Where the Amla At, Tho? - Using Amla Oil to Promote Hair Growth



Remember that one time when I went to India?  Well, besides hipster trinkets like my fake nose ring, a gorgeous, ornate clutch and ALL the pashmina scarves, I also brought back a few beauty secrets!  Indian women are known for their strong, long, healthy locks.  And heads like this--

-- didn't even turn heads over there (well, except for ours).  Dope hair is what they do.  So when I was offered top shelf henna from M.S. Bitta and homemade amla oil from one of our hosts, Shakuntala, I didn't turn down nothin' but my collar.  I've been dipping into my private stash for the last 3 weeks and while the henna is not all that different, *insert Katt Williams voice* this sh*t right here... this amla oil situation, is something else entirely. I've been using it to pre-poo and my hair is, well.... 


Amla Oil (coconut or sesame oil infused with dried amla pieces/powder) has been a staple in Indian households for centuries, and when used regularly as a pre-poo treatment, results in darker, shinier, THICKER hair.  They claim that it promotes hair growth and reduces premature hair fall.   I had heard all of this, so she didn't need to convince me... but my previous experiences with amla oil had been less than productive.   

1. Soft Sheen Carson Optimum Amla Oil- ($11/5oz)  I was gifted a few bottles last year and they were promptly re-gifted when I flipped the bottle over to check out the ingredients.  As you know, I'm all about that first five... if the 'featured ingredient' is suspiciously absent from the top of the list, I'm not here for it.  #WheresTheAmlaAtTho   In this case, it was number 8... of 10 ingredients... after the fragrance.  It's Natural Hair101, folks-- ingredients near the end of the list are typically comprised of less than 1% of the total. TheBeautyBrains appropriately refers to situations like this as 'fairy dust'--
'They are added to increase consumer appeal. These ingredients are also called pixie dust, fairy dust, marketing ingredients and a few other names. These are truly “inactive” because they’re added ONLY because they look good as part of the label. They serve no function other than to attract consumer’s attention. These ingredients include botanicals, vitamins and minerals, (some) proteins and just about anything else “natural.” You can easily spot these ingredients because they are often incorporated into the product name (Sun-kissed Raspberry Shampoo) or placed on the front label (lotion with jojoba oil). This depends on the product – if you have a shampoo with natural jojoba oil . It’s likely to be used as a featured ingredient. It would be at a very low level and it would be rinsed away.'
I cannot. They're charging what it would cost to source amla from India, except they don't have the decency to actually put amla in the damn bottles! 

#WhyTheseBrandsGottaLieFor #CantFoolMe #Next 

Mumbai #TheOuttakes

As the sun sets on our Indian adventure, I wanted to take a moment to thank you guys for coming along with me.  Your support, hilarious comments, engagement and prayers were felt and sincerely appreciated.  I also want to take a moment to thank the sponsors, Romwe and HennaSooq.  There aren't a lot of brands that support these types of initiatives (including some of your favorites) and these are two that put their money where their mouth is.  I hope you will support them.  So before we leave, check out what we left out--

Read On!>>>

Real G's...

and the winner is... Saundra Irving! Congrats, chica! Email me your address to [email protected]

I Wasn't Ready #FromMumbaitoPakistan

The winners are!
Jackie W- $100 Romwe giftcard
Tieasha- Year's supply of Hennasooq's Red Raj
Congrats!  Email me your mailing address to [email protected] using what you won as the subject line! Thanks!
when you riding with a crew and you ready to go home, but they heading to another spot... #HelpMeSomebody

Since we didn't anticipate the decadence of our second spot, we ended up ringing in the New Year, alone,  from one of our big-ass windows. 

 Hubby says my silhouette looked like the scarecrow from the Wiz #ItDoesTho

We popped a complimentary bottle of champagne (which hubby was mixing with Hennessy for some reason-- not I tho, #BrownWillBringYouDown), listened to T.I. go in on "About the Money" #MissMeWitIt and let our eyeballs feast on the spectacle-- 5 independent firework shows, spotlights, candle-lit lanterns and hella people on the street. So instead of heading to the club (to be subjected to lame house music), we simply got fresh, and stepped just outside the hotel doors onto the waterfront to #GoUp with the locals. #AsRealAsItGets


I woke up on the first day of 2015 with a mission… to do absolutely nothing.  Not even blog... and I love y'all more than Kanye loves Kanye, so you know I was tired. We knew we had scheduled a brief street food tour with Reality Tours that evening, so the plan was to chill all day in our hotel-house, get a little culture and then turn-up that night with our new friend Nyasha.   She was coming down for drinks with an associate and then planned to hook up with us later that evening so we could hit these streets.  Oh, and because she lives 40 minutes away, we invited her to crash with us! #SleepOver #NoNewFriends #OneNewFriend

That WAS the plan.

