Friday, May 29, 2015

Method Test: Condish and Squish in Action

Posted by Jen Lennox at 6:33 PM 2 comments
Yesterday I wrote about the method blogged about by Melissa Stites known as "Condish and Squish." I really wish I had a "BEFORE" pic to show you, because yesterday my hair was a hot DISASTER. I didn't do anything different than I normally do, but after spending a few hours outside my hair was a dry, puffy mess. I decided there was no way I can get through the rest of the summer if something doesn't give, so today I gave this method a go. Here's how I did it:

1) Co-Washed with my As I Am Coconut conditioner, as usual.

2) Squirted a liberal amount of Shea Moisture Curl and Shine Conditioner in my hand and ran it through the length of my hair. Usually at this point I use a wide-tooth comb to spread product through my hair, but THIS TIME I only used my fingers. I let the product sit on my hair for a couple of minutes.

3) Instead of rinsing out all of the product, I splashed sections of my hair with warm water and let the conditioner start to run out of my hair and started to scrunch from the bottom.

4) Continued this method until the conditioner was almost washed out, then pumped ONE SMALL PUMP back into my hand and combed it through with my fingers.

5) When I got out of the shower, I used my microfiber towel and scrunched the moisture out of my hair from the bottom. No combs, no more running fingers through my hair. My curls were starting to separate and form naturally at this point.

6) While still soaking wet (but not dripping) I gently applied my Kinky Curly Curling Custard to my hair with my hands, scrunching from the bottom.

7) Diffused about 5-10 minutes.

I've run all over creation today, and it's very hot. I've been in and outside of my car several times. It's in the 80's and it's very humid. And, at the END of my day, after ALL of that, my hair looks like this:

I. AM. SOLD. ON. THIS. METHOD. Yesterday at this time, I was rocking a 1" frizz halo and my curls were dried out and fried. The picture above is usually how I START my day, not how I end it. I absolutely recommend trying this! Let me know if it works for you.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Battling Summer Frizz with the "Condish and Squish" Method

Posted by Jen Lennox at 2:11 PM 0 comments
Yes, you read that right. Condish and Squish. I've been reading some other curly blogs and stumbled across a beautiful Canadian curly girl named Krista Leavitt. She runs her own curly-girls-only salon in Barrie, Ontario and is a very successful stylist and blogger about all things CG. After reading her story on, I was led to another blogger who wrote of a method called "Condish and Squish."

The Condish and Squish Method is based on the principle that water is our hydrator and conditioner is our softener. This means that, in order to have frizz-free curls, we must have plenty of both. Many people (myself included) go about this by using microfiber towels and refreshing with a spray bottle full of water when curls get limp. Some girls like to "plop" after showers and many of us deep condition to seal in moisture. Still, there are times when, no matter what you do, you end up with a head full of frizz.

Maybe we're doing it all wrong. I was a bit cynical of this new rinse-out method until I saw this picture, taken from Krista's webpage:

I don't know about you, but I want to look like the girl on the bottom. Right now I'm looking remarkably more like the girl on the top. So, what's the secret?  Here's what blogger Melissa Stites had to say:

"Add enough conditioner to really wet hair, enough to slip through the tangles, if any. There is a reason why we only finger comb; hair has a cuticle on the outside and a reservoir on the inside that can absorb. When the hair is dehydrated, the inside is shrunk leaving those cuticles lifted where they can become like velcro that can grab and stick to the others, therefore creating tangles. Instead of ripping through them with combs or brushes when our hair is most fragile (you say you're gentle and you know you’re not), try this method instead: Add conditioner to that area, add water and squish. When you push that water conditioner mixture into the hair, the inside plumps up with water and seals with conditioner. It’s the process of plumping and sealing the cuticle that makes the cuticle itself tighter and smoother, releasing the velcro effect and allowing your fingers to slide through like butter. 

