Sunday, July 24, 2011

Cold Pressed Olive Oil, Best of the Best!

The ability to use one product for multiple purposes is the most important factor when making the best product choices for my hair.  Like my previous post about black soap, extra virgin olive oil is another all natural product where its benefits are abundant.

There are four different types of olive oil.  Extra Virgin is the most pure and least acidic from the others. Bottles that state “cold press” on the label are best. If it’s not cold-pressed, the heat from the extraction process changes the chemistry and quality of the olive oil. Cold pressed olive oil can be considered premium olive oil. Cold pressed means that this oil is only the result of the first press where the olive paste is gently warmed to reach room temperature. Virgin olive oil isn't blended with other oils but has a higher acidity.  Pure olive oil or olive oil is a blend of refined pomace oil and virgin olive oil. Pomace is produced by processing the leftovers of the virgin olive oil extraction. The blend (which usually contains as little as 5 to 10 percent virgin olive oil).
Light olive oil means the oil is made from refined olive oil. Bottles labeled “100 percent pure olive oil” are often the lowest quality. [source]

 Olive oil is one of the most commonly used oils in natural hair care. In researching, I found it is the go-to oil for natural all around beautification.  Cold pressed olive oil works as an emollient, which means it soothes and softens.  It is a fantastic aid for any condition associated with dry skin and can be used both topically and internally to combat dry skin. Vitamin E, beta-carotene (vitamin A),  pigments (why it darkens hair over time and prevents premature gray), terpenic acids, flavonoids (luteolin, quercetin, squalene), and phenolic compounds (oleuropein, tyrosol) are all found in olive oil.
I also read this: 

It is a fact that extra virgin olive oil accounts for less than 10% of oil in many producing countries….so it doesn’t take a genius to know that most of what you are buying at the grocery store is not really extra virgin! These days, anyone can print a label that says anything on it.
Online articles can educate us in an instant, but the Internet is also notorious for posting un-truths with no responsibility or traceability to the author. So here it is: I am the author. Niki Tsourounakis. Hold me accountable if you like. I am responsible for Vlatos Premium Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I can guarantee you this olive oil is everything that the label states.
[source]  Also, [where to purchase/find]

I always purchase store bought organic extra virgin olive oil and have never checked for "cold pressed" to be listed on the label.  I ran out of olive oil recently and have been using the end of my oil mix which I'm down to my last 2 oz.  I will be shopping for some today, happy to know that at least now when I shop for olive oil...I know the cold pressed truth!

Benefits of Olive Oil for Hair 
  • most effective way to treat hair fall in a natural manner.
  • an effective treatment for curing all problems pertaining your scalp and hair.
  • containing hair fall permanently and promoting hair growth in a speedier manner.
  • in certain cases the benefits of olive oil for hair growth include complete stoppage with regards to the production of the DTH hormone (responsible for male/female pattern baldness) in the human scalp.
  • gets rid of all harmful chemicals that have been deposited on your scalp, permitting the growth of thick and black hair.
  • contains natural disinfectants, which in turn remove all possible impurities from the scalp area and make your scalp free from infections.
  •  fights severe scalp infections such as hair lice and dandruff.
  • consistent scalp massages using olive oil are extremely beneficial for growth.  You may add other oils and/or essentials like I do to your oil massage mix or use olive oil all by itself.  The best way to massage your scalp with olive oil is to dip your fingers into a bowl with your oil mix in it, moving your fingers tips in a downward circular motion. 
 Do~It~Yourself Olive Oil Recipe
Keep in  mind you can add olive oil to your already existing store bought products as well to boost the products benefits!

 For hair:
Whisk up 5 tablespoons of olive oil – it doesn't matter which sort – with 2 full eggs. Massage thoroughly into your hair and then cover it with plastic wrap or a shower hat. Your body heat will help the oil to penetrate. Leave for a minimum of 30 minutes and then shampoo out, rinsing well. (I've used this one a few times and loved it...great protein boost)

For skin:
Apply olive oil directly after showering/bathing while skin is wet instead of using lotion.  Store in small container to use as need with your larger bottle in a cupboard as olive oil loses it beneficial if not stored in dark glass at room temperature.

For nails:

 To help build strong fingernails and soften cuticles, soak your nails every night in a mixture of 3 parts lukewarm olive oil to 1 part freshly-squeezed lemon juice. Put on cloth gloves (or terry cloth socks) leave on overnight. Your nails will gradually become more resistant to breaking, splitting and chipping.

 (photos are my personal results after using for 10 days starting off with no nails at all).


