New Year, New you!

New Year New You

This month, our guest contributor is 21 year old Aisha Rimi a final year student at the Queen Mary, University of London. She shares with us her experiences of transition from relaxed to natural hair.

new year new you

Looking back at my New Year’s Resolutions from last year, one of my goals for 2015 was to take better care of my hair and to have grown it to my shoulders. Since becoming 100% natural in February 2014, I’ve never really developed a proper routine when it came to caring for my hair and at times during my transition to being natural and post the transition, I often found it hard work to maintain a routine and to even treat my hair properly as I just found it hard work. Despite this all, I thought with the New Year it would be great to reflect on my natural hair journey over the last couple of years.

My hair was first relaxed when I was around seven or eight so I didn’t really have much recollection as to what my natural hair looked or felt like before then. Going natural was something that I knew that I wanted to do at some point in the future, but it wasn’t until my first year at university that I really decided to take the plunge and transition. It was when my friend showed me videos on YouTube of girls demonstrating their techniques and methods in caring for their natural hair in tutorials that I knew this was something I wanted to do. And so it was then that I started my year long journey of transitioning. I would braid, twist, Bantu knot my hair as well as try out styles such as a wash ‘n’ go, all whilst embracing my new found curls and bounce in my hair. I came to understand the importance of keeping my hair well moisturised with oils, shea butter and other products enriched with benefits for my hair.

I’m not going to lie to you, this ‘natural hair journey’ can be an arduous one and admittedly quite high maintenance but I’d never want to go back to relaxers. I love the way my healthy hair makes me feel and with the right routine and upkeep, I think that 2016 can bring my hair to new lengths.

Photos courtesy of Rasheada Morris

What Are Natural/Organic Skincare Products Anyway?

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You’re at the skincare section in the supermarket and you see one of those ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ products. What comes to mind is ‘What exactly does that mean?’, ‘What makes it natural or organic?’ That seems to be the case for most of us.

Well, to put it into simple words, natural or organic skincare products are basically products made from plant-derived ingredients which include oils, butters, flowers, herbs, roots, and even essential oils. They may also include products derived from animals like beeswax – a natural wax produced by honeybees.
I started my journey in the natural skincare business as an Undergraduate where I trained as a Chemist. I was always fascinated with trying different remedies for my dry skin and was inspired at the time by the late Anita Roddick who had successfully incorporated West African Shea butter into the Body Shop product range; something I was familiar with growing up in West Africa. I worked in the Pharmaceutical industry for close to two decades; however, I had always mixed my own skin remedies with ingredients from ‘home’ and also kept a keen interest in the natural skincare market.

The Current Market

Given the increasing popularity of organic skincare products, it comes as little surprise that it is currently the fastest growing segment in the personal care industry globally. The trend towards more organic and natural products for the skin is growing among developed countries.

In fact, in the UK, there has been a 20% increase in the sales of certified natural health and beauty products in 2014, accounting for £44.6 million in sales. In North America, the push for organic cosmetics is driving yet another boom in the industry, being even higher this time around!

In stark contrast, organic and herbal products and therapies have been in use in Asia and Africa for centuries, particularly India, China, and Japan. In Africa, the business boom coupled with the growing middle class and increasing urbanisation are driving the continent to become the next frontier of beauty and personal care products. South Africa and Nigeria are the biggest markets in the continent, accounting for $3.4 billion and $2 billion in value respectively.

The Case for Going Natural

We, as consumers, are realising the benefits of living a healthier lifestyle, which is why many of us are naturally inclined towards organic products. This trend is prevalent in all age groups today, especially in younger consumers who are realising the issues regarding skin care and are investing in products that provide long term benefits.
As information is readily available and accessible today, consumers want to shift from ‘synthetic’ chemical-based products to ones that are essentially ‘junk-free’, free of additives, and parabens. Because of this, traditional therapies for skin and beauty care are now surging in many parts of the world, especially Africa and Asia.
While there are many natural ingredients used in making skincare and hair care products, these are the most popular ones because of their effectiveness and relatively low adverse effects of use:

1. Shea Butter– Extracted from the nuts of shea tree (Karite), it is a rich source of Vitamins A & E that keeps skin supple, anti-allergic, protective, hydrated and soothed.
2. Coconut Oil–Extracted from the kernel or meat of matured coconuts harvested from the coconut palm, coconut oil protects, soothes, and softens the skin. It’s an excellent hair tonic and is also used to create a rich lather in soaps and shampoos.
3. Neem Oil– Neem oil rich in Vitamin A, B1, B2, B6, and D is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and antiseptic. Also rich in protein, linoleic acid & minerals, neem oil is nourishing for the skin and it is revered for its hair conditioning properties.
4. Argan Oil– Extracted from the kernels of the argan tree, it is rich in Vitamin A and E and is ideal for skin hydration, nourishing the hair, repairing split ends, promoting hair shine, and promoting overall health.
5. Hibiscus– The hibiscus flowers have a chemical composition of phosphorous calcium, riboflavin, and vitamin C. This makes hibiscus a remedy with exceptional properties that nourishes the hair, prevents premature greying and also helps to relieve the scalp from dandruff. Regular use of the flowers is also highly beneficial in preventing hair loss and improving hair growth.

The Future Is Bright

With global sales set to exceed US$131 billion in value by 2019, it’s safe to say that the market for natural and organic skincare products is well-established across North America and Europe. As more and more consumers realise the true health benefits of going organic, we are likely to see more natural products occupying the shelves.
My skincare range is a very personal collection. It is designed to be the ultimate source for natural and organic products for skincare, hair care, and beauty. Developing it has been a long and interesting journey for me, and I invite you to join me the rest of the way.