Sunday, December 17, 2017

Winterizing Your Natural Hair Do’s And Don’ts

ismail Alminda | 7:49 AM

The winter season is here and obviously the days of wash and go’s are dwindling by the minute and we are being blessed with 60 degree or lower temperatures that unfortunately may wreak havoc on our strands. My hair is like an all weather coat for my head, it’s a great accessory and makes the […]

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Being Natural Does Not Guarantee Length!

ismail Alminda | 6:34 AM

I have been asked this question a few times now. A lady at her wits end writes in saying that her relaxed hair is breaking at an alarming rate and wants to know which products she should get to stop the breakage. After clearing up the issue of ‘No one product will stop breakage forever […]

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Saturday, December 16, 2017

5 Best Natural Treatments for Dry, Itchy Scalp and Flakes

ismail Alminda | 3:21 PM
5 Best Natural Treatments for Dry, Itchy Scalp and Flakes
Look what santa put under the tree - scalp relief!
Got dry, itchy scalp that flakes and makes it really difficult to wear protective styles - and forces you to wash your hair at least twice a week?

Come here, beloved - we're in the same boat. :::hugs:::

While the conditions that cause scalp issues can range from dandruff and psoriasis to imbalances caused by medications and medical conditions, one thing rings true across the board - no matter the cause, the effect is suuuuuper annoying.

I'd love nothing more than to toss my hair into some faux locs and forget about it - but scalp psoriasis won't let me be great. And even though I cleanse my hair and scalp twice per week, I still have to contend with itching and dryness between washes - especially around my hairline, and in that front/center patch.

For us with natural hair, daily washing (especially with medicated shampoos) is not only impractical, but puts too much stress and manipulation on our textured curls. What's a naturalista to do? Don't stress it - I've got 5 solutions that will help calm your scalp, soothe itching, alleviate dryness, and at the same time, stimulate growth.

Note: Before proceeding with the solutions below, please rule out a lack of shampooing as the source cause of your scalp woes. If your scalp is itching, flaking, dry,and tight, but your hair hasn't seen shampoo in 6 weeks - handle that, sis. You need shampoo more than targeted scalp solutions. 

Also, if you are experiencing flaking that's yellow and waxy or thick and scaly, please see a dermatologist to receive a proper diagnosis first. I'm not a licensed medical professional, and nothing shared in this post (or on is to be taken as medical advice. 

Now that we've got that out the way, keep reading to learn more about each one!

P.S. - They're ALL Black owned. Creating solutions for us, by us.

Be Kekoa Be Relieved
During my most recent trip to Temecula, Brandie revealed that she's been a busy bee behind the scenes at Be Kekoa. Aside from another major economic empowerment initiative, she's developed three whole new products! I'll get into the other 2 another time, but the one I want to focus on right now is Be Relieved. Be Relieved instantly won me over because of the design and ingredient composition.

5 Best Natural Treatments for Dry, Itchy Scalp and Flakes
Be Relieved may look small, but it packs a big punch.
Be Relieved is formulated with Be Kekoa's own tamanu oil, kukui oil, Roman Chamomile, lemon, tea tree, Vitamin E, and more. It's a powerful blend of healing and soothing relief that nourishes the follicles while leveraging natural antimicrobials and astringents to treat common underlying causes of dry, itchy scalp.

More: All About Be Kekoa Tamanu Oil

My favorite thing about Be Relieved though? The packaging. I could immediately tell Brandie and her team put a lot of thought into making Be Relieved something that could work for those of us needing relief. First of all, it's in a small glass vial about the size of the average lipstick tube. Meaning, it fits easily into your purse, gym bag, backpack, back pocket, or glove box. But what REALLY got me hype?! THE STAINLESS STEEL ROLLER! No nozzle tips or droppers here, sis!

Be Relieved has a stainless steel roller ball for application. Not like the cheap plastic rollers on the old school lip gloss that always used to get stuck, but a high quality stainless steel roller that not only helps prevent overuse, but feels like HEAVEN. You know that cool, relieving sensation when someone with cold fingers massages your scalp? Imagine having that at your disposal endlessly. That's exactly what Be Relieved feels like.

Grab yours here.

CURLS Blueberry & Mint Tea Scalp Treatment
I've raved, and raved, and raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaved aobout the Curls Blueberry Mint & Tea Scalp Treatment. Oh what - you missed that review? Click here to catch up.

The Curls Blueberry Mint & Tea Scalp Treatment is formulated with organic safflower, soybean, sunflower, and blueberry oils - a combination that is ultra nourishing, high in antioxidants, rich in fatty acids, and really helps lock in moisture on the scalp. But the ingredient I've gone head over heels about? Menthol. And here's why.

