Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Maple Holistics Silk18 Natural Hair Conditioner Review

Hi Sparkers!

Long time no chat.  I apologize for the absence but life got very busy this year.  Between the wedding, extra responsibilities with my day job, and the peaks and valleys of 2017, this year has been quite the journey for Mrs. Sparkles.  I was motivated to get back into the swing of things by an amazing opportunity provided to me by the company Maple Holistics!  They were kind enough to send me their Silk 18 Natural Hair Conditioner* in exchange for my review.  As usual, I'm always upfront with all of you when I get these types of opportunities and I am allowed to express my true opinion of this product!  The Maple Holistics representative I worked with was kind and professional.  They really stand behind their product and are a wonderful company as you will see if you continue to read this post. 

Nutshell Review:  I love this product and this company.  I will repurchase this conditioner and try other products.


There are a lot of reasons why I'm a new superfan of this product and I look forward to trying many more.  Let just start with the obvious: it works! 

I was initially skeptical because the formula felt thin and more watery than my go-to all natural conditioner Shea Moisture: Superfruit Complex 10-In 1 Renewal System Hair Masque.  I was worried that it would not be moisturizing or leave my hair in better condition--it is beached platinum from naturally black, so I need all the help I can get.  But never to fear, after waiting about 10 minutes with this in my hair during my latest "destress from life bath," my hair was silkier than it has been in ages.  Per Maple Holistics's website:

"Silk 18 gets its name from the 18 Silk Amino Acids found in its formula. No matter your hair type, our blend of essential oils and silk amino acids will smooth and soften your locks to shiny perfection. The natural vanilla scent of Silk18 is delicious and calming. Our products are free of sulfate and other harmful ingredients and Silk18 is no exception!"

Another benefit to this conditioner over my go-to, is that it really would work for all hair types.  If you have extremely fine hair, Shea Moisture products tend to be very heavy.  I'd say that even the finest hair would end up silky AF using this stuff.   

There are no directions on the bottle but I shampooed with my favorite shampoo then left this in my hair for about 10 minutes in the bath.  I would work the same if you put it in while showering, then washed your body and maybe shaved.  I do think it is light enough to also use as a daily conditioner if you like to rock a sleek and smooth look most of the time.

You cannot beat simplicity of ingredients here for your health and the environment.  This is labeled non-toxic so I'd say this is safe to use for kids as well.  If kids can eat crayons, they can definitely accidentally swallow a bit of this without issue.

Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Argan Oil, Shea Butter, Certified Organic Pomegranate, Hibiscus, Green Tea and Sea Buckthorn, Silk Amino Acids, Jojoba Oil, Natural Vanilla Fragrance

You would expect a premium ingredient product like this to be the list price of $30, but on their website, it is only $9 for 8oz!  I know this isn't a ton of product but I also know I used way too much initially.  I thought that because it was more watery than I am used to that I needed to keep adding more.  That isn't true.  I think about one tablespoon (or two if you have extremely long/thick hair) is more than sufficient.  This product is a great price for the quality and results.  If you are still on the fence, Maple Holistics will send you a free sample so you can try their stuff for yourself!  They have 16 products for you to choose from so you can pick the sample that is the most applicable to your needs. 

I was not asked to talk about these things, but I felt I just had to!

Not only is the company, the product, and the ingredients used wonderful, but Maple Holistics is proud to support The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. For every bottle of Silk18 sold, Maple Holistics will donate $1 to NCADV.  How amazing is that?!

There is also a cool Maple Holistics Subscription Box that will send you a surprise:  shampoo, conditioner, essential oil, and bonus product every month for just $40!  It is a great savings and fun way to try new Maple Holistics products.

I am very impressed with this brand and product.  I hope you sparklers will give it a try, and with the opportunity to get a free sample, why not?

It's good to post again Sparklers, I missed you!

As usual,

Shine & Sparkle!

*I did receive this product for free from the company mentioned in this post in exchange for my honest review.  These are my honest feelings and opinions.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Tribute to Squiggles

Hi Sparklers,

You might have noticed that I haven't posted with Mr. Squiggles in a long time.  This is because he has crossed over the rainbow bridge.  We took him to the vet and did everything we could, but it was his time to frolic with all the other piggies in piggy heaven.  I'm still pretty sad about his passing months later, even though we have 2 new piggies, there will always be a hole in my heart where I miss Squiggles.  The hole is getting smaller but will never be totally gone.  He was a pretty special piggie and he is very very missed in our household.  Soon I will introduce you to the new piggies that will be featured on this blog (they are very stylish).  But for now I'd like to dedicate this post to some of the highlights from all the great contributions that Squiggles has made to this blog over the years. RIP Squiggles.  We miss you.

