Monthly Archives: October 2017

Quick Tip #22: Make Your DIY Products Look Professional!

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Are you a natural hair mixtress? Do you have a penchant for making your own hair spritz, curl cream, or leave-in conditioner? Welcome to Team DIY! If you’re anything like me, repurposing old jars for a DIY product your hair actually likes makes your heart smile. However, having to subject your new DIY to worn containers with labels that won’t budge or are well-past their likability simply won’t do. That’s why I recently organized all of my hair and beauty products so that they would be streamlined and look great in my bedroom or bathroom. Truth be told, these labels and containers make my DIY products worthy to sit on the glass shelf of a boutique spa or luxurious hotel en suite. Want the same luxe look? Keep reading!

 

All you need is a re-purposed container that has been cleaned, sanitized, and has all the labels removed. If you want all of your containers to be uniform, you can also buy new containers. That’s what I opted to do since I had literally dozens of mismatched jars in different colors and sizes from the dozens of commercial product purchase fails I’ve endured over the years. I donated or recycled the jars I no longer needed, and I kept several bonus jars that didn’t match for gifting purposes.

These are the five types of containers I purchased: (1) 16 oz. spice jars for my Ayurvedic powders, (2) 32 oz. spice jars to house my larger hair supplies like my bentonite clay and hibiscus flowers, (3) 16 oz. cosmetic jars for my gel, curl cream, bath scrub, etc.,  (4) 16 oz. glass pump bottles for my DIY conditioners, lotions, and other products that might require a larger dispenser, and (5) 16 oz. glass spray bottles to house water, my hair spritz, and other water-based leave-ins.

 

(1) 16 oz. Spice Jars

The 16 oz. spice jars come in a set of six containers. I purchased two sets to house my various Ayurvedic herbs from amla powder to slippery elm powder. I designed labels in Photoshop and printed them on white vinyl product wrap for 16 oz. bottles for a more professional presentation. If you want smaller containers, they also have these available in various other sizes.

(2) 32 oz. Spice Jars

The 32 oz. spice jars come in a set of six containers. I purchased a single set to store my hair supplies that I tend to order in bulk (e.g., bentonite clay) or resources that take up more volume (i.e., hibiscus flowers or calendula petals. I designed labels in Photoshop (to match the product labels I created for the 16 oz. spice jars). Again, these are available in smaller sizes.

(3) 16 oz. Cosmetic Jars

The 16 oz. cosmetic jars come in a set of six. I purchased one set, but I am thinking of purchasing a second. Right now, I am using these containers to store a variety of my hair and skincare DIYs from curl cream to exfoliating sugar scrubs. I designed coordinating labels in Photoshop with a similar aesthetic as the ones I designed for my 16 oz. and 32 oz. spice jars. I love these. They are the perfect size for most of my hair and body DIY needs. I opted for plastic here instead of glass containers because these products are usually used when I am in the bathroom and are prone to breakage (i.e., dropping while being used).

(4) 16 oz. Glass Pump Bottles

The 16 oz. glass pump bottles are perfect for my DIY conditioners. I purchased clear glass pump bottles with stainless steel pump tops, but these are also available in amber, cobalt bluegreenblack, or in a variety pack. So, you can really customize these to suit your needs and personal tastes. I designed labels in Photoshop and printed them on white vinyl for durability.  You can also get these in a smaller 8 oz. size in amber, blackclear, or cobalt. They also come in plastic. However, I opted for glass whenever I could to minimize the amount of plastic I use. I tried to balance being eco-conscious against practicality (i.e., the likelihood of breakage).

(5) 16 oz. Glass Spray Bottles

The 16 oz. glass spray bottles are the optimum size for my storing water, my hair spritz, and other water-based leave-ins. If you want to create smaller hair spritzes, you can opt to buy these in the smaller 8 oz. size in amber or cobalt blue. If you prefer, you can order the plastic version of these as well in 8 oz. or 16 oz.  I, once again, designed labels in Photoshop and printed them on white vinyl for durability. You can also get these in a smaller 8 oz. size in amber, blackclear, or cobalt. I purchased two sets of the 16 oz. spray bottles in clear, amber, and cobalt blue so that I can see (by color and label) whether I am reaching for my water spray bottle or my bottle that contains my glycerin hair spritz.

