About a month ago I attended a natural hair event hosted by the Caribbean Students Association and African Student Association. As I mentioned in a previous post, it was a fabulous opportunity to meet other naturals and hear their thoughts, experiences, and opinions. It was also my chance to get my hands on a bottle of conditioner by London Ivy Products, which, much to my delight, was on discount just for the event!
FIRST IMPRESSIONS - The very first thing that caught my eye about this product is its ingredients list. This bottle is packed with some amazing ingredients I'd never even considered for hair care, such as broccoli seed oil for smoother, thicker hair, and camellia oil for nourishment. Because of these fantastic ingredients the company suggests the conditioner be used for co-washing so you can skip your shampoo entirely if you wish.
WHILE CLEANSING - It smells great! The conditioner lathers well and is neither watered-down nor too heavy when applied to wet hair. It delivers just the right amount of slip to facilitate detangling, too. I was pleasantly surprised to notice a gentle tingling sensation on my scalp, which I believe is thanks to the peppermint oil. I've read that peppermint oil is fantastic at stimulating hair growth by encouraging blood flow to the scalp, so this is definitely a welcome bonus!
AFTER CLEANSING - The product rinses out very easily and leaves my hair feeling soft and nourished. I've been having a hard time finding all-natural products that don't turn my hair to straw, so I'll definitely be keeping this conditioner around!
FINAL THOUGHTS - I feel good supporting this business because not only does it use natural and organic ingredients, but its products are locally manufactured too. Moreover, London Ivy Products is Black-owned and donates a portion of its proceeds to charity. Everybody wins!
Please note that I wasn't compensated in any way to write this product review.
What's your favourite conditioner? Share in a comment below!
Remember that post I wrote about the importance of surrounding yourself with other naturalistas as you embark on your hair journey? Well, on Sunday I practiced what I preached and attended a meetup hosted by Toronto Naturals called The Politics of Black Hair. The discussion of the day centred around the question "Is protective styling political or simply a style choice?" Needless to say, the conversation got pretty colourful! Monique London of London Ivy Products led the event by posing a series of questions to a panel of five naturalistas who have each found great success in the realms of vlogging, blogging, hairstyling, jewelry design, and wig making, to name a few. Because of their varied backgrounds, every panelist was able to bring a fascinating and unique perspective to the table.
I feel incredibly fortunate to have experienced the event at all because despite arriving twenty minutes early, I was too late to buy tickets at the door! I know, I know... I should have purchased an advanced ticket, but this event was so hot even those had sold out the week prior. It was disappointing to be turned away, but then someone piped up suggesting I stick around just in case there was a no-show at the last minute. I could hear upstairs that the venue was getting pretty full already, but I had a feeling it would be worth the wait. After all one of my favourite YouTubers, Toni Daley, was on the panel and I was pumped to see her in person. Luckily the event organizers were able to squeeze me in literally at the last second, and they even had some free lipbalm left!
When I got upstairs, I was pleasantly surprised by how funky the venue was. Harlem Restaurant (on Richmond and Church) has an eclectic and casual vibe to it. The stage area looks a bit like Graffiti Alley -vibrant hues of different paints, random cables strewn on door hooks, and exposed brick walls. Much to everyone's enjoyment the bar was fully stocked and there were original paintings of natural hair hung around the room for us to feast our eyes on.
The panel itself was lighthearted yet thought-provoking. Monique (or Mo for short) did an awesome job of gently guiding the conversation from general subjects like what constitutes a protective style to more serious issues about hair envy, hair type discrimination, and self-love. It was enlightening to hear the panelists describe their personal experiences. Some views I could identify with, others I hadn't considered before. At one point the discussion turned to whether or not women who wear weaves 24/7 are purposefully hiding their natural hair out of shame or embarrassment. This was particularly interesting to me, because lately I've been trying to avoid using extension hair and instead celebrate what my Mama gave me. To this, Toni Daley made a solid point. She paralleled the use of weaves to wearing makeup.