Now, when your hair is soaking wet with water, you need to add enough conditioner to feel slippery, like seaweed. We then begin to squish this water conditioner mixture into the hair.  Curly girls often experience water rolling off the hair; we want to push it in. Your curls should start clumping together and feeling firmer.

We do not totally rinse out the conditioner. It starts by trickling some water onto the hair to help it get even wetter, and start squishing it in again.  I do this by standing away from the shower head, catching water in my cupped hands and throwing it into my curls section by section. Your curls should be incredibly wet, slippery and frizz free now. As we are doing this, the hair is drinking up the water and you can see the excess conditioner being pushed out. We are replacing and diluting the conditioner with water, and you can actually feel it happening. This is our new way to rinse."

In other words, instead of just rinsing conditioner out in one fell swoop, force our hydrator and softener to work together. What a novel idea. There are times I love my curls, and there are times I wish I didn't have to do a 10-step washing/conditioning/scrunching/spritzing/diffusing routine to make them behave. I am learning that all of this, in the end, is much better than frying my hair with heat tools, but it can definitely be confusing and sometimes downright frustrating. And so, with summer around the corner and a pile of misbehaving curls to deal with, I plan to give this method a go and see if I have the same success others have. 

What are your favorite frizz busting products and techniques?

Monday, May 25, 2015

Product Review: DevaCurl - is it worth the hype?

Posted by Jen Lennox at 7:38 PM 0 comments
Since I made the decision to stop heat styling for the foreseeable future, I'm starting to really pay attention to the products I'm using and if they are really working. I'm curious about what works for other girls like me, and I'd be happy to give other "holy grail" products a try if anyone out there has a recommendation.

Today I'll be doing a product review on the DevaCurl line of products. I have not tried them all, but I have tried several, so I'm going to give my feedback in the hopes that it may help anyone on the fence.

After reading The Curly Girl Handbook, I became an instant devotee of Lorainne Massey and her amazing advice. I jumped in feet first with the products sold in her Devachan Salons (a place I hope to visit someday and get a cut of my own, no matter what the cost). I started with the basics and have expanded my collection since. Here we go:

I am definitely a fan of this stuff. It is exactly as described, zero lather. It has a minty smell that makes your scalp tingle every so slightly and I have grown to LOVE the smell of it. I use this to CoWash and scrub my scalp and I've never had even a hint of greasiness even after 2 days of not washing. This was the first product I ever used to CoWash and made me believe in the whole method. If you're not ready to commit to No Poo, there is a Low Poo option. I occasionally still use the Low Poo as my weekly or bi-weekly clarifying treatment.

I am addicted to the smell of this conditioner. I absolutely love it. This product is meant to be used as a rinse-out and is applied to the length of the hair AFTER the No Poo is rinsed out. This conditioner gives me excellent slip and my long, often knotted hair is instantly silky after using it. The downside to this is that I don't know that it would work as well for extremely course or dense hair like it does on mine. I've had great luck with it, but may I have talked to have not. 

Even though I'm trying to cut down on costs (these products are expensive and I have A LOT of hair... like a LOT of hair), I still use this product. It's the only thing I've found that I can use on my dry curls that will tame the frizz and redefine them midday.

DevaCurl Mister Right Curl and Scalp Refresher

This is a great product for rejuvenating style or just refreshing hair with the same Lavender scent as The One Condition. I use this sparingly because of the price tag, but I do like being able to avoid washing if my hair smells from outside sources like camp fires, cooking and other food smells, sweat, etc.

DevaCurl offers dozens of other products, but these are the 4 I have used long term. I've been hooked on the same gel (Kinky Curly Curling Custard) for a long time and I'm not willing to try another one t at this point, so I have not tried the various gel formulations by the Deva line of products. Here is my overall analysis:

PROS: Excellent quality, no need to read labels (they are ALL CG friendly!), effective and do what they claim to do. I really enjoy using these products. I have become accustomed to the smells and my hair is happy when I'm using them. If you have the money, they are a very easy way to follow the CG method to the letter and not worry about any of the "bad stuff" we curlies are supposed to avoid.

