Hair Tip | Using Cheap Pump Bottles to Hold Flaxseed Gel

Oh, how I love me some flaxseed gel! We fell in love quick even after a rough first date. I have made two batches of the gel so far, but my biggest peeve I have with my beloved is how messy it can get while scooping each glorious glob from the jar. 

Nevertheless, another love of mine came to the rescue: Dollar Tree. This is my go to store from things dealing with organizing (their bins/containers are seriously awesome), baking (hello, disposable foil pans), party decor (galore!), nail polish (because Z is so into them now), and kids crafts (to keep Z busy for a few minutes on the 

I often times skip over the hygiene section because our skin is pretty sensitive around here. Therefore, I am not about to buy products full of crazy chemicals on our skin to exacerbate our issue. #notknocking I do know plenty of naturals who use the VO5 products that can be found in the same aisle for cheap co-washing purposes. I would too if I could find the Strawberry and Cream conditioner in stock. #myfavewhenIfirstwentnatural

Anyway, upon strolling down the aisle, I found this niffy travel pack of 3 empty plastic bottles. Instantly my mind went straight to my gel and the messy dilemma I have been going through. I knew right away that the little pump bottle in the pack would be the new home for my gel. 

After several test runs with the pump, this idea works beautifully! But why?
  • I can control the amount of gel I use in any given section of hair #imnaturalheavyhanded
  • I don't have to stick my entire hand into the jar
  • Literally, there's no more mess and waste. The gel goes directly into the palm of my hand
  • I don't have to have my entire batch of gel just sitting out while I am doing my hair
So I am smitten. I love finding little things to make the hair process simpler. This fits the overall theme of my hair journey: KISS (keep it simple sista)!

It will be a disservice if I did not show this awesome little headband I found at Dollar Tree:

Hope this tip helps make life a little less pump at a time!

What's your favorite item(s) from the dollar store?

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Wash Day | Co-washing Naptural85 Style + Twist Out

Last wash day was a co-wash session and went down like this:
  • Co-washed hair using the method demonstrated by Naptural85. {see video here}
    • Started with dry hair (from a twist out) that has seen a couple days of moisturizing neglect
    • Took a medium section of hair in the back, and applied two layers of conditioner + a layer of oil (olive); finger detangled
      • Used Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner on right side of head
      • Used AO GPB Conditioner on the left side
    • Twisted each section into a chunky twist (8 total on head)
  • Once entire head was twisted, I rinsed each section of hair with warm water followed by a dose of cold aloe vera juice on hair and scalp 
    • The aloe vera juice felt so good on my scalp. The coolness really helped alleviate the itchiness
    • Instantly my hair felt much smoother because of the low pH of the juice (higher acidity=closed shaft=locked in moisture)
  • Immediately following the aloe vera juice, I applied oil (olive) to the section of hair before rinsing that section off to remove the excess oil
    • Really, this part was a total breeze since the aloe vera juice smoothed down my cuticles
  • Used the remaining aloe vera juice in applicator bottle to do a rinse over my scalp (so lovely); did not rinse
  • T-shirt dried hair for 5 minutes
I loved how the AO GPB Conditioner felt as I was applying it to my hair. It glided right through my hair a little easier than the Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner (or maybe my mind was playing tricks on me, eh?). I would like to attribute the smoothness to the ceramides (wheat germ oil) found in the AO conditioner. Read more about ceramides: {source} | {source} | {source}-with list of products contain ceramides

On the flip side, once everything was rinsed out and it was time to style, the left side seemed a little stiffer/harder than the right. It was not anything to cause major concern (like protein overload), but I am guessing it is because of the light protein in the AO conditioner.  I know I have been doing a protein treatment near the beginning of each month, but I am not sure I will need another one this week. We will see.