To further organize my new jar collection, I purchased two sets of an adjustable black wire shelf organizer to expand my storage capacity as well as two Mainstays 3-Shelf Bookcases in rustic oak to complete the look.

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Measurable Difference Hydrating Body Oils

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This blog post contains affiliate links (e.g., to Amazon or eBay), which means that if you click on one of the product links and place an order, I’ll receive a small commission. This helps support my blog and allows me to continue to create content like this.

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I recently discovered hydrating body oils by Measurable Difference. I kept seeing them when I was out and about and finally decided to take the plunge! I purchased the Amaranth and Lavender versions. However, they also have other variations like Honeysuckle, Rosehip, and Jasmine. I have used both the Amaranth and Lavender oils several times, and I absolutely adore them. They are both non-greasy and easily absorbed into my skin.

I like to use the Amaranth Hydrating Oil when I have mild to moderate muscle aches. For instance, if I have had an especially intense workout, I will rub some on my sore areas (e.g., my calves and my quads). Or, if I’m experiencing any body pains (i.e., if I overdo it while gardening or doing any other labor-intensive task), I will slather some all over my body after I get out of the shower and towel off. Each time, the pain I had dissipated by at least 50% within about 60 seconds. No lie! I was impressed to say the least. I immediately told my mother about it, and she let me put rub some on her arthritis-stricken hands. She, too, experienced lessened pain! She liked it so much that she bought some for herself. Ha, ha. A wise choice … My sister wanted in and asked if she could try some on her feet. Being the kind sister that I am (wink, wink), I obliged. She said the Amaranth Oil instantly hydrated and soothed her dry, aching feet.

I like to use the Lavender Hydrating Oil when I want to relax or calm my inflamed skin. For instance, when I take an evening bath, I’ll add some Lavender Oil to my bath water (along with some epsom salts). It makes for a great start to a good night’s sleep. I have also used some on my face and on my cuticles. Indeed, it left my sensitive, combination facial skin hydrated. My nails also loved the oil because it is so light and is quickly absorbed by my skin. The scent is lovely, but the power of lavender to calm and relax tired minds and bodies is unspeakable.

Apart from the fact these oils work (and work well), I love the beautiful, clear glass bottle that these oils come in just as much. It allows you to see the actual flora that’s used to create the oil (e.g., the amaranth oil contains amaranth buds and the lavender oil has lavender stems inside). It’s nice enough to put on display in your bathroom or on your vanity. But, it’s not just for spectacular aesthetics, it’s also practical, too. It prevents the scent from fading and continues to infuse the oil with the beneficial properties of the plant within.

The bottle is also quite large (4 oz). And, I am smitten with the fact that it has a dropper top instead of a simple cap lid or twist applicator top. It makes application easy and elegant! I feel like Cleopatra every time I squeeze the bottle top and drip it onto my skin. (Hey, what can I say? I have an active imagination!)

I can’t say enough good things about these hydrating body oils. They are so easy to use. All you have to do is just gently pat them onto damp skin and wait for the beautiful scent and power to soothe and calm to unfold. These hydrating body oils are so amazing that I decided to make them part of my staple skincare regimen.  I can’t wait to try some of the other body oil incarnations by Measurable Difference. Have you used body oils before? If not, I think it’s time to give them a try.

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Black Cumin Seed Oil for Hair Health & Hair Growth

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Best Naturals Black Seed Oil 500 mg 90 Softgels

Black Cumin Seed (aka Nigella Sativa) Oil has been used for millennia. It dates as far back as ancient Egypt to when black cumin seeds and oil were found in King Tutankhamen’s tomb. It is an annual flowering plant native to south Asia. The seeds are often used as a spice in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines (e.g., to flavor vegetables, curries, naan bread, cheese, etc). Many of of the health benefits ascribed to Black Cumin Seed Oil have been thoroughly confirmed in biomedical literature. In fact, since 1965, there have been over 980 published, peer-reviewed studies referencing it! It’s benefits are so varied and diverse that, in Arabic cultures, it has even been called a remedy for anything except death! With such praise, fortified by a vast amount of supportive medical literature, it’s not difficult to see why this plant has been used for virtually every ailment and condition ranging from Type II diabetes and hypertension to scalp disorders and hair loss.

