Posts Categorized: product review

April 11, 2010

Curl Junkie – Daily Fix Cleansing Conditioner

Lately I’ve been on a good run –  finding and using products for my hair that I absolutely adore & that can easily slide into my growing rotation of products. Though first I will admit to toning down the PJism, particularly over this past winter. Gratuitous hauls were made during last years’ Black Friday extravaganzas that forced my hand, in conjunction with a dose of common sense to just slow my roll to a tiny crawl.  I have yet to even delve into a few other jars of butters and pomades that are idly waiting by, tons of stylers that were on my PJ radar since I officially began keeping tabs.

And yet one of the few things that I find myself constantly in perusal of, no matter the season or reason is conditioner & cleanser. What I look for when roaming the isles typically every other week or so, are products that will not dry out my already naturally parched hair,  free from run of the mill harsh detergent like ingredients and reasonably priced.  On one hand, I can honestly list just a few contenders that are readily available in the isles of my local drugstore. Other times, if you’re lucky – a crafty smart company will put out a product, specifically made for the needs of the kinky curly domination and that’s only a click away.

I sampled Curl Junkie’s Daily Fix Cleansing Hair Conditioner many moons ago, then happily was re-introduced again just a few weeks back when my stash had been depleted of all things cleanser. Traditionally I’ve long cleansed my scalp with a regular non-harsh shampoo, this week has been Desert Essence’s organic brand, while co-washing my strands with a moisturizing cost effective conditioner. The Daily Fix, while the first & only cleansing conditioner I’ve ever sampled – grabbed my heart and forced me into love!

Hands down…the idea of a cleansing conditioner is verbage I’d encourage many curly haired/kinky femmes to adore simply because it just feels & works right. Free of the normal harsh detergents that are in average cleansers, though formulated to cleanse without stripping your strands of their natural oils, it’s effective, smells so fresh so clean, and comes in a snazzy 12 oz bottle where my favorite catch phrase comes into play – ‘A little goes a long way.’

With the massive fro-like state my hair undergoes after a week out in the elements, a small palm full is all I needed to cleanse my strands, leaving behind a soft mass of well defined curls, krinklets & a ton of happy. Following directions on the bottle might just save you from instant irritation, so read then proceed. The cleansing conditioner like most cleansers needs to be WORKED into the hair with the use of WATER…be generous if needed, but easy on the bottle because you really want the goodness to last a while.

April 2, 2010

Desert Essence Organics

It’s difficult in the beginning – first learning how to care for natural hair, abandoning old ideas of what was once good and healthy for your once relaxed strands – only to find that changing your hair texture also meant overturning your old regime, starting from scratch & taking more abbreviated notes.

Over the years I’ve etched out a few cheat sheets to help twist the hair faster, condition for a shorter period of time w/long term benefits & detangling in record time after days of avoiding a comb. Yet one of the few things that I cannot, will not & should not speed past, is the cleansing of my scalp. Long ago I was in another camp, the fun place where styles could last upwards of 3, sometimes 4 weeks at a time. Twists and the occasional blowouts would maintain some sense of normalcy as long as my nighttime routine was up to par.

Fast forward to the place I am in now, hair healthy – happily growing, yet still figuring out the scalp situation. These days it’s more so about maintaining the problem rather than completely solving it. To avoid the prescription meds my dermatologists often prescribes, I opt for oil blends and other scalp serum remedies that keep the scalp itch & flake free. To help keep the scalp well moisturized and balanced I’ve been leaning on Bee Mine’s Oil Free Serum, applied in between styling. But to help me get to the actual in-between, I have to first begin with a good scalp cleansing, and lately my fingers have been reaching for the poo, a shampoo that doesn’t contain harsh detergents, is moisturizing while still effectively cleansing.

Last month was my first dip into Aubrey Organics Honey Suckle Rose Shampoo, a gentle moisturizing shampoo that went a long way while using very little to get the job done. After a month and a half of good use, my scalp did form an attachment to the Honey Suckle Rose, though soon it became a bit ineffective. Last week I opted to pull a switcheroo, finding relief in another non-harsh poo, Desert Essence’s Fragrance Free Organic Shampoo.

