Thursday, October 25, 2012

Store Bought Conditioners and Hair Treatments vs Natural Ingredients

When I purchase a deep conditioner or any hair treatment I have a habit of looking through the ingredients first. Usually there are a few ingredients listed that I cannot identify unless I look them up. Then there are the elements that really make the product worth buying, ingredients such as honey extract, avocado oil, coconut oil, egg protein, apricot oil, olive oil, grape seed oil and the list goes on. The problem is that usually when you purchase a conditioner, shampoo or treatment there are only miniscule proportions of these essential ingredients included yet they are the most beneficial and often the reason people purchase the product.

Some hair products can cost a lot of money and if you want good quality natural hair products with no harsh chemicals, sulphates and parabens then you probably have to pay a bit more. Organic products are usually even more expensive yet you are still only getting a tiny amount of all the essential oils and extracts that make the product what it is.

I have spent up to $40 dollars for one tiny jar of conditioner that boasts macadamia oil among other things as a part of its miraculous cure to heal and rejuvenate hair, yet a bottle of pure macadamia oil costs a lot less at my local grocery store.

I had an epiphany moment the other day, it seemed pointless to purchase these expensive products for the tiny amount of essential ingredients I want for my hair so I decided to start purchasing the ingredients themselves. I have now acquired a small stash of oils and honey that are all natural and the best part is I can use as much or as little as I want and the shelf life on most of these products are very long.

Here is a short summary of the oils you should consider:

Olive oil: Helps smooth hair cuticle, reduce dandruff and split ends, adds shine, softness and manageability
Coconut oil:  Helps reduce protein loss, adds shine, reduce dandruff, promotes hair growth, and reduces breakage (see previous blog on the benefits of coconut oil for more info)
Hemp seed oil: Aids in keratin formation, contains essential fats that nourish the follicles, and helps develop stronger thicker healthier hair.
Grapeseed oil: Moisturizes the scalp and hair, adds shine, and reduces brittleness, breakage and split ends.
Almond oil: Nourishes hair to help make it thicker and stronger. Cleanses the scalp and reduces inflammation. Helps get rid of dandruff and controls hair fall.
Argan oil: Penetrates to nourish hair, increases elasticity and helps with growth. Helps strengthen hair and repair damage and helps restore hair from environmental extremes.
Tea tree oil: Helps eliminate dandruff, helps seal cuticle and lock in moisture, helps prevent hair loss and promotes growth.
Rosemary oil: helps darken hair if used overtime and helps manage grey hair, helps stimulate follicles to aid in hair growth, slows down premature hair loss and balding, nourishes the hair and scalp and reduces dandruff.
Jojoba oil: Helps in hair growth and to counteract hair loss. Replenishes and stimulates natural oil production.
Shea oil: Coats the hair to help seal in moisture, softens dry brittle cuticles, conditions and strengthens hair.
Castor Oil: Adds shine, improves circulation, controls split ends, thickens hair and can aide in growth, helps treat dandruff and dry scalp.

Not all these oils can be found in the grocery store but if your grocery store carries a good range of products you may be able to find the following oils:
Grape seed oil
Coconut oil
Olive oil: Adds moisture and shine to hair.
Macadamia oil: Helps hydrate hair, reduces frizz and breakage, strengthens hair and improves elasticity, helps combat dry hair and skin.
Avocado oil:   Helps moisturize, nourish and strength hair while helping to prevent and reduce damage.  Helps stimulates blood flow to follicles which aids in new growth and the essential fats absorb into the scalp and protect against environmental factors.

Some other places you may find these oils are your local Whole foods store, organic markets and online.

And let’s not forget raw organic honey which isn’t oil but it is a new element I am adding to my conditioners and oil treatments for extra strength, shine, and overall scalp health so I thought it deserved an honourable mention.

