Natural Inspiration | The Angelica Doll

Since I joined Instagram, I’ve been discovering all sorts of wonderful things. One of these things is the ‘Angelica doll’, created by Angelica Sweeting, the founder of Naturally Perfect Dolls.

Naturally Perfect has one specific aim — to change the standard of beauty for young girls, one doll at a time, and encourage self-acceptance, diversity and exposure. With the help of my daughters, we created the ‘Angelica Doll’ – the first natural hair 18 inch doll for young girls. I’m creating Angelica to let girls know that they are beautiful. Our girls need to see a reflection of their own unique beauty. It’s time for our young girls to have a new standard.”

Now I am not a big fan of Barbie dolls, I think they encourage unrealistic beauty standards in girls and I don’t plan to buy one for Miss E. I am however, a fan of showing her positive images and representations of black people and culture, and it’s for that reason, that I love this doll!! Angelica is 18 inches long, that is a big doll y’all. It means she’ll be solidly built, sturdy and designed to be a toy, not an accessory. She’s black, though that might seem like I’m stating the obvious, up until a few years ago, this was a rarity. She has realistic body measurements, full nose and lips, no makeup and kinky curly hair. This is the deal clincher for me. I love that Angelica has a body, face and hair that my daughter can relate to and learn from. This doll, because of its size could be a very useful tool in the process of teaching little black girls about their hair and skin; how to love it and how to care for it. In short, I am sold on this doll and I think its one, every black mother should seriously consider buying.
The doll is still in pre-production phase. The company has just launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the first production order. Check out their Facebook Page for more images of Angelica and head on over to their Website for more info on the kickstarter campaign and how you can support. As at the time of writing this post, the campaign has raised over $18,000 and is close to reaching its target of $25,000. It’s so encouraging to see the global black community supporting one of it’s own.

The HeavenBerry Hairshow

I am all about the next generation, educating, encouraging and inspiring them so I get really excited when I see them doing the very same thing. Meet HeavenBerry y’all, Youtube’s youngest natural hair vlogger. She’s 9 years old and is rocking the most gorgeous head of natural hair. Her YouTube channel, The HeavenBerry Hairshow 4 Kids is all about helping other children learn about their hair and how to take care of it. She’s confident, knowledgeable and very engaging, she could certainly teach a few of us ‘pros’ a thing or two.

 

Product Alert | Curly By Nature Nourishing Gloss Balm

I am such a sucker for a good ingredients list. I think because I’ve dabbled in product making I have an appreciation for a well-researched and developed product. So you’ll understand my excitement when info about this little baby hit my mailbox. Introducing the new Nourishing Gloss Balm from Curly By Nature.

“Featuring Jojoba Wax this unique balm is perfect for the hair and scalp. It effectively nourishes, conditions, softens and seals in moisture to encourage hair growth, retention and protection.”

Ingredients

Avocado Oil, Jojoba Wax, Rose Hip Oil, Pumpkin Oil, Carrot Oil, Chickweed Oil, Meadowfoam Oil, Castor oil, Coconut oil, Passionflower Oil, Baobab Oil, Vitamin E, Olive Oil, Chamomile CO2 Extract, Sea Buckthorn CO2 Extract, Rosemary Antioxidant

Check out that ingredient list, it’s like the who’s who of antioxidants. I love that it uses Jojoba Wax as its base. Jojoba is very similar in composition to our body’s natural sebum and so is good for people with sensitive or dry scalps. Carrot, Rose Hip and Baobab oil are regenerative whilst Avocado, Castor and Olive oil absorb well, are super softening and help lock in moisture. Luckily for me, I was sent a sample to try out by the lovely Klerissa, the Founder of Curly by Nature. I will trial it over the next few weeks on both myself and Miss E and let y’all know how we get on so stay tuned.

The Book Shelf | Chocolate Hair Vanilla Care: A Parent’s Guide to Beginning Natural Hair Styling

I have been an avid follower of the blog Chocolate Hair Vanilla Care for a while now, even more so since I had Miss E. You see, the blog charts the journey of Rory Mullen as she learned to care for her adopted daughter, Boo’s hair.  What’s so special about the blog is that Rory is white and Boo is black, hence chocolate hair, vanilla care. I have always been impressed by Rory’s dedication to learning about the unique needs of her daughter’s hair and she is now such a pro, she could open up a braiding bar and make serious change!

I haven’t been on the blog in a bit, as I’ve been so busy with Miss E so you can imagine my surprise and excitement when I popped over and saw that Rory had released a book.

Chocolate Hair Vanilla Care: A Parent’s Guide to Beginning Natural Hair Styling covers basic hairstyles and techniques, from learning to part naturally curly hair to styling cornrows and twists. If you are a transracial adoptive parent, a parent of a biracial child, or caregiver to a young one with kinky-curly hair, this book is everything you need to stat a hairstyling routine with your child. This comprehensive guide is organized so that you can read sections on an as-needed basis, addressing techniques and maintenance that are specific to your family’s needs at any point along your child’s haircare journey.

