Recovering!

Some of you may have wondered where I went these past few weeks and some of you may have scooted over to my IG and saw some photo or message…

Well, for the past couple of weeks I have gone dark because I was sick. And by sick I mean I could not eat, drink, sleep or do much of anything without being in crippling pain and having to pray to the porcelain gods. I even went to the ER at two of our local hospitals on two different days! And if you know me…hospitals and I are not friends. But after two weeks, I finally found a physician that would HEAR me -not just listen and I am on the road to recovery. Below is a little insight on to where I was and I promise I will be back to a full schedule next week!

April 20th – Picture this. My in-laws had just gotten to town the night prior and we (my husband and I) had created a whole schedule of outings and menu (Yeah, I’m a Type A)! I woke up with a migraine (typical for me) and my stomach was out of sorts. After some medicine, I thought I was fine and we loaded into the car to head out of town and visit new-age wine country! Alas, not even 1 hour into the drive, I was done. I was a mess and could not sit in the car for more than a few minutes at a time. Cue in a Target run for meds and voila – I was fine! Or so I thought. That night I took a turn. 101º fever. Chills to the point my body locked up on me. Nausea. Pain. I was in bad shape.

April 22nd – First hospital visit. What. A. Nightmare. I had never been to the ER in Cali but this was quite an experience that I wish upon no one. Waiting rooms at full capacity. No beds. No where to sit. Hours of waiting for medication. No fluids. No follow up. Barely anything more than a quick blood draw.

April 24th – I took a turn for the worst. Not even 6am and we were in the waiting room at the ER (hospital #2) and this would be the beginning of a 12+ hour day. I had to beg for medication…twice. But at least they ran tests – mostly because I asked. Yet I still walked out at the end of the day with a prescription for medication and no answers – just pain and hunger.

April 29th – I was still not eating but I had to go to work. I lost 10 pounds. I looked frail. I felt worse. I just wanted to sleep. Thankfully I work with an amazing team and one of my physicians made a few phone calls and I had an appointment for the 2nd. Prayers and crackers was all I had.

May 2nd – Two doctors appointments -the first being one of the most awkward visits I had ever had and the second was a dream come true. We sat for over 1 hour and discussed what was wrong, how to treat it, what I could try to start eating, what my limitations would be, and what would be my next steps. I went home with medication that was actually effective for what I had -not making me worse- and started recuperating THAT NIGHT.

So why am I sharing all this? Well, for the sake of oversharing, I really want to hit home that you have to advocate for yourself. Health care is here to help you but there are a lot of hurdles and obstacles in providers’ way but also in yours. While I do not expect everyone to have a doctorate degree or read the ICD10 code book, you need to be your own advocate.
For example, at hospital #2, I only received fluids because I asked for it -mind you this was almost 5 days without being able to really even keep water in. I was then given pain killers but was still in pain so I wanted more answers and more help – ask number 2 and cue the additional testing that uncovered an abnormality that 3 other tests did not show. You cannot rely on your health care provider knowing everything, especially since he/she does not know your body better than you.

Ask questions! Do not settle for the baseline or textbook answer. Ask for help. And if you can…take someone with you. I personally felt like a burden to my family but I am blessed that I was not alone throughout the whole ordeal.

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Curly Hair: Rice Water Rinse

A lot of times, curly girls, especially those that are transitions (like I did almost 7 years ago) mix up when their hair needs moisture and when it needs, and you are reading this correctly, protein. When hair is frizzy or brittle, it needs moisture. When curly hair starts to go limp and lost its definition, the hair needs protein. Sometimes, hair needs both, at the same time, and that is when multi-tasking comes into play!

Now when I say protein, I don’t mean a steak or cracking an egg (though believe it or not, that works). I meant a simpler way that could even smell delightful and bring back some of the luster while bringing back definition as well! You may have seen it all over the internet, but I tried this method first hand and the results were quite impressive. I am talking about a rice water rinse.

The first time I heard about this, I laughed because why would I put that murky water on my clean hair and expect any good results? But after diving head first into the YouTube abyss, I decided the worst that could happen is that I needed to wash my hair again. So I gave it a go!

