Anthea McGibbon, Staff Reporter
There's hardly a better expert on natural hair care than someone who has been in the business all her life. Gillian 'Minka' Francis, who is completing naturopathy studies, is now working on her own commercial line of products for natural hair. Minka, disappointed with the limited natural products available on the market, recently took time out to share tips with Jamaicans who choose sheer natural beauty.
Natural hair has one big advantage - escaping the risk of chemically induced hair destruction. When not cared properly, chemically treated hair breaks, splits or just falls off much quicker than its natural counterpart. Further, Minka opines that natural hairstyles are low maintenance, and offers the flexibility of spontaneous activities, such as taking a splash in a river, sea or pool or even standing in a shower of rain.
It is also Minka's conviction that hair left natural is stronger and healthier.
Minka says the transition from chemically treated to natural dos, or, from natural hairdos to locked hair, may be difficult. However, having a competent stylist or hairdresser should offset that challenge.
Minka suggests wearing a nightcap to keep natural hairstyles, such as braided hair, intact.
Products and diet are priceless elements in achieving and maintaining healthy natural hair.
Diet must be balanced. Hair lacking necessary nutrients usually becomes dry. Vitamin E, which may be sourced from carrot and wheat germ, enhances hair growth. Vitamin B can be sourced from oats, wheat germ cabbage, brown rice and seeds, while citrus, cabbage, parsley, green pepper, watercress, broccoli, and turnip are rich reservoirs of vitamin C.
Horsehair is good tonic for bones and teeth. Sugar must be avoided.
Any product containing stearic acid from animals should be avoided.
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Some home-remedy recommendations from Minka
For daily care, a 50-50 mixture of olive oil and castor oil is ideal. If hair is dry, the mixture portions are reduced with the addition of 1/3 water to get it thick and shiny.
To lighten hair, chamomile, with a few drops of lemon, essential oil is recommended. For making hair darker, sage or rosemary essential oils can be used, adding it to the oil mixture as hair rinse with water.
To reduce itching or dandruff, Minka suggests using soaked garlic in apple cider vinegar, adding ginger powder as well.
Tea tree oil is a good product, but isn't readily available in Jamaica and isn't cheap. She avoids beeswax.
For balding hair, cayenne pepper mixed with vodka is the expert's remedy, but some persons prefer aloe vera or the tuna plant, which also reduces dandruff.
Nettle, which can be found in herbal product stores, is a useful tool for tackling balding.
Minka recommends powdered custard apple seeds or eating cloves of garlic to address lice infestation.
For eczema, she recommends a course of garlic and vinegar.
Eucalyptus, peppermint and lavender are popular shampoo choices. For conditioners, she advises avocado, papaya, banana or herbal rinses.
WARNING: Before taking oral treatments, consult a physician.