Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My Best Curly Hair Products of 2013

Happy New Years Eve gang!  The clock is nearing midnight here, but I thought it'd be nice to wrap up 2013 by sharing the products that I couldn't be without in 2013 that I'll be carrying with me happily into 2014. This is a pretty short list because these are products that I use at least 4-5 times per week that I can always count on. That's a high standard I think, so the list reflects that.

1) Suave Professionals Captivating Curls Whipped Cream Mousse 
No surprises here! This is an absolute all-time favorite of mine. You'll know whenever they discontinue it by the sound of wailing and sobbing coming from the US East Coast.  What can I say about it? It's CHEAP. Less than $3 on Amazon and in stores.  It is unlike any other mousse, so if you think you hate mousses, think again.  It literally melts into the most perfect, creamy texture when you rub your hands together.  It absorbs effortlessly when you scrunch it into sopping wet hair.  No crunch, it's nearly impossible to overdo it, and it doesn't weigh down my very fine hair.  I do not intend to be without this product even once in 2014.

2) Kinky Curly Knot Today Leave In Conditioner
I've been using this leave in for years.  It makes my tangles disappear with no effort. It provides a wonderful base for my other products.  It has a light scent and doesn't weigh my hair down.  Note though that I don't use this for moisture. It's not moisturizing enough on its own to nourish dried out hair.  But it's wonderful for giving you a nice, even base before you style.  At around $12-16 for a bottle depending on sales, it's a bit pricey but a bottle lasts me a year because I don't need a ton to work through my tangles.  Definitely a staple in my product rotation for a long time to come. Check it out here!

3) Denman Brush
I've used a Denman brush for years. I'll never go back to the ball and spokes style paddle brushes of high school years past.  These brushes are gentle, durable, and an amazing value.  I notice a huge difference in how my scalp feels when I use this brush and I definitely noticed a huge reduction in strand breakage when I switched back in college.  A really simple change that can make a big difference.  There are lots of size options but I personally like the 9 row for everyday. 

4) Microfiber/Flour Sack Towels
 I have bunches of these.  The ones I'm using right now are the Aunt Martha's flour sack towels.  I apply all my products to sopping wet hair, usually in the shower.  But the problem is that applying to soaking wet hair means when you're done applying, your hair is still soaking wet!  Normal cotton towels wick away too much product and moisture, and the rough up the hair cuticles causing frizz.  Flour sack towels and microfiber towels prevent frizz and leave product where you want it while taking away a good amount of water to decrease your drying time.  If I air dry with products without scrunching with a towel, it takes about 4 hours to get my hair totally dry.  With the towels, my dry time is cut in half.  They're a must for natural curls.

5) Spiral Solutions Curl Enhancing Jelly
Spiral Solutions is an Etsy company that makes natural hair products.  I have loved everything I've tried from them (I've used the Deeply Decadent deep treatment with great success, the protein treatment, and the firm hold gel as well).  But this product takes the cake.  It's a medium hold product on my fine hair but some might call it light hold.  It gives my hair incredible shine, it's all natural, and it really holds up well in lots of weather conditions.  It's a bit of a splurge, but I only use about a dime sized amount on my hair, so a bottle lasts me a good 6 months+.  If I'm not using my Suave mousse as my styler, I'm using this.

What were your holy grails from this year? Let me know below!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Squish to Condish: My New Favorite Way to Condition My Hair

So if there's one thing that I love about having time off for the holiday season, it's the extra days to experiment with my hair knowing that if an experiment utterly fails, it's ok because I don't have to go to class!
I read about the Squish to Condish method on a hair forum, and I was skeptical.  I don't follow the true Curly Girl method anymore (I use a sulfate free shampoo rather than conditioner washing), so I didn't think that the method would be super beneficial for me.  I thought my hair was pretty well hydrated overall and I was quite happy with it!

But, as you can probably guess, that all changed after I gave this method a whirl.

Here's the before and after, and then I will explain what this method is all about and how you can do it with the products that you're already using.

Hair before using Squish to Condish method
After using Squish to Condish
As you can see, the squish to condish made a huge difference (I also got rid of my stringy ends with a haircut, but the overall curl pattern in the before photo is still representative of what my normal hair looks like without using this method).

So how does this work?

1) Wash your hair however you normally would, whether that's conditioner washing or shampoo washing. Rinse out your preferred washing agent like normal.

2) Move your hair off of your head with your fingers so that it's not all stuck to your scalp.

3) Grab a big pile of conditioner and start working it through your hair until it feels slippery like seaweed.  You can finger comb it through for this step. The focus of this step is getting the hair evenly coated and working out tangles, so if you need to use a wide toothed comb to help out, go for it.

4) Now, instead of just running water over to rinse, take your hands and cup some water in them.  Squish the water upward into your conditioned hair, forming curls.  Think of it like this: you're trying to swell up the cuticle in the center of each hair strand, so you're trying to replace the conditioner with water.

5) Add more conditioner using a squishing motion.

6) Squish water into your hair.

7) How much? How many times? You should keep doing this until your hair is very wet, but it stops dripping water out.  I know that sounds really odd. This is why I was skeptical.  The first time I did this, it took like 6 tries to get the water to stop dripping.  But it did happen.  If your hair is extremely dehydrated, you might have to stop for fear of wasting water/product before the dripping really stops.

8) Style your hair like you usually would.  I have found I can easily skip the leave in conditioner with this and move right to a mousse (I still adore my Suave Captivating Curls mousse) or a gel (my current favorite gel product is the Curl Enhancing Jelly from Spiral Solutions).  I apply my mousse or jelly in the shower, because it's quick and easy.  I then squeeze out my hair with a flour sack towel, which I find are much gentler for squeezing water out of hair than a normal bath towel.

If you give this method a try, let me know how it goes! Happy holidays, curlies!