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 returned from Dark Canyon on Sunday afternoon covered in mosquito bites and willing to sell my soul for a shower. I purchased a solar shower per a friend’s advice and took a paper towel “shower” in my tent but I still felt somewhat icky. It didn’t help that the mosquitoes seemed to be feasting on me and ignoring everyone else at the campsite. I admit that I was pretty upset the 2nd night because I was up scratching and I couldn’t sleep because one of the other campers in my party snores REALLY LOUDLY…I’m not kidding. Another tent about 20 feet away LOUD. I was bitten on my arms my neck, back of my knees, ankles, even my forehead! Of all places, my forehead. It’s practically just a layer of skin and bone right underneath and yet those damn mosquitoes saw fit to attack me there.

Because the camp was pretty primitive – a couple faucets and outhouses, the solar shower came in pretty handy. I was able to wash my face and brush my teeth. Unfortunately, my skin wasn’t agreeing with the situation. I had been using GoW’s fruity exfo cleanser for about a week or more prior to going camping and my skin wasn’t reacting to it so I figured I could bring it along. Unfortunately, my smart self decided to use some benzoyl peroxide the two nights before camping; my skin freaked out and was pretty dry and flaky the next day. I used moisturizer and it seemed to calm things down enough for me to feel confident in my travel skincare kit (fruity exfo, hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, and babbassu oil). Well, my skin wasn’t having it. The entire time I was camping, the skin above my upper lip was tight, red, dry, and extremely irritated. I think the BP and fruity exfo together caused the irritation and my continuous use of the cleanser exacerbated it. By the time I got home, I couldn’t smile for fear of cracking my skin.

Today, my skin is feeling somewhat better thanks to a change in cleanser (GoW oj castile), hydrocortisone cream and aloe vera gel.

Now on to hair: The day we headed out, I used a clarifying shampoo, conditioned with Curls Asian Tea conditioner, used a bit of sheam as a leave in, and used some FOTE. I was really surpised at the consistency of the curls condish; it was so thick and viscous it felt like a lotion. I had to double check the sample jar from sistasplace.biz to make sure it wasn’t curl ecstasy hair tea LOTION. Since I used FOTE as my sole styler, I knew my hair was going to be a crapfest by midday. After hiking and playing some badminton during the course of the trip, my hair held up pretty well. It didn’t seem too greasy and there was absolutely no frizz. There were no waves to speak of, but for not having proper shower facilities, that was fine with me.

Yesterday I used more Curls tea condish,  shampooed with jessicurl HCC, left in some sheam and KY, and dtyled with moptop and spike it. My hair rebelled against the slight protein from the gel and I was left with stingy, almost straight waves. This just solidifies the fact that I needed to rotate my protein products. Today, I cowashed with VO5 strawberries and cream, conditioned with curls tea, and smoothed in some GDLI with KY. My gel du jour is CVS Styling Gel Curl Defining And Frizz Control  – pretty much a knock-off the La Bella curls gel whicj, incidentally, didn’t agree with my hair.

Ingreds for CVS brand curls gel: Water (Aqua); PVP; Sorbitol; Carbomer; Hydroxypropylcellulose; Polyquaternium-7; Propylene Glycol; Fragrance (Parfum); Panthenyl Ethyl Ether; Glycerin; Keratin Amino Acids; Palmitoyl Oligopeptide; Chitosan; Oleth-20; Glyceryl Polymethacrylate; Rahnella/Soy Protein Ferment; PEG-8; Aminomethyl Propanol; Potassium Sorbate; Methylparaben; Tetrasodium EDTA; Diazolidinyl Urea; Methylchloroisothiazolinone; Methylisothiazolinone; Benzophenone-4; Blue 1; Yellow 5

vs.

La Bella Lots of curls gel: Deionized Water, Sorbitol, Glycerin, PVP, Propylene Glycol, Carbopol, Cocus Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Cannabis Sativa (Hemp) Seed Oil, Lanolin, Triethanolamine, DMDM Hydantoin, Methylparaben, Polysorbate-20, Benzophenone-4, Isosteareth-20, Tetrasodium EDTA, Fragrance, Menthol, D&C Red No. 33.

Surprisingly, my hair curled up well and with a fair amount of hold considering the protein factor. I’m guessing maybe the coconut oil, hemp seed oil, and (ICK!) lanolin didn’t agree with my hair. I will update to see how the gel holds up during the day

My horrible hair day is courtesy of Giovanni DLI, two 1/2 dime sized globs of sally’s spike it mixed with two quarter blobs of FOTE AVG, and a bit of Suave professionals to try to salvage it. I know, I know. Not the greatest of ideas given that I’m not liking that gel . Take a gander at the disaster.

