DIY: ACV Toner

>> Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hey hey peeps! Hope you're ready and excited for another DIY, tried and tested by moi. Okay, maybe it's not that exciting.

Today's DIY is using raw, organic apple cider vinegar as a facial toner. Now, I know some of you have used or currently use this method. Most recently, the twins shared their experience and so did flmom. So I thought I'd give it a-go myself.

Let's talk benefits first.

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is best when raw and unpastuerized in order to retain its full benefits, vitamins, nutrients, and enzymes. To know you've got the real deal, ACV will be brownish in color and have the "mother of vinegar" floating around inside; it's living. Don't be grossed out. This is good for you!

ACV has potassium, iron, pectin (helps with regulating blood pressure and lowering of LDL, bad cholesterol), magnesium, phosphorous, calcium, beta-carotene, and on and on...

It's also been known to help those with type-2 diabetes, regulate your body's pH levels, constipation, diarrhea, headaches, obesity, hair loss, etc. I've even heard it helps to relieve sore throats. And, it's anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. (source and source)

But, ACV also has many topical uses and benefits. It's a natural antiseptic, reduces the appearance of cellulite (??), smoothes skin and gives a youthful appearance, rids nail fungus, and clears acne. (source)

And don't forget, you can make dressings and marinades with it, too. I use a dash or two when making "cheesy sauce" for vegan mac n'cheese for bambino.

So you can see that apple cider vinegar kicks ass!

Now, onto the DIY:


Apple Cider Vinegar Toner
1 part ACV (I use Bragg's)
4 parts spring or purified water

After washing your face, use a cotton ball or pad and gently sweep over face.

I've seen various "recipes" out there for homemade toner. I've seen 1:1, 1:3, 1:4 and some are hardcore and use ACV straightup. I diluted mine but you can experiment with what works for you.

The vinegary smell might turn some off so diluting it will help. I'm not that put off by it so I left my face to airdry a bit and sometimes follow up with moisturizer.

My skin is smoother and softer, believe it or not. I started to get a blemish one day so I dabbed some ACV on it, full strength, and by next morning it had nearly cleared up.

So there's my take on apple cider vinegar as a toner. Worth a shot and again, a far cheaper DIY than store-bought plus extremely beneficial.

Hope you try it!

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Chinese New Year

>> Sunday, January 29, 2012

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Happy Chinese New Year! Well, actually it began on January 23rd. It’s also known as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival; festivities go on for 15 days. Whew! That’s a lot of celebrating! It also marks the end of the winter season.

The origins of the Chinese New Year are unknown but it’s been going on for centuries. In the month leading up to the New Year and its celebrations, preparations begin with fervor. Every house is cleaned from top to bottom to clean/sweep away bad fortune (gotta make way for good luck!), maybe even a fresh coat of paint, plus new clothes and presents are bought, decorations with themes of wealth, happiness, and longevity are placed in windows and on doors, and of course, there’s lots of food.

Special attention goes into every detail and the huge feast on the Chinese New Year’s Eve with family is no exception. Dinner usually consists of seafood and meat of varying kinds, dumplings and sweet treats. And depending on the dish/food, they signify good wishes, happiness, good luck, longevity, and prosperity.

Even wearing (or not wearing) certain colors have meaning. Red, my favorite color, fends off evil spirits (do); black and white is associated with mourning (don’t).

After the big feast, families stay up late playing games or watching special programs on TV, followed by fireworks to ring in the New Year. Many people express the popular greeting Gong Xi Fa Chai, which means, “congratulations and make a fortune.”

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Then it’s time for Red Packet, or “Hong Bao.” This custom is for parents to give their children (or unmarried adults) money in red packets or envelopes (children can receive red envelopes from others as well). The families then go on to exchange greetings with neighbors, coworkers, friends and other relatives. It’s also the time for letting go of old grudges and wishing everyone well (that’s a great custom, we should all do that).

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At the end of the Spring Festival, comes the Festival of Lanterns. You can just imagine how amazing and exciting this celebration must be with all the lanterns lit (seriously click here and you'll see how incredible some of them can be)! Many of the lanterns reflect historical themes or legends, express traditional values, depict heroic figures, and represent the 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac.

