Sample Saturday: Jessicurl

Bag of Jessicurl Samples

Jessicurl is a popular curly hair brand started by a woman named Jess. She couldn’t find any products that worked for her curly hair and found a recipe for flaxseed gel online. She tried it out (and made her own tweaks in the process) and loved the results so much that she shared the recipe in the Curl Talk community, and her inbox got flooded with offers to buy bottles of her concoction. The product Rockin’ Ringlets was born, and subsequently this brought about the creation of many more products. Never did Jess dream that her discovery would turn into a business!

I hesitated about trying out the Jessicurl products because well, at around $16.95 a bottle, they are not cheap. Then I remembered that Jessicurl offers samples to order from the website–all you have to pay is shipping and handling (only $3.10 for me).

What did I get?

Gentle Lather Shampoo

Sulfate free cleansing that won’t weigh hair down

Too Shea Conditioner

Daily conditioning for dry thirsty curls

Deep Conditioner

Intense pampering for dry hair

Aloeba Conditioner

Weightless moisture for dry hair (I used this as a leave-in in my LCEG routine)

Confident Coils

Defines touchably soft curls in all climates 

Rockin’ Ringlets

Encourage and enhance curls

Spiralicious

Provides all day hold and frizz control for all hair types

All products are sulfate free, silicone free, drying alcohol free, mineral oil free, etc. If you have gluten sensitivities, Jessicurl products are also gluten free. While the samples are unscented by default, full size products have three fragrance options: Unscented, Citrus Lavender, and Tropical Fantasy.

First Impression

Overall, I was pleased with the products. The shampoo lathered and cleaned nicely. The conditioners were all moisturizing and there wasn’t nearly enough of them, but alas, that is the problem many curly girls face: not enough conditioner. I think I could have done without the Confident Coils. I thought Confident Coils was just a cream, but it’s a cream gel just like the Spiralicious, just less hold than Spiralicious. I think both of them together were just a bit too heavy for me.

If I were to do the styling routine over again, I would go with one of the conditioners as a leave-in (they all can be used as leave-in conditioners, even the deep conditioner), Rockin’ Ringlets, and then Spiralicious. But, despite feeling a bit weighed down, I had some nice clumping and definition until my next wash day.

 

First Day Hair with Jessicurl products

Third Day Hair with Jessicurl products
Third Day Hair

Would I buy the full size products?

I definitely want to try the Rockin’ Ringlets and Spiralicious Gel again. I wouldn’t get Confident Coils again simply because combining it with the Spiraicious was just too much for me. The Jessicurl products don’t have a lot of protein in them, so I think I would need to use a product with a little protein to give my curls that extra bounce. I also wouldn’t mind trying Too Shea as a leave-in. The Aloeba was nice, but it is meant for fine hair (my hair is pretty coarse).

Purchasing information

You can get free samples from the main Jessicurl website for only the cost of shipping and handling. Full sized Jessicurl products cost around $16.95 and you can pick from three fragrance options: no fragrance, Citrus Lavender, and Tropical Fantasy. You can also purchase Jessicurl through Curl Mart.

Sample Saturday: Sashapure

sashapure product samples

I recently started doing Sample Saturday on my Instagram page because I have a bunch of samples that I received from Curl Mart purchases (three samples in every order) and I needed to use them. Sample Saturday is my way of using them up and trying something new without buying more stuff.

Wait, I got most of the samples from buying stuff to begin with…

But the point is that I’m not spending more money, at least right now.

The Brand

For this Sample Saturday review, I used samples from Sashapure. The brand boasts of using Certified Peruvian Sacha Inchii Oil, which is an oil that is rich in protein, omegas 3-6-9, and vitamins A and E. It comes from the Sacha Inchii plant in South America that can also be eaten and is claimed to be a superfood.  On their website Sashapure says that they are the first haircare brand to use USDA-certified organic and sustainably harvested Sacha Inchii Oil.

On the main Sashpure website, there are six products: Healing Shampoo, Healing Conditioner, Restorative Conditioning Mask, Re-hydrating Cleansing Conditioner, Perfectly Defining Curl Cream, Smoothing & Shine Hair Treatment, and Deeply Therapeutic Hair, Scalp, and Skin Elixir. The prices range from $11.99 to $15.99. So, they are about mid-range in cost. You can purchase from the website, or you can order them from Curl Mart.

