Tag Archives: La Coco Bella

Q & A with La Coco Bella

The world Hair Care product industry is a huge global business, having generated nearly $49 billion in 2010 and expected to reach $58 billion by 2015.* That’s a lot of product literally going down the drain!
And what exactly happens to the ingredients in the products after they wash down the drain? The ingredients don’t just go away. We know that there are toxic chemicals in cosmetics that interfere with hormone function which may cause cancer. We already know that these chemicals are harmful to fish and other wildlife. All in the name of beauty?
The good news is that there are simple, toxic free ways to groom oneself. Aquarian Bath is an ecologically friendly business, running their website on just 3 Watts of solar power. They only use natural ingredients and promote plastic free alternatives. They are an example that it is possible to provide a safe and effective product in a sustainable way, while considering all the details from start to finish.
I began to wonder about this $50 billion industry. Each country has its hair care specialty geared to different ethnicities encouraging assimilation in order to sell more product. Is there really such a difference in hair types that require all these different gels and balms, sprays and so on? Over the years I have been somewhat aware of the different products available for African hair but because I don’t have African hair I never delved into learning about it. However, upon experimenting with natural shampoo bars for me and my family, I began to wonder if everyone could get accustomed to shampooing hair more naturally, like this, thus on a global scale, reducing the need for plastic bottles and cutting down on the amount of harmful chemicals we unwittingly expose ourselves to on a daily basis, which in turn pollutes the very environment we depend upon.
And so began my quest for deeper understanding. I came across Lauren’s blog: La Coco Bella and decided to ask her some questions. She seemed like the ideal person to ask because as she explains on her site, that after years of chemically treating her hair, she made the transition to natural hair products. From reading her blog and watching the video “You Can Touch My Hair”, it became clear to me that there is a lot more to African hair than all the work that goes into managing it.
Which begs the question: Why are we spending all this time managing hair? What is the big idea behind ‘managing it’ and the need for chemicals and ‘treatments’ to transform ones hair into something it isn’t. And I think this goes for a lot us…wanting the opposite of what we’ve got and fighting nature tooth and nail to get it. Poor nature.

Kathryn – Q: How long have you been using natural shampoo bars?

La Coco Bella A:  I’ve been using natural shampoo bars and products for about 2 years now. I don’t see myself ever changing that :o) The first brands I ever used were Bobeam Naturals and Henna Sooq bars.


 

Kathryn – Q: Do you make your own hair products?

La Coco Bella A: I haven’t quite delved into the realm of making my own products consistently but I have experimented here and there with a few raw ingredients like butters, oils, essential oils, etc. I do enjoy doing DIY hair treatments though! I hope to some day make and perhaps sell my own products because I have realized that the simplest, most natural products are the most effective and I don’t need to rely on large manufacturing companies to help me maintain healthy hair! For now, I’ve been sticking to small business/boutique vendors.


 

Kathryn – Q: How did you learn to make your own products?

La Coco Bella A: I was inspired to play around with a little mixology by paying close attention to what ingredients were in products I love and then checking out YouTube and Google for recipes to get the right measurements. Again, I am no pro and most of my “products” were just mixtures of different raw ingredients! Oh and coconut oil is a MUST have for anyone interested in healthy hair!


 

Kathryn – Q: How did your hair feel when you switched to natural shampoo?

La Coco BellaA: Since I had been using shampoos and conditioners that contained silicones, sulfates and other synthetic ingredients, my hair had to go through a brief detox stage because synthetic ingredients leave a coating on the hair. Natural shampoos break through all the synthetics and can take a few washes. I first switched the natural shampoo by using Terressentials Mud Wash and followed their protocol for detoxing.

I think the term detoxing freaks some people out but it’s really not as harsh as it sounds lol, its just that your hair can feel rubbery or straw-like during the detox stage. Natural shampoos open the hair cuticle so you have to ensure to properly condition it afterwards to close and seal the cuticle back down. Your hair usually feels amazing right away! The key is to be patient in the transition process and you will soon see how healthy, strong and shiny your hair becomes! Another MAJOR benefit I have found from natural shampoos is how well it cleanses and clarifies my scalp. When you have a healthy scalp, you create a healthy environment for hair to breathe and grow!


 

Kathryn – Q: Was the positive effect on your health and environment part of your decision to stop using chemical products?

