Thursday, January 26, 2012

Rose Water

Hawa Diawara, Malian Supermodel 

Spritzing can help keep hair moisturised, nourished and healthy. It's easy to make your own natural misters out of oils, rose water and distilled water. (2)

I had my big chop in 2009. And even though I was natural I was still experiencing hair breakage. Later on, I found out it was due to dryness and constant blow-drying. I’ve stopped applying direct heat to my hair, and apart from losing about 40 -100 strands daily (which is normal), my hair does not break.

My hair is type 4b, meaning I have fragile curls that get dry easily and need lots of moisture to thrive. I remember growing up and dreading the rain, especially after a great hair-do, but now it does not vex me.

Our recommendation at Shakara Natural Tips: always find out what your hair type is first! This will help you in understanding and definitely maintaining your hair. Curly girl the Handbook is a good resource for identifying your curl type.

Benefits of Spritzing Hair
In dry climates, hair can quickly become parched and tangly when left to its own devices. Many so-called moisturising products that are commercially produced are laden with silicones, which not only coat the hair but also create build up over time, preventing moisture getting in as well as out.
If the hair is not clarified regularly, these products tend to result in dry, brittle hair. (2)

Natural Ingredients for Homemade Hair Spritzers
Distilled water forms the base for most hair spritzers. Hard water can build up mineral deposits on the hair, discolouring it and causing brittleness. Distilled water is completely pure and results in soft, silky-feeling hair. (2)

My spritz spray bottle contains:

 Combine all ingredients and apply all over your hair or to individual strands.

This is a natural, healthy and affordable way to keep your hair in good condition. I spritz my hair at night before going to bed and in the morning a few hours before I step out. After spritzing, to lock in moisture I use Pure 100% Castor oil or Shea butter.

Find out what works for you…but have fun while experimenting!

Storing Homemade Hair Spritzers
Depending on the ingredients, most spritzers will keep for a few weeks at room temperature or in the fridge. It’s worthwhile to make up small quantities at first, in order to tweak ingredients if necessary. Distilled water by itself will keep indefinitely. (2)
  • Start simple and always do an allergy test first. I don’t spritz with vegetable glycerin simply because it causes me to breakout badly on my forehead.
  • Rose water benefits include antibacterial, soothing, healing and antiseptic properties.  It is very rich in flavonoids and vitamins, including A, C, D, E and B3. Rose water is very beneficial for hair, that is why it is frequently used as an ingredient for hair care products and shampoos. Rose water increases blood flow to scalp, this way nourishing and strengthening hair follicles and preventing hair loss. (1)
  • Aloe Vera is a completely natural hydrating and conditioning substance that is therapeutic for your scalp. Be sure to get the edible type of Aloe Vera juice (the kind that has to be refrigerated after opening), which can be found in health food stores. (3)
  • Spritzing helps in combing natural hair easily

So what's in YOUR spray bottle? Feel free to share!

  1. Carla. “Rose Water benefits and Medicinal Uses.” Guide to Herbal remedies. All herbal information for you. 11 August. 2010. Web. 25 January. 2012.
  2. Tenant, Sarah. “How to spritz and mist your hair with Natural ingredients.” Hair Care @ suite 101. 24 October, 2010. Web. 24 January. 2012.
  3. Massey, Lorraine and Bender, Michele. Curly girl the handbook. New York, 2010. Print.

(c) Shakara Natural Tips 2012

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Bio oil: Skin and Beauty

Most of us look for permanent solutions to stretchmark’s, scars, acne, uneven skin tones and aging. Bio oil promises us answers.

To say that I have tried this product and not seen good results would be lying. Yet, I have seen the same results (if not better) with 100% Pure Unrefined (Grade A, Fairtrade certified) Shea butter.

Here’s the deal…if you are looking for a drive through breakthrough, Bio oil works. At least it did for me.
However, you might want to consider the long-term side effects; which could be negative.

The Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Database rates Bio oil at a 7 (High Hazard). Furthermore, there is limited scientific research available on this product, which raises the issue of caution when considering it. Lastly, they are non-signers of the Compact for Safe cosmetics. Please click on this link for more info.

Paraffinum Liquidum (Mineral Oil), Triisononanoin, Cetearyl Ethylhexanoate, Isopropyl Myristate, Retinyl Palmitate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Bht, Bisabolol, Parfum (Fragrance), Amyl Cinnamal, Benzyl Salicylate, Citronellol, Coumarin, Eugenol, Geraniol, Hydroxycitronellal, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde, Limonene, Linalool, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Red 17.

This is most definitely a mouthful!

The aim of this site is not to run down mainstream cosmetic companies but rather push them to use safer ingredients.

While bio oil has natural oils…it also contains mineral oil, several chemicals, synthetic oils & fragrance. Below is a breakdown of its highly controversial ingredients.

Paraffinum Liquidum (Mineral Oil)
Mineral oil is a petro-chemical derivative that is harmful to the skin. Putting mineral oil on your skin is like wrapping it in plastic wrap. The skin is not able to absorb nutrients and it can't detoxify, which renders beneficial ingredients ineffective and results in premature aging.  (2)

So much for Bio oil’s claim with helping to combat aging…

The company maintains that it uses a “breakthrough ingredient” known as PurCellin oil. As it turns out, this oil is derived from ducks. It is the substance ducks secrete from their skin to keep their feathers waterproof. (1)

I have found no research proving the effects of Purcelling Oil for treatment of skin concerns that Bio-Oil is promoting. Moreover, PurCellin oil isn’t even included on Bio-Oil’s ingredient list on both their product package or their website. 

Isopropyl myristate is found in many everyday beauty products and is generally considered safe for consumer use. Despite its popularity with manufacturers, some side effects have been reported such as skin irritations, clogged pores and acne inflammation. It is generally safe, although those with sensitive skin conditions may wish to avoid products containing this ingredient. (8)
BHT According to the National Library of Medicine HazMap, BHT is considered to be a "known immune system toxicant." Animal studies have also shown that in low doses, BHT causes negative effects to the brain and nervous system. This study was published by the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry in 1980 and has yet to be refuted. There are a host of bans and restrictions on BHT across the globe, yet it is still used here. (4)

Parfum There is no “right to know” for fragranced products:  Ingredients in fragrances are considered to be “confidential business information” and  “trade secrets” and do not have to be revealed to the consumer even when the product has been reported to cause human health problems.  Clearly the self-regulatory process for fragranced products is seriously flawed.  At best it is inadequate and at worst dangerously misleading.  (5)

Fragrances are used daily in personal care, household and cleaning products by millions of people and while most may believe they are using safe products the truth is that the actual safety of fragranced products remains uncertain and largely untested (5)

Amyl Cinnamal This highly allergenic fragrance ingredient is an alcohol, even though the label doesn't say "amyl cinnamal alcohol" as it should. Also, it is a known toxicant to the immune system in humans. (4)

Benzyl Salicylate UV absorber. Does have salicylic acid as a component, which is not to be used by pregnant women. (4)

Coumarin According to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, the popular lavender scented ingredient coumarin may pose a significant health risk and should not be added to personal care products for babies and toddlers. Coumarin is on the EU's list of banned and/or restricted ingredients (3)

It is found in this product as a fragrance ingredient.

Eugenol is a denaturant and fragrance component. It is highly toxic and also on the EU's banned/restricted list. The National Library of Medicine HazMap calls this a "known human immune system toxicant." (4)

Geraniol Masking fragrance, toning agent. Known to be a strong toxin; banned or restricted in other countries; a known environmental toxin (4)

Hydroxycitronellal Yet another masking fragrance! A known immune system toxicant; also banned or restricted in the EU and other areas (4)

Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde- fragrance component (4)

Limonene skin sensitizer; for perfume. Restricted/banned in other countries (4)

Linalool Masking fragrance; shown to be hazardous, banned/restricted for use in other countries (4)

Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone The International Fragrance Association (IFRA) banned the ingredient from being mixed into fragrance products (i.e. perfume, cologne). Interestingly you can still find this ingredient in a variety of other cosmetics that are not categorized as a “fragrance.” (6)

CI 26100 Characterized as a possible carcinogen (7)

Our verdict @ Shakara Natural Tips: NOT RECOMMENDED!

