Saturday, November 30, 2013

Cocoa Butter Lotion Bars


Quite accidentally, I came up with an amazing recipe for lotion bars. I was trying to make a lotion without coconut oil in it. I use coconut oil for almost everything, but Explorer has been complaining of being itchy after I use our normal lotion on him. Thinking it may be the coconut oil, I wanted to try a lotion without coconut oil. I also needed something to use on my hands as they were getting very dry from the weather and the constant hand washing.

Lotions and Potions
Cabinet
I went to my Lotions and Potions cabinet and perused my available ingredients. I decided to go with a base of cocoa butter and add ingredients that would promote skin health. The result was a hard lump of product that would be difficult to scoop out of a jar. I could either add more liquid oils, whip the mixture or make lotion bars. So I melted it back down and poured it into a mini brownie pan. Lotion bars! They worked very well and smelled delicious! But they tended to crumble when they got too warm in my hands.

I remade the lotion bars, this time adding beeswax and making a few other minor adjustments. VoilĂ ! Not only does the beeswax keep the bars from melting too quickly, it also makes the skin softer and keeps the moisture locked in longer it seems. This recipe has ingredients to help heal skin and keep it moisturized. A necessity for the cold, dry winters we have here, combined with the drying effect of washing hands throughout the day.

The small bars are ideal for keeping near the sink and using after every hand washing, but they were not working so well for applying to the boys when I needed to cover their whole bodies with lotion. I ordered a couple soap molds and got to work making larger sized lotion bars. The new bars are about the size of a small bar of soap. They are just right for using on the boys. The boys can even help put their own lotion on now.

To use the bars, I rub them between my hands until I have enough lotion and then rub it into my skin. It is a little oily for a minute or so, but soaks in quickly. With the larger bars, I can rub the bar directly on the boys' arms, legs and torsos and then massage it into their skin.

For the large lotion bars I used:
1/4 cup beeswax
3/4 cup cocoa butter
4 tsp olive oil
4 tsp sweet almond oil
2 tsp vitamin E oil
2 tsp argan oil
1 tsp tea tree oil (optional)
20 drops lavender essential oil (or peppermint essential oil)

This made 4 large bars. It would make about 10 small bars.

Click over to One Drop for the full instructions for making the lotion bars. The instructions and ingredients list there are for making 5 or 6 small bars (2 large bars). Use the amounts listed above to make 4 large bars or about 10 small bars.

Lotion Bars in new mold (purchased on Amzaon)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Our Winter Hair Routine

Enjoying one of the last warm days of the year.
The temperature has dropped in our neck of the woods and with it the humidity. Even though we keep a humidifier running in the boys' room during naps and at night (12-13 hours total per day), their hair has been much drier. We have had to adjust our hair routine.

Today was bath day. The perfect time to regain lost ground when it comes to moisturizing the hair. Explorer's hair is usually free in a fantastic fro, so it dries out very quickly. It also seems that his hair does not hold the moisture as well as Scholar's. When Scholar's hair is in cornrows, it is easier to keep it moisturized, but it has been free for over a week and was getting very dry.

In their bath, I wet their hair thoroughly and add conditioner. I have not tried many different conditioners, but we have found that Aubrey Organics works well for detangling their hair. I let the conditioner sit for a few minutes while they play and then comb out their hair with a wide tooth comb. After their hair has been detangled, I rinse it well.

I apply an ACV rinse. I keep a spray bottle of ACV and water (3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar and 2 cups water) in the bathroom to use on the boys' hair and on mine as well. I spray their scalps and work the ACV through their hair, being careful not to get it in their eyes. I hold a washcloth over their faces while I am spraying. Then I rinse their hair once again.

Today, after the ACV rinse, I applied more conditioner. This time it was Shea Moisture Restorative Conditioner. This conditioner seems to keep their hair more moisturized, but does not work as well as a detangler for us. After a few minutes, I rinsed thoroughly again.

