Skincare products

Um, what happened?? I was basking in the lovely fall temperatures with its sunny, crisp days and mellow dewpoints…only to be cruelly taunted for half a week when 90+ degree weather reared its ugly head. Honestly, can the weather please make up its mind??

I’ve been chugging along with ecostyler krystal and chi infra gel and the combo has helped me keep hair sanity throughout the fluctuating temps. The only variables throughout the past two weeks have been conditioners and leave ins. In hopes of pleasing the fall gods with harvest scents, I recently pulled out my bottle of healthy sexy hair pumpkin conditioner and sought to give curls by sister smith’s wet set hair pudding one last shot. So far, the deliciously scented pumpkin conditioner has been keeping my waves pretty happy and it seems like the weather gods were pleased by my offering as the forecast for the rest of the week, today being the only exception, looks like the we’ll be in the low 70s. Huzzah!

Unfortunately, I’m just not getting along at all with WSHP; it leaves my waves stringy and somewhat dry yet oily at the same time. It’s tolerable enough for stay at home days but it just doesn’t hack it as a leave in or styling cream.

I’ve been using and liking CHI’s infra gel so I was pleasantly surprised to see bottles at my local TJ Maxx. My PJ was kept in check by my ever-so-watchful SO and my own guilt, so I only purchased two bottles at $7 each! Since it retails for about $12-14 at local beauty supply stores and can be somewhat hard to find, I was a happy camper. Beat that deal! CHI isn’t really discussed much on the boards but I did find two threads that liken it to the old formula BRHG. I’ve never tried the old BRHG so I can’t really compare but compared to the BRHG I have in my arsenal, CHI is thinner and more application friendly since it isn’t as thick. 

I bit the bullet and chucked my 85% full tub of GoW’s rose clay cleanser into the trash. I debated keeping it for evening use but after using CR’s goat milk mango beauty bar and seeing my skin purge as if by magic, I knew that the clay cleanser had to hit the waste bin ASAP. Unfortunately, the goat’s milk mango bar isn’t available for purchase on the Camellia Rose website; I was lucky enough to score one as a consolation for such a late order.

As for Camellia Rose’s facial elixir, my skin wasn’t bowled over. It performs as well as any of my skincare oils but is pretty concentrated (1-3 drops should do it). I have two gripes about the elixir which land it on the “In a pinch” list: 1) it doesn’t perform any better or worse than my other skincare oils, and 2) it’s a hassle having to shake the bottle to put the sediment back into solution.


I love me some Garden of Wisdom skincare products. There really aren’t very many products Markey makes that I can’t stand. Unfortunately, her rose clay cleanser is one of those items. The benefits listed sound good enough:

* nutrient rich
* clay draws the toxins to the surface of the skin lifting impurities away
* easily rinsed clean with warm water
* deep cleansing
* helps to regulate oil production 

but unfortunately, the ingredients themselves aren’t playing with my skin very well. I’ve used my fair share of clay masks before and am a big fan of the ubiquitous Queen Helene mint julep mask. I was expecting the rose clay cleanser to have somewhat the same consistency as the mint julep but was sorely mistaken; with an almost butter-like texture, I found the clay cleanser quite difficult to spread on my skin. I’ve tried it as a regular cleanser rinsing off after swirling around on my face, and as a mini mask allowing it to sit for a minute or two before rinsing and neither one has really blown my mind. If anything, I found it difficult to rinse off and messy, and it sometimes seemed to discolor my skin. At first I thought it was a skin reaction but my skin didn’t feel irritated, it was just the same color as the cleanser and it stayed that way for half an hour or so. It does seem to clean to a certain extent since there wasn’t any makeup residue on the cotton pad after I swiped with toner, but I’ve noticed a few clogged pores and my skin just doesn’t feel fresh and clean like it usually does.

