Saturday, January 28, 2012

Reasons to Start Your Own Kitchen Salon

Ingredients for my Winter Hair Mask
There are two trends in the natural hair community that have inspired me to make major changes in my lifestyle; greater interest in DIY hair care and greater interest in natural products. What started as a quest for healthy long natural hair has completely shifted my approach to my nutrition and expanded an already growing interest in reusing and recycling. It's amazing how much I've learned about the multifaceted uses of common items that are always in my kitchen and bathroom!

I'm sure many people are reading this thinking it sounds nice but time consuming- isn't natural hair time consuming enough? When I first started making my own hair products it was very time consuming. But I must admit I loved having an excuse to block off an entire day for pampering. Now that I have a routine and an understanding of how to balance the products, it doesn't take much longer to do my hair with purchased products than homemade products. Like with anything you improve with practice.

Still need to be convinced why you should try your own DIY Kitchen Salon? Check out the benefits I've reaped:

- I've save money because the items I use for my hair are already on my grocery list.

- I've expanded the use of packaging from previously bought products, saving a few more items from a direct trip to the landfill.

- There is no worry of harmful chemicals in my homemade products, its all natural and mostly food. If its safe enough to go in my mouth, it's safe enough to lather all ova' my booooooooody!

- Now that I understand how various ingredients work for my hair and body I can adjust the balance as needed. This is extremely important for moisture and protein balance!

- My hair has improved tenfold! It is much more resistant to breakage; maintains greater moisture and retains length (after eight years of staying at the same length without ever trimming).

- Did I mention I SAVE MONEY?!

So how many of you have I converted? How many already have a thriving kitchen salon? Tell us why you started your kitchen salon and what you love about it.

Those who are new to the DIY practice can go here for some tips on starting your own kitchen salon.

How To Start Your Own Kitchen Salon

Making flax seed gel.

Do you want outstanding hair without an outrageous price? Want to be able to pronounce all of the ingredients listed on your hair product? Then perhaps you should consider starting your own DIY kitchen salon. If you're considering it but don't know how to start, check out what I've learned.

Basic Tools
This short list of tools to keep on hand will have you set for nearly any recipe.

- A glass mixing bowl or jar. This doesn't have to be large, I use an old 8 oz. jar from a facial scrub I had years back. Glass is best because it can withstand heat. Plastic is known to release toxins when microwaved that can seep into your products.

- An empty spray bottle, or two or three, depending on how many mixtures you like. I reuse leave-in conditioner spray bottles. Its not a good idea to store mixtures for too long because bacteria will grow. I make small batches of a water and aloe juice solution for each use so as not to be wasteful.

- A few containers with screw tops for storing mixtures that are non-perishable or have a long shelf life. I also reuse old containers for this purpose. Placing a layer of plastic wrap tightly under the top can extend the shelf life a day or two.

- An old stocking will serve a few purposes. You can cut it at the top of the thighs, sew or tie the loose ends and use as a stocking cap for sleeping or dryer styling. You can use one leg as a head band or hair tie and use the other leg as a strainer for your flax seed gel. Stockings are as functional as they are fashionable!

Basic Ingredients
These ingredients can be found in most grocery stores and pharmacies. They are either non-perishable or have long shelf lives and all are useful in a variety of ways.

- aloe vera juice
- apple cider vinegar (ACV)
- baking soda
- canned coconut milk (I use half for my hair and half in a meal)
- castille soap (like Dr. Bronner's)
- [extra virgin] coconut oil (EVCO)
- essential oils
- flax seeds
- glycerin 
- honey
- [extra virgin] olive oil (EVOO)
- vitamin E

Excited to get started? I hope so!

Any of you veterans want to share what's worked for you or what have you learned never to do again?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

DIY Hair Care Isn't Food Waste! a.k.a. You Betta' Back Up Wit Dat

Coconut Milk Avocado Honey Conditioner
So I'm a bit peeved, if you couldn't tell. I'll admit this is an old issue (as in the incident that set me off took place some time ago), but it is an argument I always have with my husband and now other people. I'm tired of people suggesting that using food items for my hair care is a waste of food. *PAUSE*

Food is essential to health and body care inside and out and a multifaceted use of food items is not wasteful. Besides the chemicals to make health and beauty products are made to mimic what fruits, vegetables and herbs do naturally. So aren't DIY methods more natural and in fact, the way we were intended to take care of ourselves (albeit maybe not with such elaborate recipes)?

