Five Commandments for Healthy Curls

Five Commandments for Healthy Curls

Now that I’m in my thirties, I can dole out pearls of wisdom, telling tales of my youth to anyone who will listen, and no one will bat an eye. Like the 90-something year old dude who lives in my neighborhood and crosses the street whenever and where ever he pleases, people just kinda let him do his thing. He’s earned the right to make you late to yoga.

I’ve done my own hair for about 25 of my years on this Earth and I’ve got epic tales of trauma suffered by my hair: knots, awkward layers, bangs, heat, chemicals, and that one time I thought it would be great to let my friend in beauty school give me peek-a-boo highlights to be edgy; my hair fell out. I’ve earned these pearls of wisdom through trial & error, burns, sweat and tears. But my hair and I are finally buddies, and have been for the past eight years. Sit on Mia’s virtual knee while I give you a few tips I’ve learned along the way…

The Five Curly Hair Commandments

1. Get your hair cut by a stylist that specializes in curly hair

If you follow one thing on this list, please, DO THIS!  Getting your curls properly shaped will make styling so much easier, minimizing the amount of time you need to spend on your hair.

Ask questions about their process before they take the shears to your hair. If a stylist wants to cut your hair while it’s wet, or god forbid, straighten it and then cut it, save your money and walk out of that salon; they don’t know what they’re doing.

A curly stylist who is good at their craft will know how to layer your hair, cutting each single curl while it is dry to lay nicely while also factoring in shrinkage. Yes, you’ll have to pay upwards of $100-$150, but it is so worth it.

Finding a good curly hair stylist means researching and asking around.  My stylist is certified in the Deva Cut technique, and you can find a certified stylist in your area. If you think you’ve found The One, look for before and after pictures of their clients. A reputable stylist should have an online portfolio or be able to direct you to pictures of their past work on social media. See someone in your coffee shop with great curls? Ask her where she gets her hair done! It’s not weird.

2. Comb/detangle only while in the shower

Hair should be soaking wet and have conditioner applied to minimize breakage. NEVER attempt to comb or detangle outside of the shower unless your hair is more wavy than curly. Always use a wide-tooth comb or pick, never a brush.  Set your part while detangling in the shower to minimize any fiddling you have to do to style, once outside of the shower. Once out of the shower, immediately apply styling products to soaking wet hair. Now, hands off until it’s dry. This is the secret to minimizing frizz and getting hair to air dry in perfect corkscrew coils.

3. Do not use products containing synthetic silicones

If you’ve read my post about 10 ingredients to avoid, you know how gross silicones are. But for those with tangles that rival a drunk branch party in the Amazon, this one is still the most tempting commandments to break. Yes, silicone-laden products feel great when applied in the shower and you can whisk your comb through hair. When I do sin and use a silicone product, my hair might look good for one day, but for the next three my curls are limp and weighed down (not in a good way). My hair also feels dry because strands are coated with the plastic-y stuff, preventing moisture from getting in. I then have to use a clarifying shampoo, which dries out my strands, creating a vicious cycle.

If it’s slip you’re looking for, try my conditioning go-tos: Rahua or Rare El’ements

4. Use shampoo/clarify periodically (with sulfate-free, natural, clean and gentle products, of course)

You are probably inundated with bloggers/websites preaching the gospel of shirking shampoo for the rest of time. I tried it, but guys…there is such a thing as too much shea butter. I know, I know: blasphemy. Yes, I still co-wash, but no longer swear off shampoo.

Even natural products can build up, especially when using super moisturizing products with rich butters and oils usually incorporated into formulas for curly hair. When my hair is not responding to anything, I know it’s because it needs a deep cleaning. I shampoo with either RahuaAcure or Rare Elements then spray my ACV solution from roots to ends, let it sit for about 3-5 minutes, then rinse out. While there are great D.I.Y. shampoos out there, just be careful using these if you have colored hair as ingredients like baking soda can dull color.