Solving a problem with methods that only create more problems should never be an option. (2)
Natural is always the best alternative…there are no adverse side effects

Source: Environmental Working Group analysis of Bio –oil. Caption and Image via EWG

Copyright Shakara Natural Tips 2012


  1. Begoun, Paula. Review of Bio Oil. Essential Daily Spa Forum. 15 April. 2008. Web. 19 January. 2012.
  2. Mark, Steve. “The truth about Bio oil.”, n.d. Web. 19 January. 2012.
  3. Montague - Jones, Guy. “Research Group Raises Health Alarm Over Coumarin.” Cosmetics 21 December. 2007. Web. 19 January. 2012.
  4. Ziegler Mott, Karley. “What’s In It Wednesday: Bio Oil.” 27 January. 2010. Web. . 19 January. 2012.
  5. Tondat-Ruggeri, Lynn.  “Fragrance Safety Concerns.”, n.d. Web. . 19 January. 2012.
  6. “Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone.” Truth In, n.d. Web. 19 January. 2012
  7. Platzek, Thomas. Kraetke, Renate. “Risk assessment of colourants used in cosmetics in the E.U.”  Federal institute for Risk Assesment Berlin, Germany. D-14191. Household & Personal Care Today.  April 2009. Web. 19 January. 2012.
  8. Kalea, Yoshida. “ Side Effects of Isopropyl Myristate.” eHow Contributor., n.d. Web. 19 January. 2012.
  9., n.d. Web. 19 January. 2012.
  10. n.d. Web. 19 January. 2012.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Natural MakeUP...

M.A.C cosmetics give you a perfect look and a flawless finish. It was a great choice for me…until last week.

I blog to get my readers to begin to ask questions about safe cosmetics, be aware of safe natural hair and skin products that give great results; if not better!

In my day job I sell fair trade products; as well as educate customers on the values of fairness and equality in the marketplace. Because of this, I’m becoming more cautious of what I choose to eat; as well as my choice of skin and hair care products. This is a recent shift; my only regret is not knowing this earlier.

I’ve wrestled with the probability of an all-natural make-up. However, is this even possible?  

African tribes such as the Himba’s of northern Namibia and the Wodaabe Fulani of Niger Republic use natural red Ochre to beautify themselves, so the answer is YES!

Truth be told, today, there are many toxic chemicals in cosmetic products that have been clinically proven to cause cancer, tumors, irritation and many different skin disorders. (3)

Many problematic ingredients, including parabens, have always been legal to use in the U.S. and Canada. Only recently, when studies have drawn correlations between their use and breast cancer, has concern been raised. Up to this time, many — possibly most — makers of natural personal care products were not aware of the hazards of these ingredients. (1)

Helpful tips to protect you involve reading and interpreting labels. It takes a bit of work but it’s so worth it.

Personally I avoid cosmetics that contain parabens, artificial fragrances, chemical preservatives, talc, and artificial colours. Then what choice is left? They are many alternative choices that work –just as well. Keep reading…

MAC Blot Powder (pressed) - Mica, Dimethicone, Silica, Kaolin, Water, Sodium Cocoyl Hydrolyzed Collagen, Methicone, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Phenoxyethanol, Iron Oxides, Ultramarines. (2)

In my opinion, only a scientist can understand these ingredients!

Last week my dilemma was put to rest. I stumbled upon an all-natural makeup company “100% Pure” and the results are refreshingly amazing!

