Just Like EcoStyler Gel…but without that dang crunch. ( NEW EcoCustard Review)

Once upon a time there was a newbie natural named Cassidy who set out on a quest to find the perfect styler for her curls. Early on in her journey, she discovered EcoStyler, an inexpensive gel found at drugstores that could gave her bangin—and I mean BANGIN—curls.

However for all its greatness and glory in setting her curls, EcoStyler dried stiff. And we’re talking stiff to the point where she was super nervous that touching her curls might cause them to snap off like an icicle from a rooftop. Her cute curlies were as crunchy as the crumbs at the bottom of a bag of Doritos. Her hair was as cuddly as a cactus in a desert.

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It was a tough decision, but she decided to give up EcoStyler and set out for greener pastures of gel cremes and creme stylers that gave her those pillow soft, smooth and defined curls.

Fast forward three years and Cassidy comes across a new product by EcoStyler…an EcoCUSTARD. Intrigued, she tried it out and behold! All of the hold! None of the crunch! For serious! And with that, Cassidy and her new EcoCustard lived happily ever after.

The End.

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Ok, but FOR REALZ y’all—this stuff is great! I’ve been loving this product! It’s super easy to use: I just put it on right after rinsing out my conditioner, shake my head and go. With the gel I was always worried about which leave in I could use and how to seal it in without getting white flakies, but there is none of that with this one! I’ve always been a fan of a 3-in-1 product and this definitely falls into that category!

What I particularly love about this product is that naturalistas have been whipping up their own EcoStyler Custard for YEARS and the company listened and released their own. It always warms my heart when companies such as Ecoco pay attention to that which is UP!

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Find your own EcoStyler Custard at your local BSS and enjoy the definition without all the CRUNCH!

But why buy when I love to SHARE? And by share I do mean GIVEAWAY!

Leave a note in the comment with your experience with gels and why you want to get your paws on my extra jar of EcoCustard Olive Oil!

PRODUCT REVIEW: Urbanbella Signature Series. Wow. Just wow.

I’ve been a fan of Urbanbella and their dedication to natural hair education since my first visit there over three years ago when I spent an amazing afternoon getting to know their space and owner Keneesha Hudson. Urbanbella is known not just for their amazing styling skills, drawing clients all over the country to their Atlanta salon, but also their focus on product knowledge and matching clients hair to specific products based on each unique texture.

So when I got a little note from Miss Hudson that Urbanbella had released it’s own new line of products called the “Signature Series”, I was not in the least bit surprised. The natural hair mavens at Urbanbella have analyzed and tested hundreds of products on hundreds of different textures, meaning they are well-poised to create a unique product line customized for natural hair. I was also very very excited to try the line up and see what they had conjured up for our coils.

Urbanbella Full Collection

Well, I will say that it was love at first wash-day with the Urbanbella Signature Series! The three stand out products for me are:

**Non Lather Cleanser: it’s rich, creamy and leaves hair tangibly clean.
**Hydrating Conditioner: a little goes a loooong way. And a natural girl has GOTTA love that!
**Twist and Curl Cream: Creamy yet great hold. Shapes my little curls into perfect–and I mean perfect–coils!

Check my video review of the line here:

Could you hear the rave reviews!? Yes, yes indeed. You can scoop the line yourself from Urbanbella’s website or by swinging through their Atlanta salon!

Get Perfect Curls with this Common Household….Appliance?

The folks over at Design Essentials are always coming up with innovative products and styles for natural hair, but I was really surprised to see this new style using VACUUM components to create perfect curls.

A vacuum! Yea, you heard me right! I don’t know about you, but when I heard that, I envisioned a Roomba scooting around on Lola. NOT a good look, but read on fearless readers—this actually sounds legit!

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Design Essentials® Master Stylist Deshonica Kerri came up with this styling technique that uses vacuum rings to set the hair.The final result is very similar to that of a rod set BUT by using these circular rings, it cuts the styling time by 50% because instead of using hundreds of rods, you can just use a few rings!!! How impressive is that!?

Wanna give it a whirl? Here’s how Design Essentials explains how to do it:

PREP

rings

The critical item needed for this style is rubber vacuum cleaner rings, found at any home goods store. If you want to dry hair using a hooded dryer or overnight, be sure to purchase enough rings to set the entire head. Deshonica calls this a “dry set,” meaning hair doesn’t have to be soaking wet to achieve. First, comb through hair to eliminate tangles. Dampen the hair with Design Essentials® Natural Twist & Set Setting Lotion. As you work through the hair, section off 2″ square partings to work with.

SET

set

Take a 2″ square section of hair comb through to ensure hair is detangled. Take ring and put hair between the ring, laying ring against the scalp. Split the section of hair into 2 subsections. Begin at the root of the subsection of hair and begin wrapping the hair around the vacuum ring in a spiral.

