Proudly Capetonian, dedicated to her family, and committed to helping others return their hair to its natural state, Amanda Cooke co-hosts the fast-growing Cape Town Naturally Facebook group, blogs at capetowncurly.com, and helps to organize natural hair events within the Mother City.
Her journey began in 2012, while doing her final relaxer.
Applying the chemicals to her hair, she recalls asking herself: why are you doing this Mandy? “The next day I walked through Cape Town station with my freshly relaxed hair and every. single. woman of colour looked exactly like me. I needed to break free. To know the true pattern of my hair. To accept myself for who I really was. And return to my natural roots for myself, and for my daughter’s benefit. It’s sad to think that at that time, I was pushing 40 with no clue as to what my natural curl pattern was.”
She transitioned for a year and then big chopped on 4 December 2013.
I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing.
She remembers following a few international vlogs and blogs, but couldn’t find anyone local with whom she could relate, so she started her own blog, recording her return to natural hair.
What you must know before you go natural:
“It’s a lifestyle change so do your research before taking the plunge,” Amanda says. “Talk to other naturals who have been on the journey for a while. It’s always good to turn to a curlfriend in times of need. And listen to your hair – you may think this is crazy but trust me, your hair is constantly telling you what it needs.”
Amanda’s top 4 hair products:
Water – Water is one of the top two things that actually moisturize your hair (the other being glycerine).
Aloe juice – assists with hair growth, alleviates itchy scalp and is a natural conditioner.
Avocado oil – penetrates the hair and locks in moisture. It makes detangling hair relatively easy because it softens your hair making those nasty knots a breeze to work through.
The Mandy Mix – a recipe I concocted based on an old South African hair growth remedy. It helps with hair growth and all round hair health. (Ooh, we’ll have to pop over to her blog to find out what’s in it.)
Learning about Amanda’s story and the experiences of so many other women who’ve begun to embrace their hair, it’s clear that chopping off those treated ends is so much more than getting a new hairstyle or even gaining confidence, it’s breaking away from societal views that have boxed and stunted personal growth.
To find out when the next natural hair event will be hosted in Cape Town, or simply to admire Amanda’s beautiful mane, visit www.capetowncurly.com or @capetowncurly on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.
I eat oats for for breakfast everyday of the week. Sometimes I’ll skip having oats over a weekend because I’m either away from home or going for breakfast. But this really is my favourite breakfast recipe. It’s filling but doesn’t make you feel sluggish, it’s nutritious, and best of all, easy to make.
I usually prepare my oats in a glass jar since it’s the safest container to use today. Plastic containers, especially those that don’t have the BPA free label on it, contain chemicals that transfer to your food when you’re heating food in the container or the plastic begins to wear. Eatright.org has an in-depth article on glass versus plastic – if you’re interested in finding out more about that, click here.
I also prepare (at most) three jars of overnight oats on a Sunday night to make sure that I have breakfast for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Wednesday’s jar is always the tastiest.
Meal planning for breakfast saves me a lot of time and money because I’ve had to calculate exactly how much ingredients I need and once I’ve made the oats on Sunday and Wednesday night, I can just hop over to the fridge to enjoy my already-set creamy oats.
You’ll definitely enjoy this if you’re on a tight schedule and don’t want to have to worry about what you should have for breakfast.
1 cup rolled oats
1 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 cup almond milk
Preparation time: five minute 🙂
a pinch of salt
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp cinnamon
Pour all the dry ingredients into a glass jar or container of your choice. Add the container lid and shake to mix the contents.
Remove the lid to add milk. I use almond milk because of my dairy-free diet but you can use any milk or water since almond milk is actually only 25% almonds, and 75% milk.
Once you’ve added the milk, seal to make sure that all your dry ingredients have been coated with milk and refrigerate overnight.
Enjoy in the morning!
That’s it. Quick and easy. I never get tired of this breakfast recipe because there are so many different ways to make it.