DHC after bath emulsion – I’ve been using this as a leave in under ecostyler and a hard hold gel and don’t find it to be anything special. I’ve had this bottle for quite some time but, of course, have never gotten around to actually trying it. While it pairs moderately well with the ecostyler enough to give me waves halfway similar to ecostyler+kbb milk/super silky, I feel like the moisture content compared to the kbbs is sorely lacking. Upon application, it’s as if I hadn’t applied any leave in at all. In terms of consistency, it’s similar to GDLI. The ingredients aren’t anything to write home about (water/eau, butylene glycol, glycerin,  class=”hiddenSpellError” pre=””>cetearyl alcohol, diglycerin, behentrimonium methosulfate, bis(C13-C15 alkoxy) PG-amodimethicone, steartrimonium chloride, hydroxyethylcellulose, phenoxyethanol, olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, steareth-5, steareth-15, barley extract/extrait d’orge à deux rangs, glyceryl stearate SE, sodium citrate, tocopherol, santalum album (sandalwood) wood extract, phellodendron amurense bark extract, fragrance/parfum, polyquaternium-61, citric acid, PCA ethyl cocoyl arginate) and at $14 for 5 oz, I can think of other products I’m willing to pay S&H for.

Curls by Sister Smith Wet Set Hair Pudding –  Yes, it’s cheap at $5.50 for a whopping 8 oz but for the ingredients list (glycerin, aloe vera, olive oil), I feel like I could just make it at home. It doesn’t truly feel creamy or moisturizing and when used under ecostyler (man, I love this stuff!!!) it did give me decent waves but again, nothing to write home about.

Well color me impressed by an Aussie gel! I’ve tried Aussie’s sun touched shine and sydney smooth tizz no frizz gels before but wasn’t impressed so I was expecting much of the same from the aussome volume line. My first experiment was a success with the aussome gel under a dab of brhg. My second experiment consisted of KY jelly used a leave in under the aussome gel and although it wasn’t a glowing success, it did show that this aussie gel has a good amount of crunch on its own; nothing compared to MGA, brhg, or the other major holders, but nothing to scoff at either.

To test aussome’s crunch and hold factor, yesterday I used KBB super silky as my leave it. KBB SS is one of the more moisturizing leave ins in my arsenal and quite a few “hard holding gels” haven’t lived up to their claims when faced with KBB SS. Aussome Volume was no exception but it did have one redeeming quality; although the crunch lessened throughout the course of the day, my hair still held together rather well and the result was loose, soft, sexy, touchable waves – I can’t complain with that!

Today’s experiment (Curl Junkie’s coffee coco curl creme as a leave in under aussome volume) wasn’t a flop per se since I still have some definition, hold, and not much frizz, but it wasn’t the best combo. It may be user error (I had a tough time applying the CJ CCCC using my latest product application method of raking and rewetting) or the ingredients just didn’t mesh well. I’ll have to revisit this one tomorrow.

Garden of Wisdom has few product duds in my book. Sure, there will be the occasional reaction to a product (the strawberry scrub fiasco) or sometimes I don’t notice a distinct positive or negative effect by a product (some kind of glow detox serum) but it’s never been enough to make me shy away from Markey’s wonderful concoctions. I’ve always been able to place GoW products into two categories: repurchase or not-a-chance-in-hell. However, my current cleanser, the pumpkin/papaya enzyme mask+cleanser has me completely perplexed! I use two cleansers daily: a light cleaner in the am to remove any nightly treatments and a deeper cleanser (currently a Camellia Rose beauty bar) to remove my mineral makeup and ensure a clean canvas for my night routine products.

I started off using the pumpkin cleanser in the shower and decided it wasn’t exactly shower-friendly. Sure, it left my skin relatively clean, but since the consistency isn’t substantial enough to the point where I knew where the cleanser was on my face, I had to take it to the sink. So far I’ve used it as a mask and a cleanser in the am and it seems to work rather well. The major drawback to the cleanser is 1) consistency: it’s pretty much like pumpkin puree and therefore isn’t as shower friendly as a cream or gel cleanser; 2) scent: pumpkin with a dash of vinegar and a hint of garlic which, looking at the ingredients list, is exactly the case; 3) it’s easy to tell you’ve used it looking at your sink i.e., it leaves little bits and pieces behind on the porcelain. That being said, it still does a great job of cleaning and leaving my skin silky smooth true to the properties listed on the website. I may repurchase it because of the results but the drawbacks weigh just as heavily as the cons.

