Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mark Your Calendar!

Good afternoon all! Just wanted to take a brief moment to let everyone know I am still here. Posting will resume this Fri with about 5 posts [the remaining posts for regimens, two giveaways, product reviews, tips etc] to get everyone geared for the challenge starting Jan 1rst. I have to take a couple of days off from blogging as my family and I are working round the clock to get those after Christmas orders filled! Thank goodness for family and 5 hour energy drinks!

Orders placed on the 25th and 26th have already shipped; orders placed on the 27th are scheduled to go out today, and orders placed on the 28th will be shipped on the 30th, orders placed on the 29th will ship the 31rst and so on! 
I am also emailing those who didn't make their sizing requests in Paypal to ensure the proper fit of all custom made items.

Thank you everyone for the support! Thank you to all who have told your friends about the blog, the haircare challenge, and my line! Newsletters will go out to everyone that subscribed this Sunday! I'm excited for this challenge, and I am glad I have a wonderful, supportive group of people that are willing to participate.

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Monday, December 27, 2010

2011 Haircare Challenge: Simple Effective Ayurvedic Elements For Regimen Building


This post is for those that are interested in going the Ayurvedic route for the 2011 Healthy Hair challenge. - Ayurvedic regimens typically include cleansing the hair with herbal infusions, and conditioning the hair with nourishing oils. The result is hair that is extremely healthy, thick, and full of body. Ayurvedic regimens can be as simple [incorporating a few elements], or as complex [following a strict regimen, cutting out commercial products] as you choose. 

The benefit of adhering to an exclusive Ayurvedic regimen is that you will be using products free of silicones, preservatives, synthetic ingredients and harsh sulfates. I can honestly say that my hair thrived under these conditions. The drawback to practicing an exclusive Ayurvedic regimen is the amount of time it takes to prepare treatments. However, you can also decide to incorporate highly effective elements of Ayurveda into your regimen, such as Henna treatments, Coconut pre-shampoo conditioning treatments, and herbal pre-shampoo conditioning treatments. These inclusions are extremely beneficial for the promotion of healthy, thick, vibrant hair; yet require less time commitment than an exclusive Ayurvedic regimen. 

Want to include simple elements of Ayurveda without committing to an entire Ayurvedic regimen?
While there are many ways to use the products mentioned in this post, the following products are Ayurvedic treatments that have been the most effective during my hair journey. These products also include numerous traditional Ayurvedic herbs which is a plus for those that aren't into complex hair regimens which requires the purchase of tons of different ingredients. Get the benefit of Ayurvedic herbs with only a few easy to find products.
You will need:
Vatika Oil: Vatika Oil is comprised of Coconut Oil and infused with traditional Ayurvedic Herbs [Brahmi, Neem & Amla just to name a few] Coconut Oil strengthens hair at the roots, promotes hair growth, and actually penetrates the shaft to repair areas of the hair damaged from protein loss. - Vatika Oil has been a staple in my home for the past two years! It makes my hair extremely soft, shiny, and manageable.

Kalpi Tone: Kalpi Tone works to strengthen hair at the root, strengthen the hair shaft, and promote hair growth. Kalpi Tone leaves your hair noticeably stronger, softer, and full of body. Those that wish to keep their regimen simple will also appreciate that this powder includes other herbs beneficial to hair care [like amla, maka, hibiscus, and methi just to name a few]. Kalpi Tone is hands down one of my favorite pre-packaged herbal hair products by Hesh.

Henna: Think of Henna like a natural protein treatment. Henna works to stop breakage by strengthening the hair shaft. Henna also works to seal and repair the cuticle which makes for more manageable hair, a plus when it comes to detangling. Although Henna is mainly known as a mega strengthener, Henna has conditioning properties as well, which leaves the hair shiny, soft and full of body.

