I always like to tell myself, if I were rich, I would live in a relatively modern and plush home, but instead of cars and Hummercopters, I’d spend my money on traveling and donating to charity. As it is right now in my check-to-check state of this-ain’t-livin’, I wish I could donate to charities more. But I can’t afford to give a lot, or to promise a regular donation to any organization right now. So I try my best to do what I can when I can by donating small amounts (hello, Barack Obama car magnet!), and by buying products that I yearn for that also support organizations I can get behind. Here’s a few I’ve been checking out.

For product junkie bellas like myself who are always looking for the most amazing hair stuff on the market, but also want that feeling of self-satisfaction that comes from making a donation, I definitely recommend investing in some Ojon. I’m a new believer, bellas. If you’ve been on a hunt for THE product that will nourish and strengthen your thirsty curls, and you’ve been wondering, is this stuff worth shelling out $55 for a tub of Restorative Hair Treatment? I’d say yes, it’s worth it. Especially when you consider that the purchase of items from this incredible hair product line directly supports the Tawira tribe in Honduras.

Ojon Restorative Hair Treatment absorbed easily and made my hair super strong — this may have been the toughest comb-through hair conditioning product I’ve tried yet. But by the end of the Ojon ritual — restorative treatment, ultra moisturizing shampoo, and ultra hydrating conditioner — I was ready to preach the gospel. Ojon left my hair shiny, defined, and strong. If your hair is breaking or damaged, I think this could definitely make a difference — but click here to read The Beauty Brains breakdown first, if you don’t have deep pockets. Ojon rocks, but it ain’t cheap. If you want to wade into the brand without shelling out $100 for a full size range of products, I recommend the Try Me Kit. It comes with everything you need to figure out whether or not the line is for you or not, and knowing that you’re simultaneously donating to the scholarship fund of underprivileged youths is definitely a reassuring incentive.

After you’ve pampered and nourished your tresses, you can continue the charity supporting trend when you style your hair. Bellas, allow me to introduce you to Kudu Klips, a collection of gorgeous, beaded hair clips that are produced in South Africa, mostly by single mothers.

I was lucky enough to meet the owner of the company last week at the super fun Shop Miami event, and I was very impressed by the quality and beauty of these clips. I was pretty damn skeptical about them though — the sweetheart of a lady at the booth was white with long, straight hair, like the women used in the online demos. The clip looked gorgeous on her, but I instantly assumed the Kudu Klip wouldn’t work as neatly or easily in my thick, short mop of kinks and coils that only touches the top of the back of my neck. “Of course it will!” she assured me, before slipping the long metal spikes through my hair, close to the scalp. “Because of the way it clips in, it’ll actually make your hair look longer,” she said. And lo and behold, she was right. I wish I had a photo — I was already sipping cocktails at this crowded social event at this point, so that didn’t occur to me. But the illusion of an updo with a few escaping tendrils around the clip at the back, did indeed make it appear as though my hair was longer than it actually is. This will work even better for you bellas with hair that touches the middle of your neck, or longer. Kudu Klips retail for $35, and these are some of the poor and physically disabled folks who proudly make them.

I’m a flat shoes kinda gal, and as I grow older, I notice that my fashion taste is veering towards the classic/casual/cute than the trendy/edgy/look at me. My usual wardrobe is a pair of cute jeans and dressy tee, or a cute skirt, also coupled with a dressy tee (or a colorful blouse, if I feel extra special). Toms Shoes are just my style.

They’re super simple, but often come in funky patterns or textures, including gold and silver glitter, and suede. The tres popular new version of Keds support a righteous cause — for every pair you buy, TOMS gives a pair to a child in need. According to TOMS, they’ve thus far donated over 10,000 pairs to kids in Argentina, and 50,000 in South Africa. So when I splurge and spend $68 on this neon Gabe Lacktman web exclusive pair, I know that somewhere out there, a little kid with bare feet will soon be similarly outfitted. Click here to peep TOMS new summer line.

My friend and former coworker Rob Jordan wrote a story about the perishing bee population back in 2007, and the plight of the bumblebees has been making even bigger news this year. Thanks to the always informative Bug Girl’s Blog, I learned about National Pollinator Week, (which I just missed, darn it), and the incredible list of plants that are pollinated by insects. Click here to learn more about Colony Collapse Disorder and how it will affect us all.

