The kind folks at Jonathan Product contacted me forever ago (in the midst of my pregnancy -update coming soon), and asked if I wanted to try their HYDRACURLS™ hair collection. Since I tend to stick to what I can find at local stores, I couldn’t wait to try something different that I’d never heard of. They must have known I have a lot of hair, because they sent two full-sized bottles of everything (thank you!). Here’s what I tried:
This is a good product line, and some items I would definitely purchase again. It has a clean smell (not fruity or nutty), and the scent lingers, which I love. The products are all free of parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and they contain delicious ingredients like jojoba, coconut, sweet almond, grape seed and argan oils, and shea butter and sea salt.
The products are effective, some more than others on my particular head of hair. Here’s the breakdown:
I was surprised by the watery consistency, but this shampoo works just fine. It doesn’t strip the hair too much, but leaves it clean-feeling. It does have low lather, so don’t expect mounds of suds. I wasn’t blown away, but it does the job well.
This is a very nice conditioner. It is super thick and hydrating, and makes combing my hair very easy. The only downside is the packaging; this stuff is hard to squeeze out! Trying to squeeze the conditioner is like using a hand exerciser (the kind people with arthritis use), and doing this while soaking wet in the shower is no fun.
Leave In Conditioner
I love this leave in! It’s thick, creamy and coats the hair very well. I use about a quarter size on each half of my hair, plus a little more on the top and underneath wear my hair gets really dry. I would definitely buy this again.
Styling Gel Cream
This is my other favorite HYDRACURLS™ product. I’m not a huge gel fan, but because this one is mixed with a cream, it’s doesn’t crunch or flake when it’s dry, and provides a flexible hold. I layered a little bit of this on top of the leave-in.
Reactivating Sea Mist
This is probably my least favorite of all the products, though it does do what it promises. It’s used to refresh curls (or create beach waves if you have straighter hair), and add volume and texture. On my hair, it creates a little too much texture and the result is a sticky, dry feeling. It does, however, plump up the curls just like a day at the beach would.
To recap, this line makes my curls pop, but I’d probably use my own curl refresher concoction instead of this one. The leave in conditioner and styling gel cream are excellent. Also, I looked up the cost – and it’s not bad! Products range from $12.99-$16.99, and can be purchased online.
Have you tried HYDRACURLS™? Which products work for you?
I know, I know. Petroleum and other chemicals like parabens that are commonly found in beauty products have only been found to have limited amounts of harmful effects on the body. Studies are inconclusive and more testing needs to be done before the FDA will label these ingredients as harmful. And yes, I know they’ve been used in skin care products for decades, and on the surface, most people seem to be ok.
I also know that petroleum is a byproduct of the oil industry, and while it may be a fantastic barrier to hold moisture in the skin, it is derived from the same stuff as car fuel. This means it contains chemicals that were probably never meant to penetrate human skin on a daily basis. Parabens are chemically-derived compounds used for preserving ingredients and have been linked to breast cancer and reproductive issues. Yes, I know it takes years of testing to determine if a chemical is harmful (parabens have at least replaced formaldehyde), but I’ve made a personal decision to reduce my use of them in my skin care products now.
This new commitment follows my progression over the years toward a healthier, more natural health regiment.
Over a decade ago, I made a conscious effort to limit the amount of processed and unhealthy foods I put into my body. I stopped eating fast food in college, I don’t eat junk food, I stay away from canned vegetables, I rarely eat red meat, I use moderate amounts of salt and butter, and I eat a TON of fresh fruit and vegetables. I never had a health scare, but cancer and high blood pressure run in my family, and I prefer to avoid both. I also simply found that the more natural and unprocessed food I ate, the better I felt.
About two years ago, I became more aware of the chemicals I was putting in my hair. When I started researching how to enhance my natural curls, I found that the fewer sulfates and silicones I used on a daily basis, the softer and healthier-looking my hair became, not to mention it grows like crazy.
So the natural progression, from my perspective, is to get smarter about the products I am putting on my skin. Skin is the body’s largest organ, and will absorb a portion of what’s layered onto it (some studies say up to 60%). Personally, I’d rather my skin absorb natural, plant-based minerals and vitamins than any material that may or may not cause hormonal imbalances.
