February 25, 2011

Celebrating Black History Month - Madam C.J. Walker

Madam C.J. Walker

Business woman, and philanthropist, Madam C.J. Walker is truly one of my inspirations, not only did she rise from the cotton fields in the south to start her own hair business, but she gave back to her community as well.

"I am a woman who came from the cotton fields of the South. From there I was promoted to the washtub. From there I was promoted to the cook kitchen. And from there I promoted myself into the business of manufacturing hair goods and preparations….I have built my own factory on my own ground." Madam Walker, National Negro Business League Convention.

"On Her Own Ground, The Life and Times of Madam CJ Walker" was written by her great-great granddaughter, A’Lelia Bundles. It reads like an African American history book, packed with historical figures, dates and events. It is a very inspirational biography and one that I think should be a part of everyone's personal library.

The book describes the interactions Madam C.J. Walker had with other historical figures, such as Booker T. Washington, Mary McLeod Bethune, Paul Laurence Dunbar, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Nannie Helen Burroughs.

It also details her numerous contributions to organizations such as the YMCA, YWCA, NAACP, and numerous educational institutions such as the Tuskegee and Daytona Normal and Industrial Institutes.

I had the opportunity to interview A’Lelia Bundles and she had this to say about her great-great grandmother.

"I hope people will remember that Madam Walker’s business success is only part of her legacy. That she became a millionaire is, of course, noteworthy, but that she used her wealth and influence as a philanthropist, political activist and advocate for women’s economic independence really is what makes her worth remembering."

"Even then, her focus was on healthy hair and healing the scalp disease that was so rampant at the time …. I know many people still associate her primarily with hair straightening, but if they really examine the record – looking at her original ads, her letters, the products she and the Walker Company actually sold before her death in 1919 – I believe their interpretation would be different," she added.

This goes along with a quote from Madam C.J. Walker, from the book. "Right here let me correct the erroneous impression held by some that I claim to straighten hair," she told the Indianapolis Recorder. "I deplore such impression because I have always held myself out as a hair culturist. I grow hair."

Check out this video of A’Lelia Bundles, talking about Madam C.J. Walker and the discoveries she made about her great-great grandmother at the National Archives…

More information

YouTube Video - The Citizen TAG - The Legacy of Madam Walker Part 1

YouTube Video - The Citizen TAG - The Legacy of Madam Walker Part 2

February 23, 2011

Celebrating Black History Month with Ursula Burns

Ursula Burns is the first black woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company. She is also the first woman to succeed another woman as head of a Fortune 500 company. On July 1, 2009 she was named the CEO of Xerox. Accomplishing this all while sporting her TWA :o)

Ursula Burns is a graduate of Polytechnic Institute of NYU, and holds a Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University.

Ursula Burns started with Xerox as a summer intern in 1980 and after receiving her Master’s degree she joined the company as a full-time employee, and worked her way up to the CEO position. She has also been a member of the board of directors since 2007.

She serves as Director of the F.I.R.S.T. (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Foundation, National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, and the National Academy Foundation

Ursula Burns also serves on several professional and community boards, including American Express, The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, MIT, the U.S. Olympic Committee and the University of Rochester.

She was named by President Barack Obama to help lead the White House national program on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) in November 2009 and was appointed Vice Chair of the President’s Export Council in March 2010.

Check out this video of Ursula Burns speaking to the YWCA via XeroxCorp YouTube Channel - I wish it was her entire presentation, but although short it's very inspirational.

The Daily Voice
News - Xerox.com
XeroxCorp YouTube Channel

February 21, 2011

Flowers for Your Hair - Literally

Although it may not feel like it springtime is approaching - so I decided to pull another one of my Coco and Creme mag - archived articles up to post - one about flowers.

This is not a post about accessories though, it's about flowers as ingredients in hair care. I use flowers/herbs in hair tea rinses - *shamless plug - warning* - for those who'd rather let someone else do the 'mixing' for you check out my ready-to-use Bobeam Hair Teas ;o)
But anyway - I'm sure most have heard about the benefits of flowers/herbs like Chamomile, Rosemary and Lavender, so I thought it would be interesting to research some that may not be as well known.

