Product Review: Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat Invigorating Shampoo

Price: $7.99 for 8.5 fl oz

Availability: Walgreens, Walmart, Ulta...

Product Claims: "For all hair types. Contains botanical oils of cooling peppermint, conditioning rosemary and clarifying eucalyptus

    • Increases scalp circulation for a refreshed, renewed feeling
    • Removes all traces of dirt, oil and build-up
    • Alleviates dry, flaking scalp with organic peppermint botanicals
    • Contains no laurel/laureth sulfate
    Shampoo should clean hair.  Really good shampoo should make you tingle from head to toe.  With Tea Tree Triple Treat Shampoo, invigorating ingredients wash in rejuvenating while washing away the previous day.  You're left with something rich, something clean.  Something incredibly stimulating.... for hair and mind.  Think about it." - from bottle and website
Directions: Massage rich lather into wet hair and rinse.  Follow with Tea Tree Triple Treat Conditioner.

Ingredients: Aqua (Purified Water), **Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Sodium Cocoamphodiacetate, Lauryl Glucoside, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Sodium Lauryl Glucose Carboxylate, Decyl Glucoside, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Menthol, Panthenol, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid, Polysorbate 20, *Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, *Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus Officinalis) Oil, *Thymjs Vulgaris (Thyme) Extract, *Urtica Dioca (Nettle) Extract, *Tussilago Farfara (Coltsfoot) Flower Extract, *Sativa Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract, *Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, *Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Leaf Extract, *Equisetum Arvense Extract, *Chamomilla Recutito (Matricaria) Flower Extract, *Achillea Millefolium Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint Oil). *Certified Organic By Guaranteed Certification Services. **Certified Organic By Quality Assurance International.

My experience: I have mixed emotions about this shampoo. When I first got it, I was unimpressed and my hair felt blah after using it. It's only redeeming quality was the tingling on my scalp. I'm a sucker for the essential oil tingle on my scalp. So, I tried using it with my staple shampoos: CON Moisturizing Argan Oil and Shea Moisture African Black Soap and I felt like it brought my favs down! Strike #2. I gave up on it until I was having issues with my scalp while I had my box braids. I reached for it for some help relieving my scalp and it worked like a dream. My scalp loved this shampoo during my box braid wash days. That made me decide to try it again after I removed them and that was the last strike. (You can read more about that experience here.) My hair felt so gross after that. It just seems to me that my scalp loves this shampoo, but the length of my hair hates it. It's problematic. 

The shampoo itself has a strong, mint & menthol scent. Just like with the conditioner, the scent of the shampoo makes sense based on the ingredients. I don't think it's quite as medicinal smelling as the conditioner is though. It's clear and very soapy like, read: it has a lot of lather for a "sulfate free" shampoo. Now, I am not a girl who's all against sulfate shampoos or anything, I just happened to try out a couple sulfate free shampoos and loved them. This shampoo, however, doesn't compare to those two... especially when it comes to the ingredients. There are a number of organic, plant-based cleaning agents & bubble producers in this shampoo, and they're all higher up in the ingredients list than the essential oils and extracts that the shampoo boasts about. So perhaps my hair does not like these eco-friendly cleansers? I really don't know. Either way, I'm definitely only cleaning my combs and brushes with it now. 

Moral of the Story: I won't be repurchasing this. The cons outweigh the pro for me. If you're looking for a sulfate-free, clarifying treat for your hair and scalp, I'd say you should keep looking. Unless you know your hair loves those ingredients already :)

Has anyone else tried this shampoo? Like it? Love it? Never want to use it again?

Product Review: Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat Invigorating Conditioner

Price: $7.99+ for 8.5 fl oz

Availability: Walgreens, Walmart, Ulta...

Product Claims: "Contains organic oils of conditioning rosemary, cooling peppermint, calming eucalyptus

    • Increases scalp circulation for a refreshed, renewed feel
    • Strengthens hair with a three-organic-oil-blend to stimulate, condition and calm
    • Alleviates dry, flaking scalp with organic tea tree botanicals
    • Encourages natural shine and resilience
    You expect a conditioner to moisturize, smooth and detangle. You expect it to create a silky, sexy feel. You probably don't expect it to make you tingle all over. With Tea Tree Triple Treat Invigorating Conditioner, an incredible plethora of stimulating ingredients provide all of that plus a real treat for hair: excitement. Who knew that conditioning could be so top of mind?" - from back of bottle and website

    Directions: Apply after Tea Tree Triple Treat Invigorating Shampoo. Massage into hair for 3 to 5 minutes for optimum tingle. Rinse thoroughly.