Try to get rolled oats and not instant oats because the texture of the oats is quite different. Rolled oats are the larger white flakes that take a while to lose it’s crunch.
Also, this is my go-to recipe but you can add any of your favourite fruit, seeds, or milk.
I’ve love to know if you’ve tried this recipe or already prepare your own overnight oats. Drop my a comment in the section below and let’s connect on social media: Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter.
Before sharing the method I use to define my curls, I want to stress the importance of understanding that each of our hair types are different.
Some of us don’t have curly hair. The goal of a natural hair journey should be to embrace your hair in its natural state – not obsess about getting your hair to form a certain type of curl.
With that said, if you’ve recently begun your natural hair journey or find that your hair has curls when it’s wet but is frizzy once it’s dry, this video will be quite helpful.
There are many ways to enjoy wearing your natural hair and a wash-and-go is one of the most popular styling methods. I’ve put together a quick tutorial to help you achieve super defined curls:
For this style, I used my old-faithful, DIY flaxseed hair gel for curl definition and hold, but made sure that my hair was clean and hydrated before applying any products.
I start off on freshly washed hair. I allow my hair to partially air dry to retain length because if I apply product to wet hair, my hair takes forever to dry and shrinks quite a lot.
My hair has grown quite quickly by simply applying the methods that I’d mentioned in my hair growth challenge post. I’m excited to see how long my hair will grow within the next three months (when the challenge ends in June.
Once my hair is 70% dry, I apply a leave-in moisturiser. For this tutorial I decide to use the My Natural Hair leave-in moisturiser. I quite liked the results of my twist-out after using this product so I was eager to see whether my wash-and-go would be super defined as well. It was.
After applying a leave-in moisturiser, I usually apply an oil to seal in the moisture. This time I’ve used the My Natural Hair strengthening oil instead of my go-to (olive oil) since the strengthening oil contains a mixture of several nutrient-rich oils such as grape seed oil, almond oil, sunflower oil, olive oil, and avocado oil.
I apply each product starting at the ends and then working the product through my hair from the root. The ends of my hair are the oldest which means that it needs the most moisture and care.
Finally, I apply my DIY flaxseed hair gel liberally to eight sections of hair. I apply the product to my ends, work the product through my hair from the roots and ensure that my strands are fully coated by clasping my hands through my hair from roots to ends.
Once I’m satisfied with the results of applying my gel, I allow my hair to air dry or use a hairdryer on cool or medium heat to make sure that I’m not leaving home with wet hair.
If you liked this video, share the link with someone you know would enjoy watching a natural hair video. And let’s keep in touch on social media. Connect with me on Instagram,Facebook, and Twitter. I’d love to hear from you.
Sitting in my lounge with a cup of green tea and my feet up – I’m transported back to the swanky beachfront restaurant in Clifton, where I’d met Catherine Williams.
I remember her as strikingly beautiful and composed; waving hand gestures as she let us (bloggers) in on the hair products that she’s been developing.
“My Natural Hair is the first retail range of its kind in South Africa,” she says… “As a connoisseur of every available product range for Afro, ethnic or curly hair; I couldn’t understand how there were no local ranges for African women to choose from.”
More women across the globe are embracing their natural hair and it’s become a movement of selfhood, rather than a fashion trend.
The prices of hair products have increased dramatically and even with a low maintenance routine like mine, finding the right products at an affordable price can be a mission.
Naturals look forward to high-quality hair care that’s not expensive. Many of us tend to go this route because our hair requires a lot of product in one usage. I have thick, dry hair. I finish a 750 ml bottle of conditioner in four uses. What we all need is for a brand to create performing products that don’t break the bank.
Catherine stands firm that My Natural Hair does just that.
I chatted to her ahead of the product event to find out more about what led to the creation of range.
Here’s what she said, below:
I started transitioning in 2008. I was curious and had also started working-out a year or two before. [Frequently] flat ironing and blow drying my roots straight was becoming a nightmare.