First up is Hibiscus - and this is my favorite - it turns my rinse red too - but doesn't color hair and I like the taste of the tea as well :o)


One of the most common flowering trees of India is the Hibiscus tree. Hibscus is part of the Malvaceae, or the Mallow, family of flowers. Both cotton, and the original ingredient used to make marshmallows, come from this group of flowers.
Okra is also a mallow. And I always thought Okra was a gross vegetable (no offense to those like my mom and husband who love it).

Ancient woman of India used Hibiscus extracts as hair treatments. Both the leaves and flowers of the tree are included in Ayurvedic therapy, and used in cosmetic formulations. The flowers and leaves contain many properties that benefit hair and scalp, and help in the treatment of dandruff and hair loss.

Hibiscus has a soothing and cooling action on the scalp. It is beneficial to those who suffer from the scalp condition seborrhea because of its astringent properties which help to reduce oil-gland secretions and excessive oiliness in the hair and scalp.
Hibiscus also helps to reduce scaling, itching, and redness, and reduces clogged pores, thereby improving overall hair health.Hibiscus flowers and leaves can be steeped in boiling water overnight, then strained and used directly on your scalp as a final rinse and left in your hair.

Calendula officinalis, or marigold, has been used for medicinalpurposes for centuries. Calendula contains a high amount of falconoids, which are plant-based antioxidants that protect the body against cell-damaging free radicals.

Calendula has anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antibacterial effects, and Calendula powdered extract soothes irritated scalp, and improves the condition of the scalp.
Calendula flowers can also be steeped in boiling water overnight, strained and then used directly on your scalp as a final rinse and left in your hair.

The Tiare (tee-a-ray) flower, or Gardenia tahitensis, is from the Rubiaceae family. It is Tahiti’s national flower.

The combination of coconut oil and Tiare flower makes up the popular Monoi de Tahiti oil. The oil can be created by soaking ten Tiare flowers, which must come from French Polynesia, in one litre of refined coconut oil for a minimum of ten days.
In Polynesia, the flowers are soaked in refined copra oil (virgin coconut oil) for a minimum of 15 days. The process of soaking allows the flowers to release their essence into the oil, thereby producing the wonderful Monoi fragrance.

Monoi oil can be applied daily to improve hair texture. It smoothes the hair cuticle, and penetrates the hair shaft, to add moisture and shine, and aids in detangling. Monoi oil can also be applied after washing - or used on dry hair as a hair mask. Just apply the oil, cover your hair with a plastic cap for about 30 minutes, then rinse and wash.


Arnica, a.k.a Arnica Montana, is a member of the Daisy family. Arnica in herbal form is primarily restricted to topical use because it can cause serious side effects when taken internally.

Arnica’s antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties treat scalp infections. Arnica rejuvenates the scalp, stimulates hair follicles, strengthens hair, promotes hair growth, and helps with premature hair loss and graying. It also nourishes the scalp and controls dandruff by limiting sebum production.

Arnica Chamonesis looks very similar to Arnica Montana, but its flowersare somewhat smaller. Arnica Chamonesis can be very toxic even if usedin very low doses. Always use in a diluted form—infused with a carrieroil. Arnica extract can be safely used in hair preparations at a concentration of 1 to 2 percent.

Prolonged use may irritate the skin, causing eczema, peeling, blisters,or other skin conditions. Arnica should not be used on broken skin oropen wounds. Do not use if pregnant or breast feeding.

I hope this was helpful - Peace and Blessings...

More info

February 14, 2011

Expressing Love for Your Hair via Ayurveda

Ayurveda is a holistic approach to health that is designed to help people live long, healthy, and well-balanced lives.

The term Ayurveda is taken from the Sanskrit words ayus, meaning life or lifespan, and veda, meaning knowledge. It has been practiced in India for at least 5,000 years.

The basic principle of Ayurveda is to prevent and treat illness with natural herbal remedies and first and foremost by maintaining balance in the body, mind, and consciousness through proper diet, and lifestyle.