    Ingredients: Aqua (Purified Water) With *Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil,*Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Leaf Extract, *Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus Officinalis) Oil, *Thymus Vulgaris (Thyme) Extract, *Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Extract, *Tussilago Farfara (Coltsfoot) Flower Extract, *Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, *Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Leaf Extract, Equisetum Arvense Extract, *Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, *Achillea Millefolium Extract, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Brassicamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Panthenol, Cetrimonium Chloride, Cetearyl Alcohol, Hydroxypropyl Guar, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Menthol, Polysorbate 80, Citric Acid, Disodium EDTA, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance (Includes Essential Oil). *Certified Organic By Guaranteed Certification Services.

    My experience: Well, the description is better than the actual performance of the conditioner. Which is sub-par at best. I am, or maybe I should say my hair is, indifferent to this stuff. Meaning it does nothing for my hair! Like I truly believe when I put this in my hair, once I rinse it out, there's little to no change to my hair. It's so weird to me. It does no harm, but it does not do any good either. Sigh. It is a waste. 

    I've even used it several different ways to make sure I wasn't crazy. And... still nothing. The conditioner itself is smooth and creamy. It smells almost medicinal... slightly like VapoRub, which is understandable when you look at the first eight ingredients. Perhaps I could rub it on my chest to open up my airways and get more use out of it? Lol seriously, I don't know how I'm going to use this stuff up. I'm glad I got it on sale though. It might just go with the cheapie conditioners to do stuff like wash out my henna treatments. The only thing I can say it that you will get that tingle on your scalp when using this. I'm all for tingling scalp treatments, but it doesn't say much when you can't get any conditioning along with it. 

    Moral of the Story: This conditioner just isn't worth it for me. When I have figure out ways to make something work for me, it's probably better left on the shelf. 

    Has you tried this conditioner? How did your experience compare with mine?

    Wash Day - 23 Weeks Post

    I managed to keep my hair straight for about 2.5 weeks. So, by the time I was ready to wash my hair again, I was 23 weeks post relaxer. I am so glad I gave myself the ease of straight hair for awhile, too. It allowed me to just enjoy my hair and think about when (or if) I am going to relax my hair without even worrying about how much new growth I have or how problematic it could become. I'm pretty positive I'm going to relax my hair soon, and I have the explanation of why I decided that coming down the pike. 

    Back to my wash day... it went so well! Despite the fact that I have a terrible habit of waiting til late at night to go through with it. My hair was so well behaved, with minimal tangles and little hair lost. Here's how it went down:

    {1} Separated my hair into 4 sections. Pre-poo with my DIY garlic oil on my scalp and Aubrey Organics GVP conditioner & safflower oil on the length of my hair with a plastic cap for about 45 minutes. 

    {2} Shampooed with CON Argan Oil Moisturizing and Shea Moisture African Black Soap shampoos, watered down in an applicator bottle, lathering twice.

    {3} Tried oil rinsing for the first time! I used a little less than a nickel size amount of olive oil for each section, distributed it thru my hair and put my plastic cap back on for about 5 mins before rinsing with warm water. My hair felt... different, not bad at all, but still unusual. I was unsure about what I had just done at this point. 

    {4} I put my "turbie twist" towel on to soak up the excess water before applying my deep conditioner, Silk Dreams Vanilla Moisture Dream, put back on my plastic cap and put on my bonnet dryer for about 30 minutes. It was easily another 30 minutes before I actually went to rinse. 

    {5} Rinsed with cool water, section by section. Sprayed my diluted ACV rinse on my hair and let it sit for a couple minutes before final rinsing with cooler water. 

    {6} T-shirt dried for 30 mins and *boom* Here's where I felt the difference of the oil rinse. My hair felt GREAT! I've used that conditioner many times so I know it doesn't deserve all the credit. Yet, I still wondered hmm... did it really help like that?!

    {7} I applied my leave-ins: Elasta QP Silk H2 & Aphogee Green Tea & Keratin Restructurizer, grapeseed oil, and Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner, in that order. Might seem like a lot, but I really didn't use too much of each. Layers are what I need in this mean old moisture stealing winter weather. Detangling was a breeze!!! I almost couldn't believe the small amount of hair that I lost throughout this whole process. 

    {8} At this point my hair was almost completely dry. I applied a little Organix Coconut Milk Anti-Breakage Serum & eco-styler gel and began flat twisting my hair. I put 5 twists in the front half going straight back, and 4 in the back half, also straight back. I ended each twist with a bantu knot and went to sleep. 

    Taking down my hair in the morning went well and I liked the way it turned out. My hair still felt so very moisturized and soft. I really hope the oil rinsing is going to help my hair retain more moisture because the winter is robbing me here. We shall see whether the effect is long lasting or not. I think my shedding season may be coming to an end, or the garlic oil is working wonders. Maybe some of both. And I'm so excited about the way I am doing with all this new growth. I never would have thought I'd be able to manage this length of a stretch and, so far, do pretty well with it. Yay for getting to know my hair!