Desert Essence Organics Fragrance Free Shampoo is a gentle yet effective unscented shampoo. Organic extracts and oils provide moisture, minerals, and vitamins that hair needs to grow stronger. Upon use, hair is softer, shinier, and more manageable.

Organic Green Tea: Rich in antioxidants and polyphenols, Green Tea gives the hair gloss and shine.

Organic Jojoba Oil: An ingredient that acts on the scalp to leave the skin feeling moisturized and revitalized.

Organic Kelp and Nettle Extracts: Provide iron, calcium, potassium, and other vitamins and minerals which absorb into and help strengthen each hair strand

To help separate the idea of cleansing actual hair strands from cleansing the scalp, I apply the poo directly to my scalp using an applicator bottle. I find that this method of application helps the poo to lather sooner, and I often get better coverage as opposed to applying directly to hair. I love the fact that it’s a Fragrance free shampoo, Organic and chock full of goody nutrients my hair & scalp often loves!

After first use, my scalp was noticeably cleaner, and the hair did not dull out, maintaining its moisture & not over-stripped. The obvious hope is to continue using the Desert Essence until my scalp protests otherwise – and here’s hoping it doesn’t! A little goes a long way with this brand, the price is superbly right at a mere $8 & it’s easily accessible at most Whole Foods Markets & Trader Joe’s.

March 15, 2010

Qhemet Biologics – Cocoa Tree Detangling Ghee

I’m not usually a sucker for most things. After working in retail for the majority of my teen/college years, I’m hip to the marketing game, the ‘this would go soooo well with that…’ tune that if you’re the unlucky gal looking & working off of commission, you’re more than likely to hit a road block with me coming your way. And with that said, there is always my weak point, the product or ‘thing’ that can always bring my wallet to it’s knees and purchase up a storm. At this point it’s not even a secret, but it’s often my personal pleasure to indulge in most things chocolate scented/chocolate flavored…just…plain loved by cocoa:-)!

So whether or not the folks over at Qhemet Biologics marketed their Cocoa Tree Detangling Ghee as something geared specifically for the aching soles of your feet…I still would’ve invested. Attribute this to the undying PJ in me, but it’s always a yummy treat to cradle either your skin or hair in the smell of all things chocolate. I ordered a 5 oz jar during the now long ago Black Friday Sale, and finally dug in just a few weeks back. Admittedly skeptical at first because as a cream ghee that claims to condition and detangle unmanageable hair this would’ve been a first, so I carried a few doubts to the twisting table. In the past, my luck has always rested on detanglers with a lotion type consistency, more similar to KBB’s hair milk or Darcy’s Botanicals leave-in conditioners. And while I’m quick to place it in the ‘creme’ consistency wagon, it could also fall under the more thicker butter-like family.

As a leave-in, it works, and by ‘works’ I mean it detangled, softened & moisturized my hair before a whole host of other products touched my strands. After the hair was well conditioned, I applied the Ghee in sections, lightly detangling the ends with a wide tooth comb, then brushing through with the Denman brush. Detangling was relatively easy, and much to my surprise I honestly felt I could’ve also styled with it. Because I wanted to prolong the look of my twists I did layer with the Amla Heavy Creme, yet knowing that this could double as an easy quick styler in slightly less colder temps, had me feeling even more pleased with the investment.

Product Description

  • Restores manageability, softness and elasticity to normal to very dry hair. Smooths cuticles, improves combing ability and reduces breakage.
  • Natural dark chocolate scent.
  • Key Ingredients: Contains pure, prime pressed Cocoa Butter to smooth, soften and seal in moisture, Horsetail, Nettle and Barley to strengthen and condition and sulfur rich MSM to nourish follicles and support growth. Enhanced with carefully selected mild and eco-friendly detangling actives, it instantly restores manageability, pliability and elasticity to matted and tangled hair.
  • Does not contain mineral oil, lanolin, silicones, parabens or artificial fragrances.
  • Directions: For tangled hair that is damp or dry, divide hair into 4-8 sections. Apply a moderate amount to the entire length of one section at a time and work through with fingers. Use a wide toothed comb to comb through from end to root as hair is instantly softened and detangled. For use as a conditioner, rub a small to medium amount between palms and work through wet, damp or dry hair. Leave in.