To start I bought their tinted moisturizer with vitamins and antioxidants, which is kind of a foundation but with lighter coverage. I wanted to try this product to see if I would react to any of the ingredients [natural or not!] Thankfully, I didn’t. To be honest, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the results.

I’m so happy with it that I’ve asked my lovely husband to buy me their foundation and flawless skin foundation powder for my birthday, January 28!

The tinted moisturizer evens out my skin tone nicely and offers a truly natural finish. Its ingredients are as follows:

Pigments of Peach, Apricot, Carrot, Pomegranate, Cocoa Bean, Goji Berry and Tomato, White Tea, Cucumber Juice, Aloe Juice, Acai Oil and Pomegranate Oil, Vitamin E (a-tocopherol), Vitamin C (ascorbyl palmitate), Rice Starch, Candelilla Wax, Extracts of Rosemary, Oregano, Thyme, Grapefruit Seed, Japanese Honeysuckle, Goldenseal and Cinnamon

SUNSCREEN ACTIVE INGREDIENTS: 15% Titanium Dioxide & 10% Zinc Oxide. (3)

Sounds better!

How to Check for Toxins in Your Products?
In a massive undertaking, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) analyzed the health and safety reviews of 10,000 ingredients in personal care products. The EWG discovered that there is scant research available to document the safety or health risks of low-dose repeated exposures to chemical mixtures. But the absence of data should never be mistaken for proof of safety. The EWG points out that the more we study low-dose exposures, the more we understand that they can cause adverse effects ranging from the subtle and reversible, to effects that are more serious and permanent. (1)

I use the EWG Skin deep database and safe frequently to decrypt safe ingredients!

Get Involved
Purchase from the list of companies dedicated to safe products:

Skin Deep interactive Web site:

To view/order 100% Pure click on this link

Quote of the week
“Consumers have real power they are not exercising, we need to let cosmetic companies know we’re not going to buy their products unless they make a strong unwavering commitment to safety.” 
Janet Nudelman, Safe Cosmetics Campaign. (1)


Ephraim, Rebecca. The Ugly Side of Pretty.  Dragon Fly Media. 1 February 2005. Web. 15 January. 2012

Strickland, Barbara. Safe Cosmetics, Powder. Sage Advice. 10 October 2005. Web. 15 January. 2012.

100% Pure Frequently Asked Questions.”, n.d. Web. 15 January. 2012

Farlow, Christine H. How to Make Sure Your Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Are Safe., n.d. Web. 15 January. 2012.

(c) Shakara Natural Tips January 17th 2012

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Eco Styler Gel: Love it or Loathe it

Have you ever used Eco styler gel? Numerous YouTube tutorials on natural hair recommend Eco styler gel. Why not? It offers maximum hold; contains 100% Olive oil and, has no alcohol! Thus, I decided to give this one a try.

As you all know [if you follow my blog] I always read ingredients. To my surprise, this one raised many flags.

Nonetheless I bought a jar for $3.99 [CDN] and left the store. Rule of thumb #1, if you can’t eat it don’t put it on your skin.

Upon getting home I compared my jar of Kinky Curly custard gel to ECO styler gel.  Kinky Curly custard’s ingredients are listed as follows:
Botanical fusion of water, horsetail, chamomile, nettle and marshmallow, organic aloe vera juice, agave nectar extract, tocopheryl acetate (vitamin e), pectin, citric acid, potassium sorbate and natural fragrance.

Quite easy to read and pronounce, right?

I’m always amazed at cosmetics that have the word “natural” highlighted boldly in front of the product, but when you start reading the ingredients you quickly discover that there is nothing natural about it. In the case of Eco styler gel, ECO [a prefix relating to ecological or environmental terms (11)] and 100% Olive Oil are emphasized, but olive oil is the 10th ingredient out of 15...which is way down on the list. Consequently, does this not represent green washing?