Yuck. Stringy, no definition, slightly dry, and overall craptacular.

Yesterday was a shampoo day so I used dudu osum, rinsed out yes to carrots, and cracked open the Giovanni Direct leave-in. I liked the texture of the GDLI: not too runny, not too thick a la sheam, and a good amount of moisture. I combed in it and scrunched in 3 half dollar globs of Suave. After plopping, the clumping was nice, albeit quite elongated. I had faith so I diffused as usual, clipped, and air dried. Two hours later, the waves looked pulled out but still defined. A couple hours more and the definition disappeared only to be replaced by frizz. The frizz wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t something I would have expected given the amount of gel I used.

Today I used the Suave gel with FOTE aloe vera gel as a leave in. I scrunched water out with my curlease (must say that I’m quite impressed ) after having applied 3 half dollar globs of suave gel. The result? Frizz, moisturized hair but with a hint of roughness (if that’s even possible), undefined waves, and stringiness. Thankfully, I’m halfway done with the tube already. This is a definite no repurchase.

One NC.com thread posed the question: how many conditioners do you own? My response? A whopping 21 cowashes (Suave, VO5, and Freeman conditioners), 31 rinseout conditioners (stuff from B2B Jasmine to Jessicurl WDT), and 10 leave-ins (I most likely have more but didn’t want to embarass myself even more with the total number). Yeah. So I decided to join the other curlies on this thread and have a self-imposed ban on hair products for the entire month of July. I vow I will not buy anything hair related for the 31 days, 744 hours, 44,640 minutes, and 2,678,400 seconds that make up the month of July.

I have enough conditioners, cowashes, gels, cremes, mousses, and heck, even shampoos to justify not having to purchase products for more than a year. What fuels my decision is the fact that a lot of the other products on my “to try” list are either 1) pretty all natural so having them sit in my cabinet or drawer would be a waste, or 2) something I would have to order online so the shipping cost is something to factor in. I see it as a great opportunity to try each product I’ve been hoarding and finding out what combo works and what doesn’t.

Now on to the new styling method. I’m still liking it. I actually tried a half-assed version of sectioning my hair and it turned out surprisingly well. Still some pulled out waves, but a good amount of definition. The photos that I uploaded onto my Fotki look frizzier than it really is. (Oh the woes of taking photos of dark hair at night).

It’s the last Sunday of the month so I pulled out my suave clarifying shampoo and went to town. I used my Sally’s generic value Aussie 3 MM as a rinseout. I’m not sure how I feel about it. My hair is soft, yes, and the grape kool-aid scent isn’t too bad but there is frizz.

Ingredients: water, cetrimonium chloride, cetyl alcohol, glyceryl stearate, peg 12 distearate, foenculum vulgare fruit extract (fennel), humulus lupulus extract (hops), melissa officinalis leaf extract (balm mint extract), achillea millefolium extract (yarrow extract), hydrolyzed casein, avena sativa kernel flour (oat), simmondsia chinensis seed oil (jojoba), chamomilla recuita flower extract (matricaria), yeast extract, helianthus annuus seed oil (sunflower), aloe barbadensis flower extract, carthamus tinctorius seed oil (safflower), simethicone, stearyl alcohol, lechitin, sorbitol, glycerin, glycol stearate, acetamide mea, cetrimonium bromide, sodium lauriminodipropionate, fragrance, dicetyldimonium chloride, stearalkonium chloride, phosphoric acid, propylene glycol, methylparaben, propylparaben, tetrasodium edta, dmdm hydantoin, yellow 6.

I’m not sure if the casein and the oat flour are the ones causing the frizz. If so, then dang my hair is sensitive to proteins! I figured that since the two proteins are further down the list and they’re surrounded by humectants, oils, and such that it wouldn’t affect my hait so much, but I’m not entirely sure. Granted, it could be caused by the sulfate shampoo, but I guess I’ll have to wait til the end of July to find out the culprit.

I read Jillipoo’s blog entry on AVG so I decided to give it a shot since it was a stay at home day. My hair does feel softer and waves seemed to materialize out of the woodwork. Maybe it was buildup or a lack of moisture, I don’t know. I will definitely try AVG tomorrow.

Zigazaga’s method is growing on me. I don’t have the patience to try sectioning off the hair and combing the undercanopy then the canopy, however. Maybe I’ll try it out on the day I work from home. The only lingering complaint is that my waves seemed pulled out. I’m still getting used to all the layers again and the shorter hair, so the next couple of months (especially it being my first CG summer) will be just trial and error.