After reading so many good things about Nigella Sativa, I decided to implement it into my regimen on two fronts: (1) in the form of a gel capsule as a daily supplement and (2) as a topical scalp treatment to prevent hair breakage and encourage hair growth. I purchased two bottles of the soft gels and one 8 oz. bottle of Black Cumin Seed Oil. I like the Best Naturals brand because both the gel capsules and the Black Cumin Seed Oil contain unrefined, cold-pressed nigella sativa with minimum 0.95% thymoquinone (TQ), one of the main active constituents within nigella sativa next to omega 3, 6, and 9. In addition, unlike some brands, neither product contains no artificial color, flavor or sweetener, no preservatives, no sugar, no starch, no corn, no soy, no egg, no lactose, no gluten, no wheat, no yeast, no fish, and no sodium. The Black Cumin Seed Oil is also listed as organically sourced and non-GMO.

The Black Cumin Seed Oil has a pungent aroma that is spicy, earthy, and herbaceous. It may be off-putting to some, but it doesn’t bother me. If the scent is too strong for you, you may need to add some essential oils to it to mask the pungent smell. However, I chose to use it au naturale. After a day or two of use, I ended up transferring the oil into a small amber glass bottle with a dropper to prevent spillage. This allowed me to have greater control in terms of how much oil I used and made the application process much less chaotic. I simply added a label with my Brother label maker so that I wouldn’t forget what it was.

I purchased a multi-pack (for gifts and to use to store some of my other DIYs), but you can purchase a single bottle as well. Although, it is much more cost effective to purchase in multiples. They also come in larger sizes, too! As well as various colors like blue or green … I absolutely adore these dropper bottles. I have the 2 oz size in amber, blue, and green. I use them for storing my Black Cumin Seed Oil (and hopefully other oil blends), my DIY Vitamin C Serum, and a whole host of other things as well. I originally toyed with transferring the oil into one of my applicator bottles or Roots Only bottles, but the amber dropper glass bottle worked out best.

I love the texture of this Black Seed Oil. It is just as light as the amazing Goals Beauty Healthy Hair Oil I tried last month. However, it is super dark like Jamaican Black Castor Oil … just no where as thick. I applied the oil 3x a week for a little over a month and massaged my scalp each time I applied it.

Unfortunately, after taking two bottles of the soft gels, I honestly didn’t feel like they were “doing” anything. Granted, I eat clean, and I am relatively healthy BUT still. I expected an increased metabolism, less joint inflammation, expedited hair growth, SOMETHING!

My results, after 33 days of use was, quite frankly, disappointing. I have read some studies that suggest that benefits require prolonged use (i.e., at least 3 months), so I may revisit the use of Black Cumin Seed in the future but, for now, I think it’s a pass! Even my mom, who is a breast cancer survivor and has Type II diabetes said she was disappointed, and she purchased a much more expensive brand of soft gels and Black Cumin Seed Oil. Ha! Needless to say, we were both underwhelmed. So far, she says the Virgin Hair Fertilizer is working better for her, and I agree! Her hair is starting to fill in nicely.

Watch below for a video overview of my personal experience with using the Black Cumin Seed Oil topically.

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The MAX Hydration Method … Modified! (A DETAILED OVERVIEW)

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Thank you for your support!
After my successful experiment with a baking soda scalp treatment back in August, I finally decided to take the plunge and try the Max Hydration Method (MHM). This strategic hair moisturization method was created by (no longer active) YouTuber Pinke Cube. The MHM was originally designed for type 4c low porosity hair, but it has been used by those with type 3 and even type 2 hair hair. The theory is that once maximum hydration is obtained, your dry, frizzy, and undefined curls and coils will be fully hydrated, well-defined, free of tangles and single strand knots, less prone to breakage, and therefore more easily able to retain length.
Dry, tangled hair has plagued me since the beginning of my second year as a natural. Needless to say I was intrigued! I did extensive research and quickly realized there was more involved than I had thought. The MHM involves an intense 4-step process over the course of 7 days. See the traditional MHM below.

