Top 5 Frugal Organic Beauty Tips

by Agnes Jimenez  of EmpressofDrac

With your beauty care section overflowing with expensive product just waiting to disappoint, wouldn’t it be nice to have a few things lying around the house that actually work? If you want to try a few natural remedies to beautify yourself, and want to kick the commercial products to the curb, here are a few ideas.

Fruity Hair, No Really

If you are staring down dry and damaged hair, but are a little short on the million bucks a hair salon is going to charge, grab a few of those fruits laying around the house. A great mixture to start with is bananas and avocados! Just combine the two fruits in a mixing bowl and mash. Then add a little olive oil and coconut oil and blend until smooth. Spread it evenly through your hair and wrap it up in a towel. After thirty minutes, unwrap your towel and wash, your hair will love you for it!

Tea Anyone

Ok everyone has heard of this, but when was the last time you saw someone laying in a lawn chair with a couple teabags on their eyes? Perhaps it isn't as popular these days but if you drink tea, it is a great way to upcycle your used tea bags. If you don’t drink tea you really should, it has amazing health benefits and tastes pretty good.

Get Rid Of the Frizz

If you have an Aloe Vera plant laying around the house you can use the gel inside to calm down that wild hair! Just cut a portion off and use the liquid inside to apply it on your hair. If you do not have an Aloe Vera plant you can buy the extract at most pharmacies, it is supper cheap and will help tame the wildest frizz you have.

Olive Oil as Conditioner?

Pass up the $100 bottle of conditioner with the designer label and head over to the cooking section. Buy a bottle of extra virgin olive oil and feel the difference. Turns out that you can use all kinds of natural oil, another favorite is coconut or sunflower oil. You won't have to worry about your hair being to oily afterwards either, just don’t use the whole bottle. If that isn't enough to convince you, there are other benefits to using vegetable oil, apparently they are great at scalp conditioning and helping with dandruff.

Big Beautiful Lips

If you have a problem with chapped lips try this! Put a thin layer of oil or petroleum jelly on your lips, just enough to get them moist. Grab some cinnamon from your kitchen, take about a 1/4 of a teaspoon and slowly rub the spice on your lips. Because it is coarse, it will exfoliate the skin and leave behind beautiful new lips. Just when you thought it could not get any better… there is more! Because it is a spice it will promote better circulation, and all that extra blood flow will add color to your lips!

If you have ever felt frustrated by the cost of beauty products, you are not alone! Because we have so much pressure to look like a super model, many times we feel the need to spend. In reality much of the products on the market are probably doing us more harm than good. Although the ideas above might not be innovative or new, they are as relevant as they were before L'Oreal hit the scene with their overpriced hair treatments. Give these suggestions a shot, they are cheap and natural!

About the Guest Author
Agnes Jimenez is a professional blogger and writer. She writes for many online establishments and supports those ones that offer alternative lifestyles to consumers.  As a frugal living advocate, she recommends Daily Bread for those fashion conscious individuals who want to get big savings in shopping for food and food storage.

Natural Hair Dilemma...

Why does my hair have three different textures???

The top of my hair has a very loose curl pattern. The front-left side of my hair is little loose and always looks damn near straight on the ends. And the front-right and back of my hair is coily. I prefer the latter. But blending it all in makes it a styling nightmare. 

It's not heat damage. This loose texture is from root to tip. It's just the way my hair grows. It's so bad that I have to put a rod on the braid in the front of my hair because it barely curls on the end.

I haven't been rodding the left side because the right side curls with no problem and I have a dilemma in my head where I have to do for the right side of my body whatever I do for the left and vice versa. 
Kind of like how you can't wash one hand without washing the other. 

I've done some research but Youtube videos and forums suggest curly gals to twist the hair around your fingers. Let me tell you, that doesn't work! It only makes it worse! 

I was thinking about cutting the left side so that appears to be the same length as the right side.  But when my hair is stretched they are the same exact length.