How to use these products in your regimen: 
You may notice there are two pre-shampoo conditioning formulas here. You can stick to one, or alternate weekly.  
Vatika Oil/Pre Shampoo Treatment: Once weekly [on washday], oil unwashed hair liberally with Coconut Oil and cover hair with a plastic cap for about 45min-1hr. This is known as a pre-shampoo conditioning treatment. Pre-shampooing will help ensure the hair stays moisturized even after shampooing with a product that contains sulfates [which is usually drying to hair]. Another benefit to this quick and easy pre-shampoo treatment is that it also works to strengthen and nourish hair follicles; preventing hair fall and promoting hair growth. 
*Coconut Oil tends to solidify in cooler climates; to use just run the bottle under warm water to bring it back to a liquid consistency. 
**Vatika Oil is safe to use on relaxed and transitioning hair alike.

Lock in the moisture with Vatika Oil: You can use this oil to seal the moisture in after using your favorite moisturizer. Add a dime size amount of oil to your hands, rub hands together to distribute oil, then apply to the entire length of the hair paying special attention to the tips/ends.

Kalpi Tone/Herbal Pre Conditioning Treatment: Once weekly [on washday], add 3-4 tablespoons of the herbal product into a clean container. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture is a thick, muddy consistency. Apply the mixture liberally [as you would a relaxer] to unwashed hair. Cover, and allow to sit for 20-30 minutes. To rinse out, add a few generous size dollops of cheap conditioner [like V05, or Suave] to your hair and work it through in a gentle, massaging motion. Rinse immediately, as the tiny flecks of herbal product should rinse clean with the aid of the conditioner.
*Kalpi Tone is safe to use on relaxed and transitioning hair alike. 

Henna Treatment: You will need the following:
200G Henna [two boxes for thick hair] [100G/one box for shorter length hair]
1/2 cup Hello Hydration Conditioner
1 cup Lustrasilk Mango & Shea Butter Conditioner
1/2 cup of Coconut Oil added to mixture before applying the Henna
Check out this video for info on how to mix and apply Henna

I recommend the following brands of Henna: Jamila, Nupur, and Dulhan. If you have relaxed or transitioning hair, please use Body Art Quality Henna only [like Jamila]. You can also purchase Henna at your local Indian Grocer, or {here}.

Are you interested in an exclusive Ayurvedic hair regimen?
Check out the following posts which includes recipes for cleansing, conditioning, and moisturizing your hair. 

Where to find the products mentioned in this post:
All products mentioned above can be found in your local Indian market. I recommend going to one of the larger markets for a better variety of products. If you are having trouble finding an Indian grocery store in your area, you can also purchase many of the products mentioned via vendors on Amazon or The Indian Food Store [link].  

Questions are always encouraged! You can leave a comment in the comment area [I will check comments nightly], and also ask questions during the two check-ins I will have monthly.

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2011 Healthy Hair Care Challenge: Framework For Your Healthy Hair Regimen


To get the best results from this challenge, you have to first devise an effective plan of action. An effective hair regimen will ensure you prevent setbacks, and also see to it that you reach your goals on time. When choosing a regimen, it is best to take into consideration your schedule, and the amount of time you wish to commit on maintaining your hair on a weekly basis. Being honest with yourself about the amount of time you wish to spend on your hair can help prevent burnout, and resentment [trust, I have experienced this many times throughout the past few years]. It doesn't matter if you have a complicated regimen, or one that is very simple. The key to getting the most out of your healthy hair regimen is consistency. 

This framework is geared to those who will be wearing their hair in it's natural state in either twist outs, braid outs, or afro's. We will discuss product recommendations,  as we move through various regimens this week. For now, I want to get everyone acquainted with the fundamentals of a healthy regimen. These elements should be included in everyone's regimen no matter if you are choosing to go the Ayurvedic, Natural or Traditional route.   

Your regimen should include the following:

Detangling prior to wetting hair: This is essential in reducing the amount of hair lost, and more importantly increasing the amount of length retained. Detangling prior to wetting the hair is easier on the hair shaft [as hair is in it's most fragile state when wet], which means no more splits, knots and breakage from detangling. Always detangle with a seamless wide-tooth comb. If you're on a budget, you can pick up the Jilbere shower comb which is a favorite of mine. They retail for under $2 at Sally's

Pre-Shampoo conditioning treatment: Sulfates in shampoos, and synthetic ingredients found in many hair care products can really take a toll on highly textured hair, leaving it brittle, dry, and lifeless. Pre-conditioning involves conditioning the hair prior to shampooing it. What this does is re-hydrate thirsty hair, helping it to retain more moisture after shampooing, and throughout the styling process. 