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Summer Protective: Banana Clip Twisted Up~Do

Now that the growth challenge has begun, is is imperative for me to find styles I won't get bored with and end up taking it down.  I get so tempted to change up styles and part of the requirement in this challenge is for me to keep my hair in the same style for a minimum of 7 days.  Easier said then done.  At least for me.  I guess that's the stylist in me.  YouTube will now be used in moderation.  With all of those beautiful and talented Naturalistas styling their hair...I see, I like, I want.  So instead of feeling like a lion with fresh meat dangling in my face unable to devour, I'm going to cut down on watching YouTube for awhile and only log in, on an inspiration as needed basis.

 I visited another Naturalistas blog and she had the cutest up~do styled using a banana clip.  I thought I'd give it a try. I came up with this style after shopping for accessories, remembered the photo in the blog and thought I'd try.  I got a few requests on how I achieved this look so here it is.  I didn't take pics until AFTER the style was already done.  I'm showing the steps with it already in place....

When I originally styled it was done on microfiber towel dried hair.  I brushed my hair as if I were going to put it in a ponytail and used a clip like the one above.  I've used banana clips before but never one as comfortable and curly hair friendly as these.  I was wearing the black one so the one above is to show a close up.  My hair never got tangled in the clasp!

I only use the Knot Today in my water bottle mix.  The custard was used to slick the hair down and hold the style.  One thing about this product I love is the way it reactivates with water.  If it needs refreshing just spray with water and my style looks like new.  This is why I luv using it on my twists.

The photos show step by step how I maintained and what products I used to keep my hair moisturized during the 5 days I wore this style.

After my hair was inside of the clip I added a genorous amount of Juicy Leave-In to the hair in the back and began twisting it in large chunky sections.  I used the closed eneded bobby pins to secure the twists to my head and open ended to place the twists where I wanted them to be.  The Du-rag didn't stay in place (thank goodness for satin pillow cases). I took the picture as soon as I woke up.  The last 3 are how my hair looked after taking the Du-rag off.  I repeated this every night and only used the Juicy during the initial styling.  I put the oil blend (evoo, organic coconut oil, Castor oil, w/ Rosemary and Lavender essentials) in my hair every night directly to my scalp with the nozzle after spraying it with the water bottle mix w/ Knot Today by Kinky Curly.  I also put a little of the oil blend in my hand and applied it to the sides and edges, and twisted puff. 

 This is how my hair looked each day from Sunday morning to Thursday night which is my entire work week.  I never had to get up and wonder what I was gonna do to it. 



By this day I realized I was on to something and posted the photo on Facebook showing the update on the style...this is when I was asked to show how I maintained the style for 2 days...

This was the day following the tutorial when I woke up and my Durag was partially off of my head...

The puff was much frizzier then from day one but it was still looking presentable.
I could have worn this another day or so...I was just anxious to wash it and look forward to deep conditioning on my off day ;0)...


Friday, July 15, 2011

Beautifying with Black Soap

What is Black Soap Made Of?
Black Soap or African Black Soap comes from plantain skin. The process includes Ash (from burning the skins of plantain), Oil palm and/or palm kernel oil which determines the amount of lather you get from the soap. In some recipes, Cocoa Pod is used instead of plantain skins. In some recipes they use both the Cocoa Pod and plantain skins. Cocoa Pod is the shell of the Cocoa fruit. Shea tree bark is especially popular and can be found in many recipes. These items are burned until they turn to ash. This is what gives the soap its unique color. Black soaps vary in darkness, based on the types of bark used. The ash will be combined with water and brought to a boil until the ash dissolves. Once heated, the oil will slowly be poured into the ash. Palm oil is one example, but there are others such as coconut or Shea butter. Water and the temperature are turned down. The mix is stirred constantly as foam is formed on top. The foam is then scooped off the top until no more forms. This can take a long time, and may take an entire day. However, the smaller the batch made, the less time will be needed. Any residue left in the pot after all the water has evaporated will also be black soap. Once the soap is out of the pot, it needs to cool on a non-stick surface. When it can be handled, it can be molded into whatever shape is desired. It needs to cure for a few weeks before it's used.