La Coco BellaA: The positive effect on the health of my hair was the main decision for me to switch to natural hair products but if it helps the environment while I am at it, then hey, even better!


 

Kathryn – Q: What made you switch to natural shampoo bars and hair products?

La Coco BellaA: I started to educate myself by doing research online and seeing what the benefits of individual ingredients did. I also researched on the negatives of synthetic ingredients. This helped open my eyes and dispel a lot of the “myths” major hair product companies have been putting out there. I realized that the simplest, most natural ingredients were the most effective (and consistent!), not the products that had the best marketing ploys or cute packaging. God put everything we would ever need on this earth before man created chemicals in labs so that fact was more than enough for me to completely give up on synthetic hair products.


 

Kathryn – Q: I don’t know very much about African hair. Can you briefly explain the difference between African hair and other types of hair?

La Coco BellaA: I love that God created His children so uniquely. We all come from the same roots but we do have physical differences, our hair of course being one of them, so I don’t classify hair by race or ethnicity. Women of African descent can have thin, fine strait hair to super thick, dense, course hair. Hair also comes in difference textures, densities, porosity, thickness, etc. but women with thick, textured, curly hair, like myself, have to battle with dryness and breakage. Our main concerns are typically keeping our hair moisturized free of frizz. Curly hair in general is especially prone to dryness because it is harder for the natural oils from our scalp to reach the length of our hair. This means we have to take extra care in supplementing moisture by washing less frequently, sealing in moisture with butters/oils and doing deep conditioning treatments often. But when it all comes down to it, all hair types and textures really need the same basic essentials and natural hair products can cater to every type of hair regardless of ethnicity. The beauty of nature :o)


 

Kathryn – Q: I love how you explained that – to “not classify hair by race or ethnicity.” Which completely knocked the wind out of my next question: Does African hair require different care from other types of hair? What I have learned from you is that really curly hair has different needs from straight, wavy or mildly curly hair. I find it so interesting and equally disturbing how industry invents a market.

La Coco BellaA: Just like any ethnicity, everyone’s hair has different needs and requires different types of care but women with thick, course, textured hair tend to need more moisture. There are lots of factors when it comes to the needs of any type of hair. Things like porosity (the way your hair absorbs and retains moisture) play a major role as well, so it can be a bit hard to pinpoint particular needs. I guess it boils down to becoming intimate with your own hair and being in tune with how it responds to what you put in it. The more you learn about your hair, the more you will be able to discern its needs. This means spending more time in your own hair rather than paying someone at the salon :o)


 

Kathryn – Q: Thank you so much for sharing your hair wisdom with us. I have been thinking about that last sentence, which makes perfect sense: “Spend more time in your own hair rather than paying someone at the salon”, which is the same way I think about one’s body when it comes to exercise or healthy eating.

Do you have a page on your blog where people with very curly hair can follow a step by step program to wean themselves off of the chemical processing? Do you have a FAQ’s page as well?  

La Coco BellaA: I don’t have a step by step page or FAQs but I do have a page about my regimen as of last year. Although my current regimen is a bit simpler than what appears on my site, it does contain in depth descriptions of what works for my hair type. Also, I give lots of tips and information in my product reviews so readers can use the search tool on my site to see if I touch on any particular topic, ingredient, etc.


 

Kathryn – Q: How long did it take you to transition to natural products. Was it gradual, or did you do it all at once?

La Coco BellaA: I pretty much switched to all natural products all at once because I had detoxed my hair and didn’t want to revert the effort I had put in lol I didn’t see it as a huge, earth-shattering change, it was more of a hey, this looks cool, let me give it try! I just started buying all natural products and have ever since. Experimenting is the fun part! I also get giddy reading and learning about the benefits of all the yummy ingredients in natural hair products lol


 

Kathryn – Q: Now that you have been natural for a couple years, I imagine that you would have some pearls of wisdom to share with people who are just starting to contemplate this change for the better in a variety of ways? Are there one or two points that, if you could go back in time, that you would do differently? Some advice that might save someone from getting turned off the concept?

La Coco BellaA: I would recommend for anyone interested in improving the health of their hair to not be afraid to try all-natural hair products, I wish I had sooner! It can be a bit intimidating because there are so many options out there but just start with a couple items and build up your regimen. You really don’t need a bunch of different products, that’s the beauty of it! Because once you nourish your hair to health, it requires less maintenance.