For styling, it was late so I decided to take my chance and do some twists (around 25) for a twist out this past Sunday. I applied some SM Coconut & Hibiscus Curl and Style milk and a little bit of my homemade flaxseed gel on each section of my hair before twisting it into a medium sized twist. My hair was so soft once I finished  my entire head. The best part was that the styling process only took me 35 minutes! I allowed my hair to air dry for another 30 minutes before covering it up and heading to bed.

The following morning, I had a successful and soft chunky twist out that involved low manipulation:

In an upcoming post, I will share my thoughts on co-washing using Naptural85's method and whether or not it will make a regular part of my co-wash regimen.

What tips do you have to simplify your co-wash sessions? Leave a comment below and go share your latest wash day at this week's linkup:

The Wash Day Experience

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A Pre-Valentine's Day Handcrafted Earring Giveaway | 4 Prizes (CLOSED)

If you have been following my posts, you would know I am in the process of minimalizing my life. So far, I have decluttered through my clothes, shoes, beauty, old papers/books, and jewelry items. As mentioned in the previous post, I am hosting my first Beautifully Curled giveaway for you to enter for the chance to win 1 of 4 sets of earrings just in time for Valentine's Day. These earrings have never been worn and would make great statement pieces to wear on V-day or special gifts for loved ones.

Here are the sets I am giving away (click picture for a larger view):

*Just to note, I will add metal hooks to the earrings before shipping. The larger earrings are approximately 3-3.5 inches in length.

The rules:
  • Giveaway ends February 7, 2015 at 11:59pm EST.
  • Continental US entries only.
  • Must be 18 to enter.
  • Must leave a comment answering the required question along with your first name in order to enter. Any other actions are optional for extra entries.
  • Winners will be chosen via and announced on the Rafflecopter widget at the end of giveaway.
  • Winners will be notified via email and must respond within 24 hours with shipping info before new winners are selected.
Best wishes!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Minimalizing My Life | The Jewelry Edition + A Giveaway Announcement!

{In my previous post}, I discussed my motivation behind minimalizing my life and releasing belongings that just no longer have purpose anymore. I started this process several weeks ago and have slowly been discovering the freedom that accompanies with discarding material excess. I have a long ways to go, but step by step, little by little, I am moving closer to decluttering my life.
Just some backdrop:
A few years back when Z was a wee little baby, I opened an Etsy store called Beadifully Younique Jewelry, showcasing my uniquely handcrafted beaded jewelry with a BE.YOU focus. It was my outlet that allowed me to tap into my creative right brain in the midst of insomnia, post-partum depression, and just feeling outside of myself in this new normal as a first time mom. I made some decent side change in the year and a half I had it opened, but then somehow those down hours where Z would sit in one spot and nap most of the day magically disappeared. That, on top of returning to grad school, holding down the home while my husband worked and attended school, and some very poor time management skills, I decided it was best to close down shop. I was disappointed because crafting and being creative with my hands are talents I have been given from above. To leave my shop to take on the stresses of life was depressing to me in a way, but it worked out for good. I survived. I am stronger. I have found multiple creative outlets since then that I truly do enjoy if not even more. #onlybyHisgrace

Five years later, I am still holding on to my unsold pieces "just in case" I found the moment to pursue my online shop again. However, "just in case" just has not arrived. Nevertheless, the time is now for me to downsize my jewelry collection, both purchased and handmade.

Minimizing my jewelry:
I learned a long time ago that beads could get really messy if I did not invest in several plastic organizers similar to this one found here. I also learned that these organizers are great for storing away so many other items such as office supplies, batteries, small hardware like screws, bolts, etc., and, of course, earrings and other smaller pieces of jewelry.

I went through all of my earrings, necklaces, watches, and some bracelets and put them into three piles:
  • Discard: (pieces that have faded, tarnished (oh my beloved hoops), or become discolored over time; earrings who have lost their partners)
  • Thrift: (pieces that just no longer fit my style especially those super chunky bracelets and rings; some pieces that I had too many of the same color of: red earrings, silver necklaces and bracelets, white earrings)
  • Keep: (everything I really liked that could fit into my organizer)
I ended up throwing away a quart size bag of jewelry away along with donating another quart sized bag to a local thrift store. Now that all of my jewelry is organized (relatively) by color and easily visible in my organizer, I can enjoy wearing my favorite pieces on a regular basis! I also have a shoe box storage container holding the majority of my handmade wire wrap bracelets and large beaded necklaces. Both storage containers are nicely stored underneath my bathroom sink for easy access.

