Category: Hair

Curly Hair: Scalp Detox

When you have curly hair, the amount of products you have to put in to maintain those beautiful strands can be daunting. That is also why always laugh when people tell me “oh, I wish I had your hair” because I can’t help but think “sure, until you see my Ulta bill…there’s a reason why I am a platinum member…”

But I digress.

The product build-up can be really damaging to the hair, but most importantly, the scalp. And if we do not take care of our scalp, then the hair that is trying to grow in will be compromised AND we can develop skin issues like dandruff. I have noticed that a lot of times, curly girls (and guys) forget that the hair strand is only PART of the hair and underneath those waves, ringlets, or coils is skin.

So every week, I have to do something to help my scalp revive. Some times what I do is a little more intense while other times, I can get away with a lighter regimen. Below are some of the products that I use to help my scalp, control any potential dandruff, prevent itchiness, and control sunburn because yes, sunburn on the scalp is possible and yes, it hurts like heck.

Disclaimer: None of these links are affiliated links. I do not receive any commission from any of these links. They are purely links to the actual products that I use.

When I need an intense DEEP cleansing of the scalp, I use one product that I also use for my face.
Amazonian Clay Mask
This mask is made with natural calcium bentonite clay and is meant to pull impurities out of the skin. This mask comes in the powder clay form and is meant to be mixed at home with either water (which I use for my scalp) or apple cider vinegar (which I use for my face). You have to mix this in a non-metal bowl and with non-metal spatula or spoon as the metal will corrupt the chemical compound. I personally use a glass bowl and a silicone spatula, but you can use anything you prefer so long as it is not metal. I then part my hair and apply it directly to the scalp, especially in any area that may be particularly sensitive, red, or flakey. I try not to get too much of this in the length of my hair as it is drying. After 15-30 minutes, and the mask is dry, it turns a whitish color and that is my indication it is time to rinse it out. I hop back in the shower, rinse it all out with warm water, and then usually apply a moisturizing mask to the length of my hair, but it is not always necessary.
I buy mine from Amazon typically which retails for approximately $12.90 for a 1 pound tub; Whole Foods also carries this AND sometimes offers it at a cheaper price. 1 tub of 1 pound will last you a very long time – mine has been about a year and I still have about 1/3 left.

The second product I use for scalp health, almost on a weekly basis when I don’t use any other products, is my Rawkyn scalp scrub which I did mention in a previous post. This scrub has apple cider vinegar and sugar to help lift any impurities off the scalp. It also has grape seed oil so it doesn’t dry out the hair or the scalp but does invigorate while literally lifting build-up and massaging the scalp.
This retails for $20.99 and can be bought online at the Rawkyn website.

Another product that I use daily is my RighteousRoots RX oil, coupled with my scalp massager. You may be thinking ‘but you are literally putting MORE stuff on your scalp, not removing it’. That is true BUT the RighteousRoots oil is more than just oil – this product is full of natural ingredients and essential oils that permeate the scalp to invigorate the pores, calm the skin, and much more. This oil is not comedogenic meaning it does not cause blackheads or block the pores – even my sensitive skin loves this thing! Plus I only have to use 3-4 drops to care for my whole scalp! I did write about this oil in a previous post but I still use this every day. Plus I am using the same scalp massager with the oil to stimulate the scalp and help growth.
The RighteousRoots oil retails for $15.95 for 1 bottle or $29.00 for 2. The product will last you a VERY long time and can be used to help pre-poo as well for an easier wash day. The scalp massager is from Amazon and retails for $10.99. It does require AAA batteries.

The fourth product that I use is a clarifying shampoo coupled with a shampoo brush IN the shower. While clarifying is important to do regularly, finding one that is also non-drying is difficult. So when I tried the BounceCurl Enzyme Gentle Clarifying Shampoo, I knew I had to share all about it! This pumpkin and pomegranate based product is gentle enough to not dry out or damage your hair while still cleansing the scalp of build-up. It has a nozzle tip so you can literally apply this DIRECTLY to the scalp and get in all those hard to reach spots, especially if you have any productive styles. It smells delicious and does lather but without parabens, sulfates, and silicones (it is Curly Girl (CG) method approved). And to get just a little more out of this product, I tend to couple it with my shampoo brush.
At the risk of sounding extra a shampoo brush is something that I have used for a while now and even made my straight-haired mom and curly-haired husband into! This brush does not vibrate but does help massage the scalp without irritating or scratching the skin. I know we often want to dig our nails into our scalp when we wash but you are actually irritating and cutting your scalp when you do that. So this brush does the work for you while helping build-up a lather! It is not mandatory but if you like that stimulation, it even comes in a vibrating option so it really helps go below the scalp to help stimulate the hair follicles.
The shampoo from Bounce Curl retails for $19.99 and can also be purchased through sets with other amazing Bounce Curl products. The scalp massager can be purchased on Amazon for $6.99 (for the non-vibrating option) or $11.92 (for the vibrating one [batteries required]).

I am constantly trying new products across various price ranges to find products that can fit any budget and still be helpful while being safe!

So inquiring minds want to know… Are there any products that you use to help detox your scalp? Promote growth? Eliminate dandruff or build-up?

Advertisements
Advertisements

Curly Hair + Rice Water

“Rice water rinse” – that has become a new term that is taking over the curly-haired community. In fact, to call it new is actually invalid as this has been around for years, but is becoming more and more common presently.

So on the off chance that you have no idea what I’m talking about, a rice water rinse is using fermented rice water to rinse your hair after a shampoo + condition wash day. You then leave the rinse on for a while and then rinse it out before styling as usual.