I will be honest that I have only done this only a handful of times to date because my hair is protein sensitive so once a month is more than enough for me.

Side bar: How do I know my hair is protein sensitive? Because when I overload my hair with protein, albeit through masks, rinses, or my everyday products, my hair does the reverse of what it is supposed to do and goes limp -almost wavy. And it starts to feel straw-like. I reverse this boo-boo by washing and doing a moisture treatment. Think of moisture and protein like pH levels – on what would be acidic would be protein and what is base would be moisture. You just need to find your happy middle (which may or may not be “7”).

So what did I do? What did I need? How did it turn out? Keep reading!

First things first, you need: an airtight jar (you could use a mason jar but make sure it is a good size -not just a standard overnights oat size); distilled or filtered water; a cup of rice (or more depending on length); and essential oils (or my little secret).

In the couple of trials I did, I did not notice a difference between the two different types – first time I used brown basmati rice and the second time I used white rice. I suppose the type of rice you use is personal preference.

I prepared my rice water by rinsing the rice. Yes, that means I ran the rice under running water (while in the colander) to remove the major impurities. Once the water started coming out clear-ish, I was ready to prepare the rice water rinse.

I placed the cup of rice into the mason jar and added three cups of distilled water. Now this is the step where you can add a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil for fragrance, but because I am sensitive to smells and did not want to disrupt the experiment, I opted to add 1/4 of a cup of my favorite rose water (I use this for cooking mostly but the scent is just amazing) which I inserted a photo below for reference.

al wadi rose water

Then just simply seal up the jar and put it in a dark, dry place – like a cupboard, for at least 24 hours but ideally no more than 36. Once you start to hit that 48 hour mark, the rice water has really fermented and will start to smell sour and will not work as well – trust me, I learned from experience!

After 24 (or so) hours, you are now able to transfer that rice water to a spray bottle or a bowl. I personally opted for the bowl method because I’m also lazy, but that is personal preference! Then you can chuck out the rice. And no, you cannot use that rice again and truthfully a rice water rinse should be a one-time use situation for optimal results even if you refrigerate; yes, refrigeration stops the fermentation but the potency also diminishes.

Now be forewarned – that rinse will be COLD even if it is at room temperature. What I did is I start to dunk my clean (after shampooing but before conditioner) hair in the bowl and watched it soak up the water. I then poured the remaining water on my roots and massaged everything in using my scalp massage brush.

Again, I will tell you that I have done this more than once and tried several different methods with the first being the more successful (I attribute the second to the fact that I let the rice sit for 3 days).

I finished my shower routine and rinsed some of the water out. I did leave some of the rice water in my hair, almost like conditioner. I then detangled outside of the shower and applied my normal products (this time was a Ouidad/DevaCurl combo).

And these are the results…before diffusing and after.

Yeah…no make-up or filter. Sorry! But that definition on the right… That makes up for it!

Conclusion? The rice water rinsing works…and at a minimal cost! But only if you need protein and are not sensitive. You need to also make sure you have the right amount of moisture in your hair.

So tell me…have you tried rice water rinses? What has your experience been? And if you haven’t, do you want to?

Universal Hair Request: Righteous Roots

Many of you may know by now that I have curly hair that sometimes looks like 2C, sometimes 3A, and sometimes 3B… If you don’t know what that means, I have curly hair that sometimes is with a looser pattern and sometimes it looks like I wrapped my hair around a cork screw!

But one thing that you may not know is that I am the only one in my family with not straight hair. And no, it is not because I am adopted or switched at birth because I otherwise am a spitting image of my mother, but some genetic fluke decided that I would have curls instead of lustrous (and dare I say more easily manageable) hair. In fact, my mom has such straight hair that even if you try to curl it, pin it, put it in a ponytail, or really style it in any way, within an hour it is out and straight.

So what am I getting at? While my family and I do not have the same hair pattern (my husband leans towards 3C/4A which is tight curls to kink), we all have the same wants with our hair (well, maybe not my husband on everything). We want volume, definition, health, shine, and growth. We do not want to settle for hair falling out or dry, brittle, lifeless locks.