I got three samples in a past Curl Mart delivery: Healing Shampoo, Healing Conditioner, and the Hair Elixir.

First Impressions

I was pretty happy with the shampoo and conditioner, though I wish there had been more product in the little packets. I was able to squeeze out just enough of the shampoo to work through my thick hair, but there wasn’t nearly enough conditioner for my liking. Of course, is there ever enough conditioner in Curly Girl World? I managed to get just enough conditioner to detangle, but I did not have high hopes for how my hair would turn out.

I used the elixir after I applied my Kinky Curly Knot Today leave-in conditioner and before gel. For Sampe Saturdays, I like to keep styling product usage to a minimum so I can see how much the samples work. My first impression of the elixir was that it STINKS! It smelled really, really grassy. It smelled like fresh cut grass with a touch of gasoline. At first I was just going to stop after the elixir, but I HAD to put something else in my hair to cancel out the smell because I couldn’t stand it. So, I scrunched in some LA Looks gel.

Looking at some online reviews, the fragrance is the most commonly disliked part of the elixir. If Sashapure could do something about that, that would be great.

I should add that the fragrance in the shampoo and conditioner was mild and actually quite pleasant. I was really disappointed in how the elxir smelled.

Would I buy the product?

All in all, I wasn’t expecting much out of this experiment, but once my hair dried, I was pleasantly surprised. I had nice, beachy waves. Normally, I focus on curl definition, but I actually kind of liked the looser look. I am on Day Three hair as I write this, and the look has been holding.

 

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Day 1 after air drying completely
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Day 2 and feeling a little lazy. Refreshed with leave-in conditioner
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Day Three and refreshed with leave-in conditioner and spray gel

However, my scalp is a little itchy on Day Three, but that’s kind of normal for me when it’s getting close to my next wash day. I’m just prone to having an itchy scalp because of some scalp psoriasis

Would I buy these products in full size? I might buy the shampoo and conditioner to try out in the larger bottles. I would not get the elixir again based on the smell alone. There have got to be just as good products on the market that don’t smell so bad. I am interested in trying the hair mask and the curl cream (voted Best Curl Cream 2017 in People Magazine!)

The product designs are nice too–not at all fancy, but attractive nonetheless. As far as I can tell, most of the products are curly girl friendly, except for the Smoothing and Shine Treatment, which does contain silicones.

Have you heard of Sashapure hair products? Have you tried them? Let me know in the comments below!

Unpopular opinions: I use parabens

I only avoid four ingredients in my hair products: sulfates, silicones, drying alcohols, and mineral oil. If you read this post, then you know why.

You may notice that parabens are not on that list of things I avoid.

WHY?!

I don’t avoid parabens because avoiding sulfates, silicones, drying alcohols, and mineral oil is more important to me. I’ve picked up many a bottle of “paraben free” shampoo and conditioner only to put them back on the shelf because they had sulfates and/or silicones in them.

Now, I don’t go completely out of my way to avoid “paraben free” products because the term is so ubiquitous now, especially in curly hair products. But if a product has parabens but is otherwise free of the four ingredients I try to avoid, then I’ll probably try it out. Bonus points if it smells amazing.

There are a lot of people who choose to avoid parabens because of some poorly understood/poorly designed studies claiming they are hormone disruptors and could cause cancer.  Lab Muffin has an amazing blog post about this where she explains it all better than I ever could.

At this point in time, there isn’t enough evidence to suggest that parabens are harmful, especially at the tiny, tiny amounts they are used. They are effective preservatives and they are actually natural because get this, they are naturally occuring in….FRUITS AND PLANTS!!!! That’s right, fruits and plants. I was pretty surprised when I found this out.

Now, if you want to avoid parabens, that is a perfectly valid choice to make. Just know that it may be difficult to avoid them completely because they are *everywhere*, maybe even in products that market themselves as being paraben free.

Of course, there is such a thing as being allergic or sensitive to parabens. It is extremely rare, but it does exist. If you are one of those few people who are allergic to products with parabens, then of course you must avoid them! I have a daughter who is severely allergic to cashews, but I’m not going around telling everyone not to eat cashews because of it.