P.S. Use the search box in the upper right of your screen to find any of these old posts you are interested in or click the the pictures below.  Also, there are many other posts and pictures of Squiggles throughout this blog, if you explore around, you can probably find them all!

Squiggles first photo appearance along side his very Tangle Teezer-like hand drawing.

Squiggles in a turban for the DIY facemask post.
Chef Squiggles

Oh-so-popular with you Sparklers CreaClip knock off review!

Flash Back to baby Squiggles!
Squiggles in a Sombrero
Squiggles was featured in a lot of recipe posts with his feelings about the food.
He never quite understood beauty, but he sure understood how to be adorable!
Captured Squiggles-Piggle-Pie mid yawn for his last post he was featured in before he passed.  

I hope you enjoyed my tribute post to Mr. Squiggles; aka "Squiggies"; aka "Squiggles-piggle-pie"; aka "piggles".  He will be missed dearly not only by those who knew him in person, but those who got glimpses into his life thought this blog.

As always,
Shine & Sparkle!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Platinum Blonde At Last! New Updated Hair Care Routine Post

Sorry to be gone so long everyone!

I see from our Facebook Page that we have a lot of new Sparklers out there!  A warm welcome to all and I do apologize for neglecting things.  Life has been crazy with wedding planning and life in general.  But I am back!  It has been requested that I do a post on my updated hair care routine since the last time I posted about my last hair lightening experience was all the way back in 2014!  If you follow me on Instagram you will probably have seen that I have finally made it to platinum!

As you can see in the picture below, I have a new amazing hair guru--her name is Iva and works in the Bay Area in Northern California.  Send me an email if you are serious about going to see her!  Hopefully I will have more internet details for you to get a hold of her soon.  I will provide that information as soon as possible. She uses advanced lightening techniques that use no heat and bond rebuilding products that mean I got this light in just 2 applications (in one sitting) with NO damage.  It is truly incredible work!  Mini Tip: If you want to go platinum quickly, make sure you have a stylist that uses Olaplex or B3 Bond Builder, these are the best bond repairing formulas on the market!  There is no reason why you should not be getting this hair-saving product in your color other than the stylist doesn't want to keep up with the most current technologies that are best for your hair.  Going platinum is tricky business and you want the best if you are going this light!  Also, I do not suggest going platinum yourself.  It is too hard to prevent overlapping of the bleach when you DIY this, which causes bands of damage that will cause major problems and breakage in the long run!  I had Iva used a balayage techniques to apply the bleach and  put a ash brown shadow root on my blonde hair because it think it makes it look more pretty and natural.  If you want a similar look, ask for that! 

You know where you can see my hair as it becomes blonder in all sorts of lighting contexts? twitter! You should follow me! We can be digital buddies, whoo!  Also, you can get sneak peeks into what reviews/reports are coming next.  You can even tweet me ideas for what to do next.  You can also follow me on other social media like facebook page; or an instagram; or a bloglovin; or a google+