The key for keeping the boys' hair moisturized seems to be in using a lot of oil. I mix together a few different oils for their hair (keep reading for the recipe that I use). I use this oil mixture in our daily spray, but also use it in the winter directly on their hair after bath while the hair is still wet. I drizzle some oil in their hair and work it through with my fingers. Today I ran out of the oil mixture so I used the Healing Coconut Oil Lotion instead. It worked great!

You would think that this would make their hair oily and limp, but their hair just soaks up the oils, so they still need more after this! I let the oils soak in for a few minutes while I put lotion on their skin and then I scrunch in a healthy amount of Babycakes Hair and Body Butter. This product works very well for the boys' hair. I notice a big (and not so great) difference in their hair if I do not use it. It really does make their hair so much more healthy and keeps it moisturized longer.

At this point, the hair routine for bath day can be finished. Today, however, I had extra time and I put some coils into Scholar's hair using Babycakes Honey Butter. Though this is not really a protective style, it does allow me to make sure that all the hair is coated with product to seal in the moisture. It also helps to keep his hair from tangling as much and reduces the amount of lint and fuzz that gets stuck in his hair. Besides, it looks so cute!

Throughout the week, on days we do not have bath (baths are only twice a week), I use the spray bottle on their hair in the morning and scrunch in more Hair and Body Butter. This keeps their hair well moisturized.


Recipe for oil mixture:

1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp jojoba oil
4 tsp Jamaican black castor oil
4 tsp sweet almond oil
2 tsp vitamin E oil
1 tsp argan oil

This oil mixture can be applied directly to the hair and/or added to a bottle of water for freshening up in the morning. I typically add a tablespoon or two of the oil to a cup of filtered water (or filtered water and distilled aloe in equal proportions). This mixture is also handy when I need to keep the hair damp while cornrowing.

Do you experiences changes in weather that affect naturally curly hair? If so, how has your hair routine changed with the change in the weather? Are there things that you need to add to your routine or take out?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Healing Coconut Oil Lotion

Awhile ago I posted the recipe for my homemade lotion that I use for the boys. I like using this lotion in the summer because it does not melt easily. Having a lotion that turns to liquid in the summer is a very bad idea with two toddlers in the house. In reality, any kind of lotion is a bad idea with two toddlers, though it is necessary. (Yes, I had to clean up lotion from all over a bedroom. Not fun.)

In the winter months, when the temperature in the house is in the low 70s, I can use a lotion that has more coconut oil since it will not melt. The more coconut oil, the better, since we have had recurrent MRSA skin infections in the past. In fact, I sometimes use coconut oil by itself. Coconut oil has been working to prevent the infections and works well as a moisturizer, but I wanted to amp it up a little bit. So I added a few more ingredients to make it even better.

Tea tree oil helps boost the germ-fighting of this lotion. Use with caution, as swallowing tea tree oil can cause serious health problems. Also, using tea tree oil without mixing it properly with a carrier oil can cause skin irritation. Tea tree oil should be 5% or less of any mixture. This is just under half an ounce (0.4 ounces, to be more precise) of tea tree oil or less for every 8 ounces of carrier oil. In teaspoons, this is 2.5 teaspoons of tea tree oil for 8 ounces of carrier oil. This recipe uses much less, so should not cause irritation for most people. Tea tree oil is poisonous for animals in even small amounts (used internally or topically), so keep this away from your pets. Click the link to read more about tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is fine when used properly, but can be left out if you have concerns about using it.

Vitamin E and Jojoba oils are beneficial to the skin. These oils are safe to use on the skin full strength.

Argan oil helps the skin to heal. We have had good success with using argan oil to treat eczema even when other oils and lotions did not help. Argan oil can be used full strength on the skin.