With all of this said, here's where you all come in...

The giveaway:

From now until 11:59pm on February 7, 2015, I will be be hosting my first blog giveaway for you all to enter for a chance to win 1 of 4 sets of handmade earrings designed and made by yours truly in time for Valentine's Day. {click here for more details and to enter the giveaway}
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Minimalizing My Life | The Beauty Edition

"Would you rather have organized clutter or no clutter at all?" -from a pin on Pinterest

I stated in {this post} that two of my aspirations for 2015 include stepping out more in faith and taking more risks. What this means to me is that I must open the walls of my comfort box and let go of possessions that no longer have purpose in my life. The things I thought that if I kept neat, tidy, organized, and tucked away, they are justified to stay in my home. The things I have been holding on to based on the "what ifs" and "just in cases" in my mind that have chronically distracted me from seeing the bigger, better, and sometimes even simple blessings in my life.

My spirit is urging: Let these things and thoughts go...with an open fist and an open mind. A closed fist not only holds on to many trivial things but prevents greater things from transpiring into the energy surrounding one's life.

Just some backdrop:
I have been purging lately. Little by little. Inspired by so many pins on Pinterest about decluttering and embracing minimalism, a desire has grown deep inside to pursue this way of life as my own. One blog I am loving now is Minimalist Beauty.  I understand that this process is not an overnight ordeal (as I am well aware of by now). It involves a physical decluttering as well as a mental. Both entities go hand in hand in order for minimalism to "materialize" into a more ingrained lifestyle.

Oh what a grueling process it has been so far! From clothes I held on "just in case" I lost enough weight to fit back into those junior sized pre-preggers jeans and tops (yeah, ok) to shoes and boots that no longer fit my evolving style, I packed up bag by by to send off to the consignment stores. From papers and books from undergrad (and grad) that you couldn't pay me to go through ever again to knick knacks I used to crowd on shelves from my previous larger apartment (that have no place in my current smaller place), I had to let it go via the donation or trash bin. 

Really, it looked like I was in the midst of a mini move as I hauled so many items to my car that once burdened my space and my life. But how freeing was it give away and never have to deal with that stuff ever again! I wished I took pictures from the beginning of this process. It has been tedious going through much of my belongings (and some of Z' husband is a whole different story. #hehastobewilling #andthatsok). Throughout my purging though, I kept realizing how blessed I have been for God covering my needs while granting me so many wants. 

Minimizing make up:
I am not a make up person although occasionally I have wished I knew how to apply it enough to cover some of my skin imperfections. But ultimately, I'd rather learn how to take better care of my skin and use natural products to resolve and clear my skin issues. {more on my efforts later}

Digging underneath my bathroom cabinet, I discovered outdated make up from 2005 (ew) that for whatever non-hygienic reason I was hanging onto based on a "what if" I get into make up. Ha, over a decade later? Sure. ::sideeye:: 90% of my eye shadows, blushes, lipsticks, foundations, and etc. went quickly to the trash can.  I did keep 10% of my stock for "just in case"  This does include my lip balms and eyeliners though which I surely do use. Nevertheless, I vowed that the rest gets dumped if they aren't used by this summer.

Minimizing polishes:
Polishes. Really. How many shades of the same color do I really need? I had polishes that either were too old (aka caked where I could not open the top), smelled weird (ew), tacky, or just in a color I had no interest in wearing. I threw half my stash out and have no plans to purchase any new color unless I throw an existing one away. #thatstherule  By the way, my newer polishes dry sooooo much faster than the older ones I had in my stash. Ain't nobody have time for smudges and smears 30 minutes after finishing a color set. #goodriddance

Minimizing misc:
I went through my remaining items and threw away old lotions and creams, multiple manicure sets and clippers, and majority of my sprays and fragrances.

