Why you NEED a Spray Bottle!

Trust me! Your hair will thank you! This is something small I incorporated into my regimen that has greatly improved the overall health and appearance of my hair. By giving my hair more of what it loves on a consistent basis, my hair thrives and I am more likely to retain length. So what’s in MY spray bottle? Simply water and aloe vera juice. That’s it! My mixture is ¾ aloe juice to ¼ water. I started adding aloe juice to my regimen a couple of years ago after watching one of Naptural85’s DIY hair recipe YouTube video’s where she used it on freshly washed hair for added moisture and shine. I have been following her for as long as I have been natural because our hair type and length are similar. But the difference between using it now versus then is the frequency in which I use it. I previously would only use it sparingly. Now, I use it throughout the week in a few ways: the first being a precursor to my LOC moisture retention routine. I divide my hair down the middle and then create three sections on each side for a total of six sections. I spritz each section of hair, apply my leave in, oil, and then a cream. I moisturize my hair using this routine three times a week. On the nights I don’t do the LOC method, I still spritz the ends of my hair. Our ends are the oldest part of our hair and are less likely to benefit from the sebum that our scalp naturally secretes. Depending on the length of our hair, our ends could be several years old. The third way I use it to create a faux wash n go. I say faux, because I’m not styling on freshly washed hair. I discovered this third way by accident, actually. So what had happened was…..I tried to create the wash n go look by applying a leave in and then some gel. It turned out horribly, as in huge winter wonderland snowflakes in my hair! Ugh! I styled my hair the evening before a local natural hair event thinking my curls were about to be on a whole new level!! But I was in for a rude awakening the next day. I noticed that after I applied the products, my hair wasn’t absorbing them, but I figured my hair would dry overnight and it would be fine in the morning. When I discovered that didn’t happen, I just rocked my hair anyway. I didn’t have time to wash it and then restyle it before the event. Plus my hair takes like 10,000 hours to dry! Of course I’m exaggerating, but you get the point.

At the event, there was a stylist named Shayla. She gave a presentation and afterwards you could ask her questions. I approached her and told her what products I used and asked what I could have done differently. She explained the issue wasn’t necessarily with the products themselves, but with my method since I styled on dry hair. Hair should be styled when it is wet or damp so it can properly absorb the products you apply afterwards.

So for my next wash n go attempt, I followed her advice. In these photos, I created six sections like always and spritzed each section thoroughly from roots to tips. Then I applied Eco Styler Argon oil gel and sealed with grapeseed oil. Sealing with an oil allows the hair to retain moisture since water evaporates. Oil also prevents that gel cast that makes the hair stiff and crunchy. After sealing, I allowed my hair to air dry overnight. I tied a satin scarf around my edges and slept on a satin pillowcase. And voila! The results I wanted! My curls were shiny, smooth, moisturized, defined and of course no product build up!!

Spray Bottle Blog Post Collage

Lesson learned! Hydrate, style, and seal. Got it!

Another benefit to aloe juice is that it can be more pure than water. The water in our homes can be harmful to the health of our hair if it contains high levels of minerals, especially calcium and magnesium. This is known as hard water. High levels of these minerals can cause the hair to feel rough, tangle easily, become dehydrated, dull, and cause hair color to fade. So if you notice your hair is experiencing any of these issues, hard water may be the culprit. You can purchase kits that help you test the water in your home to determine if you have hard water.

The aloe juice I purchase is from Vitamin Shoppe. I like the Lily of the Desert brand, but switched to the store brand to save a few bucks! I also make sure to get the bottle that says “whole leaf.” The benefit to using the whole leaf variety is that your hair can reap the maximum benefits from the nutrients found in aloe, such as vitamins A, C, E and B12. As well as minerals such as potassium, zinc, and magnesium. Also, aloe is a humectant, meaning it draws moisture from the environment into the hair. Since I know how much my hair benefits from aloe, I am more drawn to products that contain aloe. When I read product labels, I search for aloe in the first five ingredients listed. Why the first five? It’s because the ingredients listed in the top five compose anywhere between 50%-80% of the total product make up. The ingredients listed after that may only make up as little as 1% of. So, the first five ingredients have the most effect on the hair.

Have I convinced you yet to try adding this amazing conditioner to your regimen? Or is aloe already a part of your regimen?

