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Archive for hair

When the spouse is away….

I shall have a spa day!

Spa_image

It has been ages since I had a whole day off all by myself!  Hubby is in Tucson at a meeting, and I had a surprise cancellation.  Woo hoo!

My spa day actually started yesterday evening with an hour-long massage from Nell at Spa 33, followed by a half hour in the sauna.  Then I had a spa dinner of stir-fry over quinoa and read magazines with the cats.  Heaven!

This morning I got up at my usual time and slathered my hair with a mixture of coconut oil and camellia oil (available on Amazon and at Asian groceries) — and covered it with a plastic bag.  Then I went for my walk.  You would never know that my hair was getting beautified underneath my walking hat!

WalkingGirl2

Doing the hot oil treatment and getting fit, too!

Having the kitchen to myself for a few days seemed like the perfect opportunity to try a new diet.  I saw this book at the library and could not resist the title: Happy Hormones, Slim Belly: Over 40? Lose 7 lbs the First Week, and then 2 lbs. Weekly – Guaranteed. by Jorge Cruise.  The premise, in a nutshell, is that women start craving sugar (meaning sugar in a global sense — everything that breaks down into sugars in the digestive system, so sugars, fruit, carbs, etc.) to help boost their serotonin levels which are going haywire during peri-menopause. The result is weight gain and difficulty sticking to diets which make us miserable.  Jorge’s answer: what he calls carb-cycling.  It sounds like a modified marriage of the Atkins Diet and the Fast Diet — 2 days a week, you avoid all “sugars” (eating as much meat, dairy and vegetables as you want) and then the other 5 days you eat a sensible Mediterranean diet.

My hormones certainly are going haywire… and my weight is currently plateaued at 20lbs more than what the Dr. considers healthy…

So I’m on the second day of the Diet which has 2 “Slim Days” and 5 “Happy Days”  Today is a “Slim Day” — and it’s going well.  I have some fruit cravings, but have almonds instead. And the avocado with lunch really helped fill me up.

Tomorrow I get to have tortillas again!  It seems fairly easy to work around the spouse.  He will be happy with the increase in bacon consumption… All I really have to do is not eat the carbs on my slim days, but in practice, I’m not sure I can watch my husband eat bread without having some myself….

I am dubious about the losing 7 lbs in one week part…. and I’m pretty sure the guarantee won’t apply to me since it was a library book… but we’ll see how it goes.

So, back to the spa part….

I made a simple scrub by adding some Hawaiian red salt to Alba’s Coconut Milk Facial Wash.

 

Alba-Botanica-Hawaiian-Facial-Wash-Coconut-Milk-724742008048

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), C14-22 Alcohol, Stearic Acid, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice*, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Extract*, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Fruit Extract*, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract*, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil*, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*, Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed) Seed Oil*, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil*, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil*, C12-20 Alkyl Glucoside, Cetyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Panthenol, Polysorbate 60, Potassium Hydroxide, Tocopheryl Acetate, Alcohol*, Benzoic Acid, Dehydroacetic Acid, Phenoxyethanol , Coumarin, Fragrance (Parfum) * Certified Organic Ingredient

Then followed that with the Honey Girl Organics Rejuvenating Mask (which although is clay-based, has enough oils and honey that it is actually not drying at all)

Honey-Girl-Organics-Rejuvenating-Mask-718122334988

Ingredients: Raw Pupukea Honey, French green clay, organic diatomaceous earth, Hawaiian blue green algae, Royal Jelly, propolis.

Then washed the oil out of my hair with Whole Foods 365 Lavender Shampoo — which has no sulfates or other nasty stuff. It left my hair soft and clean, but not squeaky and stripped.  This was one of the freebies I got from the Whole Foods Blogger event last month.

