Friday, December 30, 2011

An apple a day…

Being natural gives you the opportunity to experiment with a diverse range of products. For instance, I was unaware of Apple cider vinegar hair rinse until going natural. Apple Cider Vinegar is an old natural remedy for conditioning.


 *     Apple Cider Vinegar helps to remove build up from oils & styling products.

 *     It strengthens the hair shaft and balances the PH level of the hair, and;

 *     Increases blood circulation thus promoting hair growth.

Commercially processed apple cider vinegar is refined, as such most of its unique properties have been lost. For best results, buy cold pressed organically grown apples, which contains “mother of vinegar”. This guarantees that it was not pasteurized and has no chemicals or preservatives. The "mother of vinegar" is a normal substance that occurs during the final stages of fermentation. [Recommended Bragg Organic Apple Cider]

Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse Recipe

I love to cook because I know exactly what’s in the pot! It’s the same with your hair, when you make your own recipe you’re completely in control and certain of what you’re using.

Simply mix 1 TBSP of Apple Cider Vinegar to 1 cup of water and apply after cleansing.
Allow the rinse to penetrate for a few minutes.
You may wash it out completely or choose to leave it in.

For a fancier Herbal Apple Cider Rinse, you can add either fresh or dried herbs to the recipe above. Below is a breakdown of various herbs and their uses!

Burdock: great for thinning hair, dry, irritated scalp, dandruff, and seborrhea
Calendula: conditions
Catnip: Promotes healthy hair growth
Chamomile: a healing and soothing herb to soften hair, soothe the scalp, lighten, condition, and stimulate growth

Horsetail: Helps brittle hair due to its high silica content
Marigold: lightens hair color
Nettle: conditions, improves color and texture, helps with dandruff, irritated scalp, and dry scalp
Parsley: enriches hair color and gives a nice luster
Plantain: great for dry, irritated scalp, dandruff, and seborrhea
Peppermint: stimulates the scalp
Red Clover: 
strengthens hair
Rosemary: excellent for all hair types and problems, it acts as a tonic and conditioner, gives luster and body, stimulates growth, helps with dandruff, and brings out dark highlights in the hair
Sage: traditionally used to restore color to greying hair, excellent for weak hair
Saw Palmetto: good for hair thinning and hair loss
Thyme: good for oily hair, dandruff, and mild hair loss
Witch Hazel: leaves and bark are astringent and cleanse oily hair
Yarrow: for oily hair
Yucca: Navajos swear by yucca root to prevent hair loss and to cure dandruff.
Lavender: useful for all hair types it stimulates hair growth, and degreases                                                                                        


*     Apple Cider Vinegar has a strong smell, but remember its natural; most perfumes we love contain harmful ingredients.

*     I recommend doing this regimen once or twice weekly

*     Use Apple Cider Vinegar as an overnight facial before bed, your skin will thank you!

*    Always do an allergy test to avoid problems.

Good-luck and feel free to share your experience! Happy new year!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Shampoo. Absolutely not!

Now your reaction might be: “you don’t shampoo! Now that’s just gross!”

I’ve always believed that if we knew half the truth about a lot of cosmetics we buy, it would undoubtedly change our outlook.

Recently Johnson & Johnson were in the news for having “chemicals of concern” [human carcinogens] in their iconic baby shampoo. While all the focus is on their baby shampoo nothing is being said about their Aveeno and Neutrogena brands, which still contain harmful toxins. The company came out with a statement promising consumers that it would be removing quaternium -15 and other formaldehyde – releasing preservatives from all of its baby products worldwide within 2 years.

Personally I think 2 years is a while.

Five months ago, I made a decision to stop using shampoos. It came like a brainwave. In the old days our grandparents and their parents before them did not use shampoos, they used soap, so why the shift?
In a few words, our water became hard, which made using soap increasingly difficult; so shampoos were invented.

Shampoos are detergents; while they are very effective they are a lot harsher, striping one’s hair of its natural oils. Conditioners - made up of artificial oils - were developed to mask this damage. After doing some research on this issue I’ve simply eliminated shampoos altogether.

My routine involves using the following:

Dudu Osun or “Ose Dudu” [as we call it back home in Lagos, Nigeria] is an age long black soap made by hand, using only pure natural ingredients. I often say all of its ingredients you can pronounce!!
The soap is made using pure Honey, Shea butter, Osun (Camwood extract), Palm kernel oil, Cocoa pod ash, Palm bunch ash, Aloe Vera, Lime juice, Water and fragrance. It contains no artificial colours or preservatives and is biodegradable.
I find that it has a deep cleansing effect; I’ve also used it in treating acne and dark spots.

Raw Ghana Black soap is more organic than Dudu Osun. It has NO fragrance. If you’ve ever tried to buy this soap you’ll see that it’s not fancy at all!

It is handmade by local women in Ghana using Plantain skins, Shea butter, native Honey, virgin Coconut oil, cocoa pod ash and Palm kernel oil. Its benefits are immeasurable.

Neither soaps have alcohol or petroleum-by-products, and they lather really well!
Rule of thumb: If you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin.

Recently Dr. Bonner’s Magic Soap has become one of my favourite substitutes for shampoo. It’s made with Fairtrade certified & organic oils. I’m a huge fan of the peppermint liquid soap!
Dr. Bonner’s Magic Soaps contains olive oil, hemp seed oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil, and peppermint oil. You can purchase this at any health food store or online.

