9 April 2014

The Box: Organa Mama Subscription Box


I know I know another Subscription box! but hold on before you pass this post by, this is a totally different kind of box especially created for mother and baby. Organa Mana is a bespoke monthly subscription box that provides organic products for both mother and baby to try, the box is the first of it's kind in the UK. Organa Mama is run by a Mama for Mama's with carefully selected safe products that vary from toys to organic cleaning products Organa Mama has thought of everything. 

Organa Mama launched in January 2014, I wish it had been around when Freya was smaller as this a great starter for first time mums, it takes the hard work out of searching for products and is a darn sight better than the tired Bounty Pack that they give you on maternity ward. 


I was sent the March Box for review, and it contains 5 full sized products along with a magazine which gives mothers an insight into the products they are receiving. The box is £26 per month, which is more expensive that the boxes I usually review however Organa Mama, gives you the opportunity to pick the type of box you want and eventually you will even be able to pick a box depending on what stage you are in your pregnancy. So there is little chance of receiving a product that you won't like or at least have a use for. I was impressed with the items in the box especially the Hevea baby products which are made from a safe rubber and are super cute!  


Down side to the box is that the options for picking a box for a slightly older child is not yet live, as I felt Freya was a little old for the teether. Bar that minor thing the box is good and has great potential. It's something unique and there is definitely a market for it in the UK. www.organamama.co.uk





The Serum: Shea Decadence Omega Rich Facial Serum


Since starting this blogging gig, I have been introduced to a bevy of beauty must have's and my fair share of beauty fads. The best thing I've discovered since blogging is the humble yet effective serum, I've tried many and have been disappointment with few, the latest is from Shea Decadence. The Shea Decadence Omega Rich Facial Serum is great find. I've been using it daily for three weeks on damp skin. I've been using the serum as my main moisturiser, but it is light enough to use under your usual facial cream. The Omega Rich Serum is packed with skin nourishing ingredients such as;



Organic Jojoba oil
Balances skin's sebum, therefore beneficial for both dry and oily skin types.

Organic Tamanu oil
It possesses a unique capacity to promote the formation of new skin tissue like no other oil, thereby Tamanu Oil actually heals by speeding up the growth of healthy skin. It also hydrates skin.

Organic Avocado oil 
Moisturises, reduces appearance of age spots, heals sun damage and scars. Additionally, avocado regenerates and rejuvenates the skin, increases collagen in the skin and therefore is an anti-aging ingredient in skin care. Avocado oil has superior moisturizing qualities.

Ylang ylang essential oil 
Excellent for wrinkle reduction and removing toxins from skin, has a balancing effect on sebum so useful for both oily and dry skin types.

Geranium Essential Oil
Helps to create balance between oily and dry skin by balancing sebum levels.


I had previously been using the Korres serum, which is fantastic but it is also a fantastic price at £39 a bottle, the Shea Decadence serum is £7.99 and is just a effective as the more expensive brands I have tried. The only downside to this product is the scent, I'm not a fan of geranium or frankincense but the aroma does fade. Shea Decadence products are natural and affordable. I love the simple ingredients and their fantastic customer service. The Owner is active on social media and is always ready to give advice on hair and beauty. www.sheadecadence.co.uk


I N G R E D I E N T S:

Safflower oil, jojoba oil, argan oil, boabab oil, vitamin E, frankencense, geranium and carrot seed essential oil


2 April 2014

The Afro


The Afro sans twists, coils or any other curl defining method. and stands alone as an iconic hair style. Yes the 'natural revolution' is well under way but most favour a more defined coil.  These images pay homage to when the picked out patted down afro was king (or Queen) sported by many, in various situations throughout the 1960's and 70's, can you dig?










