Jamaica Hut Giveaway ~ Jamaican Black Castor Oil

Jamaica Hut is happy to sponsor a Tropic Isle Jamaican Black Castor Oil Product Giveaway which includes these three fabulous products!

-Strong Roots Red Pimento Hair Growth Oil 4oz

-Jamaican Black Castor Oil Shampoo with Shea Butter 8oz

-Jamaican Black Castor Oil 4oz

To enter this giveaway:

  • You must “like” both JAMAICA HUT and DERBY CITY NATURALS Facebook pages.
  • Write on Jamaica Hut’s wall:  “Enter me in the JAMAICA HUT and DERBY CITY NATURALS Giveaway”

You must be a follower of both pages to be eligible.  One entry per person, additional posts will not count for multiple entries. This contest is open to US Residents only, it begins Friday Feb 17th 2012 and ends Thursday Feb 23th 2012 11:59 pm PST. One lucky winner will be announced on Jamaica Hut’s Facebook page on Friday Feb 24th 2012.

Disclaimer: Jamaica Hut provided this product and I was under no obligation to participate if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for a free product.


DIY All-Natural [Not] Hair Grease

With the recent resurgence of hair grease in the natural hair community, I want to offer a natural alternative.  For those that know me I am a DIYer at heart and I am always looking into kitchen chemistry projects I can make myself.  I ran across a recipe for natural petroleum jelly when looking for recipes on making your own lip gloss.  I thought the recipe was interesting but didn’t really see a use for it until now.

All-natural [not] hair grease is a great alternative for those tempted by the upswing in hair grease, but looking for something more natural.  Use it as a sealant after moisturizing your hair for wash-n-go’s and twists or add it to some of your other DIY projects.

All-Natural [Not] Hair Grease

  • 2 Tbsp grated beeswax
  • 1/2 cup oil (you can also use a mixture of oils or butters)

Design a double-boiler using a pot and a glass or ceramic dish that is heat safe.  Partially fill pot with water and place over medium heat to boil.  Place beeswax and oil in glass or ceramic dish.  Once water begins to boil place dish into pot.  Allow the water to continue to  boil and melt the mixture stirring occasionally until completely melted.  Once melted carefully remove dish from the pot and turn off the stove.  Pour mixture into container and allow to cool, about 30 minutes.

This mix will result in a light hair grease. If you want something stiffer more life a pomade use more beeswax.  You can also very the mix by adding different oils.  There are 8 tablespoons in 1/2 cup so you can add them 1 tablespoon at a time for an easy way to keep track of your oils.  I experimented with castor, safflower, rice bran, almond, coconut and jojoba oil.  I also made a mixture using shea butter, but you can also use cocoa butter or any other butter.  Like most DIY projects you are only limited by your imagination.

You can also check out my video for step-by-step instructions.

Product Review: Tropical Traditions Organic Coconut Hair Oil

For the past month I have been experimenting with Tropical Traditions Organic Hair Oil.  I love coconut oil for cooking and in body products but I am not the biggest fan in using it on my hair.  This was going to be a real challenge.

Tropical Traditions

Organic Hair Oils

8 oz for $18.99 unscented / $19.50 lavender or rosemary

I was given the opportunity to review these products and honestly I am not quite sure why I accepted.  My hair is medium porosity and I find coconut oil alone to be a bit too heavy for my hair.  I have used it in pre-poos and DIY oil blends but it honestly is not one of my favorite oils.  I fully intended on experimenting mostly on my son, JK, who’s hair is high porosity and is very dry in the morning despite my best moisturizing efforts I find acceptable for the regimen of a 6-year-old boy.

When I first received the product it was already chilly here in KY so I fully expected to have to heat up the oil in order to liquefy it (coconut oil solidifies at around 70 degrees).  However I was surprised to discover it was perfectly liquid due to its specific blend of ingredients the oil is able to stay liquid even at temps as low as 40 degrees (I put it outside on the balcony on a cold night just to see).

ing: organic jojoba, organic gold label standard virgin coconut oil, organic macadamia nut oil, organic rosehip oil, organica shea butter, organic lavender essential oil, and organic carrot seed oil.

I won’t get into the the deets about coconut oil as the folks a TT did a great job of that on their website FAQ.  I will cover the 3 different ways they described to use the hair oil.

1.  Leave-in conditioner.  As I stated before my son JK has high porosity dry hair.  Every night as part of bath time we wet his hair and after getting out of the bath I massaged about a dime-sized amount throughout his hair.  The oil worked as a moisture sealant to keep the moisture in the hair.  The oil absorbed well into his hair without leaving oil spots on the pillowcase when applied 30 minutes before bedtime and in the morning his hair was not as dry or matted.  Compared to using other products raw shea butter left his bedding greasy and lighter oils like safflower left his hair too dry.  Using this oil at night is now a permanent part of his regimen.