In the end, I was able to clear out an entire storage bin underneath my cabinet and was clear off the bathroom counter of non-essential items. #smallsteps The challenging part now will be resisting the temptation to refill my empty areas. Hopefully, moving forward, I will assess my beauty purchases to determine their true value in my beauty regimen. If it is a product to be used every once in a blue moon, it will most likely stay at the store. If it is something that proves to be useful, what am I willing to give up that is currently less effective? This is where the mental transformation comes in...

...because if I don't keep my mind in check and decluttered of "what ifs" and "just in cases", I will find myself in this cycle again in the near future. #fromexperienceIknow

The next post will discuss minimizing my jewelry collection.

What is one area of your life you would like to minimize in 2015? Keep your answer in mind for the next post as I share my effort to minimize my jewelry collection and announce a special giveaway later today!

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Hair Tip | Using Clips to Reduce Shrinkage in Twists

Last week, I posted about Z's twists done on stretched hair. It has been nice seeing some of her hair length although her twists have shrunken gradually over time.

Since I styled her hair on dry hair, it was important for me to lightly re-moisturize her hair and seal the moisture in with oil. We all know that water can cause some reversion on straight/stretched hair. On top of that, the flaxseed gel I used to add hold to her twist is primarily made of water. Therefore, to reduce shrinkage, I added hair clips to her twists to "weigh" them down and keep them stretched as the gel dries and set. Once all her twists were completed and her hair was dry, I simply removed all the clips for her to enjoy the length of her twists. If I did not use the clips, the bottom of her hair would have shrunken 2-3 inches easily by the time I finished twisting her hair.

Although I not that the type to obsess over shrinkage since I usually style our hair on damp hair, she was pleased to see that her hair is long and growing (and that momma is doing the right thing for her

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100 Years of Beauty | Black and White Side by Side

Beauty is a reflection of who you are, what you like, and can be highly influenced by the present era of time.

Have you seen this video lately? 

I. Love. It! It was very fun to watch and see the hair/makeup transformations of these two women from one decade to another--covering an entire century of beauty in under a minute. Big props to the makeup and hair crew on both of these videos.I honestly loved most of the hairstyles modeled in the both versions.  Here's my take on each era:
  • 1910: I like the whimsical look on the right, but I am all for a nice pompadour like the model on the left, which will make its comeback once my length permits. I, at least, enjoyed the pompadour when I wore my yarn wraps.
  • 1920: I love the lipstick job on the right. So Betty Boop-ish. They were spot on with the pin curls and the sequin headband and fascinator on the black model. #veryjosephinebaker
  • 1930: Bold lipsticks on both women. I don't think I could pull it off. I am more of a lip tint wearer.
  • 1940: I don't understand how women got their hair to stay while wearing the style on the right. It definitely reminds me of a pin up girl style. The pin up style on the black model is so beautiful and soft especially with the flower accessory. I like the softer makeup used for this enhances both the models' natural beauty.
  • 1950: I love the glamorous look on the white model here. Very flirty and Marilyn Monroe. The black model depicted a more conservative clean look with the pin under style. That lipstick's popping though.
  • 1960: Era of the big hair! You have the free spirited hippy next to the glamorous Motown woman. Once again, I love the toned down makeup on both. 
  • 1970: For whatever reason, I am reminded of Charlie's Angels for the model on the right and. of course, Angela Davis. The 70's rocked once again with big hair on both sides.
  • 1980: Can we say lots of crazy hairstyle and the crimple iron (I owned one a long time ago) for the right model and Vanessa from the Cosby on the left? The fuchsia lipstick is so pretty. This was the beginning of my time so I was kind of expecting the black model to sport a relaxed hairstyle. It seemed by the end of the 80s, there was a huge rise of relaxed hair especially in little girls. #likeme #justsaying
  • 1990: I am so glad they used box braids for the 90's. #sopoeticjustice #iconic I surely wore my fair share of them growing up. The model on the right brought to remembrance the use of those little metal hair clippies. {remember?} I used to wear my hair just like the white model but with a clippie (or two) in place of the bobby pin. 
  • 2000: They kept it nice and simple for the white model while the model on the left sported a cute natural hairstyle. #aliciakeys I will say that I transitioned to natural in 2003-2004 so I experienced the upbringing of the natural hair movement. So little resources existed back then in the early 2000s for transistioners. Oh how for the movement has come. #thankgoodnessforYouTube
  • 2010: I love how natural the models looked here. For some reason, I was expecting to see a wash n go or a twist out rather than a blow out for the black model but love how it depicts that the natural look is here to be fully embraced. Doesn't the white look scream Kim Kardashian? #theducklips #theselfie
I found a lot of inspiriation in the older century styles; they are so classy and perfect for a wedding hairstyle! I am hoping more videos are created depicting other cultures such as Asian, Hispanic, African, Indian, etc and possibly even some male versions and how their hair styles/cuts have transformed through time.

