Archive | February 2013

Hot OIl Treatment

I have naturally curly hair that tends to be dry. I also live for most of the year in a dry climate. It can really wreak havoc on my hair. Hot oiling my hair is a great way to treat and protect it, but I don’t do it often enough. It does take some pre-planning, so often I think I don’t have time.

A few weeks ago, though, my hair had become really dry. I could see that it was on the edge of breaking. So, I had to make some time for hot oil. I wrote up my process and thought to share it here!

First of all, don’t buy a hot oil treatment at the grocery store, drugstore, or beauty supply. Those treatments have only a small fraction of oil, usually mineral oil, and include emulsifiers, scents, and other chemicals that you don’t need on your hair. And frankly, they are not as effective as using a natural oil.

I use Extra Virgin Olive Oil for my hair. I usually buy a lower grade of oil than I would use to cook with (I’m pretty picky about the EVOO that I eat; I usually stick with Star or Colavita brand oils, and I like a fruity, piquant oil for eating. Such oils can be pricey, and my hair doesn’t care how the oil tastes, so go with cheap here.) EVOO is rich in vitamin E and Omega-9 and omega-6 fatty acids. It isn’t just moisturizing, it is also strengthening and protective. EVOO molecules can actually penetrate the hair shaft, and stay there for awhile. Again, commercial hot-oil products have mostly mineral oil and additives that aren’t great for the hair. Extra-virgin olive oil is a much better choice.

Some people like using coconut oil in their hair, and I do too. But as my hair is very dry, I find coconut oil is better for daytime use, like to massage into the ends at bedtime, or on a dry day, or to use as a leave-in treatment (if you like something pre-made, this is a really good leave-in conditioner with coconut oil.) Coconut oil has smaller molecules than olive, and in my experience it just isn’t heavy enough to be a good hot oil treatment. Your mileage, of course, may vary.

So, cheap EVOO. I buy a big bottle of it to keep in the bathroom: it’s good for dry hair, dry skin (especially heels and elbows) body scrubs, etc. I use a squirt bottle to apply it, the same kind I use to apply hair color. Basically, a plastic bottle with a narrow nozzle.  I put the nozzle near my scalp, under my hair, and start squirting small amounts and rubbing them into my scalp and through my hair. Once my scalp is covered, I run my hands through my hair from the roots to the ends a few times, to spread oil outward. Then I start applying oil to the lengths. I basically squirt a little on, then use my other hand to rub that in and down the hairs, repeat, etc, until my hair is saturated from root to ends. You want to do this cautiously and slowly because you don’t want to put on too much and have it running down your neck and face.

If your hair is dry like mine, you will find that it starts soaking up the oil immediately, so basically keep applying oil until the hairs have soaked up as much as they can and are coated. If your hair is still soaking up the oil, keep applying more, until you have a thick coating of oil.

Once your head is coated in oil, you want to keep the oil there and also seal in heat. I use a plastic grocery bag or a cheap plastic shower cap to cover my hair. Then on top of that I like to use a heat cap. A heat cap is like an electric blanket for your head: you plug it in, it gets warm. These are great for deep conditioning, hot oil treatments, and hair color. I’ve had mine for ten years and it still works very well, so I think this is a good investment if you are into hair care.

If you don’t have a heat cap, you can put a thick towel in the microwave to warm it up, then wrap it around your head. The initial heat will warm the oil and the towel will help to insulate it. This isn’t as effective as a heat cap, but it’s better than nothing. Once my head is wrapped and warm, I usually sit around and do homework, or read, or watch a movie, etc, for a few hours. I’ve even slept in it before.

I usually hot oil in the evening so I can go to bed afterward and let my hair rest and let the oil bond with it. After a few hours of heat, I take a shower and wash my hair. When I rinse out the shampoo, my hair sometimes feels a little heavy, almost rubbery. That is normal and will be gone by morning. After washing, I condition as usual. (I alternate between an extra-deep conditioner and a regular conditioner for dry/curly hair; after hot oil I will usually use the lighter conditioner.) Then I squeeze my hair in a towel, wrap it in said towel for a little while so it can dry a bit, and then I go to bed.