Deshonica notes that the number of times you wrap the hair around the ring will mimic the tightness of the resulting curl-more times equals a tighter curl, while less times and more space between the wraps equals a looser, more stretched-out curl. With the second subsection, begin repeating the process on the opposite side of the vacuum ring.

To prevent flyaways and frizzy ends, seal off the end with end papers. Another tip is once the hair has been wrapped around the ring, allowing it to hang down will provide more volume at the base. Flipping the ring up to lay against the scalp will tighten the base for more smoothness.

FINISH

finish

Before unwinding the hair from the vacuum ring, Deshonica coats hands with a mixture of Design Essentials® Nutriment Rx Creme Hairdress and Herbal Complex 4 Hair and Scalp treatment for moisture and conditioning. Begin unwrapping hair from the ring and separating into smaller subsections for fullness. The more times you separate the section, the more full the style will be. You can polish the look with Design Essentials® Diamonds Hair Sheen and Form Hair Spray for hold. Finishing products listed above may be purchased online or at local area salons. To identify local area salons or to purchase products online, visit www.DesignEssentials.com.

For those of you that are more VIDEO inclined, check out this instructional vid:

We Are Onyx: unboxing video + review

We Are Onyx is the latest and greatest beauty product subscription service to hit the scene!  If you’re like me, you might be thinking “Okkaaaaaaay, but there are SO many out there–what makes this one different?”

I’ll tell ya: your monthly boxes are catered just to YOU!

When you sign up for We Are Onyx you are asked to create a beauty profile based on your hair type, skin tone and other preferences.  You are then matched with beauty experts including Celebrity Stylist Felicia Leatherwood, Skincare Specialist Dr. Mina Singh, Make Up Artis Extraordinare Eric J. Allen, and other hosts (who you’ll get to know in a lovely intro video) who have specific knowledge on their beauty product needs and are able to recommend products to you!

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For example if you’ve got 3-C curls and very dark skin that is prone to hyperpigmentation, you’ll see expert tips from Felicia to recommend styling tips, Teju to hear about her skin expertise and Monet to talk about her favorite curl products.

We Are Onyx arrives in a gorgeous and colorful box (I kind of want to save it and reuse it!) and filled with sample size goodies.  In mine I got a whole bunch of new stuff as well as one of my most favorite products ever:

  • Hairveda Sitrinilla Deep Conditioner
  • Hairveda Red Tea Daily Moisturizer
  • Herban Clay Facial Bar
  • Shea Radiance Deep Conditioning Hair Mask
  • Herban Shae All Over Moisturizer
  • Komaza Care Coconut Hair Pudding

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The sample sizes are perfect to test out for a couple uses and I’m really excited to give these newbies a whirl!  We Are Onyx costs $20 a month and you will be able to pick your own 4 products based on your expert recs and then We Are Onyx will send you a surprise rec along with them!

Cool stuff!  Check ‘em out!

Oh and also—check out my unboxing vid. You know I love opening up new prezzies! :)

 

Natural Deodorant Review: Lafes + Full Set Giveaway!

As you know, I’m transitioning once again…this time to natural deodorant!  It was definitely off to a rocky and kinda stinky start, but things are definitely looking up here!  Enter: LAFES.  This all-natural brand based out of Austin, TX has not just one but TWO deodorants in their line.  I’ve put them both through the ringer over the past couple weeks.  What ringer you ask?  THE TRIATHLON TRAINING RINGER.  There is no better way to test out deodorants than swimming, biking and running my heart out.

Lafes all natural deodorants definitely scored many points because even after 30 mile bike rides and 4 mile runs, I was impressed to find that I was not at all a stinky girl!  Which means: THIS. STUFF. WORKS!  Once Lafes passed the tri-testing, I’ve been wearing it around on my day-to-day, out dancing and even to some fancy events with nary a worry!

There’s two varietals: a roll-on and a stick (but Lafe’s sells many, MANY more).  I preferred the roll-on because I found it to be much easier to apply, but this could be up  to personal preference.

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Aside from deodorant, I’ve also been trying out Lafes’ Earthly Delight all natural hair products.  These products have squeaky clean ingredient lists (meaning you can pronounce everything on the list) and leave my coils feeling uber nourished.
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Hair Product Tasting Notes

Shampoo: Has a subtle, but rich lather.  Rinses easily and clean, leaving hair moisturized and non-stripped.

Conditioner:  Thick and creamy with lots of slip.  I’ve been rocking it as a leave in as well!

Pomade: Lola doesn’t like oils and butters, so I’ve been loving this one as a skin moisturizer.

BONUS: They’ve also got a lip balm thats slick, soft, smooth and citrusy!

Check out this vid where I give the rundown too!

 

 

Giveaway!

Lafes loves the naturalistas and is sponsoring a giveaway of TWO full size sets of products to a couple lucky winners.  Head on over to the Lafe’s Facebook Page to enter!

