Thursday, March 31, 2011

On hair: Talking hair with a Natural: Africa's hair Journey Part 1!

Here we go, the story I promised you, Africa Brown's hair journey!
The reason why I picked Africa to be the first person I featured is because of her beautiful personality! She has been very supportive of the blog and my endeavors when we first met and it was important to me to honor her kindness. So I decided to pick her as my first Natural on my blog!
What I like  most about Africa is that she is very enthusiastic, she get things done, and like I said she has a beautiful personality!  She also has very beautiful and healthy hair as we will see!
I truly think that it takes more than pretty hair to make a woman a truly beautiful person! So even though I am sharing her hair story, I must tell you that it's the person that she is that caused me to be so curious about her hair journey and it's her personality that makes her story worth sharing and worth reading.

I warn you that this will be lengthy because I will not even edit what she shared with me! It's with her full consent and collaboration that I am sharing with you everything she shared with me !
So make yourself comfortable, join in our Girls'Talk about hair and stick around to leave your comments and if you are not a Follower yet please join us and become one today!

First of all let's see who is Africa Brown, in her own words:

"Hi, my name is Africa and I am here to share my  journey with you. I am in my early 30's and enjoy working out (kickboxing, aerobics), going abroad to far away places and spending time with my family (8 nieces and nephews). I am a big natural hair lover, who embraced her kinks just under 4 years ago. I work full time as a manager, in an independent living unit for adults who have learning disabilities,  I really enjoy what I do. I love to relax by going to the local spa and sauna and by going for walks in the park"

This is my girl, in her favorite outfit! Pretty girl doesn't play! Look at that diva stare!!! She said she does kickboxing so watch out now! This is a fierce girl right there! ( I am just messing with her)

Now that I made this little introduction, here are all the questions I drilled her with! Again I am not even going to edit anything, I will give it to you raw ( & N'natural ha ha ha), so here's my real, N'natural, conversation with Africa...Oh before I get into it, since I asked her a lot of questions I classified them as general questions, hair maintenance questions and social & personal questions! I actually asked them in the order they are presented below, what you will see in purple are her answers!

How long have you been natural?

 I have been natural for 4 years
What made you decide to become natural?
 My regular hairdresser moved away, I was getting burns and my temples were thinning out.
What was your biggest motivation to be and stay natural?
 The first time I wore my hair out I felt beautiful. I got a very positive response from my family, all of who are relaxed. (apart from an aunt and my sister) I want to show black people that natural hair is beautiful and can grow. I feel blessed that I am able to be a part of this.
(Ok, let me throw my 2 cents in here while we are on the subject, I share below, way below. a picture of the first time she wore her hair out and ooh I must tell you, the picture is hot! I mean something about the wonder she felt beautiful that day, you can tell she FELT beautiful, you got to feel good in your skin to be truly attractive to others don't you think?! Alright let's go on, sorry for the little interruption but I just had to say that, you know...)
How did you go about being natural? Did you transition for a while or did you cut your hair short  as soon as you made up your mind to be natural? How was your journey?
The last relaxer I got was a disaster so I put my hair in to braids for a while. I went to get a steam treatment and just decided there and then to big chop. I felt a weight lift off my shoulders!
What was the biggest challenge for you in being natural?
 My biggest challenge was finding the right products for my hair and being able to find the right styles to suit my face
Some say that it takes much patience because it’s sometimes frustrating to transition. Is that true?
 My transition wasn't intentional so you could say it was easy as I didn't even know I was doing it. I do agree that transitioning can be frustrating but I believe this is sometimes due to impatience and lack of  knowledge. It took me 3 years to discover exactly what my hair needed. There was a lot of cost and trial and ever involved.
I was very curious about the way she maintains her hair and her beauty tips so since she was willing I kept going...
What’s your typical hair care regimen? Daily, weekly or bi-weekly, monthly… I maintain my hair on a weekly basis. I henna my hair monthly.

I moisturize my hair then seal with an oil. This is very important. I only cut my hair if I need to. (usually 3 times a year or less)
I wash and condition my hair once a week. I like to deep condition my hair each time I wash it but if I am busy I will just co-wash. (conditioner only wash)
I apply coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil for 30 mins (pre-poo) !  ( I love coconut oil and use it daily in my diet as well as in my beauty regimen, you will actually find 2 posts under the label coconut oil that show ways I use it! One of the post has a cool video of a face mask you might like to try on your face and guys you can try this too
 I wash with Aubrey Organics shampoo
I apply my fresh deep conditioning mixture, which consists of 3 very ripe avocado's, coconut oil, evoo ( Extra Virgin Olive Oil) , almond oil ( I have a few on almond oil, it's a very good oil so check the blog to learn more interesting things about almond oil) , Shea butter and Castor oil.
I sit under the steamer for 20mins then rinse out. I do a final rinse with Tresemme Natural's conditioner

I apply my Cecelia's Rosemary Creamy Hair butter; hairwegrownatural.moisture spritz and healthy hair butter; almond oil and Shea butter

I started asking her some additional questions but slowed my rolls here because this seems like a lot of work doesn't it?! So I asked her...
How long does it take to do your hair?