 

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It Must be True, Right?! Diet Myths Debunked!

When we hear the same information over a long period of time from a variety of sources, we rarely questions its validity. But information regarding our health and wellness changes as more research is conducted and health care professional gain more knowledge. So I wanted to make this post to debunk some of the common myths that people still believe that are no longer true.

1)      “Eat a Low Fat Diet, because Fat is Bad” – When you see “Low fat” that should be your que to put it down! You can think of low fat as code for “chemical storm!” When companies make foods low fat, they often replace the fat with more sugar and/or sodium to enhance the flavor. You don’t need to ban all fat. The fats you want to avoid are saturated and trans fats. Both are often found in red meats and processed foods. But there are fats that do not raise cholesterol or increase your risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Instead try to consume more Omega-3 heart healthy fats, which help to rebuild cells and will keep you fuller and more satisfied. Some examples are olive oil, salmon, or avocad

2)      “If You Exercise, You Can Eat Whatever You Want” – The weight loss equation is simple, calories in versus calories out. To lose one pound of fat per week, you must maintain a calorie deficit of 500 calories a day for 7 days, which is 3,500 calories. So it takes a 3,500 calorie deficit to lose one pound per week. It’s common to underestimate the amount of calories we consume and overestimate the amount of calories we burn. This is why it’s helpful to use an app such as MyFitnessPal to calculate calories and using a device, such as a FitBit or a Polar watch to track calories burned. You cannot outwork a poor diet

3)      “A Calorie is a Calorie” – While that is mathematically true, not all calories are created equal. You want to focus on the quality of your food. Consume more foods that are nutrient dense and contain micronutrients, such as fiber, which helps keep you full. You can have a candy bar or a turkey sandwich, but which option will give you the fuel you need?

4)      “Eat Less to Lose More Weight” – This is not the way to go! Calorie restriction is dangerous, because you actually risk slowing down your metabolism. Over time, your body may go into starvation mode, because it does not know when it will get more food. You will end up stalling your weight loss efforts. Instead, aim to eat 4-5 times per day. It’s not about eating less, but about eating better. As a general rule, if you are a woman trying to lose weight, your daily minimum calorie intake should not be less than 1,200 calories. Again, this is when MyFitnessPal will come in handy because you can enter in your information and the app will tell you how many calories to consume per day to reach your goal

5)      “Supplements Will do All the Work” – If you aren’t doing your part by changing your diet and exercising, then supplements will not be of any value to you. Supplements are used to enhance your results and should be used in addition to what you’re already doing

6)      “Stick to This Diet to Lose 5 Pounds a Week!”  – Diets are restrictive and will only lead to short-term results. They are a quick fix. Instead focus on a long-term lifestyle change. Consider what is sustainable for you, because what you do to lose the weight is what you will have to do to keep the weight off. So do you really want to be on the “cabbage soup” diet forever? I know when I tried to go “low carb/Atkins,” I felt deprived and frustrated, which only led me to gaining all the weight back plus more

7)      “Weight Yourself Daily” – You will drive yourself crazy if you do this! Change your relationship with the scale. Your success is not tied to the number on the scale. It’s important to also focus on non-scale victories as indicators of your success. For instance, focus on how you feel, how well your clothes fit, how you look, etc. When I was losing weight, I would weight myself once a week at my Weight Watchers meetings. There are several factors that could impact the scale such as fluid retention or if you’re doing strength training. Muscle weighs more than fat, so you may not notice the number on the scale decreasing. But, you may instead notice that your clothes are fitting better and you look more toned and defined. Snatched!

8)      “If the Label Says ‘All Natural,’ It’s Healthy” – The term “natural” is not clearly defined or regulated by any entity. So, technically any company can make that claim on almost any product to influence your buying decision. Instead, look for terms such as “Organic” or “Non-GMO.” Those terms are regulated and companies must prove their product meets certain standards before making that claim on their product labels

9)      “Carbs are the Enemy”! – All foods have carbs, so you really can’t eliminate all carbs. Carbs provide your body with the fuel you need to sustain you through workouts and your daily life. Focus on consuming complex carbs that do not cause an immediate blood sugar spike and will keep you full for a longer period of time. Some of my favorites include brown rice, quinoa, sweet potato (mashed, baked, fries), acorn squash, butternut squash, plantains, spaghetti squash, gluten-free oatmeal, and gluten-free whole-grain bread

