How I grew my hair EXTRA long and healthy

How to hair longer

How to Long Healthy HairHello beautiful people that stops by and reads my stuff!

First of all I want to point out that the before picture was taken on April 2012 and the after picture was taken last Saturday (April 2016) so they’re 4 years apart but my hair has been as long (even longer as you can see in my previous post, I had a haircut the day after Easter and they took at least an inch off), and as healthy for over a year now – so it really took me around 3 years to achieve it (below pic of my Birthday on December 2014). I also want to point out that the after photo has no photoshoped shine or something added to the hair, I color corrected it but that was about it, I didn’t add the “mirror effect” some people add to their hair; this is 100% my hair, no extensions, nothing extra. So… I actually did this post before, back in January but I missed a lot of stuff plus before/after pictures; so here I go again.

My Birthday 2014
December 2014

HAIR! has been a nightmare for me and thankfully I have documented a lot of it on this blog, so I’ll start from the beginning: how did my nightmare start?

It was 10 years ago! it’s hard for me to say, to accept, to realize that it has been 10 years since I did what I did haha, I colored my hair blonde. The whole thing. It was blonde. I really don’t know why I did it? maybe to please people hahaha I can’t remember, I thought maybe I’d have more fun? I was young so I used to know it all right? So, I bleached it… and kept bleaching the roots and the whole process for exactly a year until it was completely ruined. I looked like a cheap, not so gracious version of Mufasa whenever my hair air-dried; and that’s the reason I kept using hot tools all the time to style it, and it all became a vicious cycle that ended up in EXTRA-DRY, lifeless and full of split ends hair.

Blonde Hair
with my BFF Ads ♥ when we were young and wise back in December 2005

I still have a love-hate relationship with that look, plus with friends and family it was always 50/50… my friend Lula was like: what have you done? why did you do it? what’s wrong with you?!! on the other hand my friend Conde was like: I love you blonde, don’t ever be brunette again, etc… etc… So, I did that on December 2005 and by December 2006 I tried to go back to brunette, it was such a pain!!! the color kept washing off, took me like 3 months to have a “decent” color but the whole thing was ruined.

I remember buying a LOT of expensive stuff to “fix it”, I even bought the whole Kerastase kit! I spent hundreds of dollars on that. I used Paul Mitchell, I went from super expensive to expensive to cheap to Mexican cheap. Nothing. So I was kind of… meh… I thought my hair was like that, I had to live with it and that’s it. Every hair salon I went I got to hear the same song: you have extremely dry hair, you need this treatment and that treatment and this miraculous thing and blah blah… and I used to reply: my hair is like that, sorry. But it wasn’t, actually as a kid I had the most fabulous hair, it was super shiny, extra straight and three times my current hair quantity.

Me as part of the Nutcracker on December 1992
Me as part of the Nutcracker on December 1992

So it was 2008 back in France when I trimmed it very short, I wanted that so called “fresh start”, then I kept trimming it (later I even got a bob with my super round face, again… not the best decision maker).

Hair in Paris
Paris 2008

It grew yes, but dull… I kept using all the expensive stuff, I used a lot of treatments, why was it so dull? why was it growing just until it reached my shoulders and you could see the ends being all brittle… and I had to trim it, it looked awful! Then for some reason, in 2010, I painted it black… BLACK! why? why on earth? so I tried to rip the color off… (I wrote a post about it, it’s in Spanish but you can see the pics), NEVER EVER DO THAT! If I had any chance of it growing a bit healthier, I lost it when I did that, it was a mess!!!

So, supposedly on June 2012 I took the challenge of taking care of my hair, I cut it very short for the last time and I thought I had the solution, the magic formula, nailed down: NO heat tools, NO heavy styling products, tons of water and vitamins… sounded like a very nice plan but it was just half of it… I was very ignorant regarding hair products, so I started to research A LOT and finally this is what ended up working for me (list of products at the end):