CONS: The price tag (single BIGGEST con for me) and not necessarily easy to access for many people. If you're not close to an Ulta or the actual Devachan Salon, you'll be ordering these puppies online UNLESS you can find a local salon that sells them.

If you have a lot of hair, you'll go through a lot of product. And at almost $40 for a liter, you will be forking out a VERY PRETTY PENNY for this stuff. Is it worth it? That's up to you. I DO love the stuff, but I'm currently experimenting with drug store brands to see if I can get the same results. Whether I'll stick with these products depends on what I come to discover in that process.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Co-Washing: Is it for you?

Posted by Jen Lennox at 2:46 PM 2 comments

When I first started reading bout the Curly Girl method, the thing I struggled most with was the concept of essentially never using regular shampoo on my hair again. I've spent 35+ years lathering up my head almost daily, the thought that those days would have to be a thing of the past was an uncomfortable thought.

My initial doubts were due to my belief that not using shampoo would cause me to look and feel greasy, which I think are the thoughts of many women going into this process. Having to read labels constantly also led me to the realization that PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING on the shelves is loaded with all of the "evils" this method preaches against. However, I became tired of the constant washing/drying/straightening routine that I'd been a slave to all of my life, so I decided to go for it. Know what I found out? IT WORKS. This method really, really works for my hair. But...not all hair is equal. Like I said in a previous entry, I know many women who regularly wash with sulfate shampoo and use silicone products and have no problems at all. If you're NOT happy with how your curls are forming, it may be time to try the CG method on for size.

Like I've said before, I have 2C, low porosity, medium density hair. I didn't even KNOW I was low porosity until I did the "bowl" test (put a few strands of hair in a bowl full of water, if it floats, its low porosity. If it sinks, it's high). Most of us with color treated hair lose porosity, and my hair is also fairly dense. In layman's terms, it's starved for moisture. Big time. So all of the shampooing, color treating and straightening was killing my curl pattern. 

One of the biggest realizations I've come to along my journey to embrace my curly hair is that pretty much nothing in the regular, conventional hair aisle is going to work for me. Where I've found my treasure? THE ETHNIC AISLE. Yes, ladies. That section of the store that most white girls ignore their whole lives is EXACTLY where we should have been shopping all along. And you know? There are some absolutely amazing sulfate-free, silicone-free products that SMELL DIVINE in that section. It's where I spend most of my time now. It's where I found my newest favorite co-wash:

As I Am Coconut CoWash is my newest BFF.  I love this stuff.

"Co-washing" is the concept of using a conditioner to scrub your scalp and remove dirt, sweat and build-up from products. If you're using silicone-free products, they wash out just fine with conditioner. The illusion that only shampoo cleans hair is just that: an illusion. I've been co-washing on and off for a year and now I co-wash almost exclusively. Once every couple of weeks I will use a low-sulfate shampoo, but other than that, co-washing has worked for me. My curls are starting to form with less and less frizz and my "good hair days" happen far more often than not.

To Co-wash, simply use your product of choice to scrub your scalp all the way around you head. Rinse. Use a heavier, thicker conditioner for the length of your hair.

My current favorite is Shea Moisture's Coconut and Hibiscus Curl and Shine Conditioner, pictured below:

That's it! Rinse out and style with your favorite silicone-free styling products. My can't-live-without product for my own curls is Kinky Curly Curling Custard, pictured below (it can be found at most Target stores, some Walgreens and also online):

ALL THREE of these products are found in the ethnic section and I've probably walked right by them hundreds of times in all of my shopping trips for hair products. Now that I know my own hair type, I'm able to shop for products accordingly and know what will and won't work. It saves a lot of money and a lot of frustration, so I encourage you to really read up and know what kind of hair you're working with.