If you want to read more about the safety of parabens, check out these other blog posts. Some of them also include links to studies 🙂

Beautiful With Brains

Lab Muffin

Cosmetics Cop

 

 

How I treated my scalp psoriasis without drying out my curls

I discovered a red flaky rash on the back of my neck at the hairline in 2017. Here is what it looked like back then:

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Needless to say, I was very self conscious about wearing my hair back in any fashion. I tried treating it with hydrocortisone cream, antifungal cream, various oils, all to no avail. I finally saw a dermatologist in October 2017 and he promptly diagnosed me with scalp psoriasis and prescribed medication and shampoos to help.

Not all of these recommendations were Curly Girl friendly, and I knew that even sulfate-free dandruff shampoos could be drying. How was I supposed to heal my scalp while maintaining my curls? Well, I did some reading and experimenting, and this is the result:

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No more rash, and I did it while still following the Curly Girl Method.

These are some tips that worked for me along the way:

(1) Condition your ends before applying dandruff shampoo to your scalp. Like I said, even sulfate free dandruff shampoos are drying, so keeping your ends moisturized is critical. Applying conditioner to your ends (also known as pre-pooing) will make it so when you rinse the dandruff shampoo out of your scalp, the shampoo won’t dry your ends out.

(2) Co-washing is a no-no. Unfortunately, scalp issues and co-washing do not go well together. For those of us with itchy scalp issues, co-washing can only make things worse. There are plenty of sulfate free shampoos on the market that won’t dry your hair out. Now, if you do insist on co-washing, you will need to use a clarifying shampoo more frequently if you have scalp issues.

(3) Tea tree and peppermint are you friends. When you get to the point where you don’t need to use the dandruff shampoo so frequently, shampoos with tea tree and peppermint oils are great for soothing itchy scalps.

(4) Deep condition regularly. This is a rule for every curly girl to follow, but especially if you have to use dandruff shampoos on a regular basis. Even if it’s just for a few minutes in the shower, use a nice thick deep conditioner on your ends to keep them moisturizing.

(5) Use any medications your dermatologist prescribes, as prescribed. My dermatologist prescribed Clobetasol to apply on the rash itself, and I usually applied it to my clean scalp before I used any styling products.

While my rash has healed for now, I know that I am still prone to getting a flareup, so I have to be mindful. I don’t have to use the medication or the dandruff shampoo as regularly, but when I feel that itch coming on, I’ll be reaching for them.

So, if you are struggling with an itchy, flaky scalp and nothing seems to be working, don’t be afraid to see a board-certified dermatologist. There are ways to treat your scalp issues and not dry your curls out.

Also remember: healthy hair starts with a healthy scalp.

When I saw my dermatologist for a followup two months after starting the treatment plan, he couldn’t find any traces of the scalp psoriasis. Woo-hoo!

If you have problems with itchy, flaky scalp or even scalp psoriasis, what have you done? Let me know!

The products I used/still use:

Clobetasol (available by prescription only)

Jason Organics Dandruff Treatment Shampoo (you can find this in health food sections and even on Amazon)

Neutrogena T-Gel (only on affected areas)

Shea Moisture African Black Soap Shampoo

Articles that helped:

How to Use Dandruff Shampoo-without drying your hair out

How to Treat Scalp Psoriasis, According to The Hair Doctor

 

Curls, frizz, and back again: my curl story

Ask anyone who remembers me as a toddler, and you know what they would say first?

“Oh, she was the little girl with beautiful curls!”

According to my mom, I was famous for my ringlets and how they bounced when I ran and hopped. I allegedly caused many mothers to put rollers in their girls’ hair.

19763_725183629209_4442503_nI started losing those ringlets when I was 3-4 years old, and instead I had THICK, wavy-ish hair from about 4-10.

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Even then hairdressers were stumped about my hair.They weren’t used to little kids having so much hair, apparently.

The year I entered fourth grade, my hair started curling again. I was thrilled to have curly hair again, but that joy was short-lived.

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Near the end of my fifth grade year, a hairdresser promised that a certain haircut would help enhance my curls.

