Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween to all and Happy Birthday to me!



On October 31, 28 years ago, I introduced myself to the world. 
Dear world, I've officially begun my 28th year of life and guess what?  I'm excited!  I give God the praise, honor and the glory for keeping my family and me in good health through these long days and short years. The coming year looks promising and I'm holding fast to the things I've placed on my prayer list.  I know with God, that all these things are possible.

Many dread growing older but I'm excited about it because I've come such a long way from the young lady that I once was.  I also can't help but to think of what life has in store for me because after what I've been through this year, I know that what the devil tried to steal from me, he didn't suceed and I'm ready to reap all the joy from the tears that I've sewn. 

You see, there are two seasons in life: Either you've just come out of a storm or you're heading into one and I'll tell ya, almost this whole year has been quite the storm--full of trials and tribulation. My faith has been tested that's for sure but I know it was not all for nothing.  I feel DEEP down inside that I'm better because of all of it and now I know it's time to get to the good part.

This year, I wanted to keep it light and spend time with my boys.  No parties, no expensive dinners, a little shopping (tee hee) and just...time.  That's all I want and that's what I'm grateful for: time with my family and plenty of pics to document it all (my brother and I are the family paparrazi).  Chief comments all the time about the amount of pictures I snap but I always tell him, he'll thank me when he's old and decrepit and can't remember many of those precious and fleeting moments.

I've been working on a few videos and as anyone that makes vidoes knows, editing is quite the task! That's the main reason I've been slow with the posting lately, but I'll be back in full effect next week.

Until next time, toodles!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Date Night Hair & Makeup Trial #1

It's been quite a while since Chief and I were able to go on a baby-free date and on this night in particular, my mom asked to keep MJ overnight.  I'm pretty sure you've guessed that any night without the baby is automatically date night.

Lately, I'd been keeping my hair in a wash-n-go puff (yeah, I know I was supposed be going protective but I haven't started yet.).  I hadn't been feeling up to do much else to my hair partly because it's just so time consuming and honestly I'd just been pure-dee-lazy about it.  Luckily, my mom had given us a day's notice so I was able to pull my hair together with a few flat twists in the front and a twist-out in the back.

Also, I did my full makeup for the first time ever. I thought it was going to turn out to look a mess but I like it.  I've always been the type of girl to just opt for a quick coat of masacara MAYBE some eyeliner and a little lip gloss but I figured since it's been so long since we had a real date night, I'd go all the way.  Check it out:

HAIR:




MAKEUP:

Since I'm a beginner with this whole deal (blush, countouring etc.), I decided to keep eveything neutral with a peachy lip.  I'll play with color a little more in the future.  Let me know what you think!

Before:



After: but still before I accessorized ;-)



Not bad for a first timer, aye?  I think I'm in LOVE with blush now. :-)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Lacquered Up

If you're anything like me, you're a woman about the house which, of course, involves, cleaning, cooking and child-rearing. This all results in much hand washing which in turn leads to dish-pan hands and what? That's right! chipped nail polish...and I hate it.

In my quest to be less of an apparent tomboy aside from my love of sports, I've been polishing my fingernails more often for the past two years.  I'd never been consistent with it if I wasn't receiving a gel overlay at the nail salon because the polish wouldn't stay on for long without chipping, cracking or peeling.

On Monday, I had my first experience with what has quickly become a major trend in nails and I must say that I'm on this wagon charging full speed ahead!  For months, my gal pal, professional nail care specialist and proprietor of Sole Elegance, Leah Little, had been singing the praises of nail care industry leaders CND's Shellac and O-P-I's Axxium Soak-off UV Gel Nail Polish (what a mouthful!).


What's Soak-off Gel Polish?
Unlike traditional nail polish, this gel lacquer is “cured” under a UV light to dry after each layer is applied. And much like traditional polishes, soak-off gels come in a variety of colors and finishes. The pretty color on my nails below is O-P-I's "Russian Navy".  I'm in love!

Now, this is day 5 and it still looks as fresh as day 1--not a chip in sight.  I've washed dishes everyday (sans gloves) and washed my hands countless times since Monday.  Usually, my traditional polish would have started chipping and peeling during the second dishwashing session. I'm very impressed.