TRADITIONAL Max Hydration METHOD

    1. CHERRY LOLA TREATMENT: If this is your first time attempting the MHM, you are supposed to start with a Cherry Lola Treatment (CLT). This protein treatment was created by UK natural hair blogger Cherry Lola in 2009 to help strengthen hair follicles and prevent damage. Because I saw recipe after recipe with ingredients like bananas, molasses, and the like, I knew immediately that I would skip this step. However, after a super deep research dive, I found out that the original CLT only has 3 ingredients (see the original recipe below). The other ingredients likely are an amalgamation of the CLT and a DIY Carmel Treatment. The original Carmel Deep Reconstructing Treatment is by E’TAE. To apply the CLT, mix together all of the ingredients and apply it to your entire head of hair. Leave on for 20-30 minutes, and then rinse out completely. This protein treatment should be done bi-weekly (every two weeks), monthly, or how frequently your hair requires (i.e., once a quarter).Several people who use the CLT, especially those with high porosity hair, reduce the baking soda and liquid amino acids to 2 TBSP each.
      NOTE #1: (OPTIONAL) OVERNIGHT DEEP CONDITIONING TREATMENT—Some MHM users do an optional overnight deep conditioning session (after the CLT) to further encourage increased hydration.
      NOTE #2: The NEXT STEPS are intended to be done EVERY DAY for 7 consecutive days!
    2. CLARIFY: After an initial CLT, you must then clarify your hair. This is usually done the next day (after the CLT). You can either do an apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinse (with a 50:50 ratio of ACV to distilled water) or a baking soda treatment (with 2 TBSP of baking soda, 2 oz. of conditioner, and 4 oz. of distilled water). Allow the ACV rinse OR baking soda treatment to sit on your hair for 20-30 minutes. Recommended conditioners include: [i.] Kinky Curly Knot Today Leave-in Conditioner/Detangler, [ii.]  Kinky Curly Tiny Twirls Detangling Conditioner, [iii.] Curls Curl Ecstasy Hair Tea Deep Conditioner, [iv.] Curl Junkie Beauti-Curls Leave-in Hair Conditioner, [v.] Curl Junkie Curl Rehab Moisturizing Hair Treatment, [vi.] Jessicurl Aloeba Daily Conditioner, [vii.] Jessicurl Too Shea! Extra Moisturizing Conditioner, [viii.] Jessicurl Deep Conditioning Treatment in Citrus Lavender, Island Fantasy, or Unscented, [ix.] Botanical Skin Works Leave-in Conditioner, [x.] Giovanni Nutrafix Hair Reconstructor, [xi.] Giovanni Direct Leave-in Weightless Moisture Conditioner, and [xii.] Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner with Peppermint and Eucalyptus.
      NOTE: If you have high porosity hair, opt for the ACV rinse. If you have low porosity hair, do the baking soda treatment instead, using one of the recommended conditioners!
    3. CO-WASH & DETANGLE: Use one of the “approved” conditioners (above) to co-wash your hair. Also, gently detangle your hair during this step.
      NOTE: 
      (OPTIONAL) OVERNIGHT DEEP CONDITIONING TREATMENT—
      Some MHM users do an overnight deep conditioning session (in lieu of co-washing) to further encourage increased hydration. However, under the original MHM regimen, this is an optional step. 
    4. CLAY RINSE: After co-washing (or deep conditioning) and detangling, apply a clay mix thoroughly to your hair and allow it to sit for at least 15 minutes. Recommended clays include: [i.] Bentonite clay, [ii.]  Rhassoul (aka Ghassoul) clay [iii.] European clay, and [iv.] French green clay. However, if you don’t want to create your own clay rinse, you can buy a pre-made clay hair wash by Terressentials. To make the clay rinse, combine 1 cup of clay with 1½ cups of ACV (or warm distilled water), 1 TBSP of honey, and 1 TBSP of olive oil.
      NOTE: The clay rinse recipe (above) provides rough measurements as the exact amount will depend upon the length and density of your hair.
    5. MOISTURIZE & STYLE: Apply your leave-ins to soaking wet hair in sections from root to tip. Mist your hair with water if it starts to dry out. Recommended gels/stylers include: [i.] Giovanni L.A. Natural Styling Gel, [ii.] Herbal Choice Mari Hair Styling GEL for Him & Her,  [iii.] Beautiful Curls Curl Defining Gel, [iv.] Epiphany Naturals Curly Creme with Argan Oil, [v.] Kinky curly Curling Custard Natural Styling Gel, [vi.] .Koils by Nature Herbal Curl Defining Gel, and [vii.] Camille Rose Naturals Almond Jai Twisting Butter. Style your hair according to personal tastes (i.e., in a wash ‘n go, twist-out, or stretched style).
      NOTE #1: With the MHM, products must be layered onto the hair via the Liquid Cream Oil (LCO) or Liquid Cream Oil Cream (LCOC) methods. A botanical gel or curl definer can then be applied on top as the final layer. Because oils are occlusive, it is believed that the LOC method should NEVER be used as it could prevent water-based moisturizing products from penetrating and hydrating your strands. 
      NOTE #2: 
      Repeat steps #2-#5 DAILY for 7 consecutive days (or at least every 2-3 days), depending upon your hair’s needs. Once your hair reaches “max hydration,” you can scale back on how frequently you utilize the MHM. For more detailed information about the traditional MHM, read this post from the creator Pinke Cube, herself, in the Black Hair Medium forum.