Okay so that sounds easy enough but maybe you aren’t quite sold on why you would do this…


The benefits of a rice water rinse are:

  • Rice is full of vitamins including B and C, which is helps with growth and strength
  • The fermentation the rice water helps with the occurrence/reoccurrence of dandruff
  • The antioxidants found within rice itself helps with shedding and helps combat free radicals that can weaken the scalp and hair
  • Improves shine

Now the best part for me is that this is easy to make, inexpensive, and if nothing else, has helped my curls retain their spiral.

I did just upload a video to YouTube on how I make my rice water rinse at home and it is super easy! You can always check out the video on my YouTube or on the video tab above.What you’ll need:

What you’ll need:
– 1 cup of white rice
– A strainer
– An airtight jar
– Distilled Water
– Essential Oils (optional)

What you need to do:
– Rinse one cup of uncooked rice till the water comes out clear
– Add to the airtight jar (I personally use a small mason jar)
– Add 2-3 cups of water or however much fits in your jar
– Add 2-3 drops of essential oil, if desired (I use peppermint which helps stimulate growth but I have also used tea tree and lavender)
– Store in a dark area for at least 24 but no more than 48 (trust me…more than 48 and you’re doing a science experiment)
– Drain the rice out and save the water for use post-wash!

It is really that simple. And I have tested several different types of rice and found no advantage of one over another particularly. You can use inexpensive white rice or whatever you have laying around. I just do not recommend brown or wild rice.

This can be repeated weekly, though I only do it once a month. But please be careful because it can have a drying effect if overused.

Inquiring minds want to know… What “crazy” trend have you tried that has actually worked? Any particular trends you are interested in seeing put to the test?

Hair Health – Growth

Some of you that may have been joining me for a while now, know that in November 2018, I decided to chop my hair and rock some curly bangs (yep, I went through a phase). I went from curly hair past my shoulder blades to curly hair at my shoulders (and for my non-curly girls that is like waist length to shoulder length). I needed a change and my hair was one of the easiest changes I could make.

But after getting sick and experiencing some more than average stress, my hair decided to fall out and my curl pattern became more of a wave than a ringlet. If you were curious and did not read about it before, I wrote about what happened to me in April 2019 in this post after I started to recover. Let’s just say that 2019 has not been my year for my personal or my family’s health which of course added to the stress and yep, you guessed it, hair loss.

So I started to try and take matters into my own hands and recover my health which led to my healthy journey up-kick and my hair health journey. As I mentioned in this post, I started to take Nutrafol and made sure that my nightly scalp massages were never missed.

I started to make sure deep conditioning was a weekly occurrence too. And while I have to admit that there are still days I want to shave it all off, I am so excited to actually SEE the growth now.

Left – May 2019 || Right – December 2019

That is just about 6-months of hair health and growth. That is just 6-months of taking better care of myself. That is 6-months of stress, a little highlighting, self-care, moving, hard water, testing new products, using brushes, deep conditioning, and…growth. My hair is healthier than it was 6-months ago. It doesn’t shed as much as it used to (though remember that it IS normal to lose 100 strands a day). It doesn’t break like it used to. It is holding the curl pattern better (even though I am WAY overdue for a hair cut). My bangs are at that phase that they are not bangs nor normal length so they are almost always pinned back…

I am so proud and so happy to share with you all and look forward to sharing some new products, new regimens, and new self-care methods in the coming weeks!

As always, inquiring minds want to know…Have you ever had any challenges growing your hair? Have you had any hair challenges at all? What do you do to take care of your hair?

Highlighting my Hair

Let me preface this by stating I did my research before attempting this AND have taken the precautions to strengthen my hair beforehand.

Spoiler alert: the results are not at all what was expected and I have finally been able to stop crying long enough to get dressed, go to work, and have some semblance of reality again. Boy oh boy was this a learning experience.

A quick reminder of what I went in with before this experiment:

This photo is from a month ago.

Last week, I made an appointment to get my hair partially highlighted at my local Ulta salon. The balayage that I did over a year ago was starting to grow out and look less balayage and more just neglected. So I wanted to get some caramel/honey highlights to blend with the remaining balayage and add some dimension to my naturally dark hair. I had prepped my hair and clarified to ensure the highlighting would be safe and had a bottle of Olaplex waiting for me at home for afterward to repair the hair follicles from the color lift. I had seen some YouTubers and friends go to their local Ulta salon and had some great results, so I decided it was a risk worth taking – I mean you can’t go that wrong with highlights, right?

My appointment was at 2:30 pm. I didn’t get home till 6 pm. Almost 4 hours for partial highlights – no cut, no styling, just highlights. This is almost the same amount of time it took to get balayage done for my whole head…

For starters, the stylist didn’t utter any of the variations of the dreaded “wow…look at all that hair” so I thought that was a really good sign! Once I sat down and explained what I was looking for (caramel/honey highlights to blend with my balayage…I am sorry for the repetition but it is key to what is to come), she got started on splitting my hair up into sections and brushing it out (meh, okay).

Here we go!

As we got to talking and she mentioned her sister had curly hair so another sigh of relief as I thought ‘hey, she must have some curly hair know-how’. And then the process began! I was so excited to start the process and was thrilled that this was so convenient – I was able to book my appointment online and for a Sunday! And even though Ulta is a Redken salon, I know that they have curly products (that’s where I bought some new products I will be reviewing for you soon) and thought hey…worst case they’ll pull them (yes, they can and do this). But even so, I’d give Redken a go and then style it my way once I got home.

