Saturday, August 28, 2010

Aubrey Organics, Nature's Gate and homemade hair moisturizer

After my recent hair chop, my hair has been doing great! I have less breakage and my hair is softer than ever. I was going to make a post about my regimen, but so far my regimen is really simple and not really long at all. I usually wet my hair everyday and apply a conditioner.. I then follow with a leave-in and seal with an oil. I wash and deep condition when needed, usually about once a week. I've been alternating between, Aubrey Organics Honey Suckle Rose, Island Naturals, Giovanni smooth as silk and the Magnetic conditioner. I like all of these for my hair so far. I was using Nature's gate but on further investigating the ingredients, I've discovered that it's not so great due to the Phenoxyethanol preservative. According to the FDA "Phenoxyethanol is a preservative that is primarily used in cosmetics and medications. It also can depress the central nervous system and may cause vomiting and diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration in infants." The article was referring to a nipple creme for breastfeeding that contained that ingredient. Even though we are technically not ingesting the chemical, I still would like to be safe. I will finish my Nature's gate bottles but will not purchase them again. The Giovanni direct leave-in also contains this as a preservative, but I will still continue to use it until I finds something else. I also noticed that some of the Nature's gate conditioners and shampoo contain some form of paraben in them like methylparaben. The ones I use, Jojoba conditioner and biotin do not have it. If you look it up, it says that methylparaben has been proven to be safe for cosmetic use, although some natural sites and pro-organics would say otherwise. I guess you have to research everything and come up with your own conclusion. I still think Nature's gate is a much better selection then many of the conventional brands out there if you are on a budget. I found my conditioners for $1.50 at Big Lots and they retail for about about $7.00 a bottle.

So far I have been pleased with the Aubrey Organics line because the conditioners can double as deep conditioners as well. All the ingredients seem pretty safe and most importantly, the products work. The prices are really good and each bottle lasts me a good while since the conditioners are rich and thick. You will definitely get your money's worth with these conditioners. I also have tried some of the shampoos but found them to be too drying. I ended up using them as body washes. I plan on trying the white camellia next since I've heard good things about that one.

I've been experimenting with a homemade moisturizer since I finally got my aloe-vera juice in the mail. Here is the recipe that I have been using:

4 oz of distilled water
2 oz of aloe juice
2 tsp of jojoba oil
1 tbs of glycerin
10 drops of orange EO or EO of choice

I love this mix! I'm not so crazy about the smell of the aloe juice so I recommend using an essential oil to cover up the scent. I applied this with a squirt bottle after I rinsed my hair with conditioner and my hair was so soft and moisturized. Once my hair was dried, I applied a little more to see how my hair felt and I'm in love with this recipe. My hair was so so soft and I had not felt my hair that moisturized in a long time. I keep the bottle inside the refrigerator to avoid spoilage.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Why Ph balance is important!

I just finished watching this video on kimmaytube's channel on the hair structure (I know I may be late on this). It is very informative and has caused me to think about what I put in my hair. I encourage everyone to watch all of the four videos. She explains why the Ph balance of our hair and why it matters what we use on our hair.

I was surprised to here that baking soda is actually not as good for the hair and can actually harm the hair more than a commercial shampoo would. I have not tried baking soda yet but after watching this, I may not want to try that.
I knew that the Dr. Bronner's castile soap was pretty alkaline but I also dilute it with water and orange EO which I'm sure brings the Ph down. I wonder if adding aloe vera juice or apple cider vinegar to my castile wash would balance the alkalinity? I'll have to try that next time I wash my hair and I will post my thoughts on this later on.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Hair update and hair cut

Just posting another update on what I've been doing to my hair. Last week I decided to flat iron my hair to check the length and just because I wanted to change up what I was doing to my hair. I had not gotten a trim in at least 9 months and my hair needed it badly. My ends were dry and the flat iron made it is the before and after. The before picture is me with my hair dry, combed out and ready to flat iron. I deep conditioned with some silk elements moisturizing conditioner, which I will not ever purchase again, and a little of my Dominican conditioner, crece pelo. I let my hair air dry and applied some coconut oil. I then sprayed my hair with silk elements heat protectant spray to flat iron. I use a flat iron called Lombardi, that I got from ebay for 30.00. I really like this flat iron.
Before: After:

