Monday, 11 February 2019

curly haircare products i've tried - a working list

someone on Instagram asked if i had a working document of products i’ve tried and my thoughts on them. so, today i thought i’d start it, for you to reference whenever you like.

if you’ve got similar hair to me then you’ll know that products can be hit or miss, and that a lot of them can weigh it down or make it feel greasy.

if you don't know what type of hair you have, then check out my YouTube video about figuring out my hair porosity, density, thickness and curl type, because all of these play a factor in which types of products work for your hair - and if you're similar to me then you'll find this list super useful, and i hope you save it somewhere so you can keep it as a reference guide (i'd also love for you to recommend products that might work in the comments below!).

i've also added links to where you can pick them up, just to make it a bit more convenient for you to find the exact thing i've tried. some of these are affiliate links, which means they throw me a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to yourself, and that enables me to continue making content for you.

for each product, i'll give it a star rating, tell you if it's 100% Curly Girl approved (i've put it through, and also give you my opinion + thoughts based on using it with my hair type. i've ordered them by my most favourite to my least favourite, so if you want to know my HG, you'll find it at the top of each list!

ps. HG stands for 'Holy Grail', and I've listed which my current top HG products are in the mini reviews ;)

  • Calia Purifying Shampoo - (US/UK)
    *****, CG approved
    Cleanses beautifully, lovely ingredients and fab brand, my HG shampoo - a little pricey but worth the investment, also a little hard to source in the UK (I get it shipped from the continent).
  • Not Your Mother's Naturals (NYM) Blue Sea Kale & Coconut Water Shampoo - (US/UK)
    *****, CG approved
    I love how this doesn't strip the hair, but yet gets it feeling really clean. The smell is divine too. It lathers great, much like a conventional shampoo, and adds great shine.
  • Bentley Organic HydraVitality Shampoo - (US/UK)
    *****, not CG friendly (sodium coco-sulfate, alcohol)
    This is a cheaper option for those who still want a 'natural' brand - it cleanses well, lathers a good amount, and doesn't leave a residue at all. My hair loves it.
  • Shea Moisture Black Castor Strengthen & Restore Shampoo - (US/UK)
    *****, not CG friendly (hydrolyzed vegetable protein pg-propyl silanetriol - a silicone)
    This works great for my hair, and is so easy to find around the globe. The silicone included is one that is a protein and silicone blend that helps fortify and strengthen the bonds in the hair - so if you don't mind silicones (and your hair doesn't) then this is a great one.
  • Childs Farm Strawberry & Mint Sensitive Shampoo - (US/UK)
    ****, not CG friendly (sodium coco-sulfate, alcohol)
    I find this shampoo works beautifully on my hair as a clarifying shampoo (which I use most wash days tbh), but it got demoted for its ingredients list - it will likely dry my hair over time.
  • Boucleme Curl Cleanser - (US/UK)
    ***, CG approved
    I don't find this washes deeply enough, but it's certainly better than the below Boucleme alternative. High cost-per-use.
  • Rhassoul Clay - (US/UK)
    ***, CG approved
    I did a video with my brother and niece where we washed our curly hair with just plain clay - one of the best things to remove product build up and give some definition to your curls, plus it absorbs oils really beautifully afterwards. But it's hard to use and can be drying for the hair.
  • Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Shampoo - (US/UK)
    ***, CG approved
    Left a residue that meant that my hair needed to be washed more regularly, but looked great on wash day.
  • As I Am Coconut CoWash - (US/UK)
    ***, CG approved
    When I used to straighten my hair I really loved this cowash, but now I'm curly I actually really don't love it. I find it doesn't clean well, sits heavy on my hair and is a bit too chemical smelling for me.
  • Boucleme Hydrating Hair Cleanser - (US/UK)
    ** , CG approved
    Did not cleanse my hair well at all, would perhaps work for someone who doesn't use much product or who has very fine hair, or who has the patience to scrub it into their roots for 5 whole minutes.
  • Tabitha James Kraan Hair Cleanser - (US/UK)
    *, CG approved
    The most expensive hair cleanser I've tried, and I really didn't think it was worth the pricetag (thankfully I only bought a trial size). It says 'It's not a shampoo' on the website, and it's right that it doesn't lather, but it also doesn't really clean...
  • Not Your Mother’s Naturals (NYM) Blue Sea Kale and Coconut Water Conditioner - (US/UK)
    *****, CG approved
    This is my new fave, because it's reasonably priced, has lots of slip, smells amazing, and it's only flaw is that the pump dispenser isn't that great. I love this conditioner.
  • Inecto Naturals Coconut Conditioner - (US/UK)
    ****, not CG friendly (isopropyl alcohol)
    Demoted for it's one drying alcohol ingredient, but my hair seems to love it anyway and this is also the cheapest conditioner on the list. It's also my HG.
  • Tresemme Botanique Nourish & Replenish Conditioner - (US/UK)
    ****, CG approved
    I used this in my recent 'Trying Curly Susie' routine' video, as I probably wouldn't have reached for it otherwise. But it's a lovely conditioner, lots of slip, and washes out without leaving residue. You can't get much better for the price (and Susie agrees with me).
  • Bentley Organic HydraVitality Conditioner - (US/UK)
    ****, CG approved
    This conditioner doesn't have huge slip, but always makes my curls look healthy and shiny anyway.
  • Boucleme Curl Conditioner - (US/UK)
    ***, CG approvedI like this product, but I don't love it. It's ok, but it's a little bit heavy. I wanted more from it for the price that I paid.
  • Tabitha James Kraan 4 in 1 Conditioner - (US/UK)
    **, CG approved
    I really found this conditioner had no slip, and I needed a lot of product to coat my hair. It also left a residue on my hair.
  • Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Conditioner - (US/UK)
    *, CG approved