Wash and Condition:
This is pretty much the same as my last post, I only wash my hair fully about 2-3 times a week. I've found that dry shampoo really seems to irritate my scalp these days so I'm washing a bit more often (or embracing braids and other styles that look good with oiler hair).  Side note, I do SHOWER every day still, I just don't worry about washing my hair every day--shower caps are my BFF.   I've gotten super sweaty at the gym but I'm not supposed to wash my hair, I still conditioner wash my hair (see my conditioner washing post).  The products I use have changed significantly with my new platinum look.
  • Joico: Color Endure Violet Sulfate-Free Shampoo and Conditioner- My NEW go-to shampoo and conditioner duo.  I use it pretty much every time I wash my hair now.  I try to leave the shampoo in for at least 2-3 minutes and the conditioner in 3-4.  I love how moisturizing both products are and it really is formulated perfectly and gently for us bottle blondes.  I do still shampoo twice, but the first time I only use a tiny bit of shampoo.  I fully lather and wait on the second wash.  I condition once.
  • Paul Mitchell: Tea Tree Special Shampoo and Conditioner-  Still use this once a week to clarify my hair of silicones and product build up.  It also really helps treat any scalp issues I may be having with dandruff or itchy-ness.  I also still use the conditioner to co-wash.
  • Shea Moisture: Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque or Superfruit Complex 10-In 1 Renewal System Hair Masque - I will replace the Joico Shampoo with this once a week or so to deep condition. I'm still in love with these masques but I do need to leave them in longer to see benefits.  I will apply them then get out of the shower with my conditioner laden hair in a cheap plastic shower cap and wait a good 20 minutes (or longer if possible) before rinsing it out.  I do make sure that moisture is my issue before doing this using a strand test. To strand test for moisture, I take a clean and wet piece of hair that has fallen out after I shampoo and pull it until it breaks. If I pull it and it snaps really quickly, I know it is time for a moisture deep treatment! 
  • Aphogee: Keratin-2-minute-reconstructor- I still use this product but much differently.  I only use this when a strand test feels like I need a dose of protein.  To strand test for protein, I take a clean and wet piece of hair that has fallen out after I shampoo and pull it until it breaks. If I pull it and it stretches a lot (kind of like a rubber band) I know it is time for Apogee!  I leave it in for about 2-10 minutes depending on how stretchy the strand test is.
  • Macadamia Professional: Deep Repair Masque- I will still replace my other conditioners with this all over my head if my hair is in a huge funk and I have no idea what to do.  Works every time.  I leave it in as long as possible. I'll try to get out of the shower and let it sit for 30 minutes if I can.  Otherwise, 5-10 minutes works ok as well.
After Shower Care and Styling:
This is also the same other than the products I am using.  I let my hair dry in a micro-fiber hair towel while I do my skin care routine.  Then I gently detangle using a wide tooth comb or my Tangle Teezer (no I didn't make up the terrible product name).  I have also used The Wet Brush, but I find the wet brush to actually just be a better replacement for a normal paddle brush to be used only on dry hair.  I'd stick with a wide tooth comb or Tangle Teezer when it is wet.  Then I will towel dry for a few more minutes before applying leave in treatment if I'm using heat then serum (which I always use).
  • Shea Moisture: Black Caster Oil Strengthen, Grow, Restore, Leave In Conditioner with Shea Butter, Peppermint, & Keratin-  This is my step right after towel drying my hair every single time with my platinum hair. Also, who thought of that ridiculously long name?! I probably use at least a tablespoon of this stuff from my mid lengths to ends and put any remaining in the top part of my hair and massage my scalp.  My hair and scalp drink this up now. 

  • Paul Mitchell: Super Skinny Serum- As my hair gets more damaged from the lightening process,  I use this but when I know I'll be using my Paul Mitchell Tea Tree shampoo with sulfates to wash it out soon because this is a heavy silicone and I don't want to damage my hair long term.  (see my post on silicones in hair products). If my hair seems to need even extra TLC, I will still mix 3 drops of pure Argan Oil into 1.5 pumps of my Super Skinny Serum and rub the mix beween my palms before applying it below my ears and focusing on the ends.  Any remaining residue (maybe a few drops total of the mixture) I scruch/smooth into the upper part of my hair.  
  • Wella Professionals: Oil Reflections Smoothing Oil-  This is a new product to me.  I am LOVING it though.  It smells AMAZING to start with.  Then it works in place of my super skinny serum when I don't want those hard to dissolve silicones and means I can air dry my hair and still have it be very nice and smooth.

  • Silk Elements: Mega Sile Olive Heat Protection Spray-  I have changed heat protectants!  I got this as a sample and with my new platinum hair, this makes any heat styling into silky perfection.  It makes your hair seem very oily when you first apply it, but after you heat style it leaves your hair PERFECTION!  Just be sure as you are blow drying that you keep the drier far enough away that the product doesn't smoke.  If your hair is already dry, apply this product and let it sit on the hair a few minutes before curling or straightening to make sure it doesn't smoke as well.  I'm not sure if the smoking is bad for your hair but it seems like not a good thing right?  If you have more information on this product smoking, please comment below!
  • Sebastian: Shaper Plus Hairspray-  I rarely use heat to curl, but when I do, find this to be best to hold my curls and not make them crunchy.  No white residue either.  You can brush through the curls and there will be no icky flakes.  My curls can last days though! Hooray!