365 Shampoo for dry and normal hair "lavender blend": water, sodium laureth sulfate, sodium cocoamphacetate, wheat germ amidopropyl, betaine, sodium chloride, benzyl alcohol, glycerine, citric acid, dehydroacetic acid, burdock root extract, panthenol, vitamin E, hydrolyzed soy protein, rosemary, lavender, tangerine

365 Shampoo for dry and normal hair “lavender blend”: water, sodium laureth sulfate, sodium cocoamphacetate, wheat germ amidopropyl, betaine, sodium chloride, benzyl alcohol, glycerine, citric acid, dehydroacetic acid, burdock root extract, panthenol, vitamin E, hydrolyzed soy protein, rosemary, lavender, tangerine

I also tried the Whole Foods 365 French Milled Organic Lavender Soap (also a sample freebie from the Blogger event) — and it was delightful!  Nice lather, and a fresh lavender scent. Definitely a keeper!

Wholefoods_LavenderSoapAlas, being at home is not the same as being at The Golden Door, so there were still chores to be done.

But my hair and skin feel fantastic, and after a bowl of hearty soup, there is a Disney Princess movie marathon (on the couch with the cats in a pile) on the agenda…

I feel ready to face the next 5 weeks (without a day off)!

Natasha’s Thai-Inspired Spa Chicken Vegetable Soup

In a soup pot:

Sautee
1 tbl coconut oil
1 chicken breast, chopped
1 tbl (or so) of fresh chopped garlic
1 tbl chopped ginger (I like the ginger cubes that I found at our local Asian market)

Then add:
1 can low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tbl chopped ginger (I like the ginger cubes that I found at our local Asian market)
1/2 lemon, sliced
1 cup frozen spinach
1/2 yellow squash, chopped
2 chopped fresh tomatoes
1 celery stick, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup snow peas or sugar snap peas

Sriracha sauce to taste

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Cuckoo for Coconuts!

Surfer on a wave statue at Waikiki Beach celebrates surfing culture in Hawaii

Surfer on a wave statue at Waikiki Beach celebrates surfing culture in Hawaii

There are a few things you cannot avoid in Hawaii.

1) The culture of the ocean — surfing, snorkelling, swimming, beaching

2) Palm trees and coconuts

I can’t go to the ocean every day… but I can enjoy the delights of coconuts!

Coconuts

Coconuts and coconut oil have gotten a bad rap over the years becoming stigmatized as the evil forces of saturated fats that will clog your arteries if you just look at them.

However, recently there has been a coconut revival and even Dr. Oz touts their health benefits!  It turns out that unrefined coconuts contain medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), a type of fat that actually helps you regulate your blood sugar and lose weight. Studies have shown that women who ingested about 2 tablespoons a day of coconut oil did not gain extra weight, but in fact, lost abdominal fat — the kind that is notoriously difficult to lose!

In addition, coconut oil is full of antioxidants which nourish the skin and hair when applied topically.

Coconut Oil for the Skin
I use coconut oil to soothe my dry cracked heels, as a shaving oil, and as a facial cleansing oil.  It leaves my skin super soft.  I have had no problems using it straight on my face — in fact, I think my face loves this stuff! I massage the oil in, use a hot washcloth to rinse it off and then I have clean and moisturized skin!  Add a dash of brown sugar to that coconut oil and you have a super gentle scrub.

Coconut Oil for the Hair
I was hesitant to put oil straight on my hair at first.  My hair is baby fine and gets greasy easily.  However, being in the sun as much as I am, I decided to give my frazzled locks a coconut conditioning treat.  I simply massaged raw coconut oil into my hair, let it sit while I caught up on email, then washed it out with my regular shampoo.  I used a tiny bit of conditioner on the ends, then let it air-dry as usual and voila!  Lovely, shiny, soft hair!  And no frizz!  It did relax my curl slightly, but the absence of frizz is worth wavy vs. curly hair! Now I use coconut oil as a deep conditioning treatment once a week.

Coconut Oil in my DietI have become convinced that getting more real fat in my diet is probably a good thing so I have started cooking with coconut oil and eating coconut butter (which is super-yummy!) instead of peanut butter.  It is too soon to tell what kind of effect this is having — and I don’t really expect to lose abdominal fat. But two weeks into the experiment, I feel good — energetic instead of sluggish and my skin is clear and glowing (probably also due to the Honeygirl Organics regimen I am following).

