Knowing Your Ingredients, Part Deux

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When we last left off, we were discussing the different ingredients commonly found in hair products: WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?! Well, here we have one of the most unavoidable ingredients: silicone, which comes in many forms. Basically look on the back of the bottle and read anything that ends in “cone” as a silicone.Many will advise you to steer clear of such ingredients all together. This is not necessary if you know what you’re dealing with. (Yes, Mummy, I know I just ended a sentence with a preposition.) Generally, you do not want too many silicones for the same reason you do not want too many petroleum products (grease, mineral oil). They cause build-up that is hard to wash off. (Those damn prepositions!) There are many lists of water-soluble silicones that you can wash away and many ‘cone-by-‘cone break-downs of which ones are safest to use. With all this confusing info, why would you not just avoid ‘cones all together? Wouldn’t that be easier? Because no matter  what anyone says, ‘cones are great for keeping your hair smooth and protecting your hair from heat. Many use oils as a more “natural” heat protector. This is a very bad idea, as I have discussed in previous posts. Here is some basic info on silicones. I use them in moderation…or like…never since I do not straighten my hair…one day I will!

Here’s another one: Alcohol. We are told alcohol can be drying and this is true– if they are short-chain alcohols. These are the quick-drying alcohols commonly found in hairsprays and some gels and include ethanol, SD alcohol, SD alcohol 40, Alcohol denat, Propanol, Propyl alcohol and Isopropyl alcohol. You probably see these names in common household products too. The good alcohols, the ones that hydrate are Lauryl alcohol, Cetyl alcohol, Myristyl alcohol, Stearyl alcohol, Cetearyl alcohol and Behenyl alcohol. You see these in the more trusted, curl-friendly brands, especially Cetyl, Stearyl and Cetearyl alcohols. The way they act similar to lipids (oils and fats) so they moisturise your hair but be careful: If you have looser, thinner curls they can quickly make your hair look greasy.

Phthalates– WTF IS A PHTHALATE?! Don’t even ask me how to pronounce that word but apparently, not having them is a good thing. According to the FDA, they are used to make products more plastic: i.e. firm but flexible. They are used in everything from household products to hairsprays and are toxic in large amounts.  According to Web MD, “Two studies suggest phthalate exposure during pregnancy may lead to abnormal development in male infants, including low hormone levels and small genital size.” Products containing them include anything with the name “phthlate” (dibutylphthalate, dimethylphthalate, diethylphthalate, etc.) as well as butyl ester, or plasticizer. Generally, the amount in a drugstore product is negligible and there is no proof that they are dangerous for your health. This is not one of the more commonly spotted ingredients anyway, (hairspray is past its prime) so I would not worry about it.

Finally, let’s talk Parabens: They seem to be in everything but WHAT are they? Well, they do not do a thing for your hair. What they do is preserve the ingredients. This is the reason I do not use Hollywood Beauty hair oils anymore, they are filled with parabens and only so much of the oil advertised. Parabens MAY be linked to cancer but research is inconclusive. I avoid them because they dry the scalp. Safer preservatives include vitamins C and E (which, btw, is great for your scalp.)

There are tonnes of other ingredients that we are taught to avoid and like I say, everything in moderation. The best way to judge  a product’s safety is to see how far down the list an ingredient is. The closer it is to the top, the more concentrated. Next time we will get to the good stuff in your hair products: Yummy butters, oils and extracts.

Until next time!

D &A

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Knowing your ingredients

Hey curls! Miss me?

OK before I get into the point of this blogpost. Lemme side track for a fashion moment. Had to share I got some really cute silk scarves for the spring and summer. Here are some headscarves I picked up at this great thrift shop, Beacon’s Closet near Union Square (13 St between 5 &6).

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There’s also one in Williamsburg if you’re an inhabitant of “Hipsterville.” One in Park Slope as well. The orange one was cheapest because it had a tear, which I can easily hide, The printed one is a raw silk from Liz Claiborne and the light blue is Givenchy. Each for $10 or less!