The Georgia humidity made it unable for me to keep it straight very long, so I washed my hair 6 days later.
As you can see in the picture above, my ends were needing a trim, so I decided to chop off my ends. My hair went from waist length to bra strap length, so I cut off about 3 inches. I don't know if it would be considered a chop but I just had to get rid of some of my previously relaxed and color treated ends. My hair felt damaged. I still have about 3 inches worth of relaxed hair on my hair but I will not chop that off. I just can't go any shorter. Here is a picture of the length below. I prepooed with one egg, olive oil and ORS repleneshing pak. I then washed with Dr. Bonner's peppermint castile soap mixed with some jojoba oil, olive oil and orange eo. I mixed it with some water in a squirt bottle and squirted through my hair. I then deep conditioned with Aubrey's HSR, rinsed and used some Naturelle hypoallergenic gel. I later sprayed some of my glycerin, water and jojoba oil mix to refreshen my curls. I love this homemade spritz. It really moisturizes my curls.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thoughts about my hair and my shampoo concoction

I've been recently experimenting with natural products and homemade stuff and have discovered some concoctions I like and what I don't like. My favorite mix so far is Dr. Bronner's Hemp and Peppermint castile soap mixed with water and sweet orange oil. My husband said that he didn't like the smell of the peppermint castile soap so I added some sweet orange EO and it smelled nice. I may try adding lavender next. It left my hair soft and clean. My scalp felt great. I even used it on my face and body and I loved the tingly feeling it left all over. I think my hair is finally adjusting to the product changes. For the first week, I noticed my hair was frizzy, like it was craving some heavy product. It was also hard to detangle. I then realized I was washing my hair too often. I got use to washing my hair twice a week but since I'm not using products with that cause built up, I no longer need to shampoo as often. I also learned that I needed to seal my leave-in or moisture spritz with oil or my hair would dry out. I have also learned that my hair is in the 3c range. My curls are like the diameter of a small pencil. I always thought I was more in the 3B range but without the added products my curls seem to pop more. I'm also trying to figure out how to style my hair without having to wet it in the shower everyday. I sometimes just use a spritz with water mixed with some oils and Giovanni-leave in to re-wet my hair. I also began doing braid outs so that my hair doesn't tangle so much. So far I'm loving the whole natural product thing. My hair, especially my scalp feels so much better. I have no dandruff and my scalp is always clean and soft. I also love smelling natural like coconuts, lavender and flowers.

Even though I have all natural products now, there are a few products that I can't get rid of just yet which I have just in case I want to straighten my hair. Those products are my Dominican deep treatments and my silk elements heat protectant spray. I don't plan on styling with heat very often but I figured I will keep those on hand. Either way I'm still reducing the amount of chemicals by avoiding daily use of certain products.

For my braid outs I usually braided while it's wet and apply Giovanni's direct leave-in, naturelle hypoallergenic gel (bought at sally's) and some extra virgin olive oil to seal. I usually do two french braid and take it out the next day when it's dry.

I'm still waiting on a few products that I ordered (such as Aloe Vera Juice and Rose Water) so that I can experiment with some homemade moisture spritz. I have yet to find something I truly like yet, but I've only tried two mixes. When I find something that works, I will post it.

My Braid out...

Friday, August 6, 2010

Personal tips on how I save money and buy organic

Going green does not always mean that you have to spend a ton of money on organic foods and natural products. Not everyone is able, as we are, to spend a whole lot on groceries and natural products. Here are some personal things I do to save money and attempt to turn my family and home a little more green.

1. I only purchase specific items organic or I do my best to avoid produce with high pesticide levels in them. You can also buy frozen conventional fruits or vegetables since these are washed thoroughly before freezing and tend to contain less pesticides. Juices, such as apple juice, tend to contain less pesticides since the fruits are washed thoroughly and filtered. I do purchase dairy and meats organic because of the hormone content. I usually go for sales and compare prices before buying. Most companies offer coupons for their products online. I don’t buy deli meats or cheese organic because we don’t feel it’s necessary.