Read On!>>>

'Opulence, I has it'. The Trident Hotel in Mumbai

#Bollywoodin #LikeARockStar

I must apologize in advance for the ballerific nature of this post. I'm no stranger to the red carpet treatment and we've stayed in fabulous cribs in fabulous destinations but *insert Katt Williams voice* this sh*t right here... this is something else entirely.

I called ahead to the Trident, a 5 star hotel in Nariman Point, Mumbai, to alert them of our pending arrival from Bandra West. #ExpectUs

Now I ain't gonna lie, I told them I was kind of a big deal *bats eyelashes innocently* 

...and after what I assume was a brief Google search, they informed us that they were happy to provide complimentary accommodations.  I'm thinking they're going to give us a suite. Dope, right?

Little did I know...

Read On!>>>

Called to Serve- Young, Black & Single in India

Yesterday, I shared the emotional story of how Nyasha and I connected.  Today, I want you to read the amazing stories she told me and hubby over dinner, about life as a single, natural, Black, Christian woman living and working in India! Enjoy!

Tell us your story- How did you get here? How long have you been in Mumbai?
Well, I have always had a desire to work and serve internationally. I had an amazing opportunity to study abroad in South Africa and Namibia during my undergrad years at NYU and since then I’ve felt my life mission was to work internationally with organizations, businesses, churches, individuals and cities to help them to be their best.

This March a friend at my church in New York told me about an organization in India that he was working with called Vision Rescue. They were based in Mumbai and focused on educating children in the slums, rescuing and restoring young woman/girls from sex trafficking and proving health care for those in need. I instantly became interested and found out that the NGO had volunteer opportunities. I felt that this could be my first open door into international work and so I asked my current employer (a New York based NGO and Church- The Legacy Center/Christ Tabernacle) if I could go on a short-term mission trip to India for six weeks. Well, they agreed and to show their support gave me a six week paid leave to come explore and serve in India! Who does that?? This for me was a sign that God was opening up the doors for me to pursue my dreams and purpose of serving overseas. Before I left for my trip I actually decided to give notice and move out of my beautiful apartment in Harlem. I had such a strong feeling and belief that once I got to India more doors would open for me to remain long term.

Read On!>>>


Grandma is out of her second surgery and resting comfortably. #ThankYou #IStillHaventSleptTho

 Hola Chicas,

When I'm planning these international excursions, the first thing I do is search for and reach out to naturals in the area.  Other than a strong desire to turn up with #OurPeople, it's just damn smart to roll with folks that know how to navigate whatever new and strange city you might find yourself in.  That's one of the awesome things about holding a #TeamNatural card-- we're global and we ride for each other.  So yeah, I Googled and searched and hunted and could find nary a natural haired Black woman in all of Southern India!  Go figure. So I gave up, and wouldn't you know it, just when I decided we were on our own, I received an email from Nyasha!  She wanted to let me know that she lives in Mumbai and would make herself available if I needed any advice or wanted to connect.  You couldn't tell me nothing!  I called her immediately and was delighted to learn that not only was she just a few miles away from us, but that she was down for dranks... that night!  #IAmDelivert

And so we met at a fabulous hotel around 7:30pm and spent the next 5 hours gabbing away about everything-- her story, how she ended up in India, her experiences here as a Black woman, how we're both okay meeting up with strangers after one brief email, Ferguson, politics, religion... you name it.  And then my phone started blowing up.  I excused myself to take what was certainly an urgent call from Momma.  She wanted to let me know that Grandma was being rushed to the hospital by ambulance.

Read On>>>


#HeyHeyHey #GreySweatsErryDay 
@ndvme on IG said- 'he's gonna take the selfie, but he's not happy about it.  Nobody made him take the pic!'