Anyway back to my original topic-

Hair product ingredients. One of the most controversial ingredients commonly found in hair products has to be mineral oil– or more generally, anything petroleum based like petrolatum or petroleum jelly. Is this product the demon that organic hair companies say it is? No but it’s tricky: It blocks moisture from both entering and leaving the hair. It can make a great sealant because of this and can work to keep moistened hair moist. It is NOT to be used as a moisturizer on dry hair, which people commonly do. The problem arises when you want to wash it out. It attracts dirt very easily and dulls the hair and it is impossible to wash out without a surfactant (foaming agent) like Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulphate and those are no bueno for hair health.

That brings us to sulphates (sulfates for the Yankees). I strongly believe that using sulphate-free shampoo was the best change I made for my hair. Sulphates don’t do anything special except make suds. If bubbles are what matter to you in a shampoo– foam away! But if you want stronger, healthier hair take the sulphates out for your regimen- they strip your hair of the oil it desperately needs. Curly hair needs the most oil because its complex structure makes it difficult for oil to travel from scalp to ends. Sulphates are among the first ingredients found in dish soap and laundry detergent (think about all those soaps that boast “grease-cutting power”) The most common sulphates are sodium lauryl sulphate and sodium laureth sulphate but another equally bad alternative is ammonium lauryl/laureth sulphate. Avoid this too. Lastly, don’t be fooled by the simpler sounding name of Sodium Coco Sulphate. It’s pretty much the same as the SLS, just a less refined version. Think of it this way: it’s like saying you are trying to cut sugar out of your diet and then eating brown sugar. It’s healthier than white, yes. But it’s still sugar. I fell for this one myself when I didn’t have my phone on me to google ingredients and saw the ingredients list boasted SCS which is “coconut derived” In truth- SLS is coconut derived as well. Remember that just because something is natural does not mean it’s good for you. Fire is natural. Lions and tigers are natural. You see what I’m saying?

This list is to be continued. Ciao Curls

Daria and Angela

Pure Essentials Closing Sale

Hey NYC beauties! For those who like to support local businesses (as “we” New Yorkers like to do :P) this place Pure Essentials has a sale, 20% off because sadly, it’s going out of business. Their last day is Thursday. It is on 1st Ave between 79 & 80 streets. If you live in that neighbourhood ( or feel like taking the 6 train to 77St this week) stop by! I got all this stuff at 20%off! Plus the guy threw in the toner (L’Oreal Hydrafresh) for free. New products to try! Woohoo!

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Product list:
-Nubian Heritage African Black Soap
-Ambi Black Soap w/ Shea Butter
-Desert Essence Coconut Shampoo
-Desert Essence Coconut Conditioner
-Hair Rules Blow Out Your Kinks (for when I am finally brave enough)
-Mill Creek Botanicals Tea Tree Shampoo
-Mill Creek Botanicals Tea Tree Conditioner
-L’Oreal Voluminous Carbon Black Mascara
-OPI Don’t Mess with OPI Nail Lacquer
-L’Oreal eye makeup remover
-L’Oreal Hydrafresh toner
– Eucerin Daily Protection Moisturizing face lotion.

All products are things I haven’t tried except for the Hydrafresh toner. I love the toner, it keeps my face clear and it helps prevent razor bumps.
I will be reporting back soon on my product haul.

Xox
D&A

Winter Switch-up Part 2

Hey guys so as promised, here is part 2 of my winter hair repertoire. This time I will be focused on products and applications. However, I forgot to mention in my previous post one more protective technique. Sleeping in a satin bonnet. Now, usually I don’t bother wrapping my hair because I like my ‘fro to be free and I already sleep on satin pillows and sheets. However, In winter I’m not just protecting my head from sheets but also from the dry, hot air in my apartment so I cover up. Before I do this, I usually put my into hair as many or as few twists (not very neatly) as I feel like. This helps them fit under the cap more easily and stretches them somewhat so they can be more easily pulled into protective styles the next day. I moisturize them before doing so in a method I’ll explain shortly. So now for products.

