Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Indigo Experiment!

So I think I did pretty good with my little henna experiment for a first timer and I'm quite looking forward to layering another application on top of this one. Gotta be careful though. Henna can cause a loosening in my curl pattern and I love my curls! Next time I'm thinking about adding Amla, another Ayurvedic herb (traditional medicines native to India), that is said to prevent the loosening effect.

Unfortunately, I couldn't take a pic of the final dry result because I had other plans for my mane...

Indigofera tinctoria or Indigo
Photo courtesy of
I wanted to dye my hair jet black with Indigo. Indigo, often called "black henna", is not henna at all (like the colorless cassia obovata or "neutral henna" from my previous post).  It is super important when purchasing products that are labeled "black henna", to make sure that the ingredient is actually indigo, or indigofera tinctoria. Otherwise it may include the harmful chemical Paraphenylenediamine (PPD) which are often included in chemical hair dyes. And if you're looking for a natural way to color your hair, the inclusion of the chemicals would defeat your purpose. It can also result in a terrible allergic reaction!  Because the packaging of many ayurvedic herbs are not Americanized, an easy way to tell if you are getting actual indigo is to look for a greenish powder (said by some to smell like frozen peas, to me it smells like spinach). The powder should not be black!! It only turns dark after mixing in water and after the dye releases. Even then, it is not black. You can read more about PPD's here.

On to my experiment!! I know I said I wasn't happy with the Light Mountain brand of cassia obovata (neutral henna). However, that may be due in part to some errors on my end (not using enough, etc.) I still returned the empty box to Whole Foods and was promptly given a refund. Yay Whole Foods!! But since indigo doesn't seem to be readily available at the Indian grocer where I found the henna (probably because of the extremely short shelf life) and I didn't feel like waiting and paying for shipping from an online retailer, I went ahead and picked up a box of the Light Mountain in Black (around $6 bucks). I carefully checked the ingredients to make sure that it was actual indigo and yep, indigofera tinctoria was listed. It also listed henna as ingredient and I knew that it was also common in commercially sold indigo to include a mix with henna. I knew this may lessen my chances of getting that black black BLACK that I was looking for but I decided to give it a try anyway. I could always return it right ;-)

I must say I was totally prepared for my henna treatment. Plastic gloves, ready! Newspaper, ready! Old towels, ready! But the process moves A LOT faster with the indigo. Once it is done being mixed ( I mixed with rose water found at the Indian grocery store for $2.99!...this stuff costs $10 at the health food store, but I digress...) you only have a few minutes to apply. It is said that the dye actually loses its dying ability after about 30 minutes. So it was GO time.

The Henna Experiment!!

When I get intrigued with something, I truly don't quit until I've conquered it. Enter my new obsession with all things henna! Henna, Lawsonia inermis, is a flowering plant usually associated with the beautiful temporary tattooing primarily done in Indian cultures for brides before their wedding, ceremonies, etc. However, henna has long been used as a natural hair dye also (fun fact: Lucille Ball got her signature bright red locks usually courtesy of henna treatments) and hair strengthening treatment. Currently, it is taking the natural hair community by storm. Given my research on the benefits and  effects on natural hair, I decided to finally take the plunge. I started by experimenting with "neutral henna", a colorless version that still provides conditioning effects, resulting in shinier, glossier, smoother, and more manageable hair. Neutral henna isn't actually henna at all though. It is a very similar plant, cassia obovata,  that doesn't have the dying characteristics of the henna plant.