A number of charities have been supporting bee research, and notable Haagen Dazs is putting its money where your mouth is by donating a quarter of a million dollars to study the disappearance of honeybees. How can you support the cause? By eating their delicious new Haagen Dazs vanilla honey granola frozen yogurt. OMG, it is the BOMB. If you love parfaits, granola, and fro yo, you’re in for a real treat.

I’ve been discovering some really interesting organizations worthy of support. For example, did you see American Gangster? If you saw and loved the award winning Denzel Washington drama, you should know about Yellow Brick Roads, a charity for children of incarcerated parents, founded by Francine Lucas Sinclair, daughter of the infamous Frank Lucas.

As a little girl who grew up on an island without knowing how to swim, I’ve always admired those who can. Like my cousin Jules, for example — who’s always swum like a fish and is now doing big things on the Howard swimming team. And Cullen Jones, the skilled swimmer who has made water safety for black children his personal cause. According to that MSNBC article, “nearly six of every 10 black Americans can’t swim, and African-American kids ages 5-14 are nearly three times as likely to die of drowning as their white counterparts.” That is SCARY, and I didn’t realize that I was part of such a frightening statistic. Jones is the poster boy for Make A Splash, a child focused water safety initiative that targets ethnically diverse communities, where the youth drowning rate is more than double the national average. Click here to donate or to sponsor a swimming lesson for a kid in need, who may or may not remind you of yourself as a young un.

