The Essentials| Winter & High Porosity Hair

I’ve been following the Curly Girl Method again for over a month and have to admit that I’ve become happier with my hair. I’ve been able to achieve more consistent results and curls and have noticed an improvement in how my hair is clumping towards the ends and an increase in curl definition all over my head. What’s the most impressive about this is that I’ve had luck with my waves in the winter, when I typically dislike my hair the most during the winter. Much of what I’ve learned for what works in my hair has come from learning about my hair characteristics and not just about my wavy curl pattern. Looking into my porosity and its significance has been particularly helpful. I believe understanding my hair porosity is what has helped me to get better results and improvement this time around.


Porosity, as a reminder, is the measure of how your hair responds to and holds onto moisture. Those with higher porosity hair find that their hair absorbs moisture easily but also does not retain it well. I’ve always had hair that hairdressers commented on as being incredibly porous. However, I was beginning to doubt my porosity because my hair floated in that strand test, which by the way can be incredibly inaccurate. My hair is fine but high density and this heaviness can make it seem like my strands are easily weighed down, which is not the case. My hair absorbs any moisture incredibly quickly, loses moisture quickly, tangles intensely and reacts terribly with humidity. Despite not being damaged, my hair’s cuticles remain open. Here are some of the products that worked well for my higher porosity hair and a brief explanation of why they work on my high porosity hair, especially in the cold Canadian winter.

Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Yogurt Hydrate and Repair Multi-Action Leave In ($14.99 CDN): I’ve loved having this milky spray leave-in around this winter because of its lightweight nature – it never weighs down my finer waves or my roots that tend to fall flat because of their weight – and versatility. I like using it as a leave-in on wet hair for an extra dose of protein, to help clump and smooth my curls and as an extra layer of moisture. It contains a water-soluble silicone which I don’t mind in the slightest because my hair does not tend to easily experience build up and it acts as a heat-protectant – a godsend when I diffuse. It has some nice slip, too, and a light dose of shea butter and oils, which my hair sucks right up. I love using it as a refresher spray after my curls have fallen out on subsequent days, adding hydration without weight, when paired with a styler. It also works well to fix a wayward curl via dampening and pin-curling. I’ve heard that Canadians are starting to see this pop up in drugstores as well, which is exciting.

Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Anti-Frizz Max Hold Gel ($16.99 CDN): In my experience, high porosity hair that sucks everything up and has a tendency to get frizzy and dry – especially in the winter – needs a harder hold gel. This one has the strongest hold out of most of the gels I’ve tried without being drying or heavy and I find gives me the best multi-day hair because it reduces the frizz factor from refreshing and actually stays working in my hair overnight and beyond. I find many gels disappear in my thirsty hair overnight and I lose definition and frizz creeps in. It has protein which can be a plus for most high porosity people and contains shea butter and a few plant oils to help nourish the hair and seal it. It does contain a lot of the humectant, glycerin, but it also has lots of anti-humectants as well which prevents moisture from being sucked out of the hair.
Shea Moisture Mongongo & Hemp Seed Oils High Porosity Moisture-Correct Masque ($16.99 CDN): I’m realizing now that I’m talking endlessly about Shea Moisture for my high porosity recommendations but they truly do work on my finer high porosity hair in this cold Canadian winter especially. Unfortunately, this one isn’t readily available here in stores – I’ve had to order it online. It’s a blend of fatty alcohols, butters, a few slip agents, oils and a mild to moderate dose of protein. It’s not heavy but it definitely hydrates thirsty hair, reduces frizz and helps my curls clump nicely. I use it as either a standard conditioner in the shower but it makes an excellent deep conditioner. The butters and oils keep hydration in my hair for longer than a minute and seem to ward off frizz and it offers a dose of protein that higher porosity hair tends to crave, especially if its fine like mine. Doing full weekly deep conditioning treatments have become essential for me during the harsh winter weather and this is my product of choice.
AG Hair Recoil Curl Activator ($22/$38 CDN): While AG isn’t exactly a particularly budget conscious line, the salon brand is super easy to find in Canada, at many salons and is sold at Chatters, the popular chain. This cult favourite curl cream is one of their many sulfate and silicone free products and can easily be purchased. In the cold Canadian winter, adding a lightweight and curl enhancing cream to my routine has really helped my hair to retain moisture and clump nicely. I use it before gel and I find that it keeps my hair defined and help my curls underneath clump more nicely into spirals. It does contain humectants but it also has film-forming ingredients that seem to minimize the hydration loss and frizzing. Adding this curl cream to my routine this winter has really helped with my hair being smoother and in more hydrated, bouncy curls.
Deva Curl One Condition Delight ($26-30 CDN): Including Deva Curl’s most lightweight conditioner might seem like a strange choice in a post about thirsty winter hair but hear me out… In the winter, my hair is much drier, more tangly, frizzy at the crown and lifeless. It needs babying and constant nourishment from the elements, dry air and friction from rubbing against scarves and coats. However, when you have fine hair like I do that can get weighed down in certain sections, a great nourishing but lightweight conditioner can be your best friend. I like this one because it’s curl enhancing for me with the protein and the linseed and my hair drinks it up. I like using it as a leave-in and as a standard conditioner, but not rinsing it out whatsoever. I also alternate my typical gentle shampoo with co-washing and I reach for this one often because it has the slip I want and doesn’t contribute to flat roots, as some can. It does contain glycerin but it also has film-forming humectants which are helpful for reducing moisture loss in colder weather and minimizing frizzing that occurs. It’s an excellent complement to the more butter and oil rich products that I rely on to keep my hair moisturized.