I know I can't be the only one out there with a variety of hair textures!! 
Left side - look at those straight ends!
Right side - hair love!
Back of my hair - *drool* (if only all my hair looked like this!)

How to Maintain Fine Natural Hair

via Kurlee Belle

I had a conversation along time ago with one of my bestfriends about hair. Her hair was always so thick and long and mine seemed like it would not grow. Like all High School girls, I had to keep up with the trend of box braids and flat twists in the front (held still by elastic bands) and hair out in the back. All the girls were wearing these styles but there was something different about my hair than theirs and I could not figure it out. One day I asked my friend, "How do you grow your hair so long?" and she said to me, "If you treat your hair like a million bucks it would grow long too." 

This statement of "treating your hair like a million bucks" really resonated with me and to this day I try to abide by this rule. At the time, I did not recognize that when comparing my hair to my friend's hair and trying to keep up with hair trends that my hair was different. I understood that some people had wavy hair, soft hair  or kinky hair depending on genetics but I did not understand the difference between fine, medium and coarse hair. For along time, I believed that all black people had coarse hair because to me by definition, coarse hair was hard or rough hair (I was so wrong with this assumption). Still I did not understand that there was a difference between thin and thick hair- a person could have fine-thick hair, fine-thin hair, coarse-thick hair, etc. 

Here are some up close and personal photos of my fine hair.

In this particular instance, I had fine-thick hair and my friend had coarse-thick hair. Being born with the predisposition of fine-thick hair, my hair was easily damaged by using hair styling techniques that are used on medium or coarse hair. Below is a pictorial of the difference in thickness of a fine strand, coarse strand and a strand of thread. 
Fine strand. Coarse strand. Thread.
Looking at the above photograph with the naked eye, it is apparent that fine hair is thinner than coarse hair and coarse hair is thinner than a thread. So with this logic, it is obvious that the same hair care techniques should not be used across hair types. (Hint: This is one of the reasons why hair care products work best for some people and do not work at all for others.)

How to tell if you have fine or coarse hair? 
  1. Consult a professional stylist. Stylists are trained to properly manage hair and they can quickly identify whether your strands are fine, medium or coarse. 
  2. Home test: After washing your hair let it air dry. If your hair air dries quickly (an hour or less) then you have fine hair. If you wait longer than an hour then your hair is coarse. 
  3. The White paper test: Pull a strand of hair from your head and place on top of a white paper. If your hair is difficult to see against the white background and not easily felt between your fingertips then you have fine hair. 
Characteristics of Natural Fine Hair.
  1. You have to re-twist your hair nightly to keep defined curls. Curls just do not hold well with this type of hair. 
  2. Breaks easily even when you keep it moisturised. 
  3. Prone to fly aways. 
  4. Hair looks dull, dry and flat. 
Tools & Tips for Fine Hair
  1. Protein Treatments will help give weight to fine hair and strengthen the strands. To identity protein treatments look at the ingredient list for the following: silk amino acids, collagen, keratin, wheat and soy (to name a few). 
  2. Do a pre-wash oil treatment before you wash your hair. Over cleansed fine hair will break easily. 
  3. Use a clarifying shampoo whenever your hair looks dull or falls flat. Fine hair can be easily weighed down by product build up. A clarifying shampoo strips away dirt and product build up from the hair. This should be used no more than once a month. 
  4. For regular shampooing, use a gently conditioning shampoo like Kurlee Belle's Almond & Shea Butter Moisturizing Shampoo. High quality moisturizing shampoos protect the hair during the wash process. 
  5. When choosing a leave-in conditioner, look for the words "Dry and Damaged Hair" like Kurlee Belle's Thirsty Kurls Leave-In conditioner. Always use a rinse off conditioner and then a leave-in conditioner. 
  6. Detangle hair in sections. Never BRUSH dry fine hair or wet fine hair. Use your fingertips to detangle or a wide tooth comb. Detangle from the tip of the hair moving closer to the scalp. Remember: Your hair is delicate and will break easily. 
  7. Comb hair as little as possible. Stay away from hairstyles that require constant manipulation.  Micro braids and heavy extensions are not your friend. Try low maintenance protective styles like braids and two strand twists. 
  8. Always wear a satin covering at night. Never sleep without your hair protected. 
  9. When straightening fine hair always use a heat protectant. Use very low heat. The temperature should be no higher than 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Fine hair straightens easily. 
  10. Trim hair every 6 to 8 weeks to avoid spilt ends. 
  11. A great sealant for fine hair is coconut oil. It is not heavy and provides shines and manageability. 
  12. Always air dry. The less heat used on fine hair the better. Fine hair dries fast so blow dryers can be avoided. 
  13. Avoid color or highlights like the plague. Bleaching the hair lifts the cuticle so that the color appears. If you are not a professional stylists that knows how to properly care for hair then I say leave the color alone. I found out the hard way...so learn from my mistakes. :) 
Have you done a strand test? Is your hair fine, medium or coarse? 