    Leaves too much product residue in my hair, so it gets weighed down easily. Not great for fine hair.
Treatments/Deep Conditioners
  • Briogeo Don’t Despair Repair Deep Conditioning Mask - (US/UK)
    *****, not CG friendly (isododecane - form of wax that may cause buildup)
    My absolute HG deep conditioner, always leaves my hair feeling moisturised and cared for. I think it helps the curl pattern.
  • Jessicurl Deep Conditioner - (US/UK)
    ***, CG approved
    I like this blended with rice water to make a moisturising protein treatment for my hair. Otherwise, all by itself, it's a little too heavy for my hair type.
  • Boucleme Intensive Moisture Treatment - (US/UK)
    *, CG approved
    The most mega list of ingredients, the nastiest smell. Also doesn't seem to hydrate my curls?!
  • The Innate Life Herbal Hair Mask - (US/UK)
    *, CG approved
    I required so much of the bottle to saturate my hair, as the consistency is very thin without much slip at all. Therefore, cost per use is extremely high. I also felt that it didn't make much different to my hair, other than adding shine.
Oils & Scalp Treatments
  • The Innate Life Rose Hair Elixir - (US/UK)
    *****, CG approved
    My HG hair oil, for refreshing, for eliminating frizz, for providing shine, for scrunching out the crunch. It smells divine too.
  • Righteous Roots Hair RX - (US/UK)
    ****, CG approved
    The perfect oil for both scalp massage, adding shine, and also an all-over hot oil treatment - I love this stuff, and I see it staying in my routine for a long long time.
  • Living Libations Scalp Tonic - (US/UK)
    ****, CG approved
    This is a great oil for nourishing your scalp, goes in easily, washes out easily and leaves your scalp feeling fresh.
  • Evolve Beauty Nourishing Hair Elixir - (US/UK)
    *, CG approved
    It's started to refer to itself on the website now as a 'serum', and that's much more accurate. This oil sits on top of the hair providing shine for a short while but not penetrating the shaft.
  • The Innate Life Scalp Treatment - (US/UK)
    *, not CG friendly (cera alba)
    I expected so much more from this, and perhaps it just didn't suit my hair/scalp type? It was difficult to apply, difficult to wash out and made very little noticeable difference.
Leave-in Conditioners/Creams
  • A’Kin Leave-in Conditioner - (US/UK)
    *****, CG approved
    I loved this conditioner, and I will likely buy and use it again. It isn't too heavy, you need very little product, and it makes a noticeable difference even used just by itself.
  • Boucleme Curl Cream - (US/UK)
    *****, CG approved
    My current fave, although not my HG, this curl cream does the job and is totally reliable under pretty much any gel.
  • DevaCurl Wave Maker - (US/UK)
    ****, CG approved
    I find this to be so very similar to a lot of the above mentioned products, it is light and yet adds definition. My only hesitancy is with the price and the availability of this product.
  • Briogeo Curl Charisma Rice Amino + Avocado Leave-In Defining Crème - (US/UK)
    ****, CG approved
    I really like this creme - it's sort of a cross between a leave-in and a gel, and so I included it in this category so you know not to double layer it. Otherwise it works so beautifully at holding you curls, adding hydration and it's a great one-and-done product.
  • Andalou Naturals Styling Cream - (US/UK)
    ***, not CG friendly (amodimethicone)
    This isn't my favourite, and I found it a little heavy. The ingredients list isn't the best. The A'Kin one is a much better buy for the money.
  • Briogeo Rosarco Milk Leave In Conditioning Spray - (USUK)
    ***, not CG friendly (isohexadecane)
    I like this product, but it's not love, like any other spray conditioner I feel it's good on refresh days but I'm not convinced it actually does anything for my hair.
  • Calia Purifying Leave-in Conditioner Spray - (US/UK)
    **, not CG friendly (cera alba)
    I don't find this does much for my hair.
  • Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie - (US/UK)
    **, CG approved
    The 3rd ingredient is shea butter, so I think this is why this product sits so heavily on my fine hair. I really didn't get on with this, when I use it (I hate throwing things away) I use a teeny tiny pea sized amount mixed with gel.
  • Flora + Curl Floral Hydration Hair Mist - (US/UK)
    *, CG approved
    Smells so bad, leaves my hair sticky... perhaps this is intended for much thicker, denser hair types? I cannot figure out who would benefit from this product.
  • Jessicurl Spiralicious Styling Gel - (US/UK)
    *****, not CG friendly (alcohol)
    I really love this gel, and I always get super tight ringlets when I use it.
  • Boucleme Curl Defining Gel - (US/UK)
    *****, CG approved
    I love the way this smells and feels, and it provides just the right amount of hold for me. I will always go back to this.
  • Calia Organic Styling Gel - (US/UK)
    *****, CG approved
    Probably my HG gel, I love this for the price, the quality of the ingredients and how nice my hair looks and feels when I use it.
  • Kinky Curly Curling Custard - (US/UK)
    *****, CG approved
    This is so similar to the Calia gel, in that the ingredients list is super similar, so whichever you get you'll be happy with, lovely tight curls and great longevity. I love this!
  • Not Your Mother’s Naturals Blue Sea Kale and Coconut Water Weightless Mousse - (US/UK)
    ****, CG approved
    I love this for a very easy and quick drying wash and go style. The curls aren't as defined, but I like it that way, they're looser and more romantic but with lots of volume still. The smell is gorgeous as with the rest of the line. The only trouble is that it really doesn't keep any hold to the second day, meaning a completely new wash or new product application.
  • Bounce Curl Light Creme Gel - (US/UK)
    ****, CG approved
    I really love the longevity I get with this one, it keeps the curl structure overnight better than any of the other gels I've tried. However, it can be easy to add too much, you only need a tiny amount, and it isn't always friendly with leave-in cream products.
  • Biotera Ultra Gentle Clean Gel - (US/UK)
    ****, CG approved
    I like this one for refresh days - it's really light and therefore will work better in some climates than others, and in certain seasons. This is a really reasonably priced product as well, and layers brilliantly.