23 March 2014

The Eembuvi Braids


With the rise of Natural Hair has come a rise in traditional styles worn by women of colour, from Cornrows to Box Braids these styles haven't been so prominent in popular culture since the mid 90's. In the 90's cornrows and braids where worn in movies and seen in music video's often to portray the characters as real 'home girls' think Janet Jackson In Poetic Justice and Jada Pinkett-Smiths character in Set It Off. 
Today we have global superstars such as Beyonce and Solange Knowles wearing waist length box braids as well as many WOC in fashion and the arts all wearing these styles.
It's fair to say that the Box Braid has become a stylish way to wear ones hair, worn less as a homage to the 'home girl' but nod to African heritage from which it originates. 

The Eembuvi Braids

The rise of the super long Box Braid is reminiscent of the Eembuvi Braids worn by women of the Mbalantu tribes from the Namibia. The Mbalantu girls prepare their hair from a young age, using thick layers of finely ground tree bark and oils, this mixture has been attributed to the great lengths achieved by the women for their later elaborate headdresses.
"At the age of approximately twelve years, Mbalantu girls started preparing their hair for later headdresses. As among the Ngandjera and Kwaluudhi, the Mbalantu girls also covered their hair with a thick layer of finely ground tree bark of the omutyuula tree (Acacia reficiens), which was mixed with oil. The mixture was applied to improve hair growth. A few years later the thick fat-mixture was loosened so that the hair became visible. Subsequently, fruit pips of the bird plum were attached to the hair ends with the aid of sinew strings."
The strands that are later separated into 2-4 plaits are formed for the ohango initiation ceremony these are what are known as the Eembuvi Braids. The ritual and adornment of the Mbalantu is reminiscent of what we do when we wear our Box Braids, we prep our hair and many of us use the style to aid our hair growth (protective styling) it's also and most importantly a beautiful style. The Tribes of Namibia have a variety of beautiful hair styles you can learn more here

source

The oshikoma and iipando Headdress

15 March 2014

The Head Massage with Shea Decadence


Head massage is an effective way to stimulate our scalps, we need to do this to get blood flowing to our follicles. Blood circulation to our scalps is the furthest away from our hearts, so when blood is busy working its magic on the rest of our body it can loose oomph once its get to our scalps.

What does this mean for our hair? Insufficient blood circulation results in the roots of your hair not being able to supply enough nutrients which are responsible for strength and the life of the follicles. For one who wants to maintain a healthy scalp, proper blood circulation is vital. 

I find the best way to stimulate my scalp is through scalp massage, you can combine the scalp massage with oils that are also known to stimulate the scalp such as, peppermint oil, cayenne pepper oil or mustard oil (to name a few)



I use the method below daily morning and night:
  • Separate your hair into sections and loosely twist (this is optional but I find that it helps to avoid knotting hair at the root)
  • Use your chosen blend of oils, I'm using Shea Decadence Hair boost Elixir which is a blend of oils that nourish and stimulate the scalp. I use a dropper to dispense the oil evenly concentrating on problem areas such as temples and nape of my hair.
  •  Massage your head in a front-to-back direction using your thumbs and fingers.
  • With a scrunching motion, make sure the oil is absorbed into your  hair and scalp.
  • Looking down, massage your temples in a clockwise motion with your index and middle fingers, working your way up to the top of your forehead and back down to your temples.
  • Keeping your knuckles close to your scalp, massage  from side-to-side several times.  Start at the front of your hairline and work your way to the back of your head.
  • Do this for 2-5 minutes or until you feel a tingling on your scalp, this tells you that blood is flowing through your scalp stimulating your follicles. do not rinse out.



combining head massage with effective oils have given me great results in growing back my hair after pregnancy, however I must stress this alone will not result in growing your hair. Your hair will grow at the rate it grows this is often determined by genetics. Stimulating the scalp helps to aid your natural growth giving a good basis for your optimal growth. 