Overnight the hair will dry and the oil will bond with the hair (think of it like an oil stain on a shirt: if you let it sit for awhile it will stain permanently, or at least be really hard to get out. That really is molecular bonding!) And in the morning, I wake up with really soft, healthy, great-looking hair. Hot oil helps enhance my curls and make my hair more manageable. It really is like night and day. Every time I do it I think “Wow, I should do this more often!” And really, I should.

I hope this write-up helps someone with dry hair to have the hair they want 🙂

Ask Cleo by Panache for Wider Bands!

Shortly after I posted about my desire for wider bra bands, I ran into this petition. The petition is asking Cleo (Panache’s “younger” aka cheaper line) to please add wider bands to their larger cup sizes.  I hope you will sign it! If Cleo responds favorably, it would make life a lot better for ladies like me.

I want THREE hooks! (at least.)

Being a woman of a particular shape, I have a very hard time finding bras that fit. My needs are specific and bras that fit my shape are relatively rare, even in the big bust brands. So sometimes, I buy bras and wear them even if they aren’t perfect; sometimes, I have to settle for “close enough.”

That’s the way I feel about Cleo and Masquerade bras. Both of these brands are from Panache, Cleo being the “younger” (read: cheaper) brand and Masquerade being the high-end brand. Unlike Panache Superbra, Masquerade and Cleo sometimes offer bras with narrow wires and relatively open tops, two things I need in a bra. Unfortunately, for some reason I can’t understand, both brands choose to make bras that fasten with only two hooks in the back. And that’s all they make. No three-hook bands to be found.

I honestly can’t understand why they have made this choice. Large busts need wider bands to stabilize them. In a two-hook band, I find that my bra is more likely to slip down a little in front during the day, and I also find it much less comfortable. A narrow band concentrates force in a narrow area, which can be painful; a wider band distributes force over a wider area, making it more comfortable and less “cutting”. So WHY would a big bust brand insist on such narrow bands? I could see having narrow bands in smaller cup sizes, but in a larger one, it’s poor design.

I can even understand, a little bit, why they would make only narr0w bands in Cleo: Cleo has much lower quality in general than other Panache brands. But Masquerade? This is supposed to be a high-end lingerie line and they can’t spring for a wider band?

Some of my Fantasie bras also have only two hooks: the Savannah and the Simone. I honestly don’t understand why Fantasie chose to put only two hooks on these bras, but bras like Sylvie and Lynsey have three (which makes them much more comfortable and supportive.)  With Fantasie, the decision seems to be very arbitrary. I would much, much rather that the Savannah and Simone (both of which are gorgeous bras) had wider bands with three hooks.

My Effuniak (Ewa Michalak) unpadded half-cup has only two hooks in the back, in addition to having the narrowest band I’ve ever seen two hooks on. (Seriously, it is super-narrow. I’ve seen wider bra straps.) It cuts in terribly as a result and is not very supportive.

Back when I was wearing the wrong size and used to buy bras at Cacique, one thing I loved was that their bras had very wide bands. It made them very comfortable and supportive, even without underwires.  If an inexpensive  mass-market brand who sells bras for $20 can afford to put wider bands on their bras, the higher-end brands should do it too.

I still buy bras with only two hooks because, well, I don’t have a lot of choices! Every bra is a trade-off, I guess.

Do you prefer wide or narrow bands? What trade-offs do you make in bra-shopping?

What’s new?

It has been many months of medication and diet adjustments, but I finally seem to be in a good place with both the MetforminER and my thyroid medication.

I’m sloooowly starting to drop some of the fat I gained last year. It is a hard process. Most of the weight gained was in my tummy, and it seems that it is coming off everywhere else first. For example, in the last couple of weeks I’ve lost two inches off my back, but my tummy hasn’t budged. Very frustrating!

Also frustrating is the fact that my breasts haven’t shrunk in months. Oh, for a brief moment they shrank a tiny bit, less than a cup size, so now I am in a netherworld between GG and H. I am still hanging on to my GG bras in hopes that in a few months, I’ll be able to fit them again.

I think I mentioned in other posts that I have for  many  years been ill with CFIDS and FMS. I really hoped that the Metformin and diet changes would mean a cure for those as well, but it has not been the case. This winter has been very hard (cold makes my symptoms worse) and I’m really struggling to keep abreast of my school work. BUT I do have a few posts that I hope to finish and put up here. Thanks for sticking with me!