Coffee Facial Scrub. Want the recipe?
I follow a blog by Jonathan Bloom called Wasted Food (check it out if you, like myself, find yourself throwing away rotten food way too often- or check it out anyway). I was drawn to an article that was wagging the finger at kitty litter made from corn. I do agree with Jonathan that we should be conscious and considerate of frivolous food consumption, especially when so many people in the world are starving. However considering personal hygiene is not at all a frivolous thing, I would not lump my practices into that category. I don't think using half a can of coconut milk on my hair and the other half in my beans is wasteful. I don't think using my coffee grinds as a facial scrub after my daily cup o' joe is wasteful.

Well, there's my rant. But what do you all think?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Rethinking Old Hair Habits

Rethinking Old Hair Habits
By Fran of

Photo courtesy of
Check out my fellow Obie (Oberlin College alum) Fran of Hey Fran Hey, featured every Monday on the Black Girl Long Hair (BGLH) forum. This week she discusses her old hair habits, some she's discarded and some maintained.

In considering my old hair habits there are many I  let go and a few that I've returned to. I no longer buy cheap V05 shampoos and conditioners, but I've definitely returned to the simplicity of good ole' oil and water. Hmm... whoddathunkit?

What are some of your old habits? How many of them have you chucked and how many do you cherish?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Lessons in Mini Twists: The Cheat Sheet

So here's the thing: I'm not usually a fan of mini-twists. Rather I should say I am not a fan of putting them in and taking them out, but the duration of wearing mini twists is often a fantastic experience! One night I found myself putting in some of the tiniest twists I've ever done, and while I cursed myself in my head my hands would not stop. About 6 hours later (that includes making and eating dinner; talking on the phone; periodically checking Facebook...) I was very proud of the mini twists in my hair.

My best set of twists lasted over three weeks, but I usually can't keep them in for so long because they get frizzy. I'm amazed at those who keep their twists looking fresh for four weeks or more! What are your experiences with mini twists? Any of you able to reach an entire month?

Here's what I've learned from my mini twist experiences:
  1. Twisting on wet hair and using a wet product like gel creates a tighter, longer-lasting twist, but also produces greater shrinkage. Twisting on dry hair using an oil or butter creates softer, less-defined twists that tend to unravel. I find lightly spritzing dry hair and mixing a light oil into gel products produce tight twists that last long and are well defined when unraveled. The twists also retain greater length because they are not saturated with water.
  2. The rope twist method (rotating each section clockwise while twisting counter-clockwise or vice versa) creates tighter and longer twists that last longer than regular two strand twists. However the hair can get very tangled if the mini twists are styled often. I use the rope twist method for all of my twists, my hair will unravel otherwise. Tangles used to be a problem for me, but my three step unraveling method has nearly eliminated the problem.
  3. Roller sets on mini twists can mimic many straight styles, like bobs and drop curls, but somehow manage to last longer. I wore a roller set mini twist bob to my two hour dance rehearsal and still had curls at the end! I have a theory that its something about the twists and natural curl of the hair, blah blah blah...
  4. Trimming your hair while in mini twists is not always such a great idea, especially if a comb wasn't used to make straight and even parts. When I saw scraggly ends I kept trimming them. When I took my hair loose I noticed how uneven it had become because of my "arbitrary" trimming. Besides, those ends didn't look as scraggly when clumped in coils rather than randomly parted mini twists. Ooops!
  5. Some natural recipes don't work so well with small twists- like yogurt-based hair conditioners. Even after several rinses I didn't get it all out, but it was a couple of days until I was alerted by a less than pleasurable smell (first noticed by my husband). Yikes!
  6. When unraveling mini twists I follow three simple rules: Use lots of lubrication (oil, conditioner, etc.). Follow the coil (in reverse, of course). Be patient. I like using oil on dry hair for unraveling twists. My strands have a tendency to straighten and slip right out of the twists. When I wet my hair it curls tighter and is harder to detangle. When I rush I often create knots, but when I take my time and follow all three steps I can get through my whole head with very few knots!

Style Tutorial: Mini Twist Styles 1

Sometimes I forget that having twists, especially small or mini twists, is just like having loose hair. There is an endless amount of fantastic styles that can be created with twists- most anything that can be done on loose hair and more! If you're new to wearing mini twists, take a look at the styles I've done below for a few ideas. If you're a veteran and would like your photos posted, please share what you've done: Either way, please tell me what you think!

Style 1

Pinned to the side.
Pinned to the side.

Style 2

Double rolls pinned at the top with a pompadour.
Double rolls pinned at the top with a pompadour.
Double rolls pinned at the top with a pompadour.

Style 3

Bun with a bang. (Accessorize with a ribbon!)
Bun with a bang. (Accessorize with a ribbon!)

Style 4

French roll with a side bang.
French roll with a side bang.
French roll with a side bang.
French roll with a side bang.

Style 5

One long roll with front rolls.
One long roll with front rolls.
One long roll with front rolls.