When I henna, it takes me a full day, which is about 15 hours as I leave the henna for 8 hours then do a deep treatment for another 7 hours. When styling, say twisting my hair, this takes me about 2 to 3 hours.  When I just have my hair back with a hair band it takes me 10/15 minutes from start to finish to moisture/seal my hair then pin it up. I plait in to large braids before I go to bed (5mins)

Hum I don't know how someone like me will care for a 15 hours treatment done by myself! I don't even like to shampoo my own hair, being treated at the salon is so much better to me but let's keep going here...
Do you braid your hair often?What’s the biggest advantage you see to braiding your hair?
I braid my hair after I have washed and conditioned it. I no longer blow dry, unless it is for a special occasion. Since I have stopped blow drying so often,  I have seen the condition of hair improve greatly and I have length retention. I braid in to 4 cornrows and wear braid outs!
Ok, can you show exactly what you use on your hair?

It's avocado in the blender!!!

Come on need squinting your eyes to check the label, here we go:

Now moving on to my next question to Africa.
What’s your favorite way to style your hair? 

What products worked best for you? What products have you tried that did not work for you?!
Cream based products have been perfect for my hair, as well as vegetable glycerine and aloe vera juice.
My hair has responded negatively to protein and water based gels. I spend on average 5pounds a month on my hair. I buy my Shea butter, hairwegrownatural products and Cecelia's Rosemary Hair Butter  in bulk (approx every 4 months). I buy my oils when they run out and fresh avocado's weekly so I 'd say my average monthly spend would be around 5pounds.
I buy all my products from black owned businesses. I have my own steamer and hood dryer so I save money by not having to go to the salon.

I show below  some of her favorite styles and that's how she styles her hair for work!

I personally like this one a lot, it's creative isn't it?!

Well, giving my 2 cents in here my favorite style of her hair is this one below...

 and I like.... yeah I am still adding my 2 cents in here....I like the picture  below too!  Remember when I mentioned earlier that I had a picture of the first time she wore her hair out and how she said she Felt so beautiful ...well... We were talking about the picture below! It was taken the first time she wore her hair out!...There's something about this picture, maybe it's the red in the background and her look that make the picture!  But one thing is clear, you can sense from the picture that she feels confident and beautiful! What do you think?   

Now, besides caring for your healthy hair what are ways you care naturally for your body? (I asked because I believe that healthy eating affects the health of our hair and nails).
 I have stopped eating fast food and have started eating more water based foods, such as watermelon and cucumber. I have also upped my fruit and veg intake.
Any beauty tips and techniques you would like to share? Listen to your hair. If it doesn't like something, stop using it and vice versa!
I noticed that some naturals like to accessorize their hair with flowers and that eye make-up is very  important to some! What are some of your favorite accessories and best beauty techniques?
 I love to accessorize with flowers and hair bands.

(N.B: 4/7/11 link to my new post with my  floral designed hair accessories

I do not wear a lot of make up apart from a little eye shadow and mascara.

Now, natural does not mean blah right! It's natural to accessorize, so I asked her to send me pictures of her favorite accessories ....

What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps as far as keeping their hair healthy?
Finding the right products and low manipulation. Protective styling is also important. This is where you put your hair in to style for a minimum of a week, so that you don't have to comb it etc. The hair is then left alone and any length is retained.

 I have been transitioning for some months now and I was told that deep conditioning every two weeks was very important! Is there anything else besides deep conditioning that we should be doing?
Wash your hair weekly if not bi-weekly. Our hair needs moisture to grow and be healthy. Moisturising and sealing is the most important thing of all. Do not trim/cut your hair unless you have split ends. 
Watch Youtube videos and find those that have the same hair type/texture as yourself so you will have a better understanding of what your hair can do!
Well all those questions about hair maintenance are fine and all but that's not always what other people worry about! Some people's concern is not maintaining their hair but how it might affect other people's idea of them. So I had some social and personal questions for her,  but let's take a break and have you come back for part 2! What do you say?
 Make sure to come back for part 2 because she has some interesting things to share and some of her friends are sharing their natural looks as well! For now, please leave some comments, become a Follower if it's your first time here and LIKE Goodhealthdiva page on facebook!

Sooooo....What do you think? We talked about her hair regimen, what about yours? If you are a natural how long have you been natural and what products have worked best for you? What's the one thing you used on your hair that you will never use again? Why? Have you been caring for your hair as well as she has? Please share your tips!  Any guy around here? If you are a man reading this do you have a preference for natural girls? If your woman wanted to be natural would you support her?  