Research by the USDA revealed the top twelve produce that contained the most pesticide levels. Of course there are many other reasons besides pesticide levels to buy organic, especially when some produce today is genetically modified, which I will cover later on. However if you're going to take small steps, these below are must to buy organic for my family or avoid them.
These include:
1. Nectarines – 97.3% of nectarines sampled were found to contain pesticides.
2. Celery – 94.5% of celery sampled were found to contain pesticides.
3. Pears – 94.4% of pears sampled were found to contain pesticides.
4. Peaches – 93.7% of peaches sampled were found to contain pesticides.
5. Apples – 91% of apples sampled were found to contain pesticides.
6. Cherries – 91% of cherries sampled were found to contain pesticides.
7. Strawberries – 90% of strawberries sampled were found to contain pesticides.
8. Imported Grapes – 86% of imported grapes (i.e. Chile) sampled were found to contain pesticides.
9. Spinach – 83.4% of spinach sampled were found to contain pesticides.
10. Potatoes – 79.3% of potatoes sampled were found to contain pesticides.
11. Bell Peppers – 68% of bell peppers sampled were found to contain pesticides.
12. Red Raspberries – 59% of red raspberries sampled were found to contain pesticides.
I also buy eggs, meats and milk from local farmers or I'll buy them organic. To save money we also avoid eating eggs and meat daily. Instead, we try to eat beans or wild fish in place of meat.

The twelve with the least provided by the USDA are:
* Asparagus
* Avocados
* Bananas
* Broccoli
* Cauliflower
* Corn (However, almost all corn is genetically modified)
* Kiwi
* Mangoes
* Onions
* Papaya
* Pineapples
* Sweet Peas
(These I buy conventional to save money).
I read somewhere that by avoiding or eating the top twelve produce organically, you can reduce pesticide levels in your body by up to 80%.

2. I try to make my own cleaners and shampoos. I recently bought some castile soap, washing soda, baking soda, borax and white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and some oils. A combination of these items can make shampoos, laundry soap, dish soap, window cleaners, ect. These items are all inexpensive and there are so many recipes using these items. I also eliminated buying shampoos in place of castile soap. You can even make your own body wash with castile soap and add your own fragrances, eliminating the use for soap. I use eggs, mayo and other foods to make my deep conditioners and mix them with natural conditioners to avoid using up the conditioner everyday. On shampoo days, I portion out a little shampoo in a cup and dilute it with water. I mix it with essential oils and oils, like extra virgin olive oil. This helps make the product last and allows me to alter the shampoo to fit my hair’s needs. If I’m having scalp problems, I use rosemary oil and tea tree oil, If I need extra nourishment, I add Olive oil and almond oil and if I need more moisture, I add glycerin and castor oil. I also add a scent, like lavender or sweet orange.

3. I stopped buying unnecessary hygiene items like shaving crème. I found that my olive oil soap is gentle enough to use in place of shaving crème. Lotions are also a waste of money for me. Instead, I use coconut oil or shea-butter mixed with oils on my skin. My skin is in so much better condition because of this. I also use it on my baby instead of lotion and massage her skin. It’s gentle and great for things like eczema. I also use my olive oil soap as a face wash and use jojoba or almond oil in place of face lotion. These oils are light and sink into my skin without leaving a greasy feeling.

4. I save all my plastic bags I get from the grocery store and use them as a shower cap for my deep treatments, as garbage bags and for storing lunch and other items such as, flour and bags of rice. I also re-use some bottles and pour in my own homemade stuff. I do the same thing whenever my product is finished. I re-use the bottle and pour in my own concoctions.

