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.

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

 

 

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

conditionerhands
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!

Curly Girl Basics: The four ingredients I avoid

If you’re just getting started at the curly girl method, keeping track of everything to avoid is overwhelming, especially if you’ve got a tight budget. I know it was for me! Plenty of curly girls may end up spending more money than they want to or else they give up altogether.

Now, if you’re wondering what I’m talking about when I refer to the “curly girl method”, it’s the method outline in Lorraine Massey’s book The Curly Girl Handbook. Now, some parts of her method I think are a bit extreme (especially if you’re on a tight budget) like avoiding parabens and phthlatates. Now, if you want to avoid parabens and phthlatates, that is totally cool, but be aware that it could be expensive.

While there are some higher end products that I *love*, I firmly believe that you can find good quality products without having to choose between buying groceries or having good hair days.

These are the four ingredients I actively try to avoid while still finding affordable products:

Sulfates

If one of the first ingredients on that label is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, or Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, etc…put it back on the shelf NOW! Unfortunately most mainstream shampoos in drugstores will have sulfates. Why avoid sulfates? Well, curly girls already have naturally dry hair and these sulfates only make the problem worse. If you have an oily scalp, sulfates will strip too much oil away and cause your scalp to produce too much oil. Basically, you can’t win either way with sulfates.

So, how does a curly girl get her hair clean without sulfates? You have a few options. A popular one is forgoing shampoo altogether and using a silicone-free (more on that below) conditioner, also known as co-washing. A popular one is the Suave Essentials conditioner line (NOT the shampoos, they have sulfates). The bonus here is that Suave is cheap and available everywhere. There are also dedicated co-washes available, but they can be a little expensive (all for the “co-wash” marketing, really). But BE CAREFUL because some products marketed as co-washes in drugstores can contain silicones.

However, co-washing doesn’t really work for me, so I tend to spend just a little extra on sulfate-free shampoos. Yes, they exist, and yes, the right ones can get your hair clean. The ones I’ve been able to easily find and that aren’t too expensive are Shea Moisture, Maui MoistureKinky Curly, some products from the HASK line, Made Beautiful, Burts Bees, the Say Yes 2 line (most commonly found in Target).

Silicones

Is that Dimethicone up high in the ingredient list? Amodimethicone? Is it a really weird word that ends with -xane or -cone? Put it back. Unless it is accompanied by PEG because that means it’s water soluble.

Silicones are popular in hair products because initially, they are great at making the hair look shiny and feel silky. Key word: initially. Over time, using silicones can cause buildup (making you think you have dandruff) and weigh your hair down. The only way to get these silicones out is with a sulfate shampoo…thus perpetuating the sulfate-silicone cycle.

Drying Alcohols

Basically, these will dry your hair out and curly girls are already prone to dryness. Drying alcohols include: Alcohol Denat., Ethanol, Isopropyl alcohol, SD Alcohol 40, etc. Now, this doesn’t mean avoid ALL alcohols, just the drying ones. Wait, there’s more than one type of alcohol? Indeed there is! Fatty alcohols are the ones you WANT because they are moisturizing. Cetyl Alcohol, Ceateryl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol, Lauryl Alcohol, and Behenyl Alcohol

Mineral Oil


Now Mineral Oil is something I personally avoid because for *me* it doesn’t do anything good for my hair. It just sits on my hair and causes buildup. For others, this may not be the case. 

Takeaway


I know this all sounds confusing and overwhelming; believe me, I was where you are when I started the “curly girl” journey. I promise though, that it is all doable and it is totally worth it. My next post will be a more comprehensive list of curly girl friendly products.

YouTube Channel?!

I just posted my first YouTube video ever, so go check it out! Feel free to like and subscribe, and be nice if you decide to comment. I recorded it with my phone and I stutter a fair bit (ugh).

I’m still figuring out the whole video thing, so be patient with me 🙂

Basically, I go through my current hair care routine, which I will provide a written description of below:

First off, I am attempting to follow the washing tips in Lorraine Massey’s “Curly Girl Handbook”, specifically for botticelli curls and wavy hair (my hair falls somwhere between).

When I get in the shower, I wet my hair with my back facing the shower water, head leaned back. I do cup my hair with my hands in order to not disrupt the curl/wave pattern. After my hair is sufficiently wet, I cup my left hand and apply a line of Shea Moisture African Black Soap shampoo to my finger tips. I take my other hand and massage my finger tips together, then proceed to massaging the shampoo into my scalp, starting at my temples and working my way through my hair. After massaging for a minute or two, I’ll finish off with my shampoo brush and rinse out.

Then I’ll condition with either Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter conditioner or the Sacha Imchi Deep Conditioner. I also detangle my hair with my fingers starting at the ends and working my way up, section by section. Then I leave the conditioner in for as long as possible and rinse out.

Next up: squish to condish. This method is hard to really explain, so bear with me. I lean forward and let the shower stream over my hair. I apply at least a palmful of Yes To Coconuts and Argan Oil conditioner, until my hair feels like seaweed. I then cup my hands and let the shower water pool in them, and gently squish the water into my hair. I keep squishing/conditioning until I feel satsified. For more info, check out other squish to condish videos on YouTube or similar blog posts.

When I get out of the shower, I squeeze the excess water out of my hair with my Deva towel or a t-shirt and proceed to styling.

I take my Garnier Whole Blends Olive Oil Leave-in Conditioner and gently rake it through my hair (yes, I use A LOT of conditioner, my hair is freakishly dry) and then take a couple of pumps of the Deva Curl Styling Cream and rake that through too, making sure that my hair is clumping nicely. Then I wet my hands and scrunch and squeeze some La Bella hair gel.

After I do all of this, I clip my hair section by section with hot roller clips to the top of my scalp, to encourage volume. I then let it air dry for…however much time I can before it’s time for bed (I wash my hair at night). If my hair is still pretty wet, I’ll diffuse for a few minutes and then put it up in a satin cap. Usually this means good curls in the morning.

So….that’s my routine! I hope you enjoy my video and I hope to make more videos soon.

Products used:

Shampoo: Shea Moisture African Black Soap Deep Cleansing Shampoo
Conditioner: Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner or Sacha Ichii Deep Conditioner
Squish to Condish: Yes To Coconuts and Argan
Leave-in: Garnier Whole Blends Olive Oil Leave-in Conditioner
Cream: Deva Curl Styling Cream
Gel: La Bella Max Hold

Once again, I am not being compensated in any way for these products. I purchased them with my own money.