  1. PATIENCE – This is the key ingredient for every process, if you want to achieve the results, you have to be patient! You have to embrace messy-not-so-good-looking hair for a while, you have to suck it up and have tons of bad hair days so you can enjoy beautiful hair ones.
  2. DETOX – Every morning I drink a cup of warm water with a fresh squeezed lemon, a dash of cayenne pepper and a variation of the following ingredients to keep it interesting: 1 tablespoon of 100% natural maple syrup or 1 tablespoon of 100% organic honey, 1 tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar, and sometimes I add a dash of cinnamon.
  3. HYDRATE – Drink at least 2 liters of plain water. You have read this before, a 1000 times, it’s true! You have to start with the inside so you can see it on the outside.
  4. GO PARABEN-FREE / SULFATE-FREE – This was part of what I was missing before! I thought the more expensive the shampoo/conditioner was, the better. I was wrong. The answer is in the amount and type of chemicals in your hair products. I learned about chemicals building up in your hair, your scalp and being the consequence of it being dull. I always read the labels now, I vary my shampoo/conditioners between 3 brands and within the brands I change scent or “type”.
  5. TRIM, TRIM, TRIM! – It sounds counterproductive but you need to chop off the old stuff and make room for the new shiny stuff! You need to get rid of split ends as soon as you see them, I keep hair scissors on my office desk so if I see anything off, I just go ahead and cut that hair; you don’t want the split to travel up, they do! it’s crazy! So when I have my bangs on like right now, I go to the salon every month to get a trim. If I don’t have my bangs, I wait 2 months until I go.
  6. VITAMINS –  I’m always taking some kind of supplement and vitamins, I find that they give me tons of energy. Right now I’m taking Salmon Oil capsules, Collagen + Vitamin C capsules and I try to also add biotin, calcium, vitamin E and vitamin K (sometimes I would just go for a multi-vitamin). I like to vary things on this department (update Aug 2016: Since I went vegetarian and pro-vegan, I stopped using Salmon Oil caps).
  7. AMMONIA-FREE HAIR COLOR – I have an embarrassing amount of gray hair for my age so I need to dye it! For this purpose I only use ammonia-free hair color, this is very important because ammonia is very very harsh on your strands and takes the moisture away. I never ever bleach my hair and I never do anything too drastic or harsh, I stay with my natural hair color.
  8. NO TOWEL RUB – I never rub my hair with a towel! I use my hands to remove excess of water and then I use a cotton t-shirt to wrap it. I find this very gentle, absorbs water more quickly and doesn’t cause any breakage (my hair is real thin).
  9. LIMIT HEAT TOOLS – I pick at most 4 days a month to use hot appliances to style my hair; there are times that I spend several weeks before I use a flat iron or something to style it. I ALWAYS use heat-protector, even if I’m just using my blow dryer. Sometimes I even air-dry my hair and I get not-so-pretty hair days because of this, still, it’s totally worth it. You need to see the greater good, a couple of bad hair days can give you luscious model-like hair strands 🙂
  10. COCONUT OIL – Last but not least! Coconut oil hair mask every weekend (or every-other weekend sometimes). I swear by this!!! Specially if you do it the day after you used your flat iron or worse, when you’ve gotten a salon hairdo, they use tons of spray and they treat your hair like they don’t care how much effort you put in NOT ruining it…. just cover it entirely with Coconut oil (preferably organic one), leave it overnight, wash it twice first thing in the morning and embrace shiny beautiful hair!

So… here’s what I’ve been using and that has helped me, you can try your own mix but READ THE LABELS please! That’s my only advice! I’m not 100% super-natural-everything-organic kind of person but I do try to make better decisions now on what goes on my hair and my body before even trying it.

       

I hope I’m not forgetting anything, if so, expect an update 🙂

Thanks for reading this super-long post!!! I really appreciate you stopping by, sharing your thoughts and subscribing!

xoxo,

Laura

p.s. please do consider that as an Amazon affiliate I might receive a % if you happen to buy any of the Amazon items listed above; still, I would never recommend something I don’t truly believe in!

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Retin-A Before and After

Before and After Retin-A
Before and After Retin-A

Hi everyone!

So this post is a little bit embarrassing since that is my face, zero makeup, zero filters, right after washing it; but I hope it will be VERY useful for you.

Ok so, it was around July 2015 when I realized (not for the first time but the “severity” of) the dark spots on my cheeks, specially the left cheek (the one you can see in the pics). I felt very depressed! I can’t even explain my feelings on that moment. I will turn 30 this year and it’s an important number, at least this is how I feel society feels about it.