Baking soda: I’ve discovered you can use it for pretty much anything! Its environmentally friendly, in-expensive and can be bought anywhere!
What to do?
Mix 1 Tbsp of baking soda with 8 oz of lukewarm water and wash your hair.
At first it might seem weird because baking soda neither lathers nor has a scent, but it’s a healthy alternative that works rather well. It will remove odor plus any build up from oil and dirt, leaving you and your hair feeling fresh.

Lastly, condition only. This may seem radical, but the results are incredible.
The process?
Wet your hair first, and then gently massage conditioner into your scalp and hair. You will have to work at it to remove dirt and oil build up, then rinse out with lukewarm water. I recommend you do this twice.

The third time you apply your conditioner let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse out with cold water, to seal your pores. This final step is necessary because it gives your hair a healthy sheen.

Conditioners I’m currently using:
Carina's Organics & Uncle Funky’s Daughter Richee Rich Moisturizing Conditioner. It’s free of Mineral oil, Paraben and Synthetic Dyes.

Monday, December 19, 2011

How to get great youthful skin naturally without exfoliating!

Image: Castor oil

Ola walked into our store; she needed to pick up a check that was owed to her. We began talking about a number of things, and the topic of exfoliating came up. She was complaining about the brand she was currently using and was considering trying our 100% Red Moroccan (Ghassoul) Clay. Which by the way is great!

I told her I do not exfoliate. To be completely honest with you I don’t remember the last time I did. She did not believe me, saying I had such great skin that it was impossible that I did not exfoliate.

I replied, “I don’t. I use natural oils and they do wonders!”

If truth were told, I read labels, if I cannot pronounce the ingredients on any product, I do not consider it.

We all know that when one’s diet changes, for the better, our skin will automatically glow. Drinking lots of water also improves our skin and hair, but I take going natural a little step further.

As consumers, it is important to know that we have the power to say either yes or no to any product by simply reading the label, whether it is cosmetics or food. It might seem like a lot of work, but it takes discipline and motivation.

There are 3 oils I use to maintain my face daily:

  • ·      Pure 100% Castor oil
  • ·      Tea tree oil, and;
  • ·      Pure Unrefined 100% Baobab oil 

I use Castor oil only at night. I am not particularly loyal to any brand; at the moment I’m using Benjamin’s Castor oil. It is made in Jamaica, 30ml retails for $3.99.

Nonetheless, before getting started always do an allergy test to avoid any problems.

First, I steam my face with castor oil for about 10 – 20 minutes, and then I gently wash it off with warm water. Then, I splash cold water over my face to close my pores.  Finally, I reapply castor oil to problematic spots before heading to bed.

I do this every night alternating between castor oil and tea tree oil. Following the same process, which involves steaming, as described above.

Steaming the face is so simple, plus it has huge benefits! It opens up the pores; removes dead skin cells, dirt, bacteria, and increases the blood circulation on the face.

Likewise, every morning I steam for about 10 – 15 minutes and apply baobab oil. Please note: I do not use any face creams, I rely solely on natural oils. If I am applying make up, which I try not to, baobab oil is my base. It is an excellent moisturizer.

A lot of spas use steaming as treatment for both the face and body, it is an age long beauty secret, but you can do it yourself without spending a dime!

Take the hot water out of the pot and pour it into a bowl, tie your hair back, then place a towel over your head and lean towards the steam for 10 – 20 minutes.
Be careful not to burn yourself and please do not steam your face while the water is still boiling on the stove.

Give your face a break. After about a week of steaming, I take a break for a few days and then resume the process. 

Natural and Loving it!

I’ve always been vain and I care a lot about the way my hair and skin look. To be completely honest, my culture and background do not help! Nigerian women are beautiful with flawless radiant skin, and they put a lot of effort into their outward appearance.

Since I am Nigerian, what can I say; my appearance comes first!

However, in the past 2 years things have changed, especially after meeting my husband, he’s an advocate for natural beauty. But what is natural beauty?

Back home, in Africa, I was brought up with hair extensions, relaxers, and numerous cosmetic lines to “maintain” my complexion. In fact, if one did not use hair extensions you were considered a “villager” or  “bush.”

As a moisturizer, I remember on occasion my mum brought home Shea butter, but we mostly used Vaseline petroleum jelly. Then, during my teen years I even tried Skin Success [whatever possessed me???]

Twice a week, I will blog about my journey, one that involves using natural God given products. I will alternate between the hair and the skin, highlighting the need to quit depending on commercial products that do not only harm and destroy our hair and skin, but may also contain potential health risks.

Generally, I find natural products are inexpensive, they may not work as well as some of the other products you are using immediately, but with time you will see a difference.

Lastly, one piece of advice: before buying anything read the ingredients. If there is anything you can’t pronounce, drop it. Research, research and research because this will empower you in making informed choices. We recently visited family for Christmas holidays in Guelph and Waterloo, and I needed to clean my face, travelling sometimes disrupts one’s routine; I stopped at Shoppers drug mart and decided to get face wipes. Face wipes right? That should be easy...
Typically I picked up a few brands and began reading the ingredients, they were unbelievably unpronounceable! I settled for a box of baking soda and 100% cotton exfoliating pads, a much better and healthier option.