I decided that the Coconut Diet by Cherie and John Calboum was not for me.  It is a modified Atkins type diet that eliminates whole food groups. Of course you will lose weight if you restrict what you eat. But I have found that I end up craving those foods even more and when the diet is over, I binge on things like pizza… and that is not the balance I seek.

So, in the interest of balance, I eat whole grain breads, lots of local produce and fruits, meat, rice and use coconut oil for cooking. And then, for the other side of the spectrum, we eat out a few times a week — our local shopping center has Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, Hawaiian BBQ, Italian, Mexican and Pizza places! It’s not really a diet for losing weight… but I’m not too concerned about that right now since this is a time to try new things and enjoy our surroundings, including restaurants!

I still have yet to experience a fresh coconut… that is on the list!

 

 

 

Hello Humidity!

Our neighborhood... note the thick clouds and rich green of the mountains...

Our neighborhood… note the thick clouds and rich green of the mountains…

When I left San Diego, the average humidity level was around 5%.  My sinuses were shrivelled and my skin was breaking out due to the dryness. My hair had split ends and refused to curl.

Here in Honolulu, the average humidity is around 100%… and now I have new issues… FRIZZ!  And make-up slide… usually Urban Decay’s 24/7 eye pencils stay put without any trouble until I take them off… but that is not the case out here where the weather is warm (around 80F during the day) and very humid.  Even though I am not sweating, my make-up is! By the end of the day yesterday, I had giant blue raccoon smudges even though I had set the pencil eyeliner with powdered eyeliner…

So I’m trying 2 new products to see if it helps. One is Tarte’s Smooth Operator Clear Amazonian Clay Finishing Powder (I got a sample with a Sephora purchase several months ago — and I’m so glad I thought to include it!) The other is John Frieda’s Frizz-Ease hair gel.

Curl Keeper vs. Frizz-Ease

Curl Keeper vs. Frizz-Ease

Curl Keeper is what works for me in San Diego.  It helps coax curls when the weather is very dry and it keeps them manageable during the summer months.  However, it did absolutely nothing in Honolulu… within minutes, my hair began to swell, rise up and terrorize small children… The Frizz-Ease seems to be working… 2 hours in and so far so good… the real proof will be at the end of the day.  I will check in tomorrow with the results.

FrizzControlledThis is with the Frizz-Ease in the hair and the Smooth Operator lightly dusted over my whole face and eyeliner.

So far, things seem to be staying put… but the day is young, yet and there are many errands to complete before I can claim victory.  It would be nice if the solution were so simple.

Have you dealt with severe humidity?  What tips do you have?

A trip to Wild Roots Salon

It was definitely time for a trim today…so I was very grateful I had an appointment with the awesome Kim  Flores Creekmore who is now an independent hairdresser (genius) at Wild Roots Salon in La Mesa, CA.

Kim Flores Creekmore

Kim at her station

Kim had been my stylist from 2005 until 2010 when financial craziness and increased tolls on the 125 to Otay Lakes forced me to find more budget-friendly alternatives.  I felt bad about seeing another stylist… and although Candy is wonderful, I secretly felt like I was cheating on Kim.  Weird, huh?

So when Kim announced that she was moving out into her own studio at Wild Roots, I was overjoyed!  It’s closer and no tolls and now I can (mostly) afford her!

The difference between a budget haircut and a salon experience is amazing. After a review of what I want in my hair and some ways to achieve that, Kim offers me a choice of 2 aromatherapy blends, then gives me an incredible shoulder massage.  Once I’m thoroughly blissed out, it’s time for the shampoo (and optional deep conditioning treatment which leaves hair feeling super-soft).  Kim is truly a hair artist; she keeps looking at her canvas (me), then makes swift, sure cuts, then checks her work, then cuts some more.  The beauty is revealed during the drying…

before

Before

after

After

Because I had pulled my back yesterday (while hoisting a 40-lb box of cat litter), Kim arranged with Christina, the massage therapist and esthetician, to give me a massage right after my hair was finished.

After a brief introduction and getting comfy on her fluffy, flannel-covered table, Christina went to work with scented lotions, hot towels, and utter magic to coax my aching muscles to release their tension.

