Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Repair: Dealing with decades of hair-shame

Like most people in the western hemisphere (and probably the eastern part too) I grew up with certain complexes and shames. In between my weight issues and my untamed hair, school was pretty unpleasant and I was an easy target for other kids (who dealt with their their own complex by bullying others). Not to mention, my four-eyed existence since I was 7 and adding insult to injury, braces when I was 9. But nothing was worst, than the funk I've always had on top of my hair.

My hair was brown with some natural highlights. Now I really couldn't tell what color it was... I can only remember, and it will probably never grow back to it's natural hue. It's something I have accepted, since I do not want to shave my entire head for it to come back in it's original tones. It is dry, frizzy, sort of curly but with undefined curls, the complete opposite of shiny and silky. That is what I have had to deal with, since I remembered caring about my appearance.

I've had every possible thing you could imagine on top of my skull. I've had it long, super short, a chelsea cut with a #2 comb, 3 different mohawks (one with leopard print on it's sides) and every single color known to the universe, from brown to pink to blue to blonde to orange and beyond.  I've had several hair procedures and probably every product you can imagine. I first dyed my hair when I was 14, I believe. After that, I've never stopped. By now, my hair has gone through hell and back, yet it still remains on my head.

By now, I've concluded it loves the torture, masochist hair strands... filthy kinky un-curly curls. So, 10 years after the first massive attack to my hair, I'm trying to make peace with it, yet again. As part of my new lifestyle, I took all of my personal care and beauty products and placed them in a bag... the amount of stuff I relied on to feel pretty was unacceptable and after knowing all of the horrible things they contain, I will not go back. I'd rather have ugly hair than be bald due to cancer ( which is treated with chemo therapy, where loosing hair is one of the main side effects), brought up by Pthalates and Parabens ( things our products have that make us sick).

Most products that are sold on a the wide market have some kind of ¨fragrance¨ or ¨perfume¨, even if they don't necessarily need it (same thing can be said of color dyes, but that is another entire blog entry in the future). These manufactured smells contain Pthalates, or Pthalic acid, which are mainly used as plasticizers, and are pretty much everywhere. While, Parabens, are used as preservatives and can be found in mostly every beauty and personal care product, as well as pharmaceuticals.But, what is the problem with this?

Turns out, pthalates and parabens are both know to be endocrine disruptors. This means they mess up the way your entire endocrine system is supposed to work and sends your body on a chaotic hormone ride. Disrupting hormones cause many, many things to a body, from growing hairs were they are not wanted, to growing tumors were they are not wanted. Parabens are also known to be carcinogenic and recent studies have found that in many cases, parabens are associated with breast cancer.

So after deciding to go on a chemical detox, I recently googled some nice hair repair masks. I decided to start nurturing my hair with the nutrients and oils it needs, since it's been deprived of them because of the bad things I was putting on my hair to make it look "pretty", like shampoo, "conditioners", gels, smoothing cremes, moose, hair spray and more.  Right now, I'm still working on the detox part. My hair seems to have withdrawal symptoms, and has been pretty hard to tame the last couple of months. But I know it will be back to healthy in no time. Last week I used this mask I now share with you, and is seems that with patience and a little natural care, my hair will be back in route to being kinda sort-of nice (since it's never really been THAT nice).

Natural Hair Repair Mask  
(It's also a fun activity to do in a group!)

-Egg Yolks- 1
-Olive Oil - to ¨taste¨
-Jojoba Oil - to ¨taste¨ (this oil is kind of expensive, so control yourself)
-Honey (1 spoon)

Mix together. It will look a pretty bright yellow! If you need more, just mix more, I had to do 3 yolks since my hair is very thick. Apply to hair, cover with shower cap or shopping bag and leave for 30 minutes or more. Rinse.

I promise it will bring back some shine into your hair, even if it used to look like dried up hay from a dirty stable, like mine did.  I will try other masks and conditioners as I go along my chemical rehab. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

An unwanted sprout.

Everybody has that year they loath. That year that you will never want to go back to. That year that makes the hairs in the back of your neck stand up and shudder. That year for me was 2009 (and then 2010).

Just around the end of 2008, my mom sat me down and told me that she found a lump on her breast. She had been going to doctors and had already gotten a biopsy. After knowing this, it was almost a month of the waiting game until the results came in. I was thinking positively. I thought it was only a scare.

But it was not. My mom started chemotherapy on 2009. She had a 3 cm (approximate) sized tumor on her right breast. At 50 years old, just like her mother before her, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. This lump sprouted out of nowhere. She had always been diligent about her breast exams and they had always come out benign. But right before her scheduled yearly mammogram, a tumor raised up from out of nowhere. She lived a relatively healthy life, had no vices, didn't have a job that exposed her to harsh carcinogenic filled environments and ate what most people in the First World eat. She had no reason to get sick... but then again, most people who are sick don't have a reason either.

I tend to shut down when horrible things happen. That year I was pretty much a mute. I didn't voice out my tremendous fears. I lived on like a typical 21 year old. Studied, partied, went to cook for a bunch of hippies in the woods (who would later change my life forever), and just went on... just like life goes on. I only cried once that year and it was the day I knew the biopsy results. I guess I cried out of shock. I didn't believe it.

