How Marula Oil Helped Me Make Peace with My Hair 

  I’ve written many times about my hair battles and woes. For the last 10+ years, I’ve had more or less the same hair cut and have tried with varying degrees of success to keep it straight without making it flat. You see, my strands are fine and like to get kinda curly when left to their own devices. It’s easy to flatten them with too much product, while not enough product (or too much heat) creates a pouffy mess. Humidity leaves my hair both limp and frizzy. The fight for a good hair day is not easily won. 

I’ve spent some time cycling through several shampoos and hair serums, trying to find the right formula to make my hair do what I want it to. But every combination left me frustrated. My hair either felt heavy and greasy or looked dry and frizzy. Then one morning, desperate for a change, my eyes landed on a little vial of Marula Oil I had purchased on a whim several months ago at my hair salon. 

According to its website, Marula Oil contains antioxidants and oleic acids that hydrate, tame frizz and add shine, “completely transforming hair.” I’m generally weary of beauty oils – a little usually goes a very long way – so I dabbed 4 or 5 tiny drops into my palm before rubbing my hands together and then working the treatment through my damp hair. The oil had a very light, clean scent that reminded me of the salon. It wasn’t greasy and made my hair very easy to detangle. I flipped my hair upside down to blow it dry and hoped for the best. 

After drying and styling my hair, I instantly noticed how healthy it looked. It was shiny, frizz-free, and felt weightless. Most notably, though, it wasn’t as straight as I’d expected, but in a good way. My sometimes unruly curls had been transformed into soft, pretty waves. And I actually liked it. 

Not long after discovering this new-found appreciation for my natural texture, I concluded that my tried and true long-layers hairstyle was no longer doing it for me. I decided to jazz things up a little with some side bangs and a lot more layering. The result is a flattering cut and a mane that’s much easier to manage. The additional layers give my hair some body and let more of my natural curl show through. The oil keeps my strands sleek and soft, so that even when humidity makes my hair extra wavy, it still looks healthy and pretty and not like a hot frizzy mess. 

It feels good to make peace with my hair, especially after so many years of fighting with it. Who knew a few drops of oil could do so much?

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What Happens When You #ReverseYourRoutine

voxbox-blogimageI like big hair. Not over-the-top, teased up, Aqua Net big hair. Bouncy, voluminous hair that lifts away from the scalp and flatteringly frames the face. It feels youthful and care free and, at least on me, is much more attractive than flat hair that clings like Saran Wrap to my face.  

 That’s why I was so intrigued when Influenster sent me TRESemme’s Beauty-Full Volume Reverse System, which consists of a specially formulated pre-wash conditioner and volumizing shampoo. The idea is that by shampooing after you condition your hair, you wash away the residue traditional conditioners can leave behind, leaving your hair extra clean, weightless and bouncing. 

I tested the hair care duo several times and have to say that washing with the products is an extremely pleasant experience; the conditioner smooths, the shampoo lathers up nicely, and they share a salon-fresh scent that I enjoyed long after each shower was over. Every time I reverse-washed my hair I styled it in a different way – I tried air drying, blow drying and a variety of hair creams and serums to see how my hair reacted. Here’s what I found:

The TRESemme Reverse System left my hair feeling extremely clean and light. Freshly styled, my hair looked great every time – it had nice body and looked healthy and smooth. 

 

Some nice volume, right after washing and styling.

 
It didn’t take long, though, before the naturally curly nature of my hair – fueled a couple of times by some crazy humidity – overpowered any good my styling efforts had accomplished. Within 15 minutes my hair started to curl, frizz and puff up:

 

15 minutes later, my hair has started a frizzy rebellion.

 
By the end of the day my hair was huge, in a decidedly unflattering way. It didn’t matter what tools and techniques I tried. Once I reverse-washed it, there was nothing to be done. 

The verdict? I think the Beauty-Full Volume system is high quality, smells great and does exactly what it claims to do: leaves your hair weightless and voluminous. What I’ve learned from testing it, however, is that I personally need some of the weight that traditional conditioners leave behind to keep my hair from becoming an unruly mess. That said, I would absolutely recommend the system to anyone with naturally straight, fine strands, looking for a little lift. 
I received these products compliments of Influenster for testing purposes. All opinions are my own. 

January 2016 Empties

Since we’re smack dab in the middle of winter, it’s no surprise that my most recent batch of empties includes skincare standbys and some soothing hair products. Let’s take a look:

  
Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Original Formula: This easy to use 2-step anti-aging treatment has been a favorite for years now. It smooths without irritating my skin and helps fight winter flakiness. I was thrilled to receive this little three-pack as a freebie with my last Sephora purchase. 

Philosophy Miracle Worker Miraculous Anti-Aging Moisturizer: The only thing better for my winter complexion than the above-mentioned peel is following it up with a generous layer of my favorite moisturizer. This skin-softening, ultra-hydrating moisturizer is my winter favorite. 

