Review: SheaMoisture African Black Soap Balancing Conditioner

I got this conditioner when I was in the States over Christmas and New Year’s. At the time I was using it in conjunction with the matching shampoo, but since going back to conditioner washing, I’ve been using it as a co-wash.
This is a perfect conditioner for the co-washing (conditioner washing) technique. It’s light, completely silicone free, and contains soothing ingredients that help with my occasionally itchy, dry scalp – especially in the colder autumn months. The smell is slightly medicinal, but not so strong that it bothers me – I actually like it. If you’re not a fan of tea tree essential oil, or similar scents, I would probably steer clear of this though.
It’s a shame that sheamoisture hair products are not more readily available in Australia – I would repurchase this in a heartbeat. Granted, you can always purchase this from CurlMart, but the shipping to Australia does not make it worth it to me. There are other products just as good that are much more accessible (MooGoo!).

The Breakdown:

Where can you get it? CurlMart is the only place I would feel comfortable buying from, even though the shipping is darn steep.

How much is it? $$

Eco-friendly? 6/10

Animal testing? No

CG friendly? 3/3

Colour safe? Not explicitly, but I believe that conditioner, being acidic, is inherently colour safe.

Available internationaly? Yes, but with caveats. See the first question.

I hope this helps you some! If you have any thoughts on this product, or would like to recommend a product for me to review, let me know in the comments!

Love and waves,
Astrid

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Review: L’Oreal Elvive Total Repair 5 Masque

When I decided to go overhaul my routine by weeding out the silicones and sulfates, I realised that none of the deep treatment conditioners in my stash were silicone free. So off I went in search of a new deep treatment. My first stop was Mecca Maxima (mainly because I’ll take any excuse to enter that store), but they did not have any silicone free treatments in stock that day.
Next up was Priceline – the place I’m sure many Australian women would not be able to live without when it comes to budget beauty and personal products. While there, I glanced at some of the more natural brands, but many of the so-called ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ brands often contain silicones (this is why it’s so important to become educated in ingredient labels, that’s where the truth of a product lies), or they have intense smells that that give me nausea.
Moving on to the more synthetic brands, I stumbled upon the L’Oreal Elvive Total Repair 5 Masque. If you decide to give this product  go, make sure it’s the one with the red label – the other masques contain silicones.
I’ve been using this masque one to two times a week for the past couple of weeks and so far I quite like it. It has a bit of protein which is perfect for my colour treated hair. In actual fact, the first time I used it, I noticed that my hair had more body, shine, curl and less frizz. I went out dancing that night and enjoyed my big hair – I love big hair!
It’s not the thickest treatment I’ve ever used; it’s more like a thick conditioner. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m not one for spending hours on deep treating my hair. The only difference between my regular routine and this one is that I’ll scrunch out as much water as possible before applying the treatment to two sections of hair. I really coat the hair with the product then finger detangle before going through thoroughly with my Denman brush. It provides a lot of slip for a product that’s marketed as a ‘masque’.
My only bone to pick with the treatment, is the synthetic floral fragrance – not my favourite. But it doesn’t linger, so it’s not a deal breaker.

The Breakdown:

Where can you get it? I picked mine up from Priceline, but it’s also available at Coles, Woollies and a few chemists.

How much is it? $$ (currently on sale for less 😉

Eco-friendly? 4/10

Animal testing? Yes; no indication otherwise.

CG friendly? 2/3 – it does have one water-soluble silicone right at the bottom of the list.

Colour safe? It makes no claims to be, but since it’s a treatment which is meant to strengthen structurally damaged hair, I’m going to say yes.

Available internationally? Yes.

Let me know if you give this treatment a go. I’d also like to know if there are any products (preferably silicone and sulfate free) you’d like me to try and review, and I’m happy to answer any and all questions!

