In my good-hair-day arsenal, there are three products. They each serve their purpose, and I use none more than the other, so I’ll tell you about all three at once!
One is sort of new and achieves such a pretty air-dry that it makes me want to do so even when it’s cold out; and the other is an old favorite that I buy over and over again; and the last one is brand new and so versatile that I use it on my arms and legs, too.
Yarok Feed Your Ends Leave-In Conditioner
What it’s good for: Bounce, waves, air-drying, styling when you have to use a really crappy hotel hair dryer, and for smelling really good when you go in for a hug.
This is my go-to guy for air drying and for those days when I only have time to blast my roots and the strands around my face before I book it to work. It brings a nice shine, a soft, kind of sexy bounce, and it weighs nothing. It leaves my hair not piecey but with a nice texture, and like the shampoo and conditioner from Yarok, it smells divine, and the scent lasts. Last week I spent the night in Pennsylvania for work and I was traveling super-light. I knew the hotel hair dryer was going to suck; they all suck. So this was my product of choice. I had a nice, relaxed-looking hair day and despite the unseasonably high temperature that day, my hair didn’t get gross.
Intelligent Nutrients Volumizing Spray
What it’s good for: Fuss-free styling, hold, adding texture to thick long hair, defining curls and waves, and also smelling really, really good when you go in for a hug.
No stranger to regular readers, this product is still a favorite of mine. Has been for a few years (years!) now. It’s a little boosting, volume-wise, but the real reason I love it is the fact that when I use this with my amazing hair dryer my hair just ends up looking super done with very little effort (that last part is key). Work’s been crazy great (and crazy busy) lately, so looking put-together—or at least more put-together than I looked all summer—is important. This product is my secret weapon. It also helps you hold a style or wave. Love.
Intelligent Nutrients Hair Shine
What it’s good for: Everything. On wet hair before you style, on dry hair what needs texture, shine or control, on curly hair, straight hair, and African American hair, and on color-damaged hair. It’s also great on your arms and legs as a light body oil, and it smells like lemongrass. Yum!
This is the new kid in my caddy. It’s a new product from our friends at IN and I absolutely love it. I discovered it when it was sent to my job and another editor stopped me in the hall and said, “You’re going to freak out.” She handed me the bottle, I fell in love with the look of the thing, took one whiff—a combination of non-skunky lemongrass and something else—and, well, I freaked out. I sprayed a little on my hands, ran my hands over my poofy hair and spent the rest of the day admiring the subtle sheen and insanely good smell (I’m an inveterate hair sniffer). Since it’s made of several light oils, it occurred to me it might work as a body shine too, so one day I sprayed a little on my arms and legs and loved that too! It’s subtle, non-greasy, and makes me look like I am much better about applying daily body lotion than I am. Heh.
Have you tried any of these? What’s your favorite leave-in?
Here we go again. Ever since Siobhan asked how everyone’s preparing for the heat, my brain’s been on a one track loop that goes: highlights highlights highlights…
It’s a serious conundrum for a clean girl this whole hair dye thing, one we’ve talked about here and here and here (and about ten other places). There are many reasons not to do it of course. Par example, much like nail polish, there’s just no such thing as a totally clean dye.
Specifically for moi, getting highlights means: 1. some toxic exposure; 2. getting my hair washed and living with the subsequent frizz for a month; 3. feeling like a bit of a hypocrite. On the plus side the place I go to is sorta-natch, the highlights I get don’t touch my scalp, and freaking-A, they’re pretty!
A bit of a late bloomer on this, highlights were something of a revelation when I finally tried them last spring, lightly painted on in places where the sun would naturally lighten (if I surfed, like everyday). For a thick mop like mine, a little caramel color can go a long way in making my head look like less of a curl-helmut, as I’m sure some of you can relate.
And while I know I’m a grown woman who can make her own decisions and all that, S and I have really taken to asking you guys for your (strong, ahem) opinions and advice! So let’s hear em.
More interesting still: What do you do with your hair? Highlights? Au naturelle 4life? And how weird is this picture choice?
The other day, I was reminded of something Alexandra and I discovered when we were writing the book: That basically every beauty biff under the sun could be ameliorated with a little aloe. As we started studying ingredient lists on our old products, we noticed that so many products we’d known and loved for years had aloe listed first on the ingredient list, which, remember, means there’s more of it in there than any other ingredient.
So if aloe was doing much of the heavy lifting (or taming, as the case may be) in so many of our products, couldn’t we use it on its own, too?
But of course. One of the great things about familiarizing yourself with ingredients—and not just finished products—is that you start to figure out what works well for you and why. If you’re buying aloe, some things to remember: Go organic; get 100% pure aloe; and make sure there are no green dyes or fragrance in there. You can get it at any health food store in gel form—which is the consistency of what comes out of the plant when you rip open a leaf, kind of like a slippery, thinner version of hair gel.