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Sheng Xiao, the Chinese Zodiac, is based on a 12 year cycle with each year represented by an animal. We’ve got the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.

This year, as you know, is the Year of the Dragon (Jan 23, 2012 – Feb 9, 2013), the most powerful of signs and the luckiest! It’s the only animal in the zodiac that is not real…but, it’s considered very special. The dragon is not meant to be scary or evil but rather it represents power, superiority, success, leadership, honor, and wisdom.
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They say those born under the dragon are doers, not shy, attention-getters, and stand out. The dragon breathes fire (hotheads maybe?) and has a long tongue, which could symbolize a “sharp tongue” a dragon person has. But, they also are quite compassionate. I say just stay on their good side and you’ll be fine (*wink*).

I am not a dragon (I'm a rooster) but according the compatibility chart, we'd make a "wonderful pair."

There is so much more in way of traditions and customs associated with the Chinese New Year that this history lesson I’ve given is just a snapshot. If you’re interested in learning more about any of this, check out some of these sources:

http://www.chinese.new-year.co.uk/history.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_New_Year
http://www.chinesefortunecalendar.com/ChineseNewYear/ChineseNewYear.htm
http://www.travelchinaguide.com/intro/social_customs/zodiac/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_zodiac
http://www.travelchinaguide.com/intro/social_customs/zodiac/dragon.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragon_(zodiac)
http://www.about-sichuan-china.com/year-of-the-dragon.html

I found learning about the Chinese New Year to be so fascinating and rich in culture. There's so much involved and I love it!


P.S. Hopefully, you read some of this as it might be useful information in the very near future (*wink wink, hint hint*).

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Thoughtful Thursday

>> Thursday, January 26, 2012

Continuing on what I'm calling my healing journey, we've moved from pride to humility to forgiveness with today's thoughts.

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Winter

>> Sunday, January 22, 2012

Happy Sunday everyone! Hopefully, the weekend has been great for you. They’re never long enough though, huh?

So all last week, I worked from home due to the snow. You probably saw it on your news (sorry about that -- our snow made your news, believe me, it was on here too. All. The. Time.) and Californians made fun of us. Silly. In our defense, we're not equipped for much snow nor are we used to much snow. We get occasional snow in the city but not often do we get amounts equal to other winter wonderlands like we experienced last week (at our house, we got about 8 or more inches). This stuff is for the mountains! We don't have a fleet or two of snowplows at our disposal to help us get around and we have lots and lots of hills. However, most Seattleites cannot drive in the snow even when there's a little bit so you can imagine the mess. And because I know this after living here long enough, I also realized I didn’t want to get stuck on the bus for hours while listening to the repetitive, annoying sound of chains hitting the asphalt so I opted to stay home. I'm pretty smart like that.

Fortunately, we have a good car with awesome snow tires and Sam, being a good driver, we weren't completely snow-bound.

Anyway, I was supposed to have jury duty all week but that was cancelled each day. It is/was supposed to last a week but I don't know what their definition of a week is. Monday through Friday or Tuesday to Tuesday (I was supposed to start Tuesday since Monday was a MLK day)? Guess I’ll soon find out, as I will be calling them tomorrow. Don’t want to get in trouble!

The last time I served, and actually sat on a jury, was over three years ago. I was in my first trimester with YS2. I thought about using him as my excuse to be excused but I didn't. Decided to properly fulfill my duty and ended up finding it to be an interesting experience so I'm glad I did it.

Going back to our snowy week, I took some pictures I thought I'd share. For those of you who are friends with me on facebook on my personal page, some might be repeats.

not many cars out...

snowy entrance

trekking thru snowy entrance


gotta have a snowy fence pic...


Someone with a sense of humor...





a real snow man



warming up at a cafe
Thanks for sharing our snow week with me. It was pretty while it lasted. It warmed up and rained finally so most of the snow has melted. Sad actually. It felt like we had a real winter. Next up: heavy winds and rain. Boring. ;)

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Thoughtful Thursday

>> Thursday, January 19, 2012

So last week for Thoughtful Thursday it was all about pride but now it's time for some humility. More good reminders for me.

