Posts Categorized: product review

September 16, 2010

Carol’s Daughter Magic Hair Cream

The last ten years + in the natural hair game have been a true testament to the drive and determination of a growing panel of women who long realized a void and opted to fill rather than watch it continually grow & one of the first to claim their territory is the still evolving & inspiring folks behind the Carol’s Daughter brand.

If there were ever an official blueprint on how to be successful in the natural hair beauty game, it is carefully embedded somewhere in the walls or basement of Carol’s Daughter’s headquarters. It must…because to see where it all began to what we’re all able to appreciate today is pretty incredible. I introduced my own Mum to the brand several years ago after initiating a second BC and flocking to their flagship stores in both Brooklyn and Harlem. Clueless and beyond curious about all the oils, butters and lotions that peeked out from the shelves, I carried home what seemed like most of the Carol’s Daughter hair care line along with a few perfumes and creams.

A few years have passed since I stepped into their stores in BK or Harlem, yet walking into a Macy’s department store this past June while visiting the folks found me at their official counter & curious yet again. The majority of the natural hair line had undergone a complete ingredient makeover, including my once beloved Hair Milk, yet peeking out behind one of the glass windows was a jar of Some of Marguerite’s Magic, a creamy hairdress that I always opted not to try because I assumed it too similar in consistency to their Healthy Hair Butter.

Because my mother had sent me to score a jar of Healthy Hair Butter for her own strands & being the PJ at heart that I am, I instinctively picked up a jar of the magic hair cream and finally dug in a few backs while styling with two strand twists. SURPRISE!! I love.this.stuff.

Initially I stared at the jar…clueless on how to approach & style with the cream. But quickly moving beyond own foolishness, re-read the ingredient list & made a mental note of the first ingredient…water.

Water, Zea Mays (Corn) Oil, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond Oil), Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter) Fruit, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Beeswax, Stearic Acid, Fragrance (Parfum), Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Oil, Triethanolamine, Phenoxyethanol, Capryl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hexylene Glycol, Disodium EDTA, Butylene Glycol, O-Cymen-5OL

I’d run out of my go-to leave-in conditioner & on a whim substituted using the hair cream. The results were better than I’d expected. The hair cream not only softened and moisturized my twists, it acted as a great detangler (think Qhemet’s Coco Tree Detangling Ghee) while smoothing on and prior to adding my regular styling product. A very little bit, goes a long way in doing a great job, which is an added bonus if you’re a bit more heavy handed when using an additional styling aid.

I’ve used the hair cream several times since purchasing and rely on it to keep my twists staying fresh, moisturized and shinny for my 5-7 day twistouts. It works great as a multipurpose cream, serving as a mid-week refresher for twists/braids, dry parched hair or as a primary styler if your hair is slightly thinner and does not typically need a leave-in conditioner coupled with an additional styling product.

This morning I untwisted my two-strand twists to rock a proper twistout and love the shine & moisture my hair was able to maintain even 4 days after washing/styling. Definite win win in my book, especially for the Winter months when scalp irritations find their way back into my life and hair needs all the moisture it can handle.

September 15, 2010

Humble Beginnings

I’ve had a hard time over the past few weeks admitting that a break from the noise and more than just a few deep breathes were what I needed to regroup my thoughts and perfect the art of pure awesomeness that I know I’m ineptly capable of. It took amazing timing, new-found clarity and a heartfelt talk with a good friend to set my thoughts back on their right track. We sat in front of the majestic fountain in the heart of Central Park several weeks back watching newly married couples pose, small children blow bubbles & play tag, the after work crew(s) bask in the last remaining days of Summer in NYC….it all just.felt.right. I felt a whole season of doubt and exhaustion slowly melt away in a matter of moments and understood why seasons change, the nonsensical reasoning behind why some people enter our lives & how swiftly they exit.

Time is what it inherently takes to have clarity, and for that I feel blessed. Lately I find myself regrouping and unpacking my thoughts and belongings into a new apartment, a new way to get home and an earnest desire to treat myself to the simplest of things. It starts with the little things sometimes… and when I mean ‘little‘ ….I mean small.

