January 08, 2012

Winter Hair: Wishing For The Better

It's been  my life-long struggle to find a good shampoo and conditioner - [and I'd swear 99% of women have the same issue].

I tried so many of the brands, including the ones sold exclusively at hair salons - [yes, I'm that person, who gets very easily sold on a product used on my hair when I get it cut at a salon; these hairstylists probably aced a crash course in sales and marketing!]. However, absolutely nothing really works for my hair, it's still feels coarse, frizzy, enormous and dry - far from the ideal hair I always wanted to have.

Of course, I managed to keep it as soft and shiny as possible, but I unless I color it - [as many women do that get this unbelievable shine to their hair from the coloring chemicals] - it wouldn't really shine. So, I succumbed to the idea that there's absolutely no products on the market for my hair. I know, you'd say to me: "But look at ALL these products at convenience store AND professional beauty and hair stores" Yes, I looked, and I looked and I looked. I tried, and I tried, and I tried. Nada! Still have the same quality to my hair, so unless I flat-iron it and/or blow-dry, it would be so puffy and all over the place that I was even used to be called a 'lioness' for my hair at school, I used to have it very long and a very puffy, kind of like a white African-American...

Of course, I couldn't have tried some products out of my budget, some $100 shampoo, but who really spends so much on a shampoo anyway? None of my friends do, neither my family does. I kind of figured that anything below $30 would be OK, but I might be wrong and do prove me wrong - [with concrete examples of the products].

So, what we have in winter for the hair: we keep hearing - moisturize, 'feed' it, let it breath...I'm doing all of it and still, as many specialists point - exactly this kind of people, who do all these things to the hair, get more problems than the ones who do not do at all and just keep them tout naturel. How ironic! At the same time, as the winter comes, the hair starts to break, becomes dry and electrifies from constantly wearing hats. Plus, as you change temperatures and climates - from cold to warm places (from the street to inside the building), the hair looses moisture. This is not what we'd like to hear. Same goes for men, by the way...

So, here's what we do:

1. Edible and non-edible supplements
  • Take vitamin supplements for hair and nails: good ones Phyto Food Supplement, hair and nails. I also heard these are good too, but haven't tried them yet: Fortifiant Capillaire, Oenobiol; Inneov
  • Fish oil or Omega-3 oil is good too.
  • Non-edible supplements: Complexe Energisant, Leonor Greyl; Energy Elixir, System Professional; and the one I really like is Self Absorbed, Bedhead, TIGI. 
2. I also like the idea of a home-made hair mask with avocado, milk, honey and banana - [yes, you've heard me - b a n a n a!] I've also heard women do 'beer' baths for the hair, which, I will never do, because according to the ones who ventured to try it say that YES - it shines, but also it smells like beer, so - NO, thank you.

Milk and Honey mask: This is pretty simple and straightforward. All you have to do is mix up a single teaspoon of honey into one glass of whole milk then massage it into your hair from root to tip. Leave it on for 15 minutes and rinse with lukewarm water and shampoo. Then, avoid bees, and you’ll see some amazing results in your hair.

Banana avocado mask: It doesn't sound appetizing at all, but you aren't supposed to eat it. Instead, slather your hair in this rich mask to bring back its luster. Ingredients1 medium banana, 1 egg, 1/2 avocado, 2 Tbsp honey, 3 Tbsp buttermilk, 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Directions: 1) Mash banana, egg and avocado in a small bowl 2) Add remaining ingredients and stir until well combined 3) Apply to hair from roots to tips 4) Leave in for 30 minutes and then wash out with a moisturizing shampoo 5) Double the recipe for long hair 6) Use twice a month to maintain healthy hair.

Yogurt hair mask: For dry, frizzed out hair, this recipe will bring back the moisture, leaving your hair silky and manageable. Ingredients1 egg white, 1/4 cup plain organic yogurt, 1/4 cup mayonnaise Directions: 1) Beat egg white until frothy 2) Mix with yogurt and mayonnaise 3) Massage into wet hair 3) Cover with plastic shower cap or plastic wrap 4) Leave in for 30 minutes, then wash out with a mild shampoo 5) Rinse with very cold water 6) Use monthly to moisturize hair.