Yes, I do use a heck of a lot more products than my mother and I use different curly hair products than my husband, but there is some definite overlap if we want the same results and we want to use products that are good for us – not chalk full of chemicals than only a chemist could pronounce (even a biologist by trade such as myself cannot pronounce half of these items). We do not want parabens, sulfates, mineral oil, alcohols, silicone, or formaldehyde. And in my case, because I have sensitive skin, I want no or natural only scents – no perfumes!

One product that we are all using, daily, and have seen a tremendous change in our hair is Righteous Roots Oil ($15/bottle).

Ingredients (per the company’s website): COCOS NUCIFERA OIL (COCONUT), RICINUS COMMUNIS (JAMAICAN BLACK CASTOR OIL), OLEACEAE OIL (OLIVE), PERSEA AMERICANA MILL OIL (AVOCADO), VITIS VINIFERA OIL (GRAPESEED), SESAMUM INDICUM OIL (SEASAME), MENTHA PIPERITA OIL (PEPPERMINT), MELALEUCA ALTERNIFOLIA LEAF OIL (TEA TREE), SIMMONDSIA CHINENSIS SEED OIL (JOJOBA), ARGANIA SPINOSA OIL (ARGAN), ROSMARINUS OFFICINALIS OIL (ROSEMARY)

This company blew me away when they were not afraid to list their ingredients on their website and on their product. The more I read, the more I realized this was all natural. And after I tried in on myself, everyone in the family was required to give it a try (with a nightly scalp massage of course). Low and behold, each member of the family (straight, curly, or kinky patterns) all noticed hair growth even in that almost annoying baby hair and length. Oddly enough our hair started to get darker too when it started to grow out. It detangled my hair with ease and smelled wonderful without irritating my scalp or rubbing off on everything around me. It also helps me break the cast formed by gels and leaves my hair looking shiny and healthy!

In fact, we ended up ordering 3 additional bottles after just breaking into the first one because we never want to run out! I only use 6 drops per night while my mom uses no more than 4, and my husband uses 8-10. We are just about to finish our first bottle.

Now my only caution is, especially if you have straight hair or are trying to go an extended period before wash day (I know we all dread that because it is a whole day affair for curly girls), is that this can start to coat your hair and leave it feeling oily. This happens to me around day 5 and for my mom around day 3. So how do you wash it – with shampoo like always, right? No. Not this time. There are two tricks on washing your hair when it is super oily albeit through the overuse of this hair oil or other reasons:

  1. Use your shampoo on dry hair. That’s right, do not jump immediately under the water when you are going to wash but rather apply shampoo to your dry hair. This will bond with the oil and allow it to be rinsed off versus the water “mixing”, or better yet coating, with the oil and creating an oilier situation. Once you rubbed the shampoo in, rinse, and repeat your normal process.
  2. Use apple cider vinegar (ACV) as a rinse. Using a bottle or bowl, depending how you want to apply the rinse, mix 1 part ACV to 2 parts water. Then you can rinse and massage this mixture in your hair before applying conditioner in the shower. I do not recommended shampooing after an ACV rinse because it will be super drying.

I am partial for the latter of the two when I have the time, because it helps my hair look and feel shiny and strong, but when I am short on time, the first option works well.

I will have some status photos up soon so you can see first hand on how effective this product is for all of our hair! But in the meantime, do not hesitate to buy a bottle of your own and try to carve out 5 minutes for yourself and massage a little but of Righteous Roots on to your scalp at night and I can almost promise you will see a difference!

If you take the leap of faith and give this product a try, leave a comment below and share your experience!

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored. Links and images are not my property and are not affiliate codes.

Recipe – Avocado Sauce

In keeping up with the theme of getting and staying healthy, I have been trying out new dishes in the kitchen. Some of the recipes are old favorites and some are new! For me, the kitchen and cooking are stress relievers so I always like to try something new.

So last night I was craving some pasta (and yes I use organic pasta with gluten regularly) but I did not want anything heavy as my sauce or tomato-y. I needed to be creative with limited ingredients and time -I was not about to start cooking a full gourmet dinner at 7-something at night.