things i've got sat on my shelf waiting to review:
  • Noughty Wave Hello Curl Shampoo, Conditioner and Leave-In
  • Giovanni Weightless Moisture Shampoo, Conditioner, Leave-in & Gel
  • Only Curls UK Shampoo, Conditioner, Leave-in & Gel
products i'd like to try in the future:
  • Yes to Carrots Scalp Relief Conditioner
  • Matrix Biolage Conditioner
  • Curlsmith Curl Defining Styling Souffle, Curlsmith Moisture Memory Reactivator, Curlsmith Style Balm
  • Trepadora Quinoa Repair Deep Conditioner, Gojiberry Hair Rinse, Papaya Slip Taming Potion
  • Flora + Curl Superfruit Oil
  • Innersense I Create Volume, I Create Hold, I Create Lift Volumizing Foam, Quiet Calm Curl Control
  • Meow Meow Tweet Shampoo Bar Rosemary Avocado
  • Bounce Curl Hairspray
  • The Curly Co Diffuser
  • John Masters Scalp Spray
  • Mielle Hair Mask
if you'd like to see more in-depth reviews and routines, please hop on over to my YouTube channel and subscribe.

please feel free to make suggestions for other products i should try! the curly girl community on the web is INCREDIBLE and there are so many products i would never have found if it weren't for the recommendations of other people, so please let me know your favourites below…

otherwise, have a lovely day and thank you for reading x

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

combatting the winter blues

hello lovely reader, i hope your day is going well so far, and if it isn't i hope you find something to cheer it up.

today i'm going to talk about my struggle against the winter blues, which is something i've been wrestling with for many many years now. i'm loathe to say that i'm 'cured' because it's more like i 'manage' it, and if i follow just these couple of pieces of advice then i'm pretty much ok.