The music wafted, and I floated… and all too soon, it was time for me to return to earth and face the lights.

Christina also does facials, collagen treatments, hot stone massage in addition to a facial…and temporary crystal tattoos!

I could get used to a massage after my haircuts, yes, indeed… looking and feeling like a goddess as I return home…

Have you been to a spa/salon before? What do you think of this concept?

The Curl Commandments

Naturally curly people of the world, unite! Stop fighting your natural texture. Stop frying and baking and chemically altering your hair into submisison so it behaves like another texture. Embrace your natural beauty! Take care of your curls and look like a GODDESS!!

The Ten Curly Commandments
NaturallyCurly

Straight-haired goddesses, this missive is not to show disrespect, but to acknowledge that all hair types are beautiful. So you straight-hair girls, stop using perms and burning your hair with instruments of torture, but take care of your crowning glory and claim your shiny destiny!

I have to admit, it’s hard for me to follow some of the commandments even though I know they are based in common sense:

#5 is one I need to work on: I tend to touch my hair throughout the day. It gets in my eyes, it tickles my ear, I move it and by the end of the day, I’m frizzy lizzy.

#s 8 and 9 are just hard, hard, hard for me to follow.  I am what I am, a product junkie, and I tend to want to try all of the newest, coolest, niftiest packaged items out there — just the way I fall for skincare fads.  My bathroom shelves runneth over.  Product gluttony is just a deep-set character defect that I am trying to turn into an asset with this blog. Please don’t judge me just because I have 7 conditioners in my shower, mousse, gel, leave-in conditioning gel, shine serum, and hair oil… not to mention the baking soda, honey and apple cider vinegar…

Progress not perfection.

If I find perfection, I’ll share.  In the meantime, I’ll just keep on testing, trying to keep it simple, and take it one day at a time.

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A whole lotta pumpkin

pumpkins

Tis the Season… for pumpkins and spice and everything nice….

With Hallowe’en past and Thanksgiving just a couple of weeks away, my thoughts turn to pumpkins… in Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte, in my pumpkin pie, and for a delightful pumpkin scrub mask.

In fact, my pumpkin pie recipe and my pumpkin pie scrub recipe are so similar, I make them at the same time and while the pie is cooking, I’m a scrubbing…

Both fresh and cooked pumpkin is full of vitamins C, s E,  A, potassium, carotene, zinc, and lutein.  It’s easy to add pureed pumpkin to your favorite baked goods and dishes during the colder months, and the vitamins and minerals can help keep your health in tip-top shape during the winter. Pumpkins are also full of fiber which is always a good thing.  (In fact, our vet recommends adding a tsp of canned pumpkin to our cats’ food when they’re feeling out of sorts.)

Since pumpkins are so filled with nutrition, it stands to reason that so is pumpkin pie:

Natasha’s Semi-Famous Pumpkin Pie

1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 heaping tbl pumpkin pie spice
(or: 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp cloves)
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
1 15oz can coconut milk
1 deep-dish 9″ pie shell (I like graham cracker)

Mix everything together except the spices. Reserve 1 tbl for facial scrub.
Add in the spices.  Mix well and pour into pie crust.
Bake at 350F for about 40min.  Test with a toothpick near the center;if it comes clean, then it is done.  Let cool and eat.

Natasha’s Super-Yummy Pumpkin Pie Facial/Scrub

1 tbl reserved unspiced pie mix
1 tsp honey
2 tbl sugar (brown or white)
dash cinnamon if you aren’t sensitive

Mix together and slather on your face.  Let sit for 10 minutes, then massage to scrub and exfoliate your skin.  Rinse with warm water.  Enjoy the glow!

Pumpkins are loaded with vitamins and minerals as well as exfoliating enzymes (think fruit-derived AHA)  to make your skin smooth and soft.

You can even use pumpkin on your hair to nourish and moisturize.  Just mix 1 part pumpkin puree to 1/2 part coconut milk and add a dash of honey.  Slather it on your hair and cover with plastic.  Relax for at least a half hour (perhaps while eating pumpkin pie with your Pumpkin Spice Latte) then rinse for gloriously shiny locks.

