Articles By Charnika Jett

water weight

Are you losing water weight?

After the first week of reducing your calories, working out at the gym and consuming different varieties of fruit and vegetable medleys, you step on the scale to see your fate. If your weight loss is so remarkable that you can’t believe it, chances are you shouldn’t because you’ve probably only lost water weight.

According to WeightlossForAll.com, when a person cuts back on calories suddenly, the body tries to make up the difference by borrowing some fat and protein from your body. When this happens, you lose a lot of water weight, as muscle tissue holds a lot of water.

During the following week the body stabilizes and you might see a huge difference on the scale. More than likely, it will look as though you gained weight this week, when really the scale is showing you an accurate body weight.

Don’t be discouraged. It’s important to realize that your weight will fluctuate during the first month of your weight loss program. The heavier you are, the more water retention you're likely to experience, especially if you eat more processed foods than raw foods. Processed foods such as breads and pastas made with refined white flour tend to retain more water than whole wheat bread or pasta.

Instead of focusing on pounds, pay attention to the way your body feels in clothes and or stick to taking measurements of your body.

To make sure you are actually losing or gaining water weight, be aware that it is possible to lose up to five pounds of water. If your weight gain exceeds that, then chances are you need to look at your diet and or workouts and change them accordingly.


salmon

Salmon is packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for your hair.

If you plan to bring sexy back come springtime by reducing your calorie intake and increasing your time at the gym, expect your new bikini body to come with longer and healthier curls. You can lose weight and get better hair, too!

Eating a healthy diet will contribute to growing stronger and healthier cells throughout your entire body—inside and out and of course that includes your hair.

To entice your palette with the best foods that will give you the most benefit, try to include dishes that are not only beneficial to your weight goals, but also provide some life to those curls.

One example of a satisfying meal that provides an abundance of nutrients to both your body and hair is salmon with a side of wild rice and broccoli. According to the article, salmon is a high-quality protein source, packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which are needed to support scalp health. The rice will provide the hair with a dose of iron and zinc, and the broccoli provides an excellent source of vitamins A and C, which your body needs to produce sebum.

If you’re not a fan of seafood, substitute chicken or turkey for the salmon, as poultry is also an excellent source of protein. If you notice that your hair has become weak and or brittle, that is a sign that you are not consuming enough protein.

If you’re looking for a meal for breakfast that will keep your hair shiny and your waistline slim, start your day off with a spinach omelet.

Just like poultry and fish, eggs are a great source of protein. Spinach is a great source of iron and calcium, which is an important mineral for hair growth as well as weight loss. For a double dose of calcium, add a slice low-fat cheese to your omelet or go for a cup of low-fat yogurt and top it off with your choice of nuts. Known to cause shiny hair, Brazil nuts are a great source of selenium, which is an important mineral for the health of your scalp.


products

"There’s no need for 100 different products to properly take care of one person’s head of hair."

“It’s a rush that I get,” Tisha Prater said, explaining the feeling she gets upon entering Ulta, her favorite beauty supply store. “I go in there and know I’m going to get something, but I don’t know what.”

Confessing to spending more than $80 on her latest shopping spree at the store, Prater admitted that although she bought a few items that she needed to flat iron her naturally 3c curls, she also bought some things that she knew she didn’t need.

“I talked myself into buying more combs even though I have a basket of combs at home, but I felt as though I needed a brand new one,” she said. “And I bought more duckbills clips even though I have a thousand of those,” Prater said.

And Prater isn’t alone. There are thousands of other natural women who are struggling with an addiction to buying hair products, which is commonly known as “product junkyism.” Unlike a regular shopping addict, hair product junkies only buy tools or products that claim to be beneficial to their hair.

While some people in the natural community frown upon being a product junkie, others embrace it.

“I know I’m a product junkie and I am proud of it,” Julissa Norman said.

Norman, a 29 year-old substitute teacher who has shoulder length kinky-curly hair says she relishes in all of the new products on the market because when she first went natural four years ago, there weren't even half of the products now available on the shelf.

“Before, I felt as though I had to pick and choose which product I was going to tolerate because I knew they weren’t made with my hair in mind,” Norman explained.