Shampoo hair in sections: It may take an additional 5-10 minutes, but you will definitely appreciate the benefits. Shampooing hair in sections ensures you get your scalp clean, and keeps your hair neat which prevents knots, matting and excessive tangles. 

Deep Condition: Deep conditioning the hair weekly prevents breakage from dryness, corrects issues with elasticity, nourishes the hair follicles and promotes hair growth. Keeping highly textured hair moisturized is key for maintaining, thick, healthy hair. - You can choose to deep condition with heat [using one of those inexpensive soft bonnet dryers], or by using your own body heat generated from your scalp [just cover your head with a plastic cap].

Moisturize your hair: Replenishing moisture levels throughout the week makes for happy, healthy, soft, touchable, manageable hair throughout the entire week. Often, when hair is stiff, brittle, or excessively dry before weeks end, it is due to the lack of moisture. - Keeping hair moisturized also helps prevent breakage from dryness and keeps your strands lubricated which helps keep the tips of your strands from forming knots/tangles. 

Seal in the moisture: Beat moisture loss by sealing in the moisture after hydrating your hair. To lock the moisture in your hair, add a dime size amount of oil to your hands, rub hands together to distribute oil, then apply to the entire length of the hair paying special attention to the tips/ends. 

Sleep in a stain bonnet or on a satin pillowcase: Cotton is not your friend. In fact cotton can cause split ends, breakage, and chronic dryness. Avoid setbacks by sleeping in a satin bonnet, or on a satin pillowcase. Your hair will thank you!

Every month consider the following:
Scalp Treatments: Scalp treatments are effective in removing bacteria and exfoliating dead skin cells [accumulation of dead skin cells and bacteria can lead to hair loss/thinning]!
Every six to eight weeks consider the following:
Protein Treatments: Protein treatments work to keep your hair healthy and strong by preventing or correcting breakage, filling in gaps along the hair shaft [which helps your hair retain more moisture] and correcting issues with elasticity.

For those that plan on wearing their hair "out" in it's natural state [like twist outs or braid outs], I recommend shampooing and deep conditioning once weekly. Use this sample regimen as a starting point when making your own:
  • Sunday: Detangle hair + Condition hair with a pre-shampoo treatment + Shampoo Hair + Deep Condition + Lightly detangle + Style

  • Monday:

  • Tuesday: Moisturize hair as needed + Seal in the moisture + Re-twist/Re-braid hair as needed

  • Wedensday:

  • Thursday: Moisturize hair as needed + Seal in the moisture + Re-twist/Re-braid hair as needed

  • Friday:

  • Saturday: Moisturize hair as needed + Seal in the moisture + Re-twist/Re-braid hair as needed
The regimen listed is the framework for length retention, thickness, and body. As I discuss various regimens, I will go into depth on scalp treatments, pre shampoo treatments, protein treatments, oils to seal in moisture, etc.

EDIT: Many of you are inquiring about protective styling options/regimens. A sample regimen will be posted this week with product recommendations, styling options, etc. The regimen I posted today is specifically for the people that choose to wear their hair out the duration of the challenge. - Many people ask my thoughts on "protective styling" versus wearing your hair out. I have done both, and from personal experience have retained the same amount of length doing it either way. The key to retaining length for me has been moisturizing, careful detangling, and alleviating stress placed on my follicles. 

Questions are always encouraged! You can leave a comment in the comment area [I will check comments nightly], and also ask questions during the two check-ins I will have monthly.

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2011 Healthy Hair Challenge: Today's Schedule


Throughout the week, I will cover information on various regimens [Ayurvedic, Traditional, Natural, DIY], product recommendations, and techniques. In efforts to make it easier for people to effectively navigate and apply the information, I decided to break everything up into chunks. Here's what is covered today:

Regimen Building: Includes information on what the basic regimen for women/men wearing their natural hair in a free flowing style should consist of [regimens for those that are heat straightened, relaxed or braided/twisted regimens will also follow this week]. This outline will demonstrate the basic regimen without a specific focus on Traditional, Ayurvedic, or Natural. Regardless of the type of products you choose, your regimen should include the basic concepts outlined in the post, as it is geared to maximize length retention, and prevent breakage/split ends/knotting/matting. 
To view the post, click {here}