Me after a night with Cassia Obovata ("Neutral Henna")

This stuff is like mud bath for your hair. The process is definitely a weekend job. It involves a lot of prepping, mixing ... waiting, applying...waiting, rinsing...rinsing...rinsing, conditioning...waiting. Not for the impatient. And it's messy. The henna more than the cassia obviously, but still.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Denman Large Paddle Brush Review

Denman Large Paddle Brush #83
 So six days ago I was reading this post over at Curly Nikki about the Denman Paddle Brush #83. Enter my usual intrigue. I have been intrigued like this before of course. It happened with Denmans original brush loved by the natural hair community, the D3, now affectionately referred to by some as "the shredder." I remember running out to purchase the D3 from Sally's when I first heard about it. People raved about it on and other blogs and forums. When I layed my eyes on it, even with the $9 price tag (this was the most I had spent on a comb/brush thus far), I didn't blink before throwing it in my cart. I even made my sister buy one too! When I got it home and tried it on my hair, I thought I loved it. Thought! I started noticing how much hair was left in my brush after detangling in the shower (even when I packed loads of conditioner in it while detangling). And this was not as easy a process as I thought it would be. But I had no experience with anything else. Sure enough, several weeks later others were complaining online.

Denman D3 aka "The Shredder" 

Needless to say, I was skeptical about purchasing the #83. But as always, I ended up giving it a try. 2 days later I had it in my hands (purchased from Folica for $11.99, currently 25% off).
Denman Large Paddle Brush #83

I have tried this brush on wet hair with conditioner applied. Love it! I have tried this brush on dry hair lightly moisturized with a butter or cream. Love it!! And for me, detangling dry hair is taboo. But this brush makes that a thing of the past. I wouldn't say it eliminates pain from the process. But it does cut my detangling time down by more than half. It doesn't snap my hair when it can't easily get through. No snarls, no snags, no breakage (so far)!! I can see myself using this for the occasional blow dry or before setting with twists, braids, or my curlformers. This is a win! If I change my mind in a month, I'll let you know :-)


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Hair Hazards!! The Risks Involved with Hair Straightening Techniques

I'm stuck at home with the kids today. Who told teachers and daycare providers that they could have breaks?? I kid I kid!! (Shouts out to my beautiful teacher-friends!) Anyhooo, I was able to catch the homey Dr. Oz today. I loooooove me some Dr. Oz. Oh yes I do. Not only is he a gorgeous old Turkish stud (I'm weird, I know it) but this cardiovascular surgeon and media sensation (offspring of the Oprah family of experts) is also extremely knowledgeable on many health topics. He offers so much insight into health in such a hands-on, graspable way, giving the average Joe the knowledge to take an easy step in the right direction.
The amazing Dr. Mehmet Oz
Every time I happen to catch his show I find his topics to be super informative and relatable. I was not surprised when I flipped right in time to see the topic "The Dangers of Hair Straightening". Along with Cheryl Kramer Kaye, Beauty Director at Redbook Magazine, Dr. Oz examined the harmful ingredients and risks associated with three of the biggest mainstream techniques in hair straightening. Discussed were the controversial "Brazilian Blowout", flat ironing, and of course our dear creamy crack, relaxers.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Curlformers Part II !!!

My most anticipated item of the year arrived in my mailbox a couple of weeks ago, the super innovative Curlformers!!! ($11.99 - $12.99  quantity varies between 6-8 per pack, depending on width & length, available at Sally Beauty Supply)

I purchased 4 packs of the Extra Long & Wide and 2 packs of the Long & Wide
I seriously could not wait to rip open these babies and try them out. I was pretty confident that I could figure them out easily. But as I began the process, I found that they were a little trickier than they seemed.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Winterizing!! Beauty Essentials

So obviously the hawk is upon us with a vengeance here in Chicago. I've been living here all of my life but still I'm never quite ready! But I'm learning...

One of the things that I've struggled with during the last three years being a natural haired vixen is maintaining a healthy, thriving, quenched mane during the brutal winters here. I admit, protective styling is not my thing. I try, I keep it up for a while, then all of a sudden I'm back to hitting the pillow with my hair in all its unkempt glory.  Most days, I wake up to a dry and matted mess...and this is in the summer! Imagine my unruly hair battling against my lack of nightly maintenance AND the elements outside! Fortunately, my hair springs back to life as soon as the steam from my shower hits it. I'm a wash and go type of gal and my hair craves water!! But that's not enough and attempting to go outside in this weather with even a slightly damp head could leave me in a whole heap of sickness!! Soooo... I'll need something that will keep my hair moist ALL day and keep me from waking up in the morning with a thirsty brillo pad on top of my head. Coconut, grape-seed, castor, and olive oil are usually my best friends. But when the weather is cooler, I need more.