“Now, I personally feel like a kid in the candy store whenever I go to Target or Whole Foods to shop for hair products,” Norman said. “It’s a great feeling knowing you are going to have more than one or two options when looking for a particular product that actually works.”

While some women are happy with the abundance of products options they have for their natural hair, others see it as excessive.

“There’s no need for 100 different products to properly take care of one person’s head of hair,” Felicia Montgomery said.

As a self-professed reformed product junkie, Montgomery decided to stop buying any and every product once she felt companies started to take advantage of what she calls the “natural hair boom.”

“Before a lot of women were going natural, there were only a few companies catering to women with natural hair and now you see every line trying to produce a product with horrible ingredients in it, slap an organic label on it, and target it to us,” Montgomery said. “It’s just not right.”

Montgomery credits her success of no longer being a product junkie to self-awareness.

“I started to read the ingredients on products and do my research,” she explains. “My fascination with products changed once I realized why most of them didn’t do what they claimed they would do. The ingredients were garbage!” Montgomery said.

products

“It’s very easy to get lost in the sea of natural hair products."

It is Montgomery’s opinion that once women who struggle with product junkyism realize exactly what they put in their hair isn’t necessarily the best for their hair, they will stop buying new products. But for all women that is not the problem.

Prater, who not only shops for products and tools for her hair, but also her daughter’s curly locks, credits her addiction also to habit.

“On a normal day when I just want to get out the house [I got to Ulta] because it just makes me feel good,” she said. “I leave feeling really good. It’s not until I leave that I have buyer's remorse.”

So what’s a girl to do?

“You have to exercise restraint,” Norman said.

While she admits she is a product junkie, she claims to know when to put her credit card away.

“It’s very easy to get lost in the sea of natural hair products, but that’s why I put myself on a monthly spending limit, so I don’t go overboard,” Norman said.

For those who are tired of holding the title “product junkie,” but still struggle with the thought of not having the next best thing for natural hair, there are other options to choose from.

LolaGreensHair.com is a site where you can buy and sell gently used natural hair products for a fraction of the retail price. There you can get your fix without the full amount of guilt of buying an expensive product that you may not like. NaturallyCurly's CurlTalk also has swap boards.

You can also turn to other naturals for help by attending natural hair meet-ups in your area. Some meet-ups will feature a product swap, where attendees bring in products they didn’t find useful. Attendees can then choose from products other people brought in. This way you’re not paying to try another product and also giving away a product that would have otherwise contributed to your unused collection.

If all else fails, you can always get help from someone you live with to help you break your addiction. For Prater, that is her husband.

“He helps me try to keep my spending on track, Prater says. “He tells me stop buying things and I think that helps me.”


working out

Some women pass on working out because of their hair

“I think that’s a myth,” Danielle Andrews said when asked what she thought of women who pass on working out because of their hairstyle.

“I used to be a kick-boxing instructor and I would see many women wearing their hair in all sort of styles. I figured if you were serious about getting in shape, then hair would be the last thing on your mind,” Andrews said.

With a short cropped head of curls, Andrews, who works out five times a week, has a low-maintenance routine to keep her hair in check after enduring intense workouts. But other women with longer tresses find it difficult to manage their curls during sweat-drenching workouts.

“I hate to say it, but [my hair] is one of the main reasons I don’t work out,” says Sheryl Gifford. “I know that sounds horrible, but I don’t have the time to work out and then spend hours doing my hair every other day; that won’t work for me.”

Gifford, whose 3c curls fall a few inches past her shoulders, has the same problem as many other women. Whether relaxed, transitioning or natural, some women avoid the gym like the plague for fear that one drop of sweat will ruin the ‘do that they’ve tried hard to create.

And while cornrows are sometimes labeled as the best option for protecting your hair while you work out, that hairstyle is very limiting when trying to switch up your styles throughout the week.

If you have grown out of your TWA (teeny, weeny afro) stage, try to go for a puff or high ponytail when working out. These two hairstyles will protect your curls from sashaying about on your neck and forehead, which may be sweaty. For extra protection, wear a bandanna or scarf around your edges to ensure you’ll still have a smooth look after your workout.