Davines LOVE Shampoo & LOVE Conditioner: I didn’t love this smoothing shampoo on its own – it made my locks a little limp – but paired with the conditioner it left my hair soft and bouncy. It also kept my scalp moisturized. I’m really not a fan of its heavy floral scent, so I won’t be purchasing it again. 

Dove Advanced Care Beauty Finish Anti-perspirant Deodorant: I don’t know about the “beauty finish” part, but I loved the clean scent of this deodorant and it left me fresh all day long. A solid pick. 

Last-Minute Beauty Gift Guide

So Christmas is just a few short days away and you still haven’t finished shopping. Fear not! If you’re wondering what to get the beauty-obsessed on your list, I’m here to help!

If you’re looking to wow your most high-maintenance loved one, why not give the gift of great hair? Drybar’s Peace on Earth Good Hair to All! gift set is sure to make her year.

Great for beauty enthusiasts of all ages, Ciate Pick & Mix lets you create your own 3-piece nail polish set. Ciate is my favorite high-end nail color brand. I recommend adding one of the fun sparkly shades to your set to make it extra festive.

For the natural beauty on your list, you can’t go wrong with the Caudalie Winter Duo. She’ll stay soft and smooth all winter long in a natural, French-girl sort of way. Editors Note: this gift is actually on the top of my list, but it seems to be sold out online, so if you find it somewhere, let me know!

Of course, if you don’t have time to shop and/or need your gift to get there fast, you can’t go wrong with a Birchbox gift subscription or a gift card to Sephora or Ulta!

What beauty gift are you hoping Santa brings you this year?

October/November 2015 Empties

Happy holiday season beauties! It’s been a while since I’ve been able to write a real post; I’ve been having some serious technical difficulties but they appear to finally be resolved! Since I was unable to share my empties at the end of last month, I’m combining October and November into one:
Empties
Suave Naturals Almond Verbena 2 in 1 Shampoo & Conditioner: I am obsessed with this shampoo. It’s responsible for every good hair day I had during the past two months! It was conditioning enough to be fine on its own without ever making my strands look or feel greasy. It made my hair feel light and clean and smelled lovely. I’ll definitely be buying this again.

Tocca Giulietta Nourishing Body Scrub: The fine grain of this exfoliator was gentle and left my skin feeling exceptionally soft and smooth, but I wasn’t crazy about the scent. I expected to love the pink tulip/green apple combination, but it was overly floral. I’d be interested in trying the other scents.

Suave Naturals Tropical Coconut Conditioner: A remnant from my summer beauty favorites, this is a decent conditioner that smells great and makes a wonderful shave cream.

Dior Diorshow Extase Mascara: From the gold tube to the thick, dark lashes it leaves in its wake, everything about this mascara is glam. It doesn’t flake off but it will rub off it you forget you’re wearing it. One of my favorite mascaras.

Vaseline Intensive Care Spray Moisturizer in Aloe Soothe: I wrote about this over the summer and I still love it. This is an excellent pick for anyone who is too lazy to take the time to put lotion on (I’m looking at you, Mom). The aloe version was great for summer, but it also comes in other varieties that would be perfect for cooler months!

Osmia Organics Lavender Shea Soap: This smooth bar of soap lasted months! It left my skin clean and never dry. My only complaint is that I wanted more lavender! The scent faded long before the soap was gone.

Naobay Oxygenating Cream Moisturizing: This organic moisturizer had a light texture and was surprisingly moisturizing. When the weather started to turn cool and dry, I started layering this under a tinted moisturizer for an extra boost. I’d recommend it as a gentle, effective moisturizer.

EOS Hand Cream: I didn’t love the scent but this weird, flat little tube holds a really nice little lotion! I used it as an all over body cream while traveling and it worked perfectly. This would make a great stocking stuffer.

September 2015 Empties

I can’t believe we’re already more than a week into October! You’ll have to forgive me for being a bit behind with reviewing last month’s empties – between a road trip to visit some good friends in their new home, several nights out to celebrate various happy occasions with friends, and a jam-packed work schedule, I’ve had a very busy couple of weeks! Luckily, the long hours and short weekends have not kept me from testing and finishing up a whole bunch of things. Let’s take a look at September’s empties:
September 2015 empties
Dickinson’s Original Witch Hazel Refreshingly Clean Cleansing Cloths: These gentle daily cleansing cloths are formulated to remove makeup and oil without over-drying or irritating sensitive skin. They combine the natural toning properties of witch hazel with soothing aloe, a blend the package says gives the cloths their “signature botanical scent.” Here is what I have to say about these face wipes: they are very effective at removing makeup and oil, and when I used them they kept my skin quite clear and even. However, I found that signature scent to be almost stomach-turning. The scent was so strong and so unpleasant that it took me months to finish up this pack of 25 cleansing cloths. I would not recommend them to anyone who is the least bit sensitive to strong smells.