There is so much beauty to be appreciated within and across each culture in every decade. What do you think about these videos? What's your favorite era? What styles you thought should have been included?

{click here} for the full white beauty version.
{click here} for the full black beauty version.

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Co-Washing a Different Way | Saves Money and Time

Naptural85 is one of my favorite channels to watch on YouTube. Her personality is so upbeat plus her natural hair is super long and amazing aka she knows what she's doing. 

Anyway, I recently watched an older video of hers titled "How to Cowash for Shiny Strong Natural Hair". In summary, she pretty much demonstrates how she co-washes and detangles her hair OUTSIDE the shower thus making the in-shower portion a breeze. I found it interesting how she uses aloe vera juice after rinsing each section and then sealing it in with an oil before doing a final rinse through that section. This got me thinking about the gallon jug of aloe vera juice sitting in my fridge and how I can use this method to start putting a dent in my supply. Tonight is my co-wash night (thank goodness!) so I will test this method to see how my hair feels (and report my findings, of course!)

Here's the video if you are interested:

Have your tried this method of co-washing? What ways do you simplify your wash sessions?

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Naturals by Hask Strengthening Masque | First Impressions

I used the Naturals by Hask Strengthening Masque for the first time on my first wash day of 2015. {see post here} Since I only used it once, I discuss my first impressions about this product. 

  • Based on the packaging, I was not sure if this was a light/medium treatment.
    • Packaging states that the masque reinforces, restores, and hydrates normal to dry hair
    • Contains soybean protein (13th ingredient), hydrolyzed collagen (15th), keratin amino acids (17th), and silk amino acids (18th).
  • Love that it is free of sulfates, parabens, phthalates, drying alcohol, gluten, and artificial colors.
  • I did not add anything to the masque since I wanted to try it as is for the first time

  • Opened package and instantly noticed how great the masque smelled. It had a very tropical scent that was not overpowering at all.
  • The consistency was very thick and silky in contrast to the Aphogee 2 Minute Reconstructor.
  • The amount in the package was more than enough to get a full coverage on my hair in contrast to the single packet of the Aphogee Reconstructor. 
  • This product had amazing slip as I applied it to my hair. Felt like a really nice conditioner.

  • Kept on my hair between 15-17 minutes uncovered.
  • Rinsed hair under high pressure water.
    • For whatever reason, I treated this as a "hard" protein despite the protein ingredients being listed near the end of the ingredient list. I am still paranoid about protein. #suchanewbie
    • My hair was not hard at all compared to what I have seen on YouTube of hard protein treatments, but I still did not touch my hair for 2 minutes as the water ran through my hair.
    • Following the two minutes, I used my fingers to help remove the remainder of the treatment from my hair.
  • This masque really helped solidify why protein is important for my hair. 
  • My hair definitely felt stronger and much smoother than pre-treatment. Honestly, it felt amazing especially in my nape area. I had so much curl definition! {see more pictures here}

