I could afford gallons of the stuff.

As soon as I put the oil on my hands (to test it), I noticed how soft and supple they felt. Immediately. I headed over to Google some information and the first benefit of Jojoba that I saw was for softening the skin. Nice. I'm very picky about what I use on my skin and I love anything that moisturizes and softens.

There are lots of  tips and some great info here for using Jojoba Oil.

Another plus to using Jojoba is that, while it is a moisturizing conditioning agent, it's supposed to also be great for acne and oily skin.

As for use on the scalp and hair, Jojoba Oil is supposed to be very nourishing without creating a lot of buildup. I refer to a couple of wonderful sites for information about natural hair - Naturally Curly and Curly Nikki - they both share some info about using jojoba (and other oils) for the care and feeding of natural curls. Check the sites often for good stuff all the time.

Right now, I am flat-ironing my hair. I need something to moisturize my scalp and shine my hair. The Jojoba Oil sure seems to be working. When I wear my hair straightened, the one thing that concerns me is not drying it out and not having a greasy feel. So far, so good.

There's no way to show you how my skin feels because of the oil, but I wanted to show how non-greasy it is once applied and rubbed in.

I hope that the photos show how absorbed the oil is. You almost can't tell, even in person, that there is oil on (rubbed in) my wrist. You can feel the difference though.


Oil on wrist
Clear and very thin texture
Oil rubbed in
No oil on this wrist
Did you notice how "runny" the oil is? It has a very. very thin texture. That's nice for getting a lot of use out of a small amount, but be careul with applying so you don't have a spill!

As far as I can tell, there is no noticeable smell to the oil. I have a cold, but I can still smell the neem oil I use! The label indicates that there is "no or faint odor".

Some other ways to use Jojoba Oil:

  • To moisturize and treat dry feet (This is my first night using it for this, but my feet - which are not as bad as usual, thanks to a pedicure a month ago - soaked this oil right up. The difference in the Jojoba and other oils I've used on my feet is that this didn't take a lot and it soaked into even the driest parts.)
  • As a lip balm (On one of the links I provided above, there's a recipe for a beeswax/jojoba balm. I just put the oil directly on my lips. Feels good, but I should do a lip scrub and try again.)
  • For the ends of the hair (I applied some to the very tips of my hair and will keep doing that every night to see if it helps keep my ends from splitting so much.)
  • As a makeup remover (I'm not trying to waste my precious jojoba to use for this. I plan to continue using my other oils for this and then moisturize with the jojoba.)

One thing I will suggest is that you get a dropper applicator to use when applying the oil to your scalp. That makes it easier to direct the oil where you want it. Try separating your hair into 4 sections, then putting a couple or three drops onto the scalp in each section. You can massage with your fingertips to spread the oil around without wasting any. This is going to be a nightly thing for me - especially when I am using the flatiron.

There are tons of places where you can get Jojoba Oil (I'm capping it because it's the subject of this post!) but, when it comes to oils and DIY beauty staples, I prefer getting mine from Making Cosmetics - who also have a presence on Amazon with some of their products. Like I said, I will talk more about that company in an upcoming post.


















Stay tuned for updates as I find more ways to use this...

Peace
--Free

Thursday, January 07, 2016

**How-To** Amazon Prime Sharing

Ever since I have been doing product reviews, I've used Amazon Prime. That's because most of the products I review are paid for with codes (provided by a product/brand rep) and my shipping is free.
Of course, I also use my Prime membership for other things, especially for gifts for holidays and birthdays. Living in Alaska, I love that I get to shop online for affordable items without worrying about ridiculous shipping and handling fees.

Free shipping would be enough of an incentive to have a Prime membership. The other huge benefit to having Prime is that I can share my account with my household. That's 3 adults and 1 kid. We can get educational games and toys for the child without being limited to the local stores (and local prices), the adults can order clothes, cosmetics, household items and appliances, and some food items. 

Having the luxury of variety, pricing, fast (and free) shipping makes a Prime membership almost a necessity. Split among 3 adults, the membership is affordable and very, very much worth every penny.

The one problem I had with sharing my Prime membership was, well, sharing. This was a big problem during this past Christmas shopping period.

I always knew that I was allowed to share my Prime. What I didn't know is that there is a specific way to share it. What I had been doing was just giving my sign-in information to the other adults in the house. That worked great until we were all trying to surprise each other with Christmas gifts.

After searching the FAQs and forums, I still had no idea of an easier way to share my Prime membership. Apparently, this is a problem a lot of other people were having. I saw other users in the forums wondering at a solution.

This morning, I contacted the Amazon Help center and had a nice chat with a rep named Ben. He directed me to a page that I swear I have never seen before this day! LOL

Here are the directions to setting up a household so that you can properly share your Prime membership (see screenshots below):
  1. Go here to access instructions for setting up Amazon Household.
  2. You can add a Child or Adult. For Adults, you will need the person with you - or have their information to set up an email, password and billing information.
  3. Once you have another Adult account set up, you and the other person should be able to sign in and access your separate information (as far as orders and history, etc.)











It was pretty easy to set up the other adult in our household, but I will have to wait and see how it actually works out. One thing that I noticed is that you have to be willing to "share" some of the billing information in order to share services. This was no problem for me because in our household trust one another. 

I'm curious as to why this information was so hard to find. I know that lots of other users have run into the same problem with finding out how to properly use a shared Prime account. Probably, I wasn't paying attention but, at any rate, things are fixed now.

