The Naturals in Paradise in Calabar, meet up was this past Saturday. To say that I was immensely pleased with the entire event is an understatement.  Even the one disappointment for me (the Natural Nigerian products did not get to Calabar on time) was not enough to cloud over what a success the meet up was.

Not only did I get to finally eat locally prepared White soup, Afang and Ekpang Nkukwo, I met up with the natural/healthy hair community there – yes, relaxed hair people can also be on a healthy hair journey alongside naturals.

Ekene of The Kink & I  , my fellow organizer, was absolutely amazing. She literally handed out flyers on the road and made all the arrangements for the meet up. The success of the meet up was largely due to her. She also took really good care of me, making sure that I got the food I wanted to eat, see the sights I wanted to see.

Natural Hair Meet Up Calabar, Nigeria

We began late. It rained quite a bit so people did not arrive early. However, when we did start,  our lovely compere, Lucy (who came all the way from Eket, Akwa Ibom!), got the crowd started by asking them to share their natural hair stories – why they went natural and how they achieved the style they were sporting.

Natural Hair Meet Up Calabar, Nigeria

People do this for so very many reasons and it is always interesting to hear what their motivation was. There was all sorts of stories, including one from a lady who said that she had gone natural and was now relaxed because she couldn’t quite manage her natural hair.  To each his own, n’est pas?

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The talks followed:

  • Healthy Hair on a budget by Ekene of The Kink & I,
  • Make Up – the basics by Ama Esin of Jhadiel
  • Easy Day Look by Asari of Zaron Cosmetics
  • Causes of Hair Loss by Dr. Agility Obi-Ihesie
  • Going Natural by Natural Nigerian

Speakers_Fotor_Fotor There were questions and answers were given.

Natural Hair Meet Up Calabar, Nigeria

Practical demonstrations – this was a quick make-up look.

Natural Hair Meet Up Calabar, Nigeria

Notes were taken.

Natural Hair Meet Up Calabar, Nigeria

I know you didn’t really  come here for the words, so here are the pictures ;)

Natural Hair Meet Up Calabar, Nigeria

Absolutely loved her entire outfit and her too!

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Natural Hair Meet Up Calabar, Nigeria

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Natural Hair Meet Up Calabar, Nigeria

This cute little boy warmed my heart, mimicking me while I was taking pictures.

This cute little boy warmed my heart, mimicking me while I was taking pictures.

There was a TV Crew from Ebonylife TV.  No word yet on when they will air the segment but I’ll let you know once I know.

Natural Hair Meet Up Calabar, Nigeria

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Natural Hair Meet Up Calabar, Nigeria Natural Hair Meet Up Calabar, Nigeria

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Natural Hair Meet Up Calabar, Nigeria

Natural Hair Meet Up Calabar, Nigeria

Thank you, ladies!! Couldn’t have done it without you.

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Natural Hair Meet Up Calabar, Nigeria

Natural Hair Meet Up Calabar, Nigeria

Natural Hair Meet Up Calabar, Nigeria

They came to support their ladies

Natural Hair Meet Up Calabar, Nigeria

SkinPlus Calabar stand

For more pictures, don’t forget to head over to The Kink and I. 

Thank you Calabar! See you next year for another edition!

We are counting down the days now to the Calabar, Natural in Paradise meet-up and I just wanted to tell you what to expect.

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Learn

There will be talks from not 4 but 6 people! Lots to share so we are looking forward to starting nice and early.

One is a doctor who consults on hair matters.  She will be talking generally about hair loss (and ladies, you know we have a challenge with that). Ekene of the Kink and I will be speaking about being Natural on a budget in Nigeria. There will also be make up tips from a couple of professional Make-up Artists. Last on the roaster is moi, Natural Nigerian.

Awoof!

We have gift packs from Jessicurls and some items from Hairfinity up for grabs. You could walk away with either or both.

Mingle

Also, there will be vendors available there to bring you the hair care products that usually reside in far away Lagos. It is all coming to you this time! This will be a good opportunity for you to learn what resources you can get locally. After meet ups, a constant is that relationships are formed, with salon owners, hair care product supplier, with fellow healthy hair enthusiasts!

There are just so many reasons why you should ensure that you are there.

I have been following Natural Blogger, Rachel for a while and when she got married, she did not “fall my hand”. She represented! Really pleased to bring you the story of this Nigerian Natural Hair Bride. If you want to find her online, her details are at the bottom of the post. Make sure you follow her online for more sensational photos.
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Hey! Introduce yourself please!

Hi my is Rachel Ocheja (eeek! its exciting/ weird using the new surname). I am a natural hair blogger and I am obsessed with living a healthy and organic lifestyle!

You sported a fantastic natural hairstyle on your wedding day. Why did you decide not to hide your natural hair for the special day? What made you so confident?

