Monday, November 13, 2017

Testing out Sweet Almond Oil.

Apparently Sweet Almond Oil has great benefits:
1.  Gives Smooth, Flawless Skin
2.  Deep Cleansing Of Skin
3.  Removes Dark Circles & Tan
4.  Relieves Eczema & Psoriasis
5.  Treats Skin Rashes
6.  Reduces Fine Lines & Other Signs Of Aging
7.  Eases Muscle Aches & Fatigue
8.  Controls Hair Loss
9.  Conditions Long Shiny Hair
10. Makes Nails Healthy
11. Helps Heart Health
12. Improves Memory & Cognition

In light of this information I decided to test it out on my scalp and my length. I'm also trying it out on my dark circles. So far it's working out well, my scalp and length are happy. In fact ever since I mixed half Extra Virgin Olive Oil and half coconut oil for the length as pre-wash treatment my hair has been doing very well. I'm also adding Castor oil on the roots to try and get some of my thickness back.
My coal tar soap/shampoo got here and it smells great and it's working ok so far. It's not perfect but it's good enough. I get a bit of itching every now and then just on small isolated spots for a short period of time.
I also mixed cassia with henna 50/50 for the root touch up. I'm not sure it's really covering my white hairs around the temples. It might be that I'm not applying it correctly, but my waves are doing great! And my scalp feel great from it too. I kind of want to do a full Cassia application.
I want to dilute the henna because when I do roots I apply it on one inch of hair, every month, and my hair grows about a half and inch every month resulting in double applications on new growth. Also i kind of want to see if I can get a more orange result. I currently have frozen bags of henna/cassia mix 50/50 for the next 3 months. So I will try to see the difference if any once I'm done with the bags. If it's still dark and not orange I will dilute it more.
Nightshade on LHC says she mixes a 35/65 henna/cassia for her hair and she started with the same base color as mine and her hair looks an awesome orange. That will be my next mix if I don't like the results I get with 50/50.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

First braid in years!!!

I haven't been able to make a braid for years!!! OMG I can't believe it!!! Totally worth chopping off my hair. OMG I missed being able to make a braid, it's one of my favorite things to do with my hair.


I'm seriously thinking about investing in a new camera. It's so worth taking photos now. Omg this is the first step into actually being able to do updos again. It's been so long, so very very long. I clearly remember 6-7 years ago when I wrote in my hair journal that I should never ever get bangs or layers again, but I did get bangs and layers about 2 years ago and I was unable to braid or bun my hair nicely. 
I've been seriously thinking about 'why' I want to grow my hair out and the thing I came up with is 'updos'. I want to be able to do cool stuff with my hair. I want to learn new braids and definitely new buns. I only know two buns right now (cinnabun and lazy wrap bun) and I want to learn like a million new ones and I need more length to be able to do more and more. I also really enjoy doing all kinds of hair treatments and discovering new things to use on my hair like new shampoos, new ways to condition, new deep conditioning or protein treatments. 
Note to self: read this entry and How to enjoy your hair while it is growing. the next time you want to cut your hair.
Note to self: never ever EVER get bangs or layers EVER again
Note to self: do NOT chop your hair, trims only; NEVER more than 1 inch in a 6 month period

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Infusing Oils with herbs

I've been meaning to write this entry about one of the methods you can use herbs and oils together to get the benefits of both and for easy application and use of herbs. By infusing the oil or oils with herb/s you transfer the properties of the herb/s to the oil/s. This can be done several different ways cold or warm. Cold takes the longest but it's considered the best way because the use of heat can cancel out some of the beneficial effects. Kind of the same reasoning as cold pressed oils being better than heat pressed oils.
Ingredients:
Cold Method:
- Dried, coarsely chopped herbs. (This is a folk method which means we are going to eye ball it and not measure or weigh. If you are more comfortable using measurements, the ratio is approximately 1 ounce of dried herb to 10 ounces of oil.)
- Got fresh herbs? Learn how to dry them here. It’s easiest to work with dried herbs, since fresh ones contain water which may lead to rotting or mold.
- Oil. Olive and sunflower oils are good choices. Be sure to use fresh oil so that the infusion will last longer.
- Clean, dry glass jar with tight fitting lid Canning jars work nicely, but any jar with a lid will do.
- A strainer and cheesecloth or fine-weave towel.
- Bottle or jar for storage. Amber glass blocks light and may help your infusion last longer.
-Vitamin E oil (optional) acts as a conservant for the oil to last longer
- Natural wax paper
- Labels and permanent marker
- The sun or a consistently warm area