Recipe for Healing Coconut Oil Lotion

12 ounces softened coconut oil
2 Tbsp olive oil (or sweet almond oil)
1 tsp jojoba oil
1/2 - 1 tsp vitamin E oil
1/2 - 1 tsp argan oil
1/4 - 1/2 tsp tea tree oil

Soften the coconut oil over gentle heat if necessary.
Mix all ingredients together thoroughly.
Mixture can be whipped. I find it is easier to use if it is whipped, but works just as well if it is not.

We use this lotion once or twice a day, normally first thing in the morning and before bed.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Explorer's First Cornrows

I have been styling Scholar's hair for over a year, since just before he was a year old. I have done cornrows, box braids and coils. Until this week, I have never "done" anything with Explorer's hair. Of course, I take care of his hair, moisturize it, comb it, but I have never been able to style his hair.

Explorer's hair had no curl to it until he was 10 months old. At that point, it started to become wavy on the top. Over the last year, his hair has changed a lot. Now, he has coarse, wavy and straight hair on the top. The sides and back are soft and curly. His hair is still changing.

I can cornrow Scholar's hair even when it is only 2 inches long because it is so curly that it will hold even at that short length. I had to wait for Explorer's hair to grow out so that I could cornrow it and have a chance of it holding for more than a few hours. His hair is about 7 inches long now, so I gave it a try. I was not sure if it would stay in, or if he would leave it in, so I only did four rows (about half his hair) at first. When those survived the night, I decided to do the rest of his hair. He has been wearing the rows for 3 days and, though they are not as tidy as when I put them in, they are still in and holding very well.

I was concerned about how much the straight and wavy hair would pop out of the cornrows. Straight hair has a tendency to stick ... well ... straight out of the sides of braids. This has happened a little bit in some places, thus the less tidy look after a few days. Yet, overall, I have been impressed with how well they have held up.

The cornrows even survived bath day today. I made a conditioner rinse for his hair and then rinsed it out and used a mixture of oils to seal in the moisture. I did not want to agitate the hair at all because that could cause it to pop out even more. We successfully cleaned and conditioned his hair without causing the rows to come apart.

For the conditioner rinse, I mixed about a cup of warm water with the amount of conditioner I would normally use for his hair. I used Shea Moisture Restorative Conditioner. I poured the mixture over his hair and gently patted it into his hair. After a few minutes, I rinsed it out.

After bath, while the hair was still wet, I sprayed it with a concoction of oils that I had made up to soothe an itchy scalp. It works to seal moisture into the hair, too.

4 Tbsp sweet almond oil
1/2 Tbsp vitamin E oil
4 tsp tea tree oil (stops itching and kills bacteria)
1 Tbsp aloe
10 drops lavender essential oil (soothes skin)

I put the oils and aloe in a spray bottle and shook it up to mix them all together. A little bit of this mixture goes a long way. A few sprays are enough for a whole head of hair.

So, now for pictures of Explorer's very first ever cornrows!

The first two rows

Look at all that hair!

Four rows complete.
You can notice a bit popping out at the side only a few minutes after completing the row.

Finished!

From the top

Monday, September 30, 2013

Freestyle Cornrows

I decided to take the scary step and jump into freestyling Scholar's hair. This is my first attempt at doing completely freestyle cornrows. I had no plan when I started and made it up as I went. As I did each step, I thought a little about the next step I wanted to take, but I had no overall plan in my head to start out. I had no idea how I was going to finish up the style until I was working on the last step. Even then, I had to adjust my original idea to make it work out. I am not the type of person to go into something like this without a plan! What if I totally messed it up and it looked awful and I had to undo all that I had done? I knew it would take a bit of time to cornrow his hair and I did not want to make him sit there to have it done only to be taken out again. I took a deep breath and started, hoping it would look alright when I finished.


