Friday, March 30, 2012

FREE Kitchen Salon Class in NYC 4/6

Don't have money? No problem! Let's Barter... 

FREE Kitchen Salon Class - Friday Apr 6

The Kitchen Salon

12:00pm to 1:30pm
120 Essex Street
New York

Do you want outstanding hair without an outrageous price? Want to be able to pronounce all of the ingredients listed on your hair and body products? Then perhaps you should consider starting your own DIY kitchen salon. 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. The more I learn the more I want to share, which is why I started a blog called The Kitchen Salon ( If you want to save money and look great while being healthier or more eco-friendly, check out what you can do with your own kitchen salon!

About the teacher, Pia Monique Murray

Dancer. Thinker. Choreographer. Dreamer. Educator. Administrator. Daughter. Wife. Friend. So welcome to The Kitchen Salon, my blog series on DIY hair products made from all natural ingredients, mostly items that can be found in your kitchen and bathroom. I will not claim to be the originator of the ideas, but I do put my own personal spin on every recipe I come across (cause that's how I do... even as I kid I never followed directions too closely).


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Searching for Nature in Un-Natural Ways

I read an article on The Natural Haven about a natural ingredient in the Shea Moisture (SM) product that mimics parabens but isn't scientifically defined as such. The japanese honeysuckle extract found in some of their products looks (on a molecular level) and behaves in the same way as a paraben; easily seeping into skin and binding to certain cells.

Shea Moisture products
BTW: Visit The Natural Haven if you haven't already. Its run by JC, a scientist who really knows her stuff! Though it takes me a while to digest all of the information because I'm relying on Wikipedia and memories of past chemistry classes to explain it, I appreciate her honest research. She offers a lot of raw data so that you can form your own opinions about natural hair methods and products.

But where was I? Oh yes- SM! This product line has BLOWN UP in the natural hair community, especially because of its slogan "Culturally authentic products made with indigenous ingredients since 1912." (1912?! Why did it take 100 years for this product line to grow so popular?)

A reader asked JC about the japanese honeysuckle extract, if it was a paraben or not and if the SM manufacturers were being dishonest or deceitful about it. According to JC's research, the extract is indeed natural and parabens are scientifically defined as synthetic products. Therefore SM is not legally required to categorize it as such. However the two substances are nearly identical in properties and behavior which is not implied by the "paraben-free" tag on the Shea Moisture line.

I can understand a consumer's frustration if they had been happily slathering their strands with the security of a paraben-free product and then learned that an ingredient has the same properties as a paraben. Consumers would have to minor in chemistry classes to understand it all! But that's just it, you have to become an educated consumer in order to make informed decisions- about anything.

Another way is to stop searching for nature in a bottle guaranteed to last for 6 months to a year. I mean ultimately isn't that what's happening? We wouldn't expect the tomato we buy at the market to last for a year, but we want natural hair products to have long shelf lives without the compromise of preservatives. Its a little silly, no?

DIY Winter Hair Mask
If you feel duped by Shea Moisture or any other product line you thought was delivering you just fruits and berries in a bottle might I suggest one way to be absolutely sure you know each and every ingredient in your product? CREATE YOUR OWN KITCHEN SALON!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

DIY Recipe: Lemon Honey Facial Scrub

I love my coffee facial scrub but its too harsh for frequent use. For gentler but equally effective exfoliation I used brown sugar for this facial scrub. Try it and tell me what you think:

2 tablespoons brown sugar (light or dark, not granulated)
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice (I used the juice from a quarter lemon)

Secure your hair so that it doesn't fall in your face. Rinse your face with warm water to open your pores.
Using a quarter of a lemon, rub the pulp side on your face. Lemon is a natural astringent but use sparingly as it can sting sensitive skin or be too drying for dry skin. You can choose to skip this step, but if you have oily skin this should be helpful.
Apply lemon honey facial scrub using your finger tips. I like to massage in gentle circular motions, avoiding my eyes. Rinse with cool water to close your pores. (I'm wearing a shower cap because I was rinsing in the shower.)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Over 3,000 Views... THANK YOU!

Over 3,000 Views... THANK YOU!

We're cooking in The Kitchen Salon now!
Thanks for all of your interest and support. Gratitude Giveaway COMING SOON!

Friday, March 9, 2012

I Don't Know What You Been Told, But I Love My Blow Dryer (Though Its Old)

I know many naturals have sworn off of heat styling, and I do go for long stretches of time without using any heat. Recently I've been impatient with drying time and I've been enjoying the look of blow dried hair. So for the past month I've been blow drying my hair after my weekly washes. AND (are you ready for this?) I haven't been using protective styling that much. As it turns out heat doesn't have to be my arch nemesis. Are there other naturalistas who would defend their blow dryers like a play cousin in the hood?