In 2009, I started working as a flight attendant. This made transitioning easy as I wore my hair in protective buns all the time.
I noticed how healthy and thick my hair had become but I hardly wore it curly. My hair was also longer than it had ever been was before.
It was only when I returned to South Africa from Qatar in 2012, that I really became involved and knowledgeable about the natural hair movement. And I fell in love with my curls.
There are too many ranges on our shelves that claim to be natural or good for your hair but actually only offer short term results.
I worked with chemical formulators to get the right formulation that I wanted. I briefed them and then we sat and worked out the details. It had to be free from certain key chemicals and full of goodness. But also within a certain cost range to ensure affordability.
I work with local manufacturers that have good manufacturing processes. It’s a long process but the moment you see that final product, is for me, the prize.
Knowing that what you’ve brought to the market has integrity, a high standard of quality, and is offered at an affordable price range, makes it so worthwhile because it’s not only accessible to a small portion of Africans as many of the international brands tend to be. The integrity of this range is very important to me.
Which hair products to look out for:
Currently, the base range: the Nourishing Shampoo, Hydrating Conditioner, Strengthening Oil and Moisturizing Butter are geared at type 3 and 4 hair.
Anyone with type 1 – 4 hair can use the shampoo and conditioner. Many women who do Brazilian blowouts on their type 1 hair use our shampoo because it’s sulphate free. But because of the oils, type 1 hair will find that the butter, oil and conditioner could be too rich.
I swear by the Strengthening Oil as part of my LOC method for my wash and go. I have type 3 hair.
The butters work great on type 4 hair as an alternative to hair food on a daily basis.
We’ll be launching a curl cream, a leave-in conditioner and a deep treatment mask with more products to follow in late 2017. These will also be geared towards type 3 and 4 hair types.
My Natural Hair is also available at select Clicks and Jetmart stores – nationwide. Use the promo code, ‘MY NATBEWHOLE’ to get R 100 off your products when you buy for R300 or more via the My Natural Hair website. You can use the code for an unlimited amount of purchases until 31 March 2017.
Do you know of any other affordable natural hair products that the tribe may want to try? Scroll down to the comment section and let me know your thoughts right now
When my cousins, Sebastian and Jane asked me to join them on a multi-day hike through Cape Nature Reserve, I didn’t think twice. I was all-in.
And let me tell you, it was am-a-zing.
I really just needed a getaway.
I didn’t anticipate how physically demanding it would be though. Especially since we’d had to pass through several river rapids on lilos, rock jump, and carry hefty backpacks from sunrise to sunset – for four days.
Every effort was worth it.
From the get-go:
We’d trekked from Porterville, about 155 km north east of Cape Town. I ran into the tour office with Jane, who thought that I was better at Afrikaans – but spoke to the receptionist anyway.
We got onto the back of a bakkie and Lisa (Jane’s friend), led us to the trail.
Rick, their American friend, was also with us. He’d come to South Africa for this first time and I guess that this trail offered him a true reflection of how beautiful our country is.
Little did he know that he was going to be bitten by horseflies and nibbled by freshwater fish.
I didn’t even know that horseflies existed before this trip. Their harmless bites left my legs itching for days after I’d returned home.
On our way to the entrance of the trail, we picked up a Swiss paraglider who said that he’d been travelling for two months. “Goals,” I thought. I repeated everything he’d said in my mind, trying to make sense of the words from his accent.
Nearing the entrance, I purposefully sat in the direction of the wind – it’d been a long time since I’d felt this at ease on a trip – not having to do much planning or stressing about safety on my usual solo missions. I closed my eyes and let the wind catch my face.
Jane cooked us supper in a pot, using a gas stove and some river jack stones. We had pasta, soy chicken, peppadews, onions, and some sweet and sour sauce that tasted really delicious. We drank straight from the river that supplies the city’s fresh water. I was skeptical of drinking the water at first but the rest of the gang were quite clued up on the surrounding resources. “As long as you’re drinking the water that flows, it’s okay to drink,” Lisa said.
