Grease Be Gone!

aloeA dear relative with curly hair reminded me of a problem I’d been having until recently. With the changing climate from season to season our skin must find ways to adapt; scalp oil production varies, causing all kinds of fun things: dandruff, oily scalp, hair breakage, flatness, frizz. You know the deal, why am I telling you?

My number-one method when this happens is to switch up the products I’m using. Most often the culprit is your styling aide; gel, mousse, cream, what have you, and all you have to do is find something that is similar in make-up but not exactly the same. For example, if a light gel like DevaCurl’s Angel works for you on the norm, try switching to Ouidad’s Climate Control gel or Curl Junkies’ Curls in a Bottle. If you’re more of a Miss Jessie’s Curly Pudding sort of gal, try Living Proof No Frizz Styling Cream or Ouidad’s Hydrafusion Curl Cream. On the cheaper side, anyone with curls or waves will gain major benefits from the use of edible aloe vera gel. You can buy this at most health food stores or online, and must keep it refrigerated after opening. It doesn’t supply as much hold as the alternatives so you have to be comfortable with a less defined look, but it’s au naturel and makes hair super shiny and frizz-free. It can also serve as a great leave-in conditioner! If your scalp is a bit dry or flakey, rub some into it during your shower and rinse it out at the end.

Remember: If your scalp is getting oily or itchy after its been a dedicated shampoo-free zone for more than a few months, there’s usually some small tweak you can make to fix it. Don’t despair. If the problem seems to be scalp-related, try switching up your conditioners and any other products. As long as you’re water/finger washing your hair with conditioner every week and using a safe ‘poo-alternative every other week or so, you shouldn’t need anything more than a minor regimen shift. Bonus: You can always return to your original products when the newer ones stop doing their job.

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Product Alert! – Curls in a Bottle

CIAB-2I’m so excited to announce a new product that I’ve tested and absolutely love! As you may remember, it’s important to rotate all of the products you use, which are basic non-damaging cleansers (WEN conditioning cleansers, DevaCurl No Poo, DevaCurl Low Poo, lemon juice and conditioner equal-parts mixtures), conditioners (DevaCurl One Condition, Ouidad Curl Quencher Conditioner, Argan Oil conditioners, Avalon Organics Volumizing Rosemary conditioner, Aussie Moist conditioner, etc. etc. etc. and yes I have all of these and more in my shower right now), and styling products. We’ve discussed cremes, gels, mousses (meese?), you name it. I’ve found that a light gel works best for my hair type. Until now I’ve mainly been using DevaCurl’s Angel and Ouidad’s Climate Control gel because both are light hold.

Salt-Spray-RecipeHOWEVER! My hair has been looking stringy and angry lately, despite oil treatments and my tender lovin’ care. I saw a brand I’d never seen before when researching my hair type on Naturallycurly.com. [Btw people — check them out! You take a quiz to determine your curl/hair type, and then you can read all about other members who have your hair type and what products they use, how they style it, and much more. It’s like a Pinterest board of curly hair care. My type is 3a, and they corroborated my findings that a light hold gel is my hair’s bff].

This fabulous new gel is called Curl Junkie’s Curls in a Bottle (pictured above), and it was being used to demonstrate a DIY sea salt spray (if you haven’t seen this yet, it means you need to like my Facebook page). I just knew I had to try it immediately.. and yes!!! It worked! It’s highly conditioning with no harmful ingredients and was so light it looked like water. Since my hair can’t handle heavy hold gels, it’s perfect!

While I was at Ricky’s picking it up, I heard a young woman asking where she can find leave-in conditioners for naturally curly hair. The straight-haired lady behind the counter was directing her when I intervened and said, “NO! You don’t want to buy a product labeled as a leave-in conditioner. You just want a really great quality conditioner, and when you’re in the shower apply it, concentrating on the ends, after you’ve cleaned your hair. Then stand with your head falling back under the nozzle and let the water rinse out maybe 20%-50% of it.” It only takes a second for most hair types/shower pressures. So let this be a reminder to you all: leave-ins are meant to be diluted conditioners, but because they’re made to be stocked on store shelves for a long time and also because people want their leave-ins to feel smooth and not thick or sticky, they load them up with lots of alcohol and other drying, damaging ingredients to make it evaporate faster. Kind of counter-intuitive, no? Just use a quality conditioner that you already have and water it down yourself in the shower.