 

MY MODIFIED Max Hydration METHOD

  1. CHERRY LOLA TREATMENT: Now that I know the CLT only contains plain yogurt, baking soda, and liquid amino acids, I may try my hand at the treatment sometime in the near future. However, for the month that I chose to do a modified version of the MHM, I elected to skip this step entirely. I did this to save time and because I had already successfully given myself several intense baking soda scalp treatments.
    NOTE: To save time, I performed all of the next steps TWICE a week instead of for 7 consecutive days!
  2. CLARIFY: Because I have have low porosity hair, I did the baking soda treatment (instead of an ACV rinse) by combining 2 TBSP of baking soda in a large spray bottle with 2 oz. of conditioner and 4 oz. of distilled water. Because I didn’t have any of the “approved” conditioners on hand in my stash, and I already had more product than I care to admit in my beauty cabinet, I didn’t want to purchase any new product. As a result, I just used what I hand on hand: VO5’s Tea Therapy Blackberry Sage Tea Revitalizing Conditioner. The combination of the Blackberry Sage Tea Revitalizing Conditioner with the baking soda was life-altering! LIFE-ALTERING, I SAY!!! All I did was divide my hair into quadrants and apply the concoction to each section (from root to tip). I smoothed it all over my strands, secured each quadrant into a large Bantu knot (to keep it from tangling and to help me work in manageable sections), and left the mix in my hair for 30 minutes. After half an hour, I hopped in the shower, and rinsed the mixture from each quadrant. My hair was instantaneously tangle-free, smooth, and more defined. I finger detangled my hair while in the shower, but there was truly no need. My fingers literally glided through my hair from root to ends! I was super excited because this was only the FIRST step! Honestly, even though this was only the beginning, I was already sold!
    NOTE: If you have high porosity hair, an ACV rinse is recommended. If you have low porosity hair, do the baking soda treatment instead (like I did), using one of the recommended conditioners (listed above under step #2 for the traditional max hydration method).
  3. CO-WASH: Because my hair felt so silky, I opted to skip this step every time I used the MHM. I went straight to the deep conditioning step (after clarifying my hair with the baking soda treatment).
  4. OVERNIGHT DEEP CONDITIONING TREATMENT: Although an optional overnight deep conditioning session is recommended to expedite the hydration process, unless I am utilizing the Baggy Method or the GHE to correct a specific hair issue, I don’t believe in overnight hair treatments (i.e., where product is left in your hair for hours on end). Also, scientifically speaking, after a maximum of 30 minutes, your hair has adsorbed all that it can, so there is no need to deep condition past the 30-minute marker. I rotated a moisturizing deep conditioner with a hair mask that contained light protein to maintain the integrity of my hair. So, on MY FIRST HAIR WASH of each week, I would use my ion Summer Deep Conditioning Treatment, and on MY SECOND HAIR WASH of each week, I would use my ion Keratin Smoothing Masque. I felt that this balanced my hair appropriately. Each time, I applied the deep conditioner to my hair in quadrants and secured each quadrant into a large Bantu knot. Then, I donned a processing cap and sat under my stand bonnet dryer for 30 minutes before rinsing each section. At this point, my hair felt twice as hydrated as it did in the clarifying step, and I can hardly believe it.
    NOTE #1: Both my ion Summer Deep Conditioning Treatment and my ion Keratin Smoothing Masque contain “dimethicone.” Under the MHM, silicones generally are not permitted due to the tendency to have to use harsh cleansers to remove them fully from one’s hair. However, because I have fine hair, I’ve experienced no difficulty with removing any buildup from my hair. By step #5, I’m pretty confident my hair is completely free of all product and residue.