I've heard so much about Qhemet Biologics amongst the natural hair community. However, when it comes to spending a nice piece of change on a much hyped product, I'm a little hesitant. I've learned my lesson many times with these products (Miss Jessie's, Carols Daughter, etc). Most times, you can find something thats just as good or way better than those high end products marketed to natural ladies. You can even make a comparable or better quality product yourself!! Well, I decided to take the leap and try the Amla & Olive Heavy Cream only because I could hardly find one negative review and I knew I was in need of something great to conquer this feisty winter approaching.

Monday, November 29, 2010

I just said 10 minutes ago that I was done spending money on these tempting deals floating about the internet over the last several days and now "Cyber Monday" floods my inbox with a million new temptations. Ugh! My wallet cries....

But anyhoo!!! I'm starting to wonder if ALL of my posts are going to have something to do with my favorite cheapie makeup brand, NYX. Maybe I should just make my blog an ode to this company lol. They are being featured on HauteLook today. I thought I could resist. However, this selection is wayyyyy better than the last one that they offered on this great "deal of the day" site.

I've got my eye on the blush trio which includes the Mosaic Blush in Rosy, the Rouge Cream Blush in Glow, and the Powder Blush in Desert Rose. Gee, what's a girl to do??? Maybe I can resist???

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Curlformers!!! Part 1

Curlformers are becoming super popular with women of all textures, relaxed and natural. I've heard so many great things about these contraptions online including these youtube reviews HERE , and HERE, and HERE and many many more. They are seemingly simple to use, require no heat, and dry quickly resulting in perfect bouncy curls. They have about 6 different sizes including short & narrow, short & wide, long & wide, etc. The only downfall is that they are pretty darn expensive. A pack of 6 long & wide curlformers cost $11.99! And this doesn't include the Curlformers hook ($4) which works as a tool in unison with the curlformer. They do have a Salon Kit ($59.99, including the Curlformers hook) which may save you some dollars if you can use the Long & Wide (40 pieces) and Short & Wide (6).

Given the price, I totally ignored this product at first. Until one of  my girls brought them back to my attention. My curiosity was once again piqued. Again I was hesitant. Especially considering that the Salon Kit would do me no good and I would have to purchase the packages separately to suit my needs. Lo and behold the after Thanksgiving sale arrived at Sally Beauty Supply. I could no longer resist (and Sally's has a very lenient return policy. If I try it and don't like it, I can bring it straight back to the store).

With 25% off and free shipping, I purchased 4 packs of the Extra Long & Wide and 2 packs of the Long & Wide along with a Curlformers hook. I am soooooo excited to try these babies!! I love my usual carefree look but change is good and I'm in need of one.

I'll be sure to post a Part 2 of this post detailing the setting process and of course my results!!!

If you wanna catch this sale at Sally Beauty Supply, use promo code: 555156
Expires 11/29/10 so hurry!!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Sale at CherryCulture!!

I hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving!! I'm still recovering :-) 
Meanwhile...This was sent to my email a few hours ago... Enjoy!! 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

NYX Mosaic Blush in Love

Hello Ladies!! I promised to do a post about this gorgeous blush I found at the Temptations II store mentioned in my post here. It's from the NYX line (which if you can't tell by now, I ADORE) and it's the Mosaic Powder in Love. It's a mixture of oranges which can be used separately to create different combinations of blush and highlight or swirled together to create a beautiful glowing coral shade. 

 This beautiful shimmering orangey coral blush is supposedly a 
milder dupe for the intense NARS blush in Taj Majal. 