10)   “You Can Spot Reduce and Just Lose Your Stomach” – You cannot spot reduce. I repeat! You cannot spot reduce! You must lose overall body fat. You have to burn the fat off your midsection first before you start seeing more definition. A clean diet will be key to helping you see more ab definition. There are many ab exercises you can incorporate into your workouts to give you more definition. Abs are also genetic, so you may not end up getting the same abs as your favorite fitness inspiration

11)   “You Need a Gym Membership” – When I first started, I used DVD’s, I ran outside and I also purchased a treadmill. Over time, I’ve added to my home gym. Click here to see the post on my home gym! Other inexpensive options include taking your workouts outside, following YouTube videos or getting a gym membership from Planet Fitness, which is only $10/month. They have a trainers who can assist with developing a regimen and show you how to use the equipment

12)   “Don’t Eat After 7pm!” – Ummm….last I checked, calories couldn’t tell time. If you consume more calories than your body needs, then that is when you will gain weight. So if you come home late and you’re hungry, then eat! Don’t deprive yourself. Listen to your body. If you don’t eat before bed, you may wake up feeling ravenous the next morning and eating more than you would have if you hadn’t skipped dinner

What are some diet myths you’ve heard that you later discovered were false?

 

 

Length Retention Secret from the Women of Chad

Long hair is coveted by many in the natural hair community. While there are definitely some naturals who prefer to maintain a TWA or tapered cut, there are those, myself included, who can be described as “length whores.” Lol. Yep! Give me ALL the inches!! My healthy hair goal for 2017 is to reach tailbone length. But notice how I mentioned “healthy.” Desiring length is fine as long as the health of your hair is not neglected in the process. It wouldn’t make sense for me to achieve my hair goal, but the last five inches of my hair consists of split, dry and frayed ends. So, you may be wondering, how can I achieve my hair goals while ensuring my hair is healthy? Like many paths in life, there is no one way to get there. There are many techniques and products that can be used to help you reach your goals. The key is developing a regimen that works for you. Trial and error, internet research, reading blog posts, and watching YouTube videos, can all provide ideas on how to improve your regimen to help you reach your desired results. I believe I have a pretty solid regimen. But it’s definitely not perfect and there’s always room for improvement. So when I came across a video on a length retention secret from the women of Chad, I was intrigued.

The video creator is a descendant of an African ethnic group in Chad known as the “Basara Arabs.” She decided to travel to her native Chad to uncover the haircare practices of the women in this ethnic group. The women who belong to this group are widely known for their long, kinky hair that often reaches past their waists. Their ability to reach such length lies in the application of a mixture consisting of Shebe seeds, Mahllaba Soubiane seeds, “Missic” stone, cloves, “Samour” resin, scented oil of their choice, and a hair grease or pomade, also of their choice. Most of these ingredients can only be sourced in Chad or Sudan. To create the mixture, all of the seeds and the cloves are grilled and separated. Then the hair grease or pomade and the oil are mixed together, separately. The powders are then combined in a mortar and mixed together along with some of the oil/grease mixture. Then all of those ingredients are mixed together to create a substance that mimics soil. Then the Missic and the Samour are mixed together and ground into a fine powder and added to the soil-like mixture.

After the hair is damp with water, the mixture is applied from roots to ends, with extra mixture applied on the ends. They ensure the hair is thoroughly coated with the mixture before moving to the next section of hair. The mixture is applied every 3-5 days beginning at childhood. There are some who attribute their hair length to genetics. However, the documentarian notes how her mother and grandmother are members of this tribe and do not have hair this length. So the length they achieve must be attributed to their unique mixture and the frequency in which the treatment is applied.  The women in the tribe also state their length is not due to genetics, because it is not applied to their edges, which are very short. If genetics was the primary factor, all of the hair on their head would be that length.

