First Impressions: Huetiful Hair Steamer

The Huetiful Hair Steamer caused a bit of excitement last year when it was introduced to the hair care market. The company promises that the steamer can infuse hair with moisture 5x better than conditioner alone. I was skeptical. Although I had experienced great results with a hair steamer previously, the hype surrounding this one just seemed like a bit much. Apparently, this company sent many, many hair bloggers free steamers in exchange for reviews. That is not to say that the reviews were not honest…I believe that most were; however, I do believe that many bloggers and vloggers left out crucial details about the cons of the product. Either way, it served as a great marketing scheme for the company.

A couple of years ago, I purchased a hair steamer from Salons ‘R Us, now known as LCL Beauty. I really enjoyed the steamer. It was suitable for home use, but it was salon-grade and it has a powerful steam output that really helped me maintain well-moisturized hair. I can’t remember how it died, but it did. I don’t think that I was careful enough with it. I do recall that a piece fell off here and there before it just stopped working. I was annoyed, but not pressed. I was a super-PJ at the time, so I simply moved on to the next thing!

Now that I am, again, stretching my relaxers, I have begun to notice that my hair is dry, dry, dry! I decided to look into purchasing another steamer and remembered all of the hype around Huetiful. The company offers free shipping (both ways), and a 60-day money-back guarantee. You never get that type of guarantee with salon equipment, so I decided to go for it. I plopped own the $116.95. The shipping time was really fast and I received my steamer a few days later.

The box that it came in was super-light and very well decorated. It looks like they put a pretty penny into designing the box…great marketing, once again. The first thing that I noticed was that the hood was too light. I’ve owned a number of dryers and I’ve never seen a hood so light or so shallow. There was no way that it would be deep enough for my whole head of hair to be steamed. The set up was fairly easy, but I noticed that the cup where the water is stored (which was already attached) appeared to be impossible to detach from the machine.

It took me all of three minutes to put it together and I poured water into the top to test it. It took about 2-3 minutes to produce steam. I tested the heat with my hand and noticed that it was not nearly as hot as the steam produced by my LCL beauty at-home steamer. Sigh. I tried not to get discouraged. A day later when I had time, I decided to give it a go. I washed my hair with WEN fig and 613, then lightly towel-dried with a turban towel. I applied my deep conditioner to my damp hair and added a bit oil to the conditioner. I set the steamer up, waiting for it get going and got ready for a treat.

I ended up being disappointed. There was absolutely no steam – zero, zilch, nada- getting to my nape. I mean, it was cold at the back of my head. I had my ends pinned up so that they could be steamed, but I didn’t feel the same power as I did with my previous steamer. There is no way that this steam was penetrating through my strands and I’m sure that the hair nearer to my scalp was getting zero benefit from the steaming. Another con is that the steamer height is not adjustable. I was using an adjustable-height chair, thankfully. I also noticed that the steam didn’t last long…only about 20 minutes. I usually deep condition my hair longer than that. But around the 20-minute mark, the water was boiled away and the steamer shut off.

Actually, the water was not completely boiled away. There was some still in the cup, I couldn’t figure out how to detach the cup and empty it out. The design also requires you to detach the hood to drain excess water. It’s kind of hard to explain, but it’s as tedious as it sounds. The bottom line is…I’m glad that they have a 60-day return policy.

I’ve had the steamer for about a week and I’ve used it twice. I had the same results both times. There was no noticeable difference in the moisture level of my hair following wash day and I basically feel like I’ve wasted $116 bucks. I’ll probably give it another few tries and if I don’t experience any noticeable improvement, then it’s going back to the company. I do plan to try the facial attachment out, also, and I will write about how that goes.

I also want to note that the steamer is overpriced. You can purchase a salon-grade steamer for $90-$140. Although the Huetiful does not fold, it can be stored pretty easily by detaching the hood and draining the water; however, the make of it is not very durable so you’d have to be careful with it. Huetiful might be a better choice than a salon-quality steamer for those who don’t have much space, but it should be priced at around $60 and no more than $75, tops. As a comparison, a table top hood dryer costs about $25-$50 and the Huetiful hair steamer is about the same quality. It is not a professional-use product, so it should not have a professional price tag.

Lastly, one thing that bothers me is that the company insinuates that they carefully developed this steamer. I believe that it is a mass-produced steamer that they simply branded, not developed. I found a steamer online that appears to be the exact same model, only offered by a different company and not marketed specifically to black women. As you read other reviews about the product, analyze them carefully. First, find out whether the reviewer received the product for free! Until next time…happy steaming.