Heat method:
- Heatproof Mason jar, Pyrex bowl, or double boiler.
- Oil of choice
- Herb of choice (fresh or dry) (the ratio is approximately 1 ounce of dried herb to 10 ounces of oil.)
- Double boiler or old pot you won’t use for food any more (like a non-stick pot) Hot plate/double boiler or pan/skillet
- Coffee filters, cheesecloth, sieve
- Funnel
- Spoon
- Sterilize the glass jars and bottles that you will be using by running them through the dishwasher.  It is important that they are completely dry.

How to:
Cold Method
- clean and dry the jar, any water in the jar can lead to spoilage
- fill the jar to the top with herbs.
- if you have fresh herbs, wilt them first for 12 hours to remove the moisture (too much water will cause your oil to go rancid), cut into small pieces, and crush with a mortar and pestle before adding to the jar
- pour oil over the herbs slowly. Using a chopstick or knife, move the herbs around to make sure all air pockets are filled with oil. Add enough oil to completely cover all the herbs, filling right up to the brim of the jar.
- cover the jar, give it a few shakes, and put it in a cool place inside your house.
- every now and then, give your jar a shake.
- it will be ready to use in 3-6 weeks.
- the jar may ooze or leak a little, so place it on a plate or towel.
- strain the oil into your storage bottles through a cloth-lined strainer.
- give the herbs a final few squeezes to get the last of that herb-soaked goodness.
- cork and label your bottles.
- the oil should last at room temperature for up to a year; two years if you add a capsule or two of vitamin E, a natural preservative.
- stir well and cap the jar tightly.
- cover the top of the jar with a small square of natural wax paper then screw on the lid. The wax paper will prevent any harmful chemicals that may be coating the inside of your lid from contaminating the oil.

Warm method:
- place the herbs and oil in a dark colored jar if you plan on using sunlight
- place the jar in a sunny and warm windowsill or place the jar in a warm spot
- shake once or more per day
- you can also cover the jar with a brown paper bag if you prefer that to direct sunlight.
- after 2-3 weeks, strain the herbs out of the oil using cheesecloth or a mesh strainer

Heat method:
--Sauce Pan--
- place the herb filled jar in a sauce pan that has been filled about ¼ full of water
- simmer for 4-8 hours
- remove jar from saucepan and allow to cool

--Oven method--
- place the herbs and oil in a large oven proof dish
- place in a preheated 250 degrees oven
- turn the oven off and place the herb filled bowl in the oven for 24 hours uncovered
- cool the mixture than pour through a cheesecloth lined strainer into a bowl with a spout

--Double boiler method--
---method 1---
- place the herbs and oil in a double boiler and bring to a slow simmer
- slowly heat for 30-60 minutes
- keep the heat nice and low for a longer simmer time and to help release medicinal properties
- decant, bottle, and store following the instructions above
- ideally, you want the water under 170 degrees
---method 2---
- place 2 inches of water in a stainless steel double boiler, making sure that the water does not reach the bottom of the top pan
- place the herbs and oils in the top pan and cover
- turn on medium heat until the water simmers and then reduce to low
- allow to simmer on low heat for 3-4 hours, checking the water level and temperature regularly
- when oil becomes darker and takes on the scent of the herbs remove from heat and strain out the herbs

--Slow Cooker Method--
- place a hand towel in the bottom of your slow cooker. This serves to keep the direct heat off jars and promote more even heat distribution, as well as cushioning jars from bumping the pot which could cause chips and breakage.
- fill slow cooker about half way with water.
- turn slow cooker on “warm” setting to preheat.
- cap jars and place into slow cooker on top of the towel
- allow oils to infuse for 8-12 hours on your slow cooker’s lowest setting
- temperature should remain between 100° – 120°
- you may want to check the temperature every few hours, turning off the slow cooker for a bit if needed
- stir or gently shake jars a few times during the infusion process. (Hint: If you have a dehydrator with temperature controls or a yogurt maker, you can also use these appliances to infuse your oil.)
- once herbs have been infused, turn off slow cooker and allow to cool to room temp
- strain herbs/flowers out using a tea towel or several layers of unbleached cheesecloth