This mixture provides extreme moisture to the hair. So after the treatment is applied, the hair is sectioned off and braided to retain moisture until it was time to apply the mixture again. The mixture is applied by hand without any styling tools, which helps reduce mechanical damage. Mechanical damage is normal “wear and tear” that occurs just by us handing our hair, such as when we wash, comb or brush it. While this regimen fits the lifestyle of the women in this region, it may not be realistic for any of us since the mixture is not washed out. So imagine applying deep conditioner to your hair every 5 days, never washing it out and then repeating that process your whole life. In addition to that aspect, there are no local suppliers who source the ingredients. And even if you found the supplier in Chad or Sudan, I’m sure the shipping transit time would be lengthy and expensive.

So….since it appears none of us will be using this mixture anytime soon, how about I share with you some practical length retention tips from Sharae in Seattle?! Lol. Does that work? Ok. Great!

Length retention picture

1.       I keep my hair moisturized by doing the LOC (liquid, oil, cream) method 3 times per week. I make sure the section of hair is thoroughly coated with product and I add extra product to my ends. After moisturizing, I put my hair in 6 braids

2.       On the nights I don’t do the routine above, I spritz my ends with a combination of water and aloe vera juice

3.       At night I always sleep with my hair tied with a satin scarf or sleep on a satin pillow case

4.       During the week, I style my hair in buns or a soft braid. I usually don’t wear my hair out in a twist out, braid out, or wash-n-go until the weekends

5.       On wash day, I make sure to deep condition my hair. After applying the deep conditioner, I use my Hair Therapy Wrap to open my hair cuticles to allow for maximum product absorption

6.       When I am detangling, I only do so on soaking wet hair with lots and lots of Aussie moist conditioner. I detangle with a wide tooth comb since that works better for me than a Denman brush

7.       I rarely apply heat to my hair. On occasion if I do a wash-n-go, I will diffuse my hair. The last time I blew out my hair was around 2010 or 2011 when I had box braids. And I can’t even recall the last time I flat-ironed my hair. It may have been when I had my last relaxer in 2009

8.       When I am styling my hair, I try to use my hands as much as possible to reduce the possibility of suffering any mechanical damage

9.       I try to keep my ends trimmed. I don’t trim on a set schedule. I just look at my ends and trim if needed

10.   By experimenting with different products, I’ve learned what ingredients my hair likes. So I intentionally search for products that contain those ingredients. In addition to aloe vera juice, I know my hair thrives from glycerin, coconut oil, honey, and shea butter

After seeing the health and length of their hair, there are some obvious benefits to this treatment: all natural ingredients, applying the treatment on a consistent basis, handling the hair with the least amount of manipulation as possible, and maintaining a long-term protective style. If the ingredients were more widely available, I think it would be worth it to try the treatment as part of your wash day regimen, perhaps in place of your current deep conditioner. Oh, and of course, you would wash it out!

What are some of your favorite length retention tips? Or are there some new things you will now incorporate into your regimen to help you achieve your healthy hair goals?

 

Shop Smart: Meal Prepping & Grocery Shopping for Success!

“So many aisles! So many signs! Where do I begin?!! Ohhh…samples? Yes, please!” Hold on, girl!! Pause. Before you get too excited, let’s rewind! Read this post first, because I’m going to be giving you my TOP tips to help you meal prep for success and shop smart!

First things first, go with plan. If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. It’s cliché, but very true. If you walk into the store aimlessly, you may waste your hard-earned coins buying food you don’t need. So make a list first by deciding what you plan to eat the following week for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. When I am using a recipe, I make sure it serves between 4-6 people; that way I know I have dinner covered for the whole week. I typically eat the same foods for all my meals throughout the week. This may be boring for some, but this works for me. An alternative could be to prepare two different dinners so you have a couple of options during the week. Or you could prepare a few different veggies, lean proteins, and healthy complex carbs. From there you could “mix n match” your meals throughout the week. For instance, lunch on day 1 could be brown rice, baked salmon, and asparagus. Dinner on day 1 could be turkey meatloaf, mashed sweet potato, and broccoli. Day 2 lunch could be turkey meatloaf, brown rice, and asparagus. Followed by dinner that’s baked salmon, mashed sweet potato, and broccoli. Whichever method you choose, make sure it’s the right one for you. Consider which option will be sustainable for YOU over time.