Regimen Building: This installment will focus on the Ayurvedic methods of caring for your hair. In this post, I talk about simple Ayurvedic methods you can incorporate into your hair care regimen, the benefits, and list detailed product recommendations. 
To view the post, click {here}

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Frank & Myrrh After Christmas Sale

A big thank you to everyone who supports my small movement. It means a great deal to me! To show my appreciation, enjoy 50% off each item from Dec 26-28 with the code "DAYAFTER" entered during checkout on the Frank & Myrrh website! You can visit the shop by clicking {here}

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Product Rave: Free Your Mane Product Line Review

Many people commented on the sheen of my hair in some of my straight hair pics. I tried to keep silent until I tried these products again on my natural hair [I like to test products several times before writing a review], however I couldn't hold it in.  A few weeks ago, I received the entire line of Free Your Mane products for review. I tried them on my natural hair, and I used most of the line when I pressed my hair.
I also received quite a few emails about the texture of my pressed hair. So I wanted to address it in this blog post as it relates to the products I used. My natural hair texture without the addition of serums, butters, moisturizers and styling aids is coarse, kinky/highly textured. The key to "silking out" kinky hair when pressing it is as follows: 
  • You must get the hair very clean during the shampoo phase. Hair must be free of buildup, and oils before proceeding to the next step. 
  • Replenish moisture and elasticity by using a conditioner that hydrates, improves elasticity and promotes shine. 
  • Use proper blow drying techniques [an outline of those techniques can be found here
  • Use a moisturizing product that will protect the hair and help it retain moisture whilst blow drying and pressing/flat ironing. 
  • Use proper pressing techniques [an outline of the proper techniques can be found here]
Your hair doesn't already have to have a very silky texture in order for your pressed hair to appear silky. In fact, the more textured the hair, the better. Hair that is very thick, textured/kinky, and dense appears very full, bouncy and silky provided you followed the steps above.
When looking for products to use for heat straightened styles, look for products that correct elasticity issues, promote shine, and offer intense hydration. Products that correct elasticity will give the hair more body, which yields a fuller, healthier look. Intense hydration is needed to keep the hair from appearing brittle, and products that promote sheen can give the hair a "healthy sheen".

Here's the review:
Sulfate Free Shampoo                                                                                                                              
$15.95 - 10.14 oz
Product Claims:
Free Your Mane Sulfate Free Shampoo is a luxurious spa treatment for your hair. Super rich lather gently cleanses hair and scalp, while natural oils help rebuild your hair's delicate moisture balance. Free Your Mane Sulfate Free Shampoo extends color life and improves chemical treatment results. 

My review:
I used this shampoo before styling my hair in a natural style, and also before straightening my hair. Each time my hair was extremely soft, shiny, hydrated and manageable. For some reason most Sulfate-Free shampoo's leave my hair feeling very "weird". This Sulfate-Free poo lathered really well [which means only a dime size amount should clean a thick head of hair], and cleansed my hair without leaving it stripped, wiry or dry.  
**Note: Let the water run through your hair, saturating your hair thoroughly. This helps improve the lather of most Sulfate Free shampoos [the sulfates/surfactants are what causes the bubbly lather], and also helps reduce the amount of shampoo needed to get your hair clean.

Who would I recommend this product to?
Transitioners that are looking for a sulfate-free shampoo to help maintain moisture balance, naturals that are looking for more of a natural alternative to shampoo's containing harsh sulfates.

$15.95 - 10.14oz
Product Claims:
Free Your Mane Daily Detangling Conditioner is a breakthrough "must-have" for coarse, thick or unmanageable hair. Finally, here is a conditioner that magically smoothes, and softens frizz and edges, enhances curl definition and brings out maximum shine and vibrancy. Regular use of Free Your Mane Daily Detangling Conditioner actually extends color life and improves chemical treatment results.

My review:
I also used this product before styling my hair in a natural style as a 10 minute leave in conditioning treatment. I didn't use it with heat [because I wanted to test it's moisturizing properties without the addition of heat/steam], and it left my hair manageable, hydrated and shiny. This conditioner makes a great detangling agent, as I could literally glide a comb through my hair without pesky knots, and large tangles.  

