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Winter Health: Natural Ways to Fight Illness

It seems that in Winter people are particularly susceptible to illness. I often wonder if cold weather itself brings on sickness or if it is our practices during the colder season. Last winter sickness was rampant in our household. My daughter and husband visited the doctor on so many occasions that I have lost count. However, this year we have all been pretty healthy minus a minor cold here and there. Since I revised my diet and exercise I have not seen a doctor due to sickness for almost a year (*fingers crossed*). I attribute our improvement in health to a number of things. Listed below are 5 “healthy habits” that I have found to be beneficial all year around.

Humidifiers. We have two humidifiers in our home and may get a third one for the living room. Warm air humidifiers help to keep the air moist and the nasal passages clear. They have worked wonders for my daughter’s runny/stuffy nose (pretty much eliminated it). Cold air humidifiers are good for coughs, but since it is winter these may not be the most desirable option.

Saline Solution. Did you know that you can make your own saline solution? Yes! All saline is is purified water and salt. For throat aches, try gurgling warm to hot water (about a cup) and sea salt (about a teaspoon) a few times a day. The hotter the water the better. You can also put this solution into a nasal spray bottle and use it for a stuffy or dry nose.

HEAT. In the winter, what’s better than heat? Uh, nothing. Warm baths, saunas, spas, and warm-hot towels are similar to a warm humidifier. These things can loosen up the sinuses and relieve headaches and sinus pressure. Unlike a humidifier, warm baths, spas, and saunas can make you sweat. Don’t forget exercise! Not only does exercising produce sweat, it also stimulates your brain and nervous system. Sweating has been shown to relinquish sickness, clear skin, and lower body temperature. “It’s getting hot in here…” sorry.

Sleep. This is something that most of us don’t get enough of whether it’s due to work obligations or difficulty sleeping. Sleep is sooooo important. Rest makes us happier and healthier people. We are also more mentally keen when we are fully rested. Good sleep should be made a priority for optimum health.

Vitamins and Nutrients. All foods have vitamins and nutrients, but some have much more than others. As you know, I am an advocate for juicing. Fresh juice provide bundles of vitamins and nutrients directly into the bloodstream. Drinking fresh juice promotes weight loss, can boost energy, can fight restlessness, disease, etc. etc. The stuff is GOOD for you. If you are not into juicing, multivitamins may be a good idea if you are prone to illness in the winter. Of course fruits and vegetables should make frequent appearances on your plates as well to keep the body strong and healthy.

I hope that these tips help someone as they have helped me and my family.
Best winter health to you!

~Evelyn
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Black Soap Follow-up

After being asked by devoted reader, Naturaleza, about more information on RA Cosmetics Black Soap, I thought I would try for it for a few weeks before I convince you all of it’s powers. This is the same product that I compared weeks before in another product review:

Here are the Ingredients:
                                        
Pure Honey                                  
Shea butter                                      
Osun (camwood)                            
Cocoa pod powder
Plantain peel powder
Palm kernal oil
Coconut oil
Water
Aloe Vera

Price: ~ $2.00 for a 5 oz bar

Smell: Nutty


Consistency: Particle bits, slightly gritty, but this can be worked into a good lather (because of the palm kernel oil.) Just be cautious about rubbing this directly on your face and other sensitive parts of the body like the decolletage. It’s a super exfoliate!


Results: I feel really good about this soap. There are no irritants, no obvious over drying effects. . . so I’ve been able to use this twice a day. In the morning and before I go to bed. In the morning, I use a light Aveeno moisturizer and before I go to bed, I use that same moisturizer with a small bit of shea butter for some nighttime skin repair. For several weeks, this regiment has been working out for me. I’ve noticed a sharp decline in break outs and an increase in fading old marks. 


Would I use it again? Yes, I’m running out at the moment and I’m going to buy some more. I did however, make the mistake of leaving the bar in the shower. Since this is a really porous soap, constant wetness causes it wear away quickly. So keep it in a dry place!
 


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Black Soap vs. Black Soap

The farmers market in downtown Columbus, GA is underway and I’m excited! The first week I went, I bought some of this black soap from the shea butter lady.


Ingredients:                      
Pure Honey                       
Shea butter                        
Osun (camwood)              
Palmkernal oil                   
Cocoa pod ash                 
Palm bunch ash     
Aloe Vera
Lime Juice
Water and Fragrance
        
This brand of black soap is not bad I definitely felt cleaner and smoother skin, although slightly dried out. My acne spots and scars seemed like they smoothed out and lightened after a couple weeks use. However, it was the fragrance in this product that made it hard to use. It was an overpowering smell that if I got it up my nose while lathering, I would have a bad sneezing fit. It was a major irritation and I believe there is a link between the fragrance and my dry skin.

