div>After the frustration brought on by bain de terre’s lemon balm, I has been using biolage’s molding souffle to rehab and bring my hair back to normal. Thankfully, it only took about 3 days to bring my hair around and I was able to try out a new gel – Aussie’s Aussome Volume gel.

I cowashed with VO5’s clarifying conditioner and conditioned with equal parts Nexxus Nectaress conditioner & NG’s chamomile and  lemon verbena conditioner. I styled with the aussie gel (roughly 3 quarters worth) topped with about a dime’s worth of BRHG. Initially, I wasn’t impressed by the clumping I saw with the aussome volume but that changed to surprise once I scrunched in BRHG. I plopped, diffused with both my sedusa and hardhat and was able to SOTC about 30 min out of the shower. The result is nicely defined, boosted waves with minimal frizz. I’ve pulled it back into a low ponytail because the weather in SoCal has been so wonky lately but despite the extreme fog driving into work (currently 71 degrees, 94% humidity, and a dewpoint of 70!!!!!) my hair hasn’t poofed out like it usually does with these conditions! 

I’ll end with three hilarious videos for you to enjoy.

and my love, Will Ferrell, here and here.

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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.

NC.com 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.

Theraneem is truly deserving of my affection. My waves are moisturized and defined, there’s no frizz, my waves are boosted and the combo gives great hold! The little wisps near my forehead are actually little define ringlets. It’s amazing! My routine today consisted of a VO5 cowash, alaffia shea and honey rinse out, theraneem raked in and again scrunched in after pouring water, and ARTEC volume to top it off, albeit with a lighter hand than the past couple of days. Even with less ARTEC, there was more crunch than FOTE + ARTEC and the plasticy feel that I’ve casually complained about with ARTEC is instead replaced by touchable, defined waves.

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 nc.com, 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 drugstore.com 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.

I used to think that Suave and VO5 were interchangeable as a cowash; they were both cheap and seemed to do the job. Oh, how naive of me. The horrible hair days I’ve been experiencing as of late could possibly have been attributed to poor product/method choices but most likely are due to using Suave toasted vanilla as a cowash.

How am I so sure that Suave is the culprit? After another week of bad hair days, I turned to tested and true products: homemade fsg, curls coconut sublime, ky jelly, and biolage sculpting jelly. Despite using winning products I was still fighting a losing battle with my hair. Clumpless, undefined, frizzy, wiry, tangly – words I never thought would consistently enter my hair vocabulary again almost 2 years after discovering nc.com. After reading a threadabout feeling buildup and gunk where a couple of members chimed in about Suave as a cowash, the light bulb (finally) went off. I lugged my cowash stash out of the closet and opted for VO5’s clarifying conditioner. I cowashed, rinsed out coconut sublime, styled with FSG and diffused as normal and…tada! Lo and behold! My clumps were back! Day by day, my waves are making progress but aren’t quite at the level they were at before I followed up the drying Freeman conditioner with Suave naturals.

I haven’t been having the good hair days I experienced last year and I’m sure it’s due to too much experimenting with products and methods. The last few weeks I’ve been poring over my PJ stash trying to use up products I suspect are least likely to earn possible or absolute repurchase status. So far, I’ve been able to rule out a couple of items:

  1. mousse – From this point forward, I refuse to give in to mousse hype. My hair just doesn’t like it and I’m glad I didn’t cave in and ask my sister about the stash of mousse I gave her
  2. aura naturelle hypoallergenic gel – caused my hair to feel suffocated by a weird plastic/rubbery shell. It has pretty decent hold but it’s nothing spectacular.
  3. aussie tizz no frizz – doesn’t have any particular benefit. It foamed upon application and frizzed my hair
  4. suave #8 gel – nothing special
  5. ag hard jel – LA Looks gels are better than this! My hair felt plasticy, coated, and dry. As for hold, it’s a stretch to say “extra firm” and “extreme hard hold” in the same sentence.
  6. ohm crown of glory herbal shampoo and conditioner – Oy. Where do I start? The shampoo sounds gentle enough (Ing: Distilled Water, Vegan Shampoo Base, Olive Oil, Vegetable Glycerin, Infusion of Nettle & Horsetail-promoting healthy hair, Yarrow, Lavender, Natural Thickener, Rosemary, Potassium Sorbate, and Fragrance Blend) and the fruity/minty smell isn’t gag-inducing but my hair felt instantly matted, tangly, and rough. After I washed it out, I looked to with hope since it looked luscious and moisture-packed enough (Ing: Distilled Water, Vegan Conditioner Base, Shea Butter, Olive Oil, Infusion of Nettle & Horsetail-promoting healthy hair, Yarrow, Lavender, Natural Thickener, Rosemary, Potassium Sorbate and Fragrance Blend) but I was sorely mistaken; I might as well have applied lotion to my hair for all the moisturizing qualities of this conditioner. The half dollar sized blob I smoothed on just sat on my hair and didn’t spread at all. Raking it through was exactly how I imagine raking lotion onto wet hair would feel. You can bet there wasn’t any slip and my hair didn’t feel any different once I rinsed it out…or from what I could tell since my hair felt tangled from beginning to end.

As for method mishaps, call me a sucker for experimenting with the many-paged thread on rudeechick’s “Super Soaker Method for Promoting Clumps.” I don’t really have an issue getting clumps and time and time again I’ve experimented with fine tooth combs (zigazaga method) and the Denman brush but 12 pages of discussion wasn’t easy to overlook! I’ve gotten one good hair day out of this method but it hasn’t been easy to duplicate and I’m not a fan of the skinnier clumps I get trying it out.

After almost a month of experimenting, I’m throwing in the towel. This morning I clarified to remove any buildup, deep conditioned, and went back to my trusty homemade FSG. I plan on using tried and true products to get my hair back to normal and reverting to experimenting with one product at a time.