 

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To learn more about Lafes and purchase products visit their website.

The Naked Curl ROUND UP!

Last Tuesday Sasha of Afroniquely You organized a day for all us naturalistas to take a break from all the curl hydrating/styling/defining/smoothing products we’re used to and INSTEAD rock our 100% natural and naked curls. As soon as I heard about it, I planned on doing it, but upon waking up last Tuesday I realized that not only did I have an important event to attend that night, but it was also a SWIM practice day for my triathlon, which meant that without post-swim leave in conditioner, I risked the chance of super frizzy, dry hair that could potentially be damaged.

However, if I say I’m gonna do something, I’m gonna do it.

Normally after swimming I use a deep conditioner as a leave in because my curls are so dried up and frazzled from the chlorine. Instead, I washed and conditioned my curls then steamed then with pure water afterwards, making sure to keep my hair free of any conditioner and styling product.

Then I snapped a picture of myself with my naked curls to share with the web per our protocol–AND in an effort to take the au naturel thing to the next level, I didn’t put on make up, add a filter or retouch the photo in anyway, something I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever intentionally done before…

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After posting the picture, I thought about how I had to go to my event that night and how I COULD cheat and go do my hair. Very quickly I decided not to and got all did up and rocked my naked curls ffor the event, feeling great about it the whole evening!

Overall my hair was less defined than normal, but not by much. I think that the length and the steam helped me retain a lot of definition and shape. I could see letting products go for a bit, but I do wonder about how moisturized I could keep my hair if I went longer than a day… do I sense Naked Curl WEEK!? Ha! We’ll see….

Many of you sent your pictures in of YOUR naked curls, so here are the snaps of some of the ladies who participated in #thenakedcurl :

Naoj

Naoj with product

Naoj with product

Naoj and her naked curls!

Naoj and her naked curls!

Adrienne

Adrienne with product

Adrienne with product

Adrienne's naked curls!

Adrienne’s naked curls!

Crystal

Crystal G. Williams-Jackson

Stephanie

Stephanie's naked curls!

Stephanie’s naked curls!

Kisha

Kisha with product

Kisha with product

Kisha's naked curls!

Kisha’s naked curls!

Thanks to all of you who sent in your pictures and for showing the world your naked curls! Hopefully, like me, you found it empowering to be 100% your natural self! Let’s rock it more often!!

Four Weeks of Giveaways ($60 value) with NothingBut the BASICS!

Today I’m kicking off a new 4-week series called NothingBut the Basics, where I’ll be discussing, you guessed it, THE BASICS! For newbies and veterans alike, I thought it would be good to kick off the year with a refresher in natural haircare. AND with each installation I’ll be giving away a full set of NothingBut products to a lucky, trivia-answering winner. Sound like a plan? Great. Let’s get started.

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NothingBut CLEAN

A squeaky clean head of hair…ah…there’s nothing like it. Except that in today’s day and age with all of the sulfate-free and co-washing cleansers available on the market, the products that can get our hair as clean as it sometimes needs to be are often over looked.

Co-Washing Vs. Clarifying

Here’s the deal: depending on what products you’re using, co-washing can only get your hair so clean. It’s true that it’s one of the cleansing techniques that retains moisture the most, but relying on only this technique can sacrifice the health of your scalp, follicles and hair. Why? Two words: BUILD UP.

I don’t care if you’re using only juices and berries and the purest of oils , build up is inevitable. We sweat, we scratch and we live in smoggy cities, all of which contribute to build up on our hair (and bodies, but that’s why we wear clothes. Er, one of the reasons.) Watch out for build up if:

  • You use products with silicones and ONLY co-wash or use gentle cleansers
  • You work out frequently
  • You are a living, breathing human being.  It’s happened to me.  It will happen to you.

A couple weeks ago, I was co-washing my hair in between full clarifying washes and as I was rubbing my scalp my nails were digging up all this white GUNK.  It was SO gross and there was SO much.  THIS was build up an I knew just what to do!  I grabbed my NothingBut Clarifying Shampoo and it with a bit of massaging it into my scalp and rinsing, it was all gone.  You heard it here first—it works!

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Build up can cause scalp issues such as flaking and itching. It can also cause dryness in your hair. The key is to remove build up and start from a clean slate by using a clarifying shampoo.  Depending on your level of physical activity and the products that you use will dictate how often you should clarify your hair.  As an individual who works out and uses products with silicones, I clarify once a week.  You might need to do so less, but everyone should try to at least once a month.

If you’re reading blogs and forums and keep hearing people use the S-word (stripping), it’s not necessarily something to be afraid of!  The goal of these products IS to strip your hair of all unwanted nasties that may be lurking in there.  After you use a clarifying cleanser, you can surely put moisture back in by a conditioner and/or a deep conditioner; when you do, you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that your hair is soaking up ONLY the goodness.