This is a highly personal decision, and I don’t impose my health beliefs on others unless asked. But hey, since this is my blog…
I’m still relatively new to the petroleum/paraben-free skin care game, so these are the few produces I’ve used with success so far:
Shea Moisture is easily becoming my favorite skin and hair care line. I LOVE this stuff. It is free of parabens and mineral oil (a derivative of petroleum), the formula is rich, and it smells divine. It absorbs fairly easily into the skin, but because it contains natural oils like shea, cocoa, coconut, jojoba and olive, it does leave the skin slick and shiny. I always apply this at night, right after a shower, right before bed, and it keeps my skin moisturized throughout the next day. I’ve also tried the Shea Moisture Body Lotion, but found that I needed to reapply the next day. If your skin is not too dry, the lotion may work fine. My skin is a bit drier, so the rich formula of the body butter is more effective. The cost is on the high side in terms of drug store brands at around $10 for a 6 oz container, but part of my commitment to harm-free skin care is the acceptance that I will pay a higher price for higher quality. I don’t know if it’s just in my head, but I think my skin also glows a little from using this lotion. 🙂
Since I’ve become *ahem* more mature, I’d started looking for an eye cream to tighten up the skin bags under my eyes. Eye cream is ridiculously expensive for very small amounts, and just couldn’t see myself forking out that much money when 1) I wasn’t convinced they would work, and 2) I knew there had to be a simpler, less expensive alternative. I started reading labels, and saw that a key ingredient in most of these creams was Vitamin E. I’d also read an article somewhere that one of the 80’s supermodels cracks open a Vitamin E pill every night and smoothes the contents onto her face. While I’m hesitant to smooth any kind of oil all over my face (I had a bad experience with the oil-cleansing method that resulted in a trip to the dermatologist), I figured the softening, healing properties of Vitamin E would be great for the fine lines around my eyes. So I headed to Whole Foods and bought a small bottle of the Home Health brand, which contains only tocopherol (natural Vitamin E oil) and vegetable oil (do your research – there are also synthetic tocopherols). I’ve been using this as a nightly eye cream for about a year and a half, and while it doesn’t necessarily tighten loose skin, I do think it has slowed the onset of wrinkles, which are caused by thinner, dryer skin. (I do have some laugh lines though, which I’m proud of.) As for tightening up the skin, I heard tea bags work because of the constricting properties of caffeine. I’ll give it a go and let you know.
I also started using Vitamin E oil as a replacement for the nightly Vaseline I used to moisturize my lips. I can’t even guess how much Vaseline I’ve probably ingested a result of sleeping with it piled up on my lips. Vitamin E oil works just as well, but your lips will look super greasy at night!
This one is very new in my bathroom cabinet, but I’ve just picked up Neutrogena Naturals Multi-Vitamin Nourishing Moisturizer. The skin on my face is on the sensitive side, and I’m pretty picky about what I put on it. I don’t need anything too oily because my skin produces enough, yet I have dry patches around my eyes and chin that need attention, plus daily SPF makes my eyes burn. I selected this moisturizer because 1) Neutrogena generally has a reputation for gentle, effective skin care, 2) at $13 for a 3 oz. container, it is more economical than many “natural” moisturizers, and 3) given that I’m becoming *ahem* more mature, I was looking for ingredients to nourish and improve, not just hold moisture in. It takes a couple of weeks for my skin to adjust to a new moisturizer, so the final verdict has not been rendered, but so far Neutrogena is not a bad choice. I like that it contains natural oils like olive, palm and castor, yet it’s not greasy at all on the face. In fact, I have to get used to how non-greasy it is, because I’d been using good ole Oil of Olay, which leaves a nice little slick of sheen on my face. The only thing I don’t particularly like is that, at night, when the temps are cooler in the house, the area around my eyes feels a little tight, but it’s not a huge deal because I use the Vitamin E oil mentioned above. It’s fine for now, but I probably won’t be able to use this product in the winter, when my skin is even drier. I’ll be sure to update this post in a couple of weeks once I’ve given this moisturizer time to mesh (or not) with my face.
This is the second petroleum-free moisturizer I have tried. The first was Alba Botanicals Natural Hawaiian Moisture Cream. While it was a helluva moisturizer, it was very oily, which didn’t go over too well in the summer months. This might make a better night cream or winter moisturizer. Oh, the struggle!
To be perfectly honest, I don’t know if any of the petroleum or paraben-based products I’ve used all these years have had harmful effects. But I know that what you put on your skin seeps into your body, so it just makes sense to me to use products that have never been linked to any harmful effects. My goal is to nurture my body with what it needs to thrive and heal itself. I know it’s impossible to avoid chemicals – they’re in the air we breath, but I can at least reduce what’s within my control.