Over the past few years I’ve lamented over a lil secret that I undoubtedly share with more than just a handful of small apartment hoarders in any Metro area.  Pump your fist proudly (or quietly) if you feel me, but over the past few years I’ve lived without the luxury of a bathtub to canoodle with after a long days/weeks worth of work. SILLY….yah. But there is something undeniably rewarding when you’re able to stretch your limbs in the morning before the sun breaks through or luxuriate in the comforts of a different kind of bubbly that relaxes you to the core. I missed this, and am over the moon happy each morning I step into my new bathroom complete with full length tub!

First night in new apartment, before calling the fam, before placing new sheets on any of the beds in my home…I scampered to the my bathroom…closed the door and Diddy Danced my way to happy! The small things…YES! I doused my Japanese washcloth in Caress goodness using their new Whipped Souffle body wash, and stretched my limbs and toes till they could no more.

Again, it just.felt.RIGHT!

I blew my own bubbles and indulged in a body wash that felt more like a moisturizing cream than something meant to cleanse and scrub away my day. My Mum would approve of the Blackberry Vanilla scent (YUM!), and the way it leaves your skin touchably soft long after you shower.

I’ve been in my new humble digs for approximately 15 days and have yet to play switcheroo with my body wash stash. I’m attached to my new tub and the simplicity of wanting and needing something small yet satisfying to complete my day.

Can any of you guys relate or am I the only one who’s finally learning the importance of the little things in life.…?

*products mentioned in this post were offered for potential review. disclosure policy can be found here
June 22, 2010

Shea Moisture Deep Treatment Masque

Having easy access to some of the best products to help quench and nourish naturally curly hair is steadily becoming a reality, and I couldn’t be any happier! Earlier this year flocks of kinky curly masses headed out to Target for the official launch of several new additions to their beauty care aisle, one prominent name being the Shea Moisture line of stylers, conditioners & shampoos. I can’t front on not feeling just a twang of excitement after seeing the endcaps full of products geared SPECIFICALLY for naturally curly hair. I happily joined the small group of ladies gathered around the displays, scanning the ingredient lists and asking each other questions. It really was a lesson on what has long been missing in the hair industry as well as a welcome sigh of relief at seeing something finally started, and the anticipation of seeing even more curly haired lines introduced to the mainstream markets.

While the Shea Moisture line does carry a long list of products, I managed to keep the pennies in check and walk away with just the Shea Moisture Deep Treatment Masque. If I’m at a Tarjay on a weekend there are only two things I need – 1 is toilet tissue, and the other is a cheap effective conditioner in place of some of my online favorites.  I used the masque to deep condition while the hair was in dire need of a trim, but still had high hopes.

I applied to wet hair after pre-pooing and shampooing the scalp, and choose to detangle with a wide tooth comb as opposed to the Denman brush to help prevent more snarls and tangles on my remaining damaged ends. The slip of the conditioner did make detangling easy, and while my hair did drink in most of the 12 oz jar, it didn’t take me longer than usual to get the job done.

Ingredients:

deionized water, butyrospermum parkii (shea butter), argan oil, cetyl esters, sea kelp extract, panthenol (vitamin b-5), ammonium salt, essential oil blend, avocado oil, lonicera caprifolium (honeysuckle) flower and lonicera japonica (japanese honeysuckle) flower extract, tocopherol (vitamin e), hyssopus officinalis extract, salvia officinalis (sage) leaf and equisetum arvense extract, soybean oil, daucus carota sativa (carrot) seed oil.

Going by the ingredient list, you really can’t go wrong – all natural and filled with moisturizing goodness, the hair was noticeably softer and smooth after an hour and a half of sitting under a conditioning cap. I’m almost certain if I used heat to help the condish penetrate my strands I would’ve had more effective results, but lacked time. I love a good deep conditioner that can help set-up the styling process, and the Shea Moisture masque worked well in doing so – applying my normal leave-in under my usual styler was easy and did not leave me reaching for more product to help moisturize.

What I liked about the product was the easily application, and the current easy access we all have when looking for a cost effective deep treatment. While the smell was a bit overpowering (think sweet cake batter), it did dissipate after applying my regular leave-in conditioner & styler.  For $9, I would purchase again, but only if my current stash was looking a bit grave. With my thick coarse hair, the deep treatment worked well, but because it does come off a bit runny-not necessarily thick- I was more than a little heavy handed when applying. If you’ve tried the Shea Moisture Masque, I’d love to hear your thoughts! If you happen to be in your local Target and stumble on the new lines now offered, I’d suggest giving the Masque a try if your tresses are damaged, thirsty or just need a little TLC.