I'm currently using Hair Boost Elixir by Shea Decadence, HBE contains emu oil which is anti inflammatory which is why it stimulates the scalp, Emu oil also absorbs into the skin easily which helps our hair to grow healthily at the Anagen phase of growth (which starts below the epidermis)

"It is thought that emu oil benefits cell growth and provide skin stimulation around new hair follicles as they start and continue the development process. All of these together help hair to grow faster; in addition, the hair grown is said to be healthier." (naturalllycurly.com)

HBE is rich in essential fatty acids, minerals and vitamins to nourish the scalp and strengthen the roots of your hair, it also contains JMBO, coconut oil as well as lavender and thyme essential oils all known to aid in nourishing the scalp and hair.


Ingredients
Ricinus communis, Olea Europaea, Organic Cocos Nucifera, Emu Oil, Organic Persea gratissima, Butyrospermum Parkii, Organic Cannabis sativa, Vitamin E, Lavendula officinalis, Thymus vulgaris, Rosemarinus Officinalis & Juniperus Virginiania.

8 March 2014

The Headwrap: A History

source

I like many have to say that the headwrap or turban is a main stay for my overall look. I wear a wrap more often then not, because they look great and they serve a function (protecting my hair)

It's hard to say who was the first person (or persons) to think about covering the hair with fabric, though I assume that this can be dated back centuries. As the main function of any head covering is protection, the head wrap is popular in hotter climates because it protects against the rays of the sun.
However covering the hair can be for symbolic or religious reason.

Head wraps or Turbans have an interesting history in black culture Helen Bradley Griebel explains the significance in African American history;

"THE AFRICAN AMERICAN headwrap holds a distinctive position in the history of American dress both for its longevity and for its potent signification's. It endured the travail of slavery and never passed out of fashion. The headwrap represents far more than a piece of fabric wound around the head.
This distinct cloth head covering has been called variously "head rag," "head-
tie," "head handkerchief," "turban," or "headwrap." I use the latter term here. The headwrap usually completely covers the hair, being held in place by tying the ends into knots close to the skull. As a form of apparel in the United States, the headwrap has been exclusive to women of African descent.
The headwrap originated in sub-Saharan Africa, and serves similar functions for both African and African American women. In style, the African American woman's headwrap exhibits the features of sub-Saharan aesthetics and worldview. In the United States, however, the headwrap acquired a paradox of meaning not customary on the ancestral continent. During slavery, white overlords imposed its wear as a badge of enslavement. Later it evolved into the stereotype that whites held of the "Black Mammy" servant. The enslaved and their descendants, however, have regarded the headwrap as a helmet of courage that evoked an image of true homeland-be that ancient Africa or the newer homeland, America. The simple head rag worn by millions of enslaved women and their descendants has served as a uniform of communal identity; but at its most elaborate, the African American woman's headwrap has functioned as a "uniform of rebellion" signifying absolute resistance to loss of self-definition."



Turbans and head wraps date back further when we look at African Culture;

"Head wraps have served as a head cover for Africans, mostly women, since at least the early 1700s. According to Danya London Fashions For All, a group of African slave women appear in a 1707 painting that was created by Dirk Valkenburg, a Danish painter, that depicted them wearing head wraps that appeared high on the forehead and above the ears. However, it is believed that African cultures used head wraps before the days of slavery so that men could show off their wealth and the level of their social status and so that women could prove that they were prosperous and spiritual."

Slave Dance by Dirk Valkenburg

I can be said that west African women are partly responsibly for the popularity of the head wrap as a fashion item, using elaborate fabrics and style to tie the wraps. And though for many some symbolism and meaning is attached anyone who has attended a Yoruba wedding know it's about the style and fashion for many women.

source

There are many facets to the headwrap or turban, and many reason for wearing one that can be debated back and forth.  The headwrap is having a resurgence (not just for women of colour) as a fashion item that hasn't been seen since the 1940's. Turbans  reached the hight of popularity during the second world war, again it was born out of functionality, women were working during the war some for the first time. wearing a head wrap kept hair away from the face as well as adding much needed flare to rationed clothing and uniforms. Turbans were also a cheap option, many women used off cuts of fabric. Like many things this was appropriated by high fashion, and filtered down to the middle classes. 