    Product Review: Aubrey Organics GPB Glycogen Protein Balancing Conditioner

    Price: $10-11 for 11oz (I got it on sale for $2) 

    Availability: Amazon & Whole Foods.

    Product Claims: "For All Hair Types. Feed your hair a healthy, balanced diet with our #1-selling conditioner. Nutrient-rich, protein-based GPB rehydrates and reenergizes your hair, strengthens hair fiber and repairs damage from salon treatments to restore softness, manageability and shine. Our most popular product ever.
    Milk Protein - Rich in cysteine and methionine; strengthens and mends damaged areas
    Organic Aloe - Replenishes moisture
    Glycoprotein & Horsetail Extract - Balance & fortify hair & scalp
    Directions: Shake well before using. After shampooing, apply to damp hair and work through, concentrating on the ends. Leave on for 1 to 2 minutes, then rinse. For deep conditioning: Apply to dry hair and distribute from scalp to ends. Leave on for 15 minutes, then shampoo and condition hair as usual.

    Ingredients: Aqua, cetyl alcohol, alcohol denat. (38b, lavender*), triticum vulgare (wheat) germ oil, aloe barbadensis leaf juice*, milk protein, fragrance‡‡, glycerin, brassica campestris/aleurites fordi oil copolymer, citrus grandis (grapefruit) extract, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf oil*, salvia officinalis (sage) oil*, ascorbic acid, glycine soja (soybean) oil, glycoprotein, alcohol denat. (38b, lavender), tocopheryl acetate, alcohol, hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel) extract, beta-carotene, daucus carota sativa (carrot) root extract, equisetum hyemale extract, tocopherol, tussilago farfara (coltsfoot) leaf extract, urtica dioica (nettle) extract.

    My Experience: I really like this conditioner! This is something I go for when I want a little strengthening, not an intense protein treatment. It's something I use in my alternating protein and moisturizing conditioners rotation. I really like the fact that it strengthens my hair, but moisturizes it enough to leave it soft, too. I could use it back to back to back and it still not stiffen my hair or overload it with protein. I think this is because even though it has several different protein ingredients, it also contains aloe and glycerin which help balance those proteins out. Makes sense with it being titled a "protein balancing" conditioner huh?

    The product itself is smooth and creamy. It has a scent that I think smells good, kinda reminiscent of cream soda. The scent doesn't really linger after it's rinsed out. This product sinks right into my hair. I love when conditioners do that! I've used it both ways described in the directions and I've deep conditioned with it after shampooing. It works well all three ways. Like this is another one that when it says you can leave it on for just a few minutes and rinse, you actually can. I can still feel a difference in my hair afterward. I think my favorite way to use it is on dry hair for a pre-poo, usually paired with an oil. I just love how my hair feels when I rinse it out - stronger than before and softer, too. I also find that if I start my wash day with this, I have less issues with tangles throughout it. So, as far as the promises of this go, it comes through as far as my head is concerned!

    Moral of the Story: I think this is a great protein conditioner! It's a great one to try out if you're looking a light/medium protein or a balanced conditioner, especially because of its moisturizing properties.

    Has anyone else tried this conditioner? Like it, Love it, Never want to use it again??

    Stylist Visit for Flat-Ironed Hair

    A few days after my matted, tangle-ridden wash day, I decided to pay my stylist a visit to straighten my hair. I felt like I didn't want to risk dealing with any issues that may arise from my new growth too soon after that three hour detangling session. My hair patience had been exhausted. My straight hair is easy to manage and I knew could avoid washing again for a solid two weeks.

    I decided after my last salon visit that I would only go to her once my hair was already detangled so that she could just blow-dry and style it however I wanted that day. I figured it would make for a quick and easy appointment. I deep conditioned over night, rinsed, applied my usual leave-ins (Elasta QP Silk H2 and Aphogee Green Tea & Keratin Restructurizer) and detangled. I kept my hair in sections (see pic below) and headed to my appointment. I made sure I went while it was still a little damp, too, knowing she would be blow drying it.

    I know some stylists don't like it when they're not in charge of doing everything to your hair, but mine was great about it. She actually sounded excited when I reminded her I just wanted her to blow dry and flat-iron it. She joked about how my hair felt extremely clean, asked what leave-ins I used and got started. About 40 minutes later she was done!

    Once again, she used the Babyliss Pro Titanium Flat Iron and I was in love. This will definitely be my next flat iron purchase. It only took one heat pass to get my hair straight. A few times I felt her go for a second, but anything that can take my hair from huge to looking like a fresh relaxer with one pass is a winner in my book. It wasn't frying my hair either (read: not too hot and burning it). My hair felt great, didn't smell burned, wasn't getting snagged... it's hands down the best flat iron that has ever touched my strands. Can you guys tell how much I want it?! LOL!

    air-drying in sections
    Anyway, I was very happy with how this visit turned out. No somebody-else-is-detangling-my-hair stress and I was in and out in less than an hour. She commented about the great progress I am making with the health of my hair while growing it out, especially that nape, and gave me some welcomed advice. I think I will do my visits this way for awhile. I do not mind washing my own hair, but the blow drying and flat ironing/curling part wears me out! This is a great happy medium for me.