Typically on Thursday evenings, I plan my meals for the coming week in a chart that has a space for me to write out what I plan to have for each of those meals. I then use that chart as my guide to help me create my grocery list. If I am following a recipe, I check my pantry and fridge first to see if I already have the ingredients. If not, I add them to my list. I usually go to the store Friday after work or on Saturday morning. I then set aside 2-3 hours Sunday afternoon to actually prepare my meals. That amount of time also includes me cleaning up the kitchen – washing dishes, taking out the garbage and sweeping the kitchen floor.

Before you even head to the store, ask yourself, “am I hungry”? If so, have a healthy snack BEFORE you go, such as a piece of fruit, protein bar, veggies dipped in hummus, a handful of almonds, or string cheese so you can stay focused on your list and you’re not tempted to buy un-healthy foods. Trust me! When you’re hungry, things you wouldn’t normally consider will start looking good. Like that cheap, greasy pizza. Fix it, Jesus!!

When I get to the store, I start with the perimeter and then work my way down the aisles. The perimeter is where I get a majority of my food, including fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, almond milk, gluten free bread, gallon of water jug, cheese, and eggs. Down the aisles is where you will find many of the processed foods and refined carbohydrates, such as white pasta, cookies, and chips.

When I plan my fruits and veggies, I consider what’s in season. Purchasing seasonal fruit is more cost effective and it also means the fruit will be at its peak freshness. Depending on the store layout, the bulk food section may also be located along the perimeter. Since I am cooking for one person, buying in bulk is cheaper and allows me to get just the amount I need. In this section I get my quick oats, seasonings, gluten free flours, quinoa, brown rice, nuts and seeds.

My last stop around the perimeter is the frozen food section. I always grab some frozen fruit and vegetables for breakfast or my green smoothies. Frozen fruit is packaged at its peak freshness, so you can be sure the food will still have its flavor and nutritional benefits. You can also get a better deal buying frozen when you’re purchasing fruits that can still be pricy even in season such as raspberries, blueberries, cherries, mangos, and blackberries.

Down the aisles, I like to purchase condiments, such as balsamic vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, hot sauce, salsa, stevia, maple syrup, and reduced sugar ketchup. The aisles can also be a way to get low priced fruits and vegetables, such as canned pineapples, green beans or corn. If purchasing fresh produce is not in your budget, then canned is also a great option. When it comes to canned fruit, I typically stick with pineapple since that’s the one fruit I found where there is no syrup added. I would definitely try to avoid fruit that’s canned in syrup, even if the can says light syrup. Fruit is nature’s candy. It’s sweet enough on its own!

Even though most of the snacks down the aisles aren’t the healthiest options, there are still some good choices. Some of my favorites are rice cakes or popcorn. The Smart Food brand is my go-to, because it just contains corn, salt, and oil. Tortilla chips, portioned out, are a good option as well as protein/snack bars like Quest Nutrition Bars, Kind Bars, Think Thin, or Lara Bars, unsweetened applesauce, peanut butter with no added sugar or oil, and even crackers. The Mary’s Gone Crackers are the ones I really like!

When I can, I purchase the store brand since the quality is still there, but you’re not paying the extra markup for the fancy brand name. If there is no store brand option, I look at all the options and go with the cheapest one. I always make sure I keep freezer bags on hand. If I buy a package of meat and I don’t plan to use it all for the coming week, I will separate out what I need for my recipe, portion out the rest and stick that in the freezer. I also use freezer bags for my green smoothie ingredients. When I meal prep, I grab a handful of collards (or whatever green veggie I am using for the week, usually 1 cup), chop up a banana, and then whatever other fruit I am adding, and then freeze the bag. The evening before, I dump the smoothie ingredients in the blender along with my unsweetened vanilla almond milk, vanilla vegan protein powder, Greens, ground flax seeds and blend away!! Oh, and don’t worry. I plan to discuss green smoothies in more detail in a future post. So stay tuned!!