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

How to knock out a cold the natural way!

How are you doing? I hope all is well with you, I appreciate you stopping by!
I am currently working on the article I promised you all last week, my interview with my Natural friend Africa Brown, but something came up...
There's a nasty cold trying to knock here and I won't be having it!
I am knocking out this cold the N'natural way!! Cute hein?!N'na my name, the natural way...I might stick to this ..N'natural! N'natural way!!!Hum! Pretty good!!!

Ok let's get down to business (smiles)!
 I was working on the article that I am concocting for April 1st and I have a lot of  work to do because Africa and I are sharing a lot of stuffs, adding plenty of pictures and I suggest you get ready to just hangout on the blog! Pick some time over the week-end, make yourself comfortable and come hangout with Africa and N'na because if you like Natural hair you might have some fun here!

Initially,I was not planning on writing today but dealing with a cold I felt like it might benefits others to know how I knock out a cold! (Little disclaimer here this is by no mean supposed to replace medical advice, I am just sharing what works for me)

Even though I normally drink some healthy homemade fruit smoothies or freshly made carrot blends, today I needed to step up my game. Here is what I did this morning.

Here is my good health lab and work station loaded with the ingredients to my N'natural cold remedy!

My N'natural ingredients:
                        3 Lemons and 1 orange
                        2 Carrots
                        Parsley grown from my container garden on my deck
                        Fresh Garlic I just use 1 clove
                        1/2tablespoon of Apple cider vinegar
                        Frozen bananas I used just 2 pieces
                        Frozen apples and blueberries

1st Step
I juiced my citrus fruits because I am not using any water or other liquid. I am juicing 3 lemons and 1 orange. The virtue of citrus fruits especially lemon is common knowledge right?! Full of Vitamin C, anti-bacterial,  etc. But did you know that lemon juice can relieve fevers and reduce the body temperature? We will get back to lemon another time!

Step 2

I am chopping my carrots, 1 clove of garlic and some fresh parsley from my container garden on my deck.
Why carrots?  Carrots have vitamins C, B, E,D ( said in a singing voice) and K in addition to beta-carotene, and magnesium, potassium and lot of other good stuffs!
 I mean carrot juice is said to be so good for your health it will take another day to dig into all that!  I frequently blend some fresh carrot juice but I think today I needed more for my skin in addition to all the other things carrot juice can offer me! I mean, when you are not feeling the best it kind of shows on your skin doesn't it?! I thought so! So I need my skin looking good too! I want good health from the inside out!

Why garlic? Garlic has long had the reputation for preventing and healing colds because it helps maintains healthy blood circulation, it strengthens the immune system, strengthens the body's defense, when chopped chewed or bruised it releases allicin. Allicin is a sulfur compound that's a very strong antibiotic and potent agent that helps the body inhibits the ability of germs to grow and reproduce. Did you know that it's actually said that 1milligram of allicin has a potency of 15 standard units of penicillin?!
So you see, that's good natural stuff!!! Isn't it?!

Why parsley? Commonly used for garnish most people do not even realize that parsley has very important health properties. It's high in Vitamin C & A. I will take time soon to share more about parsley because I believe that it's health benefits are underestimated!

I am adding just 2 pieces of frozen bananas for sweetness considering that bananas are one of the sweetest fruit you could eat!  Bananas are great for your health and are kind of a super food because they have two times as many carbohydrates as an apple, five times as much Vitamin A and iron and three times as much phosphorus. In addition to that they are rich in potassium and natural sugars! That's why beside a little bit of honey there is no need to add any sugar to my blends when I put some bananas in! So I sometimes use bananas to sweeten my blends but I never use the whole banana because bananas are high in calories and I am on the path to slimming down remember? So I need to stay on tract no matter what I blend...

In addition to frozen bananas, I added some frozen apples to add sweetness and more good properties to my drink and I added some frozen blueberries as well. I did not use the strawberries.
Why blueberries? Among their many amazing health benefits blueberries are also an anti-depressant!  Did you know that?! Well anti-depressant is good because  on rainy days when you are not feeling the best you need to keep depression away, far away... (ha ha ha)! Blueberries are also great for the immune system which is perfect to prevent or fight a cold or a fever! Blueberries are full of antioxidants and contain many vitamins including Vitamin C, E, A and B complex. They also contain copper, selenium, iron and more other natural goodies!
I like to keep some frozen fruits in my freezer so that when needed I only take what I need and put the rest back in the freezer!

Step3: Ready to blend! I started with the Chop setting....