Brushed out curls and lots of foil

Then came the rinse time. Before she rinsed it out, I got to take a quick peek and I was so happy with the results – yes, a little light but overall not bad! She even said she was so happy that I wasn’t brassy or over-processed. But then she grabbed the toner. The toner, y’all. So okay, maybe it was a translucent toner or something just a tinge darker than the highlights to tone down the blonde a smidge. I thought ‘hey, it’s okay if it is a bit warmer because it is fall.’ After 20 minutes sitting at the rinse station, she came back and rinsed it out, applied a deep conditioning masque and rinsed that out after a few minutes.

After chatting about how I usually don’t apply heat, how she wanted to showcase the highlights on her IG and how diffusing would take me about 45 minutes at home, I opted to have her diffuse it – gotta help promote each other, right? Mind you, at this point, my hair was wet so I didn’t see any highlights but thought once it dried, they’ll pop out.

She applied some serum to my hair (think FrizzEase from the 90s) by Redken – I honestly have no idea what it was. And then she pulled out the diffuser attachment and went to town – physically lift chunks of my hair while seated upright and holding it to my scalp with the diffuser. What is happening right now? At that point, I was too shocked to say anything and I kept thinking, alright, at least I’ll be able to see the highlights. Five minutes later she was done. DONE?! My hair was still wet and I looked as frizzy as a poodle, in Florida, that air-dried after a rainstorm. Can’t picture it? Well, here is an example:

So okay, she can’t style curly hair – totally okay because I can fix it when I get home. But here’s the thing…where are my highlights? Where is the blonde from my balayage? I saw the foils in there y’all. The proof exists above! I even IG’d it. So where are they? Am I being punked? Where are the highlights?!

I then panicked. I wanted to get out of there and to my shower as quickly as possible. I even paid, though I wholeheartedly am not sure why, and ran home in tears. TEARS! My poor husband tried to coax me into thinking it looks alright but even he was shocked.

Home in 5 minutes and I was in the shower with a clarifying shampoo then chelating my hair like crazy! I needed to remove some of this toner and revive my curls. Now if you don’t know what chelating hair is, it is a very extensive process of stripping your hair to remove any build-up and often times temporary color which toner essentially is. If you’re interested, I will do a post about it.

The result? Let’s put it like this – my curls are safe but I am not necessarily looking in the mirror too long once the bonnet or scarf comes off. I am already gearing up for the next wash day and mentally preparing for a lot of deep conditioning. Here’s the final product:

Still can rock it!

Overall, it is an improvement from what I walked out of the salon with but it is still not what I asked for or anticipated. I am shocked. I am dumbfounded. And overall, I am NOT going back. I am going to let the toner run its course and hope that the blonde will end up seeping through with time and look okay. Ultimately, it isn’t that bad and is aligned with the season change but it is not what I expected, asked for, paid for…

This was a failed experiment overall and a reminder that you cannot go to just anyone when you have curly hair. Highlighting may be more universal, but if they do not understand the structure of your hair, the end result may not be what you expected. So perhaps it is slightly my fault… Maybe my assumption of your run-of-the-mill caramel/honey highlights is not so common and I should have had examples ready.

So inquiring minds want to know… Have you had a poor experience with coloring or highlights and if so, how did you respond? How have you revived a coloring mishap?

One Month Check-In: Hair Update

I cannot believe it has been one month since starting my journey to revive my hair! Last month, in my post about Hair Loss, I shared about my struggle to revive my hair after experiencing some major life stressors and changes with my health. Today is my check-in and I am eager to share updates with you.

Let’s recap what has been going on with me recently that has impacted my hair. Keep in mind that stressors that are happening at this point in time may not actually impact your hair for months to come. In fact, I have had numerous doctors ask me “what has happened in your life in the past six months?” to help deduce what is now showing physically.

In the past 9 months, so since 2019 started, I have had both of my parents have serious medical conditions and have life-saving operations. I got really sick in April. I stopped taking birth control and started taking prenatal vitamins to get my body ready for the future so my husband and I can try and start a family. My endometriosis resurfaced, most likely because I stopped taking artificial hormones. I lost 35 pounds. I passed my prospectus and have a tight timeline to finish my dissertation. We had a little financial hurdle to overcome – mostly contributed to our frequent trips to check on family across the country. Work – nothing else needs to be said about that. Our lease was expiring and our complex wanted to increase our rent by 12% which was beyond our means, especially for an apartment that wasn’t updated. Work.

I think that’s the gist of it – in retrospect, it’s not that bad but when you are actively going through it, it really seems like your world is crashing in and you cannot get a break.

If you read or re-read my post, you know I researched Nutrafol and took the plunge to start my journey with them. Coupled with my #four-a-day (the number of CORE vitamins you take), I continued with my scalp massages with Righteous Roots. I started a better diet. Continued to exercise (even started doing yoga routinely). Went to bed earlier and woke up earlier so I didn’t start the day stressed. Took time to decompress. Started hiking. Talked with my husband. Talked with my parents. Talked with my friends. I accepted that I am good enough – even with issues or valleys. And I took my supplements.

These have become my daily regimen!

Low and behold – changes started to occur and the outlook is getting better! The more I took Nutrafol, even though those 4-a-day pills are no joke, and reinforced my CORE vitamins with stress combating supplements (I stopped those after month 1 for now), the more I noticed positive changes and they were not with just my hair. My nails have been growing like weeds. My skin is actually looking better than it did when I was in my 20s (though I continue to take collagen daily still). My weight has been steady but I have been finding muscles I didn’t know where hiding. Maybe TMI here but I am beyond “regular” now! I can sleep better. And yes, my hair has regrown!