Grub Saving Tips for Frugalistas

via GrubFindr

It’s not an easy task for college students to stay on budget when grocery shopping eats up a major part. Being resourceful and creative are key to saving money on groceries allowing students to have money for other things they want and need.

College students have hectic schedules but they still have to eat. By using their time resourcefully they can in turn spend wisely. One of the best tips is to always be on the lookout for items that are on sale at the local supermarkets and drugstores to see who has the best deals. But for the time strapped student, flipping through a stack of weekly circulars or trying to compare deals from numerous websites is not very appealing. Using an online resource like GrubFindr literally brings students’ fingertips to the deals, and offers a one stop shop to help students find deals on the items they want from their favorite local stores. By typing in their Zip Code they can quickly begin to browse and compare deals whether it’s for peanut butter, pasta, cereal, cheese, soda, etc.

Here are several additional grub saving tips to help keep coin in students pockets:

Busy Weeknight Time Saver
Buy the larger packs of ground beef when on sale, then when you get home cook it all and freeze in two-cup packages. This saves space in the freezer and time on a busy weeknight!

Use Cash
Take out your grocery budget money in cash. Keep track of your expenses as you shop by writing them down as you go and using a calculator. When you've reached your cash limit, you're done.

Just One Hour Per Week
Take an hour a week and plan your menu for the week. Try to plan your menu according to what is on sale that week in your local grocery stores. Investing just one hour a week to plan ahead will save you the hassle of wondering what to make for dinner.

Dollar Store Cleaning Products
Purchase all your cleaning products at your local dollar store. The savings add up quickly. Keeps more of your grocery dollar for actual food.

Shop Off Peak Hours
Shop grocery stores open 24 hours at off peak hours, such as before 8am and after 8pm. Not only are the lines shorter, but often times, you can find great mark downs in the deli case, produce, meat, and dairy aisle.

Day Old Bakery
Check to see if your store has a day old bakery markdown rack. You can buy breads and rolls, breakfast items and sometimes dessert items for 30-50% off.

Milk Freezes Great!
Milk freezes great! Stock up when it's on sale; pour some off into another container (like a two-quart jug) and freeze what's left. This can save a lot of money.

(GrubFindr is an app to help US college students save money on groceries quickly and socially. GrubFindr was inspired by Grocery Server's destination site " MyGroceryDeals.com"  , which has been called “the ‘Google’ in local grocery shopping and budget-minded meal planning”, and provides consumers with easy-to-access tools to save money on groceries.)


Via Jezebel: Women Speak 75% Less When They’re Surrounded by Dudes. And That’s Bad.

I initially felt some sort of way -- guilt? embarrassment?-- about posting two feminist articles in a row, but then realized that I want to get to a point (as a woman, as a human) where I can learn to stop apologizing. For everything, for anything. For being honest. And didn't I tell y'all I was going to be posting musings on all the various and sundry wonders of this life? So. Here's some knowledge:

Women Speak 75% Less When They’re Surrounded by Dudes. And That’s Bad.