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Mrs.Mckinzie says:
June 30, 2008, 11:48 am
Hey Bella,I can't swim either,but I will try to donate to Make A Splash.
Sunshine says:
June 30, 2008, 12:17 pm
Thanks for Ojon post! But if you have an nut allergy (like me) you can't use Ojon as it's made from nuts. This info isn't listed on the packaging but on the inside of the package, they had inserted a small paper that read "This product contains nuts". So other bella's be careful. (i was super sad!)
Sumayyah says:
June 30, 2008, 1:06 pm
Peace and blessings! Thank you for the information and resources. Insha'Allah, one day I'll have the money to actually by the products.
J says:
June 30, 2008, 2:05 pm
Thanks for speaking out about TOMS. My brother put me on to them about a year ago. It's a great company & their shoes are super cute, casual & comfortable. I have some plaid ones that I wore to Six Flags the other day & got tons of compliments on them. Everyone get a pair! :)
SoFrolushes says:
June 30, 2008, 2:13 pm
I cant swim either. My lack of swimming was due to moving to the states very young just when kids are introduced to the swimming pool, when i returned to the uk i missed that boat and just never learned. I do intend to learn so when public swimming baths are free in the uk leading up to london 2012 olympics I can take kids for a weekly outing. I do like the sound of the charitable goods but with limited funds cant stretch that far.....But I do love Haagen Daz and if that flavour becomes available in the uk it will become my excuse to eat more. mmmmm
AHS says:
June 30, 2008, 4:35 pm
The swimming thing is great. I am a swimmer, I was lucky enough to have a dad that loved swimming. I'll pass on the Ojon, it really is hyped up just coconut oil with a black and mild cigar scent.
Buzz Session says:
June 30, 2008, 4:56 pm
Bella, Unfortunately, I can't swim either. And I'm terrified of large bodies of water. I think its an inner city thing. Growing up in Harlem; there just weren't any quality swimming instructors hanging around the hood. The city pools were always filthy; so Moms just didn't take me. And I never went to a public school that had a swimming pool. Pity ain't it? Certain sports are only available in quality neighborhoods; like LaCrosse, Softball, VolleyBall, Golf, and Hockey to name a few. I think many black kids cannot swim not because they're black; but because of their class. The elephant in the room. I think Yellow Brick Roads is a phenomenal idea for a Non-For Profit. The Black Community needs it based on the dire statistics of African American males and now Black Women with prison. We tend to forget the children of these incarcerated parents.
b. says:
June 30, 2008, 5:35 pm
Buzz Session: Yep. And don't forget all of us Black women who, as girls, were discouraged from getting our hair wet b/c no one wanted the thankless task of redoing the tresses after a romp in the pool. (Ditto for some women and working out...another time...) My aunt tried to teach me how to swim when I was six (the only woman at the time who wore a natural in my family) but I was terrified of two things: a wet head and water in my ears. My dad promised he would teach me but, like many things he said it never came to pass. And I grew up right on a river! Thanks for the info, Bella.
LuckyAnaiya says:
June 30, 2008, 8:43 pm
I am in good company I see. I can't swim either. 1.) getting my hair straightened all over again just was not going to happen 2.) I hate being barefoot Strange but still has kept me from even looking at a pool for as long as I can remember even up to adulthood. My mother cant swim either. Maybe I will check out some classes at the Y and get some swim shoes...
LL says:
June 30, 2008, 8:44 pm
I saw the story on Mr. Jones the other day and was so excited to hear about it. I had a friend drown when we were 14 and that is when I realized so many minorities did not know how to swim. I myself, just learned how to swim and I am almost 28. It has been thee most important and liberating experience in my life. To have the knowledge that you could get in any body of water and live, should be enough motivation to take lessons. If you go to your local rec center they are usually cheaper than the YMCA and other big name sites. Nobody notices your dimples and cellulite, your hair looking a hot mess, or the snot boogers dripping down your face. It is all about the swimming.
LL says:
June 30, 2008, 8:48 pm
oh and not to mention, it is a great workout. You don't even notice how hard you are working, until you realize your breathing like you just ran a marathon when you're done. My legs and thighs started getting super-toned right away.
GW says:
June 30, 2008, 10:49 pm
Have you ever written a review comparison about the Ojon Restorative treatment to the Miss Jessie's Rapid Treatment? I would like to know your thoughts. Which is better? Which gives you more bang for your buck? Great post about beautiffying yourself and doing good at the same time. I really enjoy your blog. Keep up the good work. Thanks.
kaliber says:
July 1, 2008, 10:38 am
i had JUST decided to use the last of my ojon product yesterday morning - and lo and behold - a post about it on my fav blog! -lucky me - i received the full 'try me!' kit for free thru' my job. i LOVE the shampoo and conditioner and rationed those little bottles like crazy! works like a charm on my thirstythirsty hair. the restorative treatment... smells really good? works as well as any other oil probably? is really fun to mash up? is way too expensive? i can 'swim' well enough to not drown but will certainly never win a prize for technique. growing up my mom was afraid of water so that nixed lessons on that end -- plus what kid wants to sit and have waist length plaits re-done just bc i wanted to 'pretend' to be swimming - no thank you! and later i learned relaxer+chlorine = bad math! part of the reason im excited about going natural now is so i can learn to swim... and ultimately learn to surf!
DreaminDiva says:
July 1, 2008, 10:59 am
I'm one of those people who can't swim either, but thankfully my little nephew is taking swimming classes this summer. And I really like the Ojon hair treatment too, it makes my hair soft with just a little bit applied. Also, I'm in the transitioning phase, about a year sans-relaxer but am trying to brace myself to go back to college in the fall with my natural hair without extensions. Your past posts on transitioning and embracing my hairs' true beauty have really helped me! Thanks for all of your great posts and inspiration!