Who would I recommend this product to?
If you are looking for a stellar conditioner to hydrate thirsty strands, or a conditioner to aid in detangling your highly textured hair this stuff is absolutely amazing.

$19.95 - 8.45 oz
Product Claims:
A miracle in a tube, Free Your Mane Intensive Hydrating Hair Masque was specially developed to accelerate your hair’s repair & rejuvenation process. This unique high-performance masque miraculously seals damaged ends, eliminates frizz, smoothes edges, seals plaits and works wonders on natural or processed hair. Try it overnight for wrapping/twists, too. Weekly use extends color life and improves chemical treatment results.

My review:
Probably one of my favorites of the bunch. This stuff is the answer to dry, thirsty hair that lacks elasticity. I used this as a deep conditioning treatment before pressing my hair last week. This repair mask was so good, I sent a few samples to my mom to use on my two sisters. It worked well on their hair as well. This repair mask easily makes the top three conditioners I have tried this year. It left my hair soft as butter, with an incredible amount sheen. 

Who would I recommend this product to?
Anyone that is suffering from chronic dry strands, or those that are looking for an ultra hydrating, luxurious deep conditioning treat. 
$14.95 - 6.08 oz 
Product Claims: 
A versatile and weightless refreshment for over-stressed dry hair, Free Your Mane Reviving Spray offers your hair a fresh start without starting over. Reactivate your style or curl pattern without risking the frizziness that plain water creates. Free Your Mane Reviving Spray also serves as an excellent base for all other styling products when you are starting with dry hair. Spray on before setting or plaiting hair for enhanced manageability and hold. Regular use actually extends color life and improves chemical treatment results. 

My review:
I used this as a moisturizing spritz while wearing my hair in it's natural state, and also as a leave-in before pressing my hair. I like that this product is light enough so that it doesn't weigh your hair down; yet hydrating enough to keep my hair moisturized [with a slight hold] during the cold weather we've been having in L.A as of late. - This is also a wonderful leave-in option for those wearing their hair heat straightened, as it keeps your strands lubricated [which helps keep the hair free from knots and tangles] and hydrated whilst blow drying. 

Who would I recommend this to?
I would recommend this to anyone looking for a light moisturizer that doubles as an effective leave in. This product doesn't leave your hair crunchy, greasy or hard, and it offers a slight hold [a plus if you're wearing a braid out, or twist out]

$24.95 - 4.1 oz
Product Claims:
A natural, ultra-light formula that makes quick work of frizzy or unruly hair this super sized Free Your Mane Restorative Hair Oil™ leaves it velvety smooth and lustrous in an instant! It revives, hydrates and detangles while protecting hair from environmental factors, heat damage and over-processing. Regular use extends color life and improves chemical treatment results. Great for extensions too.

My review: 
Because this product claimed to prevent heat damage, I decided to try it in lieu of my normal serum and heat protector. I applied this to wet hair [after spraying with the Reviving Spray] and began to blow dry my hair per my normal routine. After blow drying my entire head, my hair was very silky, smooth and shiny. My ends were smooth which is also a great sign after blow drying coarse hair like mine. After blow drying, I poured a dime-size amount of oil in my hands, and gently ran it through my hair for even more shine.

Who would I recommend this to?
I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a multi-purpose product. You can use this as a serum to promote shine, a heat protectant, and an oil to lock in moisture. 

$15.95 - 4.1 oz
Product Claims:
A truly healthy, enriching and effective finish for your hair, Free Your Mane Conditioning Pomade™ is a dramatically different two-in-one styling product.  Never greasy, drying or draggy our pomade provides powerful hold for your hair while actually conditioning and polishing the most defiant frizz. Trust it to straighten, smooth and tame as well as to mold, sculpt and define shorter hair and layers. 

My review:
I used this product to lay down my hair line after pressing my hair, and what I loved about it was that it didn't leave my hair stiff and greasy. It was also light enough so that my hairline didn't have that gelled down look. The pomade made my hairline lay down smooth, and it offered shine as well. 