Green washing is a form of spin in which green PR or green marketing is deceptively used to promote the perception that a company's policies or products are environmentally friendly. (12)

Once again, curiosity got the better of me and I did some digging. This is what I found:

Here is a list of Eco styler gel’s ingredients, in order of percentage, and as they appear on the jar: Water, Carbomer, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, PVP, Glycerin, Triethanolamine, Sodium Hydrxymethylglycinate, Polysorbate 20, Tetrasodium EDTA, Olive oil, Fragrance, Blue #1, Yellow #11, LOVE AND PRIDE.

For starters it has so many unpronounceable ingredients, but what do they mean??

Carbomers and water are the top two ingredients inside Ecostyler Gel. 

Carbomers are plasticisers used to thicken cosmetics. While they are safe ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products, they are also cheap fillers. Carbomers make products feel luxurious on the skin and since the formula contains a lot of water, it will also appear to soak in quickly. (7)

Since there is a great deal of water, there is less room for oils and butters. Put simply, Carbomers are economical, so they are used to keep manufacturer’s costs down. (7)

PVP (polyvinyl pyrrolidone) is a petroleum-derived chemical used in cosmetics. According to the Organics Consumer Association, It can be considered toxic, since particles may contribute to foreign bodies in the lungs of sensitive persons. The Cosmetic Ingredients Review Expert Panel however considers PVP safe. (1)

What is of greater concern to me is why anyone would want to put petroleum (i.e. black oil derived from the ground) on his or her skin.

Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein: If you have Celiac disease you may want to avoid any cosmetics that contain wheat. (10)

As stated by the Organics Consumer Association, Triethanolamine is often used in cosmetics to adjust the pH, as well as with many fatty acids to convert acid to salt (stearate), which then becomes the base for a cleanser. TEA causes allergic reactions including eye problems, dryness of hair and skin, and could be toxic if absorbed into the body over a long period of time. (1)

Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate is NOT a natural preservative. Its allergic reactions include skin and eye irritations and those with sensitive skin are advised to stay clear from it. In truth, there have been no studies on the long-term effects of this preservative on the skin. (5)

Polysorbate-20 is a fragrance component, surfactant, an emulsifying agent, and solubilizing agent. Why is it a risk?
Polysorbate starts out as harmless sorbitol, but then it's treated with carcinogenic ethylene oxide.  It's called Polysorbate 20 because it's treated with 20 "parts" of ethylene oxide.  The higher the number, the more ethylene oxide it has been treated with.  This substance is then combined with various fatty acids.  The Skin Deep Database rates it as only a "one" [meaning safe] and doesn't pick up on the risk that it could be contaminated with ethylene oxide, and subsequently, 1,4 dioxane.  In addition, it can be laced with heavy metals. (4)

Tetrasodium EDTA is a preservative that’s made from the known carcinogen, formaldehyde and sodium cyanide. It is also a penetration enhancer, meaning it breaks down the skin's protective barrier, going right into your bloodstream. Many companies trying to be "natural" will use Tetrasodium EDTA instead of parabens to preserve their products. It is safe to say, Tetrasodium EDTA is just as bad. (9)

“Fragrance” can be one or more of 200 chemicals.
Companies don't have to disclose the actual components of each fragrance, under the guise that their fragrances are trade secrets. Fragrance has been known to cause many side effects, including headaches and allergic reactions. Why put an unknown synthetic chemical on your skin when you don’t have to? The Environmental Working Group has an extensive database of cosmetic chemicals and their corresponding danger rankings. "Fragrance" receives one of the highest rankings possible in their score system. (1) (8)

Artificial colors, such as Blue 1 are carcinogenic. (2)

Yellow #11: suspected carcinogen. One is advised to avoid this if possible. (3)

Something else, a dear friend of mine [Yinka] used to set her hair with Aloe Vera as far back as ’97. She says the hairdresser would just use a tail comb to part the aloe vera leaf open and scrap out the gel. Then, she’ll apply it to her hair and roll it. It was sticky icky but it worked wonders.  In my opinion, I prefer aloe vera plant or kinky curly.