    I wanted my hair completely straight so I could assess its state and progress after having box braids. Plus I hadn't straightened it in a couple months so I just wanted to enjoy it. When I say my hair was straight, I mean it was bone straight. People kept asking me if I had just got a relaxer. I thought it looked great, at the same time, it made me realize I'm kinda over my bone straight days now. That's so funny to me because I used to live with my hair super straight like that and I LOVED it. Now I'm like this stuff is too flat... where's the volume?! Oh, and let me just say now I somehow almost completely failed at getting good length check pics during close to 2.5 weeks of straight hair. I have to see if I have at least one good one. Shameful I know. Def got a couple selfies to share tho :) But I think I had some good time to think about my next move as far as my hair is concerned. Now, to relax or not to relax or when to relax, those are the questions!

    DIY: Garlic-Infused Oil for Shedding

    Garlic to help with hair shedding?! Some of you may have heard of this before, while for others this may be news fresh off the press. In my last wash day post, I mentioned using a homemade garlic-infused oil to help with my shedding issues. I have tried this a couple times before and always find it works wonderfully for me. I was definitely skeptical at first, but I love finding at home remedies that I can try out myself with little to know added cost. Plus, I knew there had to be something to it because there are numerous shampoos and conditioners that contain garlic as a primary ingredient, which are created to help with shedding, hair loss, and hair growth. So, the question is: why? 

    Garlic is known to have a ton of health benefits, and it turns out that it has a number of benefits for your hair and scalp as well. Let's take a look at some of the things that make this pungent herb so beneficial. 

    Sulfur: helps strengthen hair at the root - it is a component of many proteins including keratin. It is also great for stimulating blood flow which helps in growth and the removal of toxins in hair follicles. 
    Calcium: also provides a structural component for hair
    B & C Vitamins: Vitamin B helps in scalp circulation and lack of it is known to be a cause of hair loss. Vitamin C protects hair from breaking and boosts collagen for elasticity. 
    Selenium: helps keep cell membranes in tact 
    Copper: prevents defective hair growth
    Along with these benefits, it tightens the pores to prevent hair loss, and has antiseptic properties. I found a couple studies on the positive effects garlic has on hair loss from issues such as Alopecia, but none specifically on shedding. As with most things in haircare, some people may experience no changes in shedding after using this, but for others (like me!) this might be a godsend. 

    There are so many different ways you can do this. The first time I made some, I used the microwave. This time, I thought infusing the oil on the stove might deliver better results. Here's what I did:

    1. I took 1-2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced them up
    2. Mixed grapeseed, olive, and coconut oils in an old Doo Gro bottle. 
    3. Poured the oil into a post and added the garlic
    4. Allowed to simmer for 30 mins
    5. Poured back into the bottle, leaving the cloves in the pot. 

    That is it! So easy. I am sensitive to garlic (the smell gives me a headache) so I didn't want to use very much. I hoped that the small amount would be strong enough to decrease my shedding and it was. Smell didn't even bother me. You can always try adding more garlic to achieve a stronger treatment. You can also add this oil to your conditioner. I like to use it as a pre-poo and pair it with a scalp massage. I have no issues with having my hair smell like garlic after it's been washed either. 

    Wash Day - 20 Weeks Post

    This is the wash day after I took my box braids out (late post!). I was a little anxious to really wash my scalp since I hadn't had a deep clean in six weeks.  So, after awhile of rocking my box braidout, I went for it. My 20 weeks post roots were kind of intimidating, but I'm going to have to get to know them sooner or later. Here's how it went down:

    {1} I did a hot oil treatment on my scalp with a homemade garlic-infused mix of grapeseed, olive and coconut oils and put Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose on the length of my hair. I was having issues with shedding before my box braids so I figured it best that I do a treatment in case I was still having issues. I covered my hair with a plastic cap and let it sit for about 30 minutes of so.

    {2} This might be where things started going downhill. My scalp was loving Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat while I had braids so I decided to wash with that. Lathered twice and my hair felt gross - dry even though it was soaking wet. So I reached for my CON Argan Oil Moisturizing shampoo and my hair felt better, but it seemed to be tangling so much. I was confused because my technique of washing in sections and only washing my scalp usually prevents that from happening. My scalp might like that shampoo but my hair certainly hates it.