As long as the oils are organic and 100% pure then you can try them on your hair and even on your skin as a moisturizer. Each of these oils have different properties and while some will have different benefits for your hair many of them will do similar things like add shine, moisture, softness and help with dry damaged hair. I should also mention that not all oils will work for every hair type equally. People who tend to have oily hair or hair that is easily weighed down may not want extra oils in their hair but people who suffer from hair loss, breakage dryness, split ends, dullness and damage may strongly benefit from the nourishment these oils provide. Some of you will prefer certain oils over others so the key is doing some research finding some oils that match your needs and then trying them out to find one you like best. Keep in mind that if you plan to use an oil for a hot oil treatment than you should find out how the oil reacts to heat, some oils lose some of their nutritional value after being heated.

 So the next time you are at a department store and you are browsing for a good conditioner or hair treatment consider going right to the source of what makes that product great and try the natural ingredients to treat your hair instead.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Trip to Remember

My trip to: Puerto Rico, St Thomas, Barbados, St Lucia, St Kitts and St Maarten

In September 2012 I found myself on a spectacular vacation. As my plane hit the tarmac in San Juan Puerto Rico and I gazed around at the city lights I knew it was the start of a wonderful vacation. 

I had never been to San Juan before but two days was not nearly enough to experience all that the city has to offer. New San Juan is a bustling city just like any other except it has a beautiful coastline and the beaches are great for surfing during high tide.

There are also many restaurants and great shopping. I would suggest Plaza Las Americas you may not find the best deals in town but you will find a huge selection of stores with great merchandise.

Old San Juan
El Morro
 Although I stayed in Conado Old San Juan was my favourite attraction. I loved walking through the narrow cobble stone streets that looked very European. A day spent exploring the forts like the famous El Morro and riding the free trolley while sampling fresh tropical sherbet from local vendors was a day well spent.

Mofongo: a dish made with ground seasoned plantains

 I would recommend Punto de Vista, a restaurant close to the cruise port which offers fabulous local dining. We tried the fresh octopus salad and the mofongo stuffed with chicken which was delicious.

 No meal is complete without a refreshing drink so why not try 
Medella the local beer.

The coast around the old city is breathtaking and although you get a feel for the old architecture and civilization you also get to experience modern extravagances like shopping at your favourite name brand shops and shipping local beer with a view of the beautiful cruise ships. 

my brunch at Under the Trees restaurant

Also in Conado located on De Diego Street right next to the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel (which is where we stayed) is a nice restaurant to go to for breakfast and brunch called Under the Trees. Try the Pancakes they are fluffy and delicious! Just look at that picture don't tell me you don't want a big bite!! 

The best way to get around San Juan if you are going to be there for more than one day is to rent a car. Taxis can be expensive if you are always on the go and the locals including the staff at our hotel, police officers and citizens as nice as they were don't seem to be very knowledgeable about the bus routes so don't depend on them to help you get around the city. The bus is only 75 cents per person but they take a long time to come and they are not very reliable. 


After two fun filled days in San Juan we boarded the Carnival Victory and set sail for a 7 day cruise that would take us to 5 different islands each with its own beauty and splendour.

Megans Bay Beach

St Thomas was our first stop and since I had visited the island previously I decided to spend a day relaxing on Megans Bay beach and shopping at the many souvenir and jewellery shops. 

If you are visiting the island for the first time I would recommend taking a tour of the island and stopping by Coral World before heading to the beach.

Barbados was probably my least favourite of our stops. Although the island does have nice beaches the cruise port wasn't in an area close to any of the most beautiful beaches and the tour stopped off in the less desirable neighbourhoods. I did get to see Rihanna’s childhood home as well as other stars who have property on the island. 

The view from the highest peak is a nice place to take some photos but the tour lacked in attractions and the island was quite flat and not as lush and spectacular as some of the other islands we stopped at. When you visit Barbados you definitely have to make sure you head to the all the right locations in order to be satisfied with your trip. **(note: I don't have any photos to post for this stop because my digital camera stopped working and I had to purchase a new one the next day so all my photos from Barbados are on a disposable camera.)
View of the coast from the tour boat

The Pittons

St Lucia was next and it was by far one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I loved the green mountains and the beautiful beaches. The sand was black from the sulphur emitted from the volcano but it was fine and powdery and the water was clear and warm. The pitons which are the two highest peaks were breathtaking in all their glory and the tour was relaxing and enjoying. We took a speed boat right from the ship port which took us on a tour around the beautiful coast.