I started to think of a lot of options… peelings, going to dermatologists, etc… etc… and all of them required more money that I could spend and me being afraid of how my face would look afterwards. I started to look for pins on the matter of wrinkles, spot, cell turnover, etc… and found that everybody praises retinoid-based treatments.  I didn’t want to go for something full of chemicals but missing the MAIN chemical I need… so I made a little bit of research (essentially with my mom who used to own a pharmacy) and I thought of giving Retin-A a try. I looked for a lot of before/after photos, some of them looked like a miracle, some of them were a mess. A lot of very strong reactions, a lot of peeling or not peeling but irritated skin… I read probably 30 websites that talk about it before actually buying it.

Fortunately for me, in Mexico you can buy it without a prescription, so it’s totally fine; in the US you do need a prescription but I suppose you could get one from a dermatologist (which is going to be a bit pricey?) or you could stop by a pharmacy when you stop in Ensenada when taking your cruises :). The cost of the tube was around $20 USD so by all means DON’T pay more than that.

So, I bought mine on August 2nd, 2015 (and I still have a 1/3 of the tube) at Costco. When I start doing something, I always try to take a photo so I can have a nice “Before”… but I’ve done this a 1000 times with a LOT of stuff, and I never take good “Before” pictures because I doubt there will be a good “After” one. Like a week ago, I was going through my backed up photos looking for my avocado plant “Before” pic (another post to come! about me growing an avocado tree), and I looked at those “Before” photos of my face… I was shocked! I went ahead and quickly checked myself on the mirror but I was wearing a light foundation so I couldn’t see my skin and compare it… when I got home after washing my face I was staring at it, at my left cheek… wow! How come I didn’t realize this was working?

I want to point out that both photos were taken with the back camera of my Samsung S5, I took the first one with a shaky hand and it’s not 100% clear/sharp, which would have made it more impressive… I just didn’t take many, tried like 2 or 3 times, saw they were coming up a bit blurry and I gave up, so this is the best one. The “After” photo was taken yesterday, same procedure, different time of the day so the light has a different color, tried to keep my hand as steady as I could but didn’t correct light, didn’t correct color, didn’t correct contrast, I didn’t do anything to the photos, just put them right next to another with Layout. And I’m sorry that in both cases my eyebrows are LESS than groomed… I just… I took a shower and took them… like the less I could mess with my face in order to get the real difference out there and share my amazement.

I need to confess that when I was younger… from 18 to 23 maybe, I was very paranoid with my skincare but I was very ignorant as well -not that I’m too savvy now-, so I used to buy a lot of very expensive stuff and put them all at once and they had a lot of “useless” chemicals (I mean, Retin-A is no apple concentrate) but then I got lazy… I barely washed my face and that was that… I kept a moisturizing lotion near me but maybe something from a beauty catalog like Ebel or something someone gave me as a gift… I didn’t really pay attention. For the lapse of 6 years I practically neglected my face (same time I have been working for my current company… coincidence?), so the day came when I saw myself in the mirror, with my washed face and I didn’t like it.

So what have I been doing for these past 8 months?

I’ll start with night-time because this is when you need to use your Retin-A:

  • I clean my face, I would lie if I say I go through the whole process of warm water, mild soap, paper towel, blah blah… most of the time I use a baby wipe to clean it (more like 2 good/sturdy baby wipes), that’s it.
  • I wait for my face to dry and every other day (sometimes I use it just 2 times a week) I apply Retin-A, you don’t need a lot, just a pea-size portion is enough. I put it on my index finger and then I “mark” spots on my whole face, then I use my 2 middle fingers to spread it using a circular motion over my entire face (and sometimes is more than what I need so my neck gets a little bit as well). The days I apply Retin-A, that’s it… my routine ends there. A lot of people say you need to wait 20-30 minutes until it’s absorbed completely and then put a moisturizing lotion; I used to do that for the first couple of months then I got lazy.
  • For the days I’m not using Retin-A, I clean my face as previously stated and then I apply organic coconut oil to all of my face, I let it absorb it, then I apply a night-time moisturizing lotion (paraben-free).