Love and waves,
Astrid

My Routine March ’15

One thing that changes constantly is my hair washing and styling routine. Not only am I a product junkie, but I’m also intrigued by new techniques (and if you’re familiar with the curly care world, there are tons of different ways to wash, rinse, detangle, apply products and dry the hair).
Pretty much all of last year (the year I took to try my hand at professional hairdressing), I was shampooing and conditioning my hair the way you’re instructed on the bottle: lather, rinse, repeat if necessary, rinse and apply conditioner, rinse. I even started using sulfate and silicone laden products.
I did this because I was a hairdresser in training and thought I should be taking care of my own hair the way I was being taught to take care of the clients’ hair. Despite knowing that the CG method worked for me – I’ve been using the CG method in some shape or form for seven years now. And every time I stop following the CG method of hair care, eventually my hair gets cranky; it gets frizzy, dry, stops curling as much and causes general frustration (despite any claims otherwise on product labels).
When I returned from Europe, my hair was just doing some weird frizzy-straight kind of thing and I just wanted to get some semblance of a defined wave back into my hair. So I did what I’ve known to work before: I hid away all my products with sulfates, non-water-soluble silicones and drying alcohols and made sure to only detangle my hair when it was soaked in conditioner.
And so, from beginning to end, this is my current routine. This has been working for me for the past few weeks.

Method (to the madness):

1. Co-wash with Shea Moisture African Black Soap Balancing Conditioner (I picked this up on my recent trip to the States). I scrub at my scalp with the pads of my fingers, nice and thoroughly.

2. Condition with Sukin Moisture Restoring Conditioner. I split my hair into two sections; I put quite a bit of conditioner on each section, until I can easily slide my fingers through the strands without catching on snarls.

3. De-tangle with my new Denman brush – I picked this up in the UK recently and I love it! You can find these brushes at Hairhouse Warehouse or Price Attack in Australia but there are also cheap dupes that work just as well. I use this brush to gently get through any of the smaller knots I may not have got through when I was using my fingers. Remember: gentle is the key.

4. Leave the conditioner in my hair while I go about my other shower routines (wash face etc).

5. Rinse. Some curly gurus suggest leaving in a bit of conditioner, but I try to rinse as much out as possible. When I’m rinsing I say to myself: ‘soft, not slimy’.

6. So now the water is off and my hair is rinsed out, but I don’t step out of the shower yet, and I don’t even squeeze the water out of my hair! This is where I begin my styling routine. First product: leave in conditioner! Splitting my hair into two sections again, I apply a small amount of the Living Proof No Frizz Leave In Conditioner to both sections – just over the surface of the section. My hair doesn’t like raking and combing in the styling stage.

7. Next comes a serum or oil. At the moment I’m using the DevaCurl MirrorCurls (I don’t remember it being quite so expensive when I bought it). I apply just a pea sized amount to both sections.

8. Last comes the gel: DevaCurl Ultra Defining Gel (another goody from the US). Again, I apply a blob to each section and work it through. Now that all my styling products are applied, I flip my head over, take another, smaller blob of gel and begin scrunching – I scrunch upside down, then tilt my head to either side and scrunch again.

9. Now, drying! Using a microfibre towel (you can go fancy or plain), I scrunch my hair again – upside down and each side.

10. My hair scrunched and no longer dripping, I put it into a plop while I do everything else I need to do to look presentable for the day.

11. Air dry. This leaves me looking a little straggly until my hair fully dries (watch it expand!), but it’s worth it to keep it healthy.

And there you have it! My full hair-wash routine. It doesn’t take as long as it seems to when it all happens fluidly. But this is also one of my more complex routines. I fluctuate between full routines like this and way more pared back routines. I’ll keep you guys updated now and then when my routine changes.

So I hope this gave you some ideas for caring for your own hair. Wavy and curly hair can be frustrating at times, but it’s also fun to play around with new products and techniques. Let me know if you have any questions, or leave a comment if you just want to say hi! I’ll say hi back 🙂

Love and waves,

Astrid

Tutorial: French Braid for Short Hair

A while ago I posted a picture of my hair in a French braid on my Instagram page, asking people to ‘like’ if they wanted a tutorial. And then almost two months passed. Well, today’s the day and here’s the tutorial of how to get a braid out of chin-length waves. It’s pretty easy, the tricky part is pinning up all the short strands at the nape of the neck.

image

Tools
Bobby pins x lots
Hair tie x 1

Steps
1. Take a section of hair towards the hairline. In this picture I took it off to the side and braided diagonally, but you can start in the centre too – this style is all about the texture and getting the hair off your face.
2. Split the section into three parts and do one stitch of a braid (one side over the middle, the other side over the new middle).
3. Take a new section of hair from the hairline to the braid and add it to the outer strand. Bring the strand with the added hair over the middle strand, making it the new centre strand.
4. Repeat until you run out of hair long enough to add to the French braid and tie off the end with a hair tie.
5. With the remaining hair, take it in random sections and start twisting them and pinning them until they are all up and out of the way.
6. Appreciate your effort with a selfie and tag me on Instagram if you have a go (@asteriskthat).