I read on naturallycurly.com that not varying your shampoo can diminish or even reverse its positive effects. Is this without-a-doubt true? I don’t know for sure. I do not always agree with even the most reputable sites, however, I decided to be safe and bought a second shampoo/conditioner set to alternate in every other week. I chose L’oreal Ever Sleek mainly for the price and because I didn’t realise it was for straightened hair. Oh well! I don’t think that really matters. It’s cheaper than most natural products since it’s one of the drugstore brands getting in on the natural game and it was 7.99 a Duane Reade as opposed to Shea Moisture’s 10.99 ( I later realised that it’s only 8.5 oz in a bottle so per oz. the price is about the same.)

What did I think? Let’s start with the sulphate-free shampoo. It made my hair squeaky clean. It actually squeaked. It was clear and not rich and creamy like the SM shampoo at all. It felt…fine. I was neither here nor there with it. To be fair, I also realised the products were really for smoothing straight hair. It’s important, curls, to go off of research when buying products and not just price.  Still, even when you’re 3c/4a curly, you don’t want frizz so smoothing is a nice effect. The conditioner is the most important part to a curly in my opinion. It was extremely thick and creamy. It felt more like a curl-defining cream than a conditioner and did not give me the slippage I wanted. It took a lot of conditioner and work to detangle and ithe smell was nothing special, just like unscented body lotion. Afterwards I will say that my hair felt very smooth. However, that could also be attributed in part to the yoghurt deep conditioner.

That’s the other thing I am doing for winter: focusing on different conditioners. Normally I alternate between my Greek yoghurt conditioner and my caramel treatment. Now I may use the caramel Tx (treatment) occasionally still but am concerned that it contains honey, a humectant. Humectants are great for the summer because they draw moisture from the air to your curls. However in the winter they can have the opposite effect. Greek yoghurt is great for your scalp but rich in protein, which, in the winter, can make hair brittle. I use plain regular yoghurt mixed with olive, tea tree and peppermint oil. The two latter oils are great for a winter-dry scalp.
I just eyeball the proportions and I use plain yoghurt since sugary flavours can encourage fungus that can lead to dandruff. Yoghurt is good for fighting scalp fungus, the lactic acid is very good for your skin. Yoghurt also moisturizes the hair and the skin on your scalp and balances the pH of your hair, creating a shiny seal to the cuticle.

plain-yogurt

After washing, I recommend rubbing oils such as tea tree, peppermint or jojoba on the scalp, but a clean scalp only. Oil and dirt can cause buildup that makes a dry scalp worse. Ensure the oils you use are paraben-free because those ingredients also dry the scalp.

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Lastly, remember to use the LOC method on your hair: Liquid, Oil, Cream.
Spray your hair with whatever moisturizing sprigs you use, water, conditioner spray or whatever your personal mix. Not too much, as I said in my last post we don’t want to leave the house with wet hair. Next, add an oil of your choice for a light conditioning seal. I like coconut oil. Last, add a heavier cream or butter to seal, paying special attention to the ends of your hair, which may rub up against the rough, winter fabric of your clothes. Some bloggers recommend coating your ends in conditioner and sealing with a non-alcoholic gel. I can’t vouch for it personally. My LOC is an EVOO-condish-water mix followed by coconut oil followed by Shea moisture curl-enhancing smoothie.

Next post, I will take you through my routine for Trinidad. That’s right: no place like home for the holidays. Xox.
Daria & Angela

Winter switch up!

Hey curls! Miss me much? I’ve got a few updates and tips for the winter season. It’s my first winter in NYC and as my friend wisely said “In this city, you have to be an all-terrain-person!
So how do you make your hair all-terrain? Here are my thoughts. They will be coming to you in two installments.

1) Protective styling. Can’t stress this enough. Here are some looks I’ve tried out recently.

20121210-201011.jpg here’s a tutorial link. I couldn’t figure out how to do a horizontal French braid so I did more of a flat twist. I need to practice this look. I call it my “hat hair”

Here’s another

20121210-201622.jpg borrowed from naptural85’s infinity twist tutorial
Here’s another tutorial I like but don’t have a picture of myself in it.
And here’s me just messin’ around with an old twist out.

20121210-202320.jpg That’s really just a loose side bun.