Before we were so close I was afraid of blow dryers. Like, I would cross the street and grab hold of my purse if I saw one... they scared me so much! For years blow dryers meant tired arms, lots of breakage, somewhat straight roots and crunchy frizzy ends. There is nothing attractive about any of that. But I no longer have that association with my blow dryer even though it is the same ole' dryer from high school! But the results are drastically different.

What changed? I learned about deep conditioning, diffusers/comb attachments and heat protectants. Now that I am diligent about the use of all three, I can blow dry my hair in a fraction of the time, I have much less breakage and my hair is smooth from root to tip. I deep condition my hair in twists after detangling. I finger detangle again while adding my homemade heat protectant. I prefer my comb attachment over a diffuser and separate comb, its seamless and wide-toothed and concentrates the heat on my strands for faster results with less effort. And um yes, I am using a $1.99 comb attachment from the beauty supply store!

All three things in conjunction improved the experience but I think I owe the majority of my success to my homemade heat protectant. Its worked so well for me I just had to share the recipe with you all. Click here for the full recipe and post your results if you use it.

DIY Recipe: Pia's Dry Don't Fry All-Natural Heat Protectant

raw shea and/or mango butter
extra virgin coconut oil
avocado and/or grapeseed oil
vitamin E
flax seed oil
soy lecithin

To avoid a runny mess use a 2:3 ratio of liquid oils to solid butters. 2 tablespoons (combined) avocado, grapeseed oil, vitamin E, flax seed oil, and soy lecithin with 3 tablespoons (combined) shea butter and mango butter. This fits a 4 ounce container and lasts up to 2 months (for me).

Here are the different methods I've used for mixing:
  • Lazy Method - Melting and mixing all ingredients together, then allowing to solidify. This method is my least favorite because the shea and mango butters get grainy as they cool down, creating a lumpy mixture. It can take over an hour for the butters to solidify at room temperature, about 20 minutes in the freezer. You have to keep watching the mixture otherwise you end up with something like a chocolate bar when its cold. 
  • Thorough Method - Whipping the shea and mango butter at room temperature then adding in other ingredients a little at a time. I like this method a lot, but as I don't have an electric hand mixer it is very tiresome. With an electric mixer you can whip the butter in 3 minutes. Whipping by hand can take up to 10 minutes depending on how soft your butters are. 
  •  Compromising Method - Partially melting the shea and mango butters then whipping in the other ingredients a bit at a time as it cools works best for me without an electric mixer. I speed up the cooling process by placing the mixture in the freezer in 5 minute increments. All of the ingredients blend smoothly and I achieve the creamy lotion texture I'm looking for. This usually takes me about 20-30 minutes, but I do this while deep conditioning and making my other products, so the time is not wasted on just waiting.

Kick @$$ Qualities
- Shea and mango butters are excellent deep conditioners; are loaded with vitamins that protect the hair from heat and sun damage; make a great base because of their firm textures at room temperature and interminable shelf life.

- Extra virgin coconut oil easily penetrates the hair shaft making it an excellent deep conditioner. It also adds a subtle but delicious scent!

- Avocado has an extremely high smoke point around 500º, providing excellent protection for your strands when heat styling. Avocado oil is also loaded in essential nutrients like proteins, vitamins A, D, E and B6, magnesium, copper, iron, amino acids and folic acid.

- Grapeseed oil has an extremely high smoke point around 480º, providing excellent protection for your strands when heat styling. is very light, making it an excellent carrier oil for diluting heavier and more potent oils. It helps prevent dandruff, won't cause buildup and is easily absorbed by hair strands for deep conditioning benefits.

- Vitamin E (in my unprofessional opinion) works best for sunscreen protection when applied topically. The other benefits are best achieved when ingested, by eating foods that are rich in vitamin E or taking supplements. It is a very thick viscous liquid, so I'm sure it has some (however little) emollient properties.

- Flax seed oil contains all of the vital omega-3 fatty acids, which add sheen and luster. It also increases circulation in the scalp to stimulate hair growth.

- Soy lecithin contains inositol which is rumored to be critical in hair growth (I haven't read any certified studies). In the heat protectant it is an emulsifier, adding slip that remains even after blow drying. My hair is chronically dry, so I like the light non-greasy coating it leaves. I don't have to reapply any product for 3-4 days. Use sparingly because too much would definitely cause build up.

Give it a try and let us know how it works for you. What other natural items provide heat protection?