Yes, I’m getting frustrated. I have so many products that I have to go through but I’m at the point where experimenting just doesn’t have the allure it used to. The look of a new product, new scents, textures, the anticipation of finding out how your hair will react to it…all that has lost its lustre. I guess I could blame crappy hair days and the temptation to just break open my tub of KCCC and be done with it, but I’m just plain tired. The guessing game of “Will my hair love this?” is just tiring already. I have enough products on my Hits list that would ensure no product satiation. The last few product experiments, I’ve ended up tossing the remainder of a failing product into the bin to prevent days of figuring out just how to get it to work for me.

As you can imagine, bain de terre’s lemon shaping balm just didn’t work for me. The consistency and texture should have almost guaranteed a product hit, but it ended up being a big dud. Poor frizz control, too much stickiness which led to frizz upon application, and next to no hold meant 2/3 of the tube being tossed.

Luckily, all is well in skincare land. CR’s coconut shea beauty bar and stay the day moisturizer are ensuring wonderful skin and my Pretika is keeping my pores happy.

I’m not sure what to make of this product. It’s clear like any other gel but tackier than others. There seems to a decent amount of hold but both times I’ve tried it, I’ve either mixed it with a more runny gel to help with distribution or I’ve had AVG or a leave in underneath. reviews are quite few so I’m winging it a bit. I’ll have to try it out on its own tomorrow but with it being so thick and sticky, I’m not sure how that’s going to pan out.

In skincare news, I’ve been happily using my Pretika for about a week now and loving the results. The slight forehead lines I did have are doing a disappearing act and my skin is absorbing products much better. I’ve haven’t noticed a major reduction in pore size on my nose but I don’t think anything, save a miracle, could fix that. The noticeable pores on my cheeks are a different story and actually seem smaller!

As for cleansers, my skin just wasn’t loving Camellia Rose’s just shea cleanser. Ingredients-wise it isn’t all that different from her creamy shea and calendula cleanser so I’m not really sure why my skin reacted the way it did. My pores felt a bit clogged and it showed. Not that my skin broke out, thank god for that, but I did get one lovely deeply clogged pore and one matching blackhead. Ugh.

The past few weeks I’ve been experimenting with five things: Fruit of the Earth avg (or aloe vera gel to the uninformed), theraneem avg, ARTEC textureline volume gel, LA looks sport, and alaffia shea butter and honey nourishing conditioner. 

LA Looks – I still don’t see what all the fuss is about. It has hold, but not the crunch like the BRHG it’s been likened to. I feel like I need a lot more of the lalsg to get crunch as opposed to sally’s spike it, MGA sculpting, biolage sculpting jelly, or BRHG – my hard hold gels. On its own or with a leave in, lalsg has left me feeling like I’m not cool enough to be part the crowd that lauds its virtues. 

Fruit of the Earth AVG (FOTE) – I’ve tried this multiple times only to determine that, for some reason, FOTE couldn’t and wouldn’t work for me. I must have been brain dead or completely discouraged because I NEVER thought to try it as a leave-in under gel. I always assumed other gals who had luck with FOTE were ONLY using it as a regular stand alone gel. After actually reading and not skimming over a recent AVG thread on, the lightbulb (finally!) went off. I’ve only tried FOTE under artec textureline volume gel so far but I may just be hopping onto the FOTE bandwagon. Today I cowashed with my VO5 clarifying conditioner, rinsed out devacurl one c, raked – yes, rakedin FOTE upside down, poured some water over my hair in a modified rudee’s super soaker/icequeen method, scrunched out excess h2o, and topped it all off with a generous helping of artec volume gel. The result is similar to yesterday’s: great wave boosting, clumping, shine, hold, and waves up to my roots! There are even tight, ringlet tubes interspersed amongst my waves! I’ll have to try FOTE with other gels but so far so good.

Theraneem AVG – I tried theraneem as a stand alone gel prior to my belated lightbulb moment with FOTE and this didn’t disappoint. It provided light hold, tons of moisture, and unlike most AVG when used as a stand alone product, my hair didn’t feel dry nor end up as frizzy and lifeless. I have as yet to try it as a leave in but this is proving to be a repurchase item.

Artec textureline volume gel – this is quite an interesting gel. It doesn’t weigh down my waves and its runny like biotera but boy does it give you crunch! I’ve tried it over KBB nectar and super silky only to end up with nicely defined but limp waves. On its own it worked well but made my hair feel a bit plasticy but washed out easily with water. Over FOTE it ends up being a great combo.