5 Best Natural Treatments for Dry, Itchy Scalp and Flakes
I call this my scalp crack.
Listen, my scalp does a few weird things. I have psoriasis, so it itches between washes. A massage with the Blueberry & Mint Tea Scalp Treatment soothes it SO much. Y'all have NO idea. I read on the googles that some women are using Vicks VapoRub on their scalp to stimulate and encourage growth. I've also read that some psoriasis and eczema sufferers are using Vicks to soothe itching and scalp irritation. And I'm not too ashamed to say that I've tried it for the later reason. But you best believe that ever since I got my hands on the Blueberry & Mint Tea Scalp Treatment, my Vicks (well, Up & Up brand if we're keeping it all the way real) is now relegated only to helping me breathe easy. Because babyyyyyy that Blueberry & Mint Tea Scalp Treatment is the truth.

Grab yours here.

Kriya Botanicals Herbal Tea Hair Rinse
Sometimes, your scalp needs a water-based solution - and that's exactly where Kriya Botanicals' Herbal Tea Hair Rinse comes in.

In my feature, I fawned over Kriya's thoughtful inclusion of turmeric into their products. When Claire (Kriya Botanicals founder) learned of my scalp psoriasis, she sent me the Herbal Tea Hair Rinse - a dry leaf botanical infusion of quite literally the best ingredients to treat, stimulate, and nourish the scalp.

Even though I'm not much of a DIY-er, I had to give this one a go. It's made with organic rosemary leaf, bay leaf, turmeric powder, peppermint leaf, cinnamon bark, calendula and more. Upon opening the envelope, I was like - is this gumbo file or nah?😂

But after I steeped the hair tea, magic happened.

5 Best Natural Treatments for Dry, Itchy Scalp and Flakes
Use this herbal tonic two ways for maximum benefits!
Via stovetop, I brough approximately 2oz of water to a boil, and added a spoonful of tea to the water. I immediately cut the flame and stirred until the herbs began to release (like 30 seconds). The fragrance changed from bay leaf to cinnamon spice with a hint of turmeric. No kidding, it smells like a winter spiced tea.

I allowed the tea to steep and cool for about 20 minutes, and then strained it into a small amber bottle with spray nozzle. I spritzed the tonic onto an itchy patch of my scalp and you know what happened? Instant relief. No major mega cool tingling, but a soothing, calming relief. That lasted alllll day long.

I've also been battling a particularly stubborn psoriasis patch at the front of my hairline. No matter what I do - it reappears 24 hours after wash day, like clockwork. Even after using medicated shampoos. I've been treating my hairline daily with spritzes of the Kriya Botanicals Herbal Tea Hair Rinse, and you know what?!

It's getting better. Not miraculously cured, but slowly clearing up. Over the course of about a week, I'm getting more progress than I've had in several months. For anyone dealing with a condition like psoriasis - that's HUGE.

Now, this is just how I choose to use the Herbal Tea Hair Rinse. You can brew it up like a traditional tea rinse for wash day - and those instructions are similar, just use more tea and more water. If you're like me and looking for something more day-to-day, steep it spray bottle style and keep it in the fridge for up to two weeks. Either way, you're winning.

Grab yours here.

Mello Hair Scalp Stimulating Growth Serum
I've become a huuuuuuge fan of Mello Hair's Scalp Stimulating Growth Serum, because it provides amazing relief for something else special that's been going on with my scalp for a while.

Dating  back to my teenage years - whenever my hair has a growth spurt (noticeably with seasonal changes), my scalp gets really tender. Not inflamed or tension tender, not 'scab hair" tender, and there's no redness, swelling, or signs of infection. But rather,  the kind of tenderness where you wanna take an ice cube and run it down your scalp. Have you ever done that on a hot summer day? it's heaven.

5 Best Natural Treatments for Dry, Itchy Scalp and Flakes
Growth and relief, all in one!
What made me realize that it was growth related was that I could always feel and see the new growth, too. Back in my straight hair days, new growth was easy to spot. I can still see it with my natural hair, but I can feel it more than anything. My hair is weird like that.

 A few days ago, I had one of those spurts come about, and I needed something fast. Mello Hair's Scalp Stimulating Growth Serum was the closest thing to me, and I went innnnnn. The cooling relief was virtually instant. I got that amazing tingle plus soothing relief on site. The Scalp Stimulating Growth Serum packs enough punch to be effective, without being greasy or weighing the hair down.

It's packed with scalp nourishing oils like safflower, castor, flaxseed, avocado, babassu, and hemp - plus peppermint, tea tree, and arrowroot to purify and stimulate the scalp.