The result?

I made a quick homemade avocado sauce that was light but very flavorful! It can be served cold like a pasta salad but I did serve it warm last night

Ingredients:

1 Large Haas Avocado
1/4-1/2 Cup Greek Yogurt
2 Tbsp Parmesan Cheese
1/4 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice
1/3 Cup Olive Oil
3 Cloves Garlic (minced)
1/4 Cup Onion Powder
Fresh Black Pepper to taste

Mash and mix everything together (you can put it in the food processor for a creamier sauce). Top and serve!

Both my husband and I cleaned up the bowl! It was great especially on a warm/hot night for something light.
It was high in good cholesterol, easy to digest, flavorful, and with low/no salt.

Please comment down below if you are trying this tonight!

Amazon Favorites – March

This has been a trend on YouTube and while I am still working on that adventure, I am not yet quite equipped to handle that road just yet. But it got me thinking that as an almost too avid Amazon shopper, I could make this a series for my blog! So at the beginning of the month, I will recap some of my top purchases from the prior month!

Ready to see where all my money goes?? I will link each product below with the price I paid (though please remember that Amazon prices are subject to change! Also, for the sake of transparency, each link is an affiliate link but it does not change the price or cost you anything.

First item is one of the biggest changes I have implemented to my workout routine.
I add this to my water bottle (1.5 scoops for my 40oz bottle) and it has helped me replenish my muscles to the point that I am able to go longer and harder without quitting! The science behind branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) has been increasing but I can contest that it does help.
Think of this as a Gatorade replacement but tastes a heck of a lot better and is better.
There are multiple flavors, but I am impartial to the mango and watermelon. The price changes but I bought it for $22.99.
Click here to check it out!

This one is on auto-delivery!
If you ever had some trouble falling asleep, these little gummies pack quite a punch without the groggy feeling.
The primary ingredients are melatonin, L-Theanine and other botanicals like chamomile and lemon balm. These combined help me fall asleep calmly and stay asleep unlike many other melatonin-like products.
There is some sugar in these as they are gummies, but it is minimal and I always take them before I brush since they do take time to start working.
The “sleep” version only comes in one flavor but it is not overly powerful. I bought mine for $11.89.
Click here if you are interested!

One of my secret ingredients for my daily smoothie is this amazing powder!
Let’s be realistic…getting in all your fruits and vegetable servings is not easy. So I add one scoop of this to my smoothie, plus all the other good stuff (more to come on these) and I just got 3+ servings!
This is a bit pricey but worth it since you are adding only one small scoop and it is estimated for 60 servings. I paid $29.66 for this and it is now on auto-delivery. Or you can buy the smaller one (30 servings) for $14.95.
If you are interested in upping your fruit and veggie intake, click here.

If you have never heard of dry-brushing (there will be a post on this shortly), you are certainly missing out!
Dry brushing has a number of benefits including improving blood circulation, shedding of dead skin, and in some cases, helping reduce the appearance of cellulite. I do this 2-3x per week while my skin is still dry and before I hop into the shower. And I have already noticed a difference on my legs and torso.
There are several varieties but I like that this one is a smaller size and the bristles are not too rough or too soft.
This product is relatively inexpensive; I bought mine for $9.95. You can click here to purchase yours.

Reducing our sugar intake has been a vital component in losing weight. While I personally do not consume a lot of artificial sugar, every morning I add 2 teaspoons of agave to my coffee until I realized how many calories I was drinking before my day even began!
So I had to find an alternative that was not sucralose, fructose, or another like variation. I wanted to be able to cook with it and it could not have an aftertaste (which is why stevia does not bode well with me). Which is how I found this amazing gem for $10.99.
This is a sugar alcohol with a 1:1 breakdown which means it passes through your system with minimal absorption and no aftertaste.
Those are doing keto or are diabetic can have this sweetener without a glycemic issue because it does not get absorbed.
It is now my coffee additive for 0 calories and I have even been able to cut down the sweetness to 1 teaspoon!
Click here to try it.