Here’s the sidenote though: To ensure the effectiveness of the Ghee, it’s best to either finger comb your hair before applying, detangle with either a wide-tooth/Denman, or seriously condition enough so that a comb can glide easily through your strands. The Ghee DOES NOT HAVE SLIP! There was really no need for all caps, but when we think of good detanglers, many of us (including moi!) expect the slip & slide effect. Slip is often times our miracle worker in the best of products because it makes our job of detangling all the more easy. While application is relatively easy, you shouldn’t have to use more than a dime size amount to get the job done, but to ensure the longevity of the Ghee make sure to properly engage in conditioney activities prior;-).

Because I have oddles of leave-ins to choose from while styling the hair each week, I’m always hesitant to label something as a staple, BUT…the Cocoa Tree Detangling Ghee has my heart as a mainstay in the rotation. Because I have…literally about a tablespoon sized amount left in my jar, I’m fiending to make another purchase sometime soon. A 2 oz jar will run you $5.50 while a nice sized 5 oz jar goes for $14

February 26, 2010

Qhemet Biologics Amla & Olive Heavy Cream

One of the first natural hair products I wanted to get my PJ hands on while dealing with post-traumatic heat damage was the Qhemet Biologics line of hair creams. The consensus all around was nothing but positive, from the super popular Burdock Root Butter Cream to the moisture infused Amla & Olive Heavy Cream. Pretty much you couldn’t go wrong if your hair’s claim to fame is as a fine-haired natural or a thick manned gal. Their #1 seller, Amla & Olive Heavy Cream, was my first pick when deciding to try the line and two weeks ago, after playing tango with one of their local distributors here in BK, then finally deciding to purchase during a Black Friday moment, I was able to sample.

Black Friday does seem like a distant memory,  yet what keeps it still fresh in my mind is the oh so beautiful shipping situation after placing an order. A lot has simmered down since last November, namely my frustrations – so I won’t go into sordid details- though if you’ve heard the whispers & possible rumors around slow turnarounds…consider them…then sit back, relax.

I used the Amla & Olive Heavy Cream to two-strand twist a few weeks ago, needed to put the hair in a two week minimum protective style, which meant either a butter based cream or something that packed a punch, similar to an old favorite Darcy’s Madagascar Vanilla Styling Creme.

Product Description:

Our nourishingly rich blend of old world oils, organic herbs and natural humectants leaves coarse, dry and brittle hair extra soft, healthy and supple!

Key Ingredients: Our ultra thick cream contains Amla, Brahmi and African Aloe, premium Afro-Indian botanicals used for thousands of years to nourish the scalp and strengthen and condition hair. MSM sulfur nurtures follicles and encourages healthy hair growth, Mediterranean Olive Oil delivers emollience and lubricity and African Castor Oil delivers sheen, incredible softness and possesses hair growth and hair thickening properties.

Does not contain mineral oil, lanolin, proteins, silicones, artificial fragrances, dyes or parabens.

The consistency of the creme is supremely dense, spreads easily & thankfully all you need is a smidge to carry you through a good twisting session. I frankly underestimated the moisture packed into the heavy creme and leaned more on the heavy handed end. I went a good 3-4 days a bit afraid to touch my hair because to the touch, I’d have oily fingertips. Not an altogether fresh look.  Though, even with oily tips, my hair lathered in the best kinds of oils – both castor & olive – are two of the first ingredients. The creme is an oil/aloe/water/glycerin blend with a few emulsifiers to give it the necessary slip, allowing it to spread easily. No butters to speak of in the formula, which for long period protective styles I find my hair likes a lot better.