Lindy West for Jezebel discusses a new study published in American Political Science Review, which found that, in collaborative group settings, "the time that women spoke was significantly less than their proportional representation—amounting to less than 75 percent of the time that men spoke." 

She writes,

HA. That is just about the truest shit that I have ever heard. I (and, I suspect, pretty much any woman) can access that feeling really quickly and vividly—when you find yourself in conversation with a circle of men and, against your better judgment and all your feminist impulses, you just turtle up. You retire. You forfeit, because their lungs are bigger, they're groomed for assertiveness since birth, and you're groomed to assume that nobody will take you seriously anyway. You wait for a pause in a room of interruptors. Sigh. I do it like crazy, and I am a fucking loudmouth feminist yelling machine.
So it's satisfying to have one's hunches backed up by a study like this: It's not just me failing at feminism, and it's not just men being paternalistic dicks, it's some sort of sinister societal force that shepherds us into those roles. This isn't just teh evil menz (blah blah blah) doing this to us—we are active participants. We are turtlers. Nothing is solved here—no one is to blame and everyone is to blame—but it's comforting, at least, to confirm that it is happening.
And it's not good. According to the study's authors, women contributed to the conversation much more when it was framed as consensus-building rather than a majority-rules vote. And when women's voices were included, the group's conclusions were profoundly different:
"In school boards, governing boards of organizations and firms, and legislative committees, women are often a minority of members and the group uses majority rule to make its decisions," Mendelberg said. "These settings will produce a dramatic inequality in women's floor time and in many other ways. Women are less likely to be viewed and to view themselves as influential in the group and to feel that their 'voice is heard.'"
For their experiments, Karpowitz and Mendelberg recruited people to be part of a group and discuss the best way to distribute money they earned together from a hypothetical task.
...Notably, the groups arrived at different decisions depending on women's participation – swinging the group's stance on the level of generosity given to the lowest member of the group.
"When women participated more, they brought unique and helpful perspectives to the issue under discussion," Karpowitz said. "We're not just losing the voice of someone who would say the same things as everybody else in the conversation."
This problem—of women allowing themselves to be talked over and dominated in group settings—is particularly compelling because it dovetails with soooooo many other issues that we, as feminists, grapple with ad nauseam. It is BFFs with internalized male condescension. It went halfsies on a timeshare with mansplaining. It is more than friends with the way that women default to self-deprecation instead of assertiveness.
Perhaps most significantly, it just goes back to that hoary old double standard—when men speak up to be heard they are confident and assertive; when women do it we're shrill and bitchy. It's a cliche, but it's true. And it leaves us in this chicken/egg situation—we have to somehow change our behavior (i.e. stop conceding and start talking) while simultaneously changing the perception of us (i.e. asserting that assertiveness does not equal bitchiness). But how do you assert that your assertiveness isn't bitchiness to a culture that perceives assertiveness as bitchiness? And how do you start talking to change the perception of how you talk when that perception is actively keeping you from talking? Answer: UGH, I HAVE NO IDEA.
But I guess I will start with this pledge I just made up: I, Lindy West, a shrill bitch, do hereby pledge to talk really really loud in meetings if I have something to say, even if dudes are talking louder and they don't like me. I refuse to be a turtle—unless it is some really loud species of brave turtle with big ideas. I will not hold back just because I'm afraid of being called a loudmouth bitch (or a "trenchmouth loud ass," which I was called the other day and as far as I can tell is some sort of pirate insult). Also, I will use the fuck out of the internet, because they can't drown you out on the internet. The end. Amen or whatever.


Why Men Catcall

Since I moved to DC, I've been exposed to an overwhelming increase in my sense of personal danger. (I no longer had the privilege of traveling around in the comfort of my own car or on a campus where public security rolls deep and programs like SafeWalk are in effect).