But last night I found this stuff from an Atlanta company called RA Cosmetics! It’s all the goodness without the overpowering smell!

Ingredients:                                         
Pure Honey                                  
Shea butter                                      
Osun (camwood)                            
Cocoa pod powder
Plantain peel powder
Palm kernal oil
Coconut oil
Water
Aloe Vera

As far as I can tell, I received the same benefits as the Tropical Naturals Brand but without over drying effect on my face. My skin still felt smooth and pores appeared minimal. And there was definitely less sneezing! Plus the coconut oil has to be great hydration for the skin.

Here’s what they both look like next to one another in their bar form:

Overall? I think I’m sticking with the RA Cosmetics 100% Black Soap (fragrance-free). I think it works rather similarly to Dudu-Osun, but with what seem like completely natural ingredients. You can find this soap at your local black beauty supply or online at: www.racosmetics.com


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My Current Hair Regimen

Hi! I’ve been wanting to do a post on my current hair regimen for some time now, but I felt that it was a grand task to embark on and I haven’t had much time lately. My regimen will change with the seasons and with hair growth, but I have had this regimen all fall and winter. I have noticed a major change in my hair (softness, growth, less breakage) since I started deep conditioning my hair each week. I highly recommend incorporating this into your regimen if you don’t already. I will post a picture of my hair from last summer so that you can see the growth. When stretched, my hair is just below my shoulders in the back, about an inch from my shoulders on the sides, and below my bottom lip in the front. Later this week I will be blow drying my hair and mini-twisting it (I will post pics). I plan to wear my hair in mini-twists for 2 weeks. Okay, I am going to try to condense this down as much as I can (I do a lot with my hair). Each week I:

Detangle and Deep Condition
I spray my hair with water and apply either the Shea Moisture Deep Treatment Masque or my Aubrey GPB conditioner mixed with a tbsp of olive oil and a tbsp of honey to a section of my hair. I then detangle that section with a wide-tooth comb. Next I twist the detangled section. I repeat this process throughout my entire head. This is also when I snip split ends from each twist if needed. When completed, I put a plastic cap, then satin bonnet, then yarn hat over my head. I usually deep condition overnight, but when I’m in a rush I will deep condition for a few hours.

Wash and Retwist
I only shampoo my hair once a month, but I condition-wash my hair 3x a month. When I shampoo I use Kinky Curly Come Clean. I use Aubrey GPB for co-washes. I wash my hair in the twists that I put in during my detangling and conditioning session. After rinsing the deep conditioner out of my hair I undo one twist at a time and apply Aubrey GPB. Once I’ve applied the conditioner to each twist I cover my hair with a plastic cap and let it sit for 30-45 minutes. I then rinse my hair with lukewarm water and pat my hair with a towel until it is no longer dripping water.

Style
The last step is to style my hair. I usually spray my hair lightly with my hair spritz before styling. On damp hair, I apply my leave-in conditioner (Giovanni Direct) mixed with 2 tbsp of jojoba oil and 1 tsp of vitamin e oil to each twist (I unravel the twist, apply the styler, then retwist). When completed I spray my hair again with my hair spritz and apply a small amount of oil to my scalp and hair. Sometimes I let my hair air dry, other times I wear a scarf or hat. I typically take the twists out the next morning.

My hair plans for the summer is to do some major protective styling. I will be wearing mini-twists, buns, and wigs (with braided or twisted hair underneath) for the majority of the summer. I am only doing twist and braidouts for special occasions. I will still do my weekly hair routine, but I won’t have to worry about my hair throughout the week. I anticipate some hair growth from the consistent protective styling. Here is the pic from last summer that I mentioned:

My hair has come a long way, and has a long way to go!

-Evelyn


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Healthy Breakfast + Unhealthy Television

 Note: High-lighted hyperlinks will take you elsewhere to learn about the health benefits of each ingredient.

You know, sometimes I surprise even myself with genius meals. This morning’s breakfast consisted of fried egg, guacamole, and cilantro on a whole wheat bagel. To wash it down? Hot mug of Chinese Detox Tea, a full glass of ice water and half glass of almond milk (to get my calcium without the lactose). And last, for breakfast dessert. . . yeah, I do that, a small cup of Mott’s Granny Smith apple sauce with cinnamon. Now that’s what I call a breakfast!