We all know that poor diet, illness, lack of proper hygiene, and nutritional deficiencies can all affect the hair and cause various problems. Many are taking an Ayurvedic approach to maintaining healthy hair.

A Quick lesson in Ayurveda

In Ayurveda, doshas are the functional intelligences within the body mind complex, they are the energies that make things happen within an organism.

There are three dosha predominant constitutions; Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, where two doshas are equally or nearly equally predominant ( Vata-Pitta, Pitta-Kapha and Vata-Kapha; and one tridoshic Prakruti with all three doshas equally prominent Vata-Pitta-Kapha)

Everyone has Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, but usually one or two are dominant in a particular person. Stress, and an unhealthy diet are among the things that can disturb the doshas balance.

Vata is the energy of movement. It is the energy that controls bodily functions associated with motion including blood circulation, breathing, blinking and heartbeat. When it is balanced creativity and vitality are present.

When Vata is not balanced, this produces fear and anxiety.

Pitta is the energy of digestion and metabolism. It is the energy that controls the body's metabolic systems, including digestion, absorption, nutrition, and temperature.

When Pitta is balanced contentment and intelligence are present. When it is not balanced anger and even ulcers arise.

Kapha is the energy of lubrication and structure. It is the energy that controls growth in the body. This energy supplies water to all body parts, moisturizes the skin and maintains the immune system. When Kapha is balanced, love and forgiveness are present. When it is not balanced, it results in insecurity and envy.

Ayurveda Holistic Hair Care

When it comes to hair care, the Ayurvedic practice of keeping the doshas balanced play a key role in maintaining healthy hair. Along with the obvious things, like moisturizing, conditioning, protecting your ends, minimizing the use of heat, etc, incorporate the following Ayurvedic steps to ensure healthy hair.

1. Start with a nutritious diet. Eat lots of leafy green vegetables, fresh fruits and nuts - avoid caffeinated drinks, spicy, fried and greasy food. Foods such as Good-for-your-hair white sesame seeds, whole grains, dates and raisins, fresh yogurt, bean sprouts, and healthy fats such as olive oil, are great for overall hair health.

Cook with spices that enhance digestion and purify body tissues: turmeric, black pepper, fenugreek, coriander and cumin digestion-enhancing (balancing Pitta). Also, add vitamins and supplements to your diet.

2. Make a weekly hair and scalp massages part of your hair care routine which nourish your hair and scalp and enhances circulation (balancing Vata) - olive oil will do the trick, and you can also infuse your oil with herbs by steeping a tea bag filled with chamomile, hibiscus etc, in hot oil for a few hours then using the cooled mixture to massage scalp and/or as a hot-oil treatment.

3. Follow a regular cleansing routine (balancing Kapha). Whether you do this daily, weekly, or bi-weekly a clean, build-up free scalp is one of the major keys to healthy hair. Remember, wash your scalp with the pads of your fingers not your nails and do a final rinse with cool water.

Also, remember to clean your hair tools as well, soaking brushes and combs in boiled water and/or shampoo regularly helps to get rid of dead skin cells, oils and dirt.

4. Balance all three doshas, Pitta, Vata, and Kapha by managing stress, and getting plenty of sleep. Stress can lead to hair loss and sleep deprivation is a form of stress.

Emotional or physical stress related to a death in the family, pregnancy, severe weight loss or surgery, pushes large numbers of growing hairs into a resting phase called resulting in hair loss called telogen effluvium. Although it can take months, this type of hair loss grows back when the emotional or physical stress is resolved.

For some, intense stress may trigger a type of hair loss called alopecia areata. With this type of hair loss, white blood cells attack the hair follicle which stops hair growth and within weeks, the affected hair falls out.

This type of hair loss usually starts as a small round patch, but may eventually spread to the whole scalp, and sometimes to body hair as well. The hair generally grows back, but the cycle may repeat itself.

Keeping a journal, making time for hobbies, going for walks and taking long baths, are just a few of the ways to manage and/or reduce stress. Try practicing Yoga and meditation, which are the primary Ayurvedic treatments for stress.