Who would I recommend this to?
I would recommend this to anyone looking for a lightweight pomade that offers hold, sheen, and hydration without the sticky, greasy feel that some pomades leave behind. This product is also a major frizz buster

My final thoughts on this entire line:                                                                                                       
This is one of the first product lines that I had stellar results with while wearing my hair in it's natural state, and whilst wearing it pressed. I often find that products geared towards natural hair are a little too heavy to use when I want to wear my hair straight. So for those that are looking for one highly effective styling system to transition between natural styles and heat straightened styles; I definitely recommend considering this line.

For those that are on a budget, and can only pick a few products from the line; here are my favorites!
Free Your Mane Hair Masque
Reviving Spray 
Sulfate Free Shampoo 
I did not purchase these products. They were sent to me for review by Free Your Mane courtesy. In order to maintain the integrity of MTM, all samples sent by PR are for consideration only. This allows me to share with you products that work well for me and are worth spreading the word about. If you would like to read my entire policy regarding product reviews, please read the Editorial Policy by clicking {here}.

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Healthy Hair In 2011 Challenge! Session #1 Who's In?


Whether your goal is "bra strap" length hair, or growing out your TWA, join me for the healthy hair in 2011 challenge! No matter the state of your hair, you can turn it around by practicing healthy hair care techniques and keeping an air tight regimen [which sounds harder than it actually is]. Healthy hair isn't limited to just wearing your hair in a natural state. You can have healthy heat straightened hair and healthy relaxed as well. The key is to do everything in moderation. 

In order to get the best results, it's best to start your personal hair care challenge with a trim. If your ends are in good condition you can skip this step. Trimming your hair is essential to retaining length. Here's why; ends that are split will eventually break off, and you will gradually lose length this way. Couple healthy ends and care when handling your hair and you will be able to retain that 1/2 inch of growth monthly. 

There are many ways you can care for your hair during this challenge. You can go with a traditional regimen using some of your favorite products, you can opt for all natural products, and you can even take the Ayurvedic route. No matter which regimen you choose, the things you must remember are:
  • Proper Detangling Techniques
  • Keep the stress low on the hair follicles [avoid tight buns, pony's and tight braids]:
  • Keep your hair moisturized 
  • Lay off the excessive heat: Excessive heat breaks down the Keratin bonds in your hair which could cause breakage and overly porous hair [overly porous hair does not retain moisture well]
  • Monitor temperatures if you use heat: Always make sure you are using the appropriate heat setting for your hair type.
  • Go easy on the products that contain alcohol [gels, setting lotions, hair spray]: These products can dry out your hair leaving it brittle, the ends split, and your strands lacking moisture. 
  • Keep your hair protected at night: Sleep with the use of a satin bonnet, or on a satin pillowcase, not only will this help protect your strands from breakage, but it will also help stretch the life of your hair style. 
  • Deep conditioning regularly: Hair that is highly textured needs regular conditioning intervals to help replenish lost moisture and nutrients to keep it healthy and promote hair growth.
Keeping these basic principles in mind will foster healthy hair and also keep you motivated as you start to see the health of your hair improve and also start to notice growth. Some essential tools you need on your journey are: 
  • Wide tooth comb: For detangling
  • Soft/hard bonnet dryer: For deep conditioning
  • Conditioner
  • Ouchless rubberbands
  • Moisturizing Shampoo
  • Clarifying/Chelating Shampoo
  • Natural Oil: For sealing moisture in your hair, I recommend Grapeseed, Jojoba or Coconut.
  • Styling aid: For doing styles like twist outs or braid outs. You can use hair butters like Bee Mine Bee Hold Curly Butter, or puddings like Miss Jessie's
How the challenge works: The first session of this challenge will last for six months. Every month I will hold two virtual check-ins where I create a post geared towards answering questions, concerns, and talking about products. One check in will be via LiveStream, so that I can answer your questions real time, and the other check in will be via blog post for those that are unable to log on to get their questions answered. 
The goal is to create a community that encourages women to start taking better care of their hair, and get questions answered about products, setbacks, general self esteem issues, and regimens so that they feel good about themselves and their journey. 
The healthy hair care challenge is open to anyone who wants to ring in the New Year with a healthier approach to hair care. It doesn't matter if you are relaxed, natural, transitioning, or heat straightened.  
To participate in the challenge, please list your starting length and your goal length [in the comment section]. Please also list the type of regimen your going to follow. Choose from Traditional [using regular products/methods], Natural [consisting mostly of DIY and natural products] or Ayurvedic [consisting mostly of Ayurvedic Herbs/Oils]. Starting Monday, December 27th, I will list product recommendations and sample regimens for each category. 