2nd Night: sleeping in a valley, across from a waterfall
The gushing sound of the waterfall, though loud, was somewhat therapeutic. Jane, Rick, and Sebastian played cards with head lights on – after supper, while I journaled, and Lisa had her head buried in a book.
Swimming in a really deep rock pool; dodging tree branches as we sailed through the river on our lilos, and stopping at the nearest river bank for snack time and lunch, made me realize just how little I needed to enjoy myself. There were no TVs, not toilets, no WiFi… And it was fun.
3rd Night: a sandy campsite by the river bank
Have you ever had instant mash potato? It’s dehydrated and mashed potato powder that returns to it’s fluffy, white texture when you add hot water. Camping food hacks were really on point here. I, of course brought tins of beans, that added to the weight of my bag and I couldn’t discard because it’s not bio-degradable. Try not to pack tins if you don’t need to.
This campsite was a little difficult to sleep on. The river bank formed a slight slope and kept slipping off my lilo. The sun had set at around 8 pm and we could clearly see the orange and red tints disappear behind the mountains. It was beautiful.
3 life lessons from camping:
How to appreciate nature
Following the entire trail gave me an opportunity to spot so many natural elements that I was oblivious to. From monstrous insects, fearless fish, and the sounds of baboons barking in the distance, I finally got to experience a minimalist excursion, which I will be doing more of.
You don’t need a lot to be happy
Overall, I’d spent about R 1000 on this trip, including food, travelling to and fro, reserve permit, and minor gear. As travel writer, Robin Esrock says, ” people you meet, create the paradise you find.” And I think that it’s important to make sure that you’re in good company on any trip, otherwise you won’t enjoy it, no matter where you are.
The most difficult moments arise before the end
I was the last person to complete the trail and just as I was nearing the final hilly stretch of land that leads to the road, someone screamed, “watch out for the hole!” Reeds and sticks had covered what seemed to be a deep dip and the only way to get across was to hang onto a tree branch and swing my way to the other side. I thought, “really? I’m metres away from reaching the road and now I still have to swing my weight to dodge a hole?” But I did. And I’m more capable because of it.
What are some of the things that you’ve learned while travelling? Leave me a comment in the space (right down) below, or connect with me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. I’d love to connect with you.
“Which products are you using to get your hair this big?”
The answer to all these questions are simple:
I love me some volume (in a high pitched American accent).
I can’t imaging reverting to straighteners and relaxers after discovering all that I can do with my hair in it’s natural state. My hair is naturally thick; after washing, it rises like a home baked bread but when it’s completely wet, it hangs on the sides of my face like Cocker Spaniel ears.
Can you relate?
There are ways to add body to your hair without perms, chemicals, and extensions.
If you hair doesn’t seem to volumise on its own, you should watch this video:
My first ever hair growth challenge is here! I’m going to be using some strict hair care methods for 180 days, and I can’t wait to share my routine with you.
It’s been a long road.
I’d big-chopped in 2013. I experimented with tons of products, protective styles, low-manipulation hairstyles, and even DIY products, which have become my favourite.
How I grew my hair to armpit length
This will be the first time, throughout my natural hair journey, that I monitor my hair growth. Before I went natural, I was really attached to the length of my hair and I honestly believed that it wasn’t possible for my hair to grow past my shoulders. I guess that continuous straightening and chemical treatments caused so much damage to my hair that it refused to grow any further.
Watch the steps I’ll be taking to retain length over the next 180 days:
Are you thinking about going natural or reaching a hair growth goal? Maybe this is the perfect time for you to transition.
Join my Natural Hair Growth Challenge
Membership limit reached
The day that I’d big-chopped, I was standing in front of my low-lit bathroom mirror, exhausted by having to manage my limp, chemically treated ends, along with my thick, natural regrowth. I didn’t know that I was going to cut it all off until I had the scissors in hand. It was my most liberating experience. No exaggeration.