2.  Hot-oil treatment.  I normally pre-poo my hair with an oil/humectant/conditioner mixture but I decided to use this hair oil alone to see how it performed.  I warmed the hair oil by placing the bottle in cup of hot water then applied generous amount to dry, tangled hair twisting into sections.  I covered my hair with a plastic cap and allowed to sit for about 20-30 minutes before washing, conditioning, detangling and styling.  The hot-oil pre-poo did help with detangling and softening the hair but not as well as my regular pre-poo mix.

3.Shine Serum.  I tried the product on a braid-out by smoothing over the braids as I unraveled them.  While it did give some sheen it was not a shiny as traditional silicone-based shine serum.  I used also on JK’s fro and had a similar result.  The product did add a bit of sheen and was not greasy but I would not market it as a shine serum.

I was really impressed by this oil blend.  I think the jojoba oil base has a lot to do with my reason for liking it as I use it in my hair and body regimen.  I will say that the mix of jojoba and coconut oil did make a difference in JK’s dry hair and allowed it to stay soft without being greasy.  While it’s on the pricey side, the product is an excellent blend of high quality oils which would be pricey to purchase individually.  I will definitely continue using this as part of JK’s nightly regimen but would not repurchase solely to use for my six-year-old unless it was on sale.  After using the oil for a month we have only used about 1/4 of the bottle which means we have at least 3 more months worth of regular uses.  That calculates out to about $5 per month which I find to be acceptable.  The product also works as a nice body oil after the bath or shower or as a face pack for DIY facial treatment so the multi-uses adds to the appeal.  All in all if you are looking for quality, organic oil blend I would recommend this product.

To purchase your own bottle check out this link http://tinyurl.com/bujz9qf

Disclaimer: TropicalTraditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.

Hair Grease Train

All aboard! In case you haven’t heard there is a grease-commotion going on and naturals everywhere are hopping on the train. Say what? Yep you heard me right.  Several vloggers and bloggers are giving grease a second-look after years of scorn and a bad rap.  I know several naturals who confided that they never stopped using the taboo-goo, they simply withheld this information from polite natural hair conversation for fear that they may have been ostracized.

As for me I will not be slapping petrolatum on my tresses, but I do not judge those who choose to.  Only you know what is right for your hair and budget.  For those of you wondering “Why grease?”, here are a few reasons: it’s cheap, it’s a great sealant and it’s readily available.  But before you go drop some snaps on the petro, here is a little advice about using grease.

What’s In It: Hair grease is usually made primarily of petrolatum (petroleum jelly), lanolin and/or mineral oil. Petrolatum and mineral oil are made from refining crude oil.  The refining process yeilds a lot of products such as gasoline, propane and motor oil.  Lanolin is grease that is secreted by sheep which helps waterproof their wool and is cultivated from shorn wool –the sheep remains unharmed in this process.  These products have been found to be safe for cosmetic, pharmaceutical and even food use by the FDA.

What Does It Do: Hair grease acts as a lubricant and a moisture sealant.  It reduces friction on the surface it is applied and it also retards moisture loss.  It operates similar to other oils and butters.

How To Use It: Hair grease is to be used as a sealant to seal in moisture to the hair.  For this purpose it is important to moisturize the hair first before applying –check out this post for more info on how to layer products.  For use on 2 strand twist style start with clean damp hair, add your favorite moisturizer like Curls Milkshake, then add a finger tip of hair grease to each section and twist together.  A little of this product goes a long way so apply with a light-hand.

Changes To Hair Regimen: It is important to note that this product has massive staying power and has a tendency to attract dirt, lint, etc.  When it comes time to cleansing co-washing is not going to cut it.  I recommend using a sulfate shampoo or a clarifying shampoo.  Now I know in the past I have told you to shampoo your scalp not your hair, but because you applied this product to your hair you will need to shampoo your hair.  Consequently because you are using a strong cleanser, you will need to follow with a good deep conditioner.

Natural Alternatives:  Hair grease is similar in effectiveness to many pomade or butter blends on the market like Karen’s Body Beautiful Butter Love or Oyin Handmade’s Burnt Sugar Pomade.  There are also products that are marketed directly as a natural hair grease like My Honey Child’s Sophia’s Old Fashioned Hair Grease which does not contain petrolatum or mineral oil.  I am also working on a DIY natural hair grease recipe so stay tuned.

So are you jumping on the train? 