Any thoughts?
Maggie, x.

Top 18 of 2018

Some of my favourite posts to read and videos to watch are those detailing yearly favourites. However, I haven’t managed to write one since 2015. I’m remedying this now, after much thought on what products I would include. You can’t possibly imagine how much time I’ve spent thinking and thinking about this.  The way that I thought about the yearly favourites were the eighteen products that I relied on the most and got the best performance from throughout the year. I do note that some of these won’t surprise any regular readers here in the least and they aren’t products that just came out this year or products that I bought in the last year necessarily. Here we go.

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Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm ($39 CDN)

This fragrance and known irritant free balm cleanser was a late 2017 discovery that firmly has become my favourite makeup remover because it dissolves everything without stinging my eyes, blurring my vision – unless I’m an idiot and use way too much – or irritating my skin. It’s such a gentle balm cleanser that I managed to use it during an eczema flare when even water made my skin burn and itch without an issue. It’s nothing glamorous but removes even the toughest eye makeup and dissolves foundation better than anything else I’ve tried without that stripping factor. It’s so good that I can skip a second cleanse if I’m feeling lazy without getting under the skin bumps the next day.

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Paula’s Choice RESIST Advanced Replenishing Toner ($24 US)

Since trying out the Skin Recovery Toner in 2015, I haven’t wanted to be without one of these Paula’s Choice milky toners. Honestly, I tend to flip flop between this offering and the Skin Recovery one but just using one of them is essential for my skin that is prone to irritation, dehydration, flaking and eczema. It honestly provides many of the benefits of a serum in a milky liquid form. It’s obviously formulated without alcohol, fragrance and ingredients that are known to be irritating. It’s soothing and is incredibly helpful in maintaining a healthy skin barrier and repairing a compromised one with fatty acids, antioxidants and hydrating ingredients. It provides a soothing effect short term and long-term keeps my skin looking healthier and brighter, without dry patches and calmed.

Paula’s Choice RESIST Advanced Smoothing Treatment 10% AHA ($36 US) | review

Along with my prescription retinoid, – and more recently my azelaic acid – I rely on an AHA exfoliant to keep my skin smooth and clear on the whole and hydrated. This one keeps my pores from getting clogged and with the 0.5% salicylic acid and I find the glycolic, lactic, malic and tartaric acid formula to be gentler than pure glycolic acid but still have the same even-ing, brightening, smoothing and water-binding impact that single note formulas can have. More impressively, I love how gentle the formula is and how it combines the exfoliating ingredients with antioxidants and skin-replenishing ingredients. Essentially, it acts as a serum and effective exfoliant at once and I find it easier to tolerate, likely as a result of the antioxidants and anti-irritants.

Paula’s Choice RESIST Skin Restoring Moisturizer SPF 50 ($33 US)

It appears that I may have a thing for the Paula’s Choice RESIST line for dry skin, I’m realizing. I think that this is because they are chalked full of antioxidants and anti-irritants that make the formulas the most soothing and replenishing as possible, which my easily irritated skin needs. This is a very hydrating and cosmetically elegant lotion that is formulated with chemical sunscreen actives and is unique because it’s the only chemical sunscreen I’ve ever tried that has not immediately irritated my skin. I think I’ll always be a mineral sunscreen girl but I love this one for how it’s truly hydrating, isn’t greasy and never clings to dry patches in the way that mineral actives do. I think I tolerate this one because of the robust antioxidants and anti-irritants in the formula.

Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation ($72 CDN) | review

There’s no foundation that I’ve tried in the last three years that has knocked this cult favourite foundation from its spot as my go-to foundation. It looks incredibly skin like, even on my uneven texture and dry patches, and has a satin finish that lasts until I remove it on my dry thirsty skin. I like the medium-buildable coverage that it offers and how it will cover even reddened eczema patches, without losing that radiant finish. Without fail, this expensive foundation always makes me feel and look my best. Plus, it photographs fantastically.

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Laura Geller Balance n Brighten Baked Colour Correcting Foundation ($45 CDN)

Being someone with drier skin that doesn’t suffer from issues of makeup longevity, I have a tendency to skip powder altogether. However, I have discovered that I really like this one because of the light coverage it provides that mainly serves to cancel out redness of my face and because of the soft focus radiant (but without shimmer in sight) finish that it  provides over my t-zone. I tend to like wearing it if I’m going to be taking pictures and I loved wearing it in the unseasonably hot summer that we had. Also, the smoothing finish and coverage it provides works nicely as a low maintenance ‘foundation’ alternative on good skin days and days when I’m doing two or three minute makeup.

L’Oreal Paris True Match Lumi Cushion Foundation ($20-25 CDN)

I’m beyond irritated that this foundation doesn’t seem to be carried by most drugstores in Canada anymore but I’m pleased that they haven’t discontinued my favourite lighter coverage base entirely. The cushion foundation is not the most economical option but as someone who rarely goes through foundation, it’s worthwhile for an easy option that’s almost undetectable on the skin and doesn’t cling to dry patches in the slightest. When I’m unsure of what to grab as a base and I don’t have time to think about it, I reach for this light to medium coverage offering because it’s hydrating, weightless and doesn’t cling to dry patches. The dewy finish is very brightening and it covers redness well but always looks like skin.

Fenty Beauty Match Stix Matte Skinstick in Amber ($31 CDN)

As someone whose face just looks better with a bit of shading, I find myself often reaching for this cream-to-powder contour colour because it’s easy to blend into the skin and has a realistic grey tone that reads as a shadow. Also it works with both powder and cream products in my routine.

Colourpop Super Shock Highlighter in Wisp ($8 US)

I bought this putty-cream textured highlighter in a kit last year with a hefty dose of skepticism but I found myself really enjoying the gleam and sheen that this bronzier golden champagne highlighter provided to my cheeks. It’s one of those highlighters without obvious shimmer, I must note. Being fair, I find that I have to use a lighter hand but I love the luminous sheen it gives my cheekbones and how it adds life to my skin.

Physician’s Formula Eyebooster Lash Boosting Eyeliner & Serum ($15 CDN)

I feel like I’ve rambled on about how much I love this brush-tipped pen style liquid eyeliner so much recently but I do adore reaching for it on a daily basis because it creates a bit of a kitten flick with ease. I don’t have to worry about my eyeliner if I use this one. It removes easily and doesn’t really budge either.

Viseart Matte Eyeshadow Palette in Warm Mattes 10 ($100 CDN) | review

Ever since I picked up this expensive sunset-hued matte palette towards the beginning of 2018, it’s been my everyday go-to. I love how the shades have that flattering warm hue and that everything except a black is included for shade selection. Most of all I like that the shades crease on me the least of any eyeshadow formula, last for ages, blend like a dream and do not cause fallout. The red shade in this palette even got me on the red eyeshadow train.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Palette ($55 CDN)

It seems like whenever I do these kinds of posts, I can’t resist including a product or two that I’ve more recently discovered. This palette I might have only picked up at the beginning of November, but it has become a real favourite of mine since then. The colour choices are a bit more interesting than the Viseart, being a mixture of neutral mattes (with a few shimmers thrown in), along with some red and berry-toned shades. I love how it makes a nice one and done look and I’ve enjoyed experimenting with the more red shades. The formula’s powderiness doesn’t seem to leave fallout, either. Also, the formula is pretty easy to work with. I love the inclusion of a few shimmery shades for the lid and to add some dimension.

MAC Eyeshadow in All That Glitters ($9/$19 CDN)

I came close to including a selection of the MAC eyeshadows that I reached for some throughout the year but in all honesty, I mainly reached for this peachy champagne shimmery shadow. I’ve repurchased it countless times and when I wanted a lid shade, I always find myself reaching for this one and am pleased with how it looks.