I had washed his hair the day before and had put it into large box braids to keep it from tangling. I knew I wanted to do something with his hair, but I did not know just what I was going to do. 
I knew that the parts highlighted with red were going to be my main parts in whatever style I decided to do. I strategically placed the parts so that however I decided to style his hair, I would be able to hide a small bare spot on the front, top of his head. A few weeks ago, he had a dry spot and had also started a new habit of dragging his head on the floor (he's two years old, what can I say?). The combination of the dryness and rubbing his head in that exact spot as he ran around with his head on the floor caused a small section of hair to break off very close to the scalp. I could not have cornrows beginning at that spot or have any parts at that exact spot or it would be obvious. I had to arrange the rows to make the bald spot the least noticeable. The bald spot is under the braid just to the right of the vertical red line (as you look at the picture above).

I made the main parts very carefully so that I would not have to redo them when I went to style his hair. This would save time.  The other parts were only to break the large sections of hair into smaller sections so that I could braid them and keep the hair from tangling until I was ready to style the hair.

I followed the two main original parts for my style, making new parts in each section for the rows. The original parts gave me somewhat of a structure to work within while having the freedom to create as I went.

The bald spot is under and to the right (as you look at the picture above) of the row that goes down the very middle of his head. It is not too noticeable and looks like a messy part.
To begin, I took out the box braid on his right and, working only with the hair from that braid and the hair on the side and back, I styled his right side.

I made the first part along the front of his hair, going all the way to the back at the nape of his neck. I used alligator clips to keep the hair that I was not going to be braiding out of the way while I braided the first row.

The second row followed along next to the first, starting with hair that had been in the box braid and continuing down and along the side.

The third was parallel to the second, using only the hair on the side and back that had not been in a box braid. 
Next, I took out the box braid at the front that was to the left of the vertical part. I started a row at the back of this section of hair and brought it toward the front. I continued the row along the front of the left side of his head along the hairline to the back, ending at the nape of his neck.

I then took out the box braid behind that and made one more row that looped around. Instead of starting this row at the top of his head, I started on the side, went up and around toward the front and back down and around to the back. Alligator clips were very useful in keeping the hair parted while I braided.

At this point, I was wondering if I had made a good decision in freestyling. I did not know if it would look alright when I had finished or be a big mess!

At this point, I took out the remaining box braids and started making parts and putting in rows where it seemed like they should go. I put in a row along the main horizontal part line, starting on the right side (by the third row that I had done in the very beginning) and brought it along the other rows that had been done on the left side, down to the nape of the neck.

There was only enough space on the back of his head to put in 3 more rows, so I divided that section into 3 even rows and put in the middle, short cornrow. 

Then, I divided the rest of the hair into sections to be cornrowed. I did have to do some thinking and planning to finish the back and have all the rows end at his neck. I did not want to have a row ending in the middle of his head with a tail sticking out! This meant I needed a zig-zag to use all of the hair and be able to finish with the two remaining sections going down to his neck. I was using at least 6 alligator clips at this point to keep all the sections separate and make all the parts that I needed to finish the style in two rows.

I did the zig-zagged row and then the upside-down L-shaped row last.

I had used all of the hair and all the rows ended at the neck!
Back view of completed freestyle cornrow style


I had fun doing this style and I will definitely freestyle his hair again. It was far less stressful than I anticipated and it turned out much better than I had hoped.


Top and back of completed freestyle cornrow style

No, I am not strangling him!
He needed a little steadying hand on his shoulder to keep him from wiggling too much. :)


Full Cornrows

A few weeks ago, I cornrowed Scholar's hair and discovered that his summer hair cut was grown out. Better yet, his baby bald spot had grown in and the hair was about 2 inches long!

While this was exciting, it presented a problem. It had been several weeks since I had done any cornrows. I have been stuck on palm coils, which I absolutely love! (You can check out how we do palm coils HERE and how we care for palm coils during a week HERE.) So, I had not noticed that his hair had grown out so much. When I finished the top of his hair, it looked rather silly because the sides and back were all puffy. It looked like an old man's head with a bald spot on top and hair fluffing out at the sides. OK for an old man, but not for my two year old! I had started cornrowing with one plan (to only cornrow the top) and had to come up with a new plan to finish cornrowing the rest of his hair unless I wanted him to look like a tiny old man!