Unfortunately, the final results were big, poofy hair that was even too short to pull back in a ponytail. Back in the late 1990s, big hair was a big no-no. And unfortunately, fifth graders can be mean:

“Hey Laura! Would you consider your hair a bush or a tree?”

“Oh, your hair isn’t a bush or a tree. It’s more like a tropical rain forest!

Those insults were just the beginning of the hair trauma. People usually referred to me as “the girl with the big hair” or “the bushy haired girl” and the like. It was awful.

As soon as my hair was long enough, I pulled it back in some fashion almost daily. Every time I tried to wear it down, it just looked like a big, frizzy mess.

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It was around this time when hair straighteners and straightening treatments became ubiquitous. Every hairdresser I went to see would almost inevitably give me a blowout.

Being inspired by all the popular makeover shows in the 2000s, well-intentioned friends with hair straighteners were determined to give me their own makeovers. My frizzy hair and general lack of fashion sense made me a popular target.

Whenever I had straight hair, I got so many compliments. Those compliments made me hate my natural texture even more.

The summer before my senior year of high school, an unscrupulous hairdresser convinced my mom (who also has thick, wavy hair) and me to have our hair chemically relaxed. He said that it was the only way our frizzy hair could be managed.

teenage girl with straightened hair

It would be one of the biggest hair mistakes I ever made.

I had breakage. My hair became weak and brittle. Yet, I continued getting these expensive relaxers because I thought it was the only way I could manage my hair. Did I mention it was expensive too?

If you are considering having your hair chemically relaxed, let me offer this advice: DON’T DO IT!

Chemically relaxing can be damaging and expensive to maintain in the long run. It’s better and healthier to learn how to take care of the hair you already have.

After I left for college, my mom stopped going to that hairdresser because she wasn’t happy with the relaxers and because of some inappropriate remarks he made. She found a new hairdresser–one who had curly hair himself and who knew how to cut it.

My mom took me to him when I was home on break, singing his praises. Of course, I was skeptical after all the bad hair experiences I already had.

It was after neat a year of regular trims when one haircut finished with CURLS!

I was in complete shock. CURLS! I had CURLS!

Not only did that hairdresser bring out my curls, he taught me to love them and care for them. Even after I got married, I still came back to visit him and have him work his magic on my hair.

Sadly, he became a victim of domestic violence a month before I had my first child. We had not only lost a wonderful hairdresser, we had lost a good friend.

After I had my daughter, hair care kind of fell by the wayside with the craziness of new motherhood. My hair pretty much stayed in a ponytail.

I finally found a new hairdresser I liked, but then she moved out of state, was only back every few months, and our schedules just never lined up.

Then I started seeing a Deva stylist, which was when I jumped head first into the Curly Girl Method. However, she was far away and expensive.

Short curly hair

My sister-in-law (who also has curly hair) told me about her stylist who did dry cuts. This stylist was also pretty close by and had very reasonable prices. I decided, what the heck?

Her name was Lauren and while she doesn’t have curly hair, she loves learning about it. She cuts curls with a technique called “bonsai” cutting. It’s a type of dry cutting, that’s all I can really say about it in writing.

I feel like my hair has been growing so nicely with her magic haircutting ways, and what’s more, I feel like I’m visiting a good friend when I get a haircut from her. Win. Win.

medium length curly hair
One of my most recent pictures

My curls are a big part of who I am. Heck, I would even say that they’re my trademark (ha!). I haven’t had my hair straightened in so long that I’ve forgotten how long it has been. I won’t ever straighten it again.

While I have learned much on my journey, I know there is much more to learn, and I love sharing new things I’ve learned with my friends (you!).

What is your curl story? Let me know in the comments below 🙂

Curly Girl Basics: the three products you need to start

If you’re new to the Curly Girl Method and you’ve been watching videos or reading articles, you’re probably really overwhelmed.

Co-washing? Low poo? LOC method? LCO? LCEG? WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? WHERE DO I BEGIN?

Before you go out and raid your local hair care aisle, let me offer some advice.

You only need to start with THREE items.

Sulfate-free shampoo

Silicone-free conditioner

Gel

This is just to get your hair wet with the curly girl method.