WOW! I think you are fully updated now.  All my hair posts are available if you click the "hair posts" tab above or follow one of the tag link!

Thank you for reading and as always,

Shine & Sparkle!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Vegan Vanilla Mug Muffin

Greetings Sparklers,

Sorry I have not updated in a while.  But I recently got a sponsored offer to review Country Crock Buttery Spread*.  I'm usually a natural product kind of gal, but when life throws you free buttery spread, you might as well check it out right?   Compared to margarine *health-nut crowd boos loudly* this buttery spread has a smaller ingredient list and boasts being:

  • Gluten Free
  • 0g Trans Fat
  • No Partially Hydrogenated Oils
  • No Cholesterol 

I personally verified all the ingredients and I am also pleased to tell you that this product is vegan and  therefore also great for those who are lactose intolerant!  I was pretty impressed with the texture and rich buttery taste.  If you can't eat regular butter for some reason, this is a pretty great alternative!  With only 45 calories per tablespoon in the extra calcium/vitamin D version (like the one I got) it is pretty diet friendly as well.  It also comes in Original, Churn-style, or Light.  Also, at less than $4 ($3 on sale!) for 45oz, this is a very economic buttery option for those trying to save their pennies.

I couldn't leave you with a review of buttery spread without a recipe so here is one of my favorite quick and microwave friendly desserts!

Vegan Vanilla Mug Muffin:


  • 4 Tablespoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • ½ Tablespoon Country Crock Buttery Spread
  • 4 Tablespoons vanilla almond or soy milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • Add ins (optional): Chocolate chips, berries, nuts, etc.


  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Pour into greased mug (at least 16 oz mug to prevent overflow).
  3. Sprinkle a few optional add-ins on top of the the mix.
  4. Microwave on high for 1 minute 30 seconds (or 90 seconds) depending on the power of your microwave.

Hope you enjoyed this post!

Shine & Sparkle! 

*Hopefully it is obvious by the whole introduction to this post, but this is actually a sponsored post (so excited)! I received these products to review complementary from the company that produced them.  However, I have not received any additional monetary compensation other than the opportunity to try them and give you my honest thoughts.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

I'm Engaged!

Hi Sparklers!

Long time no chat.  I'm sorry that I haven't had time to update you all in a while, but here I am with a quick update about how I just got engaged!!!!! Sorry (not sorry) about all the exclamation marks.

So really quickly,  if you are completely uninterested in any post-able thoughts/updates I have on the wedding process feel free to just not read any of the Ms. (future Mrs.) Sparkles posts.

Future Mr. Sparkles just proposed Saturday so I'm still in glowing-mode and trying not to stress about the upcoming year of planning this thing.  But I'm pretty organized so I'm feeling good about it.  One resource I've been really loving is my "A Practical Wedding Planner" which was written by the amazing blogger of the blog A Practical Wedding: Blog.  If you are planning a wedding I highly recommend it.

That is my big announcement and all I have for now.  But hopefully more to come!

Shine & Sparkle!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

How to Dry Nail Polish Faster

Hi Sparklers!

I wanted to give you a quick tip this week that isn't about the Shine & Sparkle Report Jewelry Store!

For this quick tip I wanted to give you my 3 top tips for making each layer of nail polish dry faster. O previously did a post on how to give yourself a a salon-perfect manicure and other nail posts.

#1: Dip Nails in Ice-Cold Water:

Get a bowl of ice-cold water (no ice in it please, it will bump your nail polish!).  Dip your fingertips in it for about 30 seconds-1 minute (don't leave it in too long, you don't want it to hurt!).  Let your nails air dry. By the time the water dries, so will that layer of nail polish!

#2: Fan/Hair Dryer:

If water doesn't sound like your style, you can use a fan or hair dryer to increase air flow around the nail polish to dry it faster.  Just make sure the air is cold not hot!  Hot air will cause bubbling and will actually slow down the drying process.