Alaffia’s shea and honey conditioner – will not repurchase. It gives a decent amount of moisture and the protein content didn’t seem to aggravate my waves, but its consistency and lack of enough slip push it over to the “works in a pinch” category. Consistency-wise I found it similar to the rinse out I’ve been rotating it with – devacurl one c but there have been times where I’ll squeeze some out only to see little chunky globs amongst the puddle. Granted the blobs went away when raked and combed through in the shower but it was a bit disconcerting nonetheless. As for slip, it wasn’t lacking like ohm’s herbal conditioner but it wasn’t remarkable. After a couple of uses, my crown seemed to glom like it did when using Suave as a cowash. Vegetable wax buildup? Luckily it wasn’t anything a wash with jessicurl gentle lather shampoo couldn’t fix but I wasn’t too thrilled by it either.

In skincare news, I’ve been using the i-skin pore perfecting system for about 5 days in lieu of my regular facial brush and have to admit a noticeable difference. My skin looks brighter, my slight forehead lines aren’t as noticeable, my skin feels smoother and my pores are slightly less noticeable. It’s cheap alternative to the pricey Clarisonic but I wouldn’t pull out my wallet just yet.

My gripes about the tool are

  1. brush size – it’s just too big for my face
  2. bristle length – too long so it didn’t glide over my face easily
  3. placement of on/off switch – inconveniently placed on the outside of the handle so my fingers were slipping and accidentally turning it off when wet or dry
  4.  design – how I wish there was some gripping plastic or ridges to make it feel more substantial in my hand and not like something that could slip out at any moment

The biggest pro about the i-skin? Price. You definitely cannot beat $29.99 or $24.99 with the member discount.

Overall, I think the i-skin was a great introduction to a more “advanced” way of washing my face but I’m looking forward to my order with my Pretikasonic dermabrasion facial brush.

I’ve been using GoW’s heather blossom cleanser for the past month or so in the mornings and this is just another GoW winner in my book. It’s gentle but with some slight scrubbing action from the oatmeal and it cleans my pores out very well. In the am I can see some areas where blackheads have decided to make camp overnight in my pores but the heather blossom cleanser evicts them right away.

Today I shampooed with my generous sample of Hoity Toity’s sheer satin shampoo in the yummy red apple fragrance, conditioned what was left of my bottle of KBB milk and added a bit of Inecto’s pure coconut oil conditioner (which smells delish!), and scrunched in about a nickel of afroveda’s curly custardfollowed by CVS’ generic curl gel after scrunching out some water. I topped it off with gel-les’s and princess glaze after plopping and prior to diffusing. There was a bit of frizz after drying under the hard hat but a bit of kbb cream rectified that. I had tried the afroveda cc + cvs curl gel once before on a stay at home day and was impressed by the curling I saw in the shower. Needless to say, the combo came out great! I see nice waves, definition, and good hold without the dreaded dry feeling from a protein-laden gel. Even with the dewpoint at 57 right now, may hair is looking pretty good.  As for the shampoo, it didn’t seem to strip my hair. Yes, there was a squeaky feeling during rinsing but the feel of my hair was akin to gvp nexxus aloe rid – clean but not rough like the way the organix shampoos found at target make my hair feel.

Skincare wise, I’m still REALLY liking avalon organics’ wrinkle defense for my eyes. It’s moisturizing, reduces lines and doesn’t clog my pores. I truly see a difference with this eye cream…even over the PSF cranberry eye gel I liked so much. As for skincare combos, I’ve found that  GoW lemony mint cleanser mixed with the skin friendly cleanser makes for a phenomenal face wash. On their own, I found both cleansers to be a bit mediocre but combined you get the great skin clearing aspect of the lemony mint but without the slick, not-really-clean feeling that a non-sudsing cleanser has and the moisturized, foaming action of the skin friendly without the feeling of not having truly gotten down into your pores.

I’m having great success with my sample of Camellia Rose’s nilotica synergy butter. All you need is 1/2 a pinkie nail sized dollop mixed with the hyaluronic acid of your choice, some distilled water for spritzing and you’re set for good moisture and hydration.

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