Look at those baby hairs!!!!

I will continue to take these supplements and will do monthly check-ins. I would be remiss to mention that they have amazing customer service too – if I had questions, I would get an answer in less than 24 hours AND when I auto-delivery set up but still have a bottle from my erroneous ordering, they paused my account and refunded me so I don’t have multiple bottles collecting dust!

I am so excited to share on this journey. I know IG ads are great but when you are seeing it firsthand…I hope I can help you make an educated choice! Don’t forget to follow my new Instagram (@msbelladaniela) to see updates or live chats about my journey.

So inquiring minds want to know… Have you tried Nutrafol or Righteous Roots? Are you experiencing hair health issues? Have you tried any other supplements that have improved your growth, thickness, or reduced shedding?

10 Curly Hair Don’ts and Do’s

When you think of a beautiful woman, standing at the beach, staring into the sunset, and catching the ocean breeze billowing through her long tresses, what does that look like to you? For me, that is a caramel blonde with long, straight hair who looks photoshopped during the ocean breeze and photoshopped immediately after. For me, that is a straight-up hysterical fantasy because these curls will never look like that effortless image.

So does that mean I hate my hair? Not at all! At least not anymore. I can’t say the same was believed by 5 or 13 years old me. But now I have been able to embrace my differences and one of them happens to be my hair. I have dark brown curls that tend to take on a personality completely of their own.

After decades of trying to tame my mane, I have decided it was time to embrace each curl, kink, wave, or whatever else my hair wants to do that day. So what do I do to keep myself from pulling a 2007 Britney Spears-esque style modification? I have developed multiple curly hair tips that really work!

  1. DO NOT use cotton pillowcases or towels! Cotton is an abordbant material that wicks out the moisture that curly hair needs, especially the natural oils that your tips are already lacking. And the fibers in the towel will snag the hair and cause frizz or cause breakage!
    DO use satin/silk pillowcases and microfiber towels. Satin/silk pillowcases will allow your hair to maintain its moisture while also being slippery enough to reduce the number of late-night knotting. Microfiber towels will soak up the excess water while letting your hair keep its adequate level of moisture.
    1. Don’t have either and don’t want to shell out the cash just yet? I use a t-shirt when I travel that has the same priciple for my hair in that it does not tug, snag, or overdry my hair. I also have a satin sleeping cap that I got at the DOLLAR STORE which serves a simliar purpose to the pillowcase while keeping all of my hair out of my face and off my neck.
  2. DO NOT wash your hair every day. It’s been said before and I’ll say it again -everytime you use shampoo, you are stripping your hair of the pollutants, dust, product build-up, and other gunk but you are also stripping your hair of its natural oils which prevents frizz and maintains hair structure.
    DO wash your hair every 3 days (or more if you can – I opt for a wash day once a week but I refresh daily or cowash). And try cowashing instead of your standard shampoo. Cowashing is a cleansing conditioner that cleans your hair withou the soapy suds so there is little to no moisture removal. You will need to detox your hair once a month with a solid cleansing shampoo that you’ll follow up with conditioner but the less you strip your hair, the healthier it becomes!
  3. DO NOT use a brush…ever. Brushing will go against your curl pattern and cause frizz and breakage.
    DO untangle your hair with your fingers or a wide-tooth comb only. Better yet? Do it while you’re in the shower and your hair is still sopping wet rather than dry and prone to breakage. I have also used a detangling brush after a particularly intense hair styling session but try to limit the use overall.
  4. DO NOT dry your hair with a standard hair dryer. No, I’m not telling you to spend $500 on a “new” hair dryer with fancy lights and buttons. However using a standard dryer will localize the heat and over dry your hair which can lead to burning and breakage.
    DO use a diffuser as you do not want to target heat on any strand of your hair -the more you can spread the heat around the faster you can dry without overdrying. If you want some volume, diffuse your hair upside down!
  5. DO NOT skip the leave-in conditioner. Curly hair has this knack of twisting and turning which means the natural oils from your scalp don’t tend to make it to your tips which leads to frizz and anger.
    DO use products meant for your curl type and make sure you use the right amount to fill in the gaps that nature missed! Depending on how thick and tight your curl is, you will may use different products than your neighboring curly-haired friend but please take prudence on how much product you use. If the directions say dime-size for shoulder length hair and your hair goes a bit farther, try that first then add more if you need it. It always easier to add than try to take away.
  6. DO NOT to straight to bed without some maintence. After a long day, your hair is just as tired as you are and needs some particular TLC.
    DO develop a nighttime routine just as you do for your face. Using a good oil on the tips of your hair will seal the dry cuticles and prevent knotting and frizz. And make sure you do a scalp massage! It will help with growth and maintenance. My favorite nighttime product is Righteous Roots Oil – a little goes a long way.
  7. DO NOT neglect your weekly hair duties.
    DO pamper your curly hair. Once a week, after washing/detoxing your hair, follow up with a good hair masque. I personally vary between a simple moisture mask or a protein mask, depending on the state of my hair. I wrote about a great line of masks here: Masks & Scrubs.
  8. DO NOT skip the salon or forget to trim your hair once a year.
    DO get annual trims, at least. Once you found a salon that you like, and in order to do so, call around and make sure they have stylists that work with curly hair if the salon is not exclusively for curly hair, make an appointment every 3-6 months depending on your length, at the very least. It took me years to find a place that did not tell me “Oh wow. You have a lot of hair.” If your stylist ever says that and looks like a deer in headlights -RUN!
  9. DO NOT use standard hair ties.
    DO use satin scrunchies or hair ties made for curly hair! Standard hair ties will tug and break your hair. It may be a little 1980’s but if you are putting your hair up for a gym workout or a lazy-day do (gotta love a top bun), then add some extra conditioner and use a scrunchy or non-elastic tie. I personally use a lot of bobby pins to achieve my updo’s!
  10. DO NOT add heat!
    DO take advantage of your amazing hair – people pay hundreds of dollars for perms and wigs and styling products. You have natural volume! Sure, your hair may not be “perfect” and you may want to switch up your look, but heat will damage your hair strands and follicles, leaving you prone to frizz, breakage, shedding… You can always braid, twistout, or use the over abundance of hair clips to style a new look or stretch your pattern for a while.