Here’s me making an ugly sad face in this look from naptural85

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All these looks are there to protect my hair by minimizing its exposure to the elements but they are also designed to fit better under my hats, which brings me to tip 2…

2) Cover your head. There are many reasons you should do this- to keep warm, to keep protect your hair from the elements. Winter air can be drying and damp hair can freeze in the cold, expanding and disfiguring the hair shaft. (Think about when you put a full water bottle in the freezer) also, the heat of indoors and the drastic temperature shift from indoors to outdoors can also dry your hair. That said, you should cover up but most winter hats are made of coarse materials like wool and fleece that cause friction and rub against the hair, resulting in damage and frizz. There are solutions to this.
A) buy winter hats with satin lining. The good thing about this is that the satin is sure to stay in place as a smooth, non absorbent barrier between your hat and your head. The cons are that they are not always easy to find and you are limiting the kinds of hats you can wear if you ONLY buy those kinds. They can be hard to come by too. Also the lining may not stretch all the way to the edge of the hat, leaving you with some exposure to harsher fabric.
B) Wrap your hair in satin and then put the hat on. This is pretty simple and protective. The problem with this is that it can be hard to get all my hair under the scarf if I don’t twist/ bun it. And the scarf and hat can start slipping off your head, making you look silly. Bobby pinning may help with this.
C) Pin a satin bonnet to the inside of your hat. I haven’t tried this one but it seems good because you can remove the bonnet as you change hats. But I think it can look clunky and not as seamless depending on your hair and your hat.
D) Fabric glue your bonnet at the rim to inside your hat rim. Again, I haven’t tried it but it could be great or it could get messy and again look like a clunky fit. Look for a washable fabric glue at your local Walmart.
E) Sew your own lining. Here is a YouTube tutorial for sewing in a fleece lining. I imagine you could do the same with satin. Haven’t done it but it seems like a good plan. Of course, it’s a little more work and skill involved but I have a friend who has done it and says it hasn’t taken her too much time or skill since she is not a sewer.

So there is part one. In part two I will be telling you about what products I am using and the right application techniques. Hasta luego!
Daria and Angela

Hahahah I did not know this existed in Trinidad! I have a new blog follower and she’s fabulous! Check her out here!

What’s been going on with my life? Well…between a drag queen pageant, scratching ‘surviving 25 years on this wretched earth’ off my fictional bucket list, starting a new job (praise Jesus) and watching a man fall 120,000 feet to earth…and live…not too much.

Yeah, things have been wild, but fun and by far the biggest change has been the job. Everyone who knows me – and I’m sure some people who don’t know me but follow me on Twitter – knows how I felt about my last job (and I use the word job very loosely). There’s not much I can go into detail with on that but let me give you a summary: I fucking hated it. Unproductive is not the word. Uninspiring is not the word. Creative blackhole and the place souls go to die…comes kinda close but nah…still doesn’t cover it. I’ve been told I can be…

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How To Store Your Products with Limited Space

Hey Curls Hey! Ok I know I am supposed to be updating you on my whole “How I Spent my Summer” story and I will BUT I had to tell you about my other beautification project: my new apartment. I am still setting it up and am combing the internet for tips on how to make the most of my space. My apartment is by no means tiny but still smaller than I am used to in Maryland (AND more expensive. smdh.) and the bathroom, where most of my beauty products are, is tiniest of all. Here are my main principles for saving space.

1) Think vertically: Why take up valuable counter and floor space when you have all your free wall space? Bonus: vertical lines make your ceilings look higher.

2) Repurpose things: Just because an item says one use on the box, doesn’t mean you can’t find another more suited to your needs.

3) Size matters: When you buy objects ask yourself if they will fit where you want them and remember to consider if they will fit once you open doors and drawers around them. 

A perfect example that combines these three principles is my shower caddy: It’s not just for showers anymore. I have little counter space around my sink and lots of beauty products. I used some command hooks to hang a caddy on the wall near my mirror. You can find the hooks and the caddy online, at Target, a hardware store…really anywhere that sells home basics. Make sure of these things before you buy and hang your caddy: First, that the caddy stations will fit your widest jars and your tallest bottles. Second, that your caddy is stable. I used three hooks in different places and used tape measure and a level to hang my hook (but I’m anal that way). Third, ensure that your caddy is far enough from your medicine cabinet door that you can open the door properly and that the same is true for your bathroom door. There you see me using vertical storage, repurposing and being conscious of space. 