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Quick Review: The Money Class by Suze Orman

I’ve been reading up a storm, but I haven’t had much time for reviews. I had to take the time to write a quick review on Suze Orman’s latest title Money Class.

I was looking forward to this book and even pre-ordered a hard copy from Amazon. Once it arrived, I eagerly jumped into it. I was not able to get past the first couple of chapters, however, because this book so preachy. Suze goes on and on about how these days are not the good old days. She states that people need to stop spoiling their kids, stop pining for the easy jobs and easy credit of the past, and so forth.

For me, this was useless advice. I’m not a frivolous spender, I don’t spoil my kids, and I have already accepted that I’m living in a recession (despite the recession “officially” being over).  As far as wasting money, this book was a waste. When I finish reading all of the books I have on my Kindle and finish the bar exam, and any other thing that I need to do, I will probably re-visit this book and write a full review.

For now, I find this title so boring and un-helpful that I simply cannot recommend it. If I can add one positive note, the book comes with an online subscription to the Money Class on Suze’s websites which has money resources, such as links and forms that Suze mentions in her book. Some people may find this site helpful. I logged in once and I haven’t re-visited it. It’s nothing that you can’t find on Dave Ramsey’s page for free.

If you’re a huge Suze fan, I’d say wait a while and see what others have to say about this book before purchasing it. If you are really struggling to get your finances together after taking some serious hits in the recession, then this book may help you. It’s Suze’s standard advice, only updated for the current times. If you can’t stand Suze’s advice, then this book certainly won’t convert you.

Hopefully, I’ll be posting more financial book reviews soon. As always, happy reading!

Bookswim, Kindle DX, And A New Read

As evidenced by this blog, I buy a lot of books. I buy and read more books that I post here, and after a while I end up with, well….many piles of books that I don’t need. Often, I try to re-sell the books to Half-Price books and I end up getting very little back for books that I paid a lot for. I also end up giving away books when I move or run out of space. Therefore, I have been looking for alternatives to just buying book after book for full price.

Kindle DXis the latest version of Amazon’s electronic book reading device. I’ve been contemplating whether the new Kindle DX is a good deal. I am venturing to say that it’s not. Apparently, there has been some controversy over digital downloads being “taken back” by Amazon without notice to or consent by the purchasers. Also, the device itself costs about $400, I believe, and you still have to pay nearly full price for books! Based on reviews from Amazon that I’ve read – it seems like users have encountered a number of other issues with the device, from poor internet reception (which means no new book or magazine downloads) to cracking or breaking the expensive reader, and of course, little to no quality customer service assistance from Amazon. Considering all these issues, I am going to pass on a Kindle, at least for now. It’s out of my budged and, overall, it seems like a great concept, but not necessarily a great deal.

Bookswimis a Netflix-style book exchange service. There are other similar services, but Bookswim is the first one that someone suggested to me, about a year ago. My only problem with the service is that it offers mostly bestsellers, with very few niche or ethnic titles. However, I have decided to start utilizing either this or another book exchange service very soon. I am tired of paying full price for new books that I don’t need or want anymore after a first read. I will keep you guys updated on which service I choose and, of course, I will provide a review!

Lastly, I’m reading See Jane Write: A Girl’s Guide to Writing Chick Lit. I hadn’t planned on reading it, especially since I haven’t finished reviewing all of the books posted under “What I’m Reading,” but so far, I am really enjoying this title. It motivated me to write 3,000 pages in one night! As soon as I log off of wordpress, I can go and write a few more. So, goodnight!

Book Review | Comeback Season by Cathy Day

Comeback Season by Cathy Day is a good read for any thirty-something woman who has found herself questioning her choice of career over love. While the main character in the novel longs for a real relationship and a family, she finds herself alone in Pittsburgh facing a dismal dating scene. For many women, the heavy use of football analogies may be overwhelming and hard to follow, but the connection is easy to see as the the protagonist’s ups and downs in love are compared to the highs and lows of her favorite team. While the book is heart-warming, at times, and easy to relate to, less focus on football and more of a focus on a compelling plot would have been two great improvements to the novel.

Book Review | Time to Write by Kelly L. Stone

After beginning my adventures in blogging and becoming much more serious about producing a novel, I found myself stuck in a rut. During this time, I turned to my first love (reading) and began this blog to record my thoughts and reactions to my readings.