 5. If you color your curls, you MUST stop using heat

I made the decision to get highlights at my wonderful organic salon, The Local, in North Hollywood. They use an organic color system (in this case, organic meaning not as harsh as traditional formulas and ammonia-free) which swayed me to switch things up. When I had virgin hair, I could get away with using a curling iron to perk up lazy curls around my face sometimes 2-3 times per week and even straighten my hair about once or twice a month.  But with this decision, I knew I would have to stop using any heat.  I’m so happy with my color and with weekly deep conditioning, my curls remain soft and healthy. I know this would not be the case if I were up to my old habits. Again, the technique for applying color to curly hair is completely different from straight, so make sure to find a colorist that has experience working with curls.

Do you have a commandment to add to the list? Leave a comment; I love learning tips from other curlies!

 

The Benefits of Nettle

The Benefits of Nettle

Nettle leaf

ABOUT PLANT HEALING

I am beyond thrilled to share my first plant healing post. I am a student at The Gaia School of Healing in Southern California and has shifted the way I relate to the plant world and how I think about medicine. We learn in the Wise Woman Tradition which is based in honoring the natural, sacred rhythms of the Earth to tap into the wisdom held in the plants that surround us. It is also rooted in looking inward, listening to our bodies to tell us what type of healing is needed, both spiritually and physically. I hope you will feel inspired to connect with the plants around you and see what type of spiritual healing is there for you!

LET ME INTRODUCE YOU TO THE FABULOUS NETTLE!

I knew immediately which plant to post about first: The wonderful, nourishing Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica). I can’t explain how grateful I am to have connected with this plant spirit; It is like taking in the richness of the earth in green liquid form! Nettle is a nourishing herb which means it is packed with the minerals and vitamins our bodies need to function properly. By flooding the body with nourishment, nettle rebuilds the various systems of the body and restores nutrient deficiencies.

Rich in: vitamins K, A, vitamin B complex, magnesium, iron, chlorophyl, potassium, zinc, and other trace minerals

Nettles can help with the following:
Increase energy and fight fatigue
Balance hormones
Boost immunity
Improve digestion and nutrient absorption
Build healthy blood and circulatory system
Provide basic minerals to help systems operate efficiently
Help the body handle stress
Grow thicker, shiny hair
Gives glowing complexion
Strengthen respiratory system
Build and restores adrenal and kidney function
Prevents cancer
Alleviate menstrual cramps
Increase breast milk production
Help anemia (due to high iron content)
Help fight addiction and release emotions no longer useful

I will shout it from the hilltops: Nettles should be part of everyone’s life, especially if you live in an urban environment and/or are dealing with chronic stress. Our bodies are constantly being depleted of nutrients due to environmental and physical stress. Taking in a nourishing herb, like nettle, helps keep your systems balanced and healthy.

This is why I can’t recommend this enough for people with crazy lives. From first hand experience, trust me: you will feel so much better! Gentle nettle put me back together last year at a very stressful time. I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, muddling through a demanding job and family drama. I drank nettle almost everyday for a month and throughout the process, I noticed subtle shifts; I was much calmer in the face of stressful situations, was able to sustain my energy, and damn, was my complexion bright and glowing! I became stronger, both physically and emotionally. It was such a blessing to realize that there is so much spirit medicine available in a plant!

In addition to the scientifically-backed physical benefits, nettle delivers energetic healing, especially to the root chakra, by aiding in creating healthy boundaries and a strong spiritual foundation. Nettle can grow in low quality soil and bring it back to health, which is a beautiful way to imagine how it helps the human body.

Nettle is known particularly for being a wonderful plant ally for women in all stages of life through stabilizing the reproductive system, building rich blood, and increasing cells’ ability to metabolize nutrients. It will alleviate menstrual cramps, support new mothers, and ease menopause, alike!

Nettle, like most nourishing herbs, grows wild and abundant and is one of the most sustainable herbs you can consume on a regular basis.  You can buy dried nettles at Mountain Rose Herbs or at your local health food store. You’ll want to buy loose leaf tea in bulk since small teabags don’t provide enough plant material to make infusions.

