Month: August 2013

My plunge into organics


I’ve been obsessed with homeopathic, ayurvedic, and all-natural products ever since I was a little girl; I’d try making facial masks out of honey and yogurt , or wonder what it would be like to try a deep-condition hair treatment made of egg. I’d only ever dabbled in small ways until this summer. I was using a pretty pricey set of John Frieda Frizz-Ease shampoo and conditioner for several months and my scalp was getting progressively drier and itchier to the point where I had to question what exactly was in that shampoo. It had a detergent in it called sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), among other horrible chemicals that do not belong on our bodies, completely irritating the crap out of my scalp. so in June I went crazy looking at blog reviews of 100% organic, natural methods of hair-care. First I came across a trend called “no-poo” which means using no shampoo at all; only baking soda as the “shampoo” and apple cider vinegar as the “conditioner”. It sounds very economical but I’m not sure that I’m ready to take that leap. So I looked for lo-poo methods. Lo-poo simply means shampoos or shampoo bars made from saponified oils, no SLS or other chemical cocktails. I tried both liquid and bar forms of organic saponified shampoos, with an apple cider vinegar rinse afterwards.

1. Bubble and Bee’s Peppermint and Tea Tree shampoo

My experience for the first week and a half with this shampoo was rough. My hair went through “detox” of all the old chemicals so I looked like a grease ball for that period even though I washed every other day. I used an apple cider vinegar rinse with this (this was before I ordered an essential oil to hide the scent) and I smelled like a walking salad. That detox period was not fun. But the peppermint smelled so so so good!!! ❤ AND look at the wonderful ingredients (Saponified oils of organic coconut, olive, and jojoba, vegetable glycerin, organic sweet almond oil, organic macadamia nut oil, organic jojoba oil, organic aloe vera, organic peppermint essential oil, organic tea tree essential oil, organic spearmint essential oil, guar gum, rosemary extract.) SO AWESOME. I was really really reaaaalllyyy hoping to love this shampoo for the awesome stuff it has but my hair was having major issues adjusting :[ If anyone else has used this shampoo, please let me know how it worked for you! I would love to give this shampoo a second chance!

Peppermint & Tea Tree Shampoo

2. Chagrin Valley Soap’s Butter Bar Conditioner shampoo

I decided it was time to try something else because of this prior bad experience. Shampoo bars were new territory to me because until this summer, I had no idea people made specific soap bars for hair. I Googled hardcore to find reviews on all Chagrin Valley shampoo bars and noticed that a lot of women with ethnic hair types seemed to love Chagrin Valley hair products (FYI, I don’t have ethnic hair; my ethnicity is Indian so I have semi-fine, full hair). The bloggers spoke highly of this conditioner bar as moisturizing and perfect (with ingredients like Coconut Oil; Unrefined Cocoa Butter; Virgin Shea Butter; Sunflower Oil; Babassu Oil; Water; Organic Coconut Milk; Mango Butter; Sodium Hydroxide; Castor Oil; Rosemary Oil Extract). My hair straddles the line between normal to dry so I figured I might as well try. I ordered a sample size (super cheap). After 4 weeks of use (washing every 4 days), I was in love! I mean, it only took me one wash to see that it was compatible with my hair.  I used this and an apple cider vinegar rinse (with a few drops of lavender essential oil to kill the smell). 4 weeks later my hair was soft, shiny, and happy. My scalp was happy, too. MY FAVORITE ❤


3. Chagrin Valley Soap’s Henna Auburn shampoo

I had also ordered a sample bar of the henna shampoo to see if it would maintain my hair color. As an advocate of natural hair dying (I absolutely detest box dyes and bleaches full of toxic garbage. How people can even bear to willingly subject their bodies to such horrors is beyond me). I’ve been using organic henna to dye my hair for 3 years now. My hair is a super dark brown that has an auburn gleam when I condition it with henna. Anyway, henna shampoo bar sounds like a superb idea; a match made in hair heaven. I used it for 2 weeks (washing every 4 days), absolutely hoping to love it. Aaaaannnnd . . . . I didn’t. I mean it didn’t make my hair greasy like the Bubble and Bee shampoo but it dried out my scalp like crazy. My hair looked shiny and cool but my scalp was really itchy. I had to stop using it :[ I looked up the ingredients (Babassu Oil; Sunflower Oil; Coconut Oil; Castor Oil; Water; Sodium Hydroxide; Organic Sustainable Palm Oil; Organically Grown Henna; Canola Oil (Non-GMO); Organic Coconut Milk; Organic Hibiscus; Indigo; Rosemary Oil Extract) and they’re almost the same as the butter bar shampoo. Not sure what went wrong….


