Saturday, March 17, 2012

My Favorite Products/ Ingredients

I don't know what it is about me, but I suspect my Grandma Ida has a lot to do with my semi-boho, almost granola, kinda-flower-child kind of ways.  Growing up watching her and my mom sew clothes, crochet and knit, cook all kinds of dishes inspired by her homeland of St. Thomas, growing small potted herbs in her small kitchen window (the woman even made her own candy, even though she was diabetic and knew better!) - a lot of that had rubbed onto me.  I remember selling the knitted bags I made when I was in the 6th grade! (Hey, other kids said they liked me bag and wanted one, so you know I wasn't doing all that work for free!).  I say all of this to express how doing things with my own hands, or dealing with products that aren't so manufactured, always appealed to me throughout my entire life (it's only recently that it's become some sort of "movement" where words like "organic" and "natural" are thrown around like the latest coolest ebonically inspired word, when many folks have been doing things like they did in the "olden days" way before things became popular.  With that I just wanted to share some of my favorite products and ingredients that I incorporate into my life for various health, beauty and fitness reasons.

1. Shea butter (click for benefits of shea butter)

I love this stuff!  I've used it for my skin and hair!  For my skin, being someone who has struggled with acne and dark spots for over 20 years, shea butter has always provided me with the kind of moisture that no other product can.  For my hair, shea butter has been a main staple, in the summer and winter.  In the beginning, I would just use shea butter alone (even when I'd had a perm), but over the years I have experimented by adding natural oils, and have not been disappointed yet.

2. Aloe (click for benefits of Aloe)
This plant was always a mainstay in my Grandma or Mom's home growing up.  When I was younger I thought it was just for burns, but as I've gotten older, I have found that it is great for internal health (I've only had the flavored aloe juices - I just can't drink plain aloe yet, I can't, lol!), but also for the hair as well.  I discovered this when I started using Kinky Curly's Knot Today.  I occasionally incorporate Aloe into my regimen, but not always as I find it best - for me - to use when I need "special treatments."

3. Tea Tree Oil (benefits of tea tree oil)

What a great find for me. With all the skin irritation that I have, and continue to experience with my skin, tea tree oil saved my butt many times.  And with my son dealing with eczema, tea tree oil is definitely a must for our medicine cabinet.

I sure didn't know a quarter of the benefits of honey!  I have not begun to explore the benefits to skin in any homemade products yet, but I include this ingredient in my pre-shampoo mixture.

5. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (benefits of EVOO)

If I was forced to only use 3 of the items on my favorites list, extra virgin olive oil was definitely be on that list.  As a matter of fact, it would be in the top 2.  What an incredible ingredient.  For food. Skin. Hair. Everythang!  I use it in my pre-shampoo treatment. I used it in my hair oil recipe. I use it for skin ailments. I use it in my food.  This ingredient is an example of how great and versatile natural products are.

I just discovered this little gem last year.  In the past, I'd tried the whole mashing up an avocado and putting it in my hair, and all I felt I got, was avocado in my hair - avocado bits that were hard to get out.  But ever since incorporating the oil in my hair oil recipe (this, when my hair was super dry and I was at my wit's end), I'd never felt my hair be so soft, and that softness last for so long.

Another great ingredient that I use in various ways.  For the hair, it is a part of my pre-shampoo method, removing all residue from the previous week so that the products that I use to wash and condition can do their jobs as efficiently as possible.  For skin, I use it for acne in particular on my shoulders and back, my son uses it for eczema outbreaks, another person I know uses it for melasma, and the list goes on.

8. Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie (a vlogger's review of the product)

I never really likes the idea of using gel on my hair all the time, in order to set my curls and keep my hair looking moist, so when I hit up a Shea Moisture store in one of those holiday outdoor fairs, I thought maybe this would be it.  And I was wrong - at first.  But then I tweaked my moisture and sealing routine (thanks to Nikisha on Urban Bush Babes), and it was like I discovered gold in a jar!  Not since my son was 1 (he's 11 now) have I been able to let my hair do what it does and I love it, and a lot of that has to do with Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie, seriously! It's such a great finisher to an involved, but important regimen.  And unlike the opinions and experiences of others, this products actually brings out my curls better than any gel ever has.

9. Castor Oil (click for benefits of castor oil)

Another one of the best ingredients/ products I use. This is the final touch in my hair regimen, and once again, thanks the Nikisha on Urban Bush Babes, I learned that I was using the product in the wrong part of my process, but once I got it right, I experience soft, bouncy, moisturized and manageable hair for an entire week.  I am now learning and experimenting with recipes for skin ailments.

10. Bentonite Clay

I've been using clay masks for years, but using the Aztec Secret Healing Clay showed me what all clays should be. I mean, I felt my face pulsing! And as I began to add essential oils to my clay mixtures, I found it even more beneficial.  Last year, I started using the clay in my pre-shampoo routine - mixing in apple cider vinegar, honey and extra virgin olive oil, and it helped clarify my hair sooooooo much, that the shampoo and conditioning products I used afterwards, worked even better.

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