Grab yours here.

Design Essentials Detoxifying Tonic
This one is a newbie! Design Essentials literally just released a Scalp and Skin Care collection earlier this month. And while the new collection contains four different solutions, I'd like to zero in on one in particular - the Detoxifying Tonic.

And here's why.

You'll never catch me within 10 feet of a can of dry shampoo. Why? The main ingredient is alcohol. Not the creamy, fatty kind - but the SD 40 kind. The isopropyl kind. The drying kind. That' why when a new wave of scalp cleansing products geared toward protective styling popped up from brands like Cantu, I was intrigued. Carol's Daughter even caught me for a second, then I came back to my senses. I almost laid down coins for the Cantu ACV Root Relief, but then I popped the lid on the ingredient list.

Water, Alcohol Denat.... Denatured alcohol? That drying stuff? Oh noooooo..... I immediately changed my mind. Putting alcohol on top of a scalp condition like psoriasis is just asking for problems - and that's where the Detoxifying Tonic comes in.

5 Best Natural Treatments for Dry, Itchy Scalp and Flakes
Light years ahead of the competition because it's alcohol free!
It's not an oil, but feels more like a serum - and it's completely alcohol free. In fact, it's witch hazel based, which is amazing for soothing inflammation associated with conditions like psoriasis. It's a natural astringent too, which helps remove dirt, oil, and debris. Witch hazel is a part of my everyday skincare routine, so I'm completely comfortable using it on my scalp.

The Detoxifying Tonic is clear, virtually odorless, and contains other scalp purifying ingredients like eucalyptus, lemon, and peppermint oil. It also contains glycerin, which is a heaven-sent ingredient to relieve dry scalp. It doesn't require water, shampoo, or rinsing - so it's perfect for refreshing the scalp after working out, or while wearing protective styles. It's also great for folks like me who want to eek another day or two out of their style before washing, but suffer from issues that cause dry scalp and flaking.

As we discovered with Be Kekoa, I'm a sucker for a good application method, and I've got to hand it to Design Essentials here. The nozzle tip on the Detoxifying Tonic is super narrow, which helps prevent overuse and makes it easy to target specific areas without serum dripping down your face. Basically, everything about the Detoxifying Tonic is a winner.

Grab yours here.

Interested in learning more about my journey with psoriasis while managing my natural hair? Click here.

from The Mane Objective

Transitioning From Relaxed To Natural Hair

ismail Alminda | 6:55 AM

Lady with a short cropWhat is the best way to accomplish your transition with the minimum of fuss? More and more ladies are looking to transition from relaxed to natural hair texture. Whether it’s because you miss your natural texture and wish to wear your hair curly or you have having great difficulties in growing your relaxed hair long, […]

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Friday, December 15, 2017

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Is Shampoo Better Than Conditioner For Detangling?

ismail Alminda | 7:10 AM

Lady in bath with wet hairIn the war for best detangling product, is a detangling shampoo or conditioner tops?  If you have natural 4b, 4a and 3c hair, detangling during your wash is probably not the easiest thing in the world. Due to the hair’s natural curls and coils, tangles run galore as the strands curl around each other whether […]

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Review: Up North Naturals Curl Ease Styling Lotion & Healthy Edges Smoothing Gel

ismail Alminda | 5:20 PM
Up North Naturals Curl Ease Styling Lotion and Healthy Edges Smoothing Gel Review
I promise, I kept Drake references to a minimum for this review.
There's a lot going on in Southern California right now. With each new report, I start feeling a little bit more like the entire bottom half of Cali is on fire. By the way - many thanks to those of you who have sent random messages checking in on me. By God's grace, my family and I are not in any evacuation zones - but we are definitely feeling the impact in terms of air quality.

It literally smells like someone's been BBQ-ing every day for at least a week now.

One of the crazy things about Southern California right now is that not only is the air smoky, it's DRY AF.

Like, dry cough dry.
Make you wonder if you're sick dry.
Wake you up in the middle of the night dry.

Have you ever slept in air so dry and disrespectful it had the audacity to wake you up at 2am?!

Needless to say, my hair has been craving moisture. I've had to put my beloved Eco Styler on the back burner, in the off chance that it would turn my curls into a brush fire. I've been rocking with products that intensely hydrate, nourish, and lock in moisture.

Enter: Up North Naturals.

I'm no stranger to these natural hair gems from the 6ix, and if you've been around these parts - you shouldn't either! I've done a full line review, and a few Up North Naturals products have even won the prestigious (in my mind) Christina's Choice award. Peep all that here.

