I shared this on the Natural Nigerians Group page last week and thought I should repost here.
Last week, I said that I would speak about 3 concepts that are basic to having healthy hair – Moisturize, Strengthen and Fortify.
However, let us start at the very beginning – shampooing. Why is this step so important? Because your scalp (which is the birthplace of hair) needs to be clean and clear in order to do its work of allowing hair come through to its surface.
Imagine if you would, that your scalp is an extension of your skin (technically, it is), it needs to “breathe” in order to work optimally. However the scalp has a covering of sebum on it which is waxy and as such holds on to whatever dirt falls on it. This sebum can also build up and stifle hair growth. (read more on scalp health here.
Now, there are many brands of shampoos in the market all proclaiming different benefits. Moisturizing, volumizing, thickening…it goes on and on.
Which one should you buy? In my opinion, whichever you are happiest with. However, your shampoo as a rule does not have to be too expensive. As a matter of fact, it can be one of the cheapest things in your regimen, while you splurge with things that actually remain in your hair.
Remember that shampoo is going to be all washed off anyway so you do not want a situation where you spend a lot on a bottle of shampoo only to see your money literally go down the drain.
The one big thing to consider is what sort of shampoo gives you a good cleaning. Use a clarifying shampoo at least after every 3 washes (for me this is the humble black soap). If you feel your hair is a bit dry and that shampoos generally strip your hair of moisture, do a coconut oil pre-poo. Works everytime.
So, what shampoo (or cleansing agent) do YOU use? How much does it cost?
I am constantly reading up on Human Health and the effects of any chosen lifestyle. A while ago, I came across this documentary which had my jaw dropping and made such an impact that I am not sure I will ever look at Food the same way again.
I think the hugest thing that you can take away from this documentary is the fact that the International Food Industries (almost all of which originate in North America) have been actively, aggressively, seeking and entering emerging economies where they can sell their “nutritionless” food products so that they can stay profitable. They are exporting obesity, quite diligently, to us and rather than wait to learn for ourselves, we can learn from what is happening in all the other countries they have penetrated.
They do not set up office here (going through the stress of operating in Nigeria) because they love you or even care about what happens to you after you get hooked on their snacks and food products – they do so to make sure that their companies stay profitable. And guess where the bulk of that money they make here goes. Hint: Not even into growing your own economy or developing the health sector which they make you need.
These are some of the snacks that Nestle manufactures. How many of these have you ever eaten? If you have had at least 80% of these, that is the power of marketing. Don’t underestimate it.
I know a lot of our folks watch/hear these things with a feeling of disconnection….they think that Nigeria is so far away from the clutches of the International Food Industries that they cannot be affected.
That is not true. Even in Oke-Arin market in Lagos Island, you can find food products from companies like Kraft, Danone, Heinz e.t.c. Note that I did not call them food. That is because, well they are not. Let us not even begin to get into the brands we now get at places like Shoprite
We also know that certain companies have had a big presence here for years: e.g. Nestle, Coca Cola, Pepsi and all those Indian-owned companies around Oshodi that make the N10 snacks and biscuits sold by Mallams and in traffic. Let us not even get into the nightmare that is flavored milk, sold everywhere. Even our older industries are complicit, churning out food products like Gala which are very low in nutritional value but are sold “to satisfy hunger”.
It gets even worse, Nigeria is directly mentioned in this documentary. Not only as an emerging economy but as an emerging economy that is targeted by the International Food Industries and as such a place that is experiencing an increasing Obesity problem. Obesity is high in EVERY country that these companies are present in. There is a direct relationship. The documentary does not claim that there was no obesity before they came but there is an accelerated spike in the number of obese people.
In Africa, Nigeria and South Africa have been targeted because of their economies. You will recognize some of these companies because they either have offices in Nigeria or their products are in our markets and supermarkets.
I am taking the time to address one of the questions I get asked most. It is right there at the top of the list with “How do I make my hair grow longer fast.” I have answered that question (advising on incorporating healthy methods) on facebook, twitter and even here on the blog.
So, folks also want to know “how to make my hair fuller and thicker”. I am not going to answer directly. I want you to think this through on your own after you are done reading this post.
While looking for images that could help to illustrate the point I want to make, I came across this post. I contacted Sonya of Parlor Diary and with her approval, I am able to share them here. I would really advice that you go to her blog and read the original post.
Hair Strand Types – Coarse Medium, Fine
Usually, when people say that they do not have thick hair, they usually mean that the hair strand is thin and not thick. However, in proper hair speak, we class the hair strand as being either coarse, medium or fine. So we are born with our hair in either one of these categories. You will notice that this is dependent on the diameter of the hair strand. This in fact is also dependent on the size of the hair follicles that produce the hair. Thin follicles produce fine hair and so on. It is interesting to note that as we get older, our hair follicles usually get thinner and thus start producing fine hair.
We are genetically programmed to have our hair grow either coarse, medium or fine. It is possible for someone who has fine hair to use a product that will temporarily give it the effect of being medium. Alas, these topical applications typically wash off.
Hair density is simply the number of hair strands on the scalp. Usually referred to as having “full hair” or “scanty hair” depending on where one falls in the spectrum. The squares below represent the scalp while the dots below represent the way hair follicles are distributed on the scalp. As you can see, those that have are under the “thick” category have more hair per square inch. Which means that they have higher hair density than those in the other categories.