As a part of my skincare regimen, I always apply a toner after I wash and before I apply any serums or moisturizers. However I noticed that my witch hazel astringent was actually drying out my skin so no matter how much moisturizer I put, my skin was peeling within the hour!
So I sought out to find an alternative that did not cost a fortune but still provided benefits like skin clarification, control oil production, reduce the appearance of pores, and promote some collagen production. Hefty list for the prince range I wanted to stay in but low and behold the amazing Thayer’s alcohol-free toner!
I bought this for $6.99 and it works like a charm! It does not have an overpowering smell and does not try out my sensitive skin. It has helped actually tone my skin and even out some of the discoloration in a matter of a few weeks applied twice daily.
Click here if you are interested to try!

And there you have it! For the month of March, most of my expenses were to help me take the next step in my health journey but I am still testing the benefits of those items so they will hopefully be showcased in a future post!

So tell me… have you tried any of these products? What is your opinion? Are you using something that I should try? Comment below!

A Photo is Worth a Thousand Words

So I know that my heading is a play on words but so often nowadays a photo outnumbers a picture! Plus in this circumstance, the proof is in the pudding.

Okay. Enough “Dad-isms”.

I sincerely wanted to share an update on my health journey. There have been a number of changes just within the past couple of weeks!

First and foremost, while I loved OrangeTheory, the schedule wasn’t ideal for my workdays and I guess the word got out because the classes were always packed! Therefore I had to terminate that membership…for now. And since CycleBar started to become more like SoulCycle: The Teenie Bob edition, that member was also cancelled.

But locally we have a full fledged gym, similar to LA Fitness if you have seen those. I was fortunate enough to get a discount because of where I work and signed up myself and the hubster. This was one of the best moves we have made! We can go on our schedule and spend as much or as little time as we want. We can do cardio or machines or weights or participate in classes or swim… And even though we don’t have a trainer, YouTube has become a great way to educate oneself on exercises and regimens!

But more importantly than how I exercise is what I am eating. They say weight loss is 80-90% diet and 10-20% exercise and I believe it! I am not doing a fad diet or signed up for a coaching program or drinking detox anything. I am eating cleaner, more vegetarian and making myself my own smoothie every weekday!

I will update you more on the smoothies and new items that I introduced into my diet in my next post but I wanted to leave you all with photographic evidence that what I am doing is working!

In just my face alone my hair is more radiant, my skin is clear, and the shape of my face has slimmed down a lot! And before you try and call my bluff, these are both done with the same filter and in natural sunlight and yes I am wearing makeup in both photos. These are one year apart almost to the day and you can now see my cheekbones again and my jawline whereas before my face was more round that oval.

It isn’t easy and there are some days I look in the mirror and want to say it doesn’t matter or it’s not enough but that defeating behavior is what got me to balloon in weight in the first place. Down almost 25 pounds in a healthy way without giving up my vices or taking medication is arduous but doable.

And the best part is when I step on the scale, which is just one indicator in my health journey, and can say I hit my first milestone and each day gets better. And my support system has also made each workout or shedded pound that much more rewarding.

So here is to the next phase of the journey! Please let me know if you are interested is being a part of the journey too.

March 2019: Check-In

I appreciate all of your patience and understanding during the past few months but it is time for me to come back to my blogger roots and really deliver!

I have written elsewhere under pseudonyms. I have watched *countless* hours of YouTube videos and envied each vlogger on their ability to express themselves. I have spewed information on to others offline and learned some new tips & tricks! But that is not what this is all about… It is truly time for me to reinvest my time and my energy for my readers, followers, and myself.

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I am starting back with a check-in for the month of March.

What have I been doing all this time? Well… I have been working on creating a schedule for what will become post series and been brushing up on some HTML and other blogging tips which I will share with you all as well along the way! I have been testing some new products and posting on IG. I will also begin posting some live videos on IG shortly and trying my hand at YouTube as well though I am certainly no expert there! I even hope to have some interviews in the near future on some topics that are normally outside of my knowledge so that this blog will be engaging for all.

I have also had some family health issues arise in the recent past which took a lot of time away from work and school. In fact I even opted to take a quarter off from my doctorate so that I could focus on my family. Now that everyone is on the mend and stability is returning, I am able to refocus my attention.