I’d always seen it on the beauty aisle and liked the ingredients and price, but when I saw it was the preferred line of one of my favorite curly girls on Instagram, @naturallytash, I decided to give it a go. Here’s what I thought:
Cantu Sulfate-Free Cleansing Cream Shampoo
This shampoo is a great cleanser without over-stripping my hair. It does leave a bit of that squeaky clean feeling, which some like and some don’t; it doesn’t bother me as long as my hair doesn’t feel like straw while wet. It’s thick shampoo, which means a little goes a long way, and it lathers beautifully. My roots tend to get oily, so I like a lathering shampoo. The smell is clean with nutty undertones. Note: it does contain perfume.
This shampoo burns my eyes – not terribly, but enough. I wish it didn’t, because I like everything else about it. I do have sensitive, allergy-prone eyes, and sometimes even body perfume will make my eyes water. I cannot pinpoint which ingredient caused the burn, but it could easily be the perfume.
Cantu Sulfate-Free Hydrating Cream Conditioner
I got excited when I first poured this into my palm. My hair really likes the moisturizing properties of shea butter-based products. This conditioner is THICK and I could definitely feel the shea butter in it. It’s also very moisturizing, even after rinsing completely out. It seems to really smooth the cuticle and cut down the frizz factor (that’s quite a feat in this southern humidity), and pairs beautifully with my favorite leave-in conditioner. The smell is similar to that of the shampoo, which I don’t mind.
The slip! It doesn’t have much! At least, not as much as I’m used to with the TRESemmé Naturals Nourishing Moisture Conditioner. I have to say, the very first time I used the Cantu conditioner, I co-washed with it, and I don’t know if it was because my hair was super tangled or because I had gel residue in it, but it took me twice as long to comb out. The second time I used it, I washed with the shampoo first, and while it was much easier to detangle, it still wasn’t super slippery. I have to use a lot of product to be able to pass my comb easily through. HOWEVER, because it is so moisturizing, and has an ingredient my hair loves, I will give it a pass. Overall, it was a good conditioner for me.
Apart from the drawbacks, I enjoy the Cantu line. Both the shampoo and conditioner are free of sulfates, silicons, parabens and mineral oil, they’re safe on colored hair, and you cannot beat the price. At less than $5 a pop, and decent-sized bottles of 13.5 fl oz, someone who runs through product quickly can feel good about purchasing it.
I am also eager to try the Cantu Coconut Curling Cream. As I’ve mentioned previously, my hair is in love with coconut oil, and I’m curious how the whole line with work together. But alas, I need to run out of my current leave-in before buying anything new.
I mentioned in a previous post that I love a good curl refreshing spray. However, I don’t like to spend a lot of money of them for two reasons: 1) I go through them like water and 2) half the time they don’t work! So I’ve concocted my own curl refreshing recipe that works like a charm on my 2nd, and even 3rd, day curls. Here are my ingredients:
I like to use a light leave-in like Giovanni for this spray because it blends easily with water. The leave-in softens and conditions hair, coconut oil makes it shiny and helps moisturize, and of course water is the ultimate natural curl activator.
Here’s approximately what I use in a 2 oz bottle (I make it in small batches so I can put it in my purse or travel with it).
1/8 leave-in conditioner
One squirt (maybe a teaspoon) of coconut oil
Fill up the rest of the bottle with water
Shake (the bottle) rigorously until the ingredients are well blended. The goal is to achieve what I call “slippery water,” so you may need to add more water or conditioner until you get just the right formula. You want the mixture to be thin enough to spray through a nozzle, but have enough “slip” to coat your locks.
When I’m ready to use it, I flip over my limp, dry curls and shake them at the root to loosen them up, then I spritz the refresher onto my hair until it’s damp all over. I flip upside down again, and gently scrunch my hair upward. Most of the time I let my hair air dry, but you could also use a diffuser on low heat if you’re in a hurry. Et voila!
Smooth, frizz-free curls. Do you have a favorite curl refreshing spray or make your own?
Back in August I was lucky enough to win one of the Ouidad weekly Unfurl Your Curl contests. The prize was an Ultimate Gift Set of eight products for curly hair. These are high-end, salon quality products, so it’s been a pleasure to be able to use and review them. You can check out my reviews of the Essential Daily Shampoo and Conditioner, the Moisture Lock Leave-in Conditioner, and the Tress Effects Styling Gel here.
Of the eight products, this was the only one I received in the 2.5 oz trial size, and when I looked up the price I understood why. A 2.5 oz bottle regularly sells for $26! Expectations were high. The good news – for long hair this amount is plenty for one deep treatment. For those with shoulder-length and shorter hair, you can get multiple treatments out of it.
