5 Reasons to Switch to a Natural Hair Shampoo

5 Reasons to Switch to Natural Shampoo

I have to admit that when it comes to hair care, in the past I’ve been very reckless. After all, my hair is just dead skin cells, right? Why should I really care what kinds of chemicals I put on it?! A few years ago I came to the harsh realization that I had been wrong. Did you know that the synthetic chemicals in standard shampoos can cause baldness, premature graying, and hair loss? I didn’t!

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The Symbolism of Tie Dye Fabric in Africa

The Symbolism of Tie Dye in Africa

When a lot of us see tie dye we think of hippies and 60’s culture, but did you know that tie dyeing has long been a practice in Africa? From Ghana to Gambia, tie dyeing is one of the many ways that African artisans like to express their style and diversity.

Many of the symbols you’ll see in African tie dye come from the various cultures in Africa. Tie dye from West Africa often features Ashanti, Akan or Adinkra symbols. Many plants and animals signify different things in the Ashanti culture; for example, an alligator symbolizes adaptability, a heart signifies patience and tolerance, and the famous Gye Nyame symbol symbolizes God’s omnipotence and power.

How is African Tie Dye Made?

 

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This tie dye dress is from Mali, West Africa

There are several techniques used for tie-dyeing in Africa. One method is to have a cloth tied or stitched tightly so that the dye can’t penetrate the fabric. Then a starchy substance is applied to the fabric. This will resist the dye giving the fabric pale areas on a dark background when it’s washed at the end of the dyeing process. This is more often used for two-tone tie-dye.

Another method of tie dyeing of folding a strip of cloth into several narrow pleats and binding them together. The folds and the binding resist the dye to produce a linear and cross-hatched effect.

Another tie-dyeing technique is a process of painting freehand with starch before dyeing in order to resist dye.

Tie-dyeing takes a lot of time, effort, and skill, and artisans in Africa love the ability it gives them to be creative and express the symbols of their culture.

 

Where Can I Find African Tie Dye?

We have a large selection of tie dye outfits and tie dye fabric available! You can see some tie dye fabric here. You can find Gambian tie dye dashikis here, Gambian tie dye dresses here, a Senegalese tie dye dress here,  and even more tie dye options by simply looking up “tie dye” on our search engine.

 

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12 Ways Noni Juice Can Heal Your Body

Noni Juice Benefits

Noni juice is picking up more and more popularity throughout the U.S. because of its numerous health benefits. Derived from the tropical Noni plant, noni juice is brimming with Vitamins and nutrients. You’ll get a good dose of Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, Folate, Vitamin E, Beta Carotene, Calcium, Potassium, Magnesium, Iron, Phosphorous, and antioxidants. Wow! That’s a lot right there. So what can all these healing nutrients do for your body? Let’s take a look!

The 12 Ways Noni Juice Can Heal Your Body

1 – Noni Juice Can Prevent Cancer

Various clinical and laboratory research trials have suggested that noni juice can help to prevent the growth of various cancers such as lung cancer, liver cancer, and renal cancer. This is largely related to the vast number of antioxidants in Noni juice. It is also able to block carcinogen-DNA binding and prevent adduct formation.

2 – Reduces Body Fatigue

Various clinical studies have shown that Noni juice helps to enhance tolerance and the physical performance of the body.

3 – Noni Juice Protects the Liver

Noni juice helps protects your liver against exposure to chemicals that cause damage and illness.

4 – Noni Juice Helps to Relieve Arthritis Symptoms

Noni juice has natural anti-inflammatory properties that help to reduce pain, sensitivity, and swelling related to arthritis.

5 – Noni Juice Improves Memory

Research has shown that drinking noni juice encourages cerebral blood flow and helps improve memory functions.

6 – Noni Juice Reduces Aging Signs

Noni juice is rich in vitamins and antioxidants that stimulate collagen growth and prevent the formation of fine lines and wrinkles.