so let's start this story back in 2014, i'd been married a couple of years and my husband noticed distinctly that in the winter months i was a different person. i don't remember exactly what it was about these times, whether i was more prone to anger, would isolate myself more, was just a lot more depressive? but, to this day, he's always a little bit worried about how i'll cope as the days draw in. and my mother agrees, she also noticed this tendency in me (i'm pretty sure that's why she got a dog).

the other part of the puzzle was that my joints get particularly bad during the winter months - i always joked to myself that i needed to 'winter in Spain on doctor's order' like they would've done a century ago.

so, i went to see a rheumatologist about my joints a couple of years ago, and whilst she diagnosed me with 'insulin arthralgia', as a symptom of my Type 1 Diabetes, she also found out that my Vitamin D levels were extremely low. so, i was put on 10,000 iu's a day for a whole week to boost myself back up to normal, and then told i would need a daily dose for ever.

so, this is truly my BEST piece of advice for anyone suffering with the winter blues: get your Vitamin D levels checked, and/or start taking a Vitamin D supplement.

i have previously done an at-home test, called Thriva, which i would recommend to anyone. their baseline test is not cheap, but it will test cholesterol, liver function, iron, vitamin d and vitamin b12. i did this to check that my regular dose of vitamin d spray was working as i expected.

the vitamin d spray that i use now is a 3,000iu spray from BetterYou (UK/US) - it's not heaps expensive, but does seem to work and it's a much higher dose than a lot of the others. it tastes good too! if you haven't been diagnosed with a deficiency then i would recommend the Junior spray which is the UK government recommendation of 400ius (UK/US), or the 1,000ius is another lower dose option (UK/US).

i don't supplement hugely anymore in other areas, i try to get most of what i need from whole foods. but it's been medically proven that anyone living in the northern parts of the world need a little Vitamin D supplementation to keep them strong (see NHS, and BBC) during the winter months.

the other thing that i've been trying to do so far this year is to get outside, which you'll know if you read my last post about my 2019 intentions. even when it's super cold, we dress appropriately and we go outside. even for just a quick 30 minute walk around the block. it's important to have that regular practice throughout the year, because when the sunshine comes in the summer you'll want to get out in the sun as much as you can in good daylight hours to top up your vitamin d levels to a high level to last longer into the winter.

there's a great app called 'dminder' and it can tell you what the UV ratings are in your area at any moment in time, and can tell you when you'll next be able to get Vitamin D from the sun (45 days from today!!), as well as during the day how long you need to spend in the sun to get the amount you need that day / before you catch a sunburn. it's a fab free app!

plus the fresh air is also so important for your wellbeing, and the sunlight is great for helping set your circadian rhythms.

so those are my two best pieces of advice for anyone suffering from the winter blues:
 - get tested for Vitamin D deficiency and/or take Vitamin D supplements
 - get outside more! use the dminder app to get as much sun exposure as is safe.

another couple of extra things which i find help:
 - booking a holiday in the middle of winter, topping up those Vitamin D levels in a sunny foreign place will make a huge different to your levels through the rest of winter - however this isn't financially viable for everyone. we did this one year and it was a very happy year!
 - making sure that your lighting is warm and hygge (cosy). get some candles, light a fire, lay the lights low - follow the advice of wise Scandinavians who only have a couple of hours of light in the day. keeping things cosy helps tremendously.
 - i have never tried (but friends of mine have) a SAD lamp, but i will likely get one in years to come, because they're raved about.
 - get a dog if you struggle with the incentive to get outside!
 - eat healthily, don't let your health be compromised in other ways because you're feeling down. i know to be extra cautious in the winter months of incorporating veggies and fruit in reasonable quantities, and in nice warming, satisfying, wintery ways. and drink lots of herbal tea!

i hope this post is helpful! i'd love if you would share your tips, experience and advice in the comments below.

please note: i am not a doctor, and therefore none of this should be considered medical advice. this is not sponsored in any way.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

my intentions for this year

well, it's the tenth of January already, so this post is a little bit late... but better late than never?

firstly though, let me say that Christmas was hard (for obvious reasons / read this) for all of the family. so we did Christmas differently, albeit at a similar pace. in fact, i found the whole of December challenging - from putting up a tree, seeing a Christmas show, going to the Christmas market, singing carols at church - she would've enjoyed every moment and made everyone smile. i couldn't not see her face each day. i missed her and i cried a lot.

but, i knew that it would be hard so i also made sure to schedule in (in advance) a good deal of reflection time and time with my family, so i was dealing with my feelings and giving them space. i continued to look heavenward, to remind myself that Christmas isn't about family and presents and having a movie-moment, it's about a Saviour being born.