In the time since my last review, Lisa has been busy cooking up all kinda goodies - two of which have now earned their rightful place in my regimen. I'm talking about the Curl Ease Styling Lotion and Healthy Edges Smoothing Gel.

What's so special about these two gems? Keep reading and I'll break down exactly why. "Cuz if I don't share the wealth, how the [bleep] we 'sposed to grow?"


I had to throw at least 1 Drake line in there. It just wouldn't be right any other way.

Up North Naturals Curl Ease Styling Lotion and Healthy Edges Smoothing Gel Review
Have you ever tried to take pictures using real aloe vera? Talk about a challenge!
Curl Ease Styling Lotion
$18.99 for 8oz

Where to Buy
Up North Naturals website

Active Ingredients
Note: For this product, I just went ahead and broke down the entire ingredient list. It's really short - which is a great thing.
  • Rose Water: Distillation of rose petals in water, done to harness the antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, pH balancing, soothing, and blood-circulating properties of rose essential oils. 
  • Aloe Vera Juice: Acts as a natural conditioning agent that restores the hair's sheen, luster, and shine. It not only makes the hair soft, but it also enhances strength and suppleness.
  • Distilled Water
  • Xanthan Gum: Plant-based thickening and stabilizing agent.
  • Grapeseed Oil: Pressed oil from the seeds of grapes, high in Vitamin E and linoleic acid. It is an antioxidant, moisturizing, and nourishing oil.
  • Safflower Oil: Oil naturally rich in Vitamin E, which delivers antioxidant and regenerative properties to the hair and scalp. Also has been known to improve blood circulation and stimulate hair growth.
  • Optiphen Plus: Paraben and formaldehyde free preservative
  • Vitamin E: Vitamin E is an antioxidant, which is good for hair growth, skin rejuvenation, and repair. Vitamin E moisturizes, nourishes, and protects hair to prevent damage and hair loss. 
  • Rose Essential Oil: A multu-functional oil created from rose petals with hydrating and moisturizing properties for the hair and skin. Rose essential oil can also help stimulate the scalp, fight inflammation, and has antiviral and antibacterial properties. 
Protein Free?

Curly Girl Friendly?

The Good
First things first, I'm addicted to the fragrance. Which is crazy, because if you peep the ingredient list - there's NOTHING artificial about it! Lisa, my scalp thanks you. While my scalp isn't hypersensitive to artificial fragrances, I always prefer natural oil scents or fragrance ingredients wayyyyy down on the list. Curl Ease smells like that Jergen's cherry almond scent that I was obsessed with as a kid, with a sweet gentle twang of rose on top. It's subtle, yet delightful. If Up North Naturals released a hair perfume, body butter, or body spray with this scent, I'd buy it in a heartbeat. 

I just realized I wrote an entire paragraph on how the product smells. Let's talk other details.

Up North Naturals Curl Ease Styling Lotion and Healthy Edges Smoothing Gel Review
Smiling because I feel like me again.. Curls poppin'. Edges laid. Brows threaded. #hallelujah
 Curl Ease is a true styling lotion, meaning you're not going to get that almost-impossible-to-get-from-the-bottle feeling when trying to pump it for use. It's velvety and sleek, coating the hair with lightweight moisture. Oh and the slip? Amazing. I wouldn't insult this product by using it as something to rinse out (detangler), but it can definitely serve that purpose if need be. 

But when you see how it just captures my curls - you won't want to use it any other way but as a leave-in. Curl Ease pairs beautifully with the Go 2 Hair Milk, and the 8-Oil Defining Gelly. It plays beautifully with other products in my collection, and even though I've been pretty heavy-handed with application (plus used it a few different times), I've still got over half the bottle. Curl Ease definitely goes a long way.

The Bad
I can't think of one single bad thing to say about Curl Ease. Maybe 16oz bottles? I don't know. But as far as the product itself? Flawless.

Oh and if you're a wee bit concerned on pricing, I've got a note on the end of this post about ingredient costs that should help you out!

The Bottom Line
If you need a lil' mo' help in the frizz busting and style department, then you'll definitely want to give Curl Ease a try. If you're like me and prefer gels, definitely pair it with the 8-Oil Defining Gelly for moisture and long-lasting hold. If you've got finer, less difficult to define curls, use Curl Ease alone or pair it with the Go 2 Hair Milk. Either way, you're winning with this one.