For the past year or so, my movement has literally been limited-- I have to be at home before a certain hour, with a group (that includes at least one man), or confined to certain areas because it's simply unsafe to do otherwise. This fact has always infuriated me- that I do not have full control over my own movement for fear of being harassed or physically or sexually assaulted. I came across this article today on The Good Men Project and thought I'd share:

Why Men Catcall by Carlos Andres Gomez

Gomez writes,
"This conversation is not a new one, as women have been having it and already spearheaded movements to combat catcalling and street harassment (like Hollaback! and Stop Street Harassment), but now I want to engage men. There are a lot of passionate responders here on The Good Men Project. I believe that to create meaningful, lasting change in this world the whole community must be actively involved in the process of brainstorming and then creating a solution to a problem.  I am tired of my partner and my little sister and my female friends and women in general being forced to walk around afraid and embarrassed and ashamed and uncomfortable. I am tired of harassing men creating an abusive dynamic that undermines basic social etiquette and human respect."
[Read the full article here.]

Gomez is one of my favorite scholars/critics/artists, and he's got a lot of smart questions to ask about what we often consider to be a norm. (His work aims towards "galvanizing men—but also mothers, girlfriends, wives, and sisters—to rethink and redefine the way all men interact with women, deal with violence, handle fear, and express emotion.")  I posted this to my Facebook, and a dear friend of mine responded:
"It’s not just bystanders who have become desensitized—I’ve come to accept that street harassment’s a consequence of living in a city, since it’s been a near-daily occurrence for me for years—which isn’t an acceptable reaction either."  
Whether you live in a city or not, I challenge you to not accept it, and encourage you to share this article and start this dialogue with your friends- male or otherwise. Silence won't get us anywhere.

**Edited to add:


Fabulous Feature: Dalecia

Introduce Yourself!
My name is Dalecia, and I was originally born in Nuremburg Germany, but I live in North Carolina. I am now a college student studying business marketing in my senior year. I host natural hair events at my university once a semester, so that naturals can have a support system when deciding to go natural. I hope to reach out to other naturals and encourage them to not to be afraid of wearing there curls out.There are so many new naturals on my campus since I started hosting these events in 2010, so I like to think that I helped the popularity of being natural be more present on my campus.

Tell us about your hair journey! Why did you go natural?
It all started back in 2009 when I decided to wear my hair straight to my first day of class. It so happened that my class was early in the morning, so there was so much moisture in the air. My hair reverted so quickly that day! It took literally 2 minutes for my hair to turn into a from. So from then on I started trying to wear my hair in its natural state. I stopped relaxing my hair my senior year of high school back in 2007. I still mainly wore my hair pressed, which caused so much heat damage to my hair. I also added hair color on top of that to make matters worse. From then until now I did research nonstop on hair blogs to try to find some new techniques to try to get rid on the heat damage on my hair. I transitioned with braids and twist and curls most of the time to blend the two textures on my head to help camouflage the heat damage. I experimented with henna and permanent color to give myself a different look. Now I mostly do twistouts and do protective styles from time to time.
I made the personal choice to go natural because I was mostly tired of going to the salon and the hairstylist giving me the opposite of what I asked for. I don't know how often I have waited in the chair patiently and the hairstylist give me a consultation and convince me to do something that I did not want. Now that I am natural and go to get my hair done less by professionals I have learn more about my hair. Taking the time out to accomplish a goal such as getting your hair to look a certain way by yourself is self gratifying. My hair is longer now than it was when I was relaxed and I take pride in it. 

What do you wish you knew 
before you went natural?
I wish that I knew how to properly take care of my hair. That is why I tell people that want to go natural to do there research first before doing the big chop or transitioning. I also wish that knew about heat damage before getting my hair pressed every weekend.

What's your regimen?
Every weekend I co-wash my hair with Herbal Essence Conditioner and use a leave-in conditioner as a moisturizer to do twist. Most of the time I use Cantu Shea Butter Leave-in as my staple. As a deep conditioner I use olive oil and new Monoi Conditioner by Carols Daughter. I mix olive oil in most of my deep treatments to intensify the effect of the conditioner. Every other month I do a henna treatment to refresh my color and to reduce shedding (protein treatment). I always detangle my hair while it is wet with a a wide comb or detangle with my fingers. I trim when I think it is necessary or when I see a single strand knot. 