Two weeks ago, I had a beautiful royal purple applied in the classic lacquer but it only lasted from Saturday to Wednesday before the first chip appeared (and that was with wearing gloves and all) but by Thursday night, there was no hope.  Next time I will get that color with the Axxium.


The Benefits
Dry TimeLiterally the minute I was out of the chair, I was able to stick my hand into my purse to get my keys without worrying about knicks, smudges or dents.

Stands the Test of Time – It lasts for up to 2 weeks (maybe even longer) with no chipping, peeling or cracking.

No Filing or Drilling –  You can forget about filing and drilling that leaves your natural nails thin and brittle.

No Fake Tips Needed - A definite plus is that it can be applied to the natural nail, it even strengthens the nail when applied which leads to healthy nail growth.


The Drawbacks
Cost – Soak-off gel lacquer is only avaliable as an exclusive professional salon service and at many salons, the service costs more than a traditional manicure.

Obvious Nail Growth –  If you choose a solid dark polish, by week two, growth will be very obvious. To me, that's minor if you're keeping up with your nail care and no different then needing a fill-in with traditional nail enhancement sets.

Removal – Unlike other enhancements, if you want to change your polish color, you will have to completely remove the gel and then reapply in another color. 


The Brands
There are a plethora of companies that have jumped on this wave but the most talked about brands would be OPI Axxium (featuring 41 oh-so-gorgeous shades including 6 Holiday limited edition shades), CND Shellac (featuring 12 glamorous & girlified shades) and CalGel (over 80 fun & fashionable colors).


The Verdict
There isn't much I can say except that I'm sold, I'm a fan and I'm hooked.  Soak-off Gel Lacquer will be my "go-to" for long lasting, high shine nail color. If nothing else, soak-off gel lacquer is the perfect choice in polish for a pedicure in the winter. 

Have you tried the Soak-off Gel Polisht?  If so, tell me about your experience including which brand was used.  I'd like to hear from you.

If you haven't had the chance to try it out, ask your nail care professional if they offer this service at your next visit.  If not, you may contact any of the companies named above to find out which salons near you are using their products.

And if you would like more information on how to maintain your manicure & pedicure between salon visits, head on over to Leah Little's Simply Beautiful blog.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Just For Fun

About two months ago, an aspiring photographer friend of mine asked me to help him with a practice shoot before starting to build his portfolio.  I was relunctant at first but I figured it'd all be for fun as I modeled for a few years after highschool.  I was a bit rusty but many of the pictures came out great.  He ended up adding a few to his portfolio and out of that, came a few requests for shoots and he is now booking clients almost every weekend.  Also, this marks the first time I was able to get ALL of my hair into a pony :-)

Here are a few pics from that day (as well as those used in my banner up top):




 He told me to scream...LOL

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Henna Experience

Since going natural, I'd also gone back to my natural hair color.  Before then, I always stuck with the color rich aubruns as my signature color.  After realizing that it's been too long since I was a red head, I was just itching to color it again.  I wanted color but I didn't want to risk the damage and as I delved deeper into the natural hair world I searched through many options.  I looked at everything from rinses to Aubrey Organics and none seemed right for me.  I was ready to end my search and just grab a box of L'oreal Feria and call it an evening when I came across henna.

I promptly started my research on henna and during that time I asked myself the question hundreds of times, "To henna or not to henna?" and after 7 months, I finally took the plunge.

                                                                                                                                     

Here are the basic questions I had and what I learned:

Is it permanent?

Yes.  The dye from henna penetrates the hair shaft and bonds with the proteins (keratin) of hair, it can not be removed except by cutting the hair itself.

Can I get other colors from henna other than red?

No, only ONE color is derived from this plant and that is red.  There is no such thing as black henna, brown henna, etc.  Some people use the words "neutral henna" to describe Cassia but it is not henna at all.  Cassia is it's own plant and does not dye dark hair.  Cassia does however lend a richer golden color to blonde hair.

If you wish to dye your hair black using henna, you must also utilize dye from the indigo plant.

I don't want to end up looking crazy...will my hair turn out fire truck red?

No, henna does not lift your hair's color and so it will not ligthen it before the red is infused.  Henna dye only coats the hair.  The best way I've heard it descibed: (and please forgive because I can't remember WHO said this.) "It's like laying a piece of cellophane over your hair, the hair is still dark but now has a red tint."