I do not wake up every day thinking I am so blessed to have curly hair… In fact, when someone compliments my hair, I get so awkward and uncomfortable! I have even offered to trade my hair for theirs on more than one occassion. But at the same time, my hair is also a part of my identity – without my curls, I do not feel like myself. There are always going to  be days that the scrunchy is used to plop a pineapple or a messy bun, but embracing what makes me, me is also important!

So inquiring minds want to know… What are some of your curly hair tips? Do you have any favorite hair products? Have you embraced your natural hair?

Hair Health: Hair Loss

I bet you looked at that title and were like…”Uh…those two things don’t go together. She must not have had enough caffeine today.”

While you are most definitely right on the caffeine front (is there ever really enough), today’s topic is about how I have found myself losing my thick, curly hair and what steps I am taking now to try and reverse this! In the past few weeks, due to a few reasons – stress and hormones mostly, my hair has been thinning and shedding in clumps. I am still doing my weekly masques, nightly scalp massages, taking my daily vitamins, exercising and eating well but I have recently found myself in a highly stressful situation and have decided to stop taking birth control pills –double whammy.

So what am I talking about when I say hair loss? I’m talking about excessive shedding and thinning of my hair. Below is a photo outlining what I’m referring to where you can see how much I lost in one wash day and how thin my hairline looks. Yes, I have curly hair so I can hide it well but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

About two months ago, I noticed my hair was shedding a little more than normal. I attributed that to the heat and stress, but it was normal for my hair to go in phases – in fact a visit to the dermatologist a year ago even cemented that. However, the past month, my hair has been shedding with no end in sight. I dread wash day because of how much will fall out in the shower -at times in clumps. I don’t slick my hair back because it shows just how thin my hair has become. I hesitated every time I had to remove my hair tie because of the clumps that came with it. It may not look too bad in the photos above, but I want to prevent any further damage and try to regain a piece of me. I have never been in this situation before, even when I personally experienced high stress, so I wanted to act fast.

Now I know you already know that stress can cause hair loss. I know you know that an improper diet can cause hair loss. I know you know that medications and surgeries and trauma can cause hair loss. I know you know that hormones can also cause hair loss – hello male pattern baldness. But did you know that you are supposed to lose 100 or so strands of hair a day? And did you know that because curly hair does not wash daily, some of those strands can get knotted into the rest of the hair making wash day look even worse? That is because our hair goes through phases of growth with the shedding phase being known as telophase. Unfortunately that was way more than normal for me which brings me to today.

So after crying for a bit (because I didn’t want to admit that something was wrong), it was time for some research to resolve this issue. I scoured the internet and journals. I started taking prenatal vitamins. I tried to force myself to sleep earlier. I slowed my roll of exercising and did just yoga. And all to no avail. So I decided to start taking Nutrafol.

What is Nutrafol? Nutrafol is a company started by 3 people who were also experiencing hair loss/thinning and could not get the mass marketed solutions to work effectively. They collaborated with physicians and scientists to find a natural alternative to cure this issue plaguing so many people. The results are oral supplements that work with your body to balance hormones gone-awry, reduce over production of cortisol, balance glucose response, or other issues that may be affecting your hair growth.

One of the biggest reasons I took the plunge with Nutrafol is that local dermatologists actually promote this product in addition to their in-house services. Moreover, Nutrafol is transparent with their ingredients – in fact almost all the information from the “Core” supplement (this is the main supplement divvied up by gender) is up on their website for public view! Lastly, the plan you get may be very different than mine because your regimen varies per person! When you first start out with Nutrafol, you take a GrowthPlan assessment and answer a few questions on your environment, your diet, your stress levels, even things you wouldn’t normally think about like if you get hangry if you don’t eat or when you have more energy during the day. 

Yeah, so what I am trying to get at is that starting 2 days ago (Saturday, August 24th), I started taking 4 pills a day with a meal to help my hair grow again! I also am taking 2 of the stress adaptogen every morning but opted to not take the liver support (both of which are a part of my personalized growth plan) due to the high levels of milk thistle and possible interactions with endometriosis. I am scheduled to speak with one of their on-staff physicians in the coming weeks to see about an alternative for the livers support booster.

I will then be checking in every month as each bottle is a 30-day supply to show you the effects that Nutrafol is having with me – or if there is no effect at all! Make sure you follow me on Instagram (@ms_bella_daniela) to get updates as they happen with my hair journey!!

Inquiring minds want to know… Have you tried Nutrafol? Have you tried other growth plans? Comment down below!