My mom went through 4 different kinds of chemo, including an experimental new drug, plus rounds of radiation. She fought that motherfucker like a champ, and won. At the end of the year her tumor had shrunk and the little bit that was left of it was taken out with a tiny surgery.

Later on she got a test, to see if her cancer was genetic, and it was not. I was a bit surprised ( and certainly relieved), since my gandma had also gotten breast cancer at age 50 and had a mastectomy. She also survived it. I had even gone through a breast exam myself, because of the scare. I surely was glad it wasn't in our genes, but if it wasn't genetic, then where and why did it appear?

My mother's tumor was fed by female hormones. The more hormones it got, the bigger and tougher it would be. For this reason, after chemo and radiation, she has been in hormone suppressants, which have made her completely menopausal at an earlier age than usual.

After the toughest year my mother has probably had in her life, I faced my toughest year so far, 2010.  After bottling up all of my feelings and fears that cancer makes people go through, I exploded. My anxiety went off the roof. I became a hypochondriac, my entire body fell ill constantly (somatization, is what psychiatrist call it). My mind was making me feel sick. I went to travel the world. Uruguay, Argentina, Virginia ( again with my loved hippies) and Dominican Republic all in one summer, yet deep inside I was conviced I was dying. I thought (I was sure) I had AIDS and later on was pretty sure I had Lymphoma. I was obviously dying, but every lab test known to man and woman was done, and everything came out perfect. I had officially gone insane. After therapy, pills, going off the pills, ignoring the symptoms, tantrums, good days and bad days, I'm still battling with my own mind (but that is a whole other topic for a whole other blog).

It wasn't until I sat listening to that D.I.Y. workshop a year later in 2011, that I saw what was going on. Why are so many people getting sick all the time for no reason? Why are healthy individuals suddently becoming ill of horrible diseases like cancers, ADD and ADHD, autism, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, chronic anxiety and others? It is what we are putting into our bodies that is making us sick. It is the many chemicals, the many additives, the many carcinogens and hormone disruptors that are mutating our cells and making illnesses appear from nowhere.

After ending the workshop and doing my first batch of home-made chemical free shampoo,conditioner and toothpaste, I went into a place of solitude and cried. I cried for my mother, who didn't know her perfume and her makeup could be the culprits of her past suffering.  I cried for myself, because I was already immersed in a chemical burden that my body was probably hating me for. I cried for the injustice presented to me minutes before and that feeling of being overwhelmed and not knowing what to do about it. But now I did know the truth, and I wasn't going to let it slip away ever again.

The big industry that is personal care and beauty products is making us "pretty" while poisoning us, without our knowledge or consent. This things we buy to fit in, to look "better", to "highlight our attributes" are messing with something that shouldn't be messed with. The beauty myth is slowly killing us. We are slowly dying in order to feel beautiful. Our nature, our own natural balance of hormones and cell production are being tampered with. We are placing toxins into our bodies constantly, daily, even a couple of times a day; yet most of us remain completely ignorant towards this.

This is the main reason why I will dedicate my time to this blog. To bringing the truth about our daily consumption to the surface. We have to start cleansing ourselves in order to have a better future and in hopes of creating a better tomorrow for our future generations. We all have the power to change our lives, we just need to take action. 

A seed.

Seeds come in many shapes, sizes, colors and flavors.  Some need to be planted, some travel on their own, some are illegally sold, some are copyrighted, but they all are meant to grow.  Seeds grow and produce.  They produce plants that adorn our sights, some give us meals and some are planted to spread ideas.

Since 2009, I have been part of a group of individuals that unite for a week in the woods, to plant and spread seeds, in hopes for a better tomorrow.  It has been a great journey, a lovely learning experience, a wicked good time and a much needed STEP (visit this link to know about this amazing eco-justice program!) to grow. Of all the things I've gained from this, apart from a group of friends that I will never stop loving, I have learned to feel empowered and empower others with my knowledge. There are many sad truths about the world that we learn together in each workshop, but there is always a gateway to a solution.  

Last summer, I was asked to help around with workshops, apart from my usual business,which is creating delicious vegetarian and vegan meals. Little did I know, that one afternoon, sitting beside Michelle going over a D.I.Y. (Do It Yourself) activity, I would be struck with a reality check...one huge reality check. 

The topic was personal care products mixed in with a little Eco-feminism. I had always tried to find products that were not tested on animals. I once even tried to create my own personal concoctions, like my failed D.I.Y. deodorant that made my pits burn like the pits of hell, because I read somewhere the aluminum in typical pit-deodorizers gave you Alzheimer's (which is still true). But I guess I had never given real thought of what we make our bodies go through every day because of our daily beauty/hygiene routines... After peeking into the truth about our personal care and beauty industry and the reality of their products, I will never go back. 

This space has been created to spread the knowledge that is out there for all of us to learn,but is hidden behind shady labels and euphemisms.  Lets take back our bodies and our minds, one product at a time.

Lets plant new seeds of truth, health and real beauty. Join me!