 This product is hypoallergenic and cruelty-free (always a plus)

 Swirled then swatched on bare skin

Swirled then applied moderately to the cheek bone

I love it. It warms up the face nicely and is daytime appropriate (even with all the shimmer). I don't regret this purchase and now I'm very curious about other NYX blushes!

So what do you gals think?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Carol's Daughter Debuts at HauteLook!

Carol's Daughter, the popular holistic beauty brand, is making its debut appearance at Hautelook today!! While, I'm not a huge fan of all of their products, they do have a couple of things that I absolutely love! They are offering their infamous Hair Milk, Hair Balm (which I LOVE), the delicious body butters, and more best sellers at about 40% off. The sale started at 10 AM so hurry to get yours before they're gone!!!

P.S. They make great gifts for the holidays!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

NYX Cosmetics -- Where to find them in Chicago

So as I've mentioned before, I'm a huge fan of NYX Cosmetics. They carry soooo many eye shadows, lipsticks, blushes, liners, glosses, etc. that are great dupes for MAC and higher end cosmetics. Sometimes NYX is even better than those higher end brands and at a fraction of the cost!! I don't know about you, but for this budgeting mama of two, that's like hitting the lottery!! Lol

Some of you may have heard of NYX but have not seen it carried in stores.  Yes, this is a brand that plays hard to get. Sometimes I happen to find it in a random beauty supply store, many times I find it in Ulta stores (none of which are in convenient locations for me), and if I really want something specific, I get it online at

Below I have put together a cute little list of places where my Chicago ladies can find NYX Cosmetics in the city and surrounding areas. I'll update as I come across new places to find this gem of a brand. Enjoy! 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

HauteLook Urban Decay Sale

Photo: Courtesy of

So have you gals discovered yet? It's an awesome site that offers top designer brands of clothing, makeup, accesories, furniture, etc at wayyyy discounted prices for a limited time only. While Hautelook is not the only site that operates like this, they are definitely my fave. 
Photo: Courtesy of

Right now I'm thinking about the Urban Decay sale starting tomorrow at 10AM (Central Time). Usually, when this popular makeup brand goes on sale at Hautelook, it is for up to 75% off!  

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cherry Culture Mini Haul!!!

A few days ago I got a much anticipated order from I had been itching to try a few things that I'd been eyeing over the last several weeks and when that 20% off promotional code came on Halloween weekend, I jumped on it. 

Frenzy for Lanvin at H&M

Photos: Courtesy of
I'm not ashamed to admit it. I had nooo idea what Lanvin was until Lenore stole Tanya's Lanvin sweater on the last season of Hung. Apparently this French fashion line is the absolute ish, because people are going currrazy over their upcoming line at H&M.
I for one LOVE H&M and am really excited to see what's going to go down November 20th when they launch. The looks pictured above are BIZZONKERS!! Check out the rest of the ad campaign and price listing here:

Lanvin is even going to carry a line of cosmetics for the first time through H&M! I'm geeked!
Photo: Courtesy of

Friday, November 12, 2010

My Fave Conditioner...For Now

Photo: Courtesy of

I'm like a finicky dater with my conditioners. Last month, I was all about Nature's Gate Hemp conditioner. I see the month of November is gonna be allllll about Herbal Essence's Long Term Relationship. HE Hello Hydration was my lover for about 3 months or so and I loved it. But soon I began to get bored. It wasn't Hello was me. I ran in the total opposite direction even though I heard great things about Long Term Relationship. (wow what a coincidence with that name, eh? lol)
I used and abused my Nature's Gate, emptying the bottle that I happened upon at Whole Foods. One day I was strolling Target as usual and my eye caught this familiar looking bottle. That very first night, I wined and dined the curvy red bottle and prepared to co-wash my kinky curls with it for the very first time. And OH BOY!!! This stuff is rocking my world right now!!!
My hair combed through with minimal effort. It's super soft, defined, and even sorta stretchy!!
I think I'm in love!!

Also posted on My Luuux page

Save That Broken Makeup!!

