Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Interview with Mala Rhodes of AFROVEDA

The following is an interview with Mala Rhodes, CEO of AfroVeda Hair Products at http://www.afroveda.com/.  AfroVeda strives to represent true, Ayurvedic hair care remedies for curly, kinky and coily hair types.

1. How long have you practiced healthy hair care? Tell us about your healthy hair journey.

Although my hair has been natural for more than 10 years, I have only practiced healthy hair care for the past 5 years. As I began to educate myself about the benefits of natural hair products, and utilize the principles of Ayurveda for my own hair health, I realized that having beautiful healthy hair was not just about what is applied externally. Being conscious of what I consume makes a huge difference in how healthy my hair really is.

My hair journey has been a very long one and began very early in life. I can remember the weekend hair sessions with my mother who would wash my hair (along with my four sisters) on Saturday night, and press it with a hot comb on Sunday. Although my hair didn’t “blow in the wind” from way too much grease, I loved the smoothness of it and the fact that it reached the middle of my back. That was “good” hair to me.

Once I turned around 12 or 13, I received my first relaxer. I’m sure with 8 kids putting a relaxer in the hair of her 5 daughters made my mother’s hair care sessions much easier. We could wear wet-sets on special occasions and even wear it “down” sometimes for school. It was easy enough for us to take care of, so we were left to do just that. Despite the continued use of heavy greases and pomades, my hair still seemed to thrive. It wasn’t until I began experimenting with various other chemicals in my hair (Jheri Curl, hair color, and more relaxers – compliments of my sister who was in Cosmetology school) did I begin to notice a change. I didn’t take care of it like my mother did, and boy did it show.

Fast forward about 20 years and countless relaxers later, I found myself with thin, damaged hair from all the years of abuse. Beauticians continued to apply my relaxers incorrectly – only adding to my hair-thinning issues – and my own methods for restoring my hair’s health wasn’t working either. I seriously needed help. The chemicals had destroyed my hair and it was time for a change.

I never did the “big chop”. Instead, I chose to wear my hair in microbraids for several years and gradually cut the ends until my hair was all natural. By that time, I had about 8-9 inches of natural hair and was excited to see what it would be like caring for my hair in this state. My hair is in the “curly/kinky” category (thanks for the knowledge Felicia Leatherwood!) and I loved how silky my strands felt. I suffered initially, as most newly naturals do, with keeping my hair moisturized but eventually came up with a homemade mixture of coconut oil and aloe vera gel that became my staple product. This mixture was the basis for what is now the PUR Whipped Hair Gelly.

The initial reception to my transition to natural hair was not a positive one. I heard the word “nappy” so many times in reference to my hair that I finally had to start asking people to define the word. “Nappy” to me is not a negative thing. It’s what I was born with and I embrace it fully. My husband was a little skeptical about my new nappturality at first, but stood behind me anyway. And although I wore my hair mainly in pulled-back buns, family members and coworkers alike still whispered and voiced their disapproval. People were still intrigued with my “different” hair. Now that I am well into my journey with natural hair it is amazing how that many of these same naysayers have also decided to make the transition. Both of my daughters (who loved my hair from the beginning) have transitioned fully to natural hair, and I have been the inspiration to many others who have done the same. It is a beautiful thing to see others embrace what they were born with. I think that is the most rewarding part of it. I love my natural hair and that gives me the opportunity to teach others to nourish and treasure theirs as well.

2. What inspired you to start Afroveda?

I was inspired by two specific young women, both of whom I met on a blog. These women were amazing in the way they were so committed to the care of their natural hair. I was still searching for “good” products to use and began corresponding with them, asking questions about what they used to achieve the results they had accomplished (they both had really long, healthy-looking hair). The term “Ayurveda” came up in one of the emails and I was advised which herbs to use for my hair. I was hooked! When I posted a picture of a moisturizer I made (which is now the Curl Define), they both encouraged me to sell the product. I created a quick website and AfroVeda was born.

AfroVeda strives to represent true, Ayurvedic hair care remedies for curly, kinky and coily hair types. Through extensive research, course work and discussions with masters of Ayurveda, I have learned specific methods for creating hair care products that are based on body type (or doshas, as explained in Ayurvedic principles). Basing the products according to body types, as opposed to hair type, helps customers to select products that will work in harmony with their own body chemistry. Specific herbs, oils and botanicals are combined to provide the best remedy for obtaining and maintaining a healthy scalp. AfroVeda believes in healing from within, as healthy hair grows from a healthy scalp. Our products are designed to nourish and heal the hair follicle to achieve this goal.

3. Why should one choose a natural product over a non-natural one?

Studies have shown that 60% of what we put on our skin (including the scalp) goes into our blood stream, so it is important for us to know what we are using. Ingredients such as Propylene Glycol and Sulfates have been reported to be the cause of skin & scalp irritation, and Parabens have even been linked with cancer. In this age where everyone is doing their best to stay healthy, reading labels to ensure we are using only natural, plant-based products is just one small thing we can do to educate ourselves to become more conscious consumers. Selecting natural products is simply a healthier choice.