How to make nettle infusion:

  1. Take a small fistful of plant material and throw it in a sturdy 1 quart glass jar (or fill up 1/4 of the jar with the herb if you’re not using qt size)
  2. Pour boiling water, filling up the jar
  3. Cover and let sit for a minimum of four hours, up to 10 hours. The longer it infuses, the more nutrients available.
  4. Strain and drink up! Start out with 2-3 cups per day, but there’s really no recommended amount – just listen to your body.
  5. Refrigerate any leftover infusion. Try to consume within 48 hours to prevent spoilage (I try to drink mine within 24 hours).

Nettle is very safe – just listen to your body. This class of herb works gradually, which is great because they can be taken safely for an extended period without side effects of harsher plants. The one thing I recommend is to drink plain water throughout the day since nettle can be slightly drying.

Do you love nettle? I would love it if you would share your experiences in the comments, below!

How To Dispose of Toxic Beauty Products

How To Dispose of Toxic Beauty Products

A commonly asked question I receive is how to dispose of old toxic, chemical-filled cosmetics and personal care products in an environmentally responsible manner. Once you’ve switched over to natural products, the last thing you want to do is create more pollution by washing them down the drain or dumping in the toilet. Here are three responsible options to discard those bottles without trashing Mother Earth:

1. Drop off at your local hazardous waste facility

This is the best and most environmentally responsible way to dispose of toxic products. Most hazardous waste facilities will accept cosmetic and personal care products where they will be discarded properly. In fact, most cities have banned personal care and cosmetic products from being poured down the drain to prevent pollution in local waterways.

Yes, that’s right, the conventional personal care items formulated for our bodies have to be disposed of at the same facility as paint thinner.
(I’m thinking about putting this on a holiday greeting card…Yay?Nay?)

While some suggest at least recycling the plastic bottles, there’s still the dilemma of what to do with the contents that shouldn’t be rinsed out. And mixing in bottles which still contain product with other recyclables can contaminate the entire contents of the blue bin. Placing items in the trash is not a great option because landfills leach chemicals into nearby soil and waterways.This brings us back to the first, and best, option to treat conventional beauty products as hazardous waste.

Make the most out of your excursion to the town hazardous waste dump (no, just me?) by gathering up other hazardous items most households have lying around like batteries, bulbs, leftover paint from that cat condo DIY, cleaner, medications, electronics, etc. and drop them off, too. Some facilities have schedules for different materials or require appointments so make sure to call or check their website for the posted schedule.

2. Return unused products to the brand

Unlock your inner activist by mailing the product back to the brand or returning to the store and explain why you’re no longer a customer. Post on social media, making sure to mention the brand. This signals to the company that if you’ve stopped buying their toxic sludge, so have other customers, affecting their bottom line. I’ve created a customizable template letter to express your concerns about the harmful chemicals used by the company to include in your package:

To the X Company,

I am writing to inform you that you have lost me as a customer because of the presence of chemicals linked to serious health issues and environmental harm in the products sold by your company. Enclosed is the unused portion of (list product), which I no longer choose to use. As ingredients in this product are classified as hazardous to local waterways under state and federal law, I trust that your company will dispose of the remainder of your toxic product in accordance with local and federal hazardous waste regulations.

If you would like to win me back as a customer, remove these harmful chemicals from your formulas (list ingredients, if you choose). Make a pledge to find safe, non-toxic formulas that are tested for long-term environmental and human safety and sign The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

I hope to see (company name) take the well-being of its customers and the environment seriously by phasing out dangerous chemicals.

Sincerely,

3. My thoughts on using up or donating products

If you absolutely cannot get to a hazardous waste facility and the idea of wasting products keeps you awake at night, then this is the last resort. I’ve gone back and forth with this, but ultimately, we have to think about the big picture: Yes, the chemicals are still going to be used and end up going down the drain but the impact of your new toxic-free lifestyle has a positive impact that eclipses the negatives of using the last bit of that ‘Toxic Brand X’ conditioner. You’re happy and thriving with your natural, eco-friendly products and have most likely influenced the purchasing behaviors of your family and others in your life and have now prevented multiple bottles of ‘Toxic Brand X’ from being purchased.