Hair Care – Repairing Damage

In yesterday’s post, we discussed some hair masks and a scrub that helps detoxify the scalp. While all of these products help the hair through moisture retention or protein sealing the hair shaft, there is a different type of product that helps strengthen damaged strands! It isn’t a miracle cure by any means, but it does overtime reverse the damage caused by bleaching, over-styling or heat styling. It does contain protein but works on a molecular level to repair damage versus a more superficial remedy. And again, this is good for ALL hair types though I know my fellow Curly Girls swear by this the most.

Introducing…

Now this is the 3rd step in what was originally a 3-step series of which the first two are only available to salon professionals. Bond Perfector (also known as Number 3 or No. 3) is available for at-home use and does work by itself overtime, though combining it with the benefits of the bond multiplier (No. 1) and bond perfector (No. 2) yields even better results and more rapidly.

Recently, the Olaplex company has added additional products that help strengthen, repair, and reverse damage.
Now I know you read in the prior paragraph about No. 1 and No. 2 and thought – “shampoo and conditioner…really now?” BUT No. 1 and No. 2 are not the shampoo and conditioner products – that is why they have to be applied by a professional. Recently, Olaplex introduced No. 4 and No. 5 which are the shampoo and conditioner products, respectively. However they are not standard cleansing products but rather serve as bond maintenance items prolonging the benefits that 1-3 (or just 3 alone) have done.
Even more recently, No. 6 and No. 7, which are the leave-in styling creme (bond smoother) and styling oil (bonding oil), respectively, have been added to the at-home line of products. I have not tested either of these so I cannot speak to their benefits yet!

But back to my trusty bottle of No. 3… This treatment, not a conditioner or leave-in styling product, is applied as a mask to reduce breakage, strengthen hair, and improve its resiliency. Whenever I highlight my hair or notice that it is breaking a lot due to stress/heat/water damage, I use this treatment to help my hair bounce back.

How do I apply it
I always wash my hair and leave it clean and damp/dry before applying any of my treatments. Any of the products I use for daily styling can counteract the treatments/masks and prevent my hair from getting the full benefits!
Step 1: Wash & almost fully dry hair without any additional products post-shower.
Step 2: Apply the equivalent of 2-3 tbsp to the hair – you want this to saturate your hair without globbing off.
Step 3: Comb or use a Denman (all my curly girls know what this is) brush to ensure coverage throughout hair – yep, that means roots too.
Step 4: Let it sit for a minimum, though not recommended for more than 30, of 10 minutes.
Step 4a: I personally use my heat cap whenever adding a mask or treatment to help it penetrate better but this is totally optional.
Step 5: Rinse throughly. Shampoo. Condition. – Yep, unlike the masks from yesterday you shampoo/condition with this treatment.
Step 6: Style as usual.

After applying this, even after I color my hair, I notice that my hair is softer, more supple, and stronger. It does not weight my hair down because it is a treatment that bonds to the hair itself and doesn’t just coat the outer layer.

And if you doubt its benefits on straight hair… My mother has VERY straight hair and has her stylist apply step 1 & 2 before she leaves the salon every time they color and/or highlight. She will then follow-up with No. 3 at home. The results have been amazing! She is shedding less, breaking less, and you can see her hair is able to handle styling (including heat) much better than before she introduced Olaplex.

So give it a try! Yes, you can buy it online or you can find a salon near you but I would not recommend buying this from other vendors (think Walmart, Amazon…) as they are not guaranteeing the product is the same as the real deal!

If you try it and have before/after pictures, please send them to me! I would love to showcase you in a future post! If you have any questions or other product suggestions, please let me know! Just comment below and I will give it a go and let you know the results – I’ll be your personal tester.

Curly Hair 103 – Product Review (Masks & Scrub)

So if you have curly hair, scratch that, honestly if you have hair then you realize that there are times that your scalp needs a little extra TLC or that your hair strands are a little less than ideal. Sometimes you may need a little extra protein and other times you just need some moisture (especially when it is 105 and less than 20% humidity). Then there are times where your product build up leaves you with flakes, itchiness, and even irritation and fall out. So what do you do?

About six months ago, I took the plunge and tried out a raved about line of products from Rawkyn – the clay hair mask (aka RED), the green tea hair mask (aka Green), and the detoxifying scalp scrub (aka Gold). The only product that I have yet to try is their deep treatment mask (aka Vanilla). These are all purchased directly from Rawkyn and arrived to me in less than a week (please do not order from non-vendor sites like Amazon as they are not official distributors yet). Below are overviews, application techniques, and reviews on each item for my 3a/3b type hair in hopes they may help you as well!

Disclaimer: I am not paid for this review nor am I receiving any non-monetary incentives. The pictures below are stock photos from the company’s website.

The RED clay mask is the most popular item from Rawkyn. At first, I was very skeptical to try this because clay is historically drying for my hair but with the multitude of other ingredients, like murumuru butter, chamomile, coconut oil, and sage, I wanted to give it a try. Now, this is not for protein sensitive individuals as this does contain protein (coconut oil) but is significantly less than their other hair masks. This is currently sold for $26.99 for 8oz.

I applied this to my hair after cleansing and when it was fully dry. You can apply this before washing too but with product build-up and oil build-up, I wanted to give this a try on fully fresh hair. I used the equivalent of about 2 tbsp for my entire hair because a little really goes go a long way. I started off by leaving this on for 20 minutes (eventually I increased to 30 on my second trial) before rinsing out. I did use my heat cap as well with a shower cap in between as this red clay is very pigmented (I thought my hair would be a strawberry color when I was done). After 20 minutes, I rinsed it out in the shower until the water ran clear (this took about 3-5 minutes to make sure everything came out). I then applied my normal products.