It’s been two weeks, two solid weeks of pintucking, up-do’s, headbanding, ponytails, hairclipping against the winter temps of NYC, and the twists are ridiculously still moisturized and softer than I’ve ever felt my hair. I’m playing it down a bit, honestly each day that passed with the twists in, I did a strand test to determine if more moisture was needed. Usually, I’d spritz a bit of herbal spray, or dip into my KBB hair cream stash to boost up the shine & moisture. Frankly, I needed none of it. The Amla & Olive Cream left my hair touchably soft for two solid weeks.

There was the usual suspect, namely fuzzy frizz after a week, but nothing exaggerated. There were days I went out without my head protected, sans hat & lived to still have moisturized twists. Because of the density of the cream,  I doubt I’d use it for anything more than twisting or lightly moisturizing mid-week.

Also used as a:

  • Soothing and regenerative scalp butter
  • Post-shampoo conditioner
  • Overnight Deep Treatment
  • Moisturizing daily leave-in
  • Replenishing body butter

I’d love to try this as an overnight DC, no doubt my hair would wake up softer than my best pre-poo treatment. I’m learning my hair thrives off of Castor Oil, really sealing and maintaining moisture when it craves it, though moderation is also important. I love the way the Amla Cream left my hair, soft & manageable, though it’s undeniably heavy. My twists were a bit ‘droopy’ for a few days before perking up and poufing up a few days ago. I’m not a huge fan of twists that hang without the benefit of movement. Granted I was a bit heavy handed, but after finishing up this jar I’d love to sample the Burdock Root Butter Cream, a much lighter alternative that works just as well to combat dryness.

The price is right (8oz $16), and will inevitably last a good while. Definite keeper in the rotation.

Anybody tried the Burdock Root Butter Cream? Would love to know your thoughts before purchasing;-)

January 25, 2010

Bee Mine – Bee Sensitive Oil Free Serum

I’ve made it no secret over the past year that I have a few scalp sensitivities. Many trips have been made to the dermatalogist over the years to help diagnose whatever it is that’s seemed to overtake the scalp situation. I’ve had varrying symptoms from, itchy scalp to soars and blisters to dry scaley patches.

It’s not pretty.

It has been a frustrating journey figuring out the causes, finding a solution & helping to maintain a balance that would not interfere with my daily activities. In the winter time I just do not have the energy nor time to wash my hair/scalp upwards of 3-4 times a week. I gave up the habit as soon as the hair grew down to shoulder length, and the detangling process set me back a cool 45min-1hr.

So, while the doctor remedied my condition with a whole host of oils, pills, foams & creams, I was still far from satisfied.  Ingesting a medicine cabinet while applying topical products with ‘questionable’ ingredients always made me a bit leery…and broke.

Lately I have been seeking out alternatives to help calm ‘the situation,’ and recently came across a VERY strong contender.  *Bee Mine’s Sensitive Oil Free Hair Serum was an impulse purchase after watching a Youtube gal demo it late last year. I was still in vacation mode, anticipating the Black Friday Extravaganza deals & took a gamble purchasing.

From the Site:

Bee-Sensitive ~ Oil Free serum ($14) comes to you by popular request for our family members with scalp conditions that prevents the use of oils. We’ve formulated this oil-free hair serum with love to help soothe the scalp and promote a healthy environment for optimal growth. The soothing and healing properties of organic aloe vera juice paired with select herbs can assist in alleviating the discomfort of many scalp conditions. Feel the calming and stimulating and effect of this oil-free serum and keep your hair looking beautiful and healthy. Specially created for those with dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema and other sensitive skin condition

My scalp is not sensitive to oils, so while this is not marketable to me per se, I opted to use it ultimately because of it’s claim to heal the effects of dermatitis & other skin conditions.  I’ve been using the serum weekly for two months, applying directly to scalp after styling the hair. The serum is very runny, & took a bit of trial and error before landing the application down. I absolutely make sure to apply it on my scalp if I’ve been sitting under a dryer to dry my twists because I find my scalp to be most sensitive and lacking moisture after a wash. I massage the serum in (at night usually) and leave-in. I repeat about a day – a day and a half later to ensure effectiveness.