To kick it off, my starting length is mid back length, my goal is waist-length, and I will maintain a regimen that is a combination of traditional, natural, and Ayurvedic!
The challenge will start Jan 1rst, and will run for six months! If you're looking to turn your hair around and you don't know where to start, or you're lost in your hair journey, or simply want a little motivation, let's go!
If you would like to be notified of the check-in dates ahead of time, and receive a newsletter [one newsletter will go out once monthly and will cover a range of topics from protective styling options, to product recommendations, DIY hair care recipes etc], please send an email with "Subscribe" in the subject line to:

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

In The Kitchen: Minestrone Soup w/Black Eyed Peas & Kidney Beans

I must confess that I forgot to add the Black Eyed Peas to this soup; but it still turned out well nevertheless. I found this delicious recipe in my Food & Wine magazine and I decided to make some to compliment the stormy weather. 
This soup is light, healthy and filling. I love that the majority of the flavoring in this dish comes from fresh herbs!
If you like cooking with herbs, try using a freshly prepared bouquet garni in your next dish. Simply bundle your favorite herbs together and secure with kitchen twine. You can stuff them in the cavity of your chicken/hen/turkey, drop them in your favorite soup and even spaghetti sauce. 
Don't forget to drain and rinse your Kidney beans :-)
Or to drain your noodles on a napkin...
Minestrone Soup w/Black Eyed Peas & Kidney Beans [Adapted from Food & Wine Magazine]
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 ounces pancetta, finely diced
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 leek—white and tender green parts thinly sliced, 1 dark top reserved
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 pound Savoy or other green cabbage, coarsely shredded
One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 cup dried black-eyed peas
2 quarts water
3 parsley sprigs
1 bay leaf
3 thyme sprigs
One 15-ounce can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 ounces penne
1/2 cup shredded basil
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 
  1. In a pot, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the pancetta, onion, celery, garlic and sliced leek and season with salt and pepper. Cook over moderate heat, until the vegetables are softened, 10 minutes. Add the cabbage and cook until slightly wilted, 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the black-eyed peas and water; bring to a boil. Wrap the parsley, bay leaf and thyme in the reserved leek top and secure with kitchen twine. Add to the pot.
  2. Cover the pot and simmer over low heat until the black-eyed peas are tender, 45 minutes. Discard the herbs. Add the kidney beans and simmer for 10 minutes longer.
  3. Meanwhile, in a pot of boiling salted water, cook the penne until al dente. Drain and cool under running water. Slice the penne crosswise into 1/4-inch rings.
  4. In a nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the penne in a single layer and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until golden, 5 minutes. Drain the penne rings on paper towels.
  5. Stir the pasta and basil into the soup. Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon of the cheese and serve.

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Fashion & Beauty Ethos: My Side Swept Fishtail Pony

The rain outside is relentless which means I will have to find other ways of wearing my hair until it lets up. One thing on my to-do list was learning how to do a "fishtail braid", so I logged on Youtube and checked out a few tutorials. It wasn't very difficult at all, after a couple of tries, I had the fishtail braid pictured!
This is a great alternative to rocking regular ponytails, or on those days when you want a chic, effortless look. I love hair styles that are ultra femme without looking like you're trying too hard. If you try this out, leave some hair out around the front for a messier look. The good thing about this style is that it doesn't have to be perfect. - I'm going to experiment with this style using some clip-in extensions. If it works I will have a video tutorial for the chica's with shorter hair that want to wear this look. 
 You can also take notes on different ways to wear this look from a few celebs:
For those with shorter hair in the front like Rihanna, curl the loose hair with a 1" curling iron for feminine face framing tendrils. - If you have longer hair in the front like Leona, loosely pin pieces back with a bobby pin for a wispy look. 
Whether you're wearing it messy like Angela, or pinned back and neat like Cassie, it's definitely a refreshing change of pace from regular braids!