    After taking the towel off my hair, the sight of my hair was a wee bit scary. The picture above doesn't really do it justice. It looked almost matted because it was sooooo tangled. Aaaahhh! I had a minor freak out moment as I struggled just get my fingers through it. This never happens!! It was a sad sight, too. That's for sure. It was already late at night, so I had to wake myself up some to come up with a game plan. I quickly figured that, combined with whatever effects the shampoo had on my hair, I had not done a thorough enough job removing my shed hair after I took my braids out. When I washed my hair, the shed hair just tangled up in it creating the worst mess I have ever had the pleasure of detangling.

    {3} I took a smaller section of hair and attempted to add conditioner(s) and detangle that way. It worked, but it took a very long time to do that small section. I knew I had to take my time so that I could prevent losing an unnecessary hair, but I couldn't deal with moving that slow for my whole head.

    {4} New game plan: let hair air dry before detangling. This is how I always detangle my hair, but I don't think I thought of it initially because I had not even deep conditioned yet. I let my hair air dry, still in sections, to about 80% and sprayed a little bit of each of my leave ins (Aphogee Green Tea & Keratin Restructurizer and Elasta QP H2) to make sure it wasn't dried out for this detangling session.

    {5} One by one, I divided each of my four sections into three and went to work! I started working my way up by finger detangling first then using a wide tooth comb. I found a number of knots that were making so much trouble. Fast forward three hours... yes, I said three hours later I was done detangling!!! -_- Good news is pretty much every thing I lost was shed hair. So, I was glad I took my time. I also don't think the amount I lost was that bad considering it had been over 6 weeks since my hair had been combed.

    {6} After I detangled each section, I added conditioner and braided it up. I pulled out a number of conditioners initially, but I primarily used Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose and L'Oreal Total Repair 5 Damage Erasing Balm I put on a plastic cap and scarf and went to bed!

    {7} The next morning, I rinsed my hair in the braids, let it air dry and added the same leave-ins from Step 4 (at about 80% dry). It was a bun for me that day. I was very over my hair at that point.

    I never thought my 20 weeks post relaxer roots would have been the least of my worries on this wash day, but they gave me no trouble. Especially in comparison with that shed hair detangling ordeal! I think my real question after all this is: WHY, I say WHYYY don't I own a real detangler?!?! Maybe because I've never had enough trouble with tangles to buy one over a new conditioner I've been eyeing... yep, lesson learned. I'm positive a good detangler would have shortened the time that took. I'll be buying or making one of my own very soon. That can.never.happen.again.

    I am thinking about purchasing It's A 10 Miracle Leave-in and/or making one using marshmallow root. Does anyone have any good detangler recommendations?? 

    Best Products for Protective Styling [Box Braids]

    I believe that the techniques that you use to maintain your protective styles are very important, but I also believe that choosing the best products for your hair during this time is valuable as well. Especially because you most likely have little to no access to your hair, and therefore, are unable to truly evaluate how your hair is reacting to the products. If things are going well, you're in great shape, but if they're not - fast forward six plus weeks and you may be in for trouble.

    This is my list of "brief" reviews of all the products I used whille protective styling with box braids. I purchased 6 products and made two of my own. I found all of them at my local beauty supply stores for about $3-6 each. There are websites listed in case you would like to check out the ingredients. There was only one product I didn't like at all, but everything else I used pretty much the entire six weeks of wearing this style. These are products that helped make my protective styling very successful and many of them I picked up based on the reviews of others on blogs, YouTube and people I know personally. So, while there is always a chance that some of these may not work as well for you, I think it's safe to say that a number of these products are pretty popular among healthy-haired ladies while protective styling.

    African Pride Olive Miracle Braid Sheen Spray (website)
    My experience: This braid spray was awesome! It smells really good, doesn't leave a sticky feeling or film behind, and does a great job moisturizing my hair. I used it every other day and sometimes daily. I also diluted it some with water (3:1 ratio) after awhile and still loved the way it treated my hair. I did this for two reasons: 1) I felt a lot of the product was going on my extensions (read: being wasted) and not just my actual hair, and 2) using it as frequently as I was, I wanted to make sure it lasted the duration of my style.  My only complaint about this product was the packaging. It could have just been a fluke, but my pump was terrible. It spit all over me and dripped down my arm everytime I tried to use it. I ended up just transferring it to one of my own spray bottles... problem solved.

    Mane 'n Tail Hair Strengthener (website)
    My experience: This product, I felt, was my risky one. I've never tried any products from Mane 'N Tail, but I know people looove them. I think that was what made me comfortable with going for it. I wanted this spray to kind of balance my extreme use of moisturizing products. I am never this product heavy with my hair on a day-to-day basis, so, I was a little concerned with taking my braids out and dealing with moisture overload if I didn't add some kind strengthening/protein treatment in at times, too. I didn't use it as often as the braid spray, probably just a couple times a week. I like the way it smells, it wasn't sticky, and it didn't stiffen my hair. I think it worked well because when I took my hair down, it still felt pretty strong; like it wasn't weakened from the style. 