Danielle J says:
July 1, 2008, 11:30 am
This is wonderful information as always Bella. I love the idea of something beautiful helping others. Yellow Brick Road & Making A Splash are wonderful ideas. I am SO pleased to read about them. I love spreading the word about good things being done in the Black Community.
Eva says:
July 1, 2008, 3:34 pm
Hi Afrobella - this is my first post!! But I just wanted to know how much research you had done into these Ojon products? I'm a total product junkie and scour labels on hair and beauty websites and when I googled Ojon I found this site: http://www.soapdishforum.com/forum/lofiversion/index.php/t53858.html about Ojon's secret ingredient, and it lists the ingredients from one of its bottles. So more power those that Ojon worked for but their story appears to be just to be a clever marketing ploy! I just wanted people to know before they spent their hard earned money coz that stuff aint cheap! Other than that I love love love your blog - keep doing what you're doing x
Erica says:
July 2, 2008, 2:36 am
I agree: Ojon is the wonder product. If you have any dryness or breakage, spread a little of this on and you will be able to run your fingers through your hair as a result of detangled, moisturized hair. Don't, however, buy this product at Sephora--it's too expensive. At QVC the 3.8oz is only $30. In Canada, Ojon just had a special on the Shopping Channel for Canada Day, which sold the 5oz for ~$35. The kits at the home shopping networks are cheaper, too. I suggest skipping the usual retail outfits and stock up via home shopping channels, they will always be cheaper than the aforementioned $100 for a kit.
Erica says:
July 2, 2008, 2:37 am
I agree: Ojon is the wonder product. If you have any dryness or breakage, spread a little of this on and you will be able to run your fingers through your hair as a result of detangled, moisturized hair. Don't, however, buy this product at Sephora--it's too expensive. At QVC the 3.8oz is only $30. In Canada, Ojon just had a special on the Shopping Channel for Canada Day, which sold the 5oz for ~$35. The kits at the home shopping networks are cheaper, too. I suggest skipping the usual retail outfits and stock up via home shopping channels, they will always be cheaper than the aforementioned $100 for a kit. www.notinmycolour.blogspot.com
calming corners says:
July 2, 2008, 8:03 am
Thanks for the post I was looking for a conditioner to help my hair. I agree it is very expensive.
Linda says:
July 2, 2008, 8:12 am
I agree with Eva - I found the same information on the Soap Dish. "the ingredient list, off of drugstore.com : aqua (Water), Cetearyl Alcohol, Elaeis Oleifera (Palm Oil), Dimethicone Copolyol, Caprylic/CapricTriglyceride, PVP/VA Copolymer, Tribehenin, Polysorbate-60, Dimethicone, Propylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Parfum (Fragrance), Imidazolidinyl Urea, Mica, Methylparaben, Titanium Dioxide, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, PEG 150 Stearate, Steareth 20, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract" It's most likely a mixture of the cones and polymer eith the palm oil that's giving great results. Anywho....... Ojon are giving back BUT I think that they should give the customer a little money$ off 'cause it is pricey!
LBellatrix says:
July 2, 2008, 5:41 pm
I'm curious, Bella: How did you grow up on an island without learning how to swim? Was it for the same reasons a lot of us non-island folk didn't learn? I took swimming lessons as a young child and now that I think about it I should ask my mother why she didn't have a problem with us learning. (The older I get, the more I realize how radical my parents were about some things.) I ended up taking lessons again at age 27 or so and like someone else mentioned, I can keep myself afloat but won't win any awards for technique. Re the products: I was just in Sephora and hesitated over buying Ojon, but now I wish I had. As for the others, well...I can definitely spring for some Haagen-Dazs right now (it's about 90 in IA today).
J Abbott says:
July 2, 2008, 8:21 pm
The Grand Mademoiselle truly loves your site and is so thankful that you featured TOMS. A fabulous line with a great message!
Theresa says:
July 9, 2008, 11:19 pm
I use ojon's restorative hair treatment too and I love it, I brought the $21 size, cause I could not afford to get the $55 one. I got mine from Sehora.
africanfruit says:
July 14, 2008, 5:51 am
I mixed mine with shea butter to try to make them both last longer. I'm heavy handed. Next, I will try mixing Ojon's with Carol's Daughter unscented beeswax jelly...maybe add a little Rasberry Oil. I can't wait...when is the charity? thanks
sam henderson says:
January 7, 2011, 11:18 pm
Love to swim!!! I grew up in Southern Florida, and grew up two miles from the ocean. I started swimming at the age of three. Most of my friends knew how to swim. We all use to go to the beach on Wednesday bring the summer. We use to call it black beach day. LOL The key is to start early, and never get a negative attitude about the water. Growing up, I never knew blacks had issues with swimming until I joined the military. I was always one of the best swimmers in my units
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Doug McEvoy says:
February 28, 2016, 4:51 pm
Great article about the Ojon products. I just want to say that while this article is geared towards its benefits for African American hair, as a white guy with a beard who is tired of buying ineffective beard oils, this stuff is a miracle in a jar! I tried all of the expensive hipster beard oils out there and none were very good. A friend who used this for her hair suggested I try it. I just melted it by rubbing between my palms and applied it to my beard and WOW what a difference! And it smells wonderful. I am also thrilled with how long this will last me. A much better product for a much better price compared to the 1.5 eyedrppoer bottles of beard oil that run about $30 and are gone in days. And it supports important chariities? There is no downside to this product!!


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