The henna dye will only give you varying colors of red from burgundy to copper red and this all depends on which crop it came from and the maturity of the crop at the time of  harvesting.

What are the REAL benefits to using henna as opposed to a chemical hairdye?

No fading--the only time you'll have to do touch-ups is when your hair grows out.

Lesser risk of allergic reactions as many chemical dyes contain PPD.  PPD is known to cause serious break outs and even hair loss.

Anyone can be allergic to anything so it's best to always do a patch test before applying henna to your whole head.

Since henna penetrates the strands and bonds with the keratin proteins in the hair, it causes hair to feel stronger, thicker and lends amazing shine.

Henna is a great natural alternative if you want to dye your hair, it's good for you, your hair and it's good for the environment.

The best thing of all, its safe to apply henna during pregnancy!

                                                                                                                                  

I did my first henna treatment on 9/18/10 and I've done it one more time since then.  Here is the video from my Henna Experience.  Enjoy!



Details:

After mixing my henna, I only let it sit for about an hour, the dye released pretty fast so I went on and applied it to my hair.  I let it sit on my hair for about 12 hours, rinsed, washed & deep conditioned under my hood dryer for 45 minutes.

This process is very time consuming so if you don't have at least a day to dedicate to henna application and proper care to your hair afterwards, wait until you have time.


Did you know?

Henna is even mentioned in the Bible! It is referred to by it's flower's name, camphire.

Great sites to learn more about Henna:

Henna For Hair (Source)
CurlyNikki

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Get Rid of Dandruff, Attain a Healthy Scalp & Beautiful Hair

Unsightly, embarassing and highly annoying: Among many other derogatory words, these immediately come to mind when I think about dandruff.  Many are plagued by this condition and want to find a means to an end to this unpleasant condition.  Essentially, there is no cure for dandruff but only methods of control.

So, What Is Dandruff?

It's the shedding of skin cells, which is a normal process, but the cells are shed at an excessive rate which causes them to build up on the scalp. Dandruff is also known as seborrheic dermatitis which can also occur on other areas of the body.  It is chracterized by flaky, white to yellowish scales forming in oily areas of the skin such as the scalp, eyebrows or inside the ear.


What Causes It?

Dandruff can be caused by extreme weather, stress, puberty onset, oily skin and certain foods in your diet.


                                                                                                                                                            

Effective Dandruff Shampoos

Neutrogena T/Gel - this shampoo stinks to high heaven but is very effective.  It can be very drying to the hair so I would suggest following up with not only a deep conditioner but a hot oil treatment after washing.  The best way to use this product is to use an applicator bottle to apply it to the scalp only while the hair is dry.  Massage it in to the scalp and let it sit for 15 minutes before rinsing.  This will minimize stripping of the hair's moisture.

Dr. Miracles 2-in-1 Dandruff Shampoo - this is one of most effective shampoos and although it contains both Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodiaum Laureth Sulfate, the hair does not feel too stripped of moisture after use.  However, this is what I recommend for this shampoo:  pour half of the product into an applicator bottle and then dilute it with water, apply the shampoo to the scalp only while hair is dry.  Massage it in and let it sit for 30 minutes. Rinse will massaging scalp gently and follow up with a deep conditioner.

Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat - this shampoo is a favorite among many (to include myself) as this shampoo utilizes natural ingredients to help control dandruff.  This shampoo is a clarifying but it does not leave the hair feeling stripped of moisture and is very effective in dandruff control with regular use.

Keep in mind that there is no INSTANT remedy for controlling dandruff, most people see results after 3 to 4 uses of any one of these products.


A Few (of many) Home Remedies For Dandruff:


Amla Powder - Amla powder is an acidic astringent that helps to remove dandruff and cleanses the follicles and has antibacterial properties.  Make a paste with amla powder and water, apply to hair making sure the amla is contacting the scalp.  Leave in hair for minutes and rinse

Lavender Oil & Tea Tree Oil - Both of these oils has antiseptic and antigungal properties haven been proved very effective in controling dandruff.  To use: Add 6 drops Lavender oil and 3 drops Tea Tree oil to 1/4 cup of a carrier oil such as Jojoba Oil, Olive Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Coconut Oil or Apricot Oil.  Apply this to your scalp and massage with your fingertips

Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse- Apply ACV to scalp and put on shower cap.  Let the ACV sit on your scalp for about 30 minutes and wash hair as usual.  ACV may be too acidic for some and may cause scabbing if left on too long.

