Food for Healthy Hair

Black woman eating an apple --- Image by © A. Green/zefa/Corbis

Often we concentrate on the application of products to make our hair look and feel soft, shiny and strong. While these products certainly do play a part, we often overlook our diet and the real importance of nutrition in achieving a healthy head of hair.
Foods contain the nutrients (vitamins and minerals) needed to nourish our bodies and enable us to grow. When available in sufficient quantities, these nutrients contribute to radiant hair, skin and overall good health.
Some foods are particularly rich in the nutrients required for healthy hair. By incorporating some of these foods into a balanced diet, you may be able to reduce the product stash in your hair cabinet.
Protein is the single most important nutrient for hair because it contributes to the hair’s primary building blocks. Protein gives the hair its strength and minimizes its susceptibility to breakage and split ends. Protein-rich foods include seaweed, salted cod (salt-fish), chicken, yogurt, tofu, eggs and cottage cheese.
Iron is an important hair nutrient as well, as iron deficiencies have been clinically linked to hair loss. Hair follicles rely on haemoglobin for their nutrient supply and iron is a key player for maintaining healthy haemoglobin levels. Haemoglobin is the component of red blood cells responsible for carrying oxygen around the body. Beef, shrimp, oysters and turkey are good sources of iron which is easily absorbed by the body. Vegan sources of iron such as blackstrap molasses; baked potato (with skin) and cooked lentils are less readily absorbed and should be consumed in conjunction with absorption enhancers like citrus juices or white wine.
A sufficient supply of B-vitamins is also mandatory for healthy hair. B3 (Niacin) promotes blood circulation to the scalp thereby aiding hair growth. B5 (Panthenol) and Biotin prevent hair loss; while B12 (Folic acid) assists in the production of red blood cells and ensures that iron functions properly. Vitamin B3 is present in chicken breast, yellow tuna and salmon while mushrooms, sunflower seeds, cauliflower, corn and broccoli are excellent sources of B5. A salad of tomatoes, romaine lettuce and carrots is rich in biotin but for B12, consider snapper, venison and scallops. Due to their water-solubility however, B vitamins cannot be stored in the body making it even more crucial that they are incorporated into the diet in adequate amounts on a daily basis.
Omega-3 oils have been long touted for promoting faster hair growth. While this has not been proven, it is widely agreed that Omega-3 oils contribute to overall hair health. Omega-3 is found in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines. It can also be found in nuts, olive oil, avocado and flaxseed.
A healthy scalp needs Vitamin A & C as they aid in the production of sebum (the natural oils produced by the skin). These essential vitamins can be found in carrots, mangoes, cantaloupe, and spinach.
This article wouldn’t be complete without the mention of water. Water accounts for a quarter of the weight of hair and is credited for making the hair supple and flexible. A lack of water can lead to dry, brittle hair that lacks shine. Drinking water at regular intervals throughout the day will help ensure that you’re getting enough water.
Being aware of a variety of foods containing the nutrients needed for healthy hair makes it easier to make the appropriate choices. You can appreciate that by just making small but consistent changes to your diet you can reduce your dependence on hair products and not only boast beautiful hair and skin, but overall good health.

writerbiopicbrown
HairObsessed is a Bajan living in Canada, who takes great pleasure in caring for her hair. She spends her days working in the IT field, but on occasion takes time to nurture her artistic flair for card making and event planning. She manages the blog Diary of a Hair Obsession which chronicles her journey towards healthier relaxed hair. The blog features product reviews, DIY styles and just about anything else hair related. You can find out more about HairObsessed’s hair journey at http://www.diaryofahairobsession.com.