What are your favorite products?
My favorite products are Shea moisture curl enhancing smoothie, Cantu Shea Butter Leave-in, Suave Conditioners, Herbal Essence Conditioners, and Olive oil.

Any words of wisdom for other naturals?
Do your research before doing the big chop. Learn to appreciate what is growing from your scalp. It is ok to have different curls than someone else. Don't base your progress on someone else hair. Your hair is beautiful in its own way, and its all yours!

Where can we find you?
You can find me on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/hercurlzrbadd?feature=results_main
Instagram: Hercurlzrbadd
Twitter: Hercurlzrbadd
and Tumblr: http://www.daleciouscurls.tumblr.com/

focus and frequency

Hey y'all. I've not completely abandoned the internet, I've just moved my focus and frequency 'round a bit. Here's where to find me:

twitter: jamilareddy
instagram: jamilareddy

oh. here's more of the hair situation:


Fabulous Feature: Bianca of Avant Blargh

Introduce yourself.
Hi I'm Bianca deBardelaben, I'm a professional graphic designer & blogger from Chicago! I love things that are ugly and weird, things that feel grandma but also gamine. I've been a good trend follower, I always have to dance to my own beat.

Tell us about your hair: Did you transition? If so, what do you wish you knew before you went natural?
Well I've been natural since before natural was "a thing" and was constantly teased for it growing up. Kids hated my hair and so gave into the pressures of straightening it. I wish I knew that if I left my hair alone I would have really long amazing her now. But alas by the time I went off to college I asked for my mom to give me a full relaxer and my hair was gone. After a few short bobs cuts later of transitioning, I'm back to my natural state! 

What's your current hair regimen (products too, please!) 
I'm lazy, and a wash and go girl. I do have dermatitis, so washing once a week is not an option. I was nearly 2-3xs a week. I use natural bar soaps you can find at your local health food store that are meant for shampoos and conditioners. I also use Dr. Bronner's tea tree shampoo when I feel like I have a lot of build up. And neem bar soap is really good for the dermatitis. (which I rub directly unto my scalp.) I also use tresammes natural conditioner line & shea moisture's deep conditioner.

When my hair is soaking wet, I apply mixed chicks leave in and towel dry with an old tshirt to prevent frizz, dryness and breakage that an ordinary towel can give. Then I let it air dry! So simple! 

You call yourself an "unconventional fashion blogger,"( and I love your blog, Avant Blargh.) What's the story behind that?
I've never been much of a trend follower, whenever I feel like I do exactly what everyone else is doing I don't feel like myself. I love to pull inspiration from modern fashion, but I'll never look cookie cutter. I also have to consider for dressing for my shape. What may look great on a runway model may not look so great on me. Plus, I also am very inspired by things not so fashion related, like movies and music. I want to dress in the way a music makes me feel, not how all the tumblr girls tell me too. You'll never see me in demin cut offs....ever.

I know you do a lot of thrifting and vintage shopping...what advice would you give for other ladies trying to stay fabulous on a budget?
BUDGET, no seriously, have a written budget. Want to know where your money goes, write it down. Keep it sassy by having a little moleskin so you can be chic and financially smart. And really know whats in your closet, are buying thing on sale just to have the thrill? A bunch of irregular forever21 clothes you bought on shopping trips with your friends? Put an end to that. Try to limit yourself to 2-4 treats a month. Focus on classic pieces that will last you years. Or save for that one trendy piece, but like in writing, don't waste your time on fluff. Just because its on sale or inexpensive does not qualify the need for it.

Anything else?
In everything you do, have goals for yourself so you can see the progress unfold before your very eyes!

Where else can we find you?!
my blog: avantblargh.blogspot.com 

tumblr: avantblargh.tumblr.com 
twitter: @avecbianca