Note the make up brushes in a mesh pencil holder.

 

 

Other space saving ideas:

  • Hang a mesh file to store hot hair dryers and irons, as seen on lifehacker and Dream Green DIY. The mesh is important because it will withstand the heat of a freshly used tool.
  • Hang mesh (or other material) CD holders, pencil holder cubes, baskets etc for makeup storage
  • Use a mesh (seeing a pattern here?) file holder as a small garbage receptacle for loose hairs, old bottles, q-tips. I don’t have a lot of floor space in my bathroom so I needed something that would fit around my toilet…this is also why I have a very tiny toilet brush and plunger. lol.
  • Get a wall rack for nail polish. These are harder to come by but you have probably seen them in a nail salon. Your best bet is to find them on websites like ebay. If you just have a few polishes and want something cheaper and easier, a simple spice rack is a good substitute. Make sure the polish bottles will fit in the spice rack and won’t slip through the rungs.
  • Make baskets into shelves. As seen, once again, on lifehacker.com. I am obsessed with them. You can also use Ikea wooden magazine holders as corner shelves. Thank blogger Amy Antonio for that. 
  • No room for a jewellery box? hang your accessories in a hanging toiletry kit. It’s great for little barrettes  You can also put loose cords, tools or whatever you want in there.
  • Wall mounted toothbrush holders.
  • Use a shower caddy for its actual purpose. (DUH!)
  • Most of all, try not to use all these ideas at once, you don’t want to get over excited and crowd your space. Use whatever cupboard/ shelf space they give you.

Make sure to customize these storage containers to your decoration scheme as much as possible. A lot of them can be easily spray-painted (be careful about paint flammability and hot hair tools) or just come in easy, neutral colours.

Do you have any ideas for saving space in your place? I would love to know how you organize your life so you can stay beautiful with ease!

Ciao Bellas!

D&A

Catching up

Hey guys, it’s been a while and I’m sure you’re wondering what I’ve been up to. Like I said before, I’ve just moved to New York City and am pursuing a Master’s at NYU. But let me take you back over some hair and beauty tips I learnt this summer.

Summer was all about keeping cool, which meant wearing my hair in a top knot a lot. Pretty simple: flip your hair forward, tie it in a pony then grab another hairtie (“woogies” as we call them in Trinidad) and twist it into a bun. Two hairties makes the bun tighter and more centered. Smooth with water and gel. The best gel for slicking back hair, I find, is Shea moisture curling soufflé. It is organic, moisturizing and not hardening or drying. If you don’t have an effective gel, slick back your hair with water. And wrap a scarf around it until you are ready to leave the house. Top knots are great for Trinidad’s hot weather. They make my mom happy because I don’t look “unkempt” and since I need to drive to get around Trinidad, I don’t want to worry about an Afro obstructing my rear view. Lol.

My other style for the summer was the mini-twist. I kept them in about 3 weeks and journeyed to Barbados with them. For this style, I liked my kinky-curly curling custard. It gives a more flexible hold for my twists. It holds more moisture in my hair than other gels,which is important because it’s not as easy to moisturize a long-term style. Every now and again I had to retwist and the back got a bit matted by the end. I was in Barbados for crop over, which included Foreday morning, a march through the streets late at night where you party covered in paint and mud. To protect my style I used common sense: bobby pins and bandanas. The bandana also helped to absorb my sweat. But my hair still got a little messy that night especially since the party ended at the beach. I tried to keep my head above the water but the back of my hair suffered. Stay tuned for pictures from Barbados, travel beauty tips and more on Crop-Over. I can’t wait to tell you how I put together my look for Grand Kadooment.
Xox
Daria

Welcome back

Hey guys. It’s been a long hiatus. I have had a crazy summer filled with beauty- and other- lessons learned. Fall has had a no-less-hectic start. I have just relocated to New York City where I am pursuing a Master’s of Fine Arts in poetry writing at NYU. Y’all thought I just wrote hair stuff huh?