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A Transitioning Story

My name is Alaina, or Alaina bee (because I’m hyper and free like a bee!), and I’m currently transitioning (waaaay long term, now about ten months, and I plan on doing my BC after my spring break in March). I am so excited to be writing here, and sharing the knowledge that I’ve gained in just a few short months from the caring community of beautiful natural women like you. I first decided to go natural for financial reasons – I, as a broke college student, couldn’t afford to spend $60-80 a month on a relaxer, and I was also going away to school in a place where black women and salons and stores that cater to them are few and far in between (beautiful Santa Barbara).
So I kept stretching relaxers until I realized that the excessive amount of hair that I found in the shower was not natural, and certainly not healthy. I was doing so many things wrong, and not properly caring for my hair, and the chemicals that I was putting into my hair to relax it were certainly not helping. I, unwittingly, began to transition, but I still wasn’t deep conditioning or properly moisturizing my hair. It wasn’t until about three months ago that I was turned onto this site by a friend, and my mind was blown! I immediately bought a deep conditioning treatment and conditioner and moisturizer, and well, went on a bit of a rampage (beginning product junkie status!), but three months later in December, I see so much of a difference in my hair. It feels so much healthier and thicker, and I’m so happy with it. I know that being natural is really for me. Now all that is left is to trim off those thin, straight ends that are hanging on for dear life.
I’d like to begin my stint here by briefly talking about the psychological effects of transitioning and well, I like to say “returning” to one’s natural hair. I’m in my second year of college, and I’m still discovering myself – my likes, dislikes, what I want to do with my life, and things like that, and I feel that stumbling upon all these wonderful natural hair care sites such as this one, is a huge part of this process. I’ve always struggled with loving my hair – mainly because I did not know how to take care of it, so it rebelled and broke off, and became depressed, really. I believe that life is a journey to figuring out oneself, and for me, especially since I am so young (nineteen on December 11th!); I know that I have so far to go. Now in the final stretch of my journey to natural hair, I finally feel like I’m finally being true to myself and my hair.
With natural hair I can be my wild self, switching styles up daily, or I can dial it down a bit if I need to be professional, or just desire to look different that day! I am constantly getting compliments on my different styles and it just encourages me to try out more things. I feel that working on my hair is an extension of working on and bettering myself. Do you all feel like that? Learning about me and the things that are good for my body and my life can be challenging, but it’s so fun. I have so much to learn, and college has really taught me to do my research and to learn from others.
I can’t wait to learn from you all, and hello again!
writerbiopicbrown
ALAINA
Alaina “Alainabee” Roberts, is a second-year college student at the University of California Santa Barbara. Working towards her B.A. in History, Alaina hopes to go on to write historical articles and historical fiction novels as well freelance. You can find more about Alaina’s hobbies, hair journey, and college experience at http://alainabee.tumblr.com. Her home is in the Bay Area, and she enjoys running, reading, and getting As in her History classes.
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The Adventures of a Newly Natural (Pt. 9)

The Adventures of a Newly Natural

It’s been nine months since I did the big chop! Yay, me. My hair is getting some length now, so much that I have to air dry in twists now. The picture above is from earlier today after washing and detangling my hair. I’ll post more pictures later on in the week.

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Feature of the Day: Ieisha

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Your name/username:
Ieisha

Where are you from?
Originally Chicago, IL but I’m living in the metro Detroit area for law school.

How long did you transition?
I did the BC on October 13, 2009.

Tell us your hair story. Why did you decide to go natural?
I used to keep my hair short. Always. And then my BFF decided she was getting married so in true maid-of-honor fashion, I was growing my hair out so she could have some versatility with the styling. So for over a year, I grew out my hair and kept relaxing it. The result was longer but weak hair that was not healthy. It was thin and stress was causing it to break off even more.

August 2009, the wedding got called off and I didn’t go in for my touch up. I was tired of my hair breaking off and shedding every morning. So since I didn’t have to grow it out for the wedding, I decided that instead of having long hair, I wanted to have healthy hair. I went to a salon for a consultation (Transitions Salon, aptly named) and the owner took the time to walk me through what I’d expect over the next year as far as the stages my hair would go through and what styles I’d be able to wear. The salon carried natural hair products (Carol’s Daughter and Miss Jessie’s) so I wouldn’t have to go searching for products to use in my hair. She carried smaller, sample sizes of everything so I could buy it and try it before committing to one outright. My experience at the consultation appointment went so well that I made my actual appointment for a week later and on October 13, 2009, I did the BC.

What have you discovered so far in your natural hair journey?
I have discovered a few things in my short natural hair journey. One, relaxed women are living vicariously through me. They always are commenting that they wish they could do what I did. Two, natural women welcome me with open arms and giving me tips on how they tackled their journey. Three, white women say my hair is ‘sassy’ which I found to be an interesting word to describe my hair. Sassy? Natural hair is sassy? Ok, I’ll buy that.

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But most importantly, I have discovered how much self-esteem and confidence I REALLY have! When I first did the BC, I thought I had made a HUGE mistake. I told myself that I shouldn’t have been so rushed to cut off the relaxer. I was going to look like a boy or a cancer patient. The drive home, I kept thinking about my boyfriend’s reaction. Is he gonna be attracted to me still? Will people mistake me for his little brother? I had all kinds of insane thoughts!