I’d had enough of trying to get those straight ends to curl and pushing all my cute curly strands to the fronts of my head. That was it; and here I am – absolutely amazed at my own hair texture.
I want the same for you.
Each of my tips are methods that I use on my own hair, weekly, if not daily. My hair growth goal for this challenge is to retain 7 cm of length in 6 months.
According to an in-depth article on how fast hair grows, scalp hair can grow up to 1.25 cm per month! That means, in 180 days, our hair could be about 7 cm longer than it already is. Granted that we’re diligent with our routine.
My hair is currently 45 cm long (16 inches). In photos, you can’t see the true length because I experience a lot of shrinkage. How long is your hair currently? Leave me a comment in the space below – and tell me what your ideal hair length is.
Everyone’s hair grows differently. You may have slower or faster growth spurts than I do. Use the stats above to develop your own growth goal and try to choose your ideal length, according to the reality of the challenge time frame.
Don’t forget to sign up by filling in the form on this page and connect with me on Instagram, where I post all my latest lifestyle pics.
One thing that I miss about having supper at home-home (where my family live) is that we’d take turns to cook supper during the week.
I was lucky to learn about mean planning and healthy eating well before moving out and have quite healthy eating habits, aside from my trips to Snoekies for Hake and Chips on weekends, and my sorbet binges while watching movies.
The biggest struggle with maintaining a healthy diet is finding time to prepare not only nutritious, but equally tasty meals.
This easy kidney bean pasta is a quick dinner idea for meat-free suppers or lunches. I often use this recipe as an inclusion to my meal plan, which makes two lunches and two dinners.
I generally cook meals for up to three days – no longer – to preserve the freshness of all ingredients and to switch up my meals.
Meal planning is great for ensuring that you continually eat the right foods. You’ll also save money as you’ll be reluctant to buy quick snacks and lunches if you’ve already packed your own.
Is pasta healthy?
Yes, and no.
Controlling your portions of pasta is what matters. I avoided high-carbohydrate foods like potatoes, pastas and bread for a long time because these foods are key contributors to weight gain. What I didn’t know at the time, was how much vitamin B, fiber, and protein could be found in pasta.
Whole-grain pasta (brownish coloured), has the same amount of calories as white pasta, expect that you’ll find more nutrients in the whole-grain selection.
I’ve used white Fusili pasta (screws) for this recipe but whole-grain pasta will suit this meal perfectly, if preferred. You could also use Penne Rigata pasta (quills), if you prefer.
What you’ll need to make Kidney Bean Pasta:
300 – 400 g Pasta
1 Finely chopped onion
400 g Kidney Beans
500 g Spinach
1 tbsp Hemp seeds
200 ml Napoletana Sauce (as desired)
2 tbsp Olive Oil
500ml hot water
Pour one tablespoon of olive oil into a saucepan and braise your onion.
Pour 5oo ml of boiled water into a pot to cook your pasta. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to the water to ensure that the pasta doesn’t stick together, then add pasta to cook for 10 minutes. Using hot water instead of cold water will largely increase your preparation time.
Once your onion is golden brown, add spinach and hemp seeds to cook while you wait for the pasta.
Once the pasta has cooked, strain it, then add it to the saucepan with kidney beans and Napoletana sauce
Once your Napoletana sauce (with added ingredients) has been heated, your pasta is ready to eat
Allow to simmer for 5 minutes
Let me know if you try this recipe. Any meat-free dinner ideas you think that I should try? I’d love to hear from you. Leave me a comment in the section below or connect with me on Instagram,Facebook, and Twitter.
Finding the right natural hair products is a top priority of any natural.
It can also be the most frustrating and expensive process, since there are so many options available on the market today.
Here are some quick tips to choosing the right natural hair products, the first time:
Know that expensive doesn’t always mean quality
When I began my natural hair journey, I’d spent my first year just testing products. I bought every sulphate-free shampoo on the market, and experimented with several conditioners, hair butters, and gels. By the end of 2014, I’d accumulated a cupboard full of half-used products that didn’t work for my hair, and was just wasting away.