7 – Noni Juice Strengthens the Immune System

Since early times, noni juice has been valued for its ability to fight infections and other ailments due to its unique combination of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. These helpful nutrients stimulate white blood cells. The scopoletin chemical in noni juice also possesses anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-histamine properties.

8 – Noni Juice Reduces Constipation

Drinking noni juice on a regular basis helps to eliminate toxins from your body through the need to excrete more frequently. People who’ve suffered from IBS and constipation for year have been able to find relief by drinking noni juice.

9 – Noni Juice Reduces Pain

Noni has been nicknamed “The Tree for Headaches” or “The Painkiller Tree” because of its strong analgesic affects.

10 – Noni Juice Helps You Sleep Better

Noni juice stimulates melatonin production, which regulates your Circadian rhythms and helps you to sleep better. It also helps to improve your mood.

11 – Noni Juice Can Reduce Hypertension

Noni is high in phytonutrients, selenium, and Vitamin C which fight free radical damage on blood vessels and work to lower blood pressure.

12 – Noni Juice Reduces Cholesterol

Noni prevents the absorption of LDL cholesterol, thereby reducing plaque in the arteries.

Interested in Trying Noni Juice?

You can find it at your local health food store, or online at Africa Imports here. We hope you enjoy the many benefits it can give you! Let us know your experience in the comments!

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It Might Look Weird – But This African Soap Is Changing Lives

Black Soap Paste Feature PhotoWe’re a little obsessed with finding the healthiest, most natural ways to take care of your skin. We’re also a little obsessed with finding ways to bring unique African products to people here in the US. Why? Well, you get to enjoy amazing skin AND talented artisans and soapmakers in Africa can have access to more customers and more job opportunities!

So today we’re thrilled that West African Black Soap Paste has been met with such enthusiasm by so many users! This soap paste is made using age-old African techniques, and is completely hand-crafted by soapmakers in Ghana. We know it works wonders, but we don’t want you to just take our word for it. Find out what our customers are saying!

Black Soap Paste Heal Acne

“This soap is literally magic. I’ve suffered bad all-over acne my whole life due to a medical condition. Before getting this product my skin was oily and my pores were huge! After using the soap only twice my pores have shrunk, my skin is less oily, and while I’ll never be able to totally get rid of my acne most of it is gone. I’m finally starting to feel comfortable in my skin. I suggest using raw shea butter after using this soap, trust me it will make your skin feel perfect.”
– Kim from Wisconsin

“I’ve struggled with EXTREMELY oily skin, and acne on my back for years. So far nothing has helped. Immediately after using this soap my skin felt soft and not oily at all. In fact, it continues to keep it from being oily for a number of hours. It doesn’t dry out my skin like most products, either. The difference it’s made for me has been incredible! I will continue to use this product daily.”
– Autumn from Georgia

“I have really bad cystic acne and scars all over my face and with one wash this soap dried them up! I also have really dry skin but I just make sure to moisturize with something thick and I’m all set! it got rid of my back acne and chest acne within 2 washes! I’m amazed and will definitely buy again!”
– Kayla from Nevada

Black Soap Paste Clears Blackheads

“This product works super well! I’ve used it less than a week and I can already see a difference. Honestly it not only helped with regular acne but it also helped clear up my blackheads that I’ve struggled with for awhile.”
– Alexis from University Park, PA

Black Soap Paste Heals Acne Scarring

“I always struggled with bad acne and the resulting ugly acne scars. None of the expensive acne treatments would work for me, but I tried this soap and WOW! I’ve only been using this for about a week, but my face is smooth and soft and many of my acne scars have lightened or gone away completely. Love this soap!”
– Haley from Albany, NY