Also, stick with products that are pure and organic, they all work well together so you don’t have to worry about chemicals reacting to each other or anything like that. It’s like nature’s chemistry is perfect.

Give your hair some time to adjust to the change and don’t be discouraged if you don’t have AMAZING hair overnight (although you just might!). You will be glad you made the change and will wonder why you hadn’t sooner, trust me :o)


 

If you have any questions for La Coco Bella,  you can leave her a message on her site.   

 

Related Video

“You Can Touch My Hair”

“You Can Touch My Hair Part 2”

*Statistics by MarketLine

What to expect when using Natural Shampoo Bars


Since using natural solid shampoo bars over the last four months, my hair dries much faster and is nearly completely dry after washing, needing only two minutes under the dryer; unprecedented for my nearly waist-long hair! I used to spend a very long time drying my hair. The same effect has occurred for my daughter’s hair, which is well beyond waist length.

A few questions surfaced as I started to explore making changes to my hair washing routine. If this is your first time visiting you may be wondering what Shampoo has to do with a food blog? Click here to read part 1.

  • Why didn’t my hair feel smooth and silky when I rinsed out the shampoo?
  • What about conditioner?
  • How do I control those unruly hairs?
  • What happens when I go to the hair salon? Do I bring my own shampoo bar?

When I first started using natural shampoo bars…

Initially my hair would feel squeaky clean upon rinsing out the lather. You know, that kind of soap clean feeling, which makes it difficult to run fingers through? I would wring out the excess water and notice that my hair actually felt nearly dry! That was interesting, because with all the professional salon shampoos I had used in the past, my hair would remain soaking wet and would actually take very long to dry, even with a handheld hair dryer. Summer months excluded; my hair wouldn’t take as long to dry in the summer but regardless of the season, I had never experienced such a low water content remaining on my hair. I consider this a good thing. I spend less time damaging my hair further with the hot air from a hair dryer thus spending less overall time on my hair grooming routine! However I see now that it may have more to do with the dehydrated state of my hair. Everyone’s hair will respond differently to shampoo bars and to different shampoo bar formulas: self-discovery required.

As my personal experiment continued, I noticed that my hair started to adapt nicely to the shampoo bars and that my hair became softer and bouncier. I also noticed that my hair appeared cleaner longer, therefore not requiring as frequent washings, now that I wasn’t loading my follicles up with styling aids.

Professional salon or drug store varieties use additives to synthetically coat the hair strands, which gives hair that ‘artificial’ shine. It all comes down to what you want. Do you want to spend a lot of money on products to turn your hair into something it isn’t thus becoming chained to the products or would you rather work with nature and enhance the untapped natural unique beauty your hair actually is? Which is what I think all of these synthetic products are claiming to do…hmmm.

What about conditioner?

When I was going through my transition phase, I kept wondering about conditioners. Aquarian Bath didn’t sell any conditioning bars at the time (but said she was working on a formula because customers new to shampoo bars had been asking for one). I have gone through the last four months not using any conditioner or any leave in hair product for styling, just to see how my hair would react. I like the results. But admittedly, I like change – I like experimenting and I really like the idea of using fewer products especially the ones that come in plastic with too many unrecognizable ingredients (toxic for me and the environment).

I have done some research on various sites and have found that for people (with any hair type), who are transitioning to ‘natural’ shampooing, generally pre-condition hair once per week, prior to shampooing. Pre-conditioning would consist of applying an oil, such as coconut oil or olive oil to either just the ends of the hair or the entire head and letting it rest for half an hour (or overnight) before shampooing.

The biggest lesson I have learned is to start spending time experimenting with my own hair. And that a grooming routine should be a flexible guideline that changes based on the fluctuating factors that come with simply being alive. Much like how I view food and exercise, each of us is an experiment of one.

How do I control those unruly hairs?

I have unruly hairs. Do you? I seem to have wavy, straight and kinky hair all over the place with no symmetry. Every hair is doing her own thing. On top of that, many of my hairs are now turning silver and those ones seem to want attention; they tend to be the short, kinky extra coarse ones that shoot straight up…there was no controlling my hair unless I wanted to douse my head with chemicals and only then is the control temporary! Lately, I have started applying about six drops of organic jojoba oil (bought in bulk from The Soap Dispensary in my own reusable blue glass bottle with dropper). This seems to do the trick. But I don’t use it every single time I wash my hair. But what I have noticed is that my hair is retaining moisture much better and my kinky hairs are becoming smoother. I think that my hair has been so chronically dehydrated, even though I had been diligent over the years -to no avail – with using ‘professional salon’ products to correct the problem. So far, the underside of my hair which always held more moisture is now looking so much healthier and my natural waves and curls are starting to emerge with some kind of unity – as if to say “We knew you’d figure it out sooner or later”. I am very curious to see what the texture of my hair will be after a few more months of this experiment.