The Ayurvedic ingredients used in AfroVeda hair products come directly from the earth in the form of herbs, so there are no chemicals involved and no side-effects. Specific combinations of these ingredients have been proven over thousands of years to combat hair loss, dry scalp, thinning hair, and other hair issues, and are also effective in helping to grow healthy hair.

4. What sets your products apart from the other natural hair products out there?

AfroVeda’s hair care products are based on a person’s body type, not hair type, and are designed for hair textures that are curly, coily and kinky. By basing the products on body type (as dictated by Ayurvedic principles) consumers can finally find products that will correspond with their individual body chemistry, thereby allowing for much greater success with obtaining & maintaining healthy hair. Almost all curly textures suffer with dry hair due to the very nature of our strands. However, the person may have oily skin, combination skin or dry skin. Because the scalp is skin, it is important to ensure the health of the scalp so that healthier hair can grow. AfroVeda’s hair products provide the right combination of herbs, botanicals and oils according to body type (or dosha type) that will penetrate through to the follicles and provide nourishment to the hair at the root.

5. Which of your products would you recommend for fine hair?

Fine hair is traditionally linked with the Pitta dosha. For optimum hair heath I would recommend cleansing with our Carrot Seed shampoo bar, conditioning with our NuMilk Neroli Goat Milk Conditioner, moisturizing with our CocoLatte Moisture Mask, and sealing in the moisture with our Priti Bodhi Rice Bran Hair Oil. Our PUR Whipped Hair Gelly is also good for helping to hold natural styles, control frizz and seal in moisture.

6. What about for dry hair?

Chronically dry hair in indicative of the the Vata dosha and requires a higher level of moisture than the other doshas. With its large amount of moisturizing oils and butters, our Shea Amla Whipped Butter Cream is the number one choice for infusing hair with the moisture it needs. Our Kissi Seed Hair Conditioner and SunSilk Herbal Hair oil have the specific ingredients necessary for Vata dosha types to obtain and maintain the proper moisture levels for optimum hair health. Our PUR Whipped Hair Gelly, and other Tridoshic products, can also be used for additional conditioning and styling.

7. I notice on your site that you organize products by "dosha" type. Can you please explain this system?

Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old science that originated in India and is practiced around the world. Literally translated as “science/knowledge of life,” Ayurveda is a comprehensive system that provides guidelines for diet and lifestyle to support your health. The three doshas are called Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Although they regulate thousands of separate functions in the mind/body system, they have three basic functions:
· The Vata dosha controls movement
· The Pitta dosha controls metabolism
· The Kapha dosha controls structure
Every cell in your body has to contain all three of these principles. To remain alive, your body has to have Vata, or motion, which allows it to breathe, circulate blood, pass food through the digestive tract, and send nerve impulses to and from the brain; it has to have Pitta, or metabolism, which processes food, air and water throughout the entire system; and it has to have Kapha, or structure, to hold the cells together and form muscle, fat, bone and sinew.
The system of Ayurveda is very specific. It tells you what your best hours of the day are, which foods will make you irritable, and when you should exercise. You can learn what “season” you are in according to your age, as well as how to determine when you are out of balance – and what to do to get back into balance. It is a daily plan for maintaining health and vitality not only for your hair, but your body as a whole.
As it relates to hair care, Vata doshas tend to have hair that is chronically dry, brittle and prone to split ends; the Pitta dosha has hair that is fine, thin and prone to premature graying; and the Kapha dosha traditionally has hair that is thick, shiny and prone to oiliness.

8. What can we expect from Afroveda in the near future?

AfroVeda continues to research the best herbal ingredients that are beneficial for hair health and growth, as well as more efficient and cost-effective ways to deliver those to consumers. Some of our products will be reformulated to include these new ingredients, and new products will be introduced that will address more specific hair issues. Many have asked if I would consider making Ayurvedic skin care products. Although it would be a very natural and easy transition, we are focused on providing products for the hair and scalp only, and making those products the absolute best Ayurvedic products on the market.

9. What is your hair care regimen? What do you think makes for a good hair care regimen?

I like to keep my regimen very simple. Twice a week I pre-shampoo my hair with an herbal mixture based in coconut oil, leaving this on for about 30 minutes, followed by a cleansing herbal tea. I condition with Coconut Moisture Milk then apply a moisturizer (usually the Totally Twisted Ginger Almond). I then two-strand twist my hair, let it dry overnight, and untwist the next morning. This style will last me about 3 days.

Once per month I clarify my hair with the Carrot Seed shampoo bar and deep condition with the Ashlii Amala Red Raspberry conditioner, letting it remain in my hair for 30 minutes (15 minutes under a hair dryer). I then rinse with cool water and apply the Apple Cider Vinegar rinse as a final rinse.

Because I am a Pitta dosha, I make sure to apply a small amount of pure coconut oil to my hair and scalp every other day to help seal in moisture and for general hair health.

Thank you so much for chatting with me. I wish you and your readers all things healthy and beautiful in 2012!

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