“When my hair was longer, I used to wear flat twists while working out during the week and take them out at the beginning of the weekend for a curly afro look,” Andrews said. “That’s another great way to protect your hair from the sweat.”

If you’re a person who is scared of sweat altogether, try to do workouts that will keep sweating to a minimum. Yoga and pilates are great workouts that focus on flexibility, strength and posture and are less likely to frizz your hair.

Weight training is also a good alternative to cardio exercises. It’s a great way to gain muscle, which also burns fat.


Abdominal pain

Can ingredients in your hair care products make you sick?

Hair care products might not be as safe as you'd assume them to be.

“My staple products consisted of relaxers, oil sheen and pink hair lotion, so it could be any number of things,” says Yvette McCormick, speaking about her diagnosis of endometriosis, a painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus—the endometrium—grows outside your uterus.

While she can't be certain of what caused her disorder, McCormick, a 37-year-old administrative assistant, believes that her regular use of beauty products that were full of harmful ingredients caused her to have this disorder. She was diagnosed a year ago.

“My doctor said there is no way of telling what caused me to have endometriosis,” McCormick says, “but now that I know of all the toxic and harmful chemicals I was putting into my body, and onto my hair, I believe there is a chance some of the hair products I was using on a regular basis were the culprit.”

And McCormick may be right. According to the article, “Danger Posed by Black Hair Products,” (from thegrio.com) environmental justice advocates and scientists say the chemicals found in many hair care products can cause a number of health-related illnesses, including infertility and cancer.

Phthalates, known as "endocrine disruptors," are disguised as fragrances in many beauty products, and this chemical in particular is linked to endometriosis.

Dr. Ami Zota, an environmental health researcher at the University of California at San Francisco, says, “African-American women, compared to their white counterparts, have higher levels of phthalates and they have higher levels of BPA.”

Toxic bottle

What's in the bottle?

"Nobody has really figured out why, but I think the hair care products are part of that story,” Zota says.

Other ingredients that are commonly found in beauty products that are known to be harmful include coal tar, a substance found in most hair dyes that have been known to cause cancer and zinc oxide, a carcinogen found in sunscreens.

To better protect yourself from possibly harming your health for the look or feel of your hair, start paying close attention to the ingredients in your products before you buy them. A lot of products claim to be all natural or organic, but with a quick look the ingredient list on the back of your product, you can see whether the claim is true. If you are unsure what an ingredient is, research it first.

CosmeticsDatabase.com has a printable shopping guide that highlights the unsafe ingredients list found in many products, including hair dyes, sunscreens and children's products.

McCormick, who decided to go natural shortly after getting her diagnosis, has now decided to make her own beauty products for the sake of her health.

“I never thought being adventurous with my hair would harm my health,” McCormick said, "but now I’m taking every precaution I can to ensure that my hair products won’t be a factor in any future health problems that, God forbid, may arise.”


Fair prices for hair

Everyone's hair is different—is it wrong for your styling costs to reflect that?

Unfair to hair?

While natural hair salons can be a life-saver to newly natural women who are clueless as how to take care of their new curly mane, some women refuse to step one foot inside of a salon because of one major factor. “I can’t get over the prices,” says Lisa Cannon, who’s been natural for two years. “Stylists are charging anywhere from $75 to $125 for a twist-out and I can do that for myself for free.” While prices are an important factor in determining whether customers are going to pay for a salon services, they also need to factor in their hair type.

Some natural hair salons are charging their clients by the type of texture they have, whether it be curly, kinky, coily, or wavy. Just Braids, a natural salon in New Castle, Delaware, lists two different prices for some natural hairstyles. Under their “Get Twisted” menu, box braids are priced at $80 and up and flat twists are priced at $45 and up. Under that menu is another menu titled “Bi-racial Textures.” In that menu, box braids are priced at $65 and up and flat twists are listed as a standard $25. Owner of Just Braids, Nicole says, “It’s about manageability.” “There is a lot that goes into servicing the hair types,” she explains. “It can be length of time... products and difficulty that go into the styling that the individual wants.” She also mentions that a woman with biracial hair can end up paying more than a woman with a kinkier hair type if that individual’s hair requires a lot of time to style. “Say your hair is short, but you have a head full of hair,” she further explains, “the average person may take up to 3 hours... depending on the texture of hair and complexity of the style you want, it could take up to 5 to 8 hours.”