Occasionally, you may want to use a Low-Poo (low sulfate) to clarify your hair. I do this once a week or every two weeks and it really makes a difference! My favorite Low-Poo is DevaCurl Low-Poo. It lasts me quite a while because of how infrequently I use it, but it smells great and doesn't strip hair like some clarifying shampoos can.

My favorite resource for finding products is the product center. There are great product reviews for all hair types, so check it out! If there are any products you find that you absolutely love, let me know and I'll showcase them on my blog.

Do you Co-wash? Have you ever tried? What's worked and what hasn't? What's holding you back?


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

To Diffuse, or NOT to Diffuse?

Posted by Jen Lennox at 9:09 AM 0 comments
Today's blog was SUPPOSED to be about co-washing (or NOT co-washing), but that's on the back burner until next time, because today I want to tackle a little thing called a Diffuser.

Diffusers. There's much debate in the curly world about whether or not they should be used at all, and if so, how much. If you are unsure, a diffuser is an attachment added to the end of a blow-dryer that looks like this: 
In fact, this is the exact diffuser I use. It fits most basic level hair dryers and for me it works remarkably well.

Diffusers work by diffusing the air in multiple directions instead of giving your hair a straight shot of heat. You wouldn't think this would amount to a hill of beans, but it does. It allows the hair to be "cupped" into the base and the heat to gently move around the curls, creating defined waves. If you thought your hair was incapable of curling while using a hair dryer, think again! In my arsenal of curl tools, this little device sits firmly at the top of my list.

The debate over diffusers goes back to heat styling, which is frowned upon on the curly world. Heat is a dehydrator, and curls need moisture. In a perfect world, all curly girls could just air-dry everyday, but we have jobs, kids, and if you live anywhere where it actually gets cold in the winter? FUGGEDABOUDIT. 

Heat styling isn't the best, but it's sometimes a necessary evil. If you have to do it, I have found my diffuser to be the best way. In fact, if I DON'T use a diffuser, my curls don't form very well and are very flat. Here are some diffuser tips I've found to be useful:

1) Diffuse when WET, not damp. I'm one of those towel nazis that only uses a microfiber towel to squeeze water out of my hair. If you MUST use a regular terrycloth towel, BLOT, do not SCRUB and PUH-LEEZE do not wrap your hair in  that little turban thingy that you do if you're planning to flat iron. Your hair should be almost dripping wet, with your styling product applied, when you start to diffuse. 

2) Don't diffuse for more than 10-15 mins at a time, even if your hair isn't dry. In fact, it shouldn't be dry. It should be moderately dry. If you want it to be fairly dry when you walk out the door, hit the diffuser for 10 mins, do the rest of your morning routine, then go another 10-15 and leave. Diffusers work great in small doses but WILL make your hair frizzy if you go beyond that time frame. Also, depending on the heat of your dryer, they can melt your diffuser. Not good.

3) Diffuse while your hair dryer is on the LOW setting. You CAN use a higher heat setting, but you should NOT have your dryer on HIGH when diffusing. Too much air and too much heat will leave you a frizzy, hot mess. 

4) Should you flip your head upside down? I do. It's the only way to get volume at my roots. BUT... before you finish your style, you want to diffuse with your head upright and you may need a cool shot of air at the roots to prevent frizz. Medium to short haired curly girls may find diffusing upright to be a better approach.

5) When you're done, TRY not to touch your hair much during the day. If it's still a little damp, let it dry completely before touching it, and keep touching to a minimum. I use gel in my hair (gotta love that high-density!) and I try not to touch my hair AT ALL when I'm done diffusing until it's completely dry, and even then only to scrunch out the gel cast and give myself soft curls. After that, it's hands-off for the most part.

If you're like me and wash your hair in the evening instead of the morning, follow this approach and when you wake up, don't panic when your hair looks like a flat disaster. Simply spray water all over your hair, scrunch, and hit with a diffuser/dryer for a few minutes. Your curls will bounce back like new! Depending on your styling product, you may be able to do this for 2nd or even 3rd day curls without having to co-wash. And THAT leads me to my next blog on Co-washing. Coming soon!