I apologise for the lack of images to help with the instructions; I’m hoping to film a tutorial for this simple braid soon.

Love and waves,
Astrid

How Do You Sleep?

For those of us with textured hair – from the slightly wavy to the tightly curly – maintaining our hair through the night is a big deal. I believe this comes down to the fact that we don’t like to brush or comb through our hair. Oftentimes, this can make things much worse. I showed you guys what it looks like when I brush my hair – but that’s nothing compared to curly-tops with tighter textures.

There are a few ways that curlies try to prevent the bedhead:

The Pineapple

This technique requires you to bend over so that all your hair is hanging towards the floor. Then, taking a scrunchy, gently gather all your hair into a loose ponytail right on top of your head. Some curlies like to make a loose bun, especially if they have particularly long and thick hair.
Pineapple-ing (yes, it’s a verb now) keeps your hair out of the way while you sleep, and hopefully only the underside of the hair will get smooshed.
The downside to this for some is that no matter how loose the scrunchy is, they get a dent in their hair when they take it down the next day. Luckily for me, that doesn’t happen – my only problem is that at the moment my hair is only long enough to keep half of it up.

The Satin/Silk Pillowcase

This isn’t a technique – just a product, really. The idea is that silk or satin is much smoother, and a lot less likely to suck moisture out of the hair than absorbent and snagging cotton. I’ve never ended up buying a special pillowcase, but I did buy a cheap silk scarf big enough to lay over my pillow – I really did notice a difference, although it’s tricky trying to get the scarf to stay all night.

The Satin/Silk Bonnet or Scarf

Satin and silk bonnets are very popular in the curly community, and a scarf is just another way to put the protective material around your hair while you sleep. With the scarf method, I find it hard to get the happy-medium between tight enough to stay on and loose enough to be comfortable. And with bonnets, if you buy a cheap one, the elastic gets loose quickly and I find that they also fall off by morning.
On the bright side, I recently bought a silk bonnet through a fellow member of the Aussie Curly Girl Facebook group* – her mother makes them – and it has been great so far – the elastic is firm but not uncomfortable, and there’s enough there that when my hair gets longer, it won’t make the bonnet fall off.
One thing I have heard is that it can cause breakage to the fine hairs at the hairline – I haven’t seen any evidence of this on my own hair (I’m convinced that the fine hairs at my hairline are never going to change).

Braids or Twists

Twisting or braiding the hair while you sleep is a good way of preventing tangles in the hair. It also preserves the ‘S’ curve in the hair. However, depending on how many braids or twists you do, it can alter your curl pattern. That’s what lots of curlies are going for, but if you don’t want looser or tighter curls overnight, maybe stay away from this option.

The Combo

Many curlies use two or three of the above methods, either for extra effectiveness or insurance against one failing (like the bonnet comeing off or braids coming undone).

My preferred way is: switch it up. When I first started learning about how to take care of my hair (and make it look good in the process), I used the pineapple method. Because it was the first thing I tried, I found it worked really well. But as I found out more and more, I experimented with different things. That’s what I love about hair in general: there are so many ways to style it and take care of it, no one way works for everyone and, if you’re like me, different things work depending on the results you want and the changes in seasons and hairstyles.

So, readers, what do you do to keep your hair from getting messed overnight? Let me know in the comments, and if you try any of these ideas, also let me know – I’d love to hear what works for you.

Love and waves,
Astrid

*If you’re in Australia and would like more information, go to my contacts page and let me know. I’ll see what I can do about getting you in touch 🙂

Aussie Spotlight: MooGoo

Well, it’s been a shamefully* long time since I last posted, hasn’t it? I’d like to say that I’ve been busy (to an extent, I have been) but really, there has been time for me to post; I’m just really good at procrastinating.
How have you guys been while I’ve been away? I hope the world is treating you well, and if you’re into Halloween, I hope you’re having lots of fun gearing up for it. I spent yesterday afternoon talking to Mum about Jack O’Lanterns and decorations coming up to the 31st, and I’ve been on a massive horror film kick lately too. Do you love getting the bejeesus scared out of you too?