Boscia Pore Purifying Black Strips: As with Boscia’s classic black mask (and pretty much every other Boscia product I’ve tested), I was very excited to give this pore strip a try. As a person whose past experiences with drugstore pore strips have been quite painful and ineffective, I was cautiously optimistic that this one would work for me. Happily, it did! I decided to test this strip one afternoon after noticing that my pores looked unusually large and grimy. Not only did this strip remove the grime and make my pores instantly less prominent, I was actually able to peel the strip from my face without crying or taking any skin with it. This is definitely the Cadillac of pore strips.

Malin + Goetz Geranium Body Wash: I’ve sampled a couple of Malin + Goetz products over the years, and I’ve really liked all of them. This body wash was no different. Though I don’t typically love floral scents, this one was mild and left a pleasant fragrance on my skin that lasted through most of the day. It also made my skin insanely soft, even without lotion. I think this would make a great gift.

Maybelline Dream Fresh BB: I’ve written about this so many times, there’s not much left to say! I finally used up my summer BB cream, and not a moment too soon; my tan has definitely abandoned me, making this beauty balm just a touch too dark for my complexion. Other than that, it’s an all-around great BB cream that provides moisture and nice light coverage for a super reasonable price.

Colgate MaxFresh with Whitening Flouride Toothpaste: A pretty basic toothpaste. I can’t say I noticed a difference in whiteness, but it did a great job of keeping my mouth feeling fresh.

Philosophy Purity Made Simple: This facial cleanser is an old favorite for good reason – it’s gentle, effective, and even smells pure and simple. I often turn to it when another product has caused irritation or the changing seasons has turned my skin into a red blotchy mess. It’s always a safe bet.

Benefit They’re Real! Remover: This waterproof eye makeup remover has a unique creamy gel formula that is designed to prevent pulling or tugging of the delicate skin around the eyes. I have to confess, I was completely caught off guard by the odd texture. It was goopy and unpleasant, and I got a ton of it in my eyes. This makeup remover is formulated to be safe for sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers, and I’ll admit that my highly sensitive eyes did not sting or burn after using it. Still, it felt gross. And with all the wonderfully effective eye makeup removers out there (like this one from MAKE), I don’t see a reason to use one that feels this bad.

Amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo: I wrote about this a little while back after receiving it in a Birchbox. It’s a nice, fresh-smelling dry shampoo that’s great for giving second day hair a little oomph. That oomph doesn’t last very long, but it’s really clean and natural looking while it lasts. A great product to throw in your purse for on-the-go touchups.

August 2015 Empties

Happy Labor Day beauties! The end of summer is painfully close, but today is a beautiful day and I intend to spend it soaking up some delicious late summer rays. Before we say hello to fall, let’s celebrate the holiday with a look back at some of the products that helped me through this season:
August 2015 Empties
Caudalie Make-Up Remover Cleansing Water: I wrote about this new skincare favorite here. I still love it. A perfect summer cleanser.

Gillette Fusion Hydra Gel: This technically belonged to my husband, but I’m pretty sure I used more of this shave gel than he did. With aloe and cocoa butter, it left my skin super soft and allowed for a really close shave.

R & Co Atlantis Moisturizing Shampoo & Conditioner: I took this little duo on a road trip to a beach wedding on a hot summer day. It left my hair feeling clean, smelling fresh, and miraculously free of frizz. I was very impressed.

Suave Tropical Coconut Shampoo: I seem to return to this cheapo shampoo every summer. The light coconut scent is just what I’m looking for in the warmer months, and it’s great cleanser.

Dove Go Fresh Cool Moisture Body Bar: I wrote about this last month, too. Still a fine choice for a summer soap. In other news, I’ve finally used up my soap stash! Hooray!

Whish Three Whishes Almond Body Butter: This thick body lotion left my skin feeling soft, but I don’t think it’s moisturizing enough for the cooler, dryer months. The almond scent was a bit too strong at first but became much more pleasant as the day wore on. It makes a really nice hand cream.

Benefit Bad Gal Lash: When this mascara was first released, I tried it, loved it, and then promptly swore it off because it burned my eyes in the most painful way. Years later, I received this mini and decided to give it another go. I’m so glad that I did! Benefit must have tweaked their formula; it didn’t bother my eyes at all! It did make my lashes look full and gorgeous, though. Bad Gal Lash for the win!

Dr. Jart Dermaclear Micro Water: Another waterless cleanser, this product claims to remove makeup and impurities while toning and brightening skin. While I don’t think it worked as well as the Caudalie cleanser, it did help remove makeup and keep oil in check.

Beauty Protector Protect & Oil: If you’ve ever used products from this brand, you’ve probably noticed the sugary sweet scent they usually have. I’m happy to report that this hair oil had a very mild, hardly noticeable scent. It also kept frizz at bay and protected my hair from being fried this summer, without any greasiness. A great summer hair product.