    ORS Herbal Cleanse "Dry Shampoo" (website)
    My experience: I've mentioned this product before because I bought it to keep my scalp clean while prolonging the time in between my wash days. It did exactly that. Initially, I was a little skeptical about it because it's gel-like, unlike the spray form of most salon brands I've read about, but it worked very well. It doesn't leave any kind of residue behind either. It's easy to use and there are several different ways you can use it to get clean your scalp, the length or your hair or both. It smells antiseptic, which isn't really surprising when you consider its ingredients and purpose. It pretty quick start to finish, too. I think a main difference between this and most salon brands is that it is formulated for braided, twisted and extension styles. That is why I chose it. A little goes a long way so I feel like I'm going to have this stuff forever. 

    Vitale Itch Relief (website)
    My experience: This is the one product I didn't like! It was so weird to me. When you spray it on, you do feel like the itchiness goes away almost immediately. But the problem is that that relief is very short-lived. Yes, I know you shouldn't expect too serious of a solution for itchiness from a spray, but it was like I would have had to spray this on hourly for continued relief. Once, maybe twice a day would have been fine, but never that frequently. Also, it left a weird filmy-like build up on my hair and scalp. It was a little sticky, too. So, this was just a fail for me. 

    Satin Braid Bonnet
    My experience: Loved it! This was a life saver! I tried so many different ways and used multiple scarves night after night to tie my hair up before I got this. My scarf would either fall off or my braids would fall out of it before the night was over. This bonnet made it so easy to just put all that long hair right into it like a sack. Then you just tie it up in the front or back. It worked wonderfully. 

    I also made an oil mix to apply to my scalp and a moisturizing mix to give my hair an extra boost when I felt I needed it. You can read about how I did those here and here. They both worked great for me. Of course, you can always use the oils and conditioners of your choice.

    Have you used any of these products? Let me know how they worked for you!

    Maintaining Box Braids/Protective Styles for Maximum Length Retention

    After my traumatizing experience getting my box braids installed, it was safe to say that I was a little on the hypervigilant side about my haircare. The whole experience just kind of put me in the mindset of "setback avoidance". Needless to say, I was very determined to figure out the ins and outs of the best ways to maintain protective styles like mine. I didn't want to go thru all of that trouble in vain and end up having to do a major trim or something because of not taking good enough care of the length of my hair. Some women feel like protective styles equal "set it and forget it". And there are probably a few that get away with it, but trust me, they are the exception, not the rule. These are the things I focused on to maintain the style and the health of my hair:

    Moisturizing & Sealing
    This is one of the most important things!  Especially if you have in extensions; the braiding hair can be very drying to your natural hair making this step even more necessary. Just like any other time, you have to make sure the length of your hair does not get dry and become prone to breakage. It's best to do this with sprays because of the fact that you don't have real access to your hair to be able to judge how moisturized it is or isn't. Spraying it will ensure the moisture is distributed throughout the hair and isn't just sitting on top like it could when just rubbing a typical moisturizer in with your hands. 

    Tip: Make Your Own Moisturizing and Oil Mixes
    I made a moisturizing mix after washing my hair the first time, when moisturizing with a braid spray didn't seem like it would be enough. Especially since I wasn't doing a deep conditioning treatment. I mixed water with Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner and let it sit for a few hours. It became a very light creamy spray that I could spray directly on my scalp or into my hands and apply to the length of my hair. It made my hair feel very soft even after it was dry and ensured I wouldn't need to moisturize again the very next day. I also made an oil mix to seal with by adding grapeseed and olive oils to Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Reconstructive Elixir.  

    Washing & Scalp Care
    I know I have already somewhat went into detail about how I washed my box braids and how I kept my scalp in good shape in previous posts, but it's worth mentioning again because both of those things helped me maintain the health of my hair and scalp during that style. If your scalp is dirty, has product buildup or other issues, it is not going to be a good environment to promote hair growth or retain moisture. Your hair will inevitably grow, but not like it would in a healthy, clean environment. One thing that's bad about product buildup is that it disables you hair from accepting anymore moisture or anything you may try to put on it. If this is the case, you hair may get too dry and break off at the ends. 

    Tip: Use Dry Shampoo (pictured above)
    This is a great way to make sure you hair and scalp stay clean without compromising the look of your style.

    Night routine
    Last but not least, wrapping your hair up at night helps preserve your style and retain moisture. Allowing your hair to just rub all over you pillow will bring fuzziness with the quickness! It will also rob your hair of all the moisture you were so diligent about keeping in it. 

    Tip: Buy a large scarf or a satin braid bonnet
    All of my scarves were too small for the length and weight of this style. Even if they were big enough to cover it, they were't strong enough to keep it held up. That braid bonnet kept all of that hair tied up off my neck and stayed on my head through my wild sleeping the night.