If you are doing a tour in St Lucia I would recommend doing the land and sea tour, it is just as beautiful as the land only tour but a lot less time consuming. Also if you get motion sickness the drive through the mountains although beautiful can be a bit treacherous.

The coast
As we whisked through the blue water around the mountains we listened to calypso and drank rum punch.We arrived at a beach close to the pitons where we boarded a tour bus that took us up to the sulphur springs and then to a waterfall where we could swim. The tour ended with a picnic on the beach and time for more swimming.
Since September is hurricane season the tides push jelly fish and other marine life into the beaches and I had the unfortunate experience of being stung. Although it was painful it did not slow me down or stop me from enjoying the rest of the trip. I think St Lucia is a good choice for destination weddings and honeymoons.


Volcano in St Kitts

View of the coast: St Kitts

St Kitts was next on our cruise. The tour we took on St Kitts took us around the entire island and stopped at all the points of interest. There is a volcano on this island as well and lots of local fruits and shops. We avoided the beach because clusters of jelly fish could be seen in the water but as you can see I got some great photos of the landscape.

St Kitts

Maho Beach
 St Maarten was the last and final stop on the cruise and it was one of the best. The beauty of the island reminded me of a combination of Greece the way the houses were built on the rolling hills and the beautiful Caribbean with white sandy beaches and crystal blue water. St Maarten is definitely an island where you need more than a day because of all the beautiful beaches and great shopping.
Orient beach

One of the beaches we went to was Orient Beach and not only was the water perfect for relaxation and snorkelling but there are many restaurants and bars on the beach with food and great music. We rented chairs for $5 dollars each and it came with an umbrella and a drink, that’s a deal you can’t beat!

There is also one section of the beach that is a nude beach, however if you are well over onto the non nudity side you will have no unpleasant or unwanted  views.

warning sight at Moho beach

Maho Beach is also something very unique. The beach is right beside the airport so you have the opportunity to watch the planes land right above your head! The experience is daring yet incredible.

People who stand too close to then fence sometimes have accidents when the jets from the planes blow them back and up into the air. As long as you stay on the beach and a safe distance away it is safe to visit.

This is a photo I took as we drove to the beach, as you can see the island is very developed.
photo I took of the fish at the beach!

As we were swimming in Orient Beach we saw schools of angel fish. It was a great idea to get an underwater camera!

Cruising: The Ultimate All Inclusive Vacation 
Our ship as we pulled into port

A cruise is a wonderful and affordable way to see many different places on one trip. On a resort you are limited to whatever events they have planed; on a cruise you have the options of so many different activities, musical shows, comedy shows and five star dining experiences every night.  In my opinion taking a cruise is the ultimate all inclusive vacation that comes with impeccable service. The staff that wait on you and make sure the ship is sparkling clean work around the clock cleaning your stateroom a couple times a day, making sure you have fresh beach towels in your room for your next day’s adventure and offering free room service 24 hours a day. 

Adult only area

One of my favourite things to do is relax on deck, The Victory has a comfortable adult only area with hot tubs, lounge chairs and hammocks.

The ship's gym

The sauna

The ship also has a state of the art gym, and after working off all that food you have been eating there is no  better way to relax than spending some time in the sauna which has a wonderful view! You can also lounge pool side and watch a movie on the big screen.

There also also many other things on board like the casino, bars, lounges, live music, night clubs, mini golf, library, internet cafe, shushi bar and the list goes on.

our ocean view Stateroom 

There are many rooms to chose from on the ship that accommodate every budget. This time we opted for the ocean view room which came with a king size bed, a big sofa and a nice window that gave us a view of the islands as we pulled into port.  

ship departing from St Kitts

I loved being on deck when the ship pulled away from the islands! you get an amazing view.
The photo on the left is one I took when we were leaving St Kitts.
Sun set as I left St Kitts

You also get an amazing view of the sunset as the ship pulls away and the deck party begins!

The worst thing about vacation has to be the end. I would recommend this cruise itinerary to anyone looking to have a fantastic vacation. I hope everyone enjoyed looking at all my pictures and reading my suggestions.

Happy travels!!

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