Sources
Healing Herbs: Learn to Make Infused Oils and BalmsFOLK METHOD FOR SOLAR-INFUSED OILSCOLD INFUSION/SOLAR INFUSIONCold Infusion Step-By-Step InstructionsHow to Make an Easy Herbal Oil InfusionSolar infused herbal oilsHow to make Infused Oil

Conditioner alternative.

After thinking about it for a few hours and reading a bunch of hair blogs I landed on Kimberlily's defrizz spray.
In a 4oz mister, mix the following:
2 tbsp aloe gel
1 tsp jojoba
1 tsp glycerin (you can leave it out if you don't have any)
essential oils of choice
Add distilled water until full, then shake.

I don't have any glycerin or jojoba oil so I did it with Johnson's baby oil (mineral oil + flagrance), clear aloe vera gel and hot tap water (the heat allows me to mix the ingredients better). This is only a test, if it works out I will invest in the proper ingredients.
After washing my hair and towel drying I applied Kimberlily's defrizz spray one the length and then let my hair air dry as usual. It's a bit frizzy because of the aloe vera (my hair doesn't do well with humectants) BUT it feels great, I can't tell the difference between using rinse out conditioner and this leave-in spray.
My hair is soft and manageable. This could be because of the mineral oil so I plan to try using just mineral oil at some point, but not right now.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Dandruff update & some plans.

My scalp was kind of ok with the black soap, but it was getting super itchy close to washing. My scalp would be ok for a day or two then it was itchy and uncomfortable again. So I decided that since I am done with the moving and the new job adjustment I can try T-gel again. Right now I've been using T-gel for about 2 weeks and my scalp feels freaking fantastic, I missed the relief.  My scalp still starts to feel weird if I don't use T-gel for a week. I tried it a week after henna, since shampoo and henna are apparently not a good combination.
However, I am dead set on using natural products. I have been lazy for the past couple of years due to all the tremendous stress that I've been through. It seriously put me in lazy mode, I didn't even use a BBB or Neeli oil for the longest time. Recently however I have finally settled into a routine, I have a stable place to live and a stable job, no more moving around, going through escrow, buying a house, worrying about rent increase or changing jobs. I feel very good stress wise.
As a result of a low stress life I am now once again going for an all natural routine. I have been using the black soap followed by a lemon rinse as a washing method, until my dandruff drove me crazy, which didn't take long, I lack patience. Now I'm on the T-gel train until I finish the 4-5 week treatment, then it's back to black soap.
I've been thinking about using conditioner alternatives and frankly one thing always comes to mind: leave-in oil. I am very bad at applying leave-in oil, I always use to much because I apply until I can see it, then I end up with oily looking length. So I decided to apply it on wet hair because it prevents me from over applying, I can just use as much as I need. I've also purchased some tea tree oil to add a few drops to my lemon rinse, for scalp health.
I'm having serious thoughts about using castor oil on my scalp as a pre-wash treatment, so starting with my next wash I will be adding it to the Neeli oil. I'd really like to get thicker hair. Last time (today) I measured it my ponytail circumference was 3 inches, as opposed to the 3.5 inches I had a few years ago. Obviously the straying from natural methods, most likely the stopping of Neeli oil  and BBB usage has caused some shedding which is painfully obvious in my circumference.
I've also purchased some Coal Tar Soap which has the same main ingredient as T-gel shampoo = 'coal tar' so I'm hoping I can use this in stead of T-gel. I'd very much like to be all natural so it's time to branch out.
I know that between monthly henna treatments and pre-wash oiling I should be ok moisture wise without conditioner, but that hasn't always been my experience. I do believe that the black soap is a bit too good at cleaning my hair and thus I end up with kind of dry hair. But if I add some oil back in I should be ok.
My first test will be with coconut oil, because it is my favorite, if that doesn't work I will try castor oil mixed with coconut, and if that fails I will try EVOO or mineral oil, since those are the oils I have on hand right now. If none of them work I think I will get some jojoba oil or argon oil which have great reviews as a leave-in.
I'm really excited to be back on track I have some major guilt over not using natural products, that has been my goal since 2010 and I've failed repeatedly.
For my own purposes I want to name some of the things I have done and how they worked, just a trip down memory lane:
- skipping coconut oil as a pre-wash treatment: left my hair feeling dry, tangly and frizzy, never skipping it again
- skipping Neeli oil on my scalp as pre-wash: increased shedding, decreased ponytail circumference, never skipping it again
- using Redken Frizz Dismiss shampoo and conditioner: worked great, left my hair smelling and feeling great, but it's not natural, it will be my fall-back if I can't go natural for whatever reason
- skipping BBB brushing: left my scalp feeling sore from updos, and caused increased shedding, never skipping it again
- conditioner only washing: sometimes doesn't clean out all the pre-wash oil and leaves me with gross looking hair, doesn't always work depending on the conditioner, worsens my shedding and dandruff, not a good fit for my scalp and too hard to figure out how to do it correctly
- CV bars: too gentle, don't always wash out the pre-wash oil from my hair, not a good fit for my hair unless I put in extra effort sometimes washing 3 times in the same session to get all the oil out, BUT I do still have 2-3 bars left so I may just work my way through it at some point, since I love the smell
- soap nuts wash: doesn't smell nice at all, instant flakiness and horrible itching, I think I'm allergic so not a good fit for my scalp, super sad over this one I love the idea of using soap nuts
- T-gel shampoo: the only thing that cures my dandruff long term, it has SLS so it causes my scalp to over-produce sebum which gives me greasy scalp within one-two days after washing, if I had an alternative (hopefully Coal Tar soap will work) I would use that instead