Pumpkin.  It’s not just for pie, anymore… though there’s nothing wrong with pumpkin pie… in fact, I could go for a piece right now!

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Yet more uses for the amazing multi-tasking baking soda!

Baking Soda

Baking Soda: It’s what should be in your beauty cupboard

Baking soda.  You use it to make biscuits.  It’s a gentle scrub for pots and pans. An open box in the fridge absorbs odors.  Sprinkled on the the cat litter, it keeps the box smelling clean and fresh.

But it also has a myriad of uses in the bathroom, too. I got some of these tips from the Arm & Hammer website and some from Prevention Magazine online.  All of them were ideas that I already knew and have tried, but haven’t used in years.  They’re oldies, but goodies.

Teeth: You can brush your teeth with it: just dip your damp brush into a small amount of baking soda, brush and rinse and your teeth are sparkly white.  It tastes a bit salty, but it’s actually good for your gums and its gentle abrasive quality helps whiten teeth.

Hands: This really works to clean out embedded dirt if you had a spontaneous gardening episode without gloves and need to get your hands clean again. Take 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water and massage your hands, taking care to get the paste under your nails.  Rinse and your hands will be clean and soft.  You can also add baking soda to your regular liquid soap to make a paste for extra cleansing.

Bath Soak: Add 1 cup baking soda to your bath water along with a few drops of lavender oil and you have a skin softening, relaxing bath — for a fraction of the cost of most bath salts.

Exfoliant: Gently exfoliate and cleanse your skin with a paste of baking soda and water.  After washing your face with your usual cleanser, make the baking soda paste and massage into your skin.  Rinse with warm water and feel how smooth your skin feels!

Shampoo alternative: Put 1 tsp baking soda in a quart jar.  Fill the rest of the jar with water.  Once you have gotten your hair wet, pour the baking soda/water mixture through your hair, massaging your scalp to make sure it is even distributed.  Rinse well and condition as usual.  This removes product build-up and is a good shampoo alternative (although I find it too drying to use very often.)

Mild Acne Mask: If you have small pimples, cover them with a paste of baking soda and water.  Rinse after 5 minutes.  The mask works to dry up the oily spot and to help exfoliate the area.  It’s not really useful against deep, cystic acne, but for minor pimples, it works like a charm.

Brush and comb cleaner:  Remove oil build-up and hair product residue by soaking combs and brushes in a solution of 1 teaspoon of baking soda in a dish of warm water.  Rinse and let dry.

Time to steal that box of baking soda from the kitchen and put it to good use!

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Why poo when you can no-poo?

Confession:

Hi I’m Natasha and I haven’t shampooed my hair in a little over a year.

Yes.  It’s true.  I occasionally have yearnings to try shampoos with exotic ingredients that promise to make my hair silky, soft and totally frizz-free… then I look at my hair: curly, shiny, and healthy, and I step away from the shampoo aisle and start looking at conditioners.

MyHair

My hair doing what it does naturally.

I am not a total naturalista.  But I do like to use fewer sulfates, parabens, and other nasty chemicals.  And, I just got tired of fighting my hair to make it smooth and silky because it never worked and by the end of the day it was fuzzy, frazzled and frizzy, worse than when I started.

Then I started researching hair types and decided to try to see what my curls could do if I encouraged them instead of trying to control them.  I found the naturallycurly.com website and located a hairstylist who specialized in curly hair not far from my home! I booked an appointment pronto!

Candy is a DevaCurl trained stylist with a minimal approach to curly hair. She gently cleansed my hair with DevaCurl’s No-Poo, then slathered in DevaCurl’s OneCondition and left some in without rinsing for added moisture.  After layering with MY curl pattern for maximum definition, she added a healthy dose of DevaCurl’s Light Defining gel and left me to air-dry.

DC_NoPoo

DevaCurl’s No-Poo

Candy educated me about the benefits of ditching the shampoo habit… or rather, the highly-sulfated, big suds, oil-stripping detergent-based shampoo habit. DevaCurl’s No-Poo has no sulfates and no lather, but still manages to cleanse the hair.  And even more endearing, although she used all DevaCurl products in the salon, she applied no pressure for me to buy said products, but told me to read ingredient labels and come to my own conclusions. Wise woman.