There is a small tinging sensation after first application, but nothing seriously close to burning or uncomfortable.

Ingredients: Organic Aloe Vera Juice, Herbal Infused Purified Water, Ayurvedic Herbs, Select Herbs, MSM, Fragrance, Paraben & Formaldehyde Free Preservative.

The Bee Mine Serum has been a staple in my rotation for the simple fact that it is compatible with what my scalp essentially needs, & frankly that is a very hard thing to do.  Today, I sit here with eight day hair, haven’t washed my scalp since last week’s Sunday and can safely say I have a flake free, scab free scalp!  Downsides to applying a serum with a water & aloe vera juice base, is the inevitable damp scalp. To avoid this I apply sparingly, because you really do not need to douse your hair in serum. To avoid applying liberally, the spray application is best as is shown in the picture, though mine did come with a pour nozzle. The roots of your scalp will be slightly damp after applying, but should not interfere with whatever hairstyle you are currently maintaining.

*product was purchased solely by Chai, of Back To Curly while maintaining an unbiased review

January 11, 2010

Hair Fix

I’m excited. No, seriously I’m REALLY excited this week because I’m finding that trying something new can reap some ridiculously famous results!  Prompted by a conversation with a friend this past weekend, I decided that while it’s fancy and fun to stock up on all that a PJ wants, it’s even better to actually use it! Friend & I were talking product & hair, combos to stay away from, tips to try when I quietly hinted to the damage done this past Black Friday. I’d stocked up on ounces & ounces of butters/pomades/puddings and conditioners to last me well into the Winter/Spring, then carefully placed them off to the side in a sort of safe keeping.

Sounds silly right, safe keeping some of your goodies? Sounds a tad off,  now with hindsight as a decoder. I forgot that it is more beneficial to use up what’s purchased so that if necessary, I can move on and try more goodies… if need be. By no means am I trying to advocate future shopping binges, but rather forcing my hand a bit, saying that it’s okay to use up what you’ve got even though it might one day be gone. It’s irrational at best, but my sensitivity comes from….just nonsensical ish! Time to get over it, and this week was a start.

Life is much better when you pre-poo…I say. It’s frigid outside & by the time wash day rolls around my hair is on bended knee, craving moisture even before a traditional poo is applied.  I’ve bid adieu to ‘ol faithful, Vo5 Moisture Milks, to make way for the newbie Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle. The consistency is very creamy, easy to apply and the ‘tingle’ is felt almost instantly. I left on for a 15-20 minutes because I intended to massage the scalp with Naked Naturals Shea Butter & Avocado Smoothing Shampoo for a good five minutes, and did not want to over strip the hair in the process. Before applying conditioner I did take a quick pic of hair. Picture to the right is taken right after cold rinsing the shampoo out of hair, & prior to adding conditioner. In it’s natural state you can still see bits of remaining hair color that I’m still trying to grow out. The tips show the only visible signs of hair color, which means I’m about a month or two away from another good trim. Ultimately the goal is to get rid of all colored ends, because to the touch they continue to remain a bit brittle even after a good 45 min DC’ing. Other than the ends, the rest of the hair appears pretty healthy, and for that I’m quite happy;-).

Detangled then deep conditioned with Aubrey Organics Honey Suckle Rose under a heating cap for an hour before cold rinsing. Took a chance on my own stash of products and styled this week with Darcy’s Botanicals Herbal Leave-In Spritz, just a few sprays to hydrate. The ingredient list is just too good not to:

Botanical infusion of Distilled Water, Organic Nettle, Organic Peppermint leaves, Organic Burdock Root, Organic Horsetail, Organic Marshmallow Root, Organic Coltsfoot, Organic Sage, Organic Hibiscus Flowers, Organic Kelp, Organic Sea Moss, Vegetable Glycerin, Organic Aloe Juice, Sea Salt, Polysorbate 20, Litsea Cubeba, Tangerine, Patchouli, Sweet Orange, Peppermint, & Tea Tree Essential Oils, and a paraben free preservative.