MAC Brow Set in Beguile ($22 CDN)

While I might have a lot of brow, they are sparse and tend to look unnatural unless a lot of care is put into gently filling them in and taming them. This year, I discovered that using this brow mascara with a light hand held them in place and helped to fill in the sparse sections, without looking product-y or unnatural in the slightest. It was a godsend for when I wanted to do something with my brows but did not have the time or energy to really fill them in.

L’Oreal Pro Matte Liquid Lipstick in 360 Angora ($12.99 CDN)

My lip product discovery and favourite of the year was easily this liquid lipstick formula and my go to shade was this medium-toned greige shade. I have super dry lips and aren’t a particularly clean eater and drinker and tend to experience lip products wearing off unevenly through the day, accentuating my dry patches. I like a lip product that I don’t have to think about and this one fits the bill, especially because once I let this product set on my lips, it can last through a Christmas dinner. I also like how the formula doesn’t have a super dry feel but sets on my lips. Also, the colour is interesting enough that it feels kind of cool and different without being a bold or jarring colour.

MAC Lip Pencil in Boldly Bare ($22 CDN)

As much as I like buying lip products, I don’t find myself reaching for them on a daily basis because I can’t be bothered with the upkeep and having to think about them. On days when I wanted some colour to my lips, I often found myself filling in my lips with this neutral coral-hued rosy pencil and topping it with lip balm or a sheerer neutral lipstick offering. It happily lived in my purse throughout the year.

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DevaCurl One Condition Delight Weightless Waves ($32/$62 CDN)

I have long porous fine wavy curls that tangles like nothing else in this world and this conditioner ticks all of the boxes for a daily conditioner; I can use it as a leave-in to keep my curlier underlayer of hair hydrated and defined without flattening out the wimpier waves that are prone to falling out on the top layer of my hair and as my standard conditioner of choice.  I have a ton of hair that requires a ton of slip to detangle and this fits the bill, whilst adding the dose of protein that gives my hair the bounce it needs to look good. It has great slip and provides moisture without weight for my thirsty locks. It’s free of drying alcohols and silicones.

DevaCurl B’Leave In ($27 CDN)

This year, I noticed that most of my good hair days – when I actually wore my curls and waves down – occurred after using this curl boosting product in addition to gel and whatever cream product I was using. This holdless gel-textured product added a weightless dose of protein to my fine hair and really boosted the bounce and curl in sections of my hair that are prone to wilting and falling flat. I’ve used this product before with good results but I rediscovered it this year when I started putting more effort into my hair again.

Any favourites to share?
Maggie, x.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Curly Girl Method Thoughts & Current Favourites

Long time no post, eh? Truth be told, I’ve been busy planning and writing out my 2018 favourites post – so stay tuned for that – and I’ve been stressed and limited by the few daylight hours we have for taking pictures. Something I have been doing the last month or so is giving myself back into the curly girl method. Regardless, I never use sulphates and rarely heat style my hair (like a few times a year) but I can be guilty and use silicones on occasion and have been wearing my hair up in a bun often in recent months, giving up on my hair entirely. However, in the last month I’ve been strictly following my semi-modified routine.

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Frustratingly, my hair photographs straighter and flatter than it looks in real life but I will include a picture here or two. Note: I know that its length disguises the texture somewhat. The first picture is first day hair and the second is second or third day. I have the kind of hair where the individual strands are quite fine (but not baby fine) and despite being very healthy, it tangles like nothing else in this world and refuses to hold any sort of style other than the messy bun. Did I mention that I have an obscene amount of hair? I have hair that sits between the wavy side of things with some looser spirals and ringlets thrown in. I’m one of those people that have a drier underlayer of hair that is quite curly and voluminous and a flatter and straighter upper layer of hair. Also, I never know how my hair is going to look – it has a mind of its own. My hair responds well to protein and needs moisture underneath but has a tendency to get weighed down and look straight on the crown and top layer of my hair. I’m a sulfate-free shampoo kind of girl and really struggle with my curls falling flat and losing all definition in weather and after being slept on. My hair requires a lot of product to look good and takes some effort and prayers to look its best. Curl pattern wise, I seem to have the most 2c hair, with some 3a underneath and some 2b in the lazier upper sections in my hair. Before this turns into an essay, I’ll get to the product favourites:

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Deva Curl B’Leave-In ($27 CDN)

This is one of those extra products that when added to my routine make the greatest difference. It adds volume and bounce to  my curls that tend to lack life. It’s not moisturizing so the name is kind of confusing but it’s a lightweight gel textured product that adds a dose of protein to my hair, helping it create juicier spirals and curls when paired with a heavy hold gel. It’s a great product for those with finer hair that loves protein and that want to boost their curls. It’s one that helps me unify my different curl patterns.