The latter one I've heard about before and it does not sound too bad. I haven't tried it yet, but it might be  time to engage in the 'mask adventure' and actually try it!

3. Now, repair masks that you DON'T have to make at home, but that actually seem to work for many people I asked: Repair Mask, System Professional; Absolut Repair, L'Oreal Professionnel; Nutrition, Yves Rocher; Phytonectar, Phyto.

4. Conditioners - [and I'll talk about the ones I use as well]: this is rather tricky. I've tried many of expensive and cheap, and none has really worked for me. (Perhaps I should just cut my hair!) However, according to some of my friends, here are a few good ones: Technician Color Care, Frederik Fekkai and Superbly Smoothing Argan Conditioner, Kiehl's. Since I like both brands, I'd assume that they can not be terribly bad. I haven't tried them, actually. When I learned about them, I realized that perhaps I have NOT yet tried EVERY conditioner out there...

5. Massage: don't forget to massage your hair as you wash it. It gives it a nice blood circulation, which is very important for the hair growth and...to calm down the nerves as well.

6. More pampering: don't forget there are also hard-core elixirs, oils and conditioners that you do not usually wash off, but leave them in. Personally, I like everything with the soy - soy milk, soy Chai Tea Latte, soy beans - edamame, soy candy, soy tofu. So, Soy Renewal, Sexy Hair - sounds very good. Also: Hairmix Supreme Smooth, L'Oreal Professionnel and the multipurpose-ful Elixir Ultime, Kerastase. I actually love Kerastase, it is a very good brand.

7. Brush: I use the ones below - one for the blow-dry, another one - for the daily brushing, it makes it less frizzy, massage scalp and hair very well, and it does not hurt the skin of your head...Easy to maintain too.

Try2 1/2 Round Bamboo Ceramic Ionic Thermal Brush, Olivia Garden; Essential Cleansing Allround Hair Brush, Marlies Moller, or jsut get a $5 one from a convenience store - works just as well.

Now, the actual revelation of the shampoo and conditioner products I use.

OK, as I said, I tried a lot of them. But one day, while strolling though my beloved Trader Joe's on Union Square, NYC I stumbled upon Nourish Spa Shampoo and Conditioner - the brand I haven't heard anything about, but since I've had great luck with absolutely everything at the store, including other beauty products, I thought it won't hurt to try it. So I picked up a bottle of both and took them home to try them out.

I am not going to recommend it to everyone, just because I love it - [ops, did I say I loved it?] - yes, that's right, I fell in love with it - aside from delicious smell, it actually works very well with my hair. Plus, you can't beat the price of $4.99 for a good hair product, can you? I've been now only using these products and it works very well with my hair. Here are the product information:

Trader Joe's Shampoo Balanced Moisturizing NOURISH SPA enriched with Organic Botanicals
Trader Joe's Conditioner Balanced Moisturizing NOURISH SPA enriched with Organic Botanicals


Shampoo - Purified water, organic rosemary oil, organic valencia orange citrus, organic mango, organic lemongrass, organic ginko biloba, organic echinacea, organic willow bark, organic sea kelp, organic chamomile flower, organic textured soy protein, organic lavender, organic grapefruit, C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Tocopherol (Vit E), Citric Acid, Methylparaben, propylparaben, sea salt, botanical fragrance

Conditioner - Purified water, organic rosemary oil, organic valencia orange citrus, organic mango, organic lemongrass, organic ginko biloba, organic echinacea, organic willow bark, organic sea kelp, organic chamomile flower, organic textured soy protein, organic lavender, organic grapefruit citrus, Tocopherol (Vit E), Acetamide MEA, Cetyl Alcohol, Citric Acid, Methylparaben, propylparaben, botanical fragrance

I've also tried Devacare/DevaCurl shampoo and conditioner, which I used for a while. The products were 'sold' to me by my hairstylist at the Bang Salon in Washington, DC, and since I really liked my hairstylist, I started using this product and it actually worked as well for a while until I got bored of it and wanted to see if there were even better - [and cheaper] - products on the market. This product retails at $16-30.  

Now it's up to you to decide what works for you... Which products do you use?

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