Overall, I liked this mask a lot. I did notice that it detoxed my hair a bit but did not leave it dry. It was very soft after rinsing out the mask. The color is very pigmented though so it did stain my towel a bit so make sure to really rinse everything out. It also helped my hair not need as much moisturizing product after rinsing. I have used this a couple of times now and there has been very positive outcomes though I would recommend this every other week and not weekly for 3a hair as it is an intense moisturizer and can weigh the hair down a bit.

The GREEN mask is the most protein enriched mask in the Rawkyn line. This is still moisturizing, like the RED mask but the emphasis is on protein to help rejuvenate lifeless or dull locks. This product is also good for sensitive skin users because of its plant-based proteins and lack of added fragrances (it is naturally fragrant). The natural ingredients in the mask do get darker in pigment as the mask is oxygenated, but it does not change the benefits in the mask. It is currently on sale for $27.99 for 8oz.

Just like its RED counterpart, I applied this mask after washing my hair and once it was dry. It is not recommended to apply this mask on anything other than freshly washed/dried hair because of its protein penetrating ingredients. Now I am naturally protein-sensitive so I opted to keep this masks on for only 10 minutes, but you can leave it up to 30 though the most commonly time frame is 20 minutes. I applied about 2 tbsp worth to my whole hair, put on the shower cap, and my heat cap. I then rinsed thoroughly after the 10 minutes were up until the water ran clear (it starts off a brownish-green). Do not shampoo/condition after rinsing it out.

Being protein sensitive, I do not use this mask regularly. In fact if you opened my jar right now, it would look almost new but slightly darker than a new jar. I apply this once a month or so when I notice that my curl pattern is weak or my hair is starting to lose luster or shed more than normal. It left my hair very hydrated and soft. The first time I applied too much and my curls were a bit stretched (you have to find a happy point as every curl is different) but subsequent times were more beneficial. I noticed that after applying significantly less product after rinsing and refreshing on day 2, my hair was actually a tighter curl than normal looking more 3b/3c.

This GOLD scalp scrub is amazing! By far, this my favorite product especially when my scalp is extra dry or if I have product build up. A little goes a long way as it contains ingredients like apple cider vinegar, grape seed oil, green tea leaf extract, apple fruit aromatic extract, and exfoliates. Be careful if you have sensitive skin, however, as it does contain acids (apple cider vinegar) and added fragrances. It comes in a 6oz jar for $20.99

Applied to dry uncleaned hair, this is the easiest product from Rawkyn to apply! It is meant to really clean without stripping your hair or leaving it greasy/oil. I part my hair in sections, scoop a dollop, and apply directly to my scalp where I run it in through circular motions. I then apply to the remaining sections and eventually smooth whatever remains on my hands through the length of the hair before massages the whole head for another 2-3 minutes (usually with my scalp massage device). Once it sits for another 15-30 minutes, I rinse it out with warm water before shampooing.

Once you rinse this off, you can actually feel your scalp breathe as silly as that may sound. I use this almost weekly for my wash days because of how effective it is without having to dry out my hair completely. The apple cider is not extremely potent and the smell does not remain on your hair once it is rinsed out. There are little sugar exfoliates that help slough off the dead skin, product, and invigorate your scalp which also aides in growth!

I have not yet tried the Vanilla product as that is only available in small quantities throughout the year but is a lighter GREEN mask in that it is a protein-enriched product. Once I work through the GREEN mask and the Vanilla goes on sale, I will update you all with that information as well.


Overall, these are great products but I am a repeat users of the scrub without a doubt! They are natural products that pack quite a punch. Yes, they are a bit expensive but with the amount you use, it is worth it! In fact, my husband even uses these now for his 3c/4a hair and he sings their praises as well!

Do you have any products that you are using that I should give a try? Are you going to try any of the items mentioned above?? What hair conditions are you experiencing that you want me to write about next? Comment below!

Curly Hair 102 – Dangers Lurking in our Products

It seems that in the past couple of years, being natural and embracing ones curls has become the “in” trend. I happen to think that us curly girls were just too darn tired to keep straightening our hair and too broke to keep paying someone else to do it. I know I personally haven’t straightened my hair, personally or professionally, in 7 years.

On top of embracing ones natural state, it seems that being conscientious of the types of products we use is also a part of everyday vocabulary now. We went from using whatever was on sale at the grocery store, to selectively “canceling” brands because of their chemical components.

Recently, I have come to learn that even in our most treasured and talked about lines, there are chemicals lurking that we need to know more about and stay away from if possible. Now, before you go on that soap box and tell me about how some of these chemical compounds already exist naturally and we consume them in other ways, I have to say while you are right, if I can avoid even 1% more of that formaldehyde or other carcinogen, I will.

So without further ado, lets cover the top 8 chemicals that you should avoid when purchasing your next leave-in conditioner, hair gel, or styling cream…