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A sarcastic person has a superiority complex that can be cured only by the honesty of humility.
~Lawrence G. Lovasik


Affliction is the wholesome soil of virtue, where patience, honor, sweet humility, and calm fortitude, take root and strongly flourish.
~David Mallet

Do you wish to be great? Then begin by being. Do you desire to construct a vast and lofty fabric? Think first about the foundations of humility. The higher your structure is to be, the deeper must be its foundation.
~Saint Augustine

Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.
~Saint Augustine

Humility is like underwear, essential, but indecent if it shows.
~Helen Nielsen

To become truly great, one has to stand with people, not above them.
~Charles de Montesquieu

I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.
~Mahatma Gandhi

One may be humble out of pride.
~Michel de Montaigne

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Sigh...

>> Tuesday, January 17, 2012

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Many of you have probably heard or read about Paula Deen, Food Network star and lover of all things with butter and oil, has type-2 diabetes. She's actually had it for at least three years but is now confirming the diagnosis publicly (it was previously rumored). Sad to say, this doesn't come as a surprise to me.

Let me say, I like Paula Deen. She's fun to watch, has an infectious laugh and seems genuinely happy in life. She loves her boys too!

I'm just sad to hear that she has no intention of changing how she cooks on TV (source). Hopefully, her own diet has changed...Anyway, to me, this would've been a great opportunity to show her loyal fans that healthy eating can reverse this diagnosis without the aid of medication and that healthy food isn't boring or bland.

I think the thing that bothers me is her saying, "moderation." That she tells her viewers to eat in moderation but her shows do not show moderation. I think each show features at least a pound of butter and it's not even a holiday! Granted, one has to take responsibility for their own health and make good choices but I believe she has a responsibility in the message she's sending out. She's a huge personality with a huge following.

Shoot, I'm even crabby about Jamie Oliver having one of the unhealthiest cookbooks (source) out there while promoting healthy menus in schools, etc. Something's wrong here. (I am still supportive of his foundation though, just wish it would carry over into his cookbooks. I mean, it just makes sense...)

Okay, we're not all perfect and it bothers me that I'm being so critical but it's just frustrating when there are these mixed messages being thrown about with little intention of correcting it.

However, I am glad that Paula's son, Bobby, is featuring her recipes on his show with a healthier twist. It's a step in the right direction. I just hope there can be more focus on healthy eating and lifestyle in general. One doesn't have to be raw or vegan for that matter, to make some positive changes.

Now, I'm off to exercise and eat an apple so I don't come across as a total hypocrite. ;)

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DIY: Carpet Cleaner

>> Monday, January 16, 2012

The quality, not the longevity, of one's life is what is important.
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Happy Monday and MLK day! It's a snow day for me today. Well, sorta. I'm working from home. My bus doesn't run today because of the holiday and then we had a big snow storm (for here) blow thru that my commute would be particularly long that I decided to just stay home.

We went from this one night:


To this the next:



The weathermen were right for once! It's so beautiful. Cold but beautiful. And it's better when you don't have to drive in it. We're just not equipped around here for such snowy-ness. But, it's been fun taking YS2 out to play. Everytime I try to make a snowman though, he kicks the snow. Sorry Frosty!

So I'm back again with another DIY for you, the main reason for today's post. It's fun doing homemade stuff, I think. Glad a lot of you liked the makeup brush cleaner. Many of these DIY projects are so simple and cost so little and are definitely a whole lot better than many store-bought products. I like it when I have most of the ingredients in my cupboards already.

The carpet cleaner might be one that many of you have tried before but it's a first for me. Ingredients: warm water, dishwashing soap, and white vinegar [source].

There's a preceding step of using baking soda on the soiled area to absorb the moisture and/or odor, then vacuuming it up but for the spots I used it on, I stuck with the vinegar mixture. I didn't need to use the baking soda step but it's good to know.

Anyway, I picked a few unsightly spots to test on.


I took an old rag and worked the magic solution. What's nice about this is I don't have to let it sit for X amount of minutes like many carpet cleaners. And it's non-toxic and not fumey or smelly!