Understanding this, combined with the spirit of using up items that have already consumed precious resources to produce, I’d say that finishing up or donating the last few bottles to those your community who really need it, is a reasonable option.

I hope this helps! Do you have any other questions? Let me know by commenting, below.

Spa Day At Home: Therapeutic Facial Steam

Spa Day At Home: Therapeutic Facial Steam

DIY Facial Steam Dry Mature Skin

I’ve never had a professional facial; I know, I know. I’m a green beauty blogger – shouldn’t that be at the top of my list? I do dream of making an appointment one day but most treatments at organic spas cost about 1/4 of my rent, at least here in L.A. But while browsing fancy spas and wishful thinking, I noticed that steaming is a part of the treatment, something that up until recently I reserved for alleviating a head cold.

Steaming works like a deep clean, unclogging the buildup from your pores while encouraging blood flow and increased circulation which is incredibly wonderful for dull, tired skin. And it’s one of the easiest, yet most indulgent DIYs out there! [Ed. note: this also comes in handy if you told someone you worked out, but instead decided to collapse onto the couch and watch Netflix. Just steam your face and you’ll have a legit-looking workout glow to show off.]

I now steam before applying my weekly mask and each time I’ve experienced an instant revitalized glow along with better efficacy from my pricey products! Incorporating this steam step into your routine does take a few minutes extra, but if you have a super fancy product that you feel guilty even using, applying it after a steam is the best time to use it since your skin is ready to soak up every penny’s worth of the product’s benefits.

Just hot water and a towel will do the trick but you can customize your home steam with the essential oils, herbs and flowers beneficial to your skin type.

DIY Therapeutic Facial Steam

Here’s my custom blend, good for normal/dry skin:1/3 cup blend of dried rose buds/petals, calendula, chamomile, and lavender

My method: pour a full tea kettle amount of boiling water into a large pot. Throw in your desired herbs or essential oils and mix around. Place a large towel over your head to trap in steam and breathe deeply. Sit for 8-10 minutes, enough time to allow the steam to cleanse pores and for the beneficial oils to really soak in. Take intermittent breaks from the steam, when needed (note – if someone’s in the room with you, its fun to look out from under your towel and cackle like a witch). Rinse face with lukewarm water then apply a mask or just finish your routine with your night time serum/moisturizer.sit over the steam for about 10 minutes. If you have rosacea or redness, you may want to limit or skip steaming since it increases circulation and can irritate already inflamed skin.

When finished, you can compost the herbs and water your plants the facial steam water.

Happy home spa day!

My DIY Stress Relief Potion

My DIY Stress Relief Potion

DIY lavender and peppermint stress relief
Lately, I have been carrying around a mystery vial with me and receive a lot of odd looks when I unscrew the top and sniff. To clear up any rumors, it’s a very simple stress & headache relief essential oil blend that I have with me at all times. The two oils work together to instantly lift my mood and open up nasal passages. Lavender acts as a stress-whisperer, dissolving tension. Peppermint cools when applied to the skin and remedies nausea and headaches. Make this yourself with just two oils that you probably already have around the house:

Peppermint essential oil
Lavender essential oil
Optional: oil to dilute, like jojoba or almond, if this blend is too strong for you

In small glass jar/vial (make sure it’s glass since you’ll store the oil in it) mix 15-20 drops of lavender essential oil with 5-7 drops of peppermint essential oil. If it’s too strong for your liking, dilute with a 1/2 teaspoon of jojoba or other carrier oil. Mix and you’re done! You can also just mix a couple drops of each E.O. in your palms, rub your hands together and breathe in.  I like to dab this on the back of my neck and the pulse points on my wrists.

Life hack: Container Store has these little glass droppers and vials (pictured, above) that are great for concentrated DIYs!

Any other essential oil blends you’d like to share? I’m always looking for new combos!