Now, without further ado: Here are the 10 (sort of) science-backed uses for aloe vera:
1. To tame frizz before drying or for air-drying. Pretty obvious one. Aloe is the primary ingredient in many conditioners and most defrizzers that aren’t silicone-based (which is most of them) because its consistency makes it easy to apply and coat the hair with. Plus, the pH is slightly acidic, but just slightly, which can help seal the cuticle of the hair, making it more likely to behave. This works amazingly well on my wavy thick hair for air drying, but I like it blown out, too. If you want to buy something instead of using pure aloe, I like this.
2. As a shaving gel for legs or face. We’ve told you many times that we do not use shaving cream, and if you’re still using the traditional stuff please stop immediately! We use whatever is lying around and is kind of silky feeling. Because aloe is also antiinflammatory, thanks to the enzymes, and hydrating, thanks to the very high water content, this stuff works like a charm on legs (or whevever) for a very close shave.
3. As a topical treatment for razor burn or makeout burn. If you’re like me, you’ve probably at some point thought dry shaving your legs with a not-especially-new razor was a great idea. It’s not, but if you end up with razor burn—or if you’ve been making out with someone scruffy who makes your face a little red—aloe is a godsend. Slather it on after you shower, then again before bed.
4. Instead of an oil-free moisturizer, especially if you’re acne-prone: Studies show that aloe can be an effective humectant, increasing water retention in the skin. It also contains antioxidants in the form of vitamins A, C and E, and enzymes that can help calm inflammation and irritation—which is probably why it’s in so many moisturizers for acne-prone skin. I think it just feels nice, especially in the summer. Keep it in the fridge during heatwaves for an amazing way to wake up your skin, post shower.
5. As a personal lubricant: TMI Alert! My favorite lube is from Aloecadabra, and it’s aloe-based. I don’t care for the flavored ones so much, but the plain aloe lubricant has been my go-to for some time. I’ve also given bottles of it to two of my friends! Plus, it’s condom-safe and pH balanced, which is important for girls.
6. On dry hair or your eyebrows. If you’re lucky enough to have brows like Alexandra, maybe you want to use a little on them with some powder to darken or define them, and keep strays in place. This works on blondes too, with powdered eye shadow in a taupe or very, very light brown. It can similarly be used on dry hair as a way to prevent flyaways, if those bother you.
7. On seborrheic dermatitis or psoriasis. Ugh. If you have or have ever suffered from either of these you know how bad it can get. I have not personally, but I’ve seen friends suffer through both, and boy does it suck. Enter: your favorite succulent. The data is limited, but studies have shown it to be effective in the treatment of both.
8. To help infections heal. There’s some evidence that the antibacterial qualities that make it a great lotion for acne-prone skin may also help with wound healing in humans, and in rats. I have tried this (I’ve also done it with honey), and I think it works. Can’t be sure, but it can’t hurt.
9. On cooking burns. Hopefully you had a cool mom who taught you this when you were a kid (hi, mom!). If not, you can be that cool mom or dad now or later. Oh, except wait… Despite the fact it seems like it would be a good idea, NIH says it doesn’t work on sunburns. [Ed's Note: Alexandra used it on the backs of her legs, after she burned them during a surf lesson while on vacation. She's convinced the cooling aloe eased some of her pain.]
10. Make a face mask out of it. We know some of you out there love your DIY. For you, combine aloe with oats and your favorite face oil in whatever proportions feel nice to you and slap the stuff on your face. Let it sit for about 15 minutes and you’ll be left with a nice, slightly taught face (in a good way, weird as it sounds).
What’d I miss?
Image (cc) via Flickr user Erik Mallinson
Okydoke, it’s time for the “what our hair was like before we switched to naturals” post. It explains why we launched the Summer Hair Challenge, it’s related to why we wrote the book, and it speaks to one of our core messages, which is: Less is freaking more. Translation: So many of our products bite us in the ass.
I used to be a four-or-five-hair-products-a-day person and I didn’t think that was particularly high-maintenance. It was just that I had poodle hair sometimes, especially in the summer. I live in New York and grew up in Montreal, islands both, frizzy-hair-makers both. And frizz, every girl knows, sucks eggs. And so I used products.
I used to wake up, hop in the shower, use Garnier Fructis Sleek and Shine shampoo and conditioner, or if I was feeling rich I’d use Rene Furterer’s stuff. Then I’d load Phytodefrisant onto my wet hair, and once blow-dried (and sometimes also ironed), I would use one or two finishing serums that probably had silicone or some other garbage in it.
My hair looked how I wanted it to look, but do the math: that’s expensive, and a pain. I was also unwittingly exposing myself to 11 of the 20 ingredients on our Black List—daily. (For more on what’s in shampoo, check this out.)
Anyway, eventually I realized the unmanageableness (?) of my hair was squarely the fault of the products I was using, and when I made the switch, my hair chilled out. Ever seen a baby with decimated ends? Do we think Pocanhontas had flyaways?
But as we have said in the past: if you’ve made the switch to clean products and are still beefing with some frizz, here are my two favorite tricks: spritz with pure aloe juice in a spray bottle before drying, and for a finisher, argan oil—just a dab, smoothed over the top layer of dry hair.
You got any tricks you like?