See what I did? Get your hair wet, not feet. Ha ha, I crack myself up.

Will you use these products forever? Maybe, maybe not. You will probably do a lot of trial and error, and that’s okay.

But wait, which products should I get? How can I be sure what I’m getting is curly girl friendly?

There are four ingredients I personally avoid: sulfates, silicones (non water soluble specifically), drying alcohols, and mineral oil. I go into more detail in this post.

While I will make my own recommendations, keep in mind that these work for MY hair, which is wavy-curly, thick, somewhat coarse, and very dry.

Sulfate free shampoo

shampooimage
Horeagrindean | © Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

This will probably be the product you’ll spend the most on out of the three. The companies that produce sulfate-free shampoos are usually catering to a specialty market.

My personal favorite budget friendly shampoos have come from Shea Moisture.

ALL Shea Moisture shampoos are completely sulfate free and are otherwise curly girl friendly. There are so many product  lines from Shea Moisture that there can be a shampoo for any kind of curly.

My current favorite is the Kukui Nut and Grapeseed Oil Damage Rehab Shampoo. It’s in the purple bottle (did I mention that I love purple?). I also like the African Black Soap shampoo for when I want a deeper clean.

While you can find Shea Moisture products almost anywhere, you might be limited in your selection depending on the store, at least where I live. I personally have to do a fair bit of online shopping.

Other budget friendly brands that carry sulfate free shampoos include: Cantu, Maui Moisture, Renpure, Hask, Burt’s Bees, Say Yes2 (most often found at Target), As I Am, Eden Bodyworks, By Made Beautiful, etc.

Although this may be the most expensive product you buy, the good news is that it may last a while because you really only need to use the shampoo on your scalp.

Conditioner

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Sonechka | © Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

It’s actually pretty easy to find a CG-friendly conditioner for cheap. Which is good, because if you’re anything like me, you go through A LOT of conditioner.

For now, I’ll focus on normal rinse-out conditioners. I’ll talk about leave-in conditioners and deep conditioners another time.

Suave Essentials conditioners are all silicone free and at 94 cents a bottle, cannot be beat. The V05 Herbal Escapes conditioners are also less than a dollar as well. Bonus: they are EVERYWHERE

Tresseme Botanique Nourish and Replenish (not the detox or curls conditioners) conditioner is $4 for a huge bottle. The Garnier Pure Clean Conditioner is also CG-friendly.

If you want to go to Sally Beauty Supply, they have a generic version of Matrix Biolage Conditioning Balm. It’s under the name Generic Value Products (GVP) Conditioning Balm. The bottles are black and white.

Having difficulty keeping track? Here’s a list:

Suave Essentials conditioner

V05 Naturals conditioner

Tresseme Botanique Nourish and Replenish

Garnier Fructis Pure Clean

GVP Conditioning Balm.

The brands I mentioned in the shampoo section also have CG-friendly conditioner.

Gel

HAIRSTYLE
Ziprashantzi | © Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

So your hair is cleansed and conditioned, and presumably looks awesome. Don’t walk out that door! And please put that terrycloth towel down.

Gel (or mousse if you prefer) is what helps keep your curls defined and protected. I prefer a hard hold gel myself, and you want to be sure it’s free of drying alcohols and non-water soluble silicones.

Some good inexpensive CG-friendly gels include

LA Looks

La Bella

ECO Styling Gels

Aussie Instant Freeze

Herbal Essence Totally Twisted (mousse too)

Herbal Essence Set Me Up (and mousse)

Garnier Pure Clean (and mousse)

I will list others when I remember them.

Once you get out if the shower, squeeze some gel into your hand, rub your palms together, and gently scrunch the gel into your hair. Scrunch in more gel as needed.

Then I like to squeeze the excess moisture out with a t-shirt.

“But, the gel crunch! I want soft curls!” 

That crunch you’re referring to is called a cast, and it’s actually a good sign that your hair is getting enough hold. The other good news is that you don’t have to walk around with that crunchy, gelled look. There is a trick that you will swear is like magic.

Wait until your hair is 100 percent dry to do what I’m about to tell you. If your curls are even the slightest bit wet, you’ll have frizz.

Ask me how I know.