Thus, my introduction to freestyle cornrowing. It was not truly freestyle, since I did develop some sort of plan and planned it out to be somewhat symmetrical. But I did plan on-the-fly, so to speak, so I like to believe this was at least a small step into freestyling. Which, if you know anything about me, is a scary thing. I like to have things planned out and I very much (that may be an understatement) like to have things orderly - AKA symmetrical, straight lines, PLANNED.

This is how it turned out...

The top - This is what I planned to do and be done.

Right side, front - I began making cornrows along the side, going toward the back of his head. There was not enough room on the back of his head for all of the cornrows to fit. At least not the way I had started, so I had to join up some of the rows. I took two rows that were already started and, at the place where I wanted them to join, I continued the cornrow with one, while adding the three sections from the other into the row instead of picking up new hair. After joining the two rows, I continued in one row to the back.

Left side, front - I had to join several rows together on this side to make it work. I love how it turned out! It gave the style so much character and added an extra dimension to the style.
I will be experimenting with joining rows more in the future.

Back, left side - My parts were not perfect, but I tried to keep the rows parallel to each other and about the same width. You can see where some of the rows joined up together.

Back, right side - I tried to make this side symmetrical with the left side in the back.
I did a little better with the parts on this side.
The style held up fairly well, though the rows broke in a few places on the back after only a day or so. The hair is only about 2-2.5 inches long, so it does not hold as well as longer hair. Also, Scholar got an itchy spot on the back that he kept scratching and pulled out a few rows in a small area. I was able to repair those rows and he had the style for about 2 weeks with only a few minor breaks in the rows that were likely not noticeable to anyone but myself.

I am excited that I can cornrow all of his hair now, but it does take more time. I now have to plan to do his hair over a whole day or on two separate days so he does not have to sit for too long at a time. He can usually sit for about 30-40 minutes while watching one of his favorite shows (he only gets to watch TV when he gets his hair done or on very rare occasions otherwise, so it is a special treat that keeps his attention). We take breaks whenever needed which makes it all take longer, but I try not to stress either of us out with long sessions of sitting.

I like how these cornrows turned out and I want to try to duplicate them again in the future.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Zig-Zag Cornrows

I like to keep Scholar's hairstyles simple. I have two toddlers, so needless to say, I am kept busy. A lot. I do not have the time or energy to spend hours on hair and, being a toddler, Scholar does not like to sit for long. Besides, while I am working on Scholar's hair, that means Explorer is running free. Without supervision. This can spell disaster. I must try to keep Explorer occupied while doing Scholar's hair. Sometimes I am successful, other times, not so much. So, we try to keep the styles simple and quick.
(I can't bear the thought of cutting off his hair, though it would be much easier to care for. But those beautiful curls are just perfect! For now, the curls stay and we style as needed.)

I'll try to let the pictures guide you through this style with as little written instruction as possible.


For the Zig-Zag Cornrows I used:

Pintail comb
Boar bristle brush (for brushing out lint and tangles)
Alligator clips
Spray bottle with water and oils
Babycakes' Hair and Body Butter and Honey Butter

Click HERE to see more about the tools and products I use.


Instructions

I started by applying Hair and Body Butter to freshly washed, damp hair.
With the pintail comb, I made a part horizontally, across the middle of the top of his head,
but made it on a slight diagonal.
The right side of the part is in front of his right ear.
The left side of the part is over his left ear.
I used alligator clips to hold back the portion of hair under the part.

Next, I started a second part at the right end of the first part.
This part was made slightly horizontal towards the front of his head.
The two parts made a nice wedge shape.
I used an alligator clip to hold this wedge of hair to be braided later.

I cornrowed the hair that was loose along the front edge.