For the most part, I didn't have to scrub too hard or too long. The spots quickly disappeared. For the tougher stains, a little more effort was needed but still got it all out.

Looks better, eh?

Please forgive the cell phone pic...looks yellowy in the middle but it really isn't. It's just the pic.

I'm working on an area that got some soot spilled on it (not pictured). It's working but I think it will take another try or two (or maybe I should try letting it set for a bit).

So there you have it. Non-toxic carpet cleaner. Now, I can get rid of all the old bottles I have.

While I was in the mood for some DIY, I made some Cinnamon Roll Lip Gloss a la Rawdorable. I want to make her beet gloss/stain but I want a lipgloss roller like hers. Anyway, for the Cinnamon Roll gloss, I used some leftover sample Artisana jars. I made one for home and will make another for work.


Hope you have a good day!

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Don’t Dew It!

>> Friday, January 13, 2012

image source

Happy Friday the 13th! I'm not superstitious so bring it on. :)

Confession: I used to drink Mountain Dew. Note the words used to. It’s been at least four+ years since I last had a sip, but I used to drink more than my fair share (I ain’t kiddin’ folks). Where some drink lots o’beer or Gatorade or Red Bull or Dr. Pepper or Coke or whatever, I drank Mountain Dew. That was my vice but since I didn't drink alcohol, what's the harm in a daily shot of MD? I’d go to Costco and buy cases or stop at the store and pick up a pack if it was on sale, “it’s a good deal!” I’d say. Many of my friends were dew-heads and we’d party-harty downing the dew and chasing it with tons of Smarties then filling up my fireplace with the empty cans (crazy kids). You know, pyramid style or whatever fancied our creativity (like that tree). Just silly mayhem, really. I didn’t think much of it then.

Silly young me. What shit that was! Excuse my language but it was and still is.

Check out Mountain Dew's ingredients:

Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, concentrated orange juice, citric acid, natural flavor, sodium benzoate (preservative), caffeine, sodium citrate, erythorbic acid (preservative), gum arabic, calcium disodium EDTA (preservative), brominated vegetable oil, and Yellow 5.

Let’s break some of these ingredients down:

HFCS, despite what the corn industry and others want you to believe that this a natural and safe ingredient, it isn’t. Plain and simple, it’s poison. It causes diabetes, obesity and no doubt contributes to a whole host of other diseases and problems. Plus, it contains contaminants, including mercury, that are not regulated by the FDA (source).

Sodium benzoate. Labeled as a preservative but um, it causes cancer (source).

Sodium citrate. A preservative. Also used to treat metabolic acidosis and some kidney problems by neutralizing excess acid in the blood, urine and other bodily functions. It can cause involuntary, uncontrollable muscle spasms or contractions, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting or worse. It’s also an anti-coagulant (source and source).

Calcium disodium EDTA. How ‘bout that, another preservative! Helps maintain flavor and color. But in addition, it can cause intestinal upsets, muscle cramps, kidney damage, and blood in urine (source and source). Sweet.

Brominated Vegetable oil (BVO): Used as an emulsifier in citrus-based drinks but turns out it disrupts the thyroid function aaand it’s a flame-retardant. Mmm, nummy. It’s actually banned in many European countries, but not here. No sirree! It is composed mainly of bromine, a poisonous chemical whose vapors are considered both corrosive and toxic; also known as a carcinogen (source and source).

Yellow #5 – Tartrazine. It’s artificial (made from coal tar), that right there should tell you it’s not good. Causes migraines, blurred vision, depression, anxiety, hives, hyperactivity, asthma, and other things...you know, no biggie stuff (source and source).

Then on top of all of this, there are 170 calories in a 12 oz can, 54 milligrams of caffeine, 65 milligrams of sodium and 46 grams of sugar (straight from the source).

Oh and it can dissolve a mouse. Now, there’s something to be proud of. :/

Thirsty?

Let me just point out real quick, this post is not to say I'm better than you or anyone else. It's also not to say I'm perfect. I'm far from it, actually. I learn as I go and still cave into foods and drinks I shouldn't. This just happened to strike a cord with me because I used to drink so much of it without even a thought.