During the hectic work week is really when you will see the benefits of meal prepping! The small sacrifice you make to take a few hours one day a week is definitely well worth it. Having healthy meals prepared means I can avoid the vending machine and office treats. I don’t need to waste money buying lunch every day. Plus when I get home, all I have to do is pop dinner in the microwave, relax, and enjoy! Since my meals are prepared, I can’t justify picking up fast food on the way home just because I don’t have anything to eat at home and I don’t feel like cooking. When we’re tired, the last thing we want to do is think about what to eat and then stand over a hot stove to prepare it; especially during these warm summer months. If you decided not to cook and instead opted for your favorite fast food restaurant, you may tell yourself on the way there that you’ll get a salad. You start off with the right intentions. But…..once you get there, that one meal you told yourself you would stay away from, your trigger meal, is now staring you right in your face. Yep! That double bacon cheese burger, deluxe curly fries with some ranch on the side for dipping, and the soda to wash it all down! You devour it and then reality sets in that you’ve just pushed yourself further away from your goal for the week. You vow to get back on the wagon tomorrow. But the same thing happens the next day. You’re too exhausted to cook so you go for comfort. You go for what you know; what you’re familiar with and what will satisfy you in that moment. See where I’m going with this? Meal prepping leaves you with ZERO excuses to make food choices that are not in line with your goals. Meal prepping also means you’re consuming enough calories and nutrients throughout the day to sustain yourself. Some people still think eating 1-2 times a day will help them lose weight. The truth is that over time, your metabolism will slow down and your body will go into starvation mode and store fat because it doesn’t know when it will get more food. So it’s not about eating less; it’s about eating better quality food.

Weight loss and weight maintenance are 80% diet and 20% exercise. Your food choices play a huge role in either helping you reach your goals or pushing you further away from those goals. Don’t allow all of your hard work in the gym to be in vain due to consuming too many calories and by making poor food choices. Working out for an hour a day is the easy part. It’s what we do the other 23 hours of the day that can either really help us or hinder us. I hope these tips were helpful to you for the next time you make a trip to the store! I really hope you see the benefits of meal prepping and will give it a try!

Now, I want to hear from you! What are some of your top tips for shopping smart?

So…..let’s talk about this Shea Moisture Commercial

If you’ve been following my blog or you know me, then you know many of my Holy Gail products are produced by this company. You can ask almost any natural what is the first product they tried and I can almost guarantee 80% or more of them will tell you it was the Curl Enhancing Smoothie. When I first went natural and tried this product, it helped me fall in love with my curls. I know my love for this product and many others was part of why seeing this ad was so disheartening. If these were crap products, I wouldn’t care about the ad. But in sharing the sentiments of many others, the ad felt like a mockery of our complex relationship with our hair.

When Shea Moisture created the ad “Everybody Gets Love,” they stated the intent was to focus on how to turn hate into love. The intent was good, but the execution was poor. Apparently, the ad that was posted was only a snippet of the entire campaign. The ad featured women from different backgrounds and different hair types discussing their “struggles” with hair hate and how they overcame that to now embrace and love their hair. I know you saw those quotes around the word struggles.

The ad didn’t START off bad. It opened with a mixed girl with looser, curly hair saying how “people would put stuff in my hair!” But “as I got older, I learned how to do it and how to love it!” She’s legit….but the other ones…“I used to think I’m not supposed to be a redhead. So I died my hair platinum blonde for 7 years!” Ummm….ok. Then a blonde who exclaimed “I didn’t know what to do with it!” Girl, bye! So you honestly expect me to be sympathetic when your hair is the beauty standard in which all women are measured against? They have no clue what it feels like to have society tell you directly and indirectly that your hair is ugly, dirty, unacceptable, problematic, and unprofessional.

She Moisture Ad Image

After the ad caused such an uproar, the company CEO, Richelieu Dennis, issued an apology. But by then, it was too late for many angry black women consumers who completely swore them off and threated to take their money elsewhere. In the days following, he appeared on a series of interviews to continue his damage control efforts and regain customer loyalty. The particular interview I listened to was his radio interview on the Breakfast Club.

Shea Moisture Apology

He stated the ad shouldn’t have been released, because it did not go through the appropriate review process and someone at the company “dropped the ball.” But how does a company that’s been in existence for over 20 years not have a more thorough process to review and approve content before it’s released? Even a basement start-up would have a more thorough review process than that.

I believe the ad was meant to be released as-is in their attempt to capture a new audience and compete with larger brands. I understand the need for growth and sustainability in a saturated market. But one way to overcome saturation is differentiation. Remaining loyal to your core consumers and not abandoning them like many brands do during their expansion efforts will set you apart from the competition. Your core audience who built your brand shouldn’t feel like an afterthought in your growth efforts. If we brought you success, then remain loyal to us and we will likely continue driving that success.