Up North Naturals Curl Ease Styling Lotion and Healthy Edges Smoothing Gel Review
You can tell by the way it sits in the jar that it's different...
Healthy Edges Smoothing Gel
$14.99 for 2.8oz

Active Ingredients
Note: For this product, I just went ahead and broke down the entire ingredient list. It's really short - which is a great thing.
  • Distilled Water
  • Rose Distillate: Distillation of rose petals in water, done to harness the antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, pH balancing, soothing, and blood-circulating properties of rose essential oils. 
  • Glycerin: Vegetable-based humectant that draws in moisture to the hair.
  • Castor Oil: Thick, highly viscous oil with antibacterial, antifungal, and humectant properties. It is also a great moisture sealant, and promotes hair thickening and growth.
  • Shea Butter: Emollient fat from the nut of the East or West African shea nut tree used to soften hair and skin, and aid in moisture retention.
  • Cremophor A-25: Also known as Ceteareth-25. A cosmetic-grade oil-in-water emulsifier (helps oils and water mix and not separate).
  • Qafquat 737: Water soluble polymer. May also be written as Gafquat. Unfortunately, I don't have much information on this one. Any of my science-y folk - feel free to chime in!
  • Rosemary Essential Oil: Known growth stimulant and extract, used to prevent dandruff and even premature baldness, as well as enhance highlights. The leaves are known to have relatively high levels of antioxidants.
  • Rose Essential Oil: A multu-functional oil created from rose petals with hydrating and moisturizing properties for the hair and skin. Rose essential oil can also help stimulate the scalp, fight inflammation, and has antiviral and antibacterial properties. 
  • Black Currant Oil: Rich in GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) which is a fatty acid that promotes healthy growth of skin and hair. Nourishes scalp and skin while helping to regulate conditions like eczema and psoriasis that cause flaking.
Protein Free?

Curly Girl Friendly:
Yes! Even though it is silicone-free, the polymers present are still water soluble.

The Good
I'll spare you the misery of writing another paragraph on my fragrance obsession and just say this - Healthy Edges smells like a very faint version of Curl Ease. Also, no artificial fragrances (as you can see by the full ingredient list above).

I will say this - Healthy Edges is unlike any edge control I've ever used. The ingredients are different. The look and feel is different. And I mean different in a good way.

Up North Naturals Curl Ease Styling Lotion and Healthy Edges Smoothing Gel Review
Edges laid, effortlessly.
Up until this point, my favorite edge controls (tgin, CURLS, etc.) have all had similar ingredient profiles (as far as the styling polymers and hydrogenated oils) and consistency. It's hard to describe it, but if you remember Let's Jam from back in the day, then you'll get this. Did you ever tap or beat on the bottom of a full jar of Let's Jam? You know that hollow reverberation sound you got? Pretty much every edge control I've ever used does that - and it's largely a function of the presence of similar active ingredients for hold and consistency. No judgement, just observation. I love them no less, just using them to state that Healthy Edges is different.

When I tap the bottom of Healthy Edges, I hear a solid thud. No reverberations. It's not like a jelly or jam. More than anything, it feels like a hybrid putty and pomade that glides easily onto the hair. Even though it's opaque and white-ish in color, it goes on clear, doesn't cake up, and doesn't leave residue behind.

Healthy edges is not sticky, tacky, or greasy. It makes my edges feel smooth and look sleek, without making them appear glued to my forehead (for which I am thankful, because my forehead is big). It's buildable, which means you can use it day after day without buildup or flaking. As an added bonus, it can be used to smooth out frizzy bits - improving the longevity of style.

Can you tell I'm in love?

The Bad
The only downside to Healthy Edges is that it comes in smaller (and a little pricier) than the competition. Most quality (the operative word here is quality) edge controls hover around $9-$11 for 4oz. With Healthy Edges weighing in at 2.8, it's not as much of a "bargain" as others. It's not a deterrent for me, and it shouldn't be for you if you value your edges. I'll explain why in a bit.

The Bottom Line
Healthy Edges is worth it - point, blank, period. If you're tired of feeling like all edge controls are the same, I promise Healthy Edges will change your mind. If you want to use an edge control that's going to help keep your edges on your edges, give Healthy Edges a try. I love it, and it has definitely earned a spot in the top edge control rotation.

A little goes a long way, and it's incredibly effective. Oh, and if you're concerned a bit about pricing, just know that it's likely the rose oil and distillation to blame. As a cosmetic ingredient, rose anything is expensive - because it's expensive to produce. It takes over 8,000 pounds of rose petals to produce 32oz of oils.

Just marinate on that.

Either way, I'm adding Curl Ease and Healthy Edges to the list of Up North Naturals products that I'm a tremendous fan of.

Will you be giving Curl Ease and Healthy Edges a try? Let me know in the comments below!

This post is sponsored by Up North Naturals.

from The Mane Objective

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