Nicole also factors in the price of products she is using on her clients' hair. One product that she uses is Miss Jessie’s Curly Pudding, which can cost $38 a jar. If the hair style the client gets requires a lot of product, the overall price of the salon visit will reflect that. “If you have a biracial client who has a head full of hair that’s maybe 10-12 inches long, you might be going through half of the Curly Pudding to get the hair style that she wants, and I would factor in that price with her style,” she says.

Monica, manager of Salon De Lara, in Ann Arbor, MI, agrees with charging the client based on the product, but not based on hair type. She explains that curly hair of all types requires more product because it is coarser than straight hair. “When you are doing highlights you actually have to do a little more work and you have to put in more color so the highlights looks natural,” Monica explains. “So it’s based on the product itself that you’re putting in the hair, not the hair type.”

Upon hearing about salons charging by the type of hair they have instead of the style itself, Lisa Cannon wondered if this was a form of discrimination, but Nicole says that is not the case at all. “The intention of a stylist is not to offend anyone, but it has to do with the different facets of the hair... the time, styling—everything is broken down,” Nicole said.

What do you think about this practice? Tell us below!


Relaxing at the salon

More curlies are going to natural hair salons

As more women continue to board the ever-so-popular express train to natural hair bliss, its route has been forced to change. Due to the high amount of misinformation available, people are taking matters into their own hands to obtain accurate information. The first stop is taking place at a natural hair salon to debunk the myth that the skin color of the stylist reflects the stylist's expertise with different textures.

New passenger on the train Karina James, a student studying accounting at Detroit's Wayne State University, has also heard the theory that a stylist without the same hair texture as her own wouldn’t be able to do her newfound curls any justice. “Prior to going to a natural hair salon, I always thought a white stylist wouldn’t even know where to begin when looking at my 4a-textured tresses,” James said, “but after discussing what I wanted for my hair when visiting the salon, my now-new stylist, Lisa, reassured me she could work with hair of any curl type.”

So where did this myth come from? “I think it goes back to lack of education,” said Aziza Henderson, owner of Sangaris Natural Hair Salon in Detroit. Henderson, who received her education in natural hairstyles by an accomplished stylist of natural hair music artists such as Jill Scott, Bilal and Floetry, teaches her stylists how to do natural hairstyles if they were not taught how to do so at beauty schools. “She can cut, blow dry, curl and color, do locks on white people and do locks on black people, because I trained her,” Henderson said in reference to a stylist of Italian descent that she trained. She also believes that it’s due to the education of the stylist, as customers are now aware that some stylists are not taught how to properly take care of natural hair when attending some beauty schools.

A stylist's skin color doesn't matter

Does the color of your stylist's skin matter to your curls?

Julius Wilkerson, a student at Aveda Beauty School, can attest to that. “[Natural Hair] is more of Aveda’s main focus,” Wilkerson said. “They do teach us how to do perms and weaves because it’s in high demand, but they focus more on all natural products and encourage natural hair.”

As a receptionist at natural hair salon Strand Theory Salon and Spa in Dearborn, Michigan, Wilkerson sees firsthand that the race of the stylist has no impact on whether they can do a particular style on any client. “There are two stylists here that are white and they style black and white clients' hair,” he said. “One of the white stylists has a majority of black clients,” he adds.

Another factor that may add in creation of this myth is that newly natural women are used to going to hair salons specifically for relaxers and hair straightening techniques. Since practices at natural hair salons may be foreign to them, they may not feel comfortable with the idea that the salon's techniques may work for their newly natural hair, which is still somewhat foreign to them.

Natural hair salons are for the benefit of women and men of who choose to wear their hair naturally, regardless of curl type and race. After all, their expertise will benefit your curls and the health of your hair. What could be the problem with that?



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