Monday, 24 December 2012

Holidays are coming!!!

This has got to be my all time favourite Christmas advert on TV.
Merry Christmas folks
Remember Jesus is the reason for the season!!!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Do it yourself...

Lumley Beach, Freetown, Sierra Leone
This post is a dedication to all the hair DIYers out there and especially my two friends Banke and Blanka. No, they are neither twins nor sisters, they don’t even know each other. The only thing they have in common is the fact that they have the letters B, A, N, K in their names wait! Did I just spell Bank? Cool stuff! Like I was saying the only other things they have in common is that they just happened to be my housemates at different stages in my life in two different countries on two different continents. 

The other thing they have in common which still amazes me is the fact that they can both self weave or self install a sew in weave if you may yep these girls sit in front of a mirror with a comb, scissors, needle, thread and weave and proceed to sew the weave into their hairs with perfect precision. They even cornrow the hair themselves in readiness for sewing. The first time I asked Blanka who did her hair and she said she did it herself, I was like no way and she was like seriously I did it myself. So the next time she was due for a weave I made sure I was home to see it with “these my two very eyes” too bad I didn’t film it people don’t believe me when I tell them I have friends who self weave. Banke’s skills go extra this one can even weave by candle light. They can self braid with extensions too and also do other peoples hair. Lord knows they saved me a lot of money by doing my hair! The only self I can do is self relax and self trim as well, been self relaxing on and off for the last six years quite of an expert by now I must say:) oh and cornrows too without extensions but not neatly.

Some of these skills are quite necessary you may end up in Mongolia with no Afro hair dresser around or a hair dresser proficient in Afro hair. Speaking of Mongolia my other friend Easterlina lived and worked in Mongolia for 18months and had to chop her hair off at one point because there was no one who knew what to do with it good thing short hair suits her, happy to report that the hair has now grown back to its pre -Mongolian state.  Hats off to all the ladies who can self relax, self braid, self trim and an extra special shout out to those who can self weave that takes some skill right there. Blanka and Banke I hail una! 

Monday, 10 December 2012

My Oils

My oil applicator bottles; Black has Castor Oil, Blue has Amla Oil and Yellow has Olive Oil
Castor oil is a vegetable oil extracted from the castor/bean seed that contains vitamin E. I have been using castor oil consistently from February 2012. It is known to enhance growth and thickness and true to it I have experienced both. I didn’t retain the growth due to improper care which led breakage and hence my decision to start taking better care of my hair. I would highly recommend it for anyone looking for thickness and growth; it is quite heavy so I only use it on my scalp and edges. Like with any other products one needs to be consistent to see results. Some people use it to grow their eye brows and lashes I just use mine for my hair. It is also the most important oil in the oil cleansing method for facials.

Coconut oil: having grown up in a seaside coastal city of Mombasa until the age of 13 I have always been very much aware of the benefits of coconut oil and milk, the tree itself has a gazillion uses. We pretty much used coconut products on a daily basis but once we moved we slowly reduced and stopped using it for a while since it wasn’t readily available. As an adult I have revived coconut oil in my grooming routine I use it as a hair, face and body moisturizer just a pea sized drop on my face though. It really does leave your hair soft, shiny and conditioned. It is the one oil that is easily absorbed by the hair shaft making it deep penetrating. This is my number one oil and favourite too. Plus I love cooking with coconut products.

Olive oil: I have only just recently started using olive oil for my hair as part of my deep conditioner before that it was on top of salad or food. Contains vitamin E among others, repairs damaged hair, conditions, is deep penetrating and tames frizziness when used as a moisturizer/sealant. All these oils are great eye makeup removers I dip a ball of cotton wool in water to soften, add a drop of any of the oils above and remove my eye makeup.

Amla Oil: This oil is extracted from the Amla fruit (Indian Gooseberries). It is very rich in Vitamin C, enhances hair growth and strengthens hair roots. It tends to darken hair overtime so bear that in mind if you have highlights but is perfect if you are going grey prefer your hair dark. I use mine as a pre poo oil, this oil spreads really well and two teaspoons literally drenches my hair I leave it on for an hour sometimes up to four but you can leave it overnight if you wish, it can also be used for a hot oil treatment. It comes in a powder form as well (the fruits are dried, ground and packaged) for those who want it pure with no extra ingredients added to it which you can mix with oils of your choice instead. Mine has almond, sesame and peanut oils among other ingredients. There are various brands of Amla oil out there and all do the same thing.