Additional notes:
  • Following the treatment, I deep conditioned using the Shea Moisture Yucca & Plantain Masque, which also contains some protein, because that was all that I had on hand that did not have a whole lot of protein.
  • After rinsing the Shea Moisture masque from my hair, I noticed how my hair felt super smooth at the crown of my head...almost like plastic/synthetic. My hair had a squeakiness to it. 
  • I am not sure if I have slight protein overload in this area but is definitely something I need to be mindful of in the future.

All in all, I really like this Strengthening Masque. I do not have much experience at all with protein treatments to compare it adequately to the Aphogee 2 Minute Reconstructor, but I will say that I plan on using this masque again for future treatments. This strengthening masque fits my goal of using more natural products so I want to use it some more before giving a more definite product review. 

Nevertheless, based on my initial impression, I would recommend this product to others who may be interested in a more natural based treatment. I would just caution in using a deep conditioner containing protein following this masque. (I am quite sure this is given knowledge, but I am still learning about how different ingredients/products interact with each other). #myjourney

I tried to find reviews on this particular product (after I had already applied it to my but could not find much of anything except for a YouTube video, and that review was so-so. I am glad I tried this Strengthening Masque based on my own curiosity and hope this initial review was helpful!

Have you tried the Naturals by Hask Strengthening Masque before? Even heard of it? What is your favorite protein treatment?

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Z's Twists on Stretched Hair | Mini Trim

Happy Wednesday! Have you all been enjoying some warm weather over the past several days? We sure have down here in the South. Such a teaser though, but we will take it. #cantwaitforSpring

For the past week, Z has been wearing her box braids (in a pony tail per her request). They have been holding up pretty well even with the expected frizz over time. The original plan was to keep her braids in until this weekend, but with school being out on Monday, I decided to go ahead and take down her braids so I can twist her hair while stretched. I have not done this on her hair in a while as I mentioned on Instagram, so I was curious how her hair would look. I typically twist on damp hair.

Before I start a style, I generally like to look over her scalp for any issues such as dandruff, redness, or dryness. I will admit upon inspection of her head that she had a few stress spots particularly in the back from a few of her braids. This is particularly why I don't like styling her hair at night--poorer light. When I finished her braids, I asked her if any were too tight. She pointed only to two braids which I loosen immediately. Clearly there were a few more. #sigh Because of this, I had even more reason to proceed with twisting her hair versus doing a full cornrow style--to give her scalp a break from tension in the back. Over the stressed areas, I sprayed some of our homemade spritz and applied a little olive oil.

5 hours later (with a few breaks), this was the finished result:

I did not expect it would take me this long to twist her hair. All I did was take down one box braid, moisturize and seal the section, apply a light coat of flaxseed gel, and twist the section. I did not over spritz her hair because I did not want her hair to revert back too much so her length could should more. In the process, I went ahead and did a mini trim since I don't think she had one since June {click here to see her last trim | click here to see her first trim}. Her ends weren't terribly bad but she had some single strand knots. I trimmed about a quarter each from each twist. 

It is amazing how different our textures are! Nevertheless, we both can employ the same practices toward healthy hair. {see my texture of my clipped ends} Since it took quite a bit of time to style Z's hair, I plan to keep her twists in until next Friday. I will lightly spritz her ends each morning and at night (and seal with olive oil).

How did you style your child's hair this week?