Black Soap Paste Reduces Signs of Aging

“This stuff is INCREDIBLE. I’m 23, have struggled with acne for over ten years, and recently experienced some of the worst breakouts of my life. I used this stuff once and within just hours I already noticed a difference. It cleared up even my worst blemishes. I would even recommend it to those who don’t have acne because it’s just great as a face wash in general; I noticed that it evened out my skin tone, removes dead skin (it’s not even a scrub and it somehow exfoliates!) and it tightens the skin, reducing the appearance of wrinkles and pores. It’s amazing, and the price is great! I’ll definitely be buying again.”
– Brandy from Deltona, FL

Black Soap Paste Reduces Dandruff

“This stuff feels amazing on my face, and has started clearing up blemishes after just one use! I also used it on my hair, and my dandruff hasn’t been as obvious to the point of going away completely! I’ll definitely be buying more after I run out! Love this stuff!”
– Sheridan from Spring Hill, FL

Where Do I Get This Soap?

You can order this soap online at Africa Imports here, or you can take a trip to Ghana and pick it up from a soapmaker there!

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Annie Lee Dolls Portray the Work of a Legend

Annie Lee Dolls Feature Photo

“You’re going to be working all of your life, so just do what makes you happy! And, if you are able to make others happy while doing what makes you happy, what more could you ask?”
– Annie Lee

We were recently given the incredible opportunity to add a line of Annie Lee dolls to our products here at Africa Imports. The original retail price on these dolls was $84, but we are now able to offer them at a surprisingly low price of $3.95 each. We hope that you and your customers can enjoy these dolls and help pay homage to the creator of these timeless figurines. To see the wonderful collection we have available in limited quantities, simply click here.

Annie Lee

The Legacy of Annie Lee Dolls

Annie Lee, the creator of these dolls, is renowned as one of the front-runners in African American artwork. She was known for her exuberant, lively style and the way her faceless dolls would portray emotion and glamour in a way that was not only fun but humorous. Her dolls had no faces, nor did the subjects of much of her artwork, but their posture reveals an emotion and liveliness that is hard to find elsewhere. “I try to paint things that people can identify with,” Lee told Contemporary Black Biography. And she succeeded. At her first gallery show in 1985, her paintings sold out within four hours of the show.
Lee’s work seems to lure the viewer into the lifestyle and atmosphere it shows; you can hear the saxophone player in her paintings and you can sense the swagger in a faceless doll wearing a fancy blue dress and dangling gold-colored earrings. Everything about Annie Lee’s artwork and her dolls speaks of the lush, everday life in African American culture as Annie Lee knew it.

Annie Lee’s Origins

Annie Lee was born in Gadsden, Alabama in 1935 and raised in Chicago by her devoted single mother. Growing up, she was expected to learn survival skills like cooking, washing, cleaning, and sewing. She enjoyed listening to radio shows like The Lone Ranger and The Shadow while knitting, crocheting, or drawing. At an early age she found fulfillment through painting, and won her first art competition at the age of ten. She loved art throughout her childhood, and grew more and more skilled as a painter and creator throughout high school. After high school, Lee was offered a four-year scholarship to attend Northwestern University after high school, but chose to marry and raise a family instead.

Unfortunately, life wasn’t easy after that. She wasn’t able to resume painting until she was 40-years-old, and before that she had gone through the sadness of losing two husbands to cancer and raised a son and daughter largely on her own. By day she worked as a chief clerk at Northwestern Railroad, and by night she studied art. After eight years of night classes, she earned her masters degree in interdisciplinary arts education from Loyola University. “Getting my masters degree was the best thing I ever did for myself. It reopened my mind,” Lee is quoted as saying.

Physical Hardships and Personal Tragedy

Annie Lee’s life still wasn’t easy after she got her masters degree. She developed tendonitis and spinal problems from painting so much, and the fumes from her acrylic paints made her sick. Even so, she refused to give up and had her first gallery show in 1985. The demand for her work was incredible, and she was inspired to keep working nights to bring in a supplementary income for her two children.