Then there’s me. I had been very neglectful of myself and it showed. I ballooned in weight and was yo-yo’ing with losing it. My skin was in shambles. My hair looked either like straw or limp spaghetti. I was having trouble sleeping. I lost motivation. I was depressed. I knew what I needed to do but doing it seemed impossible until I realized I was heading too far down the rabbit hole and I needed to get help and get back up.

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So that’s what I am doing. Getting back up. This is just the beginning but I am really looking forward to what is to come.

Here we go!

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Something New(er) for Nails

I was that girl that always kept her nails short because of how brittle they would get. They would break at the corners so whether or not I wanted it, I ended up with coffin looking nails. They would also split like tissue paper! And this is also taking into consideration IF they would even grow… And nail polish. C’mon now…who are we kidding. That would last a day if I stood there with my hands up like I was waving at every passerby.

So just like the fad, I started to do gel manicures. And just like that I had nails for the first time, but there was going to be a catch. These manicures that are supposed to last for 3+ weeks would last 1 and some change. My nails, believe it or not, got even thinner. Then the polish would ultimately peel off like a bad 1990s polish for kids. What a waste of money that became so I had to stop the “pampering” and revive my even more brittle nails.

These were my go to steps and products which helped me build some strength back into my nails and ultimately got me to where I am today with long nails that are strong and healthy and yes, regularly manicured!

First the polish came off and I decided that I was not going to go for another manicure till my wedding day which gave me a solid 3 months. I took the polish off at home without acetone but a lot of patience. Step 1. The second step was to invest in a little polish I got from Sally’s to help fill in the ridges that the constantly filing left behind Then I decided to introduce cuticle oils into my life because I wanted a way to help my nail before they even grew out – so I started at the root! I would massage the oil in every night. I would then drench my hands and wrists with lotion to keep not just the cuticles moist but my hands moisturized as well.

So superficially I was already investing in some time to bring my nails back to life. But I needed to do more internally as well. Cue in the water and supplements. I started logging my water intake and realized I was super deficient. I was drinking only about 32oz a day when I should’ve been closer to 85 (you can calculate your ounce intake as well by taking your weight in pounds and dividing it by 2). I then introduced Hair, Skin, and Nails from Costco to help supplement my diet.

I also stopped and relaxed. Stress has so many negative side effects – well beyond any pharmaceutical on the market. Stress can cause weight gain, hair loss, acne, insomnia and so much more. So this is when I first started to dabble in meditation and yoga. I am not a yogi by any means and cannot tell you downward dog from crow or a sun salutation but I tried. I took time away from the PC and the phone and truly relaxed.

So fast forward a year and this is what my nails look like now after a fresh manicure:

The best part is that I have also found a type of manicure that not only is pigmented and lasts for 3 weeks. But also is loaded with vitamins and is done without any UV exposure. My salon, Venus Nails, calls it Healthy Nails but it is essentially a dip powder that is sealed with treatments of polishes. I had no idea this was a thing because I had only seen ads on FB or IG for this stuff you could do at home and I chalked it up to a fake ad! But alas it is real and every three weeks I go in and get a new application and color. The only downfall is how much it makes my nails grow so if I do a dark color like the one above, I have to get it fixed or you can see the growth!

So the next time you go in for a manicure, please ask for the dip powder polish and give it a try! You won’t be sorry!

Hair Coloring FAIL!

When you have curly hair like I do, getting ANYTHING done to it is very time consuming and often way out of budget. So when I decided I wanted to try something new and lighten my hair, I researched any option I had and came after hours of hunting and millions of IG ads, I came across Madison Reed. Madison Reed is a “do-it-yourself but better” home hair coloring kit. It is not a box kit that you can buy at a grocery store or Ulta, but rather an online company with licensed stylists and colorists on call. They use healthy ingredients and I watched a multitude of YouTube videos including @biancareneetoday who also has curly hair and did their highlighting without damage. Since my hair was healthy and my old highlights lightened so much that they were almost white, I decided to take the assessment and give it a try -it’s only hair right?