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Texture Typing: Where do you belong?

Posted by Jen Lennox at 10:48 AM 0 comments
When it comes to choosing products, your choices will depend on several factors. Curl Pattern, Porosity, Density and Width will all be determining factors in the process. But HOW will you find out this information? The folks at have put together a great guide to help get you started. Let's get started!

CURL PATTERN: Your curl pattern will show the amount of wave or curl in your hair. Generally, these can all be grouped into 3 type: 2, 3, and 4. Knowing your curl pattern will help you find the right products and styles for your hair. Want to figure out yours? Click here.

POROSITY: This term refers to how easily your hair is able to absorb and hold moisture. Knowing your porosity will help you choose products that help keep moisture in your hair and keep it shiny and strong. Want to know yours? Click here.

DENSITY: Ranging from low to high, Density refers to how closely individual strands of hair are packed together on your scalp. You've probably never thought about this stuff before, huh? I know I hadn't until I discovered the CG method. Want to know what kind of density you have? Click here.

WIDTH: Width refers to the thickness of the strands of your hair. When people talk about having "thick" or "thin" hair, they are referring to width. Do you really know yours? To find out, click here.

LENGTH: This one should be easy to determine. Most of us can tell if we have short, medium or long hair. However, your will purchase different products according to your length, so it's important to know for sure. To determine yours, click here.

After going back and forth many times, I've determined that I am a Type 2B, low porosity, medium density, medium/course width and long length. I go back and forth between 2B and 2C, depending on the day. Currently, my length is working against me, because it's weighing my curls down and now allowing them to pop the way I would like them to. A haircut in 2 weeks will take care of that.

Now that you know your Texture Type, it's time to start looking at products. This can be a long, arduous process, but I hope to help you along the way. We will delve into the world of cleansing next. To Co-Wash, or NOT to Co-Wash? That really IS the question. See you soon!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Starting the Curly Girl Method

Posted by Jen Lennox at 11:08 AM 0 comments
This is a fairly concise overview of the CG Method. I HIGHLY recommend if you're interested in doing it that you either purchase the Lorraine Massey Book  or check out, which has a great article with more detail.

The CG (Curly Girl) Method is based on the complete removal of sulfates and silicones from the hair.  Why do you need to do this? You may not. I know a lot of ladies who use regular shampoo and conditioner all their lives and have delightfully perfect curls. Most of us, however, do not, and it's not because your hair can't form curls, it's that you're (probably accidentally) doing it all wrong.

Curly girls need almost everything the opposite of girls with straight hair. Because our hair shaft is not straight, the oils our scalp generates (called sebum) don't find their way all the way to the bottom of our hair. This often results in an oily scalp and there rest of our hair a dry, puffy, frizzy mess. To combat the oil, we wash our hair. A boatload of shampoos (almost all of them, unless marked) are loaded with sulfates. These are usually labeled "sodium laurel sulfate" or some such other title ending in the word "sulfate,"and we then style our hair with products loaded with silicones (anything ending in the word -cone or conol on the label). This method works great for girls with straight hair. Not so much for us curlies. Why?

The sulfates found in shampoos are often the exact same sulfates found in dish soap. No lie. Dish soaps often list "sodium laurel sulfate" as the 2nd or 3rd ingredient. Which means, they are great at cutting through grease, but they strip precious moisture out of curly hair. Curls NEED moisture to form, and depriving the curls of moisture gives us that oh-so-lovable frizzball we love to hate.

This is Dawn dish soap. Check out the second ingredient. Chances are, that's the same stuff in your current shampoo, if it's not marked sulfate-free.