we also went to her grave on the 22nd, before most of the merriments began, to talk, to sob, to feel. it was so important to me that we went. i can't really explain why, but it helped hugely.

the rest of Christmas was caught up with family, food and movies... we sailed through it. i don't feel like we aced it, but we did the best we could i think. and sometimes the best is good enough.

now onto more positive things...

i usually have some sort of intentions for the year, and this year is no exception. i like the word intentions instead of resolutions, because it means i 'intend' to do it, not that i 'resolutely will' do it. so it feels far more realistic and i probably won't berate myself at the end of the year if i didn't 'achieve' them.

these also are really more of a carry over from things i was doing throughout most of the last year - things that worked really well for me balancing my life as a mama, and also as a wife of a very hardworking man...

1. buy second hand clothes most of the time.
when i moved back to the uk i found that transition quite hard, in some ways i was grieving Belgium - sounds weird but it's true. and it seems that i used shopping as a coping mechanism, because i went nuts in the january sales and then the midseason sales too. and the more nuts thing is that i didn't need anything new, it was just me making myself feel better by buying something pretty.

anyhow, i currently live just round the corner from about a dozen thrift/charity shops, and somewhere throughout last year i remembered how much of a kick i get from finding a really amazing second hand piece. something unique, in good condition and with a fab price-tag - it's a much better 'find' than anything you can discover in sales on the world wide web. so, that's been my go-to. and i'm determined to keep my clothing budget super low this year, as well as save the planet from the perils of fast fashion at the same time ;)

truly though, i feel most myself 'playing dress up', as the great Beth Jones would say...

ps. i kind of wanted to put an intention to take more outfit pics, so that i challenge myself more - it makes me feel so much better about myself when i make an effort, and i have a fun wardrobe to play with. maybe one month i will do a daily challenge and video it?

2. meal plan weekly.
i started meal planning quite early on in the year, i even made a whole video about how i go about it. but i've changed to be a lot more structured - i write the plan on Sunday, order the shop for delivery on Monday and then repeat the following week.

it has saved not just time and money, but also stress and tears by making sure that we all eat healthily and on time. if a week goes by without me meal planning it's not usually a good week, because we don't have yummy things to look forward to! if i didn't meal plan i wouldn't try new things either, because as a mamma that takes planning in advance. and then we wouldn't have had this Jamie recipe today...

3. faith journal as much as possible.
you all have probably realised by now that i love to faith journal as much as a can, and try to do even a small amount every day. there have been a good few weeks lately where i haven't made the time for it (we are hopefully moving house in the next couple of weeks!) - and i MISS it, i YEARN for it. it's my time with God, my time meditating on His good word, the TRUTH. i need it in my life so badly, and praise God that i can now say that, because it is my daily connection and my daily bread.

for more info, see a beginner's guide to faith journaling, and my favourite journaling supplies.

4. spend more time outdoors with my boy.
i went to the woods with my family last week and was horrified by how much i've become a city girl... so i will continue to make every effort to go outside and spend time outside, however cold, however hot. i will prepare myself wisely and get my feet out the door. this last year was hard with some anxiety i was feeling, so this next year, in this next phase of life, i will get out, even if it's for 30 minutes in the garden or kicking a ball around the park.

5. do pilates weekly.
i am pretty sure i've set myself this target for the last 5 years and for some reason i can never make it stick?! i think it just doesn't sit at the top of my priority list, but it ought to, because whenever i do pilates regularly i feel so much stronger and vibrant. i just do it at home, but i think i need to make a more special space in this new house for it, so i set aside space and time weekly for it. it only takes an hour, so it should be very do-able. any suggestions for getting exercise into your routine as a mama would be greatly appreciated!

6. clean first
this is going to seem bonkers to some of you, heaven to my husband and like "duh!" for others of you. but very slowly over the last few years i've discovered how much i like my house in order, how it boosts my productivity hugely and therefore i now value it highly in my daily rhythm. so much so that i like to get the cleaning and tidying done each day to a good standard, then it's much easier to stay on top of. i know.... duh!

so for this coming year, i want to continue to clean first once my boy goes down for his nap or at bedtime, because then all the other things i do with that time feel so much better.

so there you have it, i guess 6 intentions isn't many, and truthfully i only worry about one of them - i haven't done pilates yet this year and we're 10 days in! please send me tips!

anyways, i hope you're having a beautiful day x

currently listening to: the sound of silence from next door - they've been having their floors redone all week, and it's finally quiet.