Traveling while Black, Rule #10- Be prepared to be a spectacle

Thankfully though, unlike some of our experiences in Greece, our Indian brethren appear to be serving up genuine curiosity... the same kind we have for them.   When we're kicking down the terrifying street-sidewalk-raceway, dodging rickshaws and entire four person families atop one, single, solitary speeding moped, people look.  Like, look-look.  And they don't look away when you lock eyes either, they just keep staring. And while it made me a bit uncomfortable at first, what I've found is that 99.9% of the time, if I smile, they smile back!  #Voila #Maaaagic. As 'small' as this world is, it's interesting to go to another country full of brown people and feel like an alien.  We're all curious about each other and nothing is more powerful than reaching out across the sometimes massive culture and language gaps to shake the hand of someone who is actually not so different than you after all.  #WeAreAllSpectacles

Case in point, yesterday at the Bandra Bandstand, hubby and I were minding ours, strolling and people watching... probably talking ish too, the usual.  The sun was being rude, so we decided to sit for a while and revel at the beauty of the beach-community bath-laundromat situationIt wasn't five minutes later that a group of smiling, Hindi-speaking gentleman approached us, shook our hands, and gestured for a photo, like this one--

Read On!>>>

Reality Gives: Our Visit to Dharavi in Mumbia, India

Within hours of touching down in Mumbai, India, hubby and I took a trip across town to visit with residents of Dharavi, one of the largest slums in the world. It is a multi-religious, multi-ethnic, diverse community with a population of nearly 1 million. Unlike similar slums in the region, Dharavi has a very active (but informal) economy-- the leather, textiles and pottery goods produced there by the residents are exported around the world. Dharavi also happens to be the slum featured in Slumdog Millionaire, in fact, many of the actors in the movie are from there.

I was greeted by Joseph Bird of Reality Gives-- a sister organization of an ethically run tour company called Reality Tours & Travel. Reality Tours was created in 2005 by Chris Way and Krishna Pujari. Their main objective was to show the positive side of the slums and to break down negative stereotypes about its residents.  They also saw it as a way to employ locals, increase income for the residents who sell products and services, and as a way to raise money for the community (80% of tour profits are invested in Dharavi). 

taking notes at the Reality Gives headquarters with Joe

Slum tourism is a controversial practice that draws heated debate on all sides. Some claim that it is exploitation of impoverished locals, while others claim that it is a particularly potent form of empowerment. From what I can tell, Reality Gives' initiatives are doing just that—empowering locals, especially the women, and searching for and implementing solutions. 

Read On>>>

All Black in Bombay (and a giveaway)

in the words of the great philosopher Katt Williams- "it's the most nastiest, dirtiest, ugliest, 
most beautiful, wonderful place in all the world". #India 

We made it! Travel time from STL to Mumbai was 24 whole hours and while I felt every bit of it, the airplane had usb ports to charge my technologies, curried meats for the hunger situation and unlimited complimentary wine for the thirsty! #WhereMyGlass

that in-flight menu, tho #Huh

After a pit-stop in Abu Dhabi,  we arrived in Mumbai around 4:20 on Saturday morning but didn't make it to the crib til 7am due to the extra custom lines (Ebola) and general shenanigans (money exchanging, bag finding, hawker dodging, etc.)  We connected with our driver and one terrifying ride later, we arrived at the spot.  #InOnePiece #PraiseHim

Hubby snapped this pic of me backseat driving from the airport to our condo. Pretty sure I pee'd a little. Apparently riding two lanes at a time, at top speed, bumper to bumper, horns laid on, while pedestrians, motorcycles, bikes, and Tuk-Tuk's weave in and between the chaotic mass of vehicles is how they roll.  #AndItWasOnly6am

the digs for part I of our Indian adventures

Peep the View!>>>

Bollywood Bound

Hola Chicas,

It's the day after Christmas and I'm still on a flight to India! #18HoursStrong

For the last four years I've been working with women over seas to tell the stories of curlies around the world.  Together we've raised the profile of several non-profit organizations and educated folks (myself included!) in the process.   I've partied with Jamaican curlies living in Tokyo, and have been welcomed into ethnic neighborhoods in Rio De Janeiro. This time, in partnership with HennaSooq and Romwe, we're taking a work-cation to Mumbai, India.

Read On!>>>

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