So, once your hair is totally dry, flip your head upside down, and gently scrunch your hair with your hands until you break the cast. It may take a few minutes, so be patient!

This is called scrunching out the crunch, and it has saved many curlies from a crunchy, wet-looking fate.

Then you’ll have beautiful, soft, defined, non-crunchy curls.

Conclusion

So there you have it! Some product and brand ideas for starting your curly hair journey! There will be much trial and error along the way, but with patience and persistence, it will all be worthwhile!

Curly Girl Basics: The four tips you need to start now

Have you heard about the Curly Girl Method? You haven’t? To sum up, it’s a way to enhance your curls, waves, coils…whatever you have. It comes from the book The Curly Girl Handbook by Lorraine Massey.

So, where do you begin?

Toss the terrycloth towel


This t-shirt was for a Halloween costume years ago. I now use it for my hair.


Here’s the deal: using the terrycloth towel will actually make frizz worse. But, what will I dry myself with? You can still use the towel to dry the rest of yourself off, just not your hair. What do you use for your hair? You have many options, but the possibly cheapest option is using…an old t-shirt. Most of us have at least one or two hanging around. I’ve been known to use t-shirts from my husband’s old jobs that he doesn’t wear anymore–he actually doesn’t mind. When you get out of the shower, just use one to squeeze the excess water out of your hair (or after you apply styling products)

If your old t-shirt is a prized possession that you don’t want to use on your hair, there are other options. Flour sack towels are nice and big and smooth. You can find them with washcloths at Wal-Mart, Target, or wherever you shop. Amazon isn’t a bad place to look either. Microfiber towels are also popular with curly girls–Deva Curl sells some, but I know you can find some in housewares if you don’t want to spend that much money.

If you have babies, chances are, you have burp cloths. Burp cloths actually work great for curly hair towels.

You can even use paper towels if you’re really in a pinch.

Point is, keep the terrycloth away from your hair. Your curls will thank you for it, believe me

Next….

Banish the Brush

Wide-tooth combs are your friend, but only when your hair is wet.

Brushing curly hair (ESPECIALLY when dry) is a recipe for disaster. Actually, using pretty much anything on dry hair is a bad idea.

Trade your brush for a wide-tooth comb, but only use it to detangle your hair when WET, like when you’re washing your hair. But proceed gently.

You can also use your fingers to detangle when you’re washing as well.

One exception to the no brushing rule: the Wet Brush is fine to use, but ONLY on wet hair (see a theme?). The Denman brush is also popular with other curlies, though I haven’t tried it myself yet.

Want more? Keep reading.

Sleep on satin

Me and my satin cap (also called a bonnet in some circles)

Or silk.

When curly hair meets a cotton pillowcase, bad things happen. They fight each other, and the curls often lose the battle. The friction that happens between curls and the cotton pillowcase when we’re sleeping is just not optimal. But, when you sleep on a satin or silk pillowcase, curls are happier because they have a nice, smooth surface to rest on.

If you don’t want to buy a satin or silk pillowcase, you can get similar results from wearing a satin cap or bonnet to bed. You can get them very inexpensively at your local drugstore I think I spent less than three bucks on them. You can also find sleeping caps at Sally Beauty Supply or another beauty supply shop.

I do both–I have a silky pillowcase and I wear a satin cap. You can also pile your hair into a HIGH ponytail on top of your head and sleep that way–it’s called the “pineapple”. I don’t always pineapple but lots of curlies do 🙂

Just say “no” to sulfates and silicones

Sulfates are great for getting grime off of dishes, not so great for your hair.

Sulfates dry the hair out while silicones coat the hair and cause buildup, and then you have to wash the silicones out with a sulfate shampoo. It’s a nasty cycle.

So, just look for a sulfate-free and silicone-free shampoo, right?

If only it were so easy.

Most of the shampoos and conditioners in your local big box store have sulfates and silicones. I cover all of that in this post.

The Takeaway

Does all this seem overwhelming to you?

That’s okay, you don’t have to follow all of this advice at once. Pick one that seems the easiest to do now, and work from there. I actually tried to put this list in order from easiest to hardest, but you can pick whichever one start on. Whatever you decide to focus on, I promise it will make a difference!