This book has officially gone to the top of my must buy list. Whilst I know a lot about looking after my natural hair, Miss E’s hair is a whole other kettle of fish. There are several techniques I need to learn or improve such as parting hair, flat twisting and box braids and luckily for me, this book covers these topics and more. It features ‘almost 500 full colour photos, including step-by-step tutorials’ and also covers useful topics such as entertaining your child during styling and maintaining hairstyles.  Being familiar with Rory’s writing style from her blog, I’m very confident that this book will be both informative and easy to read.

I plan to get both the Kindle and print version as I’d like a copy for Miss E and I to read through together and also something quick and accessible on my phone. The book is available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

Product Alert | Emma’s Little Creations

We’ve been having a bit of a cold spell in the UK lately so when Kveta, the owner of Emma’s Little Creations approached me about reviewing one of her winter hats, it felt like kismet. Kveta is a stay-at-home mum of 5, who started her Etsy shop after the birth of her youngest daughter, Emma. She began by making swaddling blankets and moved to hats after reverse engineering an old hat she owned. Fast forward 6 years and Emma’s Little Creations (ELC) stocks a wide range of custom hats and accessories all hand made by Kveta. She has an awesome motto, which I just love – “Hands to work, heart to God.”

Now did I mention that the hat wasn’t actually for me but for Miss E…yup yup, her very first product review! I’m super fussy about what I put on and in Miss E, but when I discovered that ELC’s hats could be made with a satin lining, I was like oh yeah, we’ll try some of that. Miss E is a back sleeper and has been developing a bald spot in the back of her head from all that time spent snoozing. Thus, I was pretty excited to try something that would keep her warm whilst outside without further exacerbating the problem. I have to say, I initially fell in love with the animal hats and the only reason I did not get a froggy hat is because the hubby threatened me with divorce.

In the end I went for the Fleece Baby Winter Hat with visor and earflaps in cream and pink. I felt this would give Miss E the most protection against the cold and wind.

So how did we get on I hear you ask? In short, we love it!! Miss E can be a bit funny about me putting things on her head and if she doesn’t like something, she invariably pulls it off. The ELC hat definitely got her seal of approval, she was supremely unbothered about having it on, in fact she seemed to get quite calm and chilled once it was on. It is very easy to get on and off, whether her hair is styled or in full afro mode. The fit is great also; I got it in size 6-9 months so there is a bit of growing room. The fleece is soft and the satin lining is plush and thick, all too often people skimp and use a cheaper, thinner grade of satin.  I found Kveta’s workmanship on the hat to be faultless, it even arrived in some pretty pink tissue paper with a cute little tag.  The final test of course is does it keep Miss E warm? My happy answer is yes it does. Miss E is a head sweater and overheats very easily. The hat is able to keep her head and ears warm without making her too hot, plus the visor adds a little bit of sun protection.

The hat is a hit! It is so pretty, especially with the crochet flower in front. If I were to make any changes it would be the lining and only because I’m extra like that. It’s also less of a change and more of an upgrade. I’d switch to full silk which is a natural fibre that gives all the slip of satin but with breathability and moisture retention. I would definitely recommend Emma’s Little Creations hats for both small and grown-up heads. The quality is impeccable and for all my curly haired gals looking to protect their curls and stay warm, its a win win situation! ELC delivers worldwide and stocks both ready to ship and custom items.

‘I love her hair’, said the Caucasian mother!

I realised something recently, my daughter’s hair is an endless source of fascination and interest for the Caucasian mothers I meet in our daily travels. Whether she’s in full Afro mode or has ponytails in hair bands, I will always get a comment and it’s always positive. Even the other babies try to cop a feel. It made me start paying closer attention to the hair of the other babies around us to try and understand what was so special about Miss E’s barnet. What I noticed was a whole load of bald babies, I kid you not. The few that did have hair, it was usually quite wispy, silky and FLAT!! That was the main difference. Whichever way I styled her hair, whether in its natural glory or intricately coiffed, it tended to protrude a good few inches from her head.

Thus at 6 months old the differences between Miss E and her peers is already evident and noticeable. Right now it’s positive and I pray God it always remains so for her. But chances are it won’t and my job as her mother is to instill in her a strong sense of her self worth and beauty so that she is able to take pride in the very things that make her different!

NB. That is not Miss E in the image above, though weirdly enough it does look like her!