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Wash Day Updates | Twists and a Bun | A Little Bummed

Despite starting earlier with this process, I still finished later than hoped. My mood was kind of bummy near the end of styling. #Iwassotired

Here's how the session went down last Friday:
  • Pre-pooed for 1 hour with my Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle + Oil (coconut) mix under my Hot Head Heat Cap. Sectioned hair and rinsed.
  • Shampooed with Aubrey Organics (AO) Tea Tree & Primrose Shampoo (diluted). Did not generate too much lather. Rinsed. Noticed when I got out the shower, I still had product buildup around my edges.{see picture below} I took the applicator bottle with the diluted shampoo and applied to my edges to get it clean. Then I took that same bottle (rinsing out the shampoo and adding clean water) and rinsed through my edges. #problemsolved T-shirt dried for 10 minutes.
    • Since I have been wearing buns and slathering my edges with gel, I need to remember to pay extra attention on massaging my edges and rinsing thoroughly to remove excess product and shampoo. If not, I will surely have dry and itchy scalp (which btw has calmed down immensely!)
  • Rinsed scalp four times with organic green tea (1 bag) + marshmallow root (1.5 tbsp) {steeped in 24 oz of water for 24 hours}. Let sit for 5 minutes before t-shirt drying excess liquid for 15 minutes.
    • From my lack of research, I was surprised to find that the marshmallow root has a gel-like property when strained.
    • My hair felt did not feel soft nor hard after adding the marshmallow root.
  • Deep conditioned by applying AO Honeysuckle Rose Conditioner to hair first + Shea Moisture JBCO Masque Treatment for 20 minutes under Hot Head Heat Cap.
    • Detangled one side of hair with Knot Genie and the other side with my modified Goody's denman brush. {I will explain which I liked better in an upcoming post)
    • Rinsed hair thoroughly especially around my edges.
    • Hair turned out to be soft and smooth to the touch.
  • ACV rinsed my hair. Did not rinse out.
  • LOC hair as I twisted each section:
    • L: Simplified Moisturizing Spritz
    • O: Olive Oil
    • C: Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie
    • For hold, I used some homemade flaxseed gel I made recently
  • Twisting took about 2 hours. I don't part in nice sections because that would take even longer for me to do. I just grab and twist. I put the twists in a bun using my elastic bands and pinned under the loose ends. I left some twists out in the front for a bang which I pinned up as well. I plan to keep this style in for the week.
Here are some pictures from this session:

Bought Marshmallow Root from Whole Foods.
The gel substance was from straining the Marshmallow Root from bag.
I need to pay special attention to this area especially when I've used lots of gel/product to style.
My second batch of flaxseed gel with added Vita E, Rosemary + Peppermint Oils.
The final product. My eyes were so tired...
Shed hair; less than last week's wash session!
I was really contemplating wigging it for a week so I can have a break from styling. This length of hair is so awkward when trying to keep it protected. I feel this length was fun for wearing twist outs, puffs, and wash n' gos when I first went natural years back (and did not care about a goal length). But I will keep pressing on with my goal to get pass this phase. 

How was your wash day?

The Wash Day Experience
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My First DIY Flaxseed Gel Experience | Failures, Lessons & Successes!

My curiosity and strong DIY-spirit lead me to make my first batch of flaxseed gel a few weeks ago. I made several discoveries in my errors from my first trial which lead me to have a much successful batch this past Thursday. In this post, I will share my experience and lessons learned from my first trial run of making this gel.

Disclaimer: I know how we sometimes like a short article to read, but this is not the one! I jacked up my first batch of gel and want to share every single detail about it as well as share my neat little straining trick I created. Failures can lead to some pretty creative ideas. :-) 

For a pictorial of the step-by-step process and a video (done by Naptural85) {see this post}
For pictures of my twist out results using my first batch of flaxseed gel {see this post}

Although I watched several videos on how to make your own flaxseed gel (including Naptural85's) and knew what to expect, the process, of course, did not go as smoothly as expected. Since I never used/made flaxseed gel before, I did not want to have a huge batch of it in case my hair utterly decided to hate the gel and discredit my DIY efforts. Therefore, I used half the ingredients called for in most recipes I found online. 