Sadly, tragedy struck in 1986 when Lee’s son died in an automobile accident. She left work to grieve her loss, and decided she would give up the financial security of her day job to pursue her art full-time. “I prayed I could make my living by painting. I felt I was supposed to paint. Now that my son was gone, I didn’t need such financial resources,” Lee remembered to CBB.“God did this through me,” she continued.“I never thought I would leave the railroad, but it was the best thing I ever did. It was hard to leave the security, but you have to take a leap of faith.”

A Successful Art Career

Annie Lee’s daring risk was a good one. In 1990, she opened her own shop, Annie Lee and Friends Gallery. She had a strong business sense and her gallery was a success! Some of her paintings even appeared in popular TV shows like Bill Cosby’s A Different World.
Lee was determined to capture Black American life and to convey emotion through body language and style as opposed to facial expressions. “You don’t need to see a face to understand emotion,” Lee explained to CBB.“I try to make the movement of the body express the emotion. And people can use their imaginations.”

Sadly, Annie Lee passed away on November 24th, 2014, in Henderson, Nevada. She was 79-years-old, and she will be truly missed. We hope that many more artists will follow in her footsteps and learn from her determination and unique perspective.

To see the Annie Lee doll collection available now, click here.

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The 5 Powerful Ingredients in Raw Shea Butter Soap

Raw Shea Butter Soap Benefits

This raw shea butter soap has long been a best-seller here at Africa Imports, and it’s not hard to see why. Fans of the soap rave that it does everything from soften skin to repel mosquitoes!

“I love this soap…..not only does it improve the quality of your skin but I found another benefit. I live in the Delta in Mississippi and the mosquitoes are very bad here…..I started using the Shea soap and the mosquitoes stopped biting as often. As a matter of fact, the only time I get bit is when I stop using the raw Shea butter soap.”User 62045

So what makes this soap so great? Well, let’s take a look at 5 incredible ingredients found in this raw shea butter soap.

#1 – Shea Butter

Pure West African shea butter is used in this soap, and the benefits shea butter provide are numerous! Shea butter softens the skin, reducing itchiness, dryness, and flaking. Shea butter also helps to soothe symptoms of eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis. Shea butter can fade stretch marks, reduce scarring, and even help wounds to heal faster!

#2 – Vitamin E

The added Vitamin E in this soap helps to keep your skin smooth and soft while reducing hyperpigmentation and discoloration.

#3 – Honey Extract

Honey extract works wonders on sensitive or delicate skin. It gently moisturizes and soothes irritation while protecting skin from harsh environmental factors. Honey extract also helps to balance skin’s moisture levels and keep your skin breakout free.

#4 – Mango Seed Butter

Mango seed butter helps to encourage the production of collagen which in turn gives you more youthful skin! It also is a natural source of Vitamin A which helps to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Mango Seed butter also helps to keep skin soft and smooth while calming insect bites and poison ivy.

#5 – Cocoa Seed Butter

The benefits of cocoa seed butter are numerous! Cocoa butter helps to relieve itchy, irritated skin while improving moisture and overall tone. Cocoa butter can also help to soothe burns, rashes, and infections and fight signs of aging.

Where Can I Find This Soap?

You can order this soap online here or find it at certain local health food stores.

What Are Your Thoughts?

Have you tried this soap before? We’d love to hear your experiences! Share them with us in the comments!

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The Meaning and History of the Maasai Mask

Maasai Mask Meaning

The powerful and legendary Maasai people group of Africa is one of the most famous groups in African culture. While they are more commonly associated with Kenya, they are also located in Tanzania. They are known for their highly-skilled warriors and their cattle-herding abilities. In fact, in Maasai culture, a man’s wealth is measured in terms of cattle and children. A herd of 50 cattle is a respectable amount, and the more children the better!