Let’s try to avoid you having to go through the same process.
Find out what your hair type is
Wavy (2a, 2b, 2c)
Curly (3a, 3b, 3c)
Kinky (4a, 4b, 4c)
If you don’t know what your hair type is, you can take this quick quiz by Blacknaps.org: Know your hair type
Learning the name of your hair texture is helpful to determine which products will suit you. Chances are that you will have more than one hair type. I have two – tight, thirsty 4a curls in the front, and looser 3a curls throughout the rest of my head.
Use products according to your styling method
You get out what you put in. If you wash your hair more than twice a week, you’ll need to replenish your hair with a moisturizer as frequently. If you’re using a gel that isn’t made from organic products, ensure that you pay special attention to hydrating your hair. Low-manipulation hair styles like twist-outs and braid-outs are great ways to wear your hair untied but still retain moisture.
Read the labels on your products
It makes sense to choose a rich hair butter for thick, dry hair, or a light leave-in conditioner for curls that already retain a lot of moisture. Stay away from alcohol-based products. Choose gentle, clarifying shampoos, and pop into the food isle for some DIY moisturizers that may surprise you (olive oil is my go-to).
Don’t just buy products that other naturals are using
Your hair type is unique. I can recommended 1000 products that work perfectly for my hair but they may not give you the same results if your hair texture is different to mine.
Which products are you using for your hair type? I’d love to hear from you. Perhaps something you’ve been using is the product that’s lacking in my routine. Let me know below 🙂
What is my hair type?
Which products do I use?
Lush Curly Wurly Shampoo/ Dark and Lovely Moisture Replenishing Shampoo
Tresemme Moisture Rich Conditioner/ Dark and Lovely Knot-out Conditioner/ Lush American Cream Conditioner
Olive Oil (I swear by it. Also use as a daily moisturiser on my hair, body and face. It absorbs really well and leaves my skin glowing.
For wash-and-go: My DIY Flaxseed gel/ Perfect Touch Alcohol free gel (available at selected Dischem Pharmacies)
For Twist-outs, braid-outs, up styles: Dark and Lovely Afro Moisturising Butter, Cantu Curling Cream/ Auntie Jackie’s Curl Custard
Do you have natural hair and would like to retain length? I’m starting a hair growth challenge and would love you to join me. Leave me a comment in the space below for more information about my hair growth methods.
Be Whole is a one-woman show. I recently had a guest feature on the blog and would love to share more insightful content from others so if you have a topic that you’d like me to feature or re post, leave me a comment in the space below or email me directly to email@example.com.
There’s is so much useful information out here. If you’re an aspiring blogger who could use some tips on how to get started, you can get FREE, invaluable blogging advice from UK based bloggers, Sarah and Kevin Arrow – right now, via Sarah’s website. Or pop over to www.icanbuildablog.com by Dana Fox to get easy design and web developing tips that will make your blog look awesome.
Next year, I will be enrolling in a course by fellow blogger and USA pen pal, Janet Sunderland. She’s an exceptionally talented Writer and Author. Take a look at some of her reads, here.
Janet’s course, which I prefer not to delve into too much (but which you can already view on her website), will assist me in completing a special project that I’ve been longing to work on for a while.
You can watch hair tuts now too
A lot of what I post are questions that are posed via my social networks. Most questions are related to my diet and natural hair journey. Often, I’ve been asked to explain my hair maintenance methods, which has prompted me to create a Youtube channel where you can now watch my hair vlogs.
Please vote for Be Whole as 2016 Lifestyle Blog of Year by clicking on this badge below:
Also, Which blog category is your favourite? Recently, one of you had mailed me asking for more Eat Well posts as it’s simply her favourite section of Be Whole. I’d love to hear from you. Let’s get a conversation going below and don’t forget to vote 🙂
P.s. More tribe members are going natural!
Thank you so much for every like, comment, and share! It means the world to me.