I normally leave deep conditioners in my hair for an hour or more, or if I’m short on time, 30 minutes minimum. So I was curious how well my hair would absorb this one in only 12 minutes. I shampoo’d with Ouidad Clear & Gentle Essential Daily Shampoo, separated my hair into four sections, and applied a liberal amount of the deep treatment to each. Normally, my biggest gripe with deep conditioners, even the good ones, is that they lack the “slip” of regular conditioner, making them hard to comb through. Not the case with this treatment; my wide-tooth comb easily slid through as I combed the product in. I put my hair in a bun, put on a plastic cap, and per the directions, heated my hair with a blow dryer and let the product sit on my hair for 12 minutes. Also per the directions, I added a bit of my regular conditioner to my hair before I rinsed it all out, to help seal in the nourishing ingredients.
Even as I was rinsing out the deep conditioner, I could feel the softness of my hair. I followed up with Ouidad Moisture-Lock Leave-In Conditioner and a bit of Climate Control Heat and Humidity Gel. I was starting with pretty rough hair after 3 days straight of saltwater swimming. When my hair dried it was noticeably softer and my curls were so well-behaved! The only downside is because my hair was so moisturized, I lost some volume (we must all make sacrifices sometimes). For a 12-minute deep conditioner, it really did the job!
Climate Control Heat & Humidity Gel
This was the product I was most excited to try. I don’t like using a lot of gel in my hair because I hate the tacky, stiff feeling, but I heard that this one worked wonders. I decided to give it a try on my recent trip to Miami, knowing I could really put the product to the test with the tropical weather. After washing and conditioning, I layered a small amount of the gel over my leave-in. The first thing I noticed about this gel is that it is thinner than the Tress Effects Styling Gel, and not as sticky, which was encouraging. As my hair air dried, I definitely felt the hold that gel provides, but once it was completely dry and I scrunched out the crunch, my hair really was soft AND defined. It even lasted through dinner on the patio and night of dancing. (Sadly, I don’t have any pictures from that night because I was too busy having fun.) I liked this gel much better than the Tress Effects gel, and will likely re-purchase it when I run out (which will probably be forever since I use so little at a time).
I like this product, but I have to say I don’t love it. I am all for refreshing sprays. My curls tend to lose their shape after the first or second day. To revive them, I’ve created my own mixture of water, leave-in conditioner, and coconut oil that I spray onto my hair whenever the curls fall flat or get really dry. This homemade concoction works well for me, so I was really hoping that Ouidad’s mixture worked better. The first time I tried the refreshing spray, I used it on second-day hair on which I had applied one of my staple leave-ins. It did a pretty good job; it definitely gave me a moisture boost and left my hair feeling soft. The second time I tried it, it was also on second-day hair, on which I had applied the Ouidad Moisture Lock Leave-In Conditioner and the Tress Effects Styling Gel. Maybe my hair was already dry from the gel, but the spray didn’t do a whole lot. To be fair, it brought a couple of curls back to life, but overall my hair still seemed pretty frizzy. Here’s a before and after photo:
On my hair, it seems to work best when I don’t have any gel in my hair from the previous day. Given the amount of refreshing spray I use, I’ll likely stick with my own mixture once I run out of Botanical Boost (but I will use it all!).
Styling Mist Setting & Holding Spray
The directions say this mist can be used as a hair spray on dry styles or as a setting mist when styling wet hair. I decided to use it as a hair spray when I recently styled my hair using pin curls. After I’d blow dried my hair and rolled and pinned each section, I sprayed a couple pumps of the Styling Mist all over my head. I’d applied it pretty lightly but it still had the hold that I need on dry styles. I then tied a scarf around my hair and went to sleep. The next morning, I took down my hair and had gorgeous, smooth, shiny ringlets. Not hard or crunchy at all. The look I was going for required looser waves, so I combed through the ringlets, and spritzed them once more with the Styling Mist before putting them in a loose pony tail to stretch them. I was flying to Miami that day, and by the time I took down my hair again later on to style it, my hair was still smooth, shiny and frizz-free. This product worked well for my hair, and I can’t wait to try it as a setting mist next.
Overall, I’m a fan of the majority of Ouidad products I tried from the Ultimate Gift Set. My favorites are the Climate Control Gel, Moisture Lock Leave-in, Deep Treatment, and Styling Mist. These products get an A+ from me in terms of moisture, curl definition and light hold. I’ll be scraping the bottom of the bottle with these for sure!