Today we see another rise in the turban and headwrap popularity, some say this is due to the economic down turn, not as many trips to the salon result in a need for functional, fashionable attire. 


And again we see the trend appropriated by high fashion, however we also see a rise in black women selling beautiful authentic fabrics to the masses. One of my favourites is Project Tribe  the brainchild of Bazaar and Luna who have set up an etsy shop filled with beautiful prints along side a thought provoking dialogue shop the wraps


With the rise of the Natural Hair community the headwrap is taking pride of place as a hair staple, that is so much more than just tying your hair down at night. The head wrap is a fashionable adornment with a rich history.

References: 
1940's Fashion: A Definitive Sourcebook
The African American Woman's Headwrap: Unwinding the Symbols
By: Helen Bradley Griebel
Ehow.com

notes:
There was a lot more information on this topic, however I had to edit this post down quite a bit to make it more readable so excuse the gaps in information
comments: I'm currently having problems with spambots so comments are disabled but we can shoot the breeze @naturalbelle on Instagram

4 March 2014

The Baby Regimen: Or Lack Thereof...


I get a lot of questions about what I use in Freya's hair, from products to regimens. The answer to this much asked question is not very much, Freya does not have a hair regimen nor does she have specific products. This is largely to do with the fact that she is a baby, she barely sits still long enough for me to put a top knot in her hair let alone hair product or a legion of barrets. Babies hair and scalp are very delicate, they don't start to produce many natural oils until they are 6 months old, so there is no need to over wash your childs hair. Their hair is still growing and changing (Freya's hair is getting more kinky through the back) so keep things simple, even if your child has very kinky coily hair I would suggest keeping styling to a minimum. concentrate on de-tangling and moisture.


I wash freya's hair when needed (if she has a jam sandwich stuck in there or some mud), and when I say wash, I use a jug of water not the shower (which she hates) and use a baby shampoo. I use a mild leave in conditioner to get out as many of the tangles as I can with my fingers and that is it. I leave Freya's hair alone until she gets another jam sandwich in there.


I've recently started doing a giant plait in her hair before bed, this is a constant battle occasionally she will let me do this so in the morning she has a bigger poof but to be fair she is faster than me and ridiculously strong for a 16 month old! as she gets older I may incorporate more of a 'regimen' but the first step is letting your child know that their hair beautiful in it's natural state.



18 February 2014

Guest Post: The Intervention By Calamity Jane


Hair breakage. Dryness to coarseness to more breakage. No amount of leave in conditioner or shea butter seems to do the job. Winter. Dark. Cold. Break up with boyfriend. TIRED.

What was meant to be the joyous family occasion of a christening, turned into a 'hair' intervention. Undertaking my serving duties after church, where I'm held hostage by 50 kids demanding 'more jollof rice', 'not that chicken, the other one', 'my mum says I can have coke, you got a problem with that?' (they now outnumber the adults), my cousins find me at my lowest ebb and like hawks, descend. First individually, "Madam, what is wrong with your hair? I thought you said you were going to style it for today. What happened?" Then collectively "Chale, why? You look tired and sad. Is this new man of yours treating you well? Maybe if you did something with your hair, instead of this hard bush you call an afro, you'd find a new decent man." Turning to my sister for mercy, she shakes her head meekly and slowly extracts herself from the gaggle of women. "I know a girl who WILL do your cornroll.  She's quick and does all the funky styles you used to like.

15 February 2014

The Snails: Safe Nail Polish for Kids


If your little cherub is anything like mine than she loves to get involved. Freya is always watching me paint my nails and put on lipstick and this Diva in the making is always playing dress up and pretend make up application. So I was thrilled to be send Snails safe nail polish for kids it's Non Toxic with just 3 ingredients Water, Acrylic Polymer, Non Toxic Colourants. Snails wash off with water so no need for toxic nail polish remover!