But this recent ad doesn’t completely surprise me. Do you recall their “Break the Walls Campaign” where they were attempting to persuade companies and consumers that there no longer needed to be a segregated “Ethnic Hair Care” section? That didn’t go over well. But a discussion on that campaign could be its own separate post.

So, even though I am disappointed by the ad, I’m willing to move forward and continue to support the brand. I do love their products based on performance, quality, price point, and availability. Plus, the company is still black-owned and I do applaud their Community Commerce initiative. This initiative seeks to alleviate poverty and support female entrepreneurship in countries that source and make some of the key ingredients in their products. I believe the company has learned from this PR nightmare and will make a greater effort in the future to ensure the voice of their core audience is never lost.

So now that the dust is starting to settle, what are your feelings towards the ad and the company? Will you continue to support them?

Shea Moisture Post Selfie

 

IBS: Diagnosis to Victory, Part III

If you’ve been following my journey, then you know from my March update that I started working with a Nutritionist. Even though I purchased The Complete Low-FODMAP Diet book, and it has been helpful, I wanted the guidance of a professional to help me through the elimination phase. I wanted some type of guidance with regards to where to begin and how long the elimination phase should last before I start re-introducing certain foods. She stated the elimination phase varies per person. For some it could take six weeks for their symptoms to improve; while for others it could take up to a year (Fix it, Jesus!).

At her recommendation, and the recommendation of the GI doctor I spoke with last year, I stopped drinking coffee at the end of March. This actually wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. I realized most of the time, I was drinking coffee to keep warm (#TeamAnemia). So instead I drink hot water and lemon which seems to satisfy my need.

Most of the research I found regarding caffeine and IBS is that it is primarily a trigger for those with IBS-D (diarrhea) since coffee is a stimulant and can make the digestive tract work faster causing lose stool. I haven’t seen much in relation to IBS with constipation. However, I have noticed my movements are starting to become more regular (insert happy dance!). I’m thinking there is a correlation between coffee and my digestive system because when I would drink coffee, I noticed my stomach would make loud gurgling noises. That should have been my signal to stop drinking coffee, but, what can I say? I’m just stubborn like that!

Second Nutritionist Visit

On m second visit, she suggested I finish dinner 1-2 hours before bedtime, because when you lie down it makes it more difficult for your body to properly digest your food.

She gave me a list of probiotic foods, such as Kefir, Kimchi, Sauerkraut, or Yogurt with live active cultures. I probably won’t try yogurt since I had flatulence last time I tried yogurt. Probiotic foods can help improve digestive health. I just need to get over the strong smell of Kimchi!

She provided meal and snack Ideas. Some of the meal combinations I currently eat and some of the other suggestions seem appetizing! But, eating at home isn’t the challenge. What honestly causes me the most anxiety is when I eat away from home, because I can’t be certain how the food is prepared. I feel bad (although I shouldn’t) because I have to ask questions or request that certain foods be removed from the dish so I don’t experience IBS symptoms.

With that said, I have had some pretty good dining out experiences. I don’t eat out much, even before I started the elimination diet. When I have dined out, I tried to order from the Gluten Free Menu options. But….there were times when I assumed something was gluten free or safe to eat and that proved to be the wrong assumption. So I learned the hard way to never assume, ALWAYS ask!!

In addition to dietary changes, there are some medications and supplements that I began taking. The first being Dicyclomine, which helps reduce gas, bloating, and constipation. Magnesium, which is a natural muscle relaxer. The colon is a muscle, so if the muscle is more relaxed that will promote regularity. And I must say that an added benefit is that I have experienced AMAZING sleep since taking magnesium! So if you have challenges with getting better sleep, then definitely try this and you will be lights out!! I also take Miralax, which is a laxative and we all know what those do. Lastly, I take digestive enzymes to help me better digest my foods.

From my research, what was consistent is that it would take a combination of dietary changes and medications/supplements to help improve my symptoms.

After my March Nutritionist visit, she told me I don’t need to see her again unless I started feeling worse or until my symptoms have cleared up and I am ready for the re-introduction phase. Bring on the avocados! Lol

As sweet as she is, she doesn’t appear to be a specialist for this particular diet. Our visits were short (less than 30 minutes) and she didn’t provide a customized meal plan, which I was expecting to receive. She provided documents to me that were more generic. So I will continue to monitor my progress, try to adhere to the list of foods to avoid, read labels, research, take my medications/supplements, and seek help from various Facebook groups.