I saw the young woman head over toward DevaCurl’s One Condition per my suggestion, and my only regret is wishing I had creepily followed her to fully ingratiate her into the world of naturally curly hair care. But alas, I left her to her own devices and hope that she’ll find CurlyNikki.com or NaturallyCurly.com or even my little ol’ blog. So girl at Ricky’s, this post goes out to you.

Remember friends: As curly girls who have wrestled with the wave, contended with the curl, kerfuffled with the kink, it’s always our duty to spread the knowledge and love. Mentor new curlfriends and gain the satisfaction of knowing that you’re a big part of making this world a happier, healthier, prettier, and slightly more genuine place.

Full Disclosure: Product Substitutions

I’d love to tell you that I just stick to buying these 8 products, but the truth is that I still have some of that experimental energy that I had long before I started my curly transformation. In other words, I don’t try every product I see on the shelves that promises sleek, shiny, frizz-free hair, although I am tempted. No, my better-educated self turns every product right around to look at ingredients before even considering trying something new.

As I’ve mentioned on the Products page, hair likes to shake up the routine. If you use the exact same things the same way every day, your hair will start to lose some of its luster and it will get very monotonous and boring. Using varying amounts of a product, or experimenting with different application techniques can help, but if you take a total break from those products for about a month, you’ll notice that your hair is happier when you return to using them. That’s why I usually have at least one alternative to every product I use regularly. Below is a list of some of those substitutions, and how I like to keep things interesting.

1) Conditioner: This work horse may contribute the most crucial element to your hair’s health and appearance. Too much and it may look greasy, too little and it looks and feels dry and becomes more prone to breakage. When I want to take a break from Devachan’s One Condition, I use Ouidad’s Balancing Rinse conditioner. I’ll use it for maybe a week before switching back to One Condition, because it does eventually leave my hair feeling a bit less moisturized than I’d like. It’s a thinner formula so that may contribute to it. I also like Argan Oil conditioner, but wouldn’t use it more often than once a month or so.

2) Styling Gel: There are so many ways to take a break from gel. You can use only one gel for slightly less hold and control, instead of using one in the shower pre-towel-drying and one as a finishing gel immediately after towel-drying. You can use different finishing gels, although I always like to keep Devachan’s Angell as my base. I love Ouidad’s Climate Control, but surprisingly I couldn’t stand Curl Quencher on my hair. I’d suggest going to their site, they have it set up a lot like naturallycurly.com now and you can shop by curl type. I also like Devachan’s Volumizing Foam when I want a much less contained look, and I substitute this for finishing gel, while still using the Angell base.

I never use any creams, however. I’ve tried so many, and recently tried Carol’s Daughter’s Hair Milk (which had great moisturizing ingredients, by the way, so it probably left my hair better off in the end) but it didn’t hold my curl at all, which meant that day 2 I already needed to wash and re-style. I like when I can go at least 3 days between washes, which means the perfect balance between not-too-dry and not-too-greasy product application.

3) Hair Treatment: I recommend using some form of hair treatment, be it oil or deep conditioner, at least once a week. You can use those little bottles of essential oils on your ends, you can use a great deep conditioner like DevaCurl’s Heaven in Hair, you can use any of the homemade treatments in Curly Girl, including a slight variation on the amazing Oil Treatment featured on my site, or you can try some great conditioning treatment that you find on your own, as long as it has the key moisturizing ingredients high on the list, and not too many that you can’t pronounce toward the bottom. As always, look for any types of oils, glycerin and glycol derivatives, aloe, and words that you understand first. If there are any ingredients you don’t understand, Google them. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can recognize them once you’ve looked them up.

4) Refreshers: Lastly, I want to be sure that I hammer home how much I love Cold Spring Apothecary’s Citrus Ginger Sea Salt Spray to revive second- and third-day hair. There are a lot of these on the market now, but you have to be sure that they have moisturizers to counteract the drying effect of sea salt. When I use only four pumps distributed throughout my hair by tossing it back and forth, it re-awakens my hair and re-defines lost curls. I only use this when I really feel that I need it, and always use it sparingly. Don’t add this to your hair if it feels like there’s already too much product in your ‘do.