I think Freya is a little to young for nail polish (safe or otherwise) but I must admit I just had to try some on her cute little baby hands, so I applied Snails while she had her nap, the polish actually looks like regular polish though it's water based it doesn't look watery and it dries in two minutes, which is great for inpatient kids! I'd suggest Snails for children 3 and Up or at least of the age that they are not putting their fingers in their mouth. (though the products is non toxic I wouldn't drink it!) Freya doesn't really put her fingers in her mouth but while she was wearing the polish I kept a close eye on her just in case. though its probably safer then putting a crayon in your mouth and she does that all the damn time! 


So while I don't think I'll be using snails for Freya until she is a little older I will be wearing the polish myself! especially that Frog Prince (green) Snails are the first of their kind and great for the young at heart who want a non toxic alternative to regular nail polish.


Snails are available world wide you can find your nearest stockist here or visit the Snails website www.safe-nails.com 


Freya is wearing Snails in Cherry Queen, she also received Snails wipes and nail file (I know how cute!)

The Guest Post: Entwine Review By Crystal Afro




I know I’m not the only one who’s a fan of Gina’s locs right now. Not only do they look fantastic but I’m pretty sure that they’re part of the reason my girl chose to let me review her Entwine Couture Audition Collezioni pack, from Zara Hair & Beauty.




The design and branding is all quite intricate which can make the products seem more complicated than they are. The Audition Collezioni pack contains 3 hair styling guides, a shampoo (Lathering Hair Bathe), conditioner (Crème Hair Rinse), Argan oil, Exotique Butter Crème Hydrator, Crème Jelle Styler, and Crème De La Mold, all in sample sizes (1oz).






If you’re not a fan of heavily fragranced products these could be for you. I could barely detect a fragrance from the shampoo. Similarly, the conditioner had a very slight fragrance, which I couldn’t pin point. Whatever it was I wasn’t a fan, but it was so faint that it wasn’t really a problem. The butter, jelle, and mold are a bit stronger, but have a much lovelier, tropical/fruity scent.


The most impressive aspect of all the products was their texture.
The conditioner had great slip, while the butter and jelle felt like creamy lotions and smooth on very easily. My twists looked and felt healthy and well hydrated, and considering the amount of rain we’ve had recently, the hold was quite impressive too. I was equally as pleased with my twistout, that I felt looked just as shiny and defined as any of the Entwine Couture ambassadors’.





In all honesty, the products were lovely with really great results, and I’ve definitely been won over by how well the butter and the jelle work together to make my hair look and feel brilliant, but with their current UK prices being some of the highest I’ve seen (£24.99 for a 8oz tub), it’ll probably be a while before I splash out on the full sized products.
Feel free to check out my full review over on my blog – www.TheUnitedKinKdom.com

10 February 2014

Nina Simone Nail Art


It's Black History Month in the US and my social media feeds are alight with images of people who made a huge impact in not just African American history but world history. I was inspired by a post on ThandieKay.com which featured the work of nail artist Phe Davis who create the amazing nail art below. I decided to give it a go with one of my favourite icons in black history Nina Simone

image source

  1. For the image I printed out small images of Nina Simone (around 2cm square) 
  2. I used my nail as a guide to cut the right size for the image. (don't worry if it is not exact as you can file down)
  3. using clear nail polish as a glue paint the nail you want to the image on wait for it to go tacky then place the image onto the nail (this is tricky and took me a while to get!)
  4. once the paper is stuck to the nail go over it with the clear nail polish and file to neaten.



I used Warm Grey from Mavala's new sublime collection on the rest of y nails, I love this muted grey tone an it worked well with the printed look of my signature nail. 


As a first attempt this nail art is not to bad but it is very tricky to do yourself, the paper comes off easily as it dissolves with nail polish remover but it would look better with professional nail wraps but for fashionista's on a budget I think this could look great after more practice!


About the Sublime Collection: Inspired by the timeless elegance of the 1940s we present our new Sublime Collection for the Autumn season. A sumptuous and classic nail collection for every and any occasion, featuring soft nudes and vibrant hues that you'll be reaching for time and time again.

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