So, like Dori I’ll “just keep swimming!” 🙂

 

 

Moisture Love Hydration Collection Product Review

I am such a creature of habit, so once I find products my hair loves, I tend to stick with those. But lately I’ve been challenging myself to step out of the box and try new products from different brands. I know that keeping up with all the different natural hair brands can be overwhelming. I feel like there’s a new company emerging every day! To help me determine which brands to try, I look for companies that are black-owned and if they are owned by a black woman, then even better! I also look at the quality of the ingredients. I try to use products that don’t contain silicones, sulphates, mineral oil, parabens, or a laundry list of ingredients I can’t pronounce. So I was excited to learn that Moisture Love was a product line that fit those criteria! They have a signature collection that is devoted to maximum hydration. We curly girls definitely need all the moisture we can get to keep our curls healthy, defined and selfie worthy! J

So, if you want to follow along with me on wash day and see my results, then just keep reading!

 

Before washing
Pre-Wash Hair

 

Product: Gentle Embrace Hydration Shampoo

Key ingredients: Distilled water, soy protein, and sugar extract

The shampoo had a very thin watery consistency, but actually lathered up very well. It was gentle, yet effective at cleansing the product build up from my curls since I may or may not have needed to wash my hair the week prior. I see you judging me! This shampoo also had some slip to it which was nice since most shampoos don’t offer much assistance with detangling. Even though the shampoo contains protein, I didn’t notice that it made my hair stiff at all. The only con I have with the shampoo is the packaging. Due to its consistency, it would have been easier to apply the product to my scalp if it had an applicator tip.

Product: Deep Indulgence Replenishing Conditioner

Key ingredients: Purified water and tons of extracts, oils, and butter! Some of which include horsetail, nettle, lavender, rosemary, sage, chamomile, avocado oil, castor oil, argan oil, and cocoa butter

I only highlighted some of the ingredients. But this rinse out conditioner is jam packed with goodness! It was a great complement to the shampoo. It made my hair soft and also helped me detangle. I normally deep condition my hair instead of using a rinse out conditioner. But this product performed like a deep conditioner in that my hair felt the same way it typically feels after using a deep conditioner. So it was still very moisturizing and left my hair soft.

Product: Kindred Spirits Moisture & Style Cream

Key ingredients: Aloe vera juice, shea butter, cocoa butter, jojoba oil, and coconut oil

My hair LOVES aloe and coconut oil, so I knew I was in for a treat! Before I applied this product, I used some of the replenishing conditioner as a leave in conditioner. This styler was thick and creamy like a custard. I look for thick creams since I have thick hair and need a product that will keep my hair moisturized for several days. When a styler is thick, I notice that it aids in both moisture retention and curl definition.

Product: Seal with a Kiss Finishing Oil

Key ingredients: Marshmallow and horsetail with their proprietary blend of oils: avocado, argan, macadamia, castor, and rice bran

I used the finishing oil last to seal in the moisture and add shine after my hair was twisted. I applied it to my scalp as well. Adding this finishing touch left my twists all plump and juicy looking!

 

Finishing oil
All done!

 

 

After twisting my hair, I slept on my satin pillow case. If you don’t have a satin pillow case, you really need one in your life! Sleeping on a satin pillow case allows my hair time to dry overnight, reduces frizz and prevents dryness.

In the morning, I carefully removed my twists to prevent frizz. Then I separated and fluffed my hair to my liking. My wash and style experience was great! My hair was clean, shiny, moisturized, defined, and my curls were buttery soft! I think one of the reasons why my hair turned out so well was because I used the entire product line from start to finish. Companies create products that are meant to complement one another when used together. And did I mention all of the products smelled like butterscotch?! I’m a sucker for sweet smelling products.

If you would love to pamper your tresses with this collection, then click the link below! Trust me, your curls will be happy!

And a HUGE “Thank You!” to Moisture Love for the opportunity to review their collection and share my results with all of you!

https://www.moisturelove.com/

@moisturelove on Instagram & Facebook

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