Baby Talk | Finger Coils on Miss E

Miss E’s hair is getting pretty long now. It pretty thick too except in the back where she’s got a bit of a Friar Tuck situation going on. Its also starting to knot up and picking up lint like no-one’s business. Up till now I’ve left her hair well alone and I’ve just kept it moisturised and detangled with water and shea butter. However, I think it’s now time to start styling her hair. I’ve been playing around with her hair to see how she handles me touching, making parts and putting in elastic bands. She’s fairly tolerant as long as she’s well fed and I put on an episode of Doc McStuffins (she adores this show).

 I decided to start simple and try finger coils. They are quick to do, don’t require any elastic bands and make for a very low-tension style. My biggest problem was getting access to the back of her head and how to keep her hair out of the way after I’d made a parting.  To solve the back of the head problem I did the front, middle and sides of her hair whilst she was in her high chair then I put her in this little contraption.

It is very low to the ground however, so against the manufacturers guidelines I did prop it on top of a very wide foot stool. I just made sure to attach the food tray and never left her unattended whilst elevated. Keeping her hair out of the parts was a little trickier as her hair is too short for clips and grips are too fiddly. In the end I discovered that my hair combs did a magnificent job of keeping her loose hair out of the way without causing me a headache or her any pain.

To do the coils I first wet her whole head with water then I parted a small square section of hair.  To that section I applied some aloe vera gel from Anita Grant. I love this gel, it has no additives and is super gentle on hair, plus it gives great hold.

After applying the gel, I coiled the hair around my finger making sure to keep the base fairly tight. This style can last about 3-4 days depending on how small you do the parts. Unfortunately, Miss E is a very handsy little girl and the morning after I did the style I discovered she’d pretty much destroyed it during the night. For us, finger coils would have to be a one maybe two day style at most but they do look super cute on her.

The Book Club | Emi’s Curly, Coily, Cotton Candy Hair

It is super important to me that my daughter be surrounded by positive images of black women. I want her to see people who look like her when she watches tv, opens up a magazine or delves into the wonderful world of literature. Thus, I was very excited to hear about this new book from Tina Olajide, a prominent figure in the UK natural hair world.

Everyone…meet Emi!

Emi’s Curly, Coily, Cotton Candy Hair is about Emi, ‘a creative seven-year-old girl with a BIG imagination’ and in this book she describes all the cool and quirky things she likes most about her hair. From the shape and movement of her hair to detangling single strand knots.

The Inspiration:

“I created Emi, because I realised there weren’t enough heroines for little brown girls to look up to. Emi reminded me of the confident and inquisitive little girl I was and the importance of nurturing the spark inside every girl.”

-Tina Olajide

Future stories will explore STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and the arts through Emi’s eyes, bringing girls and boys along for each new adventure.  The book is available on Amazon.com and Amazon UK and would make a great Christmas present for any little girls or boys in your life.

Product Alert | Aunt Jackie’s & Texture My Way

I recently went to the official UK launch of Aunt Jackie’s and Texture My Way products. Produced by House of Cheatham, both product ranges are aimed towards curly haired girls and are sulphate, mineral oil and paraben free.

Aunt Jackie’s products are all about getting the most out of your curls with products aimed at maintaining and styling curly, coily and kinky hair

The products I’m most interested in trying are Don’t Shrink Flaxseed Elongating Curling Gel as every curly needs a good gel and I like the fact that it uses flaxseed. I’m also intrigued by the Knot On My Watch Instant Detangling Therapy. As a curly haired girl, detangling is the most arduous part of the wash process and anything that will help speed things up is a must have.

Texture My Way products work to give you maximum styling choices. There’s something for those who like their twist/braid-outs and for those who wanna rock it straight, there are also options. I have to be honest and say that I don’t love the packaging, it reminds me too much of the cheap brands you get in afro shops. However, I don’t believe in judging a book my its cover and will get back to y’all with a review shortly.

 

The product I’m most interested in trying is the Naturally Straight as I’m always looking for a product which will protect my hair when straightening and also give me a smooth straight finish.

Vendor Alert | Beauty By Zara

Do you remember my favourite leave-in conditioner? The one I loved more than any other?

Yeah that one…Curl Junkie Curl Assurance Smoothing Lotion

You may also remember that I had to say goodbye to it because Curl Emporium the only UK supplier were no longer selling it?? Well this is why one should never give up hope coz I’ve found a new supplier!!! Beauty by Zara is my new product hot spot.

Originally started as Zara Hair & Cosmetics store in Walworth Road, South London, they now have a Beauty by Zara store in Grays, Essex as well as the online store, beautybyzara.com. These people are seriously well connected. They have all of the natural staples such as Shea Moisture, Bee Mine and Jane Carter Solution, but then they’ve got some right old corkers such as As I Am, Entwine Naturalle Couture and DevaCurl. I’m really struggling to contain my inner product junkie, it’s like an alcoholic discovering a swanky new bar with all their favourite drinks has opened up next door!!