Monday, October 16, 2017

Henna update.

It turns out that using shampoo after rinsing out the henna is not a good idea. The first two times I used henna I shampooed right after and while my hair felt way better than without henna, but it wasn't as great as it could be. Today I only used conditioner after rinsing out the henna and my hair is a freaking dream. I forgot it could be this good.
The plan now is to wait for a week before using shampoo, because it takes one week for the color to settle. My only concern is that I only did roots so I don't know if my ends will feel as good as the roots. But I will see as time goes on. Right now my hair is still drying.
I don't want to get my hair plum color so I can't do another full head henna for at least a year, but if my ends don't feel nice I may do it anyway. The feel of my hair is more important than the color.
I am having some issues covering the hair at my temples with color, it hasn't really been working out very nicely so far. I have no idea why as of yet. I may try to clarify my hair before applying the henna next time, it's suppose to help the color, I guess it can't hurt to try it out.
I'm planning on taking a photo of my hair later today after it finished drying. I will post it on the "Length Photos" page.

Friday, August 18, 2017

From CO to solid shampoo.

I did a second SMT followed by CO and my hair went crazy frizzy. I should have known, my hair does not do well with humectants. My scalp started to feel weird again after the second CO and the itchiness drove me crazy so I went to plan B: black soap.
This is a shampoo alternative that has helped me in the past, the only reason I don't like using it for too long is because I get build-up from it and it's a little tough to apply/use. It also does not work long term, it only works while I use it, it does not clear up my dandruff. But I am desperate from some relief that doesn't come in SLS shampoo like t-gel, plus it smells nicer than t-gel (actually garbage smells nicer than t-gel, but anyway). I followed it up with a lemon rinse (half a tea spoon lemon juice to 8 oz water) because I hate the smell of vinegar so much.
So after using the black soap my scalp feel cool I'll have to see how it feels over then next few days, but from what I remember this works well.
I did order some CV products: Neem&Tea tree shampoo and shower butter bar vanilla bean (I also ordered some facial cleansing scrub). Hopefully they will work better for me this time around. I can only hope. In the past I has trouble removing pre-wash oil from my hair with CV bars, so I might try putting less oil on my hair and/or using more shampoo on the hair.
The lotion bar has cocoa butter as the main ingredient which really helped my scalp in the past with itchiness, just a bit massaged in as a leave-in works wonders. The shampoo should do the same thing as the black soap but with a better smell and less harsh cleansing ingredients.
I will update on this later after they arrive.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Shampoo brush.