5. I buy used clothe and items. There are certain items you don’t want to buy used , like hats, bed mattresses, and of course, underwear :O. Places like Goodwill are great for our family because we can donate are old clothe and get a new wardrobe for very cheap. I love finding name brand clothes and accessories for so cheap. I also skip going to bookstores like Barns and Nobles and buy my children books from there. It’s also a great place to get decorations and dishes. Just make sure you sterilize them in the dishwasher first. I’ve found dish sets work hundreds of dollars for like thirty bucks. I think it is much better to buy used clothes, than buying brand new clothes labeled “Organic.” I think it’s pretty stupid to spend money on organic clothes that are pricey when you can buy used clothe.
Shopping online on sites like or is another great way to look for items you need at great prices.

6. Avoid spoiling my children. This is a must for me. In our home, we adhere to Christian values and expect our children to appreciate what they have. We do not buy toys in our home very often, and if we do, most have some sort of educational purpose. Instead of forking over dollars on tons of action figures (though my son has a few), we try our best to get computer games, simple wooden blocks, puzzles, books, and art stuff. We give our old funky clothe to my son for dress up time. I do not like hoarding toys. Everything we buy I use and it has a purpose or it gets donated. This helps us to avoid clutters around the house. Since my son is home-schooled, I try to look for toys that double as an educational tool and something he loves to play with. I actually find that my four year old enjoys the simplest toys like popsicle sticks, dominos, board games and blocks. You can teach your kid to use his imagination to make things and challenge him to build stuff with simple items. You would be surprised what pleases your child if you sit down with him. He would rather sit down and play a board game with me than giving him a Wii to play with alone. On Christmas time we teach our children that it’s about giving. They get one large toy from us and he gets the rest from family members. The focus is not on how many presents they get,`` but on the spiritual meaning of Christ birth and incarnation.
We do buy presents for others instead of using the money to buy tons of gifts for ourselves.

7. We began eating out less. I didn’t realize that we were spending almost two hundred dollars more a month eating out. I decided to start cooking more often. I have developed an interest in finding recipes for our family. Fresh bread can be pricey and you never know what is in it. Instead I began making my own flat bread with this simple recipe: No rise time or yeast needed. It takes me a total of 15 minutes to make.
One cup of whole wheat flour
One cup of all purpose flour
1 tbs of baking powder
1tbs of olive oil
3tsp of salt
3tsp of sugar
And 1 cup of water. I stir everything with a wooden spoon, knead for 5 min and flatten out over some flour into 3 large flat pieces. I usually spread a little olive oil over it and sprinkle garlic powder and salt and ground up flax seed. Stick into a pre-heated oven 500 degrees for 7-10 min and that’s it. It taste like pitta bread and it’s yummy, quick and simple. You could even alter it to make it into a pizza crust or roll stuff into it like cheese and spinach. My son loves making recipes with me. I will probably be adding recipes to this blog later on.

8. Avoid vanity: honesty just keeping my wardrobe simple is important. I try to buy pieces of clothing I can mix and match easier. I buy scarves of different colors to add some flare and style without spending extra money. I try to buy sweaters and such to put over summer tops in the winter. In the summer I go for simple cotton dresses that I can use for Church and day-wear. I try to buy shoes that go with everything. The same applies to what my family buys. I own a few simple purses that go with everything. I really don’t care about name brand and what’s trendy. I try to buy clothe that are comfortable and look nice. Don’t get me wrong, I like to look nice, but clothe that tend to be exceptionally stylish or cut differently are more likely to go out of style quicker than those that have a simpler appearance. I do buy many of my stuff from Goodwill or Salvation Army, and pair it with new items. I do have lots of makeup but I have not purchased in a while since I don’t wear makeup daily so it lasts me forever.

9. Buying tips: We try to not over eat in our house and portion out our meals so that they last. I try to make exactly what we’ll eat and eat leftovers the next day for lunch. My son gets his meals and snacks portioned out. We only eat when we are hungry and not because we are bored. Of course I am flexible with this since we tend to crave treats and sweets. I don’t keep too many candies and cookies in the house. I try to buy snacks that are nutritious and organic. I also give him a variety of fruits and vegetables as a snack. Another trick I do is get a big box of organic cereal and give him a small bowl of dry pieces for a snack. Organic cookies can be pricey. You can save money by buying a box of organic cereal and portion it out as a snack. If you get sweet ones it’s basically like giving them small cookies without all the added sugar, and it has vitamins. I do the same for my infant daughter. Instead of buying Gerber puffs, I buy a big box of cheerios and she eats that for a snacks. We sometimes eat oatmeal for breakfast in place of cold cereal, since it's cheaper.