Trivia Time

So you wanna win your own FULL SET of NothingBut products? Here’s this week’s trivia from NothingBut’s resident hair expert, Will Williams:

What are the six “NO” ingredients that NothingBut products list on the label that they avoid when making their products?
The answer can be found on Nothing But’s Website!

Fill out the form below to enter! Winner will be announced next week!

this giveaway is now closed

Let’s Talk Hydration Retention: How Often Do Your Moisturize?

How to keep hair moisturized and hydrated is one of the most popular questions I am asked.  If there was one single, simple response to this popular inquiry, I’d give it to you right now.  But the fact is, it isn’t that simple and moisture retention is less of a tip or technique and more of a lifelong commitment. Personally, I find that with the right care methods, I can retain moisture for days on end, which is great. I’ve also heard from others that even when using some of the best moisturizers on the market, their hair remains dry and brittle. So before I share my moisture regimen, I want to hear about yours!

This week, the people have spoken: Americans have come out in record numbers to voice their choices and re-elected President Obama (!!!!!!!!!!!!). In the same spirit, I want to hear about YOU and YOUR moisture methods, challenges, and needs. Check out the short survey below and share with us your thoughts on this hot topic of MOISTURE!

 

 

Curl Confession #2: I love me those beachy waves

I’ve been digging the new Paul Mitchell CURL line since it’s release this past summer and like any good naturalista would do, I went for the Twirl Around, a heavy cream-gel that swirls itself around in a snazzy container, ignoring the other styling product in the bunch called Ultimate Wave. Ultimate Wave had the word “Beachy” on the bottle and thinking of the long, wavy hair I’ve been seeing all over the likes of Refinery29 and Elle I didn’t think that this product was for me and my coils.

Curiosity killed the cat prompting me to finally give the Ultimate Wave a whirl and turns out that I FREAKIN LOVE IT! Talk about a dark horse, but this product gives me the hold and the moisture that my curls love. I get super haute spirals from this stuff and each time I put it on, I gleefully think of how I’m rocking beachy coils.

Beachy Coils! La La La La La!

Check out my video of me showing off my beachy coils:

 

So there you have it, turns out my curl confession is just a lesson I learned long ago in my natural hair journey: sometimes you just gotta try out things that you might not think will work for you in order to find the gems. Leave a #curlconfession of your own on the Paul Mitchell Page!

My Big Product Problem and a Lil Product Review! (Alikay Naturals Honey & Sage Deep Conditioner)

Let me start off by saying that this is a major first world problem. In fact it’s a very specific #FWP, it’s a #naturalhairbloggerproblem.

I have too many hair products. There it is. I admitted it. I have far too many. Even though I have so many, I cannot help myself by acquiring more and more and more because I love testing and trying them all out— FOR YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF COURSE!

But things have really spiraled out of control. As my friend Afrobella stated, my bedroom is the intersection of Sephora and Hoarders. Add that to the influx of boxes arriving and I’ve also got shipping and receiving department that rivals UPS.

So I decided to attack the product beast and clear it all out to take inventory. And I really did take inventory, listing all of my products by name and product type (conditioner, cleanser, moisturizer, oil, and styler). I found over 150 bottles, jars, tubes and vials lurking around my house. There is no way anyone ever needs over 150 products, so in a feat of strength, I tossed about half of them in bags and they’re going to be en route to a women’s shelter where I’m sure they will be used, loved and most importantly not hoarded.

Before the cleanse and organized by product type: moisturizers, stylers, oils, butters, deep conditioners, and cleansers. PHEW! That longest line was over 6' long!

Now the good thing is that I found many products that I have always WANTED to try, but just haven’t gotten around to. Case in point: the Alikay Naturals Honey and Sage Deep conditioners. I received a jar of this last year in :::hangs head shamefully::: October when the maker of Alikay aka Rochelle aka Black Onyx were in the US Virgin Islands together for a couple of hair events.

I pulled it out to tested it and was immediately WOWED by the product. It’s not too heavy, not too light, but infused my hair with amazing moisture and ZERO residue. My coils are always a fan of proteins and this one packs both Wheat Protein and Silk Aminos. I rinsed out a little bit of the conditioner, but left a little bit in and topped my coils off with a bit of gel.

A nice consistency, not too heavy and not too light.

One dry, my coils be poppin!

Check out my full review and testing:

Things are even looking good on the second day and feeling OH SO VERY VERY VERY moisturized! This deep conditioner is an ABSOLUTE keeper and I’m so glad I finally tried it out, better late than never!

Second day hair

In my last product review, I tested out the Naturalista Juicy Leave In and there is ONE DAY LEFT TO ENTER! Seriously, go do it!! It’s a great product and I’m selecting a winner tomorrow! Woot Woot!

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