Coconut Oil & White Camphor Esential Oil -  mix 1/2 teaspoon Camphor for every 3 tablespoons of  Coconut Oil - keep in a glass, light sensitive (dark) bottle.  Apply a few drops of this mix to your scalp every other night and massage.  This will mix will stop the itching and kep dandruff at bay as both camphor and coconut oils have antiseptic qualities.  Camphor is NOT to be used to pregnant women or children.

Lemon/Lime Juice Rinse - Squeeze the juice from a lemon or a lime and after cleansing hair with shampoo, pour juice over your head and let it sit for 5 minutes.  Rinse with cool water.

The Perfect & Powerful Dandruff Remedy Mix - Add 15 drops Lavender Oil, 8 drops Rosemary Oil, 8 drops Tea Tree Oil, 8 drops Neem Oil, 4 drops Carrot Oil to 1/2 cup of any light carrier oil: Jojoba Oil, Olive Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Coconut Oil or Apricot Oil.  Slightly warm the oil and apply to scalp and massage with fingertips 2 times per week or as needed.  Store in a glass, light sensitive (dark) container.

The Benefits of The Essential Oils:

Lavender oil - known to calm inflammation and combat bacterial and fungal infections of the scalp and skin.

Rosemary oil – encourages healing of the skin and has powerful antibacterial and antifungal properties

Neem oil – a powerful ayurvedic bark extract with antibacterial and anitfungal properties and is also known to heal eczema and psorasis.

Tea tree – also known as melaleuca oil and is widely used to combat infections as it has antiseptic properties and is a very popular ingredient in dandruff shampoos.


Something Else to Consider:

Do you really have dandruff?

Before you run off to buy products to control your dandruff you should be sure that you really have it.  Sometimes a flaky scalp may be caused by low humidity indoors or the excessive use of high temperature blow dryers (think Dominican blowout hot). Flaky scalp can also be caused by harsh shampoos, product buildup or even psoriasis and eczema.

Next, seek out a dermatologist near you as the dandruff could be caused by a fungus or the condition may have been worsened by a secondary bacterial infection if you have been using your nails to scratch your scalp.

                                                                                                                                                         

If you would like to obtain any of the oils mentioned above, some reliable & safe sources that I have purchased from online are LuckyVitaminCamden Grey, Now Foods  & Butters-n-Bars.  Also, many of these oils can be found at TheVitaminShoppe.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Protective Styles For Fall & Winter

The weather has already taken a turn and summer seems to be long gone.  I don't know about where everyone else lives but it seems like old man winter is ready to make his entrance at any moment.  Over the past weekend the temps dropped to the mid-forties and as we all know, the cold winter air can reak havoc on our delicate strands.

The week before last, I wore my hair out from Monday to Wednesday.  And when I arose Thursday morning to find pouring rain outside my window I already knew that this type of weather would make for a shrunken afro.  To avoid all of that drama, I dampened my hair and neatly tucked it away. After success on Thursday and Friday with this style, I've decided that it would be best to keep my hair in as many protective styles as possible.  This will be one of my many quick go-tos for bad hair days--a
fallback style, if you will:

 Monday to Wednesday: Twist-out

Thursday & Friday: Tucked Away



How I wrapped it up at night before putting on my bonnet.

What plans do you have for your hair this fall and winter season?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Braid-Out Fail to No Fail Puff

The night before last, I attempted another braid out and as the title reads, it was a fail.  Not a complete disaster but I wasn't too satisfied with the results.  I braided my dry hair in 8 chunky braids, put on my bonnet and went to sleep. I awoke the next morning assured that this would be my best braid out yet.  It was better than two previous attempts but definitely not a winner in my eyes.

I usually where my bonnet to work under a beanie and then take it down in the bathroom since I usually get there before majority of my co-workers.  And since I always expect great results, I only bring bobby pins to pin my hair in place so I didn't have any backup materials--so I thought. 