When my hair dried, it was curly and gorgeous — and heavy.  I was used to light, fluffy hair, not moisturized curls.  It took some getting used to — and a lot of experimentation with products to find the routine that was the right balance of moisture and soft.

I did more reading. I learned about the no-poo method, or co-washing as it is sometimes called. I did 2 things: 1)I started using conditioner instead of shampoo and 2) I stopped washing my hair every day and only co-washed twice a week. Within 2 weeks, a miracle happened. My hair was curlier AND less frizzy. Wow! I went out and bought that DevaCurl Light Defining Gel and started using it after washing — just a dollop worked all through the hair, scrunched and then left to dry.

I started getting compliments on my hair.

I read Diane Kidman‘s Hair Gone Wild and tried the baking soda method.  Other bloggers raved about the baking soda method, but I found it too drying.

The baking soda method is: 1 tsp baking soda to 1 quart of water, mixed thoroughly and massaged through your wet hair in the shower.  This is usually followed by a vinegar rinse (1 tbl vinegar to 1 quart of water).

It does indeed cut the grease… but I discovered that the more I used high quality, non-silicone conditioners on my hair, the less greasy it actually felt… I don’t NEED to degrease my hair anymore!

But I did like the vinegar rinse, and now I have a bottle of Bragg’s Apple Cider vinegar in the shower so I can add vinegar to my final rinse for a little extra shine.

TJ_NourishSpa_conditioner

Trader Joe’s Nourish Spa Conditioner…it’s only $3! And it has only good stuff in it!

 

So my current regimen is: conditioner massaged in and rinsed out, vinegar rinse, followed by leave-in conditioner.

BeautifulCUrls_condiditoner

Beautiful Curls Leave-in Conditioner is wonderful stuff!

The final piece of the pie is: the very old t-shirt.  I don’t towel-dry my hair anymore.  I wrap it in an old t-shirt (which is super-absorbant) and squeeze most of the moisture out. Another tip from the wise and amazing hairstylist, Candy.

Then I massage in a dollop of gel, scrunch and I’m good to go.

Every now and then I like to do a deep moisture mask, especially in the summer when I’m working outdoors most days of the week and everything gets dried out and frazzled.

Shea Moisture Deep Treatment

SheaMoisture Deep Treatment Masque — I found it at Target! Love this stuff!

And I sometimes use the DevaCurl No-Poo, OneCondition regimen. I got a travel set just before we went to China this summer, and was very happy that even with the crazy Beijing heat and humidity, my hair behaved beautifully.

Oh yes, I also use a next-day curl activator based on a couple of recipes in Curly Girl by Lorraine Massey and Michelle Bender.

1 16 oz spray bottle
12oz distilled water
3.5oz organic aloe vera juice, unsweeted and unflavored
smidge vegetable glycerin
7 drops lavender essential oil

Shake before using and spray all over hair to rehydrate and revive sleep-smushed curls.  Also good at the end of a long day to refresh your hair.  It’s nice to spritz on the face as well.  In the summer I like to keep this in the fridge so I can spray it all over my face and hair when I get home from a crazy hot day of slamming henna and facepaint at the park. Ahhh!

What are your thoughts on going poo-less.  Have you tried it?

I still haven’t told my mother… but now the whole world knows!

I love you, Honey!

I was re-reading Hair Gone Wild by Diane Kidman which has so many great tips for giving up the shampoo habit — and I read the section on using honey as a conditioner.

Honey

The honey I’m using now in my shower

I’ve used honey for ages as a quickie facial mask to add moisture and help fight occasional pimples.  I also mix it half and half with a basic facial cleanser that I get at Trader Joe’s.

But it hadn’t occured to me before reading Hair Gone Wild to use it on my hair. It’s so simple!  I squeeze about 1 tablespoon or so of honey in my hand and apply it to wet hair as a conditioner.  I let it sit in my hair while I scrub my body, then I rinse everything.  A final spritz of a leave-in conditioner and my hair is soft, frizz-tamed and bouncy.