After answering several questions, which are the same questions that my stylist would ask, I was presented with a brown that was supposed to be a lighter shade but would still match my overall color. I hesitated but I took the plunge. The kit was about $20 in total and there were multiple guides, videos, and like I said, colorists on standby. After about 3-5 days, my box arrived!

Once Saturday’s workout was complete, I washed my hair and prepped it for coloring. The following day, I started the coloring process. There was step-by-step instructions which I followed to a “T”. When I mixed the ingredients, I noticed the color was very dark but the experts knew what they were doing, right? I have to say that there was no smell which, in my small bathroom, was amazing. I was able to part my hair and color my whole head without running out and waited the time indicated in the instructions. I was so nervous but excited –something new and lighter to match my new Cali life while getting rid of my over done highlights from years past.

After what felt like forever, but was really only 30 minutes, I rinsed out my hair and immediately I knew something was wrong. My hair felt dry and brittle. I added the conditioner which helped a tiny amount and thought I just needed to add my products and it would be fine –or at least that’s what I told myself. Fast forward to the next day when it all finally dried and my hair was BLACK.

I freaked out. This is NOT what I wanted or expected. This is not the color I picked or was “expertly assigned” as per the website’s picture -this was literally black. After the tears were done, I immediately contacted Madison Reed for help and started to research any way to fix this complete flop!

Almost 48 hours later because of time zones and all that, I heard back from one of the experts and was told to buy the glaze and they’d send me a new color for free. Wait…buy another product? I made sure that Madison Reed had a good guarantee when I purchased the initial color because I know my hair is, well, it has a temper of its own. So when I was told to buy another product and then apply another color, I knew I was on my own to fix this.

I have to say though, that the customer service at Madison Reed is on point! They ended up refunding my original purchase after I declined the “fix” and apologized for any issues.

That is when I turned to home remedies, which I have to say actually work! Ever heard of the Vitamin C mixture to remove coloring? Neither did I till I frantically researched options which led me to CVS and purchased 100 tablets of vitamin C and Head&Shoulders shampoo. I crushed up 40 tablets of vitamin C and mixed in enough shampoo to make a thick gel-like consistency. I applied that to my hair and rubbed like there was no tomorrow. Slowly, slowly the color began to turn the soap-suds into a brown color and after 3 washes, my hair started to lighten.

Today, my highlights are returning and my hair looks more like dark chocolate than midnight black. However, my hair does not feel the same ever since the coloring. Could it be the color? Maybe. Could it be the vitamin C? Definitely doesn’t help as the vitamin C does dry the hair. Either way, I have been working diligently to resuscitate my curls with masks, deep conditioning, and gentle shampoo. And my lesson? Save a few bucks every month and get a REAL professional to do my hair coloring…at a salon…correctly.

So tell me … have you had an at home hair color horror story??

Living with Migraines

When you look up the word “migraine” in a medical textbook, my photo appears…along with almost every symptom that I experience from light sensitivity to nausea.

Though I have been told many times by family, friends, and even licensed professionals that I am “too young” or “too healthy” or “too naive” to be a migraine-sufferer, I have had migraines almost all my life. I am all too familiar with the difference between headaches, cluster headaches, tension headaches, sinus pressure, and migraines. I have been plugged to machines that have mapped my brain and been told that there was nothing wrong. I have been given anti-seizure medication, migraine pills, and other pharmaceutical remedies to treat what they still put on file as “headaches”. I was told to log when I got a migraine to see what the trigger was and was always thought to be dishonest because no pattern could be determined. I have done home remedies, omitted foods and drinks that “aggravate migraines” and taken countless OTC remedies all to no avail.

This is just a part of my life that I have learned to deal with and though it does cause issues on day to day living, I have a few tricks that help ease some of the pain. Nothing has been 100% fool-proof and I still continue to get migraines, but these are some methods that help me cope.