  1. Silicone – This is pretty obvious and I am sure you are tired of hearing about it but just to cover the basics, silicones are found in a lot of different forms. This is a form of plastic and yes, you have heard of silicone breast implants, so why would you put this in your hair? It has some benefits like producing shine and slip (translates to easy to comb through) but it also weighs down your hair and produces a film that prevents other products from helping your hair including water and oxygen.
    Types of silicones: When reading a label, look for a compound that typically ends in “-cone” like dimethicone, methicone, cyclomethicone or sometimes a combo item like: phenyl trimethicone or dimethicone copolyol
  2. Sulfates: So if you have used a silicone, and as I just mentioned, silicones prevent water from penetrating, then you need some even more abrasive -enter sulfates. This is the chemical that is used often in shampoos and creates that lathering and bubbly effect. It works by lifting the cuticle of the hair and stripping it of any product or natural oils which results in long-term dryness, brittleness, and even scalp irritation. You know where else you find sulfates? In your laundry detergent or dishwashing soap. Would you wash your hair with a Tide pod or Dawn?
    Then skip a shampoo that has any variation of sulfates including, but not limited to: sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), sodium lauryl sulfoacetate, sodium cocoyl isoethionate, or
    disodium laureth sulfosuccinate. In other words, look for an ingredient that ends in “-ate”.
  3. Alcohol: I have to say that not all alcohols are bad, but think about the last time that you had a few too many drinks. How did you feel later on that night or the next day? Think beyond the headache to the dehydration. The same thing happens with your hair! Alcohols in hair products will help evaporate the natural oils in your hair leaving it dry and brittle overtime.
    Look for ingredients that end in “-ol” such as: ethanol alcohol, ethyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, isopropanol alcohol. Even if the the “alcohol” word is not there, the base of the chemical is still an alcohol compound.
  4. Parabens: This is another hot discussion item but what exactly is a paraben? Parabens are chemicals that are added to extend the shelf life of a product. These are often also linked to cancer and serve as a harmful carcinogen.
    Look for ingredients that end in “-yl” like: methyl, propyl, butyl, or ethyl. These are also often overlooked or regarded as an alcohol.
  5. Urea: I know some of you read that as a bodily secretion of sorts but really it is another form of preservatives, like parabens, that extend the product’s shelf life. These types of chemicals are linked to skin irritation, flakiness, and even dermatitis. Worse yet is when this is aggravated through heat. When these types of chemicals are exposed to heat, which could be as little as your hair dryer when you diffuse, they break down to even more harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde.
    These are often easy to spot on an ingredients list: diazoldinyl urea or imidazolidinyl urea.
  6. Formaldehyde: I know when I first learned that some of my curly hair products had the same thing that is used when a person dies to embalm the body, I knew this was something I had to avoid. Formaldehyde is used for the same purpose as when it is used for a body – preservation. Yet another cheap ingredient like parabens or urea, this chemical has been known to cause cancer, heart palpitations, infections, and many other health conditions.
    You can find this on your ingredient list in many different ways including: formalin, formic aldehyde, methanediol, methanal, or methyl aldehyde.
  7. Mineral Oil: If you are Curly Girl Method (CGM) or even if you have followed me on IG or in earlier posts, you know that oil + curly hair = a great equation! BUT there are some oils that are actually damaging to your hair such as mineral oil. This is an inexpensive form of oil that does not live up to its name – it is not moisturizing and is often too heavy for hair and weighs the hair down so it is lifeless and greasy. It also causes a lot of build-up on the scalp. It may feel nice because it has a lot of slip but it will have a negative impact in the long run.
    While you will see “mineral oil” as its own ingredient, you may also see its sister compounds like lanolin or petroleum (yep, just like Vaseline).
  8. Perfume: We all want to smell good and usually are persuaded to buy products simply because it may remind us of homemade cookies, our tropical vacation, or what we project romance to smell like. However, putting on products that are full of perfumes is actually damaging to your hair for a few reasons. First off, many bases to perfumes is an alcohol, which as we already discussed, dries out the hair. Secondly, perfumes are often compounded to be concentrated in that 10oz container and if you have any skin sensitivity, you could experience scalp irritation, itchy/watery eyes, rash, dandruff, or other side effects very quickly.
    Typically the ingredient list will simply state “perfume” or “fragrance” in the list so if you can find something with natural scents, you are definitely better off.

So, that’s a long list but what prompted me to start researching and posting this is what I found in one product that I specifically used almost daily – DevaCurl Styling Cream

DevaCurl SUPERCREAM® Coconut Curl Styler

Ingredients:
Water, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Glycerin, Hydroxpropyl Starch Phosphate, Cetrimonium Chloride, Behentrimonium Chloride, PPG-3 Benzyl Ether Myristate, Ethyl Macadamiate, Laureth-4, Hydrolyzed Jojoba Protein, Panthenol, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Extract, Humulus Lupulus (Hops) Extract, Melissa Officinalis Extract, Cymbopogon Schoenanthus Extract, Achillea Millefolium Extract, Lauryldimonium Hydroxypropyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Lauryldimonium Hydroxypropyl Wheat Starch, Propylene Glycol, Ceteareth-20, Disodium EDTA, Aminomethyl Propanol, Diazolidinyl Urea, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Fragrance.

While I enjoyed the fragrance component (it reminded me of sitting on the beach in the Caribbean), I need to be careful with my sensitive skin. However worst yet is the urea, especially since I often diffuse my hair with the hair dryer. Knowing that this breaks down into formaldehyde and knowing that this could cause unwanted health defects, I have stopped using this altogether and have decided to no longer purchase DevaCurl products personally. Why? It doesn’t stop at the styling cream. The shampoos and conditioners also have harmful ingredients like the No-Poo Original Zero Lather Conditioning Cleanser has diazolidinyl urea and iodopropynyl butylcarbamate.

So moral of the story is that I am moving beyond DevaCurl for other brands that may have more organic and safe ingredients. And while I know I cannot avoid everything all of the time, if I can make one swap, and even save some money in the process, I will because my health is more important to me than perfect hair.

Have you heard about these ingredients before? Do you read the label of your hair care products before purchasing? Did it surprise you that DevaCurl had some less than ideal ingredients? Comment below and lets continue the conversation!