Day-time:

  • While showering I wash my face with a VERY mild paraben-free / sulfate-free soap.
  • I apply the coconut oil, wait for it to be absorbed.
  • I apply a moisturizing lotion (right now I’m using the 40 Carrots Moisture Splurge Retinol-rich moisturizing as seen here). Supposedly, I shouldn’t be using a Retinol treatment on top of Retin-A… but meh… I haven’t seen any adverse reactions and I really don’t think there’d be a huge difference. Plus I’m not using Retin-A everyday either.
  • I apply a 50+ SPF sunscreen.

For me, this is A LOT of stuff… but I figured that in the mornings for example, I apply my coconut oil right after I step out of the shower and then as I drink my detox and dry my hair and whatnot… it gets fully absorbed. Then the moisturizer absorbs faster and the sunscreen absorbs fast as well… sometimes I just mix them if I’m really in a hurry.

My face peels… yep it peels, not all of the time, it peels around the nose and around the lips mostly. It’s annoying, but there’s nothing you can do about it really, just accept it. I googled about exfoliating while doing this but the treatment itself exfoliates you so I don’t want to even go there. What Retin-A does is that increases cell turnover rate on your face… so peeling it’s just a side effect, and some people never see it happen; still if your face doesn’t peel it doesn’t mean it’s not working. This treatment is also meant for nighttime, not daytime so be careful about it. I’m not going to fully explain how the cream works because there’s a lot of info already on Google, there’s a lot of different opinions as well and I believe you have to do whatever is working on your skin.

I’ve read it “erases” severe marks on your face, acne marks, wrinkles, etc… this is what this magic stuff has done for me. I never imagined this kind of progress until I went and check the “Before” photos… I’m really happy! I feel motivated, I feel this is now something I HAVE to do, not an optional thing. I’m expecting by August this year the little-still-visible spots will be gone forever… I will definitely keep you posted!

Have you used Retin-A? has it worked for you before?

As always, thanks for reading me and thanks for subscribing!

xoxo,

Laura

 

 

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ACV + Turmeric are my new daily must-haves!

Apple Cider Vinegar and Turmeric are basically my new superheros!!!
I’ve been pinning and pinning about these two guys like crazy! Reading about their benefits and basically they do wonders. I wanted to try them for a long, looong time, but since at this specific moment I’m not visiting San Diego that much, I didn’t know where to find Organic kinds here in Ensenada so… I thought of this place my mom used to go when we were little to find teas and roots and stuff that’s not so easy to find now-a-days, went there and voila! (The place is called “La Milpa” for those who live in Ensenada).
They had Bragg’s ACV but they have the big gallon and sell you a smaller/individual bottle of it, obviously it’s more expensive than buying the whole thing in the US but it’s what I had in hand. They also had organic Turmeric (Cúrcuma in Spanish for those who -like me- have to show a picture of Turmeric to the lady because don’t know hth to say that in Español).

Anyway… I’m not going to share a super long list of their benefits, I bet you can find thousands of other blogs that are waaay ahead of me on this matter (you can visit my Health and Fitness board on Pinterest to know all about them), I can only say to you: PLEASE TRY THEM!I’ve been feeling more energized in the mornings and sleeping like a log at night, they’re amazing.

How I take them? Well, I’ll share with you my 2 basic recipes.
The first one is my ACV Lemon Detox drink, I have a big cup of this every morning.
Ingredients:
1 big cup (around 300ml) of warm/hot water
2-3 Tbsp of ACV
2 Tbsp of raw organic honey (when I feel guilty because of the calories, I use Stevia)
1/2 lemon
A dash of cayenne pepper
You mix all things together and drink up!
Second one is Golden Milk, it’s awesome and there are thousands of recipes out there, I’m sharing mine and what works for me.
Ingredients:
1 cup of milk (I use either almond milk or lactose free 2% milk)
1gr of turmeric powder (they gave me this little measured spoon when I bought it, so I’m using that and I’m thinking it’s somewhere around 1/2 and 2/3 of a teaspoon)
1 gr of ginger powder
2 Tbsp of raw organic honey
A dash of black pepper
I mix all the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring them to “almost-boil”, when it looks like the milk is foaming up but it’s still under control, I do this because I noticed that just heating it gave me a very bitter Turmeric, while boiling it  made the taste much enjoyable.
I hope you try them and enjoy them as much as I do!
xoxo
Laura
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