Product Review: Afroveda Cocolatte Moisture Mask


Cocolatte Moisture Mask

$17.50 for 8 oz

A thick moisturizing cream that is pleasantly scented just like a delicious chocolate latte as it is adequately named.  Afroveda products as the name suggests are made with Ayurvedic extracts like amla, brahmi and neem to support traditional, balanced approach to hair care.

ing: Aloe Vera Leaf Juice, Rice Milk, Purified Water, Avocado Oil, Coconut Oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Almond Oil,Sunflower Seed Oil, Ayurvedic Botanicals of Ashwagandha Herb, Amla Powder, Bhringaraj Powder, Brahmi Powder, Neem Leaf Extract, Nettle, Castor Oil, Mustard Seed Oil, Cocoa Butter, Shea Butter, Jojoba Oil, Neem Oil, Mustard Oil, Xanthan Gum, Glyceryl Stearate (and) Cetearyl Alcohol (and) Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Phenoxyethanol and Caprylyl Glycol, and love.

Ok so I have a confession.  I have discriminated against this product line.  Last year the natural community was up in arms when Mala, owner of Afroveda, announced a massive price hike doubling/tripling the price of her products–dubbed Afrovedagate.  I had not tried Afroveda but I was turned off by the sob story of a poor woman trying to make ends meet by mixing products in her kitchen with little or no help and raising infrastructure costs.  As a consumer I was annoyed, so I vowed not to support them on GP.  *arms crossed and foot stomped*  Fast forward to today and me visiting my local natural hair store shopping for gifts for a friend.  Afroveda products were on sale and I was caught by the Cocolatte Moisture Mask.  It smelled so good and felt great between my fingers, I was buying it on sale so I reasoned I wasn’t really supporting the company.

I was sure my friend would love the product for retaining moisture, but how could I advise her on its use if I never used it myself?  Yep that’s what kind of friend I am, the kind who uses your gift first to make sure its okay –poison test :)  I spritzed my hair with a light leave-in conditioner them scooped up about a nickel-sized amount to apply over my twists.  ZOMIGOODNESS!  Yeah, this stuff is freaking amazing.  Quite possibly my favorite moisture-sealant ever, I will have to do a head to head competition, but I think this is it.

5 Things I Love About This Product

  1. It smells so darn delicious.  It reminds me of a fancy coffee house, so yummy!
  2. I have heard a lot of complaints about the consistenscy and separation with this product line but the texture was a perfectly thick whipped cream.
  3. A little really goes a long way.  This 8 oz jar would last me months even with daily use.
  4. It left my hair very soft and with a long lasting moisture-seal.
  5. The flip top container is the perfect method for holding, distributing the product.

Okay now all that I said previously is true, however it is not all skittles and sunshine.  One issue is that the ingredients listed from the jar (see above) are not the same as those listed on the website.  There are some ingredients listed on the jar that are not on the website and vice versa.  Also there are ingredients that are listed in different order.  That is a big red flag for me.  Secondly, the shelf life statement “This product is preserved with a paraben-free, wide-spectrum cosmetic preservative. Please use within 6-9 months, refrigerate or freeze for longer-term storage” is listed on the website, but not on the actual product. Stike two.  The size of the jar is not even identified on the product.  I was able to deduce the size based on the cost, but this should be listed on the product.  That seems like a rookie oversight for someone who has been making products for a while.

Final conclusion: I probably would not purchase this product again.  Though it worked freaking amazingly on my hair there just seems to be a level of shadiness that leaves me skeptical.  While I think the current price is fair, I would hate to get attached to a product only to have them go thru a major price hike again.  So while this is a great product my intuition leads me to not consider purchasing again in the future. However if I could find the product locally on sale I might be swayed to pick it up again.  For now I am going to wrap up the product and give it to my friend as if I never used it. *shh it’s our secret*

Product Review Darcy’s Botanicals Organic Coconut & Hibiscus Oil

Darcy’s Botanicals

Organic Coconut & Hibiscus Conditioning Oil

4 oz bottle

Available locally @ Go Natural Hair & Body Boutique $12

I was in the mood to add a little shine to my ‘do but I wanted something natural that did not use silicone or mineral oil as a shine agent. I went by my local natural hair store to see what I could find and this product caught my eye.  It is no secret that I am a lover of Darcy’s Botanicals products, but I have never tried the conditioning oil.  I love the natural ingredients and found it to be a winner and wanted to share it with you.

ing: Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, Fractionated Coconut Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, and Japanese Camellia Japonica Oil infused with Organic Hibiscus Flowers.

The product even contains hibiscus flower petals in the jar which not only made it look pretty but added to the authenticity IMO.  It has a light floral smell that is very subtle and would not interfere with perfumes or lotions to become odoriferous.