The bad thing is I usually don’t have breakfast like this, I usually don’t have breakfast AT ALL. When I met Noah, he was horrified to see me flitting out the door with a toaster strudel or nothing. I’m trying to do better now that I’ve lightened up the “meat load.” And I’m also trying to be creative with what I’ve got in my pantry, taking a page from Evelyn’s book.

While I’m eating, I’m deep conditioning with a thick thick coat of Tresemme Conditioner and wearing shower cap. I’m watching the Wendy Williams Show and drinking in the gossip about Lindsay Lohan. I like Williams, she’s the kind of bawdy lady who talks frank, all the time. She’s kind of an Everywoman too, very preoccupied with cheap fashion, bitchin’ heels, and beef jerky.

How You Doin’?


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Bad Pop Workout

It’s getting warm again and I’m thinking about the day that I will once again don a bathing suit. I need to get fit again, toned in all the right places that black spandex won’t cover. The things is. . . I hate to exercise. It’s the worst! Putting on the shoes and making yourself jog around the block? Noah can do it because he get’s pleasure from the very act of running. What kind of freak is he, you might ask? I don’t know, he and other people in the world just like running for the sake of it.

But how will I look like a bombshell in my bathing suit?


    Dance! The art of dance will keep me fit, I’m convinced of it. It’s the only socially acceptable physical activity that gets me sweating and puts a smile on my face. The fantastic thing about dance is that everyone can do it! Put on whatever music makes you move and let your body do what it does best. I was once asked. “Can you dance?” by an acquaintance and I answered without thinking: “Of course I can.” I didn’t mean, Of course, cuz I got mad skillz! I meant, Of course, because it’s human nature to move our bodies to a rhythm. Twist, undulate, skip, shake, gyrate, crunk, heave,stumble, whatever!

Unfortunately, much to Noah’s chagrin, I’ll only be dancing to a BAD POP playlist. He thinks it’s slowly killing him when I car dance to Lady Gaga. I think it’s keeping him FRESH. Who can’t stand a little freshness? It’s not like I don’t appreciate his Led Zeppelin. I’ll dance to that too! In making my mix, I grabbed from one general electronic dance place.
Lady Gaga, Ke$sha, Missy Elliot, Lil Mamma, ect. . .

What do you think? 40 minutes a day? Will it be enough to keep the pounds off and keep me trim? We shall see. I’m starting out as 5’11’ 185lb female and I want to lose about 10lbs. I’ll keep you posted for sure. . . while voguing, of course.


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Not in the Right Order?

I had a strange hair journey isn’t very much like most natural sisters I’ve been reading about. I’ve read and heard of a lot of women getting relaxers and salon perms for most of their childhoods, they wake up and decide they want to start over, so then comes the BIG CHOP! From there, they are reborn. . .

. . . they embrace their curls. . .

They are now Natural.

I wish I could say I had that same self-actualization, but it was a lot more muddled than that.

I had a mother who didn’t like dealing with relaxers, so I didn’t get them done too often. I can think of a handful of times when I had a relaxer as a child. Most of the time, I was just working with natural hair. It was long and pretty curly. As a young adult though, I ran into problems when I started handling it too much.

Hard Brushing
Tight Ponytails
Wet Combing
Stringent Shampoos
Hardly Moisturized

My 25th Birthday in Bangkok, Thailand

 I got some significant damage and about two years ago when I returned from Thailand, I noticed a significant length change and lots of breakage. Hair was in the sink and I was in a hair rut. That’s when I decided, last year, I would try a BIG CHOP! Only I would try a cute pixie cut that would mimic Rhianna’s. I got my hair relaxed after the chop and didn’t realize I was holding myself back even further! I had taken my old habits into an even more fragile situation.

After the Big Chop and Perm

 I wasn’t ready for the up and down emotions I would have while having much LESS hair and not continuing with perm treatments. I had a short half-natural, that was curl in the back and straight in the front. I was frustrated and didn’t feel pretty or feminine at all. I thought that none of this would be an issue if I had just left my hair care in the hands of my mother. At the age of 26, I know that’s pretty silly. I would have to learn all by myself how to take care of my hair.

With the help of my friend Evelyn, (who was working out her own hair issues but progressing much quicker than myself), I was turned on to moisture rich ideas and tips to get my hair back to the way it was!

It’s still a struggle and it’s our hope that this blog and others like it are helpful to women making the transition from straight to curly. Although my story didn’t go in the same order as others, it’s all the same exploration into the world of healthy hair!

Today’s hair, a bit longer, lots healthier!