#3: Nail Drying Spray/Drops:

While this seems like a great option, it really isn't as "instant" as they say it is.  I would still try and use tip #1 or #2 in between coats then spray after your top coat to seal in your nail polish because it will make nails sticky.  Hold the can about 5 in. away and spray the entire nail for 3 seconds (Make sure you don't hold the can too close, it will make your fingers freeze).  You are still going to have to sit for 10-15 mins to fully dry.  I would still be careful trying to do things like get dressed or do a lot right after the top is dry because the polish can still slide since the layers below are not as dry.  Overall, I like the Demert Nail Enamel Dryer* because it is inexpensive and effective.  Nail drying oil drops are essentially the same as spray, however it leaves your nails oily afterwards and applying drops of oil on your nails is a lot messier than a spray.  I personally prefer the spray, but feel free to use drops.  I've used O.P.I Drip Dry and found it acceptable as well.

I hope this quick tip helped you out!  Thank you so much for reading!

As Always,

Shine & Sparkle

*I am not paid or contacted by any of the companies mentioned in this post.  These are my honest feelings and opinions.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Chole + Isabel: Shine & Sparkle Glam Collection

Hi Sparklers!

Today I want to give you my first review to introduce you to one of the collections of jewelry I have curated for you Sparklers in the Shine & Sparkle Report Jewelry Store*!

I will be doing a series of posts about the collections of jewelry I've created, as well as from time-to-time introducing you to new collections or my favorite pieces.

As you can probably see from the title of this post, today, I'm going to be focusing on my favorite collection for obvious reasons-- Shine & Sparkle Glam!

This collection was inspired by my love of shiny and sparkly things (if this blog is any indication).  I was inspired by this blog to create this collection of jewelry that has lots of bling and a bit of a vintage-Hollywood feel.  I wanted these pieces to scream "Susan Sparkles".  I tried to put the things featured here at the top of the boutique, but you can easily use the "Search" boxes to see other color selections if you type in the name of a piece! Though I love all the pieces I picked for this collection, I'll highlight some of my personal favorites below:

If you are looking for a timeless and elegant piece of bling, this is one of my favorites.  I love it in this peach, champagne, and coral color combination with the antique plating--but it also comes in other great color combinations like Plum, Topaz, and Lavender as well as Teal .   These pieces have a wonderful high quality weight to them an exceptional detailing.  I love that this necklace has a little c+i bird at the end of the chain.  The bird even has a crystal for an eye.  Talk about detail!
  • antique rhodium-plated
  • nickel-free plating
  • 18" approx. length + 2" extender
  • lobster clasp
  • peach + champagne glass, coral resin

If you are looking for something more mid-range in price but still awesomely glam, this is on of my go-to pieces. It also feels luxurious to wear and can fit any personality.  I like that this can easily add a bit of sparkle to a day-time look and fit seamlessly into a full evening outfit--it's also fun to stack with other bracelets!  While I'm into the classic all silver look, this bracelet is also available plated in antique brass  or with blush glass crystals. Of course you can get matching earrings ($28) and matching necklace ($58) if you are into having a complete set of things.  These are easily found in the Shine & Sparkle Glam Collection in my store.
  • shiny rhodium-plated
  • nickel-free plating
  • 6.75" - 7.75" approx. length
  • toggle closure
  • clear glass

If you have less than $25 USD to spend on high-quality and Shine & Sparkle Report approved jewelry pieces, never fear! There are tons of earrings and rings that meet your needs.  However, I think one of the coolest items below $25 in the Shine & Sparkle Glam collection are these Celestial Frost Hair Pins.  These are perfect for going out this winter to see the Nutcracker.  You can also use them to spice up your usual hair styles with virtually no effort.  Pin back your bangs with these and your pony-tail is immediately super sparkle-tastic.  I love the art deco feel to these, it just screams glam!
  • antique rhodium-plated
  • nickel-free plating
  • 2" hair pins
  • light peach, crytsal AB + clear crystal

 I hope you enjoyed a bit more reporting on my Shine & Sparkle Glam Jewelry Collection!  Hopefully, you will like this series and think about adding some of these great pieces of sparkle to your own collections.  And don't worry, there will be plenty of your regularly scheduled blogging will be happening.  

As Always,
Shine & Sparkle

*The pictures from this blog post are from the Chloe + Isabel website.  I am compensated a percentage for each piece of jewelry sold.  However, I truly believe in these products and would never suggest you get something that I'm not 100% satisfied with myself--read more about my involvement with c+i here.