But on the plus side, the henna bar did impart some auburn highlights! Anyway, I tried the Bubble and Bee shampoo again (for one wash today) after my trial with the henna shampoo bar and again, my hair was slick-city. Waaah. I WANTED TO LOVE YOU, PEPPERMINT SHAMPOO. I tried.

4. Chagrin Valley Soap’s Neem and Tree Tea Oil shampoo

This bar was made for dandruff (and acne and other skin stuff). If this doesn’t work, nothing will cure me of an itchy scalp. I’ll keep you posted on the progress!

Ingredients: Organic Coconut Oil; Organic Neem Oil; Organic Sunflower & Castor Oils Infused With Organic Botanicals (Elder Flower, Calendula, Dandelion Leaf, Black Walnut Leaf, Comfrey); Water; Organic Sustainable Palm Oil; Sodium Hydroxide; Organic Jojoba Oil; Rice Bran Oil; Organic Essential Oils of Lavender, Tea Tree, Thyme, Peppermint; Organic Rosemary Oil Extract.



Other natural products I’ve been using include facial moisturizers, deodorants, facial soap, and body lotions.

1. Chagrin Valley Soap’s Whipped Squalane Face and Eye Mousse

My favorite facial moisturizer ever. It’s organic, it’s soothing, it does its job. I highly recommend this.


2. Chagrin Valley Soap’s Rhassoul Clay and Yogurt complexion bar

This bar can be a little drying due to the clay and dayuummm does it tighten up pores or what?! I think this bar is a winner at keeping oiliness and some breakouts at bay. But it does require some decent moisturizing after use (hint hint~ the whipped squalane!). Not sure if I’ll use during the winter though (might be toooo drying!)

I also use CV’s neem and tea tree soap for acne.

3. Elm Bath and Body’s Lavender Body Cream

I stumbled across Elm’s stall at the Goshen Wine Festival in Connecticut. They claimed to be organic and natural so obviously I (drunkenly) hobbled over. I bought 3 body soaps (gave those away) and a jar of body cream (kept this). I was excited to use my body cream and when I opened the lid, BAM! Scent in yo face! There is waaaayyy too much lavender scent (to the point where it smells almost rancid). I looked at the ingredients on the label (they’re not posted on the website, nor is there a product picture on their page) and saw something called “fragrance oils”. Red lights started going off in my mind. Why didn’t they simply use organic lavender essential oils (and if they did, just say so)? The fact that they listed it generically as fragrance oil makes me uneasy, thinking that this company is using synthetic chemicals to create the overwhelming smell. I’m still using this (because I paid a decent amount, not worth it having used it for a few weeks now). Can’t wait to be done with it. BLAH.


I’m loving my shift in organic beauty/healthcare! It feels really great to actually understand the ingredient list and know what my skin is absorbing. I’m so pumped that even my sister caught the excitement and she’s loving every moment of her organic shampoo experience. Chagrin Valley Soap and Salve is definitely my favorite company. They gave me a complimentary soap bar on my second order! So friendly. I have a huge wishlist of products I want from them ❤ I want to try more products from Bubble and Bee to give them a fair chance, too. I’ve heard raving reviews about their deodorants! I’ll be keeping notes on various product trials here so expect another review post in the next month or two.



Finally updated my portfolio!

After 3 months, I finally added my LED cube + DIY motion controller project on my Behance portfolio. I learned a ton from trying make the two devices communicate using two Arduinos. Here’s the full write-up of my project (same as what I wrote on my portfolio)~

GOALS: I wanted a more in-depth knowledge with electrical projects and more complicated coding to expand my creative horizons and give me an intuition on how to go about wiring and setting up projects in the future.



•laptop (not shown in picture)
•Arduino IDE
•common cathode RGB LEDs, wires, cardboard, aluminum foil, alligator clips, 2 Arduino Uno, soldering iron, wire strippers/cutters
•ton of tech/coding help from Sam Germano



•Interfacing with 3D motion tracker
•Developing mapping between motion tracker outputs and LED cube outputs

Proof-of-Concept~ During my proof-of-concept presentation, I had my 3D tracking interface and 4x4x4 tri-color LED cube working but I had not established communication between the two. The LED cube was glitchy. At this point, I sought my tech expert Sam Germano’s help to better understand what I was dealing with. Some feedback I received during my presentation was to open two serial ports input from IO 3d device out to serial port to Arduino running LED cube and xyz random number but instead Processing sketch send values across serial to LED cube.
Final~  What worked?
•The communications worked fully.
• The LED cube worked minus one short.
• The communication between the 3D tracking Arduino to the LED cube Arduino.
• The Processing script for the tracking device visual
• The LED cube did respond to hand movements but there was a lot of interference with spiked data from the tracking device, possibly caused by electromagnetic interference.