Masks like the one shown below were historically used in traditional tribal ceremonies to scare opponenets of the Maasai people. This mask shows the characteristic stretching of the earlobes which is common among the Maasai. Because the Maasai are nomadic, they don’t have the ancestor cults that many African people groups do. They don’t hold any beliefs in survival after death – which is one of the reasons they do not bury their dead. In many African cultures, masks are used in rituals to honor the ancestors, but in Maasai culture the masks were historically worn in traditional ceremonies including celebrations, initiations, crop harvests, and war preparations. The masks often represented the spirits of mythological beings, animals, or spirits.

Maasai Masks

In long days past, during ceremonies, a tribal member of the Maasai people would enter a deep trance and deliver a message from the spirit in grunts, broken sentences, or partial phrases. An elder or wise man from the group usually served as an interpreter. Today, these types of ceremonies are often only practiced for tourists as modernism has done away with a lot of the traditional practices. The masks are a way for the Maasai people to make an income and are, for now, mainly used to sell to tourists to provide a livelihood for the carver or artisan.

Where Can I Get My Own Maasai Mask?

We sell Maasai Masks in various sizes at our Africa Imports web page. You can get one in a 9-10″ size, a 11-12″ size, a 5-6″ size, and a 15-16″ size.

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Deodorant Danger – Why Choosing Natural Deodorant is Essential

Dangerous Deodorant

Deodorant isn’t really one of those ‘fun’ purchases that you light up over and can’t wait to buy. Deodorant is considered by many an essential – you get it because you have to, because we all don’t want to smell bad, and many of us just look for the cheapest, best-smelling thing we can find. This was me for most of my life. This is most of us. But unfortunately, this kind of thinking can be dangerous.
What we put on our body is often absorbed by our skin and can have a great impact on our overall health. Here are some of the ingredients found in non-natural deodorants that you should avoid: Read more

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What is the Real Meaning Behind “Traditional” Print Clothing?

Meaning Behind Dashiki or Angelina Print Fabric

Traditional print, or dashiki style clothing is becoming increasingly popular this year, and it’s not hard to see why! From vibrant colors to an exotic design this style is a great way to bring attention to your African heritage. But what does this design mean? Is there any significance to this popular print? Let’s find out! Read more

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5 Ways Peppermint Oil Can Benefit You

Peppermint Oil Benefits

Peppermint essential oil not only smells amazing, but it does a lot of incredible things for your skin! Peppermint oil is extracted from the peppermint herb and has a minty aroma that is cooling and rejuvenating. Peppermint oil is rich in Omega-3s, iron, magnesium, calcium, Vitamins A and C, minerals, potassium, manganese and copper. With all these vital nutrients, it’s no wonder that peppermint oil is so beneficial for your skin.

Benefit #1 – Peppermint Oil Brightens Your Skin

Peppermint oil has natural menthol properties, which helps to cool and brighten your skin. You’ll feel refreshed and look luminous!

Benefit #2 – Peppermint Oil Controls Acne

Peppermint oil works to control the secretions of excess oil and prevents clogged pores and acne outbreaks.

Benefit #3 – Peppermint Oil Reduces Itching and Irritation

Peppermint oil has a naturally pain-relieving effect and it is also naturally anti-inflammatory. Because of this, it is helpful for reducing irritation related to poison ivy, insect bites, toxic plants, or allergies. You should always dilute peppermint essential oil with some lotion or a carrier oil, or use peppermint oil in a soap or pre-blended lotion.

Benefit #4 – Peppermint Oil Can Reduce Headaches

Peppermint oil is an amazing way to get rid of a headache. It is naturally anti-inflammatory and can banish tension headaches reled to stiffness, swelling, muscle aches, etc,.

Benefit #5 -Peppermint Oil Can Clear Sinuses

Peppermint oil is a natural anti-histamine and as such can help to clear clogged sinuses related to allergies. It can also help to reduce congestion from colds.

Where To Find Peppermint Oil

You can find peppermint oil at your local health food store, or online. Here at Africa Imports, we sell peppermint essential oil wholesale and retail, depending on your needs. Get your own here! We also have just added a new peppermint oil soap that you can enjoy, you can see that here.

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