Browsing along the shelves in Barnes & Noble, I found the book Time to Write by Kelly L. Stone, which served as a catalyst to renew my writing spirit. Time to Write does not serve as a “how to write” this or that piece kind of book; Ms. Stone instead focuses on the reason that many writers have trouble writing; they simply can’t find the time to.

The book is a small size, very handy for throwing in a purse, bag, or briefcase and it covers topics ranging from how to find & schedule time to write daily, in writing blocks, or in other schedules of time that are detailed in the book, along with how to find inspiration in everything from conversations on the street to past experiences. Ms. Stone discusses how to turn children into “idea machines” rather than distractions and the importance of having your own “writing space” set aside and designated as your time to write.

Whether your reason for writing is personal, to become published, or to boost your business, Time to Write can serve as an excellent guide to help you learn how fit time into your busy schedule to write. Stone also enhances her commentary with quotes and advice from published writers, many of whom maintained families and/or professional careers when they became writers.

Visit www.kellylstone.com for more details on the author and her books.

Novel Review | Passin’ by Karen E. Quinones Miller

The latest novel by Essence Bestselling Author Karen E. Quinones Miller is entitled Passin‘. As the title implies, the fiction novel centers around a fair-skinned, blue-eyed young black woman who, initially for career reasons, decides to pass for white. She moves to New York and starts a new career, takes on love interests, and successfully fools her co-workers and friends until an unexpected event challenges her lie.

The author does an excellent job of providing social commentary through the characters’ dialogue with each other and developing the lead character’s transition from cultural experimentation to a lifestyle change.

Nikkie, the lead character who passes for white is forced to question her own motives as she reaps the benefits of passing, while losing the her place in the black community. Is it really worth it? Will Nikkie get caught? Normally, I give away the whole plot in my reviews, but this is definitely a book that requires you to read it on your own, think about it on your own, and come up with your own conclusion.

I would also suggest doing some research of the “passing” phenomenon, popular doing times of more open discrimination against black, but still going on in present times, as in the case of Nikkie in Passin‘ which takes place in present-day New York. I first learned of passing as a little girl when I watched Halle Berry in Alex Haley’s Queen, and more recently upon reading Our Kind of People by Lawrence Graham. With simple internet research, I learned about some very high-profile cases of blacks who were light enough to pass for white. The whole phenomenon is intriguing and the way that Miller presents it is witty and entertaining.

I would definitely recommend this novel, along with two other novels that I have read by Karen Quinones Miller: Using What You Got and Uptown Dreams. Miller is the author of several other works. For more information, visit her website or click on this link to purchase the book.

Short Story Review: “The Karate Kid” by Gary Soto

“The Karate Kid” is the story of a young boy, Gilbert, who wants to protect himself from a bully. Inspired by the classic movie Karate Kid, he finds stands up against the class bully, only to be badly embarassed in front of his classmates, including a girl that he likes very much.

Instead of letting himself continue to get beat up by Pete the Heat, the “not so bright fourth grader,” Gilbert decides to take karate classes. He enrolls in the classes, but his teacher is lousy and lazy, accusing the kids of being disrespectful while practically ignoring them and putting no heart into his teacher. The instructor, Mr. Lopez, closes the karate school due to “bad business” and Gilbert is relieved. He has found karate to be painful, difficult, and useless in helping him defend himself against Pete the Heat.

When Gilbert’s mother offers to send him to a new karate school, he tells her that it’s not necessary, and that he she will never hear about him getting beat up again. The reader can assume that this does not mean that he no longer got beat up, but that he simply no longer told his mother about it.

The title of the short story, “The Karate Kid,” turns out to be ironic because the reader learns that Gilbert is not a fighter in any sense of the word. His skills at fighting are lacking and he has no “fighter” in him because he does not press on to become skilled enough at karate to fight back. In fact, he loses interest in karate altoghther, preferring to stick to reading comic books which, “didn’t hurt.”

There are several themes throughout this short story; the theme of childhood memories as Gilbert’s mother is motivated to pay for the classes due to her own unrequitted ballet dreams. There are themes of fighting, winning, and losing. The fighting represents Gilbert’s stuggle to prove himself, for his friend Raymundo it may symbolize letting a friend down (when he does not help Gilbert, calling him a menso) and for Pete the Heat it symbolizes a way for him to hide his own weaknesses.

One can write a whole character analysis on Mr. Lopez, the lackluster instructor who aids in dashing Gilbert’s dreams of becoming a great fighter.

Gary Soto is a short story master and I have been reading many more of his works in Baseball in April and Other Stories while my 8th grade students have taken an interest in his short stories about love.