Well, it’s only taken me twenty years to listen to my hair, as opposed to listening to the experts who keep pushing new and improved formulas. My favourite quote from Alan Cohen rings true:

“If what you are doing isn’t working, doing more of it won’t work any better.”

I have a feeling that the more I embrace the quirkiness of my hair and explore what it naturally wants to do…the best years are yet to come.

What happens when I go to the hair salon? Do I bring my own shampoo bar?

I did that once. I took my own shampoo bar. My stylist, who I have been going to for thirteen years, was not amused. Partly because I didn’t tell him that I had asked his assistant to wash my hair with my own shampoo bar. I was curious to see if he would notice the difference. He could tell the difference. Because my hair used to become so dry after washing he was not accustomed to the texture and his comb could not get through. His fist reaction was “What have you done to your hair? It feels stripped!” The particular shampoo bar that I took to the hair salon that day was made by a different local company than Aquarian Bath. Controlling the bubbling chuckles brewing inside of me, I told him the shampoo bar was called Dreads…he was aghast! He graciously put up with my experiment but had to keep spraying my hair to keep it wet. We got through the appointment and we now know how to prepare the hair for the next cut. We talked about the possibility of him carrying a line of natural shampoo bars though I’m not sure he is ready for that (especially with what I put him through that day) but he is happy to hear about my results. 🙂

What I have learned about shampoo bars

Shampoo bars are not all created equally. Each formula will react differently for each individual. What might result in a smooth finish for one person may not have the same effect for someone else. I notice this all the time between me and my daughter. Over the last four months I have amassed a nice collection of Shampoo bars for experimenting until we find which bars work best for our individual hair types. But I keep an open mind and am always willing to retry a bar I didn’t particularly like at first, because now that I have started to truly re-hydrate and eliminate synthetic additive from my hair, these shampoo bars are working even better.

If you google Shampoo Bars you will notice many on the market. Look for small batch makers with a business philosophy like Aquarian Bath. Avoid bars that contain:

  • SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate)
  • SLES (Sodium Laureth Sulfate)
  • Triclosan
  • Parfum
  • Parabens
  • Petrolatums
  • DMDM Hydantoin, Diazolidinyl Urea, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Methenamine, Quarternium-15
  • P-Phenylenediamine
  • Cyclomethicone, Siloxanes
  • DEA, MEA, TEA, PEG
  • BHA, BHT
  • Dibutyl Phthalate

How we use solid shampoo bars in the shower:

  1. Wet hair.
  2. Wet shampoo bar and rub bar directly onto hair to lather. (A little goes a long way).
  3. Keep shampoo bar away from water when not in use as it dissolves quickly.
  4. Turn off water allowing shampoo to rest in hair. (And conserving water in the process).
  5. Lather body with shampoo bar or body bar.
  6. Turn water back on rinsing hair and body.
  7. If repeating shampoo, do it now.
  8. Rinse and squeeze excess water from hair.
  9. Place shampoo bar in a dry place. Allow shampoo bar to air dry.
  10. Dry and style hair as usual.

How to Pre-Condition Hair

I have started to experiment with pre-conditioning my hair with Raw Coconut Oil, because that is what I already have handy from making my own solid lotion bars.

Once per week I take about one Tablespoon of Coconut Oil and massage it into my hair, starting at the ends working my way up to my scalp. Because I have a lot of unruly new growth silver hairs I found that applying the oil at my roots helps to soften the coarseness of those hairs. I have left it in anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes before washing my hair with a shampoo bar. Then style as usual without the need for any additional products.

La Coco Bella

 

Next Post: Q & A with La Coco Bella

RELATED Articles: 

Sustainable Shopper’s Guide to a Dirty Dozen Ingredients to Avoid in your Cosmetics. by David Suzuki Foundation

How to give your hair a fresh start or transitioning to shampoo bars by Cory Trusy