  1. Acknowledge the pain. There were a few years that I would try and ignore the warning symptoms that a migraine was, well, for a lack of better terminology, brewing. I did not want to admit that I had to deal with this and most likely the remainder of the day would be shot. However, just denying the pain would not make it go away. I had to accept it and come up with ways to deal with it.
  2. Cool showers. When it is too hot or after extraneous exercise, I am more inclined to get a migraine, so when I feel the beginnings of one, I take a cool shower to help regulate my body temperature and ironically clear my head.
  3. Turn off electronics. Blue light has been increasingly known to hurt our eyes which is also a contributing factor to the onset of migraines. Blue light is emitted from many of our favorite electronic devices from our computer monitors to our cell phones. When my migraine is creeping in, my cell phone is put away, the laptop is closed, and my tablet is shut.
    To help prevent the blue light from causing a migraine in the first place, especially since 8+ hours of my day is spent in front of a computer screen, I wear orange tinted or anti-blue light glasses (which can be bought on Amazon for about $12.99).
  4. Block out light. I use an eye mask to help me block out any ambient light that may irritate my eyes beyond a computer screen. My favorite is one that I also leave in the refrigerator so it helps with the puffiness and blood flow that usually cause my temples to look like they are speakers in a Jersey shore club. I bought mine on Amazon for about $10 (click here) at the time and it did need to be aired out upon receipt but after a day, it became my go to eye mask.
  5. Stay cool. My body temperature fluctuates tremendously when a migraine sets in and I can go from boiling hot to freezing cold. However when a full blown migraine hits, I force myself to lay down with a light blanket and the ceiling fan on. This constant flow of air helps the pressure and prevents me from sweating!
  6. Medicine. Yes, there are times where my migraines are too strong and homeopathic methods are simply inadequate. While I do not like to take medication regularly, I also realize that this was all developed for a reason and suffering will only make matters worse. So I will take Excedrin Migraine or other ibuprofen options to help at least take the edge off.
  7. Eat or drink yogurt. Another way I help regulate my internal body temperature as well as help calm an irritable stomach is through the consumption of yogurt. A quick bowl of yogurt is one way or I drink “tahn”. “Tahn” is an Armenian drink  which is simply yogurt mixed with water and some salt -trust me it tastes better than it sounds. Other Middle Eastern countries have their own name and variation for this drink like “ayran” in Turkey, “lassi” or “majjiga” in India, “kefir” or “doogh” in Persian. If I cannot have either, I will at least consume some acidophilus which will help calm my stomach.
  8. Find quiet. Like light, sounds tend to make my migraines worse so when one is developing, or already full-blown, I will make sure that I find some solitude even if that means using ear plugs.
  9. Hydrate. I am not able to eat or drink much of anything when I have a migraine because even toast makes me nauseous. However, dehydration makes my migraines even worse so I will start off with sipping cold water and then make my way to a coffee or tea for the added caffeine. Caffeine, though a dehydrating chemical, helps dilate my blood vessels making it easier for blood to pump and again, not feel like Jersey shore club speakers. I limit this to one cup though and will continue to drink water until my migraine has subsided.
  10. Steer clear of fragrances. So again, like light and sound, strong smells make the migraine worse and will often make me extremely nauseous. I have been known to wash my hands if I just happened to put on lotion with a scent or will lay down on a towel if my sheets have any added fragrance boosters.
  11. Eat minimally and light. Once the worst of the migraine has passed, I know that I need to eat something. I tend to opt for some toast, cereal, or chicken/turkey. Once I know I am able to consume that small amount of food, I know I am on the mend and will eat more. I will not, however, eat anything raw, dairy, or any other meat until the next day as all of those are harder for me to digest and can aggravate my migraine.
  12. Take it easy. After a migraine subsides, I want to make up for lost time and act like everything is fine. But I have come to learn that doing that will only make things worse. Once I start to feel better, I have to take it easy, often for the remainder of the day, because I feel fatigued and overall weak. Trying to do more than my body will allow will only make me feel worse and often will mean that I will be stuck in bed till the next day.

Headaches suck. Migraines are deplorable. But when you have them, finding your tried and true ways to cope will help. I am also very fortunate to have people in my life that have either experienced migraines themselves or been around other people that have had them, so they truly understand and help me when needed.

So tell me…do you suffer from migraines? What do you do to deal with them?