Aaanyway, I’m getting distracted (this is why I should post more often, I’d be able to spread my ramblings out a bit) – do you want to read my next review of an Australian hair care brand? Of course you do – so keep reading to find out my thoughts on MooGoo 😉

Milk Shampoo
MooGooShampoo
This shampoo tricked me. At first, it felt kind of drying – my hair was squaky clean and I was worried. But after I applied conditioner and my hair dried, my hair felt very soft and less frizzy than usual.
By the third time I used it, my hair wasn’t feeling stripped and I wonder if my hair was simply adjusting to the particular combination of ingredients in the shampoo.
The best thing about this shampoo is what it did for my scalp; my scalp didn’t start to itch as soon and I managed to stretch my washes from every three to every four or five – pretty amazing to me!

Cream Conditioner
conditioner_web
MooGoo is one of my go to conditioners and my favourite all-rounder. I use it to co-wash, condition and as a moisturising and light leave in. And paired with the shampoo, it’s even better. I got multiple compliments on my hair while I was trying out the duo and my hair had less frizz than usual.
If I weren’t so keen to keep searching out and reviewing Australian brands, I’d want to keep going with these.
And, rumour has it, MooGoo is in the process of trialling an actual leave in conditioner! Exciting 🙂

Where can you get MooGoo? They sell online, have a search feature for stockists on their website, and ship internationally.

How much is it? $$

Eco-friendly? 9/10

Animal testing? No.

Curly Girl friendly? Yes, 3/3

Colour safe? No; I couldn’t find anything on the label to say so.

Have you tried MooGoo? Let me know what you thought in the comments, and if you have any suggestions for an Aussie brand to try out, add that too! Also, I’d love any horror film recommendations coming up to Halloween 😛

Love and waves,
Astrid

*I use that word lightly. Shame is a pretty strong emotion to feel about something that’s a hobby. But you know what I mean; colloquialism etc.

As with all my posts, opinions are my own and I purchased these products myself. The images come from the MooGoo site.

First Aussie Spotlight: Sukin

Hello chickens! How are you today? What’s the weather like in your part of the world? Here in Sydney it’s the first day of Spring, and the blue skies really showed off for it.

Now that the chit-chat is out of the way, let me introduce my first product for my Aussie spotlight series: Sukin! For this review I bought the Moisture Restoring Shampoo and Conditioner and the Protein Hair Treatment.

Moisture Restoring Shampoo
sukinshampoo
On first use I found this shampoo to be quite drying – straight after applying it, my hair felt stripped and squeaky. This happened less and less as I used it and by the last time I used it (last week) I felt like my hair was getting moisturised. Whether this was due to me using the combination of their other products, or I was getting used to it, or maybe it was actually doing its job over repeated uses, I’m not sure. Either way, if you prefer a more luxurious texture to your shampoo, you might want to stay away from this one.

Moisture Restoring Conditioner
sukinconditioner
I loved this! Out of the three products I tried, I noticed the most immediate results from the conditioner – and it’s the one I’ll probably repurchase. After the way the shampoo felt like it was stripping my hair, the conditioner just melted into the strands and they felt softer straight away. The first day testing these products I kept touching my hair because it felt so silky.

Protein Hair Treatment
sukintreatment
This treatment comes in sachets and to me, one sachet didn’t feel like enough even though my hair is short. I know that protein treatments aren’t supposed to feel as moisturising as, well, moisture treatments, but because it didn’t spread very well I felt like I needed more than the single use sachet. I think I noticed the least difference from this product. However, I did not leave it on for the full fifteen minutes (I really don’t like getting my head wet twice on a wash day), so that probably affected my results.

Where can you get Sukin? From their online store, Priceline, other chemists and online retailers. They don’t ship internationally from their website, however some of the other online retailers they list are international sites.

How much is it? $*

Eco-friendly: 8/10 I couldn’t find anything saying that their packaging was recycled although it is recyclable and they are a carbon neutral business.

Animal testing? No

Curly Girl friendly? 3/3 No sulfates, silicones or drying alcohol.

Colour safe? No. I couldn’t find any mention of whether these products help with colour-fade and damage.

I hope you found this review helpful! Do you have any suggestions for what Australian brand I should try next? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments 🙂

Love and waves,
Astrid

*$: under $10
$$: under $20
$$$: under $30
$$$$: under $40
$$$$$: over $40

All pictures are from the Sukin website.