Recently I bought a shampoo brush. I thought it would be cool to try it out. I never really heard about it before it just kind of showed up as a suggested buy because I get a lot of hair stuff online.
This is what it looks like:


I tried it and as I half-expected, it is too hard and hurts my scalp when I use it. It also doesn't really lift my hair which naturally sticks to my scalp while under the shower so it pulls at the hairs uncomfortably. All and all I don't like it. It was a waste of money.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

It has been a long time since henna.

It seems as though I forgot that my hair acts completely different when it's hennaed as opposed to when it's just my own hair. It has a different porosity and does not take to my now usual conditioning and protein treatments.
Since I used the henna my hair has been feeling and looking a bit dry and poofy. I can't remember the last time I had this problem. But I do remember that I used to do a lot of conditioning after henna, sometimes even an SMT because of the resin that is so hard to remove. I've washed my hair twice since henna and every time the shampoo foam came out green or orange.
I'm so out of practice and my shower head is very different than what I've been used to for the past 7 years. In the past I've had a hand held showed head that has really good pressure, right now I have a big, fixed position, raindrop type of shower head with much, much lower pressure.It's proved to be a challenge in this process.
My length feels ok if I consider it in small increments, in total it's a bit much, like twice as much volume as I'm used to. Now this could easily be the sheer thickness I have now that it's all the same length. It is seriously at least twice as thick as it felt like before; I mean looking at my pre-chop hair photos and comparing them to the photos of a few years ago when I had no layers, it is a big difference. However it still feels like it needs some pampering.
I do plan to only do root touch up from this point on with henna, but even that left my hair feeling weird as far as I remember from my previous experiences. This only lasts about two or three washes because it drives me crazy and I either do a 'hot' oil treatment or an SMT.
Today I landed on SMT. I used one table spoon full of organic honey, which I heated up in the microwave until it bubbled (25 sec on high) because heating it up kills the peroxide and prevents it from lightening my hair (as far as I know anyway) plus it makes it way easier to mix with the conditioner; then I added 4 table spoons of my favorite thick conditioner, mixed it up until it was all one color; then added one table spoon full of clear aloe vera gel. I mixed it all up and added it to my hair in sections, then combed it through to make sure it gets all over my hair, not just on some parts.

This is the recipe in list form:
- 4 TB thick conditioner
- 1 TB clear aloe vera gel
- 1 TB honey (microwave heated for 25 sec on high)

I put it in the order because that way I can remember it more easily as the '411' lol. It needs to be on the hair for at least 30 minutes, with or without a heating cap. I put on a shower cap and that keeps it warm, I don't want to over do it. Not after everything I've been doing (clarifying and chelating).
On a side note I do feel like I've been using the BBB much too roughly on my scalp. I may have panicked a bit over how horrible my scalp has been feeling for months. Note to self: be more gentle.
After 30 minutes I rinsed out the SMT and my hair felt like it still had some oil in it (I pre-wash oiled it as normal) so I did another condition after with Suave Ocean Breeze conditioner.
My hair feels ok. In some parts it even feels squeaky clean. I really miss CO. It didn't work for me last time, but I never had problems with frizz or detangling when I did it. My only problem was that it didn't remove all the oil from my hair. The problem with that, I think, is that I read the entire CO thread and the article that used to be up at that time and everyone agreed that using a watery, non-thick conditioner is the best choice for CO. Well, the thick CO worked for me a lot better this time, although in all honesty I think the honey did most of the work. So if I go back to CO it would have to be exactly like it was today: oil, followed by SMT on oiled (no water) hair for 30 min, then rinse, then one CO.
This is what my hair looked like after it dried:


No more poofyness, no more dry feeling! \o/ Super happy with the results. :)
Here are two bonus photos:

no flash

more visible waves

Testing out Sweet Almond Oil.

Apparently Sweet Almond Oil has great benefits : 1.  Gives Smooth, Flawless Skin 2.  Deep Cleansing Of Skin 3.  Removes Dark Circles &...