But when the dust settled on the third or fourth glance in the mirror, I realized that my beauty was coming from within. I know that is so cliche but it is SO true! I took the time out in the morning to fluff my TWA and to put on makeup and to pick out accessories that would compliment my hair. And it showed. I get people telling me that I look healthy and that my skin is glowing. A stranger in the grocery store even commented that he liked my hair natural.

My journey thus far has also proven to me that natural hair can be professional. In a law school setting where I’m constantly networking and competing, I’m able to portray myself and I think my hair now matches my personality.

What technique has helped you the most?
In this initial grow phase, deep moisturizing has been imperative. I never knew what cowashing was until I did the BC. Now I live by it and will cowash once or twice a week. I use a carrot oil for extra moisture and I’ve fallen in love with Miss Jessie’s Buttercreme. I don’t plan on using heat until I’ve gotten six inches of growth.

Your advice to the readers:
Going natural is not a step but a lifestyle. It takes a commitment to something bigger than just kicking your ‘creamy crack’ habit. By going natural, you’re going to have a better understanding of who you are and that can only be great for your personal growth. As for your hair, condition & moisturize, condition & moisturize!

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Strength like Samson

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For ages black women have given and received messages about their hair being inextricably linked to their beauty, to their identity, and occasionally, to their strength. As well, anyone with access to a television or newspaper will have noticed that since the release of Chris Rock’s movie Good Hair, there has been a lot of chatter about the stuff on the heads of black women everywhere. Many of the unspoken norms for black women have been shared, style secrets have been spilled, and urban hair myths have been debunked. As a result, I feel a heightened awareness of the fact that, at any given moment, people could be staring at my head and wondering where my $1000 weave is. I travelled to Trinidad earlier this year and was awe-struck at the sights of some of the most beautiful natural hair that I had ever seen. Maybe it was the combination of the hair, the beach and Soca music, but that trip catapulted me from the “considering” phase that I had been in for two years, into actually planning my journey to go relaxer free. I decided to cut my hair short first to get used to the length and then stop relaxing. I was set. At the salon, my hair had been washed and I had told the stylist which Rihanna-inspired style I wanted. As he completed his first snip with the scissors, removing exactly 3¼ inches of hair – I had an anxiety attack. Suddenly I felt like Samson.

Samson (who would be played by me in this story) is a biblical character blessed with superhuman strength. (I’m a single mother. Enough said.) He is tricked by Delilah (enter conniving hairstylist) into revealing the source of his strength (his locks/my hair), at which point she hires people to shave his head while he sleeps. He wakes up with the strength of every other regular Joe, only to be blinded by bullies, imprisoned and destined to forever grind grain. Okay, there are some minor differences, but in that instant as I sat in the chair hyperventilating and wishing a plague upon this stylist’s home, I would have bet money that the story was the true account of a woman who had just come from getting her hair cut.

After about 30 seconds, I lifted my head from between my legs and regained my normal rate of breathing. The rest of the hair appointment went off without a hitch! (Much to the delight of the now traumatized hairstylist.) That was 6 months ago. I have since had half a dozen haircuts and am happy to say that I have been neither blinded nor imprisoned. 3 months ago I stopped relaxing my hair, as well. When I ran into a woman that I had not seen in quite some time, she stopped me to ask what I had done to my hair. “You used to have such long, straight hair! I remember it was past your shoulders.” She shook her head in disappointment, “Those who want it don’t have it and those who can get it, cut it off!” I smiled at her and said, “Maybe one day I’ll grow it back….or not. Who knows? After all, It’s just hair!” And to my own surprise, I meant it.


writerbiopicbrown

lady J

Lady J is the kind of chick you can usually find trying to learn something new. She’s learning about all this new natural hair on her head, learning how to make words dance and sing in her poetry and is also back at school to learn how to do her job in two other languages. Most recently, she has had her nose stuck in her MacBook, trying to learn how to improve and add to her new blog Pen to Pages (www.pentopages.blogspot.com)

 

 


 

Skin Care: Benzoyl Peroxide

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Benzoyl peroxide oxygenates skin. Acne bacteria cannot live in oxygenated environments. Benzoyl peroxide is also a mild drying and peeling agent which is thought to help keep pores from clogging. 2.5% benzoyl peroxide is just as effective as 5% and 10% but much less irritating. Remember, irritation alone can aggravate acne.

Source
Acne.org

Hair of the Day

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Special thanks to Lola for directing us to this ever-so fly gallery from Essenceentitled Street Style Tributes Michael Jackson. Check out the gallery for more naturals!

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