It stands to reason that those in the “thick” category will have a fuller head of hair than those in the “medium’ category and so on. It is possible to have this hair density distributed unevenly throughout the scalp such that the nape of your hair will have less hair density than say the middle. People can generally move from thick to medium to thin over the span of their lives. This is usually a function of hair follicles closing up for any variety of reasons
Bad Hair Care e.t.c
Can someone who wasn’t burn with a thick head of hair somehow wind up with a thick head of hair? It can happen with hair transplants but a miracle product? If there is one, I am unaware of it.
Interestingly, studies show that African women typically have lower hair density than Caucasians.
To end, after reading this post, have you figured out how to make your hair thicker or if indeed, you can? If you have, please share by leaving a comment. If you haven’t please leave me a comment about that and I will do another post explaining if we can, indeed make our hair fuller and thicker.
Hair Density in African Americans, Arch Dermatol. 1999 Jun; 135(6): 656-8.
Our Natural Nigerians Facebook group has gotten more active recently and I love the conversations we have there. One that has come up many times is the subject of preservatives. (Shout out to Ms Makanju for leading the talk on this).
To give some background on the matter, there is a premise amongst some in the Natural Community that synthetic preservatives are bad and that certain natural products are good as preservatives. There is also one that claims that all synthetic preservatives are born equal and as such should be equally shunned.
This is a really important conversation to have as we begin to see more and more amateur mix-tresses turn their hands to formulating products and actually sell them to members of the public. Preservatives are there to ensure that the growth of bacteria, mold, yeast, fungi e.t.c. are inhibited in your cosmetic products. These microbes, as the name suggests, are small growth and may not always be visible to the human eye, especially when there is only a small amount of them in the product. A few people may ask “do these microbes pose a risk?” The short answer is yes! One may suffer infections and we know that those run the gamut from minor to serious.
I love salads of all kinds. I can eat veggies in pretty much any permutation.
Cabbage + Tomatoes + Cucumber
Carrots + Green Pepper + Cucumber + Tomatoes
Lettuce + Carrots + Cabbage + Green Pepper + Tomatoes
Carrots + Spinach + Avocado + Tomatoes
…you get the general idea.
I usually throw in some grilled chicken or some boiled eggs to make it a whole meal. Sometimes, I toss in some fruit like apples and eat it like that, sans dressing.
The one thing that wrecks a salad and transports it from a healthy meal to a non-healthy one is the salad dressing that is used.
Today, I am sharing an absolute favorite salad dressing. One that I have made over and over again.
Anchovies 1 Tin
Juice of two ripe limes
Honey To Taste
Whole grain Mustard Seeds Teaspoon
You can substitute the limes with half a lemon if you prefer. I like limes because they are cheap and cheerful.
Open the can. That’s the hard work done and now it gets really easy, lol. Break up the anchovies to smaller pieces. The fish comes with some oil and we use that as well. Combine with the lime juice and mustard seeds. Add some honey to taste. Voila it is ready! Drizzle over your salad.
I like this particular dressing because it balances the sweet, sour and salty. At the last minute, I added some black pepper. There are no hard and fast rules. Just anything that floats your boat.
Let me know if you like it!
For more inspiration on healthy salad dressings, here’s a handy picture:
A few months ago, I went to visit a close friend. On sighting me, her husband (Let’s call him LB shall we?) immediately engaged me in conversation and shared an experience which I am going to share with you as I believe a lot of people will benefit.
LB said that for most of his youth he was plagued with razor bumps. Yep, he would shave and be left with small dark bumps all over his face. He tried different methods of shaving as well as different products in a bid to control this reaction, all to no avail. This was quite disheartening as he was a frequent shaver and the alternative – having facial hair – did not appeal to him.
Just when he had pretty much accepted his lot, it was suggested to him that he should use a dab of tea tree essential oil immediately after shaving as an aftershave. The instruction was to place a few drops on his fingers and use it the same way one would use an aftershave. He tried this and almost two decades later, he has remained razor-bump free.
This is what he does.
o Shaves with a razor and shaving powder.
o Rinses it off
o Follows it up with a facial wash
o Uses a scrub to make sure that he has indeed gotten all of the shaving powder off.
o Puts a 1-2 drops of Tea Tree Essential oil on his fingers and lightly dabs his face.
Now, LB is one of those people who are quite diligent, so on that visit I was not surprised when he showed me all his shaving supplies. Every single item – facial wash, scrub e.t.c. contained Tea Tree Essential Oil. As a matter of fact, he once ran out of Tea Tree Essential Oil and his wife remembered that I had given her some a while back. I am proud to say that LB used it and remarked that it worked just as well as the imported brands he uses. I recount this bit for the benefit of all the doubtful Nigerians who constantly ask me if I am absolutely certain that the Natural Nigerian brand is “authentic”. Sigh! Na wa for una!
So, how can LB’s story apply to you?
Use Tea Tree Essential Oil after a shave to calm your skin and prevent razor bumps. This applies to shaving under your arm and even your bikini area. Regardless of the method you use in getting rid of the hair – waxing, shaving, depilatory, shaving creams e.t.c
You can supercharge your products by putting a few drops of Tea Tree Essential Oil in them. Its many properties (antibacterial, anti viral, antifungal, anti inflammatory, to mention a few) are reason enough to do so.
So, go spread the word! Shave without fear. Have a razor bump – less “chinned” husband, uncle, brother, cousin. You can also enjoy less irritation under your arm and around your bikini area when you shave if you have some tea tree essential oil in your mix.