Have you ever picked out that gorgeous shade of eyeshadow in the store, skipped out of said store, and rushed home to play with it only to find it has crumbled into a million little pieces? I HATE THAT and I refuse to throw my hard earned money down the drain.

I went to one of my fave stores on the planet, Michael's Arts and Crafts, and found this nifty stackable storage set. It contains about 30 perfect sized screw top containers intended for storing beads. Absolutely fabulous for salvaging your cracked and broken eyeshadows, blushes, loose pigments, etc. and very easy to transport.  I love it!!!

November Issue of Women's Health - Beauty 2.0

Lauren Conrad on 'Women's Health' November 2010.
Photo: Courtesy of Women's Health
So I finally got to sit down with my November issue of Women's Health. I LOVE this magazine. It's not your typical annoying women's magazine that bombards you with 69 tricks that will help you keep your man. And even though it's a fitness magazine, it is still totally relatable to women like me who haven't quite perfected the art of getting in shape and staying there. It's filled with useful beauty, style, health, money, and life tips. This magazine rocks!

Beauty 2.0 - Photo: Courtesy of Women's Health

My favorite article this month, Beauty 2.0, features high-tech innovations in the beauty industry that boasts the ability to make your life easier in one swoop.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Top 3 Faves

Look for my Top 3 Fave Post at the bottom of the page. I'll update it maybe once every week. Sometimes it will be hair products, makeup products, blogs, etc. If I really really really love something in my Top 3, I'll do a post about it. Feel free to request a review on any of my Top 3. 

As you can see at the bottom of the page, my Top 3 Fave hair products right now has to be Herbal Essences Long Term Relationship Conditioner (will probably post about this one), BB Foam Moisturizing Wrapping Lotion (great for setting natural hair), and Olive Oil (my all time fave all over moisturizer).

Overcoming My Blogging Fears... I'm Here!!

This blogging thing can be intimidating for those who are looking from afar but don't quite know how to jump in. I've been wanting to create a blog for sooooo long but the more popular they became over the last several years, the more excuses I allowed myself for not doing it. Maybe you're interested in starting one, but just don't know how to begin, how to compete, and how to stand out. I felt that way too! But here are some of my blogging fears that I'm conquering today!!!

1. Too Much Competition!! How will my blog ever get noticed or become popular?? 
By the time I realized that ANYBODY could create a blog...EVERYBODY was doing it!! So I backed down, continuing to stalk other bloggers on the net that did not make lame excuses for themselves. They were succeeding!! (Shouts out to afrobella, accidentalbeauty, vintageortacky, clumpsofmascara, etc., etc.) The common ground that I noticed about my favorite bloggers is that they simply love what they do! Maybe their blog started as a fun pastime or as a way to spread knowledge about the things they learn. I say, just do what you love and the rest will follow. You really have nothing to lose!

2. People will say "How is he/she an authority on such and such?" 
I spend a lot of my free time gathering info on beauty and natural hair products and using limited resources to create a definite personal style. In no way do I think this makes me an "authority" on these subjects. I just love to pass on the great things that I learn and I continue to learn more all the time. Why not document it? 

3. How do I even get started? With HTMLamajiggy's and whatnots, I'm at a loss!
My favorite advice...GOOGLE IT!! The knowledge, the steps, and the resources are out there. I'm using Blogger, which is totally free and allows you to create whatever site design you want. It's so easy, I think I'll create blogs for all my interests!! 

4. I can't post all day, everyday!! I have to work/have kids/live a normal life, etc!
I think the world (starting with your friends and family) knows this. Nobody that I follow consistently posts everyday. I think the waiting for a new post is thrilling (if days don't turn into weeks without posting) and bloggers need time to get their words and images together. I know I don't and won't have time to post alllll the time, but I'll give it my best shot!! 

Please feel free to post any tips or concerns if you are a blogger or thinking of creating a blog in the comments  section. Thanks!

Thanks for joining me on my journey!
Swirls Pearls Curls

NOW!!!! On to the fun stuff!!!