However things have been hectic. I am staying on my big sister’s couch until I find my own apartment. She lives on the third floor of a walk up and running up and down New York from apartment to apartment while trying to stay on top of class work has been a lot. I am a little tired.

Currently, though, I am on my way to the Mississippi Delta area for a family get together with my boyfriend. (His family, not mine). As I write to you I am looking forward to the slower pace of life I anticipate down south. I have always enjoyed visiting New York on weekends and family vacations. However, as a place to live, the city still has to grow on me.

Still, being thousands of feet in the air, away from the hustle has made me stop and think: I am in a great place. 2012 has been an incredible year. I have been lucky enough to travel to places like scotland, england and Barbados. I have love and a wonderful, crazy family and I am at NYU facing my biggest fears in order to pursue my dream as a writer. Things could not be better.

More information on my summer travels will be coming shortly. In the meantime, count your blessings, curlies and know I haven’t forgotten you.
Love,
Daria and Angela

I’m HOOOOMMEEE!

Hello Hello Hello!

from sunny (well, more rainy these days) Trinidad. I got in Tuesday the 10th and I’ve been doing some hardcore relaxing so not much to report. A few things:

I think my Mum is scared of Angela. We went out to run a few errands and I had Angela out at her fullest.  This is the convo that followed

Mum: Daria you ent comb your hair?

Me: Yes Mummy I combed it. This is how it looks

Mum: But you walk out the house with it just so?

Me: Well since we’re driving I was going to pull it back (My fro has been known to obstruct a driver’s view, mine included)

Mum: well you mustn’t leave the house with it looking unkempt.

Me: sigh…okay Mummy (pulls back hair. I did not come on vacay to argue with Mum) It’s just an afro like the wig you used to wear in the 70’s

Mum: (indignant) no mine used to be neat. We kept it short.

What I don’t think she gets is that styles, even as they recur, evolve so the afro of yesteryear, while still cute, might seem a bit dated. Also, while natural hair is fairly common in Trinidad, it is generally worn in protective styling. Trini style tends to veer away from things that are too bold. We are really jeans and t-shirt people.

Later my Mum spotted a lady and laughed saying her hair looked like mine “That’s not an Afro that is an A-FRAID!” I had to laugh. Oh Mother.

Anyway I at least wore it in a puff for her. Surprisingly my father who once LITERALLY did not notice an elephant in the room* observed the change right away (no positive or negative opinion, he just observed it) I have been rocking a top-knot mostly and have been wearing Shea Moisture conditioner and gel in my hair. I did try out this one look to take a new visa photo. In visa pics, your hair cannot obstruct your face, which Angela tends to do…

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I achieved it by leaving conditioner (silicone free!) in my hair to loosen the curl pattern. I used gel to hold it and then side parted my hair, rolling the wider side inward and securing the front of my hair into a half pony. Simple! Note: I stress using silicone-free conditioner because leaving conditioner with “cones” in your hair too long can stop moisture from getting in and eventually drive out your hair.

Other fun observation: Maybe it’s because this has been a particularly humid summer in DC, maybe it’s because my hair is not as dry as it used to be or maybe it’s because my hair is now natural: maybe it’s a combination- but when I had a perm I would feel the texture of my hair change the second I touched down in T&T but this time when I came home I noticed no great shift. It was interesting!

I will let you guys know more about my adventures in style as my holiday continues.

With love

Daria & Angela

* My mother collects elephant stuatues and one day we were shopping and fell in love with this majestic white piece. It was probably 2 feet tall and had a flat load on it’s back so we could add a glass table top and make it a centrepiece in the living room. I don’t remember the price but my Mum wasn’t sure how my Dad would feel about the purchase. She asked me how long I thought it would be before my father noticed this white elephant sitting in our living room. I guessed about 2 weeks. Well, fourteen days later my father comes home in the evening and quite confused goes to my mother “BUT HOW LONG WE HAD DAT ELEPHANT IN DE LIVING ROOM?!” and that is my father, bless his heart.