The BOILING Process:
I added the seeds and water to the pot, boiled the water, and stirred. Simple enough, right? Some women stated the process should take anywhere between 5-10 minutes and that you would know the gel is ready once the water thickens some and a froth forms on the top.  Therefore, I stirred around for 7 minutes waiting for some froth to appear. ::sideeye:: In the meanwhile, the flaxseeds released a nice nutty aroma. Another 3 minutes passed, and no froth was evident. At this point, a gel like layer formed on top of the water, and it was THICK. Maybe a little too thick. Gosh, I still had to strain this stuff!

The STRAINING Process:
After about 12 minutes of total boil time, I arrived to the conclusion that I was not going to get any froth action and decided to proceed with the straining process. I learned two things from this step...

1) Don't boil your gel until it becomes too thick before going through the straining process. Since I was already starting with a smaller batch, I did not need to boil it as long as I did. After 12 minutes (too long period), the gel was already thick.

2) Don't allow your gel to sit too long while you get your straining method ready (aka already have things set up) because your gel will thicken as it cools/waits.

What worked and did not work for me. Sock Method: #fail. Mesh Bag: #win (see section under SECOND attempt).
I am aware there are two different straining methods floating out there on the web:
  • a stocking or nylon sock
  • a mesh strainer
I have plenty of sock stockings I don't wear anymore so I used one of those. After I had it set up over a glass jar as pictured above and poured the gel into the sock, NOTHING seeped through. Not even a drop. I just had a glob of gel inside sock hovering over a dry glass jar. #FAIL

Using tongs, I *attempted* to squeeze ANYTHING out the stocking even if it was just a drop of goo. Nada. Zilch. Nothing. It got to the point that so much pressure was being applied that actual seeds were coming out the stocking from it being stretched so much (greater stretch, bigger (mesh) holes, easier exit for seeds).

Apparently this was not working. #FAILED

I did not give up though. #akeyinlifeingeneral I dumped the glob back into the pot and added more water to "thin" out the gel and increase its volume. I waited until the gel got super hot again before attempting the stocking method again. THIS time, I had everything set up. #powerofwisdom 

I poured the mixture into the stocking and was able to get a little more gel out...MAYBE 1/3 cup (seen in the picture below). I strained as much of the gel as I could without stretching the stocking too much (and burning myself) and happily threw the stocking and seeds in the trash (the seeds supposedly can be reused).

So, my first batch of gel was a little too runny. There was still some stretchiness to it but not as much as I had expected. Apparently, I needed to try the process from a different approach to ensure I could separate as much of the thick gel from the seeds as possible

I think a wire strainer would be better for the straining process, but unfortunately, I do not own one. However, being the crafter/innovator that I am and having random left over stuff in my home from parties I helped decorate, I found these niffy little blue mesh bags I bought from Dollar Tree awhile ago (pictured two pictures above). My mind went to rolling...

The SECOND Attempt:
I started completely over with a new batch of seeds and water but this time only boiling for 7 minutes instead of 12. I had everything set up, of course, and was able to get a reasonable amount of thicker gel from the seeds without making a huge mess. The key aspect this time around was this:

I took a mesh bag, secured the tie around a glass jar, and poured the mix into the bag. The gel strained beautifully! I removed the rubber band, pulled the two strings to close the bag, and used tongs to strain the remainder of the gel from the bag into the jar. This was the magic that was yielded from this process:

Definitely much more than the first run with the sock! I was very pleased with my modification and the clean up was a breeze. I added my essential oils, gave a stir, closed the jar, and placed the gel into the refrigerator. The remaining seeds I put into a small plastic container and placed into the freezer for future use. #maybe

My FINAL Thoughts:
After having a sucky trial at first, it worked out in the end. But isn't that how life goes sometimes when you try something new? The things I've learned from this initial experience made my second attempt a breeze a few days ago (although I had to put in a little muscle to get the gel out since I made a full batch).

Batch made on Jan. 15, 2015
I really love this gel on both my hair and Z's! As long as I don't catch the lazy bug at the wrong time, this will be our go-to gel. 

Have you made your own flaxseed gel before? Was the first time a success or did you have to go through a some learning pain? What do you add to your flaxseed gel?

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