By making these things a part of your lifestyle, you will see a great improvement in the health of your hair and overall health.

Peace and Blessings...

Ayurvedic Approach to Beauty
Ayurveda Info

Ayurveda Resources

Ayurvedic Hair Recipes

Ayurvedic Clarifying Rinse

February 07, 2011

Conditioners, aid in detangling, fighting frizz, strengthening and preventing damage to your hair by locking in moisture. But exactly how do they work?

Most conditioners fall into the category of surface acting conditioners. They are formulated to work on the outer layer or cuticle of the hair strand. Deep conditioners - the ones where you are instructed to keep on from 15 to 20 mins with a plastic cap and/or heat - contain ingredients that are humectants (moisture retainers).

Deep conditioners penetrate the inner core, the cortex, of your hair supplying moisture and protein. They also contain hydrating ingredients such as aloe, wheat germ and olive oil. These conditioners, are called pack conditioners, and are heavy and creamy in consistency.

Leave-in conditioners do not penetrate the hair strand, but are formulated to quickly coat the hair and protect it until the next washing. They are lightweight, and will contain lighter conditioning agents, which add little weight to the hair.

Each hair strand has three layers and the cuticle is the outer layer which protects them. The cuticle consists of scales that cover the hair strand.

Perfect new born cuticle

Everyday styling, combing/brushing, washing, and the strands simply rubbing against each other causes friction and raises the scales on the hair strand. Conditioners work by coating the hair strand, making the scales close against the strand smoother.

Cuticle with everyday wear and tear

When the scales on the hair strand become severely damaged via harsh chemicals, bleach, sun, etc. the hair strand is weakened, begins to break down and layer by layer the cuticle begins to disappear exposing the cortex layer which it once protected. Once the cortex is exposed, split ends appear and the hair eventually breaks.

Again, conditioning your hair is a way to keep the scales on the hair strand smooth and therefore protecting the cuticle. Also after conditioning, when the hair dries, it is coated with a thin film, and prevents static electricity from building up and 'frizzing' the hair.

Our hair carries negative electrical charges, ingredients in conditioners carry positive electrical charges. The negative charges attract to the positive charges, which cancel each other out and therefore reduces static electricity, again eliminating frizz.

The thin film left behind by ingredients found in conditioners like panthenol, amino acids and Vitamin B5 also help raised cuticle scales on each hair strand to lie flat, which enhances hair color creating luster and shine. Flat cuticles also make the hair strands smoother and detangling much easier.

Peace and Blessings...


*Pictures - P&G Beauty

February 01, 2011

Celebrating Black History Month: Live Angela Davis and Toni Morrison

In celebration of Black History Month, I plan to feature a few of my hair inspirations as well as icons. First up are Angela Davis and Toni Morrison :o)

Activist, philosopher and writer, Angela Davis, was once on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list. Her image - is associated with the Black Panthers, and the Black Power Movement. Very few know that before the Black Panthers, she was active with the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee, SNCC, and that she ran for U.S. Vice President in 1985 on the Communist Party Ticket.

Some of her books include, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertude "MA" Rainey, Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday, Women, Culture and Politics, and Angela Davis: An Autobiography.

Novelist, editor and professor, Toni Morrison has won the Nobel prize in Literature - the first black woman to do so - and the Pulitzer, as well as other literary awards. Some of her books include, Sula, The Bluest Eye, Beloved, Paradise, Love, Song of Solomon, Tar Baby, Remember and The Dancing Mind.

An excerpt from her Nobel Lecture reads...
"Tell us what it is to be a woman so that we may know what it is to be a man. What moves at the margin. What it is to have no home in this place. To be set adrift from the one you knew. What it is to live at the edge of towns that cannot bear your company."

I just looove YouTube! Check out this video series I came across with Toni Morrison and Angela Davis recorded at the New York Public Library speaking about literacy and more :o)

There are eight parts to the video - see links below. Also be sure to check out the NYPL YouTube Channel for more interesting speakers.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Toni Morrison
Angela Davis

Peace and Blessings