June 18, 2010

Suave Almond & Shea Butter Conditioner

The one thing I could use more of, but could never seem to find, is time to actually pack.  I love to travel, anticipate the destination – yet abstain from the actual putting of the clothes/toothbrush/toiletries in said luggage until the very last minute. This is what is called procrastination, yes?  I’m trying, but it’s typical that when you finally arrive to glorious fun in the sun, and finally unzip your suitcase to luxuriate in quality time, you notice the inevitable. You’ve either forgotten something critical to your daily/weekly routine or your favorite gel/cream/lotion has managed to spill all over your Freak’em dress.

Visiting the fam again this week,  realized that I did in fact forget the oh so critical step in the routine. Conditioner! I successfully zipped up styling products/tools/shampoo, yet neglected to shuck in the condish! Thankfully, worrying is hardly an option in Southern Florida with an Ulta and enough pitstops of CVS/Walgreens locations to make your head spin. After a quick run into a local drugstore I snagged the newly popular Suave Professionals Almond & Shea Butter Conditioner.

Hey, a girl has to stay par for budget when on vacation, so going the cheapie conditioner route in 95 degree weather makes more sense.  It’s a relatively new moisturizing conditioner from Suave with almond & shea butter to specifically target dry, damaged hair. After a week carrying around globs of gel and moisturizer in my Fro, I’d experienced a fair amount of dry hair/scalp, and trying something new that’s also been getting rave reviews across the boards left my mind at ease.

After shampooing, I applied the conditioner in sections starting from the back. I detangled first with a wide tooth comb starting from the ends, working my way up – then finishing up with my D3 Denman brush.  I followed this routine until the hair was fully detangled, and this thankfully did not take long. The Suave Almond & Shea Butter Conditioner has a great amount of slip, enough for both my comb & Denman to glide easily through my strands.

Lately I hardly take many product claims to heart, but the back of the bottle does make a pretty impresive one!

“…proven to moisturize your hair as well as Aveda Dry Remedy shampoo & conditioner.”

Did it perform as well as it claims? Well, it did moisturize my already parched kinks – smoothed the hair easier than many of the other cheapie or expensive conditioners I’ve used in the past, and has a pleasant smell that never comes off as overbearing. What I loved about this conditioner is the insanely good price ( I found it for less than $3), its creamy/thick texture and how it outperforms many of the old conditioners used in the past. This would work great as a co-wash, or as an adequate substitute for a deep conditioner ( I left it in for well over an hour). Prior to washing/conditioning, my hair had imploded on itself courtesy of unusual Southern Florida humidity, and needed the help of a quick, good performing conditioner – and the Suave Almond & Shea does the absolute trick!

If you do not have damaged hair, but have strands that are more prone to dryness, I’d highly recommend trying this, especially for the price. I have thick/dense hair that absorbs conditioner on a dime, so finding a cost effective option is a special treat

April 29, 2010

EOS Ultra Smoothing Shave Cream

There are only a select few jems in life that seriously get me to smile on a dime. One of them being my grandmother’s home cooking, and the other is the thrill of knowing my naturally boingy hair is rocking hard and taking numbers. No better feeling than to be riding high on the gain of satisfaction, despite the occasion!

This afternoon, as the clock wound it’s way to 5, a co-worker alerted me to a l’il weather tid-bit that I’d completely glanced over. Sunny & 85 degrees on a Friday. Nuff said.

Full disclosure – while I clearly anticipate the onset of Spring during the ruff tumbles of Winter and can’t flippin wait for the return of Summer each year, it takes more than a minute and a half for ‘up keep’ to take it’s full effects. Mani, Pedi, are always waiting for me to oblige their needs until it’s too late. So, after rushing home…slinging my purse down, munching on din din – I reluctantly retired to the bathroom and finally said Hellur to the new season.

Shaving is my thing. Hands down. I have annoyingly sensitive skin, and have the fear of flareup syndrome that descends on most in my situation if anything wax in form comes near. In the past I’ve typically paired up a gentle three blade razor with the ‘ol tried and true Skintimate soft gel/creams. Generally leaving my skin bump free and nick-less, I never opted to change direction until stumbling on the EOS line of goodies at Target a few weeks back.