Okay, first I would like to say I had some natural hair extensions in my hair for added volume and as a protective measure, although looking back I could have just used all my hair (Kemi Lewis was so gentle even with the extensions). I decided not to hide my hair because natural hair is beautiful. Also, I want to show African women, that our hair is great for every occasion!
There is this view that natural hair is a fad and its unkempt, rough, or a fashion statement etc, well…………it isn’t all those things. As the name implies “natural” hair is our hair as God intended and it can be used for the office, for walking on the street and on your wedding day!!!!! Women of other races don’t fix afro extensions for their weddings so why do Nigerian/African/ Black women feel that their own natural texture isnt good enough for a day like their wedding? I got a lot of “so are you relaxing it for the wedding?” and my answer was always NOOOOOOOOOOOOO.
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How did you decide on a stylist?

Hmmmm I was just looking for someone who was talented and someone who knew how to work well with natural hair! I found Kemi Lewis on Instagram, and I fell in love with the beautiful styles she created. To try her out I came to her salon ( KL’s natural beauty bar) with my hair shrunken and she did a great job.
Her staff are well trained, she was really gentle with my hair and only used products I agreed with! After that I was done! I asked her to do my bridal hair and she agreed!
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Did you work with her to come up with a style? Did you do a mock trial before the big day?

I didnt work with my stylist at all to come up with the style! I have zero creativity in that department. I had no time for a mock trial ( well really I was too lazy) so on the day, under pressure and in 30mins, Kemi came up with something fantastic.
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What would you advice other Natural Nigerians to do if they wanted to rock their natural hair for the big day?

Just werk that natural look ladies! Its your hair and most importantly its your day! If you want to have an afro or shave your head its your choice and no one should make you feel bad about that.
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Love this race to win at cutting the cake first.

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Okay, let’s digress a bit and talk about that dress! It was quite unique. Why did you decide on that one?

Well I had two dresses, which one are you asking about? lol. (NN  says: I was talking about the one for the reception)
The church one was pretty simple and appropriate for church. However, the one for the reception was a testament to my personality.
I like things to be fun and interesting so I was looking for a dress that would say I had some “spunk” lol. The pearls at the back was really what did it for me, I just loved the detail.
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Where can we find you online?

On my Blog and on Instagram.
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We wish you strength, love and peace in your married life, Rachel!
Bride’s Make Up:   Mamza Beauty
Photography:         Dammell Photography

Today is Healthy Monday!! Let’s stop talking about food for a minute and talk instead about something that will help you exercise right.

A few years ago, while reading Gym instructor and personal trainer,  Adura’s blog, I came across a post that mentioned the importance of getting a gait analysis done when buying new running shoes. I had never gotten that done before but was immediately interested.

It is based on the fact that our foot arch or lack of it (in the case of those that have flat feet) determine the way our feet are aligned.

Arch Type

If you know your arc type, this is a pretty cool way of figuring out your foot alignment. If you don’t look at the bottom of the post for a link that will help you determine what your arch type is.

I wasn’t able to find a place that could conduct the test in Nigeria so I wound up getting it done in a shop that sells running equipment in the UK. I went with my cousin, Chinelo, and they soon had us running barefoot on a treadmill to see whether we overpronate, underpronate or have a normal gait while running. After they determined which category I fell into, they tested me running with shoes and we settled on one that gave me the most support.

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This shows the running gait of people that fall under the different categories.

Did it make a difference?…..Yep!! So much so that I haven’t since bought running shoes without getting a fit test or gait analysis done.

In case you are wondering about the results: I discovered that I overpronate (no surprise there as I have flat feet), and wound up buying a pair of ASICS with proper structural support. I absolutely love ASICS. So very comfortable, I could live in them.

Why is a Gait Analysis so important?

  • The right shoes can prevent injury while running. As a matter of fact, if you have a recurring injury, it may be down to your shoes not providing the right support.
  • Improves form and body alignment for better performance while running.
  • Even if you are not a runner, this is helpful in determining the sort of every day shoes you should be buying for every day shoes.

My last pair of running shoes came from New Balance. I went to a New Balance store and they conducted a professional fit analysis to get me the right shoes. No running involved. I simply stepped on an iSTEP scanner which mapped my feet and advised the fit specialist which shoes I would need for the right support.

Here is a picture of my scan, the bits in red are the places where I most apply pressure when standing.  This is what flat feet look like.

Natural Nigerian Running Shoes

Do you see me in the picture, taking the picture? Apparently I always shove my sunglasses on my head when I am indoors.

I bought a pair of shoes with built-in support. They also sold me orthotics which I no longer wear (they were too uncomfortable).

Cool Links Bonus:

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.

Shampoo - How much? Natural Hair Nigeria Products

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.

Processed food in Nigeria

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.

Nigeria unhealthy food

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.

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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. texture

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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

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. density

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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

  • Alopecia
  • Hormonal Imbalance
  • 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.

References
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.

Why do we need preservatives anyway? Natural Cream Nigeria

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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.

 

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