I first wet the hair again, brushed as necessary and applied Honey Butter (I did this with each cornrow.)
I started the row on the left and braided it to the right, ending the braid with a coil and a little more Honey Butter.

Side view of first braid

I braided the wedge of hair (that was being held by the clips) from the right to the left.



I made another part, this time starting at the left of the part above it
and moving in a horizontal direction toward the back and right.

I cornrowed this third section of hair from the left to the right.
Then, I made a new part in the same fashion as above.
I cornrowed the fourth section from the right to the left,
then cornrowed the remaining hair from the left to the right.

Completed Zig-Zag Cornrows

I was able to make 5 wedge-shaped rows.

From the front



This is what Explorer was doing while I was styling Scholar's hair. Excuse the pants falling off. Apparently, he is too skinny for most pants that are long enough for him.
He could have been doing much worse things, so I was happy that ALL he was doing was playing with a chair on the couch.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Coconut Oil Can be Used as a Thermometer

I love coconut oil!

There are countless uses for coconut oil (some of which I will expound upon in another post). Coconut oil is wonderful for a body's health, both inside and out. But, perhaps a little known use is coconut oil as a thermometer. With coconut oil, you will always know the temperature.


Go out and buy yourself some coconut oil today! If you have no idea what to use it for, at least you will have an accurate thermometer!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Palm Coils

This morning, after bath, I did Scholar's hair in Palm Coils. This is another way to coil the hair and looks like comb coils or finger coils. I was surprised by how quickly I was able to coil his hair. The palm coils worked best on longer hair - hair that was as long as my hand is wide. I had to finger coil some of the shorter hair.

To do a palm coil, take a small section of damp hair, apply product (I used Babycakes Hair and Body Butter). Stretch the hair out between your two palms and roll the hair between the palms, always in the same direction. It took a few coils to get the hang of it, but then it was super easy!
If you are having trouble picturing how to do the coils, think about when you make a worm or snake with play dough. You roll the dough between your hands. It's just the same, but you must roll the hair in only one direction.

After I did Scholar's hair, it was time for the boys to have some quiet time in their cribs while I got ready for the day. I say "quiet time" because that is what I desire them to have. In reality, this translates to jumping up and down, doing somersaults and headstands. Not very good for hair that has just been done and needs to dry. So I put a durag on Scholar's hair to protect the coils. Of course, Explorer needed one, too. The durag was off by the time I came back into the room, but it stayed on long enough to allow the hair to dry and not be messed up by crib acrobatics.

My apologies for the poor quality of the pictures. I wasn't planning to do a post about this style. In fact, I wasn't planning to do the style. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing and I grabbed my phone to snap a few shots.

Let me know if you try palm coils! They are easy and quick on longer hair.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Octopus

Here is a fun style that is quick and simple. The Octopus.

Styling Products Used

Babycakes Hair and Body Butter - applied to damp hair to seal in moisture
Babycakes Honey Butter - applied to damp hair, after Hair and Body Butter, to help hold braids
Water/Oil mixture in spray bottle (about 6 oz distilled water with 1 oz combination of oils - jojoba, argan, olive, vitamin E, or others) - applied as necessary to keep hair damp while working with it


Tools Used

Boar bristle brush - to brush out lint and fuzz that may be in the hair
Wide tooth comb - to detangle
Pintail comb - to make parts
Alligator clips - to hold hair
Dry washcloth - to wipe product off of hands as necessary

Instructions


Working with damp hair, either after washing or wetting with spray bottle,
make a part vertically down the center and secure one side with alligator clips.

Make a part horizontally across the top of the head, dividing the hair into 4 equal sections,
moving the clips as necessary and securing each section as it is formed.
Divide each of the 4 sections evenly to make 8 equal wedges, securing each section with a clip.
Before braiding each section, detangle and apply products to hair, rewetting as necessary.

Use alligator clips to hold down the ends of braids until dry.


 The Finished Style