[Paraphrased] Some people wear makeup only to fancy occasions. Others wear it whenever they leave the house. And then there are those who wear makeup even when they're in their house all day. It's a personal choice. You can't say I don't love my skin just because I wear makeup, just as you can't say I don't love my hair if I wear weaves all the time.
Celebrity hairstylist Janet Jackson admitted she's all about the weave life because of the ease and effortlessness it affords her. She cited the difficulty of managing her own natural hair (which extends past her shoulders) when she has to be up as early as 3:00 AM for work, and that weaves are the best way for her to save time in her busy schedule and still look professional. Even though I've never had anything against weaves (I've been known to rock one on occasion), hearing what she had to say gave me a new appreciation for what other naturalistas go through.
One of the coolest things about the panel was — as far as I could tell — no two ladies had the exact same curl pattern. There was everything from famous vlogger Natural Neiicey's luscious, loose curls to the wonderfully kinkier coils of curly hair specialists Keina Morgan and Nicky Splinta. That variety gave a definite credibility and approachability to the event. It felt inclusive and honest, which I think is crucial for the natural hair community.
Then came the best part: FREE PRIZES! I was impressed by how many goodie bags Toronto Naturals had sourced for the prize draws. There were so many sponsors the giveaways just kept rolling. For once in my life I had a winning ticket in hand and landed a highly coveted gift basket from Rainbow Kisses Cosmetics! It contained two striking lipsticks (one in plum, the other a deep metallic turquoise) and a gift card. Hilariously enough, after collecting my prize two different people come up to me asking if I really wanted to keep the lipstick and if we could work out some sort of trade! Rainbow Kisses is just that good!
Despite lasting about three hours, the meetup seemed to fly by. Before I knew it the panel had concluded and everyone was encouraged to network around the room. I was glad to have the opportunity to catch up with my hairstylist Glenna Sandy who has had my back since I moved to Toronto and was helpless managing my own hair. I also got to fangirl Toni Daley and chat with her about the amazing movement she started, the #SupportASista campaign that encourages people to shop locally and support women-led, Black-owned companies. Janet Murphy of Roots to Curls was there too. She explained to me how exciting the last few months have been as she and her long-time friend and business partner have worked hard to get Roots to Curls off the ground.
Overall, it was really inspiring to be surrounded by so many independent, successful, and forward-thinking Black women! Big thanks to Toronto Naturals for continuing to host events like this. Can't wait for the next one!
Have you attended any natural hair events lately? Share your experience with me in a comment below!
o you know where your weave came from? Do you trust that the hair on your wig was attained ethically? Many of us enjoy the texture and versatility of hair extensions, but very few people know the truth behind the human hair industry. I recently listened to an incredibly eye-opening podcast by Natural Haircare News called The Lucrative Hair Weave Market that exposed some unsettling truths about how virgin hair is sourced. If you've ever had human hair extensions or plan to get them installed in the future, please listen to that episode first.
I don't want to give away too many details, but I was pretty blown away by the podcast. It made me realize just how ignorant we as consumers can be, and how much of a role we can play in perpetuating unethical practices through everyday purchasing decisions. It's bad enough that impoverished women are sacrificing their locks to pay for food, but according to the podcast in some cases the demand for Indian virgin hair is so extreme that suppliers will physically attack women in the streets, immobilize them, and forcibly cut off their hair. It goes without saying that these women aren't compensated for enduring such abuse. Then the same @$$holes who brutalize them turn around and charge the end consumer (ie: you and me) thousands of dollars for the hair.
I'm sorry if I've made you feel bad about your extensions. The purpose of this post isn't to shame anyone for wearing human hair, but to raise awareness. Whether it's a wig, a shampoo, or even a pair of boots it's absolutely imperative that we understand where our products are coming from. So what can you do?
I'm also a huge fan of the shop local movement, which empowers citizens of the Earth to reduce their carbon footprint and support local businesses by buying goods at farmers' markets and mom-and-pop shops instead of superstores. The more conscious we are about our purchasing decisions, the sooner we can put an end to barbarous business practices.
What do you do to shop ethically or reduce your carbon footprint? Share in a comment below!