I am so glad I’m no longer a dew-head. Or, a heavy pop drinker for that matter (I do sample once in awhile but usually something more healthy). Mountain Dew isn’t the only one that's bad for your health.

Some nay-sayers reading this might say that this is just as much garbage as those empty cans once filling up my fireplace or that I'm being overly dramatic. It's just a soft drink, right? Yeah, but day after day? Hey, it’s your life and your body. But, please reconsider. Do your own research. You just might find it's not worth it to drink this. If it’s a fizzy drink you crave, I suggest making your own natural version with mineral water and fresh citrus or reading labels and finding a healthy alternative.

I’m done here. Stay healthy!

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Thoughtful Thursday

>> Thursday, January 12, 2012

I had a falling out a couple years, around this time, with someone once very close to me so it's been on my mind quite a bit lately. And because of this, I keep coming back to the word, PRIDE. Pride in the negative sense is very dangerous, unflattering and something we all have to watch. We are humans after all. It's good to have righteous pride (? doesn't sound quite right...) or to be proud of something but once you lose sight of HUMILITY, ugly pride takes over and the quest to prove you're right or justified at all costs is a taxing and lonely road. So for me, these quotes are good reminders to help stay on track.


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“A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you're looking down, you can't see something that's above you.” ~CS Lewis

“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.” ~Walter Winchell

“Temper gets you into trouble. Pride keeps you there.”


“The proud man can learn humility, but he will be proud of it.”  ~Mignon McLaughlin


“Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.” ~Thomas Merton

“Pride attaches undue importance to the superiority of one's status in the eyes of others; And shame is fear of humiliation at one's inferior status in the estimation of others. When one sets his heart on being highly esteemed, and achieves such rating, then he is automatically involved in fear of losing his status.” ~Lao Tzu

“Pride is a vice, which pride itself inclines every man to find in others, and to overlook in himself.” ~Samuel Johnson

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DIY: Makeup Brush Cleaner

>> Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Hey-ho! In an effort to be a little more green and live a little more healthy, I've been doing a few DIY projects that I'd like to share with you over the next week or so.

Many of my inspirations were found via Pinterest (what can't be found there?!) and I even created a board for such ideas. None are new; no doubt, you've seen, heard or even used one or more of these ideas. I decided to give some a try in my home instead of saying what a cool idea. I'm putting it in action!

First up, makeup brushes.

My source.

I don't know about you, but my makeup brushes do not get cleaned often. I think I've washed them twice...and not recently. Frankly, I don't think much about them until I go to use them. So I put it at the top of my DIY-to-do list.

ignore the q-tip

Tipnut lists 7 different recipes to choose from. I went with option #3: one cup warm water mixed with one teaspoon castile soap.

I filled a small jar and stuck a few brushes in to clean. Um, gross. The water instantly changed to a murky pink (blush brush). I have a lot of brushes so I did this process a few times starting with a fresh batch of solution (other gross colors appeared).


After all were washed and rinsed, I shook off the excess water and placed them in the jar I had been using (cleaned out of course) to completely air dry. I'm sure I'm supposed to lay them flat to be proper or something but nah, this way is just fine with me.


I feel better now that they're clean! So simple and only two ingredients. Doesn't cost much and with the different options, you could find one that you like best. No need to buy the pricey, chemically stuff.

I'll have another DIY to share with you soon.

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Guest Post: Water and Your Body: How to Make Water Taste Better?

>> Monday, January 9, 2012

Water is essential for life. It is required for the proper functioning of the body. However, not everyone has a liking for water. Packaged drinks cannot be used very often because they are very expensive. Water is one of the cheapest drinks available everywhere. But people do not have fun drinking it just because it is tasteless. The truth however is that pure water is healthier than all kinds of sweetened, flavored and carbonated drinks. Water can be made interesting by a number of ways. You can add a lot of natural ingredients to it in order to enhance its flavor. Given below are some simple ways to make water taste better.

1. Ginger water

Ginger water is good for your health. It can help you to clear your throat and sinuses if you consume it often. If you enjoyed spiced drinks, then try making ginger water at home. Add a piece of ginger to the water when it is boiling. The resulting water has a special spicy flavor.