Black Soap does not go bad. It can be used at any time if stored properly.
Through my journey I've changed so many ways of caring for my hair.  I went from shampooing with expensive products, full of potentially damaging sulfates, to co-washing.  Co-washing using product all over my scalp and hair to now only co-washing my hair without using any on my scalp or the hair near to it.  A few months ago I posted review on African Black Soap distributed by Naturalista Cosmetics. It was the first time in almost 6 months I washed my hair with a sudsy cleanser and I fell in love with it.  A great product to me, can be used for multiple purposes and this is one of them.  I've been using the black soap since my review on Naturalista Cosmetics [Read Review Here] mid May 2011.  
Benefits of Black Soap:
- Natural black soaps help deep clean skin.
- Black Soap works on most skin types including rough and dry or sensitive skin.
- Help clear skin bumps and spots by using black soap daily.
- Helps relieve acne, oily skin & other skin problems.
- Black soap is also great for removing makeup.
- Black soap benefits against premature facial lines and wrinkles.
- Black soap can also be lathered and used as an effective shampoo
    I used empty product bottles to store the black soap liquid.  The bottle on the right has been used for a week and look at the amount left.  This includes my 2 sons using it as well as body wash.  [Watch Here]*  to view the YouTube video on how turn your black soap bar into liquid.

    *When liquefying your black soap be sure to add an antimicrobial agent. Water added to products can be a breeding ground for bacteria.  It is best to use distilled water and Grapefruit Seed or Grape Seed Extract (at 15-.5%)to prolong the shelf life and to help prevent bacteria from contaminating your DIY Black Soap shampoo/Body Wash.  Store in the refrigerator, using opaque or dark amber colored bottles to store your liquefied soap.
    I just learned how to liquefy my Black soap from an FB friend named Tiffany who was kind enough to send me videos on the process.  I had a little over half bar of the soap and made 2-8oz bottles of the liquid black soap.  It lathers with very little being put into my hair.  It only takes 5 or 6 drops to have suds in my hair from front to gets no better.  That means for a little over $5 I have 2 bottles of shampoo/facial cleanser/body wash to last probably the next 3 months.  Since my boys use it for their showers as well I will reduce it to lasting 2 months.  That comes to 2.50 per month for 3 people to use on their hair, face, and body.  Like I said it gets no better.  I luv a bargain.

    Do-It-Yourself (DIY)....

    Things You'll Need:
    Coconut husks, Plantain skins, Cocoa pods, Shea tree bark, Hand press, Bowl, Strainer, Double boiler, Lighter, and Soap mold.
    1.      Press the coconut husks in a hand press to extract palm oil.
    2.      Burn the plantain skins, cocoa pods and Shea bark to ash.
    3.      Mix the ash with water in the bowl, and pour through the strainer into the double boiler.
    4.      Add the palm oil to the double boiler and cook over low heat.
    5.      Stir the mixture until smooth.
    6.      Scoop hot soap off the surface of mixture when it begins to rise to the surface, and leave it to cool.
    7.      Pour the cooled wax into the mold of your choice and leave to sit until hard.
    8.      Leave the hardened soap to cure for two weeks.



    Monday, July 4, 2011

    Common Sense Approach to Hair Growth

    Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. ~ Buddha

    Healthy hair is what most of us desire, nevertheless, MOST women I interact with share the same commonality.  Their primary goal for "going natural" is achieving longer, healthier hair.  I remember not even 5 years ago for a black woman to even think she could have waist length hair was absurd and to speak of it publicly she probably would have been considered 51/50 (mental health description for psychotic) =). 

    No matter how much I read about natural hair care products being our savior to healthy long hair, I still have one question that prevents me from believing 100% natural products are the only way to go.  What about people who grew shoulder length, mid back, bra strap and beyond who only used store bought items that were available at the local beauty supply stores and grocery stores?  I was one of those people. Even though my Mother was natural and refused to put chemicals in my hair, giving me mayo treatments and such, once I was of age to take care of it on my own I only used the traditional product that gave me slick shiny hair, "grease".  At age 11 and 12 there was no way I was slicking mayo on my head and a deep treatment was the furthest thing from my mind but from age 11-17 even after I got my hair relaxed I was between armpit and bra strap my entire life (until of course the chemical relaxer and my lack of understanding how to care for it took over).  All this to say, don't let anyone tell you a product isn't right for you if you are getting the results you desire.  Products free of petroleum, mineral oil and paraffin are better to use if you have the desire to learn and and change what is working for you.  You are no less natural if you use grease and water on your hair taking good care if it then someone who chooses to use organic oils. 

    This is my current growth serum.  I use extra virgin olive oil for the carrier ( carriers are used to dilute essential oils before they are massaged into the skin/scalp).  I use a color applicator tip bottle with a measurement guide to properly mix the oils using a medicine dropper to measure 4tbs of the carrier oil and one drop of your desired essential oil.  Be sure not to use more then the recommended amount of essentials.  They are very potent and may not produce the maximum results if over used.