Finally, remember I simply share what has worked for me and the products I feel comfortable using. I do plenty of research, read ingredients and stay informed. You are free to do the same if you choose to and draw your own conclusions.

Proverb of the week:
“Simplify. Choose products with fewer ingredients, and choose fewer products overall."
 Stacy Malkan, co-founder of the campaign and author of "Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry. (8)


1. Hampton, Aubrey.  Ten Synthetic Cosmetics Ingredients to Avoid. Organic Consumers Association. N.D. Web. 10 January. 2012.

2. “Cosmetics and Parsonal Care Products Can be Cancer Risks.” Cancer Prevention Coalition, n.d. Web. 10 January. 2012

3. “List of More Widely Known Dangerous Ingredients in Body & Food  Products.” Pure Zing…for a better lifestyle, n.d. Web. 10 January. 2012.

4. “Polysorbate 20.” Chemical of The Day. Febuary 2, 2010. Web. 10 January. 2012

5. Dr. David. M.A. Ingredient Watch: Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate.  24 January. 2008. Web. 10 January. 2012.

6. “PVP.”  Cosmetic Ingredients Review Expert Panel, n.d. Web. 10 January. 2012.

7. Tuffy, Megan.  Read the label: Carbomers.  The Skinny. 1. 1. Page 1 (2008). Web.

8. Elejaide-Ruiz, Alexia. Saving Face. Don’t let your cosmetics cause you health problems. How to spot ingredients that irritate.  Chicago Tribune. 14 March 2010. Web. 10 January. 2012

9. Greenwood, Stephanie. “Top five Chemicals to Avoid.”  Bubble & Bee Organic bath and body. 23 August. 2007. Web. 10 January. 2012.

10. “New Cosmetic Regulations.” Canadian Celiac Association. Canadian Celiac Association, n.d. Web. 10 January. 2012.

11. “Eco.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 28 September. 2011. Web. 13 January. 2012

12. "Greenwashing." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 3 January. 2012. Web. 13 January. 2012

(c) Shakara Natural tips 2012

Monday, January 9, 2012

Holy Molasses!

Simple solutions in your kitchen

If I could credit the start of my natural hair journey to anyone, it will have to be my husband and sister. Today I’ll be sharing a recipe I learned from my sister, which I’ve altered to suit my hair. I can’t say enough about making your own recipes, for one it's cheaper, another reason is the freedom and liberty to experiment with stuff!

For this recipe, be prepared for a messy sink or bathtub! But the results…are SO worth it.

1 free-range egg [you might need 2 eggs for long hair]
1-2 tablespoons of Blackstrap Molasses.
3 cups cooled black tea [organic & fair-trade certified]

Directions: Step 1
Combine the eggs and molasses and stir to blend.
Wet your hair as usual or leave it dry. Personally, I prefer to do this on dry hair.
Massage mixture into hair and scalp, concentrating on the ends of your hair.
Put on a shower cap and sit for 15minutes.
Rinse off with warm water & black tea.

Step 2 (Co-wash)
Apply conditioner to your wet hair [still targeting the ends]
Wrap your hair in a towel and leave on for at least 1 hour, before rinsing off thoroughly with cool water.
Then apply leave –in conditioner and proceed to style!

Raw Eggs are rich in protein and essential nutrients thus they help strengthen hair follicles
Blackstrap molasses is rich in copper, iron, calcium, manganese, potassium and magnesium. It promotes hair growth, as well as helps to combat grey hair.
Substitute Honey for Molasses sometimes. Honey helps to add moisture to hair.


  • Do not wash your hair with hot water otherwise the eggs will cook on your head!
  • I deep condition with eggs & Molasses once a week
  • Always dry your hair with paper towels, an old cotton T-shirt or a micro-fiber towel. Standard towels leave your hair frizzy!
  • What's blackstrap molasses? Blackstrap molasses is made from the third boiling of sugar syrup and rich in several essential nutrients.