2. Salt

Most of the energy drinks are known to have electrolytes in them. They are necessary for your body. Most of these electrolytes are the ions found in common salt. So, you can make similar kind of water by adding a bit of salt to the water. However, care should be taken not to add overdoses of salt. The salt in the water helps the body to absorb water quickly. This is a great drink for those who are engaged in workouts because your body may lose a lot of salt due to sweating.

3. Herbal water

Various kinds of herbs can be added to water to make it taste better. Some of them include parsley, lemongrass and mint. Along with adding flavor you will also be adding some aroma to the water. To get the best out of the herbs, try crushing them a bit and then adding to water.

4. Citrus fruit

Adding citrus fruit to water can greatly enhance the water flavor. One of the best fruit to add is the kalamansi. You can freeze the fruit along with the ice cubes and then add it to your drinking water. The resulting water will be a rich source of vitamin c as well.

5. Wine flavor

If you enjoy the flavor of wine, then try adding a little bit of umeshu or plum wine. The wine is made using green plums. You can enjoy its sweet flavor with water. Add about one part of wine to ten parts of water. Other kinds of syrupy liqueurs can also be added to water to make its taste better.

6. Cucumber

Another interesting way to make the water taste better is by adding some cucumber slices to it. The distinct flavor of the cucumber gets transferred into the water. You can enjoy a very refreshing drink with the taste and smell of cucumber.

7. Herbal tea

Herbal and green teas are better than black teas. They are healthy and do not contain caffeine. The best thing about the herbal and green teas is that you can choose from a wide variety of flavors. They are available in most of the health food stores. If you are a tea enthusiast, use some of the exotic and special varieties of teas.

8. Fruit juices

This is one of the best tasting and interesting ways to drink water. Make juices using different kinds of fruits such as apples, grapes, pomegranate, cranberry or any other fruit you like. Try to use fruits because you can enjoy the natural flavors and nutrients of the fruits.

9. Vinegar

Some people enjoy the taste of vinegar water. The water becomes a bit sour in taste but will contain vitamin c. It may be similar to citrus water to a certain extent. Apple cider vinegar can also be added for enhancing the taste. Try using only clear vinegar. Vinegar like balsamic vinegar has some oil content and will not taste good with water.

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About the author: Ellen is a blogger by profession. She loves to write on technology and gadgets. She recently completed an article on hot-air balloons. These days she is busy in writing an article on plastic pollution to save environment.

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Product Review: Morrocco Method Pomade

>> Friday, January 6, 2012

Recently, Morrocco Method contacted me asking if I’d like to sample one of their products.

Now, if you don’t know MMI, they are a fair-trade, cruelty-free company who specializes in chemical-free hair and skin products, many of which are raw and vegan. Get all that? Basically, they’re an awesome company who cares about your needs…and the environment…and fair trade…and animals. :) You can read more about them on their website.


So yeah, when they offered of course I said yes. I’ve reviewed their shampoo before, which I love! They have many other products I’d want to check out like their henna but I don’t want to do it myself -- it’s kinda difficult to work with in my past experience.

Anyway, MMI sent me a jar of their new product, Styling Dragon Pomade. As you know, my hair is my challenge so any help I can get is great.


I wasn’t sure how to use this when I first got it. On wet hair? Damp hair? Dry hair? So I experimented in all ways. I used it when wearing my hair curly and when I blew it out. Basically, no matter how I used it, it helped my hair with frizzies, control and smoothing things out. I’m sure it helps with shaping if I knew how to do that or had short hair.

And with it being chemical-free, I didn’t have to worry about it flaking in my hair (I hate that!) or clumping or being crunchy. Don’t you hate crunchy hair?

The Styling Dragon Pomade contains beeswax for those needing to know.

It comes in a 4-ounce jar and is priced at $29. Sure, a little more than other pomades but this is waaay better for your hair and will last a long time (only need a dime size to use). Worth a look.

Check out Morrocco Method’s website for other interesting, natural, and holistic products for your hair, face, body, kids or pets.


Disclosure: MMI sent me a full-size jar of mentioned product for review purposes only. I was in no way influenced, paid or obligated to write a favorable review but just be honest and share my thoughts if I wanted.

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