On a whim I snagged EOS Ultra Moisturizing Shave Cream after seeing the fun, non-traditional packaging, convenient hold bottle…and because it is often times the little things that matter….the metal free bottom rim! Exciting for those who’ve left their old cans of shaving cream in respective showers, only to find a yucky rust colored rim that only Ajax can remove…? Yah. It matters.

I shaved using the Vanilla Bliss scent, and instantly fell in love with the application. Three pumps for full coverage on each leg, followed by treats of softness & easy to glide goodness! The company site hints to ‘the evolution of smooth,’ and frankly…I’m sold. Paraben-free, with shea-butter and aloe to soothe as you shave, it really does what it claims – Moisturize! Now readily available at my local Tarjay, I’m aiming to try the Lavender Jasmine & Island Blue scent!

No more foam, no more mess…finally ready for the season!!

April 29, 2010

Pumpkin Seed Moisturizing Conditioner

Luck has definitely been in the air lately as far as dabbling in a few new conditioners and stylers. Welcomed into the condish family & tied up in just the most fancy of packaging, was Darcy’s Botanicals Pumpkin Seed Moisturizing Conditioner. This puppy I have long been meaning to swing around to for what seems like months now, though for every reason under the sun…just slipped my mind! It’s a goody because it works.

Case in point:

*Pumpkin Seed Oil:

Pumpkin seed oil is one of the most nutritional oils available, and is an excellent source of essential fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins, and sterols. It contains Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, which are known to promote energy levels, brain function, and overall health and vitality. It also contains high levels of Vitamin E, as well as Vitamins A and C, Zinc, and other trace minerals and vitamins.

Vitamins, Minerals and the only instance that I know of where having a high fat content is an added benefit.

HOW DOES THIS WORK?

Use as a cream rinse or rinse-out conditioner to give your curls a wonderful boost of moisture and softness.

WHAT’S IN IT?

Distilled Water, BTMS (a mild conditioning emulsifier), Pumpkin Seed Oil, Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, Japanese Camellia Oil, Cetyl Alcohol, Botanical Oil Complex, Hydrolyzed Oat Protein, Panthenol, Ximenia Oil (Wild Plum) and fragrance.

HOW DO I USE IT?

Use it as a cream rinse to naturally condition dry curls, locs & waves.

Use as rinse-out conditioner to add moisture.

Use to promote healthy hair growth

I used the conditioner on freshly washed hair – clean no residue to be found – because simply by looking at the consistency of the product, I caught a clue. It’s THICK. Yes, thankfully thick and moisturizing love to hold hands, and this one did it’s thing, and did it well! With thicker conditioners there’s always the slight aversion to product buildup, therefore in order to allow moisture to seep into the strands, I made sure to rid my hair of all other previous ailments –>re: oils, butters, puddings, custards..etc. Start fresh & you’ll get even Fresher results;-)!

Because of the conditioner’s consistency, detangling was not breezy, though not difficult either. Extra time was spent ensuring all over coverage, spreading & shingling throughout with a wide-tooth comb & Denman Brush. I hardly ever condition/DC less than 20-30 minutes at a time, so under a processing cap I went for upwards of an hour.

After fully rinsing, hair was noticeably softer, more manageable & it was fairly easy to run my fingers through. Scent wise, it’s an easy guess. The smell of pumpkin cookies is pretty strong, though not overbearing. Does not linger, especially if followed up with an leave-in conditioner.

Make sure to FULLY rinse out of hair! Preferably using warm/cold water. This is not your run of the mill condish that loves to moonlight as a leave-in.  Trust in the fact that you’ll want to safely rinse out the product to reveal uber soft coils/curls/love.

My heart & hair belongs to this condish & we’re sharing good times, my only gripe is that because of the density, my heavy handedness could decrease if it came in a larger size and/or a jar for easy scooping. I have just a smidge left in my 8oz bottle, and as much as I’d love to use up…perhaps even as a short-lived pre-poo treatment…I can’t reach it! Too thick to come down the bottle.

Price is wise at $12, and as always…Darcy herself has some of the best customer service around these parts. Click here to find out;-)

Have any of you guys tried, sampled? Would love to know your thoughts!

*via mountain rose herbs