Now for the 'Cones. Silicones are excellent for straight styles because they coat the hair with a moisture barrier that keeps moisture from penetrating the hair shaft, keeping frizz at bay and making styles look smooth and sleek. However, they are very heavy and can only be removed with sulfates. If you are attempting to go CG, make sure your styling products are CONE-FREE (no -cone, -one, or -onol at the end) because if they aren't, you'll get a nice gunky buildup on your hair within a couple of weeks. No good.

Thus begins the vicious cycle: Use sulfates to strip the hair of silicones, use silicones to tame the frizzball caused by the sulfates. Our hair is constantly dry, our curls never form to their full ability due to lack of moisture, and eventually we pick up a flat iron and swear off our curls forever.

If you want to try the CG method, know two things: 1) You'll be doing a lot of label reading. I've become an expert at finding silicones and putting those products back on the shelf. 2) You need to give it some time to start working. Believe it or not, you can get clean, oil-free hair by using only conditioner (known as co-washing) and no shampoo. It sometimes takes the hair a few weeks to get the memo, so don't give up. Also, there are excellent online resources to help you find good products. I love and have found some of the best advice there.

This is me after about a year of using this method. Occasionally I will straighten if I feel like it, if the mood strikes. I just remember to use a "real" shampoo to get all the junk out of it before I return to CG. My hair is starting to respond very well, with defined curls instead of a ball of frizzy POOF. I'm currently growing out my bangs, which is a pain in the rectum of epic proportions. Not looking forward to the next 6 months or so as they start to blend in with the rest of my hair.

My next entry will focus on things like curl pattern, density, and porosity. The best way to find products that will work best with your hair is to know what kind of texture you have to begin with. This can be a little tricky (I'm still figuring out mine!) but it will definitely help point you in the right direction.


Friday, May 15, 2015

The Fight is Over

Posted by Jen Lennox at 9:27 PM 0 comments
For as long as I can remember, I've been fighting with my hair. I have thick, naturally curly, Italian hair. I inherited it from my mom. When I look at pictures of myself as a child, I remember having to keep my hair short so I could contain it.

This is me, around 4 years old, with my then strawberry blonde short 'do. I also seemingly had quite an affinity for Mickey Mouse.

As I got older, knowing nothing of a little invention called a DIFFUSER, I grew my hair long and BRUSHED it (with a brush, with lots of bristles, the enemy of all curls) so that it would straighten into a fine mess of long POOF.

Yep. That's me, at Homecoming (3rd from the right) having BRUSHED the heck out of my hair and then heat styled it with a curling iron for some semblance of control.

As I moved into adulthood, I discovered the diffuser, which allowed me to control my curls without heat, but years of washing my hair with all the wrong products never made it look very healthy, and every Pantene commercial has women with long, straight, shiny locks bouncing around. I wanted to be one of them. 

Enter the flat iron. My friend. My pal. My long-time adult companion. The one thing I've at least done right is stick to ceramic plates, which do LESS damage. For the past 15+ years I've been having a daily love affair with this beautiful instrument:

The CHI. I call her..."Old Faithful."

And I would've kept doing it, too, if not for a little book called "Curly Girl Handbook" by Lorraine Massey. She is amazing, and her method really WORKS.

By eliminating sulfates and silicones, I've managed to not only bring back my natural curls in a very controlled, stylish way, but EMBRACE my God-given texture and curl pattern in a way I never have before. And the best part? I no longer fight with my hair. I actually kinda like it.

I've been doing the CG method for about a year now. That's not to say I don't go through periods where I just feel like going straight and using a flat iron, because I do. But, as I read stories of other women who have struggled as I have, I am really starting to love the hair I was born with for the first time. This blog is my attempt to share my experiences, product recommendations, and ups and downs as I go through this journey. There will be days I throw in the towel and grab the CHI. There will be days I want to freeze my hair exactly as it is and keep it that way forever. The style journey of a curly girl is far more interesting than those of our smoother counterparts. Our curls never seem to curl the same way twice. A product will work fabulously for months, or even years, then stop working completely. But, we have each other. And the internet. We're going to be just fine.

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