I added some 1/2 tablespoon of Flaxseed, some Apple Cide Vinegar and the following herbs for their healing properties:

Why Fennel?Fennel is useful in respiratory disorders such as congestion, bronchitis, cough, etc due to the presence of  Cineol and anetol which are expectorant in nature, among their many virtues! Among its other benefits fennel is a diuretic, incurring amount and frequency of urination thereby helping the removal of toxic substance from the body. It also helps relax the body, which I think is good for someone  not feeling well and it sharpens memory, another property of this natural ingredient I appreciate since I need my memory to get my work done!

Why Oregano? Oregano has strong antibacterial properties, one ounce of oregano is thought to be of the most antioxidant dense of all food! It has 42 times the antioxidants of apple. Amazing isn't it?!
I actually planted some fresh oregano on my deck a couple of weeks ago, but I used the powder version because I did not even remember until now that I have some fresh one available!

Why turmeric? Turmeric helps with inflammation and relieves headaches which are something I want to prevent , for more on turmeric check my article on the Benefits of turmeric it's loaded with information that might greatly surprise you and very few people are familiar with turmeric

To finish it up, I set the blender on Smoothie after I added some of my daily supplements. Fish oil that I started taking recently and Vitamin B12 that I have been taking for about a month now. This drink will be my breakfast! I added 1/2 tbsp of honey not just for sweetness but for the healing benefits of honey against colds.

My results after blending! I did not add any water or any liquid beside the citrus juice I made...

At last: Ready to savour by topping it with some Fresh Mint from the garden!

I said savour and some of you might think that this blend is not delicious just because it has so many vegetables and herbs! You would be surprised! It has a tangy taste because of the citrus juice but it is naturally sweet too! Remember that the bananas, the apples and the honey added some natural sweetness to this blend so no need for sugar. Due to the fact that the bananas, apples and blueberries were frozen it added some good texture to the drink! With all the fibers from the carrots this truly is not a drink that you can swallow within seconds like some apple juice ! So I made time to enjoy drinking it!

Below is what my carrot blends normally look like, so as I said earlier, today I had to step up my game!

Now, last thing here: It's one thing to blend all that and wait on the properties to kick in and heal me from the inside but my mind has to go with the flow too! Can't have healing half way, it got to be the whole package! So one thing I always do it to take care of my appearance and my surroundings especially if I am not feeling the best! Chaos frustrates me so that can't help me feel good, right?! On days I might not feel the best, I think that the way I dress and carry myself play a role too in my quick recovery. I think that if people act and constantly talk sick they will feel sick longer. I truly believe that Good health is also a mental thing!

So as I act and talk health I get to feel healthier and become healthier! So even though I was not feeling the best when I first got out of bed this morning, I still showered, got dressed as if I was 'going somewhere', that's a diva thing you know ha ha ha, got my hair done in an updo and got rolling with my day!
I didn't have the zeal to be running a bunch of errands today but at least I am feeling and looking  better than someone who probably could have spent all day in bed! I am still being productive from the comfort of my Mom cave!(see below)

Now, I might not look radiant at this point but I don't look like someone who should be laying in bed! Right?! Ha! Ha! That's the good-health-diva for you!

Sometimes this morning in my mom cave working on my laptop, with my cold remedy drink by my side!

A glance at my cave, the right place to find refuge on days like today ( rainy  and grey day when my body and mind need  both a boost and some rest.....)

It's exactly 5:42pm now and since drinking this drink hours ago I have been feeling pretty well , not exhuberant but relatively well!  All the fiber in the drink has also kept my appetite into check! Yes the diuretic properties in the drink have worked their virtues so did all the vitamin C that got in my system the Natural way! I meant the N'natural way! (lol)

This being said, I hope that in sharing all that you did learn something new! Did you learn something new?  Were you aware of the healing properties of all those ingredients? Which one were you very surprised to read about? How do you normaly prevent and/or fight a cold?


Monday, March 28, 2011

Taking a Minute to say Thank YOU

For all of you who know me personally, you know that I am always grateful for the people around me and their beautiful roles in my life!
I believe in counting my blessings and in the power of gratitude!
I have many interesting posts I am currently working on but for today all I wanted to do is
                                                     take a minute to say

                                      Thank You.

To all my new followers for choosing this blog as one worth reading and visiting!
To all my friends for their support in this special endeavor. I did not know what I was getting myself into when I finally listened to my best sister friend who insisted that I started blogging and it has turned to be an enriching journey!
To all my new friends, I am excited that God brought you along my path and I am learning so much from you all! I thank you for welcoming me so warmly into your world!

It's a rainy day here today yet it's sunny in my life because we have each other! Thank you! Enjoy yourself here, please leave your comments, I love to know what you think and learn something new.  LIKE Goodhealthdiva page on facebook! Follow Goodhealthdiva on twitter and do remember to check for customs gifts idea. With Spring here and Summer fast approaching there are many occasions to celebrate such as baby showers, tea parties, graduations, weddings and I would be honored to design something unique exclusively for you and the special person you want to celebrate!

Blessings to you all for this new week!