    That's just three simple things you can do to make sure your protective styling is successful and you maintain all the length you can! 

    Product Review: L'Oreal Total Repair 5 Damage-Erasing Balm (Ceramide)

    Price: $5.99 for 8.5oz at Walgreens (CVS, Target & Walmart)

    Product Claims: "Deeply repairs and reconstructs dry, chemically treated hair. Specially formulated for damaged, over processed and chemically treated hair.  This intense luxurious reconstructing balm instantly repairs the 5 signs of damage: 1. Split Ends, 2. Weak, 3. Rough, 4. Dull, 5. Dehydrated. Repairs 1 Year of Damage in 1 Use*
      Advanced Formula with Ceramide: Our system helps mend broken hair fibers
      *Reverses damage to hair's smoothness with daily use, when using the system of shampoo & balm." - from back of jar
    Ingredients: Water, Cetearyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Chloride, Amodimethicone, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla Cera) Wax, Cetyl Esters, Glycerin, Isopropyl Alcohol, Fragrance, Phenoxyethanol, Trideceth 6, Hydroxypropyl Guar, Arginine, Glutamic Acid, Linalool, Hexyl Cinnamal, Cetrimonium Chloride, Serine, Chlorhexidine Dihydrochloride, Benzyl Salicylate, Hydroxypropyltrimonium Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Benzyl Alcohol, Limonene, Amyl Cinnamal, Citronellol, 2 Oleamido 1,3 Octadecanediol, Alpha Isomethyl Ionone, Yellow 5CI 19140, Yellow 6CI 15985, D54157/1

    Directions: After using Total Repair 5 Shampoo, apply to wet hair and massage through to ends.  Leave in for 3-5 minutes.  Rinse.

    My Experience: I have had nothing but great experiences with this conditioner. The first time I used it was after my last relaxer back in August. I bought it on my continued quest for a great protein treatment/conditioner especially for use as a mid-step between relaxing and neutralizing. I believe it was the "ceramide" on the label that made it jump out at me. Combine that with the price and it was a win. My hair loves ceramide containing products and this is just an addition to the list. 

    So, I've used it several different ways over the past six months. Initially, as a protein treatment after a relaxer, it worked wonderfully. But I used it with another product that time so I wasn't sold yet. Next, I deep conditioned with it and our love affair began. The main thing I love about this conditioner is that it is a protein conditioner, but it treats my hair like it's moisturizing it. My hair is always so soft, yet still feels strengthened after I use this, which I think is amazing. Protein products are good for drying out and hardening hair and this doesn't. Lastly, I've used it as a pre-poo and loved it some more. We've got a winner, here. It's great in my deep conditioning concoctions, too. For me, it doesn't have to be followed up with a moisturizing conditioner to get good results, but I do most of the time anyway. Mostly because I love products haha. 

    As far as the nature of it goes, I think it smells really good. It has a strong scent, yet the scent doesn't linger. It's almost fruity & perfume like. It smells like it would taste good lol! It's a thick, creamy texture. It's easy to apply though. It doesn't sink into my hair, like disappear. I can still see it, but I can feel it working at the same time. I never take claims like "repairs 1 year of damage with one use" seriously because that's just a joke. Nothing does that. But as far as smoothing hair and repairing "weak, rough, dull, and dehydrated" hair, yes yes yes! It does.   

    Moral of the Story: I love this conditioner. I would say to give it a try if you are looking for a protein conditioner that is going to strengthen your hair, yet not going to give your hair the normal negative protein effects. With that plus its price and availability, it's definitely worth a try. 

    Has anyone else tried this conditioner? Like it, love it, never want to use it again??

    Box Braidout: How I Took My Box Braids Out

    I spent a few days taking my box braids down. I don't think it would have taken that long if I had actually just sat down and did it all at once. But hey, it was the holidays! I was keeping my nephews for a few days... lots of family & friends were in and out of the house... so yea, I wasn't really focused on it. I was glad I chose to take them out during this time though because I was off work and had plenty of hands that were willing to help. I promise taking these things down takes so much more time than putting them in does.

    I am so happy I forced myself was able to keep these in for 6 weeks. It was a nice break from my hair. Other than being bored with them at this point, I was starting to get a significant amount of new growth (see below), which I did not want to get out of hand. I've heard of people's new growth and shed hair starting to coil on itself and causing a terrible mess once it was time to take them down. Def didn't want that to happen either. I think four weeks is my limit. That was about the point when I was over this style. So let's get to the how to's of taking out this style without damaging your hair and/or ruining all the progress that was made. 

    Only cut the ends off to around two inches longer than the length of your actual hair. I had already cut these braids once because initially they were hip length. So, this time I knew I had to be a lot more careful with the scissors. In an effort to ease the process, numerous ladies make the mistake of cutting too much hair off the ends of this kind of style, and unfortunately, end up cutting their own hair as well. I made sure I avoided this by going down the braid the length of my hair and then adding a couple inches before cutting. It's much better to be safe than sorry, in my opinion.  