Peace
--Free

Sunday, January 03, 2016

**REVIEW** Beautiful Textures (Texture Manageability System)

I love wearing my hair "natural", but there are times when I want a different look. 

When I was in Texas, my niece braided my hair with extensions. That was a nice no-care 'do for a couple of weeks, but because I wanted the 'no care' part, a couple weeks is all my hair could take. Coming back to Alaska, my hair was drying out and starting to get some damage. The braids came out and I was back to my natural 'do.

Since my hair did dry out, I was only wearing high-moisture "maintenance" styles for several days. Bor-ing!

Last week when I was Christmas shopping, I saw this interesting product:


This is called a "Texture Manageablitlity System" (or just TMS). Here is some detailed information about the product but, basically, what it does is allow a user to easily swap between a curly or natural look and a straightened look. In theory.

I really liked the idea because, of course, I don't want to use a chemical relaxer on my hair. Another benefit was the price. I picked mine up at Walmart (of all places to discover something new) and paid just under 8 bucks.

One thing to mention right off the bat is that I thought the product was made by the same company that produces a popluar line of hair care items. The box looks very much like this company (which I won't name). From what I can tell though, from checking the box and product site, this isn't by any company I've ever heard of. Not sure what that will mean to other users, but I just wanted to mention it.

Let's look at what comes in the kit, then I will go over what I thought of as the Pros and Cons during my first use.




The only parts of the kit I had to use right away was the special shampoo and conditioner (labeled 1 and 2 in the photo). The packets labeled A and B are the anti-reversionshampoo and conditioner to be used for maintenance.

Okay, let's do the rundown:

PROS and CONS:

  • It's fairly easy to use this. With relaxers, users have to worry quite a bit about timing the process (for safety) and protecting the scalp and skin (for safety). With the TMS, I did have some sensitiity to the processing conditioner. There are warnings that this might happen, which is why gloves are provided. This was my first sign that, while this might be less harsh than a common relaxer, there was still some "processing" going on. (Check the FAQs and you'll see why.)
  • The conditioner is obviously the main component of the product. But, first, I had to use the special shampoo. I didn't like how it made my hair feel, After the first wash (you're to wash 3 times to start the TMS), my hair felt like soft steel wool. I'm not tryining to be funny. The purpose of the shampoo is to "clean" the hair of any product buildup, but my hair felt as if it had been stripped to the point of damage.
  • After applying the conditioner, my hair seemed to revive a little bit, but it was still not feeling great. I was beginning to wish I had done a strand test of the entire process. Since I didn't do that, I will suggest it to future first-time users. Just to see what you think before going whole hog.
  • My main concern (after I had used the product) was whether or not I could use any of my regular shampoos without interfering with the results of the TMS. I ask this (despite the fact that the kit includes anti-reversion shampoo and conditioner) because I normally use a gentle and extra-moisturizing shampoo bar. Good news: there are a lot of questions addressed in the FAQs. Bad news: there are a lot of questions addressed in the FAQs. I felt like I was having to hunt down basic information...
  • When you spot this in the store, the main attraction of the product is that you will be able to go from not straight to straight. That's the basic appeal, right? So, I was concerned when I saw other reviews that mentioned some problems with that. This issue is even addressed in the FAQs and users are advised, in this case, to wash vigorously and do a 30-minute deep conditioning. That doesn't sound too bad, but I haven't tried reverting back yet so I don't know.
NOTE: I started this post right after using the TMS process, then I got really sick with a nasty virus that's still kicking my butt... Ugh.

Anyway, It's been a couple of weeks, but I'm back to finish off this review. Maybe being productive will help me feel better.

I have wetted my hair 3 times since using the TMS because I have done some deep conditioning. My hair has reverted back to pre-treatment texture when wet. I can use the flat-iron to get a smoothed style. I still think that I would have been able to do this without the TMS, but some other users might need the help the system provides in straightening.

My hair does better with a flat-iron straightening than with any relaxers or other "systems". Since I have rarely used a flat-iron before now (and never a decent one like the one I have), I won't know if the TMS affected the results. I will come back and do another update several weeks down the line if that is the case.

One thing I want to say for those who, like me, prefer not to use straightening relaxers (of the traditional kind), is to try just using a good heat protecting product and a flat-iron. That way, with zero treatment chemicals, you might be able to switch between kinky-curly and straight. 

When I was using relaxers on my hair, I had quite a bit of breakage during combing/brushing. With the flat-iron, I get very little breakage. My hair seems to be doing very well so far. Of course, I use moderate heat and always use a protectant (I like Aussie's Hair Insurance). I also make sure to use a good oil on my scalp. 



This is what my braids looked like:






Loved them, but my hair wasn't getting enough moisture :-(

My natural look is my favorite

But it's nice to switch things up a bit. To paraphrase a Pin I recently saw: When you feel like crap, slap on some lipstick and... well, something. Can't remember what.


Yeah, I know. I look about as good as this virus feels. Still, you get the idea. I can actually go from natural (kinky/curly) to a straighter, smoother look.

One last thing about switching up styles: going natural is the easiest. I can just twist/coil my hair for a few hours (or overnight), untwist and go. Plus, a lot of moisture is built into the style. Even though I can moisturize my scalp with the "straight" look, I can't do as much for my hair. So... I will probably only go straight for a couple weeks, then do my natural thing for a couple of months. Summer will be okay for doing the straight look longer, but winter time is too dry for my hair and skin.

I guess I would say that the TMS is a good system, depending on your hair type and needs. Also, just know what you're getting into first. Check the product's site and the FAQs before purchasing.

Peace
--Free

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