DevaCurl One Condition Delight Weightless Waves ($30/$60 CDN)

Deva Curl’s products are hit or miss with me on an individual basis, but my hair loves protein so as a whole, my hair enjoys a variety of their products. This is a protein heavy conditioner that offers enough slip to help with the detangling process and enough hydration to help my looser curls clump their heart out. It’s also light enough that I can use it as a leave-in as well throughout my hair, without fear of weighing down even my more lazy waves and loose spirals towards the top of my hair. As with the previous product, it’s glycerin and protein heavy so your mileage may vary in terms of your hair’s response to those polarizing ingredients. I liked the conditioner so much that I bought the larger size which thankfully is only twice the price for 3x the amount of product. This is my ‘squish to condish’ conditioner that i squish into my hair with water to create that kind of wet seaweed texture that minimizes frizz and really gets the hair to clump together in curls nicely.

Curls Creme Brûlée Whipped Curl Cream ($10-15 CDN)

Cream products are a bit of a gamble for my hair but are necessary if I want to get my hair to the third or fourth day mark without having to restyle from scratch. This is an option that I have to use a light hand with when using it as a leave in because the shea butter can sometimes weigh down my hair if I use it before my stylers on soaking wet gel. However, I really like it mixed with water as a refresher or used along with a hold product to refresh damp curls. It helps my hair form those curl clumps that it needs to look polished and doesn’t weigh down my hair in the slightest used this way. However, it has no hold so I have to cocktail it. The best part is that I’ve been able to buy it at Sally’s Beauty Supply on the east coast in Canada, where it’s really difficult to find curly-girl approved products in physical stores.

Deva Curl Ultra Defining Gel ($30 CDN)

I fell in love with this gel after I had my first DevaCut because it actually gave my hair hold that didn’t weigh it down and it enhanced and unified my varying curl patterns. It’s definitely protein heavy and doesn’t always play well with every other product I’ve used but it gives me more consistently good hair days than most and I need a gel to have hair that doesn’t droop by the time its dry. I go back and forth between this gel and the Arc AnGel, which has even more hold and less protein. It’s glycerin and protein heavy but I love it on my fine hair for combatting frizz and not really giving much of a cast. My annoyance is that I go through it rather quickly and that I can’t invest in the litre sizes without the texture of the gel changing by the time I finish those larger bottles. It’s good at adding volume and lift while defining curls.

Dippity Do Girls With Curls Defrizz Gelee ($7-8 CDN)

I never expected to like a product made by Dippity-Do but I couldn’t be happier to like such an affordable and easily available hold product that’s Curly Girl Method friendly in Canada – I’m frustrated to no end how difficult it is to come across affordable options in stores here. It’s definitely smoothing and helps to clump curls with a light to moderate hold but it’s not enough for me to use on its own on wet hair  . However,  I adore how it’s lightweight and has that curl clumping ability. I prefer to use it when I refresh my hair, as it helps bring the spring back to my curls and waves without adding any weight or anything. It has a nice subtle clean scent and contains a little bit of panthenol, aloe and protein. Unlike most of the products I’ve talked about, it’s also glycerin free.

Shea Moisture Mongongo & Hemp Seed Oils High Porosity Moisture-Seal Mask ($18.50 CDN)

Truth be told, I haven’t used this mask in a while. I have loved incorporating conditioners and masks from Shea Moisture’s line in my routine for that boost of moisture, slip and reconditioning that my somewhat porous hair needs. I threw out the bottle of the one that I used the most recently and grabbed this one because it has been my favourite long term. I can’t use it like I use lighter conditioners where I scrunch and leave them in my hair but it helps form juicy curls on the lengths of my hair and keeps things manageable. Unfortunately, I have to order most Shea Moisture products online but they are great if your hair doesn’t mind shea butter and cocoa butter. I just ordered this one again and am excited to have this mask back in my life. It’s butter-heavy but doesn’t seem to weigh down my hair when rinsed out and also has some nice oils in it and a small to moderate amount of protein that my finer hair agrees with.

Any thoughts?
Maggie, x.