    NOTE #2: Here is the full list of “banned” ingredients: (i.) hydrolyzed wheat protein/peptides—considered “bad for low porosity hair and most kinkier Type 4 hair,”(ii.) panthenol/pro-Vitamin B5—because it “acts like protein” and can cause build-up, (iii.) triethanolamine (TEA) and other ethanolamines such as MEA, DEA, etc.—because these are drying alcohols derived from ethanol, which can cause long-term damage to the integrity of one’s hair with prolonged use, (iv.) mineral oil and petroleum jelly—because the residue they tend to create is difficult to remove without the use of harsh shampoos, (v.) silicones/polyquaternium—often require sulfate shampoos to remove product buildup and residue, (vi.) salts and sulfates—leave hair parched and dehydrated, and (vii.) lye, i.e., sodium (NaOH) or potassium (KOH) hydroxide—permanently damages hair after prolonged use.
  5. CLAY RINSE: I like to use bentonite clay because it is inexpensive and easily accessible. The original rough measurements for the clay rinse call for 1 cup of clay with 1½ cups of ACV (or warm distilled water), 1 TBSP of honey, and 1 TBSP of olive oil. Because I have fine hair, I used ½ cup of bentonite clay with 1 cup of very warm distilled water), 1 TBSP of honey, and 1 TBSP of extra virgin olive oil. This makes enough for two generous applications (for me). However, if you have very thick (or long) hair, I would suggest starting out with the larger measurements from the original clay rinse recipe. I apply the clay to my hair in quadrants and once again secure each quadrant into a Bantu knot when I am done. I leave the clay in my hair for 30 minutes and thoroughly rinse each quadrant, making sure not to miss my front hairline and the nape of my neck. By this time (after just ONE application), my curls are popping! Even the stubborn 4B coils above my ears and near my temples! My hair felt soft, looked SUPER defined, was COMPLETELY tangle-free, and even slightly elongated.
    NOTE: NEVER use metal bowls or spoons when using clay as it absorbs the metal and makes the mix less effective.
  6. MOISTURIZE & STYLE: After rinsing the clay thoroughly, while my hair is still wet, I applied my leave-ins of choice via the LCO method. I use the following: (i.) a mist of additional water, if necessary, or a DIY leave-in like my multi-use beauty spritz or super moisturizing lavender spritz. Then, I add (ii.) a creamy product like Care Free Curl Activator or Naturally Silk Elements Whipped Curl Cream. Last, I use (iii.) a natural oil like extra virgin olive oil or castor oil, or a serum like Garnier Fructis Triple Nutrition Miracle Dry Oil.
  7. Repeat steps 2-6: I utilized the MHM twice a week (about every 3 days) due to my busy schedule, lifestyle, and complete lack of patience in utilizing this effective but time-consuming method every day. Despite not using it every day, I used it twice a week for an entire month, and I received amazing results. if you have extremely low porosity hair like mine or hair that seriously struggles to remain hydrated or retain length in spite of your most Herculean hair care efforts, I would definitely recommend giving this hair regimen a try.

 

GENERAL GUIDELINES & TIPS

  • If you choose to try the TRADITIONAL MHM, I recommend doing this on the weekend (or your day off) so that you can get a true sense of how long it takes you (from start to finish) to do all of the steps. It takes me 3-3½ hours to do the MODIFIED version of the MHM. So, try not to start it unless you have the time to dedicate to the requisites of the regime.
  • The CLT IS NOT done every time you do the regimen. However, it can be done at any point, after starting the regimen (i.e., monthly or quarterly), depending on your hair’s needs.
  • If you have high porosity hair, consider reducing the amount of some of the ingredients or diminishing the timing of each step (i.e., instead of 30 minutes, try 15).

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