I took my braids out and immediately I thought my hair was sure to look great! But no matter how much I fluffed, it wouldn't keep it's shape and I fluffed so much that it started to get frizzy. I almost panicked when I realized it wasn't working and that I didn't have my gel or brush on hand.  I decided to leave it alone and put it in a puff when I found my favorite cut-off stocking hiding away in a side pocket of my purse:



The next day, I made sure to bring my gel and my brush so that I could slick down the edges:
 I can't keep my hands out of my hair :-)

I think a braid out will be much better for me when my hair gets longer.  For now, I'll stick to a braid-n-curl or twist-outs.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Great Products For Your Skin

Figuring out your skin type is pretty cut and dry but finding the right products for sensitive and/or acne prone skin can present a much larger challenge. And for those of us with normal to dry skin, finding a moisturizer to suit our needs is key.  If you are looking for great products to add to daily skin care regimen here are a few suggestions:

For the purposes of this post and so as not to inundate you with so many great products, I am only going to address cleansers & moisturizers.

Normal to Dry Skin:
  • Cleansers
- Philosophy Purity One-Step Facial Cleanser

- Origins Clean Energy Gentle Cleansing Oil (Natural  Product)

- Lumene Radiant Touch Moisturizing Toner (a personal fave of mine!)


  • Moisturizers
- Yes To Carrots (Tomatoes) Facial Hyrdrating Lotion

- Philosophy Hope in a Jar Facial Moisturizer


Combination Skin:

  • Cleansers
- Ponds Crema C Cleansing Cream

- Philosophy Purity One-Step Facial Cleanser


  • Moisturizers
- Boscia Oil-free Daily Hydration with SPF 15 (Natural Product)

- Biore Nourish Moisture Lotion


Oily/Acne Prone Skin:

For those that want to take control of oily skin and have tried everything under the sun but to no avail, I HIGHLY recommend that you give Dr. Hauschka's products a whirl.  These products are especially greatly because they are all-natural and they REALLY work.
  • Cleansers
- Dr. Hauschka's Cleansing Cream (Natural Product)

- Clinique Wash Away Gel Cleanser (One of the best for super oily skin)

- Boscia Clear Complexion Cleanser (Natural Product)


  • Moisturizers
- Biore Nourish Moisture Lotion

- Boscia Oil-free Daily Hydration with SPF 15

- Philosophy On a Clear Day Oil-Free Moisturizer

Also, many have found that the oil-cleansing method works best for them.  Often utilizing Castor Oil, sunflower seed oil and/or grapeseed oil.  I'm not fully abreast on how this method works but I know of two peopleabsolutely that swear by it in keeping their acne under control.  To read more about the oil-cleansing method, click HERE.

Or, if you have deemed the oil-cleansing method, tried and true, please share your regimen so that others may be enlightened. Guest Blogger Alert! :-)

Next Up: I'll talk about the basics of a great skincare regimen.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Do You Know Your Skin Type?



Do you know your skin type? If not, you should. It can be the key to finding the products that will work for you and help you maintain clear, supple and glowing skin. Genetics play a role in the type of skin you have and as I'm sure you know, skin care products are not "one size fits all". With that said, knowing your skin type will aid you in figuring out what products you should be using on a regular basis to keep breakouts and blemishes at bay.

Figuring out your skin type just takes a simple test and a little observation:

1. Wash your face with a gentle cleanser. (Examples: Dove White Bar, Ponds Clean & Clear, Philosophy Purity Facial Wash)

2. Pat (do not rub!) your face dry and do not add any moisturizer afterwards.

After waiting one hour, it's time to check the results.


  • Does your the skin on your face feel tight as if it's too small for your face?  Do you notice any flaking? If so, you have dry skin.

If your skin does not feel tight, do the following:

  • Take a few seperate pieces of tissue and dap different parts of your face with each piece. You will need a piece for each of the following: Forehead, nose, chin, and your left & right cheeks.
  • If you don't notice any flaking or oily residue on any of the tissues and your face doesn't feel tight, you have normal skin.
  • If you notice oil on all or most of the sheets, you have oily, acne prone skin.
  • You may only see oil on the sheets from your forehead, nose and chin (this is called the T-zone) and this would indicate that you have combination skin.
Now that you know your skin type, in the next entry, I'll talk about some of the best products for each skin type. Believe it or not, people use products when they aren't necessary which can potentially cause more problems or unsatisfactory results. With that said, we will also discuss how to know WHEN to use toner, astringent or other products and how to use them properly.