Sweet Almond oil: Sweet almond oil is rich in vitamin E and light therefore less greasy. It has a rich concentration of oleic acid almost 70% which makes it a great deep penetrating, moisturizing and softening oil. It cleanses scalp, conditions hair leaving it soft and shiny. It is also great for softening dry flaky skin I use mine on its own as a night hand moisturizer it can be added to hand and body lotions as well. I also use it as a pre poo and night face moisturizer. The downside is that compared to the rest on this list it is the most expensive what you will pay for a 50ml bottle of almond oil can buy you a 200ml coconut oil bottle depending on where you shop and these oils are quite cheap. But as usual when it comes to oils a little goes a long way. It is important to note that there are two types of almond oil, sweet and bitter that come from two different trees. Sweet almond oil has no scent while bitter almond oil has a scent. Bitter almond oil is toxic when ingested. You may want to read more on almond oil here and here.

Can’t wait to try; unrefined Shea butter. I really want to try raw Shea butter there are actually two varieties available West African and East African (more rare and expensive read more about it here) both are equally good but the EA variety has less vitamin A and more olein making it softer that the West African one. I did not have any at the time of going to press publishing this post but I will post an update as soon as I get some and start using it for at least a month. I don’t like recommending products I haven’t tried out. 

The best thing about all these oils is that a little goes a very long way making them quite economical 100ml castor oil lasts me a little over eight weeks and I use it twice a week. There are plenty of natural oils out there but these are my preferences for now. Other than Amla oil I use the rest in their unrefined/pure/virgin state without any additives to get the maximum benefits. Most natural oils are anti inflammatory, anti microbial, fungicidal, help retain moisture, promote a healthy scalp and combat dandruff. Regular and consistent use of natural oils on their own or in conjunction with other hair products leaves hair healthier, stronger and shinier. Coconut, olive and almond oils are great body moisturizers on their own or added to body lotions. Castor oil can be used too but I find it too heavy to use as a body moisturizer. All these oils can be purchased from beauty stores, pharmacies, supermarkets, natural food stores and online. Amla oil is available at Indian stores as well. You may have to check the food section at the supermarket for some of these oils.

Next time you are cooking with olive oil feel free to pour some on your hair. “Olive oil not just good for salads good for hair too!” I should totally patent that! I will do a post on my other hair products; shampoos, conditioners in the next few weeks. Updated: see my "Products" page for a list of the other products I use.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Braids regimen..

After wearing my hair out in a short bob for a few days I decided to get a half cornrows half individual braids updo which came with a change in regimen. So here is my regimen for braids/cornrows the same is slightly altered when and if I choose to wear a weave.

Shampoo wash and deep condition before installation
Castor oil on scalp twice a week
Leave in braid spray mix (homemade) every other day on hair and scalp (recipe below)
Shampoo wash and hot oil treatment using natural oils every two weeks
Shampoo wash and deep condition immediately the braids are taken out

Homemade leave in conditioner/braid spray mix:
In a spray bottle I mix;
70% water
20% store bought leave in conditioner
10% aloe vera juice, glycerine and natural oils (I used almond and castor oils in this mix)
I shake well to mix before spraying each time

I choose to do a hot oil treatment since I can’t exactly deep condition with my homemade deep conditioners on braided hair washing out would be a nightmare! Oil is easier to wash out. The aloe vera juice helps to condition among other things, the oils add shine to the braids and nourishes the scalp, glycerine being a humectant attracts and retains moisture I add just a few drops and the water adds even more moisture keeping my hair moisturised. To be honest the percentages are just a guideline I measure by eye when adding to the bottle. If you want to try it you can use a teaspoon to measure out the rest after adding water to the bottle.  The key ingredients to this mix are water and a leave in conditioner the rest can be added as you wish meaning you don’t have to add everything I did; water, leave in conditioner and a natural oil will do just fine.  You can buy a new spray bottle or use an old spray bottle like I did I just washed out an empty body mist spray bottle that had finished and used it. 

I first heard of the use of aloe vera for conditioning hair (I was previously only aware of its use in body lotions and hair gels) while blog hopping in the healthy hair community and me being me went on a researching spree and found out some interesting facts about aloe vera. Apparently it is known as a treatment for hair loss since it aids in the growth of new hair by balancing PH levels and stimulating scalp enzymes. Both the juice and gel are used in hair care for various purposes. I actually use an aloe vera gel which I have had for a while to smoothen my edges as it is non drying and non flaky but I never thought it had anymore uses for the hair till I stumbled on it while hair blog hopping. Google really is your friend:)