{photo source: style}

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

In The Kitchen: Christmas Sugar Cookies

Due to the rain, my internet was down almost all day yesterday. My daughter and I decided to get festive, so we baked and decorated sugar cookies. I am usually not one for sugar cookies but this recipe I found on was absolutely delicious. This sugar cookie recipe yields a perfectly crisp, sweet, buttery cookie. What I love most is that the dough isn't finicky; you literally mix a few simple ingredients together, add flour and voila. The perfect sugar cookie.  For that reason, it makes the perfect project to do with little ones. Also, if you are looking for a tasty treat to ship to friends & family, or for the potluck at work; these delicious cookies ship and stack well. 
I decided to forgo the traditional Royal Icing recipe and try the "Sugar Cookie Icing" recipe on AllRecipes.Com since I have had so much luck with them lately, and they definitely didn't disappoint. The mixture was a bit stiff initially, so I had to add milk 1/2 a teaspoon at a time until I got the desired consistency. You really want the mixture to resemble a thick toothpaste consistency. - The icing dries fully in about 12-24 hours with a nice glossy finish that resembles cookies purchased from specialty bakeries. 
The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies [Adapted from AllRecipes]
1 cup and 3 tablespoons butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
  1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely. 
Sugar Cookie Icing [Adapted from]
5 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon milk
3 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1-1/4 teaspoons almond extract
assorted food coloring
  1. In a small bowl, stir together confectioners' sugar and milk until smooth. Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more corn syrup.
  2. Divide into separate bowls, and add food colorings to each to desired intensity. Dip cookies, or paint them with a brush.<<--I used a Wilton Pastry bag, but it is completely optional :-)
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Hair Update!

 Forgive the pic quality, it's super cloudy outside. 
Here's a shot of my bangs
 3.25 inches until I am waist length which is my final goal

Last week I had to straighten and trim my hair for a shoot. While it was fun to go straight for a change, I didn't really have time to document the way I detangled, blow-dried, trimmed, or pressed my hair [which I will do in the next few weeks]. A lot of people ask me why I trim so much each time I straighten; the reason is that I started my hair journey with a ton of heat damage, and instead of cutting it all off at one time, I cut it gradually. After this final trim, I think I got rid of all the straight ends.

This is the longest my hair has been in my entire life, and I definitely attribute it to limiting the amount of heat used on my hair, and all of the methods/tips/techniques I share on this site. In 2011 I hope to reach my final goal of waist-length. Here's a recap of my hair journey over the past two years. 
My healthy hair journey started December 2008 with this as my starting picture. As you can see, my hair was barely APL [arm pit length]. My hair at this point was very damaged. The front was breaking off [which is why it appeared layered], I had major breakage around the hairline, and nape area as well. My hair was also very thin due to excessive heat. 
These were my braid outs in the very beginning [the first few months December 08-March 09]. I always wore them pinned back because my hair was too thin to wear it full. It always appeared sparse and "piece-y" so I just pinned the sides back. I had about 4-5 inches of heat damaged ends, so my ends were super straight. I had to put rollers on the ends of my braids just to get a slight curl. 
 During this time I maintained a strict Ayurvedic hair regimen
These were my twist outs in August of 09. I was still wearing the sides pinned because my sides were still very short.
At that time, Deva Curl products were my fave. Set it Free made my hair very shiny.
In September of 2009, I decided to straighten it for Labor Day. My hair is styled in a Caruso Roller Set here. 
I trimmed my hair in October 0f 2009 to get rid of about 2 inches of heat damaged hair I was holding on to - I am almost Bra Strap Length here
 After trimming those heat damaged ends, I really experienced a growth spurt; this is my hair in Jan 0f 2010 styled in a twist out
 My hair in June 2010 after trimming another few inches to remove the heat damaged ends I started with. I am slightly past Bra Strap Length here.
In June of 2009, I did another Caruso Roller Set
At the end of July 2010, I decided to cut my bangs for a different look. My hair is styled in a twist out here.
My twist out in August 2010
 In November 2010 I started experimenting with dry twist outs..

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