      Leaving my hair alone to me, is just as important as what is being put into my hair.  My son didn't get his first hair cut until age 12. His hair was long and thick.  I hear women say all the time men's hair grows faster then ours. We notice growth so much faster in some men is because they aren't doing any thing to it.  No combing daily, no constant product use.  They get it braided and forget about it over the next 3-4 weeks sometimes even longer.  My son didn't find hair braiding day joyful.  I don't braid tight at all, he just didn't like the fuss, hes  a boy :)  I would wash and condition his hair with the same products I used, Joico and Aphogee (not together).  Blow dry with Nexxus Heat Protect or on a lower setting if I didn't have any, and cornrow greasing his scalp with Blue Magic of every type blue, green, coconut.  I wouldn't do anything else to it until it was time to braid it again sometimes waiting 4 weeks to cater to it (he would wet it in the shower which at the time I didnt realize it was providing his hair with the moisture it needed.  His hair flourished.   He slept with a "Doo-Rag" on at night for the first 5-7 nights and after that he could care less. No oils, no butters, no concoctions.  I just left it alone.  In regards to growth I believe it comes as a result of care, leaving the hair alone, gentle handling, and not just the products used.

    Sharing information as I am learning too is a blessing. I cant write about anything I have tried on my own hair. For the next 6 months I will be focusing on growth and blended a growth serum together. This will be the first time Ive really focused on using oils for growth and I'm learning so much. Even though our hair grows at an average rate of 1/2 in per month, there are some essential oils that are known for growing hair in people who suffer with alopecia. Of course I've heard and read about all I've mentioned but I didn't fully understand the profound impact essential oils are said to have on hair growth. Over the next 6 months, I shall see.


    Friday, July 1, 2011

    July 1st...Hair Growth/Retention Challenge

    GROWTH! Most of us strive for it in some form or another be it spiritual, mental, and/or physical.  This challenge will focus on hair growth.  In months to come, my focus will be on how to retain  length by protecting my ends, while ensuring new hair grows in healthy and full.   Here is a comparison  shot just after cutting the last bit of heat damage from my hair.  Even though this isnt a stretch the hair comparison I can clearly see the 1.5 inches of growth over this past 3 months:


    There are quite a few hair styles that do not require the use of heat styling.  Over the last year my hair has truly thrived and continues to just from eliminating heat from my hair care regimen.  Some naturals who have grown their hair to BSL and beyond contribute their growth to keeping the hair stretched to the ends or from blowing the hair dry prior to styling.  One issue I've had this past month that ignited this growth journey was wearing my hair out and getting single strand knots :(  There is no product on the market that I know of, that will stop this from happening.  I realize for me to stop them at this point I have to change my styling habits.  I  moisturize before bed, sleep with a satin scarf, and take my time detangling only when in the shower and still...those menacing little knots!!
    The Challenge

    • You commit to post a start up photo on the [Facebook page Kynxx~Natural Stylez by Amber] (you will need to "like" the page in order to do so) along with your hair goals, where you would like for your hair length to be in 6 months.
    • You commit to keeping your hair in a style that requires no manipulation for a minimum of 7 days.
    • You commit to wearing protective styling options: Two~Strand Twists (mini, medium, or chunky), Loose Buns, Box Braids, Cornrows, Bantu Knots, Yarn Twists, Yarn Braids, Comb Coils, French Braids, and Sew~In weaves (must post before install pic and again after take down), Wigs and Twist Out or Braid Out updos with ends tucked away. (if you think of anything else I can add it to this list of options)
    • You commit to post your cleansing, deep conditoning, and styling regimen for the week or longer and your style of choice, photos are optional.  My DC day is Thurs or Friday.  You may post on any day as long as you clarify that it is your DC day, the products or mixes you will use and the style you intend to wear. (Purpose is for motivation for yourself and helpful to others, like myself.) =)
    • You must post a montly comparison shot from the previous month [Here].  For instance,  August 1st you will need to post your photo from July1st, along with your current photo.  If you start the challenge after July 1st be sure you post the comparison photo the exact same day of the month, as the previous.
    • You commit to providing support, support, support!!!  We will be engaged in this together until New Years Day 2012.  By posting your photos and listing your haircare and styling regimen you will be greatly appreciated by myself and  I am certain by other Beautifulz who need advice and that extra push to keep caring for their hair and focus on achieving hair goals.
    • Every week I will post homemade natural hair care recipes for those who need help with healthy hair care practices.    I will post inspirational photos to remind those of us who need to be to be reminded to keep your eyes on the prize.

    Happy Hair Growing Beautifulz!!