Then applied a new favorite from Naturi Beauty, their Naturi Quench Moisturizer. Lucky me won a hefty 8oz jar of the butter during a recent contest hosted by Laquita and Shelley. Began using the butter on my skin once the weather here on the East Coast starting behaving badly, but stopped short after realizing I wanted to experience it on my hair as well. The site indicates that it’s best to use for twisting & braid-twist outs making it ideal to use as a weekly styler:

From the Site:

An intense moisturizing cream that rejuvenates dry hair and restores moisture and sheen. Hemp and jojoba oil strengthen each hair strand and aloe and honey create healthy, hydrated brilliant curls, waves and kinks. Great for daily moisture, smoothing edges and styling touch ups, works wonders for braids

Reasons for using the Naturi Quench were two-fold. I needed the moisture that only a butter could provide in order to use something I’ve had in the stash for way too long, Curl Junkie’s Aloe Fix Gel. I was hesitant to try the Aloe Fix for reasons I’ve lamented about here on this blog. I have a very sensitive scalp, & coincidentally sensitive skin.  Years ago, months after my first BC & even some moments after my 2nd, I’d routinely style my hair with Sleek n’ Shine’s aloe gel formula yet had never experienced ill side effects. Fast forward to last year, oddly enough a few days after reviewing it here on Back To Curly, I began to have quite visible allergic reactions.

To put it bluntly, I experience painful outbreaks on my skin when using the wrong gel. I haven’t experienced fun times with a gel in a good while, and gave up on drugstore brands to help slick back edges and twist. After the last Kinky Curly Custard application I was ready to completely shy away from any & all gel type stylers until I realized a hefty 16oz jar of Aloe Fix was idly sitting by, untouched.  So essentially, I made provisions.  Before applying the Aloe Fix, the spritz was applied, followed by the Naturi Quench Moisturizer. This was the only way I’d manage to use a gel on my hair during the winter, specifically to avoid the inevitable crunch & strong hold. I wanted definition in my twists, moisture, light hold without the crunch…and thankfully I got it!

From Curl Junkie’s Site:

Have curls that need a little control? This thick, rich, 98% natural/naturally derived Aloe based gel is formulated for hair with curls and coils. If scrunched into the hair it helps to give your hair definition, volume and bounce, and when smoothed into hair it can help stretch out the curls you have and add weight to hair to help elongate and define curls. You choose…It’s all in the application technique! Imparts lasting moisture and shine with aloe, glycerin, Vitamin B5, and Sweet Almond oil. If you are transitioning from a relaxer to a natural, try using this to smooth out the new growth. Can also be used for 2-strand twists or to slick back hair into ponytails or smooth flyaway hairs and refresh mid-day curls. Gives hair a fresh herbal/citrus scent.

Twisted into large twists using my new favorite combo, and unraveled this morning for some insanely gorgeous hair!  I’m tooting my own horn here, but you’ve gotta know that feeling when you’ve struck gold with a product combo, tried a new method, and somehow all turns out famously well! It’s time well spent…(6hrs to be exact;-). I’m happy with the results which yielded me zero crunch, significant shine & soft-medium hold that with proper maintenance should carry me through the week. More importantly, my hair is not stiff! Don’t you hate a gel that makes your hair act like a weapon? Ideally, you want a product that’s going to smoothe, deliver shine, and if you’re lucky a bit of nourishing properties.

During the Winter months I’m wising up with gels, pairing up beforehand with an adequate moisturizer as a leave-in, and some kind of herbal tonic for nourishment. What I loved about the Naturi Quench is that it’s a butter blend with water as it’s first ingredient. This helps the butter apply smoother onto hair that’s especially wet or damp and emulsifies clear on hands before applying. Paired with the Aloe Fix Gel, it really was the perfect combo!