    Use some oil, generously. I sprayed my hair with a very generous amount of an oil mix before I began taking them down. I also put some oil on my hands. The use of oil helps reduce friction both between your strands of hair and between your hands and your hair. It also helps to ease the removal of shed hair. Everything just glides right out. 

    Actually unbraid the hair, don't try to comb out the braids. That may seem simplistic, but I think it's worth stating. I just went in reverse to unbraid the hair. When I was watching YouTube trying to learn how to box braid, one girl said "think of braiding as going down stairs and unbraiding as going back up the stairs". I thought that was a great analogy. I witnessed the ladies at the braiding salon taking down these styles by simply combing them with a small tooth comb. EEEKK!! One of my friends told me that she went to a salon to have hers taken out and that's exactly what they did. She lost so much hair as a result. Of course, using a rat tail comb by sticking its tail in the braid to help unravel it, like you would do with your fingers is helpful, too. I did that at times. 

    Finish removing shed hair & detangle. I used more oil for this step! I think this is an important step, even more now that I've gone thru the whole process. Excess shed hair can and WILL become a tangled mess once you add water. I did not do as thorough of a job with this step as I thought I had. And sure enough it became obvious that I had not done the best possible job after I washed my hair. Sigh. So, oil your hair and hands some more, if needed, and take your time finger detangling and removing built up shed hair from your protective style. It will be worth it in the end. 

    That's all I did and the braid out once I was done was awesome. I loved it and yes, I actually got to wear this one out. It was so big and defined. I have to figure out how to replicate these results without having to have box braids in first. I think most, if not all, of these steps work well whether you have box braids, kinky twists, or just cornrows. Taking care when you remove your protective style is just as important in your style's success as making sure the style is done correctly and maintaining your hair's health throughout the duration of the style. If not, your protective style may no longer be protective for your hair. 

    January Goals & December Recap

    Happy New Year!! I am looking forward to what this new year will bring. While I'm sure it will come with its own challenges, I'm excited about the blessings that will undoubtedly come along with them. Here's the recap of my December goals:

    1. Moisturize and seal my hair (with sprays) every other day. Success! I was very diligent about making sure I moisturized my hair often because I didn't want it to get dry and couldn't just touch it to figure out how it was doing like I usually can.  
    2. Keep my braids in for 6 weeks. Success! I seriously did not think I was going to make it with this one. Especially once I hit 4 weeks. I was ready to take them out at that point, but I held out! Woot woot!!
    3. Cardio workout twice a week. Fail! This is the only goal I didn't even come close to achieving. So, I will be attempting it again this month. And I will continue to set similar goals like this one until I become consistent with exercising again.
    4. Follow through with completing this 30-day plank challenge. Almost... I started this goal late so I haven't completed the challenge yet. I didn't want to claim a success when I knew I was still finishing it. 
    5. Post 15 times this month. Fail! I was on track with this goal until the holidays hit. No biggie. I enjoyed them and have a brand new month to try again! One thing setting this goal did was help me begin to better organize how I go about blogging, which I'm really happy about.  
    6. Review 5 products. Fail! Same deal so I'll be going for it again this month. I have so many products to choose from it really needs to be more than five. But small steps are better. 
    You might think not achieving all the goals I set for myself every month would be discouraging, but it's not. For me, setting goals is a way to keep me on track and focused on the things I want for myself. It keeps the goals on the forefront of my mind and causes me to come up with plans to go about making them happen. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't and I have to rethink, but all the time it enables me to work toward being better tomorrow than I was today. That's what is most important to me so I don't like to discount progress even when it's not enough to reach the goal. Plus, failing 
    motivates me to work harder to succeed.

    For January, I am, of course, going to work on the goals from last month that didn't work out so well. I'm not one for New Year's resolutions because I believe you can always set goals for changing things whenever you want/see the need, you shouldn't wait for a new year. However, one thing I think is important and love to do every January, is to put some extra focus on my relationship with Christ. I think it's great to start the year by making sure you are aware of and aligned with God's will for you life. I know many churches spend this month in consecration, and my church is one of them. So, that is my first goal. As far as my hair is concerned, I'm over 20 weeks post and don't know what to do next. I don't feel like I'm ready to transition, but what am I doing not getting a relaxer for all this time?! I have to figure that out. Here are all of my January goals: 

    1. Refocus my relationship with God.
    2. Decide what the next step with my hair will be. 
    3. Cardio workout twice a week.
    4. Finish 30-day plank a challenge. 
    5. Post {at least} 15 times this month. 
    6. Review 5 products.
    I'm sticking with the specific goals again. Hope everyone's year is starting out well! 
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