10. Make a shopping list and stick to it. I use to not make lists in the passed and would end up forgetting items and spending more than what I should have. I usually keep a generic shopping list saved on my desktop and go shopping for food every two weeks. I modify the list as necessary and print it out. I usually right out the price next to it and total everything out, that way I know how much I spending. Budgeting for us has become so important. Every so often, my husband and I get together and talk about our spending habits and what we can improve on. We try to buy things we need and not just wants. I allot each of us some free room of spending money, that way we don’t feel deprived. For example, my husband likes to buy energy drinks everyday, so he usually takes out thirty five dollars from the ATM every two weeks to purchase his drinks. that way he can keep track on how much he’s spending.

These are just some of the things I do to save money and still eat organic. If I think of anything else, I will update this post. The important thing for me to remember is not to obsess over it. This is just a guide for me. I think what comes out of our mouths triumphs what goes in it. We do stop for fast food when we need to and have no problem eating anything. I just try my best to make a healthier home and environment for my family.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Homemade Stuff

I've finally began making my own cleaners in the house and wanted to share my experience so far.
I made my own all-purpose cleaner using, 1/2 cup of vinegar, 1 tsp of borax, 1tsp of washing soda and 2 cups of water. I put it in a spray bottle and use it to clean my stove, on top of tables and mop my floor. I even tried it as a dish-washing liquid and it leaves my dishes clean. So far this has worked great for me. I have white tile floors in my kitchen and I mop every two days and it does a good job keeping my floor white. It is also gentle enough to use on my wood floors as well and I don't have to worry about my baby daughter crawling around on chemicals. I also started using diluted castile soap to wash my dishes. If my plates are extra greasy, I use a little of my all purpose cleaner to cut the grease.

I also made my first shampoo. I have not tried it yet but I will in a few days. Here is what it consists of:

2 cups of baby castile soap unscented, 1 cup of water, 1tbs of almond oil, 1 tbs of jojoba oil, 6 drops of rosemary EO, 6 drops of orange EO, 4 drops of lavander EO, and 1/2 tbs of olive oil. I shook everything up and put it in a glass squirt bottle. I may add some glycerin if I feel that it's not moisturizing enough. I'm not sure how long it will last but I made put this in the refrigerator just in case since I only wash twice a week.

On my skin I usually use a mix of raw shea butter and olive oil after I shower or I use plain extra virgin coconut oil.

To wash my face at night I use a liquid black soap or olive oil soap. I them massage almond oil or jojoba oil on my face. So far my skin is doing great!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Giovanni Direct Leave-In review

So, I finally got my huge package in the male yesterday from I was sad to see that my rosewater spray and Giovannin magnetic conditioner had spilled out. :( I was also missing items. I emailed the company, so hopefully they will send me my items. My box was crushed and messed up, thanks to UPS. Terrible! Anyway now that I'm done ranting, I was still excited to get my other items. Today I washed with Dr. Bronners 18-1 castile soap unscented for babies. I diluted it with some water first, then poured on my head. I rinsed then used Giovanni's smooth as silk conditioner and left on for about 4 minutes before rinsing. I toweled dry and then use some of the Direct Leave-in. I am impressed with this leave-in. I like the fact that it has a low hazard score of 2 (based on the skin deep's cosmetic database), and it was very thick. Thicker than the smooth a silk conditioner. I applied a quater size amount to my hair and used a little of my homemade spritz (Aubrey HSR, water, olive oil, lavander eo, orange e0, honey). My hair is now dry. I did noticed a little frizz but that may be due to washing it. My curls are defined, soft and fluffy. It almost felt like I was putting a thick creamy lotion on my hair. I love it. I may use more next time and seal with oil. Overall I am pleased with my purchase. This will be my staple leave-in for now.