5 Things I Loved About This Product

  • The oil is very light.  I was a little hesitant because it is coconut oil based that it would be too heavy but that was not the case.
  • It has a great nozzle/trigger mechanism that creates a nice mist to evenly distribute the product over the hair and scalp.
  • I think this product would be good for daily sealing without excessive build-up.
  • Adds great sheen and shine to the hair without leaving it greasy.
  • Contains hibiscus which is said to promote hair growth and also help control dandruff.

Although I am not a person who really goes for shine, I would most definitely purchase this product.  The quality of ingredients, effective nozzle and multi-use make it an easy pick. Use to add shine to the hair, as a scalp oil, to seal in moisture or get rid of the gel crunch.  This oil would also be great to use on the skin after bath/shower.

Enter our Darcy’s Botanicals Pumpkin Seed Conditioner Giveaway by clicking this link.

The Case for Crisco

Yep, you read that write this post is all about Crisco.  Crisco is well known for frying up chicken, making pie crusts and now for natural hair.  I know many of you are probably looking like o_O and I get it because when I heard about it recently I had the same confused face.  I remember back to my childhood and my cousin’s friend Ki-Ki put Crisco in her hair because she was out of grease, we called her “fried-chicken-head” the entire weekend.  But passed the ad Hominem let’s look to the facts about Crisco.

Crisco was developed by Procter & Gamble back in 1911 as the first vegetable shortening as an alternative to lard.  Crisco is hydrogenated vegetable oil which is the process used to make oils a solid at room temperature (this process was originally developed for use in soap making). Crisco is specifically comprised of soybean oil, palm oil, mono- and diglycerides, tbhq and citric acid; so basically its oils, emulsifiers and preservatives.  Hmm doesn’t sound so bad, right?

Crisco can be used in the same manner you would use any solid state oil or butter (coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, etc) for natural hair which would be as a sealant to seal in moisture.  You can also use a pad of Crisco as a pre-poo to help soften the hair though I have to admit I imagine it looks something like this :  –its better if you don’t ask why exactly this video exists or look at any others on this channel.

All jokes aside I do live by the motto if it’s good enough to eat, it’s good enough to put on your hair.  As on overall reminder oils/butters do not moisturize hair, rather they are used to seal in moisture as part of the layering process.  If you are interested in using Crisco it is fairly cheap to try and if you do not like you can always whip up a batch of cookies.  Below is a hair recipe for Crisco hair pudding:

Vannesa’s Crisco Cream

  • 1/2 cup Crisco (or any vegetable shortening)
  • 2 Tablespoons Castor oil
  • 1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon Aloe Vera gel

Place ingredients in a bowl and whisk together until well blended.

And there you have it folks, the case for Crisco.  I must admit even after knowing all this I still cannot bring myself to use it, but you never know what I might do in a pinch.  What about you, are you convinced?

Product Review: Vatika Oil


Vatika Oil

$3 for 5 oz.

Available at Indian Grocery (Patel Brothers) or online 

On a recent trip to the Indian Grocery Patel Brothers to check out some ayurvedic treatments I picked up some Vatika oil.  Vatika oil is a coconut oil based hair oil that is mixed with henna, amla, brahmi and neem extracts which are said to help strengthen the hair, stimulate growth, and resolve dryness among other things.  These are common ‘vedic ingredients mixed into a daily oil for ease of application.  

ing:  Coconut oil, Neem, Brahmi, Fruit extracts of Amla, Bahera and Harar, Kapur kachri, Henna, Milk, Rosemary oil, Lemon oil, TBHQ (t-Butyl Hydroquinone), fragrance.

First thing you will notice about Vatika oil is the smell.  It doesn’t exactly stink, but it does not smell pleasant either. While it includes rosemary, lemon, tbhq and fragrance they cannot match the distinct stench, err scent of neem oil.  Which was not something I liked nor I could get used to.  I used it once to seal my hair hair and washed it later that day.

Being that the product is coconut oil based it also has the same properties in that it will be a solid at temps below 70 degrees and will be liquid at warmer temps.  The oil has a plastic stopper which keeps it from spilling out (nice) but if it is cold you will not be able to squeeze it out so keep that in mind.

While I did not like it for my hair I will say that it worked great as a natural bug spray. WHAT?!?! Yes, neem plant is a natural insect repellent so I applied some oil to my arms and legs before going out on an evening run and did not get bit once.  I also used some on my beagle for the same purpose and it worked fantastically.  However I did have to shower when I came in because that smell is…not good.

Have you used Vatika oil?  How do you incorporate it in your regimen? What did you think about the smell?